As “music of commitment,” in the period from the late 1970s to the late 1980s rock music in Yugoslavia had an important purpose of providing a popular-cultural outlet for the unique forms of socio-cultural critique that engaged with the realities and problems of Yugoslav society. The three “music movements” that embodied the new rock’n’roll spirit – New Wave, New Primitives, and New Partisans – used rock music to critique the country’s “new socialist culture,” with the purpose of helping to eliminate the disconnect between the ideal and the reality of socialist Yugoslavia. This paper examines the New Partisans as the most radical expression of music of commitment through the works of its most important rock bands: Bijelo dugme, Plavi orkestar, and Merlin. The paper’s argument is that the New Partisans’ socio-cultural engagement, animated by advocacy of Yugoslavism, was a counter-logic to the nationalist dissolution of a distinctly Yugoslav fabric of a socialist community in crisis. Thus, the movement’s revolutionary “spirit of reconstruction” permeating its “poetics of the patriotic” was a mechanism of socio-cultural resistance to political, cultural and moral-ethical de-Yugoslavization of Yugoslav society. Its ultimate objective was to make the case that the only way into the future – if there was to be any – rested on strategic reanimation of the Partisan revolutionary past as the only viable socio-cultural foundation of the Yugoslav socialist community.
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