More Light On The Stalin-Tito Quarrel

A recent broadcast by Konni Zilliacus, reported in the Listener” of May 11th, throws some interesting light on the dispute between Russia and Yugoslavia. It is also revealing in the matter of Zilliacus’ own position as a fellow-traveller of late, and as the broadcast was certainly sympathetic to the Tito regime he must be in grave danger of being branded as a Trotskyist-Titoist-Fascist.

The theme of the broadcast was that if the conflict between these two “Communist” countries could be settled then it might even be possible to “discover the answer to the most important question in the world— that is how to end the arms race and turn the cold war into at least tepid peace between the capitalist and communist world.” (Conclusion of his article.)

Ignoring this somewhat naive assumption regarding the problem of maintaining even a “tepid peace” in the present state of Capitalist Society, having given in his broadcast only a few examples of Soviet methods and duplicity when confronted with a recalcitrant satellite, it is incredible that Zilliacus could believe that Stalin would even come to regard an independent Yugoslavia as anything but a menace to an internally troubled Russia.

Zilliacus says for instance

  “While I was in Belgrade Moshe Pijade, a leading member of the Politburo of the Yugoslav Communist Party, published an account of the relations between Yugoslav Partisans and the Soviet Government during the war. It was backed by the actual text of telegrams and messages. It showed quite clearly that the Russians refused all help for a long time, on the ground that it was technically impossible, but really because they were trying to bring about some kind of arrangement between Draža Mihailović, representing the émigré Royalist Government in London supported by the Western Allies, and Tito’s Partisans. Moshe Pijade also related how, when he was in Moscow during the conference between the Russians and their Western Allies in 1944, Molotov in reply to his question patted him on the shoulder and said: ‘The position as regards Yugoslavia is excellent.’ It was only later that the Yugoslavs discovered, according to their account, that what was really discussed was dividing their country into Russian and British spheres of influence on a fifty-fifty basis.”

Further, after the breaking point between the two countries had been reached when the Soviet military and civilian advisers were withdrawn, the dispute went beyond a mere exchange of letters and an economic boycott was applied by Russia which was accompanied by “notes couched in threatening language, troop movements and frontier incidents, and a tornado of propaganda inciting the people to rebellion.”

The attempt to wreck Yugoslavia failed however, and now according to Zilliacus, “The people and the government are united and on their mettle.” He goes on to list the great changes which he claims are taking place, including the freeing of literature, science and art from political controls; economic decentralization and a vigorous campaign against bureaucracy; experiments in workers’ control. The sting however is in the tail: —

   “At the same time Yugoslav leaders are candid about how much remains to be done. One of the chief of them said to me, ‘We must admit that in the Socialist States we have not yet solved the problem of freedom.’”

One finds it difficult to reconcile “a united government and people” with the unsolved “problem of freedom.” The latter expression is reminiscent of the problem of maintaining law and order which so frequently occurs in bourgeois society.

J. L.