Communist versus Communist: The Affair of Yugoslavia

 When the rulers of Yugoslavia decided to move out of the Russian sphere to seek better terms from the American-British groups a row started that is still going on between the Communist parties of that country and Russia. The quarrel had no more to do with ideas and systems of government than do any of the quarrels between the Powers. One person who has admitted this is the Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia, Mr. Edvard Kardelj. Speaking in March, 1950, as reported in the Yugoslav Fortnightly (Belgrade, 24th March, 1950) he said:—

      :-  “You all know that our dispute with the Soviet Government was not about whether our Socialism was more or less Socialist than Soviet Socialism. No, the crux of the matter was this: We would not allow any foreign domination; we would not allow an alien will to be imposed on the Yugoslav peoples, even though it were veiled in revolutionary phrases.”

 Where we, as socialists, join issue with Mr. Kardelj is on the claim that Yugoslavia or Russia have Socialism. Both are State capitalist dictatorships with all all usual dictatorship features of secret police, censorship, and the suppression of opposition parties, and with the main features of the capitalist economic system with which the rest of the capitalist world is familiar.

 It is, however, not intended to deal with these aspects here, but to glance instead at some entertaining features of the bitter dispute between the former Communist allies.

 Now the Communist parties of Yugoslavia and of the Cominform countries find nothing too harsh and insulting to say of each other, but that is only since 1948: before then they were mutually admiring friends. The Russian and British parties agreed that Yugoslavia was “socialist” and that Tito was a fine fellow, and Tito and his Communist party responded with loyal admiration for “socialist” Russia.

 As late as September, 1947, Mr. William Rust, the British Communist, visited Yugoslavia and wrote in the Daily Worker telling what a fine place it was. Everyone was happy; eager to work hard, and Mr. Rust was happy to see Tito looking so bonny.

        “The Yugoslavs not only won the war, but also won their country. And out of that heroic struggle whose glory will never fade, there was born a new patriotism which now inspires feats of endurance and heroism in the labour front” (William Rust, Daily Worker, 13th Sept., 1947.)

 The article was called “The People Rule in Yugoslavia” and Mr. Rust found it to be “the most advanced of the new democracies in Europe which in these days are drawing closer together because of their political affinities and close trading relationships.”

“It is,” he wrote, “a real democracy where the people rule and build a new life.”

 Mr. Rust was not then to know that a few months later he and his fellow Russia-supporters wen going to be required to call Tito a scoundrelly tool of American imperialism, and to describe the Yugoslav workers as groaning under the tyranny of the Tito police state.

 And here is Mr. Rust on Tito,

      :-  “Before we left this wonderful new Yugoslavia which has shaken off its dark Balkan past, its backwardness and hatred between the nationalities, we spoke with Marshal Tito about our impressions. We were happy to find him looking so healthy, youthful and confident. He spoke with a quiet pride about the achievements of the people, the rising standard of living, the co-operation between town and countryside, and the achievements of the Five Year Plan.” (Mr. Rust, Daily Worker, 13th Sept., 1947.)

 Those who are impressed by Communist eulogies on conditions in Russia and other satellite countries might usefully remember that this and similar Communist praise of Yugoslavia was to be completely repudiated by those who made it within a few months.

 Mr. Rust died not long afterwards, but he lived long enough to be attacking the Yugloslav rulers in the columns of the Daily Worker (6th July, 1948).

 On one point during his earlier admiration of the Yugoslav regime Mr. Rust accidentally turned out to be correct, for when he wrote in September, 1947, he quoted Tito as believing “that Anglo-Yugoslav relations will continue to improve.”

 Now let us turn to the Yugoslav spokesmen. Mr. Rust had referred to “close trading relations” between Yugoslavia and the “new democracies in Europe.” Tito on the other hand was later to complain that “ no ‘help’ had been received from the Eastern European countries, in fact they owed a considerable amount to Yugoslavia.” (Yugoslav Bulletin, London, 24th March, 1950.)

 And on the same occasion Tito complained that Russia promised Yugoslavia 70 locomotives and railway wagons “ as part of war booty,” and then charged 6 million dollars for them.

 But of more interest still is the Yugoslav Communists’ criticisms of the regime in Russia, made of course in flat contradiction of their earlier approval.

 The following is an extract from an article in the Yugoslav Communist paper Borba, by Milovan Djilas, a leading Yugoslav Communist (reproduced in the Tanjug Telegraph Agency “Weekly Bulletin,” London, 24th November, 1950).

:- “The State monopoly in the Soviet Union, continues Djilas,  

    .  .  .  has acquired monstrous, despotic forms in all fields of life. Thirty-three years have passed, but rotten and effete Capitalism does not fear the influence of the Soviet Union. On the contrary, the Soviet Union is, unlike in Lenin’s day, defending itself and shutting itself from that world. The Soviet leaders are hiding their system and its features, which are monstrous, even when compared with bourgeois democracy. Furthermore, writes Djilas, a class is in power in the Soviet Union which makes use of all class capitalist privileges. This is borne out by the periodical ‘purges’ due to national ‘deviations’ in all Soviet Republics of the U.S.S.R. These deviations are either the expression of the imperialist strivings of domestic national State capitalisms against the hegemony of the dominating over-all State capitalism, or the democratic and socialist strivings of the working masses.
        “At a definite Leninist phase of the Soviet Union, the national question was solved, but it has come into a blind alley, and is becoming more and more a constitutional formality with which nobody now complies in the new bureaucratic conditions. As shown by the experiences in, the last war, in which all republics except greater Russia proved themselves relatively weak because of such an anti-socialist policy, the sharpening of the national question is not diminishing, but is becoming more acute and has led to the annihilation of entire nations, which even German capitalism under Hitler was not able to carry out except towards the Jews.
       “Leaders of the Soviet Union, concluded Djilas, are not only ‘revisionists’ in theory, but also in practice, and they are acquiring and have already acquired a more expressive aspect of the enemies of Marxism, and they do not deny that distorted and false as it is, it helps them as a mask which they remodel and adjust according to the necessity of concealing their real features. They are, will be, and must be, against every resolution and democracy, which does not mean that they will not use them for definite practical hegemonistic aims.”

 Readers of the Socialist Standard can well form their own opinion of these various recriminations and belated discoveries. It need only be added that now Yugoslavia is moving into the Western group of Powers the British Press is cautiously “discovering” that that dictatorship is not such a nasty kind as the Russian one.

Edgar Hardcastle

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