Michel Pablo

Evolution of Yugoslav Centrism

(October 1949)

From Fourth International, Vol. 10 No. 10, November 1949, pp. 291–297.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

It has now become clear that far from having been lanced, the Yugoslav “abscess” now threatens to poison the entire Stalinist organism.

As has been predicted the split between the Yugoslav CP and the Cominform which was provoked by the Kremlin has proved irreparable and definitive.

In less than a year, the logic of the unfolding struggle has obliged the two adversaries to race over the successive stages of the conflict with unbridled speed and to confront one another in a duel to the death: The Kremlin, hawing completed the economic blockade of Yugoslavia; and having revised its prior “theoretical” definitions on the class character of Yugoslavia with the facility for which it is unique, now labels Yugoslavia as a “capitalist fascist state” run by a “clique of spies” which must be crushed at any cost. On their side, the Yugoslavs – far from being intimidated by this monstrous campaign which surpasses in violence, perfidy, ignominy and comic hysteria anything Stalinism has hurled against its political opponents in the past – have on the contrary mounted a counter-offensive on all planes and particularly on the ideological plane and have courageously exposed the “great masters of hypocrisy.”

It is possible that the international revolutionary vanguard has not yet been able to gauge the historic importance of this conflict ,for the future of Stalinism, and for the future of the workers’ movement. It is even interesting to note that the so-called anti-sectarian tendencies – who are preoccupied with a “universal gathering” of revolutionary forces opposed to Stalinism – have been led, because of their theoretical confusion and their sickly fear of Stalinism, into completely underestimating the significance and the consequences of the Stalin-Tito conflict and to hold themselves aloof from it in glorious sectarian “isolation.” [1]

The Yugoslav affair is proving to be of cardinal importance on two counts: for its consequences in Yugoslavia itself, a country which has undergone a revolutionary period and where the crisis created by the Kremlin is imperatively posing before its revolutionary vanguard the fundamental problems of the workers’ movement in our times; for its consequences in the entire Stalinist world where it has aggravated the crisis and facilitated the crystallization of a new opposition to the Kremlin.

Under pressure of the logic of the struggle against the Cominform and the Kremlin, the Yugoslav communists and the revolutionary workers of that country have been obliged to put their finger on the questions which relate to revolutionary orientation in our epoch: the problem of the USSR and Stalinism, the construction of socialism, the International, and to give their answers to them.

Flowing from this fact, from this ideological ferment, a profound differentiation is inevitable, one which will crystallize on the most advanced position of Marxism-Leninism, at least in an important section of the Yugoslav revolutionary vanguard.

On the other hand, the example of Yugoslavia’s resistance to the Kremlin, which thus far has been victorious and has not led it back into the imperialist camp, is stirring, developing and crystallizing opposition tendencies which are forming in the Communist Parties all over the world and particularly in the “peoples democracies.”

Crisis of World Stalinism

The expansion of Stalinism after the last war has gone hand in hand with the development of the most acute crisis which .Stalinism has experienced since the liquidation of the proletarian wing in the USSR during the years 1936–38.

The exploitation of the revolutionary workers movement in the postwar world exclusively for the interest of the Soviet bureaucracy is proving to be unrealizable, and is giving rise to widespread resistance particularly in those countries which suffer the most from the despotic and extortionist grip of the Kremlin.

The Yugoslav dissidence is the most striking proof of the incompatibility of the extension of the power of the Kremlin even with the existence of Communist parties which are completely isolated from the masses of their countries and are merely branch offices of the GPU.

The revolt is now brewing in all the satellite countries, and the Kremlin, to maintain its position, will find it necessary to intensify its repressive measures against the Communist Parties themselves through which, deformed as they are, the discontent and the resistance of the masses is making itself felt. Purges and Moscow Trials follow one after another in the satellite countries and will become ever more extensive. There is no perspective in the present conjuncture for a possible stabilization of the terrorist regime of the Kremlin in the satellite countries.

Yugoslavia’s example will stimulate resistance and will deepen the frustration of the Kremlin which will see “Titoist” agents everywhere arid will make life impossible for all the leading members of the Communist Parties in this zone. It is bound to reduce all these parties to the status of mere machines, without any life of their own and managed directly and completely by the GPU.

But the crisis of Stalinism is riot confined to the buffer zone. The echoes of events in this area and the effects of the Yugoslav affair are reverberating far beyond this zone. They are spreading into the whole Stalinist world and joining with the special causes of crisis of the Stalinist movement in each country, thus contributing more and more in pushing the general crisis of Stalinism now maturing over the world to its culminating point.

It is not an exaggeration to anticipate, if the Yugoslav affair evolves favorably, if the Tito regime does not compromise with imperialism but on the contrary develops a more consistent revolutionary line, that we may yet witness the debacle of Stalinism in the years to come on a vast scale. For all these reasons the revolutionary vanguard should be conscious of the immense potentialities of the Yugoslav affair and do the utmost to assist its favorable evolution.

We cannot just wait for what the Yugoslav Communist Party does on its own in developing a correct platform and for what Yugoslavia does on its own in continuing to fight on two fronts against imperialism and against the Kremlin. What will happen to the Yugoslav CP and to Yugoslavia depends largely, depends primarily on the active aid which the international workers movement can give from now on to this new revolutionary development in the world.

In the remainder of this article we will point out the recent progressive achievements by Yugoslavia and by the CPY on the economic, political and especially on the ideological arena.

I. The Collectivization of Agriculture

On the economic field, it is necessary to point out the measures taken to accelerate the preparations for the collectivization of agriculture, particularly since the split with the Cominform and the Kremlin.

The Yugoslav Communist Party seems to have a particularly clear and quite “classical” theoretical conception of the road to be followed to realize this transformation: They proceed from already existing restrictions on property and on the exploitation of the land [2] for the purpose of favoring a broad cooperative movement, which is developing in depth as well as in content, in accordance with the general rhythm of the industrialization of the country.

Collectivization of agriculture should correspond on the One hand to the possibility of industry and the state to furnish the countryside with all the “necessary equipment for mechanized farming and to provide it with cheap industrial products, and on the other hand to the persuasion of the peasant masses by example of the advantages of a mechanized, collectivist economy.

This result can be achieved by beginning to give an impulsion to a rudimentary cooperative movement and by developing it to higher forms in accordance with the progress of industry and the development of the collectivist consciousness of the peasant masses.

The rudimentary cooperative is that of the lower type of work cooperatives in which “the peasants combine their small properties to form large collective farms, or where they work the land in common utilizing the common means of production, applying the methods of planning and adapting themselves to the agrotechnical means.” (Ibid., Paris, July 1949)

As of January 1, 1949 there were 1,318 such cooperatives in Yugoslavia; at the end of March 1949 more than 2,800 new work cooperatives had been registered involving more than 110,000 families and accounting for some 510,000 hectares of land. In September 1949, the number of cooperatives rose to more than 5,000 covering 250,000 families and more than 1,400,000 hectares of land. (Ibid., Oct. 10, 1949)

But the most important step in this field was taken by the creation of agricultural work cooperatives of a higher “purely socialist” type decided on at the congress of peasant cooperators held in June 1949. In these cooperatives “not only the means of production but also all the land becomes common property and the remuneration of members is based solely on labor put in.” (Ibid., July 1949)

Concerning the policy of “curbing the capitalist elements (kulaks)” who reappear on the countryside and on which several laws already exist, a recent decree of the federal government stipulates that “the rich peasants are obliged to sell to the state a much larger share of their surplus of grain than they have been required to deliver up to now, from 80 to 95%. On the other hand, only the toiling peasants, the agricultural work cooperatives and the agricultural farms of the general cooperative type may henceforth sell their produce at tied prices while the rich agricultural cultivations will be excluded from this measure.” (Ibid., July 1949)

II. Reform in Law on Peoples’ Committees

In connection with the structure of the state, and on political thinking on this matter, it is necessary to note the reform in the law on Peoples’ Committees presented by Edvard Kardelj at the seventh regular session of the Yugoslav National Assembly held in June 1949. The new law “modifies and in fact largely amends the existing law” adopted in May 1946.

Unfortunately we have not yet been able to obtain the complete text of this new law. But in a long speech made in presenting this law, Kardelj clearly stresses that the new law takes into consideration the criticisms formulated ty the Yugoslav leaders at the Fifth Congress of the Yugoslav Communist Party (1948), namely that their “soviet organization” should become both more democratic and more centralized so that it can enlarge the participation Of the masses in trie direction of the state while at the same time making its functioning more efficient. Kardelj stated:

By its profoundly democratic character and by its concrete organizational elaboration, this Law constitutes an extremely powerful Stride forward in the development of our State structure and, as such, this Law is at the same time an important contribution to the theory and practise of socialist development. It has been our intention, in full harmony with the principle of unity of authority and democratic centralism, to give the strongest expression to that profound democratic aspiration of the masses in relation to self-government, to participation in government of the State, which has always been characteristic of all genuinely popular governments in the world and must indeed be characteristic of the revolutionary proletariat and of socialist democracy. (Ibid., June 7, 1949.)

In the course of his speech, Kardelj delivered a hard-hitting polemic against the concept of “peoples’ democracy” as a distinct stage between capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, a concept held by the “theoreticians” of the “peoples’ democracies” before their latest turn in December 1948, but one which the Yugoslav leaders have never shared.

Insisting, on the other hand, on differences which still exist between the system of state power established in Yugoslavia and the system which exists in the other “peoples democracies,” Kardelj sums up these differences as follows:

There still exist remnants of the old bourgeois state in these countries which assume the form of the survival of parliamentarism, divided authority, the absence of local organs of popular power in place of which there function organs which are directly dependent on the Minister of the Interior. Where organs of popular power (councils) do exist, their personnel is designated from above. Thus for example, up to April 1948 in Bulgaria, the local authority has been exercised by mayors and functionaries, local and departmental heads, all of whom are appointed by the Minister of the Interior. In Rumania up to the beginning of this year, municipalities, districts and departments were administered by functionaries appointed by the Minister of the Interior. The law on peoples’ councils in Rumania is as recent as January 1949. In Hungary “the old bourgeois system of divided authority is still in full force.” In Poland also there are still no elected councils (June 1949). The peoples’ councils were created after the liberation with the participation of delegates representing “all parties and democratic organizations.”

Kardelj explains these vestiges of the “old bourgeois regime” which still exist in the other “peoples’ democracies” by the fact that, contrary to Yugoslavia where there was a revolutionary movement of the masses “under the leadership of the CPY,” in the other “peoples’ democracies,” “there was no broad participation of the masses in the struggle for power.” For this reason the old state apparatus had not been completely shattered from the outset. The broadening of power accorded by the new law of June 1949 on the peoples’ committees is explained by the Yugoslav leaders as the consequence of the broadening of “socialist” conquests of the country. In his speech at the Fifth Congress of the party, Tito had referred to the need of using “the first opportunity” to “partially modify (the text of the Constitution adopted in January 1946) principally (in that section) on the social and economic organization” of Yugoslavia so as to better express the changes “which had already gone much further” since that time in the economic and social structure of the country.

Kardelj concluded his presentation speech on the new law as follows:

In many matters, life itself had overtaken the first Law on Peoples’ Committees, which was adopted in conditions when the socialist construction of Yugoslavia was in its infancy. The socialist sector, at that time, embraced only big and- middle industry, wholesale trade, banking, etc, whereas the sector of local economy remained, in the main, in capitalist hands ... Now, however, the socialist sector predominates in local economy and trade as well. The Peoples’ Committees have become direct leaders in the entire work of economic, cultural and social construction.

III. Ideological Differences with Stalinism

The most striking ideological progress of the CPY dates from recent months this year as a result of the principal role assumed by the Kremlin in the Stalinist campaign against Yugoslavia which reached its climax in the Budapest trial.

In effect the Yugoslav leaders presented their position at the outset as a conflict which had arisen between their party and the other parties of the Cominform (they even said and wrote that it was between their party and certain leaders of these parties), but they were careful not to accuse the Russian Communist Party, and Stalin in particular, directly as the ones who were really responsible.

As late as December 27, 1948, in his speech before the Federal Assembly on the budget, Tito attacked the “various leading personalities of peoples democracies” but he noted that “no one in the country of the Soviets has formulated any complaints against us on this question” (on the question of trade between Yugoslavia and the capitalist countries).

Moshe Piyade, speaking shortly after on January 20, 1949 at the Second Congress of the Serbian CP, declared that “everything spoken, written or done in this country throughout these seven months of unscrupulous persecution on the part of those from whom we had the right to expect nothing but friendship and support, is proof that, almost endangering our own just cause, we have done everything in our power to make it possible for the (Russian) Bolshevik Party to emerge as little damaged as possible from this conflict.” Piyade considered that the authority of the Russian CP was “international capital” and that the responsibility for its preservation was not merely “national but international.”

“For that reason,” he added, “the Budapest radio station should not be allowed to go on repeating that the Informbureau (Cominform) Resolution was adopted on Stalin’s initiative and that it reflects his wisdom. In Yugoslavia such propaganda has only the opposite effect, for nobody here is capable of discovering any wisdom in the resolution, least of all Stalin’s. We can but send them one word of advice: look after that authority better, for we all need it and it is precious to us all.”

Up to July 1949 it is difficult to find direct attacks against the Stalinist leaders of the USSR in the Yugoslav press. But as a result of the dropping of the Yugoslav demands on Slovene Carinthia at the Big Four Conference in Paris on July 1949, the Yugoslav government sent a protest note to Moscow on August 3rd. Since that time, the Kremlin sharpened up its campaign against Yugoslavia, sending it note after note, and step by step completed the economic and diplomatic blockade of the country by the USSR and the other “peoples’ democracies.”

On August 25th, an article in Borba gave the following explanation of this new attitude of the Kremlin:

“Up to now the government of the USSR has permitted various propaganda agencies in the Information Bureau countries to disseminate the resolution (of June 1948) and to carry on agitation in its favor. Having discovered that this campaign has not yielded the desired results but on the contrary has turned against its in-spirers, the Soviet government has decided to publicly and directly assume the principal role in the struggle against small Yugoslavia whose only “crime” is of not having submitted to orders and instructions because Yugoslavia is dedicated to the defense of equality between states, peoples and movements.” (Unless otherwise noted, all emphasis is mine. – MP)

However even in August 1949, the commentaries in the Yugoslav press continued to be cautious and circumspect. On the 25th of August, Borba speaks of “erroneous ideas” on “the sovereignty of other smaller states on the part of the Soviet Government which believes that it is entitled to use a language of threats, a language of the master and of giving orders.” Two less official organs employ sharper terms. Politika (August 23) writes: “These two notes (August 11 and 18) formally confirm for the first time the hostility of the Soviet Government towards the construction of socialism in our country as well as their conscious opposition to the socialist transformation.”

The same paper deplores “the most vulgar fascist methods of persuasion” – “lying methods” of the “heroes” of the Information Bureau under the direction of Moscow. The newspaper Rad, organ of the Central Committee of the Trade Union Federation of Yugoslavia declared on August 23:

“The Soviet Government would like to see relations of command prevail in the socialist world instead of equalitarian and friendly relations. It sells out Slovene Carinthia and betrays the heroic struggle of the Greek people.”

Betrayal in Greece

The next stage which accentuated the ideological differentiation with the Kremlin was reached in connection with the Greek affair. The Kremlin and the Cominform had accused Yugoslavia of having closed the Greek-Yugoslav border in. complicity with the monarcho-fascists of Athens and of having stabbed the “democratic army” in the back. The Yugoslavs replied that these accusations served in reality “to attribute to the Yugoslavs the lack of success of the Greek democratic army.” (Rad, August 31).

But why this “lack of success,” and why this attempt to attribute it to the Yugoslavs?

In two articles appearing in Borba (September 8 and 12) two Yugoslav leaders, General Louba Vuckovic and Tempo, an alternate to the Political Bureau, probe deeply into this question and arrive at conclusions which are of cardinal importance in the ideological break with the Kremlin. Vuckovic views the Greek civil war as a military specialist and condemns the defensive methods adopted by the Greek partisans after the removal of Markos “who was against capitulation and the defensive, against bargaining with the imperialists.” The new command of Zachariades, on the contrary, had as its principal task “to wait until the Greek question was ‘solved’ through diplomatic channels, through agreement of the USSR with America and Britain. From this completely wrong political perspective came wrong tactics – the tactics of the defensive.”

Vuckovic draws the following conclusion in an article rich in profound and correct observations on partisan war and the proper tactics to be used in them:

It is more important now to Zachariades and his friends to slander Yugoslavia, to allege that the monarcho-fascists used Yugoslav territory for the attack against the Democratic Army, ... than to put the Liberation Army of the Greek people on the correct road and to bring it to final victory. Zachariades’ aim is clear: to liquidate the national liberation struggle of Greece, who knows for whose interests, and to throw responsibility for all this onto Yugoslavia. The leaders of the USSR, who have already announced through their representatives and official news agencies that they were ready to discuss liquidation of the struggle in Greece, are also mixed up in this dishonest business.”

The article by Tempo covers the same subject but he treats it much more profoundly. For him, the Greek defeat is the climax of a line of betrayal which dates from the last world war for which the Kremlin bears the responsibility. It has a much more general interest moreover because his “critical analysis,” he says, will contribute “to a great degree in clarifying the causes for the defeat of many Communist Parties.” In fact “the Communist Parties in many countries have also known similar defeats (France, Italy, etc.).”

“To our knowledge,” Tempo writes, “no leadership has tried to give a critical analysis for the defeat and lack of success experienced by numerous Communist Parties in the world. Only the Bolshevik Party (Russian) has tried to explain the ‘lack of success’ of the Communist Parties of France and Italy by the absence and by the remoteness of the Red Army. It is obvious that this non-Marxist and non-Leninist analysis of the defeat of the Communist Parties of France and Italy cannot be accepted because it does not seek for the causes of the defeat in the internal weaknesses of the party but in external factors. This analysis is not only non-Marxist but is directly counter-revolutionary. It debilitates the internal revolutionary forces of every country and orients them to rely upon the outside, on the armed forces of the Soviet Union.” [3]

Roots of Stalinist Policy

In the course of his article Tempo admits that the opportunism which was demonstrated by the Greek Communist Party during the entire war and immediately afterwards during the uprising of December 1944 “is not some specifically Greek manifestation” but should be attributed to the general line of the Kremlin during the Second World War. “It was the leadership of the Bolshevik Party (Russian) which in fact ‘advised’ (in 1944) the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia to dissolve the party organizations in the army, to abolish the political commissars, to remove the red stars from our overseas caps.” The leadership of the Russian Bolshevik Party “proposed these measures so as to avoid giving offense to international bourgeois reaction and so as not to allegedly weaken the forces’ of the anti-Hitler coalition ... Did not the leadership of the Bolshevik Party even advise the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party not to resolve the question of power in a revolutionary manner, but to come to an agreement with treacherous counter-revolutionary reaction which was grouped around Drazha Mikhailovitch, to “provisionally recognize the rnonarchy and to resolve the question of power by parliamentary methods of struggle after the liberation of the country?”

And here is Tempo’s principal conclusion in regard to the “roots” of these opportunist manifestations:

“The roots of these manifestations rest in the concepts of the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, namely that all questions of the international revolutionary movement should be resolved exclusively from the point of view of the Soviet Union (more exactly from the point of view of its understandings with the imperialists, from the point of view of whether or not it extends the control of the Soviet Union) and not from the point of view of the international workers movement in general and its interests in each country in particular.”

Lacking only in this conclusion, one of the most and clearest which the Yugoslav leaders have made in the recent period on the meaning of the Kremlin’s policy, is to point out that the interests of what Tempo calls the Soviet Union are in reality the self-interest of the Soviet bureaucracy.

The confusion on this cardinal point, whether deliberate or real, naturally prevents the Yugoslav leaders from critically probing the phenomenon of Stalinism and deriving from it the necessary conclusions to enable them to elaborate a program of truly international value.

The Budapest Trial

The next stage in their ideological clarification came on the occasion of the Rajk trial in Hungary.

The former Yugoslav volunteers of the international brigades in Spain, among whom are many of the presents principal Yugoslav leaders, who were directly accused in the Budapest trial as “spies and agents of imperialism,” opened a merciless fire against the “leaders of the USSR” who staged the Rajk trial for the purpose of “aiding the infamous campaign carried on against Yugoslavia.”

Meeting in extraordinary conference on September 14 in Belgrade, they sent a telegram to Tito in which they say :

“The monstrous and counter-revolutionary attack which has been unleashed against our country by the Information Bureau, which is nothing but the blind weapon of the leaders of the Communist Party of the USSR, has brought internationalism to the gravest and most unprecedented crisis. The deluded leaders of the USSR have begun to trample underfoot one after another the principles of internationalism, to destroy the moral principles and to spit on the traditions of internationalism.”

Yugoslav reactions became more violent as the Budapest trial unfolded. All aspects of this monstrous orchestration were submitted to a hard-hitting and thorough criticism: the juridical side, the facts, the political aims pursued in this machination.

It remained for Moshe Piyade to draw the most audacious and the most interesting conclusions on what the “Budapest trial revealed.” In his first article in Borba, on September 22, Piyade for the first time linked the Budapest to the Moscow trials:

“The Budapest trial is reminiscent of the trials in the Soviet Union in 1936, the organizers of which could have helped in staging the Budapest trial with their abundant experience. Still, the trials in Moscow, although they were of significance for all Communist parties, were the internal affair of the Soviet Union, the indictment charged and the trial was conducted against Soviet citizens accused of various crimes, among which was also of having linked up with German and Japanese fascism. But Hitler was not charged nor mentioned. A non-aggression pact was concluded with him a few years later, on which occasion even toasts to his health were exchanged. And now when the Public Prosecutor is Minister of Foreign Affairs, this type of trial is transferred to the international arena, it is becoming an article of export.”

We have come a long way from the time when Piyade wanted to safeguard the prestige of the leaders of the USSR, a prestige which he then considered “international capital.”.

The mechanism of the trial was now enough to permit him to characterize it “definitely, without hesitation, without any fear of error, as a new foray of the counter-revolution directed from Moscow. This penetration into Europe of the sinister methods of the Soviet intelligence service is a harsh example of the ‘leading role’ of the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet Union.”

(The author then quotes another section of the Piyade article which was reprinted in the October Fourth International. – Editor)

But when Piyade attempts to discover the cause of this degeneration he sees only “Great Russian and greater-state chauvinism” of “certain people in the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.” Thus he still remains in the field of effects, of epiphenomena and not of real causes. The notion of the Soviet bureaucracy is still foreign to him.

The final conclusion of his article however deserves special attention because it is pregnant with other conclusions which the Yugoslav leaders will be led to in their effort to give a coherent explanation of the policy of Moscow and the Communist Parties.

“It has proved,” he writes, “that the counter-revolutionary attitude of these Bolshevik leaders towards Yugoslavia cannot be an exceptional or partial deviation from the general line, that it cannot progress parallel with a general, correct revolutionary attitude; but that it is a component part of a new policy, a new ideological line, which is a deviation from the basis of Marxism-Leninism itself, a work of revision which has encompassed all fields of theory and practise.”

“Masters of Hypocrisy”

On October 6th, a new article by Piyade appeared in Borba entitled The Great Masters of Hypocrisy in which he chronologically fixes the point of departure of this “new ... deviationist and revisionist line” of the Russian leaders:

“Since that very day when they proclaimed that Trotskyism had ceased to be a tendency in the international workers’ movement and had become an agency of fascism [4] since that day and particularly after the second world war, all ideas not in agreement with the ideas of the soviet leaders” have been declared Trotskyist and equated to a fascist agency. From this point there remains only physical extermination and the burning of heretics, all discussion being excluded.”

In the same article, it is true, either out of deliberate or real confusion, Piyade attributes to “Trotskyism” which he ties to “Menshevism,” “erroneous ideas” which “constitute the two important pillars of the present revision of Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union,” a revision “marked by the stamp of Trotskyism and Menshevism,” namely: “the impossibility of a successful revolution without the intervention of the Soviet Army and the impossibility of building socialism anywhere in the world without the aid of the Soviet Union – and what hides behind this ‘aid’ is perfectly clear to the peoples of Yugoslavia.”

“From these concepts,” Piyade continues, “arises the policy towards Yugoslavia now being pursued by the leaders of the CP of the USSR; from these ideas also arises the transformation of internationalism into Great Russian chauvinism, the theory of Russian scientific priority and the incomprehensible fear of ‘servility to the foreigner,’ the glorification of all the Czars and the policy of conquest, the fatuous petty bourgeois notion that conceives of Russia as a predestined nation, the foremost and the most cultured in the world and that the line followed by Lenin descends directly from Chernishevsky and not for example from Marx and Engels. [5] From this also flow the barbarous methods of struggle against heretics and this gross emanation of hypocrisy which is the principal feature today of Russian policy toward Yugoslavia.”

Yugoslavs at the UN

The entire last period of differentiation by the Yugoslavs from Stalinism opened up at the present session of the UN. Tito defined the general attitude taken by the Yugoslav delegation in a speech he delivered on September 8, 1949, in the Serbian village of Stolice:

“In the United Nations we voted for such Soviet proposals when they were correct in principle, such as, for example, the question of Greece, but we did not vote when Yugoslavia herself and relations towards our country were in question, but abstained. Where they speak about the rights of small nations, about war mongering propaganda, we could not say that what was not right was right and that the Soviet Union was not doing it, because they are rattling sabres here. We shall not say anything, but we shall not give our vote where they violate Socialist principles.”

In an interview with the editor of the NY Times (October 3), Edvard Kardelj formulated the “guiding principles” of the Yugoslav delegation at the UN:

“Strengthen peace and the sovereignty of peoples, equal rights and democratic relations between states, respect for the independence of each country and the elimination of all interference of any state in the internal affairs of other states, strict observance of the Charter of the United Nations.”

On the question of voting, Kardelj stated “that Yugoslavia would vote in complete independence, according to iti, convictions, in the spirit of the above-stated principles.”

And up to now, that is the way they acted as is proved by Yugoslavia’s votes on the question of Greece, China, and the Italian colonies. In the same spirit, the Yugoslav delegation submitted a draft “declaration on the rights and duties of states” to the General Secretariat of the United Nations. Both the US and the USSR prevented a discussion on it. (The author does not here discuss the false and reformist statements of the Yugoslav delegations – that the UN is the main instrument of peace and that capitalism and socialism can cohabit peacefully in the world – as they have been dealt with elsewhere in the Trotskyist press. – Editor)

Finally we should note the participation of the Yugoslav delegate, Vilfan, in the debates in the Social and Economic Commission, where his intervention was based on the Yugoslav doctrine on economic relations between states and particularly “socialist states.” This problem was posed to the Yugoslavs in the course of their relations with the USSR and the other “peoples’ democracies” before the break, but it was elaborated “theoretically” at the UN session. The theoretical work of the Yugoslavs on this question is of particular interest and we hope to return to it in another article. For the moment we will limit ourselves to pointing out the general line and conclusions of this work.

The automatic play of the law of value, which is realized universally in trade between nations, leads – the Yugoslavs state – “to the greatest disproportions and to the worst exploitation of weak and backward states by the most powerful and most developed states.” (The Yugoslavs, basing themselves on Marx, give a very, detailed analysis of the capitalist conditions and consequences of world trade.)

In the imperialist world, the influence of the big monopolies causes “the most shocking disproportions and inequalities.” In “the socialist world in formation,” composed, they say, of the USSR and the “peoples’ democracies,” the problem according to the Yugoslavs is one of “suppressing, or at least of creating the conditions for the abolition of exploitation of small and backward states by bigger and more developed states, by establishing relations between the USSR and others which conform to socialist principles.”

The Yugoslavs stress that the USSR is far removed from such principles and on the contrary practices “capitalist methods.” According to Vilfan, these methods consist of the following: a) “trade is conducted on the basis of world capitalist prices” to the disadvantage of the backward countries; b) “the more developed socialist countries continue to insist on a unilateral structure of exports unfavorable to the insufficiently developed countries (who among other things are obliged to export an ‘excessive’ and ‘disproportionate’ amount of raw materials and foodstuffs without reciprocal compensation) and the advantage of the capitalist monopolies is replaced by the monopolist position of the more developed socialist country”; c) the mixed companies founded in the “peoples’ democracies” with the participation of the USSR have proved to be a form of exploitation of these countries by the USSR.

In our opinion it becomes obvious that what we are witnessing in the whole development of the Yugoslav Communist Party is the development of a left centrist, tendency. The Yugoslav CP experienced a specific development during the war and even then represented a left centrist tendency, nurtured by the revolutionary movement of the masses. Naturally its Stalinist origin must be taken into consideration. Far from arresting its development, this left centrism is particularly favored by the split with the Cominform.

It depends on the active assistance of the international proletariat, let us repeat once again, whether the perspectives of this tendency not only remain good but become excellent for the world communist revolution and for the revival of the international workers’ movement.

October 15, 1949


1. We are referring here specifically to the position adopted on this question by Shachtman in the United States and by Confrontation Internationale in France. In a brief note relating to Yugoslavia, in number three of the latter publication, its always “well-informed” and “impartial” editors acknowledge for their part that Tito has really betrayed the Greek partisans and, it appears, has made contact with “pro-nazi Slovak nationalists.” After this presentation, the note concludes with this profound “theoretical” analysis of Titoism:

“Tito’s chances are those of a nationalist-collectivist opposition arising from the internal contradictions of the Stalinist bureaucratic system and are especially favored by the rivalry between the USSR and the USA. If the master of Yugoslavia succeeds in holding power, then we can foresee an attempt to create a Titoist ideology internationally, with a bureaucratic collectivist content, and consisting of a number of those minorities and individuals who, having grown tired of Moscow dictation, will see in Tito the mainstay, the unifier and the substitute strong man – while feigning to see in him the champion of socialist democracy.”

2. The Yugoslavs state that in the application of agrarian reform they have gone much further than all the other “Peoples Democracies.” The law on agrarian reform applies the principle that “the land belongs to those who till it.” Owners who do not themselves cultivate their land have been completely expropriated without indemnity together with all their buildings and equipment. Also expropriated were the properties of the banks and private firms. The properties of the church are limited to 10 hectares. The maximum established for other properties ranges from 20 to 30 hectares according to whether the property is situated in one or another of the federal republics. Also coming under the purview of the law are surpluses of cultivable land over 3–5 hectares where the owners are not farmers. “The most important differences,” the Yugoslav leaders state, “between Yugoslavia and the other peoples’ democracy countries consists in the agrarian reform in Yugoslavia having taken the character of a socialist measure. More than half of the lands sequestered in the agrarian fund have become part of the state sector and have been assigned to the peasants work cooperatives. Thus was created a powerful socialist sector in agriculture, which has not been done in any other peoples’ democracy country.” (Yugoslav Information Bulletin, September 15, 1949)

3. The day after the appearance of the Tempo article, Tito in a speech to the miners (September 13) denounced the same “conception of the exclusively revolutionary role of the Red Army which actually means the demobilization of the latent revolutionary forces which exist in every people, in every working class. Every working class is capable of fighting and winning the new social order. Bayonets have never correctly spread a progressive idea and brought social transformation, but only enslavement.”

4. On October 4th Tito referred to “Trotskyism” in these words in a speech to 600 generals, officers and guests after the Yugoslav army maneuvers:

“We know what harm Trotsky did; we know that his work was from the viewpoint of ideology correctly estimated as harmful. But what followed him is another matter. How many innocent communists suffered from the name of Trotskyist though they had nothing in common with it.”

5. In this field also, Piyade goes much further than the other Yugoslav leaders who are more moderate in their disapproval of the “nationalist exaggerations” of the struggle against “cosmopolitanism” raging in the USSR. Boris Ziherl, for example, in a pamphlet called Communism and Fatherland, fully justifies this struggle but believes it necessary to add:

“What struggle against cosmopolitanism means, first of all, is struggle against contemporary bourgeois ideological decay, against the detrimental and destructive influence which it exercises on different national cultures, and on the social consciousness of the working masses. It needs must, therefore, have a quite definite class character.

“It would be wrong and un-Marxist to term as cosmopolitanism the recognition of the superiority of foreign culture in the past, or in the present for that matter (if the culture of a more progressive nation is in question), of its beneficial effect on the development of other national cultures. Internationalism on the cultural front is the recognition of the real merits of different nations in the achievement of universal culture, and in acquainting their nations with those merits and with the achievements of other peoples ... To consider as absolute the leading role which a definite national culture has at a given time, to project that leading role arbitrarily into the future, has nothing in common with real love for one’s Rational culture, or with internationalism on the cultural front ... It should be stated that the tendency towards such absolutism of Soviet, or, rather Russian culture at times pervades modern Soviet works, different articles, film scripts, critiques, etc., and meets with no criticism.”

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Michel Pablo
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Marxist Writers’

Updated on: 10 April 2015