First Published: Progressive Labor, Vol. 6, No. 5, October 1968
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia is another graphic demonstration that capitalism has been fully restored in the Soviet Union, Like any other imperialist power the Soviet Union needs areas to exploit and markets to dump its goods in – and doesn’t want its area of exploitation whittled down by anyone. However, to let it go at this and to bewail the fate of the “poor Czechs,” as the U.S. imperialists are now doing, would leave us very short of the mark.
Prior to Soviet aggression against the Czechs, the U.S. and other imperialists were hailing all new developments in Czechoslovakia. Dubcek had become as famous as Mickey Mouse. The U.S. loved him! Obviously, the U.S. didn’t hail him because he was strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat and building socialism. Front-page stories in the Times and other papers were reporting that behind the scenes the new Czech leadership was dickering with the U.S. for many millions in credits. This, they claimed, was necessary to ensure their economic and political independence from the Soviets. Czechoslovakia was to become another Yugoslavia – a colony of the U.S.
What the world was faced with was a power struggle between two major imperialist powers (with the West German nazis in the wings) over the control of another capitalist country. The Soviet claim that they entered Czechoslovakia to protect socialism – and because the Czechs were working with the U.S. – is a farce. In the first place, the Soviets have abandoned socialism themselves. And second, the Soviets collude with the U.S. The Novotny clique had already destroyed socialism in Czechoslovakia. The struggle between the Novotny gang and the Dubcek clique was over which imperialist power the Czechs should be allied to. Novotny and Co. to the Soviets – Dubcek and Co. to the U.S. and West Germany. If the Novotny gang had been building socialism in Czechoslovakia it wouldn’t have aligned with the Soviets, and the door would have been slammed shut to counterrevolutionary action. Further, a socialist state would not surrender; it would organize armed struggle against an imperialist invasion.
The Dubcek clique was able to rally sections of the people to its banner because democratic centralism in Czechoslovakia had been reduced to centralism-fascism. Consequently, the new clique was able to exploit the grievances of the people and manipulate many to win power for themselves. Rest assured, if any Marxist-Leninist activity were to arise in Czechoslovakia both cliques would do their best to stamp it out ruthlessly. To be a Marxist-Leninist in the Soviet Union or in Czechoslovakia today would mean risking one’s life. Any action to restore the dictatorship of the proletariat in either country would require a complete underground operation to protect the revolutionaries. This indicates the extent of so-called “new democracy” in either country. Neither the Czechs nor the Soviet leaders have any confidence in the masses, and, like any other fascists, resort to open terror against all who fight for socialism. (Although there is no serious fight for socialism in Czechoslovakia as yet.)
Naturally, the U.S. is embarrassed that they were not able to sneak in the back door at this point and capture Czechoslovakia completely. At the moment they are primarily using these events to obscure and justify their aggression in Vietnam. In addition, they are whipping up anti-communist hysteria at home. U.S. aggression in Vietnam has a far different quality than Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. In Vietnam the U.S. is waging a war of genocide against an oppressed people fighting for their liberation. There, the masses are waging People’s War to the extent that they can overcome the revisionism of their leaders in Moscow and Hanoi. Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia is the annexation of a capitalist power by a bigger capitalist power. U.S. machinations in this situation to obscure its role in Vietnam must be countered. Despite all the name-calling by the U.S., directed at the Soviets, the Soviet grab of Czechoslovakia will still be secondary to the overall U.S.-Soviet collusion. The U.S. will simply use this latest event to strengthen its bargaining with the Soviets over Vietnam. And it will use these events to improve the U.S. political position concerning its aggression in Vietnam.
U.S. imperialism and its stooges in Czechoslovakia are trying to whip up a storm of phony nationalism and patriotism against the Soviets. Their object is to solidify capitalism in Czechoslovakia and get the Soviets out so that they can control and use the significant Czech economy. Of course the Soviets should be driven out. But the Czech people must have the outlook of restoring the dictatorship of the proletariat. If they don’t it will be another case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” Phony nationalist sentiment will only serve to fasten on the Czech people U.S. imperialism instead of the Soviet jackboot.
For the Czechs to be free requires a fight against revisionism at home, and against the Soviets. This means, at least (1) an outlook for workers’ power; (2) unity with the international communist movement whose main center is China; (3) a genuine political struggle for Marxism-Leninism among the Czech people; (4) a real anti-imperialist stand concerning Vietnam, which would involve rejection of the fake “stop the bombing and negotiate” slogan and utilizing the concept of “U.S. get out of Vietnam now.” This strategy would give the Czech people, and the people of the world, a real yardstick to see who is defending what. You can be certain that if the Czechs organized a movement with these aims, they would meet united opposition from the U.S., the Soviets, and all revisionist factions in Prague.
Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia should serve as a profound lesson on the nature of revisionism. It should show how shaky the revisionist camp is. Alliance with the Soviets, no matter how well-intentioned, is the road domination and betrayal. The Soviets make alliances not to strengthen the revolutionary movements but to control them for their own purpose. And when this purpose is served by selling revolutionary movement out to imperialism, they will do this readily.
Every communist party that has maintained its tie to the Soviets has either become a willing tool of imperialism – the French CP, for instance – or has restored capitalism and paved the way for U.S. domination – like the Novotny crowd in Prague. It is sad indeed that the leaders in Hanoi and Havana who instantly hailed Soviet intervention in Prague, cannot grasp this fundamental fact. Both Havana and Hanoi must either be blind and servile to Soviet policies or both are too dependent on Soviet “aid” to see! It is our hope that both the Czech and Russian people will learn another bitter lesson about revisionism. Revisionism is imperialist ideology within the revolutionary movement. You cannot fight and defeat imperialism without fighting and defeating revisionism, Soviet occupation in Prague should be turned into a war of liberation and a fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Nothing else will gain freedom for the Czech people!
September 10, 1968