Hal Draper

Yugos Adopt New Role
in UN, Hit 1936 Purges

(3 October 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 40, 3 October 1949, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The economic deal between Yugoslavia and the United States remains a deal solely on the economic plane and involves no political or social concessions to Western capitalism. At the same time Yugoslavia has broken oil all signs of political alliance with the Russian bloc in international diplomatic maneuvering and intends to follow an independent path on this field.

This is what the Titoists have been announcing to the world through their line at the UN, and it was for the implementation of this turn that their No. 2 man, Edvard Kardelj, was sent to New York. How long and how consistently they can maintain such a line is another matter, but as long as the Russian and American powers are balanced against each other they obviously hope to maintain their unique position by careful tight-rope walking. It is, at any rate, the only way the Tito regime can get along.

At the same time, Yugoslav mouthpieces within the country have taken virtually all stops out in speaking their minds not only about the Cominform but also about the Russian regime itself, unlike their attitude up to the recent financial deal with Washington. At the time of the break in 1948, the Cominform accused them of whispering among themselves about the “degeneration” of the Russian power and of the Russian Communist Party. They are not whispering now.

Backhanded Repudiation

The chief spokesman for this turn is Moshe Piyade, who is not one of the top political bigwigs (these are Kardelj, Djilas and Rankovic, after Tito himself), but who is generally regarding as the leading “theoretician” of the Titoists. Symptomatic of how far they are willing to go now is Piyade’s denunciation of the Moscow Trials (in retrospect) on September 22.

Piyade’s repudiation of the Moscow purge trials of the ’30s was clear, even though made (in typically Stalinist style) in a backhanded way through a comparison with the just-concluded confession trial of Rajk and seven others in Budapest. The Hungarian court farce was used to “prove” that Tito is an agent of American imperialism with the same methods as the GPU “proved” that Trotsky and the old Bolsheviks were “agents of fascism.”

According to Times correspondent Handler:

“Analyzing the purposes of the Budapest trial, M. Piyade said it was reminiscent of the Moscow purge trials of 1936. whose ‘producers, with their experience, could have had a hand in the production of the Budapest trial.’ He said that the, Moscow trials had not prevented the Soviet government from signing a pact with Hitlerite Germany and drinking Hitler’s health at the signing. But in M. Piyade’s view, the seriousness of the problem is that ‘now such trials have become export articles because the person who was at that time state prosecutor became foreign minister and this type trial was transferred, to the international arena’.” (The reference is to Vichinsky.)

The sideswipe against the Hitler-Stalin Pact is equally new. How the implied characterization of the Moscow trials as frameups squares with the Titoists’ continued denunciations of Trotsky is still to be seen, as Piyade continues to work out the Titoist catechism. (The Titoists accuse the Cominformers of “Trotskyism,” and vice versa.)

“The degeneration of the Bolshevik Party can no longer be concealed,” wrote Piyade. “The Budapest trial is the fruit of this degeneration.”

In almost casual fashion, the Tito-Stalinists remark in passing that the Moscow trials were GPU stage plays, and do not even assume that there is any necessity of their proving what, like all other Stalinists, they heatedly denied for over a decade. Presumably they have no doubt that even the ranks of their Communist Party need no convincing on the score. Even more than Piyade’s change of tune on the question, the manner in which it is done indicates that nobody, not even the Stalinists themselves, have believed the truth of the trials.

It reminds one forcibly of what happened in the United States in the ’30s when Jay Lovestone and his group, then organized as a Communist Opposition (right wing) group, defended the frameup trial until Bukharin was put in the dock. Lovestone (who today is busy guarding international political morals for the AFL and the State Department) was, like the Titoists, perfectly willing to parrot the Kremlin’s smears against Trotsky and balked only when the dirt came flying in his own direction.

Outside the Blocs

In the United Nations, Kardelj has followed a voting policy of avoiding lining up with either the American or Russian voting blocs, abstaining or voting for a dark horse in the elections to the assembly’s committees.

In his address of September 26, he carefully described Yugoslavia as “the country which – as is well known both to the Soviet government and to the world at large – does not enjoy the support of any bloc of powers, which has neither concluded secret pacts or entered into military alliances with any opponent of the USSR.” This, was said, not as a mere description, but as a programmatic announcement.

At the same time, he more than once emphasized Yugoslavia’s “different social system” from that of the West, in the context of the contention that peaceful relations were possible. Manuilsky, in reply, could think of nothing brighter than to blow hard with: “It is a fact of notorious public knowledge that the Yugoslav regime of Tito has subjected that country to capitalist foreign monopolies.”

Last updated on 28 August 2021