Hal Draper

Tito Clamps Tighter Police Control
on Labor; Fake Reform Heralded

(6 February 1950)

From Labor Action, Vol. 14 No. 6, 6 February 1950, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

As could have been anticipated (and was anticipated in Labor Action), the Tito regime in Yugoslavia has started to throw up a smokescreen of “democratization” measures, designed to convince Western public opinion that at least first steps toward an easing of the totalitarian system .are,. being taken. At the same time, ironically enough, it has been forced to announce new measures chaining the working class more tightly than before.

The main new decree publicized as tending toward greater democracy has been the “reform” of the electoral system. The new feature is the right of an independent candidate to stand for the Titoist parliament if he gets the signatures of 100 voters in his constituency.

This is the sum of what was immediately hailed in some quarters as the “abolition of the single-list system,” “symptomatic of the recent trend toward decentralization of authority,” “a radical departure,” etc. (The quotations are from the N.Y. Times correspondent in Belgrade, M.S. Handler, whose dispatches are arousing comments about “Tito’s Walter Duranty.”)

To give Handler his due, however, his report included the statement that “It is, of course, quite obvious that the next parliament to be elected will be almost unanimously for the regime because enemies cannot be tolerated.” He adds: “Criticism should be heard more frequently, however, provided it is constructive.” That is, as in all the Stalinist countries, criticism is not only tolerated but demanded (as in Russia) provided it is on matters of detail which in no way impugn the basis of the dictatorship.

In any case, it is obvious that the right to run for parliament on the basis of 100 signatures is a right that can be exercised, in Tito’s police state, only by a candidate who is perfectly acceptable to the dictatorship. The electoral change makes riot an iota of difference as long as Rankovic’s secret police operate.

In fact, one of the reasons for the reform given by Foreign Minister Kardelj is that all organized opposition to the regime has disappeared – that is, been wiped out by state terror. There are no opponents of Stalinism above ground even to dream of “taking advantage” of the electoral reform.

For Labor-Chains

This step by Tito is not unique in Eastern Europe in one respect. Its only possible effect is an effort by the electoral stage-managers to produce a few “non-party” candidates for the coming election. Similarly, before the recent election in Bulgaria, the official Stalinist press raised a howl of “self-criticism” about the necessity of putting more “non-party” candidates on the lists. Tito’s version of this gambit is, however, specifically designed to make it possible for foreign correspondents to write home about “the abolition of the single-list system.”

Five days after the “democratic reform,” another ukase was announced which has more teeth in it. This was a drastic decree freezing workers to their jobs, withdrawing food ration cards from workers leaving their jobs without authorization, and compelling workers to reimburse any loss in production resulting from “unjustifiable” absenteeism.

The system of “voluntary labor brigades,” which for some years has been hailed by starry-eyed visitors to Yugoslavia as evidencing the enthusiasm of the masses £or the Titoist regime, is declared a failure. Labor turnover, it is revealed, has been more than 60 per cent! Of the “voluntary brigades,” Handler reports that “government planners found that a large part of the trained labor force turned in little production because of the failure of authorities to keep the manpower on the job.” This will now be remedied with the help of Rankovic.

Behind this measure, whose reality contrasts so strikingly with the fake “democratization” announcements poured onto the propaganda conveyor belt, lies the frenetic drive of the Tito regime toward extreme goals in quick industrialization. This is made quite clear in Handler’s dispatches.

Last updated on 9 March 2023