Raya Dunayevskaya 1961

Tito’s Turnabout

Source: News & Letters, October 1961, appearing in Dunyaevskaya’s regular column, “Two Worlds”;
Transcribed: by Kevin Michaels.

Russia’s atomic blastoff scattered to the winds filled with radioactive fall-out, the pie-in-the-sky promises in the Draft Program of the Communist Party which is to convene in Moscow October 17th. [1] But it succeeded in pulling Tito back into the Russian orbit. His break from Stalin had never, of course, been a fundamental departure from the state-capitalist fold. I do not mean that Stalin’s order for Tito’s expulsion from the Cominform wasn’t real. It assuredly was. Enthusiastic mass support by a country that had won over the Nazi juggernaut propelled Tito to take the daring step away from Stalin’s Russia. But what the Yugoslav people aimed at in their break from Stalin and what Tito aimed at in his derived from two different class sources.

“Different Paths To Socialism”

Tito’s break with Stalin produced a new crop of theories on “different paths to socialism.” The crop was a sufficiently alluring one to win Trotskyist world support, despite the fact that Tito had come to head the Yugoslav Party because he had dutifully followed through with the Moscow Frame-Up Trials, and beheaded not only the Yugoslav Trotskyists but also Spanish Trotskyists who stood in the way of Stalin’s aim to dominate the Spanish Revolution. The “objective” reason for this unasked-for-Trotskyist support was based on Tito’s “struggle” against the bureaucracy and alleged return to the Marxist-Leninist theory of the withering away of the state. The only trouble was that the struggle was directed, not against his own Single Party Bureaucratic State, but only against Russia.

Nevertheless it would be wrong to think of Tito’s break as merely a “nationalist” one, any more than Stalin’s theory of “socialism in one country” was proof of his “nationalism,” though Trotsky died thinking so. “Socialism in one country” is only secondarily nationalist. Primarily it is a euphemistic expression for state capitalism-a state exploitative system that aims to become a “world system” which, at the point of production, preserves the relation of manager to worker which characterizes private capitalism.

The “giving up” of the pursuit of “world revolution” is true only where it involved the release of spontaneous action from below; it is not true where it means the establishment of world domination by arms, a coup, or the undermining of the self-activity of the masses. Indeed, just as “socialism in one country” called upon the workers of the world to defend Russia, so the Yugoslav “new path to socialism” was declared “a new universal.”

And there was never any doubt that Tito was building in a single, small country the same system Stalin built in a single, vast land. In December 1946 Tito revealed that as far back as 1944 the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation had so strengthened the state apparatus that it would be a mere question of “taking over,” not of reconstructing from below: “Nationalization was well prepared organizationally...All enterprises in the entire country were taken over on the same day (of liberation) and almost at the same time without the stopping of production.” (My emphasis.)

The same held true on the day of Tito’s break with Stalin. The bureaucratic state mentality ruled undeviatingly: the mangers continued to order the workers about, and the workers had to produce ever more. As Article 14, entitled “Work and Cadres,” of the Five Year Plan of 1947, had put it, it was necessary “to ensure a steady increase in productivity of work by introducing the greatest possible mechanization, and by thoroughly utilizing working hours. (My emphasis.)

The Dialectic of “Revisionism”

What is instructive in Tito’s revisionism is its own dialectical development. The changes introduced into the State Plan to appease mass pressure produced startling theoretic insights into Russia’s revisionism. For example, Yugoslavia abandoned forced collectivization in favor of a combination of state farms, cooperative, and private farming. From this experience Milovan Djilas, who had not theretofore been distinguished by any profound comprehension of Marx’s third volume of Capital, now characterized Russia’s agricultural policy as “a struggle with the collective working peasantry for absolute rent.”

Kardelj [2] gained as penetrating an insight into Russia’s industrial set-up from the changes introduced in Yugoslavia’s decentralized planning accompanied by establishment of “workers’ councils.” (How totalitarian rulers torture words to transform them into their opposite!) Although these so-called workers’ councils were not born of revolution and could not therefore signify any “withering away of the state,” nevertheless the cracks in the iron wall revealed new life, like grass that suddenly shows through between stones. And Kardelj came through with a priceless description of Russian Communism as “a pragmatic statist revision of Marxism.”

No wonder there was no end to the screaming about Tito’s “apostasy” at the 21st Congress of the Russian Communist Party on February 6, 1959. The following year, however, after the U-2 spy flight, a new wooing of the “apostate” began. Tito held back. While condemning the U-2 flight, he insisted that it “should not and must not” be used to heat up the cold war. Tito proceeded with his own plans to convene the “non-aligned” nations as a “third force” between the two contending blocs of powers.

The Nearness of War

On the very eve of his success, as the heads of nations gathered in Belgrade, when Khrushchev seemed openly to slap their collective two-facedness, Tito suddenly announced that he understood the “reasons” behind Russia’s unilateral action in resuming nuclear testing. What changed between the time of the openly provocative U.S. spy flight deep into Russia and the equally provocative Russian atomic explosions that poisoned the whole world’s atmosphere to have caused Tito’s turnabout?

We can discount the arrogant stupidities of the American bourgeois press which attribute to all but themselves obeisance to superior force. A country like Yugoslavia that fought Nazism at the staggering cost of a full 10 per cent of its population, and then stood up to Stalin, needs to produce no “credentials” of its bravery to the well-paid press pounding typewriters in the comfort of their sheltered ivory towers. No, the struggle such a people is sure to carry on against its leadership for catapulting it to another war will be due for mightier convictions than those of “Western democracy with all its imperfections.” The masses are well aware of what has changed: It is the nearness of actual war.

For Tito, the nearness of war that may spell the doom of the Single Party State and its “world system” of state-capitalism is sufficient to make him praise his chief opponent in the Communist world: Mao Tse-Tung. Tito’s “path to socialism,” it is true, lasted a good deal longer than Mao’s violently aborted call to “Let 100 flowers bloom. Let 100 schools of thought contend.” But it was bound to come to an end with the approach of war. Now that the nearness of war may inspire the Yugoslav masses to find a truly independent class road away from state and private capitalism, their joint chaos leading to world wars, Tito must realign himself to save his rule. Therefore he accepts Russia’s substitute for the class struggles at home-the designation that the struggle between the two nuclear blocs for world domination is “the class struggle of today.”

For Tito that is a “must” choice. For the Yugoslav masses the war-charged transformation of the Marxist theory of liberation into the Communist practice of enslaving is something they are experienced in fighting.

1. The U.S.S.R. exploded an atomic bomb over central Asia in late August 1961. This move re-opened the era of atmospheric testing until the signing of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of 1963, which moved detonations underground. [Transcriber’s note]

2. Edvard Kardelj (1910-1979) was Tito’s right-hand man for theory, economics, and international relations. [Transcriber’s note]