Rudi Supek 1977

Explanation Supporting the Request for a Subsidy for
the Korčula Summer School

Written: 1977;
Source: Open Society Archive;
Translated: Zdenko Antić
Transcribed: Zdravko Saveski.

The Korčula Summer School Committee met on 17 December 1976 and decided once again to request a subsidy for its regular 1977 session, on the following basis:

1. Last year [1976], the Republican Self-management Committee [of Croatia] for Science granted the Korčula Summer School the sum of 40,000 dinars [2,222 dollars]. The decision to grant this subsidy reached us late, at the beginning of July, but we had already taken all necessary measures to hold the session in the usual manner. On 22 July, however, we were informed that the grant would not after all be forthcoming, and at the Republican Assembly of Self-management Interest Communities [of Croatia] a delegate stated that this decision had been taken in consequence of a “political deviation” within the Self-management Interest Communities, without explanation what kind of “political deviation” was in question. We did not ask for an explanation but we understood this action as an attempt to make political considerations the basis for taking away a financial subsidy that has been legally approved on the basis of a self-management decision.

2. In submitting this request we would like to point out that we have always acted in conformity with the academic and constitutional provisions of our society, and that we will be guided by the following principles:

First, we have a permanent obligation to conduct the summer school within the framework of the instruction and training given our post-graduate cadres in philosophy and sociology.

Second, one of the summer school’s objectives is to engage the best lectures available, from Yugoslavia and if possible from abroad.

Third, the summer school will consider and discuss the most topical problems of contemporary philosophy and socialism, eschewing dogmatism and selective limitation of topics.

Forth, the summer school will respect the free exchange of opinions and free discussion, since progressive thought can develop only as a result of a creative dialogue among scholars, whose ideas on certain contemporary problems necessary differ.

Fifth, in addition to academic cadres the school intends to invite well-known politicians, who will be given an opportunity to explain the meaning of certain political programs and present trends in Yugoslavia.

The Korčula Summer School Committee has always been guided by the above principles, and that is why the school acquired such a good reputation in Yugoslavia and in the world. Suspension of the regular work of this school during the past two years, in 1975 and 1976, not only made it impossible to fulfill our academic obligations but also interrupted a very fruitful scholarly work, which contributed greatly to the development of scientific and Marxist thought and to the reputation of Yugoslav socialism in the world. A question should be posed here: whose interest would be served by a further suspension of the summer school regular activity?

3. It is well known that since the very beginning our position has been that we should develop good relations and conduct open discussions with scholars from both Western and Eastern countries. Consequently, Marxists from all socialist countries except the Soviet Union have participated in the work of the summer school (since the Soviets only accept invitations to institutions, or collectives, but not individuals). Cooperation with Marxists from other socialist countries became difficult after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and ceased almost completely when a campaign against so-called “rightist deviation” was launched in these countries during which the Korčula Summer School was attacked. We mention just one example of such an attack, in a Soviet publication on Yugoslav philosophy published in Moscow in 1974 under the title Contemporary Problems of Marxist Philosophy, a publication of the state enterprise “Progres.” This book, so far the only publication in the USSR to deal with Yugoslav philosophy, contains the following passage:

For Yugoslav philosophy the period from 1948 to 1958 was one of search and of rationalization in regard to certain theoretical problems of Marxism. During this decade Yugoslav philosophy developed generally on the basis of Marxism-Leninism. At the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, a sharp disagreement arose among Yugoslav philosophers, dividing them into ‘orthodox’ and ‘authentic Marxists’ who supported a philosophy of dialectical Marxism, and ‘creative interpreters’ and critics from the ranks of the so-called ‘neo-Marxists.’ According to a well-known Yugoslav Marxist who has written a number of works on Yugoslav contemporary philosophy, A. Stojković, this disagreement intensified and broadened in scope because many of Yugoslavia’s philosophers began to orient themselves toward Western philosophical schools and bourgeois interpretations of Marxism, and have expanded their cooperation with such philosophers as H. Lefebvre, E. Bloch, A. Schaff, L. Kolakowski, Z. Baumann, L. Goldmann, E. Fromm, K. Kosik, H. Marcuse, and others, all gathered around the Zagreb magazine Praxis… At the end of 1963 a group of Zagreb philosophers and sociologists founded the Korčula Summer School, a yearly symposium whose aim was to promote exchanges of opinion and ideas among Marxists from East and West – bourgeois Marxists and supporters of an ‘authentic Marxism.’ Shortly thereafter the magazine Praxis began to be published in Zagreb in two editions – a Yugoslav one and an international one (in English, French, and German). Since its editorial board included philosophers from various countries, Praxis in fact provided a theoretical foothold for international revisionism and anti-Marxism. (3-6)

As can be seen, this 1974 Soviet publication, which maintains that the main objective at the present moment is to “struggle against rightist deviation,” considers that well-known Marxists in Yugoslavia and Europe gave “a foothold to international revisionism and anti-Marxism,” while those Yugoslav philosophers who stand on the positions of “Marxism-Leninism” and are waging war on Praxis are hailed, and that their orientation is deemed correct is confirmed by the fact that they are receiving subsidies for their writings and occupy responsible social and party positions. Even though those who support the Soviet Marxist-Leninist positions in philosophy enjoy full freedom in Yugoslavia, and upholders of creative Marxism are persecuted, it is interesting to hear what another voice has to say about the Korčula Summer School, a voice from Italy. In an article entitled “A seminar Open to Marxists from All over the World” (Rinascita, 21 September 1973), a professor at the Rome University, Lucio Lombardo Radice (who is also a member of the Italian CP Central Committee) made the following statement:

As far as I know the Korčula Summer School has existed for about 10 years, holding seminars at the end of August in which a broad range of highly qualified scholars (mainly philosophers, sociologists, and historians) from the Universities of Zagreb, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, and Skopje took place. This is the only institution of its kind in the socialist countries. The school invites representatives of various Marxist groups from capitalist and socialist countries. Participation is open to anyone who wants to come, and anyone may open the “green door.” The discussions are absolutely free, and the confrontation of various views is sincere.

The Yugoslav Marxist scholars who have run the school for 10 years are not united in their philosophical and political views. They are, however, fully united on one point: that in stressing that form of socialism called “self-management” they are being sharply critical of “etatistic” socialism.

Professor Lombardo Radice knows very well, as do other Marxists in Europe, that the present witch-hunt against “rightist revisionism,” or against creative Marxism, is being waged with the objective of justifying “etatistic socialism” and weakening the philosophical foundations of democratic, self-managing socialism.

4. The unity between theory and practice is one of the fundamentals of Marxism, and nowadays it is perfectly clear that Soviet Marxism-Leninism (represented by such authors as Stalin, Mitin, and Judin) is an integral part of “etatistic socialism” and is the real source of its dogmatic and positivistic character. It is also perfectly clear that only on the basis of creative Marxism could the concept of self-management socialism be developed. Neither the campaign being waged against Praxis nor the statements made about it in the Yugoslav press can hide this simple truth. This can be confirmed by the numerous writings of Yugoslav Marxists who support Praxis published in foreign languages. In addition to the international edition of Praxis, we would like to mention a few other works: in German Die Revolutionaere Praxis (Freiburg: 1970), edited by G. Petrović; Jugoslawien Denkt Anders (Vienna: 1971), edited by B. Bošnjak and R. Supek; in French, Etatisme et Autogestion (Paris: 1973), edited by R. Supek; in English Self-governing Socialism (New York: 1974), edited by B. Horvat, M. Marković, and R. Supek; in Italian, La Rivolta di Praxis (Milan: 1969), edited by G. Petrović; in Spanish, El Socialismo Yugoslavo Actual (Mexico: 1975). The following have contributed to these collections: B. Bošnjak, V. Cvjetičanin, M. Đurić, D. Grlić, Z. Golubović, B. Jakšić, M. Kangrga, V. Korać, A. Krešić, I. Kuvačić, V. Milić, M. Marković, G. Petrović, N. Popov, V. Rus, R. Supek, S. Stojanović, P. Vranicki, Lj. Tadić, M. Životić, and others. In all these works the tie between creative Marxism and self-managing socialism is proved. Not listed here are other books in foreign languages by M. Marković, G. Petrović, P. Vranicki, Lj. Tadić, S. Stojanović, M. Životić, R. Supek, and others. The many contributions to the foreign periodicals made by these authors prove the same. Thus to present the philosophers and sociologists around Praxis as “enemies of self-managing socialism,” as has been done in the Yugoslav press, is merely to perpetuate a lie, using the Stalinist tactics that did so much harm to socialism in the world.

5. Although the persecution of philosophers who stand for creative Marxism cannot be justified, such persecution is still going on. After 19 Praxis supporters were ousted from their universities they were forbidden to contribute scholarly works to magazines and periodicals, or to publish books. The editorial boards of Yugoslav newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations have “black lists” mainly filled with the names of Praxis supporters. The attempts to remove them from the public eye and the academic milieu have gone so far that their names are no longer to be found in the latest bibliographies. It is well known that in addition to physically liquidating Marxists Stalin also undertook their intellectual liquidation by seeing to it that their names were no longer mentioned in scholarly works, in spite of the fact that they were hailed in the party press in earlier periods. It is regrettable, but examples of such Stalinist practices can also be found here in Yugoslavia.

Not long ago two bibliographies appeared in Yugoslavia which demonstrate how the science of Marxism is regarded from the point of view of the “Eastern variant” of socialism and from that of the “Western variant.” The first of these bibliographies appeared in a three-volume edition, Marxism – the Thought of the Modern Epoch (Belgrade: 1976), edited by N. Pašić and M. Pečujlić. This bibliography was compiled by Miloš Nikolić, an editor of the magazine Marxism in the World, which is published by the Marxist Center of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. He is thus an employee of the highest political body in the country. The bibliography lists Marxist books and articles published between 1945 and 1975, taken from 25 Yugoslav periodicals during those 30 years. It lists 1,300 items, including some by foreign contributors. The first thing that struck us was that not one of 19 professors who were fired two years ago from the Belgrade University is mentioned in this bibliography. Names like M. Marković, Lj. Tadić, S. Stojanović, Z. Golubović-Pešić, V. Rus, M. Životić, and others cannot be found, although their works were hailed in the party press even when they were being accused of “rightist revisionism.” And other prominent Praxis supporters did not fare much better. Predrag Vranicki was mentioned eight times, A. Krešić four times, V. Cvjetičanin three times, V. Korać twice, R. Supek twice, and D. Grlić, B. Bošnjak, and G. Petrović once each (Petrović, one of the most productive philosophers, was mentioned as author of his doctoral thesis on Plekhanov in 1957. In other words, during the following 20 years he had published nothing worth mentioning.) Another striking point is that on the basis of such criteria many unknown and obscure authors are listed as prominent Marxists.

For purposes of comparison, we refer here to another bibliography, published by the Review of Sociology (Zagreb, No. 6, 1976), compiled by Dr. Zlatko Gasparević, a well-known bibliographer. It is a smaller work, since it reviews sociological literature only and for a shorter period, from 1969 to 1973, and takes into consideration contributions to only 15 periodicals. The following individuals head the list of scholarly contributions: R. Supek, with 46 items; I. Kuvačić, 34; S. Šuvar, 26; Lj. Tadić, 24; Mihailo Marković, 20; S. Vrcan, 20; V. Cvjetičanin, 19; E. Ćimić, 15; S. Milosavlevski, 14; Z. Mlinar, 18; Svetozar Stojanović, 16; Predrag Vranicki, 16; Velko Rus, 13; Z. Golubović, 12; M. Životić, 12; V. Korać, 11; etc. (members of the Praxis editorial board are underlined). When one compares this bibliography when the former, any comment appears superfluous, although one could say that this is another example of how scholarly work and individual freedom of expression are interpreted by the “Eastern” and the “Western” variants of socialism.

A list of the scholarly works of the main critics of Praxis who are mentioned in a Soviet publication and who contribute mainly to the Yugoslav party press is also interesting. The picture is as follows: Muhamed Filipović, 1; Arif Tanović, 1; Fuad Muhić, 4; Prvoslav Ralić, 2; Gligorije Zaječarević, 4.

Although a bibliography gives only a relative indication of the value of a scholarly work, one must query the effect of these diametrically opposed pieces of information on the domestic public (and one could also add on the international public, since during last year’s conference on Socialism in the Contemporary World, held in Cavtat, a display of Yugoslav Marxist literature was organized along the lines of the bibliography compiled by Miloš Nikolić). And here the question arises: are there still people in Yugoslavia who believe that history can be falsified? Stalin was the most powerful and best-known communist leader who tried to falsify history, but in the end it was history that put him in the right place. Intellectual oppression has always paralleled physical oppression. Therefore, in the interest of self-managing socialism responsible members of Yugoslav society should take measures to put an end to such oppressive practices.

6. It can also be said that the first biography mentioned above is what in sociology is often called a “conspiracy of mediocrities,” destructive of any progressive and productive organization. This “conspiracy of mediocrities” can be found almost everywhere nowadays. Such a phenomenon is mortally dangerous for the cultural life of a small country, since it eliminates the best brains from public life and paralyses all who believe that individual integrity and scholarly ability are the main criteria by which to appraise an individual. The consequences of such an atmosphere are cultural silence and internal emigration: the peace of the cemetery – the ideal of a police or bureaucratic system. It is possible that anyone who is not insane can believe that the Korčula Summer School could imperil the cultural development of this country? Every Sunday, in 5,000 churches, some 5,000 priests preach something that is not Marxism at all. Why then cannot a group of Marxists once a year speak freely and discuss Marxism? Who could be endangered by this? Perhaps those who have begun to make war on “rightist revisionism,” since they believe the slogan “The Factories to the Workers” is antisocialist? Or perhaps those who believe that intellectual freedom is a “bourgeois prejudice”?

Nowadays we can no longer have the excuse that “for four centuries we have been under Turkish yoke,” since our standard of living is presently equal to that of France in 1939. Therefore, as cultural workers and as patriots we are entitled to aspire to the cultural level France had achieved at the corresponding period. The trend toward inner emigration is not confined to individuals, but is also being manifested at the local and republican levels. This trend is very strong, and certain bureaucratic forces support it with the argument that we must defend ourselves from the “Turkish influence” of others. Geographical isolation is just a facet of dogmatic and ideological isolation. The Korčula Summer School was a good example of the fact that it was possible to work broadly and openly not only within the frontiers of Yugoslavia, but also in the whole of Europe. That is why it had such good results and why it was respected. Nowadays the Yugoslav authorities are spending twice as much for certain other conferences as was spent on the Korčula Summer School in the 10 years of its existence. Finally, it must be recognized that free scholarship is the least expensive scholarship; free scholarship is at the same time the most productive.

Zagreb, 1 March 1977.

Korčula Summer School Committee
Professor Rudi Supek, President