Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Josip Tito: Fighter for Yugoslavia’s independence and champion of Non-Aligned Movement

First Published: Unity, Vol. 3, No. 10, May 9-22, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia, died on May 3 at the age of 87, after being gravely ill for several months. Tito was one of the foremost figures of the 20th century. He led the heroic Yugoslav war of resistance against the German and Italian fascists. As President of Yugoslavia, he forged a unified country of six different nations and charted an independent course for Yugoslavia’s development. Tito was the father and champion of the Non-Aligned Movement, and made contributions to world peace.

Josip Broz Tito was born May 25, 1892, to a poor peasant family in Croatia. He was influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution, and in 1920 he joined the revolutionary workers movement in Yugoslavia. He grew to be a respected revolutionary organizer and leader, and in 1936 he became head of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY).

Anti-fascist guerrilla

In 1941, the German and Italian fascists invaded and partitioned Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav army immediately collapsed, and the fascists set up puppet governments and introduced a reign of terror.

But Tito and the CPY led the peoples of Yugoslavia in a national war of resistance and liberation. They fought a tenacious guerrilla war which spread throughout the whole country. In only a year, 80,000 partisans tied down over 510,000 fascist troops and another 150,000 Yugoslav puppet troops. By 1945, the partisans had liberated two-thirds of Yugoslavia, and their army numbered 800,000.

The Yugoslav resistance was one of the most heroic acts of World War II. The Yugoslav people’s defeat of the fascists and their establishment of liberated areas laid the basis to carry through the Yugoslav revolution and defeat the Yugoslav reactionaries who had cooperated with the fascists.

Contribution to Yugoslavia

Following World War II, Tito became President of Yugoslavia. Over the next 35 years, under Tito’s leadership, Yugoslavia made many advances domestically and internationally.

One of Tito’s foremost accomplishments was forging the unity between the six different nations and numerous other national minorities of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was created after World War I as a multinational country. But before World War II, Serbian royalty controlled Yugoslavia, and their policies of national oppression and inequalities made Yugoslavia very weak, allowing the fascists to dismember Yugoslavia during the war.

Under Tito, Yugoslavia was rebuilt and organized as a federation of six nations – Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Slovenia. They are all equally represented in the federal government regardless of population or size, and all nations are free to use their own languages. The policy of national equality is the basis for strong national unity of the Yugoslav peoples.

In 1950, Tito led the way in the decentralization of the Yugoslav economy and the establishment of the system of “worker self-management.” Under this system, Yugoslavia’s production has more than doubled since World War II, and industrial output has increased fivefold. The public-owned sector of the economy now produces over 80% of the country’s wealth. The standard of living of the people has steadily improved. Under “worker self-management,” the working people elect their own factory management and delegates to political governing bodies.

Yugoslavia still has a number of serious economic problems that it is trying to solve, including its foreign trade deficit, inflation, and unemployment. Since 1974, it has accelerated its efforts to close the historical gap between the more developed northern and underdeveloped southern parts of the country.

Tito was a staunch defender of Yugoslavia’s independence. Since the 1950’s, when the Soviet Union restored capitalism and became an imperialist superpower, Yugoslavia has been a thorn in the Kremlin’s side. Tito refused to submit to Russian domination, and Yugoslavia’s independence served as a threat to Moscow’s control over Eastern Europe.

From the mid-1950’s, Tito played a vigorous role in international affairs. He fathered the Non-Aligned Movement, based on the principles of independence, non-interference in the affairs of other countries, and non-participation in the blocs of either the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. The Non-Aligned Movement has grown today to include 91 member countries, mostly in the third world, and is an important force in opposing the two superpowers and their war preparations.

In recent years, Tito struggled hard to defend the Non-Aligned Movement from subversion by the Soviets’ proxies, Viet Nam and Cuba.

Yugoslavia after Tito

Tito has been the central figure in Yugoslavia for over 35 years, and his death is a great loss to the Yugoslav peoples. The country, however, has been prepared for the eventuality of his passing. A system of collective leadership, which was started in the early 1970’s, is governing the country smoothly. Under the system of “federal presidency,” the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and government leaders are elected democratically to one-year terms and are responsible for their collective decisions.

The period ahead will be an important one for Yugoslavia’s future. Due to the deteriorating international situation resulting from the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and Moscow’s long animosity against Yugoslavia, the threat of a Soviet attack on Yugoslavia has increased now that Tito has passed away.

But Yugoslavia is prepared. Its armed forces, numbering 270,000, are on the alert, and an additional 1.5 million men can be mobilized into action within one week.

Nor will the Soviets find it easy to subvert Yugoslavia from within by fanning up national differences. Tito left the Yugoslav peoples with a legacy of his resolute and uncompromising stand for national unity and independence. The Yugoslav people have closed their ranks and are determined to safeguard their independence, stabilize their economy and solve their economic problems, and strengthen their national unity.

Milos Minic of the government presidium stated on February 11 that, “Yugoslavia today is stable, firm and united as never before, and entirely ready to protect itself, its independence and sovereignty.”