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Fourth International, March-April 1948



Czechoslovakia Since 1945

A Brief Historical Sketch


From Fourth International, Vol.9 No.2, March-April 1948, pp.57-63.
Transcription & mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


We are publishing below extracts of special importance from a survey of the situation in Czechoslovakia, prepared by comrades who have studied the evolution of this country in the course of the last few years. Bourgeois journalists have often cracked their teeth over the problem of this ‘“bridge between the East and the West.” All their analysis offers is, in general, a collection of commonplaces. This article does not exhaust the question. But it has the advantage of starting with a Marxist interpretation of the historic process and of seeking, beneath questions of ideology and “power politics,” the fundamental social relations between the classes.

This essay was written last September. The recent events leading to complete Stalinist domination of the Czech government have put an end to the “idyllic” conditions in this “democratic” island among the buffer states of the USSR. But the analysis it contains does not in the least diminish in importance because of that. On the contrary, it becomes all the more indispensable to a genuine understanding of what has taken place and of the future course of developments in Czechoslovakia. – The Editors.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR MADE POSSIBLE THE emancipation of the Czech and Slovak peoples from the iron girdle of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy The instrument of this emancipation was the Czech proletariat which had to bear the heavy brunt of the struggle against the German and Austrian bourgeoisie. But the ideological leadership of this “liberation” lay in the hands of the young Czech bourgeoisie,which was in full flower at the time and based itself primarily on the National Socialist Party of Masaryk and Benes, a party comparable to the Radical Socialist Party in France. International capital, especially French and British, was for this young Czech proletariat not only a military partner, but also and above all a political protector, because it was a lender of capital.

The young Czechoslovakian state received as a christening present not only the social question – the presence of a highly concentrated proletariat, the majority of which was about to go over to the Czech Communist Party – but also the national question. The Czech bourgeoisie dominated a state in which its own nationality constituted a minority. The German national minority never ceased its struggle for self-determination, which was carried on for a long time by the workers.under the banner of Socialism and by the bourgeoisie under that of pan-Germanic chauvinism. The Hungarian, Polish, and Carpatho-Ukrainian minorities, as well as the Slovak people, for their part also carried on a national struggle. The particular forms of these struggles, however,were determined by the almost complete absence of a proletariat and a real industrial bourgeoisie.

The victory of the Czech bourgeoisie resulted only in secondary changes in the situation of the Czech proletariat. The heads of the government changed, but the proletarian remained a proletarian. Chauvinism was unable to take root during the first years of existenceof the young Czechoslovakian Republic, particularly as a consequence of the workers’ disappointments over the material results of the “National” victory. The Czech Communist Party grew stronger and experienced an expansion unpreedented in the working class movement of the country up until the fateful year of 1926. The bourgeoisie then succeeded in crushing the last important post-war wave of mass-struggle, the movement ebbed, and the Czech Communist Party began to flounder about in a state of utter degeneration.

The economic crisis of 1929 hit the young state severely and it came to an appalling standstill. After Hitler came to power, the Czechoslovak crisis evolved rapidly toward catastrophe. The German proletarian among the Sudetens. the great majority of whom were at that time organized in the Communist and Socialist parties, was hired to work across the frontiers in the Reich war-boom industries. They returned each week-end with real wages much higher than thoseof the Czech worker, to say nothing of the unemployed dole, on which a large part of the working class population of the Sudetens had to live previously. Fascist influence began to grow among this population, and in the elections of 1937, Henlein's (Sudeten-Nazi) party received almost 90 per cent of the German vote in Czechoslovakia.

After the sectarian and adventuristic years of the third period,” the CP undertook a broad turn to the right and became the instigator not only of the “Popular Front,’) but also of the campaign for an “Anglo-French-Czech-Soviet military alliance” with the intention of “checking Hitler, the aggressor.” In panic-stricken fear of the ThirdReich, the Czech petty bourgeoisie joined en masse the CP, which had become an exponent of the most extreme chauvinism. The excesses to which this ultra-rightist agitation of the CP led (during the 1938 crisis, the CP leader and present head of the government, Clement Gottwald, joined the leader of the Czech fascists, General Gajda, in toasts to “long life” for the military dictatorship of General Syrovy) provoked unprecedented confusion and distirientation among the working class masses.

From Munich to “Liberation”

The Czechoslovak crisis ended in 1938 with the Munich Pact, which deprived the republic of all its means or military defense as well as an important part of its industry. The short period of the so-called “Second Republic” – from Munich to the occupation of the country by Hitler in March 1939 – witnessed the lamentable collapse of the “democratic”parties. The Communist Party permitted itself to be banned without any resistance. Only the central organ of the Party continued to appear illegally, but under the editorship of a group of Zinovievist and anti-Stalinist students. The Social Democracy disappeared from circulation and the “National Socialist Party of Benes experienced a rapid process of ideological fascization. After the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by German troops and during the first years of the war, the masses remained completely passive. The petty bourgeoisie even hoped for a peacwful compromisc with German fascism,which did not demonstrate during the first few months the bloodthirsty brutality that was to come with the outbreak of the war.

Moreover, the “Allied” imperialists were greatly discredited in the eyes ot the petty bourgeoisie as a result of their attitude at Munich. The proletariat was stunned by the uninterrupted victories of Hitler, by the sudden and total disappearance of all its leaders, by the momentary and entirely relative improvement in its material living conditions – as a result of armament production and the longer working day – and finally, by the wave of Gestapo terror.

In Slovakia, which had become an independent state thanks to Hitler, the peasant population lived a life almost untouched by the war. The agricultural products remained in the country and were not skimmed off as before by the Czech bourgeoisie. The German authorities stimulated the industrialization of the country to the best of their ability. The clerical fascism of Hlinka had a broad mass base in the peasant population, which was exceedingly backward and completely dominated by the clergy. Slovakia, favored in this way, served Hitler as a springboard to the Soviet Ukraine and at the same time, as a step toward Hungary and the Balkans.

After the German attack against the USSR in 1941 and the beginning of a spirit of revolt among the Czech petty bourgeoisie, the situation began to change slowly. But even after this, the resistance movement did not become a mass movement. This was impossible due to the place occupied by the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia” in the Hitlerian system in Europe. For the fascist leadership conducting Germany’s war, this “protectorate” was both an arsenal of the Reich and a vast anti-aircraft shelter. It was administratively incorporated to the point where its annexation seemed certain to the fascist leaders. And this permitted a control and a degree of terror unknown in the other occupied countries. The mines and the factories never ceased operating at full capacity up until the last week of the war. After the destruction of Lidice and Lezaky –– the two villages razed by the SS troops – the peasants were so “terrorized that they abandoned the greater part of their stocks of wheat and other agricultural products.

The working class viewed the activities of the parachutists, saboteurs and partisans with sympathy, collaborated with them from time to time to a small extent, but never on a large scale. Because of this, the resistance movenwnt never assumed the form which it did in Yugoslavia and even in France. The CP became stronger as the Russian armies began to win military victories. All the elementswhich in the past had belonged to the Communist Party, now remembered it again and began to pour into the illegal organizations. Mostly, on the basis of the chauvinist propaganda which constituted the platform of the Party during this period.

The So-called “Revolution of May 1945” and the “Liberation”

The “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia” was the last country to be “liberated” by the Allies. Even after Berlin’s fall and Hitler’s suicide, violent fighting continued here for some time. On May 5, 1945 the May insurrection broke out, at a time when the Soviet armies were fighting some 140 kilometers away while at scarcely 40 kilometers off the American forces, resting arms, were awaiting the arrival of their Russian allies. The Prague insurrection, the story of which has by no means been fully clarified as yet, was the action of a relatively small section of the population. The result of it was assured in advance by the military situation in Europe. The principal thought dominating the participants was that of taking revengeagainst the terror of the Nazis. Each class of the population which participated in the movement pursued its own ends and strove to divert the results to its own benefit. The lack of arms, one of the chief factors inhibiting the mass character of the insurrection, enabled certain groups, Iike the “police of the protectorate” and officers of the former Czech army, the army of General Vlassof – all of whom had participated to a certain extent in the Fascist terror and were now seekirig a way out by fighting on the side of the people – to play a role of first importance in the so-called insurrectional struggles. Into this movement the proletariat brought its most active elements and the recollectionsof its revolutionary tradition (creation of isolated Soviets, etc.). But it entered into it without any organized preparation, (this explains the almost total absence of arms, which were seized only in the course of the struggle) and with an extremely low degree of consciousness, after two decades of retreat, confusion, and demoralization. The only possible result was that the Stalinist party succeeded in gathering all the fruits of the insurrection. As for the Russian army, whose prestige had not ceased to grow during the preceding months, it arrived in Pragtie twelve hours after the final capitulation of the Nazis in the Capital. In spite of this, and in spite of the utterly unsocialist behavior of the Russian soldiers and officers who robbed, pillaged and ravished on every hand, the Czech Stalinists succeeded in spreading the legend of the “liberation of Prague by the Soviet armies,” a legend which has become deeply fixed in the consciousnessof all layers of society.

The First Year After Hitler’s Fall

What was the situation after the insurrection? Big Business holdings had been mostly in the hands of foreign or Jewish capital, and Hitler had appropriated it for the benefit of the German trusts. A small number of the factories had been the property of Czech Capitalists, but these people had collaborated with Hitler and had been eliminated during the insurrection. There could not, consequently, be a question of a consolidated capitalist class. The banks and factories no longer had owners. This is the special situation which the “provisional government,” was to face on its return to Prague some days after the “liberation”.

The Prague insurrection had moreover left profound traces in the minds and hearts of the working class of Bohemia and Moravia. In a number of places, improvised workers’ councils, “national” committees and workers’ militias seized the local powers. The trade unions, “united” under Hitler, were taken over again by their former cadres. These had at first collaborated with the Nazis, and then, in order to redeem themselves, had built up toward the end of 1944, together with some young workers and intellectuals, a trade union apparatus called the “Revolutionary Trade Union Movement” (ROH). Because of this, the proletariat possessed for the first time in its history, a united trade union movement.

The working class actions aiming at the conquest of power were for the most part, needless to say, isolated from one another, naive and undisciplined. The lack of revolutionary leadership condemned them all without exception to complete failure. But it is remarkable that certain working class layers had retained the essenceof their class consciousness and that there were several examples of fraternization between the German and Czech workers in the border regions where the two nationalities live together. At one place in a border region some Czech and German Communist militants even published a daily paper in both languages,called The Red Flag.

The provisional government decided to tolerate only six parties and these came together in the “National Front of Czechs and Slovaks.” There were four Czech parties (the CP, the SP, the National Socialist Party of Benes, and the Popular Christian Party representing the extreme right) as well as two Slovak parties (the CP and the Democratic People’s Party, whose main cadres came from the former clerical-fascist party of Hlinka). Since then the political life of the country has in effect been concentrated in these parties, without any need to resort to police terror. To understand this phenomenon, as well as the existence of a fairly liberal political regime compared with that of other countries in the zone of Russian influence, it is necessary to take into consideration: on the one hand, the infinitely better conditions of life and on the other, a psychological factor of great importance – this relatively “small” Czech population’s fear of nearby Germany. From this fear comes the desire for national unity and the pan-Slavic sentiment which has penetrated deeply into all layers of the population. From this, the CP has known how to profit more than any other party, being both the fiercest defender of “national unity” and the recognized political representative of Russia.

The first measures adopted by the provisional government were the deportation of national minorities, the nationalizations, and the agrarian reforms. We shall return more in detail later to the nationalizations. As for the barbarous deportations of three million Germans, as well as a part of the Hungarians living in Czechoslovakia,it is necessary to recognize that this reactionary “solution” of the national question which has nothing in common with socialism nor with the most elementary “rights of man” as recognized even by bourgeois democracy, was accepted quasi-unanimously by the Czech population. This indicates clearly to what extent chauvinism had penetrated the ranks of the working class and what an immense task of counteracting this poison awaits the revolutionists of this country.

Nationalizations and Agrarian Reform

It is interesting to point out that the nationalizations were proposed by the Social Democrats and accepted a few days later by the CP and the provisional government. They constituted a necessary and inevitable measure since the majority of factories, mines and banks were without legal owners. The only bourgeois Czechs who were still present, the large landowners and the manufacturers employing less than one hundred and twenty workers, were completely exempt from nationalization. Because of this, practically no one was “expropriated.” It must be added that certain isolated cases were resolved thanks to the use of criteria such as that of the “socially-minded owner” or the “good patriotic owners” in order to indicate how little it was a measure directed against the bourgeoisie as a class. Least affected by the nationalization were the middle bourgeoisie, which remained virtually intact; commercial capital to the extent that it vas not in the hands of the Germans or their collaborators; and real estate property

The nationalizations were also accepted by the whole population. The proletariat remained completely disoriented and passively followed all the slogans and all the explanations of the Stalinists. It saw no other perspective than the one opened up to it through the official labor movement.

The nationalizations led to a bureaucratization of the economy unequalled in the history of the country. Already under Hitler the different “planning” boards had sprouted up like mushrooms after rain. After the “liberation” these organs were not only [not] liquidated but became larger, more deeply entrenched, and more numerous. According to official estimates, Czechoslovakia today has 130,000 to 200,000 more public functionaries than in 1938, while its population has decreased 20 per cent following the deportation of the national minorities. The periodical Vcetnictvi a Kontrola (Accounting and Control), estimates that 48 per cent of the national income is swallowed up by public Administration. And in these figures there is no calculation at all of the enormous number of functionaries in the naionalized industry, an oversized parasitic organism whose small and medium functionaries must rest content with starvation wages while the big directors and the functionaries holding the highest positions receive the most affluent incomes in the country.

In agriculture, the deportation of the nationalist minorities combined with the agrarian reform, brought very negative results., The lands of the German peasants were distributed among the former political prisoners, the soldiers of the former Czechoslovak army of the emigration, the resistance fighters and practically all those who presented themselves to benefit from this measure. A number of class-conscious proletarians were corrupted in this way. The big landed estates were not transformed into collective property nor into farm-cooperatives, but divided up among a certain number of medium-sized enterprises. As a social stratum, the Czech and Slovak agricultural proletariat was liquidated in this way and replaced by a broad stratum of middle peasant proprietors. The lands along the border villages were left uncultivated for strategic reasons and were transformed into heaths and marshes. Agriculture has been hit by an acute shortage of labor, and vain attempts to overcome it have been made by means of successive mobilizations of “volunteer work brigades” and by the utilization of German civilians and war prisoners. However, these palliativcs bring results only on the huge estates. The mass of middle peasants continues to endure without assistance the enormously burdensome farm work, and the mechanization of agriculture progresses very slowly. The anticipated immigration of Roumanian and Bulgarian farm workers could not compensate for the loss of the highly skilled German labor force, for in Czechoslovakia agriculture is thoroughly mechanized and rationalized. Balkan agricultural workers are able to adapt themselves to it only with great difficulty. The only social significance of this immigration is the utilization of these backward elements as a means of pressure on the labor market and on the living standard of the industrial proletariat. They constitute, together with the mass of middle peasant proprietors, a solid front built up by the “People’s Republic” in opposition to the urban proletariat.

All of these economic measures have been topped off by a monetary reform which, as in Belgium, was more radical and more effective than in any of the “liberated” countries. At the time of the Nazi collapse, the “protectorate” was swamped with German Reichsmarks, Slovak crowns and the crowns of the “protectorate.” When the first contingentsof consumers’ products began to flow – especially the UNRRA goods – this formidable accumulation of currency threatened to plunge the economy into galloping inflation. In order to ward off this catastrophe the provisional government decided to void all the old banknotes which had been in the banks as frozen accounts, to issue new notes – at not more than 500 crowns per capita – and to raise prices to a level equal to 300 per cent of 19e8prices. Wages were also raised to 300 per cent of the 1938 level, but as prices rose in a number of sectors well beyond the fixed levels, this stabilization of the crown actually meant a stabilization of the living standard of the workers far below that of 1938. Most favored by this measure were the merchants, the small and middle industrialists who still disposed of certain stocks of merchandise. The hardest hit were the small stockholders, all those living on savings and also the petty black market traders. The acute scarcity of money greatly restricted the black market, which never attained the same “scope” as during the occupation and had to confine itself to luxury goods filling the needs of’ the “new aristocracy,” – motors, automobile tires, etc.

The Proletariat and the “New Aristocracy”

We have already enumerated above the chief factors which favored Czechoslovakia as compared with other countries within the zone of Russian influence, and permitted this country to enjoy a much higher degree of economic stability than that of its neighbors. The country suffered less from actual military operations. Its population was greatly diminished by the transfer of Germans while its economic potential was swelled by Nazi investments in heavy industry. Under the Nazi occupation the economy had been tightly controlled by a highly rationalized planning apparatus, which was adopted by the new regime under its two year plan – a production plan which has nothing in common with the Russian five-year plans. All this explains why the Czech proletariat seemed to be spared the terrible experiencesof famine, galloping inflation and the brutalization accompanying continuous increases of the working day from which the Polish, Roumanian, Hungarian and other workers have suffered so much.

However, it would be false to conclude from this that the Czech workers have been living an easy and comfortablc life. According to an article in the periodical Nove Hospodarstvi (New Economy) it appears that the minimum amount for monthly subsistence, as calculated by the head office of the Federation of Trade Unions, rose to 2,900 Czech crowns per month, a sum that does not allow for replacing household equipment, indispensable though that has become after eight years of complete scarcity. Estimating incomes of wage workers on the basis of several sources (social security, taxes, etc.), this periodical concluded that two thirds of the workers and salaried employees in Bohemia and Moravia receive gross incomes lower than the minimum requirement for subsistence. This refers particularly to workers in the textile, clothing, glass, ceramics, paper, stone, wood and food industries in the mills, and in the two lowest categories of government employees. As for domestics, employees in the cosmetic industry, agricultural workers, gardeners, foresters, workers in the confection industry, they have an average income of 1,700 Czech crowns, that is, less than 60 per cent of the living wage.

Quite another thing is the situation of the big bureaucrats in industry and the government, currently called “the new aristocracy.” There is a huge gap between the minimum basic wage paid an unskilled laborer and the maximum salary of.the highest functionary in nationalized industry. The latter easily exceeds the former by 10, 15, even 20 times. It is not rare to find factory managers earning 40,000 crowns per month (almost twenty-four times more than the lowest paid workers earn!), besides having free use of a villa, a car with chauffeur, etc.

The burden of these unproductive expenses on the national economy is enormous. The periodical Accounting and Control, which we have quoted above submits the state budget to a detailed analysis in order to arrive at an approximate estimate of the cost of the bureaucracy. in reference to the government administration itself – that is, the various ministries exclusiveof the administrative apparatus of the nationalized industry – expenses were not lessthan 780 million crowns for travel and 180 million for maintenanceof automobiles (excluding trucks.) What this figure represents is made clear by the fact that with the travelling expenses alone of these gentlemen bureaucrats, no less than 300,000 families could make up the difference between their starvation incomes and minimum living wages.

It is not surprising that under these conditions, the workers and all those who can barely make ends meet are gripped with great discontent in the face of the fabulous incomesof the “new nobility.” The newspapers constantly denounce the undermining “rumor mongers” who spread “fantastic Figures”about the salaries of a factory manager or a plant board chairman. The functionaries of the plants in turn look with envy upon the functionaries of the big central institutions who receive the highest salaries of all. The general tendency is to get out of the so-called productive sector in order to “make a place” for oneself where material advantages of various sorts supplement wages as such, and where real income is well above the average even of the skilled worker. This tendency is manifested so generally and there have been so many scandals over it, so many thefts and embezzlements by high functionaries, that the Communist Party itself, which has always tried to appear as the No. I protector of the “new aristocracy,” was obliged to initiate the idea of a “necessary purge in the economic apparatus,” The only aim of this purge, needless to say, was to be the replacement of functionaries belonging to other parties by members of the Communist Party.

The Role of the Trade Unions

The main instrument of Stalinist power, besides the key positions it holds in the government, is the complete domination which it exercises over the Czechoslovakian trade unions, the “Revolutionary Trade Union Federation.” This body alone numbers almost 2 million members, from the manual workers on up to the director of the enterprise. The Federation draws up the list of candidates for the elections to the factory committees. It also supervises production in the factories and functions as the motive force in increasing production. Because all the managing personnel in a plant is organized in the same union local as the workers, the local serves the director as an excellent means to influence the moods of the workers, to isolate “agitators” and “trouble makers,” and to see to it that everything is run according to his arbitrary desires.

The election of the factory committees was, in the course of the year just ended, one of the most disputed questions in the country. Immediately after the “liberation,” the committees which were in general installed by acclamation, were composed of the most active working class elements, although for the most part completely devoted politically to the CP. Later one of the most undemocratic systems of elections was introduced. It permitted only one list of candidates, that of the trade union local in the given factory. In general, the political parties in the factory reached an agreement before making up the list along the lines of a proportional division of the posts. It is interesting to note, however, that during the factory committee elections of the Spring of 1947, the single lists did not receive the required two-thirds vote in nearly 50 percent of the plants on the first ballot, On the second ballot the union locals in the plants presented other lists, which still did not receive the necessary quorum in a number of the most important factories in the country. The Trade Union Federation then bureaucratically appointed the factory committee, as the completely undemocratic electoral law permitted it to do.

It would be wrong, however, to deduce from this event the existence of a widespread working class opposition to the regime. These elections should be considered rather as an episode in the struggle between the four large parties in the country. In fact, immediately after the elections, each party presented its own proposal for changing the factory elections law. The CP demanded that the single list be declared elected if it receives 51 percent of the votes. The other parties asked for balloting on multiple party lists, with each one of the parties presenting its own list of candidates. Only the left wing Socialists tried to, obtain a truly democratic reform. They demanded that the workers be permitted to also put up independent candidates, based on petitions bearing a required number of signatures among the wage earners of the factory.

Besides being the object of political greed and the most effective instrument for regimenting the proletariat, the bureaucratized factory committees have become the centers of large scale graft. The members of the committee are exempt from all manual labor, they receive high wages in the form of “payment for extra hours,” and they have “special” sources of income through the, arbitrary manipulation of the funds of the factory canteen, etc. Their sole activity consists in making a drive for increased production. Anything resembling the old class struggle is denounced as “reactionary” by the factory committees, the trade union locals and the Federation’s leadership. As a result the proletariat, deprived of any other perspective, finds itself hemmed in solidly and passively followsthe directives of its bureaucratic leadership. It should be understood, moveover, that the trade union bureaucracy constitutes a caste in itself, which often disavows the bureaucracies of the different parties. In spite of the fact that representatives of the parties form a part of the leadership of the Trade Union Federation, it possesses a greater cohesion than that of the parties themselves. Especially, where it concerns the defense of the special interests of the trade union bureaucracy.

Russian Penetration Into Czechoslovakia

At the time the Russian troops arrived in Prague, they were welcomed most enthusiastically. The tanks were garlanded with flowers,the last reserves of the population’s food were distributed to the soldiers, etc. The red flags, the Soviet stars, and the whole atmosphere surrounding the Russian army evoked in the proletariat reminiscences of the revolutionary past and hopes for a similar future. It is an indication of the terrible suffering of the masses under the German occupation, that the reactionary behavior of the Russian armed forces aroused only faint echoes and is, so to speak, forgotten today.

The Soviet bureaucracy did not bring with it the GPU as the German occupation brought the Gestapo. The rumors about this circulating abroad are certainly erroneous as far as Czechoslovakia is concerned. Cases of large-scale intervention by the GPU in the political life of the country are unknown to us, with the exception of the liquidation of almost all the elements of the army of General Vlasoff, who fought on the side of the Nazis. Otherwise, the GPU has kept in the background, and until now no opposition element has been either arrested or killed up to the present. But the influenceof the GPU makes itself felt indirectly. The fear it evokes hampered the organization of the revolutionary forces in the first days following the downfall of Hitler – at a time when there were greater possibilities than there are today. Its invisible presence still calls forth a reflex of passivity and silent submission among most of the potential opposition elements.

The Soviet bureaucracy has dismantled a number of factories in Czechoslovakia also. These factories were declared “war booty,” and their equipment was sent to Russia. The exploitation of the uranium in the Joachimstal Valley was declared a Soviet monopoly because of its very great importance in view of atomic research. The Russian-Czech trade pact establishes the principle of the “preferential partner.” That is, Czechoslovakia is obliged to offer its goods to Russia first and the latter often re-exports them to “strong currency” countries, while in best cases Czechoslovakia itself receives nothing but ruble credits. In spite of all these manipulations, Russia ranks only eighth among the customers of Czechoslovakia. For the year 1946, Czechoslovakia’s favorable trade balance [with Russia] was 70 million crowns. It is still not paid. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the products delivered by Russia are rarely of Soviet origin. Most often, these are goods like Hungarian grain delivered to the USSR as reparations, or German locomotives seized as “war booty,” etc. Obviously the bureaucracy utilizes pressure, even in this favored country within its zone of influence, to obtain economic advantages at the expense of the economy and the living standard of the laboring masses of the country.

Politically, the pressure naturally goes much further. A “hostileattitude toward the Soviet Union” was sufficient pretext for expelling Spanish emigré Socialists from Czechoslovakia. The unanimous acceptance by the Czechoslovakian government – including the Stalinist ministers – of the invitation to the Paris [Marshall Plan] Conference during the past year was also interpreted as an “unfriendly act” by the Russian government. The fact that the Stalinists control the principal levers of the apparatus of repression and propaganda, the fact also that the bourgeoisie un derstands clearly that it continues to exist as a class, thanks only to the tolerance of the Kremlin – all this explains why Russian pressure has not until now met with any major obtacle. Future events will show if the pressure of the Soviet bureaucracy will reach a point at which desperate resistance by the bourgeoisie will become inevitable.

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