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The Militant, 20 September 1948

International Secretariat

An Open Letter to Yugoslav C.P.

(September 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 38, 20 September 1948, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The International Secretariat of the Fourth International has issued an open letter to the Central Committee and members of the Yugoslav Communist Party in connection with the conclusion of the Fifth Party Congress of the Yugoslav Communist Party.

The complete text of this communication appears below.


Although, you thought it necessary to limit participation in your Fifth Party Congress exclusively to delegations from the Communist parties – none of whom have accepted your invitation – our movement has attached special importance to the discussion and decisions of your Congress.

The course you have decided to follow is now clear: It is to defend yourselves against the accusations hurled by the Cominform without breaking with the Russian Communist Party and with Stalin, the real instigators of the campaign in progress against you. We greet your determination not to capitulate to Stalin; but we note with regret the self-contradictory character of your defense against the Kremlin’s attack.

Your leaders and delegates at the Congress have emphasized the fact that there are no programmatic differences whatever between your party and the ideology of the Kremlin. It appears that you share this ideology on two fundamental points: on the possibility of building socialism in one country; and on the “monolithic” character of the revolutionary party, which means the expulsion of any ideological tendencies that might some time advocate policies different from those of the party leadership.

“Socialism in One Country”

Your leaders and delegates at the Congress have reaffirmed the position, long held by your party, to the effect that Yugoslavia is already a country where socialism is being built and that it is possible to do this, to be sure only partially, thanks to the aid of the Soviet Union and of the other “new democracies.” This aid is, however, now reduced by and large to the economic reprisals against you imposed by the Kremlin on all its satellites.

The conception of “socialism in one country” was never shared by Marx or Lenin. It is Stalin who, toward the end of 1924, introduced it into the Russian Communist Party and the Third International as a theoretical cover for his own nationalistic policy, which mirrored the interests of the then budding Soviet bureaucracy and which has revealed itself as more and more hostile to the world socialist revolution. In formulating this anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist “theory,” Stalin took care to generalize it for his own needs and to underline the special, as it were, “Messianic” character of the USSR, whose size and resources allegedly permitted the building of socialism to be realized in life.

More than 20 years have elapsed and the Soviet Union is still very far from having attained this objective. On the contrary, the victory of the Soviet bureaucracy, which succeeded in expropriating the masses politically and in installing the most bureaucratic police regime in the annals of history in order to maintain and extend its own privileges, has resulted in the utter degeneration of the Soviet Union as a workers state.

You have had occasion to observe this degeneration in a number of facts which, limited as they are, nonetheless remain very significant. Among these facts are: the life of Russian military and civil functionaries on a bourgeois pattern; the systematic spying by the GPU – the chief vehicle of the Kremlin’s policies – on your party and your government; the Kremlin’s opposition to the Balkan Federation or any progressive unification of the economies of the various “People’s Democracies,” a unification which is so indispensable for their development; the bureaucratic and slanderous character of the Cominform attacks directed by the Kremlin.

What then will be the fate of Yugoslavia, if she, under far less favorable material conditions, enters the utopian road of “building socialism” within her own frontiers? Such a “theory,” here too, carries with it the danger of serving as a cover for nationalistic policies of a privileged bureaucratic caste.

In our epoch of the worldwide division of labor and the world character of the productive forces, whose development has already brought the capitalist countries into collision with their own national boundaries, socialism can flourish only on the world arena. To think that each country can by itself build its own “socialist” Society and will later associate itself with the other because of ideological kinship – to think in this way is to fall into petty-bourgeois utopianism, blinded completely to the realities of our epoch. Victory over capitalism, the victory of the proletarian revolution is possible in a single country, but the achievement of socialist construction is not possible without the joint efforts of at feast a considerable number of countries, including the most advanced ones.

To realize socialism in life in Yugoslavia would mean to attain a level of development of the productive forces far surpassing those of the most advanced capitalist countries; it would mean the complete elimination of the differences be tween the city and the countryside, the building of a classless society where material abundance would already reign and where the state would have already lost its functions of coercion, becoming reduced to a simple administration of things, without police, without judges, without prisons arid without a bureaucracy. In what historical perspective can such a goal be reached in Yugoslavia, a country predominantly agricultural and with very limited resources?

On the other hand, what is actually possible is to begin the building of socialism, while waiting for the extension of the proletarian revolution to other countries. The true framework for the socialist development of Yugoslavia is, to begin with, the Balkan Socialist federation and the Socialist United States of Europe.

A “Monolithic” Party?

As regards your “monolithic” conception of the revolutionary party, this also stems from the arsenal of Stalinism but not from Marx and Lenin. The revolutionary party, is by its very nature, democratic, permitting the free presentation and struggle of ideological tendencies in its ranks.

The Bolshevik Party of Lenin to the very day he died had nothing in common with the horrible caricature set up by Stalin’s bureaucratic arid police apparatus, which sealed its victory over the Soviet masses, with the blood of Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin and then of Trotsky, i.e., of the men who made the Russian Revolution and who led the Communist International while Lenin lived.

The “monolithic” conception of the revolutionary party is the unmistakable sign of a Bonapartist bureaucracy which sets itself up over and above the masses and the party. If you cling to this conception you will head inexorably toward the foundering of your revolution and of your own party; you will travel toward the definitive installation in Yugoslavia of a bureaucratic-police dictatorship in the image of Stalin’s regime.

Your Congress has not deemed it necessary to probe more deeply into the meaning of your conflict with the Cominform, contenting itself

with affirming the slanderous character of the Cominform accusations, while covering up the Russian Communist Party and Stalin, i.e., the real leaders of the campaign against you. This fact alone is a sign of grave danger.

What reasons impell you to feign ignorance of who is behind a Hodja or a Rakosi, a Dimitrov, a Thorez or an Anna Pauker, when they attack your party, your government, when they conspire to overthrow your leadership, when they issue decrees to institute an economic blockade against Yugoslavia? What is the meaning of your silence about the Kremlin and about Stalin, whose obedient puppets all of the above men and women are? And how is it possible for this Kremlin and this Stalin, who conduct this entire campaign, to truly represent inside the labor movement a leadership faithful to Marxism-Leninism?

If this were actually the case, then history would be only a sinister farce, and your conflict with the Cominform would be only a scene iri this farce, incomprehensible to any one who seeks to reason.

Your position is truly untenable and can have no results other than. to demoralize your party and the Yugoslav masses, while playing into the hands of your enemies, the direct agents of the Kremlin, who have sworn to destroy your leadership arid your party. Your conflict with the Cominform has in reality placed on the order of the day one single question, namely: THE NATURE OF THE STALINIST REGIME WHICH, THROUGH THE KREMLIN, LEADS THE USSR AND THE COMMUNIST PARTIES.

This regime has nothing in common with the proletarian revolution and socialism. It is the mouthpiece of the Soviet bureaucracy, consolidated into a privileged and uncontrollable caste inside the Soviet Union, applying throughout the entire world a policy strictly in defense of its own interests. The Communist parties serve as tools for this policy thanks to the Soviet bureaucracy’s direct and absolute control, over these parties. The Kremlin has likewise sought to establish such a direct and absolute control over your own party and government. You tried to resist, and, from that moment, a life-and-death conflict with the Kremlin regime became unavoidable.

It is your duty as well as in your own self-interest to raise the clarification of your conflict with the Cominform to the plane of the true ideological reasons, which pertain to the nature of Stalinism. Only in this way will you be able to arm your party and the Yugoslav masses and resist the formidable assault launched against you by the Kremlin, now bent on wiping you out.

Bureaucrats depend only on the police apparatus for their defense.

Revolutionists depend above all on the ideological and political mobilization of the masses.

Which of these roads will you choose?

Stalin plots against Yugoslavia because your resistance to his direct and absolute control can become a dangerously contagious example, he cannot Seek grounds for a compromise. He must wipe you out. In this terrible predicament, your sole defense is the conscious support of the Yugoslav and world masses.

Yugoslav Communists! Appeal to these masses for this support! Break with Stalinism and denounce it openly! Institute a real regime of proletarian democracy in the party and in the country! Crush every bureaucratic move in your own ranks! Take the road of the real proletarian revolution, made by the masses and for the masses.

Issue a call for the real proletarian revolution in other countries of Eastern Europe! And of all of Europe and the world! This is the hour neither for tricky maneuvers nor for opportunist considerations. It is necessary to march in the vanguard. It is necessary to confront Stalin face to face with the open face of Revolutionary Marxism.

september 1948

International Secretariat of the Fourth International

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