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Henry Judd

Lenin’s Way – or Tito’s Way?

Tito’s Revolution Measured by the Principles of 1917

(November 1950)

From The New International, Vol. XVI No. 6, November–December 1950, pp. 338–349. [1*]
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Writing in June, 1919, Lenin spoke of the newly established Soviet Republic as follows: “A more democratic state, democratic in the true sense of the word, a state more closely connected with the toiling and exploited masses, has never existed before.” [1] Particularly in his polemics against “the renegade Kautsky” written at this period, Lenin emphasized the democratic nature of the Russian revolution and the regime it produced by not only scornfully rejecting the “hypocritical and limited” democracy of the liberal bourgeois regimes which Kautsky had come to support, but, more importantly, by defending the Soviet regime on its own democratic merits and values. Lenin was never content to prove the democratic character of the Workers’ Republic by contrast with other regimes; he demanded that it be judged as it actually was, as it functioned and lived.

We are now informed, in certain quarters, that a new Workers’ Republic, Yugoslavia, now exists and that socialists the world over should take heart from it. This great new “Workers’ State,” is in danger, threatened by what these same quarters designate as another “Workers’ State,” although somewhat degenerated. A devoted, but somewhat naive Trotskyist comrade from the island of Ceylon who recently visited Yugoslavia and who, in a series of amazingly sycophantic articles put in her bid to the title of “Anna Louise Strong of Yugoslavia” has rung the alarm:

“If the genuinely revolutionary forces do not rally to the defense of Yugoslavia, one of the great perspectives opened up for the world working class since the Russian Revolution of October 1917 will be choked out by the falsifiers and revisionists in the Kremlin.” (The Militant)

The cold indifference of the world working class to the plight of Marshal Tito should have made this comrade pause and think twice, but apparently not. The fact of the matter is that these articles of Vivienne Goonewardene, together with other writings of the pro-Titoist elements now to be found in left wing socialist circles are far more revealing about the authors’ thinking, political demoralization and utter lack of comprehension of what constitutes socialism than about anything else.

The purpose of this article is to contrast the structure and functioning of the Russian Workers’ State, under the Bolsheviks and Lenin and Trotsky, with the Yugoslav “Workers’ State,” under the Yugoslavian Communist Party (YCP) and Tito. An unfair and invalid comparison? Comrade Goonewardene, evidently foreseeing such an effort, warns us that,

“To try to discover in the Yugoslav movement the same organizational forms that arose in October 1917 in Russia is to waste time in abstract theoretical argumentation.”

To be sure, this author does believe in her own rather empty observation since she has assured us in the preceding paragraph that,

“The national liberation committees organized by this People’s Front [in Yugoslavia] ... could be defined as Soviet forms.”

Whether this is the case we shall see later, but no matter – we obligingly accept the observation that slavish imitation of Russian organizational forms is not required to establish a Workers’ State. Factory councils in Germany, the shop stewards’ movement in England, trade union committees in other lands – Lenin recognized all these as legitimate expressions of workers’ power. We, too, are interested in the political and social content of the forms described, not in their organization or structure. A reading, or a re-reading, of those volumes of Lenin’s Selected Works (Vols. VII, VIII and IX) dealing with the actual formation and building of the Soviet State in its earliest years, is not only a remarkable and refreshing lesson in what constitutes the life and essence of socialism, in practice, but it should prove to be a sobering refresher to those hypnotized by Titoism. The differences between the two regimes “leap to the eyes.”

But let us get down to particulars. In what respects do the respective regimes differ? And what evaluation must be made of these differences? Why must we reject the conclusion of another Trotskyist, Gerard Bloch, whose writings on this subject are the most ignorant and insolent of all, that,

“The attitude toward Yugoslavia can become just as decisive a touchstone for judging revolutionary organizations as was the attitude toward the October Revolution thirty years ago?” (Fourth International, July–August 1950)

A contrast between the regime set up by the Russian Bolsheviks, a genuine Workers’ State which set out to build a socialist society, and the regime of Tito as it operates and functions to-day should not only provide answer to the vulgar Titoist worshippers of the so-called Trotskyist movement, but other and more serious comrades of the revolutionary movement engaged in studying this problem.

The nature, feel and quality of the regime set up by any alleged workers’ or socialist movement is clearly the essence of the matter. The actual and concrete structure of the regime – its state institutions and organs, its administrative bodies, its constitution and electoral apparatus etc. – must be examined as they are since such an examination offers many clues as to the direction in which the regime itself is moving. A socialist analysis cannot avoid judgment on this question of direction, i.e., are the essential requirements for creation of a classless, socialist society being prepared? The testing method has been provided for us by Lenin who, in summing up the objectives of the Russian regime, wrote as follows:

Our aim is to draw the whole of the poor into the practical work of administration ... Our aim is to ensure that every toiler, after having finished his eight hours `lesson’ in productive labor, shall perform state duties gratis ... (Selected Works, Vol. 7) (Lenin’s emphasis)

Why this emphasis upon popular taking over of administration by the masses? To begin with, Lenin felt that it was precisely this lack and shortcoming among the Russian masses, due to the country’s general backwardness, inexperience with democracy and its forms, low cultural level etc., which offered one of the greatest sources of infection and danger to the continued health of the Workers’ State. Over and over again in his writings of this period we find him warning and chiding the workers and poor peasants about their unwillingness, or hesitation with regard to the “administration of things and affairs.” Take this well-known and characteristic remark of his:

Very often delegations of workers and peasants came to the Soviet government and asked what to do with such and such a piece of land, for example ... And I said to them: you are the government, do as you please, take all you want, we will support you, but take care of production, see that production is useful. Take up useful works, you will make mistakes, but you will learn. (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. 7, p. 278.)

His articles and speeches of the period of War Communism, the NEP epoch and after are replete with the same simple theme: run matters in your own interests, depend upon your own initiative, the state is yours, and yours alone is the task of building socialism, etc. There is no question whatever that he was guided by the basic socialist philosophy so brilliantly expressed by Marx and Engels in one of their earlier works which, despite later modifications and changes in both language and refinement of thought, still constitutes a guide to the essence of socialism. After explaining that human progress now demands as a safeguard the appropriation of productive forces, Marx and Engels point out that those who do the “appropriating” will determine its nature.

Only the proletarians of the present day, who are completely shut off from all self-activity, are in a position to achieve a complete and no longer restricted self-activity, which consists in the appropriation of a totality of productive forces and in the thus postulated development of a totality of capacities.

Up until now, all appropriations have only achieved a “new state of limitations.” That of the working class, however, must be different:

In all expropriations up to now, a mass of individuals remained subservient to a single instrument of production; in the appropriations by the proletarians, a mass of instruments of production must be made subject to each individual and property to all. (German Ideology, pp. 66–97)

And, contrary to the usual reactionary description of socialism as the crushing of the individual into a dull grey pulp, as well as to emphasize their previous view, Marx and Engels added:

With the community of revolutionary proletarians on the other hand ... it is just the reverse; it is as individuals that the individuals participate in it. It is just this combination of individuals ... which puts the conditions of the free development and movement of individuals under their control ... (ibid., p. 75)

Sufficient, then, to establish this great and yet simple truth regarding – the nature of socialism which all too many comrades, disoriented and demoralized by many factors, appear to have forgotten. We note in passing that not a word appears in any of these writings we have quoted to the effect that “nationalization of industry” constitutes the basis for either socialism or a Workers’ State!

But we have not yet gotten down to particular cases. Enough of these abstract and ideal generalities. Was there “self-administration on the part of the popular masses in Russia?” Was “socialist democracy the common property of all?” And are both “self-administration” and “socialist democracy” the common property of the Yugoslavian people? This is what concerns us.

Precisely how did the Russian revolutionists go about the task of realizing Marx’s principle of socialism as a free association of producers, themselves directly managing and controlling production? The great instrumentality of popular administration of the new state was, of course the Soviet, that most popular and democratic body of the masses whose role Lenin declared to be to “... organize and administer the state in every possible way.” (Selected Works, Vol. 7, p. 134) The Soviets and their related institutions (Councils of National Economy, Executive Committees of local, urban and rural Soviets, gubernia and city Soviets of Workers’ Soldiers’ and Peasants’, Soviets of the Village Poor, etc.) were actual state organs and the “sole form of state power.” For Lenin, the Soviets were “... the proletariat organized as the ruling class,” holding, exercising and maintaining full state power. In an analysis of workers’ participation in the country’s administrative bodies (December 1920), Lenin revealed that 61.6 per cent of the following major Soviet bodies directly concerned with production and management of industry was made up of workers: Presidium of Supreme Council of National Economy and Gubernia Councils of National Economy; Collegiums of Chief Committees, Departments, Central Boards and Head Offices; Collegium and individual managements of factories. (ibid., p. 60) It must be borne in mind that all these bodies, committees, etc. formed a part of the vast pyramidal conglomerate of Soviet administrative bodies, elected on a free basis by the masses of people.

In notes entitled Rough Draft of Rules for the Administration of Soviet Institutions we note once more Lenin’s constant concern with popularizing and strengthening the Soviets. This is what he proposed in 1918:

With a view to combating red tape and more successfully discovering abuses and also exposing and removing dishonest persons who have penetrated Soviet institutions, the following rules are established:

Every Soviet institution must display outside as well as inside its premises, in a manner visible to all without having to obtain passes, notices indicating on what days and at what hours the public may attend. The premises in which people are received must be so arranged as to be freely accessible without any necessity of obtaining passes.

The public shall be received also on Sundays and holidays.

The Commissariats for Labor, State Control and Justice shall organize everywhere information bureaus, which shall be freely accessible to all without having to obtain passes and free of charge, and which must also be open on Sundays, the said Commissariats widely to inform the public on what days and at what hours these bureaus are open.

It shall be the duty of these information bureaus, not only to give all information asked for, orally or in writing, but also to draw up free of charge written declarations for persons unable to write or unable to draw up such declarations clearly themselves. It shall be obligatory to enlist for the work of these bureaus representatives of all parties eligible for representation on the Soviets, as well as representatives of parties which are not represented in the government, and also representatives of the non-party trade unions and non-party unions of the intellectuals. (ibid., pp. 450–453.)

In other words, the Soviets were bodies functioning as the state power in all fields; bodies to which workers, peasants and other members of the population as a whole could come and present their problems, proposals, etc. to people in whose choice and election they themselves had participated. This was the essence of Soviet democracy. Freedom of press, freedom of speech, the right of assembly, etc. for the masses of people were exercised through the Soviets and their related institutions. In this article we are not, of course, immediately concerned with the question of what happened to the Soviets, i.e., their death and destruction under the Stalinist regime; we are drawing a contrast between the early days of the Russian Revolution and Yugoslavia today.

And what are the corresponding administrative bodies in Tito’s country? We do not demand an aping of the Soviet forms; we do demand that the supporters of Tito, those who insist upon his regime’s socialist character, show us a corresponding class institution which, as the “sole form of state power” expresses the rule of the proletariat, poor peasantry and the masses.

They cannot do this because no such institution or its equivalent exists in Yugoslavia. On this fact and this fact alone we could rest our denial of the socialist nature of the Tito regime. The total absence of democratic organs of popular rule excludes the possibility of socialism in the country and justifies our contention that Yugoslavia is of the same general type of regime as Stalinist Russia. [2] But, we shall hear at once, what of the famous Yugoslavian “Committees of National Liberation?” Don’t these fulfill the requirement you demand? Are they not the organs of popular power in the country, corresponding to a Soviet system? Let us see about this.

Tito would have us believe this! In an article entitled The Political Foundations of the People’s Democratic System, Interior Minister Georgescu stated that,

“Through the organs of the people’s power and the new state machine, the people’s democratic state can successfully carry out the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Appropriating many of the familiar arguments of Trotsky, the Titoist leadership carries on a constant campaign against “bureaucratism” and in favor of a “greater initiative on the part of the masses.” Curiously, however, this virulent campaign is directed solely against the bureaucracy of another country, the USSR! There it is an organic disease; in Yugoslavia it is limited to poor administrative techniques or rude and faulty officials of the state.

But aside from this, what of the claim that the “Committees of National Liberation” function as organs of popular power and thereby fulfill the role of Soviets? Is there any truth in this? Absolutely none, and we shall quote Louis Dalmas, one of the most serious and staunchest defenders of the Tito regime in evidence. Dalmas claims that since 1942, these “Committees” have functioned as the state power, first in a dual power capacity during the period of nationalist struggle against the German occupation, and later as the full state power itself: But, as Dalmas points out, these “Committees” have undergone an evolution during this process! First, the total purging of all non-Titoist elements, bourgeois and radical. Many socialist comrades, utterly confusing the issue, justify these purges on the grounds that they were directed largely against “bourgeois and monarchist” elements, conveniently ignoring the fact that these elements were already thoroughly discredited; and had no support in the country, and the more important fact that Tito wiped out revolutionary socialist, moderate socialist and national minority opposition at the same time, while laying the basis for his one-party state regime. The purges were the means by which the new state base was set up; this was its true function. By November, 1945 (we again quote from Dalmas), the Titoist “Popular Front “bloc” was ready to receive 96 per cent of the votes in the election held that month. All was ready for the final and decisive step which emasculated, once and for all, the “Liberation Committees” and made them routine appendages of the new Titoist state.

In 1946, this final operation took place. We again depend upon Dalmas who does not seem to grasp the facts he presents. By decree of the Central Committee of the Yugoslavian Communist Party (YCP), a discussion on the role of the “Liberation Committee” was called to a halt and the YCP reorganized our State apparatus as well as all the economic institutions.” (Les Temps Modernes, March 1950) Note well that after the purge of all non-Party elements, bourgeois or radical, the Party by decree “reorganized our State apparatus.” We ask Dalmas and his friends: how could the Party reorganize the State apparatus if it were not already that State apparatus itself? If the “Liberation Committees” had been the “organs of state power,” as you maintain, how could such a “reorganization” from outside have been possible? The answer is obvious – the “Committees” never held state power, never functioned in any other way than as organs for the YCP. When Tito had used them, he purged them of both their form and content and “reorganized” them as adjuncts to the new “state apparatus” set up by the Party. After 1946 (or rather, since 1946), the “Committees” have been nothing but political fronts to forward the work of the economic, political and social institutions of the state machinery created by Tito.

Lacking the basic element of socialist democracy, i.e., popular state organs of workers and poor peasants – it is only consistent that all other institutions and policies of the Titoist regime should be dominated by the same spirit of bureaucratic totalitarianism. We shall consider some examples of this, without exhausting the field.

Addressing delegates of the Moscow trade unions and factory councils, Lenin spoke as follows:

Your factory committees must cease to be merely factory committees; they must become the fundamental state nuclei of the ruling class. (Selected Works, Vol. 9, p. 411)

And in his famous polemic against Trotsky on the trade union question, consider the role Lenin gave to the unions:

... protection of the material and spiritual interests of the entirely organized proletariat. (ibid., p. 9)

Our present state is such that the entirely organized proletariat must protect itself, and we must utilize these workers’ organizations for the purpose of protecting the workers from their own state, and in order that the workers may protect our state. Both forms of protection are achieved by means of the peculiar interweaving of our state measures with our agreement, our coalescence with our trade unions. (ibid., pp. 9–10.)

How is this role fulfilled?

But the trade unions are not state organizations, not organizations for coercion, they are educational organizations, organizations that enlist, that train; they are schools, schools of administration, schools of management, schools of Communism. (ibid., p. 4)

The heart of Trotsky’s error, says Lenin, is his failure to grasp that:

the trade unions are a school of administrative-technical management of production ... trade unions are a school, a school of unity, a school of solidarity, a school for learning how to protect one’s interests, a school of management, a school of administration. (ibid., p. 68)

According to the program of the Bolshevik Party, the trade unions had a highly significant function to perform:

the participation of the trade unions in the management of economy and their drawing the broad masses into this work are the principal means of combating the bureaucratization of the economic apparatus of the Soviet government and render possible the establishment of genuine popular control over the results of production ... they must eventually actually concentrate in their hands the entire management of the whole of national economy as a single economic unit. (ibid., pp. 73–4)

Workers’ Control over production in Russia meant, “control, supervision, accounting and the distribution of goods” by the working class and its institutions. The famous thesis of Rudzutak on the tasks of the trade unions in production, which Lenin defended against Trotsky, outlines in great detail the tasks, powers and responsibilities of the unions as they function side by side with the state economic management bodies. It is much too lengthy to quote here, but we refer our readers who may be interested in studying this account of the functions of a genuine trade union, in a Workers’ State to Lenin’s Selected Works, Vol. 9, pp. 23–26.

What is the story regarding workers’ control, trade union authority, factory councils, etc., in Titoland? Our informant Dalmas assures us that no conflicts exist between the unions and the various bodies of state planning. In seeking to assure us of the “harmonious relationship” between workers and State, Dalmas gives away the entire story because, as Lenin explained in his polemics with Trotsky in a backward, unindustrialized, primitive, overwhelmingly peasant country, such as Yugoslavia (Dalmas points out the striking social resemblances between the two countries after their respective “revolutions”), it is impossible to dissolve entirely the sources of conflict between the State and the masses since these sources lie precisely in the general backwardness. Unless Yugoslavia, in a mere five years, has advanced at such an astounding speed toward socialism that all conflicts have been resolved, Dalmas’ statement is absurd on the face of it. The simple truth is that the conflicts are repressed and kept down by the bureaucratic and oppressive state apparatus of the regime. In five years, for example, no one has ever heard of a single workers’ strike in a single Yugoslavian factory!

But, we shall indignantly hear, what of recent measures regarding workers’ control, etc.? Are you not ignoring the many progressive measures taken by Tito, particularly the “epoch-making new law” adopted by the Yugoslav National Assembly (unanimously) which introduced workers’ control and management of all industry? According to this law, Workers’ Councils are to take over the administration (planning of work bookkeeping, records, etc.) of the national economy. Workers’ Councils, elected by direct secret vote of all workers and employees of factory, mine or other enterprise: (so the law says), will be responsible for the appointment of Management Boards on which Trade Union representatives will also sit. This, said Marshal Tito in his speech to the National Assembly, together with the program of decentralization of the state apparatus, marks the “beginning of the withering away of the state in Yugoslavia.” (Yugoslav Newsletter, June 26, 1950) It contrasts with the Soviet Union where, as Tito informs us, “Soviet workers take no part in the running of the factories, a function still performed by state-appointed directors.” Voila!

Our eager critics should think the matter over a moment or two. To begin with, they should at least wait a decent period to see how this newly-adopted law actually looks in practice and in operation. Will critical and oppositional candidates be permitted in the elections? Will they have a press to express themselves in? (There is no opposition press in the country, as Dalmas admits.) Just how will the Workers’ Councils function? These, and other questions, cannot be answered yet since no material or evidence exists, but any trained Marxist knows that the complexion of a regime does not automatically change with the passage of a new law.

More important, it, has never been our contention that a regime, constructed along anti-democratic and authoritarian lines, moves forward in a constantly hardening line of naked and brutal repression. Particularly when confronted by external threats, such regimes often make concessions to the people and this law is unquestionably an important juridical concession to gain popularity. How it works out, we shall see in the future; meanwhile, we retain all our skepticism, particularly upon examining the law a little more closely than its enthusiastic supporters. The Yugoslav Newsletter quoted above declares that,

“The bill does not eliminate state functions in the management of the economy completely, but it does, however, render them less inclusive (?); they will, furthermore, be decreased as workers take a growing part in management.”

This elastic formulation of “state functioning” is deliberate, indicating the state bureaucracy will manipulate this law as conditions require. It does not mean the end of state management of production, but merely, its modification and adaptation because of changed circumstances. This is further illustrated in the remarks of a worker of the Ivo Lola Ribar plant near Belgrade who remarked, according to the government Yugoslav Bulletin (July 7, 1950):

We Yugoslav workers are proud that we are the first workers in the world who have been entrusted with the management of the factories, mines and other industrial enterprises we work in. This will without doubt be the basis for new achievements in work.

Entrusted? By whom? The state, which can recall its trust at will, can it not? The whole move must be greeted with the utmost skepticism and distrust. It emanates from above (the state), and has no deep roots below (the workers and their independent institutions). Furthermore, such a law enacted without a simultaneous creation of a democratic atmosphere, having freedom of discussion and expression, guaranteed rights to a critical and oppositionist minority among the workers, an opposing press, etc., can have little meaning. That basic proletarian democracy which does not exist in all the institutions of the state or party or class cannot be suddenly injected, from above, into one of the institutions.

People’s Courts and related judicial bodies were one of the features of the Russian Revolution. In these courts, the trade unions played the leading role as a study of the Soviet decree, Regulations Governing Workers’ Disciplinary Comrades’ Courts, November 14, 1919 (Code of Laws No. 537) will indicate to the student of revolutionary law and discipline. Particularly in questions of labor discipline (desertion, lateness and absenteeism, etc.), the trade unions themselves were considered to be the only correct manner in which justice and firmness could be properly administered. Contrast this with the basic juridical system prevailing in Yugoslavia, as described in the New York Times: A “People’s Assessors” system has been instituted. Lower courts now have two “People’s Assessors” sitting together with a state-appointed career judge. The lists of nominees for “People’s Assessors” were drawn up by the party (YCP), and then presented to the labor unions for approval by a show of hands. It should be added that in the field of civilian law and application of justice, this same type of court – a typical state court – exists, in contrast to the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Courts” which the Bolsheviks established in addition to and apart from the above-mentioned Workers’ Disciplinary Courts.

The story of the Red Army is too familiar to bear repetition here. Its method of democratic organization, election of officers, etc., have often been commented upon, particularly during the revolutionary days of Trotsky’s leadership. Suffice it to say that by contrast, the Yugoslavian army, with the Marshal himself at its head, can stand no comparison and is organized exclusively after the Stalinist model in the Soviet Union. Resorting again to our chief source of information about Yugoslavia, Louis Dalmas, we cite his remarks that the “Liberation Committees” have no control or power, according to constitutional law, over either the army or the police (Les Temps Modernes, April, 1950, p.1833). Both these institutions are under the centralized authority of the respective top state bodies and ministries. We note in passing that the UDBA, State Secret Police, has 40,000 recognized members, according to Dalmas. [3]

We come at last to what is perhaps the key and most telling contrast of all: the question of the Party. It is not necessary here to review the decisive significance the Party had for Lenin, or the development of the Russian Revolution. What concerns us is the role Lenin felt the Party should play in strengthening the Workers’ State and building socialism. Perhaps it is no better summed up than in his speech on The Party Crisis, where he simultaneously warned that a split between the Party and the Russian trade unions in which the Party was in the wrong would certainly result in the overthrow of the Soviet government in Russia:

Communism says: The vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, leads the non-Party masses of the workers, educates, prepares, teaches and trains the masses (the “school” of Communism), first the workers and then the peasants, in order that they may eventually concentrate in their hands the entire management of the whole of national economy. (Selected Works, Vol. IX, p. 36)

The Party was, in other words, the driving force behind the Revolution and the animating factor in all the new, untried institutions created by this event. Vanguard though it was, in the sense that it expressed the roundest, clearest and most far-sighted point of view on the great social and economic problems of the day, it could not possibly exist apart from the workers and peasants who had made the revolution. Precisely at a moment in 1921 when Lenin felt the Old Guard of the Party was already tending to become a “privileged veneer” in the country, he proposed a new influx of proletarians into the Party because this was the source of health and life. At the same time, democracy, freedom of discussion, the countering of opposing or varying viewpoints, etc., were considered absolutely vital. Here is an example of how opposing groups within the Party were treated, during the period of the Party’s greatest creative vitality:

... We started the widest and freest discussion. The Platform of the “Workers Opposition” was published in 250,000 copies in the central organ of the Party. We weighed it up from all sides, we elected delegates on the basis of this platform, and finally we convened this congress ... (ibid., p. 130)

Or, to again illustrate the organic ties between Party and mass, consider Lenin’s remarks on Purging the Party, written in September 1921, when the Party underwent a review of its entire membership:

In some places the purging of the Party is proceeding mainly with the aid of the experience and suggestions of non-party workers; these suggestions are being heeded, and the representatives of the non-party proletarian masses are being treated with due consideration. This is the most valuable, the most important. If we really succeed in this manner in purging our Party from top to bottom, “without respect for persons,” the gains for the revolution will really be enormous.

The toiling masses have a fine instinct for the difference between honest and devoted Communists and those who arouse a revulsion of feeling in one who obtains his bread by the sweat of his brow, who enjoys no privileges and who has no “open door to the chief.”

Purging the Party with the aid of the suggestions of the non-party toilers is a great thing. It will give us important results. It will make the Party a much stronger vanguard of the class than it was before; it will make it a vanguard that is more strongly linked with the class ... (ibid., pp. 253–294)

What a pitiful picture Marshal Tito’s monolithic morass makes by contrast!

As long as our revolutionary Party leads them (the masses – H.J.), no one will be able to effect such a change (return to capitalism – H.J.). And none of the leaders would try to do so, for they are leading a people and a Party from which Comrade Tito and the other leading comrades emerged. As long as Tito’s heroic heart is beating, as long as the hearts of his comrades from the period of struggle for the development of the Party are beating, etc., etc, ... (On New Roads of Socialism, Milovan Djilas, Belgrade, 1950, p. 14)

The Byzantine tone, the nauseous glorification of the chiefs and lesser chiefs, the air of infallibility, the emphasis on the all-exclusive role and leadership of the Party – all are characteristic of that vast historic phenomenon we associate with Stalinism; counter-revolution, not revolution. Let us review briefly the history and nature of the Yugoslavian Communist Party, again utilizing our chief source of information, Louis Dalmas.

Tito has headed the YCP since the year 1937; thirteen years as chief of the Party. He succeeded to the leadership during the period of the infamous Moscow Trials and was reputed to be one of the staunchest and most loyal of Stalinists. That is to say, he was trained, educated and rose to power as a bred-in-the-bone Stalinist; his entire political and personal psychology and way of thinking was – and remains – Stalinist. More important, as Dalmas recognizes (Les Temps Modernes, March 1950) he has brought along with him to the summits of state power a group of supporters and loyal admirers who have worked hand in glove with him for a dozen years or more. A majority of the present Political Bureau of the YCP has held this post for a dozen years or more, through all the developments and events calmly following, without dissent or opposition, the leader who expresses their own cravings and desires. The whole history, evolution and methodology of the YCP is typically Stalinist – periodic purges of unknown and voiceless “enemies,” glorification of the top leadership, concealment of any and all disagreements from the masses. It is a Party completely without the illuminating history of any serious discussion or disagreement, comparable to the famous discussions of the Russian Bolshevik Party. It always wears the same face, same leadership, same unanimity.

What constitutes the support and composition of this party? Undoubtedly, a section of the working class and the poor peasantry – particularly if the Titoist state has given them certain responsibilities and privileges such as we have indicated throughout this article. More important  – and perhaps the driving force behind its unquestioned social dynamism – is the youth – working class, middle class and peasant youth alike. The illusion of glorious prospects of development (including, for some, their material realization in the form of absorption into the State machine); the appeal to national pride in all forms; the release from parental and family restraint, etc. – all these factors have made it possible for Tito to rally much of the nation’s youth and energy behind him.

As for the true Party, the top Party, this consists of the old and tried cadres with twelve to fifteen years of Stalinist-cum-Tito training behind it; the army and police officers; the diplomats, journalists, official ideologues; and, most recent of all, the newly formed cadres running the nationalized industries, state stores and organs of distribution, state collective farms: etc. All have in common one thing: they hold, manage, control and direct the levers of command. This is the true portrait of the Party of Tito.

The contrast we have drawn has had one simple objective: to deny the contention of those who find a progressive parallel between Yugoslavia today and the early Workers’ Republic of Russia and who call the land of Tito either socialist, democratic or proletarian. By no means do we claim to have drawn a final or detailed outline of the new state itself. One could, for example, write quite a revealing study of the foreign policy of Titoism, not merely detailing the peculiar diplomatic history of the regime but – and – this is infinitely more important – analyzing the internationalist propaganda of Titoism and its approach to the international workers’ movement. Again, a striking dissimilarity would become clear. The revolutionary, internationalist propaganda of the Bolsheviks, directed toward aiding and supporting the spread of the revolution, cannot be contrasted with the sickly, narrow-nationalist and bureaucratic approach of the Titoists and their foreign press. Throughout all of it (and there is a good deal of it!) runs the same thread and theme; protect our regime from Stalin and his Comintern; save our State; do not let them destroy us. Its appeal is an effort to mobilize popular support for the preservation of the Titoist bureaucracy, their government and their privileges. It has not a single genuine internationalist tone in it, and is thoroughly demagogic.

In drawing our conclusions, we must also warn against any idea that we have tried to draw a black-and-white picture of contrasts between Russia and Yugoslavia. Not at all. The very fact that, for example, Lenin’s, writings, of the period are filled with the harshest criticisms against his own regime indicates how clearly he understood the vast gap between ideal and reality. Bureaucratism, lack of popular initiative, already existent tendencies on the part of the Old Guard to demand privileged positions and conditions – all these well-known features were not only conscious to Lenin’s mind, but his various proposals, some of which we have mentioned, were put forward in order to remove these distortions of the Workers’ State. To a great extent, what is involved is the “spirit of the matter,” which influences the direction and development. The Soviet Republic was permeated by the spirit of popular democracy and all its numerous institutions likewise. Lenin, both political and spiritual head of the Republic, set the pace and tone in his writings, speeches and proposals. Regardless of what happened later, the direction in which the new Republic moved was socialist.

The complete absence of any popular democracy, socially, politically and administratively, indicates for us that the direction in Yugoslavia is away from socialism and Workers’ Statism. It is not a regime in which the masses are the ruling class. Those who think in terms of a popular evolution of the regime along democratic lines with a relaxation of restraint are the most deceived of all. Since the regime is founded upon a denial and destruction of popular state organs, self-administered by the masses, it must follow that it can never make such a leap as the turning over of state power to such organs as would negate its own continuation. The regime, in a word, must seek self-perpetuation; i.e., must retain, strengthen and eternally hold on to that state power which it now has in its grasp. This is the essence of the matter.

* * *


1. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. IX, p. 445, his emphasis.

2. A note of warning to those who think that this statement means that the two regimes are exactly alike and parallel in every detail. This is not our thought at all. It is, again, a question of direction and movement. The Tito regime follows the Stalinist path of development; it is approximately where the Stalin regime was in the early 1930’s and obviously could not have reached the same “perfection” as that of its big brother.

3. For the sake of brevity, we are omitting many other secondary features such as differentials in wages, the role of specialists, etc. We cannot avoid a comment, however, on the claim that the various nationalities within the Federated Republic (Croats, Slovenes, etc.) enjoy full freedom within the framework of the Federation. Delmas, less naive than others on this point, refers to various “rights” transferred down to the federal republics by the House of Nationalities; he does not imply, as do others, that among these “rights” is the most fundamental right of all: that of the right of separation and secession from the Federation. It simply does not exist.


Note by ETOL

1*. Henry Judd was a pseudonym of Stanley Plastrik.

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