French Trotskyism 1955

The Djilas Affair

Source: La Vérité des Travailleurs, no. 27, January 1955;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2010.

Less than a year ago Djilas, up till that point member of the Politburo and theoretician of the ex-Yugoslav Communist Party, was removed from his functions in the League of Communists and a short while later resigned from the organization. And now Djilas and Dedijer, author of the official biography of Tito, stand accused before their country’s tribunals.

They are formally reproached with addressing the foreign press to complain of the lack of democracy in their country and the Yugoslav Communist Party. More precisely, Djilas demands the right to form a second party in Yugoslavia. Apparently there is a difference between what he wrote a year ago, which earned him a return to the base, and what he writes today. He then proposed that there was no longer a disciplined party or organization with a political program. Today he calls for a second party.

He claims this right in the name of democracy. This is the nail he pretends to be hammering in. But when you proceed to such an operation you have to know what you’re hammering the nail into and what you then want to hang from it. In other words, people would like to know Djilas’ program and for which class interests he presents himself as champion of democracy. In his declarations to the “New York Times” he is silent in this regard. Nevertheless, we can easily detect his orientation through a few phrases. In the first place, he renews his attacks against Trotsky in order to disabuse those who might think that his fight for democracy has a profound relationship with the Oppositionists’ fight against Stalin. He reproaches Trotsky and the other Oppositionists of “having wanted to be more Leninist than Stalin.”

And so things are quite clear: he wants democracy in order to fight Leninism, that is, the Marxist program of the revolutionary proletariat. If he condemns his former party it’s insofar as the latter is attached to the proletariat, to Leninism. He in no way seeks, as Trotskyists would, to fight within this proletarian party, to eliminate false concepts and theories inherited from Stalinism, like the concept of “socialism in one country” and the negation of a proletarian International.

The policy of his former party he wants to discuss, he says in his declaration, is the peasant policy of the Yugoslav leadership. In fact, in the past few years it has been quite flexible, and it is doubtful that Djilas wants it to become even a bit more rigid. What then does he want? Does he even know? What he says demonstrates that the right-wing forces that were behind him a year ago are still acting on him.

He expressed himself in an American newspaper. In extenuation, it is true that he was not authorized to express himself freely in his country, that he wasn’t authorized to publish an organ, however small it might be. We don’t believe he attempted to address himself illegally to communists, to Yugoslavian workers. In truth, his tendencies don’t lend themselves to such activity at a time when he allows himself to say the worst things about a party which he was the leader of only yesterday. His erroneous position, his dangerous tendencies, led him to carry out a political act whose meaning is far greater than his person. For there can be no doubt that imperialism is worried about the current game of the Yugoslav government since the re-establishing of relations with the USSR and its satellites. It is extremely likely that imperialism, in offering Djilas publicity, chose the moment when it wants to exert pressure and test the waters concerning the tendencies of the Yugoslav government.

The latter finds itself in a delicate situation. It is the prisoner of its Stalinist concept of the single and monolithic party. What is more, it’s difficult to attribute more effective importance to Djilas and Dedijer’s acts than they truly have. These were essentially symbolic acts that could not be ignored, but which couldn’t have immediate consequences for the regime.

We shall see how Yugoslav justice follows up on this.