Boris Ziherl

Communism and Fatherland


In the course of her People's Revolution, Yugoslavia — faithfully implementing the principles of Marxist-Leninist national policy, under the leadership of the CPY — took the shape of a multi-national socialist fatherland.

The formation of a common state of the Yugoslav peoples, and of all the South Slavs in general was, throughout the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, the most ardent desire of Yugoslavs whose nationality was increasingly threatened by German, Italian and other imperialisms. For decades before World War I, Yugoslavia represented, for all Yugoslav democrats and the Yugoslav masses in Austria-Hungary, and also in Turkey and Serbia, the negation of all national oppression and a guarantee of free national development in all the spheres of social activity.

Yugoslavia came into being 1918, but — owing to external and internal objective circumstances and owing to the lack of the subjective factor of the people's revolution — a revolutionary proletarian party, tempered in struggle and strong ideologically — she became the personification of the bourgeois concept of the fatherland. By their policy of social exploitation, deprivation of political rights and national oppression, the ruling bourgeoisie, for the sake of its foreign imperialist protectors, did everything to divide the Yugoslav peoples and to disarm them in the face of the threatening German-Italian aggression.

Linking its struggle to the democratic traditions of the struggle for a state community of equal Yugoslav peoples, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia unmasked the treacherous policy of the bourgeoisie: it tirelessly pointed out to the masses the road of struggle for transformation of Yugoslavia into a fatherland of working people, the road of struggle for the closest cooperation and friendship with the Soviet Union.

It is not a mere coincidence that the peoples of Yugoslavia started to rally around the Communist Party of Yugoslavia en masse, especially after the April catastrophe in 1941. that they remained under its leadership during the most difficult conditions of struggle, completely surrounded, when the armies of the anti-Hitler Coalition were far from Yugoslavia and the armies of the Hitlerite Coalition were on the offensive. This is the result of the long and persevering struggle waged by the Communist Party for the masses, a consequence of the successful struggle for the ever-increasing bolshevisation of the Party itself, for its transformation into a genuine people's party, a party of the masses. The history of the national liberation struggle and of the people's socialist revolution in Yugoslavia is inseparable from the whole previous history of the subjective factor of revolution in Yugoslavia — from the history of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

The Soviet publicist, P. E. Vishinsky wrote an article last year entitled "Communism and Fatherland" which was published in the second number of the review "Questions of Philosophy" in 1948. Re-digesting in a standardized manner the accusations of the herostratic Vidovilan Resolution of the Information Bureau of certain communist parties, the writer, supposedly teaching the leaders of the CP of Yugoslavia, says that the 'national tasks' of the people of the country, are in their essence class tasks, the tasks of the oppressed classes and can, therefore, be solved only in the course of the class struggle, and not through compromises, not through the 'unification' of the exploiters and exploited into a united 'national front', consequently, not through a 'reconciliation of classes'. Submitting these discoveries to the Yugoslav communists, Vishinsky continues:

"One thing is the struggle for national independence as conceived by the proletariat and its party, which must link the national liberation struggle to the social liberation of working people, to the struggle against imperialism on a world level, and, consequently, to loyalty to the cause of proletarian internationalism (united front with the USSR and other revolutionary forces). Another thing is 'national independence' according to bourgeois, opportunist and nationalistic concepts, in the sense of national exclusiveness and national isolation from the common struggle of peoples... The nationalistic clique of Tito has degenerated to such a bourgeois concept of the question of national independence,"1

How the Yugoslav communists understand national independence under conditions of the existence of several socialist states will be discussed later. Now we shall deal briefly with the struggle for national independence, in the light of the obligatory interdependence of the national liberation struggle and the social liberation of the working people.

We have to stress that a profound study of the problems of new Yugoslavia has never been one of the strong points of our "critics", especially those in the USSR. This holds for Vishinsky also. In his "scientific-philosophical" study he only repeats the fabricated and frayed theses of the resolution of the lnformbureau, which are far removed front all science, if by science we understand the search for and discovery of truth in the objective world and not a Hegelian speculation by means of which facts are pulled over pre-fabricated forms.

Yes, during the War of National Liberation from 1941-1945 there were also opinions that an understanding should be reached with the treacherous bourgeoisie, represented by Drazha Mikhailovich, because such an agreement would "strengthen" the liberation front in Yugoslavia, which was allegedly being weakened by the "narrow-mindedness" of the communists. The people who thought so forgot the fact that the bourgeoisie had embarked upon the road of treason not because of the "narrow-mindedness" of the communists, but because of the broadmindedness of the people who joined the ranks of the Liberation Front and the Army of National Liberation Above all the bourgeoisie feared the activation, organization and awakening of the people through struggle. The people thinking that way forgot that such an agreement at any cost would have been tantamount to the self- liquidation of the National Liberation Movement in Yugoslavia as a revolutionary movement of the broad masses of the people.

Yes, such opinions existed, only not among its, not in the ranks of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

The policy adhered to by the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the National Liberation Movement was based on awareness of the inseparable interconnection between the national and the social, on the knowledge that the people's struggle against the fascist invaders and their hirelings would be the more persevering and broader insofar as the National Liberation Struggle was more closely linked with the struggle for the emancipation of the Yugoslav working people, for the liquidation of the bourgeois "homeland" and for the creation of a new, people's-socialist homeland of the Yugoslav working people. This idea is clearly expressed in Comrade Tito's well known article "The National Question in Yugoslavia in the Light of the National Liberation Struggle", written in 1942.2 It is given also in his article "What Are the Special Features of the Liberation Struggle and of the Revolutionary Transformation of the New Yugoslavia", where he writes:

"If we had called upon the people only to fight the invader, while not letting them understand at the same time that the struggle would also bring something new, something much finer, that there was to be no return to the past — it would not have been possible to arouse all the peoples to that struggle, and to awaken the interest of such broad masses in it, nor indeed would it have been possible to hold out the end, to victory."3

The policy of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the National Liberation War was based on a correct Marxist-Leninist appraisal of the relationship of class forces in Yugoslavia, on the feelings of the working masses which bore the brunt of the Liberation Struggle, on a thorough knowledge of the political and moral features of the Yugoslav bourgeoisie, of its propensity to treason. The platform of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the National Liberation Struggle from 1941 to 1945 was a platform of revolutionary democratic patriotism and internationalism: it was unacceptable to the bourgeoisie, because it was acceptable to the masses of the people, it was acceptable to the masses because it was unacceptable to the bourgeoisie. That was the class logic of events in Yugoslavia. To have adopted the platform of the bourgeoisie and its representative, Drazha Mikhailovich, would have meant to alienate the masses, and that would not only have weakened the National Liberation Struggle but even liquidated it, reducing to a minimum or to naught the aid which the Yugoslav peoples were rendering their Soviet brothers in their life and death struggle with Hitlerite Germany.

If the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia is to be understood it must be regarded as people's revolution which was consciously organized and led by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, armed with the powerful teachings of Marxism-Leninism. To understand the revolution in Yugoslavia which, under the conscious leadership of the Communists, bore the fruits of a socialist revolution means to grasp the fact that the Yugoslav working masses, too,are capable of independent revolutionary action, that they, too, engendered a conscious Marxist-Leninist vanguard which, having steeled itself and gained the confidence of the masses during twenty years of struggle against the Yugoslav bourgeoisie — correctly appraised the objective foreign political and internal factors for victory of the people in Yugoslavia in the conditions of the Second World War, and dauntlessly led them into the liberation war, into revolution.

No one in Yugoslavia ever thought of disparaging, much lass denying the struggle of the Soviet Union against Hitlerite Germany as being the most important and decisive objective factor in the victory of the Yugoslav peoples in the Liberation War. This is an irrefutable fact. But, likewise, no denial can be made of the people' revolution in Yugoslavia, the fact cannot be denied that the greater part of Yugoslav territory was liberated exclusively by the fighters of the Yugoslav armed forces with the technical aid of the Soviet and other allies of that time; the Liberation War in Yugoslavia cannot be presented as having been something more or less accidental, as a number of unorganized partizan skirmishes nor can the Yugoslav peoples be presented exclusively as an object of liberation by the Soviet Army. The merits of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in the war cannot be placed on an equal footing with the merits of the communist parties in countries where there was no resistance movement against the Germans and their domestic hirelings, or almost none, where the parties were disrupted (as in Hungary and Rumania) and founded only after the liberation. The Yugoslav Communists and the Yugoslav peoples sincerely rejoice at every success which the communists and peoples of the countries of people's democracy are achieving in respect of revolutionary transformation and social-economic, political and cultural advancement. They have proved their readiness to extend them every support and to forget everything that once used to divide them from these peoples in the past, but they do not see, nor can they, nor indeed should they see any practical purpose in the distortion of historical facts.

The tendency to depict the National Liberation Struggle in Yugoslavia as an exclusively national liberation struggle, and the results of the consistently internationalist policy of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia exclusively as the, expression of deeply-rooted pro-Russian sentiments of the Yugoslav peoples, has for years been expressed in a series of articles and dissertations written by Soviet publicists and journalists. While reading these lines one often gets the impression that Yugoslavia is not country in which there are peoples with significant state and revolutionary traditions and republic with a high national culture and no less high a civilization of the Central European and Mediterranean type, but a somewhat exotic "Balkan" country in which there are, it is true freedom-loving, but backward highlanders who lack elementary civilisation and who, of course are incapable of conscious organised revolutionary struggle and creative work in socialist construction.

According to the writer of the mentioned "philosophico-scientific" article on communism and the fatherland, the policy of "uniting" hit exploiter and exploited into a firm "national" front, the policy of national exclusiveness which the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia is today supposedly pursuing, is a sequel to the policy pursued during the war when the Yugoslav Communists supposedly considered the struggle against the invader as an exclusively national struggle, as a matter of cooperation with the bourgeoisie in the defence of the fatherland. It is on these arbitrary notions, which testify to complete ignorance of Yugoslav reality, that further "truths" have been construed on the post-war policy of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, denial of the existence of socialist construction in Yugoslavia, denial of Yugoslavia as a country of people's democracy, as a socialist country, as a component part of the common socialist front, her purely speculative transformation into a bourgeois republic in the imperialist camp and many other countless "generally known" truths of the Cominform press and radio. All this unprincipled casuistry and all these political acrobatics are supposed to be a "valuable contribution" to the enrichment of Marxism-Leninism.

It is appropriate to discuss the correctness or incorrectness of a political line, the errors and omissions of this or that Party leadership. That is as clear as daylight. It is also clear that no services rendered in the past can exempt a communist from criticism for his errors. But, facts which are as obvious, for example, as that Vladimir Ilyich Lenin died on January 21, 1924, cannot be doubted. That would be denying the objective truth, sinking from positions of a Marxist-Leninist party, which is building its policy upon the concept of objective truth, to positions of pragmatism. As we know, it is irrelevant to pragmatism whether something is useful because it is true, or whether something is true because it is useful (James); it, actually denies the objectivity of truth and proclaims as true what — at the given moment — it is useful and agreeable to create and present as the truth. Whatever the motives of pragmatistic action in relation, to fact, such action accustoms people to overlooking the truth when building up line of policy and jeopardizes the success of the undertaking itself.

During the war and during peaceful construction, the Yugoslav Communists proved in deed, and are still proving, their loyalty to the ideal of international solidarity of all working people. They have always held in high esteems and availed themselves of, the valuable experiences of socialist constructions in the USSR, generalised in the works of Lenin and Stalin. But the Yugoslav Communists with justification simultaneously pride themselves upon their people, upon their heroism, upon their unbreakable will to overcome all foreseen and unforeseen obstacles in their struggle for freedom and building of socialism by their adroitness, their gift for invention, their organisational abilities — both in the field of socio-economic and cultural and state political construction. The Yugoslav Communists pride themselves with justification upon the working people of their fatherland who performed significant revolutionary deeds in the liberation war from 1941 to 1945 and who are today consolidating those deeds through their selfless work in socialist construction, who knew how to create for themselves a reliable weapon with which to make those deeds secure — a people's army and people's organs of security. All this can only constitute a contribution to the consolidation of the socialist front in the whole world.

The Communists of Yugoslavia are entitled to consider their peoples equal to all other peoples and they have no reason to approach this people, in any field of staye and social construction, with less confidence than they would any other people, to hold their creative abilities beneath the corresponding abilities of other peoples, and in any form whatever, to consider them as an object for trusteeship. The Communists of Yugoslavia are likewise entitled to hold themselves worthy of the confidence of their people and to pride themselves upon that confidence.

Therein lies the national pride of the Yugoslav Communists. Therein lies their entire "nationalism". Logically following this is the reply to the question as to how the Yugoslav Communists conceive of national independence under conditions of the existence of several socialist countries.

Any policy by the Yugoslav Communists which would — as a consequence — give rise to the disparagement of the creative abilities of their own people in relation to other peoples would weaken the revolutionary enthusiasm of Yugoslavia's working masses, it would give cause them to distrust other peoples of the socialist camp, distrust which would steadily grow no matter how it might be couched in official expressions of loyal comradeship.

Such "internationalism" does not mean internal consolidation but internal weakening of the socialist camp itself.

It is to this that our "critics" should give more serious thought.


1. "Questions of Philosophy" ("Voprossy Filosofii"), 1948. No 2. (pp, 68-69.

2. Tito. The Struggle for the Liberation of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, 1947, pp. 136-137.

3. Tito. The Building Up of the New Yugoslavia. Belgrade. 1948, Vol. II, p. 175.

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