Tito and Stalin
Author and editor, long expert in his knowledge of Central Europe and in particular of Jugoslavia, HAMILTON FISH ARMSTRONG paid an extended visit to that country in the spring of this year and there observed the effects of the schism between Tito and the Kremlin. He has returned to his post as editor of Foreign Affairs with constructive ideas as to how we should deal with Tito and with Jugoslavia.
by HAMILTON FISH ARMSTRONG
A PAPER in Belgrade recently printed a cartoon showing a lighthouse enveloped in mists and assaulted by waves, yet flashing steady beams of light east and west. The lighthouse was marked “KPJ,” signifying the Communist Party of Jugoslavia, and the waves were named impartially “Imperialism,” “German Fascism,” “Cominform Resolution,” “Rumors,” and “Lies.” This is how the Jugoslav Communists see themselves today— the beacon light of pure Communist idealism, equally menaced by Western capitalism and Stalin’s corruption of Marxist Leninism.
They lay great emphasis on the word “equally,”for though their old propaganda cocoon is torn they still cannot face a flight into the light of full reality Since they defied Stalin’s orders, their formal excommunication from the established Communist church has been announced; other members have been forbidden to have more than the bare necessity of intercourse with them; and Moscow has launched a campaign of invective and a systematic program of economic strangulation aimed frankly at destroying them. (One figure will reveal how drastic the boycott of Jugoslavia is: Russia has cut trade both ways by seven eighths.) Yet the retorts of the Jugoslavs, bitter as they are becoming, never fail to devote at least an introductory paragraph or two to their old bugaboo, the aggressive intentions of the capitalist West, before going on to discuss in detail the injustices they now have to endure from their former comrades in the East.
The shattering truth is nevertheless becoming harder and harder to ignore. What the Communist faithful in Jugoslavia had learned would be the world’s greatest good, would now be for them the greatest evil: the spread of Communism to the West would be a disaster for their regime comparable only to the assassination of their leader, Tito. Specifically, if power in Italy ever passed to the Cominform agent, Togliatti, he would snap
into place around their necks the last vital segment of Stalin’s iron collar. They then would indeed be transfixed: Tito and whoever did not rat on him would be killed: and Jugoslavia would become another mute Bulgaria or Rumania.
I wondered what thoughts must be running, then, in the minds of the Belgrade students parading past Tito on May Day. In that morning’s Borba, the Communist daily, they could have read a speech by Mosha Pijade, Tito’s ideological mentor, denouncing the Stalin-dominated governments, parties, and press, in a vocabulary reserved until recently for Churchill and Truman, for their “dirty slogans,” “narrow nationalism,” and “ bossy" imperialism. The cheerleaders kept them chanting “Tito, Tito, Tito!" (And back from the PariserPlatz and the Piazza Venezia came dead echoes: “ Hitler, Hitler, Hitler! ” and “ Duce, Duce, Duce!”) Yet there in their hands were the banners of Stalin which they had been given to carry, and that inscrutable visage went bobbing along past Tito in company with the portraits of Marx, Engels, and Lenin.
Stalin thus is still recognized in Jugoslavia, but as an historical figure. As a living force, as a patron and ally, he is being methodically eliminated as the police take down his picltires in the kavanas and railway stations—not all at once, but according to schedule. And Mosha Pijade, who told me that the theoretical bases of the position in which the Jugoslav Party finds itself will be carefully developed in the coming months, can be counted on to do this in the manner to cause the maximum of grief to the friends of the Soviet. Union everywhere.
On its side, Moscow is also preparing its position and case with great care. Every conceivable propaganda measure is being taken to justify and supplement, its main weapon against Jugoslavia, the boycott. In all the states under Soviet control Tito’s name has been removed from boulevards and workingmen’s Hubs, and his only mention in the slogans of the May Day marchers in the various capitals was on a level with their references to Blum, Bevin, the Ku Klux Klan, and (a particularly favorite target) the late Secretary Forrestal. All the local “traitors,” from bishops who try to hold on to their sees to peasants who try to hold on to their land, are branded as “Tito diversionists.”Emigrant groups have been subsidized to publish journals especially to attack Tito — The New Fight in Prague, Forward in Sofia, Under the Banner of Internationalism in Bucharest.
The intensity of the anti-Tito campaign shows the importance which the Soviet leaders attach to it, and hence to what they are attacking. Stalin’s life is not directly involved, as Tito’s is; but the stakes for him are also very high. At first the struggle, then secret, was for the possession of Jugoslavia. Now it is open, and not just for Jugoslavia but for the right to determine Communist orthodoxy. For Stalin, this means the right to hire and fire all Communists everywhere.
A formal schism has thus been opened in the Communist world. What makes it worse from Stalin’s standpoint is that out of it is developing what of all things he must most have wanted to avoid — a heresy with a natural, universal, and permanent appeal. The mortal sin is the notion of equality and independence — the equality of Communist Parties, the independence of Communist states
WHY did this heresy happen to arise in Jugoslavia? How did the Kremlin ever manage things so badly that evidences of a sentiment which is rigorously extirpated from Soviet society should suddenly be allowed to appear above the monotonous gray surface of the outer Muscovite sea? And how are the heretics able to hold their own and flash their signals from their lighthouse to restless Communists not only in neighboring lands but far afield, east and west?
Apparently Moscow precipitated the showdown with Tito without apprehending how it might turn out. The Politbureau has had to deal with many rebels in the past — Trotsky, Tukhachevsky, Bukharin, and the rest. Trotsky fled, and was punished. Others were seized in their homes or voluntarily inculpated themselves; but whether they capitulated or not they were punished just the same. Tito, however, was a rebel of a sort new in Communist experience, for he had a base of power and operations outside the Soviet Union. The men in the Kremlin thought that he nevertheless would capitulate and submit to quiet punishment, or at the worst would flee and be overtaken by an assassin’s bullet. They were unprepared, not for his rebellion but for its success.
In other words, something went badly wrong with the Soviet espionage system, although the circumstances under which it was operating could not have been more favorable. The Cominform was established in Belgrade itself. Shoals of Soviet diplomats, army officers, engineers, trade delegates, and agents of all sorts had been swarming through Jugoslavia for three years. Were they so imbued with the doctrine of Soviet omnipotence that they could not recognize discordant realities under their noses? Or were they too stupid to understand them, or too frightened of Moscow’s displeasure to report them?
Whether the Soviet leaders were improperly warned by their field agents or were merely contemptuous of the warnings, they did not hesitate to treat Tito as though he were a simple satrap, holding office at their pleasure. When their orders and reprimands brought arguments and reproaches instead of compliance and apologies, they issued their writ of excommunication and waited for Tito to slink away or be expelled by his colleagues.
Instead Tito replied, in effect, that nowhere in original Marxist doctrine could anyone point out to him a statement that the Kremlin was to be supreme and its judgments accepted as infallible by all the Communist faithful, any more than, for example, non-Catholics find evidence in the Scriptures satisfactory to them that the Pope is to bo supreme over all Christians and his directives accepted by them as infallible. Tito’s Party almost unanimously followed him. All at once the struggle for temporal power became a shocking schism in the Communist church.
From the start the Communist leaders in Jugoslavia had felt that they bore a different relationship to Moscow than did those in other parts of Eastern Europe. Jugoslavia had been neither an ex-enemy nation like Rumania, Bulgaria, or Hungary, nor a subdued and then “liberated" nation like Poland or Czechoslovakia. As she did not pass under the occupation of Soviet troops, and as she possessed an open sea frontier to the west, her leaders would be in a position to evade, if they wished, the bear hug which enveloped the others.
The Communists had not participated in the coup which brought Jugoslavia into the Allied camp; but when Hiller attacked the Soviets, Tito collected his Partisans, made war against the Nazis and against his anti-Communist rival, Mihailovitch, and in the end won with very little help from outside, Russian or other. The first Soviet military mission did not appear at Tito’s headquarters till the spring of 1944. The LieutenantGeneral in charge found himself in unfamiliar terrain in the mountains of Bosnia; and as Tito flitted from one forest nest to another he came to look on the Russians as “excess baggage.” The victories of the Partisans, until the Red Army made contact with them just prior to the capture of Belgrade, were exclusively their own. Their political successes, of course, were not. These originated largely in an obsession of Winston Churchill’s that a tool must be found for Allied operations in the Balkans, and in his naive hope that he could pry Tito away from Communism to serve as that tool.
Tito thus came to be considered officially a fighting ally — the only one in all Eastern Europe, once Greece had fallen, apart from Mihailovitch’s forgotten Chetniks in the Serbian mountains and the divided but continually resurgent underground in Poland. When the fighting was over, he thought he retained his status as Stalin’s colleague — an admiring junior colleague, but not an agent, not a messenger boy.
The absence of any other leader in Eastern Europe with pretensions to the same status only increased his determination to maintain it. Enemies of Mussolini used to recall that he “led" the March on Rome by arriving there in a sleeping-car the morning after. Moshe Pijade recently took malicious pleasure in pointing out that neither Tito nor any of his colleagues “arrived by aeroplane after the victory, with pipes in their mouths.” This was a crack at three pipe-smokers, Hungary’s Rakosi, Bulgaria’s Dimitrov, and Czechoslovakia’s Gottwald, who distinguished themselves during the war by speeches over the Moscow radio calling on their countrymen to revolt. Togliatti came to Italy from Moscow by aeroplane too, and Thorez flew to Paris escorted by Red Army fighters.
This does not mean that Tito was or is anything but a fervent Communist. He first saw Russia as an Austro-Hungarian prisoner in World War I. When the Revolution came he joined the Red Army, afterwards became a Party agent in Western Europe (his assignments included service in France during the Spanish Civil War), and in 1937 was put in charge of the revolutionary struggle in his native Jugoslavia. At thal time the Jugoslav Communist Party had been outlawed for years and hardly existed. By 1941 he had built it up to a membership of about 12,000. Of these not more than a quarter survived the guerrilla fighting. As the Party today has 470,000 members, the proportion enjoying the prestige of being “old” (that is, prewar) Party members is a fraction of one per cent.
Almost none of the Jugoslav Communists, therefore, have known any leadership but Tito’s. More than any other Communist Party in the world the Jugoslav Party is the creation of one man. In this respect also, then, Tito’s position is quite different from that of the agents sent in from Moscow, by aeroplane or otherwise, to form and then seize control of the “popular fronts” which were the steppingstones to Communist (and Soviet) rule in Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Tito’s followers are as fervent Communists as himself; but they look first to him, and only through him to Stalin.
Did Tito ever reckon consciously on the fact that he is Stalin’s junior by more than ten years (he was born in a village near Zagreb, in Croatia, May 25. 1892) and ordinarily — if anything in the life of Communist leaders can be called ordinary — might expect to outlive him? His exploits, plus Churchill’s admiration and an extraordinary publicity build-up in American magazines, have made his name and face more familiar to more people in the world than those of any ofher Communist leader except Stalin himself. Did he ever speculate that if not the power then at least the glory of being World Communist No. 1 might some day be his?
In any event, he had no expectations of being asked to play second to anyone in his own country. Some members of the Jugoslav Government-inexile in London had been browbeaten by Churchill into coöperating with Tito; but they quickly served his purpose (as other sanguine or desperate liberals served Communist purposes in other countries), and he had disposed of them. He now ruled as supreme in the Jugoslav Government as in the Jugoslav Party. He was “secundus inter pares” and Jugoslavia was an independent Communist state.
How Tito hoped to remain Stalin’s independent collaborator, and how Stalin set about bringing him to heel, and how both failed, is documented in the extraordinary correspondence exchanged between the U.S.S.R. and Jugoslav Communist Parties in the spring of 1948. The capstone was the famous Cominform resolution announcing to the world that the Jugoslav leaders “have placed themselves in opposition to the Communist Parties affiliated to the Cominform Bureau, have taken the path of seceding from the unified socialist front against imperialism, have taken the path of betraying the cause of international solidarity of the working people, and have taken up a position of nationalism.”
These documents, which throw more light than we have had from any other source on the innards of the Communist political system, would certainly not have been made public if that could have been avoided. But each side was forced to publish its share of the correspondence to explain the shattering event and to justify its own stand.
Not enough attention has been given the significant fact that Moscow felt obliged to rebuke Tito as far back as 1945. At first he had probably been looked on as a precocious scholar and forgiven a certain amount of cockiness. It was inconceivable that the schoolboy might one day reject the master’s teaching and even presume to give him lessons. Yet Tito did something very much like that in a speech at Ljubljana in May, 1945, and awakened Stalin’s wrath for the first time that we know anything about.
Tito was then demanding Trieste for Jugoslavia.
He felt that the Soviets were not supporting his claim strongly enough, and attributed this to their desire to strengthen Togliatti in Italy. “It is said,”declared Tito, “that this is a just war, and we have considered it such. However, we also seek a just end. We demand that everyone shall be master in his own house. We do not want to pay for others. We do not want to be used as a bribe in international bargaining. We do not want to get involved in spheres of influence.”
Moscow took this to be, as indeed it was, a warning that Jugoslavia’s interests were not to be used as small change in Soviet bargaining. Moscow informed Belgrade that such things “could not be toleraled,” and particularly Tito’s failure to differentiate between the policies of the U.S.S.R.and “the imperialist states.” On June 5, 1945, the Soviet Ambassador presented the following categorical instruction: “Tell Comrade Tito that if he should once again permit such an attack on the Soviet Union we shall be forced to reply with open criticism in the press and disavow him.”
The first threat of excommunication!
Also in 1945 another disagreeable incident occurred, involving Milovan Djilas, one of Tito’s closest collaborators, who was reported to Moscow as having remarked that officers of the Red Army “were from a moral standpoint inferior to the officers of the British Army.” This harked back to the time when the Red Army, having helped liberate Belgrade, behaved as though they had captured a hostile city. Tito tried orally, and also by writing to Stalin, to explain away the alleged statement Stalin was not appeased.
The next friction we know of (or rather suspect, for it is not set forth in the correspondence) occurred in September, 1947. At the second meeting of the Jugoslav People’s Congress in that month Tito presumed to lecture the Communist Parties of other countries — and by implication those of France and Italy especially — for their lack of militant programs and leadership. This must have annoyed the Soviet leaders enormously, not only because they were about to discard the principles of organization and action which he advocated, but also — and this was really unforgivable—because he assumed that he had an international role in addition to that as a national leader. Probably it was at this point that they decided definitely to get rid of him.
Moscow would also have found confirmation for the suspicion that Tito aspired to operate on his own internationally by observing his negotiations with Dimitrov, the Bulgarian Premier, for a Jugoslav-Bulgarian Federation. Stalin had given his blessing to the project, but he was far from pleased with the enlarged version concocted by Tito and Dimitrov in 1947. The grouping they now proposed had the appearance of a Balkan and Danubian Federation, and would have been too powerful and potentially too independent to suit Moscow. In January, 1948, Dimitrov issued an abject apology. Tito probably escaped a similar public humiliation because there were plans for dealing with him more conclusively.
The formation of the Cominform had recently been announced. To the gratification of the Jugoslavs, its headquarters were fixed in Belgrade; they took the choice of their capital as the center for Communist intrigue as a great compliment. Looking back, one wonders whether the choice was not made with the deliberate intention of bringing the full and unified weight of the Communist world to bear on the Jugoslav Party at a time when Moscow was getting ready to purge its leader. Also, there would be advantages in having in existence a facade of inter-Party cooperation to mask Moscow’s autocratic operations.
In the end, Tito’s colleagues did not succumb to this pressure. Only two members of the Jugoslav Politbureau, Hebrang and Zhujovitch, became contaminated: and Tito expelled them from the Party when the dispute with Stalin came to a boil, and later put them in jail, where they still are. The fact that all but two remained faithful, despite the pressure organized through the Cominform as well as directly, does not indicate, however, that Moscow had not hoped otherwise. Both the creation of the Cominform at the particular moment and the location of it in Belgrade seem to have been at least partially for the purpose of isolating Tito in preparation for decapitating him.
BESIDES letting us in on the secret of why, basically, Stalin decided to purge Tito, their letters record specific complaints which reveal (most encouragingly to us) that many human weaknesses supposed to be sloughed off automatically in the inhumanly well-ordered Communist world do somehow persist.
For one thing, the profit motive seems not to lose its urge with the advent of Communism. Much friction developed between Red Army instructors and their Jugoslav colleagues because the former were paid so much better. A Lieutenant-General of the Jugoslav Army received 9000 dinars a month; a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Red Army on mission in Jugoslavia received 30,000 dinars (out of the Jugoslav treasury, of course). Jugoslav civilians were similarly disgruntled. In Belgrade I was told that the Jugoslav Government had paid the Soviet engineer supervising the construction of the Sava River bridge 50,000 dinars a month, plus house, servants, food, automobile, and so forth; in comparison it pays its own Cabinet Ministers a third of that amount (although with similar perquisites, I noticed).
Then there were complaints about the fact that Soviet supplies were charged to the Jugoslav Government account at far above world prices and exports to Soviet Russia were credited to it at far below world prices. Even more bitter things are said about this in Belgrade today than are contained in the published letters. The Jugoslavs now openly call the series of transactions between the Soviet Government and their own by the name that the Bolsheviks save for describing practices of the imperialist Powers—exploitation. Another subject for Jugoslav jibes was a much publicized Soviet gift, just after the war, of 500,000 tons of wheat. The Jugoslavs now maintain that only 50,000 tons were actually received, and that it had been stolen from them in the first place by the Nazis, captured by the Soviet troops, and merely shipped back to them after some delay. They say the Russians admitted privately that this was the case, but suggested that it would be nice to call the wheat a gift and magnify it ten times.
Many promised supplies, some of them paid for in advance, never reached Jugoslavia. Considerable equipment came for the Jugoslav Army, but significantly it was not accompanied by replacement items, so that the troops thus equipped remained dependent on the Red Army. (This is a serious weakness in the Jugoslav military position today.) Heavy machinery was promised and eagerly awaited, especially that needed for building smelting mills and for drilling for oil. It did not arrive; but Jugoslav copper, manganese, lead, and other products continued pouring, in increasing quantities, to the Soviet Union and to the industries of East European states which work for it. A thousand carloads of iron ore would go to Czechoslovakia, and back would come, not machinery to enable the Jugoslavs to commence the construction of a truck factory, but a truck.
Supporting the specific complaints and countercomplaints of the two Governments-or, rather, of the two Parties, for the Governments were too unimportant to be permitted to deal with such matters — loomed vast ideological recriminations. I think today that they were largely shadowboxing. At its heart the dispute was for power.
Tito had made a Five-Year Plan for industrializing the country. Stalin’s conception of what the Jugoslavs should busy themselves with in those five years was very different. It fitted Soviet Russia’s national interests but not, Tito thought, Jugoslavia’s. Specifically, he was ordered to speed up the collectivization of agriculture. Stalin interprets Marxism as allotting land workers a role subordinate to that of industrial workers; he had enforced a certain tempo of collectivization in Russia, regardless of cost, and it must be copied everywhere. Tito knew, however, that his peasants would balk, that agricultural production in consequence would fall, that this would lessen food supplies available for the workers, and that the industrialization schedule would suffer. Besides, collectivization encountered greater obstacles in Jugoslavia than in Russia. Both land and labor were more limited, and the colossal waste which Russia absorbed could not be endured. Further, the Partisans who were the backbone of Tito’s Party and personal power were largely of peasant origin. Never mind, he was told; yours not to reason but to obey; proceed with collectivization now.
To enable him to carry out his Five-Year Plan, Tito had negotiated commercial treaties with his Communist neighbors. Stalin ordered those treaties altered to suit the requirements of the Soviet Plan. Jugoslavia’s role in that plan, it developed, was to give what the Soviets wanted but not to receive what it wanted.
Tito’s political machine was also menaced. He had made the close-knit Communist Party, created personally by him, the heart of a larger organization, the so-called People’s Front, which claimed to number 7,750,000—half the total population (not an extraordinary paper figure, perhaps, when we remember that membership is almost synonymous with the right to work). Stalin criticized the People’s Front as savoring of a popular front and “drowning” the Party. Popular fronts had served their purpose, and the time for them was past. This powerful instrument of Tito’s — beyond the Party, and therefore in a sense beyond the influence of the Cominform — must disappear, or at least be divorced from the Party and relegated to the background.
Thus the clash of interests, national and personal, could hardly have been more direct. Stalin of course understood this perfectly and called for a showdown. But, to his amazement, Tito’s psychology proved to be as primitive as his own, his aims as concrete, his methods as crude, his hand as steady in aiming at the heart of a comradely foe.
THIS hard core of material interest inside the ideological wrappings of the dispute was revealed clearly in a talk which I had in Belgrade with one Communist leader who could not restrain his overflowing resentment when he let himself think back to how the Jugoslav Communists had been fooled. I had asked him when he first realized the way things were going. Friction with Moscow began as far back as 1944, he replied. “But in those days,” he went on, “we were childish. We were far too idealistic to doubt the perfection of the Soviet Union. Stalin! — he was a true Communist, the perfect Communist! He would never treat other true Communists unfairly!”
But when, exactly, had doubts on this point begun to arise?
“After the establishment of the Cominform we saw that there was no intention of letting us run our own country. All through history Serbs and Croats have worked for others — well, we were to continue! We were to dig our coal and ores, but we were not to be allowed to build plants to smelt our iron and make it into steel and then make the steel into machinery. We were not to build hydroelectric plants to change the primitive life of our peasants. We were not to build concrete highways, and make trucks to use them, and drill for our own oil to run the trucks. No, we were to send our wealth abroad, just as we always did. We were to be exploited and poor. We were to be a colony.”
He paused and then continued still more fiercely: “ That was all the use our capacity to work and our will to work were to be to us! That was what our resources were to mean! That was to be the final reward of all our revolutionary struggles against the Turks and the Austrians and the Magyars and then the Nazis — to keep our muddy roads, to walk on them in our peasant opanchi and to step aside when the Russian engineers motored past us, just as we used to have to do when the Turks rode past us on their mules!”
Here, I thought, was the secret Stalin did not know. He could not conceive how hot the blood of nationalism, or perhaps more accurately of independence, runs in Jugoslav veins. All through history invaders have come looking for profits from the wheat of the Banat, the pigs of Kosovo, the copper of Trepce, the tobacco of Macedonia, the iron of Bosnia, the lead and manganese and other wealth hid in the mountains or growing on the plains. In latter times the exploiters did not need actually to occupy the land; each of the Great Powers made one of the Balkan Stales its protégé and played it against the others for profit. The Jugoslavs saw, almost too late, the old game beginning again, with Big Brother Stalin taking the place of Little Father Tsar and Hapsburg Emperor and Comité des Forges and Banca d’ltalia.
Above all, Stalin did not realize how important this fanatical love of independence could prove in the special circumstances in which Tito had come to power. He ignored the fact that many Jugoslav Communist leaders were patriots who, having tired too early of the effort to lift their country “out of the mud” by the tedious development of constitutional processes, had rationalized their patriotism into Communism; and who, if their search for all the impossible things they expected to find along the Communist road were thwarted, would tend to rationalize their Communism back into patriotism again.
Tito, however, knew all this very well, counted on it, used and is using it. Whether or not he himself shared the same internal evolution is doubtful. The origins of his Communism (he was a metalworker at one time) were much more orthodox than the peasant origins of many of his associates and followers. But whether or not a fury for national independence possessed him to the same degree as it did them, a will to personal independence and power did; and in the almost universal adherence to the concept of national independence he found the backing necessary to make his declaration of independence from Moscow and its agency, the Cominform, a success.
Can he survive? Yes, unless he is assassinated (and though the security measures to protect him are very conspicuous, there is reason to suppose they are not absolute), or unless there is an economic collapse which Stalin could exploit to create a civil war.
When one mentions these matters, the question arises whether Tito is more or less popular since the break with the Cominform. I think the bulk of the population cannot help liking his assertion of Jugoslav rights against Soviet Russia’s, even though they know they have no share in saying how those rights will be used and administered. As a national spokesman, Tito has merits in their eyes that he did not have before; as a Communist leader he is as unacceptable as ever,
THESE events are, or should be, instructive for us in appraising Stalin’s tactics. They seem to confirm that, in his present estimate of world forces, he can afford to practice revolutionary Communism according to the principles of Marx, Engels, and Lenin only when immediate Russian national aims are served thereby. He is limited by the pull of “nationalist deviationism “ in Eastern Europe and by the impossibility of tolerating any kind of nationalism except Russian.
The Tito affair made this fact plain, and it has been highly disconcerting to Communists everywhere. In 1882 Engels wrote that “ the proletarian international movement can come only among independent countries.” Stalin’s amendment of this of course has the greatest repercussions in nations like France, Italy, and Germany, where national characteristics and traditions are strongly developed and where the revelation that local Communist Parties do not serve an international cause so much as they serve a foreign national government places a heavy handicap on Communist recruitment. Presumably Stalin would not have adopted a line which makes the position of his lieutenants both there and in the Communist-controlled countries of Eastern Europe so much more difficult unless it had seemed to him imperative for reasons of his own and Russian safety. In this light, his institution of the “hard core” policy appears a matter not so much of expediency as necessity. We should understand and advertise this fact; the more widely it is known, the smaller the core.
Nevertheless we would be wrong to expect dramatic results in countries where the Communists are already in possession of the whole state apparatus. The East European peoples, for example, are being called upon to work, produce, and suffer in accordance with plans drawn up to suit the needs and increase the power of the Soviet Union. They detest it. The sharper the outlines of their allotted role become, the greater their opposition to it; and this will continue to be the case at least until a generation reared wholly by Communist rules and in Communist ignorance becomes dominant. But although this situation may, and I believe does, influence the Soviet Union’s appraisal of its strategic position, and hence its global policy, it does not directly endanger Moscow’s local rule.
In other words, we cannot count on seeing Tito’s example followed in neighboring countries (except, perhaps, small and isolated Albania). For reasons already explained, Communist hierarchies there occupy quite a different relationship both to Moscow and to their own peoples; and, of course, mass revolution against them is materially impossible. Our gratification over the split in the Communist world must be for other and more general reasons.
In Jugoslavia itself we shall be under a temptation to try to exploit Tito’s present difficulties too directly and too quickly. We may properly desire to see him survive his revolt against Stalin and continue developing and expounding the ideological bases for it. But we should avoid requesting his political or military help or offering him ours. The first would lower us in his eyes, the second would embarrass and actually weaken him. The most that we should do is recognize that he holds some sort of intermediate and independent position between the Cominform bloc and the West, and deal with him realistically on the basis of his continuing to do so. This does not exclude, of course, urging him to take the side of peace in all current questions where his influence can be important — for example, in Greece; but it does exclude bargaining our goods or credits for specific political acts by him.
Nor should we act as though we hoped to find in Tito an eventual ally. The opponents of our opponents are not automatically our friends. Tito could not make his regime a democratic one even if he wished; and there is no sign he so wishes. On the contrary, he claims to be a “better" Communist even than Stalin, and his state remains a police state in which a small minority enforces its will on the vast majority by force and fear. He could not change the essentials of that regime and survive.
In terms of political realism we are justified in allowing Jugoslavia to draw a certain amount of economic support from the West. We can properly soften our export license program to the point where, in addition to importing consumer goods, she can secure enough American capital goods to keep Tito’s industrialization program from bogging down, throwing his workers out of jobs, and producing an economic collapse which Stalin might be able to develop into a revolution inside the Jugoslav Communist Party. In return we can buy copper, lead, manganese, or other Jugoslav products, either for current use or for stockpiling.
Our purchases will not be enough, however, to pay for the capital goods that the Jugoslav Government would like to get from us. The question of credits thus arises. We should judge whether or not to permit them by two considerations, one positive, the other negative. We have an interest in keeping Jugoslavia independent; and we have an interest in avoiding assistance that might help to build up a war potential there which could be of use to some successor of Tito’s who might be Moscow’s puppet.
Bearing these cautions in mind, we return to the fact that the Tito heresy is one of the most important potential limiting factors to the spread of Communism which have appeared in thirty years, and that we, practitioners of the theory of equality and independence between nations, can properly hail its appearance and emphasize its meaning. The Communist leader who last year was advertised as the staunchest of all Communist leaders outside the Soviet Union is this year revealed as being prevented from working first of all for the interests of his own people as he conceives them, or even for the interests of international Communism as Marx and Engels conceived them. He himself gives evidence that he was asked to place these behind the national and imperial interests of the Soviet Union as conceived by Stalin. The longer this concrete demonstration lasts and the deeper its significance is rubbed in, the harder for Communist leaders to appeal successfully for mass support on the basis of the Cominform dogma.
The Jugoslav Communists themselves recognize their historic role and glory in it. To quote again the man who is preparing the doctrinal basis of the Tito heresy, Mosha Pijade, the conception that Communist Parties and states must assert their independence from Moscow’s direct control has “an extraordinary practical and theoretical importance for the whole international revolutionary workers’ movement of today, and for its further development.”The initiators of the Cominform resolution, he says, had no conception, when they set the wind blowing, of the kind of tempest it would prove. And he quotes the following warning by Engels, written to Kautsky in 1882: “The victorious proletariat cannot impose on any people happiness and at the same time not undermine their own victory.”
How much more, we can add, when they impose unhappiness.