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The Theory and Practice of communism a series of 13 like yours drawn from the 1967 Wisconsin Alumni seminar held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The speaker Michael B Petrovich is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin a specialist in Russian and Balkan history. He is the author of several books and articles including the emergence of Russian Pan's love ism 1856 to 78 in his last lecture. Professor Petrovitch I offer the first part of a discussion on the Yugoslav way to socialism. Today we bring you part two. Professor Petrovitch you remember that when I started out I sang to myself three tasks first to identify the main tenets of the Yugoslav communist ideology as it has developed since 1948. Second to examine the economic reform of the last two years. Now I would like to go out to that third task that is to assess some of the political effects of that preform especially on the Yugoslav Communist Party.
In so doing we are really addressing ourselves to still another question which is both more general and more important. To what extent does economic liberalization lead to political liberalization in a socialist country. And it should be pointed out at the outset that I do not regard the answer as a foregone conclusion. That would certainly be naive to think that any section large scale overhauling of an economic system involving such displacement of power authority and responsibility would not affect profoundly the areas of political and social life as well. It would also be difficult to conceive of such basic changes taking place without serious divisions of opinion within the ruling group itself. The League of Communists such a divergence of opinion did indeed crystallize soon after the formal adoption of the reform in July 1965.
At the third plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the League of communists which met on February 2015 2016 966 Tito complained in his opening speech concerning the poor initial progress of the reform. I quote I must say that one of the principal obstacles lay in the top circles of our league of communists. That is in its leading bodies. This should not be generalized but there nevertheless were certain communists who while favoring the reform in words remain passive in deeds or did what was contrary to the intentions of the reform. And that quote. It is difficult to know how one ought to designate the two opposing tendencies which appeared within the Communist Party or league perhaps conservative and liberal will serve as long as these terms are understood in their peculiar Yugoslav context. How did these two opposing tendencies arise. The middle period of
communist Yugoslavia's economy the so-called new system of 1950 to 1964 was in fact a compromise between the old Stalinist model and an attempt to decentralise and liberalize through the introduction of Workers Councils and self management. However in this middle period the ultimate authority continued to rest with the Communist League and with the bureaucracy and out of this compromise emerged the hybrid system which had something for everybody in the party. However once it was recognised that the compromise could not endure in the face of outer pressures and internal difficulties a polarity and suit in the top communist echelons the so-called liberal faction favored going as far as possible in the direction of a market economy. Priority of consumption over production Polish centric planning and all the rest. The Conservatives clung to the earlier under developed model
based on extensive expansion with investments allocated by central planning priority of production over consumption. Price is determined by centralized planning agencies and so on. An extra couple involved in these economic differences were considerations of power and patronage. It is my opinion Tito declared in December 965 that we must absolutely discontinue the practice of political people deciding where and what should be built and how much. And of course this issue has been related in turn with one of the touches problems in Yugoslavia. The nationalities question. It has been become common to describe Yugoslavia as a country with six republics five major nationalities four major religions three major languages two alphabets and one political party. As even its enemies concede
it has been largely that one party the Communist that has brought all the rest into an easy existence yet beneath the official atmosphere of brotherhood and unity I'm quoting the slogan there have been tensions based not only on old Hewitt's as between the Serbs and the Croats but on new differences and inequities. Let me mention but two of these. It has been undoubtedly true that the leadership of the Army and the security police has been largely in the hands of the Serbs. This circumstance arose from the fact that most of the partisan guerrillas from whose ranks the later army and police officers mostly came were Serbs. Moreover there is a sharp difference in degree of economic development and standard of living between one republic and another within Yugoslavia. Taking six hundred and five dollars as the present average per
capita national income for all of Yugoslavia the two northern republics Slovenia and Croatia exceed that figure with averages of nine hundred thirty five dollars and seven hundred twenty six dollars respectively. The other four republics all fall below the threshold figure of $500 per capita which marks the transition from an underdeveloped to a developing nation. In Serbia the average is four hundred eighty eight dollars. In bust Mia Herzegovina three hundred forty eight dollars in Macedonia three hundred thirty nine dollars in Montenegro three hundred and thirty dollars. These figures conceal not only understandable jealousies but a far more serious disagreement as to what Yugoslavia's economic policy should be. It is easy to surmise that it would be the more prosperous Slovenes and Croats in the north who would favor the widest possible policy of
healthy less safe air and local self-management so that they could move ahead without being held back by the under developed republics of the South the four southern republics of which three are largely Serbian in ethnic composition. Naturally fear the loss of subsidies and favors the so called political factories that Tito talked about which they had been granted in the past to boost their economic development. It is no accident then that it has been the Slovenes and the Croats who have led to what I'm calling the liberal movement for the economic reform as well as for the decentralization and the atack to sation that come with it. On the other hand it was Serbs who formed the hard core of the conservative opposition to the reform for it meant that the poorer republics could no longer receive special benefits from the central allocation of investments resources and subsidies made from the federal government in which they held strong positions of power.
Obviously one of the key political issues here is the relative power of the federal government in the governments of the six republics. The issue of states rights and regional differences should be a familiar one to Americans since it provoked a bloody civil war in our own history and is still a political issue today in the Yugoslav case. It would seem that the Slovenes and Croats would prefer a weak federal power and strong Republican autonomy whereas the Serbs and the Macedonians would prefer a strong central authority. And there is some truth to this but yet it is not that simple. Actually the leading liberals behind economic reform and they include not only slogans and cross by any means are not narrow provincial lists but international minded men who realize that one of the main purposes of the reform is to integrate Yugoslavia more fully into the world economy. Whatever national feelings may have to do with it the overriding long term
consideration for them is that a foreign trade and the resulting gradual development of all of Yugoslavia of Yugoslavia's republics. Nor are the conservatives so called simply fearful for their own native regions. Rather they may be presumed to have genuine fears and doubts concerning not only the illogical or political premises but also the economic premises of the reform. There is no denying that the present reform in Yugoslavia with all its non economic ramifications is indeed a tremendous gamble and failure would bring serious consequences. Now it is perhaps in the nature of a communist dominated system that such basic disagreements are not argued out in public forums but within the bosom of the Communist Party. Yet when matters did come to a head the results were very public indeed and dramatically so. The explosion erupted at the 4th plenum meeting of the Central Committee of the League of communists
held on July 1st one thousand sixty six on the north Adriatic island of briony Tito summer residence. It is also rather typical that the victory of the supporters of the reform over the conservatives was achieved not on the basis of economic issues but it political one. The chief item on the agenda was a formal charge prepared by a special investigating committee of the Central Committee that the security police was abusing its powers and overstepping its competence to the point of infiltrating the party that is the League of communists itself. Praising the security police for its previous record. The official report charge the police leaders with I quote slowly steadily trying to expand their sphere of competence and quote. The report continued quote in accordance with the idea that all social life should be kept under the control of the Security Service and subordinated to the preventive struggle against
the enemy. Individual security agencies have been building up a widespread network of collaboration in work organisations and even within the league of communists itself. Though the report did not mention it specifically it had been disclosed even before the meeting that the police with secret police had gone so far as to plant hidden microphones in Tito's own private quarters. Obviously the communist leadership could not permit the security police to become an independent power. Consequently the immediate head of the Security Service dislikes the fun of each was expelled from the League of communists and dismissed from his position. Far more importantly the 4th plenum accepted the resignation of his superior Aleksandr rank of age from membership in the Central Committee and executive committee of the League of communists and it also agreed that he should resign as vice president of Yugoslavia. The enormity of this
action can be appreciated only if one realizes that the rank of each had been second in power only to Tito and that he was generally regarded as Tito's heir apparent. Indeed such had been the rank of riches prestige in the Yugoslav communist movement during the last three decades that no further steps were taken against Iran coverage. And he is currently being permitted to lead a normal private life at liberty. While all this was greatly interesting in itself the real significance lay in its intimate connection with the with the conduct of the economic reforms. It was the Serbian and I think of each and his Serbian lieutenants that had spearheaded the opposition to the reform. They were charged with using their special powers and secret organisation to sabotage the reform. As the official report charged quote This network has very often interfered with the entire work of factories including even investment and
personnel policy and quote. In his statement before the 4th plenum Tito made very clear that quote the whole question needs to be viewed from a political aspect for it is a political issue and it was not only a matter of certain individuals being responsible for blocking the rig farm. It is Tito insisted on quoting a matter of factional groups struggle a struggle for power. In his closing statement in which he made a special point of decrying nationalist deviations Tito declared the following our party must be cleaned up and I don't not have in mind to start a campaign like purge but only that we must vigilantly follow how people carry out the decisions already taken and those we shall take at the meetings of the Central Committee and the decisions of the fourth plenary meeting at Briony electrified the entire country and Yugoslavia still today under their sway. Ever since then there has been an atmosphere of
democratization unprecedented even in Yugoslavia little known any other communist country. And yet over all there is the watchful eye of the Communist Party making certain that the democratization went far enough but not too far. It is much as the Communists over a million of them in a country of 20 million people are the determining political factor. It is essential to gauge just how much their power is being affected by this democratization. It seems almost superfluous to say that whatever political democratization means in Yugoslavia today does not mean a trend towards a multi-party system in which the Communist Party will complete compete with other parties in the political arena. On this point the programme established by the seventh Congress of the League of Communists still holds true. Quote The communists do not bring down their leading social role and growth. This program also stated quote the communists will
continue the struggle for keeping keep positions of authority in firm revolutionary ans positions on which the planned further development of social society and defense of that society against the various internal and foreign anti-socialist forces. This view has never been altered. On the contrary Tito expressed it rather more picturesquely last November when he stated that it was a mistake to suppose that any party reorganization meant an I'm quoting Tito that the league of communists is thereby casting their spear in the thorn bush that it is throwing away the weapon they need for the development of our socialist society. This march in remarks addressed to communists in costs of an MIT Dahiya Tito warns sternly we meaning the communists shall not permit anyone to play with the destiny of socialism and thus whatever power the Communist Party chooses to relinquish it could not be expected to share it with other
political parties. The only real alternative in Yugoslavia to a one party system is a no party system. That the Yugoslav Communist Party is currently undergoing a reorganization and re appraisal of its role is hardly new. As long as ago as in November 1952 it had six Congress. The party signaled its desire for a new image by changing its name to the League of communists. It is instructive to recall that the chief spokesman for the change at the time was an uncle of each. In his report cited two reasons for changing the party's name. First to emphasize the transition to a new stage in which the party would no longer coerce but educate and persuade the masses and quote to develop further internal democracy. The struggle against all manifestations and trends of bureaucracy to SSM the struggle against privileges within the party itself. It is indicative of something that despite the change of name most Yugoslav
communist and noncommunist alike including don't self went on referring to the party in ordinary speech and often in public addresses as well. It would take far more than a change of name to carry out the goals outlined by the UN coverage. Ever since the change of name in 1950 to the League of communists has been periodically repeating to itself the need for carrying out these two goals. Yet it was possible 14 years later to condemn it on the beach himself and the whole faction within the party precisely on charges of bureaucracies and special privilege. Everyone in Yugoslavia knew that the change in name in no way altered the dominant position of the communists except that it rearranged somewhat the channels of their influence and affected their outward style. Why should anyone take party reorganisation seriously now. Perhaps the non-compete case offers an explanation. To the degree that Uncle beeches ouster resulted from the necessity of furthering the economic
reform that same necessity. Economics may well explain the communist party's willingness to submit itself to its own program of democratization. It seems inconceivable that the party would abdicate its ultimate authority. On the other hand neither can it risk losing the benefits of the market economy through party and state interference. This practical dilemma is apparent for example in theoretical discussions concerning the eventual withering away of the Communist Party as the 1958 program states and I quote the leading political role of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia will gradually disappear into perspective as the forms of direct social democracy become stronger develop and expand and grow. While this is still the official view there seem to be second thoughts about when and how the disappearance of the Communist Party should take place. Especially now in the flush of democratization there is an increasing tendency to prune
great expectations through declarations that the withering away of the party is certainly not around the corner. The withering away is a prolonged process. Tito assured an audience in more Scots Sabaton last September. Nor is one encouraged to think of the process as a gradual diminution.
The theory and practice of communism
The Yugoslav Way to Socialism
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3358. This prog.: The Yugoslav Way to Socialism, part II
Politics and Government
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-18-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:20:26
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Chicago: “The theory and practice of communism; The Yugoslav Way to Socialism,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “The theory and practice of communism; The Yugoslav Way to Socialism.” 1968-04-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: The theory and practice of communism; The Yugoslav Way to Socialism. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from