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But the theory and practice of communism a series of 13 lectures drawn from the 1967 Wisconsin Alumni seminar held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison today in the final lecture of the series. Professor Michael B Petrovich of the University of Wisconsin discusses world Communism today. It should be noted that this lecture was recorded in 1967 before the recent events in Czechoslovakia. And now here is Professor Petrovitch. I would like to pursue the topic of poly centrism in the communist world. There was a time especially in the 1930s and 1940s when it was quite realistic and proper to think of a monolithic world communism dominated by the policies of Moscow. And those policies in turn being dominated by Stalin. There is no doubt that the so-called Communist
International Organisation served practically as an agency of Soviet foreign policy. And so they happened histrionic stuck up thinking of world communism. Even today in such a fashion. We have on many occasions in this seminar pointed out with some evidence I hope that the phrase world communism no longer refers to a United monolithic organisation in which all think alike or even are supposed to think alike. That does not mean of course that there is no more world communism there is communism in the world. And communists in the world regardless of their shade of opinion continue to hope in their in any ology that sooner or later in one way or another the whole world will go communist someday. But I'm sure everyone must realize that there is some practical
difference for us and for our children whether sooner or later means tomorrow or a hundred years from now and we're there one way or another means by a Red Army or some other army today or tomorrow or by peaceful means a long time from now. If one runs then in the in the communist world today one sings the whole gamut. Thought. From our peaceful transformation to socialism as a long time period to continuance from a more diligent and impatient policy. I trust everybody here knows where the words left and right come from. In talking about politics they count from largely French parliamentary practice because delegates in the French Parliament used to sit literally from left to right
according to their parties and their political opinions. The extreme right is Yugoslavia for reasons which I hope are quite clear to you now after yesterday's session. Next to it and very significantly is Italy. Significantly because Italy is one of the largest communist parties in the world and certainly of great influence in Europe itself. Then again significantly comes Poland which of course is one of the most influential if not the most influential countries among what we still call the satellite states and Hungary next to it. All one has to do is to recall that both Hungary and Poland rose up in 1956 and though they did not overthrow communism communism has never been the same in those countries since but largely revisionist then. I'm much more in the middle than I have
here. This group should really be somewhere. Here is the. Soviet Union and its Asian client state or satellite Mongolia. Then they'd be most of the communist states of Eastern Europe except for Hungary. Poland Yugoslavia and Albania there's Bulgaria Czechoslovakia belong to this and most of the parties of Western Europe. I belong somewhere in the center. East Germany is a little to the left of them largely because of its more Stalinist approach. East Germany is in the hands of old time communists who are more in the style of Stalin. Then we have parties such as Romania Norway Cuba North Vietnam that are really hard to classify. Left or Right. Them rather they oscillate between China and Moscow
and the one generalization one can make about them is that they are simply independent. In many of their outlooks. Then on the ICs and then further left we have the parties of Indonesia and Japan surprise how many Americans have forgotten or were never sufficiently aware of the fact the Communist Party in Indonesia was practically wiped out in one of the worst massacres in modern human history. It was playing an ethno Genesis as far as I can figure out in which by all counts several hundred thousand people were massacred and some of them in the cruelest fashion by anti-communists not whatever one might feel about anti-communism one wonders whether massacres of this sort are morally justifiable. But that may be an irrelevant question in the world of politics. I don't know. The fact is that today the Communist Party in Indonesia is crippled and underground. In
Japan and it is quite militant though in Japan it has to share with other socialist parties. The extreme left in the career in the communist world is taken up by the parties of North Korea. New Zealand. I have no Rick and no idea why New Zealand Malaya Thailand Cambodia. You will note how many of the Southeast Asian parties belong to the extreme left. In the communist camp and then Albania is the one country in Europe that is definitely on China's side right down the line. And of course China itself. There are many many factors behind these various splits and rifts and differences of opinion in the communist world. We have talked about some of them in passing some in great detail. I choose to think that Yugoslavia's break with
mascot in 1948 was perhaps the first big crack in the Iron Curtain and that after that things began going into a state of disarray especially with Stalin's death in 1953 and the whole process of the Stalin ization the big. Crack of course came with the split between the Chinese communists and that coming in this of Moscow and their camp. Professor Bergman in his excellent lecture yesterday emphasized and quite properly what was going on in China itself under Mao off and on and by agreement between the two is seen has lent to me to elucidate in so far as I can what the particular issues are that separate the Chinese Communists from the Communists. And this is what I would like to do now under 10 or 11 or 12 headings and I will do this as
briefly in this clearly as possible. The first issue of war and the role of war in the modern world. The question is what should communists think about the likelihood of wars. What should be the communist attitude towards wars. The Soviet position is rather clear on this. That wars are no longer inevitable. And that the destruction that a thermonuclear war would bring is so great that communists like people everywhere must do everything possible. To. Avoid the outbreak of an all out war. Immediately I must put in a footnote there. We are talking now only about big wars World Wars. The smaller ones don't count.
The Chinese position and please note that whenever I say Chinese from now on I mean Chinese communist. The Chinese position is that wars are inevitable as long as capitalism exists. Here you see they are much more of the Orthodox Marxists. That it is possible to prevent a world war. But communist must avoid being paralyzed by fear that any clash may spark a thermonuclear holocaust. After all say the Chinese Communist the capitalist leaders are also afraid of such a war. And the Communist should be little Dishan to take greater risks. Than the Soviet leaders have been willing to take. The Communists must support just wars no matter what the consequences. Do. You remember in the NBC documentary on Khrushchev that one of crucial jobs reminiscences arose from his meeting with Mao
Tse-Tung and Mao Tse-Tung. According to Khrushchev operative him so many hundred battalions and Khrushchev try to convince them our bet modern warfare didn't depend on battalions of men but on scientific weapons and Mao refused to accept. Such an explanation. A second issue is that of revolution. What should the communist attitude be towards revolution in the modern world. The Soviet answer to that is that armed revolution should be resorted to only when necessary but that in the world as it is today. Communists have more and more of a chance more than ever before taking power in different countries by peaceful means using democratic and parliamentary processes for the simple reason that there are. More countries with more democracy today than ever
before. The Chinese say that there is no historical precedent for a Communist Party seizing power anywhere peacefully. It would be fine if it could be done but Communists should expect to engage in armed revolution to seize power wherever they can. In terms of what we have discussed here in Marxist ideology. Which side is the more marxist from an orthodox standpoint. It's hard to say because this is one of those cases where you can read Marx either way. I think if we were to point out the obvious that Marx contended that in general our revolution will have to be brought about violently on the simple assumption. But that the old regime the capitalists will not want to give up by themselves. And Marx could not perceive the rise of political democracy
to such a degree in the western capitalist world. However there is the other Marx Professor Barbash made passing reference to a rather important a phrase of Marx's. He attended an international socialist conference in Holland in the latter years of his life and was asked publicly. Did he really believe. Did his theory really call that revolutions had to be violent. And his answer was In general yes but he could think of a few countries where that socialism could take over by peaceful means. Thanks to the Democratic and parliamentary processes in those countries he mentioned you will be interested in recalling specifically the United States and Britain and thought that the meeting was being held in Holland that Holland also of my tree one of these countries. Well the fact is that there are many more countries today that have democracy of some type than in Marxist terms. Communists
then can choose to read Marx either way depending on what their circumstances are. And if their issue that is important in the Chinese Soviet struggle is the attitude towards nuclear weapons. The Soviet view is that nuclear weapons are so destructive that they have brought a qualitative change into the nature of foreign policy and wars making obsolete the traditional communist doctrines on war. Little Chinese Communists insist that no matter how destructive the nuclear weapons are they really don't change anything fundamental. As far as Marxist-Leninists predictions about the course of world history are serious. Now please note that one obvious reason I think why the Chinese Communist should think that way that they just have a lot of people to throw away if they need to. The Soviets have a somewhat different view.
The next issue is that of world communism. What should be the main strategy for achieving world communism. The Soviet view is that communism will be achieved. Through the economic and scientific successes of the Soviet Union and other communist countries that the communist countries in the world will produce such effective and impressive economic systems that this in itself will be the best advertising for them and will convince most of the people of the world that communism isn't the real answer to their problems. The Chinese Communists put pulled aside. They say that the key areas of the world for communist expansion are Asia Africa and Latin America.
And these people are not going to wait for examples in the Soviet Union and Western Europe to work themselves up they're not going to sit around and wait for the brilliant showcase of the Soviet Union to advance while they set misery. And so the Chinese Communist say all Communists must support the struggles in Asia and Africa and Latin America as the cheap strategic means of attaining world communism. In fact they say any communist nation doesn't but does not actively help in such intervention is really guilty of establishing a theory of superior nation over inferior nations. A Chinese delight in pointing out that it is sort of white man's superiority still exists even in the Soviet Union
and the Chinese themselves being not White feel that they have this appeal to make to the nonwhite majority of the world. Please note that here we come across another fundamental issue in Marxism. We have said many times here that Karl Marx insisted in his theory that communism would be achieved first in the industrially advanced countries of the world. The Chinese are saying that the best area for a communist expansion is precisely in the underdeveloped nations of the world. Where does that idea come from. Well from Leninism of course because Russia was the first underdeveloped country to move forward in this way. Let's take up another issue of disarmament. The Soviet leaders say the general and total disarmament can be realized even while capitalism exists and the communists of good will
everywhere should work towards disarmament. And indeed far the results have been very modest one finds that one can't talk to Soviet leaders about such things. The latest there. Time. Latest occasion being a glass for us many of us will remember the Chinese Communist say the general disarmament is impossible as long as capitalism exists. And that the slogan of total disarmament should be regarded as mere propaganda. But on the matter of economic relations among communist states. The Soviet Union has been insisting on maximum economic integration to achieve maximum efficiency through an international division of labor and specialisation.
The Chinese on the other hand claim that while Communist nations should help one another in their economies that no one should become dominant over another in such a way as to make the economic development of any communist country dependent on what goes on in the economy of another nation. I think understanding this point one can see why Romania is a rebel because this is exactly what the Rumanians are saying. As to specific foreign policy issues and issues within the organization of the Communist Party there is of course the matter of the dispute between Moscow and Albania. Who is responsible. The Soviet leaders claim that the Albanian leaders have simply betrayed communism by turning themselves into a terroristic clique a despotism of the
Stalinist start and that they have refused to be reasonable and to talk to the Soviets. The Chinese communists blamed the Soviets the Soviet Union for the dispute. And they also blame them for washing the dirty linen in public. So we find that Albania is one of the most vocal representatives of China in the world today and certainly in the UN Albania is a communist China's voice in the UN. We had this crop up recently when an Albanian delegate got up during the discussions on the Mideast crisis and placed a curse on the Houses of both the Soviet Union and the United States. What should the shape of a future Soviet internal development British think. Here it is Soviet leaders are proud of the fact that their country is
moving rapidly to a stage of a relative abundance that they hope to achieve in this generation. And because of this the Soviet leaders say the Soviet state is losing its proletarian character and is moving away from the dictatorship of the proletariat and of the party and the Soviet state is becoming more a state of the whole people. The Chinese have nothing but contempt for this. They say that no communist rule nation can reach communist abundance for a long time to come. And that therefore the dictatorship of the proletariat must be retained and the party must be strong as a vanguard of the proletariat. Until full communism is reached and anybody who's talking about a state of the whole people in the communist world is really trying to restart capitalism.
Another specific issue deals with Yugoslavia. How are communists to look upon this extreme right communist country Yugoslavia. The Soviet official position today is to recognize that Yugoslavia is a fellow socialist state and that the Yugoslav communists are after all Marxists though they are wrong on certain issues but not to drum them out of the camp as they tried to do in 1948. The Chinese say that Yugoslavia is simply returning to capitalism and been trained because of international Communism and are in fact dangerous because Yugoslav leaders are bringing disunity into the communist capital. Better to kick them out. Professor Boardman in his lecture he referred briefly to the Chinese Indian
dispute. And while that is no longer in the air memories of it still are. As he pointed out quite rightly the three countries that the Chinese communists are most against in the world are the Soviet Union India and the United States. The Soviet leaders felt that in the Chinese Indian border disputes the Soviet Union should remain neutral and express regrets that two of the largest countries in Asia should fight with one another on borders. The Chinese Communist still haven't gotten over this Soviet neutrality and have branded it as unprecedented treachery in the communist camp. For one communist country not to come to the support of another in this way and that in actual fact Soviet statements say the Chinese helped the Indian cause. Finally the issue of peaceful coexistence.
The Soviet view and adopted by many other communist country parties is that nations with different social and political systems can and should co-exist peacefully. That is what's meant by that is to maintain correct. Diplomatic relations to avoid war and to complete along economic and propaganda lines. The Chinese communists say that it is absolutely wrong. To limit communist foreign policy to peaceful coexistence that the Communists must also much more actively support the revolutionary struggles of oppressed peoples and nations. Here there is an outline of at least some of the chief issues. You must not assume that in every case the two sides are on opposite ends. But it's a matter of interpretation. For the moment a matter of strategy. However some of the issues deal not only with temporary
strategy but with out and out idiology the basics the fundamentals. Now I think it's clear from many of the things we have been saying that world Communism is divided. Not only India logically from left to right but one finds that this that these illogical divisions also to a certain degree conform to geographic areas so that one can talk about an East Asian communism about an East European communism about a West European communism about a Latin American communism about an African communism. There are both geographical and cultural factors at work here that superimposed themselves upon the idio logical. Now as to East European communists and. We summarized through the words. Of the
present communist leader of Roumania Joshua S.. Who spoke. On May 7 gave a speech which really shook the communist world. The speech was reported in scanty at the Rumanian communist newspaper. He makes five points here that I think are of interest to our discussion. And because these five points indicate not only the Rumanian point of view but the point of view of many of the East European countries and some other communist parties. I will quote from China share school first the huge diversity of the situations which occur in the light and struggle a bit over 90 communist parties presently existing in the world excludes the possibility of their activity being directed from one International Center. In other words
Polish centrism second light shows that no one can know better the economic reality balance and distribution in one country or another. All the domestic and international political situations and the evolution of the latter than the Communist Party of that particular country. So you can really restates what was the Yugoslav position from the beginning in 1948 that every communist country every communist party must be trusted to handle affairs in its own country without interference and help only when needed and asked for. A third point and I'm skipping over a very long speech. Again in Ceausescu's words studying the realities of the social life of that particular country. Taking into account the objective morals and learning from its own experience and the experience of other parties each party can make its contribution to steadily enriching the common treasury of Marxist Leninist teachings.
The theory and practice of communism
World Communism Today
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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Chicago: “The theory and practice of communism; World Communism Today,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
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