This whole conversation is ironic, considering [Mike] Ely’s earlier protests against the Comintern “universalizing” the Soviet model on everyone, but whatever.
The question of Yugoslav socialism is not as straight forward as the sectarian critique “Is Yugoslavia a Socialist Country?” would have you believe. Indeed, the Maoists themselves never had a clear position on this issue, as they vacillated between recognition of Yugoslavia as a socialist country and sectarian opposition, change which was dependent on Chinese relations with the Soviet Union, not ideology. For example, while Yugoslavia was one of the first countries to recognize the PRC in 1949, Mao didn’t reciprocate due to the split with the USSR. However in late 1954 the CCP reestablished party to party relations with the “renegade” Tito, which effectively meant recognition of Yugoslavia as a socialist country. In 1958, after the League of Communists of Yugoslavia published its draft before its party Congress in April, Yugoslavia came under fire from first and foremost the “revisionist” (or in Ely’s view, “capitalist”) Soviet Union. Following the USSR’s lead, China began polemical attacks against Yugoslavia and broke off party to party relations. In the early 1960s, the Sino-Soviet split began to be open and Yugoslav-Soviet relations improved. Chinese anti-Yugoslavism stemmed from the view that Yugoslavia was too close to Moscow. As a result, relations remained frosty until the late 1960s, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. The main reason for this is due to Yugoslav support for Czechoslovakia against the USSR. Relations from 1970-1977 were quite friendly, or at least not hostile. No longer would we hear any complaints about Tito from Mao. In 1977 Hua Guofeng, who most anti-revisionists uphold as a staunch Marxist-Leninist, reopened party to party relations with Yugoslavia – which again meant recognition of Yugoslavia as a socialist country. Not coincidentally at this time, Sino-Soviet relations were cold.
Now – what of Yugoslav revisionism itself? First I must discuss the origins of the Yugoslav-Soviet split, and the expulsion of Yugoslav from the Cominform in 1948. The misconception about this event is that the expulsion itself was caused by Yugoslavia’s revisionist deviations. This is incorrect. Revisionism in Yugoslavia took place as a result of their expulsion, it was not the cause. In 1948 Yugoslavia was the most “orthodox” of all the new socialist countries in Europe. Indeed if one looks at the letters written back and forth between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in 1948, one can see that the Yugoslav Communists insisted that there were not following “their own road” to socialism. Later, they would say they were, yes. The 1946 Yugoslavia constitution was a carbon copy of the Soviet constitution of 1936. By 1948, Yugoslavia had moved farther on the path of collectivization of agriculture than any other Eastern European socialist state. They were virtually alone among socialist states at being almost totally collectivized in this sector [check out Ivo Banac’s book – With Stalin Against Tito, to verify this]. Yugoslavia also established a more firm dictatorship of the proletariat against collaborators, and bourgeois forces than most, if not all, other new socialist countries. They tried hardest root out bourgeois influence from the country.
In 1948 Tito also did not question Soviet leadership over the socialist bloc, as is alleged. Soviet leaders from 1945-1947 stressed Yugoslavia’s loyalty. Yugoslavia made the Soviet-Yugoslav alliance its central foreign policy tenet. They were so loyal that it was Yugoslavia who most fiercely criticized Poland’s Gomulka at the 1946 Cominform meeting (which was held in Belgrade!) for his deviations from the Marxist-Leninist line. The Soviets held Yugoslavia up to other Eastern European countries as a role model.
The source of the expulsion from the Cominform was not revisionist economic policies or anything of the sort, but rather a conflict about the proper policy towards the Greek Civil War. Tito wanted to intervene and help the Greek revolutionaries defeat the imperialists. Stalin, ever cautious in his European foreign policy just after the war, was against intervention because he did not want to give the imperialists an excuse to attack the socialist bloc. Even after the Tito and Yugoslavia were expelled in 1948, Tito insisted that Yugoslavia’s “unwavering loyalty to the science of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin prove in practice that we (the KPJ) do not deviate from the path of that science”
Now – and this is important – as things became nasty after Yugoslavia’s expulsion, the socialist countries implemented a blockade on Yugoslavia from 1948-1954. That means no trade. Yugoslavia was then forced to increase its trade with the capitalist countries enormously and adjust its economic policies. It didn’t have much of choice.
Yugoslavia is/was much smaller than either China or the Soviet Union, it cannot afford to be dependent on one or another country for essential goods, else it be cut off like it was in 1948 and be utterly devastated. The expulsion in 1948 had the effect of throwing Yugoslava into the clutches of revisionism. None the less at the time of 1963, when this polemic was written, Yugoslavia’s industry and trade was nearly totally socialized, while its agriculture was 15% socialized. Yugoslavia is criticized for giving up on any program of collectivized agriculture, but yet this model was followed by Cuba – the one socialist country that the Ely types don’t denounce as capitalist but rather a “work in progress”. Cuba never collectivized agriculture and Castro has repeatedly said to do so would be a terrible idea. Once again there are double standards about these things.
One must ask what do the anti-revisionists who actually live in Yugoslavia think about this question? After all we were scolded by Mr. Ely that comments made without ‘investigation’ hold little weight. The CCP didn’t investigate the conditions of Yugoslavia first hand in 1963 (or earlier), but nevertheless felt they could attack it. The leading anti-revisionist party in the former Yugoslavia today is the NKPJ – New Communist Party of Yugoslavia. They state, “The NKPJ is strongly against Titoism but is of the opinion that Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) was a socialist country until 1990.” They also say, “Socijalizam koji je postojao u Jugoslaviji, SSSR i Istočnoj Evropi imao je stotine nedostataka i mana i hiljade vrlina. Za običnog čoveka, za većinu, bio neuporedivo bolji od onoga što ovde i tamo postoji danas.” Translate: The socialism which existed in YUGOSLAVIA, the USSR, and Eastern Europe had hundreds of failures and flaws, and thousands of virtues. For the ordinary person, for the majority, it was much better than what exists [in these places] today.”
Do they say that the breakup of Yugoslavia was a result of the capitalist economic policies of the Titoites, as Ely & friends bogusly charge? No. They say
“Socijalistička federativna republika Jugoslavija nije se raspala, kako neki tvrde i pokušavaju da dokažu, ona je nasilno srušena i razbijena. SFRJ je razbio zapadni imperijalizam.”
Translation: The SFRJ did not collapse, as some have tried to prove, it was violently torn apart and destroyed. SFRJ was smashed by western imperialism.
They go on to say that the planned destruction of Yugoslavia was done “uz inicijativu i uz podršku čelnika i krupnog kapitala NATO država, Vatikana, ekstremnog religioznog fundamentalizma, i uz angažovanje domaćih nacional-šovinističkih, separatističkih, profašističkih i drugih retrogradnih snaga.”
Translation: (It was done) with the initiative and support of the leaders and capital from NATO states, the Vatikan, extreme religious fundamentalists, and the involvement of domestic national-chauvinists, separatists, fascists, and other retrograde forces.
Why would they want to do this, if Yugoslavia was such a compliant capitalist state, as you claim?
NKPJ says “Najlakši način za rušenje socijalizma bio je podsticanje međunacionalnih sukoba koji su doveli do krvavog, bratoubilačkog, rata na ovim prostorima” – The easiest way to OVERTHROW SOCIALISM was to encourage inter-ethnic conflicts that led to civil war in the region. So they could divide socialist Yugoslavia up into a bunch of ethnically homogenous mini-states at once dependent on western capital for survival and unable to work together.
In summary: Your assessment of the events in Yugoslavia is outrageous, and your condemnation of Yugoslav socialism is one-sided and sectarian. No “learning” will come out of reading Kasama’s “Yugoslavia deserved it” line.