Before the
Warsaw Pact intervention

The trend in Czechoslovakia

MARCH 15, 1968 -- More than 20 years ago the revolutionary workers, peasants and village poor of Czechoslovakia took destiny in their own hands and completed the overthrow of the rule of the landlords, bankers and industrialists who had plundered the Czech people for centuries and even sold them to foreign imperialists -- first of the Western democratic type and later of the Nazi type.

The seizure of power by the Czech people was a momentous event in world history. It shook the imperialist world to its foundations and encouraged the revolutionary peoples elsewhere to do the same. No wonder the Czech people earned the enmity of the world bourgeoisie particularly the U.S. It need only be remembered that the establishment of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSR) was given as the principal reason by the Truman Administration for the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a move calculated to stem the revolutionary tide in Europe and lay the groundwork for aggressive domination and war all over the world.

It should also be remembered that the U.S. thereafter put a tight economic boycott around Czechoslovakia, seized its foreign assets and began a campaign of internal subversion and external pressure the like of which had not been seen during a period of "peace."

The establishment of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic brought phenomenal social and economic gains, particularly to the workers. It ushered in a period of economic and industrial development which took place at an unprecedented tempo and increased the standard of living of the masses of people to heights undreamed of during the reign of the capitalist class.

The 20th Congress (1956) of the Soviet Communist Party ushered in a new period of reaction, which revived the remnants of the old ruling classes in Eastern Europe as well as the neo-bourgeois restorationist elements in the Soviet Union. This Congress, among whose leaders was Nikita Khrushchev, took advantage of the grave and serious errors made by Stalin during many years and ushered in a new period of revisionism in nearly all fields of Soviet life.

This soon found an echo in the newly established Peoples' governments in Eastern Europe where remnants of the older ruling class still maintained a clandestine existence and were constantly nourished by their strong economic and social connections with the Western bourgeoisie. The counter-revolutionary uprisings in 1956 in Hungary and Poland were the logical outcome of the reactionary impetus given by the 20th Congress.

The Congress set in motion a series of changes to the right, particularly in the economic system of Eastern Europe, which, even though checked from time to time, is still moving toward the abyss of bourgeois restoration.

The latest events in Czechoslovakia constitute a renewed leap in the same direction. The Wall Street government, which was so hostile to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic when it was first set up and did everything to strangle it, is practically delirious with joy at the new trend in Czechoslovakia.

Said the New York Times in a prominent editorial on March 12:

The United States could greatly help the present positive evolution in Czechoslovakia by extending to her the long overdue privilege of receiving the most-favored-nation treatment in respect to tariffs. Furthermore, the United States has blocked the return to Czechoslovakia of the gold reserves of the prewar period Prague Government. (That is, the capitalist regime-Ed.)... Their return would be a telling symbol of American good will. ..."

The New York Times forgot to mention that it applauded the blocking of the gold reserves and similar moves when they were proposed by Secretary of State Dean Acheson.

There are those who say that all is lost in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. No, we don't think so. Such an analysis is faulty and premature. The basic conquests of the revolutions, such as the collectivized and nationalized property and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie are still a giant fact of life. And while the planned economy has been damaged and hurt by revisionist leadership, it can be disregarded by revolutionary Marxists only at their peril.

Finally, it should be noted that the recent reactionary upheavals in Eastern Europe come at a time of world-wide revolutionary onslaught against imperialism, an onslaught that gives renewed courage and confidence to millions in the West. Imperialism's efforts in Vietnam and elsewhere are crumbling. The fortunes of imperialism are declining. From one end of the globe to the other, imperialism is becoming more discredited and incapable of attracting new people to its banner.

The present international situation is favorable to revolutionary struggle for socialism and unfavorable for a lasting tenure for the ugly reaction raising its head in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere.

Neither democratic, socialist,
nor revolutionary

MAY 23 1968 -- The "democratic socialist revolution" in Czechoslovakia is in reality counter-revolutionary, anti-socialist and not very democratic, except insofar as right-wing critics of the regime are getting more and more freedom to sound off on behalf of capitalism and imperialism.

In an internationally publicized press conference on May 14, Deputy Premier Ota Sik told reporters that Czechoslovakia would accept Western capital for industrial "joint ventures" with state enterprises, and that it would be up to each state enterprise to negotiate with the capitalist companies.

This almost amounts to giving up the state monopoly of foreign trade and undermining socialized property altogether. Wherever foreign capitalist production is more efficient, due to greater wealth, machinery and more intensive exploitation, its product will compete directly with the socialist product and socialist labor will be indirectly exploited by Western capital.

Inviting private capital from the West does not in and of itself destroy socialism. But under conditions of decentralizing the economy, establishing more and more friendly relations with capitalist countries and individual capitalists, permitting these capitalists to negotiate separately with the individual factories and factory combines, it certainly tends to batter down the socialist economy.

The Czechoslovak government also announced flatly that it would cooperate economically with the West, break away from the economic pattern of the socialist bloc and try to make its currency convertible with the dollar instead of the ruble.

Politically, the new Czechoslovak leadership has made it clear that it wants more conciliation with the West, that it opposes even the mild Soviet support for the oppressed Arabs and sides with the U.S. satellite, Israel, in the Mideast. It wants to be friends with the Pope; it rehabilitates Czech imperialist politicians as national heroes; it idolizes U.S. hegemony at the very moment most of the world wants to overthrow it.

Whatever slight opposition these leaders may express to U.S. intervention in Vietnam, the whole logic of their position is to sabotage the revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese people. They have already made clear that they oppose the "old course" of sending material aid to countries fighting for their liberation.

They, like the revisionists in the Soviet Union whom they have sociologically outstripped, want "the good life." Instead of helping the oppressed abroad, they are going to concentrate on exploiting the workers at home to get this "good life."

The Czechoslovak workers, who are scheduled to be speeded up where they are not actually laid off (so this bunch of parasites can have more "consumer products"), have not yet been heard from.

It is possible that due to bureaucratic treatment of them in the past, they may be confused and temporarily accept the "new nationalism" as a genuine form of socialist autonomy, rather than the neo-capitalist restorationism it really is.

But in any case, it is not the workers who are talking about "democracy." It is not workers' democracy the new leadership is talking about. And it is not the workers who are forming Catholic and pro-capitalist political parties; it is their would-be bosses and exploiters.

It is important to emphasize that the neo-bourgeois restorationist stratum has been nourished for many years under the wing of privileged bureaucrats who should have been ousted by the workers long ago. If some of the bureaucrats, compromised by past crimes, are unwilling or unable to call upon the workers, they may try to adjust themselves to the growing counter-revolution. Others may succeed in linking themselves to the workers in a genuine struggle against the revival of capitalism. But it is not necessary for us to have to delineate the complete pattern of events.

Czechoslovakia, like Vietnam, the U.S., France and Germany, is part of the world. And the great revolutionary events in the world are driving in quite another direction than the Czechoslovak "liberals," the petty-bourgeois orphans of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, seem to imagine. These "democrats" are really gambling on the definitive victory of the imperialist United States, just as the imperialist Czech bourgeoisie in 1938 gambled on the victory of Hitler.

They are gambling, not just against the power of the Soviet ruble (in favor of the tottering dollar) but against the strength of awakening mankind and the sweep of world revolution.

Revisionism vs. capitalist restoration
in Czechoslovakia

JULY 18, 1968 -- Restoration of capitalism in Czechoslovakia would seriously alter the world political situation in favor of imperialism. And that is why the U.S. imperialists are so overjoyed at developments in that country today.

To name only one consequence: the material aid that Czechoslovakia is sending Vietnam, Cuba, Tanzania, Egypt, north Korea, etc., would be stopped completely if capitalism were to be restored. In fact, if the "reformers" had their way, they would stop the foreign aid to the oppressed right away.

The first and most basic thing to understand about the present Czechoslovak government, therefore, is that it is a centrist government half way between outright capitalist restoration and revisionism, perhaps more than half way -- and that the situation is extremely tense.

Alexander Dubcek, the centrist who replaced revisionist Novotny, has sworn to maintain nationalized property, resist capitalist restoration and not allow the liquidation of working class rule. But he has already proposed measures leading to the liquidation of the socialist monopoly of foreign trade and presided over "reforms" obviously designed to enrich the already privileged layer of administrative and technical elements. And now he refuses to attend a meeting of leaders of Warsaw Pact countries, leading to speculation that he wants to withdraw from the Pact itself.

His "socialist" speeches, therefore, have a peculiar ring. They make him resemble the farmer's daughter who took her sheep to the butcher and tearfully made him promise not to hurt it. Under cover of all the talk about "democracy" and "socialist reforms," etc., the main push is to the right, and has reached very close to the border of actual restoration. That is how it looks to us from this side of the Atlantic.

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