Voice of counter-revolution
Czech leaders open door
Some hard facts about
Aim is to dismantle socialist economy,
turn to West: fruits of Soviet revisionism.
By Sam Marcy
JULY 31, 1968 -- This article is being written while the talks between the Soviet and Czech leaders are still in progress. Regardless of the outcome of these talks, it is plain that a counter-revolutionary turning point in Czechoslovakia has been reached. Only the speedy and determined intervention of the Czechoslovak working class can reverse this process. Unfortunately, this seems to be very unlikely at the present because the very leadership presently at the head of the workers has done most to accelerate the process of bourgeois restoration in Czechoslovakia. This took root a long time ago.
It was the January meeting of the Czechoslovak CP leadership that brought everything to a head. Very little has come out in the way of detail of what happened at the meeting except that Novotny, himself a moderate revisionist, was replaced by Dubcek, a more extreme revisionist.
At first it seemed only a change in degree, a substituting for an old-line revisionist one that would take one or two more steps in the process of bourgeois restoration. What happened since January, however, is that a virtual political counter-revolution seems to have culminated which goes far beyond almost anything seen in Eastern Europe, with the possible exception of Yugoslavia. If matters continue the way they are proceeding right now, Czechoslovakia may move farther in the direction of capitalist restoration than even Yugoslavia.
Under the mask of "liberalization" and "democratization," the Dubcek leadership has taken giant steps to dismantle the socialist basis of the economy, has widened and deepened the capitalist "free market" in the country, has indiscriminately generalized material incentives to the upper, privileged layers of the population and has in effect substituted bourgeois economic methods of distributing national income for what were strong socialist economic beginnings. The capitalist market is now to be the primary lever in running the economy and the socialization of industry and centralized planning is to be subordinated to it if not abolished. This is not said in so many words, but that is the direction in which events are moving, and they are moving fast.
'Experiment' a cover-up for restoration
Much of this has to be covered up by assurances that it is "only an experiment," that the new leaders are merely "innovating," that they are trying "creative methods," trying to use imagination instead of sticking to old dogma and so on and so forth. But this is merely a cover-up to transform the basic features of the economic system.
The Cubans too are interested in imaginative ideas, in new methods, and in discarding old dogmas which hinder the development of socialist construction and release the creative energies of the masses. So are the north Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Albanians, the Chinese and the East Germans. It is strange that the world bourgeoisie should not praise them and welcome them with open arms the way they do the Czechoslovaks.
True, there is still public ownership of the basic means of production in Czechoslovakia. But all or almost all of the political power is now in the hands of a bourgeois intelligentsia which is bent on dismantling the whole system built by the working class since 1948, when power was seized from the bourgeoisie.
Not only are almost all the organs of political power strongly oriented toward the Western type of capitalist economy, but they are in constant and irreconcilable struggle with the socialized sector of the economy -- that is, with the basic industries such as steel, iron, power generating, chemical and engineering industries, which are still legally owned by the state and were developed by the sweat and blood of the workers into the strongest pillars of a socialized economy.
However, the whole struggle of the bourgeois intelligentsia, especially the technical intelligentsia, is to sabotage the further socialist growth and development of the basic means of production and to slowly dismantle them, fragment by fragment, using one deceptive device after another to fool the workers. The complaints of the so-called reformers that they have to return to capitalist free enterprise in order to reverse the disproportion between heavy industry and light (consumer) industry is nonsense. The entire Western bourgeoisie would not have become cheerleader to the Dubcek regime on that account alone.
What caused the economic crisis?
This has inevitably brought on an acute economic crisis. Nothing has so vividly and graphically pointed up the character of the crisis as the admission by the new regime on July 26th that the country faces a "grave economic disequilibrium" (New York Times, July 28, 1968). This is a fancy word for a full-scale economic crisis.
What is the cause of the so-called "economic disequilibrium?" The cause lies squarely in the efforts of the bourgeois intelligentsia and its political tool, the Dubcek leadership, to wreck the socialized economy. Having done it only half-way has created confusion and chaos, but has not hidden the hand of the saboteurs.
The cause of the "economic disequilibrium," as they call it, is utterly unlike any of the economic crises which plague the Western capitalist system. These, as is well known, are caused by overproduction due to private ownership of the means of production, and producing for private profit in a blind market rather than public need. The economic crisis in Czechoslovakia which the new leadership was forced to admit exists is an artificial one, a so-called "man made" economic crisis, a crisis which does not grow out of the automatic processes inherent in the system, as is the case in a capitalist economy, but an economic crisis that has its roots in a gradual take-over by the bourgeois intelligentsia and in their attempt to re-orient the economy to bourgeois market relations.
Just as a workers' government after it seizes power encounters great difficulties in re-orienting toward a socialist economy, in the same way the new restorationist leadership in Prague is facing an economic crisis in attempting the economic transition from socialism to capitalism.
The difference is, however, that while the difficulties experienced in the formation of a socialist system are mere birth pangs, the transformation of an incipient socialist system into a capitalist system means an eventual return to economic chaos and imperialist enslavement.
It is no wonder then that the Dubcek regime was forced to admit in the official economic report for the first six months of 1968 that the rate of economic growth during the past half year, that is, the half year that began with his January political coup at the Central Committee meeting, was slower than either the entire year of 1967 or 1966. And that probably is a gross understatement! 1966. And that probably is a gross understatement!
The economic report also admits the "existence of strong inflationary pressures" and that "many consumer goods are entirely unavailable." Even while the Dubcek leadership was meeting with the Soviet leaders, the economic ministry was forced to announce price increases on consumer goods. The economic situation created by the mismanagement of the new governing group must indeed be critical if they had to announce it at this particular moment.
The economic chaos caused by the swiftly developing political counter-revolution has put in total jeopardy the basic gains of socialist construction in Czechoslovakia.
There is no freedom for genuine revolutionaries to sound the alarm and arouse the workers through the public press of Czechoslovakia. Nor is there any room in the press of Czechoslovakia to expose the counter-revolutionary character of the so-called economic reforms or to engage the political leaders in a genuine debate over the new road which they have embarked upon. But there is plenty of room, plenty of freedom, to deride Marxism, to paint up the face of Western imperialism, to cozy up to the neo-Nazi regime of West Germany, to attack the German Democratic Republic and, it goes without saying, to rehabilitate the symbols of old capitalist Czechoslovakia: Masaryk, Benes & Co.
Of course, because the political counter-revolution has not yet succeeded in bringing about the full social and economic counterrevolution, the full capitalist restoration has not yet been really effected. That is to say, the restorationists are in the seats of political power, but while the property relations are being reversed, they have not yet been fully reversed. It is possible that there might be a temporary leftward reversal under pressure from the Soviet Union and its allies. However, only the revolutionary intervention of the Czech workers from below will bring about any fundamental changes of a truly progressive character.
Role of Soviet bureaucracy
Any analysis that bases itself exclusively on the internal forces in Czechoslovakia without taking into account the role of the Soviet liquidators of Marxism would be completely false and one-sided. It is scarcely possible to believe that the tragic events which are now unfolding in Czechoslovakia would be taking place were it not for the fact that the Soviet leadership is, in the main, responsible for these very events. It is the Soviet bureaucracy which abandoned Marxist-Leninist principles in the first place and began not only to encourage but to demand a revisionist course in politics and economics from its socialist allies. What has happened is that the Czechoslovak events have gone far beyond what is even safe for the Soviet bureaucracy itself.
The difference between the Czech "reformers" and the Soviet bureaucracy is that the latter is deeply rooted in socialized production, whereas the former are a combination of the old bourgeois intelligentsia and elements of the new technical bureaucracy that have no great stake in the socialized economy. They are akin to the old Czarist intelligentsia that was engrafted upon the new Soviet regime, but later superseded.
The very same reactionary forces which have reared their head in Czechoslovakia and are now confidently marching on the political stage there, are also slowly rising to the surface in the Soviet Union. These forces are a powerful current in the Soviet Union and the bureaucracy has encouraged and nourished them. As in Czechoslovakia only the mass intervention on a truly historic scale of the revolutionary working class can stop the creeping counter-revolution. Only the working class, by taking destiny into its own hands, can sweep it away.
Hard facts about Czechoslovak "reform"
August 1, 1968 -- The quotations and paraphrases given below should supply a factual picture of what the Czechoslovakian reform movement is all about. The only subject that is left out of this survey is that of "democracy" and "freedom," as such. But the material here should give a guideline of concrete facts showing who will benefit and who will suffer from the kind of freedom and democracy the Czech reformers have in mind.
Independence, sovereignty and foreign policy
It is not possible to permanently blunt economic policy by taking from those who work well and giving to those who work badly. Therefore it is necessary to objectivize value relations so that differences in the income situation among enterprises express the real differences in the standard of their work.
Democratization of the economy includes in particular the realization of the independence of enterprises and enterprise groupings and their relative independence of state bodies ... the right and real possibility of different groups of working people and different social groups to formulate and defend their economic interests in creating the economic policy.
- The Action Program -- from the Reform Program of Czechoslovak CP
Ota Sik (deputy premier) urged the creation of a realistic price system based on the market, and an end to wage practices that made Czechoslovakia one of the world's most egalitarian nations -- and led to absurdities such that a taxi driver made more money than an architect or a doctor, and workers more than managers.
- Fortune magazine, June 1968
During 1965, the average pay of administrative employees was only 64.3 percent of workers' pay, whereas salaries of engineers and technicians were only 30 percent higher than workers' pay. (This was in the form of a complaint that the reform movement is now answering.)
- Techniky Tydenik, Prague, August 1966
One of the most frequent opinions concerning the de-leveling campaign (initiated by the "reformers") has been the conviction (of the workers) that "one gives raises to the higher-ups, whereas the workers are left out" (Our emphasis).
- Rude Pravo, July 20, 1967
Since 1966, the average salaries of engineers and technicians increased by 5.2 percent, those of administrative employees by 6.2 percent, whereas wages of workers rose by only 1.4 percent.
- Rude Pravo, July 22, 1967
They want a much sharper differentiation in wages. They realize that inefficient firms will suffer. ... A high official in the Ministry of Foreign Trade avowed that "a little unemployment would be a good thing."
- Ross Terrill in New Republic, May 18, 1968
From the point of view of the workers, the economic reform seems to be yielding quick payoffs mainly to their superiors while the prospect of ultimate benefits for workers appears remote. Workers have, of course, failed to respond to the deleveling proposals with much enthusiasm.
- Vaclav Holeslawsky, a pro-capitalist professor writing in the magazine East Europe
Cooperation of Czechoslovakia with capitalist countries is not influenced by interference from COMECON (East European and Soviet trade association) as a whole or from individual states.On April 24, Deputy Foreign Minister Vaclav Pleskot told the United Nations Economic Council for Europe in Geneva:
- Premier Oldrich Cernik, press conference of May 14, 1968
We are examining the possibility of joining the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (both controlled by the U.S. -- Ed).
- Deputy Premier Ota Sik, same press conference, May 14, 1968
One year ago, Prague was telling Western diplomats: "You will be able to meet your colleagues from West Germany in Prague when in your capital we can meet our colleagues from East Germany." But Prague is no longer so solicitous of the interests of East Germany. Last year Czechoslovakia stressed that imminent exchange with West German trade missions would not in itself stimulate the evolution of political ties. But Cernik, now Prime Minister, stated after the arrival in Prague of the Bonn representative that the exchange of trade missions represents "an important step toward the normalization of relations."
- New Republic, May 18, 1968
The new Czech leaders wish to make moves in concert with other "small Powers" of Europe, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. They will, it will soon become clear, be less eager to aid revolutionary forces and regimes in the Third World. The feeling is strong that the burden has been more than the Czech economy can bear. The fruits, notably in the Cuban case, have been disappointing.
- New Republic, May 18, 1968
PRAGUE, June 29 -- An official of the Israeli Foreign Ministry was accorded the better part of page one of a widely read Czechoslovak magazine this week to explain why he thought Prague's attitude toward Israel wrong. ...
The same issue of Student also published an open letter to Foreign Minister Jiri Hajek protesting his recent statement that relations with Israel would not be restored until Israel evacuated the occupied territories.
- New York Times, June 30, 1968
We think that the objective conditions have entered the stage when the elimination of military blocs is taking on the weight of historical necessity.Dr. Snejdarek, director of the Institute for International Politics and Economics and a major spokesman on German questions, made this extraordinary statement in an interview with the trade union paper, Prace:
- Rude Pravo, April 25, 1968
Czechoslovakia hopes to gradually open the Czechoslovak national economy to the influence of the world market.
- same speaker as above.
It would be dangerous for Czechoslovakia not only if West Germany should absorb East Germany, but also vice versa, since the latter would call forth a terrible crisis in Europe.The intellectuals
- New Republic, May 18, 1968
What specifically is involved? Nothing more than the demand for complete rehabilitation of all noncommunists, who have had to suffer for many years.
In a word, I believe that it is no longer acceptable or possible to continue to look at this nation from the point of view of the February (February, 1948, socialist revolution-Ed.) conflict, which of course applies to both opposing camps at that time. ... Full political and moral recognition of the noncommunist position is by no means a simple matter, and the rights to be regained thereby will not fall from the heavens. ...
- Playwright Vaclav Havel in Liternarni Listy, April 4, 1968
Are we experiencing a revolution or a revolt? ...
The possibility of revolt leaves us completely indifferent. We have no reason to be enthusiastic about a change of persons. ... We must liquidate this dictatorship or it will liquidate us.
- Lecture by Prof. Ivan Svitak, School of Philosophy, Charles Univ., Prague, in Student, April 10, 1968
Dubcek is a figure of transition. His fundamental dilemma is that solutions that are required are not provided for in accepted Marxist dogma. The more effectively the new team tackles outstanding tasks, the more it will contribute to the final disintegration of communist rule.
- Hanus J. Hasek, staff of Radio Free Europe
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