Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat
During the Party Congress, which met in the new Kremlin theater from October 17 through October 31, the attention of the world was divided almost equally between the vivid and almost daily attacks on the "antiparty group" of Khrushchev's repentant and unrepentant rivals and the clear if somewhat muffled Sino-Soviet divergences over revolutionary strategy. The first of these "sensations" was obviously orchestrated in advance, and each spokesman for the central leadership was assigned a larger or smaller dose of "revelations" to pepper up the otherwise somewhat routine speeches. The second, which came to a head early on in a dispute over the future treatment of the recalcitrant Albanian Party, was clearly unplanned, and it has left a wide-open field for speculation about its implications for the future.
The questions that most concern people living beyond the writ of Communist power are somewhat different, and to them only indirect answers are suggested by the published reports of the Congress proceedings. One of them is: Has the struggle for leadership in the Soviet Party been ended, or is Khrushchev's power challenged from within? Another: Is his dominance of the Communist bloc stronger or weaker than it was in December 1960, at the issuance of the Declaration of Eighty-one Parties? And finally: Does the Congress offer any useful clues to Khrushchev's strategy and tactics of the next few months in the sphere of world politics?
The adoption of the new Party Program "for the building of Communism" in the next 20 years sets very high, popular and impressive goals for the Soviet economy. Thrusting to one side doctrinaire disputes over whether the collective farms should be merged into the system of state farms, and whether or not to prohibit the free market for the sale of surplus foodstuffs, the program promises to maintain strong incentives of differential wages for better work, but it also provides for a gradual expansion of "free" services to be provided out of the state budget. For example, textbooks and other school supplies, which have been provided free of charge for almost 100 years in America, will also be made available free after a few years to Soviet schoolchildren. On the whole, the economic goals reflect the more realistic approach to management and investment that has been increasingly emphasized in Soviet pronouncements and practice since Stalin's death. They include, especially after 1970, a steady rise in the production of consumer goods, to a level closer to that of other advanced industrial societies.
Some significant changes were introduced into the draft program as a result of widespread discussions between July and October. Khrushchev now states that, instead of providing adequate housing for all badly-housed families during the decade of the 1970s, this is to be accomplished during the 1960s. Since one-quarter of new capital investment is now going into the construction of housing, this promise, which was greeted by prolonged applause, will require some marked shifts in the allocation of resources. Of course, the problem can be met in part by changing the definition of what constitutes "adequate" housing. On the other hand, the finding of a solution has been complicated by the larger-than-planned influx of people into the cities. In his report of October 17, Khrushchev admitted that by 1966 "the urban population will have increased by about fifteen million more than had been estimated; consequently, even more houses will be required."
Numerous other proposals were rejected by the leadership. In view of the great increase planned in heavy and extractive industries, in consumer goods, foodstuffs and housing, Khrushchev was understandably reluctant to endorse a wide range of special benefits such as shortening work hours for mothers of small children and abolishing night work for women workers. These would, he said, require "further study."
A second major line of internal development, as laid down in the process of "achieving Communism," is the abandonment of the dictatorship of the proletariat; no longer suited to the needs of Soviet society, it is to be gradually transformed into a "general-people's state." In effect, this means that more and more of the people, whether Party members or not, are to be drawn into active participation in a wider range of local decisions, inspections and other activities. Through their recently expanded commissions, local and regional Soviets are to enroll many more citizens in the tasks of supervising and improving education, public health, housing and retail marketing. The role of trade unions, cultural societies and even the new parent-teachers' associations is to be enlarged. One legacy from iron-fisted rule from above has been the timidity and passivity of ordinary citizens in combating inefficiency and protesting injustices. The new trend broadens and dramatizes the efforts that have been made over the past several years, again mainly "from above," to elicit more initiative from below, but without really lessening the extreme centralization of the system.
There may be more substance in the changes that have now been incorporated into the Statutes of the Communist Party. The amended procedures for admitting and expelling members seem designated to enhance the role of rank- and-file members, grouped in more than 300,000 primary Party organizations. These provisions, together with new rules requiring a periodic turnover in the membership of Party committees at local, county and regional levels, are supposed to broaden the recruitment of new leaders and to undercut the tendency of Party bureaucrats to dominate their local units and muzzle criticism. In presenting the amendments, which had been approved at a secret meeting of the Central Committee, Frol Kozlov laid special stress on secrecy of voting in choosing members of local and regional Party committees. His announcement that the Central Committee had rejected numerous proposals for reinstituting the "mass purges" or periodic review of all Party membership, so typical of Stalin's time, was greeted with "prolonged applause."
Throughout the Khrushchev and Kozlov reports on the Statutes, the emphasis was on a slogan that is as old as the dictatorial Party itself, "criticism and self-criticism." To publicize the new methods of rule, even the theater has been mustered into service over the last five or six years. One example of Khrushchevian reeducation is the popular play "Battle Along the Road," which last spring was playing in 46 different theaters at one time. In this play, by Galina Nikolaeva, two types of factory managers, the Stalinist and the Khrushchevian, wrestle for the leadership of an important factory. The struggle between the old and the new, the gradual intervention of the workers as an almost faceless but discriminating judge, and the final and "wise" decision by "the Central Committee," pictured as an offstage deus ex machina, obviously involve the hopes and fears of the audience as a real problem of Soviet life, however melodramatic it may seem to an outsider.
In appealing for greater "activism" by both Party members and loyal and hardworking citizens, the Party leadership sets definite limits to these initiatives. "Increase the responsibility of the primary Party organizations," they say in effect, but in the next breath Kozlov reminded the Congress that "the C.P.S.U. is not a federation of parties or party committees; it is a centralized organization." While urging every opportunity "for a free and businesslike discussion of questions relevant to Party policy," Kozlov denounced any attempt to form fractions or cliques. Even discussion has narrow limits. "Naturally one must not allow a situation to come about in which the Party can be drawn into a sterile discussion at the whim of some small group of muddle-headed or immature people, in which individual antiparty elements can undertake actions leading to the subversion of party unity." Basically the leadership is urging the middle ranks of the Party to throw off their fear or friendship for the petty bosses above them and to speak their minds, and thus to help the top leadership meet its goals more efficiently than in the past. "Democracy" in the Western sense is not one of those goals.
Even more completely than the Twentieth and Twenty-first Congresses, the Twenty-second was "Khrushchev's Congress." Since the purge of the "antiparty group" in June 1957, and the dismissal of Marshal Zhukov in October of that year, the Party-Presidium has been completely "his" presidium and the Central Secretariat has been "his" secretariat. During the steady turnover in the upper ranks of the Party over the past four years, Khrushchev has reënforced his control over the entire apparatus of power. Since February 1956 the membership of the Party has grown by some 2,500,000, from 7,215,000 to 9,716,000 and over 200,000 members have been expelled. Why, in the light of the consolidation of his power, did Khrushchev devote so much time at the Congress to denouncing his former rivals for power?
One explanation that has been put forward is that somehow Molotov, Kaganovich, Malenkov and Voroshilov are still active contenders for power, that they retain a large potential following within the Party, and that a further purge, on a substantial scale, may follow this public attack on them, on their crimes during the Stalin era, and on the policies that they are accused of advocating. This seems most improbable. If the "antiparty group" was not able to muster its forces better in June 1957, when its members were still close to the levers of power, how much strength can it summon now, after it has been scattered and reviled? Its fate was actually determined by January 1955, and it was sealed by the failure of its attempt, in February 1956, to prevent Khrushchev from delivering his secret anti-Stalin speech to the Twentieth Congress.
In most respects the recent attacks on Stalin constitute a relatively restrained and unmelodramatic re-run of the famous "secret speech," perhaps expurgated for wider distribution at home and abroad. Significantly, each spokesman of the central apparatus-Presidium and Secretariat-was assigned some part of the denunciatory material, perhaps to demonstrate the solidarity of the leading group, perhaps to make each of their speeches that much more stirring to the Congress. A few additional details were offered on Stalin's actions, particularly on his alleged planning of the Kirov murder in 1934. The most striking addition to the "chamber of horrors" was the painstaking and direct linking of the "antiparty group" with the crimes of the Stalin era. Anyone living abroad is bound to ask a further question: "But will not people in the Soviet Union associate Khrushchev with the same misdeeds? Will they not recall the long years in which he served and praised Stalin no less faithfully and obsequiously than did his defeated rivals?"
Some, possessed of longer memories or feeling somewhat freer now to make cynical comments about the leaders, will no doubt do so, but this is of no political importance. After the Congress of February 1956 the "secret speech" was read by or to all members of the Party, and even to millions of nonparty activists, and to Communist leaders outside the Soviet Union. The shock has long since been absorbed by them, and the differences between the Stalin and Khrushchev methods of rule have been drilled into them for several years. By naming scapegoats for the Stalinist crimes, Khrushchev actually makes it easier for himself and the Party members to localize the diffused sense of shared guilt in a few powerless individuals. The fact that for long years these same individuals wielded, even by delegation, the heavy hand of monolithic power makes their downfall and Khrushchev's contrasting image of success and benevolence a more convincing part of a mammoth "morality play," Communist-style.
Since the Congress provided no opportunity for genuine debate or discussion, any more than in Stalin's day, its effectiveness as a transmission belt of Party directives was enhanced by the drama of "crime and punishment" played out on its stage. The anti-Stalinist tirades spelled out, probably with a substantial dose of exaggeration, the differences over recent and future policies. Khrushchev was, it now appears, full of good ideas as early as 1950 and 1951 for improving agriculture and housing; Molotov and Kaganovich frustrated these proposals. In 1957 they also opposed his program for partially decentralizing the management of the economy. Molotov resisted bitterly Khrushchev's attempts to develop a more relaxed system of control over the Communist bloc and his efforts to enhance Soviet influence beyond the area of the Leninist writ through personal contacts with foreign statesmen. Molotov underestimated the growing might of the Soviet Union and therefore rejected Khrushchev's foreign policies as dangerous to its survival as a state and a revolutionary ideology. Far from repenting of his dogmatism, Molotov wrote the Central Committee just before the Congress, according to Satiukov, to denounce most of the new policies; his letter has, of course, not been made public.
By spelling out in his own words the sharp differences between his own policies and those of the "antiparty group," Khrushchev has given a clearer focus to his own policies and has sent the delegates home with a vivid picture of the "perils of Pauline" that the party has escaped. Like other congresses since Lenin's death, the latest one did not actually shift power from one leader or group to another; it merely registered and consolidated a previous shift of power that had already been carried out by the top leadership through its exclusive power of promotion and demotion. It has not laid down new policies or even debated them; it has received, for transmission down the line, the codified policies already worked out and applied by the leadership. The basic message its members have taken home is that Khrushchev intends to continue the gradual broadening of responsibilities and initiatives downward within the Party; that no drastic changes in the system are being planned; that the relaxation of tension between the ruling group and the people at large is going to be continued; that the Soviet Party intends to assert its dominance over the bloc; and that Khrushchev is confident that outside the bloc the growing Soviet military might and his own more flexible political strategy will enable him to make important and eventually decisive gains for Communism without involving his people in a nuclear war.
The most unexpected feature of the Twenty-second Congress was the direct disagreement, publicly recorded, between Khrushchev and the Chinese Party leadership. This new tension was highlighted by Chou En-lai's departure for Peking, lamely and belatedly explained as due to "previous engagements." The immediate occasion of the dispute was the recalcitrant position taken by the Albanian Party since mid-1960, but the conflict between Moscow and Peking is clearly proceeding on several planes.
How did Albania happen to become a testing-ground of Chinese and Soviet dominance within the Communist bloc? The specific accusation that Enver Hoxha has stubbornly clung to Stalinist methods of rule can hardly be taken seriously, for the East German, Czech and Bulgarian Parties are only slightly less Stalinist today. The difference is that in those other Parties Stalinist methods are being applied by pro-Moscow leaders, whereas Enver Hoxha has put himself under Peking's protection. Differences between Moscow and Tirana can be traced to Khrushchev's ebullient efforts in 1955 to win back Tito to "the socialist camp," and to Enver Hoxha's fear that he might again be assigned to a Jugoslav sphere of influence. In any case the severe tension between Stalin and Tito between 1948 and 1953 must have given Enver many hopes, later dissipated by Khrushchev, that after Tito's expected overthrow Albania would be permitted to double its territory and population at Jugoslavia's expense.
In addition, the coming of long-range bombers and missiles has wiped out Albania's strategic value to the Soviet Union. And perhaps Khrushchev had meanwhile discovered, like every invader or protector of Albania since 1912, that this poor country simply cannot afford to pay for its own governing and military apparatus. If he then decided to cut back Soviet subsidies to Enver, he may not have suspected that Peking would be bold enough to take over Moscow's role as supplier and protector.
Enver's purposes in destroying his pro-Soviet rivals at home and in seeking a new supporter abroad are fairly obvious, but Mao Tse-tung's motives appear both more obscure and more far-reaching. Is he using the quarrel over the Albanian Party to establish the principle of dual and equal leadership within the bloc? Did he have hopes, during the Polish and Hungarian crises of 1956-1957, of sharing with Moscow the leadership of the satellites in Europe, only to have to settle for the doubtful prize of Albania's allegiance? Or, believing literally in the imminence of a final and bloody struggle against "the imperialist bloc headed by the United States of America," is he painstakingly establishing his own super- orthodoxy in advance? Does he foresee the weakening of Russia in a nuclear war with the United States, and is he therefore hanging on to a minor "position of strength" within the European group of satellites, in preparation for later claims to a dominant role within an expanded "socialist camp"?
The published reports of the Sino-Soviet debate at the Moscow Party Congress offer only faint clues. Chou insisted that Albania is still a member of the bloc, thereby implying that Khrushchev is not entitled to read Enver Hoxha out of the Communist family. Khrushchev retorted that Albania had practically read itself out of the bloc by Enver's action in walking out of the Moscow Conference of November 1960, and by his refusal to carry out the provisions of the Declaration of December 1960. Obviously Chou was incensed at Khrushchev's insistence that he holds the final authority to decide whether Enver Hoxha and other leaders have or have not carried out the contradictory tenets of that compromise Declaration. In a subsidiary accusation Chou attacked Khrushchev for publicly airing the differences that had arisen within the bloc. Khrushchev parried this charge rather weakly by accusing Enver of having already aired these differences, and he concluded by urging the Chinese leadership to persuade Enver to accept the "decisions" of the bloc! This rather circular line of reasoning leaves unresolved the basic question: Can Khrushchev speak for the bloc, or must he first seek a private agreement with Communist China?
The dispute has clearly set up serious strains for several Asian Parties. Tsedenbal, speaking for the Mongolian Revolutionary Party, opted for Moscow without hesitation; in his speech he did not refer even once to China specifically, though he praised the "solidarity of the bloc." On the other hand, the North Korean spokesman and Ho Chi-minh expressed the gratitude of their Parties to China by name. D. N. Aidit, speaking for the Indonesian Party, first read a message of greeting, drafted in advance of the Congress, praising "the experiences of two great peoples-the Soviet Union and China" as "an example that inspires the Indonesian peoples." In his own speech Aidit expressed gratitude "to the Communist Parties, the governments, and the peoples of the socialist countries, headed by the Soviet Union." In contrast, the Secretary-General of the Indian Party, Ajoy Ghosh, made no mention whatever of China, in the midst of fulsome praise of Soviet achievements and Soviet policies.
It is not hard to imagine several basic sources of the discord between Peking and Moscow, but firm information on their relative importance is almost completely lacking. The two major Communist powers stand at entirely different stages in their revolutionary development. The Soviet leadership has achieved very great military power and also seems increasingly aware of the risks it would run in any nuclear war. Communist China has taken literally Khrushchev's claims to strategic superiority, repeated so often since 1957, and it may interpret his unwillingness to place that great force at the service of Peking's ambitions as "pacificism" or a loss of "revolutionary zeal."
After four decades of almost unremitting suffering and sacrifices, Russians, whether Party members or not, can now see just ahead a time when they can at last enjoy a standard of living far better than they have known before, China can hardly hold its own, much less build a strong economy, unless it enforces on its Party and its people a more-than-Stalinist discipline for several decades to come. The Soviet leadership has no pressing territorial ambitions, except for its continuing phobia about West Berlin, while Communist China has many appetites. Because of what it regards as Soviet "pacifism," it is farther than ever from overrunning Taiwan and thus ending once and for all the civil war. It may even fear that Moscow could accommodate itself in practice, though not in so many words, to a "two Chinas" solution.
It is not at all clear that the Chinese Communist leadership is completely happy about Moscow's role in supporting and guiding the campaign of the North Vietnamese Party to take over Laos and South Viet Nam, for Peking seems to be playing no direct role in this. Ho Chi-minh may be very pleased at the Soviet eagerness to help him expand his realm and to do so without his falling into dependence upon China, for he knows the Russians are unlikely to settle permanently in that part of Asia. And the Soviet leaders obviously feel that it is much safer to keep this intricate game in their own hands, rather than let the Chinese bull their way into the Southeast Asian crockery shop. An advance of Chinese military units into the area might provoke a sharp reaction in Indian opinion, which, with some exceptions, takes a very bland view today of the Soviet role in Laos, perhaps because Indians regard the Soviet Union as the only power that can restrain Chinese claims to more of India's territory. In any case, Khrushchev certainly feels that he is now an experienced master of the international chessboard, compared with the isolated and parochial Chinese leadership, and he has shown a persistent disinclination to let the Chinese Communists commit Soviet strategic and political power beyond a predetermined limit, as laid down by him.
Did Khrushchev believe that China's current dependence on Soviet aid, however small in volume, and perhaps its greater dependence in the near future, would oblige Chou En-lai to accept Soviet leadership over the bloc without a public expression of dissent? Did he expect that the bitter arguments of November and December 1960, leading up to the compromise Declaration of Eighty-one Parties, could now be won by him? Perhaps we shall never know how far doctrinaire, personal and cultural frictions may have fed this growing irritation, and how far it is due to cold calculations of the risk of a nuclear war. A more pressing question is: Will the public divergence between Moscow and Peking, expressed before an international Communist conclave, simplify or complicate the problems of United States policy?
Perhaps one key to this question should be sought in the more general tendency of each great alliance system to display serious internal cleavages. The development, real or assumed, of a kind of nuclear stalemate has, in fact, not led to full agreement within the loose coalition that has been formed around the deterrent power of the United States. And since Khrushchev has been preaching a modest and controlled "relaxation of controls" within the much more rigid Soviet system of alliances, it is possible that, behind the scenes of Communist allegiance, he may also be encountering a wider range of separately defined interests and aspirations.
The divergence in interpreting the purport of Khrushchev's new program was expressed most clearly at the Congress by Gomulka and Ulbricht. From the new Soviet Party program Gomulka picked out two major points for enthusiastic endorsement. Because of present and promised Soviet economic advances, Communism is, he stressed, bound to prove its superiority everywhere and therefore triumph throughout the world by peaceful means. His second theme was a rapid replacement of the dictatorship of the proletariat by a new type of "socialist democracy," in which mankind will enjoy all the rights promised by "bourgeois" democracy and many new ones, besides. Both promises-"no war," and a steady movement from dictatorship to democracy-are obviously welcome news for Poles, including Polish Communists. Speaking after Gomulka, Ulbricht made no mention of a slackening of controls or of the dictatorship, but stressed the growing menace of Western and West German militarism. He also set as a goal the establishment of a reunified and demilitarized Germany, of course under Communist control.
With the building up of Soviet missile-nuclear forces, the leadership has clearly moved this factor into top place as a strategic and political weapon. This means that the armed forces of the European satellites, and even their territories, now play a less crucial role in Soviet strategic planning than they did in the first postwar decade. This change of strategic perspective, among other factors, has made it easier for Khrushchev to tolerate a considerably wider range of variation in cultural, economic and other policies within the satellites, short of abandoning the basic principle of Communist control. True, he at first accepted only reluctantly this policy of limited divergence even with respect to Poland, and no other satellite has strayed as far as Poland from the Soviet model. Yet the variations in patterns are both substantial and exceedingly significant to the peoples of the satellites; witness the strength of individual peasant farming in Poland.
This policy of limited tolerance and controlled divergence has many advantages both for the Soviet leadership and for the local Communist satraps. It has assured the necessary degree of strategic conformity to Soviet interests, and it has done so at far less cost in political and economic strains than the now-discarded Stalinist norms of absolute conformity and blind obedience.
If Khrushchev now finds it expedient to accept a somewhat wider range of divergence among the relatively powerless satellites in Eastern Europe, he must have discovered again how much more difficult it is to exact obedience from his Chinese partner within the bloc. After all, he cannot refuse economic support to Communist China in its present and probably temporary straits, even though both he and Mao may agree, for different motives, on holding that aid within the narrowest practicable limits. Neither can he compel China to renounce any of its direct ambitions; perhaps it has not been easy to persuade Mao to postpone them from year to year. The contest within the Communist régimes and Parties in Asia over whether the Soviet or Chinese example is the more applicable to their ambitions may be spurring Khrushchev at present to make important gains for Communism in Southeast Asia.
Perhaps Khrushchev feels pressed, in a time of Chinese weakness, to build up a barrier of Moscow-oriented Communist allies in Southeast Asia and thus forestall China's ambition to do the same. If this be the case, the implications are ominous for the independent states of that key region-and for Western political, economic and strategic prospects there. The Sino- Soviet rivalry may be placing stronger pressures and setting more urgent deadlines for a Moscow-sponsored expansion of Communism. Far from handicapping Soviet ambitions in Southeast Asia, the contest between Moscow and Peking may lead Khrushchev to take greater risks than in the past in order to demonstrate that his policy of graduated risks is both more fruitful and less dangerous than Peking's emphasis on all-out "revolutionary zeal."
The Twenty-second Congress has thrown little new light on Khrushchev's policies elsewhere in the world. The standard mixture of peace-loving protestations with threats of Soviet missile-nuclear might was highlighted by Marshal Malinovsky's claim that the Soviet Union possesses Polaris-type submarines and "has solved" the problem of the anti-missile missile. Though discounted abroad, both assertions indicate important lines of Soviet efforts in military technology. In announcing that the Soviet Union had resumed nuclear testing, Khrushchev was merely continuing the double line, which he has followed since September 1, of playing this warlike threat soft at home and hard abroad.
In relaxing slightly his year-end timetable for signing a peace treaty with East Germany, Khrushchev was continuing his hot-and-cold tactics abroad, at the same time reassuring the delegates of his ability to achieve his goals without bringing on a nuclear war. By rejecting the charges, attributed to Molotov, of falling into the twin heresies of "pacificism" and underestimating the central importance of unrelenting "revolutionary struggle," Khrushchev further reinforced his domestic image as a new type of leader who can assure the "worldwide victory of Communism" without involving his country in a nuclear war.
Basically, the purposes of Soviet policy, as stated at the Congress, are the same that Khrushchev had set forth in his program speech of January 6, 1961, and therefore they differ somewhat in emphasis and tone from the compromise Declaration of Eighty-one Parties, of December 1960. Less was said at the Congress about the "national revolution," by which newly independent nations are to be moved step-by-step out of the political and economic sphere of the West and into the Communist orbit, One significant innovation was the presence of delegates from three non-Communist parties in Africa-from the governing parties of Ghana, Guinea and Mali,
Unlike the predictions of the 1952 and 1956 Congresses, recent Soviet pronouncements speak less frequently of the inevitable slide of the newly- independent countries into a Communist system of rule, and they refer more often and more eloquently to the advantages of long-range coöperation between national and anti-imperialist revolutions, on the Cuban model, and the Soviet Union. As a corollary, the speakers at the Congress emphasized the opportunities, provided by Soviet power and aid, for the new countries to advance toward "socialism" through non-violent means. Apparently, the Soviet leaders now realize that even the most anti-Western and anti- imperialist leaders in Africa and Asia do not enjoy being reminded that, according to the dialectic, they in turn will be superseded before long by simon-pure Communist dictatorships.
On the whole, the Congress showed once again that Khrushchev has a profound knowledge of the Soviet system, and that he understands the aspirations of his people for peace, economic progress, greater security and more local initiative at home. He showed himself on somewhat more uncertain ground in his dealings with the bloc; in particular, he may discover that Peking's stubborn insistence on playing an independent role within the "family of socialist nations" is something he will simply have to live with. In his attitude toward the major questions of world politics, Khrushchev again displayed a strong, partly justified, but oversimplified optimism about the prospects of Communist victories in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Toward the West and Japan, and particularly toward the United States, he exhibited at the Congress the same unyielding illusions and the same arrogance, both focused on Berlin, that have brought the two systems of power dangerously far down the road to a confrontation of both strategic power and political determination.