The possibility that the world will awake with surprise one morning to a radical change-whether hoped for or feared-in the Soviet system of government is so remote that we can only wonder that the prospect continues to tantalize us, provoking a recurrent international concern. Perhaps it is because we are all too aware of the vulnerability of our analyses and hypotheses as they apply to even the most "open" and flexible of political systems that we do not cease to marvel at the opaque intransigence of the "closed," rigid, "perfect" system of the Soviet Union, and its indisputable reality in our time.

The peculiar futility of such speculation seems all the more glaring when we reflect that the Soviet system has presented itself as a monolithic design since its very inception-a structure "closed" and made immutable to time even at the very flush of its coming to birth; one paralyzed by its architects at the outset, and rendered immune to mutation, whether of growth or decay.

In speaking of the rigidity of this closed Soviet system, we should be aware that we are addressing first its internal, organic structure, and not its relations to or with other systems of political or social theory. Any system claiming to embody a substantial social entity will gravitate inexorably toward consolidation, and the elimination or exclusion of change. What is unique about the Soviet system is its promotion of this condition by deliberately "conscious" acts and measures, endorsed and enforced by the state on a scale far larger than that to which other systems of government lay claim. Here we confront what must be seen, within the Soviet order, as the progressive compounding of its "immutability."

Even though it would be possible to draw parallels between the Soviet system and the despotic regimes of Asia and the East, it is the dubious prestige of the Soviet form of government to stand as the most relentlessly implacable and ossified in modern history. The essential elements within that system-ideology, power and capital-are indivisibly intertwined. To weaken or mitigate one arm of this triumvirate would place either or both of the remaining two in hopeless jeopardy. For example: to abandon the concept of "collective" ownership would fatally negate the reality of monopolistic power. To permit toleration of "alien" ideologies would throw open to pitiless scrutiny the inefficiency and inadequacy of the very premises on which the commanding ideology rests.

To ensure that no such weakening or chink in this monolithic structure occurs, an ideological class has emerged, a privileged stratum brought to birth to maintain dominant, if not total, control over production of the most basic material goods. This stratum has a stake in the system that cannot be overemphasized; its vigilance in overseeing every component of the whole is constant. Indeed, it may be said to derive from the system not only its conscious strength, but its vital existence.

What complicates all this is the framework of the Soviet system, which rests on a fluctuating unity between the potent Great Russian party bureaucracy, and the lesser, non-Russian national party bureaucracies (Ukrainian, Georgian, etc.). Officially, each bureaucracy concedes to the ideological "unity of the whole" priority over its own individual interests; in actuality, however, each tries to wrest for itself as much autonomy and as large a stake in the national design as possible. The result is predictable: non-Russians, acknowledging the primacy of the "Russian people" and "Russian culture," view the party bureaucracy of the Great Russians as "deserving the most," and inevitably accord it that degree of influence. In turn, and almost as an afterthought or a sop, the Great Russian party bureaucracy indulges (or rewards) the minor and ancillary non-Russian bureaucracies with a limited margin of "free development," permitting them to foster and enjoy certain areas of nationalist feeling and consciousness.

The Soviet state conducts its relations with the East European nations in a similarly elastic way. Ties with communist parties in allied states or "people's democracies" are even more flexible-we can discern their outline in such terms as "socialist community," "proletarian internationalism" and the like. In significant part, the so-called Nonaligned Movement may be said to encompass a spectrum of the relationships-their degree and intensity-which exist between the Soviet bureaucracy and more or less hospitable bureaucracies in other countries.

Nonetheless, such relations will be seen as motivated by and sharing a common, often identical, ideology and goal. That goal, so clearly formulated by Soviet leaders, is the ideology we know as Leninism. Decisively, it establishes the rules of the game, and the ground on which that game shall be played. No trend, deviation or alternate direction will be tolerated which does not enjoy the endorsement of that ideological authority-hence the paralysis of Soviet political thought which has endured for so long a time. It should be noted in passing that not a single foreign theoretician-and particularly not a communist one-has ever carved out for himself a significant niche in the pantheon of Soviet political theory. As a consequence, it is not excessive to conclude that Soviet soil is hospitable only to the breeding of essentially barren souls.


It would be futile-utterly naive-to formulate any strategy or hope for change that would promote democratization within the Soviet system. I say democratization because that would embody the only authentic shift or mutation within the monolithic Soviet order-and so far, democratization is almost exclusively a phenomenon of the West.

It is equally misleading, as well as fatalistic, to view the Soviet state of today as the inevitable heir of czarist Russia, with a legacy of moral and political impulses neither inferior nor superior to those active within the regime which preceded it. No one will dispute the czarist heritage of the Soviet Union-it is obvious to all, with the possible exception of some nostalgic or embittered spirits. We are dealing with the same people, whether we designate them czarist or Soviet. I would say, however, that the legacy of czarist Russia is more pronounced in the internal structure of the state-that is, in its bureaucratic and centralizing powers-than it is in the external, imperial tendencies and designs of the U.S.S.R.

Czarist Russia, especially in the latter half of the nineteenth century, was doubtless a state more under the rule of law, and because of that, a country affording a wider margin of freedom than the Soviet Union. Autocracy, after all, is not necessarily synonymous with totalitarian absolutism. Even when the conflicts were enacted within a context of ideological squabbling, it was practical relations that determined the elimination or destruction of old forms, and encouraged the flowering of those that were new or hitherto untried. When confronted with domestic agitation within-or the menace of threats from outside-Soviet power, even under Stalin's leadership, had no choice but to draw upon Russian traditions, and summon to its aid the forces of nationalist impulse. So it was that the ideology of Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism supplanted the dogma of Eastern Orthodoxy, and the triumvirate of czar, aristocracy and bourgeoisie yielded to the authority of the oligarchic party bureaucracy. But the people themselves-like their predecessors in the empire of the czars-remained Russians: constant in their mentality and disposition, the nature of their life experience, and in their relations with the outside world.

The recurrent dispute about the points of difference between czarist Russia and its Soviet successor-and especially about the mystique of an "eternal Russia" within the Soviet state-is a frequent source of conflict among Soviet dissidents. When it permeates the political calculations of political theorists in the West, however, it can become even more debilitating-a source of confused vacillation.

Much of the dispute centers on the reality that czarist, Orthodox Russia was also a world power. The salient distinction is that the power and pretensions of the czarist regime did not extend beyond a legitimate desire to protect its Orthodox population, and an aspiration to seek access to the warm-water ports of Europe or the Near East. (Poland is invariably an exception: for czarist, Orthodox Russia, the proximity of a Roman Catholic Poland remained a point of anxiety and suspicious unrest until the very end.) But the expansionism of czarist Russia was almost always directed at more primitive and backward Asiatic areas. The Bolshevik seizure of power changed all that. Yet even the Bolsheviks themselves seemed unaware of the shift, until Stalin, taking the reins, made it unmistakably clear.

Like other forms of Christian belief, Eastern Orthodoxy is a creed transcending national frontiers, and one committed to the burdens of messianic vision and vocation. The crucial distinction is that the hierarchy, clergy and faithful of each Orthodox church enjoy, within their separate national spheres, total autonomy. The unique quality of Russian messianism-so potent that it may almost be viewed as a fever in their Russian blood, at once the source of their glory and of their infirmity-lies in its profound appeal to national culture and consciousness, an appeal far in excess of the messianic impulse which animates other churches within the Orthodox embrace.

In its early phases-the period when Moscow was known as "the third Rome"-that messianic fervor was fed by the lure of vast Asiatic land masses and their measureless populations ripe for conversion. In the period following the French Revolution, Europe awoke sharply to the presence of its formidable rival to the east, an awareness long in coming. With the establishment of the Soviet state, that same historical messianism-once primarily a religious phenomenon-claimed for itself not only the rational motivation of an ideology, but also relied on an already established organizational base and form. The Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev discerned the essential nature of this transition, when he perceived in Bolshevism a transformed mutation of Russian messianism.

With the dismantling of the czarist state and its reconstitution as a Soviet state, changes occurred not only in the form and exercise of power and ownership but also in what was envisioned as the global destiny of Russia. From the very beginning, the stage had been set for the messianic thrust to operate within a global design, powered by a concrete political foundation. Soviet Russia, as well as the Soviet state, were mobilized as ideological centers of the international communist movement. Stalin and his successors accelerated the process, promoting the evolution of an imperial military center of revolutionary agitation and party oligarchy. We can see now that such an evolution was natural, even inevitable-but determined less by the despotic Asiatic legacy that had preceded it than it was by the nature of the Leninist bureaucratic machine.

For such a bureaucracy, the maintenance of its essential internal monopoly was not possible without the parallel mission of global "liberation"-that is, without expansionism, and expansionism of a predominantly military kind. This new imperative was without precedent in the old czarist Russia, which neither commanded such force nor entertained such aspirations. The Soviet state had been founded upon the infallible assumption that its own consolidation would be accompanied by the inevitable disintegration of the capitalist and colonial worlds. That assumption has, in many ways, been confirmed, although the Soviet Union has by no means abandoned or retreated from its policy of exploitation and expansionism. What has happened is that the Soviet state has assigned to its imperial designs superficially new and even more deceptive variations on a theme.

Within the space of several generations, Russia has grown from a semi-feudal, semi-colonial nation into an industrial superpower, with a ruling class that derives its authority from the military sector while concentrating on the development of heavy industry, which has always been a priority for the architects of the Soviet state. Even though the Soviet Union must acknowledge one of the lowest living standards per capita in the community of major powers, it remains the largest producer of steel, oil, coal and quite possibly armaments. With its development of atomic weapons, it has achieved an unassailability that projects it, without qualification, into the status of being the other superpower.

The Soviet Union as we see it today-essentially incapable of internal change, bound by its mandate of external expansion-will survive as long as its ruling class can maintain itself without erosion. That class is quite without illusion that the West, and particularly the United States, is about to abandon the profit motive and the goal of technological progress as fundamental components of its ideology. Hence, one cannot anticipate the emergence of somewhat more reasonable and moderate persons and modes of thought among the members of the ruling class. Should such an event occur, it will be predicated upon the fortuitous interplay of power currents, and not upon any sense of the need for a desirable change-such as a more pragmatic or "Western" mode of thought.

The same mentality dictates basic Soviet policy in the matter of aggression-nothing will blunt its imperial thrust toward expansion except vigilant and permanent containment from the outside. The present distribution of military forces in the Western and nonaligned worlds, the internal economic preoccupations and consumer orientation of those same worlds, and the reality of an underdeveloped China afford small hope that, in the near future, the U.S.S.R. will confront any implacable barrier of containment.

With the rise of the Soviet state, the world entered into an epoch of ideological irrationalism and hitherto unimaginable strategies of aggression. The futility of logical, sociological or historical efforts at unraveling this Gordian knot is evident, even when such attempts have afforded us some valuable insights. Those who wish to live in an order of freedom different from that determined by the Soviet design must, in the final analysis, rely on the power of unfettered reason, a clarified intellectual fortitude and the painful necessity of armed readiness.


In 1968, at a dinner given in my honor in New York, George Kennan and Henry Kissinger were among those present. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia dominated the moment, and we were all more or less in agreement that the Marxist-Leninist ideology could be officially considered moribund. Since then, that ideology has shown no sign of resuscitation or vitality. Yet I think now that a more penetrating analysis on that occasion would have revealed that an ideology-even one as debased and immoral as the Soviet form-does not exhaust itself quite so simply, nor yield itself with such readiness to inevitable dissolution.

The foundation of the Soviet ideology is utopian, and there will be adherents to a utopian fantasy-even one as ostensibly "scientific" as the Soviet one-as long as there are human beings willing to embrace it with faith and sacrifice. We may also speculate that there will always be a Marxist-Leninist ideology as long as there are Soviet "true believers," and particularly those for whom there are realistic possibilities for the control and monopoly of power within an ideological bureaucracy. The "scientific" base of the ideology is not what commands their loyalty, nor potential discoveries waiting to be disclosed within the matrix of Marxist and Leninist thought. What motivates such persons is an aspiration toward total power and domination of the political apparatus-a reality far more vital and sustaining than the rigor mortis of an intellectual system paralyzed and ossified at its very inception.

In his exclusive reliance on scientific truth, and his conviction that he was creating a social science, Marx called into being an ideology-a doctrine available as an instrument for action. But when he set the final stroke on his creation, he also negated the possibility of criticism. Those Marxists who have succeeded Marx did not and could not add anything essential to his monolithic formulation; they command attention only as popularizers and practitioners. All attempts to "develop" Marxism, to enrich or "open" it, have foundered; the result, invariably, is abandonment. Yet the foundations of Marxist ideology have remained immutable-its persistence confirmed as a "scientific" religion, or pseudo-religion, to be used or adapted in spite of deviations imposed by circumstance.

In this immutability-the conviction that its ideology embodies ultimate scientific truth-lies the apparent paradox of the longevity of Marxism. Marxism is ideologically immortal; the party bureaucracy needs confirmation of its own political immortality-hence the ideal cohesion of ideology and party bureaucracy-until the State withers away! In theory, that same party bureaucracy could subscribe to another, non-Marxist ideology, contingent only on the security that such an alternative would consolidate and affirm its perpetual existence. (During World War II, at Tito's headquarters, I had a conversation with General Korneyev, the chief of the Soviet military mission. He observed that during the early success of Hitler's forces in Russia, the political leadership of the Soviet Union had toyed with the notion of introducing Eastern Orthodoxy as an ideological rallying point. However incomprehensible this may seem to us now, we must recollect that, at the time, the U.S.S.R. was in mortal peril.) The seduction and even genius of Marxism lies in its capacity to lend itself to any contingency, yet retaining all the appearance of immutable truth.

The Soviet system together with other variants of communism reveal their essential hypocrisy when they advance in power and strength. Then, they do not have the need for ideology as an organizing force to the degree that they did in their earlier, more primitive states. What they require, rather, are pretexts-to maintain their internal control and to mislead "foreign" public opinion. Without such pretexts, the Soviet system would be wholly adrift, without foundation. For that alone, ideology is crucial and must be sustained. And the sense of ideological struggle-even combat-will remain an integral part of whatever divisions occur within the Soviet and non-Soviet worlds.

Precisely because the Marxist-Leninist ideology is the commanding doctrine of bureaucratic party power, legitimate divisions among the various communist countries-discrete national developments-ideally should be subdued to a more or less compatible interpretation. So it is that, while all adhere officially to the "scientific method," revisionism remains a constant hazard, and today it is virtually impossible to find anyone in the Soviet constellation who is not a "revisionist" in the eyes of someone else. Yet even as we have seen communism disintegrate as a global movement, its unity of organization in gradual decline, we have observed no flagging in loyalty to the "doctrine." Doctrinal differences, often feigned, are still visible, but they serve now only to conceal the aspirations of one party or another to supremacy and rule. All remain faithful communists, and yet each party claims to be the chosen one.

The most notable instances of this paradox, of course, have been, on the one hand, the rupture between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia-a small country struggling to maintain its independence-and on the other, the violent break between the Soviet Union and China-a major power seeking to play an appropriate role on the world stage. There are, to be sure, other examples of communist parties which have refused to follow the official Soviet line. Indeed, I feel that the number of conflicts between communist states will probably increase in the future-we are already witness to the dispute between Vietnam and Cambodia, and between Ethiopia and Somalia.

But certain realities are indisputable and of first importance in assessing the present and future situation:

(1) Not a single communist country, or its communist party-even those countries and parties which have quarreled with the Soviet Union-has ever abandoned the Marxist-Leninist ideology, or the political tenet of a power monopoly. Although communism as we confront it today is not exclusively a phenomenon of Russian origin, its essential nature has not altered. Mere separation from the Soviet "fortress of global communism" does not negate its reality as communism. This observation is especially pertinent in the present situation, because we should not exclude the theoretical possibility that some future communist faction would adopt ideological pluralism as a weapon in its struggle for survival.

(2) Ruptures and fluctuations within communism have not, at least until now, weakened the independent movements. Indeed, they may suggest the nature of even deeper, qualitative national mutations to come.

(3) The solicitation of support from foreign communist parties, while not negligible, has become a less important element in Soviet foreign policy. The disarray of world communism finds the Soviet Union today, under Brezhnev, in a condition of relative internal bureaucratic stability; externally, not only is the climate propitious for expansion-it positively clamors for it. Paradoxically, in the wake of its decline as an international ideology and movement, communism has infused with a new vitality the inevitable tendency of the Soviet state toward global expansion.


In essence, the Soviet state is an imperial military system combining internal inefficiency with a thrust toward expansion, and like all those empires preceding it, condemned by its secrecy and stagnation to decay. Its drive toward expansion can be restrained only by forces that would alter the system-redirect it toward issues and problems that are non-messianic in nature. At present, no such forces are apparent; those minor currents which would foster or promote change through reform are fragmentary, almost nonexistent.

I should remark here that the notion of rot or decay, as well as that of stagnation, is to be interpreted relatively. Certainly, the "system" is changing, perhaps even "improving," as new life may sprout from the decline of living forms; that was evident even during Stalin's pitiless era, when something of life's richness and diversity survived. Yet as long as the system remained closed to alien or foreign influence, the process of change was arrested. Whenever new rulers, usually to secure their position, permitted a fugitive glimpse of the world outside, they inadvertently opened a Pandora's box of "foreign" ideas and sentiments. Much as Marx predicted, dissident views-in the Soviet Union as well as in other East European countries-multiplied like vermin within the system. In the oppressed countries under Soviet dominion, almost all dissident voices of what I prefer to call the opposition are aimed at Soviet hegemony; in the Soviet Union, they are directed against the system itself. In the present context, I shall limit myself to commenting on the significance of such currents.

It is my view that, given the present balance of world power, the prospects for any emerging new order or radical change in the structure of the Soviet state and its satellites are neither realistic nor propitious. Quite simply: in the absence of that revolutionary turmoil which is an inevitable prelude to military confrontation, and as long as the Soviet system continues to seek fresh opportunities for expansion, it is my conviction that East European countries will find the Soviet yoke unbreakable, and the possibility of any decisive internal change futile.

Yet it would be cruelly myopic and debilitating of the non-communist world to discount or dismiss as negligible these oppositional currents-and especially those within the Soviet Union-simply because of their lack of power. Nothing ever happens in this world of ours without its echo in the most distant corners. The contemporary West, infected as it is with a profound surfeit of pragmatism, and stifled by concern for its own security and material prosperity, too easily forgets that life on our planet is all of a piece, the suffering and hope of one affecting the destiny of all.

The great significance of dissenting voices in the Soviet Union is that they represent a current of permanent opposition, impossible to uproot. Born out of backwardness and oppression, dissent embodies a negation of the system. It offers concrete, vital proof that all such monolithic systems are transient and that the "scientific" belief in the possibility of building a "perfect society" has failed.

Moreover, in their susceptibility to influences from the outside, these dissident manifestations undermine the fatalistic, slave-like sense of an immutable unity and design in the social order. They hint at the alternative vision of a superior world, without which peoples, as well as nations, may lose or abandon their identity. Doubtless, too, they act as vigilant agents of scrutiny, unmasking the monopoly of ideological power as a pretext for the exercise of license and unearned privilege. Their presence checks the arrogance of office, compelling rulers to observe at least a minimal civility and respect, and sustaining patriots and idealists in their consistency and determination. Even though the process of fermentation they have initiated is only in its earliest phase-which may explain some of the fragility and contradictory nature of dissident policies and positions-the impact of that process is ultimately to weaken the ideological imperialism of the Soviet Union. Although the internal presence of such forces cannot change the East, they contribute to mobilizing spiritual unity in the West, and as such, they must be seen as one of the harbingers of the future.


It is an act of partial and incomplete imagination to single out Yugoslavia as the first socialist state to wrest its autonomy from Soviet dominion. Rather, Yugoslavia should be regarded as an example of how any communist state, or any communist party, in breaking with the Soviet Union, must inevitably acquire its uniqueness and move toward the realization of its potential national destiny.

The "moral crisis" in communist parties, provoked by Stalin's onslaught against Yugoslavia in 1948, developed into a current of national resistance after Stalin's death in 1953. It is appropriately seen as only one of the events that altered the balance of internal powers within any given bureaucratic structure. It also imposed on certain communists the necessity for an adjustment and reinterpretation of their conception of communism; in some instances, it changed the perception of communism itself. Within various communist parties, and under certain conditions, the national component became the dominant one. Internationalism, equated with fealty toward the Soviet Union and hitherto one of the most sacred-if not the most sacred-of Marxist-Leninist dogmas, began to crumble.

The new reality was understandably accompanied by the illusion that some countries and parties would undergo radical internal change. This did not happen, even in Yugoslavia, where perhaps the greatest changes occurred. Stalin's adherents in 1948-disillusioned and without a line of succession-could not emerge as supreme in the ruling structure without Soviet intervention-an intervention for which the only pretexts might have been "defense against imperialism," "socialist community" and the like. Such transparent motivations for aggression were out of the question at the time, and hence the Stalinist old guard had no alternative but to compromise.

What happened was a mellowing of ideological disputes between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. In time, ideology became an instrument of pressure and attack, a means of bargaining and jockeying for power in Yugoslav-Soviet relations. Yet the essence of the conflict remained constant: the struggle between a great, hegemonic national power and a small state sharply aware of its habitual jeopardy. Tito, understanding this reality, retreated pragmatically from the ideological dispute and continued to maintain firm bonds in interstate relations between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. If it had escaped this apparent renewal of ideological cooperation, Yugoslavia might have enjoyed a happier fate. But-as a communist state-it could not reject the Soviet acknowledgment of Stalin's "mistakes" without isolating itself, within the communist fold.

Yugoslavia's political system, and especially its "ideological loyalty," prevented it from seeking any considerable support in the West, and above all in Europe. Instead, it found a "natural" refuge in affinity with the Nonaligned Movement. Because of its delicate position, Yugoslavia subscribed to and often eagerly initiated "anti-imperialist" declarations, because such calls for agitation and intervention elsewhere posed no real danger to it, while serving to strengthen and confirm its independent neutrality vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.

The Soviets monitored all these stratagems keenly, especially those involving the less-developed countries and those parties enlisted in the Nonaligned Movement. Emphasis on the anti-imperialist motif had prepared the ground for the Soviets, and they promptly focused on those situations offering them the widest range of opportunities. The Havana Conference of Nonaligned States in 1979 was one such occasion, and with the aid of the "leftist" states, the Soviets penetrated it easily. At the same time that the unity of the movement was preserved symbolically by a universal agreement to adhere to "basic principles"-a condition on which the Yugoslavs had insisted most emphatically-recognition of the pro-Soviet "faction" and justification of pro-Soviet interventions steadily gained ground. The final declarations of nonalignment, drawn up with the active participation of Cuba and Vietnam, incorporated the pro-Soviet ethos and dynamics of revolution.

At present, Yugoslavia confronts a political vacuum. It is hardly threatened by Soviet ideology, since it shares a basic kinship with it. Yet I would not want to leave an impression that the "ideological danger" for Yugoslavia is negligible, or that the "ideological advantage" of the Soviet Union is insignificant. Both adhere to a monopolistic ideology, and in times of crisis, such as the present one, this may weaken and confuse the smaller state.

The latest tide of Soviet expansionism, which is taking place predominantly through ventures in the underdeveloped countries, took Yugoslavia by surprise. Like many small powers in the Nonaligned Movement, its ability to detect and arrest the subtle erosion of national security had already been critically sapped by an enormous number of empty and indisputably uncontroversial declarations. And expansionism always provides an opportunity for the larger power to create an "ideological fifth column." The need to "bolster socialism" and maintain its monopoly will inevitably accompany internal weakness in the state, one which may lead to the absorption of smaller communist states by stronger ones of more expansionist design. Such was the sequence of events in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, with respect to the political strategy of the Soviet Union. We can also see it happening now in Afghanistan, as well as in Cambodia vis-à-vis the Vietnam regime. The "leading role" is always assigned to those who symbolically represent national autonomy; but it is shared with those "internationalists" whose criterion invariably is measured by the yardstick of loyalty to the Soviet Union. I see no reason why Yugoslavia should prove an exception to this rule.

Like other states in similar predicaments, Yugoslavia has sought salvation in the traditional balancing of one great power against another. In time of peace, even the great powers will tolerate such policies. But when global equilibrium itself is eroded by the disorders of expansionism, such a balancing act exposes itself to risks, which in turn increase the vulnerability of whatever internal stability exists. Balance derives from position, and that position is as important and delicate as the equilibrium. The fate of Yugoslavia has already taken on more weight with the escalation of Middle Eastern crises; by the same token, its vulnerability increases as each new Soviet military buildup adds to the disequilibrium of Europe. Yugoslavia cannot escape its destiny as a focus of Soviet attention and vital interest. One has only to imagine the presence of the Soviet army on the Adriatic, flanked by an unstable Italy, and a Greece and Turkey habitually at odds. Within that perspective, the critical importance of Yugoslavia to any Soviet domination of the Mediterranean, and ultimately of Europe, becomes obvious.

Meanwhile, Soviet attempts to undermine Yugoslav independence continue, although superficially they may appear negligible in the chronicle of global disorders. In the ranks of international communism, factional attacks persist with predictable regularity on what is called Yugoslav anti-Sovietism and "revisionism." Until recently, subversion has been more visible in the Nonaligned Movement, when Cuba and Vietnam joined to censure Yugoslav opposition to the Vietnamese aggression against Cambodia.

But if these Soviet maneuvers are essentially surreptitious, pressures exerted by some neighboring countries are loud, forceful and anything but discreet. The role of principal goad has been assigned to Bulgaria, which is insistent on laying claim to the Yugoslav republic of Macedonia as Bulgarian territory. Unlike most other East European governments, the Bulgarian party bureaucracy proclaims its "organic ties" to the Soviet Union with a vocal relentlessness that is embarrassing even to the Soviets themselves. In the initial phases of the Bulgarian assault, the Soviet government was eager to let it be assumed that the Bulgarian claim represented an independent national policy of that country. During these last few years, however, the rules of the game have shifted, as the Soviets and other Warsaw Pact members now overtly support Bulgaria's demand. It has been a longstanding Bulgarian tradition to seek the support of great powers in implementing its goal of aggressive hegemony in the Balkans. Now it would seem that Bulgaria is enraptured with the fantasy of replicating in the Balkans the role assumed by Vietnam in Indochina.

Independently of this, but timing its actions to fortify Bulgarian pretensions, the Albanian government is agitating for annexation of the Albanian minority in Yugoslavia. So potent is the thrust of this nationalism-however fragmentary-that Yugoslav territories dominated by an Albanian population have seen a mass exodus of the Serbian and Montenegrin minorities. We may expect further unrest and continued Albanian interference to be waiting in the wings for the most opportune moment. And these are only the more serious frictions which might escalate into full-blown conflict between Yugoslavia and its most aggressive neighbors.

In addition to these external crises, we must confront the growing accumulation of internal problems which add to the increasing instability of the present social and political order. The structural crises of the Yugoslav economy are part and parcel of the international economic crisis. However, Yugoslav difficulties in this area have commanded little attention on the world scene, and, in consequence, little has been done to mitigate them. Agriculture still suffers from the neglect into which it fell through an ideological refusal to strengthen the independence of the individual farmer. That fear has hampered the momentum of the economy as a whole. In the industrial sphere, inefficient and cumbersome management has prevented production from attaining its full capacity. The deficit in trade is chronic, amounting to over $5 billion last year, with an estimated debt of approximately $15 billion. Unemployment-in a population of roughly 22 million-runs above 700,000 despite the reality of over a million Yugoslavs working in Western Europe. Even the controlled channels of information have often reported the inefficiency of governmental and party organs, and their failure to take corrective measures-for example, against a wide disregard for price controls. Even the League of Communists has become less selective, numbering now about 1,800,000 members. This increase in "popularity" has gone hand in hand with a decline in "effectiveness."

The outline of what is already the post-Tito era is visible chiefly in the design of his program for collective leadership within the country. The relations between Yugoslav republics are formally regulated, and divergent tendencies, even when suppressed, may be counted on to emerge again at some time or other-either in the economy or within the sphere of ideas. The campaign to implement collective leadership is said to be progressing smoothly, but that may be an illusion; reports persist of disagreement within the top echelon, suggesting the existence of specific conflicts. A federal system, even if it is based upon the strictest equality, rarely functions efficiently on the basis of political centralism. It is probable that as the tide of internal problems and external dangers rises, differences of opinion will sharpen rather than modify. Moreover, the prospect of durability for collective leaderships has never been a sanguine one. All the more difficult, then, to entertain the hope that Yugoslavia will prove an anomaly-especially in view of anticipated tensions within the communist bloc, the absence of mutually agreed-upon national programs and goals, and the specter of Soviet expansionism, avidly hovering over all.

I have not, in this article, sought to evaluate the significance of Yugoslavia on the world stage, or to posit any opinion as to whatever contribution it might make to European stability. I have described only my personal vision, and shared my views of some possible-but not unavoidable-eventualities which may take place within the somber shadow of an expanding Soviet state.

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  • Milovan Djilas was, until 1954, Vice President of Yugoslavia, President of the Federal Parliament, and a Member of the Politburo and Central Committee. His publications include The New Class, Conversations with Stalin, Land Without Justice, The Unperfect Society and Wartime.
  • More By Milovan Djilas