Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
AN attempt to analyze a dynamic political and economic experiment before it has run its full course is always dangerous. One risks being overtaken by events and developments, even the beginnings of which may not be perceptible at the chosen moment. Any attempt to deal with the changing political and economic policies of the Jugoslav Communist Party is an obvious case in point. Yet even at the risk of being denied by future events, we cannot postpone at least a tentative approach to a problem which not only occupies an increasingly important place in the European policy of the United States Government but, on its own merits, deserves serious consideration as one of the most interesting contemporary political phenomena.
It would appear that the United States Government's policy toward Jugoslavia has been guided to a major extent by strategic considerations. This may have been justified from a short-range point of view. But in basing its Jugoslav policy so largely on military considerations, our Government has tended to neglect political aspects of the problem; and in so doing it has shown little understanding of the motivations of the Jugoslav Communist leaders, who are primarily guided by long-term considerations. If the American attitude toward Jugoslavia is not to remain predicated on short-term considerations of national security only, and if our Government intends eventually to help find a permanent place for Jugoslavia in the Western European concert of nations, then it should follow with much more close attention the internal policies of the Jugoslav Government, the motivations behind them and the practical effect of these policies on the social texture of the Jugoslav state.
In order to understand the long-range policies of the Jugoslav Communist leaders, and to mark in what degree they have or have not deviated from the fundamental concepts of Soviet Communism, we must reëxamine their line of progression since June 8, 1948, when the publication of the Cominform's Resolution formalized the rupture between Belgrade and Moscow.
It is frequently forgotten that for a long period after the Resolution the Jugoslav Communist leaders refused to accept their expulsion from the Cominform and hoped for a reconciliation with the Soviet leaders. A record of the proceedings of the Fifth Party Congress, which convened in Belgrade on July 20, 1948, contains interesting evidence on this point. The Congress was called for several reasons, one of which was to satisfy the Soviet criticism that the Central Committee of the Jugoslav Communist Party had not been legally elected and was therefore not qualified to lead the country. The leaders of the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union had charged that the members of the Jugoslav Central Committee had been merely coöpted and were therefore the creatures rather than the masters of the Party leaders.
On the second day of the Congress, Marshal Tito delivered an eight-and-a-half-hour speech. He argued that the Jugoslav Communists had more than fulfilled their duty as good Communists and that, instead of turning away from the Soviet Union, they had been the most faithful supporters of Soviet policy in war and in peace. On July 25 the Party Congress voted an eight-point resolution which, in effect, sought to prove to Moscow that the Jugoslav Communists had fulfilled all their obligations to the Soviet Union.
The next day, Vice Premier Edvard Kardelj addressed the Congress and pledged the Government to continue to support the Soviet Union's foreign policy against the "imperialist Powers." He denied the Cominform's charge that the Jugoslav Party had deviated from Soviet foreign policy and denied that any of the Party leaders were anti-Soviet. He attacked the foreign policy of the United States and predicted a reactivated struggle in Western Europe against economic dependence on the United States. He claimed that the formation of West European and other blocs against the Soviet Union were predicated on the eventual inclusion of Germany and Japan in these blocs, which he decried. He said that American capital was penetrating the countries composing the Western bloc; and, by way of contrast, he described the Soviet bloc as a united force combating the "political and economic enslavement of Europe."
The polemics at the Congress were confined to attacks on the Cominform. No direct criticism was leveled at any of the Soviet leaders. The Jugoslav leaders were concerned with defending the orthodoxy of their policies and with attempting to prove that they deserved Soviet commendation rather than condemnation.
The refusal of the Jugoslav Communist leaders to accept their expulsion from the Cominform as entailing a permanent separation from the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc was also shown in connection with the Conference of Danubian States, which convened in Belgrade on July 29, 1948, for the purpose of voting a new Convention governing traffic on the Danube. Early in the month, Dr. Aleš Bebler, one of the Deputy Foreign Ministers, was sent from Belgrade to Moscow to discuss the draft convention which Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky was preparing. Bebler was rebuffed; he was not welcomed in Moscow as a representative of a state belonging to the Soviet bloc. Nevertheless, when the Conference took place in Belgrade, Bebler--who led the Jugoslav delegation--gave full support to Vishinsky and assisted him on the floor in forcing through the Soviet draft convention. As it turned out, this Convention placed long sections of the Danube under Soviet control, to the detriment of Jugoslavia and the other European states, in a manner which Mr. Cavendish Cannon, head of the United States delegation, and Sir Charles Peake, head of the British delegation, had forecast accurately.
The attitude of the Jugoslav Communist leaders on both these occasions illustrated how difficult it was for them to conceive of playing any rôle outside the Soviet bloc. This is a fact of considerable importance when we attempt to assess their intellectual outlook and their present-day political and economic concepts, even though much has occurred since the summer of 1948 to reconcile them to their permanent elimination from the Soviet community.
For the rest of 1948 and a good part of 1949, the Jugoslav Communist leaders remained in a position of indecision. The Soviet Government had imposed an economic blockade on their country. Commercial and political treaties, conventions and accords, and all the legal instruments which normally regulate relations between nations, were progressively severed between the Soviet bloc and Jugoslavia. On the other hand, throughout this period the Jugoslav leaders continued to move forward with their ambitious Five Year Plan, despite the fact that the Soviet blockade and their inability to reorient their trade relations from the East to the West made clear that without some change the country was headed for a smash. Jugoslavia had to receive economic assistance from some outside source. Nothing appeared to change on the surface, however. It is reasonable to raise the question as to why the Jugoslav Communist leaders failed to act in these perilous circumstances to save the national economy. Instead of moving rapidly, they continued to exhort the population to exert any effort and to make any sacrifice for the Five Year Plan.
The answer to this question may be found without too much difficulty. The entire approach of the Jugoslav Communist leaders to the problem of constructing a Socialist state was Soviet in concept and method. As the most successful adepts of the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union, they could envisage a future Socialist Jugoslavia only in the image of the Soviet state. The evidence indicates that they had so far surpassed their colleagues in the other satellite states in advancing their country through the transitional stage of a People's Democracy toward Sovietism that they must have felt within close range of their ultimate goal. But the primary reason for their inaction was that Socialism was exclusively identified in their minds with Sovietism. Obliged as they now were to walk alone, they yet could not divest themselves overnight of a quarter of a century's training in Soviet theory and practice.
The first symptoms that the Jugoslav Communist leaders were beginning to overcome their inertia became visible late in 1949, when they extended the range of their propaganda offensive to include the Soviet Government. This was an important departure because it meant that they not only had lost all hope of a reconciliation with the Soviet leaders but realized that the time had come when they must reassess their internal policies and their foreign relations. Force of circumstances indeed compelled a change, yet it proceeded slowly. The problem facing the Jugoslav leaders at this point was to devise a foreign policy which would guarantee economic assistance from the West, free of political commitments, and which would pay for the construction of a Socialist society. The important question involved was this: What kind of a Socialist society could they build under these difficult circumstances? At this point, one enters a phase wherein it is difficult to disentangle the threads and to determine relationships of cause and effect.
If the Jugoslav Communist leaders ever entertained the idea that, having been cast out from the Soviet fold, they would be permitted to go their way unmolested, they were disabused quickly. Such thinking could be based only on the belief that the Soviet Government practises a policy of noninterference in the affairs of other countries, which, as mature political leaders, the Jugoslav Communists should have known from the record to be untrue. Yet there is reason to believe that the Jugoslav Communist leaders held to this belief for some months after their expulsion from the Cominform.
By the beginning of 1949, however, they began to realize that the Bolshevik Party and the Cominform had embarked on a policy of attempting to destroy the existing order in Jugoslavia. The action of the Albanian Government--the smallest of the Soviet puppets--in breaking all trade agreements with Jugoslavia; the maltreatment of Jugoslav officials in the satellite countries to which they were accredited; the efforts to suborn thousands of factory apprentices, whom the Jugoslav Government had sent to Czechoslovakia and other satellite countries to learn industrial skills; the economic blockade imposed on Jugoslavia by the Soviet Union; the organization of Jugoslav émigrés in the satellite capitals for action against the Belgrade Government; the discovery of a Cominform underground in Jugoslavia--all these events shocked the Jugoslav Communist leaders into realizing for the first time that the Soviet Government was an aggressive aggregation rather than a defender of the peace as they had believed it to be.
This discovery, the disillusionment which followed and the necessity for self-preservation confronted the Communist leaders in Belgrade with the necessity of reëxamining Soviet policies and practices--a reëxamination which produced a most effective critique of the Soviet system, of the relationship of this system to Soviet foreign policy and of the relations between the Soviet Government and the satellite states. Another reason for the Jugoslav reëxamination of Soviet policies and practices appears to have been the need for effective arguments to be used in psychological warfare. The discovery of one fact led to the discovery of another and, in the end, the process gained a momentum which could not be stopped. The clinical analysis of the evolution of Soviet practice since Lenin's death produced such evidence of Soviet malfeasance that, in the end, the Jugoslav Communist leaders came to regard Stalin and his partners as dangerous to humanity.
The exposure of the accumulated myths concerning the Soviet Union had an almost cathartic effect on the Jugoslav Communist leaders themselves. As an illustration, we may take the Jugoslav critique of the Bolshevik Party. The predatory character of Soviet foreign policy, the brutal internal dictatorship within the Soviet Union, the dehumanization of all social relationships under that dictatorship--all can be traced, in the Jugoslav view, to the transformation of the Bolshevik Party into a self-perpetuating bureaucratic caste, which bears neither organizational nor functional resemblance to a political party. The Bolshevik Party today, in the minds of the Jugoslavs, is an appointive hierarchic caste whose sole interest is to perpetuate and extend its power. The clear-cut division of functions between the Party and the state administration, which the Jugoslavs claim existed under Lenin, has disappeared, they assert, under Stalin. The two have merged in such a manner that the state functions have obliterated those of the Party. Instead of exercising the direction of power, the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union has become power in itself. The submission of state administration to party doctrine has been supplanted by the submission of party doctrine to the requirements of the state. The rôles of state and party have been reversed, and the Party has become an instrument of the state in international as well as domestic affairs.
In reaching these conclusions concerning the rôle of the Bolshevik Party, the Jugoslav Communist leaders could not escape the logic as applied to their own Party. They could not help but see more clearly the defects of their own Party and the development of the same tendencies in Jugoslavia which had led to the stratification of society in the Soviet Union. The effect of such research became clear in 1950, when the decision was taken to curb the Jugoslav bureaucracy which had grown apace since the end of the war. Certain classic means were adopted to accomplish this, but they proved ineffective; and by the end of 1951 the Jugoslav Communist leaders had come to the conclusion that the only way to prevent a repetition of Soviet history would be to maintain a sharp division of functions between their state bureaucracy and the Jugoslav Communist Party.
However, there is no evidence to indicate that throughout this period while the Jugoslav leaders were reassessing the Soviet Union they ever questioned the fundamental economic concepts of Stalin. Their critique of Soviet policies and practices remained confined to the political organization and functioning of the Soviet state, in so far as this state represented a danger to peace and to the survival of the Jugoslav Communist Party. The two basic premises of Soviet economics--the expansion of heavy industry at the cost of all other sectors of the national economy, and total land collectivization--remained unchallenged. The Jugoslav Communist leaders continued to accept them as the basis for planning the economy of their own country. The first loan sought from the West was received from the Export-Import Bank in the autumn of 1949, and it was primarily used to develop heavy industry. On the other hand, the establishment of new collective farms was pushed with methods which included severe economic measures and even force against unwilling peasants. Under the double pressure of excessive capital investment and peasant resistance, the standard of living in Jugoslavia continued to decline. Thus it can be seen that, while continuing to fight the Soviet leaders on the political level, and learning valuable lessons about how to escape the political pitfalls into which the Bolshevik Party had stumbled, the Jugoslav Communist leaders continued to enforce slavishly the economic policies which they had borrowed from the Soviet Union as being the only true prescription for the modernization of a backward state.
By this time the Jugoslav Government had begun to reorient its foreign trade to the West; but in seeking economic and financial assistance from the West, its emphasis remained placed squarely on capital investment. The standard of living was depressed to a low level in order to make the capital investment program possible; and, in the Jugoslav Government's subsequent approaches to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and to the Western governments--principally, the United States Government--it did not, until the drought of 1950, seek assistance to alleviate the lot of its people. The drought marked the first departure in this respect. This change in direction was initiated, strangely, by Mr. John Haggerty, Agricultural Attaché of the United States Embassy in Belgrade, who warned the Jugoslav Ministry of Agriculture (weeks before it received reports from its own agents) that the condition of the soil was such that, unless substantial rainfall came within a short time, the country would face a serious drought. He advised the Ministry to start thinking about precautions to be taken for feeding the population before the situation became serious.
The story of the United States food relief program in Jugoslavia in the winter of 1950-51 is well known, but it should be recorded that the officials involved in the operation in Washington, Belgrade, Germany and Italy performed a remarkable feat in planning and delivering 525,000 tons of foodstuffs to Jugoslavia within a short space of time. The rapidity and the scale of the American intervention to safeguard the Jugoslav people against the possibility of famine was an eye-opener for the Jugoslav leaders. The United States Government remained faithful to the letter of the agreement it signed with the Jugoslav Government and carried out the food relief program without any interference in the internal affairs of Jugoslavia. Communist leaders in Eastern Europe had always been haunted by the possibility of interference in their internal affairs whenever the problem of coöperation with the capitalist states of the West arose. The fear originated in their attribution to Western governments of the conspiratorial methods which cannot be dissociated from Communist régimes. The experience of the Jugoslav Communists with the United States Government's food relief program in the autumn and winter of 1950 was therefore a revelation. They discovered that, except for academic discussions in which Americans expressed dislike for dictatorship methods of government, they had neither the intention nor the desire to interfere in the internal affairs of Jugoslavia.
The generosity and the forthright dealings of the United States Government at this time contributed heavily toward convincing the Jugoslav Communist leaders that they had nothing to fear in seeking closer economic and political ties with the United States. In point of chronology, this occurred in the winter of 1950-51, at a time when a national inventory of industrial raw materials on hand disclosed an alarming situation. Stocks of raw materials had been seriously depleted and, unless they could be quickly replenished, the Jugoslav factories would be forced to close down and industrial unemployment would become widespread for the first time in the history of the régime. It was under these circumstances that Foreign Minister Edvard Kardelj approached Washington for a grant-in-aid of industrial raw materials to keep Jugoslav factories in operation. The United States responded to the appeal, and was joined later by Britain and France.
The history of this tripartite assistance to Jugoslavia in 1951, which took the form of underwriting the Jugoslav Government's current trade deficit, provides another field in which we may attempt an assessment of the extent to which the Jugoslav leaders have remained faithful to, or deviated from, Soviet economic concepts of Socialism. The immediate concern of the Jugoslav Government in seeking and receiving essential raw materials for its factories was to prevent unemployment and to maintain the modest flow of consumer goods into the market necessary for the preservation of the standard of living even at its existing low level. Even such meager coöperation as the Belgrade Government received from the collectivized and independent peasants was dependent on its ability to deliver some consumer goods--few though they were, and low as they were in quality. In retrospect, nevertheless, it can be accepted as fact that the creaking economy of Jugoslavia was kept in motion largely because the United States, British and French Governments paid the bill for the essential raw materials.
One of the contributing factors in the Jugoslav Government's inability to meet its international balance of payments in 1951 was, of course, the suspension of food exports because of the 1950 drought. But this was not the chief cause. The primary reason was the Government's continued emphasis on capital investment and the subordination of all other sectors of the national economy to it. Two deductions may be made from these facts. The first is that the underwriting of Jugoslavia's current trade deficit by the United States, British and French Governments made it possible for the Jugoslav Communist leaders to persevere with their original plan for industrializing Jugoslavia. This was because once the responsibility of the deficit had been shouldered by the three Western governments the Belgrade Government was free to use part of the proceeds of Jugoslav exports and swing credits from the European governments for the purchase of capital equipment. The second deduction is that, despite the conclusive evidence that they could not achieve their capital investment program with their own resources, and despite the catastrophe of the 1950 drought, the Jugoslav Communist leaders were not prepared to seek another solution to the problem of industrialization of their country.
One can only conclude that the Jugoslav Communist leaders, despite a slight downward revision of their industrialization program, involving the postponement of secondary projects, were still animated throughout 1951 by the Soviet thesis as to the necessity of industrializing a backward country. Their concept was based on the theory that no country can achieve true independence without possessing a highly industrialized sector in its economy. Without freeing themselves from "dependence" on the more industrialized states, they argued, Jugoslavia would continue to occupy a semi-colonial status as a producer of cheap raw materials which she would have to exchange for expensive manufactured goods. This theoretical basis for forced industrialization, which gripped the Jugoslav leaders in 1951, and still does today, neglects the fundamental and glaring facts that in the twentieth century no industrial state, even one as powerful as the United States, can claim to be independent from the rest of the world. The postwar history of such highly industrialized states as the United Kingdom, Western Germany, France, Belgium and Italy, to cite only a few, shows that frequently the more industrialized a state becomes the more it finds itself dependent on imported essential raw materials in order to keep its factories in operation, and the greater its dependence on foreign suppliers.
In the face of this evidence, the Jugoslav Communist leaders continued to adhere to the concept of industrial planning which they had inherited from the Soviet Union. The expansion of heavy industry must be given the highest priority and all other sectors of the national economy must be geared to the capital investment program. In fact, the entire national economy must work in only one direction--the completion of the industrialization program as quickly as possible. As late as January 1952, Boris Kidrich, the Chairman of the State Economic Council and a member of the Jugoslav Politburo, told the Party officials of the Voivodina that the Government's entire economic program depended on the completion of the capital investment program and that all it could hope to do for the people would be to try to maintain the standard of living at the present level.
The inescapable conclusion therefore seems to be that the Jugoslav Communist leaders, despite the decentralization of economic control and the establishment of Workers Councils to participate in the management of factories, still adhere to the Soviet approach to the whole problem of industrialization and the subordination of the rest of the national economy to the requirements of the capital investment program. To this end, the Jugoslav Government is not only seeking a second capital investment loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development but also capital investment goods from the three Western Powers which are underwriting its current trade deficit.
The Jugoslav Government may point to the reduction of its annual capital investment rate from the previous high of 28 percent of the national income to 17.6 percent for 1952. This decline is more impressive on paper than in reality when one takes into consideration some of the projects which the Jugoslav economic planners hope to complete this year. The program for 1952 includes the completion of the construction work on 21 hydroelectric and thermoelectric stations, several coking plants, steel plants, asbestos and aluminum works, the modernization of 12 coal mines and an unspecified number of nonferrous metal mines. It is doubtful whether even the most highly industrialized state in Europe today could embark on such a vast program in 1952.
The issue in the agrarian policy of the Jugoslav Communist leaders is no longer so clear-cut. Until the winter of 1951, they were categorical in their assertions that collectivized agriculture was the only solution for the agrarian problem and the general economic problem of their country. The bitter resistance of the Jugoslav peasants--independent as well as collectivized--from the middle of July 1951 until the end of the autumn produced a violent reaction among the Jugoslav Communist leaders, who spoke of the peasants as if they were enemies of the state and threatened them with severe punishment if they persisted in their efforts to break up the collective farms. The speeches of Premier Tito and his associates reaffirmed many times that collectivized agriculture and industrialization were the two foundations upon which a Socialist Jugoslavia would have to rest.
There is no need to recapitulate here the events of last year's struggle of the peasants against collectivized agriculture. Today we know that their resistance aroused great alarm among the Jugoslav leaders, who at one point feared that if it went unchecked there might be an explosion. We understand now far better than we did when they were made the violent speeches of Tito and his associates against the peasants. The Jugoslav Communist leaders had come to recognize that the collective farms, as they had been organized and operated, had failed. Production instead of going up went down. The only sector of agriculture which maintained its level of production in 1951 was that of the independent peasants who, for the first time, were receiving some relief from economic pressures because of the abolition of most of the compulsory deliveries required by the Government, and who could now sell much of their produce on the free market. Many of the collectivized peasants were demoralized. In the district of Beli Monastir in Croatia, the collectivized peasants refused to go to work, according to the report of Slavko Komar, a member of the Croatian Politburo, and the Government had to call in farm hands from distant regions--in common parlance, strike breakers.
Although recognizing that the form of collectivized agriculture which had been taken over organizationally and functionally from the Soviet Union had failed, the Jugoslav Communist leaders not only could not admit this failure publicly but had to take every possible measure to prevent the collective farms from disintegrating, pending a new approach to the problem. A temporary solution was found and incorporated in a directive of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Jugoslavia. The existing collective farms were to be completely reorganized to allow a greater participation of the members in the management. Managers who were efficient farmers were to be appointed and managerial control taken out of the hands of Party officials. The Jugoslav leaders described this process as the elimination of Soviet kolkhoz principles of organization and management.
Pending this reorganization, the Central Committee decided to attempt to reëmphasize the conventional type of farm coöperative, known here as the "general type." This type of coöperative, in which the peasants own their own land but share their farm implements, had survived the war but had been allowed to go to seed in favor of the collective farms. Despite this new departure, the Government decided to consolidate the existing collective farms by permitting them once again to expropriate the independent peasants who owned land situated between the main collective farms and their outlying strips. The independent peasants are to be compensated with farm land lying outside the collective domains or in money upon agreement between the interested parties. The fact that the collective farms were empowered to resume the expropriation of independent peasants, even though to a limited degree, indicates that although the Jugoslav leaders have recognized the failure of collectivized agriculture they cannot divorce themselves from collectivization as an instrument and as a foundation of their economic state.
Additional evidence on this point is to be found in the decision to levy punitive taxes against the independent peasants who have begun to suffer from falling prices in the free markets. The Jugoslav planners consciously took this step, as they have explained publicly, in order to convince the independent peasant that he would be far better off as a member of a collective farm. The Jugoslav economic planners believe that within two or three years the independent peasants will not be able to survive under the double pressure of punitive taxation and low market prices, and will ask the authorities to admit them into the collective farms. The Zagreb newspapers boasted in January of this year that 20 new collective farms had been formed in Croatia between November 1, 1951, and January 1, 1952, and that a total of 80 new ones would be formed by March 1.
One important point must be underlined in the shift in the Jugoslav Government's agrarian policy. The Jugoslav Communist leaders have reached an interim conclusion to the effect that the establishment of collective farms in the mountain republics was perhaps a mistake and that, under certain conditions, the land may go back to private farming. A corollary to this was another interim conclusion to the effect that collective agriculture, whatever form it may ultimately acquire in Jugoslavia, is to be concentrated in the fertile regions.
The events in the latter part of 1951 and the temporary changes introduced in the agrarian policy by the Central Committee do not permit a definitive answer to the question as to how far the Jugoslav Communist leaders have moved away from Soviet agrarian economics of total land collectivization and the reduction of the members of a kolkhoz to the status of a proletariat. Clearly, however, the deviation from the Soviet concept of the economic state has been one of degree and not of kind. Except for changes in the tempo, the deviation from the Soviet pattern of industrialization has been negligible. The removal from Soviet agrarian economics has been more substantial but, as has been shown, there has been no definitive break with the Soviet attitude on how farming should be organized.
Brief visitors to Jugoslavia often make the mistake of trying to establish a relationship between internal changes and the degree to which the Jugoslav Communists are supposedly moving toward Western theories and practices. The fallacy involved is a gross one, because the events of the last three-and-a-half years have demonstrated that whatever changes have taken place inside Jugoslavia have occurred within the framework of the Soviet model which the Jugoslav Communist leaders have accepted for themselves. In other words, the problem should be put in the following form: To what degree are the Jugoslav Communist leaders deviating from the Soviet model? It is erroneous to suppose that the question concerns the degree to which the Jugoslav leaders are leaning toward the West; there is not a scrap of evidence that they have done so, or ever intend to. In their present state of development, the Jugoslav Communist leaders reject with equal vigor the two possible Western concepts of a political and economic state--the social democratic and the capitalistic.
There was a tendency for a time to regard the limited political reforms carried out by the Jugoslav Communist leaders as evidence that they were orienting themselves toward some form of social democracy. These reforms included the curbing of the power of the police, the liberalization of the criminal code, an attempt to separate the functions of the Communist Party and the state bureaucracy, the decentralization of economic control, the reform of the criminal procedure act and the reorganization of the courts (the latter two are still under consideration). There is also a project under consideration to reorganize the functioning of the parliament. The meaning of these changes with relation to the future of the Jugoslav state would require a lengthy discussion and there is space here to offer only several observations.
The reform of the criminal code and the reorganization of the courts were proposed by the Government to the legislative committee of the National Assembly on the grounds that these reforms would "strengthen legality" in the country and would go a long way toward limiting the power of the police. Government spokesmen admitted during the discussions that police power had been almost absolute, particularly in the rural districts, and that very frequently the courts had been unduly influenced in their verdicts by investigations carried out by the police.
Acting on proposals submitted by the Government, the legislative committees agreed that all judges should be elected by the assemblies of the nation, the republics and the regions, but they also agreed that the judges so elected were to be responsible to the assemblies which elected them. This means that the judges who are to be elected will not be responsible to the law but to those men who have the power to make the law at any particular moment. The independence of the judiciary was therefore not clearly established, although it will enjoy more independence than it did when it was a direct instrument of the executive branch of the Government. However, as long as the elected assemblies in Jugoslavia continue in practice to function solely as bodies of ratification, the judiciary will still be under the executive, if at one step removed.
In assessing the importance of the political reforms, it is important to bear in mind that the Jugoslav Communist leaders regard the single-party state as the ideal from which they will never depart. Late last fall, the Jugoslav Communist leaders felt it incumbent upon themselves to defend the single-party state and to attack the multi-party system. Moshe Pijade, of the Politburo, and others declared in public speeches that the single-party state represented the best guarantee for "true democracy," whereas the multi-party state vitiated the foundations of a democratic system. Pijade and his colleagues said there could be no question of restoring a multi-party system in Jugoslavia, because that would mean bringing back to power those politicians who, they said, were responsible for the prewar conditions which led to the defeat and occupation of Jugoslavia. The insistence upon the one-party state must, by definition, set very narrow limits upon liberal reforms, because such a state is predicated on the primacy of the executive branch of the Government, to which all other branches must be subordinated. The emphasis of the Jugoslav Communist leaders on the perpetuation of the single-party state must therefore be regarded as the essential point of reference for a consideration of past and future internal political changes. To ignore this would be indulgence in wishful thinking.
Thus far we have been concerned solely with the Communist leaders and Government of Jugoslavia. But there are only approximately 500,000 members of the Communist Party of Jugoslavia. The question therefore arises as to the relationship of the people to the policies and practices of the men who govern them. It would be a hardy person indeed who would dare to answer this question with generalizations. One can only safely deal with certain known factors in an attempt to gauge the morale of the Jugoslav people with relation to the defense of their country against attack, and the willingness with which they would follow the present régime in resisting attack.
Several assumptions must be accepted if there is to be any reasonable discussion of this subject. The first is that people do not necessarily fight for their government. They fight to defend their country, and they will, of course, fight harder if they feel that they are being led by determined men who know what they are doing. Observers frequently argue the point as to whether the Jugoslav people, who are non-Marxist to say the least, would fight for Tito. The problem is badly put in this way. The question is whether the Jugoslav people will fight for their country. The lessons of the last war and every preceding war have demonstrated a fact which is generally ignored. It is that every invaded country produces its quota of collaborators with the enemy. When observers argue the question of whether or not the Jugoslav people would fight for Tito, they generally argue in absolutes. The problem is not how many will desert and collaborate with the Soviets, but how many will stay and fight. That is a question which may also be raised in every country in Western Europe. It is more important to know how many men and women will resist an aggressor than to know how many will assist him. It is only through such knowledge that the United States Government can plan for the future.
Jugoslavia produced her quota of collaborators and traitors in the last war, but she also produced a resurgence of the national spirit and a liberation movement which was unequalled by any other occupied country in Europe. That is the positive fact on which we must fix our minds. In the last analysis, the number of men and women who joined in the fight to liberate their country will be more useful to us in assessing Jugoslavia's future possibilities than the number of collaborators and traitors who assisted the enemy. On the basis of comparison and analogy with past performances, United States policy toward Jugoslavia would, on these military grounds, appear to be more than amply justified.
In assessing the future conduct of the Jugoslav people in the event of war, it is important to bear the following factors in mind. The Jugoslav peasants and industrial workers who represent the backbone of the country and who will have to do the fighting in case of an invasion are politically literate, in spite of their low standard of living. It is always a source of astonishment to observers to note how categorically the peasants and workers of this country make a distinction between the national and the individual interest. The defense of the country and the survival of Jugoslavia as an independent state are not subjects for debate as they so often are in Western Europe. The very same peasants and workers who will violently attack the Government's domestic policies will, almost in the same breath, approve its defiance of the Soviet Union, its renewed association with the West and its declared intention to resist an invasion.
The propaganda of the Jugoslav Government for the past three-and-a-half years has aimed at the single target of heightening the national spirit to defend the country against Soviet invasion. The propaganda was so intense that any dissenting opinion was regarded as treasonable and punishable. National defense became the theme of every action of the Government in domestic and foreign policy. It was commonly supposed that the failure of the Cominform's underground in Jugoslavia was due solely to effective police action. Police action was effective, but it could not have dealt with the problem unless the Jugoslav people themselves regarded their national independence as important above all things else and unless the Government propaganda had sharpened the national spirit.
There can be no doubt that one of the Jugoslav Government's principal achievements in the past three years has been to convince the Jugoslav people, who resent the domestic policies of the Communist Party, to place the national interest above all other considerations. The term "Jugoslav people" does not include all the people, because there are elements in the Jugoslav population which are prepared to sit out another war if there is any chance of recovering their property confiscated by the régime. The absence of any real dissension over the question of national defense must therefore be considered as one of the most important points in favor of the United States Government's short-term policy of supporting the Jugoslav Government. The policy, which has cost the United States Government relatively little, has already produced important benefits--benefits, be it noted, received without request. They were: a substantial Jugoslav contribution to the ending of the Greek civil war through the closing of the Jugoslav-Greek frontier; the removal of Soviet pressure on sections of the Italian and Austrian frontiers; the transformation of the Jugoslav Army from a hostile into a friendly army; the return of the West to the Balkans; and finally the fact that the Adriatic will be open instead of closed to Allied fleets in case of war.
American policy often seems to take too little account of the fact that Jugoslavia will continue to have importance so long as she remains a dynamic state on a Continent which appears to have largely lost its dynamic force. Since the rupture of the European balance of power, Jugoslavia has been propelled into an arena where she never was present before and where she is fulfilling a rôle like that formerly held exclusively by Great Britain, France and Italy. History has put American power into the Balkans because no other Western nation has the strength to hold a position there. An American retreat from Jugoslavia today is as unthinkable as would be a retreat from Greece. The United States should become conscious of this fact, should examine the problem and prepare a policy which goes beyond the immediate needs of the defense program. If one of the aims of American policy is to restore some balance of power in Europe, then obviously the United States must regard Jugoslavia with the same general and continuing interest as it does any and all of the other European states which it is supporting. The Jugoslavia of today is more than a defensive outpost for the West.