From Fourth International, Vol.11 No.1, January-February 1950, pp.28-31.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following interview with Marshal Tito has been translated from the Dec. 30 French daily bulletin of Tanjug (New Yugoslavia Telegraphic Agency) and appears for the first time in Fourth International. Its particular interest derives from the nature of the questions the interviewer addressed to Tito.
These questions, as the reader will observe, deal principally with the problems of tactics and strategy of the international workers’ movement and the attitude of the Yugoslav leader to them. Tito’s answers are at least as interesting in omission as in direct reply. They indicate the centrist position of the leadership which, having broken with the Kremlin, is still groping for a new political platform, still removed from consistent revolutionary Marxism.
Tito is on the firmest ground when he attacks the bureaucratic methods of the Kremlin and its suppression of democracy in the relations between Communist Parties and the satellite states in the Russian orbit. But beyond that his answers become vague and confused. His “diplomatic” refusal to commit, himself on the policies of the French Communist Party indicates the lack of clarity which still prevails in top Yugoslav circles on such questions as social patriotism, people’s frontism, participation in capitalist governments and, in fact, on the main problems of proletarian strategy in our time.
Tito’s glaring misconceptions on the need and role of a revolutionary international follow inevitably from this failure to grapple with programmatic questions. The real causes for the degeneration and finally the dissolution of the Communist International elude him completely, at least in his answers to Dalmas’ questions. He can only see their effects – the great evil of Kremlin domination and dictatorship. As a result he falls victim to the equally pernicious social democratic idea of the character of the workers’ international. Tito’s description of the function of the international as a clearing house for an exchange of information and advice is borrowed entirely from the discredited practises of the now defunct Second International. They are remote from Lenin’s conception of the international as “the general staff of the world revolution.”
Tito’s position on this question is the logical outcome of his view that the struggle against war is not the struggle against capitalism, but against the “aggressor.” It is precisely this fundamental departure from Marxism which led to the social patriotic crimes and betrayals of social democracy and then of Stalinism. Thus the UN becomes the substitute for the workers’ international, maneuvering between the great powers the substitute for the class struggle. The working class is deliberately deceived, and thereby disarmed, into thinking that this center of world counter revolution, this breeding’ ground for imperialist war is an instrument of peace.
Tito’s recognizes that the policies of the Kremlin are not the result of “accidental” mistakes but “constitute a dangerous revision from the science of Marxism-Leninism.” This obviously marks a big step forward in the thinking of the Yugoslav CP leaders. But his explanation of this revisionism shows how superficial their understanding still is. Although Tito talks about fundamentals he does not cope with the degenerate character of the privileged Soviet bureaucracy and its theory of “socialism in one country” as the central causes and expression of this “revisionism.”
What he says about the “Red Army” is entirely correct, although it is only a derivative question. As a theory it cannot explain the Hitler-Stalin pact and the Moscow Trials and perhaps that was one of the reasons Tito refused to answer those questions. The Kremlin’s whispered promise that the Soviet Army will “liberate” the workers from capitalism is an afterthought, a cynical alibi to revolutionists it has deceived and betrayed to ward off criticism of its treacherous and counter-revolutionary deeds. It does not explain the source of the Kremlin’s policies; but it is to be hoped that it will serve as the starting point for a more thorough analysis by the Yugoslav leaders of the problems of the workers’ movement of our epoch.
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BELGRADE, Dec. 29 – Marshal Tito replied as follows to questions put to him by the French journalist, Louis Dalmas:
FIRST QUESTION: The Yugoslav Communist Party has posed the problem of equality in relations between socialist countries. Does this formula, applicable to the people’s democracies, also apply to progressive organizations which are not in power in the “Western” countries? And could it not be rounded out with the demand for equality in relations between the Communist parties, that is, for their independence from Moscow?
ANSWER: Equality in relations between socialist countries flows from the theoretical premises of the science of Marxism-Leninism and consequently relates also to Communist parties outside of the socialist countries and the countries of people’s democracy.
As for the independence of the Communist parlies from Moscow, the question is posed as follows: The Soviet Union is a socialist country; it is the result of the great October Revolution; and it is just for that reason that not only the Communist parties, but also all ol the progressive forces in the world look upon this socialist country with sympathy and respect. This sympathy and this respect is therefore entirely justified. But if they try to transform the sympathy and the unlimited confidence which has existed and still exists for the Soviet Union among progressive people In the entire world into blind submission through orders from Moscow issued by the leaders of tne Communist Party (Bolshevik) of the USSR, then inevitably enormous damage is done to the progressive movement in the world, and in the last analysis, to the Soviet Union itself, because the USSR inevitably loses prestige in the process.
The case of the differences between the CP(B) of the USSR and the Yugoslav Communist Party, which was later transformed – because it could not be otherwise – into differences between the USSR and the Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, that is, differences between states, is the most eloquent confirmation of the above assertion. The whole world knows that the persistent and ceaseless work of the Yugoslav Communist Party is responsible for the immense confidence and sympathy toward the Soviet Union that was cultivated among all the peoples of the new Yugoslavia. I can say without exaggeration that no people has been so completely devoted to the Soviet Union as the peoples of Yugoslavia. But by means of their non-socialist methods against our socialist country the Soviet leaders have succeeded in a very short time, in transforming this great sympathy nurtured by our peoples into an immense indignation, and in transforming the old unlimited confidence into distrust. Sooner or later, the Soviet leaders will have to draw a lesson from this. This proves that inequality and dependency are harmful to the progressive movements in the world.
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SECOND QUESTION: The Yugoslav Communist Party has on many occasions denounced the domination of the Cominform by the CP(B) of the USSR; and you yourself, Mr. Marshal, have declared that the governments of the people’s democracies were strictly controlled by Stalin. On the other hand, it seems that the “Western” Communist parties are also at least bound, if not fettered by Soviet decisions. In your opinion, how should or could the French Communist Party liberate itself from the Moscow yoke?
ANSWER: The Communist International was dissolved in 1943 on the initiative of Stalin himself, and the reason was that it had become a brake on the development and the activity of the Communist parties throughout the world; these parties had reached a point of maturity which enabled them to lead the progressive movements in their countries with the greatest success. As a result the forum, whose decisions would have been obligatory for all Communist parties, ceased to exist.
The Cominform was created in 1947 with the sole aim of coordination and consultation between the Communist parties, but without the right to adopt decisions that were obligatory on the various parties. The CP(B) of the USSR is even less entitled to this right. It follows that the leaders of the French Communist Party cannot justify their behavior by any obligation whatsoever to anyone outside themselves. All the successes and lack of success in their country depend upon them alone and they are responsible for their behavior above all to the labor and progressive movement of France.
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THIRD QUESTION: French militants frequently discuss problems of tactics. Do you believe that the Yugoslav Communist Party has the right to express an opinion on the tactics of the progressive organizations of other countries?
ANSWER: I believe the Yugoslav Communist Party has the right to criticize every Communist Party or progressive organization just as they have the equal right to criticize the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. But criticism should be constructive, loyal – and not destructive and slanderous. It is true that in the course of the first session of the Cominform, our representatives criticized some of the leaderships of the Communist parties, as for example those of the French Communist Party and the Italian Communist Party. But the same criticism was formulated by the representatives of the Soviet Union, that is, they agreed with ours. And this criticism was well intentioned and constructive, criticism among comrades.
I will add, on this subject, that the attack launched against the Communist Party of Yugoslavia by the Cominform, and in the first place by the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR, has nothing in common with constructive criticism. Well-intentioned criticism may be accepted or not, that depends on the realism and the usefulness of the criticism, that is, it depends upon whether the critic is right or not. A typical example of ill-intentioned criticism is the letters of the CP(B) of the USSR to the Yugoslav Communist Party. In its reply to the first letter, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia requested the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR to send delegates to our country, to examine on the spot the accusations made in the letter and to ascertain how absurd they were. We repeated this request several times later on, but in vain; the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR were not interested in establishing the material truth firsthand, and in verifying what was true, or not in these letters. On the contrary, they knew very well what the real state of affairs was in our country, but in view of their own non-socialist aims, it was necessary for them to intimidate us; and, not succeeding in this, they had to compromise us at all costs in the eyes of the international labor movement.
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FOURTH QUESTION: In the exchange of letters between the CPY and the CP(B) of the USSR, published in Belgrade in 1948, the letter of the CC of the CP(B) of the USSR dated May 22, 1948 contains the following passages “When the Information Bureau was founded, the nine Communist Parties included agreed to present reports to the Bureau and to criticise other member parties if they desired. At the September 1947 session the French and Italian parties were severely criticized by the Bolsheviks. We know that the French and Italian parties at the time did not dispute the right of other parties to criticize thcr errors. We also know that the Yugoslav comrades utilized the opportunity to criticize the errors of their French and Italian comrades.” What were the errors attributed to the French communists by the Yugoslav representatives at the Cominform session of September 1947 and in what terms did the Yugoslav party criticize the French party ?
FIFTH QUESTION: What is the opinion of the Yugoslav Communist Party on the tactics of the French Communist Party under the Nazi occupation and during the liberation? Were mistakes made? If so, what were they?
SIXTH QUESTION: What is the opinion of the CPY on the “ministerial” and “parliamentary” tactics of the French CP from 1944 to 1917?
SEVENTH QUESTION: What is the opinion of the CPY on the strike movement in France in November 1947 and on the “opposition” tactic pursued by the CPF since it left the government?
ANSWERS: The replies to questions 4, 5, 6 and 7 are contained in the preceding reply.
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EIGHTH QUESTION: Do you think that the work of the progressive organizations of the entire world, who have set themselves the same socialist objectives, ought to be coordinated at least by an exchange of their mutual experiences? What forms, in your opinion, should such coordination assume?
ANSWER: It goes without saying that the work of the progressive organizations of the whole world, having the same aims, ought to be coordinated. Such coordination must be based on equal rights. With a view of strengthening these progressive forces an exchange of experiences becomes necessary, but the experiences acquired in one country and under specific circumstances should not at all be imposed upon organizations of another country where entirely different economic, political, cultural, social conditions exist. The basis for effective and fruitful collaboration consists of full equality of rights. Without respect for that equality, such an international collaboration of the democratic forces of the world proves to be impossible. The progressive movement of each country should have the right to borrow from the experiences of other countries only what it deems necessary and useful to its own country, whatever strengthens it internally instead of weakening it, whatever speeds up its development instead of impeding it.
The healthiest forms of international collaboration are: First, the exchange of cultural attainments; second, mutual visits and learning the facts at first-hand; third, intensive struggle against lying propaganda and misinformation; four, tenacious struggle to safeguard peace; five, reporting the truth about the socialist countries in the press and in conferences to the progressive masses, without fear of revealing various weaknesses and difficulties.
There exist today international organizations such as the International Union of Progressive Youth, the International Organization of Anti-Fascist Women, the World Federation of Trade Unions, the International Union for Peace. It is necessary to fight against these organizations becoming the instrument of the policy of a power – if this policy is directed against another socialist country – even if this power is socialist. In short, these organizations should carry out the aims for which they were created, that is, they should become a powerful and effective means in the struggle for peace.
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NINTH QUESTION: You have frequently denounced the slanders and lies of the Cominform regarding Yugoslavia, and posed the problem of the methods utilized by the Soviet leaders. Are these methods the deeds of men who have “chosen” to act that way (by premeditation, by bad faith, or by mistake), or are they the result of a more profound evolution of the entire international Communist apparatus? In other words, is the attitude of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party of the USSR and of the Cominform toward Yugoslavia an “isolated accident” due to the decision of the leaders (who, in that case, could change their minds) or is it a “logical” element in the transformation of the character of the Communist International?
ANSWER: The non-socialist methods and the slander campaign conducted by the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR and of the other Communist parties, far from being the result of certain mistakes or of an accidental fact, constitute a dangerous revisionist deviation from the science of Marxism-Leninism, regardless of the efforts of the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR to harmonize this deviation with this science. The crassest revisionist deviation consists in this: That the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR try to impose upon the international workers’ movement the point of view which holds that the decisions and evaluations made by the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR regarding the other parties are infallible. Furthermore, according to certain premises put forth in the letters of the CP(B) of the USSR addressed to the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, the revolutionary transformation would have been impossible without the aid of Red Army. In other words, they deny the capacity of the progressive movements of other countries to acquire a better social organization with their own resources; they kill the faith of the proletariat in its own revolutionary forces, and they impose upon it the un-Marxist view that only occupation by the Red Army can bring about a new socialist order. These same leaders, and with them the entire Cominform declare, as a result of the conflict with socialist Yugoslavia, that it is impossible to build socialism without the aid of the USSR, although practice has demonstrated completely the contrary in our country.
Today, practice has sufficiently demonstrated that every occupation, even that of the Red Army, bears within itself obvious elements of all the non-socialist phenomena possible. They lead inevitably to national oppression and economic exploitation, equality disappears and unconditional submission is effected for the benefit of the occupant. Even more ironically, such an occupation is today dubbed “liberating” and is regarded as aid.
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TENTH QUESTION: The CPY has criticized the revisionism of the Cominform. Wherein lies the origin, in your opinion, of these mistakes and deviations? Did they only appear at the time of the Yugoslav conflict, or before? If before, on what occasion and in what fashion?
ANSWER: I have already replied to this question in my reply to the 9th question.
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ELEVENTH QUESTION: What is the opinion of the Yugoslav CP on the Soviet-German pact of 1939?
TWELFTH QUESTION: In the light of the Rajk and Kostov trials, do you think that the big trials organized in the USSR in 1936 and 1937 could have been “staged” in the same fashion?
ANSWER: I shall not reply to the 11th and 12th questions.
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THIRTEENTH QUESTION: Do you think that the Yugoslav experience will arouse echoes in the other progressive organizations sufficient to oblige Moscow to change its attitude? In other words, do you think that the deviations of the Cominform can be remedied from within? If so, how?
ANSWER: The Yugoslav experience will inevitably arouse broad divergences of views in the progressive movement of the entire world. The repercussions will be all the stronger as it becomes clear that the New Yugoslavia is marching resolutely and unshakably towards socialism. The lying and slanderous propaganda will lose ground and, as a result of the vitality of the new and socialist Yugoslavia, the champions of this present propaganda of the Cominform, which is contrary to culture, will have to change their tactics and beat a retreat, because only such a retreat can, up to a certain point, make good the mistakes committed on their side up to the present.
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FOURTEENTH QUESTION: On the other hand, do you think, that the deviations of the Soviet leadership are so deep-going that it is necessary to prepare a new future organization of the workers’ movement? If so, in what sense, and how?
ANSWER: No other Communist organization should be created as it would only further impede the activity of the various existing parties; besides, since the dissolution of the Comintern, such an organization does not exist any longer. In the present conditions, it is necessary, first of all, for the Communist parties to mutually help each other, to be loyal to one other, to exchange experiences, and for full equality to prevail among them. Secondly, it is necessary that in each country the Communists and the progressives fight for a better social order, for the purity of socialist morals and for truth, and also against every deviation and every abuse of the science of Marxism-Leninism on part of anybody; it is necessary for them to apply this science to the specific conditions of their country and to determine on the basis of these conditions, what their road to socialism should be, the road which will permit them to realize the new society as swiftly as possible and as painlessly as possible.
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FIFTEENTH QUESTION: How do you answer the argument that every disagreement with the political line imposed by Moscow, insofar as it is made public, causes a weakening of the socialist bloc?
ANSWER: The struggle against the mistakes being committed by the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR as well as by other Cominform leaders and agents, does not mean a weakening of the international workers’ movement, or of the progressive movement in general. On the contrary, such a struggle is nec-esssary. Only the politically blind or the ill-intentioned speak of such a weakening. To criticize various mistakes, regardless of the party responsible for them, even if it is the CP(B) of the USSR, and to resist them, means in the last analysis to strengthen the international progressive movement. It is not criticism, but the errors of the leaders themselves that weaken the international progressive movement. Truth and logic are the most effective weapons of the progressive movement; to retain this weapon is the duty of every Communist and every progressive.
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SIXTEENTH QUESTION: What are the essential objectives you would advise a French progressive militant to fight for today? What should be his attitude to the USSR?
ANSWER: I would advise every French militant today to fight for the truth, for the purity of socialist morals. In that way he will surely win the greatest number of allies among the French people and for the struggle for a better and happier life. I would recommend to the French militants not to refrain in any case from using their right, in the question of the conflict between the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of the USSR and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, to know what is true in the accusations made against our country and what is not. Let everyone put the question to himself: What have the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR, and the other leaders of the Cominform to fear if progressives see first-hand with their own eyes whether the accusations against us are true or not?
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SEVENTEENTH QUESTION: Who in your opinion, are the men who are the greatest threat to peace in the world today, and why?
ANSWER: I shall not answer the seventeenth question.
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EIGHTEENTH QUESTION: Do you believe that in the present world a policy genuinely independent of the Russian and American blocs is possible? If so, what would be the principal elements of such a policy, which could become a real “third force?”
ANSWER: The example of the last session of the United Nations proves that it is not only possible, but also very useful for small nations to pursue a genuinely principled policy in the settlement of international questions, that they need not worry about the opinion of various big powers who sometimes have projects that are not in keeping with the maintenance of the peace and respect for the independence of small peoples.
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NINETEENTH QUESTION: What movements, organizations or men throughout the world are or can become the best defenders of peace and socialism?
ANSWER: Not individuals, but progressive movements throughout the world are capable of fighting successfully for peace The struggle for peace means the struggle against attempts at aggression. This struggle is most effective inside of countries whose leaders intend to engage in an aggression. If the people oppose such projects of their leaders war is impossible, because the war-mongers – when the people do riot want war – cannot hope to be successful. When a country is threatened by an aggressor the struggle for peace is transformed into a struggle against the aggressor. At the present it is possible, by means of fallacious propaganda, to temporarily mislead not only one’s own people but also international public opinion. That is why it is necessary to employ all one’s forces in order to unmask these camouflaged warmongers as swiftly as possible. The United Nations is a very effective factor in this. It is precisely the small states that are most menaced by these aggressors who seek to mask their dishonest aims by means of their powerful propaganda apparatus.
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TWENTIETH QUESTION: Various writers have frequently made the point that the Revolution of 1917 had somehow “Russified” the international workers’ movement, which grew out of a “Western” tradition: English, German and French. Do you regard it of interest for the future of socialism, bearing in mind the Russian experience, to break out of this kind of “Slav isolation” and to renew the link with the “Western” tradition; and if so, how?
ANSWER: Your last question indicates a reply to one of the most obvious deviations of the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR, which is a deviation from the line of internationalism. The underestimation of the history of other peoples and of their achievements, of their manifold scientific attainments; the non-Marxist glorification of all pre-revolutionary Russian history; the distortion of the contemporary history of other peoples; the underestimation of the revolutionary power and the revolutionary consciousness of the international proletariat and of its ability to understand the science of Marxism-Leninism and to apply it correctly in the specific conditions of that country – these are some cf the revisionist deviations which you can see for yourself in the daily Soviet press. The greatest mistake is that of measuring the value of the science of Marxism-Leninism through blind obedience to the pan-Statist conceptions of the leaders of the CP(B) of the USSR. Their revisionism is of a vulgar scientific character. It has no theoretical basis, but is pursued in practice. It is supported by daily propaganda in the press and on the radio.
All of the noise made by the Cominform against Yugoslavia, especially that coming from the USSR, on the subject of alleged deviations of our country toward the capitalist camp and towards capitalism, is simply camouflage for the non-socialist aims and pan-Statist ambitions of the leaders of the USSR that are detrimental to small peoples and, in the first place, to our country.
These are things which are not difficult to verify if one wants to learn the truth, and that is why we have had to enter the struggle, even though we did not desire it.
Last updated on: 17 March 2009