Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Labor Action, 5 July 1948


Yugoslav Fuehrer Goes into Business for Himself

Tito Splits Stalin Empire!


From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 27, 5 July 1948, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Hot on the heels of Tito’s counterblast against the Cominform denunciation of his regime’s “hateful” attitude toward Kremlin domination comes the first word indicating what may be the Yugoslav dictator’s perspective in a positive sense. These are the first reports of the new program being presented by Tito’s Central Committee for the coming Fifth Communist Council meeting on July 21. It seems to add up to this:

Tito is going into business for himself. No longer content to act as branch manager for Stalin’s bureaucratic empire in eastern Europe the Yugoslav sub-fuehrer has announced the launching of his own company.

Point 4 of the Yugoslav CP’s new program calls for “the tightest cooperation” with Bulgaria and Albania and efforts toward “uniting the Albanian and Bulgarian peoples with the Yugoslav peoples on a principle of national equality” – that is, the formation of a Balkan bloc of CP-dominated countries which will seek to deal with Russia as an “equal.” At the same time the program calls for “tight cooperation with the Soviet Union,” refers to Russia as the head of the “democratic anti-imperialist forces of the world,” and gives no verbal sign of any turn toward a pro-Western orientation such as was widely expected to follow the split with the Moscow bureaucracy.

Indeed, it might be more accurate to conclude that Tito is in reality asking for promotion from the status of branch manager to that of junior partner with Stalin. It is difficult to believe that he can seriously hope to play a completely independent role as between the Western bloc and the Russian bloc, as a “bridge” or “balance of power” between East and West.

The new Yugoslav program, even more than the reply to the Cominform, may be interpreted to mean that Tito’s longer-range perspective is: to blackmail Russia into accepting him WITHIN THE RUSSIAN WAR BLOC with a status similar to that which, for example, Churchill hopes to attain for a “Western Union” within the American-dominated war bloc.

While speculation along these lines, based as it must be on fragmentary indications, is highly risky (to say the least), there have been previous indications of such moods among some elements within Stalin’s satellites. The idea of such a Balkan federation was first put forward not by Tito but indeed by Dimitrov, sub-fuehrer of Bulgaria. This proposal, which was made last year presumably after conversations with the Yugoslavs, brought a rebuke from Moscow and the idea was dropped. What was then a feeler for Dimitrov becomes now a program for Tito, put forward in the teeth of Russian opposition and directed specifically at Bulgaria itself.

No doubt Tito is counting on the existence of a strong bloc within the Bulgarian CP to back up his invitation and to attempt to carry that country along the same road that he has taken. The fact that the Bulgarian CP has adopted the obligatory “unanimous’ resolution supporting the Cominform means, of course, nothing more than that the Moscow machine is still in control in Sofia.

Issue of Greece

This might also be considered as accounting for the fact that Tito’s proposal for a Balkan union is specifically directed to Bulgaria and not to Rumania, which also has a common border with Yugoslavia. Added factors may also be:

  1. The Rumanian regime, much more than the Bulgarian, consists primarily of hand-picked Stalinist quislings on top with little or no mass base of their own before being installed in power.
  2. The question of Greece also undoubtedly plays a role. The Cominform denunciation clearly indicates that there has been some kind of difference between Moscow and Belgrade over their attitude toward the Greek Stalinist rebellion. While the Cominform accuses Tito of sabotaging General Markos, reports have more generally been that it is Tito who favored a stronger and more aggressive attitude in that situation – which presumably means more open aid to Markos from the two satellite neighbors of Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. It is to be seen whether Tito will seek to play an independent role also in aiding the Greek Stalinists to win the power and thereby bringing them into his own fold.

If such indeed be Tito’s perspective, it must be added that Stalin has never yet permitted himself to play along with such a game. It has hitherto been part of the essence of the totalitarian method to insist upon 100 per cent subordination to the Boss’s decrees, and to consider a loyalty which is only 99 per cent sure as tantamount to declared treason. There is little room for stable junior-partner relationships between rival totalitarians. The alternatives for Tito may still turn out to be limited to complete capitulation and overthrow, on the one hand, or a sharper turn toward Western imperialism.

Top of page

Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 28 May 2018