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Labor Action, 2 August 1948


William Barton


Pots and Kettles Busy Name-Calling


From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 31, 2 August 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The breaks in the feeble cast-iron structure of Stalinist totalitarianism become more striking every week. Most apparent is the deepening of the rift between the Yugoslavian Communist Party and its sister organizations in the Moscow-dominated Cominform.

The current party Congress in Belgrade has actually formally attacked Pravda, the official organ of the Communist Party of Russia, for spreading insane reports that a delegation of “Swiss Trotskyites” was attending the Congress, and for charging the Ministry of Interior under General Rankovich with “tyrannies” against opponents. The irony of the Russian Secret Police criticizing Its most faithful pupil for learning too well is, at the moment, less important to the world than the evidence that the break between the Moscow and Belgrade rulers has been officially declared.

Marshal Tito took time out from the Congress for a personal interview with former Governor Olson of California. The Yugoslav chieftain declared his desire for improved commercial relations with the Untied States if no political strings are attached. Whether Tito had previously shown an inclination for an economic deal with the U.S. and thereby precipitated his clash with the Cominform cannot be decided at present. What is dear is that the various countries of the Eastern bloc, whether in the complete embrace of Moscow or showing some signs of independence, must turn to the “West” for the economic aid which Russia cannot supply.

The Yugoslav Congress also heard their Macedonian representatives demand autonomy for Bulgarian Macedonia, attack elements of the Bulgarian Communist Party for having territorial designs on Yugoslavian Macedonia, and charged their Bulgarian erstwhile colleagues with betrayals against the Yugoslavs in Macedonia during the German occupation. Commentators have emphasized traditional “Balkan nationalism” in their analyses; much more important a drive behind these conflicts is the need of local Stalinist masters to increase their inevitably shrinking loot, even at the expense of their bosom buddies of yesterday.

New Purges in Czechoslovakia

Reports from Czechoslovakia reveal even more serious difficulties behind the Iron Curtain.. Seventy-one people have been arrested for “foreign espionage” and “terrorism.” Military leaders are escaping the country one by one. Some 8,000 refugees have crossed the border since February. An émigré Czechoslovakian Relief Committee announced that 500 Czech war veterans are rejoining the British armed forces. A London dispatch reports evidence of an active Czech underground press, directed mostly towards working class readers. To what extent it is oriented towards Anglo-American imperialism is not clear; with the background of the Czech workers, there is little doubt that it will gain support only to the extent that it is independent of both imperialist camps.

Rumors have President Gottwald, Foreign Minister Klementis and Interior Minister Nosek headed tor the skids on orders of the dissatisfied Kremlin bosses. As significant as all these, however, is a little item from Trace, official paper of the Stalinist-run Czech General Confederation of Labor, which upbraids Czech workers for their negative attitude towards production and the resulting failure to achieve quotas in the projected two-year plan. The paper claims that over a million hours of work were lost in May because of absenteeism.

Occasional bits of information creep out of the Russian heartland, itself, showing all is not rosy. Russian workers are being admonished to be careful of sabotage on the railroads. The railway system is probably the weakest feature of the Russian Stalinist industrial set-up. Scapegoats are generally sought whenever there is widespread resentment. Either some people are about to be “purged” of their jobs or a propaganda campaign against “saboteurs” begun. Life is not too easy behind the Kremlin walls and it isn’t likely to get any better.

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Last updated on 28 May 2018