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A. Rudzienski

The Class War in Eastern Europe

(13 December 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 50, 13 December 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The offensive of Russian totalitarianism in the countries of “popular democracy” flows from the imperious economic necessity of incorporating all of Eastern Europe directly into the Soviet Union. From the socio-political point of view, it is the Kremlin’s answer to the Yugoslavian resistance, and to the anti-Russian opposition in all the subjugated countries, bourgeois as well as proletarian. Precisely here the Stalinist regime of conquest exposes its weak and vulnerable sides.

The Tito schism in Yugoslavia not only could not be subjugated and liquidated, but resists and attacks, giving rise to repercussions and echoes in all of Soviet Europe. Tito has shown himself a worthy disciple of the GPU of the Wyszynski’s, Beria’s, etc.; his secret police have defeated all the efforts of the GPU to liquidate and eliminate his regime; his party has been “consolidated” in the Stalinist manner, the proof being provided by the national congress which suppressed the opposition fomented by Russia, resisting the attacks of the Cominform and the Soviet press.

Now the Yugoslavian press has embarked on an open attack on the Russian press, including the sacrosanct organ, Bolshevik, deploring its low level and tone, etc. A political emigration of more than 500 oppositionist Communists has gathered together under Tito’s protection, and threaten to transform themselves into a center of anti-Stalinist political action. According to press reports, Tito has concluded a pact of secret aid with the American government in case of aggression by Russia. The Soviet press has ceased its furious attack on Tito’s “nationalist” deviation, leaving this job to the Cominform press. In Pravda there appeared an article signed by “Ceka,” very conciliatory in tone toward Yugoslavia, and attributed to Stalin himself. For the first time in history the Stalinist bureaucracy has been forced to tolerate resistance and come to terms with it.

Repercussions in Other Lands

The Yugoslavian schism is not a purely national phenomenon, but has had very serious repercussions in other countries. In Czechoslovakia, the Stalinist coup d’etat and the elimination of Benes’ party were but preventive measures against the anti-Russian schism. In spite of completely dominating the police apparatus, the Stalinist regime was at the edge of the abyss. Both in the days of mourning for Benes, and during the anti-Russian demonstrations of the “Sokol,” the police minister, Nosek, was afraid that the Stalinists would lose control of the situation. He declared that thousands of agitators were calling on the masses “to attack the headquarters of the National Committee, the Communist Party, and the police.” Purges and suppression of the opposition parties, purges of the “Sokol” and the army, and even a purge of the ruling Stalinist party did not suffice.

A special law in defense of the Republic had to be passed, and its scope widened even further by another law in “defense of the Soviet Union.” Thousands of persons have been arrested under these new laws, and dozens accused and condemned far ‘subversion and espionage on behalf of the Americans. But in spite of these measures, the Czech and Slovak peoples have lost all sympathy fqr Russia, and hatred for the Russian occupier is uncontainable. In Slovakia, the situation is still worse. The Slovakian Communist Party had to be liquidated and incorporated into the Czech party in order to assure better totalitarian control over Slovakia.

In Poland, directly controlled by an important Russian occupation force and by the MVD (GPU) organization, the anti-Russian resistance penetrated the government party in the form of the Gomulka schism. Although the schism has been brought under control and its “leader” has confessed and recanted, the situation of the regime continues to be insecure. All the purges of the shadow-parties (PPS, two populist parties, democratic and labor parties) have aimed at exterminating the heresy and preparing the way for the formation of a monolithic Stalinist party.

The “economic genius,” Minc, continued to accelerate the economic offensive of the statified sector against the artisan and the peasant, but the struggle, especially in the countryside, is extremely difficult. The Polish state possesses scarcely more than 1,000 tractors which can work hardly 1 per cent of the farms. This technical poverty limits the anti-peasant offensive of the regime. This is perhaps the reason why it is said that Minc will be the first sacrificial lamb handed over to the Kremlin since his “successes” do not satisfy Moscow. Minc is one of the few members of the old Communist Party. He belonged to the “Majority” faction liquidated by Bierut, whose theory of “two stages of the Polish revolution” was stolen and rehabilitated by Stalin, notwithstanding the fact that the latter condemned this theory in 1929–30.

National Resistance Seethes

More than 11 members of the Central Committee of the Pseudo-PPS have been expelled from the party for various deviations, the most important being the theory of the “third force.” According to this theory, the PPS Would constitute ’ an intermediate factor between the PPR (Stalinist party) and the PSL (Mikolajczyk’s peasant party). In addition, the Populist parties have been purged of the old peasant leaders, such as Kiernik, Putek Wrona. etc.

The tightening of the screws in the totalitarian machine in Poland have not remedied the situation, and according to trustworthy sources, the anti-Russian underground is growing in strength and attractive power. This underground may very well turn out to be a time-bomb, which will explode against Russia in line with the old traditions of Polish national resistance. Its temporary calm can be explained by the disillusionment of the masses with the “Western Allies” who so cynically sold Poland (“the inspiration of the peoples,” according to Roosevelt) to Russia.

However, in the camp of the resistance, both left and right, the program of “saving Polish blood” prevails. But in the region of Plock, attempts against the functionaries of the regime have once again occurred. It is quite possible that this is the work of the GPU itself, since Stalin fears the Polish resistance and its action in case of war, and would like to provoke it beforehand in order to carry out a bloody slaughter. The situation is further characterized by the effective and planned desertion of many Polish diplomats in the United States, Latin-America and Europe.

Theatre of Silent War

All of Eastern Europe is the theatre of a silent war between the bureaucracy and the oppressed masses. It is a social war, a war of the classes under new economic and social conditions. Although both the Stalinist and bourgeois sources present it as a war between “communism and capitalism,” between the proletariat and the elements of the displaced bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie, in reality this schema does not at all correspond to the new economic and social structure of Europe. The outstanding characteristics of this new economic-social structure are:

  1. The liquidation of big private capitalism and the displacement of the bourgeoisie as the dominant and possessing class.
  2. The introduction of statified property in big and middle industry.
  3. The existence of private property in almost all of agriculture, the former having a minority status in petty commerce, smalt industry and handicrafts in the cities.
  4. The dictatorship of the bureaucracy, whose power is rooted in the disposition of the nationalized property and the police apparatus of oppression.

The economy of Eastern Europe is a combined economy, composed of socialist elements, a state-capitalist sector, and a petty-bourgeois sector. But the bureaucratic state directs the economic evolution not towards socialism, but towards bureaucratic totalitarianism, which liquidates both the socialist as well as the petty-bourgeois sector, leaving only the state-capitalist sector. Clearly, we are far from the final stage.

[Readers of Comrade Rudzienski’s work are undoubtedly familar with his views on “state capitalism” in the Stalinist countries, as expressed in the above lines. – Ed.]

With the bourgeoisie ousted as the dominating exploitive class, its place has been taken by the bureaucracy which directs the nationalized economy in its own interests. Consequently, the principal social antagonism lies between the bureaucracy and the proletariat, and petty-bourgeoisie (mostly peasant). The ex-bourgeoisie has been pushed back to the periphery in this war of the classes. Although the disorganized and disoriented proletariat does not present any organized resistance to the bureaucracy, leaving the leading role to the peasantry, its future historic role will be much greater than the capitalist politicians and ideologists think. The rebellion of the bureaucracies in the satellite countries against Stalin, aside from their own economic interests, has its roots in the resistance of the masses in the war of the classes which continue to be the motor force of this new society, and must lead to the annihilation of this class society, the annihilation of reactionary Stalinism.

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