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A. Rudzienski

Sees Titoism as Fuse for Explosion
of Balkan Powder Magazine in War

(September 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 40, 3 October 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by
Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The phenomenon of Titoism is undoubtedly the most sensational event since the period of the last opposition to Stalinism in Russia. In spite of the powerful police apparatus, Tito remains in power and even continues consolidating his position. Moscow’s rabid harangues against the “fascist,” “nationalist” and Trotskyist (the worst insult), against the disciple of that “great” policeman, Stalin, who has outstripped his master in cunning, are so far ineffective.

The open breach in Eastern Europe’s “popular” bloc shows signs not of closing but of continuing to widen. In Bulgaria there is a Stalinist sector which sympathizes with Tito, and perhaps Dimitrov himself had to pay with his head for his idea of a Balkan Federation.

In Hungary, Laszlo Rajk has been accused not only of being a nationalist, fascist and Trotskyist, but of preparing together with Tito a coup against Hungary’s “popular democracy.”

In small but strategically very important Albania, Stalin’s secret police had to kill Koci Xoxe, ex-minister of the interior. Laszlo Rajk was also in charge of the Ministry of the Interior in Hungary. Tito knows the Stalinist methods, and attacks the centers of police power.

As if all this were not enough, a Communist Party has been organized in Germany which declares its solidarity with Tito. A similar party has been organized in Italy, whose Stalinist movement is among the most powerful in Europe. There is insistent talk about the formation of a Titoist Cominform which would oppose the Muscovite Cominform.

There is no doubt that the Titoist opposition has much sympathy in all the countries of “popular democracy,” including Poland and Czechoslovakia, which dispose of a considerable industrial potential, still have many economic ties with Western Europe, and possess traditions of a modern, well-organized workers’ movement in Western European style. If the Titoist schism should succeed in spreading internationally and organizing its own international center, it would become a mortal danger for the Stalinist dictatorship in Europe and Russia as well.

Besides, one must take into account the latent international conflict between Russia and the United States, between the Eastern bloc and the capitalist West. Excellent adept that he is in Stalinist Machiavellism. Tito has no scruples, does not hesitate at any measures. When Moscow announced the economic blockade designed to strangle him, Tito knew how to break through the blockade and negotiate with the fortress of world capitalism, the United States.

His attempts to secure the financial support of the Americans against the “first socialist country” have been crowned by success in the form of a $20,000,000 loan “as the beginning.” This first cautious loan bears the promise that Yugoslavia will become the pet child of American financial circles, if Tito shows himself capable of remaining in power.

Without occupying ourselves in this article with the. economic and social dynamics of the Yugoslavian schism, we shall try to answer the following questions: What are the possible international consequences of the present conflict between Belgrade and the Kremlin? Will it lead to Tito’s capitulation or to a new war?

Acheson Stresses Titoism

The Polish émigré press in London is a little disturbed that the American State Department pays so much attention to the Yugoslavian question and calls it “Titomania.” Nevertheless, both Truman and his secretary of State, Acheson, declare that the “Stalinist Iron Curtain will retreat eastward ... without war.” According to Acheson’s testimony before a Senate committee, Russia would start a war given one of three conditions: (1) If it expected approaching aggression; (2) if internal difficulties demanded turning the attention of the Russian nation in another direction; (3) if the United States and its allies were economically and socially so weak that a war against them would not, in the judgment of the Politburo, involve a major risk.

Acheson excludes the first two possibilities as the cause of Russian aggression and considers only the third eventuality, recommending American military preparedness, or adherence to the old Roman rule. “If you want peace, be ready for war.” According to Acheson, the constant growth of American armaments should discourage Stalin from military aggression.

Besides, Acheson considers American policy successful in this period and has declared that “the initiative has passed from the Russians to us. In any case, I do not expect the movement of the Iron Curtain toward the west. On the contrary, I expect the movement of the Iron Curtain toward the east, toward the frontiers of the Soviet itself.” (Polish Daily of London).

When Acheson was asked how the withdrawal of the Iron Curtain to the east could take place without war. he replied that “Titoism is more important and charged with more consequences than is generally believed. At this moment we are carrying on an active policy in Western Europe and we are observing events in Eastern Europe. If in the West we note stabilization, in the East we do not observe this phenomenon. The lack of stability permits us to foresee changes.”

Will Tito Find Allies?

America’s policy, as exemplified in Truman’s boastful declaration that Russia must capitulate and the loan to Tito, is based on the expectation of an internal war in the Stalinist camp, with Tito as the main protagonist. The result of this conflict is expected to be the peaceful salvation of the American capitalist system.

Undoubtedly the Titoist division within the Stalinist camp can have much graver consequences than we think. If Tito, as certain evidence indicates, tries to expand his international sphere, he will find many old adepts of Stalinism, now expelled. He will also find layers of workers and the middle class who are disillusioned with Stalin’s politics. Especially behind the Iron Curtain, the growing anti-Stalinist opposition can break down all the police bars.

This possibility would be even greater were an understanding to be arrived at with the other sectors of opposition, the peasants and Social-Democrats, under American pressure. In such a case, Stalin would have to reply with new purges, perhaps as bloody as those of 1936–38.

War Possible

The Titoist opposition can come to play a daily role in international politics that is much more impressive than that played by the workers’ oppositions of Russia, including the Trotskyist opposition. Trotsky did not wish to and could not enter into combinations and deals with capitalism against Stalin, while Tito does and will continue to do so without any scruples. Stalin understands this danger and may decide to act in order to prevent it.

We wish only to remark that Acheson may be mistaken since he has a rather meager understanding of Stalinist methods. Stalin astutely stalks his victim, stalks him constantly, and at a favorable moment may decide on a savage and deadly assault.

Stalin’s pursuit of his victim has already passed through various stages: that of ideological offensive, the economic blockade, and is now entering the war of nerves and the military blockade by his satellites. If the attempts at an internal coup are defeated, Stalin may decide, contrary to Acheson’s opinion, on camouflaged intervention in Yugoslavia by means of Hungary, Albania or Bulgaria.

And if such military intervention against Tito is defeated or gets bogged down. Stalin may decide on a swift military blow, basing himself on the assumption that the United States will not intervene militarily. The Polish press in England is of the opinion that the United States would abandon Tito in case of Russian military intervention in the Balkans.

Without trying to assume the role of prophet, which is as dangerous as it is ridiculous in day-to-day politics, we wish to repeat that Acheson may be mistaken. The Tito rebellion endangers not only the Balkan flank of Russian imperialism, but can become a danger for the entire Stalinist system. In such a case, Stalinist totalitarianism would feel compelled to strike with rapid and savage blows.

We reject, therefore, both the possibility of a peaceful withdrawal of the Iron Curtain to the 1939 frontiers and Truman’s belief in the inevitable Russian capitulation before the economic and military (atomic bomb) pressure of the United States.

Titoism could never play so inflated a role were the international situation not so tense; it is American policy that will decide to what extent it wishes to inflate the Titoist puppet against Russia. We are already in the stage of the war of nerves, of military concentrations and demonstrations in the Balkans, the traditional powder barrel:

The Spanish Civil War, the Sarajevo of 1914, can easily be repeated in Tito’s Yugoslavia, in which two blocs test the strength of each other’s arms without engaging in direct struggle. The international situation is charged with the dangers of new war; any incident can provoke a molten flow of events which no one will be able to control. And this, can happen even if we were to take Acheson’s and Truman’s declarations as subjectively sincere, which rarely occurs among bourgeois politicians.

The Balkan powder magazine can easily explode, provoking an atomic war whose consequences for civilization no one can foresee.

September 1949

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