In the 19th century several organizations were formed that campaigned for the unification of Slavonic peoples in the Balkans. These demands increased at the end of the First World War. On 4th December 1918, a new kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was established. This included Serbia, Montenegro and lands taken from Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria.
The monarch of Serbia, Peter I was the first ruler of the new kingdom and Nikola Pasic became the country's premier. Pasic successfully held the different groups together but his death in 1926 resulted in political turmoil. In January 1929 the new king, Alexander I, established a royal dictatorship and renamed the country Yugoslavia.
In the 1930s the Yugoslavian government headed by Prince-Regent Paul allied itself with the fascist dictatorships of Germany and Italy. However, on 27th March 1941, a military coup established a government more sympathetic to the Allies. Ten days later the Luftwaffe bombed Yugoslavia and virtually destroyed Belgrade. The German Army invaded and the government was forced into exile.
Resistance to the German occupation came from two rival guerrilla groups, the Chetniks led by Drazha Mihailovic and Josip Tito and his partisans. At first the Allies provided financial assistance to the Chetniks but when they began to collaborate with the Germans and Italians this aid was switched to the partisans.
By the end of November, 1943, Josip Tito was able to establish a government in Bosnia. After the war Tito created a federation of the socialist republics of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. In March 1945 Tito became premier of Yugoslavia. Over the next few years he created a federation of socialist republics (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia).
Tito had several disagreements with Joseph Stalin and in 1948 he took Yugoslavia out of the Comintern and pursued a policy of "positive neutralism". Influenced by the ideas of his vice-president, Milovan Djilas, Tito attempted to create a unique form of socialism that included profit sharing workers' councils that managed industrial enterprises.
Although created President for life in 1974, Tito established a unique system of collective, rotating leadership within the country.
In Yugoslavia, right from the war's end the government was well organized and firmly in the hands of the Communists. It had sprung from the grass roots, from the gradual development of party and guerrilla formations. Despite the upheavals and hatreds of war and revolution, after two or three years of peace Yugoslavia became a secure country. Secure, but hardly well ordered. Administrations were quickly set up and a cultural life emerged, but all within a framework of party ideology. It was still wartime when old theaters reopened and new ones started up, and many magazines and newspapers made their appearance. Their content, however, was controlled. Yet though the nation's younger generation was fired with enthusiasm, its working class loyal, and its party strong and self-confident, Yugoslavia remained a divided, grief-stricken land, materially and spiritually ravaged.
The consolidation of the new regime and new land and property laws - the continuation of the revolutionary process - found expression more in Tito's prominence than in that of the Communist party itself. This did not come about simply because Tito was the head of the new regime, whereas the Communist party still operated semi-legally. No, a "cult of Tito" had begun during the war. The aroused masses needed a leader and the party was "Bolshevized" - that is, Stalinized. Those demands and needs, emotional and practical, were built into the military and other hierarchies step by step. Actually, the cult of Tito was made official and institutionalized at the second session of AVNOJ (Antifascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia) in Jajce on November 29, 1943. Tito, an agent of the Comintern since 1937 with veto rights over the Central Committee, was confirmed - thanks to the Bolshevization of the party, his own resourcefulness, and, above all, the revolutionary process - as an autocratic leader. He had conducted himself as such from the start, in 1937; after Jajce he enthroned himself through his own sheer will, the will of a revolutionary leader.
The cult of Tito was not just Tito's doing, but also the result of organized political action. It was the product of a Tito faction, which gradually emerged within the leadership. It was the product, too, of a certain mood among the people, a people led by a single totalitarian party and accustomed to charismatic monarchs.
It goes without saying that Tito was not the only one ensconced in luxury, privilege, and exclusiveness, though in such matters no one could match him. The rest of the top leaders, federal, republican, and more than likely at -the municipal and district levels too, behaved similarly, indeed identically. A new ruling class was materializing spontaneously, systematically, and along with it the inevitable envy and greed. The top leaders not only failed to halt the process but, themselves wallowing in privilege, corrected only the worst excesses.
Regardless of whether or not such articles are basically accurate, none of us can always give a one-hundred-percent correct assessment and analysis before grasping the causes of certain phenomena, and before those causes have had a chance to filter down into the consciousness of the majority. Theoretical articles should not be discussed at party cell meetings as something prescribed and definitive; accordingly, party members should feel free to talk them over - not as the party line, not as something given and axiomatic, but as material that must make its impact on the mass development of theoretical thought... Accordingly, it is a mistake to confuse free discussion about questions of theory within a party organization with decisions already adopted on individual issues... In such discussions we dare not, we cannot judge people or make hasty decisions. Therefore, before bringing in a definitive judgment, it is quite correct to have discussions along democratic lines. Disciplined acceptance of a position taken by the majority on individual issues can come later.
The roots of the present state o£ affairs in the world go back to the imperialist method applied at Teheran, Yalta, Moscow, and Berlin during the war, when an attempt was first made to solve international problems.
No one in this country or in the world was surprised when at Teheran, Yalta, Moscow, and Berlin the Western powers approached the solution o£ world problems in their accustomed way. But for all who credited the rumor that the U.S.S.R. was the protector of little peoples, this came as a real moral blow, as the first strong doubts about the Soviet Union and the correctness of Moscow's policy. From Teheran to this day, Moscow has flaunted its imperialist majesty. Today we can boldly assert that the whole of Soviet foreign policy - setting aside ordinary propaganda tricks like their alleged struggle for peace and the rest - has been such as to contribute eminently to present international tension.
It was Moscow, was it not, who created colonies in the heart of Europe where there had once been independent states like Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and so on. Not to mention the enslavement of the Baltic countries back before the war.
The USSR has pushed North Korea into an aggressive war, so as to bring South Korea under its sway while letting others get their hands dirty. In saying this I do not in the least diminish the responsibility of the Western powers. They are just as responsible for the situation in Korea since the war began in 1950. This Korean war - which could turn into a world conflict - results from a division into
spheres of interest.
After two or three days I was asked to come to the White Palace where I found Kardelj and Rankovic waiting with Tito. As I sat down, I asked for coffee, complaining of lack of sleep. As Tito got up to order it, he snapped at me. We aren t sleeping either." At one point I said to him "You I can understand. You've accomplished a lot and so you're protecting it. I've begun something and am defending it. But I wonder at these two (I meant Kardelj and Rankovic). Why are they so stubborn?"
Tito remarked that there seemed to be no movement organized around me, as indeed there was not. My only intention, I said was to develop socialism further. Tito's rebuttal consisted of trying to point out that the "reaction' - the bourgeoisie-was very strong still in our country and that all sorts of critics could hardly wait to attack us. As an example he cited Socrates, a satire, Just published, by Branko Copic, in which voters elect a dog by the name of Socrates, quite unconcerned with the object of their choice because they are convinced that this has been mandated "from on high." I maintained that topic's satire was an innocent joke, but no one agreed. Kardelj added that a few days earlier the funeral of a politician from the old regime - I forget who - had been attended by several hundred citizens! Rankovic sat the whole time in somber silence. His only comment, when my resignation as president of the National Assembly came up, was
that I ought to see to that myself, so that it wouldn't look as if it had been extracted under pressure or by administrative
methods. Finally Tito asked me to submit my resignation, adding decisively, "What must be, must be." As we said good-by he held out his hand, but with a look of hatred and vindictiveness.
As soon as I returned home, I wrote out my resignation, in bitterness. At the same time I asked my driver, Tomo, to deliver my cars to the White Palace. I had two - a Mercedes and a Jeep, which I used in isolated areas. Two days later Luka Leskosek, my escort, came looking for the suitcases that belonged to the Mercedes. In my haste I had forgotten them, and now I felt awkward because my initials had been engraved on them.
In the course of our conversation, Tito had remarked that my "case" was having the greatest world repercussion since our confrontation with the Soviet Union. I had replied that I didn't read the reports from Tanjug any more; they were no longer sent to me. "Get hold of them and see for yourself," Tito had said. That same day I went to Tanjug to look over the foreign press reports regarding my case. Reluctantly the news agency people obliged me. The volume and variety of reports had a twofold effect: I was impressed and encouraged but at the same time embarrassed and bothered that Western "capitalist" propaganda was so obviously biased in my favor.
Even the most fearful dream gets forgotten, but this was no dream. The Third Plenum was reality, a vain and shameful reality for all who took part. My main accusers, Tito and Kardelj, though seemingly concerned for party unity, were in fact concerned for their own prestige and power. To innate the peril, they fabricated guilt. After they had had their say, it was the turn of the tough, sharp-sighted powermongers - among them Minic and Stambolic, Pucar and Mannko, Blazo Jovanovic and Maslaric; then came the party weaklings, like Colakovic, and the hysterically penitent "self-critics," like Vukmanovic, Dapcevic, Vlahovic, Crvenkovski, and even Pijade - yes, Pijade, too, who until the day the plenum was scheduled had been sweetly smacking his lips over my articles. It could all have been foreseen. I had foreseen it. But reality is always different, either better or worse. This reality was more horrible, more shameless.
I was more prepared intellectually than emotionally for that plenum and its verdict, sure that I was in the right, yet sentimentally tied to my comrades. But that, too, is an oversimplification; the inner reality was more complex. My aloofness, my indifference to functions and honors - to power itself - helped account for my intellectual readiness, the ripeness of my understanding. What is more, having often in the previous months felt altogether sick of power, I had been relinquishing functions and plunging into reading and writing.
I knew at the time the importance of power, especially for carrying out political ideas, and know it even more clearly today. But at the time, I was repelled by that power, which was more an end in itself than the means to an end, and my disgust grew in proportion as I gazed into its "unsocialist," undemocratic nature. I couldn't say which came first, disgust or insight; they seemed mutually complementary and interchangeable. Even before the plenum was scheduled, I wanted to be "an ordinary person," I wanted to withdraw from power into intellectual and moral independence. Obviously I was deluding myself. This was only in part because the top leadership of a totalitarian party is incapable of releasing a member from its ranks except for "betrayal." My delusion owed just as much to my own intransigence, to my perceptions, which continued to mature, and to my sense of moral obligation to make them known.
The Third Plenum was held in the Central Committee building, which gave it an all-party character. (All plenary sessions of the Central Committee had previously been held at Tito's, in the White Palace.) The proceedings were also carried by radio, to give them a public and national character. I walked there with Stefica by my side; Dedijer accompanied us part of the way.
I arrived feeling numb, bodiless. A heretic, beyond doubt. One who was to be burned at the stake by yesterday's closest comrades,veterans who had fought decisive, momentous battles together. In the conference hall no one showed me to a seat, so I found a place for myself off at one corner of a square table. Nor did anyone exchange so much as a word with me, except when officially required to do so. To pass the time and record the facts, I took notes of the speeches. These I burned once the verbatim notes from the plenum were published.
Though I knew that the verdict had already been reached, I had no way of knowing the nature or severity of my punishment. Secretly, I hoped that, even while repudiating and dissociating itself from my opinions, the Central Committee would not expel me from the party, perhaps not even from the plenum. But all my democratic and comradely hopes were dashed once the contest was joined. Tito's speech was a piece of bitingly intolerant demogoguery. The reckoning it defined and articulated was not with an adversary who had simply gone astray or been disloyal in their eyes, but with one who had betrayed principle itself.
As Tito was speaking, the respect and fondness I had once felt for him turned to alienation and repulsion. That corpulent, carefully uniformed body with its pudgy, shaven neck filled me with disgust. I saw Kardelj as a petty and inconsistent man who disparaged ideas that till yesterday had been his as well, who employed antirevisionist tirades dating from the turn of the century, and who quoted alleged anti-Tito and anti-party remarks of mine from private conversations and out of context.
But I hated no one, not even these two, whose ideological and political rationalizations were so resolute, so bigoted, that the rest of my self-styled critics took their cue to be rabidly abusive - the Titoists aggressively and the penitents hysterically. Instead of requiting them with hatred and fury of my own, I withdrew into empty desolation behind my moral defenses.
The longer the plenum went on with its monotonous drumbeat of dogma, hatred, and resentment, the more conscious I became of the utter lack of open-minded, principled argument. It was a Stalinist show trial pure and simple. Bloodless it may have been, but no less Stalinist in every other dimension - intellectual, moral, and political.
On August 9, President Tito arrived in Prague for an official visit and received an enthusiastic welcome from large crowds along the route from the airport to Prague Castle. I could not suppress the memory of his welcome in Moscow twenty years earlier. During our conversations, Tito expressed full support for our policy and our cause. Like many politicians worldwide, he believed that the Bratislava conference was a sign of Soviet retreat. Nevertheless, we agreed that the Soviets would continue to harass us in various ways, trying to slow down and narrow the scope of our reforms. I told him that this had been going on since March and April, that we had had to look over our shoulders before making important decisions about almost anything.
Our system was built only for Tito to manage. Now that Tito is gone and our economic situation becomes critical, there will be a natural tendency for greater centralization of power. But this centralization will not succeed because it will run up against the ethnic-political power bases in the republics. This is not classical nationalism but a more dangerous, bureaucratic nationalism built on economic self-interest. This is how the Yugoslav system will begin to collapse.