Why Yugoslavia was Expelled from the Cominform


“After prolonged discussion the Information Bureau adopted a resolution Concerning the Situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia which was made public by press and radio. The resolution contained a series of profound criticisms of the policy of the Yugoslav Communist leadership, and above all of the four figures who in a literal sense dominated the Party—Tito, Kardelj, Djilas and Rankovic.

The Main Criticisms

The Resolution state that in the recent period preceding the meeting of the Communist Information Bureau the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party had: “pursued an incorrect line on the main questions of home and foreign policy, a line which represents a departure from Marxism-Leninism.”

It approved the action of the C.P.S.U.(B) which had taken the initiative in expoising the incorrect policy.

It pointed out that in a whole number of ways the Yugoslav Communist leaders had been pursuing an unfriendly policy towards the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It revealed that, for instance, slanders were being spread about the Soviet military experts who were visiting Yugoslavia on the invitation of the Yugoslav authorities, that a “special regime” had been instituted for Soviet civilian experts in Yugoslavia, who were being watched and followed by Yugoslav security police, that representatives of the Information Bureau in Yugoslavia, like Yudin, the Editor of its journal For a Lasting Peace, for a People’s Democracy, were being shadowed by secret police, and that similer treatment was being dealt out to official Soviet representatives in Yugoslavia. Yugoslav Party and Government statements on the U.S.S.R. And the C.P.S.U.(B) remained friendly on the surface and were expressed in terms of gratitutde and admiration. But at the same time anti-Soviet propaganda was being spread inside the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party: there was talk of the “degeneration” of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, these slanders being couched in the old language of counter-revolutionary Trotskyism.

The resolution outlined three ways in which Tito, Kardelj, Djilas, Rankovic and other Yugoslav leaders were rejecting the experience of the international labour movement, and above all the experience of building socialism in the U.S.S.R., and were turning from both the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism.

(1) They were putting forward a theory of a smooth and peaceful transition to socialism, in the style and tradition of the Mensheviks and of Ramsay Macdonald.

“They deny that there is a growth of capitalist elements in their country and consequently a sharpening of the class struggle in the countryside.”

(2) They were refusing to recognise any class differentiation among the peasantry. Yet if their aim of building socialism was a sincere one, they would have had to differentiate, both in theory and practice, in their attitude towards different categories of peasants.

“The Yugoslav leaders are pursuing an incorrect policy in the countryside by ignoring the class differtientation in the countryside and by regarding the individual peasants as a single entity, contrary to the well-known Leninist thesis that small, individual farming gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie, continually, daily, hourly, spontaneously and on a mass scale.”

(3) They were rejecting, both in theory and practice, what had been taught consistently by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and confirmed by the whole history of the working-class movement, that the working class is the only consistently revolutionary class, and that only under its leadership can the transition to socialism be realised.

“Concerning the leading role of the working class, the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party, by affirming that the peasantry is the ‘most stable foundation of the Yugoslav State,’ are departing from the Marxist-Leninist path and are taking the path of a populist, kulak Party.”

The resolution then proceeded to criticise in the severest terms the conception of the role and organisation of the Communist Party itself, revealed in the theory and practice of the Yugoslav Communist Party.

It showed how the Party was being dissolved into the wide Popular Front organisation:

“In Yugoslavia…the People’s Front, and not the Communist Party, is considered to be the main leading force in the country. The Yugoslav leaders belittle the role of the Communist Party and actually dissolve the Party into the non-Party People’s Front.”

Inside the Party what the resolution called a “Turkish regime,” a system of military despotism exercised by a small power-group from above, had replaced the Marxist-Leninist principles of democratic centralism. A system of issuing commands from above, which had to be obeyed without questioning or discussion, had replaced criticism and self-criticism within the Party:

“There is no inner Party democracy, no elections and no criticism and self-criticism in the Party.”

Far from heeding the criticisms of the C.P.S.U.(B) and of the other fraternal Communist Parties, the Yugoslav leaders witheld this criticism from their own members, took it as an insult and rudely rejected it without discussion:

“Instead of honestly accepting this criticism and taking the Bolshevik path of correcting these mistakes, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, suffering from boundless ambition, arrogance and conceit, met this criticism with belligerance and hostility.”

The resolution made it quite clear that the Yugoslav Communist Party was not expelled from the Communist Information Bureau because of its mistakes and incorrect policy. Any individual, Communist Party branch or even Central Committee can make mistakes. It was not even expelled because it would not accept the criticisms made. It often takes time, a prolonged period of deep discussion, for a Party organisation or member to come to understand and correct a mistaken policy.

But to refuse to discuss criticisms made by some of the most leading and experienced Communists in the world, above all the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to withold those criticisms from the membership, to refuse to come and meet with the representatives of the other eight Communist Parties, was a course of action which could not but place the Yugoslav Communist leadership outside the family of Communist Parties:

“…the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have places themselves in opposition to the Communist Parties affiliated to the Information Bureau, have taken the path of seceding from the united socialist front against imperialism, have taken the path of betraying the cause of international solidarity of the working people, and have taken up a position of nationalism…the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has placed itself and the Yugoslav Party outside the family of the fraternal Communist Parties, outside the united Communist front, and consequently outside the ranks of the Information Bureau.”

The resolution closed with a stern warning. Nationalist elements, previously disguised, has in the course of the first half of 1948 reached controlling positions in the leadership of the Yugoslav Party. The Party had broken with its international traditions and taken the road of bourgeois nationalism. Tito, Kardelj, Djilas, Rankovic and their group were hoping to curry favour with the Western imperialists by making concessions to them. They were putting forward the bourgeois nationalist thesis that “capitalist states are a lesser danger to the independence of Yugoslavia than the Soviet Union.” They were turning from friendship with the U.S.S.R. And looking westwards. Such conduct could only have one end:

“…such a nationalist line can only lead to Yugoslavia’s degeneration into an ordinary bourgeois republic, to the loss of its independence and to its transformation into a colony of the imperialist countries.”

This warning seemed harsh to some people at the time. But in the three years that have elapsed since the first publication, it has been confirmed in every detail. The logic of history is inescapable. Between the camp of peace and the camp of war there is no third path. And the nationalist policy of Tito’s gang led straight to the camp of reaction.

 – James Klugmann, “From Trotsky to Tito,” page 8-11.

Published by Victor Vaughn

Anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist, National Secretary of the American Party of Labor (APL).

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