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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 21. 5th September 1973

No Flowers For Dubcek

No Flowers For Dubcek

Photo of dancers holding a wreath

Late on the night of August 20, 1968. Warsow Pact countries led by the Soviet Union, dispatched large numbers of aircraft, tanks and ground troops to occupy Czechoslovakia. The invasion had no support from any leading body in the Czechoslovak Communist Party or Government and was opposed by the overwhelming majority of Czechs. One of their bitter jokes ran: "We have been deepening our friendship with the Soviet Union for 20 years. Now at last we have hit rock bottom." What has been miscalled "socialism with a human face" ended with the Dubcek group being kidnapped in handcuffs to Moscow where the Khrushchovites dictated to them their new policies.

Counter Revolution within Counter Revolution

To justify its naked aggression, the Soviet Union demagogically claimed that it had occupied Czechoslovakia in order to "defend socialist gains " and out of "concern for the consolidation of peace". But at no time was socialism involved. In the Soviet Union itself a new bourgeois stratum has seized control of state power and turned that country into a new type of monopoly capitalist state. Dubcek's programme was one of capitalist restoration dressed up as the "Czech road to socialism". What was at stake was whether Czechoslovakia would remain tied to the Soviet Union or whether there would be Czech-West German-US economic collaboration.

At the time of the Soviet invasion what threatened in Czechoslovakia was not counter-revolution — that had arrived with Novotny — but a congress on the Czechoslovak Communist Party which would have entrenched the Dubcek group in power. As a consequence Dubcek would be able to press his political programme, the essence of which was the introduction of bourgeois democracy (allowing a free hand to all the old exploiting elements) and the orientation of Czech foreign policy towards the West.

What Happened in Czechoslovakia?

Under Novotny as in the Soviet Union, economic reforms intensified the trend to capitalist restoration; control of enterprises within the enterprises themselves, the profit criterion, coordination of the economy by the market, widening income differentials and control of the means of production by the privileged bourgeois stratum. For example, "Rude Pravo" reported on July 19, 1967 that since 1966 salaries of administrative employees had risen by 6.2 per cent while worker's wagex, had risen by 1.4 percent.

The Action Programme, adopted on April 5, 1968 by the Czech Communist Party, mirrored the economic and political changes which had occurred. Its anti-Marxist core is most apparent in this statement: "Antagonistic classes no longer exist and the main feature of internal development is becoming the process of bringing all socialist groupings in the society together." (Information Bulletin, Prague, 1968, p. 8). In all socialist and revisionist countries without exception, there are classes, class contradictions and class struggle. The struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist rood m all spheres — economic, political and ideological — will continue and at times become acute.

Czechoslovakia in 1968 is a valid illustration It was a year in which the new bourgeoisie (created from political degenerates in the party and government organs, of whom Dubcek was the foremost representative) and the old bourgeoisie (members of the former exploiting class) moved to establish capitalism in all spheres of Czechoslovak life. Departing from Marxism-Leninism, Dubcek ostensibly lilted state censorship of publications, radio and TV. In reality those who were advocating capitalist restoration, overtly or covertly, were given a free hand, while those who advocated the socialist toad were suppressed.

In particular, the works of Mao Tsetung were forbidden Party and government cadres who had fought fascism and who delended the socialist road were removed and replaced, often by counter-revolutionaries recently released from prison. The Ministry of Defence was directed by just such a person. Openly counter-revoluionary organisation flourished. For example, Club-231 was an organisation led by Nazi generals. SS officers and formers Ministers in the Hitler regime in Slovakia. The Club of Nonparty Activists revived and built the cult of Masaryk. May Day demonstrations were enlivened by US flags, and the slogan. "Long Live the United Slates". In April Vietnamese students who had demonstrated outside the US Embassy in Prague tore down a US flag, They were attacked by Czech students. Later the Czech students replaced the flag and apologised to the United States!

Dubcek had his credit scouts scouring Europe for hard currency loans. The United Stales is thought to have promised him $(US)400 million. He moved to make Czechoslovakia's currency internationally conventible. These were all steps towards the integration of the Czech economy into the capitalist world economy.

The Communist Party of Australia's Moscow correspondent, Eric Thornton, reported "The National Assembly and the National Front ... are working already in a new way giving hope that they will become more like the form of parliamentary institutions idealised in the west." (Tribune, July 3, 1968) Dubcek was moving to legalise capitalist parties. Thornton further reports; "The new trade unionism is beginning to took like the traditional progressive trade unionism of advanced capitalist countries, in as much as it is concentrating more on defence of workers' conditions than as an arm of the state or a political party. One indication — in May there were 20 strikes against mismanagement, compared with 29 for the whole of last year."

Thornton reported that the Communist youth organisation had been dissolved and replaced by a new, diversified youth movement "with several centres according to separate interests." He thought the revival of the Boy Scouts an "interesting development"'

With Czechoslovakia being rapidly turned into a capitalist country like those of West Europe, no wonder Dubcek was more famous than Mickey Mouse. The US loved him.

What Czechoslovakia needs is not a return to Dubcek's capitalism with a "socialist" face, but a thoroughgoing cultural revolution which will reestablish the dictatorship of the proletariat under which the working class and its allies enjoy broad democratic rights and the bourgeoisie is suppressed.

Aftermath of the Invasion

Brezhnev's doctrine of "limited sovereignty" is the most dangerous child of Czechoslovakia Under this doctrine, the Soviet Union reserves the right to intervene in any country of what it calls the "socialist commonwealth" where "socialism" i.e. Soviet imperial interests, are threatened.

Following the Czechoslovakian invasion, countries such as Albania, Rumania and Yugoslavia steeled themselves against a possible Soviet invasion. When the Soviet Array began manoeuvres near their borders the leaders of these countries, unlike the Dubcek traitors, mobilised the people to be ready to repel an invasion.

China is particularly endangered by the Brezhnev doctiine. A million Soviet troops have been stationed along the Sino-Soviet border. Soviet troops have created a number of armed incidents along the border, and the Soviet Government obdurately refuses to negotiate the border question. In October 1968, Brezhnev arrogantly demanded that in exchange of a garrison of 100,000 Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia Dubcek had to provide 250,000 Czech troops for the Chinese border. As far as is known, no such exchange was made.

Eugene Rostow prominent adviser to the Johnson Administration, stated privately during his recent New Zealand tour that from 1966-69 Soviet leaders repeatedly proposed to the United States that they make a joint strike against China's nuclear capacity. In July 1970, during negotiations in Vienna, Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister. V.S. Semyonov. proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union form an alliance against "provocative actions", the spear-head of which was aimed at China.

The Chinese people have taken the Soviet threat seriously and have made full preparations against such an attack.

The latest talks on European Security in Helsinki have shown that the Soviet Union, for all the prattle about "peaceful coexistence", is ready to repeat the Czechoslovakian adventure. While Gromyko made pious speeches about the "unconditional recognition of the inviolability of frontiers". one of his stooges, Sofinsky, specifically reserved the right for a repetition of Czechoslovak-type invasion. To cover himself, Sofinsky blatantly lied that the Czech Government had invited the Soviet Union to intervene!

Another consequence of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia has been the further exposure of the Soviet Union as a country which is "socialist" in words but imperialist in deeds. If Czechoslovakia had not happened, would it not have been more difficult to understand why the Soviet Union continues to aid the nationalist Lon Not scum in Cambodia?

The Spirit of Dick Whittington

The fall of Dubcek provoked a profound crisis in the pro-Moscow "communist" parties. Because Dubcek's Action Programme was essentially identical with than political programmes most had been enthusiastically proclaiming the virtues of Dubcek. In New Zealand the Socialist Unity Patty devoied a two-page panegyric of the Action Programme entitled "The word is 'democratisation'" in Tribune, July 4, 1968 ([unclear: surely]) no coincidence!) Repeatedly the SUP leaders scoffed at those who thought that Czechoslovakia was rapidly becoming a bourgeois democracy. As late as August 15, 1968, in the whipped dog tone which distinguishes Tribune editorials, the SUP whined about those who doubled the good intentions of the Soviet Union, alleging that "long planned military manoeuvres were played up as a threat calculated to 'pressure Czechoslovakia'"

But once the Soviet Union occupied Czechoslovakia in its surprise attack, showing that the spirit of Dick Whittington lives on all the servile parties about-turned and vilified Dubcek with an energy matched only by what used to praise him. With unconscious irony. Tribune lectured its readers about how counter revolutionaries do not advertise themselves as such, etc. etc.

(See Tribune, September 12, 1968. p. 6). These fake-Marxists were silent about why they now saw counter-revolution where once there was "revolution" and why they mocked Marxist Leninists when the latter stated that Dubcek was a counter-revolutionary.

Photo of Brezhnev and Dubeck cooking

Brezhnev and Dubeck in happier days