They were sold through the chain until they ended in the collection of a high-ranking CIA officer who specialised in them. Years later I had the chance to tell him of their origin in the Prague Spring. The Prague Spring would take place in the confluence of major changes in the structure and unity of the international socialist and communist movements; the battle for the Left.
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The struggle to support and control trades unions was very much a part of the battle to control the Left. For years the Socialists, Social Democrats, Christian unionists and the Communists fought for dominance in the labour movement. They were, and remain, competitive movements.
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Despite periods of temporary unity, like the Popular Front, they clashed in the battle for control of the Left. The main point raised against the Communists was that they were controlled by Moscow Stalinists and the aims of the Soviets took precedence over the pursuit of the class struggle. There were several key flashpoints when this conflict became obvious and extremely divisive.
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One of the most memorable of these was the role of the Communists in the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Republic had been dominated by the Socialists and anarchists and the ant-Stalinist factions of the Communist Party. When the war broke out the Spanish Republicans rallied to the fight against the Fascists.
This betrayal has never been forgiven by the non-Communist Left across the world. However, the greatest betrayal of the Stalinists in the struggle for control of the Left, one which has left its lasting mark in the political history of Europe, was the Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, , where Germany and the Soviets signed a mutual non-aggression pact allowing them to carve up Europe. Germany started by invading Czechoslovakia and Poland, while the Soviets attacked Finland. The Left was outraged that Stalin would enter any kind of league with Hitler.
The result of the Pact was that Communists across the globe turned against the Socialists, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and anarchists. They collaborated with the Germans in jailing unionists, politicians and subverting their own national governments. In France, the CGT unionists sabotaged French war production, militated against national defence, and sought to assist the Nazis even when France itself was occupied.
The German occupying power in France published its decrees and directives in the French Communist newspaper.
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The Communists attacked the Resistance and killed many of its leaders. This bizarre activity continued until that magical day of 22 June when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. After that the Soviets did a volte face and engaged themselves in supporting the Allied forces.
The continuing conflict between the Communists and others on the Left in Europe was not made easier by the efforts of the European Communists to play an important role with the military occupation forces which controlled post-war Germany, Austria. They soon fell out with these forces and began a period of opposition leading, finally, to the refusal of Stalin to allow the Marshall Plan to work. The battle for this took place mainly in the labour movements.
Not only did the Soviets act to prevent their satellites from participating in the Marshall Plan, they created a plan to use their strength in the ports and dockworkers unions to prevent or delay Marshall Plan aid from arriving in Europe. The key hub of contention was France. Until the PCF followed the Moscow line of co-operation with the French efforts at increasing production; but with the political polarisation in the struggles in Greece, Austria, Turkey and Iran, they became more militant and hostile to the French and Allied powers.
With the proposed advent of the Marshall Plan the unions were ordered to oppose any such efforts. These funds, coming from the CIA, amounted to around two million dollars a year according to Tom Braden who disbursed them. Massive overdrafts were written off by the Moscow shareholders when the party and the union required cash for operating.
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The Czech miners sent million francs to the mineworkers. The Romanians sent more than 10 million. Jacques Duclos, for the PCF, denied that these funds, amounting to over 68 million francs in two months, were anything but friendly assistance from brother unionists. The severest battles occurred on the docks where PCF unionists, determined to block the entry of Marshall Plan aid, refused to unload American ships.
This was not an unmixed blessing for the French port authorities as these Corsicans tended to stay on and run the ports long after the political battles were over, exchanging their political activity for a more traditional form of endeavour: gun-running, drug smuggling and the protection business. The costs of this split were borne by both the CIA and Moscow. The only real exception to this pattern was in Yugoslavia, where Marshal Tito led the Yugoslavs to a form of exceptionalism, distancing his country from the Soviets after the assassination of General Zhdanov by Stalin.
He later helped form the Non-Aligned Movement. The events of in France, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere in Europe and North America radically changed the perceptions of the European trades union movements and political parties towards the disappointment at the role of the communist parties of Western Europe in participating in the democratic process.
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The challenge to the communist parties of Europe posed by the radicalisation at the bases of their power, and the simultaneous need to distance themselves from their traditional close linkages with the policies of the Soviet party in the aftermath of the general world-wide revulsion following the Soviet repression of Czech communism, led these parties to a reappraisal of their strategy and tactics. This was not a new discussion. Indeed, the battles of Yugoslavia in , the Polish Spring, the Hungarian uprising and the Sino-Soviet rift were largely about the same question. This role was expanded by the formation of the European Common Market in and the opportunities it created for acceptance by the European states as legitimate partners in European unity.
The reasons for the development of Eurocommunism are not only to be found in ascribing to the Western European communists cynical and opportunist motives relating to their changed circumstances — although this was certainly true in part. The reasons lay deeper in the very nature of the communist movement. Traditionally both these movements have drawn their primary leadership cadres from the ranks of their national communist party and have been in debt for resources to the party and to the international communist movement. Nonetheless, both the French and Italian national centres dominated by the communists have substantial and influential non-party members.
Party membership and discipline is not the only requirement for office. However, membership in the communist party is not a static thing. People join the party and leave it with surprising regularity in response to the policies of the party, its electoral successes and even the opportunities it offers its members to win and maintain attractive jobs. Every turn and change in party policy wins it new members and loses it others. Unlike Eastern Europe where party membership was considered a privilege, party membership in Western Europe has frequently been a liability.
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In order to attract new members, the party has had to continually offer its members incentives to join and remain in the party. An additional factor which concerned Western European communist parties was the rising generation gap between the party leaders and the young workers it sought to attract to membership. The Warsaw Pact forces dramatically proved to the European communist leaders that a gradual decentralisation of international communism was not going to be tolerated by the Soviet policy-makers. As in the case of Hungary twelve years earlier, communist party members left the party in substantial numbers.
They also drifted away from activities within the communist-led unions. For most of the Western European parties the blow of Czechoslovakia came at a time when they, like their comrades in France, were already crumbling at the base. The inexorable propensity of the Left, and especially the communist Left, to form an intricate kaleidoscopic pattern of factionalism was boosted by this clear division over the justification for the Soviet invasion of a fellow communist state.
These parties publicly had to declare their position on Czechoslovakia to retain any credibility with their followers; a declaration which inevitably led to more splits and factions. There were a number of factors; but, by far, the European communists were deeply shaken by the downfall of Allende in Chile. For the PCI to attain power, a historic compromise with the Christian Democrats would be the only safe route. To achieve this goal the PCI had to be recognised as a party fully accepting the rigours of parliamentary democracy. They became Eurocommunists.
The spread of Eurocommunism and the commitment to developing Euro-unions reached even to the socialist strongholds of Scandinavia after their own minor upheavals in There was a marked radicalisation of the union base of the party in This LO organisation represented about 98 per cent of the organised workers in Sweden, with the rest affiliated to the white-collar TCO organisation or to the tiny group of unions affiliated to the Swedish Communist Party VPK.
The frustration at the economic and political weakness of the SAP among LO members drained away a substantial portion of the electoral base of the SAP. The Cold War industrial battlefield was hardly the only area of contention between the U. The battle for control of the Left was also a battle for control of the intellectual underpinnings of the separate ideologies.
Their theme was that the United States and the Allied Western democracies were the war-mongers and were opposed by the Kremlin and its satellite peace-loving democracies. The Waldorf Congress outraged many of the intellectuals and cultural icons in the U. Their anger was channeled by a handful of liberal and socialist writers, led by philosophy professor Sydney Hook, who saw their chance to steal a little of the publicity expected for the Waldorf peace conference. Ten years earlier he and his mentor John Dewey had founded a controversial group called the Committee for Cultural Freedom, which attacked both Communism and Nazism.http://saicaregeneration.com/wp-content/2019-09-11/144.php