World Communism Shifts Its Line:
Making Room for Mau and Tito
It is a safe rule, in inquiring as to the motive for any turn in Soviet policy that does not strike one as self-evident, to refer to the dissensions among the top Soviet leadership. In their light I believe that the purely aggressive and disruptive motivations of the present “co-existence” campaign can be exposed. Nor is it likely that any but aggressive intentions should lie behind a line which went into force at the very moment of Nikita Khrushchev’s accession to power. Khrushchev has always been a “left” extremist inside the Russian Communist party, and “co-existence” bears many marks of his personal influence. The story of the series of compromises by which he rose to power, in addition to clarifying Soviet foreign policy, ought to reveal much about the internal stresses to which the present directorate of world Communism is subject.
Beria’s fall, even more than the death of Stalin, marked a decisive change in the structure of Soviet leadership. Had the instruments of autocratic rule—particularly the secret police—remained intact, the “collective leadership” installed in the Kremlin after Stalin’s demise would have but marked the transition from one personal dictatorship to another. The secret police of the Soviet Union, forged originally to guarantee the party’s exclusive rule, had been shaped by Stalin to guarantee his personal control of the party as well as the state. Beria was the man through whom he did this, and who in the end came to embody the police regime, and when Stalin turned against him in the last year or so of his life, the police as an instrument of Stalinist rule became unreliable—which the doubtful circumstances of Stalin’s own end proved. Beria’s downfall less than a year later meant much more than the elimination of an aspirant to Stalin’s role. The police arm as such, and especially its political core, the Office of State Security (now the KGB), received a blow from which it will not easily recover. Practically its whole higher staff was destroyed, and its powers—especially control over armaments production—were so diminished as to render it impotent in the continuing struggle for power. For many months State Security remained without a head, and the man finally given the post, Lieutenant General Serov, was almost certainly a Khrushchev tool. There is reason to think Khrushchev would now like to restore the power of the police in order to use it for himself, though he well knows that a revived secret police might eventually prove a threat to him, too, and would in any event draw down the hostility of the other party bosses and of the army leaders, all of whom have much to fear From a revival of police rule in the USSR.
The Stalinist regime rested on three pillars: party, police, and army. Stalin ruled as head of the party, but the party could rule only because it was faithfully served by the police. The army, precisely because it was potentially the strongest of these three sources of power, was excluded from politics and kept in a state of dependency. The decapitation of the State Security Office weakened the party indirectly and automatically brought the army into the political foreground as the sole effective arbiter of conflicts within the Politburo. On three crucial occasions in the recent past has the army been drawn directly into politics: Stalin’s death; Beria’s arrest—which was carried out by the army; and the Khrushchev-Malenkov conflict. Each time the army’s action depended on agreement among its top leaders, which was never easy to arrive at, since, like the party, it is ridden by cliques and factions; yet on all three occasions the marshals and generals were able to reach agreement on a major issue. After Stalin’s death they agreed to let control of state and party be divided between Malenkov and Khrushchev, in order to keep any single individual from monopolizing power. Then they agreed on the necessity of Beria’s elimination and the protection of the party against a Bonapartist coup in order to safeguard the interests of the Russian nation and empire. And, finally, they agreed on the necessity of supporting Khrushchev against Malenkov (which reversed their decision of March 1953). The last marked a turning point in Soviet history: for the first time the issue of party leadership was settled with the help, or even intervention, of a non-party force. The far-reaching importance of this fact should not be obscured by recognition of the genuine devotion to the cause of Communism of the group of marshals and generals that now wields effective (as distinct from formal) control over the Red Army.
The Red Army was not, however, the only outside force that made itself felt in the Kremlin at the moment of Malenkov’s demotion. Three months before, Khrushchev had traveled to Peking with Bulganin and Mikoyan, and the decisions they arrived at there with Mao are now only gradually coming to light. Mikoyan’s presence at this conference and the absence of Malenkov and Molotov would seem to indicate that the present constellation of Soviet leaders was then emerging—and that Mao’s endorsement of it was deemed necessary. Again, what had until then seemed unthinkable happened: the Kremlin asked for Peking’s approval. And it paid a price for it—of which only part, the surrender of Russia’s last Manchurian base and the repudiation of Kaokang, the leader of the Moscow faction in the Chinese Politburo, is known as yet.
To dispose of Malenkov, Khrushchev had to put up with Mikoyan, a staunch moderate intent upon commercial and economic, as against political and party, ends—and a man probably more astute than Malenkov. This compromise was no doubt partly forced on Khrushchev by pressure at home; that is, Malenkov’s humiliation had not meant total defeat for the moderate wing of the Russian Communist party, whose backers, mainly the managers of big Soviet industry, were not to be discounted so easily. Their man in the Politburo is Mikoyan. Yet it could not have been concern solely over the loyalty of the managers that motivated Khrushchev’s acceptance of him; this is shown by the fact that right after Malenkov’s demotion Mikoyan was relieved of his economic tasks, where he could have been of greatest service to the managerial interests, and assigned to policy-making alone, chiefly in the inter-national sphere. There, until a short time ago, he seemed to be devoting himself to the USSR’s relations with other Communist countries. It is very likely that Mikoyan owes his survival as a Soviet leader to Mao’s influence, as a condition for the latter’s cooperation with the Kremlin in its foreign policy. Mao would regard Mikoyan as a check on Khrushchev’s pathological excitability and incurable extremism—and Mao must also want to keep the internal divisions in Moscow’s Politburo alive, on the principle of divide et impera.
The compromises with the army, with the Politburo moderates, and with Mao are not the only ones, however, that Khrushchev has made in his rise to the position of primus inter pares in the Kremlin. He has also compromised with Tito, for it seems that the latter was able to secure the exclusion of his arch-foe, Molotov, from the USSR’s negotiations with all non-Russian Communist powers as the price of his reconciliation with Moscow and cooperation with its foreign policy. And it appears that Tito’s voice was joined with Mao’s in demanding that Mikoyan retain his place in the supreme councils of Soviet power.
The effectiveness of such pressure from the outside reveals the extent to which the power of the Russian Communist party has declined in recent years in relation both to other forces inside the USSR and to other forces in world Communism. Obviously, Khrushchev would like to restore Russian Communism to its old supremacy, and also to its old militancy, but serious obstacles continue to stand in his way. He himself has reached his present eminence with the backing of a combination of different interests, a combinazione in the best Italian tradition though not in the best Russian and Bolshevik one. For the group that now rules in the USSR, with Khrushchev as its spokesman, represents that policy of “unprincipled blocs” which both Lenin and Stalin inveighed against. What matters most to Khrushchev, however, is to get on top and stay there, at almost any price, and once on top, to expand his power unceasingly as Stalin did in his time. Khrushchev’s political personality is defined by this strategy and its tactics—which means that his power is still shaky.
Having risen to the top with the support of a combination of conflicting interests, Khrushchev cannot pursue his personal aims directly or openly. The contrast between these aims and the actual policy of the Kremlin today explains much about the current political situation in the USSR.
Khrushchev has always stood for strict Communist orthodoxy inside the party, and for rapid progress towards “full” Communism inside the country. The anti-religious campaign he promoted a while ago was characteristic of the first. The bottom fell out of the campaign owing to the resistance of the people themselves, which was most strongly voiced through the army, and an official retreat from aggressive atheism was one of the preconditions for Khrushchev’s elevation to his present position in the Politburo. And for all the evidence that he and his ideologues would still like to carry on a little more priest-baiting, this restraint in anti-religious propaganda is obvious today on the Russian scene.
Khrushchev displays much less restraint, however, in such matters as domestic economic policy. His very rise was to the tune of reiterated calls for a return to priority for capital as against consumer production. Though purporting to aim simply at the increase of wheat production, his campaign to bring the virgin lands of Kazakstan under cultivation is really intended to increase the weight of the state farms in relation to the peasant cooperatives. Nothing identifies Khrushchev in the public mind so much as his call, in 1951, for the replacement of villages by “agro-towns” where the ties of rural life would be broken and the peasants would live as landless proletarians in rented rooms under the supervision of foremen-monitors. This complete elimination of whatever is left of peasant independence in Soviet Russia is what Khrushchev has in mind when he urges the building of “full” Communism. The Russian party congress this coming February should tell us something about the actual extent to which he has been able to push ahead with super-industrialization and his new agrarian revolution, but it is already obvious that he has had to rein himself in considerably as regards the latter, probably out of fear of that same universal opposition he met in 1951.
Given the relative standstill in domestic and party affairs compelled by Khrushchev’s compromises with political backers who happen at the same time to be his ideological opponents, Soviet policy has of late concentrated overwhelmingly on diplomatic and other kinds of activity abroad. It has been the practice of almost all dictators and aspirants to dictatorship to seek in foreign adventure compensation for ambitions they cannot yet fully gratify at home, or for setbacks in other fields. In foreign affairs Khrushchev must heed the views of the Red Army and of Mao and Tito just as much as in domestic ones, but whereas really independent action at home in the USSR would bring him into head-on collision with interests as strong as his own, he is able in the international field to cooperate more sincerely with new non-Russian Communist powers like China and Yugoslavia. This is the one fundamental fact that must be kept in mind about the “co-existence” campaign.
This line corresponds with Khrushchev’s real inclinations as little as does any other aspect of present Soviet policy. He has never bothered to conceal his utter hostility to the West. Only recently, on his visit to India, he let himself go in a tirade full of sanguinary threats against the whole non-Communist world. He never lets us forget his old association with Zhdanov’s faction, which wanted to push ahead without delay from victory over Hitler to world revolution. In view of his temperamental aggressiveness and obvious mental instability, Khrushchev’s adoption of a line as oblique as that of “coexistence” strikes one as all the more remarkable.
Actually, it is not so remarkable. The “coexistence” line derives from certain tactical methods devised by Lenin and then elaborated by Stalin. In the past these methods tended to be identified with the right wing inside the Russian Communist party. It was Mao, not a Russian, who first set out to combine them with policies associated with the left wing, and this combination—to whose realization Tito and “Titoism” have been indispensable—is what is really new about “co-existence.”
It reflects the grossest kind of ignorance that political leaders in Western Europe and America, as well as in the “colored” countries, should regard “co-existence” as something really new and expressive of a genuine change in the Communist mentality. Back in 1920 Lenin began to talk about “coexistence,” sometimes using that very word, and sometimes not; until recently Khrushchev and his propagandists were in the habit of pointing this fact out.
For Lenin, “co-existence” meant two things: first, the existence side by side in a state of non-belligerency of a single “socialist” country with many “capitalist” ones; second, the presence in many countries of both Socialist and Communist parties. Given to frank speaking, Lenin never failed to stress the temporary nature of such “coexistence,” which had to culminate, he tirelessly insisted, in the “final” struggle for world revolution. Khrushchev and the Soviet press, though quoting Lenin frequently of late, have cited none of the passages in which he emphasized the temporary nature of “co-existence” and the inevitability of a final, violent showdown. Over a period of eight months I myself repeatedly called attention, in my work as a journalist, to this systematic falsification of Lenin’s meaning, pointing out that it alone was enough to indicate the dishonesty of the whole “co-existence” line.
In the end, Pravda came out with an official statement admitting that Lenin had indeed always defined “co-existence” as a temporary and transitional stage leading up to the “final battle.” But the statement went on to say that Lenin had erred here, since the “final battle” had now become unnecessary in view of the likelihood that one country after another would go over to Communism of its own volition. This was the first time in Soviet history that any doctrine enunciated by Lenin had been expressly repudiated. But it was by no means the first time a doctrine of Lenin’s had been implicitly repudiated, and in almost every previous instance it had been the same doctrine, that of the inevitability of violent world revolution, and always in the name of something that amounted to the same thing as “co-existence,” whether or not that term was actually used. And each time it was accepted more or less widely in the non-Communist world as the sign of a genuine change of heart on the part of Bolshevism, and each time the United or Popular Front or Anti-Fascist bloc turned out to be a mere maneuver and trap.
Lenin himself had specifically provided for maneuvers and traps in his “Left” Communism, an Infantile Disorder (1920), which enjoys, if anything, more authority as a manual of tactics for Communists right now than ever in the past. Since the time of the book’s appearance, however, the tactic of the “strategic retreat” that it defines has evolved considerably, with the factors of deception and infiltration increasing in effectiveness as the Communist leaders learned to employ them with greater skill.
When the “co-existence” or strategic-retreat line was first tried out, in the United Front period of the 20’s, the element of deception and concealment was so weak that a child could see through it. Moreover, the leaders of Communism themselves were somewhat confused at the time as to how much the new line meant a real retreat, and how much a new kind of offensive, and this produced a certain amount of dissension among them. With the Popular Front in the 30’s the element of deception was vastly enhanced and improved, which increased the effectiveness of the Communists’ infiltrative and disruptive tactics among their credulous allies in the “fight” against fascism. All the Communist parties had by then learned how to produce the convincing impression of a change of heart, and their leaders had become so hardened in Bolshevik methods that almost none of them failed to recognize the whole elaborate maneuver for what it was.
With the Anti-Fascist bloc during the war against Hitler, both deception and infiltration—or rather, this time, flanking aggression—reached dimensions of effectiveness that seemed unsurpassable. Some Communist parties, like that of Yugoslavia, were able, while denying the very fact of their own existence, to make successful armed bids for power. Collaboration and synchronization of activity among Communist parties in different countries reached a new pitch of perfection, as did that also between Soviet diplomats and Communist agents in the decision-making bodies of the Western powers. It might be thought that the subsequent uncovering of all these machinations and maneuvers has so disabused people in the West about the genuineness of any Communist profession of peaceful intentions as to make the success of a repetition of the strategic-retreat tactic unthinkable. Not at all, to judge from the reception of today’s “coexistence” line.
But what is more to our present point is to see how the faithful Communist has learned not to argue against retreats and “rotten” compromises now that the whole movement knows how enormously successful these can be against “allies.” This growth of insight within the Communist leadership into Lenin’s tactical doctrines is what has induced even such an inveterate extremist and militant as Khrushchev to adopt the tactic of apparent retreat.
A most decisive step in the evolution of this tactic was made by Mao, from 1936 on. Thenceforth, for a variety of reasons, Chinese influence on the development of more daring forms of “attack by strategic retreat” became increasingly important.
In the 20’s the Chinese Reds had mechanically reproduced the tactics of the German Communist party of that time in their dealings with Chiang Kai-shek, and as a result had suffered a catastrophic defeat The phase of left extremism that followed for them lasted longer than in Europe, but in 1936, when Mao began to make serious use of the Popular Front tactic against that same Chiang Kai-shek who had visited such destruction upon his predecessors ten years before, he combined apparently extreme conciliatoriness with the direct use of force in a very daring manner. Over the decade 1937-1947, the Communists and the Kuomintang maintained a common “national front” against the Japanese, but all the while continued to wage civil war against each other. The result was to clear and ease the way for Mao’s final triumph in 1948—and make him the outstanding Communist expert in ways of combining tactical flexibility with ruthless and steadfast pursuit of aggressive aims.
Mao’s penchant for flexibility was one more reason why he found it easy to come to an agreement with Khrushchev at Peking in October 1954. If there were any differences between the two, it is unlikely that these had to do with the Communist line against the West. On the other hand, the Peking negotiations did advertise to the world China’s rise to equal status with Russia in the Communist movement, and this brought to a head certain problems inside that movement which had been brewing for a decade.
If Moscow can at the moment no longer claim exclusive control of the Communist movement throughout the world, it is in large part due to the way in which the rigidity of Stalinist methods of control—which were identified with Russian leadership-prevented the full exploitation of the opportunities for Communist expansion provided by Yalta and Potsdam. Stalinist centralism brought on Tito’s revolt, and it has now become apparent to Moscow that most of the other mistakes due to Stalinist rigidity cannot be undone without undoing that revolt. And it is the “maturing” of world Communism—no empty term in the mouths of the Soviet leaders—that has made it possible for them to effect a new change of line in order to accommodate the recognition of these facts.
“Maturing” means, quite simply, the growing capacity of the various Communist parties to understand and employ the element of deception. The greater this capacity, the easier it becomes for the Communist movement to surround itself with outer circles of fellow-travelers, sympathizers, friends, and benevolently disposed bystanders of all descriptions, without endangering the integrity of its own inner core. If the “co-existence” line is to be the way to world conquest, this mass of blinded and half-blinded auxiliaries is indispensable. There are many countries and political movements susceptible in greater or lesser measure to Communist infiltration and eventual control that would recoil right now and refuse to cooperate if they realized the true intentions of the Communists. It is in order to perfect the screening of these intentions that reconciliation with Tito has become so fundamental to Moscow.
This reconciliation was made possible by the elimination or subordination of such personal enemies of Tito in Moscow as Stalin, Beria, Malenkov, and even Molotov; and also by the Peking agreement, which showed that the Kremlin was ready to keep in the fold Communist leaders who demanded to be treated as equals of the Russians. After all, Moscow was aware that Tito remained a convinced Communist, if not a Stalinist, even though he insisted on a free hand at home in Yugoslavia and the retention of those contacts with the West that had proven valuable to him so far. Because Tito remains a Communist, he remains convinced of the desirability of the Communist conquest of the world, and even of its imminence. This is why he insisted at the Belgrade meeting on Khrushchev’s certification of his good standing as a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, which made him what he had not been before: one of the leaders of international Communism. And he also insisted, but with less success, on a major share in the control of Russia’s satellites in Eastern Europe as well as a large voice in Communist policy everywhere else, especially Asia. Condominium with Tito in Eastern Europe is a bitter pill for the Kremlin to swallow, but it has benefited by his intervention in almost every other sphere of international politics.
Since the Belgrade accord, and even for some time before that, Yugoslav diplomacy has worked for Moscow, invariably backing the USSR on whatever happens to be the key issue of the given moment—which, at the time of writing, is German reunification; Belgrade is backing Moscow’s refusal to discuss it. Nor is diplomatic cooperation the most important aspect of the present accord between the two. A rather outspoken article by one Vlahovic, a member of the Yugoslav foreign office, appearing in the May 1955 number of the Belgrade (not Moscow) Kommunist, has revealed its more fundamental meaning.
Despite the honeyed talk about a “third force” then, as now, issuing from Belgrade, Vlahovic’s article proclaims the fundamental unity of the Communist world: “. . . the proletarian revolutions that started with the October one found their continuation in the Chinese and Yugoslav revolutions.” In other words, the present regimes of Russia, China, and Yugoslavia are all enlisted in the same cause. Vlahovic goes on to say that these three powers will jointly lead the rest of the world to “socialism.”
At the same time, says Vlahovic, an ever vaster “socialist camp” is developing that takes in governments and political movements now outside the Communist orbit. The most important member of that camp, apart from the aforementioned “Big Three,” is India. But India’s social and economic structure is certainly not socialist, nor does its government claim that it is. Thus “socialist,” in Vlahovic’s usage, turns out to be a term applied solely to those countries and movements which the Communist powers expect to be able to recruit as auxiliaries in the struggle against the “capitalist bloc.” That they have some reason to entertain such expectations with regard to India is shown by Nehru’s cooperation with Tito, Khrushchev, and Bulganin in all the recent journeying to and fro between India, Moscow, and Belgrade.
Vlahovic’s article is also marked by fierce hostility towards the Second International, which he tries to disguise by coupling it with the Cominform among organizations “outmoded by present conditions.” But his only real aim in criticizing the Cominform is to declare by implication Yugoslavia’s claim to a voice in the management of the East European satellites, whereas his hostility towards the Second International is complete. In attacking the international organization of the democratic socialists he calls on the left-wing opposition within it to join forces with a new grouping of left socialists to be found in Asia, Latin America, and “elsewhere”—but “primarily in the . . . socialist movement in Yugoslavia.” In other words, he hopes to see the Second International split wide open, and the present leaders of the democratic socialist parties, all of whom are loyal to the West, replaced by fellow-travelers or neutralists.
In the diplomatic sphere, Tito presses openly for the disruption of NATO, the unification of Germany under Communist rule, the installation of Popular Front governments in France and Italy, and the formation of an anti-Western bloc in Asia. At the same time, he works for the disruption of every political force, official and unofficial, that might offer resistance to Communist penetration. Why indeed, in view of all this, should a militant left Communist like Khrushchev find much to object to in Tito at present?
Nonetheless, things within the Communist movement, and especially in the upper echelons of Soviet power, are not quite as simple as all that, and never were. There is, for instance, the Red Army, some of whose marshals and generals might be expected to object to such a complete subordination of military force to political maneuvering in the strategic perspective of world Communism.
The subordination of military action to political disruption is, however, an old Bolshevik principle that was applied extensively as early as during the civil war in Russia. It should be remembered that Lenin seized power in October 1917 with a minimum of violence owing to the total political disintegration of his adversaries. Armed force played a larger part in the Red victory in China, but at bottom was used only to administer the finishing touches to the political disintegration of the country in general and of the Kuomintang in particular. And in taking over the satellites, Communist success in pulling the wool over the eyes of Western statesmen by a concerted policy of misinformation turned out to be far more important than any action by partisans or the Red Army. In Greece, where the Communists were unable to sow confusion by distortion and misinformation, their advance came to a halt despite a strong Red-led guerrilla movement.
It is possible that some of the Red Army leaders do not feel the Bolshevik tradition of advance by disruption, disintegration, and the sowing of confusion to be a completely binding one. If so, the presence of the hydrogen bomb must by now have given them pause. No amount of martial enthusiasm can induce one to overlook the fact that the use of the H-bomb in actual warfare would be self-defeating. Today any war that would not be insane and suicidal must be a limited, local one, preferably fought by guerrilla and partisan methods. This only confirms the original Bolshevik conception of what war in the cause of Communism should be like: the handmaid as it were, and the auxiliary of politics. Thus the H-bomb has achieved the apotheosis of the Hegelian-Marxist dialectic as applied to political strife.
Because both sides have hydrogen bombs, danger of a major war has today been reduced practically to the vanishing point. But this does not prevent the bomb from affording Communist propagandists a valuable instrument with which to strike terror into the heart of the ordinary citizen in the West—and not only the ordinary citizen. No wonder Soviet leaders, both civil and military, have over the last months repeatedly conjured up the horrors to be anticipated from the use of the hydrogen bomb. It diverts attention from the real threat that lies in the disruptive intentions of the “co-existence” campaign.
The Soviet leaders are also in something of a hurry, and not only in order to see the final victory of Communism in their own lifetimes. “Co-existence” must produce some real successes soon if Khrushchev is to cope with the resistance to it in his own camp. In that resistance, Russian national resentment of the internationalization of the leadership of the Communist movement is joined to old-fashioned Communist suspicion of excessive political flexibility and the Red Army’s distaste for a kind of politics that relegates its most modern weapons to the role of propaganda scarecrows. Molotov speaks for this opposition in the Politburo, but lacking as he does a powerful apparat or personal political machine, he would not count for much without the provisional support of certain leftist Red Army marshals—whose growing political influence is the price Khrushchev has to pay for their help in Beria’s liquidation—and without the threat offered by Peking and Belgrade to Russian hegemony in world Communism.
The marshals’ group that supports Molotov in partial opposition to Khrushchev first came to notice during the latter phase of the war, when Stalin brought forward three of them—Vasilievsky, Koniev, and Govorov—to counter Zhukov’s growing popularity. More or less Stalin’s creatures, they were close to Zhdanov, then leader of the left extremist faction in the Politburo, but survived his fall in 1948, to be honored in 1953 by being named among the intended victims of the Moscow “doctors’ plot.” Apparently, Stalin planned to make use of these marshals in a great new purge aimed at Beria, Malenkov, and Zhukov. It is therefore not surprising that later on they had a large hand in Beria’s downfall and Malenkov’s subordination. Zhukov’s willingness to cooperate with them in return for personal advancement does not, in retrospect, speak well for his political acumen when compared with theirs. Whatever the reason, it is these marshals who control the Red Army today, and not he. (The role of Govorov, their political leader, who died in 1955, appears to have been filled by Marshal Chuikov, now commander-in-chief of the Russian forces in East Germany.)
The Stalinist marshals disliked Beria and Malenkov not only personally, but for their policies, too, which were altogether at variance with those now being pursued under Khrushchev. Beria may have actually contemplated a major withdrawal from the advanced positions won by Stalin’s diplomatic victories in Eastern Europe. Malenkov, though he certainly did not contemplate anything of that sort, did strive for a “breathing space,” to be devoted to the reduction of social tensions inside the USSR. This could hardly have suited the marshals. But if Malenkov was reluctant to engage Soviet power in any major effort in Europe, it was also because he wanted, like Stalin, to keep China and Yugoslavia subordinated, as of old, to Russia inside the Communist movement—and the marshals could not have objected to that. When Khrushchev took over, this line was immediately reversed. The “peace movement” tactic, which Malenkov had used in an effort to buy time, now became one more weapon in the campaign for a rapid disruption of the Western defense front, and at the same time Moscow took a softer line than Malenkov’s towards Mao and Tito.
The leftist marshals voiced their dissatisfaction with the new turn rather openly on the occasion of the tenth anniversary (May 1955) of the victory over Hitler. Vasilievsky, Koniev, Chuikov, and Rotmistrov all made belligerent speeches that threatened to compromise in one way or another the official “coexistence” campaign, then at its height. Nor was this the only sign of opposition.
Molotov, who has never made a secret of his dislike for the Peking and Belgrade agreements, in the negotiations for which he did not participate, and who was exposed to any number of official and unofficial slights at the time, has not only remained in office but had his way against the more cautious tendencies in the Kremlin at the Geneva Conference. Army support can alone explain this. At the same time some of Khrushchev’s more bellicose utterances may be attributed to his own desire to placate the marshals, who do not seem as yet to have thrown their full support to either Molotov or himself. It is rather as though they wanted to keep a balance between the two, to prevent Molotov from launching the USSR on a policy of sterile isolationism, and Khrushchev from further jeopardizing Russian supremacy within international Communism and compromising Bolshevik orthodoxy by too much maneuvering.
If this interpretation is correct, then the leftist marshals have achieved some major successes in influencing Russian policy towards Peking and Belgrade. Khrushchev’s “co-existence” line may be faring well in Europe and Asia (owing largely to the obtuseness of Western leaders), but the same cannot be said of his policies within the Communist movement. Despite a number of formal concessions to Tito—such as the rehabilitation of satellite Communists punished on charges of Titoism—he has still not obtained the influence he wants in the satellite countries. Recent reshuffling of party leadership in Budapest and Bucharest has only strengthened Rakosi and Gheorghiu-Dej, respectively, both of them old enemies of Tito. The Bulgarian leaders, after long consultations in Moscow, returned home without orders for a shakeup in their own ranks. The Albanian Communist leaders, despite their almost open defiance of the Belgrade agreement, remain in place. Things reached the point where Tito received visits from Ambassador Murphy and Secretary of State Dulles in a move to exert pressure on Moscow—but without effect so far.
What is even more serious is that the Peking agreements now seem to be in jeopardy. The Russian press, after stressing joint Russian-Chinese hegemony in the Communist movement for more than a year, has suddenly reverted to the old Stalinist practice of exalting Soviet leadership alone. This almost certainly means a major victory for Molotov over Khrushchev, but what went on behind the scenes to make this possible remains in darkness still.
What is definite is that Red China has now embarked on a great revolutionary adventure. Not enough attention was paid in the European and American press to Mao’s recent proclamation of full “agrarian collectivization” within five years and full socialized industrialization within ten (the meaning of “cooperativization” in present Chinese usage covers practically the same things that Stalin had in mind with his first Five Year Plan). Mao’s hitherto relatively mild inner-party regime is now giving way to rule by terror, and the “class struggle in the village” has been officially unleashed. The risks such a line involves in China, a country on the brink of famine even in years of normal harvest, are incalculable. The reasons for this sudden turn on the part of the Chinese leaders remain uncertain, but what is not are the alternatives with which it faces them. Either Red China will collapse under the strain, or else she will come out of the ordeal with party control of the country vastly tightened and industrial production increased—hence in a much stronger position vis-à-vis Russia. What also appears likely is that China will for the next five years and perhaps even longer be too fully occupied at home to undertake any major action either in the cold war or in her relations with Moscow. The latter, for its part, must make the most of this interlude in order to strengthen its own position against the eventuality of a China grown much more powerful.
Is this the reason why Khrushchev and Bulganin traveled to India and Burma? Is this why Molotov seems to be able at the moment to induce the Politburo to reject the Chinese claim to equality in the leadership of world Communism? And, finally, is Moscow’s accord with Mao and Tito, as formalized at Peking and Belgrade, being repudiated under the pressure of Great Russian nationalism? And will this not mean the weakening of the “co-existence” campaign, to which Mao’s and Tito’s cooperation is so essential?
Whether or not we can answer all these questions satisfactorily, the analysis presented above of the current situation inside the Communist world should make it clear why the West cannot afford to regard Khrushchev and Bulganin as less dangerous to itself than Molotov. The latter did not act against orders at Geneva, as some observers have naively supposed; he himself had obviously had a part in the framing of the brief that he took with him there. That this brief helped enlighten Western statesmen about the hazards to their cause of “coexistence” was all to the good, but they will not have achieved real clarity until they recognize that Molotov’s truculence is not the Soviet world’s main threat to the West. Far from it.
None of the men who now lead the Communist movement, inside and outside the USSR, intends anything but the total destruction of Western society. None of these men is amenable to “reason.” The Beria faction, which might have been, was destroyed precisely because of that. Malenkov, who wanted a “pause,” was demoted precisely because he wanted a real pause, if not a real reconciliation with the non-Communist world. Khrushchev leads those Communist factions which are now united in the desire for an all-out political offensive against the West. There is actually no one in power on the other side of the Iron Curtain with whom it would be possible to come to an agreement for a general détente, and it is pointless and vain therefore to go on seeking such an agreement—just as pointless and vain as trying to avert the non-existent danger of a major war. All the West can do, and needs to do, is steadfastly resist Communist attempts to disintegrate or disrupt it politically. As long, however, as Western statesmen go on speculating about when Molotov will be expelled from the Politburo—which, they fondly think, will make “serious” negotiations with Moscow once more possible—that resistance will continue to be inadequate. Indeed the day of Molotov’s fall would mean the end of serious dissension within the Communist camp—and the beginning of much greater troubles for the West.