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Gordon Haskell

Yugoslavia Under Tito

(August 1948)

From The New International, Vol. XIV No. 6, August 1948, p. 192.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Tito’s Imperial Communism
by R.H. Markham
Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1947, 292 pp.

This book on the Stalinist conquest of power in Yugoslavia is as much a patriotic propaganda tract for American capitalism as an analysis of Stalinism in the Balkans.

R.H. Markham has lived in the Balkans for more than thirty years – first as a Protestant missionary, for the most part as correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. His knowledge of the culture and politics of this region is perhaps unequalled among American correspondents. Unfortunately, however, his bitter hatred for and abysmal ignorance of Marxism leads him into such confusion in his analysis of Stalinism that what he has to say loses much of its potential value.

Markham’s description of how the Stalinists gained and held power fits into the well-worn pattern of events in Stalin’s satellite states of Eastern Europe. A totalitarian Stalinist clique gains power by means of terrorism via typical GPU methods. All opponents of the clique are either murdered or discredited as “fascists.” A “popular front” government is formed by means of splitting all non-Stalinist parties and accepting only the completely subservient factions led by subservient leaders into the ruling “coalition.” Industry is nationalized (90 per cent) under complete control of the new bureaucracy. The whole nation is “organized” into police-controlled bodies on the Russian pattern.

Markham does not much concern himself with describing specific economic and social measures introduced by the Stalinist regime. He confines himself mainly to proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that all controlling positions in the political, economic and social life of the country are held by Communist Party members, backed by the ubiquitous secret police, and that all opposition is ruthlessly crushed. He insists repeatedly that the regime is not supported by any but the smallest minority of workers, peasants and intellectuals. He does not even discuss whether or not the population at large, or certain select sections of it, are better or worse off from the material point of view.

Of special interest may be Markham’s description of how the American and British governments were led to throw their support to Tito and withdraw it from Mikhailovich during the war; of the way in which the Yalta agreement was circumvented by Tito, etc. Also, for those unfamiliar with this subject, Markham gives a good description of the adherence to Stalinist ranks (and the elevation to high office) of notorious fascist and reactionary leaders and supporters. These include notably: Franz Piertz, former head of Milan Neditch’s, air force; Marko Mesitch, who led a Ustachi band to the gates of Stalingrad as part of Hitler’s army; Sulejman Filipovitch, who headed one of the most ferocious Ustachi bands in exterminating the Serbian population of Croatia. Similarly he gives a good description of the typical Stalinist build-up of the hero-cult, aided by writers, poets and artists who had distinguished themselves for sycophantic adulation of every previous ruler of Yugoslavia.

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