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Which Socialism, Whose Détente?

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Maud Bracke

Part II. The Prague spring, the invasion, the dissent

Chapter 5. Invasion, Dissent, Crisis

Texte intégral

  • 1 1 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0961.

“The current strategy of détente is objectively obstructing us”
E. Macaluso, September 19681

1The invasion of Czechoslovakia affected the internationalism of the PCI and PCF as an issue of deepest identity, because it involved all three dimensions of internationalism: the organization of the world communist movement (in particular questions relating to communist party autonomy and communist state sovereignty), its doctrine (the question of “orthodox” socialism), and European strategy (the question of détente). In both the PCI and PCF cases, however, the openly expressed dissent over the invasion was followed immediately by the basic choice not to question Soviet-aligned internationalism itself.

2Nonetheless, the internationalism of the PCI and the PCF was transformed through the invasion of Czechoslovakia. A line can be drawn from the short-term reconstruction of party identity following the total disarray in which these parties found themselves immediately following the invasion, to the mid- and long-term transformation of the internationalism of these parties as a result of the Czechoslovak crisis. The immediate responses of the two parties mattered in two ways: first, by assessing that a total break with Soviet-aligned internationalism was inconceivable; and second, by setting out the parameters which were to direct post-1968 Soviet-aligned internationalism. In the case of the PCI, the immediate reaction to place the question of détente at the centre of attention in the post-invasion discussions was highly important; in the case of the PCF, the emphasis on (state) sovereignty bore great significance. Such shifts resulted from the changes which these parties’ internationalism had undergone since 1956, and the realm—and limits—of possible further change that had been created.

3Chronologically, this chapter covers the period from the invasion up to November–December 1968. After briefly introducing the developments in Czechoslovakia, I reconstruct the genesis of the decision to protest against the invasion, the public arguments invoked in this decision, the internal debates and the deeper-lying motives. I furthermore concentrate on the immediate consequences of the invasion and the dissent in terms of internal and domestic politics: the crisis inside the PCI and PCF and the temporary embittering of relations with other domestic political forces. These developments should be understood in close interaction with the crisis in the world communist movement following August 1968, and specifically the acute worsening of relations between the dissenting parties and the major actors in the world communist movement. This analysis is pursued in chapter 6.

1. THE INVASION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA

1.1. The military invasion and the political impasse

  • 2 Navratil, Prague Spring, p. xviii.
  • 3 More details on the casualties in Kramer, “New interpretations,” p. 16.
  • 4 Navratil, Prague Spring, pp. 411–413.
  • 5 To what extent general Dzúr and the armed forces had been informed of the invasion beforehand rema (...)

4The Politburo of the CPSU took the final decision to invade Czechoslovakia on 17 August; it communicated this decision to the communist party leaders of East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary on the following day.2 While “Operation Danube” was clearly a Soviet-led invasion operating under the High Command of the Red Army, it was very important to the Soviet leadership to give it the appearance of a joint Warsaw Treaty Organization operation. On 21 August the invading troops took control of key military and political sites as well as the transportation and communication networks. Eighty-two Czechoslovak citizens were killed and over 3,000 wounded.3 The CPCS and the government urged the Czechoslovak Army and the People’s Militia not to react in any way, and the invading troops encountered no armed resistance.4 The leading CPCS reformers, Dubček, Smrkovský, Kriegel, Černík and Josef Špaček, were arrested and forcefully transported to Poland, where they were held prisoner for over a week.5

  • 6 “Minutes of the U.S. National Security Council Meeting on the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia, 2 (...)
  • 7 The United Nations condemned the invasion in an extraordinary meeting. On the West German reaction (...)
  • 8 For more detail on the reactions in the world communist movement, see chapter 6.
  • 9 Dawisha, The Kremlin, p. 370–371.
  • 10 This text was not identical to the actual “Letter of invitation” written by Indra and others. Navr (...)

5As anticipated by the invading powers, the governments of the USA and the West European powers abstained from politically meaningful reactions. At a meeting of the US National Security Council it was affirmed that “we are in a more delicate situation than at the time of Hungary because of the developing relations with the USSR.”6 There was a consensus in the US government not to take any military, political or economic action, for fear of possible Soviet reactions such as another blockade of West Berlin. While NATO did not react at all, the governments of West Germany, France and Italy protested formally, but left it at that.7 Strong protests, however, came from out-of-government communist parties around the world, as well as from communist countries such as China, Yugoslavia and Romania.8 The latter two claimed to fear a Soviet invasion. While Yugoslavia sought security guarantees from the international community, in Romania the army and the people were put on alert.9 Faced with these worldwide protests from members of the communist movement, the Soviet leadership, to justify the invasion, stressed the infiltration by “over 20,000 armed imperialist agents” from West Germany in the Czechoslovak party, state and military apparatuses. Besides this, on 22 August Pravda published an unsigned “appeal for fraternal assistance,” supposedly written by the Czechoslovak Communist Party.10 This document was the focus of controversy in Czechoslovakia and the world communist movement during the weeks following the invasion.

  • 11 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 10–13. See also Williams, who considers the invasion a “coup (...)
  • 12 Apparently, the Soviet leadership and its allies genuinely believed that the invasion would be bac (...)
  • 13 Svoboda’s attitude was crucial in these days: not only did he convince Dubček not to step down, he (...)

6The primary goal of the invasion was political change and the installation of a Soviet-friendly government.11 However, while the invasion as a military operation was highly successful, it failed in terms of its political agenda. The invaders had expected that, following the invasion, an antireformist majority in the CPCS Presidium would take over political power through the establishment of a “revolutionary government of workers and peasants.”12 Discussions in view of the formation of a collaborationist government were indeed held in the two days following the invasion, involving, among others, Indra, Kolder and Bilák. In the presence of Soviet officials, a meeting of the pro-Soviet elements in the CC took place in the Praha Hotel in Prague.13 At the same time, however, it became clear throughout the weeks following the invasion that Dubček and other reformers such as Svoboda, Smrkovský and Kriegel enjoyed widespread support in the party and state apparatus, and even more so among the public.

  • 14 The statement was repeatedly broadcast over radio and television and published in Rude Pravo. Navr (...)
  • 15 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 125–135.
  • 16 The documents adopted are published in Pelikán, The Secret Vysocony Congress.
  • 17 Gordon Skilling, Czechoslovakia’s interrupted revolution, pp. 764–772.

7The weakness of the anti-Dubček forces within the CPCS first became evident from a statement condemning the invasion issued by the CPCS Presidium. Of eleven members, only four voted against the statement. The statement invoked “principles governing relations between socialist states” to condemn the invasion. It also called upon the population to remain calm.14 Moreover, in what was primarily a national reaction, public opinion widely, forcefully but peacefully voiced protest against the invasion and gave expression to its continued support for Dubček and the reform leaders. There were peaceful demonstrations all over the country as well as campaigns to disorient and demoralize the invading troops. A network of clandestine radio transmitters and newspapers gave expression to Czechoslovak people’s anger.15 The most flagrant illustration of the political failure connected to the invasion was the 14th CPCS National Party Congress, held secretly on 22 August in a factory in Vysocony near Prague.16 The Congress, attended by about 1,200 party members, gave proof of the majority support for Dubček and the reformers. The documents adopted included an assertion that the invading troops had not been invited by the CPCS, a statement on the denial of a counter-revolutionary situation, a demand for the withdrawal of the troops, a call for a general strike, an appeal to the population to “ignore the troops,” and a message of support to the “legitimate leaders” Dubček, Černík, Smrkovský and Svoboda. Moreover, the new Central Committee that was elected demonstrated a significant political shift: it included 119 new members with a progressive profile, and not more than 25 re-elected members.17

1.2. The Moscow Protocol and the Brezhnev Doctrine

  • 18 Dubček only agreed to sign the protocol after reflection and under pressure from the rest of the C (...)
  • 19 Ouimet understands the Moscow Protocol as “a matter of saving face” for the Soviets. Ouimet, The R (...)
  • 20 The text of the Protocol can be found in English translation in Navratil, Prague Spring, pp. 477–4 (...)

8The Moscow Protocol, signed by representatives of the Soviet and Czechoslovak communist parties in Moscow on 26 August, was not an agreement but a Diktat imposed on Dubček and the other Czechoslovak leaders held in Moscow.18 It was the immediate consequence of the failure of the political aim of the invasion, and of the fact that it had become unavoidable for the Soviets to continue to deal with Dubček and the moderate reformers.19 The East German, Polish and Bulgarian communist leaders, as well as some in the Soviet Politburo, proposed to install a temporary military dictatorship which would carry out massive repression. Brezhnev preferred to avoid further repression but did consider imposing military rule in Czechoslovakia as a final option should the Moscow Protocol not be signed or implemented by the Czechoslovak leaders. The protocol was a political program for systematically undoing the Prague Spring, including the re-establishment of the “leading role” of the communist party and its full control over the press, and the cancellation of the Vysocony Congress. The document further sanctioned the troop presence, but it was affirmed that they would not interfere in the political situation.20

  • 21 Recent archival studies have demonstrated just how strong the conviction was in Moscow that the se (...)

9The theory of limited sovereignty, or the “Brezhnev Doctrine” as it came to be called in the West, was a theory of communist internationalism formulated by Brezhnev and other Soviet officials in the months following the invasion. Important texts in this context are an article by S. Kovalev published in Pravda on 29 September, and a speech by Brezhnev before the Polish Communist Party Congress in November 1968. The Brezhnev Doctrine affirmed that, because the fate of all socialist states was intimately linked, socialist states had not only the right but the duty to interfere in the affairs of other socialist states when they considered the socialist nature of the regime to be at stake.21 This implied a specific notion of sovereignty which was “class-based”: sovereignty was held by the working classes worldwide and by the communist parties representing them. As the Kovalev article put it:

  • 22 The quotations from the Kovalev article and the Brezhnev speech can be found in English translatio (...)

It is impossible to overlook the allegations that are being made in certain quarters, that the action of five socialist countries violates the Marxist-Leninist principle of sovereignty and the right of nations to self-determination. Such claims are untenable insofar as they are based on an abstract, non-class approach. […] The sovereignty of individual socialist countries cannot be set against the interests of world socialism and the world revolutionary movement. […] The weakening of any of the links in the world system of socialism directly affects all the socialist countries, and they cannot look indifferently upon this.22

10The argument was taken further: it was in the very name of sovereignty that a military and political intervention in Czechoslovakia had been necessary, as the country’s sovereignty had been threatened by “imperialist agents” and Western infiltrants. The category of sovereignty as such was not discarded. It was hailed as a principle, but defined in such a way that it could be used to justify the invasion:

The assistance provided to workers in the CSSR by the other socialist countries, which jeopardized the export of counter-revolution from outside, was in fact a struggle to uphold the sovereignty of the CSSR against those forces that deprive it of this sovereignty. […] In a class-based society there is no such thing as class-less legality and there never will be. Laws and legal norms are always subordinate to the laws of the class struggle and the laws of socialist development.

11This implied a total cancellation of the distinction between domestic and foreign policy, and the most rigid view on the principles for domestic developments in socialist countries. In Kovalev’s terms:

Without question, the peoples of the socialist countries and the communist parties have and must have freedom to determine their country’s path of development. Any decision they make, however, must not be harmful either to socialism in their own country or to the fundamental interests of other socialist countries. Whoever forgets this in giving exclusive emphasis to the autonomy and independence of communist parties is guilty of a one-sided approach and of shirking their internationalist duties. […]

  • 23 Light, The Soviet theory, p. 194.

12In fact, “limited sovereignty,” as the implicit but governing practice inside the Soviet-dominated communist world, had always existed. The Brezhnev Doctrine reformulated an understanding and a practice which had been applied in a self-evident way and without a need for justification under Stalin and Khrushchev. In the Comintern and Cominform eras, interference by the CPSU in the internal affairs of other communist parties and states had been the rule. What was new, however, was the need felt by the Soviet leaders to justify the invasion of Czechoslovakia theoretically. What was also new with respect to 1956 was a certain embarrassment that was felt through this justification. This became clear in particular when Brezhnev denied that there was such a thing as a theory of limited sovereignty, as he did at the World Communist Conference in June 1969.23 The fact that Moscow felt the need to provide a theoretical justification was born out of a combination of three factors: the political failure that accompanied the military invasion and the obvious and large-scale disagreement with it in Czechoslovakia; the fact that the Prague Spring reform and revival movement had been headed by people calling themselves communists; and the protests against the invasion by communists worldwide. This last point is underscored by the fact that the various formulations of the doctrine all pointed at these “false” and “mistaken” protests against the invasion.

  • 24 For more comments on concepts of sovereignty in the early phase of Soviet history, see Fejtõ, L’hé (...)

13To be sure, the notion of sovereignty was not unknown in Soviet legal theory traditions. Under Lenin, the Bolsheviks had considered themselves as the defenders of people’s sovereignty and of the right to self-determination of the peoples.24 But in this context, the class character of sovereignty had never been counterposed to its national character in such a sharp way as was the case in the Brezhnev Doctrine. In addition, sovereignty had never referred to relations among socialist states, which strictly speaking were not considered as foreign relations. Rather, the principle had always been invoked in the context of the “defense of socialism” against imperialism (or fascism during the Second World War), and as such regarded relations between socialist and capitalist states. It was in this sense also that Khrushchev had used sovereignty at the time of the 20th CPSU Congress and in relation to peaceful coexistence: respect for national sovereignty between the blocs as a basis for peaceful coexistence between them.

  • 25 Light, The Soviet Theory, pp. 178–181.

14Finally, the “theory of silent counter-revolution” was developed as a necessary correlate to the Brezhnev Doctrine and in response to the explicit questioning by communists worldwide of Soviet statements regarding the infiltration of Western agents in the Czechoslovak party and military apparatus. Soviet theorists now promoted the idea that imperialist forces had developed more cunning, covert and careful strategies in their attempts to overthrow the socialist regimes. The situation in Czechoslovakia, it was argued, might not have appeared as an open counter-revolution at first sight, but this was precisely what the Western counter-revolutionary forces wanted communists to believe.25

2. THE AFTERMATH AND THE “NORMALIZATION”

2.1. The meaning of “normalization”

  • 26 The bulk of the literature considers the process of “normalization” as more or less consolidated b (...)
  • 27 I will use the term “normalization” throughout the analysis not in an uncritical but in a descript (...)

15The political process that took place in Czechoslovakia following the invasion, up to 1969, was defined by the invading forces and by the antireformists in Czechoslovakia as a process of “normalization.”26 The use of the term itself was a powerful tool, which summarized the entire propaganda effort to portray the Prague Spring as an “abnormal” situation for a loyal and orthodox socialist regime. “Normalization” in Soviet communist tradition always referred to realignment to the Soviet Union and to the reinstalling of the power monopoly of the communist party. The term “normalization” and its logic were introduced by the invaders but increasingly taken over in Czechoslovakia, first only by pro-Soviet conservatives but increasingly by a wide range of people who, for different reasons, wished to forget about the 1968 events and were willing to accommodate to the situation of occupation and limited sovereignty.27 Like the Brezhnev Doctrine, the need for a politics of normalization from the Soviet perspective was a consequence of the initial inability to install a puppet regime. Instead, a much more complex and un-transparent political situation came about in which it was, in the first instance, the Prague Spring leaders, under severe pressure, who partially brought the country to internal and external realignment with Soviet orthodoxy.

  • 28 The total presumed number of émigrés in the years 1968 and 1969 was around 123,000. Kusin, From Du (...)
  • 29 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 144–148.

16Over the time-span of a year the core group of reformist communist leaders—moderates and radicals—fell apart and their basis of support in public opinion crumbled. This happened as a result of three factors: firstly, active Soviet pressure and intervention, among politicians as well as in public opinion; secondly, the emigration of a large number of advocates of reform;28 and thirdly, the increasing divisions among the party leadership regarding the way in which to deal with the situation. While there was a general acknowledgement that rejection of the military occupation and of the Moscow Protocol was not an option, disagreement existed over the question of how far to accommodate to the situation. Simultaneously with the process of the disintegration of the reformers’ initial power basis, a group of communist leaders known as moderate reformists managed to construct a centrist or “realist” line. This group, led by Husák, thus succeeded in presenting itself as the only realistic solution. Adding to the ambiguity surrounding terms such as “realist,” “conservative” and “progressive,” was the fact that expressions of allegiance to the Prague Spring program and lip service to Dubček were widespread, even among the more enthusiastic executors of the “normalization.” From early 1969 onwards, however, a situation emerged in which the leadership as well as the contents of the Prague Spring were increasingly discredited.29

17The first concrete step in the process of normalization was the construction of a consensual interpretation among the CPCS leadership and the public regarding the stormy events of the past half year. Firstly, regarding the Prague Spring, it needed to be acknowledged that the reform movement carried out by the CPCS had been only partly a positive development. The Prague Spring reformers, the new narrative went, had rightly attempted to respond to the need for reform of a regime in political crisis, but they were partly corrupted by adversaries of socialism who had sought to reinstall capitalism. The CPCS at times failed to respond to this and overlooked the international consequences of these events. Secondly, a “normal” situation meant that the CPCS was restored to full power, which included, first and foremost, the complete restoration of censorship. A third element of the consensus was the acknowledgement that there was no other solution than to accept the temporary presence of the foreign troops and the terms of the Moscow Protocol. Politicians and the public were told that these conditions needed to be accepted for the sake of patriotism, national unity and political stability.

2.2. Normalization under Dubček

  • 30 According to Kusin, Dubček probably succeeded in pruning down the much longer Soviet blacklist of (...)
  • 31 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 43.
  • 32 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 155.
  • 33 Such a plan was proposed by Špaček. Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 156.
  • 34 For more detail on “Dubček’s normalization” see Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 144–191.

18While Dubček and some of the reform-minded leaders remained in power until April 1969, Moscow at all times closely supervised the political situation. Immediately following the invasion, a number of Dubček’s most radical reformist collaborators and advisors were ousted under direct Soviet pressure. These included Kriegel, Císař, Mlynář, Šik, and the director of Czechoslovak television Jiří Pelikán.30 Although the pro-Soviet conspirators were removed from the higher CPCS ranks, the position of the opponents of the Prague Spring was generally reinforced by the post-invasion situation. Not only did the Moscow Protocol explicitly protect them against legal or political sanctions, new alliances were shaped between old pro- Moscovites and new, pragmatic ones. As a new anti-reformist mood swung through the CPCS, a group of “ultras” (ultra-conservatives) became more outspoken in their opposition to reform.31 After the invasion the Presidium was expanded to include a large number of representatives of social and interest groups (women, peasants, workers, Slovaks…), co-opted from the Vysocany Congress. However, in the eyes of the core leaders (Dubček, Černík, Husák, Svoboda, Smrkovský), the Presidium had become unworkable. From September on, these leaders started to take the major decisions privately.32 Out of fear of aggravating and publicizing the disagreements among themselves, the core leadership imposed upon itself a regime of strict censorship and control of information.33 Similarly, for the sake of political stability, the worsening disagreements inside the CPCS leadership were concealed from the public. It was repeated that the suspension of basic rights of freedom of speech and political mobilization, which had been so typical of the Prague Spring revival, was merely temporary and would come to an end once the foreign troops had retreated.34

  • 35 Navratil, Prague Spring, p. 533–534.
  • 36 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 160–161.

19The issue of the continued troop presence became the core matter of tension with the Soviets as well as among the Czechoslovak leaders themselves. While, according to the Soviets, the situation needed first to be “normalized” before troops could retreat entirely, Dubček and the remaining reformists argued that the retreat of the troops was a preliminary condition for a return to normality. Soviet military troops, however, remained stationed in Czechoslovakia and a legal basis for this was provided by a bilateral treaty on “The Temporary Presence of Soviet Forces on Czechoslovak Territory,” signed on 16 October. Contrary to its name, the treaty allowed for a permanent presence of Soviet troops. Between 80,000 and 100,000 Soviet soldiers were stationed in Czechoslovakia for 23 years.35 It was in this context that the larger part of the Prague Spring reform program and the entire revival process were reversed. Firstly, censorship and party control over the press were reinstalled. In late August an “Office for the Press and Information” was installed, which had to implement the various control measures that included guidelines on the choice of topics and the preliminary submission of editorials. Furthermore, reform of the communist party was halted and its power monopoly was reinstalled. The political clubs K231 and KAN, as well as the Social Democratic Party, were banned in late August and a new National Front law impeded the future organization of such groupings.36

  • 37 Furthermore, on several occasions Husák used the Slovak institutions and organizations as an instr (...)
  • 38 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 55–56.

20At the same time, the CPCS leadership did manage to salvage part of the reform program, in particular the federalization of the Czechoslovak state. Autonomous Czech and Slovak institutions were now granted powers regarding the economy, censorship, welfare and transport, and a bicameral Czech-Slovak parliament was installed. The Soviets complied on the issue of federalism, because, as Kusin has argued, it was expected to divert attention away from more potentially explosive issues such as freedom of speech and pluralism.37 Another Prague Spring agenda point that was carried out was the rehabilitation of a number of victims of the trials of the 1950s. Furthermore, the functioning of the existing factory councils was resumed. Radical reformists put their hopes on the system of factory councils as a potential instrument for radical mobilization and enduring opposition. It turned out, however, that the factory councils were stripped of any radical potential and their importance did not go beyond the internal management and organization of the factories.38

2.3. Husák’s rise and Dubček’s fall

  • 39 For more detail on the “realist” tendency see Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 192–209.
  • 40 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 138.
  • 41 It was not only the conservative and Soviet-aligned CPCS leaders who had refused to recognize the (...)
  • 42 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 183.

21Husák and the “realists” were able to rise to power in the conditions shaped by the military occupation—limited national sovereignty and limited intellectual freedom. Some of Dubček’s closest former collaborators, moderate reformists such as Černík and Svoboda, increasingly distanced themselves from him and joined this “realist” line.39 Through the first half of 1968, G. Husák had started to be known as a reformer. A Slovak, he had been particularly interested in the national question. In September 1968, he became a Presidium member and first secretary of the Slovak Communist Party, replacing Kolder who was now discredited.40 Parallel to the rise of the “realist” group, the alternative and pro-reform centre of power which had been created by the Vysocany Congress was eliminated.41 The Soviets, furthermore, actively worked towards Dubček’s loss of credibility. Brezhnev pressured for concrete personnel changes in the Central Committee and for an official renouncing of the April program along with self-criticism by the January leadership; Dubček refused both.42

  • 43 Accordingly, the party-affiliated but critical weeklies Reporter and Politika were temporarily ban (...)
  • 44 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 180–181.
  • 45 For the figures of public opinion polls, see Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 46.
  • 46 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 177.
  • 47 Smrkovský was excluded from the following CPSU–CPCS summit meeting in Kiev in early December. Will (...)

22Major popular protestations occurred in October and November 1968 and they further undermined the position as well as the unity of the leadership in office. Part of the CPCS leadership seized the opportunity to call for stricter forms of censorship and repression.43 Students, supported by intellectuals and public figures, went on strike in late November and issued a ten-point manifesto which asked for the enactment of the Action Program.44 Although public opinion polls demonstrated that Dubček and the remaining reformers continued to enjoy wide public confidence,45 the party leadership was increasingly immobilized, divided and vulnerable in the face of Soviet interference. Dubček, Černík and Husák were called to Moscow in the greatest secrecy, and Brezhnev demanded and obtained a series of corrections to the Central Committee texts that were being drafted for the upcoming meeting.46 Furthermore, the Soviets, aided by Husák, managed to oust Smrkovský—the first case in what was to become a process of elimination of the most progressive reformers.47

  • 48 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 189–190.
  • 49 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 200. On Soviet interference in the takeover by Husák, see also Oui (...)
  • 50 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 204–206.

23Adding to the chaos in the party leadership was the self-immolation of student Jan Palach in January 1969, committed in the name of freedom and political liberalization. The country was in shock, the army was kept on alert, another Soviet intervention was feared and clashes between students and police ended in almost 200 arrests. Paralyzed, the party leadership could do nothing other than call for calm, which further alienated it from critical public opinion.48 The incidents surrounding the Czechoslovak–Soviet hockey match in late March were the awaited occasion for direct Soviet interference. When, on 28 March, the Czechoslovak hockey team beat the Soviet team in the world championships in Stockholm, mass demonstrations occurred in all major Czechoslovak cities. Nine Soviet garrisons were attacked and the main Aeroflot office in Prague was demolished. These violent incidents were instigated by Soviet agents. Soviet defense minister Grechko was sent to Czechoslovakia (without Dubček being notified) to announce that troops would enter Czechoslovakia as soon as more trouble arose.49 Svoboda promised the Soviets that Dubček would be replaced by Husák at the next plenum, planned for April, and Husák and Strougal managed to turn the Presidium against Dubček. Finally, in the face of all this pressure, Dubček resigned as head of the party in early April, and appointed Husák as his replacement.50

  • 51 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 116.
  • 52 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 85–88.

24Husák carried out the “normalization” in a systematic though gradual way. The statement of protest against the invasion which had been issued by the Presidium on 22 August 1968 was cancelled by Husák exactly one year later. Press censorship was restored completely, and the reform of the party was undone. Individual liberties were cut again as they had been before 1968, and the system of coercion tightened. Dubček was expelled from the CPCS in June 1970, following a mock procedure. However, probably fearing massive popular protest, the regime decided to spare the most well-known reformers but to set up trials to convict second-rank reformists.51 It took until the 14th Congress of May 1971 for the Central Committee to be entirely purged of former reformers. The purge in the wider party organization, which only started in 1970, was one of the most drastic ones in the history of European communism. Close to half a million members were expelled from the party organization—that is, about 30 per cent of the membership in January 1968.52

  • 53 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 72.
  • 54 An important resistance group was the Socialist Movement of Czechoslovak Citizens, which issued a (...)
  • 55 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 160–161.

25On a symbolic level there were systematic attempts to force the former reformers to public self-criticism regarding the Prague Spring. This was supposed to take place at the Central Committee plenum of September 1969, but the reformers, among them Dubček and Smrkovský, refused to do so.53 This was the point at which the creation of a national consensus on the memory of the Prague Spring, as the normalizers had intended it, failed. The normalizers also failed to construct a consensus with respect to the invasion. Dubček, and those who remained loyal to him, never endorsed the view that the invasion had been necessary or that it had been an act of “brotherly help.” Despite the repression, resistance and dissidence against the normalized regime continued throughout 1969 and after. On the first anniversary of the invasion, masses of people, mainly workers and students, came out onto the streets in spontaneous demonstrations in all Czechoslovak towns. Dissident activity, which denounced the repression and adhered to the various strands of the Prague Spring ideas, continued up to late 1969; by then, the most influential groups had been eliminated.54 Throughout 1969 and 1970, organized opposition activity grew into a “quasi party” of reformists, including Prague Spring party officials and intellectuals as well as new opponents of the regime.55

3. THE DISSENT

  • 56 The KKE, the Greek Communist Party in exile, was highly divided, part of its leadership condemning (...)
  • 57 After 1969, the KPÖ was “normalized” on Soviet terms in a far-reaching way and its reform-minded l (...)

26Most of the West European communist parties openly disagreed with the invasion. This was made possible by the changes that had occurred in the world communist movement since 1956—on the one hand the disunity and multiple cleavages, and on the other hand the convergence and the intensification of contacts among the West European communist parties and Romania and Yugoslavia, which decreased the fear of isolation. During the days following the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the great majority of the West European communist parties expressed their disagreement with it. Those who supported it were either parties operating in illegality, or very small parties highly dependent on the world communist movement. These were the Communist Party of Greece in exile (KKE), the Communist Party of Cyprus,56 the Communist Party of Portugal, whose leadership resided in Moscow, the Communist Party of Luxemburg (strongly influenced by the East German SED), and the communist parties of West Germany and West Berlin (highly dependent on the SED). Alongside the communist parties of Italy and France, those of Spain, Finland, Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark also protested against the invasion. The Spanish Communist Party (CPE), led by S. Carrillo, went furthest in its critique of the Soviet Union, denouncing Moscow’s “bureaucratic centralism” and distancing itself from the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Also, the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ), led by F. Muhri, voiced fundamental criticism of the socialist regimes. It was the start of a profound crisis in this party, which struggled with internal disagreement and was put under intense pressure from Moscow.57

  • 58 A detailed overview of the positions of the world communist parties and of these organizations, in (...)

27In the world communist movement more generally, the invasion caused a profound shock. Disunity was more evident and criticism of the Soviet Union more widespread than it had ever been before. Romania, Yugoslavia, China and Albania condemned the invasion. North Vietnam and most of the communist parties of Africa and Latin America, including Cuba, supported it, although the latter country rather for reasons of global strategy than because of the value of the Prague Spring. Furthermore, the invasion provoked a crisis in the non-military organizations linked to the world communist movement, such as the World Peace Council, the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the World Student Union and the World Trade Union Confederation (the latter two of which had their headquarters in Prague). While the Trade Union Confederation condemned the invasion, open divisions came to the surface in the other three organizations.58

3.1. The PCI

3.1.1. The agreement to disagree

  • 59 Galluzzi, La svolta, p. 202. All these were Direzione members. Giorgio Napolitano was co-ordinator (...)
  • 60 A discussion of this also took place at the Direzione meeting of 23/8. Besides Longo, Berlinguer a (...)
  • 61 A report of these events by Longo, APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, 020.0899. Giorgio Napolitano was secretary (...)
  • 62 Longo defended his position regarding the letter at the Direzione meeting of 23/8, in response to (...)
  • 63 Like the PCF, the PCI never used the term “invasion” in its official statements. “Il comunicato de (...)

28On the night of the invasion, 20–21 August, a group of core leaders who were in Rome met at the Unità headquarters. Among them were Ingrao, G. Napolitano, U. Terracini, M. Scoccimarro, A. Cossutta and M. Ferrara.59 Longo, Amendola, Berlinguer and G.C. Pajetta had not yet returned from the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe where they were staying on private holidays. There was a consensus among those present that the PCI needed to condemn the invasion. There was also agreement on the need to react immediately, without waiting for reactions from other parties in Italy or communist parties in the world.60 The draft text of an Ufficio politico communication was written by Napolitano and Ingrao—two representatives of different currents—and approved by Longo via telephone from Moscow.61 Longo’s position in the days following the invasion was determining in two ways. At his meeting in Moscow with Suslov and Ponomariov on the morning of the invasion, he made it very clear that the PCI could not approve of the invasion. Furthermore, when the Soviets showed him a version of the “Appeal for Fraternal Assistance,” allegedly from the CPCS, he immediately decided to disregard it.62 The UP statement, issued on the morning of 21 August, expressed its incomprehension and its “grave dissent” at the decision for “military intervention.”63 It reaffirmed its solidarity with the “process of renewal led by the Czechoslovak Communist Party.”

  • 64 APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, passim.
  • 65 Immediately following the dissent, the leadership agreed that this type of identification with the (...)

29After a dramatic meeting on 23 August, the Direzione issued a statement which repeated the UP’s dissent and in some aspects radicalized it. The statement was approved by all members, including Colombi, who had in July opposed the party’s criticism of the Soviet Union. Repeating its “grave dissent” and “reprobation,” the statement also endorsed the CPCS’s request for the withdrawal of the troops and demanded that the independence of the Czechoslovak state and communist party be fully restored. During the Direzione debate, Longo opposed an explicit request for the withdrawal of the troops; Galluzzi, Terracini and, decisively, Berlinguer were in favor.64 On the other hand, the Direzione statement, in contrast to the UP statement, dwelt at length on the “anti-Soviet campaign” that it perceived in Italy and denounced “false sympathy” with Czechoslovakia from the parties of the centre and the Right. It denounced the attempts to “obscure the historical merits of the Soviet Union” and argued against the reinforcement of Cold War attitudes in Italy. The mechanisms of identity—closing of the ranks, sharply distinguishing between communists and non-communists— preceded the actual attacks on the party by non-communist groups.65

  • 66 Unità reproduced the TASS communications regarding the appeal for assistance (on 21 August) and re (...)
  • 67 Ferrara, M., “Tesi inaccettabili,” Unità, p. 3.
  • 68 For example, in “Occupata la Cecoslovacchia,” Unità, 21/8 (special edition), p. 1, it was said tha (...)
  • 69 Cossutta accepted the Soviet fear that the upcoming 14th CPCS congress would outvote two-thirds of (...)
  • 70 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0914.

30Of crucial importance was the PCI’s automatic rejection of the core elements of the Soviet justification for the invasion: the “Appeal for Assistance” and the “infiltration by imperialist agents.” However, the party leadership abstained from making this very clear in its official position: the PCI press and statements did not mention the arguments invoked by the Soviets, either in a positive or negative way.66 A few individual leaders, however, went a step further: Ferrara, in a Unità article, explicitly stated that the intervention had not been requested and that a counter-revolutionary danger was very unlikely, as the Soviets never specified it.67 More generally, the PCI press relied upon information coming from the West and from Czechoslovakia (official as well as clandestine), rather than from the invading states.68 Also internally there was a consensus on the non-validity of the Soviet argumentation, with, partly, the exception of Colombi.69 Terracini expressed the clearest view on Soviet motives: “they [the Soviets] wanted to have executors for their decisions [in Czechoslovakia].”70

3.1.2. Arguments and motives: the centrality of détente

  • 71 See also below for the CC meeting mentioned here.

31The public statements by the UP, the Direzione and the Central Committee of 27–29 August invoked the following arguments:71

  • negotiation and debate as modes of interaction between communist parties rather than enforcement and interference, referring to Čierna and Bratislava (in all three statements)
  • the autonomy of communist parties (in all statements)
  • state independence (in all statements)
  • solidarity with the new course in Czechoslovakia led by the CPCS (in all statements)
  • diverse roads to socialism (only in the Direzione statement)
  • the need for the renewal of socialism, initiated by the 20th Congress of the CPSU (only in the CC statement)
  • the unity of the workers’ and communist movement on a global level (in all statements); a “new conception of unity” (only in the Direzione statement)
  • the unity of all forces of the Left in Italy and Western Europe (only in the Direzione statement)
  • the unity of anti-capitalist and revolutionary forces, understood as being wider than the frontiers of the socialist states (only in the CC statement)
  • the struggle against imperialism and for peace (only in the Direzione and the CC statements)
  • to overcome the blocs, to liberate Italy from Atlanticism and to create a system of collective security in Europe (only in the CC statement).

32The first three points followed up on what I have called the formalistic defense of the Prague Spring. While the fourth point referred to substance-related support of the Prague Spring, the following two points were a radicalization of this and touched on the very conception of socialism. Arguments seven, eight and nine announced an important evolution of the PCI’s conception of internationalism and of allegiance on the international level. This corresponded to a radicalization of the earlier notion of allargamento: the world communist movement, in the PCI’s conception, came to include, besides communist parties, other groupings of the Left and antiimperialist groups. Arguments ten and eleven were to do with the crucial question of détente and followed up on the strategic defense of the Prague Spring as a movement announcing the upsetting of the bipolar order in Europe.

33The invasion was such a shock to the PCI and its leaders because it demonstrated the wide gap between their own conception of internationalism and actual Soviet policies in three ways. Firstly, it revealed how deep the gap was regarding doctrine and conceptions of socialism between the PCI on the one hand, and the Soviet and other “orthodox” parties on the other. While to the PCI leadership the Prague Spring had been a largely positive development and certainly a socialist one, it was clear that it was not so for the most powerful actors in the world communist movement. Secondly, it revealed the very different notions of autonomy and just relations between communist parties and states. Thirdly, and most importantly, the invasion revealed a fundamental misunderstanding between the PCI and the CPSU regarding détente. This was highly problematic to the PCI, because, since 1956, the party had considered its domestic strategy to be fully dependent on the Soviet strategy of peaceful coexistence and détente in Europe. As discussed, détente, understood as the loosening of internal bloc cohesion, was of central importance as an international framework supporting its domestic strategy, given Italy’s Cold War situation as being highly dependent on the US. To the PCI, “overcoming the blocs” implied changing relations not only between East and West but inside both blocs. This implied, in the East, a less hegemonic role for the Soviet Union and new forms of collaboration between communist parties and states, which would make the democratization and the diversification of the socialist regimes possible. In Western Europe it meant ending American supremacy as the necessary condition for the free development of these countries towards socialism.

  • 72 Sassoon has also noted that the misunderstanding regarding détente was the central problem which t (...)

34The invasion now demonstrated, on the one hand, that the Soviet conception of détente did not involve changes taking place inside the communist bloc and in the relations between its members. On the other hand, the invasion demonstrated that, to the Soviet Union, the issue of changes within the capitalist system was a low priority, as it had not taken into account the damage which the invasion would inflict upon the domestic position of communist parties in the West and the image of socialism there. The question of Soviet strategy was so upsetting, firstly, because it raised the question of how far the loosening of hierarchical relations in the communist bloc was part of the Soviet conception of détente, and, hence, whether the “overcoming of the blocs,” as the propaganda went, was actually the goal of Soviet détente strategy. If the overcoming of the blocs, taken literally, was not the goal of détente, the next question was how the Soviet Union conceived of the transition to socialism in Western Europe, and in a country such as Italy. One of the basic contradictions of the PCI’s internationalism after 1968 was, then, that it based (and justified) its Soviet-aligned internationalism on the need to continue détente, while the 1968 crisis had revealed the different understandings of this concept.72

  • 73 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0926.
  • 74 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0922.
  • 75 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0917.
  • 76 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0961.
  • 77 APCI, Dir, 4/10, 020.1043.
  • 78 Amendola, G., “25 anni dopo l’internazionale comunista,” in Critica marxista, VI, n.4–5, Luglio–Ot (...)

35The debates in both the Direzione and the Central Committee demonstrate the centrality of détente, but also the awareness of the fundamental misunderstanding regarding its meaning. Most significantly, there was at this point explicit mention of the Soviets’ non-revolutionary understanding of it. At the Direzione meeting of 23 August, Occhetto made it quite clear that in his view the Soviets “confuse internationalism with bloc politics.”73 While Pajetta stated that the Soviet people had “no overall revolutionary view of the world,”74 even Colombi raised the issue of the “superpower nationalism” of the Soviet Union.75 Grasping the essence of the problem, Macaluso accused the Soviets of seeking détente on the basis of the consolidation of the blocs, and stated that “the current strategy of détente is objectively obstructing us” [emphasis added].76 At the Direzione meeting of 4 October, Amendola made a strong point about the need for the party to focus on the struggle for peace and détente, “not understood as the status quo.”77 He also publicly voiced far-reaching criticism of the Soviet Union on the issue of détente. As he wrote in a Critica marxista article, “the struggle for peaceful coexistence should be a struggle against the politics of intervention, in military, political and economic terms.”78

  • 79 Cossutta later reported that Longo had rhetorically raised the question in a private conversation (...)
  • 80 Hoebel, “Il PCI, il ’68 cecoslovacco,” pp. 1171–1172.

36However, the various debates which developed inside the leadership and in the party ranks regarding its relations with the socialist regimes, and especially regarding Soviet strategy and détente, were cut off at an early stage. This was the consequence of the basic choice, made immediately following the dissent, namely, that a break with the world communist movement and the Soviet Union was impossible. All the public statements following the invasion emphazised that the protests should be understood in the framework of the party’s “critical internationalism.” This was, firstly, a choice for maintaining Soviet-aligned internationalism as a matter of identity, a mental structure and an imperative. It was deeply rooted in the conviction that international alliances were unavoidable, for foremost historical reasons. The importance of identity is also reflected in the fact that the question of a break was taboo among the PCI leaders and was at no point openly raised in the otherwise heated discussions of the Direzione following the invasion.79 It was, besides, a matter of perceived strategic interests, but not in the sense in which this has been interpreted in the literature.80 While the PCI leadership after the invasion fully understood that a strategic divergence existed with the Soviet Union regarding détente, it remained convinced that there was, in the given circumstances, no alternative in terms of a global alliance that had similar potential and scope as the Soviet-aligned world had.

  • 81 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia, Rapporto al CC,” PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italian (...)
  • 82 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” in PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, pp. 335–33 (...)
  • 83 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” in PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, p. 354.

37Limits to the debate on European strategy and détente were in the first instance imposed at the CC meeting of 29 August. The interconnections between the invasion, détente and socialism in the West were not spelled out in Longo’s report or in the conclusions, although many interventions had raised it.81 To be sure, Longo’s report discerned some elements of the problems regarding détente, and primarily the need for the “overcoming of the blocs” was reaffirmed. However, although this was brought into connection with the invasion, the exact connection between the two issues was not spelled out, as this would raise the question of internal bloc détente. Instead, attention was focused on the increased East–West tension it was expected to provoke. The responsibility for this was inverted, and the “imperialist forces” in Italy, Europe and the world were blamed for it.82 The old Zhdanovian thesis that it was the forces of imperialism which had imposed the bloc division on Europe, which in recent years had been downplayed in party texts, was now reaffirmed.83

  • 84 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, p. 336.
  • 85 Occhetto, A., “Autonomia e internazionalismo,” Unità, 1/9/68, p. 3.

38The issue of interdependence between the developments in Eastern and Western Europe was noted implicitly, in the assertion that both Italy and Czechoslovakia had everything to lose from intensified Cold War tensions.84 But it was no longer spelled out that this interdependence also meant that the Western communist parties were negatively affected, in very real strategic terms, by the invasion. Furthermore, the point was often made that the boundaries of the communist world did not coincide with the frontiers of the socialist states. This was a protestation against disregarding the interests of the out-of-government parties, but it was also more than that. In the context of the invasion, it suggested that the Soviets and their allies considered that these frontiers did coincide. In early September this was spelled out explicitly: in an Unità article Occhetto criticized the Soviet leaders for taking the frontiers of the socialist states as the frontiers of socialism.85 Thereafter, however, criticism of the Soviet Union on this issue was no longer made. Instead, the distinction between the communist world and the communist bloc, at a further stage, enabled the PCI to distance itself from the latter while remaining a part of the former. In other words, in order to redefine its status in the global movement, the PCI needed to introduce this distinction.

  • 86 “Luigi Longo, Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” in (PCI, ed.) Il Partito comunista italiano, p. 355–35 (...)
  • 87 “Intervista all’Astrolabio del compagno Luigi Longo,” 8/9/68, in Documenti politici dal XIo al XII (...)

39From then on, in its public statements, the leadership limited itself to discerning particular elements of this problem and criticizing Soviet détente policy on particular points. Longo’s CC report said that the socialist states had in recent years failed to develop a sufficiently active policy of détente and had too often taken a defensive attitude vis-à-vis the capitalist West.86 This phrase now became the systematic metaphor for the question of whether the Soviet Union still supported the transformation towards socialism in the West. The limitations to the debate on internationalism, and the terms in which it was going to be put, were made clear in an interview with Longo by the non-communist journal Astrolabio. Longo certainly went quite far here in his criticism of the socialist regimes, stating that many of the problems which the 20th CPSU had addressed had remained unresolved. At the same time, however, it was not the Soviet Union but the noncommunist forces in Italy which were criticized for conceiving détente as being based on the consolidation of the blocs.87

3.1.3. Responses to further developments

  • 88 “Dal nostro inviato” [Boffa], Unità, 23/8, p. 1.
  • 89 Moreover, the tone of the PCI press coverage at times completely broke with the usual lexicographi (...)

40Up to the signing of the Moscow Protocol, the PCI in its public statements and press reports maintained its firm line of solidarity with the CPCS and the Czechoslovak people, as well as its disregard of Soviet interpretations. The Vysocany Congress was reported upon in a positive light, recognized as valid, and considered as representative of wider public opinion.88 While the Czechoslovak leaders and people were praised for their calm and dignity, the demonstrations and strikes in protest at the invasion were covered positively.89 By contrast, the responses to the Moscow Protocol represented a first retreat from this line and suggested a willingness to comply with power relations in the communist world. The PCI leadership was skeptical with regard to the outcome of the protocol. It did not, however, make this explicit: the party press reproduced the TASS communication of the Moscow Protocol without further comment. Unità took as its point of reference Dubček and Svoboda and their guarantees to the people that they would continue the new course.

  • 90 “Risoluzione del CC e della CCC del Partito comunista italiano sull’intervento in Cecoslovacchia,” (...)
  • 91 Also Mazini argues that the PCI leaders at this point were well aware of the fact that the CPCS le (...)
  • 92 Natta stated at the early October meeting that, firstly, the Soviet troops did not intend to leave (...)
  • 93 While Natta, Terracini and Ingrao argued for a public statement of protest, Berlinguer proposed th (...)

41The CC resolution of 29 August appreciated positively the fact that “in such a dramatic situation” it had been possible to “find a path of negotiations and to avert the danger of more tragic developments,” while at the same time restating the need for the withdrawal of troops.90 With this interpretation, the PCI leadership feigned belief in a negotiated compromise between two equal partners.91 Regarding the treaty on the “temporary stationing” of Soviet troops, the Direzione members could not agree upon a public statement of protest, even though the real conditions of the treaty were well understood.92 The majority in the Direzione, however, considered that it was not the actual situation in Czechoslovakia that was of prime importance but rather the effect in the world communist movement, particularly with regard to the question of communist party autonomy.93

  • 94 Longo at this point cut the debate by suggesting to focus on the question of the World Communist C (...)
  • 95 APCI, Dir, 8/11/68, 020.1146.

42The PCI leadership’s interest in the events in Czechoslovakia further decreased, a fact which became very clear after Galluzzi’s trip to Prague in early October. Galluzzi’s report to the Direzione raised important points, such as the attempts by the Soviet troops to undermine the power of the Dubček group, the emergence of “anti-Soviet feelings and anti-socialist tendencies,” and the request from the CPCS to insist, in the context of the world communist movement, on sovereignty, détente and democracy. Nevertheless, a profound debate on these issues, as was initiated immediately following the invasion, was now no longer taken up.94 Czechoslovakia increasingly disappeared from the agenda of the PCI leadership debates. It was channeled into issues considered more relevant to the party itself: autonomy and relations within the world communist movement, and détente. The Brezhnev Doctrine, however, profoundly shocked the PCI leaders, as they interpreted it as a marked change, both in theory and practice, with far-reaching consequences in the wider communist world. As Occhetto put it: “…to us, the theorization is worse than the invasion.”95

3.2. The PCF

3.2.1. The genesis of the decision

  • 96 “Déclaration du bureau politique du PCF,” 21/8/68.
  • 97 Streiff, Kanapa, p. 507.
  • 98 A similar point in is made in Konopnicki, “Prague 68,” p. 38–39.
  • 99 On the other hand, the adoption of this BP statement was clearly more than the inevitable conseque (...)

43On the morning of the invasion, the Bureau politique of the PCF issued a statement in which it expressed its “surprise and reprobation” in the face of the “military intervention.”96 The text had been drafted by Waldeck Rochet and Kanapa.97 It was approved without amendments and without a vote. The BP meeting was attended by Rochet, Kanapa, J. Duclos, R. Guyot, F. Billoux, E. Fajon, B. Frachon, G. Plissonnier, R. Leroy, G. Marchais and R. Piquet.98 Absent from the meeting were R. Garaudy and J. Thorez-Vermeersch, both on their way back from Moscow to Paris. The PCF sent this statement to all of the ruling communist parties in Eastern Europe. The very adoption of this statement marked a break with the PCF’s usual loyalty vis-à-vis Moscow. It was made possible, firstly, by the sense of urgency and the confusion of the situation; and secondly, by the authoritarian habits in the PCF leadership which made it difficult to disagree with a position taken by the secretary general. The PCF’s protest against the invasion was a more abrupt break with the party’s traditions of loyal Soviet-aligned internationalism than it was in the case of the PCI, but it was not a more profound one. It followed the Rochet–Kanapa line of concern with domestic position and domestic strategy and was an expression of the party’s ideal-vision on internationalism and the organization of the communist world, which ignored the centrality of Soviet dominance in the existing situation.99

  • 100 “Résolution du Comité central,” 22/8/68.
  • 101 Letter Garaudy to Rochet, s.d., APCF, “Evénements en Tchécoslovaquie,” box 1, folder 5.

44At the same time, it was immediately clear that the dissent over the invasion did not in any way lead to a questioning of the party’s internationalism. Moreover, it was clear from the outset that the statement of 22 August was the furthest the PCF was willing and able to stretch its dissidence. The party now initiated a process of systematically limiting the implications of its position of dissent, without ever actually undoing this decision, although it came very close. The first step in this process was a Central Committee meeting on the day following the BP meeting. In a dramatic atmosphere, the CC adopted a statement which clearly represented a retreat from the earlier BP statement. It “disapproved” of the invasion rather than expressing reprobation.100 It echoed the BP statement regarding “our worries about certain developments in Czechoslovakia,” and added to this that “the actions of these forces [hostile to socialism] did not elicit the necessary political and ideological responses.” Furthermore, the statement did not include an explicit reference to the fact that relations with the Soviet Union should be based on a set of principles, as had been proposed by CC member M. Simon.101

  • 102 The PCF attempted to demonstrate the continuity of its position. For example, in an interview with (...)
  • 103 Streiff, Kanapa, p. 508. Konopnicki, “Prague 68,” pp. 38–39. Audio recordings of the CC meetings o (...)

45As in the Bureau politique statement, the dissent was framed in the “spirit of proletarian internationalism.” But the CC statement added the PCF’s intention to stimulate unity and co-operation between communist parties and emphasized its ties of friendship with the Soviet Communist Party. The difference between the two statements gave rise to fierce polemics between the PCF and other political forces in France.102 The CC statement indeed reflected the concessions that had to be made to the Soviet loyalists. At the meeting, criticism of the Rochet line was violent and of a double nature. Thorez-Vermeersch most clearly and vigorously expressed her disagreement with the BP statement and attacked Garaudy, who had spoken in favor of a more clear-cut distancing from the Soviet Union. Duclos, by not calling her to order, suggested at least his partial agreement with her. Given the personal prestige of the former Resistance fighter, this placed pressure on the dissent line. It was indeed the end of Rochet’s shortlived rebellion against the Soviet Union.103

3.2.2. Arguments and motives: the centrality of sovereignty

46The arguments which the PCF invoked in its disagreement with the invasion were in line with its earlier interpretations of the crisis of the world communist movement. These were the following:

  • negotiations and “brotherly debate” as modes of interaction between communist parties rather than violence and interference, referring to Čierna and Bratislava (in both BP and CC statements)
  • the free determination of communist parties (in both BP and CC statements)
  • state sovereignty (in both BP and CC statements)
  • the unity of the world socialist forces (only in the CC statement)
  • security and peace in Europe (only in the CC statement)
  • the “national policy of peace, independence, democracy and socialism” of the PCF (only in the CC statement; emphasis added).
  • 104 APCF, BP, 13/9/68.

47Like the PCF’s earlier attitudes with regard to the Prague Spring, these were formalistic arguments relating to the organization of the communist world rather than substance-related support for the project that the Prague Spring had been. Furthermore, in comparison to the PCI there was far less insistence on détente. Instead, the PCF insisted in its statements on state sovereignty. This was connected to the argument of autonomy for communist parties in the world communist movement, but had, as we will see, a significance of its own. Furthermore, in an internal analysis of the situation by the Bureau politique of mid-September, other motives were mentioned, related mostly to the effects on the world communist movement on the one hand, and domestic concerns on the other. The deterioration of relations between communist parties, the problem of Chinese criticism, the party’s domestic strategy, and the loss of its “influence over the workers” to the benefit of the socialist party were mentioned.104 Importantly, it was admitted that these disagreements with the invading states reflected disagreements over “fundamental principles” and the concept of proletarian internationalism itself. However, a taboo-breaking statement as this one was at no point made public. Also the internal debate was increasingly silenced and the discussion on internationalism which was carefully initiated here was not further taken up in the party’s leading bodies.

48As was the case for the PCI, the Czechoslovak crisis touched on all three dimensions of internationalism: the conception of the world communist movement, party strategy and doctrine. However, the problem connected to Soviet strategy in Europe was not a new one to the PCF. In this sense, the invasion was less of a moment of historical disappointment than it was for the PCI. The PCF, as we have seen, had already in 1965 experienced in a very direct way the negative effects of the Soviet strategy of détente on its own domestic strategy. As the PCF, for this reason but also because of its older suspicions regarding peaceful coexistence, did not strongly identify with the policy of détente, détente was not an important argument underpinning its dissent. Also with regard to doctrine and the concept of socialism, the invasion came as less of a shock to the PCF than to the PCI. It was only a shock to the extent that the PCF had (officially) regarded the Prague Spring to be socialist and not counter-revolutionary in nature, and the Soviet Union now clearly held a different view. However, as we have seen, its sympathy for the Prague Spring was low and its reading of it as not counter-revolutionary had come about as a result of domestic pressures rather than a fundamental analysis. As the PCF had never connected the Prague Spring to its own domestic strategy, the question of the nature of the Prague Spring was of secondary importance to the party.

  • 105 “Interview de Waldeck Rochet à Radio Luxembourg,” Humanité, 27/8/68, p. 2.

49The argument of state sovereignty was central; this was remarkable, as in the logic of “orthodox” doctrine, to which the PCF claimed to adhere, it made little sense. Either a counter-revolutionary situation existed in Czechoslovakia, in which case an intervention was needed and justified, or such a situation did not exist, which continued to be the PCF’s official reading of the events. State sovereignty, as invoked here by the PCF, was not a universal principle. The PCF disagreed with the invasion only because, in its analysis of the situation in Czechoslovakia, the CPCS would have been capable of solving all problems, although “anti-socialist elements” had been operative. Waldeck Rochet, in an interview with Radio Luxembourg, said that “intervention” would have been needed had the CPCS no longer been capable of handling the situation alone.105

50Thus the PCF’s concept of sovereignty was, like Brezhnev’s, a “limited” one and as such not necessarily in tension with Soviet-aligned internationalism. The problem was, rather, the fact that sovereignty, in a general sense, was such an important source of legitimation to the PCF, through which the party aspired to expand its domestic support. The insistence on French state sovereignty, as we have seen, was a constant feature of the PCF’s conception of the relation between national belonging and internationalism. In the Cold War context, sovereignty had never been considered to be contradictory to internationalism, but, instead, supportive of it, as it was connected to antiimperialism and anti-American feelings. It had always been assumed in a non-problematic way that state sovereignty, in the case of the future socialist France, would not be in contradiction with Soviet-aligned internationalism. The central problem which the invasion of Czechoslovakia raised for the PCF was that it broke the illusion of an unproblematic relation between Soviet-aligned internationalism and state sovereignty. Behind this lay the strategic question of the relation between the future socialist France and the Soviet Union as states, and the position of this state in the communist bloc. As the PCF had always considered its position as a party in the historical world communist movement to be privileged, the assumption of a privileged position of a socialist France in the communist bloc had also been implicit.

  • 106 The text, which Kanapa wrote on behalf of Rochet, was addressed to the Soviets in response to thei (...)
  • 107 Neither the BP nor Secretariat meetings mention a discussion on either event.

51The centrality of sovereignty and the link with internationalism, as the PCF leadership at this point saw it, was expressed sharply in a note by Kanapa of September 1968.106 Kanapa here made it clear that the PCF’s concept of sovereignty was not an absolute one, and that the PCF did not have objections in principle against interference in communist parties or states. However, it was emphasized that national independence was one of the bases of communist internationalism and solidarity, and that one of the “historical functions” of the revolutionary movement was to bring about sovereign states. Communism went hand in hand with sovereignty, as capitalism went hand in hand with imperialism; it was impossible for the French communists to imagine the breaking up of these connections. The Brezhnev Doctrine, then, undermined the PCF’s sovereignty-based argumentation against the invasion. After its (unofficial) pronunciation, the PCF systematically omitted sovereignty when coming back to the invasion and its own disagreement with it. Humanité did not even make mention of the Kovalev article of late September or Brezhnev’s speech at the Polish Communist Party Congress in November.107 These blank spots suggested that these events went to the heart of the problem for the PCF. It was impossible for the party to formulate criticism of the Brezhnev Doctrine, as the PCI did, because the doctrine completely disarmed it and undid it of its autonomous theoretical arsenal—which was limited to start with.

  • 108 Andrieu, R., “Eviter le pire,” Humanité, 26/8/68, p. 1.
  • 109 See, for example, “La Pravda expose les raisons de l’action soviétique,” Humanité, 23/8/68, p. 2.
  • 110 “Un message de dirigeants tchécoslovaques publié à Moscou. Pourquoi nous avons demandé l’aide de l (...)
  • 111 Partial records of the CC meeting of October 1968 on the basis of the notes by Kanapa, can be foun (...)

52As the invasion revealed these deep contradictions in the PCF’s internationalism, the PCF’s analyses of the Soviets’ justification for the invasion could not but be evasive and ambiguous. In what was a non-analysis rather than an analysis, the invasion was described in a Humanité article by Andrieu as “a terrible error, whatever the intentions of those who have decided upon it.”108 Generally, the PCF press reproduced without further comment the Soviet statements providing arguments in favor of the invasion, thereby implicitly distancing itself from them.109 In none of its statements did the PCF express a clear view on the “Appeal for assistance.” However, in contrast to the PCI press, Humanité did reproduce the version of this letter published by Pravda, without further comment.110 In doing so, the PCF took on a very vague position regarding the issue; this from the very beginning undermined the coherence of its argument. The PCF never made any public mention of the question of “imperialist infiltration” through agents, and the weapon deposits. The party press here did not even publish the Soviet statements on this issue, which, again, suggested its skepticism. Nonetheless, at the CC meeting of October in Ivry, the Plissonnier report stated that there had been no “invitation” and no counter-revolutionary situation, although, it was repeated, anti-socialist forces had been active in Czechoslovakia.111

3.2.3. Responses to further events

  • 112 “Un congrès extraordinaire du Parti Communiste Tchécoslovaque a réuni à Prague 1.069 délégués,” Hu (...)
  • 113 The PCI’s position on the invasion, for example, is published on the first page of Humanité of 22 (...)

53Humanité reported on the situation in Czechoslovakia in the following days in a neutral and non-interpretative way, often merely reproducing statements from the Soviet and Czechoslovak press agencies without further comment. In contrast to the PCI press it did not wish to rely on clandestine information sources in Czechoslovakia, but it did publish all of the CPCS statements in protest against the invasion and gave ample coverage of the arguments advanced by Dubček and other CPCS leaders. Importantly, the Vysocany Congress was reported as an important event, emphasizing the consensus of confidence in Dubček.112 This followed on from its earlier interpretation of the Prague Spring. Furthermore, it referred widely to the position of the PCI and other critical parties, including the Romanian and Yugoslav parties.113

  • 114 Humanité drew an unproblematic picture of a consensus between the CPCS leadership and public opini (...)
  • 115 For example in “Déclaration du Bureau Politique du PCF,” 25/8/68.
  • 116 “Interview Waldeck Rochet à Radio Luxembourg,” 26/8/68, APCF, Fund Waldeck Rochet, box 12, folder (...)
  • 117 In late November the Secretariat noted the weakening of Dubček’s positions: APCF, Sec, 26/11/68.
  • 118 “Communication du BP,” 27/8/68, 17hrs. It should be noted, however, that Rochet, in his speech at (...)
  • 119 “Déclaration du Bureau politique,” 2/9/68. See also a draft (with no major changes) in APCF, BP, 2 (...)
  • 120 For example in the article “Des problèmes politiques complexes se posent aux dirigeants tchécoslov (...)

54Like the PCI, the PCF presented the Moscow talks as a discussion between equals rather than the imposition of Soviet demands on the Czechoslovaks. The PCF press did not publish the TASS communications, but only the speeches by Dubček and Svoboda in which they promised the gradual but full withdrawal of the troops and called upon the population for support.114 At this point, the PCF’s understanding of “normalization” still implied the withdrawal of the troops.115 Also Rochet, in his interview with Radio Luxembourg on 26 August, explicitly stated that the Moscow agreements included the withdrawal of the troops and the restoration of the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, albeit “within the framework of its international obligations.”116 As in the case of the PCI, the PCF leadership was perfectly aware of the extent of Soviet interference in Czechoslovak politics.117 Soon, however, the PCF and its press shifted to a position on the Moscow Protocol which emphasized the CPCS’s obligations. Thus the obligations of the Soviet Union (the withdrawal of the troops) were increasingly overshadowed by Czechoslovakia’s “international obligations,” namely, the re-establishment of “orthodox” socialism and the maintenance of its international alignment. The BP communication of 27 August no longer mentioned the withdrawal of the troops,118 and the BP communication of 2 September stated that Czechoslovakia’s loyalty to the Warsaw Pact was a condition for troop withdrawal.119 Henceforth, the issue of the continuing presence of the troops was systematically omitted from PCF public analyses of the situation in Czechoslovakia.120 This was the direct consequence, as is demonstrated below, of Soviet pressure.

4. THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY: PARTY CRISIS AND DOMESTIC TENSION

55The invasion, their protest against it and their unwillingness to break ties with the communist world put the two parties in a complex situation. The immediate consequences were twofold: firstly, the leaderships of these parties engaged in a “politics of identity and unity” inside the party and on the domestic level; and secondly, they were faced with an acute crisis in their relations with the world communist movement. The politics of identity and unity included the mechanisms discussed in the first chapter: sharply distinguishing between the included and the excluded, an emphasis on the teleology and the historical project as well as on symbols, and organizational discipline. There was an urgent sense of a need to “save the party.” Among the party members, the crisis of identity found its expression in open disagreement with the leadership. Criticism of the leadership was, in the first instance, rather blurred and based on impulsive reactions following the dramatic events rather than thought-through arguments. As we will see in the next chapter, at a later stage more fundamental and encompassing disagreement with the leadership formed itself in the two cases. Internal divisions in the parties crystallized around the issue of Czechoslovakia up to the early 1970s. From the available sources, only a general picture of the extent of the disagreement with the leadership immediately following the dissent can be discerned. While our focus remains on the leaderships and not on the rank and file, it is important also to gain a general idea of the situation in the wider parties. Opinions in the party body obviously pressured the leaders towards certain modifications, but it was also the case that the argument of opinions among the party ranks was often used by leaders to justify their own positions.

  • 121 See the appendixes and Lazar, Maisons rouges, p. 398.
  • 122 On the French presidential elections of 1969, see chapter 7. More detail in Lazar, “Affinités élec (...)

56The fact that these policies embittered relations with domestic political partners on the Left was at this point considered of secondary importance by the communist party leaders. A temporary revival of Cold War antagonism took place—although clearly more so in Italy than in France—in which not only the communist parties needed to mark their specific identity but also the non-communist groups needed to demonstrate their being different from Soviet-aligned communism. However, the Czechoslovak crisis bore no negative effects on the domestic implant of these parties in the short term, with respect to either adherents or voters. The adherence figures in the case of the PCI, and most probably also in the case of the PCF, rose slightly between 1968 and 1969. Although segments of the membership left the party after August 1968, this was compensated by an influx of new members in the context of the radicalization on the Left in both countries in 1968–1969.121 In terms of votes, the PCF at the presidential elections of 1969 obtained a better score than at the parliamentary elections of 1968. Also the PCI improved its score at the parliamentary elections of 1972 with respect to those of 1968.122

4.1. The PCI

4.1.1. Disagreements in the party

  • 123 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0910 and 0918.
  • 124 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0913–0915.
  • 125 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0919–0923; APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0959 (Berlinguer). Also Ingrao might be put i (...)
  • 126 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0965. Furthermore, Cossutta and Colombi did not want the Czechoslovak crisis (...)
  • 127 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0960.

57While there was, and remained, a consensus in the Direzione on the dissent itself, different interpretations of the events in Czechoslovakia existed. A minority position was taken by Colombi and Cossutta, who argued that the Soviets had had their motives. Cossutta tended to give credit to the “Appeal for assistance,” and Colombi considered that the situation in Czechoslovakia had been alarming at the moment of the invasion.123 More disagreement existed on how to judge the post-invasion events in Czechoslovakia and how to deal with the Soviets. The most radical position, assumed at this point especially by Galluzzi, Macaluso and Terracini, argued for the strict maintaining of the critical position on Soviet policy in Czechoslovakia, insisted on the withdrawal of the troops, and refused to deal with a possible post-Dubček leadership.124 An influential centrist position argued for the channeling of the Czechoslovak crisis into the transforming of the party’s internationalism, either in terms of the evaluation of the socialist regimes or in terms of actual party autonomy. While Pajetta and Occhetto argued in favour of this first point, Berlinguer in particular emphasized the second.125 Amendola, while wishing to channel the dissent over Czechoslovakia into the issues of peace and détente, expressly argued against a debate on the nature of the socialist regimes.126 Longo agreed with Berlinguer and Pajetta but stressed the adherence to the socialist camp. Longo’s position at this point shifted. While he was the crucial actor behind the position of dissent, and indeed never questioned this position, during the weeks following this decision he constantly exerted pressure towards the limitation of the most critical debates regarding détente and the nature of the socialist regimes. In doing so he always carefully avoided causing rifts in the leadership.127

  • 128 For example Rindone: APCI, CC-CCC 27–29/8/68, 00267.
  • 129 APCI, CC-CCC, 27–29/8/68, 264.
  • 130 The interventions at the CC and CCC meeting of 27–29/8: APCI, CC-CCC 27–29/ 8/68, 00260–00272. (Pi (...)

58In the Central Committee and the middle-rank leadership, there was broad agreement with the line of dissent. At the CC meeting of 27–29 August, only one member, A. Donini, spoke against the dissent. A few CC members emphasized the links with the Soviet Union or the “special role” assumed by it in the global struggle.128 Far more important, on the other hand, was the pressure towards a position more critical of the Soviet Union. Many argued that the party now needed to “go further,” either in terms of reconsidering the organization of the communist world, or in terms of the analysis of the socialist regimes. For example, B. Reichlin raised the issue of whether the Soviet Union could still be trusted in supporting revolution in the West.129 L. Pintor went furthest in this respect and raised fundamental criticism of the Soviet Union: the positions of its leaders were not in line with the international class struggle, and socialist society had been constructed without the input of the masses.130 This was almost equal to saying, in Maoist fashion, that the Soviet Union was not truly socialist.

  • 131 Reported by Cossutta, APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, 020.0910. of 1968.
  • 132 For example, Boffa recalls that the leadership had difficulties in making the dissent accepted amo (...)

59As to the party rank and file, it is hard to gain a detailed picture. In sum, the discussions in the Direzione and in the CC point to “radical” criticism among the party ranks rather than “pro-Soviet” criticism. Only few serious problems were reported to the Direzione at this stage; there were incidents of party militants expressing support for the Soviet Union, for example among the dockworkers of Genoa.131 Some recollections point at the persistence of Soviet-loyal feelings among the party militants.132 These post factum interpretations, however, carry a danger. After the PCI’s partial alignment with the communist world and its acceptance of the “normalization” in Czechoslovakia (which will be dealt with below), the existence of pro-Soviet party militants was invoked by some party leaders as a justification for their own Soviet-loyal position.

4.1.2. The domestic Cold War

  • 133 Communication by the PSU of 22 August, Avanti, 23/8/68. Immediately following the invasion, Napoli (...)
  • 134 For example, La Nazione of 22 August referred to the PCI’s position as “half solidarity with the m (...)
  • 135 On 30 August, the parliament groups of the DC, the PSU and the PRI voted a joint motion which cond (...)

60The dominant pressure exerted on the PCI from its domestic environment was towards distancing itself from the communist world, which indeed occurred at a later stage. The PCI’s main domestic partner, the PSU, condemned the invasion for its “authoritarian logic,” asked for the withdrawal of the troops and proposed a meeting of the UN Security Council.133 Initially, it reacted positively to the dissent expressed by the PCI. Lombardi, representing the Left in the PSU, defined the PCI’s dissent as an important step towards the unity of the Left in Italy. However, the PSU very soon started to put pressure on the communists, challenging them to go further in their criticism of the socialist regimes and to denounce the “normalization” process. The Christian Democratic Party and the Right intensified their anti-communist propaganda. Accusations were made, for instance, about the PCI having been involved in the decision to invade, or about Longo having bargained a deal in Moscow with the Soviets on the dissent. The polemics against the PCI were aggravated when it became clear that the PCI would not break its ties with the communist world.134 The centre-left government issued a number of statements which sharply criticized the Soviet Union and the communist regimes. Despite Nenni’s continued emphasis on détente and the overcoming of the military blocs, the PSU too was drawn into a position of revived anti-communism, which temporarily isolated the PCI.135

  • 136 For example in: Antonicelli, F., “Opinoni. La lezione di Praga e i democratici,” Unità, 5/9/68.

61The PCI often anticipated these attacks by emphasizing the “struggle against anti-Sovietism,” both internally and publicly. It needed to mark its being different from non-communist groups which had also disagreed with the invasion, the PSU in the first place. The PCI press intensified its antiimperialist discourses with reference to American military presence in Europe and Italy. This allowed it to respond to the charge that it did not break its ties with the Soviet Union.136 The identity of the party was at this point reconstructed on the basis of a desire for East–West détente understood as East–West relaxation and the dissolution of the Atlantic and communist blocs. However, while strongly arguing against the re-emergence of a Zhdanovian Cold War logic on the European and international level, the PCI did fall into the trap of the domestic Cold War.

  • 137 Il Popolo, 9/9/68. According to Lama, an important minority in the PSIUP was in disagreement with (...)

62The radical Left groups and the PSIUP assumed incoherent positions on the Czechoslovak crisis, which, on the whole, did not succeed in pressuring the PCI in any clear direction. In a first statement, the PSIUP deplored the invasion but implicitly justified it by mirroring it to the American intervention in Vietnam and the American military presence in Italy. A second statement, however, criticized the PCI for reinforcing anti-Sovietism by disagreeing over the invasion. The PSIUP’s judgement of the PCI was contradictory: while criticizing the Soviet Union and the Soviet-aligned communist world for imperialism, it argued that further alienation from the world communist movement would lead the PCI to become even more “revisionist” and reformist.137 This was also largely the position of leftist, proto-Maoist groups. For all their inconsistencies, the positions of the radial Left did not succeed in directly influencing the PCI’s position, although, as we will see in the next chapter, an indirect impact was felt via the Manifesto affair.

4.2. The PCF

4.2.1. The disorientation in the party

  • 138 Her initial letter of resignation to Rochet was published by Humanité on 23 August. Her resignatio (...)

63Internal party devastation was generally greater in the PCF than in the PCI, and this on the level of the leadership as well as among the rank and file. Moreover, the PCF leadership was faced with a group of intellectuals who were openly critical of the party line on several issues. Furthermore, while criticism of the leadership in the PCI case was, largely, of a “radical” nature, the situation inside the PCF was more complex, notably due to a number of highly influential leaders who, if they did not openly disagree with the dissent, wished to contain its effects on the party’s internationalism. In contrast to the situation in the PCI Direzione, there was no unanimity on the basic position of dissent in the Bureau politique of the PCF. Despite the fact that the dissent statement was passed in the Bureau politique, an important minority of its members did not warmly support it. In contrast to the PCI, the “conservative” critique here was far more influential than the “radical” critique. As to the first group, most outspoken was J. Thorez-Vermeersch, who resigned from the Bureau politique and the CC in late October.138 Not only did she argue against open disagreement with the Soviet Union for reasons of tradition and obedience, she also disapproved of the Prague Spring and considered the invasion necessary. The resignation of the widow of the former leader, and the fact that she invoked the memory of the latter, was highly important in symbolic terms.

  • 139 Streiff, Kanapa, p. 508.

64Besides her, there were in the Bureau politique a few influential Soviet loyalists, who nevertheless agreed with the dissent. As we have seen, Duclos assumed a strategic position immediately following the invasion: while, for reasons of party unity, he adhered to the Rochet–Kanapa position of dissent, he clearly did not wish to push the criticism of the Soviet Union any further. He soon succeeded in pressuring the central line towards a more “conservative” position. While Fajon backed his stance, Plissonnier, and for the time being Marchais, supported the general secretary, though rather for reasons of discipline than conviction. While Rochet attempted to reconcile the various positions, Kanapa was the only Bureau politique leader who strongly and continuously argued in favor of the initiation of a more fundamental debate in the party on certain aspects of internationalism; he was supported only by Piquet and Frachon.139

  • 140 On the CC of July in Nanterre, Garaudy disagreed with the hostile attitude vis-à-vis the students. (...)
  • 141 Le Monde, 28/8/68, p. 1. Immediately following the invasion, he gave an interview with the Czechos (...)
  • 142 Moreover, Garaudy critisised the PCF leadership for its past policies, including the limited de-St (...)

65“Radical” disagreement with the leadership, in the form of criticism for retreating from its initial position of dissent, was expressed mainly by intellectuals. In the Bureau politique, this was the position held only by Garaudy. Garaudy, who had earlier disagreed with the party line on the May–June events,140 now started to diverge from the party line on Czechoslovakia and internationalism. In an interview with Le Monde in late August, he called for the unconditional withdrawal of the troops, warned for a return to Stalinist practices in the communist world and urged the Soviet leaders to “draw the right lessons” in order to “once more become worthy of what was the party of Lenin.”141 Following an attack on these statements in Humanité, Garaudy wrote a private letter to Rochet in which he raised fundamental questions touching upon the different aspects of internationalism: the Central Committee should have gone further in its critique of the invasion; the party should completely break its ties of solidarity itself with the invaders and should disagree with the Moscow Protocol; and it should open a debate on the types of socialism in the PCF program, in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.142

  • 143 This was to change at a later stage. The further unravelling of the “Garaudy affair” and the sanct (...)
  • 144 The federal committees (96 in total) were the regional organizations of the Central Committee.
  • 145 “Aux membres du CC, aux Secrétaires des fédérations,” 24/8/68, and “Aux directions des fédérations (...)

66In the immediate post-invasion situation, the central leadership’s method with regard to the party was intense persuasion and psychological pressure rather than repression.143 Rochet made the federal committees discuss the Czechoslovak events and adopt a statement of support for the party line.144 This was an unusual procedure, considered necessary by Rochet for several reasons. Conscious of the resistance which the dissent encountered in the party, he genuinely wished to be informed of the opinions in the party. At the same time, it was the first in a series of initiatives intended to force the party body to accept the party line. The “debates” in the federal committees were a matter of persuasion; this was clear, for example, from a “scheme with points of interpretation” sent round by the Bureau politique to the federal secretaries that restated the party interpretation of the entire Czechoslovak crisis, the definition of internationalism and the relations with the Soviet Union.145 Furthermore, as Rochet (and Kanapa) must have felt pretty assured that at least a majority in the party was with them, this was a way of reinforcing their position inside the central leadership.

  • 146 Vigreux, Waldeck Rochet, p. 281. In a party such as the PCF in which discipline was tight and the (...)
  • 147 See also Verdez-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 214.
  • 148 Reported by Denis and Guyot on their discussion with Galluzzi, APCI, Dir, 17/9/68, 020.0989.
  • 149 Among these were the Somme (region surrounding Amiens) and Ariège (in the Pyrenees, on the Spanish (...)
  • 150 See further below.

67The result, however, was the uncovering of a profound and generalized crisis. Although, having no real choice, all the federal committees issued statements in support of the leadership, disagreement inside the federations proved to be widespread. The picture drawn by Rochet himself was the following: 40 per cent of the party members had been in favor of the invasion but were loyal to the party leadership; 20 per cent were in open disagreement with the leadership; and only 40 per cent of the party members agreed with the interpretation of the Czechoslovak events.146 The types of critique expressed were dominantly of a “conservative” and pro-Soviet nature. Nevertheless, there were also cells and federations, particularly in the industrial suburbs surrounding Paris (la banlieue rouge), in which the dominant attitude was one of anger with the Soviet Union.147 Criticism of the leadership was nourished by older critiques of the party line. This involved, firstly, criticism of the changes in the party’s internationalism and the non-acceptance of its somewhat more independent stance vis-à-vis the world communist movement and the Soviet Union since the mid-1960s. It also involved criticism of domestic strategy and the non-acceptance of significant variations in national conceptions of socialism, including both the “French road” and the Prague Spring.148 Both these types of criticism questioned the very foundations of the party’s strategy under Waldeck Rochet. Furthermore, at the Central Committee of late October 1968 held in Ivry, most unusually a number of federal committees did not approve of the resolutions.149 Disagreement with the party line was stimulated, probably in a significant way, by direct Soviet and East German interference in the party, through the sending of propaganda material to individual militants.150

4.2.2. Domestic indifference

  • 151 See the analysis of polls covering the period 1956 to 1980, in Parodi, Duhamel, “Chronique de l’op (...)

68Compared to the PCI, the PCF was less pressured by its domestic situation to condemn the invasion or to criticize the Soviet Union. According to public opinion polls, the opinions of the French public on the PCF were, in 1968–1969, only to a limited extent dependent on events in the communist world and on the PCF’s realignment with the communist world after the invasion. The number of people considering the PCF “too Soviet-aligned” rose between 1968 and 1969, though only from 44 per cent to 49 per cent of the total group of respondents. After 1969 and up to 1976, this number went down again to 38 per cent. The share of PCF “sympathizers” (adherents and voters) considering the party too Soviet-aligned between 1968 and 1969 actually went down from 37 per cent to 29 per cent, which is related to the internal realignment of the party (see the next chapters).151

  • 152 Le Monde, 23/8/68.
  • 153 Le Monde, 4/10/68.

69De Gaulle reacted to the invasion in a strikingly meek way: the French government “deplored” the invasion in a moderate statement and referred, in its motivations, only to European détente.152 Although positions soon polarized and the Gaullists did enter into a dynamic of anti-communism, their judgements of the Soviet Union and the invasion were complex and moderate, which posed a problem to the PCF. In early October, the minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Debré, in a speech to parliament, developed a critical analysis of Soviet foreign policy. His analysis was insightful: the invasion demonstrated that the Soviet Union held a different view of détente than Gaullist France did, the former adhering to a policy which tended towards an arrangement between the superpowers, and the latter striving for an upsetting of the global Cold War constellation in which continental Europe as a whole would have a new role to play.153 This analysis, to some extent similar to the one made by the PCI leadership, touched the Achilles heel of the PCF’s relationship with the Soviet Union. However, the fact that the Gaullist Right attributed this analysis to itself, and the fact that early European détente had allied Gaullist France and the Soviet Union, made it difficult for the PCF to hold the same view.

  • 154 Mitterrand resigned as head of the FGDS on 7 November, which marked the start of the disintegratio (...)
  • 155 Mitterrand’s relatively low profile following the invasion is also noted in Grémion, Paris–Prague, (...)
  • 156 Laurens, A., “L’attitude du PCF,” Le Monde, 25–26/8/68.
  • 157 Viansson-Ponte, P., “La SFIO invite le PCF a choisir,” Le Monde, 7/9/68.

70If the Gaullist Right did not pressure the PCF into a more Soviet-critical stance, neither did the forces of the reformist Left do so. Following the May 1968 events, the socialists faced a profound organizational and strategic crisis, which reflected a general state of disorientation: Mitterrand was severely attacked by the SFIO, and the dissolution of the FGDS was under way.154 Mitterrand initially responded very positively to the PCF’s dissent, stating that “an obstacle has been lifted between us and our communist neighbors.”155 The SFIO was more negative, refusing to refer to the PCF in its statement of condemnation of the invasion.156 From September on, the SFIO started to criticize the PCF for its line regarding the “normalization” and put to the communists the choice between “absolute obedience to the Soviet Union and the Union de la gauche.”157

  • 158 This was a conscious policy: APCF, Sec, 17/9 and 1/10/68.

71Unsurprisingly, the PCF reacted to the worsening communist-socialist relations by putting all the blame on the socialists and by insisting on its being different from the latter, highlighting its internationalism. Unlike the PCI, it did not highlight aspects of its internationalism which could have created common ground with the socialists, such as détente and the unity of the European Left. It emphasized, by contrast, the classic Cold War arguments such as the dissolving of NATO (not of the Warsaw Pact) and the “German danger,” on which there was a disconnection with the socialists.158 The PCF’s traditional emphasis on “orthodoxy” led the party, in a crisis of identity such as the one at hand, to reconstruct its unity and identity on the basis of doctrinal purity and the communist teleological perspective, which implied sharply marking the difference with reformist socialism. In the longer term, however, since it was the forces led by the more pragmatic Mitterrand rather than the “old Left” socialists led by Mollet in which the PCF was interested, the temporary Cold War revival did not significantly interfere with the PCF’s domestic strategy.

  • 159 Daniel, J., “Faut-il défendre l’Union soviétique?,” LNO, 2/9/68.
  • 160 The minimal interest on the far Left in the events in Czechoslovakia following the invasion is als (...)
  • 161 Lutte ouvrière, 23/10/68.

72Le nouvel observateur probably voiced a general feeling of disillusionment on the Left. While initially enthusiastic about the PCF’s dissent, it soon denounced the party’s line on the normalization and urged both the communists and socialists not to minimalize the Czechoslovak crisis for the sake of the Union de la gauche.159 The far Left, generally, did not develop strong arguments on the invasion.160 Lutte ouvrière and Rouge strongly condemned the invasion, without, however, taking up the defense of Dubček. The judgement of the former group on the PCF position was, as in the case of the PSIUP in Italy, a blend of anti-imperialist, radical-revolutionary and anti-reformist critiques. On the one hand, it violently attacked the Soviet Union and its imperialism; on the other, it equally criticized the dissent expressed by the PCF and judged it to be inspired by “a wish to please Mitterrand and Mollet.”161

CONCLUDING REMARKS

73To the PCI, the main shock of the invasion was to do with European strategy: it revealed that the Soviet Union held a very different concept of détente than the one it held itself, and which was so important to its domestic strategy. Its own concept of détente had been based on the prospect of the “overcoming of the blocs,” and, hence, changing relations inside both the communist world and the Western world. The invasion of Czechoslovakia demonstrated a different Soviet view on détente. To the PCF, by contrast, the main shock of the invasion was the tension it revealed between internationalism and (state) sovereignty. Although the PCF’s concept of sovereignty was also “limited,” the fact that the limited character of state sovereignty in the communist bloc was made explicit threatened, for the PCF, to undermine sovereignty as a basis of domestic legitimacy. Furthermore, both parties protested against the invasion because of the limitation to varieties of socialism it revealed and because it damaged the image of communism in the West, and, hence, their own domestic strategy.

74However dramatic, the invasion led in neither case to the questioning of internationalism itself. The immediate consequence of this was a “politics of identity and unity” carried out by both party leaderships: restoring party unity, marking the difference from non-communists, a renewed emphasis on the teleology, and so on. The fact that this temporarily embittered relations with the domestic political allies was considered of secondary importance. While, in the case of the PCF, identity and unity were first and foremost reconstructed on the basis of doctrinal purity and communist teleology, in the case of the PCI they were reconstructed on the basis of the struggle for the “overcoming of the blocs” on the international level.

75On the whole, the PCI was more strongly pressured by its domestic situation into changing the parameters of its internationalism than was the PCF. The former party was strongly attacked by the socialist and Christian Democratic parties. While the temporary revival of the domestic Cold War in Italy was needed for the PCI leadership to reassess communist identity, it was not, however, a longer-term option, as it was not reconcilable with its line of (international and domestic) détente. In France, the Gaullists kept a rather low profile on the Czechoslovak issue, while the socialists and the FGDS were in a shambles after the May ’68 events. Criticism of the PCF line and of the Soviet Union was expressed, rather, by some strands of the independent intellectual Left, and, as we will see further in chapter eight, by many of the PCF intellectuals.

Notes

1 1 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0961.

2 Navratil, Prague Spring, p. xviii.

3 More details on the casualties in Kramer, “New interpretations,” p. 16.

4 Navratil, Prague Spring, pp. 411–413.

5 To what extent general Dzúr and the armed forces had been informed of the invasion beforehand remains unclear. Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 131.

6 “Minutes of the U.S. National Security Council Meeting on the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia, 20 August 1968,” in Navratil, Prague Spring, pp. 445–446. See also Dawisha, The Kremlin, pp. 373–374.

7 The United Nations condemned the invasion in an extraordinary meeting. On the West German reaction, which was guided by the wish not to upset Ostpolitik see Garton Ash, In Europe’s Name, pp. 57–60.

8 For more detail on the reactions in the world communist movement, see chapter 6.

9 Dawisha, The Kremlin, p. 370–371.

10 This text was not identical to the actual “Letter of invitation” written by Indra and others. Navratil, Prague Spring, p. 324.

11 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 10–13. See also Williams, who considers the invasion a “coup de main to support the coup d’état.” Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 112.

12 Apparently, the Soviet leadership and its allies genuinely believed that the invasion would be backed by a majority in the CPCS Presidium. See also Ouimet, The Rise and Fall, p. 45.

13 Svoboda’s attitude was crucial in these days: not only did he convince Dubček not to step down, he also refused to collaborate with the anti-reformist Piller government that was being formed. Ouimet, The Rise and Fall, pp. 40–44.

14 The statement was repeatedly broadcast over radio and television and published in Rude Pravo. Navratil, Prague Spring, p. 414.

15 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 125–135.

16 The documents adopted are published in Pelikán, The Secret Vysocony Congress.

17 Gordon Skilling, Czechoslovakia’s interrupted revolution, pp. 764–772.

18 Dubček only agreed to sign the protocol after reflection and under pressure from the rest of the CPCS delegation; Kriegel refused to sign the protocol. Ouimet, The Rise and Fall, p 48.

19 Ouimet understands the Moscow Protocol as “a matter of saving face” for the Soviets. Ouimet, The Rise and Fall, p. 85.

20 The text of the Protocol can be found in English translation in Navratil, Prague Spring, pp. 477–480.

21 Recent archival studies have demonstrated just how strong the conviction was in Moscow that the security interests of the Soviet Union were dependent on the developments in Eastern Europe. Ouimet, The Rise and Fall, p. 60.

22 The quotations from the Kovalev article and the Brezhnev speech can be found in English translation in Navratil, Prague Spring, pp. 502–503.

23 Light, The Soviet theory, p. 194.

24 For more comments on concepts of sovereignty in the early phase of Soviet history, see Fejtõ, L’héritage de Lenine, pp. 113–159.

25 Light, The Soviet Theory, pp. 178–181.

26 The bulk of the literature considers the process of “normalization” as more or less consolidated by April 1969, a periodization which I follow here. See, for example, Gordon Skilling, Czechoslovakia’s interrupted revolution, epilogue.

27 I will use the term “normalization” throughout the analysis not in an uncritical but in a descriptive manner.

28 The total presumed number of émigrés in the years 1968 and 1969 was around 123,000. Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 174.

29 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 144–148.

30 According to Kusin, Dubček probably succeeded in pruning down the much longer Soviet blacklist of reformers to be discarded immediately. Kriegel was expelled from the party in May 1969, Šik emigrated. Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 50. Pelikán emigrated to Italy and published from there the critical émigré periodical Listy. On the role of the PCI in this, see the following chapter.

31 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 43.

32 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 155.

33 Such a plan was proposed by Špaček. Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 156.

34 For more detail on “Dubček’s normalization” see Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 144–191.

35 Navratil, Prague Spring, p. 533–534.

36 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 160–161.

37 Furthermore, on several occasions Husák used the Slovak institutions and organizations as an instrument of normalization. Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 56.

38 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 55–56.

39 For more detail on the “realist” tendency see Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 192–209.

40 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 138.

41 It was not only the conservative and Soviet-aligned CPCS leaders who had refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Congress, but also a significant part of the Slovak leadership, including Husák. See Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 152.

42 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 183.

43 Accordingly, the party-affiliated but critical weeklies Reporter and Politika were temporarily banned. Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 175.

44 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 180–181.

45 For the figures of public opinion polls, see Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 46.

46 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 177.

47 Smrkovský was excluded from the following CPSU–CPCS summit meeting in Kiev in early December. Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 185.

48 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 189–190.

49 Williams, The Prague Spring, p. 200. On Soviet interference in the takeover by Husák, see also Ouimet, The Rise and Fall, p. 57.

50 Williams, The Prague Spring, pp. 204–206.

51 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 116.

52 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 85–88.

53 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, p. 72.

54 An important resistance group was the Socialist Movement of Czechoslovak Citizens, which issued a statement in October 1970 repeating the Prague Spring values and ideas. The CPCS made an attempt to eliminate the Socialist Movement by demonstrating a connection with the PCI, via Jiří Pelikán and Giovanni Berlinguer, Enrico’s brother. Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 149–163.

55 Kusin, From Dubček to Charter 77, pp. 160–161.

56 The KKE, the Greek Communist Party in exile, was highly divided, part of its leadership condemning the invasion; the clandestine party in Greece condemned the invasion. Also the AKEL of Cyprus was divided. For a detailed overview of the positions of the West European communist parties, see Devlin, “The New Crisis in European Communism,” in Problems of Communism, November–December 1968, pp. 57–68.

57 After 1969, the KPÖ was “normalized” on Soviet terms in a far-reaching way and its reform-minded leaders, such as E. Fischer, were excluded. For the Spanish Communist Party and the origins of Eurocommunism, see chapter 9. For more information on the Austrian and Spanish communist parties and the Czechoslovak crisis, see, for example, Rubbi, I partiti comunisti.

58 A detailed overview of the positions of the world communist parties and of these organizations, including the arguments invoked and with particular attention to the PCI, is to be found in “Übersicht über die Haltung der kommunistischen und Arbeiterparteien, nationaldemokratischer Parteien und internationaler gesselschaftlicher Organisationen zu den gemeinsamen Hilfsmassnahmen der fünf verbündeten sozialistischen Staaten gegenüber der CCSR,” MfAA, C 47/77–1.

59 Galluzzi, La svolta, p. 202. All these were Direzione members. Giorgio Napolitano was co-ordinator of the Secretariat and was known to be allied to Amendola. Mauro Scoccimarro was a prestigious leader from the interwar period, of the same generation as Togliatti, but had been known as an adversary of the former general secretary. Maurizio Ferrara was editor-in-chief of Unità. Armando Cossutta was known as an opponent to change and played an important role, as we will see below, in the non-official contacts with the Soviet Communist Party.

60 A discussion of this also took place at the Direzione meeting of 23/8. Besides Longo, Berlinguer and Napolitano were also strongly in favor of an immediate reaction. APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0907. See also Mazini, “Luigi Longo,” p. 121.

61 A report of these events by Longo, APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, 020.0899. Giorgio Napolitano was secretary to the organization, one of the younger Direzione members, and considered as an ally to Amendola. Ferrara later on claimed that Longo had been opposed to the formula “grave dissent.” Ajello, N., “La lunga notte di Botteghe oscure,” La Repubblica, 17/5/2003, p. 40.

62 Longo defended his position regarding the letter at the Direzione meeting of 23/8, in response to criticism from Cossutta. Cossutta received a slightly different version of the letter from the Soviet ambassador (referring to “the great majority of the CPCS Presidium and the government” requesting an intervention, rather than “an important number,” in Longo’s version). APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0910.

63 Like the PCF, the PCI never used the term “invasion” in its official statements. “Il comunicato dell’Ufficio politico,” Unità, 21/8/68 (special edition), p. 1.

64 APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, passim.

65 Immediately following the dissent, the leadership agreed that this type of identification with the communist world and distancing from non-communist forces should be emphasized. APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, passim.

66 Unità reproduced the TASS communications regarding the appeal for assistance (on 21 August) and regarding the motives for the invasion (on 22 August) without further comments. “La Tass dichiara: Abbiamo accolto una richiesta di aiuto immediato,” Unità, 22/8, p. 1, “Le motivazioni della Pravda sull’intervento militare,” Unità, 23/8, p. 1.

67 Ferrara, M., “Tesi inaccettabili,” Unità, p. 3.

68 For example, in “Occupata la Cecoslovacchia,” Unità, 21/8 (special edition), p. 1, it was said that the information was based on sources from Italy, France, the UK and the USA. Moreover, on the morning of the invasion Longo said to Suslov that “the Soviet sources are not our only sources of information” and that “the PCI simply cannot ignore non-official information coming from Czechoslovakia and from the Italian press.” Oral report by Longo of his meeting, APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, 020.0902–0904.

69 Cossutta accepted the Soviet fear that the upcoming 14th CPCS congress would outvote two-thirds of the CC members; however, this in his view did not justify the invasion, with which he disagreed. APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020–0917–1918.

70 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0914.

71 See also below for the CC meeting mentioned here.

72 Sassoon has also noted that the misunderstanding regarding détente was the central problem which the invasion posed to the PCI. Sassoon, The Strategy, pp. 216–217. However, much of the literature has either disregarded the dimension of détente in the analysis of the Czechoslovak crisis in the PCI, or has misinterpreted it. Pons’ argument that the dissent over the invasion marked the end of the ambiguities between the PCI’s allegiance to the SU in terms of foreign policy and its domestic belonging overlooks in my view, the contradiction related to the different concepts of détente (Pons, “L’URSS e il PCI,” p. 30).

73 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0926.

74 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0922.

75 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0917.

76 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0961.

77 APCI, Dir, 4/10, 020.1043.

78 Amendola, G., “25 anni dopo l’internazionale comunista,” in Critica marxista, VI, n.4–5, Luglio–Ottobre 1968, pp. 63–87, p. 84.

79 Cossutta later reported that Longo had rhetorically raised the question in a private conversation with him: “To give up our autonomy would be absolutely impossible […] but can we be a revolutionary party without being internationalist, rejecting the bonds of common struggle with the USSR?” Quoted in: Riva, Oro da Mosca, pp. 369–370.

80 Hoebel, “Il PCI, il ’68 cecoslovacco,” pp. 1171–1172.

81 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia, Rapporto al CC,” PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, pp. 314–361.

82 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” in PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, pp. 335–336.

83 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” in PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, p. 354.

84 “Luigi Longo: Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” PCI, ed., Il Partito comunista italiano, p. 336.

85 Occhetto, A., “Autonomia e internazionalismo,” Unità, 1/9/68, p. 3.

86 “Luigi Longo, Sui fatti di Cecoslovacchia,” in (PCI, ed.) Il Partito comunista italiano, p. 355–356.

87 “Intervista all’Astrolabio del compagno Luigi Longo,” 8/9/68, in Documenti politici dal XIo al XIIo Congresso, pp. 507–519.

88 “Dal nostro inviato” [Boffa], Unità, 23/8, p. 1.

89 Moreover, the tone of the PCI press coverage at times completely broke with the usual lexicographic codes; for example, the leaflets distributed by the Soviet soldiers were dismissed as “unsuccessful propaganda.” “Un’altra drammatica giornata di attesa a Praga,” Unità, p. 16.

90 “Risoluzione del CC e della CCC del Partito comunista italiano sull’intervento in Cecoslovacchia,” Unità, 29/8/68.

91 Also Mazini argues that the PCI leaders at this point were well aware of the fact that the CPCS leaders in Moscow had not signed the agreement as autonomous actors. Mazini, “Luigi Longo,” p. 123.

92 Natta stated at the early October meeting that, firstly, the Soviet troops did not intend to leave in the near future, and secondly that there was direct interference in the state and party apparatuses. APCI, Dir, 4/10/68, 020.1080.

93 While Natta, Terracini and Ingrao argued for a public statement of protest, Berlinguer proposed the expression of a “careful reservation,” and Longo proposed consulting the PCF first and waiting for reactions in the (Italian) press—which was accepted. APCI, Dir, 4/10, 020.1079–1084.

94 Longo at this point cut the debate by suggesting to focus on the question of the World Communist Conference rather than on Czechoslovakia. APCI, Dir, 4/10, 1074–1079.

95 APCI, Dir, 8/11/68, 020.1146.

96 “Déclaration du bureau politique du PCF,” 21/8/68.

97 Streiff, Kanapa, p. 507.

98 A similar point in is made in Konopnicki, “Prague 68,” p. 38–39.

99 On the other hand, the adoption of this BP statement was clearly more than the inevitable consequence of the PCF’s positions in July (as has been argued by Fauvet, Duhamel, Histoire du PCF, p. 561; and also, but from a different angle, Bartošek, Les Aveux, p. 192).

100 “Résolution du Comité central,” 22/8/68.

101 Letter Garaudy to Rochet, s.d., APCF, “Evénements en Tchécoslovaquie,” box 1, folder 5.

102 The PCF attempted to demonstrate the continuity of its position. For example, in an interview with Europe n.1, Marchais argued that there was no difference between the two statements. “Réponses de Georges Marchais aux questions posées par Guy Claisse à Europe n.1,” Humanité, 24/8/68, p. 2.

103 Streiff, Kanapa, p. 508. Konopnicki, “Prague 68,” pp. 38–39. Audio recordings of the CC meetings of 1968 exist; unfortunately, they were not accessible in the PCF archives at the time of my consultations.

104 APCF, BP, 13/9/68.

105 “Interview de Waldeck Rochet à Radio Luxembourg,” Humanité, 27/8/68, p. 2.

106 The text, which Kanapa wrote on behalf of Rochet, was addressed to the Soviets in response to their sending of a note justifying the invasion. The text was never sent; it is published in Kremlin–PCF, pp.123–129.

107 Neither the BP nor Secretariat meetings mention a discussion on either event.

108 Andrieu, R., “Eviter le pire,” Humanité, 26/8/68, p. 1.

109 See, for example, “La Pravda expose les raisons de l’action soviétique,” Humanité, 23/8/68, p. 2.

110 “Un message de dirigeants tchécoslovaques publié à Moscou. Pourquoi nous avons demandé l’aide de l’URSS,” Humanité, 22/8/68, p. 2.

111 Partial records of the CC meeting of October 1968 on the basis of the notes by Kanapa, can be found in Kremlin–PCF, pp. 131–142.

112 “Un congrès extraordinaire du Parti Communiste Tchécoslovaque a réuni à Prague 1.069 délégués,” Humanité, 23/8/68, p. 3.

113 The PCI’s position on the invasion, for example, is published on the first page of Humanité of 22 August.

114 Humanité drew an unproblematic picture of a consensus between the CPCS leadership and public opinion, for example in “Les premières réactions en Tchécoslovaquie,” Humanité, 28/8, p. 2.

115 For example in “Déclaration du Bureau Politique du PCF,” 25/8/68.

116 “Interview Waldeck Rochet à Radio Luxembourg,” 26/8/68, APCF, Fund Waldeck Rochet, box 12, folder 2.

117 In late November the Secretariat noted the weakening of Dubček’s positions: APCF, Sec, 26/11/68.

118 “Communication du BP,” 27/8/68, 17hrs. It should be noted, however, that Rochet, in his speech at the Fête du Havre of 1 September, still mentioned the sovereignty of the Czechoslovak state and the withdrawal of the troops as preconditions for “normalization.” “Intervention à la Fête du Havre sur la situation en Tchécoslovaquie,” 1/9/68, APCF, Fund Waldeck Rochet, box 12, folder 5.

119 “Déclaration du Bureau politique,” 2/9/68. See also a draft (with no major changes) in APCF, BP, 2/9/68.

120 For example in the article “Des problèmes politiques complexes se posent aux dirigeants tchécoslovaques,” Humanité, 30/8/68, p. 3.

121 See the appendixes and Lazar, Maisons rouges, p. 398.

122 On the French presidential elections of 1969, see chapter 7. More detail in Lazar, “Affinités électives,” pp. 153–154.

123 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0910 and 0918.

124 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0913–0915.

125 APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0919–0923; APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0959 (Berlinguer). Also Ingrao might be put in this category, as he proposed a profound debate in the party on democracy and socialism.

126 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0965. Furthermore, Cossutta and Colombi did not want the Czechoslovak crisis to lead to further-reaching debates and wished to resume “normality” in the communist world APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0915.

127 APCI, Dir, 18/9, 020.0960.

128 For example Rindone: APCI, CC-CCC 27–29/8/68, 00267.

129 APCI, CC-CCC, 27–29/8/68, 264.

130 The interventions at the CC and CCC meeting of 27–29/8: APCI, CC-CCC 27–29/ 8/68, 00260–00272. (Pintor at 00268). Luigi Pintor, a former Resistance member, was a CC member and journalist for Unità. He was elected to the Chamber in the 1968 elections. He was known for being sympathetic to Maoism and came to play an important role in the criticism of the central leadership.

131 Reported by Cossutta, APCI, Dir, 23/8/68, 020.0910. of 1968.

132 For example, Boffa recalls that the leadership had difficulties in making the dissent accepted among the rank and file (Boffa, “La crisi cecoslovacca,” p. 114).

133 Communication by the PSU of 22 August, Avanti, 23/8/68. Immediately following the invasion, Napolitano had contact with Lombardi of the PSU, and Ingrao with the PSIUP. APCI, Dir, 23/8, 020.0908.

134 For example, La Nazione of 22 August referred to the PCI’s position as “half solidarity with the murdered and profound fraternity with the murderers.” La Nazione, 22/8/68, APCI, Est-Cecoslovacchia, “Rassegna stampa,” 0552–0844. An article in Il messagero, “The theology of dissent,” bitterly criticized the party for not doing more for Czechoslovakia and for West European communism. “Teologia del dissenso,” Il messagero, 7/9/68. APCI, Est-Cecoslovacchia, “Rassegna stampa,” 0552–0888.

135 On 30 August, the parliament groups of the DC, the PSU and the PRI voted a joint motion which condemned the invasion. A number of leading figures of the PSU Left (Lombardi, Achilli, Zappa, Ballardini) did not participate in the vote. “Riaffermata la politica della distenzione, per la liberta’ e la pace nel mondo,” Avanti, 31/8/68.

136 For example in: Antonicelli, F., “Opinoni. La lezione di Praga e i democratici,” Unità, 5/9/68.

137 Il Popolo, 9/9/68. According to Lama, an important minority in the PSIUP was in disagreement with its leadership and in agreement with the PCI. APCI, Dir, 23/9, 020.0908–0909.

138 Her initial letter of resignation to Rochet was published by Humanité on 23 August. Her resignation was discussed and accepted by the CC on 20 October, after Rochet had attempted to persuade her not to resign. Partial records of the CC meeting can be found in Paris–Prague, pp. 131–142.

139 Streiff, Kanapa, p. 508.

140 On the CC of July in Nanterre, Garaudy disagreed with the hostile attitude vis-à-vis the students. Garaudy’s speech can be found in Garaudy, Toute la vérité.

141 Le Monde, 28/8/68, p. 1. Immediately following the invasion, he gave an interview with the Czechoslovak (reform-minded) press agency CTK, in which he interpreted the invasion as a sign of the re-Stalinization of the communist world.

142 Moreover, Garaudy critisised the PCF leadership for its past policies, including the limited de-Stalinization and the meek protest against the fall of Khrushchev. Garaudy to Waldeck Rochet, s.d., in APCF, “Evénements en Tchécoslovaquie,” box 1 folder 5.

143 This was to change at a later stage. The further unravelling of the “Garaudy affair” and the sanctions against other intellectuals from late 1968 onwards will be dealt with in chapter 7.

144 The federal committees (96 in total) were the regional organizations of the Central Committee.

145 “Aux membres du CC, aux Secrétaires des fédérations,” 24/8/68, and “Aux directions des fédérations, aux membres du CC,” 16/10/68, both in APCF, Fund “Evénements en Tchécoslovaquie,” box 1, folder 6. There were similar meetings in the “Comités de Section.”

146 Vigreux, Waldeck Rochet, p. 281. In a party such as the PCF in which discipline was tight and the space for dissent narrow, 20 per cent of the members expressing themselves against the leadership was unseen. According to Le nouvel observateur (23/9/68, p. 1), which claimed it had looked into the BP dossier on the federal committee meetings, the picture was the following: 55 per cent of the members agreed with the leadership, 45 per cent disagreed, of which 35 per cent found the dissent too “anti-Soviet” and 10 per cent wished to go further in the dissent.

147 See also Verdez-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 214.

148 Reported by Denis and Guyot on their discussion with Galluzzi, APCI, Dir, 17/9/68, 020.0989.

149 Among these were the Somme (region surrounding Amiens) and Ariège (in the Pyrenees, on the Spanish border). There were open disagreements also in the federations of the Seine (region around Paris), Doubs and Belfort (Franche-Comté). APCF, Sec, 12/11/68 and 3/12/68.

150 See further below.

151 See the analysis of polls covering the period 1956 to 1980, in Parodi, Duhamel, “Chronique de l’opinion publique,” Pouvoirs, pp.159–172. Although such figures for the PCI do not exist, the sharp polemics in the Italian press following the invasion suggest a different situation.

152 Le Monde, 23/8/68.

153 Le Monde, 4/10/68.

154 Mitterrand resigned as head of the FGDS on 7 November, which marked the start of the disintegration of the FGDS. More detail in Sadoun, “Un processus fermé,” pp. 175–176.

155 Mitterrand’s relatively low profile following the invasion is also noted in Grémion, Paris–Prague, pp. 207–208.

156 Laurens, A., “L’attitude du PCF,” Le Monde, 25–26/8/68.

157 Viansson-Ponte, P., “La SFIO invite le PCF a choisir,” Le Monde, 7/9/68.

158 This was a conscious policy: APCF, Sec, 17/9 and 1/10/68.

159 Daniel, J., “Faut-il défendre l’Union soviétique?,” LNO, 2/9/68.

160 The minimal interest on the far Left in the events in Czechoslovakia following the invasion is also noted in Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 193.

161 Lutte ouvrière, 23/10/68.

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