Communism in Czechoslovakia, 1948-1960

By Edward Taborsky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE NATIONAL FRONT PARTNERS

IT IS AXIOMATIC that the student of communist systems must watch with special care for semantic extravagances, which the jargon of communism abounds in. No matter what he may be exploring, his primary task is to cut through the ornamental phraseology and get to the essence. Nowhere is this axiom more valid than in the study of the non-communist parties that are still allowed to vegetate in today's Czechoslovakia. The very use of the word "party" to designate these groupings with no will power of their own is a gross distortion. If "political parties" means "voluntary associations of people adhering to a common political program and seeking power for the purpose of putting such a program into effect," then the Czechoslovak noncommunist parties of today are not parties at all. They have no programs of their own and their avowed purpose is to wait on the Communist Party, hail its leadership, and act as its handymen in the realization of its Marxist-Leninist goals.


THE REGENERATED NATIONAL FRONT

The conversion of the Czechoslovak non-communist parties from KSČ's competitors to its servants was carried out with a speed and suddenness that make Lenin's movement against the opponents of bolshevism in 1917-1918 appear slow by comparison. Making full use of their political prerogatives, the ministers of three of the four non-communist parties represented in the Cabinet of the National Front resigned on February 20, 1948, in defiance of Gottwald's malpractices and in the hope that their action would prompt an earlier general election which would strengthen them and weaken the KSČ. A few days later they were on the run or under arrest, denounced as traitors not only by the Communists but also by the "regenerated" leadership of their own parties installed practically overnight by Gottwald's henchmen.1 Headquarters and press organs of all the non-

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1
On how it happened see Hubert Ripka, Le Coup de Prague, Paris, 1949, pp. 241ff.

-144-

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