The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 2: Speeches by Alexander Dubček and Antonín
Novotný at the CPCz CC Plenum, October 30–31,1967

Source: Sb. KV, DIV—ÚSD, AÚV KSč, F. 01

The presentations at the CPCz CC plenum in late October 1967 record the power struggle between the
supporters of Antonín Novotný and those in the Central Committee who wanted to remove him as CPCz
leader. Alexander Dubcek, the first secretary of the Slovak Communist Party, used his speech to argue
that the CPCz first secretary had pursued "inappropriate methods of political leadership" and that "a
great deal must be improved and clianged in practice," with "far greater care given to political and
professional maturity. "Dubcek also came out decisively in support of separating top party and state posts,
which in the context of contemporary debates within the party could only be construed as another
anti-Novotný position. In a vigorous rebuttal, Novotný accused Dubček of duplicity and of succumbing to
"narrow national interests." Novotny also charged Dubček and other Slovak officials with promoting
"erroneous tendencies" and "playing into the hands of various petty bourgeois elements."

The plenum was unprecedented in its open criticisms of the CPCz leadership; only the most superficial
details about the proceedings were released to the public.


Excerpts from Alexander Dubček's Speech

... Our main energy should not be concentrated on a defensive struggle against something, but on efforts to understand the causes of the problems, find a solution to them and to work for further progress—and I deliberately emphasize the word "for." On many occasions, and recently with increasing frequency, I have encountered the idea of giving people of all ethnic origins and social classes in our republic more concrete objectives, to show them ways and methods as well as the power of ideas, and to help them find their place in the worldwide struggle in a more vivid and active sense.

It is for this idea that we must make a substantial contribution to consolidate the unity of our people and of Czechoslovak statehood in view of relations between the nationalities. The past economic, political, and cultural development of Slovakia triumphantly confirms the success of the policy of our Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The policy of leveling out discrepancies and of creating equal conditions for the work and life of people in all parts of our Czechoslovak Republic, as laid down by the party, remains the primary way to strengthen this unity.6 We must make better use of positive tendencies in the struggle and life of the Czech and Slovak peoples for their national and social freedom and for their coexistence in a united Czechoslovak state. Where Slovakia is concerned, this requires—more so than in the recent past—the rectification of the party' s perception of our revolutionary national past. National interests naturally must not be placed above international interests, but all that unites us in the Leninist understanding of mutual relations—which have always had a beneficial influence on the coexistence of Czechs and Slovaks and the life and work of our peoples and nationalities—and all that is progressive must today, as in the distant past, be put to the service of consolidating relations between Czechs and Slovaks as well as other ethnic groups in order to strengthen Czechoslovak patriotism, Czechoslovak statehood, and our Czechoslovak socialist republic. We know that no policy can be pursued automatically and that it is necessary to fight for it, eliminate all reasons for the failure to implement it, and translate it into reality which is precisely what we, as communists, are striving for and must continue to do.

6 Dubček is referring to Slovakia's long-standing goal of "parity" with the Czech Lands. Many Slovaks perceived
themselves to be living in a country in which "majority domination" (majorizacia) was destined to prevail.

-13-

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