The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 9: "What Lies Ahead," by Josef Smrkovský,
February 9,1968

Source: "Jak nyná dál: Nad závýry lednovho plena UV KSC," Rude prdvo, February 9, 1968, p. 2.

This article, published only a month after Dubcek's election, became the most significant initial manifesto
of the reform movement. In it, Josef Smrkovský emphasizes the desirability of forging links between
intellectuals and workers, the need for greater scope of action and dissent in the party's lower and middle
ranks, and the intention of the CPCz Central Committee "not to be a mere rubber-stamp body any longer."

In writing this reform manifesto Smrkovský hoped to demonstrate that the January plenum had in fact
marked a break with the past and that the CPCz would henceforth be addressing issues that had been
ignored or glossed over under Antonín Novotný. As a senior member of the CPCz Presidium (after the
April Plenum) and a close aide to Dubček, Smrkovský became one of.the leading architects of the Prague
Spring. Both this article andanother he had written earlier (on January 21) in the daily Prace were intended
to help generate popular support for the reforms Dubček proposed


WHAT LIES AHEAD

On the Conclusions of the January Plenum of the CPCz CC

The questions that the Central Committee of the party considered and resolved in December and January have set the entire party in motion, and the public at large has been paying great attention to them. This is so even though we failed to ensure the prompt and sufficient release of information. We must put this right, and that is precisely what we are doing, since there must be no discrepancy between our statements of Leninist principles and democratic traditions, on the one hand, and our future practical activities, on the other.

We can already say that in general the last Central Committee session has met with a favorable response in politically active sections of society. As more information has become available, discussions have been gaining momentum, and this in turn has generated greater enthusiasm for political activity. Yet even sincere persons who in the past have often been disappointed still show signs of skepticism. Old practices are still embedded in the activities of many of our organs and in the minds of people working in them. This creates doubts and insecurity. People are demanding guarantees.

It is at this point that I would like to say something about certain pressing issues, though I do not mean to impose my opinions regarding future decisions of the party on anyone.


A Common Republic

Of all the decisions of the January session of the party's Central Committee, the one that has attracted the most attention is the resolution to divide the highest party and state posts. This has given rise to many questions: Is this not merely a rotation of individuals? What is the actual meaning of the decision? Does this not simply amount to the replacement of the "Czech government" by a "Slovak government"? As a result of certain reports, the question is even being raised whether the separation will diminish the workers' component of the party, whether it is a concession to "all kinds" of intellectuals, and so forth.

The Slovak issue was widely discussed at the last session and it is indeed one of the fundamental problems we have to solve. However, it is certainly not the only problem or the paramount one.

-45-

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