The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview
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DOCUMENT No. 19: The CPCz CC Action Program, April 1968
(Excerpts)

Source: "Akční program Komunistické strany Československa," Rudé právo (Prague),
April 10, 1968, pp. 1–6.

The Central Committee's adoption of an Action Program of economic and political reform marked the
culmination of lengthy efforts to devise a blueprint that would preserve Czechoslovakia's socialist order
yet introduce key elements of liberal democracy. The program had several significant features, among
them: a new role for the communist party as a political organization competing for popular influence
rather than holding a "monopolistic concentration of power"? allied political parties which would be
genuine partners rather than subservient organs of the CPCz; the enforcement of civil rights and personal
liberties routinely denied under the communist regime; equal status for the Czechs and Slovaks to create
two equal nations in a federalized state; and bold economic reforms to provide much greater scope for
private enterprise, a shift from heavy industry to consumer production, the liberalization of foreign trade,
and a reduced and more clearly defined role for state planning. In a separate section on foreign policy, the
Action Program pledged to uphold Czechoslovakia's traditional commitments in the "struggle against the
forces of imperialist reaction."At the same time, the program affirmed the need for "a more active European
policy "and urged that Czechoslovakia "formulate its own position vis-á-vis the problems of world politics."

The document was not as radical as some of its proponents portrayed it; it did not, for example, envisage
any circumstances in which the communist party would be removed from power, and it rejected the
"bourgeois" notion of a formal political opposition. Nevertheless, the reforms did represent the first
tentative steps toward what the authors described as "political pluralism, "and it was intended as the
prelude to a longer-term program of sweeping reform that would be worked out by the government and
the legislature.

"Introductory sections deleted."


The Leading Role of the Party: A Guarantee of Socialist Progress

At present it is most important that the party adopt a policy fully justifying its leading role in society. We believe this is a condition for the socialist development of the country.

In the past, the leading role of the party was usually conceived of as a monopolistic concentration of power in the hands of party organs. This concept corresponded with the false thesis that the party is the instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat. That harmful conception weakened the initiative and responsibility of state, economic, and social institutions, damaged the party's authority, and prevented it from carrying out its real functions. The party's goal is not to become a universal "caretaker" of society, bind all organizations, and watch every step taken in fulfillment of its directives. Its mission instead is primarily to inspire socialist initiative, to demonstrate communist perspectives, their modes, and to win over all workers by systematic persuasion and the personal examples of communists. This determines the conceptual side of party activity. Party organs should not deal with all problems; they should encourage others and suggest solutions to the most important difficulties. But at the same time the party cannot turn into an organization that influences society by its ideas and program alone. It must develop through its members and bodies the practical organizational methods of a political force in society.

As a representative of the most progressive section of society—and therefore the representative of the prospective aims of society—the party cannot represent the full range of social interests. The National Front, the political face of the manifold interests of society, expresses the unity of social strata, interest groups, and of nations and nationalities in this society. The

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