THE RULING OLIGARCHS
AS THE PRECEDING pages have shown, the exercise of all power in Czechoslovakia is concentrated in the hands of the Political Bureau of the Party's Central Committee. Since this is so, no analysis of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia would be complete without an inquiry into the conditions prevailing within this ruling oligarchy. What type of people are they? What are their background and their mentality? How solid are their communist beliefs? Are they really as convinced of the superiority of the Soviet way as their public utterances seem to indicate? What are their mutual relationships and their relative standing within the junta? Is there any evidence of clique-forming? Is there a tendency toward a one-man rule as has reappeared on the Soviet scene with Khrushchëv's spectacular rise on the Soviet stage?
Without doubt, these are important questions. But they are exceedingly difficult to answer. As in all totalitarian dictatorships, whatever pertains to the pinnacle of power is shrouded in a veil of secrecy. The Politbureau meetings are strictly executive sessions held in complete privacy. No reports of proceedings are published, and painstaking care is used to prevent leakage of any information on possible clashes of opinion or dissent in voting. Whenever results of the Politbureau's deliberations are announced, they are invariably presented as having matured quickly and painlessly in harmonious teamwork. Nor have any defectors from the ranks of the Czechoslovak Politbureau or the circle of their most intimate collaborators thus far reached the Free World to supply direct information on how the actual working processes within the Party's topmost organ and personal relationships among its members compare with the official claims of cooperative monolithism. Hence, the conclusions arrived at in this chapter must be based mainly on circumstantial evidence supplied by those who held positions in the official retinues of some of the ruling oligarchs and could thus catch at least occasional glimpses of the Politbureau's well-kept secrets.
Any attempt at political portraiture of the ruling oligarchy must