The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

PART THREE

REVISION, REFORM, REVOLUTION?

INTRODUCTION

In April, the Kremlin decided to escalate its interference in Czechoslovakia's internal affairs beyond mere diplomatic pressure. The KGB was directed to step up operations and intelligence gathering in Czechoslovakia. Not surprisingly, KGB agents began filing distorted reports on the advance of counterrevolution in Prague—drawing on similarly slanted information from hardline anti-Dubček officials, and reflecting the Soviet secret police's own bias against the reform movement. In particular, the KGB focused on the ferment on the cultural and intellectual fronts, labeling writers, artists and poets as the main enemies of the socialist state. This was particularly true after 134 writers and cultural leaders sent an open letter on March 25 to the CPCz, calling for Dubček to "stand up to "external" pressure motivated by doubts about the nature and objectives of our internal measures" (Document No. 16). In April, Andrei Gromyko dispatched a KGB report to the leaders of the Warsaw Pact transmitting alleged intelligence on a "front of intellectuals" in Prague, dedicated to "shake the foundations of the socialist system, undermine the leading role of the CPCz, and compromise Soviet-Czechoslovak friendship" (Document No. 20).


The Action Program of the CPCz

Dubček tried to extricate the CPCz from growing foreign and domestic pressures by pushing through a blueprint for political and economic reform around which progressive forces both in the communist party and in Czechoslovak society could unite. His hope was that this "Action Program" would demonstrate to the rest of the Eastern Bloc that the reforms were quite popular, and not at all threatening to the socialist community. While the plan envisioned small steps toward "political pluralism" and "reform "of" the whole political system so that it will permit the dynamic development of social relations appropriate for socialism," its authors stressed the solidarity of Czechoslovak foreign policy with the Soviet bloc. "We stand resolutely on the side of progress, democracy, and socialism in the struggle by the socialist and democratic forces against the aggressive attempts of world imperialism. … The basic orientation of Czechoslovak foreign policy … revolves around alliance and cooperation with the Soviet Union and the other socialist states" (Document No. 19).

At the CPCz Central Committee meeting of April 1–5 (the so-called April session), Dubček's Action Program was formally adopted. Its most significant provisions focused on a new concept of "justifying" the party's "leading role in society." The communist party, representing "a monopolistic concentration of power," would be transformed and reorganized into a true political party with a mission "to inspire socialist initiative" rather than dictate it. The party would endeavor to secure its leading role in society through exemplary work and political activity. In addition, the Action Program demanded that the other political parties of the National Front be raised from their present humiliating role of "transmission belts" into "partners whose political work is based on the joint political program of the National Front." Through political reform and a "democratization program of the economy," which envisioned greater independent business activity, the Action Program sought to preserve the socialist order while introducing political and economic pluralism.

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