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Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir. "The
Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998, pp. 129-131
Original Source: ÚSD, AÚD KSČ, F. 02/1
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: This translated document contains parts of the CPCz CC Presidium Meeting after the bilateral talks between Soviet and Czechoslovakia.
Smrkovský: Comrades, I firmly adhere to the principles we incorporated in the party's Action Program after the January session. When I accepted those principles, I was politically conscious of my action, and I have no intention of changing my mind now.
I say this by way of introduction to emphasize that I still support the direction in which we have set out. Even so, things are moving differently from the way we wanted them to. We want to democratise the life of society and the management of society, and we have won immense sympathy among the mass of the people. This is undeniable it is a fact. We have regained tremendous support that the party did not enjoy last year. It is a fact that the people once again have hope when they look to the new policy of the party. But while we are making speeches and want to democratise our life, certain others are not rallying around the Action Program or ways of implementing it (which is the other side of the coin of our efforts), but instead are preparing themselves to launch a frontal attack on our positions. On the basis of my convictions and of what I see and hear around me, I must declare my profound beliefs about this matter, rather than attempt to conceal them. I have not concealed them from the Presidium and I will not conceal them from the Central Committee or from our public. What I am going to say is not something I brought back from the Soviet Union because we spoke about these things when we flew out there, and we all said what we thought.
I want to point out that various forces are now rallying for a frontal attack on the position of the party; they want to use all possible means to drown the party-all possible means, they make no distinction. They do not see and do not want to hear about all the good that has been achieved. The mass media are from morning to night ferreting out all the bad things that have happened. Anti-communist forces and an anti-communist front are forming. /.../
/…/ If you permit me to say so, I as a communist official certainly do not want to live to see a counterrevolution in this country. /…/
Černik: I want to say that we regard this phase in the development of socialist democracy to be the advancement of democratic socialism in our country. It has a class character and is democracy for the majority, but is still very far from approaching the notion of democracy for all.
Now that we are facing new tasks of how to promote the development of democracy in this country, I want to say quite clearly that all of us, each one of us, above all each party organ, should be at the forefront of all that is sound and new, and all that is getting under way. In my view, it is essential to work much harder in the party leadership on the tasks that would enable the party to be in a better position to take its place at the head of the renewal process and to earn the necessary support from all sound forces among our people....
There are voices among the other partners in the National Front-in the other parties and in the columns of their press saying that individual political parties should not be dependent on the policy of the National Front. They even claim that in the next elections these parties should put up their own candidates. In this situation, where the party does not have a clear position on the matter, events are literally being organized by the mass media in a way that encourages and activates the forces I mentioned earlier – forces that have not forgotten the way things were here in the past and, in some cases, still harbour hopes of revenge for February .
The question is already being raised whether February in Czechoslovakia was historically correct and whether Czechoslovakia's socialist road should not have proceeded in a different direction. Čestmír, don’t be angry with me, but I can't accept the notion that we have definitively rejected the Soviet model and without a historical context. Let historians take up this matter; we will be able to analyse it. But if, under current circumstances, we base our policy on a negation of the period after 1948, I suspect we won't be able to generate a consensus within the party. Historians may try to prove this for us. But if, in a concrete situation when the party is blamed for everything and even we start talking in this vein, we're simply providing arguments to forces who today are skinning all of us alive, both from the left and from the right. They want to "prove" that in 20 years the party has not solved a single human problem in this country, that the party is incapable of leading the people during the next decade of social development, and that it is, therefore, necessary to constitute a party that bas clean hands, a party that will advocate socialism, but that this will be a Czechoslovak socialism, a Jan Masaryk, and Beneš-style socialism. I don't want to fix the responsibility on anyone of us; I am simply telling you what the tactics of the enemy are: in brief, to discredit the party and undermine its leading role.
The assault on the state apparatus is crystal clear. I ask you not to underestimate this problem. Even this workers' regime, this socialist regime, must rely on a strong state apparatus. It is interesting to note against which quarters the attack is being launched: It is not being launched against the ministries in charge of the economy, even though the economy is a weak spot. The attacks, rather than being directed against the State Planning Commission, are being systematically directed against the army, the State Security organs, the police, the courts, the prosecutor's offices, the Ministry of Justice, and, last but not least, the party apparatus. In my opinion, there is an objective reason for this in the process we are encouraging. After all, we are not naive. Every time a campaign was being prepared against the institutions of power or certain components of power, it was always targeted at those places where power was exercised in a certain manner.
I don't want to panic, but I am personally convinced that counterrevolution is on the advance in this country. Counterrevolution does not mean that we have to start bashing each other over the head. It has its roots in certain tendencies, and the question is how one fights against them. Let us not forget that the international bourgeoisie has learned a lesson from Hungary and Poland, where it came out into the open. In Czechoslovakia the international bourgeoisie is in a different position. I don't think things will develop here as in the other countries. The situation here will be different if we do not show sufficient flexibility in standing up to the bourgeoisie properly.
Dubček: As regards our next procedure and assessment of the political situation, I think that what is essential for our next steps forward are the socialist tendencies that, if not universal, are prevalent among an overwhelming majority. They are decisive in setting the tone and the conclusions of what our developments should be in the coming period. That is the decisive force. On the other hand, there are various countervailing pressure groups and efforts to form a political opposition, which were mentioned by Cde. Černik and certain other comrades. I am inclined to maintain that the first priority, which is also the decisive thing on which we must concentrate, is to pursue what is positive, the socialist factor that endorses the Action Program and the policy of the party's Central Committee. /…/