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advanced by Com. Molotov as inimical to our party and a world Communist movement, Yugoslav leaders refused to non-Leninist and sectarian position"), it was clear that endorse it. 32 At the CPSU Central Committee plenum a Molotov had experienced a major setback. But what is few weeks after the conference, one of the highest-ranking perhaps most striking, in view of the intense criticism party officials, Mikhail Suslov, who was broadly responMolotov encountered, is that he was able to hold onto his sible for ideology and intra-bloc relations, explained to the position for another two years and that he very nearly won members that "Yugoslavia's failure to participate ... out over Khrushchev in June 1957. The transcript of the attests to the continuing ideological disagreements July 1955 plenum thus provides crucial evidence that between the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY] Khrushchev, despite having consolidated his position a and the other Communist parties of the socialist coun
tries." good deal, had by no means overcome his most formidable
He cited several areas in which “ideological challenger. Anyone who could withstand and recover from disagreements remain:" the unwillingness of the the attacks that Molotov endured during the July 1955 Yugoslav comrades to speak about a socialist camp,
a plenum was obviously well-suited to be a constant threat. especially a socialist camp headed by the Soviet Union";
the desire of the Yugoslav authorities to “play their own Fissures in the Communist World (1): Yugoslavia and special and exalted role between West and East"; and the Poland
“unduly close relationship” Yugoslavia had established Quite apart from what the plenum documents reveal with the United States, a country that was "applying about the post-Stalin leadership struggle, they shed
pressure" on the Yugoslavs to serve as a counterweight to intriguing light on the priorities of Soviet foreign policy. the Soviet Union.” Although he insisted that “we have not One thing that quickly becomes evident from the 822 files retreated, and will not retreat, one step from our fundain Opis' 1 is the importance that CPSU officials attached to mental positions," he assured the Central Committee that ideological relations with other Communist countries. "Yugoslavia's failure to sign the Declaration does not Although no plenums dealt at length with the crises in East mean that our relations have deteriorated. ... There is no Germany in 1953 and Poland and Hungary in 1956 (in need to stir up new tensions.”:34 contrast to the much more prolonged crisis with Czecho- When the matter came up again five months later, at a slovakia in 1968-69, which was the main subject of three plenum on 7 May 1958, Soviet officials were less accomseparate plenums), numerous plenums during the
modating. Although the plenum dealt mostly with other Khrushchev and early Brezhnev periods focused exclu- matters, Khrushchev initiated a discussion about Yugoslasively, or at least extensively, on the nettlesome problem of via toward the end of the third session.35 He argued that relations with Yugoslavia, China, and the world Commu- the recent LCY congress had been a “step back toward nist movement. The momentous decision to seek a
revisionist, anti-party, and anti-Marxist positions,” and he rapprochement with Yugoslavia in May 1955 was regarded condemned Yugoslavia's close ties with Imre Nagy, the as such an abrupt and, from the ideological standpoint, Hungarian leader who had been removed during the Soviet potentially disorienting change of course that Soviet invasion of Hungary in November 1956 and who was put leaders believed they should explain the move to the full to death in Hungary in June 1958, a few weeks after the Central Committee. 31 At a plenum in July 1955,
CPSU Central Committee plenum. Khrushchev also Khrushchev and numerous other Presidium members laid denounced statements by the Yugoslav leader, Josip Broz out the basic rationale—that “because of serious mistakes Tito, particularly a speech Tito had given in Pula on 11 we lost Yugoslavia (my poteryali Yugoslaviyu) and the November 1956, which raised serious concerns about the enemy camp has begun to lure that country over to its Soviet intervention in Hungary. Khrushchev informed the side"--and emphasized the "enormous importance of Central Committee that the CPSU Presidium had decided winning back our former loyal ally." Not surprisingly, the not to send a delegation to the LCY congress after the Central Committee voted unanimously in support of the Yugoslavs had changed the agenda at the last minute. He Presidium's actions.
received lengthy applause from the Central Committee Similarly, in later years when tensions reemerged with when he affirmed that the Soviet Union would continue to Yugoslavia (in large part because of the crises in 1956), offer "principled and constructive criticism" of Yugoslav Khrushchev and his colleagues again believed it wise to policy whenever necessary. explain these tensions to the Central Committee. One such It may seem peculiar that Khrushchev would have occasion came in December 1957, when a plenum was included these detailed comments about Yugoslavia after a convened to inform Central Committee members about a plenum that had dealt with agricultural policy, but his two-part conference held in Moscow the previous month remarks are indicative of the efforts that Soviet leaders to mark the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik takeover. made to ensure strong, unwavering support within the The leaders of the thirteen ruling Communist parties had CPSU for the latest ideological twists and turns in relations been invited to the first part of the conference on 14-16 with Yugoslavia. This is one of many instances in which November, but Yugoslav officials had declined to take documents from the former Soviet archives reveal that part. When the other twelve parties met and issued a Yugoslavia was a more important factor for Soviet leaders statement reaffirming the CPSU's preeminent role in the during the Cold War than most Western observers had
ments, both Suslov and Khrushchev acknowledged that “the important thing is that the Polish comrades in the end signed the Declaration, which undoubtedly will have an enormous impact in Poland."
In subsequent years, especially after the emergence of the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, Gomulka came more closely into line with the Soviet point of view. Even so, the plenum materials indicate that Khrushchev remained concerned that the defiance Gomulka displayed in 1956 and the unorthodox positions he adopted in 1957 might someday resurface.
The plenum documents also reveal that Yugoslavia was not the only East European country that complicated Moscow's efforts in the late 1950s to unite the world Communist movement under explicit Soviet leadership. The standoff with Poland in October 1956 had induced Khrushchev to reach a modus vivendi with the Polish leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, which provided for Poland's continued status as a loyal member of the Soviet political and military bloc.37 This arrangement was briefly strained in late October and early November 1956 when Gomulka insisted on the withdrawal of Marshal Konstantin Rokossowski, the Soviet officer who had been serving as Polish defense minister for the previous seven years; but Khrushchev eventually acceded to Gomulka's demand. Despite this breakthrough, the plenum materials confirm that Soviet-Polish relations were still marred by occasional frictions. Suslov's report at the December 1957 plenum indicated that the Polish representatives at the world conference of Communist parties in Moscow had been at odds with the Soviet Union on several key issues:
During the preparation of the documents—the Declaration and the Peace Manifesto—the Polish comrades tried to introduce their own slant by ensuring there was no reference to the leading role of the Soviet Union and by avoiding harsh attacks against imperialism, especially against American imperialism. They steadfastly objected to the passage in the Declaration that said American imperialism has become the center of international reaction. The Polish comrades argued that the peculiar circumstances they face in Poland do not yet enable them to embrace the formula "under the leadership of the Soviet Union.” They claimed that the Declaration is supposedly too bellicose a document and that it could damage relations with the imperialists. 38
Fissures in the Communist World (II): China and Albania
As important as the ideological challenge posed by Yugoslavia may have been, it was nothing compared to the rift that emerged with China at the end of the 1950s. From December 1959 on, an inordinately large number of Central Committee plenums were devoted to the subject of China and the world Communist movement. At a plenum on 22-26 December 1959, Suslov presented a detailed report on the trip by a Soviet party-state delegation to the People's Republic of China" in October 1959.40 This report, which had been commissioned by the CPSU Presidium on 15 October (shortly after Khrushchev and the other members of the delegation had returned to Moscow) and was approved in a draft version by the Presidium on 18 December, gave many Central Committee members the first direct inkling they had received of how serious the incipient problems with China were. Although Suslov's report did not feature the strident rhetoric and harsh polemics that would soon characterize Sino-Soviet relations, he spoke at length about the dangerously foolish ideas of the Chinese comrades,” the “egregious economic and intra-party mistakes committed by the Chinese comrades," and the "acute disagreements" between Moscow and Beijing on “basic matters of socialist construction.”
In addition to highlighting ideological differences, Suslov enumerated many “foreign policy issues on which major disagreements have surfaced between us and the Chinese comrades," including Mao Zedong's rhetorical dismissal of nuclear weapons as “a paper tiger” (a claim that, in Suslov's view, was “leading the Chinese people to believe that a nuclear war would be an easy matter and that no preparations were needed"); China's aversion to peaceful coexistence with the United States (a policy that, according to Suslov, Chinese leaders “regard as merely a convenient tactical maneuver" rather than a “profound Leninist principle"); China's clumsy handling of negotiations with Japan; the recent exacerbation of tensions between China and India despite Moscow's efforts to mediate (efforts which, Suslov complained, had “not been matched by the requisite understanding on the part of Chinese leaders” because “the Chinese comrades cannot properly evaluate their own mistakes”); and the deterioration of China's relations with Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, and other East Asian countries (a trend that, in Suslov's
Suslov also complained that the Polish delegation's draft of the so-called Peace Manifesto, the document that was due to be approved by the 64 Communist parties attending the second phase of the conference (on 16-19 November), was "seriously deficient" because it made no mention of where the threat of war originated." He emphasized that the document prepared by the Polish comrades had to be drastically revised” because “the representatives of the other fraternal parties (including the CPSU) did not support the Polish comrades on even a single point that they raised.”
Suslov did not directly impugn the motives of the Polish authorities, but he maintained that these allusions to some sort of special circumstances in their country don't seem particularly convincing.” Khrushchev, for his part, implied that the main reason Polish officials did not want to antagonize the United States is that they were uncertain whether U.S. banks would “still give credits” to Poland if relations deteriorated. 39 Despite these skeptical com
view, had left China “isolated in the international arena"). Of particular interest were Suslov's comments about Mao's “completely incomprehensible" retreat during the Sino-American crisis that erupted in August 1958 when China began bombarding the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu in the Taiwan Straits:
report may have left some Central Committee members wondering whether relations with China could really be mended, at least while Mao Zedong remained in power:
We sin Moscow) regarded it as our internationalist duty to come out decisively in support of the fraternal Chinese people, with whom our country is bound by alliance obligations. According to secret documents that we had intercepted, it had become clear that the ruling circles in America were already psychologically prepared to relinquish the offshore islands to the PRC. However, after precipitating an extreme situation in the vicinity of the offshore islands and making farreaching statements, the Chinese comrades backed down at the critical moment. . . . It is obvious that in backing down, the Chinese comrades squandered things. The perception abroad was that they had caved
It has to be said that all the mistakes and shortcomings in the internal and foreign policies of the Chinese Communist Party can be explained in large part by the cult of personality surrounding Com. Mao Zedong. Formally, the CC of the Chinese Communist Party abides by the norms of collective leadership, but in reality the most important decisions are made by one man and therefore are often plagued by subjectivism and, in some instances, are simply ill-conceived. By all appearances, the glorification of Mao Zedong in China has been growing inexorably. More and more often, statements appear in the party press that “we Chinese live in the great era of Mao Zedong.” Comrade Mao Zedong is depicted as a great leader and a genius. They call him the beacon, who is shining the way to Communism and is the embodiment of the ideas of Communism. The name of Mao Zedong is equated with the party, and vice versa. The works of Com. Mao Zedong are presented in China as the final word of creative Marxism and are placed on a par with the classic works of Marxism-Leninism.... All of this, unfortunately, impresses Com. Mao Zedong, who, judging from everything, is himself convinced of his own infallibility. This is reminiscent of the situation that existed in our country during the final years of J. V. Stalin. We, of course, weren't able to speak with the Chinese comrades about this, but the (CPSU) plenum must be aware of these aspects of life in the Chinese Communist Party.44
In all these respects, Suslov argued, “the Chinese comrades are at odds with the common foreign policy line of the socialist camp. The lack of needed coordination between the two most powerful Communist parties on questions of foreign policy is abnormal."42
After recounting this litany of "serious disagreements," Suslov emphasized that long-standing efforts to increase the appearance and reality of unity within the socialist camp made it imperative to curtail China's deviations in foreign policy:
The incorrect actions of one of the socialist countries affects the international situation of the entire socialist camp. We must bear in mind that imperialist propaganda directly links the actions of the Chinese comrades with the policy of the USSR and other socialist countries. And indeed, our Communist parties, too, always emphasize that the socialist camp has only one foreign policy course. 43
Suslov declared that the Soviet Union would try to restore “complete unity” by continuing “to express our candid opinions about the most important questions affecting our common interests when our views do not coincide." Although the aim would be to bring China back into line with the USSR, Suslov argued that if these efforts failed, the CPSU Presidium would "stick by the positions that our party believes are correct.”
Throughout the report, Suslov insisted that the disagreements were not yet irreparable. He noted several measures that could rapidly improve Sino-Soviet ties, and he pledged that the CPSU Presidium would do all it could to “strengthen and develop Soviet-Chinese friendship and unity” on the basis of “Leninist principles of equality and mutual cooperation." Nevertheless, a key passage in his
This part of Suslov's report went well beyond any previous statements that Soviet leaders had made in forums larger than the CPSU Presidium. Up to this point, Soviet officials had said nothing in public about the problems with China, and even in private Moscow's criticism of Mao had been subdued. Despite Suslov's willingness to voice much stronger complaints at the Central Committee plenum, he indicated that a low-key policy should be maintained in public. Although he acknowledged that the Soviet Union would not praise or overlook what it believed to be “profound mistakes,” he averred that “we shouldn't engage in direct criticism, since this would lead to an unnecessary public discussion which might be construed as interference in the internal affairs of the Chinese Communist Party and would induce our enemies to gloat over the discord between the CPSU and the Chinese Communist Party.” Suslov argued that, at least for the time being, the CPSU must “avoid public discussions and rely instead on private meetings and other contacts between the two parties to explain our position to the Chinese comrades."
Despite Suslov's hopes that the situation could be rectified and that public polemics could be avoided, the
ng ty in
Sino-Soviet split continued to widen. Tensions increased rapidly in the first few months of 1960, culminating in the publication of a lengthy statement by Chinese leaders in April 1960 during celebrations of the 90th anniversary of Lenin's birthday.45 The statement, entitled “Long Live Leninism," removed any doubts that Soviet officials and diplomats still had about the magnitude of the rift between the two countries.
46 Soon thereafter, in early June 1960, all the East European governments became aware of the conflict when Chinese officials voiced strong criticism of the Soviet Union at a meeting in Beijing of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). The dispute escalated a few weeks later at the Third Congress of the Romanian Communist Party in Bucharest, where Khrushchev sought to rebut the comments expressed at the WFTU meeting and to retaliate for China's decision to provide other delegates with copies of a confidential letter that Khrushchev had sent to the CCP leadership. The top Chinese official in Bucharest, Peng Zhen, responded in
more we Com und a ng the the
achieve a last-minute compromise that temporarily papered over their differences, this fragile "solution" had been preceded by venomous exchanges. Suslov acknowledged that, from the outset of the conference, “the Chinese Communist leaders not only had declined to reassess their mistaken views, but had grown even more adamant in espousing anti-Leninist and anti-Marxist" policies. Suslov maintained that the CPSU Presidium had “done its best to overcome its disagreements with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party" through a series of preliminary meetings and contacts, but had failed to persuade the Chinese delegates to alter “their mistaken views on crucial matters.'
151 All the preparatory work for the conference, according to Suslov, had been turned by the Chinese into “a source of discord.” The proceedings of the conference itself had not been made public, but Suslov informed the Central Committee that the head of the Chinese delegation, Deng Xiaoping, had delivered two speeches that were sharply at odds with the CPSU's positions, demonstrating “a complete unwillingness to find some way of overcoming the two parties' disagreements.” Suslov also noted that the Albanian delegation, led by Enver Hoxha, had sided with the Chinese participants and had expressed “bizarre, malevolent, and dogmatic views aimed solely at causing tension and dividing the conference.
Although Soviet leaders had been aware since mid-1960 that Albania was aligning itself with China, Hoxha's speech at the November 1960 conference, according to Suslov, had shown for the first time what a “monstrous” form this realignment was taking.
The speeches of the Chinese and Albanian delegations, Suslov told the Central Committee, had been greeted by a torrent of angry criticism. “Everyone at the conference," he claimed, “understood that the Chinese delegation's opposition to certain points," especially to a proposed statement regarding the need to overcome the "pernicious consequences of (Stalin's) personality cult," was motivated by "an awareness that this statement could be directed against all forms of personality cults, including the one in the Chinese Communist Party.”53 Suslov argued that the “mistaken views of the Chinese comrades” would persist so long as Mao Zedong demanded "endless glorification" and "aspired to claim a special role in the development of Marxist-Leninist theory" and the policies of the socialist bloc:
of this. -ho.
of his uation ss of with
This confrontation was the main topic of discussion at the next CPSU Central Committee plenum, on 14-16 July 1960. Khrushchev designated one of his closest aides on the Presidium, Frol Kozlov, to present a lengthy report to the plenum outlining "the mistaken positions of the CCP CC on fundamental questions of Marxist-Leninist theory and current international relations.'
»48 Kozlov reiterated all the complaints voiced by Suslov seven months earlier, but the tone of his speech was much more pessimistic. Kozlov accused the Chinese leadership of “acting surreptitiously, behind the backs of the CPSU and the other fraternal parties, to create fissures and rifts in the international Communist movement and to spread its own special views, (which) contravene sacred Leninist principles." His speech prefigured the harsh rhetoric that would soon pervade Sino-Soviet exchanges.
At the next CPSU Central Committee plenum, on 1018 January 1961, the growing acrimony in the world Communist movement was again the main topic of discussion. By this point, the Soviet Union had withdrawn all its military technicians and advisers from China, and had begun recalling its thousands of non-military personnel, causing disarray in many of China's largest economic
49 and technical projects and scientific research programs. At the plenum, Suslov presented a lengthy and—on the surface—surprisingly upbeat assessment of the “world conference” of 81 Communist parties in Moscow in November 1960. He claimed that the meeting had "successfully resolved all these problems (of disunity in the Communist world) and had marked a new, spectacular triumph of Marxism-Leninism in the international Communist movement.
The Soviet Union, he declared, could now “tirelessly work to strengthen the unity, cohesion, and friendship" among socialist countries.
Despite this optimistic gloss, much of Suslov's speech at the plenum actually gave grounds for deep pessimism. Although Soviet and Chinese officials had been able to
With the obvious guidance of the CCP leadership, the Chinese press is fanning the personality cult of Com. Mao Zedong and proclaiming him the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time" (Renmin Ribao, 7 October 1960), in the hope of staking out a special role for Mao Zedong in the international Communist movement. It is hardly accidental that CCP leaders have geared their actions over the past year toward the assumption of a dominant place among the fraternal Communist parties. 54
S and other position in
ould be ided, the
and 1965 was the effort China had been making to lure other Communist states and parties to its camp, building on its success with Albania. As early as the January 1961 plenum, Suslov reported that China had done its best at the November 1960 conference to line up broad support for its "mistaken and divisive" positions:
I have to acknowledge that there was a small group of waverers. In addition to the Albanians, the Burmese and Malayan representatives usually followed the lead of the Chinese comrades. The reasons for this are clear: namely, that they lived and worked for a long time in Beijing. Besides the Burmese and Malayans, the delegates from the Vietnamese Workers' Party and the Communist parties of Indonesia, Japan, and Australia also showed signs of wavering. These parties are from countries that are geographically close to the PRC, and they have close traditional ties with the CCP. Unusual pressure was applied on their representatives (by the Chinese].58
Suslov acknowledged to the Central Committee that the impasse resulting from the "obduracy" of the Chinese leadership had nearly caused the conference to collapse. Although Khrushchev was able to reach a compromise with the Chinese delegation in last-ditch talks on 30 November, the bulk of the conference had given little reason to believe that the dispute was genuinely resolved. Suslov tried to put the best face on the whole matterclaiming that “our party achieved a great moral-political victory from the conference" and that “one of the most important results of the Moscow Conference was the resumption of close contacts between the CPSU CC and the Chinese Communist Party CC"—but his lengthy account of the conference belied his expressed hope that "there is now a solid basis for the strengthening of SovietChinese friendship and the unity of our parties.":55
The precariousness of the outcome in November 1960 became evident soon after the January 1961 plenum, as the polemics and recriminations resumed behind the scenes with ever greater stridency. Before long, the dispute flared into the open, and news of the Sino-Soviet conflict spread throughout the world. Khrushchev and Mao made a few additional attempts to reconcile their countries' differences, but the rift, if anything, grew even wider. Hopes of restoring a semblance of unity in the international Communist movement were dashed. At CPSU Central Committee plenums from late 1962 on, Soviet leaders no longer held out any hope that the split could be surmounted. Instead, they used the plenums to marshal broad support within the party for what was projected to be a long and dangerous struggle against China.
A typical session occurred in December 1963 when Khrushchev, Suslov, and a number of other CPSU Secretaries—Boris Ponomarev, the head of the CPSU CC International Department, Yurii Andropov, the head of the CPSU CC department for intra-bloc relations, and Leonid Il’ichev, the head of the CPSU CC Ideology Departmentspoke at length about the “disagreements connected with the willfully divisive actions of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.':56 Coming after a year of acrimonious polemics between the Soviet Union and China, the December 1963 plenum featured endless condemnations of the CCP leadership's resort to open polemics and other actions that, in both form and method, are unacceptable in relations between Marxist-Leninists." The speakers at the plenum claimed that “the CCP leaders are now increasingly trying to carry their profoundly mistaken views on ideological matters into interstate relations (so that) they can destroy the friendship and cohesion of the Communist movement and weaken the anti-imperialist front.” To ensure that CPSU members at all levels would be prepared for a confrontation with China, the CPSU Secretariat decided on 16 December 1963 to expand the distribution list for the major speeches given at the plenum.57
One of the consistent themes about Sino-Soviet relations at the Central Committee plenums in 1963, 1964,
Over the next few years, Soviet concerns about the fissiparous effects of the Sino-Soviet split greatly increased. At the Central Committee plenum in December 1963, Yurii Andropov, the head of the CPSU CC department for intra-bloc relations, claimed that China had been secretly attempting to induce other East European countries to follow Albania's lead. He noted that the Chinese had been focusing their efforts on Poland, Hungary, and East Germany:
The Chinese leaders are carrying out a policy of crude sabotage in relation to Poland, Hungary, and the GDR. Characteristic of this is the fact that in September of this year, during conversations with a Hungarian official in China, Politburo member Zhu De declared that China would welcome it if the Hungarian comrades diverged from the CPSU's line. But, Zhu De threatened, if you remain on the side of the revisionists, we will have to take a stance against you.
Beijing's contacts with these three countries bore little fruit in the end, but Soviet leaders obviously could not be sure of that at the time. The mere likelihood that China was seeking to foment discord within the Soviet bloc was enough to spark heightened vigilance in Moscow.
Soviet concerns increased still further over the next several months when another Warsaw Pact country, Romania, began seeking a neutral position in the SinoSoviet dispute. Although the Romanians never went as far as the Albanians in pursuing outright alignment with China, the Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu refused to endorse Moscow's polemics or to join in other steps aimed at isolating Beijing. This policy had been foreshadowed as early as February 1964, when Suslov warned the CPSU Central Committee that China was redoubling its efforts to split the Soviet bloc: