The Prague Spring of 1968: a glimpse of socialism?

Issue: 159

Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Fifty years ago Russian tanks rolled across the Czechoslovakian border. They brought the upheavals of 1968, that year of global revolt against war, oppression and capitalism, into the heart of officially “socialist” Eastern Europe.1 Students took to the streets, fought tanks and organised resistance on their campuses. Workers sent messages of solidarity through their workplace trade union committees and joined the demonstrations. Nor was their solidarity with students confined to words; the Czechoslovakian working class began to flex its muscles as an independent force for the first time in over a decade. When it looked as if the authorities would move against a three-day student sit-in in the Czech lands, railway workers made clear that “not a single train will move out of any Prague station”.2 And across the country people tore down street signs—apart from some showing the way to Moscow—to confuse invading troops, just one expression of mass civil disobedience against the occupation.

Russian ruler Leonid Brezhnev had sent the tanks in order to oust Alexander Dubček’s Communist Party leadership, which had initiated a liberalising reform process known as the Prague Spring in January 1968. Dubček’s programme of “Socialism with a Human Face” aimed to restore to health Czechoslovakia’s stagnant Stalinist regime through “democratising” political and economic reforms—while keeping the country’s rulers firmly in charge.

Some 20 years of Communist Party censorship was loosened and then fully abolished on 4 March. The regime’s newspapers and periodicals were able to denounce the judicial murders and party purges of the 1940s and 1950s. Some of the thousands of socialists and trade unionists who had been imprisoned, or had their lives destroyed by the ŠtB secret police, were rehabilitated.

The party’s Action Programme, adopted in April 1968, talked of sweeping economic reforms to Czechoslovakia’s state capitalist economy. Often cloaked in the language of workplace democracy, it aimed to give managers of state-owned enterprises more autonomy from the central government so inefficient, unprofitable firms would be subject to market discipline and go to the wall. But this loosening of party control wasn’t just used by the middle classes—journalists, writers, lecturers, lower-ranking officers and managers who had material benefits from the regime but were locked out of political decisions. The whole of society began opening up, from art, literature and poetry to popular music. And, most dangerously for Russia’s and Czechoslovakia’s rulers, ordinary people began to question the regime’s official “socialist” rhetoric and ask in whose interests it ruled. The Russian rulers could let Dubček become Communist Party first secretary and could countenance the new leadership’s reforms. But when those reforms opened the door to a movement from below of students, workers and intellectuals—a movement that was increasingly independent of Dubček—they stepped in to preserve their rule.

The Russian military’s top brass had boasted that “Operation Danube”—the codename for the invasion—would restore order within a few days. They had hoped swiftly to imprison Dubček’s reforming wing of the Communist Party leadership and replace it with conservatives loyal to Moscow. Yet, to their surprise, they quickly found that even the presence of 2,000 tanks and half a million troops in the country could not immediately quell the discontent.

Alongside workers’ and students’ resistance from below, whole sections of the Czechoslovakian state apparatus simply continued to function in defiance of the Russian occupation. The Communist Party met in secret at its 14th Congress and unanimously passed a resolution condemning the invasion as illegal. Radio Prague, despite being run by the Stalinist hardliner Karel Hoffmann, kept broadcasting the Dubček leadership’s line—that denounced the invasion but called for “calm”. When it was forced from its headquarters, its journalists moved around Prague, transmitting news, appeals for solidarity and roughly-recorded pop songs against the invasion across Europe’s airwaves.

This meant Dubček was allowed to remain as party leader until April 1969, rather than being dragged away to a prison or liquidated. And, while the leaders of the party’s reforming wing were flown to Russia in chains and forced to sign the “Moscow Protocol” under psychological torture, the agreement was careful not to do away immediately with all of the reforms. The level of resistance from ordinary people meant that the Russian rulers would have to bide their time and reimpose control gradually.

The party leadership appealed for calm because it feared that the situation would spiral out of its control and threaten the regime as a whole. At first that didn’t stop the resistance from below, as mass, spontaneous demonstrations broke out in October and November 1968. Again in January 1969, 800,000 people came out after student Ján Palach set fire to himself in protest at the party leadership abandoning the reforms.3 But the resistance was increasingly at odds with the Dubček leadership. Its talk of remaining “calm” turned increasingly to talk of stopping “anarchy”, as it purged from the government leading reformers who opposed reining back on the Prague Spring.

When Czechoslovakia twice beat Russia in the Ice Hockey World Cup in March 1969, mass demonstrations and rioting broke out in Prague and other towns and cities across the country. Brezhnev and his boys took a hell of a beating in the rink. But it convinced Russia that it had to move against the opposition—and beat it off the streets if necessary. Dubček handed in his resignation, his allies were purged, and the new leadership under Dubček’s replacement as Communist Party first secretary, Gustáv Husák, began to push through “Normalisation” at breakneck speed.

The Red Tsars have no clothes

While the Prague Spring and people’s hopes in it went down to defeat, the ­invasion sent shockwaves through the socialist and working class movement across the world. As paratroopers descended on Prague Airport and armoured columns snaked their way to the capital on 21 August 1968, they weren’t just crushing the Czechoslovakian government; they were crushing Russia’s remaining pretensions to being the standard-bearer of world socialism.

The official propaganda of the Cold War divided the world into two camps: the liberal capitalist West versus the socialist East. Russia claimed that the Warsaw Pact, its military alliance of Eastern Bloc states, was the “shield of socialism” against Western imperialism. And the vast majority of the Western left, dominated by the Communist Parties’ politics and with illusions of varying degrees in Stalinism, pushed or pliantly accepted this line. They were both in for a shock on the morning of the invasion. For all of Russia’s and the Eastern Bloc’s rhetoric of fighting imperialism, their armies were now at the forefront of imperialist aggression. Countries that claimed to be workers’ states were exposed as brutal Stalinist dictatorships, state capitalist societies marked by class division, exploitation and oppression just as much as in the West.

A Socialist Worker article from August 1968, headlined “East and West, Tanks and Cops Defend ‘Freedom’”, pointed to the ideological turmoil:

In Chicago, police supported by troops with fixed bayonets mercilessly beat up peaceful and unprotected demonstrators. In Prague, tanks patrol the streets while the Russian rulers openly boast of their intention to “liquidate 20,000 counter-revolutionaries”…

The behaviour of the police in Chicago was far from being an “aberration”—those without power in American society…experience such violence as a matter of course.

Similarly, the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia is merely the latest in a history of the use of crude force to put down those who begin to question absolute control from above.

There are important differences between American and Russian society… But both have in common this much: they are controlled by small ruling classes that will use all the resources of modern technology to keep down the workers who may threaten their rule.4

The fallout on the left saw the Communist Parties in the West develop “Eurocommunist” wings, which drifted from Moscow and dropped any pretence of revolutionary politics or of overthrowing capitalism. In Britain it also reinvigorated the New Left, which had broken with the Communist Party after Russian tanks had crushed the Hungarian workers’ revolution in 1956. Figures such as E P Thompson and Ralph Miliband polemicised against the Russian and Eastern Bloc regimes and built solidarity with imprisoned, dissident socialists in Czechoslovakia after 1968. But despite the crushing of the Prague Spring they clung on to illusions in the Eastern Bloc, maintaining that those societies could be reformed. Their argument, in essence, was that if only the “honest Communists” Dubček and Co had been successful, the Prague Spring would have offered a new model of democratic socialism.

However, in giving the lie to Russia’s “really existing socialism”, the Prague Spring also gave possibility to forging a genuine socialist alternative that fully rejected the capitalist West and state-capitalist East. The International Socialists, forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), fought for a different vision of socialism, under the banner of “Neither Washington nor Moscow, but International Socialism”.

Today the Eastern Bloc is long gone. In 1989 mass upheavals, including the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia, brought down the dictatorships of the Soviet Empire one after another and two years later the Soviet Union itself disintegrated. In 1993, Czechoslovakia broke up into separate Czech and Slovak states. But illusions in Stalinism still cast a long shadow over the left—not just in Eastern Europe where it hampers the development of an alternative to the free market. Sections of the left in the West now fondly nurse memories of the good old days when the Soviet Union provided a “counterbalance” to US imperialism. And with arguments raging about what socialism is and how to fight for it—in Britain focused around Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party—understanding the Prague Spring is important for all of us fighting to change the world.

“Socialism-from-above” versus “Socialism-from-below”

Tony Benn wrote in his diary on 21 October 1960 that “Jim Callaghan was very depressed, but had come back from Czechoslovakia convinced that socialism does work”.5 It might seem surprising that Labour right-winger Callaghan was interested in socialism. As prime minister between 1976 and 1979, he was responsible for one of the biggest declines in working class living standards since the Second World War and was an early champion of neoliberalism.

But Callaghan’s admiration for “socialist” Czechoslovakia would not have surprised American revolutionary Hal Draper. In The Two Souls of Socialism, he disparaged both Stalinism and social democracy as forms of “socialism from above”:

These two self-styled socialisms are very different, but they have more in common than they think. The social democracy has typically dreamed of “socialising” capitalism from above. Its principle has always been that increased state intervention in society and economy is per se socialistic. It bears a fatal family resemblance to the Stalinist conception of imposing something called socialism from the top down, and of equating statification with socialism.

In contrast, the classical Marxist view of socialism is about working class people getting rid of the bosses and running society themselves. As Draper put it: “The heart of ‘socialism from below’ is that socialism can be realised only through the self-emancipation of activised masses in motion…in a struggle to take charge of their own destiny”.6

Czechoslovakia 1948: a “revolution from above”?

The 1960 constitution declared that “all power in the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic is in the hands of working people”. But in reality, the working class had no power in Czechoslovakia, any more than it did in the US, Britain or France. And the ruling Communist Party was no revolutionary party of working class struggle. After the Second World War the Russian army was left in charge of vast swathes of territory across Central and Eastern Europe. Russian dictator Joseph Stalin and Tory prime minister Winston Churchill had already agreed to carve up Nazi-occupied territories into “spheres of influence”. However, while the Russians had military control of Central and Eastern Europe, they immediately faced a problem. Alongside Moscow’s Red Army driving out the Nazi troops, there were powerful national resistance movements that had articulated a left-wing vision for society after liberation. This helped fuel a wave of popular revolt—notably in Bulgaria and Hungary—with demands for nationalisation and land redistribution. These signs of independent action by workers and peasants threatened Russia’s aim to extract reparations for its war-ravaged economy and firm up its political domination.

So at every turn, the local Communist Party leaderships tried to contain the revolutionary potential in the situation, rather than lead the resistance. Their ministers were often in a minority alongside the capitalist parties in “people’s governments”, which included sections of the old ruling classes from before the war and sometimes former fascist collaborators. And they clamped down on Communist Party members who had taken their old Marxist rhetoric at face value and pushed for “sovietisation” policies, such as threatening private property rights. After Bulgarian soldiers formed soldiers’ councils, got rid of some officers and abolished salutes, Russian foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov made clear: “If certain Communists continue their present conduct we will bring them to reason… Bulgaria will remain with her democratic government and present order. You should reinstate in service all officers who have been dismissed for various reasons”.7

In Czechoslovakia the Communists won 38 percent of the vote in the 1946 ­parliamentary elections. The liberal democrat president Edvard Beneš appointed Communist leader Klement Gottwald as prime minister and nine Communists and 17 social democrats and liberals as ministers. Talk of socialism was reined in. “In spite of the favourable situation”, declared Gottwald, “the next goal is not soviets and socialism, but rather carrying out a really thorough democratic national revolution”.8

The Communists eagerly signed up to the xenophobic Beneš Decrees, which promised “Czechoslovakisation” of Hungarians and German areas. In the Slovak lands there had been a strong partisan movement led by an alliance of the recently autonomous Communist Party of Slovakia and the Democratic Party. They had set up the Slovak National Council in 1944 and talked of Slovak autonomy and sweeping social and economic changes after liberation.9 The combination of poorer election results in rural Slovakia and the alliance with Beneš saw Gottwald put an end to talk of Slovak autonomy and reabsorb the local party.

While the Russians wanted to prevent the upsurge from below, they had no intention of preserving “democratic government” for its own sake. The Communists had been a minority in the “people’s governments”, but they had made sure to take key positions, such as interior, security and defence ministries. Once the threat of revolution from below had subsided, the Communists moved against their bourgeois allies and seized full control of the existing state machinery.

The Stalinist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia differed—in appearance—to the rest of the Eastern Bloc. “Victorious February”, as it was known in official propaganda, was triggered by infighting among the Communist and liberal ministers, but it involved mass mobilisations of workers. The liberal ministers had objected to the Communists purging their remaining enemies from the top posts of the national police force. Eight liberals resigned in the hope that Beneš would not accept their resignation and appoint an interim government or call fresh elections. Yet, unlike in other government crises, the Communists played the politics of the streets, mobilised tens of thousands of workers into Prague and forced Beneš to appoint a Communist Party government.

These popular mobilisations meant there has been a lot of confusion around February 1948, including among socialists who reject Stalinism. The Polish revolutionary Isaac Deutscher is best known as Leon Trotsky’s biographer. Trotsky had led the opposition to Stalin’s terror until his assassination in 1940. But in Stalin: A Political Biography, Deutscher wrote of the Communists’ seizure of power in 1948:

Unlike the other European upheavals, this bore the mark of a revolution from below, even though it was timed to suit Stalin’s convenience. The Communists accomplished the revolution on their own strength, supported by the great majority of the workers; they had only to parade their armed militias in the street to block any counter-action… Beneš and [foreign minister Ján] Masaryk, overwhelmed and depressed by the evidence of mass popular support for the revolution…bowed to the victors.10

A more recent article in Jacobin magazine by the Czech-based academic Joseph Grim Feinberg is more equivocal, but still tries to box clever over the nature of “Victorious February”:

Almost immediately after Victorious February, opposition from the Right and Left were suppressed by a powerful police apparatus, and by 1950 a show trial would lead to the execution of some of the party’s most prominent critics… But in early 1948 it was hardly clear that this was the direction a Communist victory might take. Even for those who understood the reality of Stalinism in the Soviet Union, there was good reason to believe that a Czechoslovak revolution might follow a different course.11

Deutscher and Feinberg both mistake workers being mobilised for the working class’s mass self-activity in a revolution. These accounts also fail to ask who mobilised them—and to what end. Tens of thousands of workers marching did help the Communists purge their former bourgeois allies. But the decisive factor was that the Communist-controlled interior ministry used the repressive instruments of capitalist state power—notably the police—to stage the takeover. Similarly, the Communist-controlled ministry of propaganda made sure no dissenting voices got onto the airwaves. It was this apparatus that in large part directed the popular demonstrations. A “Congress of Workers” was called, met for one day under police guard, voted to support the coup, then was sent home.

The “People’s Militias” paraded the streets—most of them unarmed—but in no sense were they an insurrectionary organisation of the working class. They were commanded by Communist Josef Pavel, who held a senior position within the interior ministry, and their activities in the coup were coordinated by the police. Their numbers account for 0.2 percent of Czechoslovak workers—many of them from the small proportion of Communist factory workers who were being promoted into privileged management positions in nationalised industry.12

But if there had been no working class revolution in Czechoslovakia, how could it be a socialist state? And if it wasn’t socialist, what was it?

The theory of bureaucratic state capitalism

The claims of the Eastern Bloc countries to be socialist—in spite of the fact that they had never seen socialist revolution—posed a new problem for revolutionaries after the Second World War. In response to this challenge, Tony Cliff, one of the founders of the SWP, developed the theory of bureaucratic state capitalism.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a genuine socialist revolution, that saw the working class seize power through the workers’ councils (soviets). While the working class was a minority in Russia, its concentration in pockets of capitalism, such as Petrograd, gave it power disproportionate to its size within the Russian economy. This meant the working class could seize power in October 1917—in an alliance with the peasantry—but it could not rule in this way indefinitely. Backward Russia did not have the material wealth to establish a socialist, classless society. The alliance with the peasantry, who were not fighting for socialism like the workers, would also begin to unravel. To survive, the revolution would need assistance from the working classes of more advanced capitalist countries. As Lenin told the Moscow Soviet in April 1918: “Our backwardness has put us in the forefront, and we shall perish unless we are capable of holding out until we receive powerful support from workers who have risen in revolt in other countries”.13

Unfortunately the revolutionary wave that spread across Europe in the wake of the Russian Revolution failed to break through. Russia was plunged into a bloody civil war as 14 imperialist armies invaded in support of sections of the old order—the Whites—who fought the new Soviet power and its Red Army. While the Red Army defeated the invaders, the Civil War decimated the working class that had made the revolution. Many militants died fighting on the frontline in order to defend it. Industrial production in the cities dropped to pre-war levels as factories closed. Without a strong working class, the basis of workers’ power was undermined.

Yet at the same time this left the Bolshevik Party in charge of a vast, sprawling bureaucracy as it tried to defend the gains of October. Lenin explained these problems to the 4th Congress of the Communist International in 1922: “We took over the old machinery of state, and that was our misfortune… We now have a vast army of government employees, but lack sufficiently educated forces to exercise real control over them… Down below them there are hundreds of thousands of old officials we got from the Tsar and bourgeois society”.14

At first this bureaucracy balanced between different sections of Russian ­society—not just ruling in the interests of the workers. But its power grew—with Stalin increasingly at the helm—and it developed its own set of class interests. The new ruling class began to push through a full-blooded counter-revolution, abandoning the gains of October, and by 1928 had abolished the last remnants of workers’ control.

If socialism is about workers’ control over the means of production, then Stalinist Russia was in no way socialist. But this separation wouldn’t automatically make it state capitalist. To apply Cliff’s theory of bureaucratic state capitalism it’s necessary both to understand how capitalism works and to see Russia against the backdrop of world imperialism.

Marx argued that under capitalism there are two divisions. The first is between a minority of capitalists who exploit the working class to get their hands of profits; the second is among rival capitalists themselves. Capitalists don’t exploit workers just because they are greedy to increase their personal fortunes.

Under capitalism, workers’ “labour power”—their ability to work—is also turned into a commodity. While they sell their labour power to the capitalist, workers only get a proportion of the value they create back in wages. It is this gap—“surplus value”—that lies at the heart of the capitalists’ exploitation of workers and lays the basis for profits. The aim of the capitalist to grab as great a chunk of this surplus value as possible.

The exchange value of a commodity is determined by the amount of socially necessary labour time that goes into producing it. A capitalist who prices their commodity higher than that of its competitors will rapidly see big losses. So this is where the second division—among capitalists themselves—gains importance. As Chris Harman explains: “What that value is only comes to light as a result of the continual, blind interactions of commodities on the market. The system as a whole forces its individual components to worry about how the individual labour they employ relates to labour elsewhere”.15

This process of capitals interacting is what Marx called the operation of the “law of value”. It affects the organisation of production—the division of labour and the allocation of raw materials—across the capitalist economy. Competition acts as a “coercive force” on individual capitals that compels them to invest their profits into more efficient methods of production in order to undercut their competitors. As Marx put it: “Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!… Therefore save, save, ie reconvert the greatest possible portion of surplus value or surplus product into capital! Accumulation for the sake of accumulation, production for the sake of production”.16

If Russia and the Eastern Bloc are viewed in isolation, Marx’s law of value could not apply. The division of labour and investment was directed according to a state-set Five Year Plan. However, while there was very little internal competition in those states, they were subject to international military and economic competition.

In 1931 Stalin delivered a speech where he developed his idea of “Socialism in One Country” in order to justify competition with the West on the backs of workers: “We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make up this gap in ten years. Either we do it or we will go under”.17

So the law of value acted on the Russian economy on a world scale. As Harman explained in Zombie Capitalism:

The organisation of production inside the USSR might involve the putting together of different use values…to produce further use values.

But what mattered to the ruling bureaucracy was how these use values measured up to the similar conglomerations of use values produced inside the great corporations of the West. And that meant comparing the amounts of labour used in the USSR to the labour used in the Western corporations. Or, to put it in Marx’s terms, production within the USSR was subject to the law of value operating on the global scale.18

Those who doubted that the law of value acted on the Eastern Bloc in this way should have tuned in to Czechoslovak TV in April 1968. They would have seen three Communist managers of state-owned companies brought on to the flagship news programme. The first scenes show a half-finished, near derelict building site. The newsreader tells the audience: “We convinced ourselves that the reconstruction of shops on Na Můstku street in Prague, which should be finished in one and a half years, has, in truth, a very loose tempo. We asked the CEO of the Prague construction company if it wouldn’t be finished sooner if a foreign firm joined the project”. “Of course it’s true,” confessed manager J Stohanzl: “The difference lies in the supplies of materials. These [Western] firms have more money, shorter delivery dates, and a freer choice of building materials”.

The programme made clear that these shortcomings would cost shops on Na Můstku 50 million Czechoslovak crowns. And next up for criticism was a newly-opened motorway, where there was an increasing number of traffic accidents because the asphalt used wasn’t as high quality as foreign-made asphalt. But the third manager explains how his collective farm is competing with Western capital: “It’s not difficult, we had 390 workers, now we have 230, and we do more work”, he proudly explains, “it’s called better productivity”.19

The managers of state capitalist Czechoslovakia were acutely aware of how their firms stacked up against those in the West.

Czechoslovak state capitalism 1948-’68: crisis and resistance

As state capitalist societies, Russia and the Eastern Bloc were subject to the same dynamics as capitalist states. Crucially, economic crisis and class antagonism between the bosses and workers were built into them, just as in the West. The experience of Czechoslovakian state capitalism after 1948 was one of boom, crisis, attempts at reform and working class resistance. These contradictions would lay the basis for the Prague Spring.

After the Communist Party seized power in February 1948, it began pushing through industrialisation with a series of Five Year Plans. Those who objected to closely following Stalinist Russia’s model were purged from the party leadership. Gottwald’s “red terror” reached its height during the Slánský Affair in 1951, when 11 leading Communist ministers and party officials were sentenced to death in one of the most notorious show trials outside of 1930s Russia. A further three were given life imprisonment under the same charge of plotting a “Trotskyite-Titoist-Zionist” conspiracy. The most high-profile victim, Communist Party general secretary Rudolf Slánský, had been one of the main movers behind the 1948 coup.

The memory was still fresh of the break between Stalin and Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Broz Tito, amid arguments about the country’s economic and foreign policy. Russia was paranoid of losing another satellite state; and the Czechoslovakian ruling class bureaucracy, dependent on Moscow for its position, loyally followed its sponsors’ orders.

Yet, amid the terror, the bureaucracy could claim impressive rates of economic growth compared to the pre-war figures in 1937—107 percent in 1948, 143 percent in 1950 and 210 percent in 1953. The Five Year plans ploughed investment into heavy industry. In that period the regime claimed industrial growth grew by 98 percent and gross capital formation as a percentage of GNP increased to over 40 percent.20 However, at the same time, workers’ real incomes fell—to 96 percent of pre-war levels in 1950 and 84 percent in 1953, only rising by 1955.21 To feed the demand for workers in industry the bureaucracy turned its gaze to the vast army of rural labour. Those who remained on the land had to produce more. The nationalisation of the old Hungarian aristocracy’s estates and the forcible collectivisation of peasants’ fields into “united peasants’ cooperatives”—for a time—met these needs.

But soon crisis began to hit the economy as over-investment in industry and collectivisation produced a shortage of consumer goods and caused inflation to soar to 28 percent. At the beginning of 1953 the regime hiked the prices of basic commodities and looked at increasing production targets. As Gottwald—“the first workers’ president”—died on 14 March, grumblings of discontent were spreading on factory floors. The new party boss Antonín Novotný was confident he could deal with growing crisis by making workers pay. On 31 May the regime pushed through a currency reform that severely attacked workers’ livings standards—savings were devalued by 50:1, wages by 5:1. Just two months into the job, Novotný had terribly overplayed his hand.

The Vladimir Illych Lenin Works in Plzeň, one of the regime’s premier enterprises, exploded in revolt. The Communist Party had led strikes against the old Škoda bosses at the plant—now it rose in revolt against the new party bosses. Workers walked off shift and marched on the town hall the following day; joined by workers from nearby enterprises and students, the demonstration swelled to 20,000. Party buildings were burnt; barricades were built; workers practically controlled the town. The Communists brought the full force of the state to bear on Plzeň—the “People’s Militia”, the Czechoslovakian People’s Army and secret police brutally suppressed the isolated revolt. It was nonetheless a warning to the bureaucracy that it couldn’t count on the acquiescence of the working class.

Having put down the revolt, Novotný looked to secure his position. Opponents of the regime and Communists who fell foul of it, including future party leader Gustáv Husák, faced prison or persecution. And, luckily for Novotný, Czechoslovakian state capitalism began to experience an economic upturn after 1953. As production increased—and real wages grew by 60 percent—the regime was able to buy the support of different sections of society.

This stability of the 1950s was built on the weakness and backwardness of the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Czechoslovakia was in a strong position because its rulers had, following the end of the Second World War, inherited one of the most industrialised capitalist economies in the region. The less developed Eastern Bloc states, such as Poland and Hungary, were all too keen to buy capital exports from Czechoslovakia in order to build up their own industries. Czechoslovakian state capitalism grew heavily dependent on foreign trade. Even in 1965 foreign trade per capita stood at 2,758 Czechoslovak crowns (KCS)—that’s compared to a world average of 842 KCS and 2,750 KCS among the advanced capitalist countries of the West.22 But the bureaucracy soon found out that capitalist development breeds competition—and their dependence on foreign trade laid the basis for their next crisis.

By the 1960s, economic growth began to slow down. Czechoslovakia no longer had an advantage over its neighbours, as East Germany, Poland and Hungary had all built up heavy industries of their own. The basis of Czechoslovakian state capitalism’s export-led industrial expansion had been undermined and the economy could only lumber on under the old methods for so long. The question now was, how would the bureaucracy and workers respond?

The bureaucracy splits—the reformers vs the conservatives

As editor of the Communist Party’s Slovak daily Pravda, Ladislav Mňačko had faithfully reported the show trials and purges of the 1950s. His book Delayed Reports, published in 1963, marked a radical departure. It told the stories of the people he had seen condemned in the Stalinist terror. Writing in the preamble, Mňačko explained:

I wanted to be a chronicler of a romantic, heroic age. I agitated, I wrote hundreds of newspaper columns, eyewitness accounts, news and literary works, plays, books of features, reports and short stories… But there was another theme, the ugly underbelly of our life, the cult to which I paid my dues… As the years flew by, it grew in me—a once blindly faithful person—that not all was well with us, that not all lived up to the humanist aims of a society building socialism, that dark forces were destroying relationships between people, and causing an atmosphere of distrust and fear, which degraded and devalued great ideas and aims… That’s how this book came about, from their stories that I intimately know.23

Delayed Reports wasn’t just a sign of a guilty Stalinist conscience. Mňačko reflected a growing awareness among sections of the Communist Party leadership that it could no longer ignore the country’s economic problems and needed to adopt a new model. The year the book was published, stagnation had turned into recession: national income dropped by 3 percent and industrial production fell by nearly 1 percent.24

A faction began to form within the bureaucracy that argued for the introduction of market forces into Czechoslovakian state capitalism, similar to those in Tito’s Yugoslavia, in order to kick-start growth. At first, the “reformers” tried to persuade the Stalinist hardliner Novotný to adopt their proposals. The Czech economist Ota Šik began developing a programme of reforms, which was reluctantly accepted by Novotný in 1967. But the talk of competition in Šik’s New Economic Model was not such a radical departure. The Czechoslovakian economy had always been subject to competition internationally. The reforms aimed to introduce internal competition between Czechoslovak firms in order to force the most inefficient to go to the wall. It was hoped that the shock of competition would rebalance the economy, reallocating labour and investment from the old export-orientated heavy industries.

A half-hearted attempt to implement the New Economic Model by the Novotný regime saw the reforms make the situation even worse. When state control of wholesale prices was relaxed, they rocketed by 29 percent—10 percent more than aimed. Firms began creaking under the strain. But it was the more efficient firms that felt the strain because Novotný had made sure to protect heavy industry from internal competition. Far from rebalancing Czechoslovakian state capitalism, the 1967 reforms left it all the more distorted.

While the Novotný leadership had implemented the New Economic Model, large sections of the bureaucracy had too much to lose if the reforms were fully pushed through. Communist Party regional secretaries feared losing their grip on their fiefdoms if managers of individual firms were given more autonomy. The managers of inefficient industrial complexes had built their political careers through those positions. Thanks to competition, they could now see their careers go to the wall along with their factories. The reformers began to see that they had to sideline, not convince, these conservative sections.

Yet, as a small minority within the party leadership, they didn’t want to challenge Novotný and conservatives openly. Events in the summer of 1967 pushed them into action. The row at the top had begun to open up space for ­opposition—at first confined to the middle class sections of society. The 4th Congress of the Union of Czechoslovak Writers in June 1967 was a harbinger of wider discontent to come. The brilliant Czech novelist Milan Kundera, one of the influx of intellectuals into the party in 1948, took to the stage to open proceedings. He struck a cautious note, all framed around the development of literature under socialism:

Any interference with freedom of thought and word, however discreet the mechanics and terminology of such censorship, is a scandal in this century, a chain entangling the limbs of our national literature as it tries to bound forward… The fate of Czech literature is vitally dependent, just now, on the degree of intellectual freedom that exists.25

In the universities too, lecturers had begun expressing discontent, albeit in abstract terms, about the development of philosophy under socialism. For the regime, aware of the growing difficulties it faced, such manifestations were just about tolerable, and it didn’t move against them. However, the bureaucracy’s acquiescence in more open talk about the problems of Czechoslovakian society was exposing tensions in a society with few pressure valves for discontent. At the congress, writer Ludvík Vaculík was much more open than Kundera and lambasted the regime in no uncertain terms:

During 20 years, not a single human question has been solved. From primary needs, such as homes, schools and economic prosperity, to the softer ones, such as a feeling of full validity in society, belief in meaningfulness, or the subordination of political decision making to ethical criteria. These are problems that undemocratic systems cannot solve.26

Vaculík and two other writers, Antonín Liehm and Ivan Klíma, were expelled from the Communist Party. The writers’ influential periodical, the Literární Noviny, was effectively shut down shortly afterwards. Novotný was now moving against the reformers’ potential allies, but still they were not strong enough or willing to confront him openly. Outside events intervened to push their hand. A few months after the congress of the writers’ union, anger exploded at the Strahov student halls.

Free education and the flood of workers from the countryside to towns after the Second World War had seen the number of university students in Czechoslovakia increase rapidly. At the same time student anger at inadequate accommodation, lack of facilities and political repression had also been growing. Student life was dominated by the Communist-controlled Czechoslovak Union of Youth (CSM) and Czechoslovak Student Union. But, occasionally, students made themselves felt by the authorities

At the Strahov halls, opened in 1965, there had been repeated problems with power supply and maintenance. Economies meant that heating was shut off after 9pm. And there were few other sources of warmth because dormitory rules restricted visits. Some in authority could see the potential for protests and tried to head them off. The Strahov dormitory council wrote to the Communist Party and the CSM warning: “The council, which has acquainted itself with the situation, is turning to you in an attempt to preempt spontaneous actions by infuriated students, which it could not bear responsibility for”.27

The warnings came true on 31 October 1967. The lights went out at around 9pm and lit the touch-paper of student revolt. Around 1,500 students marched from Strahov towards the city centre, chanting, “We want light, we want more light”. They were met by brutal repression from the police, who tried to push the demonstration back. They shouted, “Here’s your light”, as they meted out blows with their batons. Some students were shoved into the bushes next to the pavement where the cops bludgeoned and kicked them.

The leaders of the demonstration were rounded up, arrested and drafted into the army. And the double meaning of the students’ chants was not lost on Novotný, who quickly turned to the traditional methods of Stalinist rule. He laid down the law at a meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party on 28 November: “If we relent, it means that we could witness more such actions. It is an organised movement, it is not just a student matter. Today, behind the students stand organisers who know what they want: to create a political movement out of the student body”.28

Novotný was right to see the danger of a student movement. Students had been using the Prague University District Committee of the CSM, reestablished in autumn 1963, to organise oppositional activity. Through it, activists could link up with similar committees in Brno and Bratislava, and it meant they did not have to renew student organisation after a cohort graduated.

After the repression of the Strahov demonstration, the Prague committee issued a bulletin telling the truth about the events. The CSM leadership banned its distribution and its chairman Miroslav Zavadil threatened to disband the committee. The State Prosecutor’s Office paid a visit to the students and made clear to them that the bulletin was illegal. The committee ignored their threats and continued to spread the message.

At the Philosophy Faculty at Charles University in Prague, students looked to organise a demonstration for 20 November. They issued a list of eight demands, including: the release of the names of the police officers who attacked the demonstration and sanctions against them; that all police officers are clearly marked by numbers; a full parliamentary debate about the Strahov affair; and respect for academic freedom.29

Amid fears of a more brutal police crackdown, the protest did not go ahead. But the Strahov affair and the reactions to it were storm petrels for bigger student unrest the following year. And, crucially at this point, the protests forced open cracks among the bureaucracy.

Even loyal Communist Party members distanced themselves from Novotný’s haughty rhetoric. V Suchánek, a veteran Communist Party member, thought that the rector should have stopped the demonstration. But his sympathies were with the students against the police nonetheless:

When I see on the TV how the police bash demonstrators and students in America, I always remember how we demonstrated against unemployment, against poverty and hunger under the first [inter-war] republic. For me, an old Communist, it’s a terrible thought that people must not demonstrate their rights…it’s something awful, when the socialist public safety corps throws itself at a peaceful student demonstration and beats it like the capitalist police.30

Alongside the crackdown on students, Novotný used the renewed repression as an opportunity to put an end to talk of reforms. He was already fighting for his political life. The reformers had used the Strahov affair to outmanoeuvre him at a central committee meeting in October. While they were in a minority, the reformers had been able to form an alliance with the Slovak section of the bureaucracy. This group had no real interest in reforms and formed the backbone of conservatism, but saw an opportunity to grab more power for themselves.

Without a coherent alternative, Novotný was able to delay his departure and hoped to use the reprieve to crush his opponents. Novotný turned to his allies in the military who began mobilising reservists for “training” around Prague. And the regime drew up a list of 1,032 opponents—including Dubček and Šik and General Václav Prchlík. Manoeuvres by Dubček-supporting generals and officers dissipated the threat of a military coup.31

But, most dangerously, Novotný looked to forces outside of the bureaucracy. Alongside appealing to party bosses and factory managers who stood to lose from reforms, Novotný tried to bring workers into the fight. He whipped up fears of unemployment and lower wages if market discipline was introduced—to little avail. While the reformers’ economic policies would have harmed living standards, workers had borne the brunt of 20 years of hard Stalinist rule.

The reformers too looked to outside support. At first they appealed to Novotný’s most recent enemies—the writers, journalists, academics and ­students—and promised to guarantee their freedoms. But soon afterwards Dubček supporters began to tour factories to build support for ousting the leadership. Finally on 5 January 1968 the reformers forced Novotný out of the post of party first secretary and replaced him with Dubček. The fight was only just beginning; the bureaucratic faction fight had lifted the lid on Czechoslovakian society, and wouldn’t be able to easily control the social forces that it was unleashing.

The Dubček leadership—Stalinism with a pragmatic face

A new Czechoslovakian film called Dubček dramatises the Prague Spring through the life of the man. By and large Dubček is portrayed as a heroic and humane—if naive—man in an impossible position as he tries to reform socialism and stand up to the invasion. Dubček understandably enjoys a lot of prestige among large numbers of Czechs and Slovaks because of his treatment at the hands of Russia. And some on the left in Eastern Europe still look to him as a model for democratic socialism. A critical assessment of Dubček is not about rubbishing the whole Prague Spring, but understanding his role, the reformers’ aims and their political trajectory once in power.

Until his ousting Dubček was a part of the ruling bureaucracy of Czechoslovakian state capitalism. And in 1968 he had attained the most powerful position in the country as leader of the Communist Party, the political expression of that ruling bureaucracy.

The Russian rulers had permitted the removal of Novotný because they did not see the new leadership as a threat to their rule in Eastern Europe. And some could see that the Czechoslovakian regime was facing severe problems and hoped that reforms might stabilise it. After the reform wing took control, the ferment in society gathered pace. At face value it seems as if the leadership and movement were at one. In April the Action Programme seemed to make good on the promises of freedom the reformers had made to the intellectuals:

The Communist Party does not realise its leading role by ruling over society but by serving its free, progressive, socialist development in a devoted way. The party cannot impose its authority: this has to be won again and again by party activity. It cannot enforce its line by means of directives but by the work of its members, the truthfulness of its ideals.32

In reality, the impetus for political reforms flowed from the fact that the reformers still needed to mobilise forces from outside of the bureaucracy. They had not fully secured themselves against the conservatives. Symbolic of their precarious position, Novotný still clung on to his position as president of the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic. Partly in response to this, the reformers called a series of mass meetings in February and March. At one 3,000-strong meeting of students, Šik told the crowd to organise against the “conservatives who for so long have used repression and suppression to silence new ideas”. Novotný resigned two days after 10,000 students rallied in Congress Hall in Fučík Park in Prague.33 He was replaced by Dubček ally General Ludvík Svoboda. He had high prestige within society because of his role as commander of the Czechoslovakian Brigade on the Eastern Front during the Second World War.

The reformers seemed victorious, but they were playing a dangerous game and were storing up problems for themselves. They needed to mobilise the masses to unseat the conservatives, but also feared the forces that they were unleashing would threaten the state capitalist ruling class. A report by Rudé Právo, the official Communist Party newspaper in the Czech lands, about one of the mass meetings summed up the ferment in society:

The big hall in the Slavonic House in Prague was inaccessible for a long time before 8pm on Wednesday night [23 March 1968]—because it was full, Minister J Smrkovský had to calm down those who did not get a place. The question and answer evening, called “The Young Ask”, which was organised by the city committee of the CSM and the Institute of the History of the Communist Party, would have easily filled a bigger hall.

But Smrkovský’s speech also showed the reformers were determined to safeguard the bureaucracy’s rule:

Minister J Smrkovský said, “You have a right and a duty to be more revolutionary and radical than we, your fathers, are. And we, the older generation, have a duty to make sure that the big changes into which our country is walking do not turn into catastrophe. You will talk about them, you will run your own organisation—and the Action Programme recognises that. But, I ask you, that your actions will be responsible”.34

The problem for the bureaucracy was that some of the intellectuals, students and workers paid little notice to its calls for caution and took its talk of reforms at their word. These contradictions started to come to a head when Vaculík published the Manifesto of the 2,000 Words, which called for a purge of conservative elements in the bureaucracy: “We should demand the resignation of people who have missed their power…we should find ways and means of persuading them to resign, through resolutions, demonstrations, demonstrative work brigades, collections for retirement, gifts for them, strikes and picketing their houses”.35

Radio Prague noted that, out of over 2,000 callers, the majority responded positively. But this was far too much for the reformers. As Dubček made clear: “We absolutely reject the establishment of any opposition party which would stand outside the policy of the [Communist-controlled] National Front”.36

Some intellectuals outside of the party had pushed further for more political freedoms and independent opposition parties. But the overwhelming majority of the writers and journalists fundamentally would not break with bureaucratic rule. Even the most radical ones, who genuinely wanted an alternative to Stalinism, still saw bureaucratic rule as in some way embodying socialism. This ideological confusion would help to demobilise them.

All power to the managers’ councils

A similar problem of ideological confusion faced the workers’ movement. The Action Programme’s economic reforms were greeted with much fanfare by many dissident socialists in Czechoslovakia and in the West. An article by Jindřich Chalupecký in the Listy newspaper in February 1969 proclaimed:

Like the Soviets in February 1917, workers’ councils are spontaneously appearing again, prompted by something that looks suspiciously like historic necessity, and which therefore is located beyond all plans and theories. At the beginning of the Russian Revolution, the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks led the soviets. But it was the Bolsheviks who understood their significance: they launched the slogan, “All power to the Soviets” and were victorious within a few months. Then came the years of War Communism and things took a different direction. Today the politicians are advising caution. Everything points us, however, to naively raise the slogan: all power to the soviets. All power to the councils of workers, peasants, young people and intellectuals. It is as if we are once again in a position to open the revolutionary reader at the first pages, as if once again we could aspire, after all the disappointments and all the despair, to freedom in this world of ours.37

The workers’ councils were not soviets, democratic organisations formed by the working class to run society. The Action Programme itself made clear that their real aim was to increase competition among individual firms within Czechoslovakian state capitalism, not workers’ power:

The economic reforms will increasingly push the whole working teams of socialist enterprises into positions where they will directly feel the consequences of both good and bad management. The Party therefore deems it necessary that the whole working team which bears the consequences should be allowed to influence the management of the enterprise. We must set up democratic bodies in enterprises and vest them with limited rights with respect to the management of the enterprises… These bodies must become a direct part of the management mechanism of enterprises, and not a social organisation (they therefore cannot be identified with the trade unions).38

The Russian rulers’ real fear was the upsurge from below that the reformers were unleashing. They watched with unease the manifestations of opposition by the middle class intellectuals and students; at a series of meetings with the Czechoslovakian leadership they warned of the danger of “bourgeois rule” being re-established in the country. Unease turned to horror as the force with real power in society—the working class—began asserting its own demands.

Práce, the newspaper of the state-controlled Revolutionary Union Movement (ROH) union federation, noted the growing feeling among workers:

Shortly after January 1968 a multitude of demands for settlement of wages and social problems arose… Workers in the factories seemed far less interested over political questions, only in the following weeks did enterprises and party organisations [workplace party branches] begin, with growing intensity, to express their opinions.39

Such feelings of discontent on the factory floor began to turn into localised strikes that were able to force real concessions from managers. A strike at the Optimist rubber plant pushed the manager to resign after they introduced performance-related bonuses that discriminated against manual workers. At Prague Ruzyně Airport a six-hour stoppage by electricians forced bosses to improve working conditions in workshops.

At first the local ROH bureaucrats were caught off guard and had to play catch-up with the workers’ demands. Some local trade union officials sensed an opportunity to increase their influence. In capitalist society the union bureaucracy mediates between the bosses and workers’ demands, but under state capitalism its role was severely restricted, not even having the right to negotiate over the most basic of issues, such as wages. Others in the ROH leadership could see the danger that strikes posed to the regime that they depended on.

At first the movement on the shop floor meant that the ROH bureaucracy still had to respond to the rank and file’s demands. When the Novotný ally Miroslav Pastyřík was replaced by Karel Poláček as ROH chairman, its affiliated unions threatened to keep hold of subs unless a more reform-oriented leader who would meet wage demands was appointed. The bureaucracy’s growing responsiveness to the rank and file was partly fuelled by fears that workers would set up their own independent trade unions—there were attempts, for example, to set up an Independent Federation of Train Crews. The ROH leaders managed to stop such initiatives spreading in spite of the widespread discontent among workers and lower-level bureaucrats. But they paid a price in giving affiliates more autonomy—namely the 900,000-strong Metal Workers’ Union in the Czech lands—that would play a key role in the coming battles after the Russian invasion.

The growing upsurge in rank and file demands threatened tensions between the regime and workers. The Dubček leadership did its best to resist pressure to raise wages or dampen “redeployment” of workers. As Šik said: “As regards to the raising of living standards, this is not the time to distribute more from the state budget, which would only increase inflationary pressures”.40

Eventually the reformers were forced to grant some of the wage demands, but they could sense that the situation was spiralling out of their control. Some workers were beginning to make links with the more radical sections of ­intellectuals and students. There were reports of Workers’ Committees for the Defence of Freedom of the Press springing up in factories across Czechoslovakia. The Dubček central committee described, with growing concern, how: “A spontaneous process is taking place without party influence… The slogan ‘Trade Unions without Communists’ begins to assert itself in some places. Four shop committees which have already emerged in the Aero plant are completely without Communists”.41

Resisting “Normalisation” from below: the workers’ and students’ movements

The crunch between the reformers and the workers came after the invasion on 21 August 1968. After Russian troops entered the country, the aim of the Dubček leadership was to preserve the rule of the bureaucracy and its own position at the top of it. As troops patrolled the streets, delegates gathered for the Communist Party’s secret 14th Congress. They passed a resolution that condemned the invasion; however, they made clear not only that resistance was an undesirable outcome, but that they would do all they could to stop it: “[The Congress resolved] to do everything we can not to exacerbate the situation here any further” and to avoid “any provocation that might lead to reprisals or be used as a pretext for the introduction of an occupation regime”.42

If there wasn’t to be resistance or an occupation regime, there would need to be a collaborationist government. Not wishing to see their conservative opponents take the reins again, the Dubček leadership tried to become that collaborationist government. It jettisoned the political reforms in the hope of keeping its economic ones.

The tensions between the reformers and the workers’ movement looked like they would totally force the two apart. The Student magazine slammed the Moscow Protocols—signed by all but František Kriegel—as “capitulation” and said they had “betrayed the republic”. And, similarly, at the 40,000-strong Škoda complex, workers said the decision was capitulation. Práce noted that:

Suddenly a new social movement surged forth…neither the journalists not the scientists started—they could not because of the censorship. The new wave…was the clear and unequivocal voices of the factories and the overwhelming majority of the working class.43

The unions became the main force opposing the invasion. But the question was, could this movement assert its own demands independent of all sections of the bureaucracy? A key turning point came when Dubček dismissed Smrkovský, one of the more outspoken reformers. Smrkovský addressed the Metal Workers’ Union congress, where delegates threatened a general strike if he was removed. The miners’ and builders’ unions and workplace branches across the country passed resolutions and threatened stoppages. Dubček stepped in and threatened to take measures that “could appear to be undemocratic, but they will be in the interests of democracy”. Faced with such an ultimatum, the workers’ movement would have to take independent action.

Smrkovský buckled and distanced himself from the workers’ movement, and the unions withdrew their threats of strikes. There was some action by workers in the face of the reformers’ retreats. Printworkers refused to print the conservative Tribuna newspaper. At a rank and file level students’ and workers’ movements strengthened links that had been formed previously between their unions; and to some extent they helped workers link up their local struggles.

But the unions were not willing to lead struggle—and were without independent organisation to call it anyway. The mood was allowed to dissipate as the Russian rulers reimposed order under “Normalisation”. Ján Kavan, a leading student activist, summed up the situation by 1969:

Apathy and feelings of betrayal prevailed. By April 1969, when Dubček was finally removed from power, there were only few sporadic protests. Significantly, Gustav Husák, who replaced Dubček, revealed his greatest fear in his inaugural speech: “Some people go into factories and stir up anti-Party tendencies; on every occasion there appear slogans such as ‘Students and Workers Together’, ‘Students, Intelligentsia, Workers, Unite’”. Later he attacked them again: “Various opposition blocks have been formed, for instance the block of workers and students…various agreements and treaties have been concluded…we consider them to be illegal”. Demoralisation set in.44

Husák abolished the Prague Spring’s political reforms—the party’s “leading role in society” was strengthened, censorship was reimposed, trade unions and student organisations were silenced. And the Action Programme’s economic reforms were reined in as bureaucratic control from above and central state planning were re-established.

Every party member and state official had to fill out a 25-point questionnaire asking them about their “attitude” to the Action Programme and the “brotherly help by the Soviet Union”.45 Those who answered honestly—or not carefully enough—were purged from their cushy desk jobs, lost their modern flats, or had their children stopped from going to university.

Amid this growing repression around 100,000 people came out in Prague in the face of tear gas and baton charge on the first anniversary of the invasion. They were brutally beaten off the streets by the Czechoslovak police in the last show of mass opposition to the occupation. As the reformers surrendered, the leaderless movement gave way to demoralisation and the Russian rulers and the new Communist Party leadership reimposed order.

The defeat of the Prague Spring and the movement it unleashed is tragic, but it’s no reason to despair. The defeat happened without the political theory that socialism is the self-emancipation of the working class or it is nothing, and without the organisation that could put that perspective into practice. In his later years, Dubček paraphrased Pablo Neruda when he declared: “They can crush the flowers, but they cannot stop the spring”. Fifty years later the lesson of the Prague Spring is that socialists have to fight all the more for that classical Marxist vision of human liberation.

Tomáš Tengely-Evans is a journalist on Socialist Worker newspaper and a member of the SWP in east London.


1 Harman, 1988a. Thanks to Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber for comments on an earlier draft.

2 Harman, 1988b, p228.

3 Harman, 1988b, pp187-191.

4 Harman, 1968.

5 Benn, 1994, p168.

6 Draper, 1966.

7 Harman, 1988b, p23.

8 Skilling, 1961, pp641-655.

9 Gluckstein (ed), 2015.

10 Deutscher, 1966, p576.

11 Feinberg, 2018.

12 Harman, 1988b, pp38-41.

13 Lenin, 1918.

14 Lenin, 1922.

15 Harman, 2009, p46.

16 Marx, 1976, p742.

17 Stalin, 1931.

18 Harman, 2009, p175.

19 Noc v archíve, S02E16—Rok 1968. Go to

20 Harman, 1988b, pp192-195.

21 Harman, 1988b, pp192-195.

22 Harman, 1988b, pp192-195.

23 Mňačko, 1963, p2.

24 Harman, 1988b, p193.

25 Kundera, 1967.

26 Balogh, 2009.

27 Pažout, 2008, p6.

28 Pažout, 2008, p11.

29 Pažout, 2008, p10.

30 Pažout, 2008, p7.

31 Harman, 1988b, pp195-197.

32 Harman, 1988b, p189.

33 Harman, 1988b, pp214-215.

34 Rudé Právo, 14 March 1968. Go to

35 Harman, 1988b, p217.

36 Harman, 1988b, p221.

37 Fišera, 1978, pp146-154.

38 Fišera, 1978, pp20-22. Italics added.

39 Harman, 1988b, p223.

40 Harman, 1988b, p226.

41 Harman, 1988b, p226.

42 Harman, 1988b, p205.

43 Harman, 1988b, p227.

44 Kavan, 2018.

45 Questionnaire filled out by Lt Col L Tengely, 1968. Personal archive.


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