This is a public letter from Mihajlo Mihajlov to President Josip Broz Tito written on July 15, 1966. He argued that his initiative to establish a “legitimate oppositional ideological, political, social, cultural, democratic, socialist magazine, Slobodni glas”, did not in any way violate the laws and Constitution of Yugoslavia (Mihajlo Mihajlov Papers, box 12).
In the period of limited “liberalization” and move away from the Stalinist legacy, Mihajlov tried to convince Tito that his initiative had the requisite legitimacy. Mihajlov believed that the party monopoly in the political and cultural sphere was a remnant of the Stalinist past and contended that the League of Communists could not have an exclusive monopoly in the construction of a socialist society.
Furthermore, he informed Tito of the preparations for the establishment of a periodical in Zadar in August 1966, which should be the core of a future social and political movement. At the end, he warned him that the success of the Zadar initiative would serve as the main evidence of “whether the League of Communists is above the law and constitution and whether Yugoslavia is the private property of the communist party“ (Mihajlo Mihajlov Papers, box 12).
This letter was the second letter by the Czechoslovak historian and dissident Milan Hübl addressed to Gustav Husák, the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia; the first letter from February 1970 remained unanswered by Husák. Hübl could not comprehend how Husák, who had been a political prisoner in the 1950s and lived through the suffering of a communist prison himself, could restore the authoritarian regime after the repression of the Prague Spring in 1968 and persecute his opponents. In his letter, Hübl defends the former representatives of the reform movement who were stripped of their jobs for political reasons, and denounces the violation of human and civil rights in the country. “Where are the people,” he writes at the end of the letter, “who falsely charged you, interrogated you, judged you, imprisoned you and later tried to prevent your rehabilitation? You know better than anybody else which functions they hold now when you have to meet them, or the functions which you have to appoint them. You are in the snake-like grip of your former jailers.” This letter was one of the factors that resulted in Hübl’s imprisonment in 1972. Gustav Husák’s reply from 25 October 1970 is also part of the Milan Hübl collection in the National Archive.
Published on 30 March 1982 by the French daily Le Matin, the article entitled “Le témoignage d’un Tzigane” (The testimony of a Gypsy) was written under the pseudonym “Alexandru Danciu” by Nicolae Gheorghe. A few days later the article was read during one of the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe and it was republished in an issue of L’Alternative magazine the same year. The article was a reply to a contribution of the French journalist, Bernard Poulet, who was attacked and badly beaten when he tried to contact the Romanian dissident Vasile Paraschiv. The official explanation that Poulet got from the authorities was that he had been attack by a group of “Gypsies.” Using as a pretext the false conclusion of the investigation, “Alexandru Danciu” denounced “the methods of the Romanian Securitate to silence political dissidents,” and also “a multilaterally developed prejudice (...) racism against Gypsies.” The latter was used “more and more often by Romanian officials to explain many of the negative developments in the country,” such as the lowering of incomes, the increase in common law offences, and violence against foreigners. In what follows, “Alexandru Danciu” lists the violent methods used by the Militia against the Roma: beatings for “quicker civilising,” home searches and abusive arrests, forced labour on various construction sites, including the Danube–Black Sea Canal, or in agriculture during the summer. After stating that discrimination was part of the daily life of Roma people, Nicolae Gheorghe denounced the refusal of the Romanian communist regime to deal with their serious social problems and to recognise them as national minority. For the authorities, the integration of Roma people into Romanian society was not a viable solution since they saw them “only as a residue of the past, which must disappear through assimilation into the multilaterally developed society.” Most likely Nicolae Gheorghe’s article reached the West with the help of one of his many academic contacts before the Securitate opened an informative surveillance file on him. Its reading at the microphone of Radio Free Europe led to the intensification of the Securitate’s surveillance of Nicolae Gheorghe.
- Bucharest, Romania
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Together with the famous Croatian philosopher Milan Kangrga and other intellectuals, Rudi Supek founded a philosophical school that was held every summer in Korčula from 1963 to 1974. Originally conceived as an academic exercise, the School soon became an international event with free critical discussion on a different subject put to the fore each year. It was a gathering of philosophers and sociologists from all around the world (for example, Erich Fromm, Lucien Goldmann, Henri Lefebvre). However, after a time the ruling state-party structures turned against the School and the intellectuals who were called “praxisovci” (Praxis intellectuals, or Praxis thinkers) (Lešaja 2014, 246).
The writing of Komunist, the official newspaper of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY), is an example of the regime's attacks on the Korčula Summer School and the Praxis intellectuals. In 1973, Komunist publicly branded the School as "political opposition" and “philosophy outside of the Party”, alluding to the open character of the School and the participation of foreign intellectuals. Supek responded in a letter addressed to the editor-in-chief of Komunist, Milan Rakas, in which he pointed out, among other things: “It is understood that the open character of an institution means at the same time willingness to discuss with people who have different and opposite opinions. Although it cannot be a 'conflict of opinions' among disciplined minded ones, ... I admit that I was surprised to see an attack on 'open Marxism' and 'creative Marxism' in your publication, because I have lived in the belief that they ['open Marxism' and 'creative Marxism'] are part of the LCY Programme and components of the spirit of self-management.” He also pointed out that the openness of a school does not mean “left-liberalism.”