Readers of DISSENT are, or should be, already familiar with the thesis of this important book. It is that the Communist revolution has resulted in the total control of the state (which is bigger than society) by the party bureaucracy which by every test itself constitutes a new class. This class, itself without internal democracy, exercises such powers over the economy and over the minds of men as no other class or military dictatorship has been able to establish. Djilas, himself a principal author of Yugoslav’s national communism, declares that “National Communism per se is contradictory. Its nature is the same as that of Soviet Communism, but it aspires to detach itself into something of its own, nationally. In reality, National Communism is Communism in decline.”
Djilas’ sound general thesis is lucidly developed. His argument contains many quotable sentences. But the great importance of the book does not lie in what it says—others have said as much—but in the fact that Djilas says it. In itself the book (as its jacket proclaims) “is the Anti-Communist Manifesto,” written by a political theorist trained in the Marxist dialectic. But what a theorist is Djilas: a dedicated revolutionist from his youth up, a hero not only in his own Yugoslavia but of the whole Communist world; Tito’s well beloved comrade; theoretician, and heir apparent, now a prisoner in Tito’s jail! There have been other men who have eloquently recanted their earlier Communist faith. But none of Djilas’ position in the movement and few if any with his objectivity, faith in democratic socialism and hope for mankind....
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