Czech Socialists Find Their Way

Czech Socialists Find Their Way

The conference of exiled Czechoslovak democratic socialists at the Swiss Trade Union Center in Rotschuo this past September is yet another straw in the wind, serving notice that an easing of tensions between Washington and Moscow does not resolve the internal problems of Soviet-sponsored regimes in Central and Eastern Europe any more than the French subsidies to Imperial Russia reconciled Lenin to the Czar. But that is not all; such conferences also demonstrate that Central and East European opposition movements are capable of functioning with some effectiveness under the new international conditions.

It is significant that the conference met in Switzerland. Traditionally, European opposition movements, suppressed at home, have sought haven in neutral countries: in Switzerland, Sweden, or Holland. In the cold-war atmosphere, however, exile groups came to function as shadow governments, much like the governments-in-exile in World War II that had been sponsored by a major power, say in London, and waiting for the day when a disputed territory would pass into their control. The shift to Switzerland signals a return to the traditional role of an exiled opposition: to represent domestic opposition rather than a foreign, external opponent.

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