Date: Wed, 11 Mar 98 18:37:02 CST
From: “Workers World” <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Czech Republic: Communist rally remembers 1948
Article: 29786
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Communist Rally Remembers 1948

By John Catalinotto, Workers World, 12 March 1998

An event in the Czech Republic in February raises anew some important questions about the struggle for socialism— and about how the working class needs to smash the old oppressive state, seize state power and keep it.

These questions are even more important now that the capitalist class controls the Czech Republic. The capitalists have turned it into a puppet of U.S.-German-NATO imperialism. They even promise Czech troops for use against Iraq.

Members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (SCK) and other working-class groups rallied on Feb. 25 in Prague to commemorate the 1948 general strike that brought the Communists to power. SCK leader Miroslav Stepan called the 1948 event a “unique, historic, revolutionary and democratic event.”

To see the importance of this revolution, first you have to cut through the Cold War lies of capitalist historians and media pundits. They describe the 1948 revolution as a Communist “coup” that made Prague captive to the USSR.

This description distorts reality. It especially understates the active role of the Czechoslovak working class. And it avoids discussing the constant danger Czechoslovakia faced of being absorbed by the Western imperialist powers.

Nazi Germany had occupied and dismembered Czechoslovakia during World War II. An active partisan movement, led by the working class, fought the German occupation throughout the war.

By the summer of 1944, the partisans began a general uprising against the Nazi rulers. In 1945, the Soviet Red Army entered Czechoslovakia. With the aid of the partisans, the Red Army drove out the Nazi German puppet government in Prague. Those who opposed the Nazis formed a coalition government of both capitalist and working-class parties.

The Communists won 38 percent of the vote in the 1946 election, becoming the biggest party in the parliament. The left parties held a slight majority.

At that point President Edvard Benes represented the Czech capitalist class. Communist Prime Minister Klement Gottwald represented the working class in the coalition government.


By 1948 there was no longer talk in Western capitals of “our heroic Soviet allies.”

The imperialists, with a nuclear-armed United States at their head, were pointing their weapons at Eastern Europe and Moscow. They would rearm West Germany, even using the generals who served under the Nazis.

The U.S. ruling class maneuvered against the popular Communist parties in France and Italy. It put $20 billion into the Marshall Plan, which became a cover for CIA-type operations and secret slush funds to bolster the capitalist opposition.

By the end of 1948 the Communists had been pushed out of the capitalist governments in which they had participated.

The Marshall Plan also targeted Czechoslovakia. This was the topic of secret and public meetings between U.S. High Commissioner for West Germany John J. McCloy and pro- capitalist members of the Czechoslovak cabinet.

However, the Czech party had support from the USSR. Many of its own people were in the military and police apparatus. It moved before it could be out-maneuvered.

A popular party, the Communists had backing from most of the working class. It could call on the workers to come out in struggle.

In February 1948, mass strikes and demonstrations forced Benes out. On Feb. 25, 1948, some 250,000 workers assembled in Wenceslaus Square to welcome Gottwald as head of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

But the bourgeoisie was not crushed. It began to make a comeback, especially after a right turn in the Soviet Union in 1956. Pro-capitalist intellectuals eventually became leaders of the Czech CP.

By 1968 a formidable counter-revolutionary movement in Czechoslovakia tried to dismantle the socialist basis of the economy and align with Western imperialism.

It took a military intervention by the Warsaw Pact to stop such a reactionary development. But in 1989, the counter-revolutionary wave in Eastern Europe succeeded, breaking up what remained of the socialist states.

However, from 1948 to 1989 Czech technology and manufacturing—including its military technology—had been at the service of revolutionaries from Vietnam to Southern Africa. Salaries among Czechs were among the most egalitarian in the world.

Czech workers enjoyed full employment and full social benefits. The rights of minority peoples were protected.

Just this Feb. 15, a woman became the 29th Roma victim of racist murder since the 1989 counterrevolution, which had unleashed racist bigotry. Unemployment has returned. And desperate to become part of NATO, the Czech regime was one of the few in the world that offered military forces to aid the Pentagon in its attack on Iraq.

As the Communist leader Stepan said at this February's rally, the 1948 event “launched a period of development in Czechoslovak society.” It's a development a growing number of Czech workers are again longing for.