Ante Ciliga – pronounced “Tsiliga” – became famous to the point of becoming the emblem of the opposition to Stalinism and to “the Bolshevik system” of state. ANTE CILIGA. It is with an extreme discretion that the French press (Le Monde, October 28, ), announced, in some poor lines, the death of Ante Ciliga. The file was just too big and I can’t seem to compress it without losing quality, so I posted it on : The Russian Enigma – Ante Ciliga.
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On these and related issues the reader is also directed to my Kosovo: Background to a War London: I express my thanks to Anto Knezevic and Karlo Mirth for their assistance in pursuing this work. The death of the Croatian and South Slavic political commentator Dr.
Its author; Anton Ciliga, was a Yugoslav Communist who had spent 10 years in the Soviet Union, nearly six of them in prisons, camps and Siberian exile as a member of the Trotskyite opposition. Inhe cut off any link with Marxism and the labor movement. Notices of a more sympathetic tone appeared in Spain.
Before the denunciation of the gulag became commercially profitable sic!!! Ciliga had said almost everything necessary about Bolshevism in Au Pays du Grand Mensonge which … narrated his experience over ten years in Soviet Russia. But Stalinism is still very strong among the European intelligentsia and his chapter on Lenin was mutilated.
Titled An Ambiguous Itinerary: Ciliga was a major figure in the evolution of attitudes toward Soviet Russia and Stalinism on the part of certain radical intellectuals — both in the s and; perhaps surprisingly, afterwhen Au Pays … saw its third and most complete edition in French, issued by the anti-Stalinist publishing house Champ Libre, directed by Guy Debord.
The presence of Ciliga in 20th century political thought is thus as ambiguous as his itinerary may be judged to have been.
Cjliga what may be said without reservation is that although knowledge of him was and is often contradictory and fragmentary, Ante Ciliga was one of the most remarkable and influential figures to emerge from modern Croatian society. Alexander, utterly ignored him, as well as other Trotskyist elements in the CP of Yugoslavia 5he and other South Slavs with whom he atne the experience of anti-Stalinist Communism ciligs a great deal to teach the historians and other intellectuals that have come after him.
There is much about the history of the Russian Communist Party that without Ciliga might have been lost. For the historian, that is tribute enough. His family were Croatian peasants; his grandfather had involved the whole family in the national cause, against both the German-speaking Austrian bureaucracy that ruled and the Italian-speaking urban bourgeoisie that dominated commerce in Istra.
In autumnat the age of seven, he was sent to live with his uncle, a veterinarian, in Mostar, capital of Hercegovina. He remained nine years there, until the summer ofthe assassination in Sarajevo of Franz Ferdinand, by a Serbian nationalist conspiracy, and the beginning of World War I.
Ciliga was a remarkable example of a personality fully formed in early youth. He wrote that his understanding of the relationship between the liberation of the Croatian nation and that of Balkan Slavdom in general began during the Balkan Wars, in At 14, he began defining himself as a Croat of Yugoslav tendency, a stance that, according to him, he never abandoned.
The whole of these feelings explains why, as Ciliga touchingly notes.
Ante Ciliga – Wikipedia
But he was expelled a few months afterward, following the Sarajevo assassination. The youth of Ante Ciliga conforms to a pattern of idealism. Spain, Italy, Russia, and the Balkan countries.
He finished ahte in Brno. There he encountered an entirely new world: Two things then intervened to make up his mind about the character of modern society: Second, he discovered that while the rich, Protestant Czech peasants in Southern Moravia professed undying hatred for the Habsburg order and were ultra-nationalist in their public devotion to Czech culture, they betrayed the national cause by refusing to help the poorer, Catholic Czech peasants, many of them landless agricultural laborers, in time of famine.
The rich, nationalist peasants preferred to sell their surplus grain to the imperial authorities in Vienna than to assist their national compatriots.
One could therefore, I felt, be progressive on one xnte and reactionary on another. At 19, Ciliga was undergoing military service in the Austro-Hungarian forces when the Russian democratic revolution of February took place.
The next year Ciliga returned to his studies in Croatia, joined the Social Democratic Party, and when the Habsburg empire fell at the diliga of Octoberhe participated in the brief exercise of political power by a revolutionary regime.
However, Ciliga learned quickly that the ciligga of the empire would not guarantee South Slavic freedom, since the establishment of what would become the Yugoslav state placed several peoples — Slovenes, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Montenegrins, as well as large numbers of Macedonians, Albanians and Clliga — under the rule of a new hegemony, that of the former Serbian monarchy. At the beginning of the Croatian Social Democrats held a congress in Zagreb at which Ciliga was the most radical exponent of the left.
At the end of the congress his supporters constituted themselves in an autonomous left faction that soon became the base of the Croatian section of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, coming together in finished form in the first half of Ciliga left Croatia almost immediately, intending to go to France to continue his education; but he got no further than Vienna, when he decided to go to Hungary where the Red revolution of Bela Kun was in full swing.
He remained a month there, antw in Budapest and then with a detachment of South Slavic revolutionary volunteers on the border of Hungary and Slavonia. He spent six months ciluga in the establishment of the Communist organization in Slovenia; but then began a series of peregrinations through Central Europe as a Communist functionary.
He went to Prague in late and resumed his formal studies, then to Italy induring the period of factory occupations there, before going back to Vienna for two years.
He remained in the Croat metropolis for three years. The anti-Belgrade nationalists argued that this line constituted de facto support for Serbian rule in the South Slavic state.
Meanwhile, the Comintern in Moscow issued a declaration condemning the CPY right and supporting a scheme that recognized the demands of the main anti-centralist communities but did not address the fatal problem of mixed territories; that is, it called for the complete independence and sovereignty of Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia.
This was, of course, the period in which Radic, leader of the Croat Peasant Party, journeyed to Moscow in search of support, and some believed they could recruit Radic and his followers into the Comintern wholesale.
From tothe CPY officially supported the Moscow line of independence for the three leading national movements while its regional groupings in B-H, Montenegro, and Vojvodina, without full authorization, nonetheless also affirmed the right of self-determination of those territories.
Ciliga as editor of Borbaagitated for this position: In the winter of he was elevated to the CPY Politburo.
Belgrade, for its part, employed the passage of Istra to Italian rule inat the end of World War I, as a pretext to expel Ciliga from Yugoslavia in spring as an Italian subject and therefore, a foreigner. On his arrival his membership was transferred to the Russian Communist Party. He remained in Russia almost 10 years, departing only inand the experience transformed him, lifting him from a life as an obscure, if brilliant revolutionary activist to that of a world-historical personality.
This chronology was determined by a single relevant fact: Ciliga pursued the left radicalism that had characterized his work in the CPY and in the Comintern and became a supporter of the Trotskyist opposition.
But my choice was attended by no heroic effort, it was dictated to me by an internal evolution. I should have liked combat … Before my eyes rose the picture of my old compatriots and neighbors, the Istrian peasants. Could I betray them? Could I forget them and think merely of my own petty interests? As emphasized by Bourrinet in his study, Ciliga revealed no knowledge of the other Left oppositions in the European Communist parties, such as that represented in Italy by Amadeo Bordiga or in Germany by Karl Korsch.
Ciliga, Ante – Registry – Courage – Connecting collections
Ciliga wrote as follows: The internal contradictions ciliiga Croatian and Yugoslav Communism were, like those of the Yugoslav state, subject to profound stress with the rise of Great Serbian monarchist reaction culminating in the Belgrade coup of and the dissolution of all political parties. Amid this crisis the CPY leadership inside the country effectively collapsed; this was not the first time one of the young Comintern sections had undergone, and failed, such a test.
Indeed, a series of such incidents had occurred, beginning in Bulgaria in and repeated in Poland, China, ciligga other places. This ineluctable challenge to the political authority of the Comintern leadership briefly strengthened the position of the small left faction in the CPY. It should be noted that, as also pointed out by Bourrinet, Pelagea Denisova-Belousova, the first wife of the cilifa dictator Josip Broz Titowas a member of the group and remained one until she was purged by the Stalinist apparatus.
Ciliga and his circle were cilkga the only critical elements from the CPY to play a role in the internal Comintern debates.
Kirov in and a brief period in the same prison through which Ciliga passed, at Verkhneuralsk. After undergoing the imprisonment and exile that he knew awaited him, as it did other Oppositionists, in Ciliga successfully used his Italian citizenship to escape the Soviet universe, and landed in February in Paris, the place of which he dreamed since he was a youth. Au Pays … translated into English and published as The Russian Enigmacannot be capsulized; it must be read in full to absorb its full significance.
But one must note that Au Pays … offered a devastating critique of Stalinist society and its repression of the worker and peasant masses in Russia.
In this regard it dramatically corroborated the fundamental Trotskyist criticism of the regime. It also recounted the struggle of the Trotskyist dissidents who had been imprisoned en masse after Nevertheless, it stunned anti-Stalinist circles in the West by showing that the Trotskyists, courageous and independent as many of them were, were viewed by the combative proletarian elements among the Russian masses as little more than disfranchised former bureaucrats, whose basic program and outlook did not significantly differ from that of the Stalinist machine.
Various anarchists had also printed scathing attacks on the Bolshevik dictatorship, which likewise remained unread in broader circles, except in Spain where, uniquely in Europe, anarchism dominated the labor movement. Trotsky and his followers were particularly harsh in attacking any leftists who seemed to echo Menshevik arguments.
For this reason, his relationship with the Trotskyists was destined to end quickly. One set of seven letters begins on December 16, when Trotsky wrote to one of his collaborators, a Czech named Jan Frankel with whom Ciliga had made contact. Trotsky expressed interest in Ciliga but noted that one had to ask certain questions of him as of other recent escapees from Russia: Who helped him escape? Who is he in contact with here?
The latter comment, with its hint at South Slavic passions, bears the authentic imprint of Ciliga, whose instincts were always toward bold action. This is only the other side of the tendency to capitulate to fascism. In a letter dated January 2,addressed to Ciliga himself, Trotsky refined and emphasized one of his most significant comments: However, almost immediately, differences emerged.
Trotsky discussed Ciliga again, soon afterward, in a series of letters to the Russo-Belgian novelist, memoirist, and long-time anti-Stalinist, Viktor Lvovich Kibalchich, known as Victor Serge. Like Ciliga, Serge had left Russia after being internally exiled for his involvement with the Trotskyist opposition.
His reasoning is approximately as follows: These comments signal that Trotsky had ceased to view Ciliga as a political ally, and now saw him as an opponent, if not an outright enemy. It was in the aftermath of this encounter that Au Pays … was written, with its revealing ninth chapter, Lenin, Also …in which Ciliga offered a historical summary of proletarian opposition to the Bolshevik regime.
The Decemists thus proposed a far more radical critique of the regime than that advanced by the Trotskyists. These elements had gone even further than the Decemists ; they argued not that Lenin had begun correctly and strayed from the correct path, but that Bolshevik policies altogether had been wrong from the start. The Trotskyists called for a change in line by the ruling party, to better support the world revolution, while the Decemists called for a radical alteration in state economic policy, to bring the workers to the fore of society.
The bases of this argument had been anticipated by a number of 19th century writers, before the emergence of Bolshevism as a movement. For the Trotskyists and Decemiststhe freedom of the workers to choose between parties was an unacceptable concept. These two Bolshevik tendencies insisted on rejection of party pluralism, if for no other reason than because such had been advocated, in the revolution ofby the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries.
Ciliga had arrived at a paradoxical position. In reality, both the Leninist policies of one-party rule and nationalized property were expressions of a single statist impulse, a centralization of political and economic authority leading inexorably to a totalitarian regime. Such was the dialectic that individuals like Ciliga sought to elucidate, to themselves and to others.
Au Pays … was published in