Why the 'torch of revolution' still flickers

Communist Party officials in Soviet-bloc countries are usually zip-locked behind a screen of silence. Not in Yugoslavia. Ferhat Kotoric, executive secretary of Yugoslavia's Central Committee of the League of Communists, talked freely with Monitor correspondent Elizabeth Pond in his 15th-floor office here overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers.

Some excerpts:

Young Yugoslavs in the post-Tito era. In Yugoslavia there is a revolution which is still there, still under way. The new generations are taking over the torch of revolution. You should also bear in mind that 3 million Yugoslavs in one way or another are delegates of some kind in our delegate system.

Pinpointing problems ahead. We have been used to high economic growth (until the past year, when the standard of living dropped). We also enjoy a high level of freedoms and rights. We might even say no citizen of any other country enjoys such a level of freedoms and rights. But still, of course, we lack much to meet all our wishes.

Then another problem which might be the top one is how to provide conditions so that (there is better) circulation of capital for investments. Up to now the interests of certain localities or regions have prevailed. There are these sources of anti-self-management trends. There is scope for bureaucratic-technocratic elements to usurp the actual rights of the working class in the field of decisionmaking. Our objective is to organize ourselves as a society of associated labor, as a society of freely associated producers.

On avoiding bureaucratic bloat. In the past two decades we have observed rotation. Officials serve for a restricted period of time, then return to their previous job. In the latest Constitution there is an amendment saying that no one may assume office for a third term.

Then there is the right enjoyed by every citizen and every worker in the country, the basic right of self-management. Everyone is entitled to hold responsibility for any kind of social affair. It is the constitutional right of every individual to have a say in the conditions and results of his or her work.

How the party exercises leadership. . . . Yugoslavia has a special political system of its own. It has a system which differs from the Warsaw Pact countries on the one hand, but also from Western democracies. For decisionmaking there are basic cells, basic organizations of associated labor (at workplaces). Then there is also the workers' council, which decides about some management matters.

And within the basic organization there is the trade union, which enjoys some responsibilities, rights, and authority. The trade union doesn't deal just with incomes, but also takes initiatives in cadre (personnel) police (i.e., the nominations that the party normally controls in the Soviet Union and most East European countries). We are determined that workers have the main say, the greatest voice in decisionmaking, in this basic cell.

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