The crack of the whip from the Kremlin, designed to bring to heel some of its East European allies flirting with Eurocommunism, seems at first glance to have had the desired effect. But appearances are often deceptive. Both the Hungarians and the Poles, who dragged their feet when the Kremlin condemned the independent line of the Spanish Communist Party, have now found it necessary to endorse Moscow's stand. But their support has taken a form that cannot give full satisfaction to the Kremlin.
The private view of the Hungarian party leader, Janos Kadar,is that Moscow has made an unnecessary fuss by urging the West European Communist parties to stick to the old formulas about the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and to reject the "pluralist" forms of democratic rule. Kadar's insistence that he was only voicing my private opinion" merely seves to underscore his disagreement with the Kremlin: He can no more have a "private" opinion on such matters than can President Carter on U.S. foreign policy.
Kadar's private view - expressed at a public press conference on a recent visit to Rome - was that he hoped the European Communist parties would succeed "with the dictatorship of the proletariat or without it, whether they establish a pluralist form of socialism or some other kind." So far as Moscow is concerned, there can be no socialism without the dictatorship of the proletariat, and any pluralist form of socialism would not be socialism at all.
When the Moscow weekly New Times condemned Santiago Carillo, the Spanish Communist leader, for his pluralist deviation, the party newspapers in both Hungary and Poland failed to support the Kremlin line with anything like the enthusiasm shown by such hard-line satellites as Czechoslovakia. The Polish party paper, Trybuna Ludu, sim ply confined itself to reprinting the New Times article, almost ostentatiously refraining from commenting.
Like the Hungarians, the Poles feel that their cultural links with Western Europe are far older than the political ties that bind them to Moscow. This brings both of them politically closer to Western Communists, whose European democratic traditions have greater appeal for them. Hence their occasional flirtation with Eurocommunism, which, they hope, might in the long term provide both the example and the political support that would help them to overcome Moscow's objections to the liberalization of their own system.
But the Kremlin evidently decided that the defiance implicit in the failure to support the New Times attack on Carillo is unacceptable. It has evidently demanded that its allies take a formal stand, and this has given Pravda an opportunity to reprint authoritative articles from both the Hungarian and Polish party press, which seem at long last to have toed the Moscow line. A succession of such articles in Pravda seems to have been intended to create the impression that Communists throughout the world now support the Kremlin on this issue, and that the Spanish Communists have been effectively isolated.
But a careful reading of the Hungarian and Polish contributions would not-support that impression. True, the articles in their party papers disagree with Carillo's stand, but they are far milder in expressing their disagreement than are the Outer Mongolian paper Unen or the Czechoslovak paper Rude Pravo. The Spanish Communists say that Moscow and its closer associates now view them as little less than agents of imperialism, and something of that impression is certainly conveyed by the more hard-line articles.
By contrast, the Hungarian party paper, Nepszabadsag, says that Carillo's attitude might cause damage to Communist interests regardless of the intentions with which he started. It leans over backward to avoid using the kind of offensive language that Moscow used in attacking him.
Eurocommunists in general, and the Spanish Communists in particular, insist on the need to depart from the Soviet model and follow a different political strategy, more in keeping with Western democratic practices. Moscow has fought for years to delay this process of modernization, but it is significant that Trybuna Ludu, in toeing that Moscow line on Carillo, says also that there is a real need now to bring Communist strategy into accord with new conditions - and it adds, seemingly as an aside, that the need has existed, perhaps, for a long time.
It is the tone of the Polish and Hungarian contributions - the differences of emphasis and the avoidance of certain themes pursued by the Kremlin and its closer allies - that shows them to stand apart from the pack, rather than any outright defiance of the Kremlin.
Giancarlo Pajetta, a member of the Italian Poliburo who discussed the Carillo affair with Soviet leaders during a recent trip to Moscow, has told his party's central committee that the Kremlin is going back on the live-and-let-live understanding reached at the European Communist parties' meeting in Berlin last year. He had expressed to the Soviet leaders, he said, "our concern about a whole series of episodes and events that, we have decided, must be interpreted as an actual move away from Berlin."
It is thus obvious that the Carillo affair is not an isolated outburst, but evidence of a trend in the relations between the Kremlin and other Communists parties. Indeed, some reports in the Soviet press suggest that the bitter quarrel between the Kremlin and the West European parties, which broke up two years ago when a Pravda article presumed to tell them how to run their business, is about to be resumed with even greater force.