The clearest statement of the Soviet view that violence is a necessary and inevitable component of the establishment of "socialism" by the Eurocommunist parties appeared in an authoritative Moscow journal last month. It argued that "the bourgeoisie has never given up power without resistance." Therefore "the revolutionary classes resort to violence against the reactionary classes in one form or another by way of response." The violence practiced by the working class against the minority "is historically justified."
The long article in the journal "Problems of History of the Soviet Communist Party," which has often served as an outlet for the discussion of the current party line on important issues of policy, makes no bones about the topical relevance of its recommendations. It denounces unidentified opportunists - who are, however, basically recognized as the "revisionist" leaders of the Western Communist parties - for following a policy of "moderation" because, it says, they don't want "to frighten away the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie."
Does it matter what Moscow says, so long as the Eurocommunist parties refuse to do its bidding? It matters so long as Moscow insists that the development of revolutionary situations follows certain obligatory laws, and that only the Kremlin's interpretation of these laws is correct. The Communist leaders of France and Italy may thumb their noses at the Kremlin, but so long as they insist on their membership of what they call "the International Communist Movement" - as they do still insist - Moscow can call them to account for departing from the "laws of history" that gave the movement its being.
The experience of the October Revolution was "exceptionally relevant" now, said the journal of party history, for it demonstrated the "basic laws" of revolution. Revolutions since then had proved the pattern's "historical inevitability." So "one cannot imagine the 'peaceful' development of revolution without revolutionary struggle," it said.
The "progressive classes" are, it explains, 'compelled to resort to violence in order to destroy the old, outdated system and to overthrow the exploiting classes which rule under this system." These have been no unopposed revolutions in history, it says. Counter-revolution, it notes, has always been the "fellow traveller" of revolution - and it cites some interesting examples, such as Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The Italian and French Communists may disagree with the Soviet view of what happened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and they have said so, but they have been curiously silent about the recent spate of articles in which the Kremlin lays down the laws of revolutionary struggle. They are afraid of getting into a public argument with the Kremlin. The polemics might remind the electorate that they still subscribe to the "general laws" that might compel them to turn back to the violence they once espoused.
Moscow no longer demands that they publicly renounce the "peaceful" path to power, for it recognizes the political usefulness of their new slogans. "The orientation towards peaceful forms leads to a certain growth in the influence of the Communist parties among the masses," it concedes. "But an orientation of this kind may be effective only if it does not lull the revolutionary vigilance of the proletariat," for ultimately, it insists, there is bound to be a fight. The practice of revolutionary struggle "has shown the necessity and even the inevitability of replacing peaceful forms with armed forms of struggle, if the bourgeoisie puts up an obdurate resistance, with arms in hand" - which, as the article repeatedly insists, the bourgeoisie always does and always will.
Eurocommunists may maintain until they are blue in the face that they don't want to use violence, and they may mean it - but this is really irrelevant to Moscow's argument, which holds that they will have to use violence whether they want to or not. As Marxists, they ought to be able to understand readily the Moscow view that it is not their "subjective" wishes that count, but the "objective" laws of history.
In the same way, they may maintain that they will respect the pluralism of the political system, tolerate other parties, and quietly give up their ministerial posts and go into opposition if they are voted out of power. But again Moscow makes it clear that the laws of revolution say otherwise. A multi-party system is not "excluded," says the party history journal, which accepts the possibility that many partieis may exist during the transition. It has nothing to say about the multi-party system once "socialism" proper is attained, for that would be a contradiction in terms.
During the transition itself, the Communists' position on the question of a multi-party system should depend, it says, "on concrete conditions," such as the attitude of the non-Communist parties to the "construction of socialism." What this means is that, if the non-Communist formula for the "construction of socialsim," they should be allowed to continue a nominal existence, without any political rights, as has happened in Eastern Europe - but not otherwise.
It is Henry Kissinger who argued that, regardless of what the Eurocommunists say about their intentions, the logic of their ideology is bound to make them act in the end in ways consistent with previous patterns of Marxist behavior. They promptly rejected his view, with a great show of indignation, as malevolent slander. But Moscow has now been saying much the same kind of thing, and they pretend not to hear. Whatever they say in reply, they are bound to suffer politically. And if they say nothing, their adversaries at home will make political capital out of their silence. Moscow has left them in a pretty fix.