In 1939, Tito published a pamphlet attacking Trotsky and Trotskyism. Unsurprising since he was still no different to any other Communist at that time, and was a supporter of Stalin.

Josip Broz Tito: Trotskyism and Its Helpers

As is well known, Tito split from the Soviet sphere after the Second World War.

Presumably Stalin came in for a rhetorical kicking after that, but did that extend to all of Soviet history? Was Lenin still revered? Did Tito continue to vilify Trotsky, Bukharin and so on, or rehabilitate them, or just ignore them?

You could argue that Titoism was Bukharinism realised and the polar opposite of Trotskyism, but it would be unsurprising if Tito just brushed them all under the carpet.

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    I am not sure that the "official ideology" in socialist countries were as well articulated, consistent and principle-based as you assume. In my experience, the ideology only played a role in propaganda and practical level: if we need a friend, he is a friend, if someone is an enemy, he is an enemy. The explanation for propaganda purposes was always heavily ideological and theoretical, but in most cases, the conclusions were ad hoc BS accommodating to the given internal and international situation.
    – Greg
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 16:44
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    You're right, but that doesn't stop them being interesting. They can tell us things about the internal and international situations you're referring to. Of course it would be naive to treat a dictatorship's propaganda lines like intellectually pristine debating-society positions. However, it remains true that if everyone was only interested in power and not at all in what to do with it, there would be no Communists. Does anyone seriously doubt that Stalin believed in Marxism as he understood it, and tried to implement it? That doesn't mitigate his crimes in the least, but it still matters.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 17:44
  • The “benevolent” Marxist dictator is a fascinating intellectual experiment many makes to justify their political beliefs.
    – Greg
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 8:17
  • Strawmandery. I didn't say Stalin was benevolent, I said that his mass killings could never be mitigated, which is pretty much the opposite. You can't understand him or his supporters by saying 'he killed people because he was evil' and leave it at that. It's true, but it's not enough. Going back to the question, because of dialectical materialism, Marxists were very history-oriented. They had to shoehorn the interpretation of past events into their worldview. A short look at Soviet historiography will tell you that. That's why I'm interested in how Tito wanted the story told.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


Tito was actually more to the right on Trotsky than Stalin, and somewhat alligned with Bukharin's position

Trotsky and Trotskyism were part of so called Left Opposition to Stalin. Although deemed as "opposition", this was actually ruling ideology in first years after October Revolution. In an essence, they called for world revolution, permanent struggle (permanent revolution), internationalism, fight against nationalism (especially Russian nationalism and "chauvinism") etc ... This fraction was often deemed Jewish, not only because of Trotsky, but also because many of Old Bolsheviks (latter suppressed by Stalin) were of Jewish ethnicity. That fact had influence on latter events, like campaign against rootless cosmopolitans etc ...

After communist revolutions after WW1 failed everywhere except in Russian Empire (now Soviet Union), this radical current lost its popularity. Soviet state apparatus wanted to strengthen and consolidate its newly acquired power, and for that they needed ideology. Stalin gave them that ideology in his Socialism in One Country. Note that he at that time aligned with Bukharin for tactical reasons to crush Trotsky, but more on that latter. According to this theory, nationalism is not so bad, each country and nation needs to have its own path to socialism at its own time. This theory actually appealed much to Yugoslav communists and Tito, because after WW2 they wanted to act independently (from Soviet Union) as much as they could.

After WW2, two things happened. First, in Europe and elsewhere in the world, Soviets started creating block of communist countries (led by Soviet Union, of course) . In order to control this block, Soviet Union somewhat moved from Socialism In One Country towards internationalism . Not so radical as Trotsky and his followers (abolishing nations altogether ), but still enough for Yugoslav communist to fill uncomfortable. Second, remaining Trotskyists moved to the West (this already happened before WW2 actually) and merged with various Cultural Marxists currents (for example Frankfurt School), forming modern left-liberal scene, especially in US. Traditionally, animosity between them and Soviet(latter Russian) state remained high till this very date, evidenced for example by current "Russian scare" in leftist media.

As for Tito and his followers, consider their local situation : high level of nationalism and patriotism because Yugoslavia, unlike other communist countries, practically liberated itself from Axis occupation, plus peasantry as large part of population (no developed industrial working class). As such, positions of Bukharin and his Right Opposition were seen as appealing, especially since after Tito-Soviet split Yugoslavia started cooperating with the West, and somewhat liberalized economy compared to other communist countries. Still, at the time this happened, Bukharin was "old news". He also had connections with former Yugoslav communist leaders like Josip Čižinski, which were removed in Stalin's purges before WW2, possibly with Tito's involvement (he was Stalin's favorite then). Therefore, Yugoslav official position on him was ambiguous, avoiding to recognize his influence on their ideology, but also sometimes mentioning him as a victim of Stalin's terror for propaganda purposes.

As for Trotsky, ideological split remained practically until the end of Yugoslavia. But again, Yugoslav communists did use his fate for anti-Soviet propaganda when opportune. Also, as Yugoslavia did portray itself as more liberal and often cooperated with the West, some contacts were established with aforementioned leftist and "progressive" circles in the West (again when beneficial for both sides) .

As for Lenin, unlike Bukharin and Trotsky, he was mentioned often and regularly. Lenin was somewhat of saint in all communist countries (perhaps because he effectively ruled only few years before his death) , so was in Yugoslavia. Here you have short clip from one Yugoslav party conference, which proclaims Tito as spiritual successor of Lenin and Marx.

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    Looking at a received flag...the 4th paragraph reads a lot like a really tortured attempt to tie the American Left (which is really quite centrist by European standards) to communism. I can't find support for the claim in the linked WP site.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:15
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    That's great to hear, as it means you should have little trouble finding a reference to post in this answer (although I still don't see its relevance to Yugoslavia)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 16:48
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    Can you explain and reference how the clearly antisemitic conspiracy theory of 'Jewish subversion in the US' ("Cultural marxism") manages to even explain how Yugoslav policy was and changed towards Lenin & Stalin? Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 18:28
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    This got flagged, and the addition of further unsourced off-topic material is clearly moving in the wrong direction. A post notice has been added as a warning.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 20:03
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    This answer verges on the political - (1) the use of Cultural Marixm without warnings that the term is controversial, (2) about half the answer seems to address issues other than Yugoslavia. There is room for a diversity of opinions in H:SE, but I think we owe a higher standard of transparency/disclosure/ to the participants.
    – MCW
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 20:09

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