(2 of 3)
Hungarian Party Boss János Kádár, for example, might be tempted to enhance his dwindling popularity by adopting a more assertive attitude toward the Soviet Union and granting greater freedom at home. For years Poland has seethed with discontent, and the Soviet Union last week doubled its divisions there to four, as a precautionary measure against an outbreak of the Czechoslovak virus. The Kremlin was also plainly worried about its own people. Pravda harshly condemned any Czechoslovak-style relaxation of central control within Communist parties. It cited an example of how Stalin squelched a similar movement within the Soviet party in the late 1920s by shouting "Enough, Comrades, an end must be put to this game!"
The Czechoslovak episode seemed to make Old Stalinist Walter Ulbricht in East Germany more rigid and unyielding than ever. There was widespread fear that the Soviets had induced Ulbricht to go along with the backdown at Bratislava by allowing him to tighten the screws even further on West Berlin. The suspicion seemed borne out when his Foreign Minister warned that the Western airlines that fly into West Berlin may be required to get permission from East Germany.
Within Bounds. Dubček and his supporters are well aware that the Soviets might reapply the pressure at any time. So Dubček wants to get on with the job of carrying out his reforms as quickly as possible. On the political front, he is determined to hold the party congress scheduled for Sept. 9, at which time he intends to purge the last of the Novotný conservatives from party and government posts. In addition, he wants to rush into law a whole series of reforms. Among them: 1) a new press act that will guard publications not only against censorship but also against more subtle forms of interference by the party and government; 2) a bill that would grant non-Communist groups greater freedom to recruit members and protest government policies albeit within the bounds of the Communist-controlled National Front.
In direct opposition to Pravda's pronunciamento last week, the Czechoslovaks intend to unbend the rigid rules of their own Communist Party to allow for greater diversity. Under the new statutes, Czechoslovaks would be able to join and quit the party as they please. While members, they would be free to criticize its policies and its leaders without fear of punishment. Furthermore, in an effort to separate party and state, the regime is writing new rules to forbid one person to hold both the top party and government posts.
Economics of Freedom. Dubček is enough of a pragmatist to realize that Czechoslovakia can never fully free itself from the Soviet grip until it achieves a large measure of economic independence. At present, the country's export industries are tied almost totally to the Soviet Union, which supplies raw materials in return for machine tools and autos. At home, a complicated system of state subsidies encourages unproductive plants to turn out shoddy goods that not even the Czechoslovaks want to buy.