The Soviet Union and Czechoslovak socialism, 1968



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During the brief period in Czechoslovakian history from January until August of 1968, First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, Alexander Dubcek, attempted to bring about socialism with a "Hwan face. 11 Dubcek initiated numerous liberal reforms in economics, foreign relations, and the control of the mass media. He also continued reforms previously begun before his rise to power. The new attitude on the part of the Czechoslovak government became a source of concern for the Soviet Union and eventually generated a sharp Russian response. Freed from censorship by the reform government, the Czechoslovak mass media uncovered and reported material which proved to be embarrassing to the Soviet Union. Eventually, the Communist Party's political control in Czechoslovakia was endangered when the unrestrained press, headed by liberals, campaigned against hard - line Co!11ll1unists at the various political levels in Czechoslovakia. Many top - ranking Communist officials lost their positions to liberals because of the pressure exerted on them by the press. In addition, the Action Prograne of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic encouraged all citizens to express their opinions and offer suggestions to the government, so that the liberal regime coL1.ld formulate policies that expressed the interests of all the people. Soviet confidence in the Czechoslovak Communist Party ' s ability to remain the leading force in Czechoslovakia was weakened by the unhampered activities of the mass media. Czechoslovakia's pattern of socialism also challenged the Soviet Union's socialist system in economic matters . Under the leadership of Alexander Dubcek , the central planning system in the economy lost its monopoly of power as the Action Prograne of the Czechoslovak Communist Party laid plans for the sharing of responsibilities in economic planning with interest groups and individuals . The Dubcek government also made use of a market regulated economy , rather than a government regulating system, and a wage system based on incentive instead of wage levelling. Czechoslovakia’s greatest threat to the Soviet Union lay in the development of broader economic and diplomatic relations with the German Federal Republic. Czechoslovakia's liberalizing trend in the mass media and the economy l ed that nation to a rapprochement •Jith West Germany. The Soviet Union felt t ha t its security was in danger because of the cordial relations between Czechoslovakia and the German Federal Republic . The liberal Dubcek government resisted any attempts by the Soviet Union to permanently station divisions of Warsaw Pact troops within Czechoslovakia . The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August, 1968, provided a means of achieving the military objective of placing what the Soviets felt well reliable troops on the East - 'Jest border in Czechoslovakia. The invasion also provided a means of ending the liberalization of the Czechoslovakian mass media and gave the Soviet Union a more advantageous position in dealing with 1·Jest Germany's advances toward Eastern Europe. Not all of the invasion results were positive gains for the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies failed to establish legitimate reasons for intervention. After the invasion , no Czechoslovakia;, authority would admit to having extended an invitation to invade . Resistance by the Czechoslovak people toward the invading troops, even though passive, was obvious to the watching world. Consequently, the majority of the world's Communist parties condemned t he invasion as an act of imperialism. As a result of the Soviet intervention into Czechoslovakia ' s affairs the Soviet Union seems to have created more problems than they have solved. By its decision to invade, the Soviet Union increased the disunity and distrust within the Soviet socialist bloc nations.