Aleksandar MILETIĆ

The Role of Milovan Đilas at the Asian Socialist Conference in Rangoon, 1953

Abstract: In the early 1950s, in view of  its specific foreign policy, Yugoslavia took the first important steps in connecting with non-European countries and building the foundations of a future policy of neutrality. These plans necessitated the engagement of people that were eminent, influential, and, most importantly, trustworthy. This study focuses on the role of Milovan Đilas, as a high-ranking government and party official within the Yugoslav party delegation at the First Meeting of the Asian Socialist Conference in Rangoon (Burma) in January of 1953.

Key words: Milovan Đilas, Asian Socialist Conference, Burma, Socialism


The conflict with the USSR and the ensuing isolation presented the Yugoslav leadership with the difficult task of looking for a way out and finding various partners for cooperation on the international scene. That is how contacts and cooperation with the Asian Socialist Conference (ASC), a specific regional organization of the Asian Socialist Parties, came about. The ASC had been connected to Yugoslavia mainly through their non-aligned international orientation, but also through the exchange of experiences of social development and building socialism. For these reasons, the CPY received the invitation to participate in the First Asian Socialist Conference in Rangoon (Burma), in January of 1953, and Milovan Đilas and Aleš Bebler were appointed as the Yugoslav delegates. As a specific "team" in the Yugoslav delegation, Đilas and Bebler achieved very good results at the First ASC. However, as the nominal head of the delegation, Đilas undoubtedly influenced the work of the delegation and its political moves in a substantial and decisive way. First, his personal connections with the British Labour Party, who were the main representatives of the Western European Socialists at the ASC, and also his huge personal charisma and political significance as a high-ranking member of the Yugoslav leadership, obviously played a very important role in the work of the delegation. No less important was his theoretical activity at the time, especially his ideas about different paths in building socialism. Thus, the documents point very consistently to Đilas’ direct influence on the adopted resolutions of the ASC, especially those regarding the right to different paths to socialism, which focused on anti-colonialism and the policy of independence in relation to the antagonistic blocs.