Archive for the ‘BC: Hungary 1919-1945’ Category

Permanent crisis, fascist hordes, war against us

First of May: Not holiday but struggleday. Struggle for the red May, struggle for the new Hungarian Council Republic!

Due to the antagonism of capital and labour, the general crisis of capitalism manifests itself steadily in the form of different social upheavals. It’s true even if the bourgeoisie is able to find ephemeral solutions for certain partial problems. We know these „delectable salves” very well: unemployment, disguised or open war against us, etc. In 1929 a further symptom of the crisis of the capitalist system occurred, over and above very sharply. From the end of 1928 (and from 1929 still more) the main creditor of Europe, the US detained its credits. The liquid export of capital of which value in 1928 was more than one milliard dollars, decreased to 200 million dollars during 1929. It was dangerous even in itself since the indebted Central-, and East-European countries were able to pay their extinction mainly only from further credits. Thus the economy crashed. In this situation none of the capitalists wanted to start new investments, so the amounts applied to investments decreased materially world-wide. There were no orders for the industries producing capital goods, they stopped the production and fired great masses of workers. At the end of 1932 there were 15 million unemployed workers in Europe. Until 1932, when the crisis touched its bottom, the world-production of constructional trade, compared to the summit before the crisis, decreased with 40%. The world-production of coal-mining, of iron-, and steel industries decreased with 60%. The decrease of the employment decreased also the absorbing capacity of the market, so the crisis spread to the industries producing consumer goods. The demand decreased materially and this abated the prices. The prices of agricultural goods started to collapse, the price of the grain on the world-market decreased with 58% between 1929 and 1932. The agrarian working class was starving, the urban working class was living in penury. In 1933 there was general famine for instance in Ukraine, in the North-Caucasus, etc.

The effect of the general crisis of capitalist production spread to Hungary, too. Due to the decrease of the prices of agricultural goods in fact the Hungarian agricultural export broke down. The inflow of capital, which had been considerable during the prosperity, stopped. The western creditors of the Hungarian bourgeoisie suddenly reclaimed their money, thus the Hungarian bourgeoisie was running into debt more and more. They tried to solve this problem by increasing the expolitation of the working class. The wages in general decreased with 50-60%, the number of the unemployed workers increased from approximately 250000 to 600000. The poor peasants, owning small lands, were running into debt, lost their lands which were bought by the peasant proprietors. The set-back in the field of the industry occurred mainly in the iron industry and metallurgy, in mechanical engineering, building-trade as well as in food industry. Until 1932, when the crisis touched its bottom, the number of the workers employed in these industries decreased with 30%, the wages in general decreased with 25-30%. All these meant the pauperization, and in several cases, the real famine of the working class. In Hungary there was no unemployment benefit, thus the system of the so-called starvation work was established. It meant that in exchange for some kind of labour service a wageworker got as much money that he or she could creep home in order to sleep, and on the following day back to the workplace. In this period, due to the general misery, the movement of the unemployed workers strengthened, the incensed proletarians were demonstrating throughout the country.

At the end of 1929 and early in 1930 when winter came, the unemployed workers also arrived to the streets of Szeged, Debrecen, Miskolc, Hódmezovásárhely, Eger, Pécs, Nyíregyháza. In Szolnok the hungering demonstrators were attacked by the police and the scuffle ended with flatling. The hungering proletarians demonstrated in Szegeden, Gyula, Járokszállás, Hódmezovásárhely, Orosháza, Kiskundorozsma. They shouted as follows: „Here is the revolution, down with the masters, let’s go there where the food is!”, and attacked the police which scattered the mass by beating them with gun-stock. A lot of people were arrested. The actions, however, didn’t spread to other districts and because of their detachedness, afterwards everything was going in the same groove. In several cases it was the „calm” and pacifist, counter-revolutionary attitude of the social democratic party which prevented the masses from acting as real class-militants. To attain this, naturally, at the workers’ hand it was necessary to pin their faith upon the party. Above we wrote that the lef-wing parties of the bourgeoisie didn’t have a great influence on the argrarian working class. It was true in general, but they were able to put pressure on the working class when it was urgently required for the ruling class. The publications and the leaflets of the social democrats could suddenly appear in the critical areas to pour balm into the workers’ wounds. For this it was necessary that the hungering masses who were unable to organize themselves seriously, had democratic illusions and co-operated with the social democrats.

During the period of the crisis the ground-men easily left their non-existent workplaces, so the proletarians of the cities and of the neighbourhoods took part together in the demonstrations. On the 1st of September in 1930, when the proletariat was fighting on the streets of Budapest, hundreds of proletarians were demonstrating in other cities, for example in Gyula, Szentes, Szeged, Debrecen, etc., but the clashes didn’t form a great and strong insurrectional wave. The causes are well-known. There was bungling in every region, the lack of organization and the lack of pespective dominated everywhere. Many people thought – and they were absolutely wrong! – that the agrarian proletariat „was fighting with the feudal latifundia” and the urban proletariat opposed the world-bourgeoisie. Seemingly they were fighting against different enemies, but in reality there was not a shadow of difference between them. The smallholders and the day-wage men sought the sources of their problems near at hand, while the ruling class profited from their exploitation. So the agrarian workers could be manipulated easier by anti-Semitism and be instigated against the towns, because of the backwardness of the countryside, what we detailed above; the urban workers vegetated on higher living standards, thus the witch-hunt was successful. Today the Hungarian nationalism also uses the same methods: it’s enough if we look at the slogan of the revision of the frontiers which is very popular today, or at the very active Christian Churches interlocked with the far-right. On the other hand, it’s much cheaper for the Hungarian bourgeois to employ the workers of Romanian, Ukrainian origin, so they try to embrace this fact on the field of xenophobia. It’s the same problem like then: we are confined into different regions or isolated by the huge distances. There is no direct class-militant connection between the struggles of the Brazilian land-retakers and of the Polander miners, just like in the case of the rural-, and the urban proletariat then. The bourgeoisie is usually able to solve the „micro-problems” confined into regions from their point of view satisfactorily.

In spite of the manipulation, violent retorsion and the peaceful promises the proletarian actions were continuing in the thirties, too. „We are living in penury and starving. Count Teleki is jollifying and pay the costs from the blood pressed out from his landless peasants” – wrote a Bolshevik leaflet in the early thirties. Early in 1932 the masses demanded work and bread in Makó, Szeged, Mindszent, Nagymagócs, the ground-men were on strike in Battonya. In February a firm in Pesterzsébet called jobs, a few workers were accepted and the others, the unemployed workers attacked the office. In March the proletarians demostrated for work and bread in Debrecen, they joined battle with the police, 54 proletarians were arrested. There were demonstrations in Csongrád, Békéscsaba and in several other places. The government financed the social democratic party and the trade unions in order that they could control the discontented voices. In April, due to the pressure of the masses and of the left-wing inner opposition, the social democratic party went to the streets in order to demonstrate its existence for both sides. In Balmazújváros and in Nyírtura, however, the masses attacked the gendarmerie, they used stones and sticks, finally the gendarmerie opened fire on them. The streets were covered with proletarian blood, several proles were arrested and during the interrogation they were beaten. The organ of the party, the Népszava was banned for a short time. Both the MSZDP and Bolsheviks dealt a lot with the conditions in the countryside, so they „perceived” that „the question of the ground-men is firstly the question of the land”, thus the land reform has to be conquered on political field. During the period of the crisis the Bolsheviks, to some slight extent, also strengthened. At the end of 1932 the party center had connections with several cells (from Kecskemét to Gyor), but more and more activists were arrested (193 activists were put under arrest in 1933). The social democratic party was unable to organize among the agrarian workers securely and effectively. It didn’t know the local conditions well enough and sank into its electoral campaigns.

In the state of the general upheaval the want for pacification strengthened among the bourgeoisie. It led to the reinforcement of the government’s far-right opposition. Bethlen resigned and after Gyula Károlyi’s prime ministership, in 1932 Gyula Gömbös became prime minister. Thus the fascist orientation, revisionism and anti-Semitism strengthened and Gömbös, in long-term, was working on the formation of a dictatorship similar to the Italian one. By this time, however, the total building-up of the fascist system didn’t came about yet. Since the yeasty promises, demagogism (new workplaces, reformation of capitalism under the aegis of romantic anti-capitalism, anti-Semitism), and the fictitious decrees (benefit for the medium-holders, taking over of one part of the smallholders’ debt by the state, etc.) were enough to abate the discontent of the working class. Hordes shouting anti-Semite slogans were on the hike throughout the country and influenced easily certain groups of the unconscious workers who wanted land, work and better living conditions. In 1937 the Kaszáskeresztes Párt (‘Scythe-Cross Party’) tried to organize an army from the most exploited workers of the villages, which would have attacked Budapest in order to capture the power and form a government (in the event of victory, the party promised 20 acres land per head for all the members of the army). The racialist groups reached also the world of the homesteads in the southern Alföld, the agitators of the Nemzeti Szocialista Magyar Munkáspárt (‘National Socialist Hungarian Workers’ Party’), of the Nemzeti Radikális Párt (‘National Radical Party’), of the Nyilaskeresztes Párt (‘Arrowed-Cross Party’), of the Alföldi Brigád (‘Brigade of Alföld’), of the Kettoskereszt Vérszövetség (‘Double Cross Blood-Alliance’) were present there. Moreover, several journals like the Nemzetor (‘Militiaman’), Nyilas roham (‘Arrowed Assault’), Nyilas harc (‘Arrowed Struggle’) and different brochures propagated the racialist thoughts, dulled the workers. After the occupation of Austria by the Germans in 1938, this course intensifyed, since due to this the Arrowed movement strengthened. Gömbös, however, didn’t have a unitary fascist mass-movement, and the buliding-up of such movement was contradictory both to the interests of the capitalists and that of the great landlords. After the first period of the pacification, the ruling class didn’t need an omnipotent leader. Now Gömbös tried to enlarge the power of his government upon the economy and with his permanent social demagogy was instigating the agrarian workers against the great landlords. Both the groups of the capitalists and of the great landlords disapproved of this, so they tried to push the fascist groups back.

The bourgeoisie was still unable to restore order, in the midst of the inner struggles of the ruling class the proletarians continued the organization. In summer, 1934 there was a demonstration in Sarkad and others followed it in December, in Debrecen and in Nyíregyháza. In Korösladány the proles marched to the town-hall and shouted as follows: „We are dying of hunger!”. In 1936 the harvestmen went on strike in the Pallavici manor. In several cases the isolated communists and the Bolsheviks also took part in the organization and launching of the strikes, but without the support of the masses their activity was not very effective. It was also added to the strike movement which livened up in the late thirties that the urban proletarians, who were in direct connection with the countryside, also fought for higher wages and as casual workers took part in several cases in the demonstrations of the agrarian proletariat. Due to the effect of the industrial proletariat’s movement the workers went on strike at the sugarworks in Mezohegyes, the platelayers went on strike in Kisbér, the textile workers in Szony, etc. From the pieces of news they got several agrarian workers felt a kindly interest toward the Spanish proletarian revolution. The farm-hands blustered at their landlords as follows: „Take care what you do, because we are going to make it warm for you, like the Spanish peasants made with their landlords and priests in Madrid”

Meanwhile the government started to reorganize the economy in order to stabilize its position. To get through the crisis they decreased the state costs, increased the taxes and took up loans. They encouraged financially the agricultural export, so they ameliorated the competitiveness of the Hungarian products. Moreover, thanks to the political-economic orientation towards Italy, Germany and Austria there were new markets for the increasing export. The government succeeded in decreasing unemployment by encouraging the elekctricity supply and the aluminium production. Gömbös planned to establish an obligatory corporate system which would have been very similar to the Italian corporative system. He wanted to eliminate the strikes and demonstrations in this way, that is, to solve the „workers’ question”. Gömbös, however, mobilized the fascist groups to no avail, he failed to take over the helm against the rival bourgeois groups. They were against the exaggerated control of the state over the economy and the instigation against the great landlords, as well as against the quick political-economic orientation towards Germany, since in long-term they were afraid of the loss of their autonomy. Thus, due to the opposition of the capitalists and of the great landlords, Gömbös was not able to entirely practise his social demagogy and without an adequate mass-movement he didn’t succeed in carrying his plan into execution even till 1938.

Due to the war preparations of the fascist powers, which were gaining ground and livening up from the mid thirties, the Hungarian industrial-, and agricultural exportation to these countries increased. The economic-political bonds strengthened more and more so these supported the strengthening of the Hungarian fascist forces. As natural continuation of the always stressed revisionism, Hungary also began to war preparations in 1939, which, thanks to the considerable capital investement and to the development of heavy industry, gave a new impulse to the economy. The formerly huge unemployment decreased, the wages which had been previously minimized, icreased (mostly in the heavy industry), the living standards of the working class, compared to the former years, changed for the better. The agricultural production also livened up due to the increasing inner consumption and broadening export. At the same time the government tried to gain direct control over the economy. Several factories were pronounced to ordnance factories and were put under military leadership. The government could control the production and the operation of the factories, thus it centrally increased the labour-time and the intensity of labour. The men between the age of 14 and 70 as well as the adult women could be called up for work of home-defense at any time. So, the exploitation of the working class was intensifyed already from this time. In this period the government introduced the so-called Jewish-laws which defined the maximum percentage of people of Jewish origin in certain ways of business, so the bourgeoisie hastened to discard the workers of Jewish origin and fired them in great quantities. When they became unemployed the police interned them soon after under the pretext of that they were labour deserters, thus they made a living certainly with illegal means.

In 1941 Hungary joined the „World War II”, thus the functioning of the war economy and the extension of war altered the conditions of the working class for the worse. Due to war prosperity the unemployment mended, but with the increment of the wages there was a huge increase in prices (until 1943 the prices increased more than 300% compared to the pre-war price-level) and because of the shop-shortage a lot of basic goods were non-available or were much more expensive than usually. The state tried the decrease the wages and the home consumption by means of adjusting prices and wages, and afterwards both rationing and obligatory surrender of agricultural goods were introduced. Due to that Hungary gradually became ancillary to the German war machine the deficit of the state estimate increased materially. This problem was solved by inflation of the currency and continuous extension of labour-time, so the living standars of the working class were continously decreasing. In addition the bourgeoisie tried to liquidate all forms of resistance and organizational efforts. In September 1943 – for instance – 5000 workers went on strike at the Weiss Manfréd factory demanding 40% wage increase, but the army intervened and crushed the strike. The state repression, the police control were intensifyed at the workplaces in order to maintain the uninterrupted production: in case of absenteeism the workers were fined, sent to the front or were interned. Meanwhile the army was mobilized tens of thousands of workers were sent to the front in order that they would fight and die for bourgeois interests. So the bourgeois war against us was becoming total more and more on all sides.

Horthy and his associates seeing the German military defeats, however, tried to withdraw from the war. In reply to this, at the same time with the occupation of Hungary by the Germans, fascists assumed power with the collaboration of the Sztójay government on 19th of March, 1944. The Gestapo was more effective in repressing the workers than the former military powers were, more and more labour camps were established for the refractory proletarians. The ghettoization, deportation and sending of workers of Jewish origin to the front was started soon after, and these were enthusiastically carried on by the Arrowed movement (when we are writing these their successor organization – the Magyar Gárda [Hungarian Guard] – is just being established in Hungary) after their rise to power in October, 1944. Hundreds of thousands of workers of Roma-, and of Jewish origin, communists and those who were condemned as „lumpen persons” were killed. The Bolsheviks and the left-wing social democrats made common cause with the Soviet Union and gathered into an antifascist front against Hitler in order to fight back: they put forward the slogan of „independent, free, democratic Hungary”. The popular front organized the antifascist resistance, they demanded wage-rise, better alimentation and the decrease of labour-time. In 1944 in Pécs the workers in the coal-mines celebrated May Day with work stoppage, on 10th of July in Békéscsaba leaflets („Let’s sabotage! Join the partisans! Don’t join the army! Down with the war! Beat those who hold with the Germans!”) were spread by unidentified persons. In September about 2000 workers from the Diósgyor ironworks marched to the management’s office and demanded the withdrawal from the war. In October Gömbös’s statue on Döbrentei square and afterwards a bookshop maintained by the Arrowed movement were exploded by partisans from Marót group. There were also sabotages, the Demény group and the Deák-Mayer group spread leaflets in Sashalom, Kispest, Soroksár, etc. and they organized attempts against the Arrowed movement, but kept closely in the shade of the Soviet Union. The popular front established its bases also in the countryside, the Bolshevik party tried to act the role of the great leader but it walked into a rival organization, the Parasztszövetség (‘Peasants’ Alliance’) which was founded in 1941. There were antifascist demonstrations and assemblies for independence, a few corps joined the Soviet army or the partisans in order to fight by the side of Bolshevism. The revolutionary traditions of the proletariat did not appear on the scene, in this region there was no opposition to the common insanity of triunity of fascism, nationalism and Bolshevism.

In June, 1944 a group, calling itself anarchist, gave a sign of life during its action in a small town in North-Hungary. They had entered into a totally false (self-liquidating) alliance with the Bolshevik partisans already from the beginning, but afterwards they had a row with the Stalinists who wanted to direct the events more and more, and who finally delated them for the fascists. Those members of the group who survived, split into fractions, some of them joined the Bolshevik party, the others performed direct actions. They attacked two warships from the Hungarian river fleet and afterwards exploded a fuel depot in the Buda Castle. Members of the third part of this movement were shot dead when they attacked a nazi residency. When Budapest stood a siege they organized sabotages, 200 activists of them were killed. After this they decided, except Korsakin who didn’t agree with his fellows, to stop their activity till Hungary became part of the Soviet zone and would see what is to be done later. Till that time they were working in work detachments and in hospitals. In June, 1945 the movement held a meeting where the representatives of all the three wings were present. One of the wings, signed with P. M. monogram (he was a student), wanted to co-operate with the Bolsheviks and hoped that after finishing with the bourgeoisie they would finish also with the Bolsheviks. The other wing led by Torockói wanted to make the movement legal, while Korsakin’s group aimed at continuing the struggle against the state and the Russian troops. They decided this question democratically and all of them stressed the they would accept the decision taken by the majority. The majority was on Torockói’s side so the movement became legal, they established a printery and started their propaganda activity. Then the movement consisted of 500 active members. Afterwards they had a conflict with the Bolsheviks again, who eliminated the hostile group when they got an opportunity (it happened under the Stalinist era when there was a strike in a factory in Csepel). So their inorganization, democratism, the lack of a clear common program doomed to self-liquidation their far-leftist, popular frontist, class collaborationist attempt. Finally the so much wished Red Army arrived and continued the exenteration of the working class just as the Arrowed movement did it before. They broke everything, looted the flats of the workers, raped the women and girls who came their way, those who tried to resist were shooted down. The soldiers captured by them were deported, executed, a lot of workers became „guest” of the Gulag for long decades. From the entire population which consisted of 14,6 million people approximately 340000-360000 soldiers and 600000 civilians (mostly workers) were killed during the triumphant campaign of the bourgeoisie. The „new era” meant nothing positive for the working class, when it came out from the shelters only got the future of misery and exploitation within different bourgeois framework. The next chain-link of capitalism was the bolshevization, then the original version of monopol capitalism was renewed. We, however, still have only one task which is not easy: to liquidate the class society in order that we could sit down to drink a beer in such a way that we didn’t need to look at the prices and at the time. There is the cold beer… can you see it?

Working class and proletariat

At the middle of the twenties, more than 20% of the workers worked longer than 10 hours per day, in Kőbánya, 12-13 years old working-class children grubbed 12 hours a day, they carried bricks for a monthly wage of 7 pengos. Because of workplace casualties, approximately 3000 – 4000 workers died or became disabled every year. In 1926, the average rent of a fusty, buggy flat was equal to 217 pengos, hence there were a lot who – in order to be able to pay the rent – had to hire out some sleeping places for night. A lot of worker families starved, in Budapest, 51% of the workers could not eat three times a day. Epidemics ravaged in the working-class districts. Kispest, Ferencváros, Pesterzsébet, Angyalföld… The tainted piped water did its part. There were a lot of suicides, one from every 2000 inhabitants of Budapest committed suicide (the reason was usually the blind-alley life of the working class member). „The radio speaks loudly far and wide, the writers write, the play-actors play, the movie goes on. At the same time, the inhabitants of the house in Visegrádi street 20-24. are sitting in their rooms and kitchens, wearily and bitterly, in most cases, at the light of paraffine lamp, they are sleeping, gaze into space, maybe quarrel with each other. And if they have a lot of free time, they may bethink theirselves of the fact that their fate is much better than that of the Abyssinian natives, because they live in culture, and a well organized bourgeois society keeps guard over their material and spiritual goods. And those who are totally possessed by this beautiful thought, fall asleep earlier than the others, only to go with fresh force to penury labour in the morning.” (György Bálint)

At the end of the twenties, the members of the working class slowly and gradually started to confront the flagrant crisis of capital, they experienced directly that the capitalists shifted their losses upon them once again. In 1929, mainly Bolshevik activists started a hunger strike in the prisons, which was probably organized by the illegal Bolshevik party. Misery and the lack of any perspectives brought the working class to the streets again and again but those were not the real interests of the proletariat which were standing behind the demonstrations and strikes, which had become regular since the spring of 1930 – these were merely the democratic actions of the workers floundering in the train of the social democratic and Bolshevik parties. In 1929, already 75000 industrial workers were jobless. Various movements of the unemployed were formed, with the fuss of the trade unions’ in the background. There were demonstrations in Kispest, Szeged, Debrecen, Gyöngyös, Pécs and other bigger towns. At 26th of January 1930, on a demonstration in Budapest organized by the KMP, the demonstrators confronted the police on the Rákóczi street, one policeman was knocked off. But these demonstrations were quickly disarmed by promising various subsidies and by negotiations. It was time for the working class to face the fact that it can expect absolutely nothing neither from its leftist functionaries, who had been using the masses for the sake of their own ambitions, nor from the government which gave only so much aid which was barely enough to avoid dying of hunger, this way securing the possibility to put them to work at any time. The left-wing parties used tactics and threw their slogans to the masses according to the actual balance of forces. At this time, the 7-hours working day and 40-hours working week was on the agenda of the reformist workers’ movement. These had been borrowed by the social democratic movement from its western relatives in 1931. The organized workers were organized by the reformist left-wing political forces, and the unorganized were often scabs, so capital preferred to employ the latter. Just like today, the bourgeoisie was good in exploiting the division of the working class. The „foreign workers” often confronted the local ones, the right-wing raised his word against the non-Hungarian workers, demanded their firing and deportation (the characteristics of nationalism has been the same up until today). Some social democrats sometimes put forward the same demands (the social democrats from Gyor in 1931, for instance). The jobless often clashed with those employed – there were not even the palest signs of class solidarity.

But still, the proletariat in Hungary was breathing, moving, organizing. At 1st of September 1930, a gigantic demonstration took place in Budapest.

First of September, 1930

„In Pest, on the pavestone,
Flows the blood of the prole,
Noises of machine-guns and rifles
Are not quiet as yesterday
Red Tomorrow is awakening!
Our song about the revolution”

The events in September did not surprise the authorities, the quickly worsening economic conditions during the world-wide economic crisis led to a densification of strikes which showed the growing combative mood of the proletariat. The social democrats called the masses on the streets on 1st of September, but the proletarian-killers wanted to see a silent demonstration of the sneaky mass. The KMP spoke to the masses in a more radical tone, it called for a loud, militant demonstration – which could show the power of the party. A mass of 150 thousand people marched on the Andrássy boulevard and in its surroundings, the army of demonstrators flowed on the streets shouting „Down with Horthy!”, „Down with Bethlen!”. The slogans were still moderate, they demanded „Work and bread!”. On the corner of the Andrássy boulevard, the policemen blocked the road and attacked the mass, which clashed with the hirelings of the state shouting „Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat!” and „Down with the government!” A politician from the opposition tried to soothe the angry proletarians who reacted by burning his car. The social democratic leaders desperately recognized that the hell had broken loose, and that it was only the help of the police which had saved them from having been killed. The revolt had already reached the Városliget (City Park), in the city there were overturned trams, cars, scattered pavestones everywhere. „Let’s beat the policemen to death!” – the cry spread on the squares, but the police volley-firing killed a 22-years old comrade. The empty-stomached proletarians of the street became even angrier. The city center turned into a battlefield, but except of several well-organized actions at which the cordons were broken through, the will of the masses was not uniform in respect to the means of reaching the concrete aims. They clashed with the armed forces of the state, they distributed the leaflets written by the blinding light of the paraffine lamp, the International could be heard several times, but they did not manage to generally revolutionize the working class. The proletarians confronted the armed forces of the ruling class in the countryside, too. The proles of Miskolc, Gyor and other towns fought their street battles separately. The series of events at 1st of September could have been a turning point in the life of the proletariat, since such huge masses had not been on the streets since the proletarian revolution. But the weapon of mass strike and the raising of barricades didn’t prove to be enough to escalate the struggle. The demonstration remained defensive, no concrete program or idea were put forward, also nothing about the question how the struggle had to swing further. The revolt was also not coordinated with the members of the working class living in the neighbouring countries. Some voices of solidarity emerged in the movement press, but generally the Stalinists monopolized the evaluation of the events, the majority of the world proletariat didn’t even hear about what happened.

Agrarian misery, bondage and struggle

The poor peasants and wagewokers of the villages and farms also lingered on after the defeat of the revolution. The agrarian workers had „fixed labour-time” in the sense that they were working literally day in day out. They were usually on bread and water and ate some onion – this was their repast, which was calmly called lunch break. Their nutrition was „very manifold and abundant”, they ate meat and fruits very rarely, all the more bread, onion, and scrambled soup. In his book Néma forradalom (‘Silent Revolution’) Imre Kovács writes down in detail how the poor countrywomen (afterwards agrarian workers) had killed their children since the period of serfdom not to bear the children into misery, while the ruling class had been treating about the considerable wane of the Hungarian. In Zoltán Szabó’s book entitled Tardi helyzet (‘Circumstances in Tard’) an eleven years old girl of agrarian working-class origin who vegetated in Tard reported on the manifoldness of her diet as follows: “I don’t eat meat, because there is no meat.” Plain answer. (Nowadays the “condemned men” of the Diósgyor carcase-pit can eat some meat because they engorge the city’s carcases of dogs, of cats, etc. Corking repast!). This shocking world is unveiled against us, if we read the works of the Hungarian “narodniks”.3 he social imprint of the feudal-capitalist dirt of the misery: farm-hands, day-wage men sentenced to everlasting grind. The backwardness was reflected by the fact that the agrarian working class was unable even to form trade unions, thus only the social democrats and the Bolsheviks were agitating in the countryside, however they were not too successful. The formerly relatively strong agrarian-socialist movement, however, occurred from time to time and caused watchful nights for the gendarmerie for weeks at a time. The organizational level of our class, however, was not so depressing, as one could conclude from the above facts.

In this period, due to the capitalist transformation of the Hungarian economy, class antagonism became simplified to two antagonistic classes. Therewith the mental forms of feudal backwardness, however, dominated strongly. The landlords remained the same pitty monarchs at their lands, like they had formerly been as landed gentries. In spite of that capitalism had liberalized the economy, it took a whale of a time till the culture of capitalism also entered the old rustic milieu and displaced it from its secular lethargy. The Hungarian rural bourgeoise, with his genteel hobbies, romantic nationalism, and his intense greed, could exploit the wageworkers living there in the most extreme forms. There were genteel sprees (sticking pigs, hard drink and wine, bitches, pipe smoke and headache at dawn…), all these were paid from the exploited work of the farm-hands, day-wage men and ground-men. Meanwhile the arrogant former gentries were gradually becoming bankrupt and they had to abandon their feudal style of living and were under the necessity of acclimatizing to the day-to-day challenges of capital. Their subjects were the ground-men, the day-wage men, the farm-hands and the smallholders who were farming their small lands – the exploited agrarian working class consisted of them. There could be economic differences between them, like a street-cleaner differs from a greengrocer (who functions as the possessor of the means of production but unable to profit from it beyond his or her own living) who uses his or her own labour force and doesn’t exploit alien labour.

„The land reform of the counter-revolution created parcels of 2-3 acres which were unviable, over and above the redemption totally impoverished the new landholders. Since 1920 the number of smallholders increased from 720000 to 912932. Due to this the land reform not only made the distribution of the land even more unbeneficial, but increased the degree of exploitation of the agrarian labour force and caused catastrophic decrease in the wages of the day-wage men. It’s well-known that the smallholder, even within general conditions, was unable to pay his way only by farming his own land. He had to sell his labour force and to work for an other person in order to earn the money required to cover the shortcoming. Actually his interests are the same that of the day-wage man, since both of them, against the employer, try to obtain the highest wages possible. In case of unemployment, however, the smallholder has an advantage over the day-wage man living only from selling his labour force, because the smallholder can gain his subsistence in part from his land. The land reform not only increased the number of smallholders, but at the same time due to the redemption charged them. The smallholder couldn’t dreamt that working on his 1-2 acres’ parcel he would be able to pay both the redemption, the tax and would have enough money for his own living and for his family. He had to snatch with the avidity of despair for every realizable and unrealizable chance to work, for any wages. In fact the land reform opposed the smallholders who got some land to the day-wage men and according to the official data of the Ministry of Agricultural, between 1926 and 1931 decreased the yearly average wage of the agrarian workers from 429 to 227 pengos.” – noted the Marxist István Miklós Stolte in his brochure entitled Az ezer éves per: földreform és telepítés (‘The Thousand Years Old Cause: Land Reform and Settlement’).

Out of the workers exploited in the agriculture the typical wageworker, the day-wage man got the lowest wage, which was approximately 180 pengos per year (it was just enough to avoid dying of hunger) in the early thirties. The farm-hand earned yearly 200 pengos. The day-wage man beyond his beggarly wage got some flare, potatoes, flour, etc. in order that he could avoid dying of hunger and could go to work again. In general there were two gainers in an agrarian working-class family. In 1930 there were 220000 families of farm-hands and 560000 families of day-wage men, approximately. The day-wage men in average worked yearly 120-150 days, they usually didn’t have any work in winter so then the level of unemployment was very high. Out of the workers dragging on a miserable existence a lot of people were analphabet (accoding to certain sources in 1930 the administration „didn’t want to give Bible” into the hands of 433000 analphabets). And if somebody learnt to read, that person „was molesting the administration”, as the following report shows: „András Pethes, as the first member of the family who learnt to read and to write, ascribed unhuman power to the letters. He sent applications and petitions to all of the imaginable powers and listed his charges against the squire. In these he grouped the thousand year old discontents of the peasantry, which broke from his conscience out, with especial excitement. Finally the administration sent him into madhouse, since the father behaved intractably and was reiterating that the land concerns the people.” – wrote Géza Féja.

Against the mass of the agrarian working class stood the rural bourgeoisie (small capitalists and great landlords) as well as the urban aristocrats (of course they were also bourgeois) who possessed estates in the countryside. Since the mid of the 19th century (when the “civil revolution” had swept over Austria-Hungary, together with the industrial revolution) the feudal conditions had been gradually abolished by the capitalist development which commenced also in Hungary. But the level of the capitalist development fixated on a primogenous level of capitalist economy even in the first decades of the twentieth century and only slowly passed yesterday feudalism. The mode of production was transformed, the latifundia were farmed by wageworkers, however the rural provinciality was capitalizing very slowly. As Ferenc Erdei country-researcher wote: “An other feature of the countryside is its backwardness. It means that everything happens sooner in the town, and even the things which happen sooner in the countryside or happen only there, become important according to the town. In the town the newspapers appear, the news arrives sooner, most of the initiatives arise from there and especially the prices are formed there. Rain and hailstorm are the events of the countryside, but also these become a social affair through the price-forming, the news and the standpoints of the town market. And, above all: much or, one might as well say, all of the major events of the bourgeois society take place only in the town, so the countryside can participate in them necessarily only secondly, only as a follower or as a borrower. Now this secondary and backward condition forms either the affirmative acceptance of backwardness or the striving against backwardness as special rural attitudes. The village close to the town follows quickly and tries not to stay out from anything, but the godforsaken village – which hardly can do anything other – forms a principle from its backwardness, or languishes and dies under the burden of backwardness which cannot be remedied or beautified by turning it into a conservative principle.” According to this, the statements of József Révai (who had a sometimes very meaty dialectical critical ability, but who was advancing more and more towards Stalinism) are also valid: “Of course the main power – big capitalism – is in the hands of Budapest, but there is a Hungarian speciality – the dictatorship of the capital over the countryside gets along with the dictatorship of the countryside over the capital. Economically, financially and culturally, the capital is the master, but the countryside takes revenge, and it subjugates the capital in Budapest itself. The class compromise dominating over the life of the Hungarian society since 1867 manifests itself: the upper classes of Budapest borrow the strata, with which they keep both the countryside and Budapest below them, from the countryside. But the synthesis of the big capitalist and feudal forces is not a total fusion but only the ‘unity of the opposites’, that’s why a new unity has to be created – by struggle and bargain – again and again.”

So, this was the basis on which the resistance of the agrarian proletariat developed. Even during the most serious harassments, some agrarian socialist cells gave a sign of life. At the spring of 1921, and illegal cell was created in Endrod, other groups were formed later in Jászapáti and Jászszentlászló, and the organizing efforts manifested themselves also in the growing number of isolated strikes. Arrests and worrying were on the agenda. The Bolshevik fraction in Vienna kept contacts with those Bolshevik groups in Hungary which were regularly leafleting in the area of the Tisza river, cheering the “new proletarian power”. The social democratic party also continued its petty political practices (in the environs of Nagymaros, the party promised several thousand koronas for those who voted for them, but if they didn’t vote they were threatened with unemployment), while the agrarian workers, who were followers of the party, were continuously worried by the gendarmerie. At the 20’s, only a pale shadow remained from the old, powerful agrarian socialist movement, the main problem was that the industrial proletariat and the agrarian proletariat were unable to create their own unified party-cells. At the one hand, the agrarian proletariat had been startled by the practices of the Bolshevik-social democratic party during the Council Republic. During this, they experienced that the old masters had been replaced by new ones or the masters even remained the same, (“The Hungarian agrarian proletariat with its low level of education couldn’t understand that in technical and functioning questions it had to obey the same farm manager who had subjugated and bled it – in the name of the landowner – before the revolution” – remarked Jeno Varga in 1921, dealing with the agrarian critique of the Council Republic), they “hunger for land” had not been satisfied, just like before.

Moreover, such dividing forces as the various smallholders’ and farmers’ parties, associations, federations were present, which promised land reform and which had a strong influence thorough the country. The organizations of the urban proletariat were both numerically and organizationally weak to embrace the whole of the Hungarian working class, and a mere propaganda activity wouldn’t have been enough to revolutionize their fellow sufferers if those were not revolutionized by their immediate reality. The urban and the rural proletariat were dependent on each other, each of them would have had to encounter the bourgeoisie on its “own terrain” while trying to unify their forces. But except for some single events, this did not take place in the given period. Though the agricultural working class counted millions, it was isolated and scattered which enabled the power to keep it in check. The circumstances of the agrarian workers were even worse than those of the industrial workers, since its lack of organization made it naked to the landowner. The risk of the enterprise was partially shifted on them, since if there was a bad harvest, they received less wage for more work, this way unfreely taking over a part of the bourgeois’ loss. And if they tried to stick up for their interests then they could easily become unemployed since there was a considerable redundancy in agricultural workforce throughout the whole period.

Nevertheless, the army of the exploited, which was weakened after the revolution, slowly started to feel its legs. At the summer of 1920, several proles in Sümeg refused to swear an oat at the conscription, and shouting „We don’t swear!”, singing the International, they left the hall. The authorities literally hunted to our comrades at the homesteads, in the villages, in the dusty small towns and also in Budapest. Flatfeet were snooping around, until now this has been succeeded by the technique of universal camera-settings. The same disgusting atmosphere was scragging the agricultural and industrial proletariat, the bourgeois carrion-blow of which we can feel today again in the press, on the streets and squares, on the markets, in the villages and on the trams. Provincialism coupled with nationalist scamming and with the profit-hunting mechanism dictated by the ruling class. In spite of all these, the proletariat’s will to live manifested itself in countless ways – from the refusal of work until the arrests because of movement-organizing activity, from the strikes up until the bloody struggles on the streets. The state organs sorrowfully discovered that at a lot of places, the agricultural proletarians decorated their walls with the pictures of Marx and Lassalle instead of crosses. The series of tortures, interrogations couldn’t break the impetus of the agricultural proletariat’s struggle which was often unorganized but undoubtedly permanent. From the middle of the 20’s the strikes proliferated – in 1926 at the time of harvest the production was paralyzed in several places because the reapers stopped working. At this time there was a walk-out also in Nyírmártonfalva, the strikers were arrested for one month. There were strikes also in Moson, in Mezogyána and other places. Gumshoes and lurkers traveled throughout the country, and bombarded the state organs with their reports. In a report from 1928 we can read: „Unemployment spreads more and more, thousands of ground-men are condemned to inaction and discontent rises more and more. The vital interests of 70000 people who are able to work are in question, who will get into a crucial situation if we don’t help them by creating sufficient job opportunities. There are 5000 members in the ground-men’s contractor co-operative but these also cannot provide job opportunities. One must let the redundant workers to go abroad and the church must also work more on education to ‘fraternal love’ since as less we deal with our working masses as more their private and public life will be driven towards extremities – harmful internationalism and disbelief.” In several places there were imprisoned those workers who started to organize because of the sleazy fare and the low wages. The usually unorganized „labour troubles” were quickly smashed by the authorities, but they were not able to short out the self-organizing agricultural proletariat itself from the world of misery. Much were fired, the strikers were often doomed to prison or penalty (if the comrade was imprisoned at harvest time then its family was doomed to dying of hunger). The wage struggles usually ended with a defeat, and this intimidated the strikers since the bogy of firing and incarceration was hovering over their heads.

The Bolsheviks, thus also the MSZMP (‘Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party’; the legal cover-party of the Bolsheviks which was created in 1925) found out that the struggle of the agricultural proletariat and that of the industrial proletariat had to be swung to the same direction, this was also propagated by them in one of their proclamations distributed in the countryside, in which they urged the unification of the workers of the town and those of the countryside. But our Bolsheviks were not able to slough their elitist skin also in this case. Deeply scorning the agricultural proletariat, they stressed that it is the urban proletariat which is only capable of leading their struggle to victory. This typical, falsely understood vanguard-fudge was later accepted within the ranks of agrarian workers (after the “World War II”, in particular), but until that the Bolshevik agitation had harmed the life of the oppressed of the villages with less efficiency. Certainly, the unification of the forces – on the basis of mutual dependence – would have been important for the agricultural and the industrial proletariat, but this was not realized.

Consolidation, that is the reality of capitalism

May 28, 2010 1 comment


After the defeat of the revolution the capitalist landlords bore rule, who dominated together with the Church and lived their proletarian-murdering everyday life. The ruling class consisted of gentry left-overs, peasant proprietors, and urban bourgeoisie, that is to say group of great landlords, agrarian small capitalists, and industrial, commercial capitalists. The regime was headed by Governor Horthy who nominated the actual prime ministers. In this period, after the bloody retorsion, less brutal means were enough to maintain the seeming social peace, so the ruling class started the gradual “consolidation” of the regime. Under Pál Teleki’s and afterwards István Bethlen’s prime ministership the white-terrorist guards were pressed back and eliminated. Moreover, the far-right forces had to be harmonized with the liberals, the smallholders’ party, and with christian democrats, social democrats, thus finally the practical and ideological feature of the ruling class was formed. Within this the Catholic Church was determinant: the “Christian direction” remained the biggest landowner, with its one million acres’ land-owning. The members of the Catholic episcopacy owned one thousand acres per head at least. A lot of workers fell a victim to the politics and ideology of the conservatives, several Christian, racialist, far-right para-military groups were formed, which even more acerbated the life of the working class persecuted by the white-terror.

The Horthy regime amalgamated the features of fascism and of bourgeoise conservatism and in this manner took the floor as the hangman of the working class. To indicate its backround we use György Ránki’s one essay. The program of the “Christian direction” had two important elements. It was phrased by Gyula Gömbös as follows: “I will be led by two guidelines. One of them is the Christian thought, briefly we can call it racialism, the other one is the agrarian thought.” It meant that, under the aegis of the „Christian thought”, taken advantage of the anti-capitalism of the exploited masses, they acted against big capital which comprised many bourgeoises of Jewish origin. They wanted, however, neither to reform nor to modernize capitalism, but to expropriate the capital of the bourgeoisie of Jewish origin and to subordinate it to the “national interests”. Moreover, the gentry-officer guards wanted to take advantage of the conflicts between big capital and the latifundium (naturally this period is the headspring of latter-day nationalism), thus they propagated the necessity of defence of „Hungarian land”, and of „Hungarian interests” as means for pressing back „foreign” big capital (later the Hungarist movement used the same methods to frame the nationalist part of the working class). All this was integrated with very lively social demagogy and with promises for land reform; the ruling class was fooling the agrarian, and industrial workers like this.

From capitalist point of view, the world-wide situation became partially steady in the early twenties. The revolutionary wave in Germany was defeated (it was not without a hitch, as Max Hoelz and his comrades continued their grim struggle), but in China the uprising was permanent which couldn’t be defeated for a long time. In Italy, after the factory occupations and struggles in the works, Mussolini started to cement his position. In Russia, after eliminating the anarcho-communist forces in Ukraine and pulling down the anarcho-communist movement in general, the Bolsheviks consolidated their power. The Leninist-Stalinist-Trotskyist epidemic became even more drastic. In Mexico, the revolutionray movement weakened, in Argentina it had already to be on the defensive earlier. In Hungary the retorsion, the nationalist framing, the cretinizing of the working class also delivered the goods, so the political stabilization could be continued as well as the economic reorganization could be started.

In the spring of 1921 a government led by István Bethlen came into office, and soon after the Egységes Párt (‘Unitary Party’) was formed, which by uniting the fractions of the ruling class, consolidated the government. To maintain the seeming social peace the new government, parallel with the retorsion, tried to blarney different political forces. The land reform started in 1920 continued – they tried to win the landless agrarian workers over to support the regime. The latifundia, however, remained dominant, only 5% of the arable soil were allotted, from which the recorders, gendarmes, as well as those who had been active in carrying out the white-terror got foremost. The landless peasants also got some land which were faraway from their homes, droughty and were between only 0,5-1,5 acres. Furthermore they had to pay a fine for them. In fact the peasants got land charge in order that the state, or the domanial treasury could gain more money. The fact remained that most of the agrarian workers worked as a landless day-wage man, a farm-hand or, parallel with farming their small lands, as wageworkers. This mass, which comprised more than two million workers, felt the pinch: due to the great labour-power surplus their wages were very low, on an average 25000 workers left the agriculture yearly, most of them couldn’t find any jobs even in the industry. The day-wage men engaged themself for the season, so they always had to wander from one latifundium to an other in order to find any work for a short time. After the daylong, sweated work they were usually accomodated in the stable. Thus during the Horthy regime there were a lot of actions in the countryside carried out by agrarian proletarians, which were in general beaten back by the gendarmerie.

Bethlen entered into negotiations also with the social democratic party. They agreed on that the MSZDP (‘Hungarian Social Democratic Party’) would control any workers’ actions and would hold them between democratic framework, would avoid the organization of postmen, railwaymen, public servants and of ground-men. So it would practically function under conservative control and would back the government. It was easy to carry out these politics doubly so as the MSZDP got 25 electoral mandates in 1922. Thus they had even more capability to work together with the government. The Bolshevik party, on the other hand, was banned in 1921. By this time the bolshevization of the party had already been finished and, except for a few heterodox members, it followed Leninist ideology.2 Béla sat on the central committee just like Jeno Landler and György Lukács, too. Before the party would have been able to cement itself, fractionalism emerged in the emigration. The fraction in Moscow led by Kun was for the formation of an illegal mass-party; it wanted to act as an independent force. The fraction in Vienna led by Landler, on the contrary, regarded dangerous to send a lot of activists back to the white-terrorist Hungary. They thought that the agitators had to infiltrate into the trade unions and into the MSZDP, meanwhile the illegal party had to be cemented and established. The Comintern first backed the fraction led by Landler and even adopted a resolution about this, so the popular frontist tactics were dominating for a space. The Bolshevik activists were infiltrating into trade unions, workers’ societies and sport clubs in order to agitate. A few commissioned were trying to reorganize the party in Hungary and they succeeded in organizing a couple of party-cells, for example in Csepel, Ózd, Salgótarján, Budapest, etc. Their journals got to Hungary, so the Proletár (‘Proletarian’), Kommün (‘Commune’) and others were available for the workers. The still not too strong Bolshevik party, however, was pulled down by sectarianism so it couldn’t get great ascendancy over the proletariat, its framing activity was not so effective than during the revolution.

On the bases of the political stabilization led successfully by the ruling class, the reorganization of the economy, had been disorganized by the war and the revolution, could be started. The bourgeoisie first had to solve two problems. On the one part the economy had to be retooled from the war production to the normal production, the extant structure of production had to be reorganized, the very low productivity had to be increased and they had to restrict the inflation increasing sharply. On the other part the economy had to be accommodated to the new circumstances which emerged after the breaking up of Austro-Hungary. Due to the peace-treaty the territory and the population of Hungary decreased greatly and these meant smaller market, less raw materials, smaller arable soil, so both the industrial, and agricultural productive capacity decreased. Hungary formerly had been carrying its export and import on mostly inside Austro-Hungary, there were common money-market, unitary price-level, common customs area. Since all these ended, the bourgeoisie had to build up a new system of external trade accordantly to the world-market, they had to find new markets, had to solve the problem of shortage of raw materials, had to restructure the production. For these tasks they needed considerable capital. The state tried to put up the sources for these by increasing the bank-note issue, so from 1921 the inflation was gearing greatly and gained more thousandfold degree till 1924. Due to this the miserable conditions of the working class acerbated even more, the food shortage and the unemployment worsened. The average labour-time in the industry was 9,5 hours, and Péter Veres wrote down that the day-wage men, the farm-hands, the ground-men worked 14-16 hours a day, in exchange for this now they got lower wages. In 1920 there were 40000 unemployed day-wage men at reaping-time, 30000 agrarian worker families made a precarious living, according to certain sources during the ages of the white-terror 300000 workers were unemployed. Then most of the agrarian workers were starving, the children were begging in groups, and the situation changed not too much afterwards…

The bourgeoisie channelled the money won by the inflation to the large-scale industry and to the latifundia as credit, in order to revive the production and to increase productivity. This project was also backed by the increasing inflation which decreased the real wages (the increase in price was more than twice as much that the wage increase), thus decreased the production costs, too. Because of the very low wages of the agrarian workers, this effect was even stronger in the agriculture. As a result of all these the rate of production approached the pre-war level in a few years, the industrial and agricultural export increased. Meanwhile the Hungarian bourgeoisie took a loan up form the League of Nations, so they were able to pay the state deficit and stopped the man-made inflation in 1924, since they didn’t need that on further. The inflow of western capital as credit geared, however smaller part of it was applied to develop production, the rest was used for pay-off, buying lands and for building. They invested against us: prisons and barracks for the gendarmerie were built. In spite of this the Hungarian bourgeoisie, thanks to the relatively high prices of the agrarian products in the world-market (in Hungary the agriculture was still predominant over the industry), was able to revive the agricultural production and to ground the economic growth in the following years. The same tendency in the industry was slower, since, due to the shortage of capital caused by the stoppage of the inflation and to the increasing unemployment (there were 120000 urban unemployed in 1924) the level of industrial production was decreasing between 1924 and 1927. The revival started only later and was relatively slow.

Meanwhile the coming alive social democratic party and the trade unions organized several strikes. The Népszava (‘People’s Voice’), daily paper of the social democrats, was shooting his mouth off actively, and their monthly theoretical journal Szocializmus (‘Socialism’) was also published. Most of the industrial workers were forging the railing of their prison inside the MSZDP and the trade unions. In 1921 the union membership was 200000 approximately. The MSZDP was strong principally in Budapest as well as in the near suburbs (Újpest, Kispest, Budafok, etc.), its membership was constantly changing and after the first revival, in the late twenties and early thirties it decresed to 70000-100000 members. Both the party and the trade unions were functioning under the control of the Ministry of Home. It meant among other things that they had to announce all the gatherings, strikes, demonstrations in advance. It can be said about their activity that they were competing with other bourgeoise forces for the title: „vanguard of the counter-revolution”. They regarded the safeguard of workers’ interests inside capitalism as their main aim, so its deceptive when we report on hundreds of workers’ actions. Since most of these were under the control of the mentioned political forces or of the Bolshevik gnomes. The spread of the strikes was backed by the fact that the Hungarian economy was going under a transformation and the heavy industry was gaining ground. Due to this, during the recovery of mining, iron industry, textile industry strike movements of whole industries were able to emerge (typical data that from the beginning of the era to its end the number of the exploited in the textile industry increased from 20000 to 60000).

In the works and factories the Christian organizations and the system of informers were also present. As a contemporaneous observer noted, the strikes were not merely of economic but also of political importance in the mid thirties. Under the Gömbös era, and also even earlier, the conservative governments backed the formation of different far-right or fascist workers’ organizations (Nation-wide National Alliance of Hungarian Workers, Parochial Workers’ Organization, etc.) in order to frame the proletarian struggles even if they were carried out for reformist demands. Most of the strikes were organized for higher wages, so they were defensive. Pál Demény, with his ulterior coherence, wrote about the relation of the ruling class to the strikes as follows: „Horthy and his associates had to willy-nilly tolerate them. Their state apparatus knew that it’s no use bearding with the organized workers struggling for more food, better sanitary conditions, holding down their jobs, against wage cuts, increasing efficiency. Being aware of their right, they had got backbone, were faithful and united. The strike-breakers consisted only of non-union Christian-socialists, members of far-right organizations, and miser, idifferent workers. Right these are the bad workers, the production can’t go with them. The loss of the profit is huge, and the municipal officers don’t rejoice over the striker, desperate men and women. The union leaders usually back the strikers, but they are for the agreement when the strike-pay empties their pay-box.” Being aware of this, it’s worth mentioning the typical features of the strikes which became frequent from 1922. There were hundreds of strikes, however these didn’t achieve real class-militancy. After demanding and getting wage-rise, the workers usually moved back into the works and factories. Moreover, due to the lack of co-ordination the strikes confined to single regions. Although the capitalists sometimes lost huge profit and had to take care of defeating the repining workers in time. Conflicts often occurred between the union leadership and the rank and file, and not always from political motive, but on „trade-unionist” terrain. One of the partakers disregarded the organizational agreement, so they had a row, but the conflict was usually solved soon after. So the masses of the working class were framed by classic social democracy, trade union bureaucracy and in a less degree by Stalinism. The far-right forces were gaining ground better and better and from the thirties onwards the antifascist framing were also strengthening.

The conditions for the evolution of very class struggle in Hungary were becoming increasingly complicated. On the one part the ruling class had a well-organized inspectoral system (police, system of informers, acts against the proletariat and communist organization), and was able to effectively defeat the proletarian actions. They tried to counteract the reorganization of the proletarian movement, which had been crushed after 1918/1919, also by legislative measures: they banned and persecuted the communist organization, propaganda activity, the so-called „class instigation” by all means. To commit this, it was enough to sing the International or to pass on a communist leaflet. There was censorship, all publications were banned which propagated against the order in class struggle way, the distribution of the emigrant communist and Bolshevik publications and of memoires about the Hungarian Council Rebublic was also prohibited. Some works of the following persons, among others, were banned: Trotsky, Ervin Szabó, Kropotkin, Lajos Kassák, Radek, Lenin, Buharin, Lukács, Marx, Gorter, Pannekoek, Attila József. The Bolshevik journal Front and a lot of other books, brochures, journals regarded as subversive were also banned. On the other part the MSZDP together with the trade unions and the Bolsheviks (who acted as an effective framing force even in the illegality) were able to function as a massive counter-revolutionary camp, even if it was not exempt from inner struggles between the different fractions, and to carry out its splitting activity. Today the situation in Hungary differs in that: then the left counter-moved stronger in the rivalry of the democratic forces. Today in Hungary the left is agonizing on the periphey and due to its identity crisis it is always flirting with the liberal government or its openly nationalist-conservative like the Munkáspárt (‘Workers’ Party’), the Bolshevik successor-party.

The Survivors

After the defeat of the revolution the trade unions and the social democratic party were allowed to function and, except for a few matterful analyses, the fact remained that they had nothing to do with class struggle. The Bolsheviks had to reorganize their party.1 heir Viennese leadership started to elaborate the lessons of the defeated revolution in Vörös Újság (‘Red Journal’) which was published as the supplement of the journal of the Austrian Communist Party, entitled Die Rote Fahne. The journal Kommunismus was also published in Vienna, in which one part of the communist movement was trying its wings against the Comintern. György Lukács, with his own avantgarde Marxist tune, also wrote for this journal, but later it was liquidated by the Bolsheviks due to its „leftist” deviations. It’s not by accident that we mention this important area of Görgy Lukács’s theoretical activity, his fruitful period for the communist movement: then was forming the exciting, lively, dialectical analytical conception of his book Történelem és osztálytudat (‘History and Class Consciousness’), of which effect returned within the Hungarian movement principally in Attila József’s, Pál Justus’s activity and in of the so-called oppositionists.

At this time the circle of proletarian militants hallmarked by Lajos Kassák also remained active. They were under the influence of a specific Proletkult approach and were unable to break with their attempts at the unification of „proletarian art and communist revolution”. After the defeat of the revolution the activists, who had been active in Kassák’s circles and by the different journals connected to them, also had to emigrate and their revolutionary impetus decreased. Avant-gardist art had an increasing effect on them and they started to propagate an ageless, „all-human, humanistic scale of values which is above the social classes”, so they increasingly stood away from class-militancy. „The journal Ma (‘Today’) by its political position and by its ideology was communist and it’s still that, but beyond that something else, too. Human, that is universal.” – wrote Kassák in the period of the emigration and this confession shows their relation to the revolutionary movement. The members being active by the journal always changed, later many of them (most of the former committed hard core) became activists of the Bolshevik movement, others sunk into the delight of bourgeois aesthetics. Their products later became part of self-realizational egoism, art treasures of museums. The journal Ma (‘Today’) and its circle was still active in Vienna in the early twenties, but their activity was very confused. They were proclaiming eternal revolution, were attacking social democracy, however, they misunderstood Bolshevism what they regarded as revolutionary fellow-passenger. Due to that their activity, instead of the revolutionary whirl, was confined into a relatively more peaceful area their impetus decreased, thus instead of revolutionary attempts, satisfaction of artistic creative urge became of primary importance. However the journal, as the manifestation of one fraction of the proletariat, in retrospect is a sweet gleam of the period of the white-terror. Their commitment (since that remained still unquestionable) and their increasingly mere verbal radicalism not permitted their evolution, as „they could fight in the revolution of art”, but they increasingly became bit players of real revolution, of communist war.

The others stayed in Hungary also made a motion in this period. The white-terrorist regime made a call that the working class must avoid any actions and in reply to this on May Day in 1920 there were several strikes in the factories. In June the Alliance of International Transport Workers called upon the world-proletariat to boycott all the works which would benefit the white-terrorist Hungarian state. The boycott started on 20th of June, the trading railways were stopped. In reply to this the Hungarian bourgeoisie stopped the export of the foodstuff. Before the boycott the miners in Tokod and in Tatabánya already went on strike, they demanded higher wages, several miners were arrested by the police. The two actions, however, didn’t join. When the call for the boycott was made the miners had already been working. Soon after the boycott ended, too. Since the Entente bourgeoisie „put pressure” on the Alliance of International Transport Workers which yielded under the pressure and stopped its adventurous but unsteadfast action. It entered into negotiations with the Entente bourgeoisie, and as usual, the trade union pulled in its horns, went back into the piggery to chaw the pigwash.

The Period of Retorsion

1919: The order's been re-established

As the part of the breaking down of the 1917-23 revolutionary wave the bourgeoisie used very manifold means, took advantage of the weaknesses of the proletariat, to beat back the proletarian revolution in Hungary. When the self-organizing proletariat was actively fighting against the imperialist war by force of arms, organizing extended strike movement, forming workers’ councils, looting, as well as started the liquidation of the bourgeoisie, a “radical” framing force was needed which could counteract the extension and centralization of the struggles, the organization of the proletariat as a party. This role was played by the Bolshevik movement which, in spite of that it gained its strength mainly from the proletariat and its leadership, in words, was for the revolution (of course it wanted to carry out the revolution by the specific Bolshevik scheme: it sought to withdraw the old ruling class in order that it could establish the radical social democratic form of capitalism controlled by the Bolsheviks), during the period of deep crisis of capital, when there were good conditions for proletarian self-organization and for the total distruction of capitalist structures, it was objectively counter-revolutionary. The Bolsheviks backed by the moderate social democrats established the so-called Hungarian Council Republic, a structure of power which was able to successfully counteract the radicalisation of the masses. Under their reign the Bolshevik leadership was acting the part of the grave-digger of the struggling proletariat and doing so encouraged the sweep of the counter-revolution. For instance when Béla Kun entered into negotiations with the Entente and succeeded in counteracting the evolution of revolutionary defetism: Clemenceau sent a message for Kun in which he called upon the Bolshevik leadership to stop the advance of the Red Army in Slovakia. And what’s happened thanks to the „God of bourgeoisie”? Kun entered into collusion with the bourgeoisie, betrayed the Slovakian proletariat and doing so increased the demoralization, geared up the sweep of the white-terror carried out against the proletariat. The Red Army accepted the commands of the party-bureaucracy so the army, recruited from workers, could experience gradually to its own cost the consequences of Béla Kun’s oath of allegiance. When all these things delivered the goods and the Hungarian proletariat was unable to extend its struggle, unite with other proletarian movements in the region, finish with the Bolshevik leadership, and was defeated also by force of arms the government of the Hungarian Council Republic resigned, since it weakened, broke up and was unable to maintain its own power. The resignation was published in Népszava on 2nd of August. Kun and his associates earlier had hoped to get support from the Russian Bolsheviks but the latter were waging bloody war on the agrarian workers, the rich peasant proprietors and the white armies to maintain their power. So they were powerless to help their counter-revolutionary allied in Hungary.

Thus after all these events the restauration of the traditional bourgeois order started gradually. Right-wing social democrats formed a goverment under the direction of Gyula Peidl. By the reorganization of courts, of the police, of the gendarmerie, by giving back the companies to the owners the government built the bases necessary for the reconstruction. The bourgeoisie needed a stabilitating force in the region which was able to ensure the maintenance of the capitalist structures and the smoothness of them in long-term. It had to be able to eliminate the further proletarian resistance and to build a political-economic structure of which the production could be restarted in. Further condition for the stabilization was the signature of the peace-treaty which could adjust the „World War”, so a sound government needed. However, the Romanian troops after the occupation of East-Hungary, made an entry into Budapest on 4th and 5th of August, 1919. Thus the reign of the so-called trade-unionist government led by Peidl was only temporary. On 6th of August, the Romanian troops backed by the Hungarian conservative counter-revolutionary forces occupied the prime minister’s office and dispersed the trade-unionist leadership. The latter a few days earlier had even trusted that the Entente would redeem its promise and in this way they would calmly build a capitalist system, dreamt and led by them. They were wrong.

The counter-revolutionary forces, made an entry into Hungary, were not monolithic. A sphere of interest was represented by the Entente forces, the Hungarian nationalists also separated into different groups, etc. During the rivalry of the counter-revolutionary groups the events were managed more and more by the forces led by Miklós Horthy and by the the Romanian troops. Insomuch as the white guards led by Horthy had the necessary military force and after the fall of the Council Republic they were able to keep under control the major part of the government structures. In this time the reigning governments were only figureheads. The white-terror finished with all forms of proletarian resistance, it was merciless and revenged for the injuries of the bourgeoisie. Where the Romanian troops, which occupied the eastern and the middle part of the country, were not present there the terrorists of the Hungarian officer guards slaughtered the proletarians. They strengthened and extended their internecine war. The captured comrades of the Lenin Lads, who had been the vanguard of the revolution, were fiendishly tormented (just as the middle-age Inquisition did it) and later executed. The revenge of the bourgeoisie was bloodthirsty, it befitted their class blackground. Where Horthy’s troops were marching there were hanged proletarians, broken bones, eyes put out. Meanwhile the Bolshevik-social democratic left-wing took refuge in Austria. Béla Kun and his associates left the country while they deliberately eliminated from this fleeing the anarchists and left-wing Bolsheviks, who tried to hide and to resist in Hungary. The consequences were very depressing: Tibor Szamuely was struck dead by the border guards (or he commited suicide), Ottó Korvin stayed at Budapest and continued the organization, thus he was captured, tormented and later executed (there was an attempt to liberate him but the adventurous action failed). Thousands of militants, myriads of proletarians who were delivered into the hands of the white-terror stayed in Hungary and tried to reorganize our movement.

Beyond the armed terror the white forces used means of propaganda (which was spreading nationalism and revisionary insanity everywhere) and the legitimation of anti-Semitism (a numerus clausus in the case of universities for people of Jewish origin was adopted in 1920) to pacify and to win the Hungarian working class over to the white counter-revolution. In effect the conditions for the capitalist stabilization were given, so the white forces backed by the Entente successfully altered the political structure, and in a few years formed a sound government. Horthy and his associates tried to save their empire (after all they were directly descended from a state-power of which ruling class lost the „World War”), so they offered to the French bourgeoisie to support the intervention against Soviet-Russia with army. This offer, however, didn’t save their empire from the breaking up: the peace-treaty in Versailles, in the Trianon castle was signed in July, 1920. So for them, to the period of „World War I” and of the revolution which ended with huge economic loss, added the „apocalypse” of losing of territories. The territory of Hungary decreased from 282000 km² to 93000 km², its population decreased from 18 million to 7,6 million. The breaking up of the former empire is a serious trauma for the Hungarian far-right to this very day, so they often roar at their demonstrations and at football matches the slogan of „Down with Trianon!”. On the other hand the peace-treaty disunited thousands of working-class families and during the following decades many of them fell for nationalism driven from above and were fighting for bourgeois interests, killing their class fellows – meanwhile the irredentist framing had ever-increasing influence.