[Marxism] Re: Hungary 1956
ozleft at optushome.com.au
Tue Mar 23 17:55:52 MST 2004
Ignorance and amnesia on Marxmail about the Hungarian workers' revolution
By Bob Gould
The Hungarian Revolution in 1956, which was the culmination of the
extraordinary year of upheaval in the Communist movement precipitated by
Khrushchev's Secret Speech exposing Stalin's crimes, was along with the
Secret Speech the defining political experience for hundreds of thousands
of people in and around the Communist movement, including myself at the
age of 19.
The ignorant, nostalgic, semi-Stalinist way these momentous events have
been treated on Marxmail in the last 24 hours defies belief. Someone has
managed to find a book by the subsequent Holocaust revisionist David
Irving about the Hungarian revolution and is using this to imply, just as
the Hungarian and Soviet Stalinists did way back then, that the uprising
had a fascist aspect.
That's rubbish, and can only be sustained by ignoring the vast literature
on the events and the lead-up to them, much of it by eyewitnesses or
participants, many of them Communists.
A young Australian scholar, an anarcho-syndicalist Marxist Sam Russell,
did his PhD on the events in Budpest in 1956, with particular emphasis on
the Budapest Workers' Council. In the course of doing this thesis, he
bought about 70 books on the events from my shop. He delivered part of his
thesis at a recent workers' control conference organised by Jura Books in
Sam Russell's Jura conference paper on the Budapest Workers Council will
be available on Ozleft soon.
The impact of Hungary and the 20th Congress of the CPSU on Communist
Parties in Western Europe, Australia, the US and Canada was enormous, and
many tens of thousands of people broke away from Stalinism because of
The eyewitness literature, which underlines the essentially socialist
character of the popular revolt, is enormous. It includes books and
articles by the Communist Daily Worker journalist Peter Fryer, the British
leftist journalist Basil Davidson, the Hungarian leftist George Palocsi
Horvath (imprisoned in Hungary for nearly seven years), the Australian
Communist writer Eric Lambert, one of the leaders of the Budapest Workers'
Council Balasz Nagy, the proletarian Communist who had worked in the
Hungarian police, Sandor Kopacsi (see his extraordinary memoir, In the
Name of the Working Class), and many other participants and observers.
The crushing of the Hungarian revolution, the murder of Imre Nagy, the
premier, and his associates, and the subsequent crushing of the Prague
Spring, 12 years later, in 1968, all contributed to the total undermining
of any claim that Stalinist barracks-state socialism had any right to
claim the allegiance of the working class on a world scale.
The subsequent collapse of that system in most contries stemmed from its
organic anti-working-class contradictions, not from any fascist
Amnesia, ignorance and the attempt to blacken the names of the tens of
thousands of proletarian revolutionaries who revolted against Stalinism in
1956, and the hundreds of thousands of Communists in the West who
supported them (indluding myself) is ahistorical nonsense.
In due course I will post on Marxmail and Ozleft Sam Russell's
bibliography for his thesis, which is the best bibliography on these
matters I've encountered so far.
In the interim, those who appear so amnesiacally ignorant on these
questions might benefit from reading Australian Communist Frank Hardy's
piece The Heirs of Stalin
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