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(en) Hungary, Barricade Pamphlets, The history and two documents of the Anarchist Group of Budapest

Date Fri, 12 May 2006 20:49:52 +0300

Published by Barricade Collective 2006, spring shmintaka-A-yahoo.com
website: www.anarcom.lapja.hu
Some uncomprehending activists criticized us in not dealing more with the
struggles and problems of the present. These critics probably don't
recognize that we always write about our present - you're blind if you don't
see and feel the invariance. A big part of the working-class movement
which permanently grow richer in experiences, carries further yesterday's
mistakes. As if the past century didn't/couldn't open our eyes! Invariance -
for us, that means both the invariance of the unsolved problems and the
invariance of our programme, because the task is given: we all want to
destroy capitalism for the communist world society. A lof of activists think
that there were fundamental changes in capitalism: they point at the
information society, at the economic crises, at the accelerated rhythm of
life, at post-modernism (as the perfection of the nihilism of bourgeois way
of thinking), at the ecological crises, at the integrating force of capitalism
and at a number of "new" problems which were produced by the capitalist
world of the past period. Not independently from all these - our present
task is the same as that of yesterday. Of course, we have to take into
account the "miracles" of modernity and the time which more and more
loudly resounds the final battle between barbarism and communism.
If we profoundly examine the present working-class movement, we see
that it is a separated wreck drowning in ideological disputes - just like
during the first world war and after the second world war. Some "anarchist
groups" query the importance of organization - turning the problem into
burlesque. A pestilential liberal epidemic makes them say that it is the rape
of "personal freedom" when we're talking about centralization, about party,
about the dictatorship of the proletariat, about red terror. These chattering
so-called "anarchists" - who have never understood the significance of the
dictatorship of the proletariat - still wear liberal clown clothes. They
endlessly enumerate the bloody dates, imagine about burning towns and
about hideous death. They are dying above the corpse of freedom (which in
the reality is the freedom of the value's dictatorship), they throw the
quotations of Marx and Bakunin one after the other, but they doesn't
recognize that the dictatorship of the proletariat in its totality have never
occured in the whirling drift of the revolutions. They falsely identify the
state capitalist terror with the dictatorship of the proletariat. Engels is
wrong when he shouts out and calls the Paris Commune the dictatorship
of the proletariat. He's wrong because there was only an effort to create it.
Just as in 1919, during the Commune of Hungary. And the leadership of
both maintained the system of wage labour, moreover, they supported,
strenghtened it with the slogans of self-management. That anarchist group
which our story tells about usually also wasn't able to exceed those
ideological obstacles which continue to dominate the libertarian
movements until now. It seems that the Alice-tale of Lewis Carroll steps
on the scene of reality. "In the house of the Hatmaker there's always five p.
m.: the time of drinking tea. So, the cups continously empty-fill." The
"winds of invariance" continue to blow, but this invariant theory and praxis
have thousand times squealed about itself, about its haughty moralism,
about its organizational absurdity. If that's all we wouldn't consider it
necessary to write about the anarchist group in question, but during the
Soviet Republic of Hungary for some moments they managed to step
beyond their notion (which reminds of some archeological relics) and to
act as a real proletarian force (though merging in a larger tendency) against
the expropriators of the revolution: the social democratic-bolshevik
The activists of the Anarchist Group of Budapest - which was called at the
beginning the "Budapest Group of Revolutionary Socialists" - went
through the schools of the movement, their journal called Társadalmi
Forradalom (Social Revolution) was established in 1907 by the
anarcho-communist Ervin Batthyány, who was closer to the
anarcho-Marxists William Morris and Ervin Szabó than the group. Getting
bored with the lukewarm "moralizing anarchist" atmosphere, he had
"pedaled" further to London, where his powerlessness became complete
and his movement activity vanished into thin air. Társadalmi Forradalom
followed in the footsteps of Kropotkin, Malatesta and the French
syndicalists, their main topics were attacks against social democracy and
anti-militarism. At the beginning, they cooperated with the Russian
emigration living in Budapest, but the latter was more interested in the
propaganda of act than in the theoretical and practical strenghtening of the
group - so their ways separated. In the focus of the Budapest anarchists'
efforts were anti-parlamentarism, anti-militarism, direct actions and the
practical questions of the general strike, but the activists didn't have a
common opinion. It's a question whether a group which hasn't elaborated
his platform can be considered as serious. In his autobiography, Lajos
Kassák writes about one of the founders of the group, Károly Krausz: "At
Sunday mornings, a couple of us used to met with uncle Krausz in a pub,
and in such cases the old man made real lectures. He was a man with large
knowledge, he had read a lot of German books from sociologists,
philosophers and also poets. From him I heard for the first time about
Goethe's Faust, about Schiller's dramas, but the old man liked to talk
above all about Kropotkin's anarchist ethics. He comprehensibly explained
the meanings of the words 'collectivism' and 'individualism', then he
coupled Stirner's individualism with Marx' communism, and revealed the
socio-theoretical differences between historical materialism and the
Christian religion." Krausz had a background in the circle of the left-wing
religion philosopher Jen? Henrik Schmitt, and being a "moderate activist"
who dealed with the question of moral too much, he often became a mere
pub-table theoretician. He was poisoned by the cult of Nietzsche and
Tolstoy which was wide-spread at the beginning of the century. The
Krausz fraction of the Budapest Group of Revolutionary Socialists took
over the edition of Társadalmi Forradalom after 1908. Earlier Batthyány
had called Krausz and his circle moderate.
This current was more prudent, moralist and theoretical than the actionist
tendency within the group, which wanted to establish syndicalist groups
which could federate in the future. A split took place in 1910, the
syndicalists (together with Ervin Szabó, who have joined them in the
meantime) published their manifesto, which is much more ripe as the
views of Krausz's group, taking into account its critical perspicacity and its
emphasizing of the importance of organization. (We will publish the
manifesto in a future broshure.) The company of Krausz got stuck into the
false slough of intellectual education, and - in spite of attacking social
democracy - they too outlined the programme of instructing the workers:
"We have to instruct the workers how to begin the struggle against dogma,
authority, state and every centralized power. That means nothing else than
the raising of the banner of anarchy."
This odd clichés, stuffy slogans always return as some ghosts, and are
dancing around the fractions of the working class even today. Decades
later, Ken Knabb will demonstrate for the Tokyo group "Libertaire" its own
conservativism: "Contrary to your suggestion that while other anarchists
perhaps had many of the faults that I criticized, you 'Japanese anarchists'
were somehow different, I must say that you are unfortunately quite
typical, in no way different from anarchists in other countries." - says
cinically the critic. "You rummage among the corpses of Proudhon, the
male-chauvinist ideologue of small cooperative capitalism; of 'our
Bakunin', the proto-bolshevik; of World War I supporter Kropotkin; of the
state-collaborating Spanish CNT (now once again trying to
bureaucratically 'organize' the struggles of the radical Spanish proletariat);
and of various old oriental imitators thereof. You want to construct a
mythical history for yourselves because you don't know how to make real
history now." That's why we wrote about invariance in the beginning of
our introduction. According to our conviction, the programme of the
proletariat is invariant, but every idea, point of view, programme, which
was proved to be false by the historical experiences, must be thrown out
from the steamship of the present. Invariance is also many-sided, some
groups consisting of working-class members weaken our struggle and send
it back to a former stage of development which was already superseded by
capitalism. But the insights of the former movement hadn't become a total
practical force of anarcho-communism. The mere anti-etatism in itself
(which does not take into account that the domination of capital stands
higher than the states), the confusing of the bourgeois centralism with the
organical centralization of the proletariat, the division of the struggle to
economic and political terrains, the enlargement of the externally
"brought-in" and "learned" class consciousness, and also the ouvrierism
and other "infantile disorders" - all these are fillips to the organical
development of the movement. Marx's critique of the "left-wing
liberalism" (Proudhon, Stirner) and the consequent anarcho-communist
movement's historical line of development can also be understood as a
general criticism of "revolutionary egoism" - but it has no effect in some
"anarchist circles". Although the proletarian struggles confirmed the
correctness of the former critiques and these always became an effective
force of the class-stuggle avant-garde - it was not the case in the whole
movement. The movement of the proletariat is divided, and capitalism
benefits from this division.
"Anarchy and Culture", the text of Károly Krausz which is published
below, justifies our criticism. This text is far from reaching the level of that
period's class-struggle literature. It is much more similar to a prophetical
revelation from the beginning of the 20. century, as to a manifesto from a
revolutionary epoch. The summary of the world-view of the group, also
published below, is a reflection of the old ideas. They reject the consistent
program of the proletariat (3rd point). In the 4th point we can see the
formerly mentioned cult of personality. The whole text is a totally liberal
manifestation. It is absolutely wrong. Obviously, the question is not, what
a group considers itself to be, and also not the class position of its
members (usually it is clear). The real question: does its activity hinder the
development of the movement or does it give impulse to this development?
In order to answer to this question (concerning this specific group), we
must go beyond the studying of their texts and point out, that they
managed to do progressive activity, getting out from their "drowsy
literatary dead-ends". (We mention, that they had also written better
writings that those below.)
"The present communism is nothing else than terrorist social-democracy,
and they have only tactical differences with the ordinary social-democracy"
- wrote the comrades of the anarchist Társadalmi Forradalom at 22nd of
April, 1919. Their activity was pushed to the periphery, but they
continously attacked the Soviet government which obviously couldn't bear
the criticism of the revolutionaries. Since they called that goverment to
account about the consequent proletarian dictatorship, which was the
executive organ of the professional worker-leaders, and which was
amalgamated in a process of compromises and vile tactics. In the 15th of
April issue of its newspaper, the Anarchist Group of Budapest greeted the
government with restraint - they took the false position of "critical
support". After that, the members of the group tasted very quickly the
poisoned wine of the bolshevik-social democratic pact - a sign of that is the
above quoted statement. At first they were optimistic and co-operated with
the Soviet government - but they urged the proletariat to be vigilant
towards the power. In the 15th of April issue of Társadalmi Forradalom,
they publish an article entitled "The revolutionary dictatorship of the
proletariat", in which they explain that "under the dictatorship, all the
human rights of freedom are suspended, but we believe that this
deprivation of rights does not apply to the parties of the proletariat". The
writing separates the party from the revolutionary masses and arrives to the
social-democratic proposition of "let us explain to the workers, that the
road towards the future goes through the revolutionary dictatorship" - that
means, that the party must put the proletariat wise and bring (or beat) the
class consciousness into the heads. This statement is so revealing, that it
makes absolutely clear, why the group of Krausz was open towards the
Soviet government - their basic ideas had a social-democratic basis. It's a
fact that the article also warns, that the dictatorship of the proletariat must
ruthlessly be used against the capitalists. It's a nice platitude, but it also
tells a lot, that they accepted the self-styled dictatorship of the proletariat
merely because of tactical reasons - which in reality was an attempt of the
social democratic-bolshevik party, above the proletariat. But the
collaboration of this group didn't last for long. The reasons for this: the
government exiled these so-called anarchist cells to the periphery; it made
impossible the functioning of other collaborating tendencies which gave
critical support (as the journal of Kassák); and it was also important, that in
spite of its partial support, the Anarchist Group of Budapest didn't turn into
a bureaucratic cogwheel of the goverment's machinery. For some time,
they remained proclamators of the human rights of freedom in a
Tolstoyan-Kropotkinian spirit, who uniterruptledly emphasized the
importance of "the education to consciousness and the free economical
co-operation based on personal freedom". They played a role of a
supervisor who checked whether the government had fulfilled its promises.
They fought for democratic rights, they stood for separate interests, and it
was more important for them to gain the rights of liberty as the liquidation
of the bourgeois dictatorship.
When Ottó Korvin, with a quite consequent movementary past behind
him, became the leader of the political police at the time of the forming of
the Soviet government - he left his former intransigent position, he decided
to participate in the power of the government (which was far not
exclusively directed against the bourgeoisie), although he had opposed the
fusion of the "communist" and the social democratic party. It's possible
that he didn't recognize the counter-revolutionary nature of the Governing
Council - but in this case, why he supported (because he supported!) the
class-struggle resistance against it? He helped to regenerate the anarchist
movement when the Andrássy palace was requisited for the anarchists, he
gave financial support to Társadalmi Forradalom, he released the
communist Kogan and the anarchist Bojtor who had been arrested by the
company of Kun.

Ottó Korvin

In April, at the time of the elections of the workers' and soldiers' deputies,
the anarchists and syndicalists won a majority in the council of Budapest's
VIIIth district. The Governing Council couldn't let this and anulled the
result of the elections. After this, a lot of members left the ruling party and
- co-operating with the group around Krausz - established the Anarchist
Union. They organized discussion circles, tried to enlarge the social basis
of the revolution. Those "left-wing communists" who had remained in the
party, were travellers of two ships at the same time: they tried to do harm
to the social-democratic line "from within" and overcome it, and on the
other hand, they supported the proletarian forces outside the party - instead
of breaking with the Soviet government without hesitation. We told the
story of this in another publication (Self-organizing Proletariat in the
Austro-Hungarian Monarchy 1918-19), so we only mention it here. The
"left-wing communists" inside the party and the anarchists outside of it
found each other, but their relationships were far not unproblematic
because the "damage-makers from within" and the attackers from outside
were not on the same platform. Afterwards, they were pushed to a
common platform - by the reality. The class struggle elements organized
an uprising at July, but the plan became public. From the sources accesible
today it's not possible to get a clear picture: Korvin and Szamuely - both
were involved in the "conspiracy" - remained untouched, while two
"left-wing communists" from the Ukraine were killed and many others had
to fleet. A lot of points of the story are foggy, but we won't write about
these now. It's a fact that the insurgents, the vanguard of the revolution
which was hardened by the former proletarian struggles, wanted to get
square with the whole Soviet government, they prepared to liquidate its
clearly social-democratic part and push the company of Kun to periphery.
(Why not to liquidate Kun, too? The source of their naivity: they
considered that Kun is not a hangman but a "victim".) Stepping on the
road of the consequent proletarian dictatorship, they wanted to continue
the war against the camp of counter-revolution whether it calls itself white
or red. We won't foreshadow what would happen if the
anarcho-communist revolution broke out. The revolutionaries were few in
number, but a lot of the members of the working class watched the leaders
of the Soviet Republic with dissatisfaction and felt directly that between the
old and the "new" order there isn't a big difference for them - they were
exploited just like before. Not long after, the white terror of Horthy
apparently plunged the revolutionary elements and the
counter-revolutionary leftists in the same camp. The Soviet Republic
collapsed. Kun and his friends left Korvin in Hungary with the task of
re-organization of the party. Korvin was humpbacked and his activity
during the revolution was widely-known. This way Kun settled the bill with
him. Korvin couldn't supersede his former mistakes, his unusual
inconsistency, romanticism and naivity deluded him. Szamuely was
captured on the border, the Lenin Guys were massacred, some
communists continued to fight in Russia and in other places. The
bolshevik career of Kun (and his comrades-in-arms) lasted until the
Thermidor of Stalin, then he became an obstacle for the system for which
he eagerly worked throughout his life. The social democrats merrily
continued their proletarian-killer activity.
The history of the Anarchist Group of Budapest in fact ended with the
formation of the Anarchist Union. We tried to treat this "little intermezzo"
and the group's contradictory activity (in which the negative elements
dominated) in this text. The revolutionary wave lifted it up - the group
moved towards revolutionary activity and got out from the myth of
individualism. The tone of their articles is cautious, but in practice (in spite
of their tacticist attempts) they tried to establish the proletarian unity, and -
instead of the "theoretical pseudo-dictatorship of the proletariat" (about
which they wrote, too) - they moved towards the real dictatorship of the
proletariat - querying that ideology which was earlier propagated by them.

Barricade Collective
Spring of 2006
Budapest Anarchist Group:
Summary of the World-view of the Anarchists in Hungary


The capitalist social order was based on the exploitation of
labor, its survival was only in the interest of the capitalist
exploiters and their satellites. The present form of social
coexistence, the state, only increased the great existing
inequalities of wealth; its militarism and system of justice
took the life of the best and most independent proleterians.


Anarchism wants to achieve the end of class, domination
and exploitation and to buüd a social order free of
domination, based on the self-governing community.


Anarchists are for permanent development and do not
postulate a set program but fight incessantly for the
achievement of anarchist society.


The anarchists wish to reach a new morality by the
unity of individual development with the sense of humán cooperation.
They desire the freedom of the individual as
long as it does not infringe upon the freedom of others.


During the building of socialist society they intend to
organize society and labor in a free manner.
They demand from every government the assurance of free agitation.


They fight against all social formations and institutions
sustained by coercion, such as the state, the fatherland,
religion, church, pseudo-morality, and capital.


In economic terms we wish to accomplish not state
socialism which paralyzes individuality but the free and
brotherly association of workers both in subjective and
objective terms, with the exclusion of all external
domination, that is, complete and unconditional
freedom in political and economic respects alike.


Anarchists regard the one-sidedness of education as one of
the major wellsprings of the faults of present-day society.
Therefore, they wish to make men more conscious and
educate them for a dominion-free society.


Anarchism will enhance all that which is inherently good
in men. The society in which poverty, ignorance, bad
ex-amples, hatred, and daily struggle for bread forces men to
crime will be replaced by one in which love and mutual
assistance will dominate as natural laws.


Anarchism fights for the common interests of mankind.
Everyone is welcome to join who does not wish to be an
authority or power and does not wish to be dominated by others.

These are the main points which constitute the first steps
towards a mentally developed man, in order to separate
from the old man all that is animal-like in him.
If that occurs, mankind will soon reach its final aim, for after
thousands of years of suffering and quest it will have found itself.
(Published as an appendix to: E. Reclus, Anarchy, Budapest 1919, pp.
Károly Krausz:
Anarchy and Culture
The two words - anarchy and culture - in fact express the same thing: such
a moral, mental, and economic condition of mankind that has never
existed yet, but will and necessarily has to come about, for the direction of
the laws of social development leads there.
Humans originate in the animal kingdom; ape, humanoid ape, apelike man
developed from lower to higher forms, to humans. They left the animal
world because they satisfied their needs not with teeth, horns, or nails, but
with brains. The more they use their brains, the more humán they are.
Man is a social being, and the foundation, the guarantee of society's
survival, is morality. Ethics is based on life. The better it assures the life of
society's members the more it fulfills its task. These are experimental facts
and theoretical truths. Thus, man is a social, therefore moral, being, and
became that through his mental capacity. This road of development has led
from animal existence through barbarism to civilization. Culture did not
exist so far, except for a few individuals, for others there was only
civilization, the training of the beast-man in order to make him human.
There was no society, merely associations, interest groups which had and
still have their own particular ethics, in continuous conflict devouring each
other, in the past as cannibals, nowadays not corporally, as capitalists.
Man, as a sensible creature, recognizes this situation and necessarily
strives to make an end to it. This struggle is expressed in the program of
anarchism; this is anarchism's fight. The rising of intellectual level, the
awakening of self-knowledge and consciousness, the creation of culture
lead from the human to the Übermensch, the god-man or, simply, the
cultured man. To my mind, this is the present task of anarchism: to
achieve freedom. But freedom presupposes equality, and equality is not
possible without brotherhood. Or in other words: from "autonomous
personality" through "autonomous community" to federative union of
nations. That all those distinctions which cause hatred have to be
abolished is as clear as any mathematical formula: national dividers, such
as "French-German"; religious ones, such as "Jew-Christian", economic
ones, such as "bourgeois-proletarian" - all have to be removed in order; for
man to resurrect himself.

The anarchist has dispensed with all prejudice, eliminated all dividing
walls, he knows of nothing else but what Zarathustra searched for: the
man of the future. The anarchist is the prophet, the harbinger, the man of
the future: a man of culture who creates culture. The present is his past.
He cannot be even the gravedigger of the present, for the present for him is
but a gravestone. To be an anarchist means to be a man of culture. The
anarchist movement is a cultural movement. The word anarchism is not a
monopoly, it is used by many, and, hence, there are many who call
themselves anarchists; but the true anarchist is the man of culture, the
man of the future. Anarchist is he who in a progressive spirit says: I don't
ount our numbers; I confess and feel myself to be one; I don't seek to find
out whether I am alone; I go my way like the eagle, lonely.

I cannot accept as an anarchist movement - I mean a truly anarchist one
and not only one that calls itself so - any other than a cultural one. Yet no
one should think that today's struggle is futile. The poor oppressed and
neglected workingman is the foundation, the mainspring, and the motive
force of the future-but only if we can lift him from the present and
transplant him into the future. The task is not to incite hatred, to preach
fighting, and to deepen antagonism, but to steel his will, to develop his
spirit, to enhance his human dignity, and to raise up his morality. If he
reaches these heights, no power will dare to oppose him. Thus will he
become the bearer of culture-an anarchist. Awake proletarian - be human!

(Társadalmi Forradalom [Social Revolution], 5 July 1919.)

Proletarian activists of the journal "Ma" in emigration
Vienna, 1922
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