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(en) History of the Class Struggle in Hungary, 1919-1945 Published by the anarchist Barricade Collective IV. (4/4)

Date Tue, 12 Feb 2008 22:37:47 +0200

Can we brake walls with dialectics? (2.) ---- Pál Justus was member of the MSZDP
since 1925. He wrote for different journals, for example, for the leftist Együtt
(‘Together’), which was hallmarked by Lajos Nagy. Soon after he bacame one of
the formers and main publicists of Munka. He wrote actively, organized seminars,
debated and read (Marx, Lukács, Korsch etc.), widened his knowledge. In 1930
Justus together with his activist associates opposed Kassák. They criticized
that Kassák and his associates were passive and antinomic in the field of class
struggle, since they attacked the 100% which was the organ of the Bolshevik
party, but yet they often commended the Soviet Union. Justus wrote that they
lacked the political activity and thought that the circle did mainly cultural
work, so instead of this „it’s necessary and also possible to start a new,
revolutionary socialist movement, which is independent of the two existing
parties. It has to be much more leftist than the left wing of the social
democratic party, but it has to be independent also of the communist party.” Due
to the heated debate between Kassák and Lajos Szabó in the spring of 1930 the
rupture became obvious and the radicals were expelled from the circle. Justus
and his comrades (Lajos Szabó and Pál Partos who were influenced by Karl Korsch,
and the latter had contacts with the FAI during the proletarian revolution in
Spain) established their own circle, the Diákoppozíció (‘Student Opposition’),
which in fact never formed a close, centralized movement. As Ádám Tábor wrote,
out of the oppositionists Lajos Szabó and his fellows not even during their
Marxist period believed in any “socialist state”, they were so
anti-institutionalist that Lajos Szabó’s movementary name was AO, which meant
“Anti-Organization”. This name, however, expressed not only their
anti-Bolshevism, but the fact that they didn’t understand the necessity of the
communist party and were unable to clarify what draws a distinction between the
communist and the democratic workers’ movement. Beyond the fragmentary critiques
towards the conception of the party there are no signs (there are no written
sources at all) of that they would have dealt with the questions of the party
and class profoundly. Karl Korsch’s effect partially matured as Pál Partos and
his comrades, who were in regular relationship with Korsch, propagated the
latter’s theses of „anti-organization” which asserted that „at the time of
relative social peace the danger of bureaucratization and congelation is
inherent in all organizations”. Because of the danger of detection only
distantly related groups have to be organized at the time of the
counter-revolutionary period, which would have inner autonomy and would function
according to this. Korsch rejected the bourgeois politics and their mode of
organization, and was nearing the council-communists already at this time, and
got in contact with them soon after. But with the rejection of bourgeois
politics the council-communists as well as their followers disclaimed not only
the trade unions and parliamentarism, but the necessity of the communist party;
they were superficial since they mixed the Bolshevik party with the communist
one. The conflicts between Partos and his comrades, who were “orthodox
Korschists” and Fuchs and his comrades, who were influenced by Trotskyism
intensifyed inside the opposition. Partos was for the anti-organization while
Fuchs argued for the Trotskyist party organization. Korsch’s above-cited idea
was accepted only by ten members of the oppositon (according to certain sources
the opposition consisted of 60 members, other sources assert that there were 100
members or more). Pál Fuchs and his comrades followed rather Trotsky, but they
didn’t form a fraction or a party, while they was nearing Demény and his group,
but the latter didn’t tolerate Fuchs’s criticism towards the Soviet Union in
long term, so continued alliance was not formed between them. While Justus and
his comrades moved towards council-communism during their theoretical activity,
although they couldn’t establish a separate movement. Instead of this remained
the debates, without any practice…
Pál Justus was also influenced by Trotsky (for instance in certain
prevarications: Justus and his fellows took part in the municipal electioneering
of the social democratic party in exchange for the infrastructure they got from
them; and it was not by accident that Justus became one of the mouthpieces of
the party after „World War II” – true, not for long), but he was not Trotskyist,
even if he argued for him against Stalin. The oppositionists should have
reconsidered their passivity in order to achieve further radicalisation and to
outrun their own former limits by forming communist party-cells. Partos and his
comrades, however, were able only to help the formation of an actually active
council-communist movement, but they didn’t take part in its consolidation. They
engaged in effervescent discussions with the movement hallmarked by Iván
Hartstein, which moved towards radical positions, through the KIMSZ it neared
Trotskyism and afterwards its members outran these positions and became
militants of the communist movement. The radical oppositionists wanted to
influence the Bolshevik youngs in the KIMSZ, so they had long debates regularly,
which often ended with scuffles. In spite of this they sought each other because
the oppositionists were in need of educating (beating), enlightening their
Stalinist class brothers, who were functioning under the influence of the party,
but on the other hand were the neighbour young proles who were also victims of
the system just as them. We don’t know much about the topics of the debates what
Justus and his comrades had inside their circle and out of it: they disclaimed
the socialist nature of the Soviet Union and were roaming basically on the
above-mentioned roads. József Román, one of the „enlightened” Bolshevik partners
in these debates wrote about his discussions with an oppositionist, Dénes Lőwy
as follows: „He usually explicated that the direction of social development
requires more flexible readjustment of Marxism to the changing technical and
scientific conditions. The military featured, centralist organization of the
movement is dangerous, threatening and unadaptable in such conditions, the
assertion of absolute obedience prohibits the political alteration and
flexibility of the party. My answers, however, were basically same as the
curriculums of the recent seminars… in spite of that I was iterating the
well-known arguments the discussions impregnated me.”
In 1931 Lajos Szabó, Andor Szirtes, Pál Justus, Béla Tábor, Károly Heinlein and
Pál Partos translated and published with their commentaries Marx’s Contribution
to the Critique of Political Economy under the pseudonym of „Lantos”. Korsch
commended the commentaries exceedingly (otherwise the book is unavailable). In
spite of this the opposition didn’t form an organical unity and its disruption
was as quick as its formation. In 1933 the Viennese police found the copy of
Lenin’s testament written against Stalin (it was sent to Hungary through Szabó
by Korsch) in Lajos Szabó’s pocket. The police thought he was a communist agent,
so after one week remandment he was deported to Paris. Justus called out his
workfellows for strike, so he was fired in 1932. He went to Paris where he got
in touch with the Cercle d’études Scientifigues which was established by Boris
Souvarine and also with Carlo Roselli’s and Lucien Larat’s group. He was
inspired also by them and moved towards more radical positions. He came to know
the truth about the frame-ups in Paris (Justus and a few activists organized a
demonstration in Budapest in front of the Soviet embassy in 1937 and stood up
for Bukharin and his fellows). While Justus was member of the social democratic
party and was leading seminars, he finished his book A szocializmus útja (’The
Course of Socialism’) in 1942, and afterwards he attached an epilogue to it.
Justus analysed fascism from council-communist point of view and pointed out
that democracy and dictatorship were not antagonistic political forms,
antagonistic bourgeois attitudes and ideologies, but two successive phases of
the capitalist development of society. He also developed that the bourgeoisie
had to militarize itself „in order to brake all forms of resistance of the
working class and to make these impossible institutionally, or else the only
solution of the serious crisis of accumulation, that is the quick and radical
depression of the living standards of the working class, can not be achieved.”
He analysed the process in which fascism became a mass movement and came to the
only sound conclusion that in the rivalry of the capitalists two fractions of
capital faced each other in the forms of fascism/antifascism, while both of them
gained their hinterland from the working class. The internationalist program of
revolutionary defetism clearly appeared in the text when Justus pointed out that
the task of the movement was not supporting democracy against fascism, but
giving assistance to socialism against capitalism. Our comrade rejected the
popular front and indicated that it led to the abandonment of class struggle, as
well as it came into power only there (in France in 1936), where the „danger of
fascism” was not actual. Through the analyses of class structure Justus
demonstrated how the small-proprietor exploited stratum was manipulated and
militarized by its reality. Nor did he dissemble that the working class „due to
the fear of unemployment, didn’t dare to use its great economic and social
armament, and the weapons had already known and used were knocked out of the
hands of the unemployed. There remained the political weapon, the only one which
was known by the reformist conscience: the ballot-paper. The working class voted
once and once again, five times, ten times and according to the electoral
statistics larger and larger masses were ‘radicalised’. It waited, however, in
vain that its political parties, for which it voted, would change its
conditions. In the same way the workers who recognized the crisis of capitalism
consciously were unable to fight for socialism, since in their decomposing,
reformist ideas socialism was merely an uncertain generality, a fair epilogue of
festal speeches, and moreover class war against capitalism meant endangering of
the still existing jobs.” Justus’s observations are still actual today, but we
have to amplify them, because today the outpost of capitalism is not the
triunity of fascism, classic social democracy and Bolshevism, but a more complex
dictatorship of capitalist democracy which, however, assimilates all these
Justus condemned the old parties, just as his West European comrades did, but
he also depicted the communist movement as the heir of social democracy. We
totally disagree with this. Communism arose from the process of class struggle,
from the movements, struggles which had developed through experiences and had
been formed by the Servile wars, the medieval socialistic heretic movements,
peasants’ revolts and by the modern proletarian movements. Justus, like
Pannekoek and others, was unable to outrun workers’ councils, because he deduced
the antagonism of democracy and communism from a false starting-point. The
council-communists who had grown up on social democracy and on its Marxism were
unable to abandon this tradition and they criticized mainly its mode of
organization, thus they fixated on the level of self-management. But, if we
review our predecessors mentioned above (make no mistake council-communism is
also one of our predecessors) partially the praxis of abolition of value,
property, democracy and of work could be seen within the framework of the given
mode of production. The totality, however, can be brought about only by the
party of historical materialism, the communist party. So in these years Justus
took up the line of council-communism (in theory), while he was member of the
social democratic party and was trying to push it towards the left. Nor he
managed to solve this flagrant contradiction, since in Hungary didn’t emerge
such classist resistance during „World War II” which would have followed the
praxis of revolutionary defetism.


Beyond the opposition – a communist party-cell: the council communists in Hungary

The history of the council-communist comrades in Hungary represents the course
of the communist vanguard which was maintaining the communist program in this
region most consistently after the proletarian revolution of 1918-1919. This
party-cell was born from the opposition, our comrades made the round of the
different stages of the movement. Hartstein and his comrades split form the
already mentioned KIMSZ and from the youth organization of the social democratic
party. They took part in Weisshaus’s circles, afterwards they outran these and
established gradually the communist group which was acting as part of our
internationalist struggle. József Román wrote about the beginning period as
follows: „The discussion-seminar started already on Saturday afternoon. Three
leaders – this term prevailed – of the group were Iván Hartstein, Vucsinovics
and Laci Fürth. One of them, Hartstein – who usually was unsurpassable –
delivered a lecture… His very home were politics, with all nooks and corners of
Marxism, with imposing quotations not only from Marx, but from Hilferding,
Reich, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin. The main topics were: the commodity, primitive
accumulation, the labour theory of value.” The rememberers usually point out the
lively style of debating of the group, their fresh, effervescent, inspirative
presence which was free from Bolshevik doctrinarianism. Accordingly, Hartstein
and his comrades were constantly targets for the Stalinists who condemned them
as provokers, police spies, liquidators, in order to make their activity
impossible. In 1929 Hartstein and his comrades formed the Marxista Ellenzéki
Front (‘Marxist Oppositionist Front’) whose activists, due to the lack of huge
membership (it consisted of 30 or 40 members), usually mingled in the crowd in
demonstrations, movementary assemblies, gatherings of the left-wing parties and
agitated, provoked them and tried to radicalise the situation. They also
agitated among the unemployed in front of the employment agencies, like the GIK
did in the Netherlands. Their journal the Jövő – Marxista Munkásszemle (‘Future
– Marxist Workers’ Review’) was published from the spring of 1930, ten times a
year. They usually wrote short, compact articles in which they emphasized the
continuity of proletarian struggles and always attacked categorically the
“left-wing reformism”. In their article written about this they wrote as
follows: “The social democratic party can be recognized first of all by its huge
bureaucracy. The KMP also. A huge, earth-bound and faineant bureaucracy is
proper to this movement; behind the social democrat bureaucracy, however, stand
masses, then again the KMP has a bureaucracy without masses. Naturally these
well-paid bureaucrats do not take part actively in the practical tasks and in
the organization of actions. They only direct. They are the ‘coriphaei’, the
members of the ‘upper organ’. They think that the second council republic could
be established ‘only’ by direction. Of course it’s easier, especially as it
doesn’t accompany with such danger.” They wrote about the perspectives of world
revolution (in this article they still penned that the revolutions had been
defeated, except in Russia!), and about parliamentarism, in this question they
took up a clear communist line. They posed against the prevarication of the
Bolsheviks that “Parliamentarian work is the work of class-peace. The liberation
of the working class is possible only through the class struggle. Only such a
movement really represents the interests of the working class which wages a
class war for its liberation!” At the same time, they didn’t reject the
Comintern completely, they dated its deformation from 1923 (at this time, they
were still trapped by the theories of degeneration). In their article, they
attacked the hesitant politics of the Comintern, because “if there is a
revolutionary situation, then it is opportunist, and if there is stabilization,
then it is revolutionary and putschist”. Frankly speaking, according to them,
the Third International didn’t size up realistically the possibilities of the
revolution, and it hindered the development of the proletariat’s struggle by its
wrong decisions. For example, they came up with the Chinese revolution, in which
the Comintern had intervened by insisting on the politics of popular front and
it hadn’t supported the formation of an independent communist party. Moreover,
the Comintern adopted the slogan of ‘social fascism’, it didn’t see that “social
democracy means a democratic, fascism means an openly dictatorial bourgeois
rule, and although both serve the oppression of the working class – one is
nevertheless a democracy, while the other is a dictatorship. Instead of pointing
at the betrayals of the workers made by reformism, [Comintern] attacks it in
such a way which nobody takes seriously.” These short citates make it clear
enough that at this time the journal Jövő took an oppositionist position, but it
had already some communist overtones.

They regarded social democracy simply as a traitor, and didn’t consider it a
counter-revolutionary tendency from the beginning. They mentioned the
differences between social democracy and fascism, but they came up with bad
reflections. What must be emphasized much more that social democracy differs
from fascism not only in its political democracy (pluralism, liberal civil
rights, parliamentarism, etc.), in its outward methods, but these two are
historically different reactions to the given crises of the capitalist society.
The present social democracy differs from the classic social democratic movement
not because it doesn’t use the class terminology, not because it detached itself
from Marxist orthodoxy or because it doesn’t call the stupefied workers to
strike, but this difference is dictated to it by the dynamics of the modern
capitalist society. Its ideology and practice are formed by the intensified
accumulation of capital: it gets a new image with its more and more perverted
nationalism, with the myths about the disappearance of the working class. So,
the higher level of exploitation, the organization of labour “modernizes” the
leftist fractions of the capitalists and urges them to new efforts. Instead of
Eduard Bernstein, there is Anthony Giddens. If it is necessary, social democracy
becomes militant just like in the past (Noske, Vienna 1934, the Iraq-politics of
Tony Blair etc.), and we also mustn’t forget that Bolshevism is the heir of
classic social democracy, a regenerated leftist bourgeois reform force. That
means, both tendencies belong to the democratic dictatorship of capital, but if
fascism uses primarily the ambitious “middle strata” of the working class
(clerks, small retailers, smallholders) to achieve its goals, social democracy
tries to legitimate itself by swinging round the whole of the working class. “At
the beginning of monopole capitalism, big capital confronts a complex of small
existences. The higher profit of the industrial branches with the biggest
composition of capital emerge from the profit of those working with a lower
composition, a part of the extra cartel gain is paid not by the allied
capitalists. So, the common interest would turn the ‘middle class’ against
monopole capital, but this interest is crossed by another interests. There is a
common opposition against the demands of the working class, moveover, since the
social burdens are much heavier, often unbearable for the smaller capitalists,
their anti-socialist behaviour is extremely pugnacious. And, since a real
antagonism is added to its formerly ideological anti-worker position by the
attaining of the proletarian demands and the welfare achievements, the ‘old
middle class’ in the process of proletarianization is the one from which the
first commando units of big capital are chosen – both in the direct and the
indirect sense of the word” – writes Pál Justus in his shockingly powerful book,
which presented a radical analysis of this question in 1931.

The group around Hartstein organized also within the above presented MÁMSZ
(which they joined individually); the police later put an end to this when it
took legal action against Barnabás Fürth and his comrades, charging them with
‘Bolshevik agitation’. They had to step on the road of complete organizational
independence, and the impetus of their development also didn’t render it
possible for them to wheel and deal. This time the Trotskyist influences still
dominate Jövő. Although they condemn the Bolshevik conception of ‘socialism in
one country’, they attack only the Stalinist leadership, arguing in defence of
Trotsky. “Ultimately, the antagonism between Stalin and Trotsky is the
antagonism between two classes” – they wrote, and they expounded that in their
view, Trotsky defended the interests of the proletariat in the questions of the
Chinese revolution, of the five-year plan economy, of the Comintern etc. Several
years before, Hartstein had sought contacts with the Trotskyists in Berlin and
Vienna – with Leninbund, for example –, and he was still dreaming about the
formation of a new, Bolshevik-type party while marching with the whole group
towards council communism. This transitional period is reflected also by the
articles published by the group – in one place the group emphasizes the
revolutionary role of the workers’ councils, but it does not argue completely
for them, and it doesn’t turn against the left wing of Bolshevism. The decisive
step was made as a result of the discussions with the oppositional line
represented by Partos and his comrades. Those around Hartstein reorganized their
group, and together with Barnabás Fürth – who had been released from prison –
they founded the Magyarországi Baloldali Kommunisták Szervezete (‘Organization
of Hungarian Left Communists’, MBKSZ). They gradually became more and more
radical and started to make actions, for instance, they organized a
demonstration in front of the Magyarországi Építőmunkások Országos Szövetsége
(‘National Union of Hungarian Construction Workers’) headquarters. Marching away
from there, the demonstrators smashed the shop-windows and upset the bourgeois
places of entertainment like the Hauer confectioner’s, they looted and
expropriated all over the downtown.

New epoch

MEF had stepped on the road of the revolution already at the time of its
founding, but this was fulfilled only when Barnabás Fürth traveled to Germany
and returned reinforced by comradely contacts which inspired and radicalized the
group. In Germany, Fürth met the comrades from KAPD, from the Intransigent Left,
from AAUD-E around Rühle and the activists from the German Industrial Union
(DIV) which was the German brother organization of MÁMSZ. He also met communists
who were active in other countries. Discussions followed each other, and after
the clarification of the programs comrade Fürth received financial help and, of
course, a lot of movement literature: among others, Pannekoek’s World Revolution
and Communist Tactics, the publications of KAPD, Gorter’s Open Letter to Comrade
Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg’s writing on the Russian revolution and Trotsky’s Letter
to the German Worker-Communists. The group intended to publish these in
Hungarian, but except of one brochure – it was published in 1933, under the
title Weimartól a horogkeresztig (‘From Weimar to the Swastika’) – at last they
didn’t publish anything from these. They changed the title of their journal;
from now, it was called Osztályharc (‘Class Struggle’) – and the slogan “All
power to the workers’ councils!” appeared on the heading . The journal was even
more radical, more complex and, all in all, more centralized than before.

About Stalinism

The illusions about Bolshevism gradually flew away; nevertheless, they continued
to separate Stalinism from Bolshevism, and they didn’t criticize the latter in
its entirety but only its actually ruling form. They considered that Stalinism
is counter-revolutionary as it was. They reproached the Stalinists with the
following: “a real revolutionary workers’ organization differs from reformism
exactly in the fact that it defends solely the interests of the proletariat and
it has nothing to do with the petty bourgeoisie. When KMP calls the workers and
peasants in its leaflets to fight for land and liberty, in what does it differ
from the social democrats? That it wheels and deals with the petty bourgeois
elements? No – this question cannot be presented like this. The social democrats
package all their betrayals into the anyhow explainable concept of tactics. KMP
does the same.” In another writing, they revealed that the Soviet Union was
flirting with the capitalists, and they stated that “there can never be peace
between capitalism and socialism”. Usually they tried to uncover the politics of
the Kremlin – this was necessary because in Hungary KMP stupefied its adherents
and propagated the magnificence of the USSR by telling that the wise leadership
fought with its brilliant “revolutionary politics” for world communism. That’s
why the group laid so much stress on the young Bolsheviks; it didn’t consider
them mature counter-revolutionaries, and it had right, because the world-view of
these activists was not petrified, these were exploited reflecting to their
weekdays, who were also manipulated by that ‘mind industry’ which had got the
closest to them. The articles of MBKSZ about the Soviet Union are not based on a
critical support, they point at the fact that in this country wage labour and
exploitation continue to prevail: “If there was a dictatorship of the
proletariat in the USSR, if it exercised its dictatorship as a class, if it
disposed over the productive apparatus, then nothing would determine the
inequality of the wages, then it wouldn’t act against its own interests, and
those workers wouldn’t be harassed, exiled and imprisoned – like the despotic
Tsarism did it with the revolutionaries – who dare to criticize in the soviets
of the self-styled proletarian state. State capitalism removes private capital,
the only change is that state capitalism took the place of private capitalism,
but wage labour – as the birthmark of capitalism – remains. The class
differences also exist, because the means of production are not in the hands of
proletarian councils but in those of the state bureaucracy; therefore it is
impossible to liquidate the causes of class differences within the framework of
the second five-year plan, so, one cannot speak yet about the realization of
socialism. The tempo of the Russian industry’s development is not yet a proof of
socialism. We can see the same in the development of private capitalism in the
USA… Therefore we can quite safely call the second five-year plan the bluff of

About fascism

According to MBKSZ, fascism is dangerous not only because it represents a
brutal armed oppression for the capitalists’ interests, but also because it
tries to influence the masses of workers mentally as well. “It pretends to be
anti-capitalist in order to be able to penetrate the workers’ minds, it declares
itself an enemy of exploitation and private property and fights against them [Of
course, the latter is not true since fascism attacks only certain fractions of
the bourgeois class and tries to depict this, which is part of its social
demagogy, as a general anti-capitalist attempt – Barricade Collective]. Its
dream is the fascist state, which stands above the classes, which equalizes the
antagonism between capital and labour and at the same time… prepares this way
ideologically the imperialist war.” It tries to delude the unschooled workers by
emphasizing the national idea, the non-existent concept of homeland. “The
bourgeoisie sees that reformism cannot prevent the proletarians from being
revolutionized, so it tries to carry a new ideology, a dangerous capitalist
ideology into the working masses. But the fascist ideology can influence – but
just to a certain extent – only the absolutely unschooled, absolutely
unconscious groups of workers. Hence, fascism’s centre of gravity can be found
mainly in the armed struggle against the revolutionary workers, i. e. in the
terrorist struggle” – they write in the spring of 1932. The problem of
fascism/antifascism is not a question for them, they reject the united front,
revolutionary defeatism is their standpoint, this can be seen also from their
writings about the wars. They reject the misleading slogans about ‘social
fascism’ screeched by the Comintern, they study the effects of fascism primarily
from the point of view of the working class, and they point out that “the rule
of fascism will annihilate the power of the old workers’ movement”. In 1932,
they had written in advance what then went on gradually in Germany from 1933,
but they had not expected the absolute weakening of internationalism, and that
the masses of the working class infected with fascism and nationalism
slaughtered each other in a new imperialist war. They thought that “fascism
would be the last form of bourgeois oppression”.

Night in the outskirts

“In the street a policeman,
a muttering workman, pass.
Now and then a comrade
flits past with leaflets.
Keen as a dog on the track ahead,
listening cat-like for noises behind him;
avoiding the lamps.”
(Attila József)

In the summer of 1932, they launch a new journal for the workers living in the
suburbs of Budapest (only one issue of it appeared). “The languishing suburb
must wake up from its daze and indifference, and has to join the process of
revolutionary struggles” – they bawl in the journal entitled Felszabadulás
(‘Liberation’). “The proletarians of the suburbs must be aware of the fact that
only the Far Left Communist Opposition is their real class organization, their
vanguard which leads the struggle against capitalism. Which rejects the reforms,
and fights for communism, for the power.” Although the formulation teems with
inaccuracies, with untenable concepts (far left, opposition), it tries to
address – heatedly and unambiguously – those workers who function directly
according to the needs of capital. The journal pointed at the fact that Hungary
is a capitalist cattle-truck, where the workers willingly go to the
slaughterhouse. Therefore this small communist group tried to rouse its class
brothers and sisters. “Something must happen, the present conditions are
unbearable, the suburb – this suffering object of the unbridled and
unexpressible capitalist exploitation – must move. It is they who most move,
since nowhere are the inner contradictions of the capitalist society so howling,
nowhere can be felt more the necessity of changing quickly and radically the
present conditions, as here, in the suburbs covered with the shadow of the
lustrous downtown and the boulevards. In these terrible nests where people
become bestial physically and morally, where there is slough, bog, misery –
which all follow in the footsteps of capitalist exploitation.” In their
publications, they besiege relentlessly the bastions of KMP, the social
democrats and the fascists: “The question of the day is not the luncheon
voucher, the penury aid, the infant care and the old-age insurance – these don’t
mean anything, these can at most extend the misery, the famine process of the
workers. The question of the day is the revolution!!!” They have right!!! “One
must reject the struggle for welfare policies, for reforms, the time of these
has already finished, the working class has to fight in the present
revolutionary situation directly for the goal, FOR COMMUNISM, FOR THE
DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT. Every kind of politics based on pacts must be
rejected, there cannot be any compromise between capital and labour, their
antagonisms cannot be surmounted ever and in anything.”

They showered manifestoes written on such a tone upon the streets of misery,
and in fact those starving on periphery red them; nevertheless, the organization
didn’t grow stronger, and other communist forces also didn’t emerge, while a lot
of former leftist militants joined the Arrowed movement (the Hungarian Nazis).
Moreover, the Arrowed movement copied the illegal workers’ movement by
organizing seminars and reading circles. The Hungarist Movement promised a
community and social welfare, its mass base was the working class, in detail –
its poorest and most unconscious layer. In October 1940, the miners went on
strike, they demanded higher wages; for some time, the arrowed-crossist
propaganda was so successful within their ranks that the arrowed-crossists
wanted to use their movement to overturn the government. However, when the
government resorted to military force, the arrowed-crossists backed out of the
strike. Nonetheless, it is characteristic how the fascists – just like today –
used those layers of the working class which had been infected with nationalism.
So, the communists couldn’t compete either structurally or in efficiency with
the Hungarist movement which counted several hundred thousand members and was
sometimes endured, sometimes supported by the bourgeoisie. But MBKSZ firmly
propagated what the communists must always propagate – the necessity of the
class struggle without any compromises, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the
revolutionary red terror. It didn’t submit and didn’t manoeuvre, it didn’t want
to take advantage of the working class but to co-operate and jointly organize
the class war. They made attempts to radicalize the strikes, they tried to make
propaganda in a circle as wide as possible, they also attempted to strengthen
the movement. In a longer term, their goal was to create cells in the workshops
and workers’ councils.

About Bolshevism in general

They didn’t make a critique of the whole of Bolshevism, denominating it
concretely. Although their journal under the new title Spartakus in fact (even
if not completely openly) attacks the whole of Bolshevism (the ‘old workers’
movement’, using the expression of Pannekoek) in its September 1933 issue. In
the article A tömegek és vezetők (‘The Masses and the Leaders’) we can read the
following: “the bureaucracies of the trade unions and the parties have long
since lost touch with the masses, to such an extent that the strikes during the
last years broke out against the will and the protest of the trade union
bureaucracy. Through this, the leaders themselves have become an abstraction in
front of the masses, and they think that they are hovering above the masses.
Hand in hand with the capitalists, they try to reduce the misery, the
revolutionizing tendency. But it would be futile if one would try to replace the
old reactionary leaders with leftist and revolutionary workers, because the
structure, the content and the disposition of these organizations are
counter-revolutionary and they make it impossible for the masses to turn these
organizations into the instruments of their will. Only the workers’ councils can
radically abolish both the trade union and the party bureaucracy. If the
revolution reveals itself in the fact that the masses seize the direction of the
production, then the organization must have a form which makes it possible for
the masses to rule their society themselves, and only such an organization can
measure up to the task of the proletarian revolution which allows the workers to
take part actively in everything and act, to work self-motivated, out of their
own conviction, on their own responsibility, according to the interests of the
community. But the disposition of the old workers’ organizations is not the
class struggle and the revolution.” About the relationships between the masses
and the leaders, they also write that so far, the leaders in the workers’
movement had undervalued the role of the masses, and they regard only themselves
as the deciding factor. Against this, MBKSZ argues as follows: “1. The movement
and action of the masses is brought about by the sharpness of the capitalist
contradictions (crisis, war, famine) on the one hand, and by the preparatory
work of the vanguards, the preparation of the masses and bringing them into
battle on the other. 2. The task of the proletariat’s vanguard cannot be
anything else than giving the revolutionary actions of the masses a resolute and
definite form, and adjust the masses which have come into motion to achieve the
realization of socialism.”

Weaknesses, the dissolution of the group

These critical and programmatic points harmonize with the programme of one of
the communist vanguard’s fractions of the time – in essence, they don’t differ
from the ideas of council communism. But they differ from the programmes of the
Platformists and of those communists who detached themselves from the left of
Bolshevism. But – as a result of the circumstances in Hungary – a coherent,
radical movement did not emerge (apart from those fractions which were mentioned
in this essay), therefore the problems of rupture with the ‘old workers’
movement’ repeatedly reappear. In fact, two fractions existed within MBKSZ. The
current of Hartstein had never made a pronounced rupture with orthodox
Bolshevism, and the current of Barnabás Fürth did not insist on the precise
denomination of the class enemy, so, despite their communist practice, they
didn’t bring the criticism of Bolshevism to its final consequences. The
controversies within the group had come to such a pass that the current of
Hartstein wanted to monopolize the common infrastructure (printing equipment,
movement materials etc.), but later the conflict was settled. However, the
further clarifications became impossible when the group was nabbed and
liquidated. A young comrade, Teréz Weisz was caught, and then this led to the
arrests and imprisonments of 27 comrades. So, the organization fell apart and
ceased to exist – some militants were absorbed by Bolshevism, others went to
exile or died during ‘labour service’, as Iván Hartstein.
But their activity has a lot of lessons even for today. Totality widens with
gradual recognitions, but a movement which had not criticized sufficiently
profoundly its own past, of course, repeats the same mistakes and blunders which
were made by it earlier. Today, the programme of MBKSZ, together with other
council communist views (as the mythology of workers’ councils, the rejection of
the communist party, the throwing out of anarchism) would be untenable, but not
completely, since the council communists enriched the class movement of the
proletariat with their recognitions and practice. This current was a part of the
communist vanguard, but not its totality. The totality is the communist world
party which comes into being through the process of struggle – compared to it,
everything else is only a fraction and fragmented force in the class struggle.
If some people from a particular group or organization will trumpet today that
they are the only representatives of “THE COMMUNIST PARTY” then they must be
shot into nape. Today there are only party cells! The communist programme can be
the party of totality, the destructor of capitalism only through its practice.
But today we see such a profound rupture between the class and the party that
only small communist cells defend the revolutionary programme of the
proletariat, therefore the unity of theory and practice cannot blossom out in
its entirety. One of the main obstacles for this is the working class itself.
The communists polemize continuously, they criticize our movement and enrich it
with new recognitions again and again, but without the necessary class support
and without a radical struggle developing world-wide, the vanguard, losing touch
with the masses, stands isolated in the capitalist dirt. The passive working
class wriggles in the prison of wage struggles, while the communists – without
the support of the radical masses, therefore not too effectively – hammer those
prison walls which are fortified by the working class day by day. There is no
party without class and vice versa! Only the social democratic and Bolshevik
parties (the parties of “professional revolutionaries”, i. e. the parties of the
capitalist interests’ representatives) think that they can throw their
declarations to the working class with the might of democratic centralism.
This fundamental problem was present also in the Hungarian workers’ movement
between the two “world wars”, just like today. We can shout again and again,
million times, that the planet burns on us, that the tsunami sweeps us away,
that we die of hunger, that we hold our tongue at the workplaces etc., that the
working class has to negate itself in order to make our struggle victorious. We
can wait for stock-market crashes while the imperialism of the bourgeois society
is spreading and destroying us, transforming everything which doesn’t serve it,
and this way burying its own grave. But capital is not interested in its own
contradictions, we have to smash up its rules which had been forced on us!

Barricade Collective
January, 2008.

“Disabled of the world war!
Cannon fodders for the war to come!

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