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(en) Instead of proletarian struggles – Report about the Hungarian situation 1* –

Date Tue, 03 Feb 2009 21:08:00 +0200

The permanent crisis of capitalism delivers one good turn after another for the working class of
the world: right now the money markets have collapsed, the volume of production falls back
everywhere in the world, there are continuous lockouts. The recession is taking its toll also in
Hungary. However, the situation here differs from that in Western Europe in the fact that the
Hungarian bourgeoisie started its frontal attack against the working class’ conditions of existence
much earlier than the bourgeoisie of Western Europe. During the summer of 2006, a brutal rise of
taxes and prices began, almost everything – from food, gas, electricity and fuel until the public
transport – became much more expensive, since the Hungarian bourgeois did everything in order to
maintain their competitiveness in front of the other bourgeois groups of the region, and the
processes of the world market also pushed them into this direction.2*

In spite of the continuous attacks against the working class’ conditions of existence they still
face serious problems: the budget deficit is extremely high and the foreign public dept is
constantly rising, while the world-wide recession can be felt more and more in Hungary as well. And
financial stability would be very important for them – first of all, in order to pump more and more
money into their companies and in order to keep the state up and running since the bourgeoisie
still needs police, army and the functioning of public administration. And, of course, they must
throw some titbit for the working class, too, which is bawling and which goes as a flock of sheep
every four years to vote. Secondly, the economic situation of the country should be stabilized also
in order to stimulate the flow of capital from abroad, to be able to hot up the production (since
from now on, one can count on a serious economic recession), and in the long run, to introduce Euro
– they expect that this will provide more predictable, more secure conditions for the revelry on
their little rubbish-shoot.
So, the capitalists tried to tap the working class already in 2006. As a result of taking its
blood, the level of the working class’ living standards fell considerably during the next year,
which was crowned by the bourgeois in power by introducing – within the framework of the so-called
“public health reform” – the visit charge, the daily charge in the hospitals and besides, they
fired several thousand workers from the state sector. The situation was worsened by the fact that
the world-wide price explosion of the foodstuffs caused a considerable rising of prices here as
well – during the second half of 2007, the price of flour was higher by 60 per cent than a year
before, bread and egg was more expensive by more than 20 per cent. All this led to a perceptible
increase of discontent among the working class, but also this time there was nothing more than the
usual reformist practice of stirring up the shit.
Of course, the trade unions used this occasion to call upon the stupefied workers to strike, to
order them to the streets and to protest against the “public health reform”, the raising of
retiring age and the liquidation of some railway lines.3* On 21st of November 2007, within the
framework of the “Day of Social Solidarity”, the railway stopped working for six hours, a part of
the educators also went on strike, the work stopped for two hours at Malév (airline company), at
some services of Volán (autobus company) and some other big companies. Throughout the country,
several ten thousands of workers were striking, and in the evening, they marched to the Parliament
to beg at least some small concessions from the bourgeois – those, of course, shitted on them. From
a bourgeois point of view, everything worked perfectly: there was no significant interruption of
production, the trade union control functioned well, the workers could express their discontent
within the frame given by democratic rights. Social peace was confirmed.
The bourgeoisie could therefore calmly continue its shock therapy against the working class. The
government even piled it on in 2008. During the year, it raised the price of gas four times,
altogether by more than 27 per cent. The foodstuff prices also continued to increase, besides, the
effects of the world-wide economic recession reached Hungary in the second half of the year. Many
factories were closed or decreased their production, mainly in car industry and among electronic
assembly plants. Since autumn 2008, more than 20 thousand workers have been fired, the number of
registered unemployed has reached 470 thousand. And we haven’t reached the end yet, since further
lay-offs are announced almost every day. During this year, further ten thousands of workers can be
sacked. In the meantime, there was almost a state bankruptcy in October because of the crack of
world’s bank system and the considerable weakening of Forint. In order to avoid a total collapse,
the government asked a credit limit of 20 billion Euros from the IMF, World Bank and the European
Union, which shall be pumped into the banks, fill the state reserves and stop the weakening of
Forint. All this, of course, is at the cost of the working class. The money shall be paid back
within 3-5 years – by us.
In the midst of the working class’ impoverishment and its running into dept, the trade unions
conducted some completely defensive strikes also in 2008, which had nothing to do with proletarian
struggles – there very no examples of the latter during the last year. The general absence of
proletarian self-organization has many reasons. At first, there is the baleful inheritance of the
past, the destructive effect of which can be felt even today: during the Kádár-epoch, the Bolshevik
power pacified the working class by maintaining a relative security of existence, it liquidated
every kind of proletarian self-organization and expropriated even the terminology of the communist
movement. On the other hand, after the “transition”, the working class has been atomized by the
sharpening competition of the workers, the unemployment, the winding up of the former, relatively
steady workplaces, the mobility of labour market. Today, the workers act exclusively according to
their individual interests, the workplace communities have essentially disappeared, class
solidarity is almost non-existent, and many of the stupid Hungarian workers are not even aware of
the fact that they are members of a social class. And these egoist, nihilist workers with their
false consciousness can be easily manipulated by the various bourgeois media, which dose
counter-revolutionary propaganda in bigger and bigger proportions every day, thanks to the
achievements of the so-called “information society”.
This is the reason why the workers who are anxious for their workplaces, who are discontented
because of the continuously falling living standards, who are imbued with various bourgeois
ideologies, follow the trade unions as well trained animals. On 7th of April 2008, the workers at
BKV (Budapest Transport Company) were striking from dawn until 1 p.m. They demanded more state
support for the company, in order to prevent future lay-offs. At the end of November, the workers
employed in the public sector also went to the streets, they protested against the repeal of the
“salary for the 13th month” and the massive lay-offs, and demanded a wage-increase by 4 per cent
which had been promised earlier. They held out the prospect of a strike in January if their demands
are not fulfilled. Some 10 thousands of firemen, teachers, policemen, public health workers etc.
were gathering in front of the Parliament, and after handing the petitions over, all the
well-mannered citizens peacefully went home. And the trade unions performed fulfilled their duty,
they soon came to an agreement with the government, according to which in 2009, the workers will
receive the “salary for the 13th month” through monthly payments. In exchange, the unions won’t
call a strike until September 2009.
The end of the year was somewhat more eventful. Early in December the workers at Malév once again
went on strike. They demanded new collective agreement, the ceasing of outsourcing, and the payment
of those wages which the company was behind with. The bourgeois brought scabs from Greece,
therefore the strike ran out of steam till the second half of December, then the trade union
suspended it. During the year, the railway workers went on strike several times. The last strike on
14th of December, it was called by VDSZSZ (Free Union of Railway Workers) which is openly flirting
with Fidesz, the main force of the opposition. The demand was the same as earlier: a single
allowance of 250 thousand Forints for each railway worker and a wage-increase by 10 per cent for
the outsourced workers. The strike was finally suspended with respect to Christmas – on this
“sacred holiday” class struggle also takes a pause… Later all trade unions except VDSZSZ accepted
the wage-increase by 4.1 per cent – the offer of the company –, but the continuation of the strike
can be expected during this year.
The growing discontent of the working class is continuously exploited – besides the trade unions –
by the right wing, which is campaigning with anti-capitalist slogans, bawling against “foreign”
capital and promising that the “Hungarian state” under their leadership will take steps against the
so-called “wild capitalism”, i.e. it will humanize the capitalist exploitation. In accordance with
this, Fidesz managed to continuously mobilize those workers who had fallen under the magic spell of
Viktor Orbán and the national idea against the “public health reform” started in 2007. It organized
several demonstrations in the countryside against the privatization of the hospitals, then it
started a campaigning for signatures in order to achieve a referendum. The campaign set a huge mass
in motion. At last, as a result of the referendum on 9th of March 2008 – where ca. 4 million people
had participated –, the government was forced to cancel the visit charge, the daily charge in the
hospitals and the tuition fee in the universities. Obviously, this action led to a further growth
of Fidesz’s popularity, so it’s almost sure that in 2010 the Christian-national jerks will lay
their hands on the steering column once again.
This is all the more probable since a considerable part of the working class in Hungary is
ordinarily a nationalist brute, anti-Semitic and strongly anti-Gypsy.4* Under the circumstances of
the continuous fall of the working class’ living standards and the general discontent, the tendency
of looking for a scapegoat grows stronger, and some groups of workers organize themselves into
fascist lynching brigades. An expressive example of this is the Hungarian Guard which was organized
back in 2007. The organization was founded by Jobbik, one of the fascist parties. One of its main
aims is “the strengthening of national self-defence”, and in the long run, the setting up of a
“National Guard”. Since then, the recruiting of members is permanent, county organizations also
have been created, the number of members is now more than 2000. Moreover, lately they initiate
children as well, this way looking after the continuation of this noble affair. Their groups which
march with fascist symbols organized several demonstrations in the settlements of the countryside
against “gypsy crime”, recently they held even target-practices. If necessary, they will obviously
go to war against rebellious proletarians and assist the policemen just like their Greek mates did
it not long ago…
Apart from the Hungarian Guard, the fascists are active in general. During the last year, there
were several attacks with Molotov-cocktails, grenades and arms against the houses of working class
members of Gypsy origin. As is their custom, the fascists went to the streets also on 23rd of
October. Although there were only several hundreds of them, they tried to organize themselves in a
more serious way. They distributed hoods, they brought a lot of Molotov-cocktails which had been
prepared before, even a home-made bomb was found in a car by the policemen who this time easily
caught the ringleaders and kept the fascist groups under control.
So, one can feel strongly the effects of the latest developments of capitalism’s world-wide crisis
also in Hungary. In spite of the credit limit of 20 billion Euros, further economic recession is to
be expected in the country, in addition, Forint is weakening again. Accordingly, the bourgeoisie
continues to tighten the screws: the condition of obtaining some sorts of benefits will be the
performance of communal work, there’s a prospect of new tax increases, further restrictive
measures, massive lay-offs. But because of the increasing unemployment, the restrictions and the
weakening of Forint, it will be more difficult to pay off the credits token up in foreign currency
and the import becomes more expensive. This means that the living standards of the working class
continue to fall, there will be less new investments, consumption will diminish, thus the recession
will deepen. This is a vicious circle, and in the short run it won’t be changed essentially,
neither by the change of cabinet expected in 2010 nor by the further expansion of the fascists. The
Hungarian bourgeois are in a fluster, they are in such a mess that it even forced them to admit
that they didn’t know what to expect in the near future.
Their outlooks are not too good: the world-wide recession will wreck the working class even more –
the same will happen in Hungary. In the long run, the workers’ discontent will probably rise
further, therefore the government will play the ideological card calling upon national unity and
sacrifice for the sake of the country. The trade unions will also try to perform their reformist
shows again. Among the nationalist masses and those under trade union control, these maneuvers can
be successful for a while. But if the working class all over the world finally understands, as a
result of the continuous decline of its conditions of existence, that there’s no place to withdraw
to, and it gets rid of the democratic illusions, then the proletariat which organizes itself into a
class must sooner or later sweep away the bourgeoisie everywhere – therefore, here, too – and
create the world-wide human community: communism.

by the anarchist Barricade Collective,
at the end of January 2009.
1* The present report is a part of a series of articles which has been started in 2005 and in
which we analyze the changes of the economic and political situation in Hungary from the
Kádár-epoch up to the present. The former pieces of the series in chronological order: Progress
Report, The Reality of the Nightmare, Spend Your Blood!, Rouse?!, Connections…

2* We wrote longer about this in the article entitled Spend Your Blood!

3* One can find a more detailed account of the counter-revolutionary activity of the Hungarian
trade unions after the “transition” in the report entitled The Reality of the Nightmare.

4* About the roots of Hungarian nationalism and its forms of expression we wrote longer in the
article entitled Connections.
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