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Hungary 1956

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  • ozleft
    Ignorance and amnesia on Marxmail about the Hungarian workers revolution in 1956 By Bob Gould The Hungarian Revolution in 1956, which was the culmination of
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 23, 2004
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      Ignorance and amnesia on Marxmail about the Hungarian workers'
      revolution in 1956

      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 Sydney.

      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 these events.

      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
      conspiracy.

      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
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Heirs.html .
    • les evenchick
      As a 15 yr old high school student I wrote a paper on the Hungarian Revolution right after it occurred and was suppressed. This was when i first concluded that
      Message 2 of 9 , Mar 24, 2004
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        As a 15 yr old high school student I wrote a
        paper on the Hungarian Revolution right after it
        occurred and was suppressed.

        This was when i first concluded that the US govt.
        had no interest in real democracy.

        It led to my later joining the US SWP in 1964(I
        left in 1967 when it appeared to be becoming
        Stalinist)

        I fully agree with Bob's comments.

        Les Evenchick
        New Orleans
        --- ozleft <ozleft@...> wrote:
        > Ignorance and amnesia on Marxmail about the
        > Hungarian workers'
        > revolution in 1956
        >
        > By Bob Gould
        >
      • Denis Berrell
        Fair enough Les but I m slightly puzzled as to how the Hungarian uprising demonstrated to you that the U.S. Government had no interest in real democracy Are
        Message 3 of 9 , Mar 24, 2004
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          Fair enough Les but I'm slightly puzzled as to how the Hungarian uprising
          demonstrated to you that the U.S. Government "had no interest in real
          democracy"

          Are you referring to the fact that some Hungarians felt betrayed by the
          U.S. that it didn't militarily intervene to help them overthrow the
          Communist Government. You've just been arguing strenuously against any U.S.
          intervention in Haiti. If you did favour U.S. intervention in Hungary in
          1956 do you favour U.S. intervention to overthrow other Communist
          Governments say in perhaps Cuba. Please clarify what you meant.



          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "les evenchick" <piratefish@...>
          To: <GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2004 8:38 PM
          Subject: Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Hungary 1956


          > As a 15 yr old high school student I wrote a
          > paper on the Hungarian Revolution right after it
          > occurred and was suppressed.
          >
          > This was when i first concluded that the US govt.
          > had no interest in real democracy.
          >
          > It led to my later joining the US SWP in 1964(I
          > left in 1967 when it appeared to be becoming
          > Stalinist)
          >
          > I fully agree with Bob's comments.
          >
          > Les Evenchick
          > New Orleans
          > --- ozleft <ozleft@...> wrote:
          > > Ignorance and amnesia on Marxmail about the
          > > Hungarian workers'
          > > revolution in 1956
          > >
          > > By Bob Gould
          > >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Visit http://www.greenleft.org.au
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • les evenchick
          Good question Dennis, When I was in high school till the Hungarian events I still was under the illusion like many well meaning people today, that the US was
          Message 4 of 9 , Mar 24, 2004
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            Good question Dennis,

            When I was in high school till the Hungarian
            events I still was under the illusion like many
            well meaning people today, that the US was for
            real democracy at home and abroard.

            I did have some questions as to why the
            government did things to contradict this view but
            I at first attributed it to either ignorance of
            the facts or mistakes in particular situations.

            So I expected the US to intervene to help the
            workers with whom I identified since I came from
            a poor working class family.

            I had been reading newspapers daily since the
            time I sold newspapers on the street corners of
            Los Angeles when I was 11 and 12 yrs. old.

            Now once I understood the true nature of the US
            government and the Soviet govenment a few years
            later I started opposing any intervention by the
            US anywhere.

            So of course I now oppose any US government
            intervention anywhere in the world, whether it be
            by military or economic means.

            I am for the worldwide withdrawal of all US
            military and related forces and for the
            replacement of the current US government with one
            based on the real democratic control of the
            working class and I advocate its doing away with
            the whole capitalist system.

            I do support the defense of small countries
            against attacks by big ones but not through
            defending the capitalists in the small
            countries(who generally owe their alleigence to
            international capital) but the defense of the
            mass of working people and their families through
            direct assistance by labor organizations around
            the world.

            So, obviously I am for the defense of CUBA as I
            am of haiti against capitalist intervention.

            Now that the US, France, etc are already in haiti
            I urge all working class groups to provide direct
            aid to organizations of the working class in
            haiti. I have already made such an offer to one
            Haitian organization for both financial and other
            material assistance from the small resouces of
            myself and local comrades who share my views,

            Hope this clarifies where I stand today.


            Les


            --- Denis Berrell <dennyben@...>
            wrote:
            > Fair enough Les but I'm slightly puzzled as
            > to how the Hungarian uprising
            > demonstrated to you that the U.S. Government
            > "had no interest in real
            > democracy"
            >
            > Are you referring to the fact that some
            > Hungarians felt betrayed by the
            > U.S. that it didn't militarily intervene to
            > help them overthrow the
            > Communist Government.
          • Denis Berrell
            Thanks for that Les, And it was wrong of me to project what you thought as a fifteen year old onto where you stand today. When I was nine years old I strongly
            Message 5 of 9 , Mar 24, 2004
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              Thanks for that Les,

              And it was wrong of me to project what you thought as a fifteen year old
              onto where you stand today.

              When I was nine years old I strongly opposed the Soviet intervention in
              Afghanistan and can remember being disappointed when my mother told me that
              the Australian Olympic Committee defied the Australian Government and
              decided to send Australian athletes to Moscow. However by the time I was 11
              I had become a Soviet sympathiser, a fellow traveller as it were. I argued
              vehemently in favour of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and for the
              Sandinistas in Nicaragua. These are positions I still hold to today.

              For my efforts I earned the nickname 'Berrellski'. Later on I became an
              admirer of Stalin, (my father told me that for all his faults, Stalin had
              'saved' Communism in Russia. ) All this in an exclusive boys Catholic
              School which made life interesting. Of course I was too young to understand
              anything about Stalinism. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the
              disintegration of the Soviet Union I gravitated toward Trotskyism.

              Later on at University I studied Russian History under Professor David
              Christian, who wrote a book entitled "Power and Privilege" which for me
              remains the best analysis of why Communism collapsed in the former Soviet
              Union. The book argues that basically the Mensheviks were right, and also
              that Trotsky was right. Any attempt to build Socialism in a backward
              agrarian country while by-passing any stage of Capitalist Development would
              ultimately fail. Socialism must be built on the highest level of the
              advanced productive forces developed under Capitalism. According to
              Christian the collapse of the Soviet Union actually serves to vindicate
              Marx.

              And that's where I remain today, an eclectic mixture of Menshevism and
              Trotskyism if there can be such a thing and a fierce critic of the injustice
              of Capitalism.

              As to Hungary in 1956, I'm not sure that things are as Black and White as
              you and Bob suggest. Yes I agree there were elements that wanted a humane,
              democratic Socialism but there were also elements who wanted Hungary to go
              back to the way it was before 1945. In any case unlike some others over at
              MARXMAIL I think it is something that should be discussed, not in any
              vitriolic, name-calling way but in a comradely manner which seeks to arrive
              at the truth. As with Hungary in 1956 when there are two diametrically
              oppossed opinions, I usually find that it is a pretty good rule of thumb
              that the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.


              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "les evenchick" <piratefish@...>
              To: <GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2004 5:57 AM
              Subject: Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Hungary 1956


              > Good question Dennis,
              >
              > When I was in high school till the Hungarian
              > events I still was under the illusion like many
              > well meaning people today, that the US was for
              > real democracy at home and abroard.
              >
              > I did have some questions as to why the
              > government did things to contradict this view but
              > I at first attributed it to either ignorance of
              > the facts or mistakes in particular situations.
              >
              > So I expected the US to intervene to help the
              > workers with whom I identified since I came from
              > a poor working class family.
              >
              > I had been reading newspapers daily since the
              > time I sold newspapers on the street corners of
              > Los Angeles when I was 11 and 12 yrs. old.
              >
              > Now once I understood the true nature of the US
              > government and the Soviet govenment a few years
              > later I started opposing any intervention by the
              > US anywhere.
              >
              > So of course I now oppose any US government
              > intervention anywhere in the world, whether it be
              > by military or economic means.
              >
              > I am for the worldwide withdrawal of all US
              > military and related forces and for the
              > replacement of the current US government with one
              > based on the real democratic control of the
              > working class and I advocate its doing away with
              > the whole capitalist system.
              >
              > I do support the defense of small countries
              > against attacks by big ones but not through
              > defending the capitalists in the small
              > countries(who generally owe their alleigence to
              > international capital) but the defense of the
              > mass of working people and their families through
              > direct assistance by labor organizations around
              > the world.
              >
              > So, obviously I am for the defense of CUBA as I
              > am of haiti against capitalist intervention.
              >
              > Now that the US, France, etc are already in haiti
              > I urge all working class groups to provide direct
              > aid to organizations of the working class in
              > haiti. I have already made such an offer to one
              > Haitian organization for both financial and other
              > material assistance from the small resouces of
              > myself and local comrades who share my views,
              >
              > Hope this clarifies where I stand today.
              >
              >
              > Les
              >
              >
              > --- Denis Berrell <dennyben@...>
              > wrote:
              > > Fair enough Les but I'm slightly puzzled as
              > > to how the Hungarian uprising
              > > demonstrated to you that the U.S. Government
              > > "had no interest in real
              > > democracy"
              > >
              > > Are you referring to the fact that some
              > > Hungarians felt betrayed by the
              > > U.S. that it didn't militarily intervene to
              > > help them overthrow the
              > > Communist Government.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > Visit http://www.greenleft.org.au
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
            • mkaradjis@theplanet.net.au
              ... I think that thing is actually called Leninism, though it is not so much eclectic as flexible. BTW, my dad was (and is) also convinced that Stalin saved
              Message 6 of 9 , Mar 24, 2004
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                Denis Berrell <dennyben@...> said:

                > And that's where I remain today, an eclectic mixture of Menshevism and
                > Trotskyism if there can be such a thing

                I think that thing is actually called Leninism, though it is not so much
                eclectic as flexible.

                BTW, my dad was (and is) also convinced that Stalin saved the world and
                socialism. We revolt against it but maintain the main essence of the ideas of
                communism that our fathers believed in with all their passion.

                MK
              • Connexions
                ... As opposed to what imaginary place where there are no elements? ... The truth lies in the middle! Ah so!! You believe that neither of us owes the other
                Message 7 of 9 , Mar 25, 2004
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                  >
                  > " As to Hungary in 1956, I'm not sure that things are as Black and
                  > White as you and Bob suggest. Yes I agree there were elements that wanted
                  > a humane, democratic Socialism but there were also elements who wanted
                  > Hungary to go back to the way it was before 1945."

                  As opposed to what imaginary place where there are no "elements?"

                  >"As with Hungary in 1956 when there are two diametrically oppossed
                  >opinions, I usually find that it is a pretty good rule of thumb that the
                  >truth usually lies somewhere in the middle."

                  The truth lies in the middle! Ah so!! You believe that neither of us owes
                  the other money. But you owe me $2,000. Please send $1,000. Thanks for
                  helping to find the "truth."
                  CJ
                • Connexions
                  Les: I assumed that since there was no Democracy anyplace outside Switzerland that nobody was for it, but I did think the americans were serious about
                  Message 8 of 9 , Mar 25, 2004
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                    Les:

                    I assumed that since there was no Democracy anyplace outside Switzerland
                    that nobody was for it, but I did think the americans were serious about
                    "liberating" Eastern Europe. The Hungarians, as Michener reported, thought
                    the same thing. Obviously, the Hungarians knew they couldn't defend
                    themselves against the Russian empire and needed either the threat or the
                    actual intervention of the American empire to free themselves. The
                    British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt provided a handy diversion in the UN
                    but it seemed to me that it wouldnt have been very different without that
                    diversion, as the Americans were not about to intervene and the Russians
                    knew it. You and I and the Hungarians may have been the only people who
                    didn't know it.
                    For me as for you, the Hungarian Workers' Revolution was a defining moment,
                    as it was for the Paris students and workers of 1968.
                    CJ




                    >When I was in high school till the Hungarian
                    >events I still was under the illusion like many
                    >well meaning people today, that the US was for
                    >real democracy at home and abroard.
                    >
                    >I did have some questions as to why the
                    >government did things to contradict this view but
                    >I at first attributed it to either ignorance of
                    >the facts or mistakes in particular situations.
                    >
                    >So I expected the US to intervene to help the
                    >workers with whom I identified since I came from
                    >a poor working class family.
                    >
                    >I had been reading newspapers daily since the
                    >time I sold newspapers on the street corners of
                    >Los Angeles when I was 11 and 12 yrs. old.
                    >
                    >Now once I understood the true nature of the US
                    >government and the Soviet govenment a few years
                    >later I started opposing any intervention by the
                    >US anywhere.
                    >
                    >So of course I now oppose any US government
                    >intervention anywhere in the world, whether it be
                    >by military or economic means.
                    >
                    >I am for the worldwide withdrawal of all US
                    >military and related forces and for the
                    >replacement of the current US government with one
                    >based on the real democratic control of the
                    >working class and I advocate its doing away with
                    >the whole capitalist system.
                    >
                    >I do support the defense of small countries
                    >against attacks by big ones but not through
                    >defending the capitalists in the small
                    >countries(who generally owe their alleigence to
                    >international capital) but the defense of the
                    >mass of working people and their families through
                    >direct assistance by labor organizations around
                    >the world.
                    >
                    >So, obviously I am for the defense of CUBA as I
                    >am of haiti against capitalist intervention.
                    >
                    >Now that the US, France, etc are already in haiti
                    >I urge all working class groups to provide direct
                    >aid to organizations of the working class in
                    >haiti. I have already made such an offer to one
                    >Haitian organization for both financial and other
                    >material assistance from the small resouces of
                    >myself and local comrades who share my views,
                    >
                    >Hope this clarifies where I stand today.
                    >
                    >
                    > Les
                  • max watts
                    this IS OBVIOUSLY A QUESTION WHICH WOULD BE HARD TO DISCUSS ON THIS PARTICULAR LIST... BUT JUST FOR KICKS: 1/ WHY WERE SOVIET TROOPS IN HUNGARY IN 1956 ?
                    Message 9 of 9 , Mar 25, 2004
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                      this IS OBVIOUSLY A QUESTION WHICH WOULD BE HARD TO DISCUSS ON THIS
                      PARTICULAR LIST... BUT JUST FOR KICKS:

                      1/ WHY WERE SOVIET TROOPS IN HUNGARY IN 1956 ?

                      2/ WHO WAS KILLING JEWS IN BUDAPEST IN 1944-45, IN OCTOBER - NOVEMBER
                      1956 ?

                      3/ WHO WAS THE LAST ALLY OF ADOLF HITLER UNTIL MAY 1945 ?

                      NEVER MIND, I DOUBT THIS MAKES SENSE TO THE KIDS..
                      MAX .
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "les evenchick" <piratefish@...>
                      To: <GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2004 5:57 AM
                      Subject: Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Hungary 1956


                      > Good question Dennis,
                      >
                      > When I was in high school till the Hungarian
                      > events I still was under the illusion like many
                      > well meaning people today, that the US was for
                      > real democracy at home and abroard.
                      >
                      > I did have some questions as to why the
                      > government did things to contradict this view but
                      > I at first attributed it to either ignorance of
                      > the facts or mistakes in particular situations.
                      >
                      > So I expected the US to intervene to help the
                      > workers with whom I identified since I came from
                      > a poor working class family.
                      >
                      > I had been reading newspapers daily since the
                      > time I sold newspapers on the street corners of
                      > Los Angeles when I was 11 and 12 yrs. old.
                      >
                      > Now once I understood the true nature of the US
                      > government and the Soviet govenment a few years
                      > later I started opposing any intervention by the
                      > US anywhere.
                      >
                      > So of course I now oppose any US government
                      > intervention anywhere in the world, whether it be
                      > by military or economic means.
                      >
                      > I am for the worldwide withdrawal of all US
                      > military and related forces and for the
                      > replacement of the current US government with one
                      > based on the real democratic control of the
                      > working class and I advocate its doing away with
                      > the whole capitalist system.
                      >
                      > I do support the defense of small countries
                      > against attacks by big ones but not through
                      > defending the capitalists in the small
                      > countries(who generally owe their alleigence to
                      > international capital) but the defense of the
                      > mass of working people and their families through
                      > direct assistance by labor organizations around
                      > the world.
                      >
                      > So, obviously I am for the defense of CUBA as I
                      > am of haiti against capitalist intervention.
                      >
                      > Now that the US, France, etc are already in haiti
                      > I urge all working class groups to provide direct
                      > aid to organizations of the working class in
                      > haiti. I have already made such an offer to one
                      > Haitian organization for both financial and other
                      > material assistance from the small resouces of
                      > myself and local comrades who share my views,
                      >
                      > Hope this clarifies where I stand today.
                      >
                      >
                      > Les
                      >
                      >
                      > --- Denis Berrell <dennyben@...>
                      > wrote:
                      > > Fair enough Les but I'm slightly puzzled as
                      > > to how the Hungarian uprising
                      > > demonstrated to you that the U.S. Government
                      > > "had no interest in real
                      > > democracy"
                      > >
                      > > Are you referring to the fact that some
                      > > Hungarians felt betrayed by the
                      > > U.S. that it didn't militarily intervene to
                      > > help them overthrow the
                      > > Communist Government.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Visit http://www.greenleft.org.au
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
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