Nadas on Hungary ’56


With some exaggeration, one could say that in October 1956 the peoples of Europe and North America, together with their legitimate governments, decided to put an end, once and for all, to the age of revolutionary change. And they were right to do so. To avoid another world war, the existing orders had to integrate, in some way or another, the social and political dissatisfaction of the age; this became the supreme commandment of the day. Expressing deep regrets, with bleeding heart and being fully conscious of their responsibility, they opted not to support the headless and hundred-and-fifty-years overdue Hungarian revolution either by diplomatic means or by sending volunteers or weapons. This had nothing to do with the Suez crisis. Only the dimmer types in Hungary can console themselves by believing that it was due to some business about ships that the Americans and the European democracies couldn’t pay attention to them. Besides the danger of another world war, they had other good reasons not to do anything. Had they decided to support the Hungarian revolution, it would have soon turned out that the capitalist – socialist dichotomy had remained, irrespective of the ideological hysterics of Russian imperialism (also seriously belated). The Hungarian revolution – contrary to popular opinion, and despite all of its anti-communist excesses – was not an anti-socialist revolution, and in its first phase not even an anti-communist one. It was clearly an anti-Stalinist revolution and clearly a plebeian one, it wanted independence and it wanted no part of the Russian empire; it was a democratic revolution that had no tolerance for foreign rule, for autocracy or for the arbitrary rule of collectives. It should not for a moment be forgotten that in that memorable year, the working class was still intact, along with the Christian democratic and social democratic traditions, and so was the agrarian proletariat, with its own, extremely vital social movements.

more from Eurozine here.