Hungarian Socialist Workers Party

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Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party

 

(Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt; HSWP). The history of the HSWP originated with the formation of the Communist Party of Hungary (CPH), which was founded in Budapest on Nov. 24, 1918, after the bourgeois-democratic revolution that had overthrown the Hapsburg monarchy and in the context of the upsurge in the workers’ movement that unfolded under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The ranks of the CPH included a group of left-wing Social Democrats and Hungarian internationalists (former prisoners of war) who had participated in the Great October Socialist Revolution and Civil War in Russia—members of the Hungarian group of the RCP (Bolshevik), which was established in Moscow in March 1918; and revolutionary socialists, who had previously established their own organization. B. Kún, T. Szamuelly, F. Jancsic, F. Münnich, O. Korvin, E. Pór, and J. Rabinovits were among the founders of the CPH. Under the leadership of the CPH, which amalgamated with the Social Democratic Party into the Socialist Party of Hungary (SPH) on Mar. 21, 1919, the working class—relying on the support of the entire working people of the country—proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 on March 21 and began to implement radical social transformations in the interests of the toiling masses.

After Soviet power in Hungary was overthrown in August 1919 by the joint forces of international imperialism and domestic reaction, the SPH disintegrated. The Social Democratic Party reorganized itself legally under the leadership of extreme right-wing leaders. A protracted period of underground work under conditions of the fascist Horthy dictatorship commenced for Hungarian Communists. One of the most important conclusions they drew after the defeat of the Soviet power was that the proletariat, if it were to be victorious, had to have a united revolutionary party. From this standpoint, the amalgamation of the CPH and the Social Democratic Party in March 1919 was regarded critically. The strength of the SPH was diminished considerably, and the victory of the counterrevolution in Hungary thus facilitated, by the fact that prior to the establishment of the SPH there had been no demarcation from the right-wing Social Democrats, who maintained reformist positions and developed factional activity within the party.

The First Congress of the CPH was held in Vienna on Aug. 18-21, 1925. It reviewed the efforts to create an illegal centralized party, condemned the factional struggle that was hindering the further strengthening of party organizations, defined the tasks of the Party, confirmed the Party rules, and chose a Central Committee that included B. Kún, J. Landler, I. Gőgös, K. Hámán, K. Őry, V. Komor, M. Rákosi, and I. Vági. The Socialist Workers’ Party of Hungary, which operated from 1925 to 1928 under the leadership of the CPH and directed the struggle of revolutionary-minded workers and left-wing Social Democrats, was established in 1925 on the initiative of the Communists for the utmost exploitation of the opportunities for legal work.

The Second Congress of the CPH was held in February and March 1930: it adopted the resolution “New Tasks of the Party,” the Party rules, and a number of importance resolutions on political and organizational questions. Between 1929 and 1933 the CPH, together with left-wing Social Democrats, organized and carried out a number of important worker actions: a four-week miners’ strike in Salgótarján (1929), a demonstration by 150,000 unemployed persons in Budapest on Sept. 1, 1930 (which developed into a fight behind barricades against the police), a strike by 10,000 construction workers in the capital, a tanners’ general strike, and strikes by metal and textile workers in 1933. Despite persecution and terror (mass arrests and the execution of I. Sallai and S. Fürst—members of the Central Committee of the CPH—in 1932), the Party scored successes in the struggle against the capitalists and fascist terror, in defense of the workers’ trade unions, and for democratic rights. The CPH repeatedly made initiatives for the establishment of a popular front between 1935 and 1939.

During World War II (1939-45) the CPH initiated the struggle against Hitler’s Germany and its Hungarian allies. In May 1944, on the initiative of the Communists, the antifascist Hungarian Front was established. Everywhere the Communist Party developed and led the partisan struggle against the German and Hungarian fascists. In the context of Hungary’s liberation from fascism (beginning in September 1944) by the Soviet Army, the party of the Communists emerged from the underground (on liberated territory it took the name of the Hungarian Communist Party; HCP) and soon became a mass political organization of the working class. It developed the struggle for the earliest possible formation of a democratic state, the implementation of antifeudal agrarian reform, and the rehabilitation of the devastated national economy. The Provisional National Assembly was assembled on Dec. 21, 1944, in Debrecen on the initiative of the HCP; it formed the coalition Provisional National Government of the Hungarian National Independence Front. The Party initiated the agrarian reform (1945) that liquidated the landlord class and transferred the land to the hands of the toiling peasantry.

The Third Congress of the Communist Party, held in September and October 1946, adopted new Party rules and set the primary tasks in the construction of popular democratic Hungary. The HCP put forward a three-year plan for the rehabilitation and development of the country. Industry, the banks, and transportation were nationalized (1946-49) on the Party’s initiative. In June 1948 the Communist Party joined with the Social Democratic Party on the basis of the principles of Marxism-Leninism and took the name of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (HWP). The unity congress in June 1948 confirmed the Party rules and a program declaration indicating that the goal of the HWP was the construction of socialist society in Hungary. Under the leadership of the HWP, the Hungarian working class embarked on the construction of socialism. The realization of the first five-year plan for the development of Hungary’s national economy began in 1950. During this period, the Second Congress of the HWP (February-March 1951) committed a serious error, unjustifiably raising the plan targets of the five-year plan on the basis of the proposal of the former leadership of the party (M. Rákosi). This led to the emergence of disproportions in the country’s economic development and to the appearance of internal contradictions. In the area of planning, there was evident disregard for the specific character of and concrete conditions in Hungary and underestimation of the significance of economic collaboration and cooperation among the countries of the world socialist system. These errors and the overstrain on the economy did not only put a temporary halt to the rise of the standard of living of the population in 1951-53, but even brought a certain decline. The former leaders of the party and government committed other errors as well—for example, the violation of Leninist norms of intra-party life and of socialist legality. In June 1953 a plenary session of the Central Committee of the HWP brought to light the errors committed in the course of socialist construction. The assessment of the situation given by the plenary session was later confirmed by the Third Congress of the HWP (May 1954). However, in the subsequent process of correcting the errors that had been committed, the leadership of the HWP displayed inconsistency and unscrupulousness; this weakened the dictatorship of the proletariat in Hungary, provoked a serious crisis in Party life and in the administration of the country, and created favorable opportunities for the subversive anti-Party activity of the right-deviationist revisionist group of I. Nagy (chairman of the Council of Ministers from July 1953 to April 1955). Nonetheless, construction of the bases of socialism in Hungary continued during this period, and the country’s situation, on the whole, was determined primarily by the historical successes achieved in social, economic, and cultural life. A plenary session of the Central Committee of the HWP was held in July 1956; it adopted a resolution the implementation of which was to lead to the elimination of sectarian errors and the overcoming of ever-intensifying revisionist attacks. The forces of domestic counterrevolution—incited by the imperialist circles of the Western capitalist states and supported by Nagy’s revisionist group within the HWP—decided to step up their actions in order to obstruct the correction of errors and the normalization of the situation in the country. On Oct. 23, 1956, they unleashed a counterrevolutionary rebellion. At this most difficult moment the healthy forces within the HWP, rallying around the new revolutionary center established under the leadership of J. Kádár, were able to mobilize the revolutionary forces of the working class and peasantry, halt the offensive of the class enemy, inflict a counterblow, and smash the counterrevolutionary revolt. At the same time, there was a reorganization of the Party; it came to be known as the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP). The Hungarian people were offered a great deal of fraternal aid by the Soviet Union in suppressing the counterrevolutionary revolt and in saving the country from protracted civil war and particularly from military intervention by international imperialism; the struggle of Hungarian working people was also supported by other socialist countries. The All-Hungarian Conference of the HSWP that completed the reorganization of the Party was held in Budapest from June 27 to 29, 1957. The conference discussed the summary report of the Central Committee on the political situation and the tasks of the Party, struck a decisive blow with respect to revisionist views (as well as dogmatism and sectarianism), and approved the Leninist policy of the new leadership, which was waging a struggle on two fronts. The conference confirmed the Party rules and elected its leading organs.

Having defended and strengthened the power of the working class, the Party emerged as the initiator of the further expansion of socialist construction. The national economy, which had suffered 22 billion forints’ damage as a result of the rebellion, had been rehabilitated by the end of 1957; the level of production and the standard of living of the working people exceeded the indicators of the preceding years. By mid-1958 industrial production in the country was six times that of the prewar years. Under the Party’s leadership, a historic triumph was achieved in the socialist transformation of agriculture. As early as the spring of 1961, the socialist reconstruction of the countryside—which had developed extensively since December 1958—was, in practical terms, complete. In 1962, 96 percent of the country’s total arable land was concentrated in the socialist sector (including more than 80 percent in agricultural cooperatives and 16 percent in goskhozes [state farms]).

The Seventh Congress of the HSWP was held in November and December 1959. (The numbering of the congress reflects the continuity of the HSWP, the Hungarian Communist Party, and the Hungarian Workers’ Party; this congress was the seventh in the history of the Hungarian Communist movement.) The congress heard the report of the Central Committee of the HSWP, confirmed directives on the preparation of the second five-year plan for the development of the country’s national economy from 1961 to 1965, and made some changes in the Party rules.

The Eighth Congress of the HSWP, held in November 1962, stated that the establishment of the foundations of socialist society in the country had been completed and that common socialist relations of production in city and countryside had been formed. The congress adopted new Party rules.

The Ninth Congress of the Party was held in November and December 1966; it confirmed the Party line for the full construction of socialist society and outlined the tasks of the next stage in the construction of socialism. The major constituent part of this stage was the preparation and implementation, effective Jan. 1, 1968, of the reform of the administration of the national economy with the goal of strengthening and perfecting the socialist system of planning, increasing the effectiveness of production, and improving the exploitation of productive forces. The congress introduced changes into the rules of the HSWP (the abolition of the period of candidate Party membership and of the institution of candidate members of the Central Committee; the elimination of auditing commissions in the Party).

The Tenth Congress of the HSWP (Nov. 23-28, 1970) confirmed the stability of the Party’s general line and proclaimed the “continuation on a higher level of the policy of full construction of socialist society.” The congress made a number of changes in the Party rules—for example, the age qualification for joining the party was lowered from 21 to 18, and the institution of candidate membership in the Politburo of the Central Committee was eliminated.

Delegations of the HSWP participated in the work of the Conferences of Representatives of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow in November 1957, November 1960, and June 1969 and signed the documents adopted at these conferences. The guiding principle of the organizational structure of the HSWP is democratic centralism. The Party is built on the territorial-production principle. The highest organ of the HSWP is the congress, which elects the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission. The Central Committee elects the Politburo (to direct the work of the Central Committee in the intervals between plenary sessions) and the Secretariat of the Central Committee (to direct the current work of the Party). J. Kádár has been the first secretary of the Central Committee of the HSWP since June 1957. In November 1970, the HSWP had more than 662,000 members.

Table 1. Congresses and major conferences of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party
NameLocationDate
First Congress of the Communist Party of Hungary (CPH) ...............ViennaAug. 18-21,1925
Second Congress of the CPH ...............Aprelevka (settlement, Moscow Oblast, USSR)Feb. 27-Mar. 17, 1930
First All-Hungarian Conference of the Hungarian Communist Party (HCP) ...............BudapestMay 20-21,1945
Third Congress of the HCP ...............BudapestSept. 28-Oct. 1,1946
First Unity Congress of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (HWP) ...............BudapestJune 12-14,1948
Second Congress of the HWP ...............BudapestFeb. 25-Mar. 2,1951
Third Congress of the HWP ...............BudapestMay 24-30,1954
All-Hungarian Conference of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP) ...............BudapestJune 27-29,1957
Seventh Congress of the HSWP ...............Budapest Nov. 30-Dec. 5,1959
Eighth Congress of the HSWP ...............BudapestNov. 20-24, 1962
Ninth Congress of the HSWP ...............BudapestNov. 28-Dec. 3,1966
Tenth Congress of the HSWP ...............BudapestNov. 23-28,1970

The central press organ of the HSWP is the newspaper Népszabadság. The theoretical and sociopolitical organ of the Central Committee of the HSWP is the journal Társadalmi Szemle.

SOURCES

V sevengerskaia konferentsiia Vengerskoi sotsialisticheskoi rabochei partii: Budapesht. 27-29 iiunia 1957 g. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from Hungarian.)
VII s”ezd Vengerskoi sotsialisticheskoi rabochei partii. Budapest, 1959; Moscow, 1960.
Kádár, J. “Doklad na VIII s”ezde Vengerskoi sotsialisticheskoi rabochei partii.” Pravda, Nov. 21, 1962.
“K 40-i godovshchine obrazovaniia Kommunistich partii Vengrii (tezisy).” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia, 1959, no. 1.

REFERENCES

Kádár, J. Izbrannye stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from Hungarian.)
Zavolzhskii, S. G. 15 let svobodnoi Vengrii. Moscow, 1960.
A magyar forradalmi munkásmozgalom története, vols. 1-3. Budapest, 1966-70.

A. I. IVANOV

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