Raya Dunayevskaya 1956

Death, Freedom and the Disintegration of Communism

Source: News & Letters, Tuesday, November 27, 1956;
Transcribed: by Kevin Michaels.

This piece appeared as Dunayevskaya’s regular column, “Two Worlds: Notes From a Diary.”

Death and starvation stalked the streets of Hungary as the rebel radio sent out its last SOS. “We are quiet. Not afraid. Send the news to the world.”

The news to the world about five days of freedom revealed more than courageous fighting.

It showed that you can not kill the idea of freedom. That idea does not float in heaven. People live by that idea.

Overnight the one-party system disintegrated and various political parties reappeared along with small newspapers and radio stations.

Peasants and soldiers united with city workers – spearheaded by the incredible youth who braved Russian tanks.

Hundreds of local and district organizations, from the Hungarian Revolutionary Youth Party to old parties, including both Smallholders and Social Democrats appeared.

So total was the wrath of the people against Russian Communism, that the Hungarian Communist Party tried to appear under a new guise. The temporary puppet leader, Janos Kadar, reorganized it as the “Socialist Workers Party,” but no one took that seriously. Indeed it was the same old communism which, while promising withdrawal of the Russian troops and a different way of living, was conspiring to bring back the Russian tanks and troops in force.

The first news to the world was about five days of freedom from Russian tyranny and from Hungarian communist barbaric 10,000-man secret police. And now, the news is that the wrath of a people is being stifled by a force of 4,500 Soviet tanks, crack paratroops, MVD storm guards and a quarter of a million Russian infantry!

The massacre of the daring young Freedom Fighters has not, at this moment, crushed the revolt.

After a full week of fighting, the uranium mines have been blown up. The workers are still out on general strike and there is neither transport nor production. The Hungarian people are choosing death rather than accept Russian totalitarianism.

Both Sides On “The Other Side”

Ever since the Russian counter-revolution moved in, the radio on this side of the Iron Curtain has been no better than the one on the other side.

First, they have taken the Russians’ word for it that the revolution has been totally crushed.

Then, they announced that there evidently was “sporadic” fighting but, while the continued resistance was brave it was “pitiful.”

And now, the whole pack of journalists, led by “the pundit” – Walter Lippman – under the pretense of being for “maintaining the peace” – favor the Tito and Gomulka type of Communism rather than the independent, “useless,” dying of the Hungarian revolutionaries.

While doing nothing, the Western Big Power leaders are all busily horning in on the deeds of the courageous fighters to glamorize themselves with the blood of the Freedom Fighters.

While the Hungarians are dying by the thousands and asking for action, not for words – everyone, from President Eisenhower through Tito of Yugoslavia, (not to speak of Portugal, which is hardly known for its “democracy”), is big on words and zero on action.

No wonder “the West” cannot possibly become a polarizing force for those who want a totally new way of life and control of production.

They Will Not Disappear

The revolutionary forces now unloosed cannot be overcome by sheer force. They may be forced underground but they will not disappear. Nor will their impact be exhausted within the national boundaries of Hungary.

Already, in Western Europe, we see the beginning of the disintegration of the mass Communist Parties. Ever since the end of World War II, the West European people – veering sharply against the private capitalism that they knew and hated because it had brought them two world wars in one lifetime – had turned to Russian Communism, literally by the millions.

They now see Russian Communism as but another name for state capitalism. They are tearing up their Communist Party membership cards by the thousands. The question is: Where will they go now that they see both poles of world capital – United States and Russia – striving for world domination? I will take up this question in my next column. For now, we must stress that this tearing up of the C.P. membership cards stands on a par with the Hungarian revolution itself in showing a road to freedom out of the totalitarian stranglehold.