From For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy
February 1, 1948, No. 3 (6)

People’s Democratic Transformation in Hungary

Report to the Third Conference of the Hungarian Communist Party (abridged)

By Mathias Rakosi

We have come together at the Third Party Conference in order to summarise the results of our past work and to discuss the tasks facing the Party. In the period between the Second and Third conferences of our Party Hungarian democracy registered such successes in the sphere of economic rehabilitation and in home and foreign policy – successes which have brought about a radical change in the very essence of democracy in Hungary, and have immeasurably enhanced the role and significance of the Communist Party in the life of the country.

The Achievements of Hungarian Democracy

In the economic sphere the most decisive changes are due to nationalisation. Towards the end of 1947 Hungarian democracy passed a law on the nationalisation of the big banks and handed over to the State the greater part of heavy industry, leaving only a small part in the hands of private capital.

Basic industries such as mining, electric power and iron and steel have been more or less completely nationalised, and also the big transport undertakings. Of the 600,000 workers employed in industry and transport, 400,000 are engaged in the nationalised and other public enterprises.

It is difficult to appreciate the enormous significance of these facts. The workers themselves are not yet fully aware that the degree of nationalisation now realised transforms the entire economic structure of the country. The greater part of the country’s heavy industry is no longer capitalist but State industry, that is, nationalised, and is heading towards Socialism.

The present Party conference must help the working class to get a proper understanding of the paramount importance of that radical transformation that has taken place in the country. Once the worker is conscious that the nationalised industries are producing not for the capitalists, not for private profit, but for the benefit of our economy and of our people the work in those countries will proceed along altogether different lines and the rate of output will be different.

The country’s economic development last year was not without its difficulties, which call for attention. First, regarding the early phase of the Three-Year Plan. As a result of the drought which had far-reaching consequences for our agriculture the Plan got off to a slow start. Bourgeois circles cherished the hope that the Plan was bound to fail. Some of them even claimed that nobody would seriously think of tackling it. This was the cherished dream of Hungarian reaction. However, the Plan is going ahead at a steadily increasing rate and we have every reason to believe that we shall be able, in the future, to make up for the curtailed capital investments necessitated by the decrease in the national income as a result of the drought.

The forint, which reaction buried every two months, has held its own over the past 18 months, and we shall spare no effort to further stabilise our currency system.

The preliminary State budget for 1947-48 show no deficit. The first five months of the current fiscal year register an increase in incomes over expenditures. We can declare with pride that there isn’t a single State in the West which could achieve such results with its own efforts.

During the last quarter of 1947 output of coal and steel actually reached the pre-war level. And if we keep up the present rate of progress we can look forward to the whole of industry reaching the 1938 level during the present fiscal year. (Prolonged applause.)

In agriculture, too we have made headway. Despite the catastrophic drought food supplies have improved and are more evenly distributed. By December last already there was no shortage of provisions and the prices of many items of food have had dropped. The areas sown to winter crops and ploughed for spring sowing is far in excess of last year’s acreage. The following figures are instructive: in 1945 Hungary produced 600 carloads of sugar. In 1946 the figure increased to 6,000 carloads, while last year, according to incomplete data, the sugar refineries produced 13,800 carloads of sugar. In the third year of democratic Hungary 40 million more kilograms of sugar was produced than in the last pre-war year. During 1946 18,700 carloads of provisions were brought to the central market in Budapest. Last year the figure was 31,541 carloads, that is, more than in 1938. These facts speak of our improved position.

Hungary’s achievements stand out more distinctly against the background of Western Europe, which is experiencing severe economic difficulties. Foreigners who have visited our country write with surprise, and often with admiration, about our economic situation, about our rehabilitation achievements, in a word about everything created by our people during the past few years.

We could not have achieved such big successes had we not, in good time, created planning organs like the Supreme Economic Council, had we not in good time taken the road of planned economy, and had we hesitated over nationalisation. In our economic life we are providing increasing opportunities for satisfying the interests of the people, and consistently and steadily, we are relegating profit-seeking capitalist production to the background.

Consolidation of Hungarian Democracy

Important changes have taken place also in the internal political life of the country. A year ago the supporters of the old regime still firmly controlled the Smallholders Party, which had an absolute majority in Parliament. Today, as a result of the determined and purposeful work carried out following a number of big victories by democracy over reaction, the situation has radically changed. In this past year Hungarian democracy has gained in strength, is surer of itself and has enhanced its social content. But big changes have taken place in the camp of Hungarian reaction as well. A year ago reaction was still sure of victory. Waiting for the signing of the Peace Treaty reaction calculated on ousting the Communists from the Government, by mechanical use of Parliamentary voting machine, as was done in France and Italy, and afterwards to set about restoring the reactionary regime. Suffice to recall the threatening prophecy made especially in relation to our Party. However, the Peace Treaty came into force four months ago and Hungarian democracy is stronger now than ever before.

Our State power now bears a much more democratic character. The discipline and the political consciousness of the army and the police have been raised. Everybody knows that the State power in our country defends above all the interests of the working people. The situation in Hungary is such that the police and the army no longer apply force against the working people in the interests of the capitalists as is the case in France, Italy or in the United States.

Democracy is now beginning to bring order into places where the influence of reaction is still strong in the administrative-economic organs, in the judicature, in the organs of public education and in the universities. It is imperative for the country in the fourth year of its liberation finally to change the nature of these organs in accordance with the interests of the Hungarian worker, peasant and progressive intellectual.

The defeat of reaction, and the economic and political successes of the popular forces have not only strengthened the position of the Communist Party, but have enhanced also the influence of democracy in the remaining party coalitions. As a result relations have improved among the parties of the National Independence Front and this in turn has helped consolidate labour unity within the Front.

Typical of the present situation in Hungary is the fact that reaction is more conscious of its defeat than democracy of its victory. The enemies of the people, aware that their position is becoming ever more hopeless, and seeing their chances of returning to power steadily diminishing, are depressed and disillusioned.

The supporters of democracy on the other hand, and above all the workers, are only just beginning to understand the decisive significance of the political and economic changes that have taken place in Hungary. Only now are they beginning to appreciate to the full the fact that they have crossed the dividing line between the people’s democracy and bourgeois democracy and that the building up of this new democracy is the road leading to Socialism. It is the task of the Communists to make all workers, peasants and progressive intellectuals conscious of the nature of these radical changes.

For Fraternal Friendship with the Neighbouring Peoples

With the consolidation of Hungarian democracy, the international significance of our country has changed and also our mutual relations with the neighbouring States. Today with the outcome of the conflict between reaction and democracy essentially settled, the confidence of the neighbouring people’s democracies in us has increased and their mistrust dispelled. This has influenced Hungarian-Yugoslav relations and contributed to the signing of a treaty of friendship and mutual aid with our Southern neighbour. This will influence also our relations with Rumania, the position of the Hungarians in Transylvania, and also the fate of the Hungarians in Slovakia. It is now perfectly clear that those who believed that reaction and national discord would triumph in Hungary miscalculated while those who believed in the strength and stability of Hungarian democracy were not mistaken.

The consolidation of democracy has, for the first time in centuries, secured to Hungary real possibilities for establishing firm bonds of friendship with neighbouring countries, for strengthening mutual contact and aid in post-war rehabilitation and the preservation of peace. A big and decisive change has taken place in the significance of the democratic Hungarian nation in the Danube basin.

It is imperative for the Danubian nations to consolidate their ranks because peace and the independence of the peoples and the peace are threatened by a new danger – the drive of the American imperialists for world domination. The peoples must clearly see for themselves that two camps have come into existence: the camp of reaction, headed by the United States and the democratic camp, headed by the Soviet Union, which defends the independence of peoples, their peace and freedom.

The accomplices of the imperialists, and especially the right-wing Social Democrats must be exposed. The British Labour leaders Atlee, Bevin and others, Blum and his ilk in France, all of whom wear a democratic mask, are helping reaction, are inciting hatred towards the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies and are trying to violate the unity of the working class.

American reaction attaches the greatest importance to destroying the rights of the working people wherever possible. As a means towards its plans for world domination the Americans are trying to set up global military-strategic bases. They are taking over the strategic positions, which the weakened British imperialists can no longer retain. The Americans aim at turning the Western zones of Germany and Japan into military-strategic bases against the Soviet Union.

They are trying to realise their imperialist designs through the economic enslavement of the weaker states. Greece, Italy, France, Turkey and Austria have received loans running into hundreds of millions of dollars, which have placed these countries in the front ranks of inflation.

American “aid” is bringing Britain and France to the verge of disaster and the “Marshall Plan” – as admitted by the Americans themselves – is designed not to help Europe but to extend American influence over Europe.

When speaking of the Americans we should not lose sight of the British imperialists who have their best helpers in the right-wing Labour leaders. In a recent radio talk Prime Minister Atlee cynically lectured the people’s democracies of Eastern Europe on the political superiority of British democracy, and claimed that British social-democracy represents the “middle way” between the capitalism of the United States and Communism. At the recent conference of Foreign Ministers in London, however, the Labour leaders by no means behaved like middlemen between American and Soviet policy. Bevin deferentially followed the Marshall lead. As for the democratic activities of these gentlemen we are much more interested in facts than in honeyed words by Atlee. Less than a month ago the fascists in the Franco government murdered Comrade Zoroa. Bevin’s representative at the time stated that Britain would not intercede for Zoroa since he had opposed the “lawful government”. However, we Hungarian democrats, remember that the Attlee-Bevin Government saw fit to interfere in our internal affairs and despatched notes in the interests of the Hungarian conspirators. Acting as they are at present these Labour leaders are showing themselves to be in the shameful and degrading service of American imperialism.

The reasons for the conference of the Communist Parties held in Poland last September are understandable. This conference, which was the fitting answer of all conscious champions of European democracy, of the Communist Parties, resolved to oppose imperialist reaction, headed by the United States, to exchange experiences in the future and, if need be, to coordinate their activities.

Comrade Rakosi then characterised the heroic struggle of the Greek people against the encroachments of imperialism, and on behalf of the Hungarian Communist Party and Hungarian democracy wished the heroic Greek people every success in their struggle.

In enumerating the achievements of the democratic camp, continued Rakosi, it is fitting to conclude with a word about the successes of the great Soviet Union. While one capitalist country after another is compelled to impose restrictions of one kind or another, the Soviet Union has abolished rationing. This has been made possible by the patriots of the Soviet land, who displayed such heroism in destroying fascism, and who are today, with unfailing enthusiasm continuing their heroic struggle on the peaceful front of labour.

The working people of the world have nothing but admiration for the achievements of the Soviet Union in the field of rehabilitation and the development of the national economy. The Soviet people are determined to complete their Five-Year Plan in four years and we know that this decision will be carried out, just as all other decisions have invariably been carried out.

Today, when imperialist plans for world domination are being projected, plans threatening the freedom and independence of peoples, every democrat, who loves his country and aspires to peace and progress, looks to the Soviet Union just as he did at the time of the mortal struggle against the fascist barbarians, when the free peoples of the Soviet Union were the bastion of progressive mankind.

It is most reassuring for our people to know that Comrade Stalin is a close and responsive friend of the Hungarian people, a friend who always helps our people to advance along the path of progress. (All delegates to the conference stand up and accord a hearty ovation in honour of Comrade Stalin, and the Soviet Union.)

To summarise: not only in Hungary, but also throughout the world the forces of democracy are growing and have passed over to the offensive. The present divided world of two camps today is characterised by fear, uncertainty, inflation, crisis and internal strife wherever the influence of American imperialism holds sway. The opposite is true in the countries of the people’s democracy where there is confidence in the future, peaceful progress and tranquil constructive labour. The historic merit of Hungarian democracy lies in the fact that it was able to link our country to the front which is securing peace and progress.

Labour Discipline – The Main Thing

Our big job in the economic sphere is to consolidate our gains. This applies in the first place to the nationalised enterprises and banks. Managements must be reorganised along democratic lines so that administrative activity comes into the hands of those who are genuinely concerned with the interests of the people and not of the former owners. It is necessary to extend the principle of worker directors who have already proved their worth.

We must struggle for the fulfilment of the Three-Year Plan. Socialist emulation and a system of awards should be introduced in order to stimulate the effort both of individual workers and of the personnel of factories as a whole. But the main job is to improve labour discipline and secure increased productivity of labour. Every norm based on low labour productivity, every increase in wages that does not correspond to a similar increase in production only leads to the lowering of the standard of living for all. It is in the interests of the people that labour discipline and the productivity of labour not only reach the pre-war level but surpass it. Otherwise it will be impossible to raise the standard of living as compared to pre-war. The strengthening of labour discipline is our main job in the sphere of economy. High prices and the unprofitableness of the State enterprises are due largely to the low productivity of labour. In agriculture, too, productivity of labour is only 70 per cent of the pre-war level.

It is necessary to clear the factories of the fascists and other saboteurs. If we can quickly and firmly establish labour discipline, and do everything to raise the productivity of labour then by the end of next year we should be in a position not only to reach but to surpass the pre-war standard of living.

In agriculture the decisive task is to accelerate the development of cooperatives. Together with abolishing the pseudo-cooperatives it is necessary to rid the cooperatives of their bourgeois heritage and dishonest leaders who cooperate much more willingly with former capitalists than with the people. The agricultural cooperatives must be advanced to first place in the cooperative movement in accordance with their membership, property and importance in the sphere of agricultural production. Every member of the Communist Party must regard this as a duty and act accordingly.

It is essential to secure the completion of the land reform in such a way that each of the new landowners is in possession of the title deeds to his holdings by July 1.

For the Unity of the Working Class

Working-class unity is one of the most important pillars of Hungarian democracy. The enemies of unity from among the right-wing Social-Democrats tried to drive a wedge between the two workers’ parties, to isolate the Communist Party and thereby weaken democracy, as had been done by the followers of Bevin in Great Britain and of Blum in France. In Hungary the right-wing Social-Democrats more than once defended the interests of the out and out reactionary forces. After the elections they tried to disrupt the unity of the democratic parties by voting against the coalition. They also tried to save Pfeffer’s fascist party. We heartily welcome the action of the Social-Democratic Party in purging its ranks of the reactionary right wing – an action which has considerably strengthened the unity of the working class. Should the Social-Democratic Party remove from its leadership the enemies of unity and of the Soviet Union it would considerably strengthen Hungarian democracy. At the same time we are firmly convinced that the interests of the working class can best be served by a united workers’ party (stormy applause). This is borne out by the experience of historical development. Consequently, we must carefully nurture and develop everything which facilitates this unification.

Now when the leadership of the coalition parties has passed into the hands of democrats new opportunities are opened before the National Independence Front. It is now in a position to develop into a really active mass organisation of people’s democracy. Thanks to the strengthening of Hungarian democracy the parties united in the National Independence Front have established close contact with each other. The Front is now in a position to reorganise itself on new broader foundations, which constitute a decisive pre-condition for further consolidation of our democracy.

We must clear the reactionaries out of all democratic institutions, from the courts, educational bodies and from the universities. We should never forget that reaction is still in possession of considerable branches of economy and that very often it can exert influence even among the working class.

The Struggle Against Clerical Reaction

We are faced this year with the job of regulating relations between the Church and the people’s republic. An end must be put to the interminable situation which enables the bulk of the enemies of the Hungarian people to operate behind the Church, and in the first place the Roman Catholic Church. For three years Hungarian democracy has tried unsuccessfully to secure the participation of the Church for the rehabilitation of the country. But the majority of the leaders of the Catholic church, headed by Mindcenti, have so far refused to recognise the republic. Moreover, quite recently we observed how Mindcenti trampled underfoot the great national tradition of 1848. These gentlemen regard the conciliatory gestures of Hungarian democracy, its wise political patience, and the fact that democracy itself decides when certain problems shall be tackled, they regard this as a sign of weakness. These gentlemen are everywhere hampering the rehabilitation of the country. But it would be useful if they were to remember that Hungarian democracy has successfully solved the problems put forward with which history confronted it. And it will also put an end to reaction which is sheltering behind the cloak of religion.

We must assure the working people in Hungary that we shall be resolute also on relation to church should it be necessary to protect the results of the land reform and the interests of 700,000 Hungarian peasants who have received land. And we give this assurance to every Hungarian patriot: we shall not let the Cardinal Primate swear our sacred national traditions of 1848. Those naive people who as yet fail to see where Mindcenti wants to put the country should know that had these gentlemen lived in 1848 they would have fought together with Heinau and his Austrian mercenaries against Kossuth, Petofi, against the revival of Hungary and the development of its people. Today, in 1948, they are combating democracy, resisting the land reform, fighting the Three-Year Plan and peace. And it must be clearly understood that for the realisation of its schemes, clerical reaction relies solely on the catastrophe of war, on the misery and destruction of hundreds of thousands of Hungarians. Today reaction stands for war, destruction, endless sufferings, while democracy stands for peace, tranquillity and for the happiness and prosperity for our country which has suffered so much.

For a Free, Independent People’s Republic

We will be able to do what is required of us only if we keep on building, extending and deepening the mass foundations of our Party. Special attention must be devoted to recruiting new members from among the industrial workers. We must place in the forefront the matter of extending our mass influence and securing the organisational consolidation of the Party. We must more rapidly raise the ideological level of our Party and improve Party labour discipline. We must combat corruption inside and outside the Party, and we must liquidate the incorrect attitude towards the intelligentsia. We must take care that the enemy does not penetrate our ranks. We must combine the forthcoming exchange of membership cards with the expulsion from the Party of all those unworthy of the name of Communist.

I will conclude by quoting some comments concerning our Party. After the Parliamentary elections in November 1947 the magazine of the British Royal Institute for International Affairs stated that in the course of the election it became clear that the strength of the Communist Party lay in its organisation and in the moral superiority of its leaders. The magazine pointed out also that the strength of the Communist Party lay in its consistency and resourcefulness, which made it possible for the Communists to consolidate their positions. The elections showed also, stated the magazine, another quality of the Communist Party – its flexibility. But the main drawing power of the Communists lies in the scale and power of their work.

This is indeed quite a different tone, not the way in which they spoke of us two or three years ago.

Every Hungarian Communist must derive strength and vitality from the achievements won by Hungarian democracy under the leadership of our Party. He must be aware of his increased strength and responsibility, and at the same time remain vigilant and be ready to repulse any enemy of the working people. The Hungarian Communist Party must be in the future an even more loyal, disciplined, vigilant and resolute champion of people’s democracy. In this way we will realise and further develop the revolutionary ideas of 1848 and build the country for which Kossuth, Petofi and Tanchich fought – a free, independent, strong and prosperous republic. (Stormy applause.)

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