Imperialist war – imperialist peace: the impact of the World War I and the Treaty of Trianon on our time

Hungarian Workers' Party

The upcoming 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War is gradually becoming an important question in the Hungarian ideological and political struggles. Both camps of the Hungarian capitalist class – the Christian-conservative and the social liberal- democratic – try to use it for their own benefit.

The Christian-conservative forces – led by the present government – want to demonstrate the greatness of the historical Hungary, create a historical-intellectual bridge between the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Horthy-era and the present-day Christian-conservative system.

The social-liberal forces – on the contrary­ – want to use the centenary to prove that it wasn't Hungary in general that was responsible for the loss of the world war and for the Treaty of Trianon but the then political elite. Hence for the current problems in Hungary is responsible only the present Christian-conservative elite, namely the governing coalition of Fidesz and Christian-Democratic Peoples Party.

The centennial events are full of ideological and political crosstalk referring to our time. It's not a coincidence – in spring 2014. the parliamental elections take place The stake is big: will the conservative forces – which drastically broke up with the previous liberal politics – stay in power or will the social-liberal forces come back after the four years break.

The capitalist forces use the centennial celebration to blur and malign in the eyes of the new generations historical importance of the communist movement formed after the WWI, the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 and the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 and to weaken the present-day anticapitalist forces.

The Hungarian Workers' Party can't drop out of the struggle around the centenary of the WWI. In the new present-day situation we have to protect with new arguments and new methods our Marxist-Leninist views on the origin of war and the connection between imperialism and war. We have to show that imperialism causes wars today as well and the reasons of this can be found in the crisis of the present-day capitalist system. We have to show that imperialist wars are followed by imperialist peaces. It wasn't different a hundred years ago and it's the same today.

Hungary and the World War I in facts

On the 100th anniversary of the WWI the media is full of the great powers and countries like Hungary don't get into the centre of attention. So let's see some facts! How did Hungary get into the war and what were the consequences?

On 23 July 1914 the government of the Kingdom of Hungary led by its prime minister Count István Tisza held a session. It took notice of the fact that after the assassination in Sarajevo Austro-Hungarian ambassador baron Wladimir Giesl handed over an ultimatum to the Serbian royal government the answer to which was to be given until 6 pm. the 25 July. The ultimatum made the Serbian government and its authorities responsible for the assassination in Sarajevo. It also reminded of the previous obligations of the Kingdom of Serbia and accused the Serbian government of tolerating and feeding the Great Serbia Movement. It demanded that the government should publish in its official newspaper an announcement – with given content at a given time – which condemns the Great Serbia Movement. It should also be announced to the army as a royal daily order.

All propaganda against the Monarchy should be extinguished from education, public administration and the army. Nationalist and irredentic organisations, such as the Narodna Odbrana must be dissolved. But the 5th and 6th points were those that hurt dignity of the sovereign country the most. The Monarchy demanded that delegates of the Austro-Hungarian Government took part in the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarchy and investigated on Serbian territory. No wonder these demands sound familiar and appear today at the disposal of some great powers!

Serbian prime minister Nikola P. Pašić turned to the Serbian people: “The Serbian government, aware that fulfills your desires and demands to save the world peace and those are the aspirations not only of Serbia but also – we are sure – of all the Europe, did the utmost to meet the claims of the Imperial and Royal Government, but there is a certain line over which no sovereign state can make any further concessions[1]. Similar announcement could be published today and in many cases it is published.

On 28 July was published a manifest signed by Franz Joseph I, that announced declaration of war on Serbia: “The intrigues of a malevolent opponent compel me, in the defense of the honor of my Monarchy, for the protection of its dignity and its position as a power, for the security of its possessions, to grasp the sword after long years of peace. With a quickly forgetful ingratitude, the Kingdom of Serbia, which, from the first beginnings of its independence as a State until quite recently, had been supported and assisted by my ancestors, has for years trodden the path of open hostility to Austria-Hungary.” [2] We don't insist on parallels but this arrogance of the great power still exists.

What did the WWI bring to Hungary? During the five years of war 4 million Hungarian soldiers fought in the joint army [3], 600 000 of them were killed and the number of wounded and prisoners of war reached 1,5 million. 18% of the population was asked to field service in the hinterland and in addition the armaments industry employed 800 000 people. The cost of the war for Hungary was – on 1920's rate – 7,82 billion dollars. This sum is thirty times as much as the state income of an average year before the war.

After the lost war Hungary found itself in such a deep economic, political and social crisis that it swept away the monarchy. The foundation of the Hungarian National Council was officially announced on 25 October 1918 and its president became Count Mihály Károlyi.

The Hungarian ruling class couldn't deal with the war caused crisis and the mass unemployment. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the Southern part of the country was occupied by the French and the Romanian army and the Northern part by the Czech troops and the Entente made bigger and bigger demands. In this situation the Hungarian ruling class proved to be impotent. The aristocracy handed over the power to the liberal bourgeous forces led by Károlyi. A few month later they forwarded the power to the social democrats. The social democrates couldn't deal with the situation either, so they took the communists into power and the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed.

The Hungarian worker-peasant power existed for 133 days. In August 1919 the counter-revolutionary forces of the Hungarian landowner class pulled it down with the help of the Entente.

For Hungary the WWI was closed by the Treaty of Trianon on 4 June 1920 which was part of the Paris Peace Treaties system. The imperialist war was followed by the imperialist peace. The Entente-powers weaked Germany and winded up its traditional ally, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

As the result of the peace treaty the Kingdom of Hungary has lost more than two thirds of its territory (which decreased from 282 000 km² to 93 000 km²). 3,3 million Hungarians have stuck outside the borders of the new Hungarian state so Hungarians became minority in their homeland. Regarding economy, 61,4% of the former Hungarian Kingdom's soil, 88% of its timberland, 62,2% of the railway system, 64,5% of the roads established, 83,1% of the pig-iron, 55,7% of the industry plants and 67% of the credit and bank institutions became neighbouring countries' property.

What is the Hungarian capitalist class awaiting from the centenary?

The Christian-conservative part of the Hungarian capitalist class attaches great importance to the centenary and this is formulated in the cultural policy of the Fidesz-KDNP-government led by Viktor Orbán which is in power since 2010. What is this about? “Instead of the Western-European perspective we should approach the events from an Eastern-European perspective[4] – struck the keynote Mária Schmidt, director of the House of Terror Museum, one of the “court historians” of the present-day political elite. “The goal is to create a healthy national identity and national memory[5] – added Judit Hammerstein, Deputy State Secretary for Cultural Affairs.

What does the Christian-conservative government want? First of all to free the public opinion from “the intellectual remnants of communist past”. For example, let us forget the thesis that the First World War was a great fight of imperialist powers, and those fallen in battle were the victims of murderous war! And it is absolutely indispensable to forget forever that the Russian revolution in 1917 opened a new era in history! As for Hungarian Soviet Republic, deal with it as if it had never been.

The Christian-conservative government at the same time wants to finish with liberal and social democratic views on the WWI and the afterwar treaties. The government keeps saying that Hungary is located not in the East, but in the Central Europe, but as far as the worldview is concerned Hungary is practically Western Europe. The government rejects the liberal view that Hungary should learn from the West. On the contrary they try to prove that Hungary always became a slave to the West the moment the country left its own national path.

According to the official Christian-conservative ideology the WWI was a patriotic war in defence of the nation. “I mean that the war was in the interests of Hungary because it – once the war had started – presented the possibility to defend Hungarian interests using the army. One must remember that political leaders of three neighbour nations (Czechs, Romanians and Serbs) and intellectual circles that supported them already decades before openly talked about the need to part the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary between the neigboring countries. On this ground we can declare that for Hungary the WWI was a self-defence war in which Hungary was forced to enter.” [6] – says historian Ernő Raffay. In 1990-94 years Ernő Raffay was Secretary of State for Defence in the Antall-government notorious for having helped the Croats to secede from Yugoslavia by the secret supply of arms in early nineties.

The Christian-conservative forces conceptualise the war as common national cause. They keep on emphasising that 3,6 million men were conscripted at the beginning of WW1 and 660 thousand of them were killed or disappeared. They also include the Hungarian Jewish community in the “big national unity”. Among the 932 thousand Jewish born citizens “up to 200 thousand Israelites joined the army, many held high ranks and their number was high among generals too[7] - emphasised Csaba Hende, present minister of defence. The Ministry of Defence publishes again the ”Golden Album of Hungarian Jewish war veterans: in memorium of the1914-1918 World War”. The more than 500 pages long work was first published in 1941 to counterbalance the growing anti-semitic sentiment.

The Christian-conservative forces interlink the issue of the WW1 with the Treaty of Peace with Hungary signed in Trianon in 1920, more then that - they emphasise that the injustice suffered by the Hungarian nation exerts its influence up to the present day.

The Christian-conservative government wants the centennial celebrations to play an important part in the Christian-conservative re-evaluation of the Hungarian history. The current Christian-conservative perception considers the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (1867-1918) a virtue with long-lasting effects on our age and praises that period as golden age of prosperity. The official perception of history regards the era between 1920 and 1945, identified with the personality of the then governor Miklós Horthy, as continuation of the “k.u.k.”-era (kaiserlich und königlich). According to the current official perception the Horthy-era was a successful period of consolidation of the bourgeoisie, bourgeois development. The Orbán-government regards itself the successor of the Horthy-era.

Liberal forces blame for the WW1 the then Hungarian political elite. The crosstalk between past as present is obvious. According to the András Gerő, historian of the liberal bourgeois forces, war is “an event of destiny which people only suffer”. From the liberal point of view war is not a common tragedy of the whole nation, as the conservatives say, but only of the then liberal conservative-nationalist Hungarian elite[8]. According to them at the turn of the century the Hungarian political elite lost its flexibility, didn't carry out the agrarian reform, didn't settle its relations with the national minorities, didn't change the structure of the Monarchy and thus Hungary was dragged into the war and lost it.

On the other hand liberals – just like the conservatives – want to whitewash the then Hungarian ruling class, emphasising that Hungary was only forced into the war. They say that Hungarians didn't have territorial demands, didn't want a war, didn't want to conquer neigbour nations. Even István Tisza [9] himself opposed the war, but Hungary – as part of the Monarchy – couldn't stay out from the war. According to them from the Hungarian point of view it was a real trap. [10]

The celebration of the centennary gives great space for nationalist manifestations. Many historians claim that “Hungary belongs only to Hungarians”. Regarding the neighbouring countries they again began to use the wording adopted until 1920, “the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown”. According to the official perception Hungarian soldiers were heroes in the war. By 2018, the end of the WW1-centennary should be ready the database of Hungarian military sacrifices and the WW1-monuments will have been rebuilt in every town. In many places there will be built “Heroic memorials” to commemorate the victims of the two world wars and the events of 1956 as well.

The centennials celebrations aren't free of anti-communism. Hungary, so they say, took over a great historic mission: after 1919 Hungary became the forefront stronghold of the fight against bolshevism. Many are trying to explain that communist ideas are alien from the Hungarian character but the “traumatizing effect” of the WWI resulted in the emergence of communist ideology and along with it - fascist ideology.

A notable part of the centennial events is the emergence of anti-Russian elements. The young liberal historian Péter Csunderlik explains the prevailing often negative world view of Hungarian politics as the work of Russians and Slavic nations. This negative picture is “mostly a result of the historic interpretation of Slavic nations” – says Csunderlik who claims not less than that Slavic nations “rose themselves to cultural nations by desreputing and demonising the Hungarians[11].

The war 100 years ago and in our days

The WWI and the Hungarian participation in it under no circumstances was an accident or the result of any historic compulsion. Nor can today's wars and the Hungarian participation in them be explained like this.

100 years ago Hungary joined the WWI for three basic reasons.

  • The WWI was triggered by the conflicts between the imperialist countries. The economical and political fight for dominance over the European area led to war. Hungary, albeit in a subordinate position, was part of the capitalist world system. Hungary – because of its situation and its allied obligations– couldn't stay out from the war.
  • The Hungarian capital's expansion was only possible towards the Balkan which was the sphere of interests of other capitalist forces, other big powers. The war was in the interests of the Hungarian ruling class – though to varying degrees for the different groups – and that's why Hungary joined the WWI.
  • The war – regardless of all its risks – meant a possibility for the ruling class to channel the inner tension of the Hungarian society.

How could the then Hungarian ruling class be described? After a few hundred years Hungary got partial independence in 1867. The Hungarian landowner aristocracy wasn't strong enough to fight out the full independence from Austria. That's how the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 was concluded between the Hungarian and the Austrian aristocracy. In the new Austro-Hungarian Monarchy the war ministry and the foreign policy was common as well as the person of the monarch – Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.

The main point of the Compromise was to integrate the market and the financial system, to preserve the semi-feudal capitalist system against the peasand and worker masses and maintain the Austrian and Hungarian rule over the Czech, Romanian, Croatian and other nations.

This way Hungary was integrated in the European capitalism at the end of the 19th century. The capitalist circles of the two countries welcomed this because the integrated market, the inner stability and the international weight of the Monarchy were favourable for the capitalist circles.

The special features of the Hungarian ruling class at the beginning of the 20th century emerged from this situation.

  • The economic power of the Hungarian aristocracy and the capitalist class lagged behind their European rivals. This gave Hungarian politics a provincial, semi-feudal, “neo-baroque” character.
  • Faced with the pressure of the German, French and English capital the Hungarian capital could expand on terroritories close to the Monarchy, especially the Balkan. Within the given structure of international relations the Austro-Hungarian capital could enforce its interests only through war. This fact determined the subordinate position of the Hungarian ruling class and its constant dependence on foreign capital and foreign powers.
  • On Eastern-European and Balkanian territories the Hungarian ruling class collided with Russian interests. This fact made the policy of the Hungarian ruling class anti-Russian.
  • The Hungarian ruling class could achieve its interests only by suppressing the interests of other nations and national minorities and this gave a strongly pronounced nationalist nature to Hungarian politics.
  • The Compromise was possible also because the Hungarian ruling class wanted external guarantee to maintain control over the working masses, to preserve the semi-feudal capitalist system. This gave the policy of Hungarian ruling class a reactionary nature.

During the last 25 years Hungary took part in several wars. As a newly joined NATO-member Hungary gave its territory and airspace to the NATO-aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999. It took and takes part in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Present-day imperialist wars are consequences of the inner conflicts of the capitalist system and the struggle for the redivision of the world and they also are the means to channel the social tensions caused by the crisis of the capitalist system.

From the beginning of the 2000's a deep crisis shook the ruling powers of the capitalist world. This crisis isn't one of the cyclic, repeating crises of capitalism. This crisis derives from the inner substance of capitalism and that's why they can not cope with it. The ruling capitalist countries want the weaker capitalist states to pay for their crisis. This on the one hand increases the inner conflicts of the capitalist countries and on the other hand it causes deep social conflicts in the less developed countries.

The United States – based upon globalisation and the achievements of information technology – mercilessly seek to subjugate the whole world. Seek to eliminate completely the communist movement, to subordinate Russia and China and by a war of civilisations impose the Jude -Christian civilisation all over the world. Under the cover of the war on terror the USA steps up against everything and everyone who – even if a little bit - differs from the behaviour which the USA expects. The USA wants to compensate its relative economic weakening with aggressiveness.

Hungary's participation in the present-day wars can to a great extent be explained by the particular qualities of the post-1990 Hungarian capitalism and the Hungarian capitalist class.

What characterises the present-day Hungarian capitalism?

  • The Hungarian capitalist class is much weaker than its European counterparts. Hungarian capitalism came into being by selling most of the national wealth to foreign companies. The Hungarian capitalist class and Hungarian politics depends very much on foreign countries.
  • Among ten million Hungarians only one million can be considered rich, those who benfite from capitalism.. Nine million is poor or anyway their situation has worsened with the arrival of capitalism.. This social tension is constant and the deepening of the European capitalist crisis can radicalise it. The Hungarian capitalist class is aware of that. They know that 24 years ago there was socialism in Hungary and the people still remember this. That is why the Hungarian ruling class is grossly anti-communist and reactionist.
  • Even today, the Hungarian capital can expand mostly towards Eastern Europe and the Balkan. Moreover, Hungarian national minorities live in this region. This fact makes the Hungarian politics, and especially the conservative part of it, anti-Russian.
  • The Hungarian capitalist class haven't given up on expanding its influence on the Hungarians living in surrounding countries and regaining its middle-power position in the Eastern European region.

What characterises the policy of the Hungarian capitalist class?

The Hungarian ruling class manifestates in two political groups. The Christian-conservative forces pursue a nationalist policy and are closer to Germany. The social-liberal group expresses the interests of the Hungarian liberal bourgeoisie, the Jewish circles, they are characterized by liberal and social democratic thinking and stands closer to Israel and the USA.

Both groups of the capitalist class are interested in the maintaining of capitalism and its expansion to other European countries. The policy of the two groups differs only in the tones and methods.

The Hungarian capitalist class regards the Hungarian-American alliance, NATO and EU the main external assurance of Hungarian capitalism so the capitalist governments completely implement the policy of NATO and EU. The self-imposed obligations towards the USA and NATO have nothing to do with national interests or Hungary's defence, they serve the aggressive, great-power goals of the USA and the leading capitalist powers. Hungary's participation in the bombing of neighbouring Yugoslavia - including territories inhabited by Hungarians - for example widely infringed Hungarian national interests.

The Hungarian capitalist class is not in a position to play independent military role. The USA and NATO expects it to participate in the joint actions of imperialist countries. But it's not just that the Hungarian capitalist class has no other choice because of its NATO and EU obligations. The Hungarian ruling class finds it profitable to fish in troubled waters, to undertake wars with small risks. According to this Hungary participated in the NATO-aggression against Yugoslavia, the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, the manouvre against Libya and now it's part of the actions against Syria too. Hungary hosts the NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) base and many American and NATO-institutions.

The Hungarian capitalist class finds it necessary to promote the “democratic transition” in Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia and other countries. Hungarian governments help it with methods of politics, economy and intelligence. This is a dangerous policy because due to its geographic position Hungary would be inevitably part of any land warfare in the Eastern European region.

The Hungarian capitalist class is aware of the fact that it can't fulfill its economic goals in the EU so it's looking for other ways of expansion for the Hungarian capital. Today it's mainly the Balkan, more precisely Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia and also Georgia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

The policy of the Hungarian capitalist class is anti-Russian in its nature, though its accents may vary depending on the governments. They still regard Russia a factor that can endanger the capitalist system in Hungary in a strategic sense. The policy of the Hungarian capitalist class on many specific territories (Balkan, Belarus, Middle East) objectively confronts with Russian interests. Hungarian governments try to reduce the energetic dependence on Russia in order to strengthen the elbow-room of Hungarian politics.

The Hungarian capitalist class haven't given up the plans to expand its influence on the Hungarians living in neighbouring countries. The social-liberal forces want to do it mainly by economic methods, the conservatives by granting the dual citizenship and integration of Hungarians living abroad into the Mother Nation. This policy is source of constant tension in the area.

The Hungarian capitalist class thinks foreign policy is a way to distract the society's attention from inner problems. And there are plenty of such problems from mass unemployment and poverty to the problem of the gypsies.

First and last we can conclude that the capitalist change of system in 1989-1990, the Hungarian membership in the political and military integration of capitalist countries didn't decreased but increased the danger of war. The peculiarities of the formation of the Hungarian capitalism and the characteristics of the present Hungarian capitalist class make this danger even greater.

Imperialist war – imperialist peace

The Treaty of Trianon which closed the WWI had as we have seen serious consequences for Hungary. That treaty closed the war according to the interests of the then leading capitalist countries.

The main goal of the official Hungarian foreign policy between the two world wars was to regain the lost territories. Hungary was unable to regain these territories based on its own strength and this made the Hungarian ruling class interested in the cooperation with the fascist Germany and - through it - in the war. Hungary was defeated in World War II. The Treaty of Peace with Hungary in 1947 reconfirmed the Trianon-borders. “Whereas Hungary, having become an ally of Hitlerite Germany and having participated on her side in the war against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other United Nations, bears her share of responsibility for this war.” [12]

The Paris Peace Treaties were an imperialist peace settlement regardless of the fact that a socialist country, the Soviet Union participated in it. The treaties redulated the status of Eastern Europe according to the interests of the then ruling powers.

During the socialist era (1948-1989) official policy didn't deal with either the Treaty of Trianon, or the Treaty of Paris. International law then regarded the borders created after WWII unalterable. Moreover the socialist countries thought that the national conflicts have been solved because all of the countries had socialist system. More than 40 years weren't enough to solve the problem of national minorities.

The Hungarian capitalist class basically assume that so cold Hungarian national interests remained unfulfilled during the Eastern European changes in the 1990's. The borders stated by the Treaty of Trianon (1920) are still valid, Hungary couldn't regain from the neighbouring countries the territories inhabited by Hungarians.

At the same time German bourgeoisie advanced its national interests as the Federal Republic of Germany swallowed the German Democratic Republic. Capitalist Croatia advanced its national interests, split from Serbia and created the ethnically unified Croatian state. The Albanians were able to advance their national interests at the expense of Serbia and quasi independent Kosovo has been created. There are plenty of other examples.

It is a fact that during the past 25 years there haven't been worldwide wars followed by global peace treaties. But it is also a fact that the Yugoslav wars went on from 1991 to 2001, including the NATO air war against Yugoslavia. Hungary was part of this war.

These were imperialist wars which served the interests of the leading capitalist countries. Their aim was to eliminate Yugoslavia – the Yugoslav state was in the way of the NATO's eastern expansion – and to roll back Russia's influence.

This imperialist war was also followed by an imperialist peace. The Dayton Agreement in 1995 made Bosnia and Herzegovina the EU's vassal. The proclamation of Kosovo's independence in 2008 created satellite state controlled by the EU and the NATO.

The Hungarian capitalist class didn't try to change the consequences of the Treaty of Trianon during those wars and peace treaties which resulted the significant changes in the region. The leading powers of NATO – even though such an idea existed – didn't summon an international conference to solve the international problems of the region. The leading capitalist states thought that it's enough to admit Hungary and other regional countries to the NATO and the EU – and all the problems arising from the existence of national minorities will be solved. As we know, they haven't been solved.

The nature of the UN's activity significantly changed after 1990. As long as socialist countries existed, the UN – while aligning and coordinating the interests of ruling powers – gave some possibility for the progressive countries and popular liberation movements to fight effectively against the capitalist ruling powers as the USA. Today the UN – although it still preserves the function of coordinating the interests of major powers – became the instrument of the leading capitalist powers.

Communists against war

War is a continuation of policy by other means. All wars are inseparable from the political systems that engender them[13] – wrote V.I. Lenin in his work War and Revolution. Capitalist wars are born by capitalist system and lead to capitalist peace treaties.

The existence of socialist states earlier forced capitalist countries to solve their conflicts. The inner conflicts of the capitalist world didn't disappear but effective problem-moderating mechanisms were created. On the other hand the strength of socialist countries, the existence of the balance of forces didn't allow the capitalist world with the impunity to blast other countries whose system or policy differed from those of the capitalist countries.

Much of Hungary's 20th century history (1900- March 1919, August 1919 -1948 and from 1990 to our days) was under capitalism. Hungary had socialist system twice, from March 1919 to August and from 1948 to 1990. During the capitalist periods Hungary joined two world wars and also the big wars of our days, the aggression against Yugoslavia and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Socialist periods were different. The Hungarian Soviet Republic fought a war for defence of the fatherland against Romania, Czechoslovakia and the Entente in 1919. This was the only time in the 20th century when Hungary managed to regain its territories without external help. The only foreign military manoeuvre which Hungarian soldiers joined after 1948 was in 1968 during the events in Czechoslovakia. Socialism created peace for Hungary whereas the capitalist system draws it from one war to another.

What does the war means to communists? Communists oppose war because the working people are the ones who suffer from its consequences. “The masses of the workers bear all the burdens of war. The propertied classes derive benefit from national calamities[14] - wrote V.I. Lenin in his work “British and German Workers Demonstrate for Peace”.

The historic experiences of the Hungarian workers' movement prove Leninian thesis: wars can and should be turned against the capitalist class. The Hungarian workers in 1919 and 1945 showed that the creation of socialism is the only way out of the crises caused by world wars. Aware of this the socialist revolution in Hungary was fought.

That’s why imperialism does everything to channel the tension not through world wars which lead to social upheavals, but through series of small wars and to conceal like never before from the people the true nature of these wars. Our duty is to protect our Marxist evaluation from the attacks of modern bourgeois ideologies and to explain the true causes of wars to the people. We shall keep on bravely advocating that the first world war was born by the capitalist system! Just like the wars of our days. The capitalist system hasn't become more peaceful just because there are no world wars anymore. Actually we are going from one war to another. Moreover if the capitalist system can't overcome its crisis it wouldn't be deterred even from a European war.

We communists can't equate the aggressor with the victim of aggression. We can't say that both sides are wrong, both sides need to make concessions. On the Summer of 1941 Hungarian communists firmly condemned the fascist Germany and unequivocally took the side of the Soviet Union even if they had a somewhat different evaluation of Stalin and the internal policy of the Soviet system.

During the whole duration of the Yugoslav war the Hungarian Workers' Party condemned the military actions of the USA, the EU and the NATO and unequivocally stood on the side of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav government and president Milosevic. During the war the Hungarian Workers' Party was the only political force in Hungary which maintained the contacts with Yugoslavia on the highest level. We didn't agree completely with the internal policy of Milosevic but Yugoslavia was the victim and the resistance was organised by Milosevic.

The Hungarian Workers' Party condemned and condemns the American war plans against Syria. We support the Syrian nation, Syria and president Bashar al-Assad because we know that embodies the independent, anti-imperialist Syria and the USA does everything to topple it.

The political parties of the workers' movement, as we know, couldn’t prevent the war in 1914. The social democracy had floated on a wave of nationalism. The communist movement couldn't prevent the war on Yugoslavia in 1999 either. Why? Because many did and do float on a wave of nationalism and give up their working class approach for the liberal democratic demagoguery. We should learn from history!


[2] Ibid.

[3] The K. u. k. (kaiserlich und königlich or Imperial and Royal) Army






[9] István Tisza – Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1913-1917.




[13] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 398-421

[14] Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1973, Moscow, Volume 15, pages 210-212

Comments of the “Kommounistiki Epitheorisi” (KKE) Editorial Board representatives on the article “Imperialist war - imperialist peace: the impact of the World War I and the Treaty of Trianon on our time” that was submitted by the Hungarian Workers’ Party:

Kommounistiki Epitheorisi

This article engages with the disastrous consequences for the country and people of Hungary which resulted from the ambitions of the bourgeois class to strengthen its position in world affairs, by participating in the 1st World War as a part of Austro-Hungary. It also deals with the current goals of the basic bourgeois political forces of Hungary, on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1st World War, that aim to mislead the workers and justify historically the choices of the bourgeois class despite the catastrophic results of these choices.

We agree with the basic assessments of the article, however we would like to draw attention to certain aspects of it:

The authors of the article claim that the USA seeks “to subjugate the whole world. Seek to eliminate completely the communist movement, to subordinate Russia and China and by a war of civilisations impose the Jude -Christian civilisation all over the world. Under the cover of the war on terror the USA steps up against everything and everyone who – even if a little bit - differs from the behaviour which the USA expects.”

In our opinion, the USA really does use arguments about the “restoration of democracy”, “the struggle against terrorism” in order to promote its geopolitical interests. It is however not alone in doing this (there are other powers that follow this line, like the EU etc.). However, the communist movement can not accept the primacy of the view of the so-called “clash of civilizations” and the standpoint that seeks the dominance of “judaeo-christian civilization” over other civilizations, as the clash of the civilizations is an ideological construct that became very fashionable since the publication of Samuel Huntingdon’s book. This Harvard University professor in this book, “The clash of civilizations and the remaking of the world order” includes extremely reactionary views. Such an analysis of the situation conceals the main element, the relationship between the economy and politics and in this way hides the real contradictions that govern the contemporary imperialist reality, both the main contradiction between capital and labour, as well as the causes of the inter-imperialist contradictions, which are clearly not to be found in the aim to impose some cultural values, but in the aim to serve the profitability of monopolies, in the struggle over the market shares, the transport routes, the energy resources etc.

In addition, we can not agree with the assessment of the article that “We communists can't equate the aggressor with the victim of aggression. We can't say that both sides are wrong, both sides need to make concessions”. And this is because the imperialist war includes both sides, as both the aggressor and the defensive side both conduct an unjust imperialist war. If, for example, Greece is subject to a military attack and is involved in a war, the bourgeois class of Greece will be responsible for the imperialist attack, because this war will be the continuation of its political participation in the division of markets, the energy resources etc. , of its active participation in military-political alliances and interventions of NATO and the EU which it followed in a “peaceful period”. Consequently, whether a war is just or unjust is not related to whether it is defensive or offensive (in literal terms), but what political line it is the continuation of: “As if the question were: Who was the first to attack, and not: What are the causes of the war? What are its aims? Which classes are waging it?” [1]

Finally, it is underlined in the article that “We support the Syrian nation, Syria and president Bashar al-Assad because we know that embodies the independent, anti-imperialist Syria and the USA does everything to topple it.” Our assessment is that the causes of the war in Syriza are more complex. We will not refer to them as they are presented in detail in our article, which is published in this issue of the ICR. We consider that the communist movement must have its own independent strategy and this must not be identified with the strategy of bourgeois regimes, and from this standpoint we assess that communists can not identify with the Assad government.

[1] V.I. Lenin. An Open Letter to Boris Souvarine.