Saturday, January 28, 2012

Repudiate the debt

On Saturday 28th January during the Temple Bar Tradfest in Dublin activists from
the Repudiate the Debt Campaign set up an information stall to highlight the ongoing
rip off of the Irish people.

Thousands of citizens thronged the streets and it provided a good opportunity to
meet face to face with people and discuss this odious debt imposed on the people
by the EU/ECB and the main political parties.

A lot of leaflets and information in relation to both the debt and the Repudiate
Campaign where distributed and signatures collected demanding a referendum to allow
the people the opportunity to vote on this crippling debt.

Also a number of people joined up to actively take part in the campaign.

The campaign will continue to raise its public profile and to engage people in an
open, face to face way about the importance of and the necessity for the repudiation
of this debt.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

General Strike in Norway

Norwegian trade unions launched a general strike on Wednesday against the government's planned implementation of the EU Temporary and Agency Workers Directive into national law and the social dumping that it would spark.

The fact that nationwide strike action is taking place against a directive that allegedly makes up a large part of the "social Europe" agenda tells us a lot about what this agenda actually delivers.

Norwegians have twice rejected European Union membership in referendums, but the country joined the European Economic Area (EEA) in 1994 and is a member of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) along with Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Oslo's EEA membership means it must effectively follow EU rules on the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour in return for access to the EU's single market.
However a recent opinion poll suggested that 76 per cent of Norwegians wanted their country to remain outside the EU.

Mass trade union rallies took place in around 40 cities including Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Haugesund, Tromsø, Gjøvik, Raufoss, Fredrikstad, Arendal, Porsgrunn and Sarpsborg.

Unions argue that the implementation of the EU Temporary and Agency Workers Directive will undermine Norwegian labour laws and introduce the large-scale use of temporary and agency workers, forcing out permanent workers and weakening workers' rights and collective agreements.

The directive also gives final authority over Norwegian employment legislation to the EFTA Court, a supranational judicial body responsible for the three EFTA/EEA members Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

This court is very similar to the EU's European Court of Justice (ECJ) which has already made some draconian judgements striking down trade union collective bargaining rights in nearby Sweden and Finland in the Laval and Viking cases.

The EU court ruled that under the EU treaties business rights to "establishment" overrule basic trade union rights, rulings that have not gone unnoticed in Norway.
The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) is demanding that the government reject the directive and introduce laws to ensure that wages and working conditions for those who are hired are the same as the permanent employees.

The Working Environment Act, brought in in 1994, currently lays down that permanent employment is the main rule in Norway, with strict exemptions for the use of contract labour and temporary employment.

Backing the action, International Transport Workers Federation general secretary David Cockroft said Norway's legislation on contract labour and temporary employment was some of the best there is.

"The directive doesn't just risk taking a good law and making it mediocre - it could also strip the rights currently enjoyed by workers and open the floodgates to their replacement by precariously employed temporary and agency staff who will themselves get inferior employment protection," he said.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin said Norwegian unions and workers were stepping up to defend legislation that "does the job it's meant to."

Norway has low unemployment compared with many other European countries and much less use of temporary labour. The growth of temporary and agency workers is uneven across Europe but is inextricably linked to how deregulated the economy is in line with neoliberal EU rules covering the single market.

According to figures released in 2007 the number of temporary and agency workers in Germany was just 8,172. In the UK it was nearly 1.2 million. That number has probably expanded across the EU since then and pressure is being applied to ensure the number of temps grows in Norway.

A recent government-commissioned report by Professor Fredrik Sejersted of the University of Oslo found that Norway has embraced 75 per cent of the EU's regulations over the years and more than 6,000 EU laws have been included in Norwegian law. "We are almost as deeply integrated as the UK," he says.

His report Outside and Inside finds deep implications for Norway's society, economy and democracy and expresses concern at the political consequences of adopting EU policies "without voting rights."

Sejersted calls this a "great democratic deficit," suggesting that as Norway's integration with the EU has intensified, media, public and political understanding has shrunk massively.
"There are few areas of Norwegian democracy today where so many know so little about so much as is the case with Norwegian European policy," he says.

Europhiles of all political hues will no doubt attack Norwegian workers for resisting this silent neoliberal drift as being "selfish," "protectionist" or even "racist" for not allowing the wholesale deregulation of the legal framework covering work practices.

But this strike reveals the deep rift between the democratic demands of Norwegian voters and the machinations of the Norwegian political class and its collusion with the EU to implement a neoliberal economic and social agenda without a mandate to do so.

No bondholder left behind is murder


25 January 2012

Once again the Irish Government is handing over public money, this time €1.25 billion, to pay off the bond-holders of Anglo-Irish Bank. This callous, odious and unjust debt is taking a heavy toll on the Irish people. This odious debt imposed on our people by the EU and ECB is simply costing the lives of the sick and of children.

There is no other solution than the complete repudiation of this debt. No tinkering with promissory notes or the like will address the simple fact that this is not the people’s debt, and it is not their responsibility to pay it through massive transfers of wealth from our country and our people, with a callous “austerity” programme and cuts in health, education, and social welfare, all just to save the German and French banks.

Repudiation of this debt is they only way to stop the savage attacks and the heavy price tags forced on our people. The governments strategy of no bondholder left behind is killing our people.

Paul Doran
087 6837650

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Browne v The Troika

Troika (EU, ECB & IMF) representatives, and Barbara Nolan, head of the European Commission representation in Ireland, held a press conference on the latest bailout review this afternoon.

Klaus Masuch, head of EU Countries Division at the European Central Bank
Istvan Szekely, director of economic and financial affairs at the European Commission
Craig Beaumont, mission chief for Ireland at the IMF.
Barbara Nolan, head of the European Commission representation in Ireland.

Early in the conference, Istvan Szekely said: “I’m impressed by the depth of the discussion in Ireland and the understanding of complex, economic financial-sector issues, which is revealed by looking into the Irish place, looking into the discussion. But also when I come from the airport with the taxi driver they are often very very informed I must say, very very informed.”


Vincent Browne: “Klaus Masuch, did your taxi driver tell you how the Irish people are bewildered that we are required to pay unguaranteed bondholders billions of euros for debts that the Irish people have no relation to or no bearing with, primarily to bail out or to ensure the solvency of European banks? And if the taxi driver had asked you that question,hat would have been your response? That’s my first question.”

Barbara Nolan: “Well, well, well, can we take a couple together? Can you ask the second question?”

VB: “Well, my second question is a completely different issue and it may have a follow-through if Mr Masuch doesn’t answer the question in a way that would illuminate the taxi driver’s understanding of all this, I would have a follow-through question.”

Nolan: “Right, can I ask you then to pass the mic, and we’ll come back to you for the second question?”

Browne: “Well, if you don’t mind, that’s a way of breaking up the exchange, and I would prefer if it went this way: We’ve a tradition in Irish journalism that we pursue issues and that when somebody doesn’t ask [answer] a question we follow through on it and I hope that tradition will be respected on this occasion. So could you answer the question?”

Masuch: “I have answered a very similar question of you – I think it was two reviews ago – and can…”

Browne: “[inaudible] the question”

Masuch: “… and I answered it. I can understand that this is a difficult decision to be made by the government and there’s no doubt about it but there are different aspects of the problem to be, to be balanced against each other and I can understand that the government came to, came to the view that, all in all, the costs for the, for Irish people, for the, for the stability of the banking system, for the confidence in the banking system of taking a certain action in this respect which you are mentioning could likely have been much bigger than the benefits for the taxpayer which of course would have been there. So the financial sector would have been affected; the confidence of the financial sector would have been negatively affected, and I can understand that there were, that there was a difficult decision but that the decision was taken in this direction.”

Browne: “That, that… Well, that doesn’t address the issue. We are required to pay, in respect of a defunct bank – that has no bearing on the welfare of the Irish people at all – we are required to pay in respect of this defunct bank, billions on unguaranteed bonds in order to ensure the health of European banks. Now how would you explain that situation to the taxi driver that you talked about earlier?”

Masuch: “I think I have addressed [looking to Barbara Nolan] the question.”

Browne: “No you haven’t addressed the question because you referred to the viability of the Irish financial institutions. This financial institution I’m talking about is defunct. It’s over. It’s finished. Now, why are the Irish people required, under threat from the ECB, why are the Irish people required to pay billions to unguaranteed bondholders under threat from the ECB?”

Masuch: [silence]

Browne: “You didn’t answer the question the last time so maybe you’ll answer it this time.”

Masuch: [mutters to Barbara Nolan]

Nolan: “Well, I think he doesn’t have anything to add to what he’s already said. Can I.. [pointing at another questioner]”

Browne: “Well, just a minute now. This isn’t, this isn’t good enough… You people are intervening in this society causing huge damage by requiring us to make payments not for the benefit of anybody in Ireland but for the benefit of European financial institutions. Now, could you explain why the Irish people are inflicted with this burden?”

Manusch: “Well, I think I have addressed the question.”

Browne: “You’ve nothing to say. There’s no answer, is that right? Is that it? No answer?”

Manusch: “I have given an answer”

Browne: “You have given an answer that didn’t address the question.”

Nolan: “That’s your view.”

Browne: “That is my view and I think it would be the view of the taxi driver and a few of our viewers tonight.”

Nolan: “Right. Can we please move on?”

Causes of the crisis

Carchedi, Foster and the causes of crisis

The annual Marxism 2011 festival took place in London this weekend. One of the sessions was on Marxist theory and the economic crisis. The speakers were John Bellamy Foster, the editor of the American Monthly Review, Guglielmo Carchedi, the Italian Marxist economist and Joseph Choonara from the British Socialist Workers Party.

With three speakers and only a short amount of time, no speaker was able to do justice to their arguments. But let me summarise. I won’t comment on Choonara’s contribution, not because he did not say some excellent things, but because I have more to say about the other two speakers.

Those who have read John Bellamy Foster’s book, The Great Financial Crash: causes and consequences ( , will know that he represents that tradition of Marxist economics developed by Paul Sweezy, Paul Baran and Harry Magdoff that argues the cause of capitalist economic crisis can be found in the development of competitive, small firm capitalism of the 19th century into the monopoly, large firm capitalism of the 20th century, which has further developed structurally into a monopoly finance capitalism of the 21st century. This monopoly capitalism breeds stagnation because competition is weak or suppressed. Workers’ wages are held back by monopoly pricing and there is shift of profits from small firms to large ones. But because workers cannot spend as much, monopoly surpluses build up. They have to be realised through arms spending or a credit boom, the latest of which has seen the development of ‘financialisation’ (see my post, Financialisation: the cause of crisis?, 19 July 2010). Eventually the credit bubble bursts and the stagnatory nature of capitalism is revealed. The crisis occurs not because profitability is too low but because the surplus is too high to be bought or realised. Capitalist crises are not cyclical (boom and slump), but structural (stagnation).

The Monthly Review analysis is close to the views of those who have ‘neo-liberalism’ and underconsumptionist explanation of capitalist crisis, namely that there is not enough ‘effective demand’ from workers as their wages have been restricted and inequalities of income have grown so large that capitalists can no longer sell their goods and services to the masses in sufficiently profitable amounts. So there is overaccumulation or overproduction and that causes the crisis. The crisis is caused by inequality and underconsumption, delayed by a credit bubble, which when it bursts, causes profits to collapse. Low profits are the result of crisis and the lack of realisation, not vice versa (see my posts, The crisis of neoliberalism and Gerard Dumenil, 3 march 2011 and Views of the Great Recession, David Harvey and Anwar Shaikh, 3 September 2010).

In my book, The Great Recession (, I show how this explanation of capitalist crisis is both wrong and also not Marx’s view. Suffice it to say that Foster in his brief speech presented two key facts to support his thesis: that capitalist crisis one of structural stagnation because in every decade since the 1960s, economic growth in the major capitalist countries has been slower than the previous one. This is true. But you can often make the stats fit any argument. Instead of measuring growth decade by decade, if you measure it against the rise and fall in profitability in the US, you find that economic growth was faster from 1982-97, when profitability was rising, than it had been between 1965-82, when it was falling. In other words, economic growth is faster when profitability is rising and vice versa.

His second fact was that real wages in the US have been stagnant since the 1970s and inequality has increased sharply, so workers became bereft of the incomes to buy the goods and services of monopoly capitalism without credit. It is true that real wages have stagnated. But it is not true that the costs of variable capital for the capitalists have stagnated and that is what matters to capitalist production. Employee costs include not just wages but also benefits (holidays, sick pay, pensions, medical care, social security), which must be paid at least in part by employers. When these are added in, employee costs have risen in real terms. In the period 1982-97, employee costs rose, but profits rose faster, so the rate of exploitation (surplus value) rose in the US (and elsewhere). The increase was so strong and when combined with a fall in the costs of production (a falling organic composition of capital), profitability rose and capitalist production grew faster and did not stagnate. It was only when profitability peaked and began to fall that growth slowed.

Guglielmo Carchedi has been a major contributor the development of Marxist economics over the last 30 years. He was among the first to provide a refutation of the Okishio theorem that purported to show that Marx’s law of profitability was theoretically false or flawed and could not be used to explain crisis. Carchedi has also shown up the fallacies of the underconsumptionist explanation of crisis that still dominates many parts of the Marxist economic spectrum (see his recent book ).

At the meeting, Carchedi outlined the main arguments in his latest book, Behind the crisis ( and paper (see his excellent two files on his thesis at He shows that if you look at the productive sector of the capitalist economy (namely, the US) over the last 50 years, then you can see a secular fall in the rate of profit. This secular fall has been driven by Marx’s law of profitability, namely a rise in the organic composition of capital. ie the growth of machinery and plant etc has outstripped and displaced the growth in the employment of labour power. As Carchedi explains, labour is the only source of value, so the rising organic composition of capital may deliver faster productivity, BUT because goods get produced in less labour time, there is a slower growth in value and profitability falls.

Carchedi also shows that within the secular decline in profitability, there are shorter cycles when profitability can rise, in particular a rise from 1986 to date. This rise is due to the counteracting influences on profitability that are also part of Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. From 1986, capitalists drove up the rate of exploitation or surplus value by vicious attacks on working conditions etc to counteract the effect of the rising organic composition of capital. But eventually, the law of profitability will overcome the counteracting influences and the crisis will ensue.

This is a powerful argument. But where I have some doubts about Carchedi’s approach is in his measure of profitability. Carchedi’s data show that US profitability has risen from 1986 to 2009. So how can the Great Recession be a result of falling profitability? Carchedi measures only the profitability of the productive sectors of the capitalism, indeed just the goods producing sector. He excludes services and the finance sector. This may be justifiable if you want to see the working out of Marx’s law of profitability over a secular period. But I think it then confuses and obscures what is going on cyclically and thus does not help to explain booms and slumps. Marx did not exclude from his general rate of profit the financial sector or the unproductive sectors of capitalism. These sectors do not create surplus value, but they appropriate it from the productive sector (by interest, rent and other charges) and so must be included in the overall rate of profit and considered in the cyclical explanation of crisis.

If you look at the profitability of the whole capitalist economy, as I did in my book and others have done as well (see my upcoming paper!), then we can see that US profitability peaked in 1997 not 2009 and has still not returned to that level (see my recent post, Returning to the long view and others on this). Indeed, I have argued that after the slump of 2001, US profitability again peaked in 2005-6 (below the level fo 1997) and began to fall well before the credit crunch of 2007 and the recession of 2008-9. This falling profitability(in the context of the general downphase of profitability from 1997) eventually triggered the credit crunch of 2007 when credit could no longer support profits. This restores Marx’s law as the underlying (but not proximate) cause of the crisis.

Michael Roberts

Peoples News Issue 62

The latest draft of an international treaty to toughen the enforcement of EU budget rules—the third in less than a month—dilutes the requirement to adopt a rule on a constitutional basis, binding governments not to exceed EU deficit and debt limits. Instead it says that the rule could be applied through “provisions of binding force and permanent character, preferably constitutional, that are guaranteed to be respected throughout the national budgetary processes."

It is possible that, if it survives further drafts, such language might strengthen the Government’s case in avoiding having to insert the rule in the Constitution and hence having a
referendum. Instead the Government might attempt to enact the Fiscal Compact Treaty through secondary legislation—a move that could be challenged only through the courts. The dilemma for the Government is that if the legislation were struck down in those circumstances it would go into the resulting referendum on the back foot.


Check it out

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January Socialist Voice

Jan 2011 edition out now:

CPI Statement: Collective Resistance is the only way forward

Collective resistance is the only way forward in 2012

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

16 January 2012

As we enter 2012 its is clear that this will be a year of further austerity measures, which will be imposed upon the people of Ireland north and south.
Working people will experience deeper cuts in government spending. Three will be more job losses throughout the economy, on both sides of the border, and in particular within the financial sector. We express our solidarity with the workers in Ulster Bank, Vita Cortex, Lagan Brick, La Senza, and all workers involved in disputes or being made redundant as the crisis of the system deepens.
This year billions of euros of the people’s money will be handed over to foreign banks and bond-holders. On 25 January alone the government will hand over €1½ billion to Anglo-Irish Bank bond-holders.
On the wider economic front, the forecast for Irish GDP is a growth of only 0.7 per cent in 2012—down from previous forecasts of 1.2 per cent. The establishment, and even some on the left, who based their analysis on a fiscal stimulus and increased exports, allowing the Republic to meet its debt repayments, are being proved wrong.
In the North, last year saw output shrink by 17 per cent, from a peak four years ago, to a level not seen since 2003, meaning that the private sector in Northern Ireland has effectually lost eight years of growth. What is increasingly clear is that the global capitalist economy is slowing down sharply.
The response from the government will be to make the people pay, through further cuts in public services. The external troika of the EU, ECB and IMF is demanding the sale of state assets to raise €5 billion. A large number of salaried workers who are paid monthly will have new deductions in their first wage packet of 2012 and the imposition of the so-called household tax, flowing from last December’s budget.
The attacks in this budget against single parents, the unemployed and pensioners will continue, and more and more of workers’ salaries will be taken from them to pay an odious and anti-people debt.
The weakness of the private sector in the North, combined with continuing cuts in the public sector, means that the present unemployment total of more than 60,000 is likely to continue to rise in the months ahead.
The debate now emerging between the Scottish and British governments may well lead to a political and structural crisis in the United Kingdom. The question of Scottish independence will have reverberations within the unionist community in Northern Ireland and may have an impact on the whole of Ireland.
Working people are now feeling the full propaganda campaign in relation to the “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union” as the combined arms of the establishment, the state and the mass media attempt to manufacture consent by bullying and blackmailing, to get people to support a further attack on democracy and the sovereignty of the member-states.
Sabre-rattling of the type seen by Cameron to keep the little-Englanders of the Tory right happy is no response. Throughout Ireland, trade unionists, community activists, socialists, republicans and democrats are fighting back. From that resistance there must be developed an alternative economic and social programme, based on repudiating the odious debt, revitalised strategic planning, public-sector investment, and democratic control.
The greatest political weakness of the coalitions in Dublin, Belfast and London is that the people know we are not “all in this together”: their solutions are short-term and in the interests of banks, big business, and the EU establishment. Our solutions will be long-term and in the interests of the Irish people, North and South.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crisis in Hungary

The crisis of capitalism and the revolutionary perspective in Hungary

by Dr Thürmer Gyula, president, Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party

The forces of capitalism both in Europe and Hungary make enormous efforts to hide the fact that contemporary capitalism is in a deep crisis. They cannot deny the existence of serious problems of capitalism, but they try to demonstrate that all problems can be solved within the framework of capitalism by capitalist reforms.
But the truth is that the serious internal crisis of capitalism cannot be solved by traditional capitalist reforms. The revolutionary perspective of solving the problems of capitalism is becoming more and more real.
Hungary is one the weakest elements of contemporary European capitalism. Hungarian capitalism is in a deep crisis, independently of the worldwide crisis; but it is being made even deeper by the general crisis of capitalism. The crisis is far from being solved, and nobody can foresee its consequences.
Under these circumstances we should not only criticise the capitalist system but we should also demonstrate to the people the real possibility of establishing a new world. We should demonstrate socialism as a real alternative to existing capitalism.
It means that the communist movement in Hungary is entering a new situation, which means new possibilities and new tasks.

The crisis of Hungarian capitalism

Hungarian capitalism is in crisis, and the general crisis of international capitalism makes it even deeper. The crisis of contemporary Hungarian capitalism can be explained by the following factors:
1. The overwhelming majority of the Hungarian economy, industry, financial system, trade and services have been sold to foreign capital.
Hungary was the first ECE country to open its economy to foreign investors, in 1989. According to the statistics of the UN organisation UNCTAD, also dealing with foreign investments, at the end of 1990 foreign direct investment in Hungary accounted for 1.7 per cent of GDP. Today this ratio is over 70 per cent. In the EU this ratio is just 40.9 per cent, in Romania 36.7 per cent.
Almost 100 per cent of banks belong to international capital. 80 per cent of industrial production comes from transnational companies. The Hungarian economy depends much more on foreign capital than any other of the countries of Europe. After 2011 there is a real danger that Hungarian agricultural land could also be bought by foreign capital.
The decisive role of foreign capital is one of the characteristic features of Hungarian capitalism. Twenty years ago the capitalist counter-revolution was the result of the activity of international capitalism, the internal betrayal by the revisionist forces of the ruling communist party, and the activity of the bourgeois opposition.
There had not been a strong Hungarian capitalist class. The new capitalist class was created partly from elements of the former ruling elite of the socialist system, which used their political position to take an active part in the privatisation of state property, partly from intellectuals and entrepreneurs of the socialist period, partly from new generations that appeared on the scene during the last two decades.
The extraordinary large role of transnational capital is the result of different processes. Firstly, the capitalist forces were aware of the fact that the period of socialism was a successful period in Hungarian history, and the social forces of socialist society, the working class and the co-operative agricultural farmers, were quite strong.
The capitalist forces were interested in liquidating these social classes and groups. They saw only one way: to involve transnational capital. Secondly, the liberally minded intellectuals were always oriented to the United States, Israel, and the transnational capitalist forces, and they have always considered the large role of foreign capital as something absolutely normal.
All Hungarian governments have supported foreign investments by giving cash subsidies, determined by individual government decision, development tax allowances, training subsidies, job-creation subsidies, etc.
The Hungarian capitalist class consists of different groups. Firstly, a small but influential group of big capitalists has positions in the financial area, trade, and services. It is closely connected with transnational capital. Secondly, hundreds of thousands of micro, small and middle-sized entrepreneurs are engaged in industry and trade. Their position is very weak. They are under a double pressure from EU capital and Chinese capital. Without strong support from the state, they are sentenced to death.
These developments have serious consequences, now that the capitalist system is in crisis. Firstly, foreign capital controls the basic areas of the Hungarian economy. They have absolute power in the financial area and they control the most sensitive area: internal trade. Inasmuch as there is not any strong national production, there are very limited possibilities for defending Hungary by its own means. It can be clearly seen that transnational companies are trying to solve their own problems by reducing production and by closing plants in Hungary, which contributes to the rise of unemployment.
2. The gap between the wealthy and the poor groups of society has widened enormously. This is one more reason for the crisis of Hungarian capitalism. The original accumulation of capital meant that people have been deprived of their resources. It is the result of the inflation policy, tax policy and credit policy of capitalist governments of the last twenty years.
Hungary has a population of 10 million. Of these, 9 million can be considered as people living at a very limited standard of living or even under poor circumstances, and only 1 million can consider themselves as winners from the social changes, EU membership, etc.
As the following figures show, the number of the desperately poor—those living under the poverty line—has drastically increased over the past years. The poverty line is the sum of incomes of a household that allows those in the household to feed and clothe themselves and pay for heating and electricity. In 1993, according to reliable statistics, 27 per cent of Hungary’s population lived below the poverty line.
There were about 1 million poor people in Hungary in 1980. Today their number exceeds 2½ million. The richest tenth of society makes 7.3 times more money than the lowest tenth.
Perhaps children are in the most severe situation. Almost half the people under eighteen live in a family below the poverty line. In the past years, in 53 per cent of households real wages have decreased. This means that in those families the growth in incomes was slower than the growth in prices.
The number of so-called long-term poor is rising. The long-term poor in Hungary comprise several distinct social groups: the homeless, the rural population, particularly those living in micro-communities, the unemployed or those withdrawn from the labour market, households with more than three children, single-parent families, single elderly females, and the Roma (the so-called “gypsies”). A third of the long-term poor are Roma, even though this group is only approximately 5 per cent of the Hungarian population.
In the first months of 2009 the average monthly income in Hungary was €402. Manual workers receive €295, white-collar workers €511. The minimum wage is €250. One should take into consideration that consumer prices are practically on the EU level.
During the last twenty years the working class have lost their savings, which they built up during the socialist times. Now working people use their last reserves, and many of them have no more reserves at all. The same can be said about the intellectuals, teachers, and medical workers.
Most of the working class and the intellectuals have recently taken on large debts to buy an apartment, car or television or just to cover the costs of everyday living. These social groups cannot mobilise new resources in order to face the consequences of the present crisis.
3. The third reason and characteristic feature of the crisis of Hungarian capitalism is the extraordinarily high level of corruption.
Hungary ranks 39th out of 179 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2007. Despite anti-corruption laws, non-transparency leads to persistent rumours of corruption in government procurement.
The reasons for these phenomena are connected with Hungarian capitalism itself. Firstly, the privatisation of state property meant practically free robbery. Now the different political and economic circles fight for a greater share of EU money, state orders, and central investments.
Secondly, the system of laws is very confusing, which is beneficial for those in the black economy. Today about 30 per cent of GDP is produced in the black economy.
Thirdly, the present political and juridical system is a result of compromises concluded twenty years ago between different groups of the capitalist class. Many of its elements have already lost their vitality. As a result of this situation the capitalist state cannot fulfil some of its basic functions, including the work of the police, local administration, etc.

Possible ways of development

The future development of Hungarian capitalism depends on the development of international capitalism and the processes going on in the different social groups of Hungary.
1. The international capitalist forces do not want to lose Hungary.
Hungary was one of the first countries changing from socialism to capitalism, and it served as a demonstration of the correctness of US and German policy of peaceful counter-revolutions.
This is one reason. The second is that international capital has invested large amounts of money in Hungary. Now the debts of Hungary are equal to 97 per cent of Hungarian GDP. The international capitalist forces would like to get their money back. That is why they are ready to help. In 2009 Hungary received €20 billion as standby credit.
The IMF and the international capitalist forces want a more or less stable political situation in Hungary, the oppression of all possible anti-capitalist movements, but with “EU-conformant means.” The Obama government seems to understand better than the EU countries that the collapse of Hungarian capitalism could lead to a series of collapses in the region. They could not convince their EU partners yet to invest much more money in consolidating Hungarian capitalism.
The United States is quiet indifferent about which group of the capitalist class rules Hungary politically. It demands from any Hungarian government absolute fidelity to the United States and NATO and participation in NATO military missions. In internal policy the US government expects a consequent and demonstrative fight against anti-Semitism and communist forces.
The leading EU countries do not express special worry about the situation of Hungarian capitalism. According to their experience they are convinced that in a Hungary that is member of the EU and NATO there cannot be social revolutions, not even social uprisings of great measure.
The different political groups of the EU express their sympathy for different political parties in Hungary. It seems that now both Germany and France are not satisfied with the performance of the Hungarian Socialist Party and would not oppose a change of government.
2. The Hungarian capitalist class consists of different groups.
The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP) and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SzDSz) represents big capital closely connected with transnational capital. They are traditionally oriented economically and politically on the United States and Israel.
The coalition of the socialists and liberals has been an optimal solution for international capitalist forces for a long time. Hungary takes an active part in all US and NATO-inspired military actions, from Kosovo to Afghanistan. The majority of the Hungarian economy was privatised, first of all sold to foreign capital, during the governments of these parties between 1994 and 98 and since 2002. The government headed by the Hungarian Socialist Party has been able to split the trade unions fighting against the government and to guarantee “social peace.” The socialists were able to subordinate to the MSzP all left political and civil organisations, with the exception of the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party.
The coalition of the socialists and the liberals has declared a fight against anti-Semitism and guaranteed excellent possibilities of development for those who belong to the Jewish community in Hungary. According to the statistics of different Jewish organisations, today between 50,000 and 200,000 Jews live in Hungary. The inter-marriage rate for Jews is about 60 per cent. The MSzP-SzDSz government makes great efforts, among others, to change the constitution and to declare that “Holocaust denial and public incitement of racial hatred” is a criminal offence. The government, which asserts that Hungary is the place in Europe where some of the worst neo-Nazi incidents took place in recent months, planned the reform in response to public outrage at recent provocations.
In spite of all these developments, the international capitalist forces are not satisfied with the actual performance of the socialist-liberal coalition. The neo-liberal economic policy led to a serious worsening of the people’s standard of living. Millions are unsatisfied and begin to express their anti-government and even anti-capitalist attitude in different forms. The worsening of living conditions has strengthened two tendencies in Hungary, anti-Semitism and anti-Roma actions.
Fidesz (the Hungarian Civic Union) represents much more the small and middle capitalists, although it does not deny big capital. It is more oriented on Germany and the EU generally. Fidesz, which had been originally a liberal party, is now a party that tries to unify all conservative, nationalist forces. It co-operates closely with the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP).
Fidesz, during its rule in 1998–2002, basically fulfilled the expectations of international capital. Hungary took an active part in the war against Yugoslavia and the “process of democratisation” in Eastern Europe. The policy of the Fidesz government of supporting the desires of Hungarian minorities in Romania, Slovakia and other countries for national autonomy led to criticism from some EU countries. US political circles criticised Fidesz because, according to their estimation, its government did not fight enough against anti-Semitism. Fidesz, while supporting transnational capital, realised a lot of measures in order to support Hungarian capital, first of all middle capitalists.
Since 2002 Fidesz has demonstrated that it is the largest oppositional party and is able to influence the political processes in Hungary. It was the organiser of large anti-government demonstrations in 2005–06 and initiated a referendum on basic issues of the educational and health policy of the MSzP-SzDSz government. The congress of Fidesz declared that it is necessary to create a “new majority,” including not only the traditional allies of Fidesz but other political forces, trade unions and civil organisations, too.
At the same time Fidesz demonstrated that it does not want to exceed the frameworks of parliamentary democracy or violate the general rules of political behaviour in the EU. It did not support the large demonstrations of trade unions in 2007–09, although it meant great possibilities.
The idea of a new majority has not been realised, and Fidesz has not opened demonstratively towards other political parties.
The two groups of the capitalist class of Hungary represented by the basic political parties have common and different interests. All of them are interested in maintaining the capitalist system. They do not want to change the existing political system. That is why the 5 per cent limit for entering the parliament will be not changed. All groups of the capitalist class fight for a better position in privatisation, in getting EU money and large state investments. At the same time all of them know that their internal fight cannot threaten the common interest of the capitalist class. The Hungarian Socialist Party would like to keep power, and Fidesz would like to get it. Both of them understand that the EU allows using only parliamentary methods.
The MSzP uses different methods to keep power. Firstly, it is interested in the activity of the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik). Jobbik are the storm-troopers of the capitalist class. They play a role similar to that played earlier by the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP).
Jobbik fulfils different functions, using national feelings and radical anti-capitalist slogans they can manipulate the people. They are able to take votes from Fidesz. At the same time they use other “weapons” that are not used by other capitalist forces. These are anti-capitalism, anti-Semitism and anti-Roma slogans. They can take votes also from the communist forces. Jobbik registered the Magyar Gárda, the extremist paramilitary “Hungarian Guard Movement,” in June 2007 as a “cultural organisation” to “prepare the youth spiritually and physically for extraordinary situations when it might be necessary to mobilise the people.” According to a recent report by the Progressive Institute, today in Hungary there is a greater openness towards extremist movements, because of poverty and job losses resulting from the current economic crisis.
Secondly, the socialists try to get all left votes. They could not subordinate the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party to the MSzP, but in 2006 they were able to create the “Hungarian Workers’ Party of 2006,” which is a revisionist party, in words criticising capitalism but supporting the socialist-liberal government.
Thirdly, they helped the birth of new organisations, such as the party called “There Can Be Another Policy,” which, together with the Humanist Party, can create an alternative to the liberals.
3. Under these circumstances there are two basic ways in which Hungarian society can go on: the way of capitalism and the way of socialist revolution.
From the point of view of the capitalist alternative, of decisive importance is the fact that the field of action of Hungarian capitalism is principally determined by the enormous influence of transnational capital in the Hungarian economy, by the political, military and ideological dependence of Hungary on the United States, NATO, and the EU.
Within capitalist development—we emphasise, inside capitalism and not as an alternative to it—different courses are possible. One of these is a further subordinating of Hungary to the IMF, EU, and other capitalist centres.
The Hungarian governments will serve the interests of transnational capital by liberalising fully all areas of the Hungarian market, liquidating the remainder of Hungarian enterprises, suppressing all forms of protest by the working classes. It is the way of giving up fully the national sovereignty of Hungary, the way of limitation and oppressing democratic rights.
This policy will continue if the socialists remain in power. They declare it clearly and demonstrate it in actual policy.
We have no illusions, and we cannot have any: this policy can be revived in some form even if Fidesz comes to power. Fidesz is also the party of big capital, just like the MSzP; the only difference between them is that in the social base of Fidesz are many more representatives of the small and middle bourgeoisie.
The Hungarian Communists should not and will not support this way. The Communists should know that the neo-liberal, pro-IMF way will worsen the conditions of the people, and can lead to a further radicalisation of the masses. The Communists should prepare for this situation. We should fight against such development which would lead to a radical right turn in policy. There is not a real danger that fascist or even radical right forces would come to power. The actual extremist right forces are not strong enough, and such a development would lead to an immediate intervention by the EU, as we could see in Austria some years ago.
But there is a real threat that the capitalist forces would use the crisis in Hungary and the strengthening of extremist right forces for establishing a “democratic dictatorship” in order to “save democracy.”
Within the capitalist way of development we can also imagine such a course, which provides more opportunities for national capital, for Hungarian small and middle enterprises. Nor can we rule out the possibility that, in order to avoid mass resentment and the outbreak of large-scale social conflicts, capital will make some concessions to the masses, will try to mitigate the social and economic problems of people.
In foreign policy also it can happen that Hungary will pursue a more balanced course while keeping its main commitment to the EU and NATO. For example, it will develop closer relations with Arab and Latin American countries. We can observe the development of similar alternatives within the capitalist system in a number of Latin American countries.
This way is possible under the circumstances of capitalism. The present government and the Hungarian Socialist Party are against it. The main opposition party, Fidesz, representing the interests of the Hungarian middle capitalists, expresses its readiness to limit transnational capital, to support Hungarian enterprisers, to limit the incomes of big capital, and to give more to the broad masses. It is a question whether Fidesz—on coming to power—would really do it or would look for a compromise with international capital.
This way does not meet completely the interests of the working class and means only provisional improvements. But this way means some improvements for the working masses. It allows the HCWP to co-operate with the small and middle bourgeoisie on the basis a of common fight against transnational capital, supermarkets, and foreign exploitation.
This course will be successful if we are able to turn popular resentment into an organised force and thus force capitalist governments to restrict capital. The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party takes part in trade union fights, in the movement of “home defenders” (against evictions), in civil actions in order to increase the influence of Communists and to build the forces of mass resistance.
Lenin wrote in The Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution: “The proletariat must carry to completion the democratic revolution, by allying to itself the mass of the peasantry in order to crush by force the resistance of the autocracy and to paralyse the instability of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution by allying to itself the mass of the semi-proletarian elements of the population in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyse the instability of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie.”
Another way is the way of socialist revolution. It is clear that the basic problems of the working class can be solved only in the way of the socialist revolution by overcoming capitalism. The Hungarian Communists have always been in this position, but since the capitalist counter-revolution in 1989–90 we did not speak about the possibility of socialist revolution. Now we should do it!
“The current crisis is an expression of a deeper crisis intrinsic to the capitalist system, which demonstrates capitalism’s historical limits and the need for its revolutionary overthrow,” we can read in the common declaration of communist and workers’ parties in São Paolo.
Our parties have also declared: “Emphasising that neo-liberalism’s bankruptcy represents not only the failure of a policy of management of capitalism but the failure of capitalism itself, and confident of the superiority of the communist ideals and project, we affirm that the answer to the emancipatory aspirations of workers and peoples can only be found in the rupture with the power of big capital, with the imperialist blocs and alliances, and through deep transformations of a liberating and anti-monopolist character . . . Certain of the possibility of another world, a world that is free from class exploitation and the oppression of capital, we declare our commitment to continue the historical path to building a new society, socialism, free from class exploitation and oppression.”
The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party will take the way of socialist revolution. Now we consider our basic and most important task to be demonstrating to the Hungarian people that capitalism is not the only way of living. We should demonstrate that capitalists will never give to us a better life, never will give us any place in the parliament. We should win these things by serious struggle. But this way is a realistic way, and we can create a new world: socialism.
Naturally, we remember the words of Lenin: “Every revolution means a sharp turn in the lives of a vast number of people. Unless the time is ripe for such a turn, no real revolution can take place.”
Now we cannot speak about a revolutionary situation in Hungary. But we can speak about the possibility that the general development of the crisis of international capitalism and its consequences in Hungary can lead to the birth of revolutionary situation.
We consider our main task to be preparing the Communist Party for such a situation. The historical experiments show that real revolutionary situations remain unused if the subjective circumstances do not exist at the due time.
We strengthen our Marxist-Leninist education. The members and activists of the party should understand the present situation and the real meaning of the revolutionary way.
We study the historical experience of socialist revolutions in Hungary with the aim of using those experiences that can be applied today.
We study the experience of the communist parties of Greece, Portugal, Brasil, Venezuela and other countries and how to organise and stir to greater activity the masses.
The party organises its leading bodies on a new basis. We are creating “local revolutionary centres, ” with the necessary mobile informational equipment.
We create mobile “combat groups,” which can participate in different demonstrations, street actions, and solidarity events.
We are building a new youth organisation, with young people deeply devoted to idea of revolution.
We began to go directly to the factories to meet the workers. The experiences are very positive.
We are opened to all anti-capitalist, anti-monopoly initiatives and participate in all social actions that fight against supermarkets, against neo-liberal housing policy, against ejections of those who cannot pay for gas and electricity.
We create a more effective system of alternative media, using the weekly paper A Szabadság [Freedom], the internet, and other means.
We are building up a broad system of the web pages of local organisations, using Youtube technology and other modern internet technologies.
We fight for the more effective co-operation of communist forces in the international arena.
The HCWP has left the Party of the European Left, because we do not agree with the revisionist and opportunist policy of the party.
We are convinced that we need not a “new European political culture” but a very consequent fight against capitalism, for the rights of the working masses. We should not only criticise capitalism but should organise the everyday fight of the workers. We want to liquidate capitalism; the Party of the European Left wants to make it better.
We are standing on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, the theory and practice of class struggle, the principles of proletarian internationalism. The European Left, unfortunately, is standing on the basis of reformism. The European Left fights against capitalism only in phrases, but in practice it helps to strengthen the “democratic” image of the European Union, the European Parliament, and the capitalist system generally.
Lenin said: “It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws. But when it comes it moves irresistibly.” We should be prepared for it.

A “Euro-Germanic” chauvinism

A “Euro-Germanic” chauvinism by Rui Paz

Avante! (Lisbon), 2 December 2011

Portugal has borne the full brunt of the EU austerity machine.

Workers fought back in 2011 with a series of general and sectoral mass strikes.

Referring to the ease with which the German government imposes more and more its own interests on other countries in the European Union, Volker Kauder, secretary-general of Angela Merkel’s party, stated during its congress in Leipzig: “Europe is now speaking German.”

A wave of Euro-Germanic chauvinism is being instigated by the leader of the political class in Germany.

Countries indebted and ruined by speculators are being stigmatised by Christian Democratic governmental circles as “deficit sinners.”

Not even the most faithful friends tolerate opinions not previously authorised by Berlin, as recently occurred when the German chancellor classified the proposal of the president of the European Commission (José Manuel Durão Barroso, a Portuguese bourgeois politician) as “fortuitous and unsuitable,” and ZDF, the German television network, reported during its prime-time news that Durão Barroso “was screwy.”

The truth is that the European Union has changed into a permanent martial law zone, in which economic power rules democracy, imposing non-elected and illegitimate governments directly controlled by Berlin, as in Greece and Italy. The EU adjusts matters by means of anti-national leaders who do other than what has been promised during election campaigns, thereby deceiving the peoples and the voters. Finally, the EU prepares changes to the treaties now in force, which definitely withdraw sovereign rights from the states that do not submit.

But this whole state of affairs was predictable. It would have been enough to follow attentively both the geo-strategic documents and statements of the most relevant political figures in the last twenty years.

Germany’s ambition to dominate Europe did not arise today. In 1990, just after the so-called “unification,” Klaus Kinkel, the minister for foreign affairs, stated that “now we must achieve what we failed to do twice” (i.e. with the two world wars). Since the beginning of the nineties, Berlin has understood the EU project as an indispensable instrument for relaunching another attempt to dominate the whole continent.

Hans-Peter Schwarz, counsellor to the Christian-Democrat chancellor Helmut Kohl, on approaching the issue of “the European central power,” said in 1994 that “only one state exists that, owing to its geographical position, economic capacity, and cultural influence, has the capacity to presume to be a European central power—that is, Germany.”

In 2000, Joschka Fischer (Green Party), former minister for foreign affairs, stated during a conference in Berlin where he presented his ideas on the EU’s goals that, “considering its area, economic strength and geographical situation, Germany has the right to practise a soft hegemony over Europe, that is, without the use of strategic military force.”

The idea that Germany must dominate Europe, owing to its geographical position, economic strength, population, etc., is permanent in German leaders' political speeches. The Eurofederalist-dominated elites within the dependent countries have permanently concealed this.

The principles contained in the EU’s treaties—from the Treaty of Maastricht and the Treaty of Nice to the Lisbon Treaty—are all in that same direction. Even now, as one can see, the cry for “more Europe,” the deepening of federalism or even the revision of the treaties, means more power for the great powers’ directorate, more German hegemony, more anti-democratic power for big capital, more challenges to social, labour and cultural rights, and an ever more forceful strangulation of the people’s sovereign will.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The situation in Hungary

What is really going on in Hungary?

Information for the communist and workers’ parties of the world

On the 1st of January 2012 a new constitution came into force in Hungary. In connection with it the Western press has published many materials saying that what is happening now in Hungary, “leads to impoverishment of people” and ”threatens democracy and tightens the government’s grip on the media and the judiciary despite criticism from Europe and the United States”.

On the 2nd of January a large demonstration took place at the Opera house in Budapest. The official organiser of the demonstration, the newly formed Solidarity movement, has a couple of dozen members. Its leader is the former president of the trade union of army and police servicemen, he himself is a former army officer trained among others in one of the US military institutes.

Behind the demonstration one can find the Hungarian Socialist Party and liberal forces and also the „civil” organisations, formed by them. In this demonstration did not take part any civil organisation which really struggle against poverty, to protect families, against eviction, etc., or for example traditional student organisations? Neither the movements of agricultural workers, nor trade-unions were present. Among the slogans of that demonstration you can find nothing about a new labour code, no protest against the IMF pressure and intervention.

The reaction of western media to these events results from the same sources which earlier have supported the former social-liberal government and their austerity policy.

But what is really going on in Hungary?

1. In April 2010 the conservative Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Union won the parliamentary elections and replaced the former government of socialist-liberal forces led by the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP).

The parliamentary parties consider the elections of 2010 as a turning point in Hungarian history. The Fidesz declares that it was the „beginning of a new revolution”. The socialists and its allies consider it as the „beginning of autocracy and dictatorship”.

2. The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party has the opinion that the real historic change took place not in 2010 but in 1989-1990 when socialism was destroyed in Hungary. It was a capitalist counterrevolution. The power of the working class was replaced by the power of capitalist forces. State owned industrial factories and banks, agricultural collective farms were privatized. Hungary joined the NATO in 1999 and entered the EU in 2004. The capitalist system based on private economy and bourgeois democracy was stabilized.

It was the change from socialism to capitalism that lead to the general impoverishment of the Hungarian people. Hungary has a population of 10 million. 1, 5 million Hungarians live under the poverty line which means that they live of an income less than 200 euros a month.

Almost 4 million live of an income of 250 euros per month. The official number of unemployed is 0, 5, in reality there are about 1 million people without any chance to get a job.

The limitation of democracy began not in 2010 but in 1989-1990. Political forces fighting against capitalist system, first of all the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party do not have access to public media. Red star, hammer and sickle - ”as symbols of tyranny” - were banned in 1993. In 2007 the whole leadership of the HCWP was accused of “libel made in public”. Anti-communist campaigns have taken place regardless of which bourgeois party is at the power.

3. The Hungarian capitalist class has different parties to express their interests. On one hand it is the Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Union which expresses the interests of conservative, nationally minded part of the capitalist class. It is traditionally orientated on Germany. On the other hand there are the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Party „Politics Can Be Different” which represent the liberal and social democratic part of capitalist class. They are closer to the United States and Israel.

The fight between the two parts of Hungarian capitalist class has deep historical roots. Before 1989 there were two main streams of the anti-socialist oppositional movement, the nationally minded conservative line and the liberal tendency. In 1990 the first capitalist government was formed by the conservatives. At the same time the liberals agreed about a long-term cooperation with the Hungarian Socialist Party, a rightwing social democratic party. Many of the leaders of this party are coming from the former socialist period but they fully changed their position and many of them became rich capitalists.

After destroying the socialist system the capitalist forces created a new political structure which existed untill 2010. It was based on the following principles:

· The nationally minded conservative forces and the liberals together with the socialists will rotate in the power.

· None of them can have absolute power.

· They prevent any anti-capitalist forces from entering the parliament.

· All of them will respect obligations in connection with NATO and EU and there will be no discussions on foreign political issues.

All the parliamentary elections between 1990 and 2006 demonstrated a clear equilibrium between the two groups of parties. The situation changed dramatically after 2006. It became clear that the Hungarian capitalism is in deep crisis. It had three main reasons.

First, the Hungarian economy fully depends on foreign capital. Second, the Hungarian people are poor, they have exhausted their reserves. Third, corruption became a serious problem, paralyzing the normal functioning of state.

By 2010 the capitalist forces realised that the socialist-liberal forces cannot guarantee the internal stability of capitalism, are not able to prevent social explosions. That’s why they decided to change the socialist-liberal coalition and to open the way before the Fidesz.

The main task of the conservative Fidesz, and its government headed by Viktor Orban was to prevent any developments similar to the events in Greece. The Fidesz won the elections with social slogans (full employment, social security etc.). The majority of the people were deeply unsatisfied with the socialist-liberal government. The Fidesz could easily manipulate them and to get a two-third majority in the new parliament.

4. The conservative government has been realising changes in different directions: They strengthened their own class-basis. The Fidesz put its people on all positions in the political life, media, and culture. They declared their idea to create a new middle-class. They satisfied the nationalist forces in Hungary by introducing double-citizenship for people of Hungarian nationality living abroad, introducing new memorial events connected with the Trianon peace-treaty of 1920.

They took a clear turn to conservative and nationalist tradition in politics, culture, and education. They decided to prevent a social explosion by different means. First, they introduced a new Labour Code which gives very wide rights to the capitalist owners and turns workers practically into slaves. Second, they divided the working masses by giving serious money to railway-workers and raising the minimal salary. Third, they concluded an agreement with the leading confederations of trade unions. They could save their privileges and at the same time gave up real class-struggle.

The new government launched a general anti-communist campaign. In 2010 the Penal Code was changed. They declared that communism and fascism are the same and those who reject the „crimes of communism and fascism” can be sentenced up to 3 years of imprisonment. (Until now there have not been any legal sentences.)

In the last days of 2011 a new law was accepted regulating the process of transition to the new constitution. Among other it declares that the period of socialism (1948-1990) was illegitimate, full of crimes. Leading personalities of the socialist period can be accused and sentenced. Their pensions can be reduced. The law contains a general statement: the contemporary Hungarian Socialist Party as legal successor of the ruling party of the socialist period has responsibility for all what had happened at that time. It is not clear yet what consequences it can lead to.

5. The socialist-liberal forces have launched recently serious counterattack against the government. The Socialist Party took over many social slogans and demands of the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party. They began to use red colour which the traditional colour of communists.

The socialists and the liberals began to create new civil organizations and movements. In October 2011 the Solidarity movement was created with clear pro-socialist orientation. They introduced a new demand: down with the Orban-government! Their program is to create a new socialist-liberal government.

6. The United States of America has openly interfered into the internal affairs of Hungary. The US ambassador in Budapest criticises openly the official government and supports the position of the socialist-liberal forces. Secretary of State Clinton made the same in her letter on 23 December 2011. The letter was published by the liberal press.

The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party considers:

Hungarian capitalism is in crisis. The general crisis of capitalism in Europe makes the Hungarian situation even worse and unpredictable. The Hungarian capitalist class understands that if the euro system or the EU itself collapses, it will lead to social explosions even more dramatic than in Greece. They understand that people are unsatisfied and many of them consider that socialism was better that the actual capitalism.

Both the conservative and the socialist-liberal groups of capitalist class want to prevent any social explosion. They are different not in their main efforts but in the methods they want to use.

What is now going on in Hungary, it is on one hand a common fight of the capitalist class against the working masses, on the other hand, a struggle between two groups of the capitalist class. Even more it is a struggle between the leading capitalist powers, the US and Germany for European dominancy.

The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party does not support any of the Bourgeois parties. We declare that the main problems of working people are unemployment, low salaries, high prices, exploitation, and uncertain future. These problems are the consequences of capitalism. The capitalist governments cannot and do not want to solve them.

The only solution of the problems of working people is consequent struggle against capitalism and fight for socialist perspective.

The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party does not support the mass-demonstrations of the socialist and liberal forces. Their aim is not to change capitalism. Their aim is to change the conservative capitalist government with a socialist-liberal capitalist government.

The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party does not support the Fidesz either. Their aim is not to create socialist society but to reform and strengthen capitalism.

The Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party considers its obligation to explain people that there is only one way to solve their problem. We should fight against capitalism.

We want to be present everywhere there are working people. We want to help them in small things in order to get their confidence in great things.

We will unveil all efforts of revisionist and opportunist forces which want to manipulate working people and to win them for the social democracy.

There is not any revolutionary situation in Hungary. But things can turn worse in Europe and in Hungary. That’s why we prepare the party, our members and units for more radical class struggle which can happen at any time.


Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party

We lived better under socialism

We lived better under socialism, by Stephen Gowans

Over the seven decades of its existence, and despite having to spend so much time preparing, fighting, and recovering from wars, Soviet socialism managed to create one of the great achievements of human history: a mass industrial society that eliminated most of the inequalities of wealth, income, education and opportunity that plagued what preceded it, what came after it, and what competed with it; a society in which health care and education through university were free (and university students received living stipends); where rent, utilities and public transportation were subsidized, along with books, periodicals and cultural events; where inflation was eliminated, pensions were generous, and child care was subsidized.

By 1933, with the capitalist world deeply mired in a devastating economic crisis, unemployment was declared abolished, and remained so for the next five and a half decades, until socialism, itself was abolished. Excluding the war years, from 1928, when socialism was introduced, until Mikhail Gorbachev began to take it apart in the late 1980s, the Soviet system of central planning and public ownership produced unfailing economic growth, without the recessions and downturns that plagued the capitalist economies of North America, Japan and Western Europe. And in most of those years, the Soviet and Eastern European economies grew faster.

The Communists produced economic security as robust (and often more so) than that of the richest countries, but with fewer resources and a lower level of development and in spite of the unflagging efforts of the capitalist world to sabotage socialism. Soviet socialism was, and remains, a model for humanity — of what can be achieved outside the confines and contradictions of capitalism. But by the end of the 1980s, counterrevolution was sweeping Eastern Europe and Mikhail Gorbachev was dismantling the pillars of Soviet socialism.

Naively, blindly, stupidly, some expected Gorbachev’s demolition project to lead the way to a prosperous consumer society, in which Soviet citizens, their bank accounts bulging with incomes earned from new jobs landed in a robust market economy, would file into colorful, luxurious shopping malls, to pick clean store shelves bursting with consumer goods. Others imagined a new era of a flowering multiparty democracy and expanded civil liberties, coexisting with public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, a model that seemed to owe more to utopian blueprints than hard-headed reality.

Of course, none of the great promises of the counterrevolution were kept. While at the time the demise of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was proclaimed as a great victory for humanity, not least by leftist intellectuals in the United States, two decades later there’s little to celebrate. The dismantling of socialism has, in a word, been a catastrophe, a great swindle that has not only delivered none of what it promised, but has wreaked irreparable harm, not only in the former socialist countries, but throughout the Western world, as well.

Countless millions have been plunged deep into poverty, imperialism has been given a free hand, and wages and benefits in the West have bowed under the pressure of intensified competition for jobs and industry unleashed by a flood of jobless from the former socialist countries, where joblessness once, rightly, was considered an obscenity. Numberless voices in Russia, Romania, East Germany and elsewhere lament what has been stolen from them — and from humanity as a whole: “We lived better under communism. We had jobs. We had security.” And with the threat of jobs migrating to low-wage, high unemployment countries of Eastern Europe, workers in Western Europe have been forced to accept a longer working day, lower pay, and degraded benefits. Today, they fight a desperate rearguard action, where the victories are few, the defeats many. They too lived better — once.

But that’s only part of the story. For others, for investors and corporations, who’ve found new markets and opportunities for profitable investment, and can reap the benefits of the lower labor costs that attend intensified competition for jobs, the overthrow of socialism has, indeed, been something to celebrate. Equally, it has been welcomed by the landowning and industrial elite of the pre-socialist regimes whose estates and industrial concerns have been recovered and privatized. But they’re a minority. Why should the rest of us celebrate our own mugging?

Prior to the dismantling of socialism, most people in the world were protected from the vicissitudes of the global capitalist market by central planning and high tariff barriers. But once socialism fell in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and with China having marched resolutely down the capitalist road, the pool of unprotected labor available to transnational corporations expanded many times over. Today, a world labor force many times larger than the domestic pool of US workers — and willing to work dirt cheap — awaits the world’s corporations. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the implications are for North American workers and their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan: an intense competition of all against all for jobs and industry. Inevitably, incomes fall, benefits are eroded, and working hours extended. Predictably, with labor costs tumbling, profits grow fat, capital surpluses accumulate and create bubbles, financial crises erupt and predatory wars to secure investment opportunities break out.

Growing competition for jobs and industry has forced workers in Western Europe to accept less. They work longer hours, and in some cases, for less pay and without increases in benefits, to keep jobs from moving to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other former socialist countries — which, under the rule of the Reds, once provided jobs for all. More work for less money is a pleasing outcome for the corporate class, and turns out to be exactly the outcome fascists engineered for their countries’ capitalists in the 1930s. The methods, to be sure, were different, but the anti-Communism of Mussolini and Hitler, in other hands, has proved just as useful in securing the same retrograde ends. Nobody who is subject to the vagaries of the labor market – almost all of us — should be glad Communism was abolished.

Maybe some us don’t know we’ve been mugged. And maybe some of us haven’t been. Take the radical US historian Howard Zinn, for example, who, along with most other prominent Left intellectuals, greeted the overthrow of Communism with glee [1]. I, no less than others, admired Zinn’s books, articles and activism, though I came to expect his ardent anti-Communism as typical of left US intellectuals. To be sure, in a milieu hostile to Communism, it should come as no surprise that conspicuous displays of anti-Communism become a survival strategy for those seeking to establish a rapport, and safeguard their reputations, with a larger (and vehemently anti-Communist) audience.

But there may be another reason for the anti-Communism of those whose political views leave them open to charges of being soft on Communism, and therefore of having horns. As dissidents in their own society, there was always a natural tendency for them to identify with dissidents elsewhere – and the pro-capitalist, anti-socialist propaganda of the West quite naturally elevated dissidents in socialist countries to the status of heroes, especially those who were jailed, muzzled and otherwise repressed by the state. For these people, the abridgement of civil liberties anywhere looms large, for the abridgement of their own civil liberties would be an event of great personal significance. By comparison, the Reds’ achievements in providing a comfortable frugality and economic security to all, while recognized intellectually as an achievement of some note, is less apt to stir the imagination of one who has a comfortable income, the respect of his peers, and plenty of people to read his books and attend his lectures. He doesn’t have to scavenge discarded coal in garbage dumps to eke out a bare, bleak, and unrewarding existence. Some do.

Karol, 14, and his sister Alina, 12, everyday trudge to a dump, where mixed industrial waste is deposited, just outside Swietochlowice, in formerly socialist Poland. There, along with their father, they look for scrap metal and second grade coal, anything to fetch a few dollars to buy a meager supply of groceries. “There was better life in Communism,” says Karol’s father, 49, repeating a refrain heard over and over again, not only in Poland, but also throughout the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. “I was working 25 years for the same company and now I cannot find a job – any job. They only want young and skilled workers.” [2] According to Gustav Molnar, a political analyst with the Laszlo Teleki Institute, “the reality is that when foreign firms come here, they’re only interested in hiring people under 30. It means half the population is out of the game.” [3]

That may suit the bottom lines of foreign corporations – and the overthrow of socialism may have been a pleasing intellectual outcome for well-fed, comfortable intellectuals from Boston – but it hardly suits that part of the Polish population that must scramble over mountains of industrial waste – or perish. Maciej Gdula, 34, a founding member of the group, Krytyka Polityczna, or Political Critique, complains that many Poles “are disillusioned with the unfulfilled promises of capitalism. They promised us a world of consumption, stability and freedom. Instead, we got an entire generation of Poles who emigrated to go wash dishes.” [4] Under socialism “there was always work for everybody” [5] – at home. And always a place to live, free schools to go to, and doctors to see, without charge. So why was Howard Zinn glad that Communism was overthrown? And where are the celebrants of Solidarity today?

That the overthrow of socialism has failed to deliver anything of benefit to the majority is plain to see. One decade after counterrevolution skittered across Eastern Europe, 17 former socialist countries were immeasurably poorer. In Russia, poverty had tripled. One child in 10 – three million Russian children – lived like animals, ill-fed, dressed in rags, and living, if they were lucky, in dirty, squalid flats. In Moscow alone, 30,000 to 50,000 children slept in the streets. Life expectancy, education, adult-literacy and income declined.

A report by the European Children’s Trust, written in 2000, revealed that 40 percent of the population of the former socialist countries – a number equal to one of every two US citizens – lived in poverty. Infant mortality and tuberculosis were on the rise, approaching Third World levels. The situation, according to the UN, was catastrophic. And everywhere the story was the same. [6, 7, 8, 9]

Paul Cockshott points out that:

The restoration of the market mechanism in Russia was a vast controlled experiment. Nation, national character and culture, natural resources and productive potential remained the same, only the economic mechanism changed. If Western economists were right, then we should have expected economic growth and living standards to have leapt forward after the Yeltsin shock therapy. Instead the country became an economic basket-case. Industrial production collapsed, technically advanced industries atrophied, and living standards fell so much that the death rate shot up by over a third leading to some 7.7 million extra deaths.

For many Russians, life became immeasurably worse.

If you were old, if you were farmer, if you were a manual worker, the market was a great deal worse than even the relatively stagnant Soviet economy of Brezhnev. The recovery under Putin, such as it was, came almost entirely as a side effect of rising world oil prices, the very process that had operated under Brezhnev. [10]

While the return of capitalism made life harsher for some, it proved lethal for others. From 1991 to 1994, life expectancy in Russia tumbled by five years. By 2008, the life expectancy of Russian men was less than 60 years, a full seven years lower than in 1985, when Gorbachev came to power, and began to dismantle Soviet socialism. Today “only a little over half of the ex-Communist countries have regained their pretransition life-expectancy levels,” according to a study published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. [11]

“Life was better under the Communists,” concludes Aleksandr. “The stores are full of things, but they’re very expensive.” Victor pines for the “stability of an earlier era of affordable health care, free higher education and housing, and the promise of a comfortable retirement – things now beyond his reach.” [12] A 2008 report in the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, noted that “many Russians interviewed said they still grieve for their long, lost country.” Among the grievers is Zhanna Sribnaya, 37, a Moscow writer. Sribnaya remembers “Pioneer camps when everyone could go to the Black Sea for summer vacations. Now, only people with money can take those vacations.” [13] That Aleksandr, Victor and Zhanna are now free to denounce the new government in the strongest terms, if they wish, hardly seems to be a consolation.

Ion Vancea, a Romanian who struggles to get by on a picayune $40 per month pension says, “It’s true there was not much to buy back then, but now prices are so high we can’t afford to buy food as well as pay for electricity.” Echoing the words of many Romanians, Vancea adds, “Life was 10 times better under (Romanian Communist Party leader Nicolae) Ceausescu.” [14] An opinion poll carried out last year found that Vancea isn’t in the minority. Conducted by the Romanian polling organisation CSOP, the survey found that almost one-half of Romanians thought life was better under Ceauşescu, compared to less than one-quarter who thought life is better today. And while Ceauşescu is remembered in the West as a Red devil with horns, only seven percent said they suffered under Communism. Why do half of Romanians think life was better under the Reds? They point to full employment, decent living conditions for all, and guaranteed housing – advantages that disappeared with the fall of Communism. [15]

Next door, in Bulgaria, 80 percent say they are worse off now that the country has transitioned to a market economy. Only five percent say their standard of living has improved. [16] Mimi Vitkova, briefly Bulgaria’s health minister for two years in the mid-90s, sums up life after the overthrow of socialism: “We were never a rich country, but when we had socialism our children were healthy and well-fed. They all got immunized. Retired people and the disabled were provided for and got free medicine. Our hospitals were free.”

But things have changed, she says. “Today, if a person has no money, they have no right to be cured. And most people have no money. Our economy was ruined.” [17] A 2009 poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that a paltry one in nine Bulgarians believe ordinary people are better off as a result of the transition to capitalism. And few regard the state as representing their interests. Only 16 percent say it is run for the benefit of all people. [18]

In East Germany a new phenomenon has arisen: Ostalgie, a nostalgia based on the old regime’s full employment, free health care, free education through university (with living expenses covered by the state), cheap rents, subsidized books and periodicals and dirt cheap public transportation. During the Cold War era, East Germany’s relative poverty was attributed to public ownership and central planning – sawdust in the gears of the economic engine, according to anti-socialist mythology. But the propaganda conveniently ignored the fact that the eastern part of Germany had always been less developed than the west, that it had been plundered of its key human assets at the end of World War II by US occupation forces, that the Soviet Union had carted off everything of value to indemnify itself for its war losses, and that East Germany bore the brunt of war reparations to Moscow. [19]

On top of that, those who fled East Germany were said to be escaping the repression of a brutal regime, and while some may indeed have been ardent anti-Communists fleeing repression by the state, most were economic refugees, seeking the embrace of a more prosperous West, whose riches depended in large measure on a history of slavery, colonialism, and ongoing imperialism—processes of capital accumulation the Communist countries eschewed and spent precious resources fighting against.

Today, nobody of an unprejudiced mind would say that the riches promised East Germans have been realized. Unemployment, once unheard of, runs in the double digits, rents have skyrocketed, and nobody goes to the doctor unless they can pay. The region’s industrial infrastructure – weaker than West Germany’s during the Cold War, but expanding — has now all but disappeared. And the population is dwindling, as economic refugees, following in the footsteps of Cold War refugees before them, make their way westward in search of jobs and opportunity. [20] “We were taught that capitalism was cruel,” recalls Ralf Caemmerer, who works for Otis Elevator. “You know, it didn’t turn out to be nonsense.” [21] As to the claim that East Germans have “freedom” Heinz Kessler, a former East German defense minister replies tartly, “Millions of people in Eastern Europe are now free from employment, free from safe streets, free from health care, free from social security.” [22] Still, Howard Zinn was glad communism collapsed. But then, he didn’t live in East Germany.

So, who’s doing better? Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright turned president, came from a prominent, vehemently anti-socialist Prague family, which had extensive holdings, “including construction companies, real estate and the Praque Barrandov film studios”. [23] The jewel in the crown of the Havel family holdings was the Lucerna Palace, “a pleasure palace…of arcades, theatres, cinemas, night-clubs, restaurants, and ballrooms,” according to Frommer’s. It became “a popular spot for the city’s nouveau riches to congregate,” including a young Havel, who, raised in the lap of luxury by a governess, doted on by servants, and chauffeured around town in expensive automobiles, “spent his earliest years on the Lucerna’s polished marble floors.” Then, tragedy struck – at least, from Havel’s point of view. The Reds expropriated Lucerna and the family’s other holdings, and put them to use for the common good, rather than for the purpose of providing the young Havel with more servants. Havel was sent to work in a brewery.

“I was different from my schoolmates whose families did not have domestics, nurses or chauffeurs,” Havel once wrote. “But I experienced these differences as disadvantage. I felt excluded from the company of my peers.” [24] Yet the company of his peers proved not to be to Havel’s tastes, for as president, he was quick to reclaim the silver spoon the Reds had taken from his mouth. Celebrated throughout the West as a hero of intellectual freedom, he was instead a hero of capitalist restoration, presiding over a mass return of nationalized property, including Lucerna and his family’s other holdings. Havel was indeed a champion—of his own material interests and those of the class of privileged exploiters to which he belonged.

The Roman Catholic Church is another winner. The pro-capitalist Hungarian government has returned to the Roman Catholic Church much of the property nationalized by the Reds, who placed the property under common ownership for the public good. With recovery of many of the Eastern and Central European properties it once owned, the Church is able to reclaim its pre-socialist role of parasite — raking in vast amounts of unearned wealth in rent, a privilege bestowed for no other reason than it owns title to the land. Hungary also pays the Vatican a US$9.2 million annuity for property it has been unable to return. [25] (Note that a 2008 survey of 1,000 Hungarians by the Hungarian polling firm Gif Piackutato found that 60 percent described the era of Communist rule under Red leader Janos Kadar as Hungary’s happiest while only 14 percent said the same about the post-Communist era. [26])

The Church, former landowners, and CEOs aside, most people of the former socialist bloc aren’t pleased that the gains of the socialist revolutions have been reversed. Three-quarters of Russians, according to a 1999 poll [27] regret the demise of the Soviet Union. And their assessment of the status quo is refreshingly clear-sighted. Almost 80 percent recognize liberal democracy as a front for a government controlled by the rich. A majority (correctly) identifies the cause of its impoverishment as an unjust economic system (capitalism), which, according to 80 percent, produces “excessive and illegitimate inequalities.” [28]

The solution, in the view of the majority, is to return to the status quo ante (socialism), even if it means one-party rule. Russians, laments the anti-Communist historian Richard Pipes, haven’t Americans’ taste for multiparty democracy, and seem incapable of being cured of their fondness for Soviet leaders. In one poll, Russians were asked to list the 10 greatest people of all time, of all nations. Lenin came in second, Stalin fourth (Peter the Great came first.) Pipes seems genuinely distressed they didn’t pick his old boss, Ronald Reagan, and is fed up that after years of anti-socialist, pro-capitalist propaganda, Russians remain committed to the idea that private economic activity should be restricted, and “the government [needs] to be more involved in the country’s economic life.” [29]

An opinion poll which asked Russians which socio-economic system they favor, produced these results.

• State planning and distribution, 58%;

• Based on private property and distribution, 28%;

• Hard to say, 14%. [30]

So, if the impoverished peoples of the formerly socialist countries pine for the former attractions of socialism, why don’t they vote the Reds back in? Socialism can’t be turned on with the flick of a switch. The former socialist economies have been privatized and placed under the control of the market. Those who accept the goals and values of capitalism have been recruited to occupy pivotal offices of the state. And economic, legal and political structures have been altered to accommodate private production for profit. True, there are openings for Communist parties to operate within the new multiparty liberal democracies, but Communists now compete with far more generously funded parties in societies in which their enemies have restored their wealth and privileges and use them to tilt the playing field strongly in their favor.

They own the media, and therefore are in a position to shape public opinion and give parties of private property critical backing during elections. They spend a king’s ransom on lobbying the state and politicians and running think-tanks which churn out policy recommendations and furnish the media with capitalist-friendly “expert” commentary. They set the agenda in universities through endowments, grants and the funding of special chairs to study questions of interest to their profits. They bring politicians under their sway by doling out generous campaign contributions and promises of lucrative post-political career employment opportunities. Is it any wonder the Reds aren’t simply voted back into power? Capitalist democracy means democracy for the few—the capitalists—not a level-playing field where wealth, private-property and privilege don’t matter.

And anyone who thinks Reds can be elected to office should reacquaint themselves with US foreign policy vis-a-vis Chile circa 1973. The United States engineered a coup to overthrow the socialist Salvador Allende, on the grounds that Chileans couldn’t be allowed to make the ”irresponsible” choice of electing a Communist. More recently, the United States, European Union and Israel, refused to accept the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, all the while hypocritically presenting themselves as champions and guardians of democracy.

Of course, no forward step will be taken, can be taken, until a decisive part of the population becomes disgusted with and rejects what exists today, and is convinced something better is possible and is willing to tolerate the upheavals of transition. Something better than unceasing economic insecurity, private (and for many, unaffordable) health care and education, and vast inequality, is achievable. The Reds proved that. It was the reality in the Soviet Union, in China (for a time), in Eastern Europe, and today, hangs on in Cuba and North Korea, despite the incessant and far-ranging efforts of the United States to crush it.

It should be no surprise that Vaclav Havel, as others whose economic and political supremacy was, for a time, ended by the Reds, was a tireless fighter against socialism, and that he, and others, who sought to reverse the gains of the revolution, were cracked down on, and sometimes muzzled and jailed by the new regimes. To expect otherwise is to turn a blind eye to the determined struggle that is carried on by the enemies of socialism, even after socialist forces have seized power. The forces of reaction retain their money, their movable property, the advantages of education, and above all, their international connections.

To grant them complete freedom is to grant them a free hand to organize the downfall of socialism, to receive material assistance from abroad to reverse the revolution, and to elevate the market and private ownership once again to the regulating principles of the economy. Few champions of civil liberties argue that in the interests of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, that Germans ought to be allowed to hold pro-Nazi rallies, establish a pro-Nazi press, and organize fascist political parties, to return to the days of the Third Reich.

To survive, any socialist government, must, of necessity, be repressive toward its enemies, who, like Havel, will seek their overthrow and the return of their privileged positions. This is demonized as totalitarianism by those who have an interest in seeing anti-socialist forces prevail, regard civil and political liberties (as against a world of plenty for all) as the pinnacle of human achievement, or have an unrealistically sanguine view of the possibilities for the survival of socialist islands in a sea of predatory capitalist states.

Where Reds have prevailed, the outcome has been far-reaching material gains for the bulk of the population: full employment, free health care, free education through university, free and subsidized child care, cheap living accommodations and inexpensive public transportation. Life expectancy has soared, illiteracy has been wiped out, and homelessness, unemployment and economic insecurity have been abolished. Racial strife and ethnic tensions have been reduced to almost the vanishing point. And inequalities in wealth, income, opportunity, and education have been greatly reduced.

Where Reds have been overthrown, mass unemployment, underdevelopment, hunger, disease, illiteracy, homelessness, and racial conflict have recrudesced, as the estates, holdings and privileges of former fat cats have been restored. Communists produced gains in the interest of all humanity, achieved in the face of very trying conditions, including the unceasing hostility of the West and the unremitting efforts of the former exploiters to restore the status quo ante.

What the Reds achieved surpassed anything achieved by social democratic struggle in the West, where the advantages of being more advanced industrially, made the promises of socialism all the more readily achievable – and to a far greater degree than could be achieved elsewhere in the world. Hidden, or at best, acknowledged but quickly brushed aside as matters of little significance, these are achievements that have been too long ignored in the West – and greatly missed in the countries where they were reversed in the interests of restoring the wealth and privileges of a minority.


1. Howard Zinn, “Beyond the Soviet Union,” Znet Commentary, September 2, 1999.

2. “Left behind by the luxury train,” The Globe and Mail, March 29, 2000.

3. “Support dwindling in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland,” The Chicago Tribune, May 27, 2001.

4. Dan Bilefsky, “Polish left gets transfusion of young blood,” The New York Times, March 12, 2010.

5. “Support dwindling in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland,” The Chicago Tribune, May 27, 2001.

6. “An epidemic of street kids overwhelms Russian cities,” The Globe and Mail, April 16, 2002.

7. “UN report says one billion suffer extreme poverty,” World Socialist Web Site, July 28, 2003.

8. Associated Press, October 11, 2000.

9. “UN report….

10. Paul Cockshott, “Book review: Red Plenty by Francis Spufford”, Marxism-Leninism Today,

11. David Stuckler, Lawrence King and Martin McKee, “Mass Privatization and the Post-Communist Mortality Crisis: A Cross-National Analysis,” Judy Dempsey, “Study looks at mortality in post-Soviet era,” The New York Times, January 16, 2009.

12. “In Post-U.S.S.R. Russia, Any Job Is a Good Job,” New York Times, January 11, 2004.

13. Globe and Mail (Canada), June 9, 2008.

14. “Disdain for Ceausescu passing as economy worsens,” The Globe and Mail, December 23, 1999.

15. James Cross, “Romanians say communism was better than capitalism”, 21st Century Socialism, October 18, 2010. “Opinion poll: 61% of Romanians consider communism a good idea”, ActMedia Romanian News Agency, September 27, 2010.

16. “Bulgarians feel swindled after 13 years of capitalism,” AFP, December 19, 2002.

17. “Bulgaria tribunal examines NATO war crimes,” Workers World, November 9, 2000.

18. Matthew Brunwasser, “Bulgaria still stuck in trauma of transition,” The New York Times, November 11, 2009.

19. Jacques R. Pauwels, “The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War,” James Lorimer & Company, Toronto, 2002. p. 232-235.

20. “Warm, Fuzzy Feeling for East Germany’s Grey Old Days,” New York Times, January 13, 2004.

21. “Hard lessons in capitalism for Europe’s unions,” The Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2003.

22. New York Times, July 20, 1996, cited in Michael Parenti, “Blackshirts & Reds: Rational Fascism & the Overthrow of Communism,” City Light Books, San Francisco, 1997, p. 118.

23. Leos Rousek, “Czech playwright, dissident rose to become president”, The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2011.

24. Dan Bilefsky and Jane Perlez, “Czechs’ dissident conscience, turned president”, The New York Times, December 18, 2011.

25. U.S. Department of State, “Summary of Property Restitution in Central and Eastern Europe,” September 10, 2003.

26. “Poll shows majority of Hungarians feel life was better under communism,” May 21, 2008,

27. Cited in Richard Pipes, “Flight from Freedom: What Russians Think and Want,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2004.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.

30. “Russia Nw”, in The Washington Post, March 25, 2009.