Leon Trotsky‎ > ‎1930‎ > ‎

Leon Trotsky 19300801 Letter to Hungarian Comrades

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Hungarian Comrades

August 1, 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 349-351]

Dear Comrades,

Your idea of uniting the leading proletarian elements of the Hungarian emigration in close relation with the revolutionary elements inside Hungary to counterpose Leninism to Stalinism and Bela Kunism — that idea flows from the total situation, and one can only welcome it.

The Hungarian revolution, like every unsuccessful revolution, has meant extensive emigration. Not for the first time in history has it happened that the task of emigres is to help prepare a new revolution.

What is needed for that? To examine the experience of the first Hungarian revolution. That means examining with merciless criticism the leadership of Bela Kun and Company. The strength of Bolshevism, which permitted it to carry out the October Revolution, lay in two things: a correct understanding of the role of the party, as a systematic selection of the most steadfast and most tempered class elements, and a correct policy on relations with the peasantry, in the first place, on the land question. Despite the fact that Bela Kun observed the October Revolution from close at hand, he did not understand its motive force and method; and when by the course of circumstances it turned out that he was raised to power, he light-mindedly proceeded to merge the Communists with the Left Social Democrats and, in the spirit of the Russian Mensheviks, completely turned his back on the peasantry on the land question. These two fatal mistakes predetermined the rapid collapse of the Hungarian revolution in the difficult conditions in which it took place.

It is possible to learn from mistakes. It is necessary to learn from defeats. But Bela Kun, Pogany (Pepper), Varga, and the others did nothing about it. They supported all the mistakes, all the opportunist vacillations, all the adventurist racing about in all countries. In the Soviet Union, they participated actively in the struggle against the Bolshevik-Leninists, in that persecution which was reflected in the attack of the new petty bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy on the workers. They supported the policy of Stalin and Martinov in China, which so inevitably led to the ruin of the Chinese revolution, the same policy with which Bela Kun had earlier undone the Hungarian revolution. They, Bela Kun, Pogany, Varga, and the others, supported the policy of the Anglo-Russian Committee, that shameful capitulation of communism to strikebreakers, which for a number of years broke the back of the British Communist Party. Particularly fatal, perhaps, was the role of Bela Kun in Germany. At the time of the March days in 1921, he supported a revolutionary "uprising" when there were no objective preconditions for one. In 1923 he, together with Stalin, missed the revolutionary situation. In 1924 and 1925, when the revolutionary situation had already shown itself to be past, Bela Kun supported the course of armed uprising. In 1926 and 1927 he, together with Varga, came out as protagonists of the opportunist policy of Stalin and Bukharin, signifying capitulation to the social democracy. In February 1928, Kun, together with Stalin and Thälmann, suddenly discovered in Germany an immediate revolutionary situation. During the last two years, the ill-starred policy of the "third period" weakened all the parties of the Comintern, and the Hungarian too. If today, when the world crisis poses for communism grandiose tasks, the sections of the Comintern show themselves immeasurably weaker than they might have been, then an important share of the blame for this falls heavily on the official leadership of the Hungarian party, which till now has been covering itself with the borrowed authority of the Hungarian revolution in spite of the fact that it, precisely, ruined it.

A struggle against Bela Kunism in Hungary means at the same time a struggle against that regime of absent and impudent officials who do more harm to the Comintern the more they go on. Without liberating itself from Bela Kunism, the Hungarian proletarian vanguard cannot unite into an efficient communist party.

It is perfectly natural if communists in emigration take on themselves the initiative for offering theoretical help and political solidarity to the revolutionists struggling inside Hungary.

Since 1924, i.e., since the beginning of the reaction in the USSR, Stalin and Molotov have made fashionable a contemptuous attitude toward revolutionary "emigres." This single fact is enough to measure the whole depth of the degeneration of the apparatus leaders! Marx and Engels in the old days said that the proletariat had no fatherland. In the epoch of imperialism this truth has a still deeper character. And if that is so, then it is possible to say honestly that for the proletarian revolutionist there is no emigration: in other words, emigration has a police but not a political meaning. In every country where there are workers and a bourgeoisie, the proletarian finds a place in the struggle.

Only for the petty-bourgeois nationalist can "emigration" constitute a break with political struggle: is it worth interfering in other people's business? For the internationalist the cause of the proletariat in every country is not someone else's, but one's own. The leading Hungarian workers are all the better able to help the revolutionary struggle inside Hungary, now and in the future, the closer they are tied to the revolutionary movement in the country in which fate has thrown them. It is working-class "emigres" precisely, educated by the Left Opposition, i.e., the Bolshevik-Leninists, who can constitute the best cadres of a renascent Hungarian communist party.

The organ to be set up by you has as its task to link up the advanced Hungarian workers scattered in different countries, not only in Europe but also in America. To link them up not in order to tear them out of the class struggle in those countries to which they have gone; on the contrary, to call on them to participate in the struggle, to teach them to make use of their emigre situation so as to broaden their outlook, to liberate themselves from nationalist limitations, to educate and temper themselves in the spirit of proletarian internationalism.

With all my heart I wish you success!

With communist greetings,

L. Trotsky