Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thoughts of Hungary and the Fall of Communism

1956 was an important year in the history of communism. In Moscow, Nikita Krushchev denounced the crimes of Stalin to a secret meeting of the Communist Party. In China, Chairman Mao gave the " Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom" speech in which he called for more open criticism of the government.

How far were Krushchev and Mao willing to go? The Chinese quickly capped the wellspring of dissent that gushed forth after Mao's speech. And in the fall, Hungary tested Moscow's limits with an attempt to establish democracy in Hungary. Eventually, a full fledged revolution broke out, which was crushed with 5000 Russian tanks and 200,000 troops crushed the revolt ruthlessly. A more compliant ruler, Janos Kadar was installed to ensure Hungarian compliance with the Soviet Union's wishes. As a consolation prize for the disgruntled Hungarians, limited reforms were implemented. Under "goulash communism" a safe dose of capitalism was mixed in with communist ideology. Some private enterprise was allowed even some small scale private businesses were permitted to exist. Culturally there was liberalisation as well. Lokomotiv GT Kati Kovacs and Omega were musical groups that performed rock music in Hungarian that was stylistically comparable to music in America and Western Europe. There was even some criticism of the government through the medium of film.

Omega is a Hungarian rock band that was established in 1962. It played covers of western bands and eventually started performing its own material. Lokomotiv GT was originally formed by members of Omega. Omega has had commercial success in the west, going on tour in The U.K and Europe.

I am including on this posting two videos of Omega and a you Tube video tribute to a Hungarian man jailed by the communists. The video was made by his son. The juxtaposition of the three videos gives one a sense of the sacrifices made over generations for hard won freedoms.

When I look at the aftermath of communism's fall the difficulties with resurgent nationalism, the bumpy transition to free enterprise and the social displacement, it reminds me of the biblical exodus from Egypt, which turned out to be a prelude to the struggle for inner liberation.

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1 comment:

Ted said...

OK, OK, OK, enough already, I can’t take any more hoaxes: First we have Al Gore’s global warming, next comes Obama being a constitutionally qualified President, followed by Obama’s stimulus plan, but now we have Robert Reich telling us why we need stronger unions. Are we heading for Saturday Night Live 24/7?