Courtesy Reuters

The Character of a "People's Democracy"

Introduction

The pattern of the Communist conquest of power in Eastern Europe and of the transformation of society under Soviet Communist direction is well known from the stories of a number of political leaders who were worsted in that struggle and are now in exile, as well as from western diplomats and journalists who watched the process take place. In the case of Hungary, the former American Minister, H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld, has described in these pages the Soviet moves which culminated in the fall of the coalition government headed by Ferenc Nagy in May 1947 and the assumption of full control by the Communists. [i] During the past year, however, it is the Communists themselves who have been our best sources of information. By their frank admissions they have succeeded in confirming and documenting the accusations which others have made against them. Their willingness to make such revelations may be attributed, first, to their assurance that their control is now secure, and second, to the split between the Kremlin and Tito, which has led to a reaffirmation of loyalty to Stalinist orthodoxy on the part of other satellite leaders and to a speeding-up of the process of sovietization in those countries.

The most revealing of recent expositions of Communist theory and practice in Eastern Europe is an article which appeared in the March-April 1949 issue of Tarsadalmi Szemle, a Marxist "scientific" periodical of the Hungarian Workers' Party (Communist). Its author is Jozsef Revai, the leading theorist of Hungarian Communism, former editor of Szabad Nep, the Party newspaper, and presently Minister of People's Culture. Revai's article, a reprint of a speech made to the Party leaders, was intended as a guide for their activities. It was published under the title, "On the Character of Our People's Democracy." In publishing it, the Communist leadership apparently considered that the contribution it would make toward indoctrinating the Party membership outweighed the possible disadvantages in disillusioning those Hungarians who might still be uncertain as to Communist aims and

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