Speech at the Last Assembly of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party (MSZMP) and the First Assembly of the Socialist Party (MSZP), October 7, 1989

Dear Delegates, dear Comrades!

We are witnessing the end of the old regime. The destruction of the so called state socialist structures has also been put on the agenda in Hungary. However, we cannot even dream of a successful destruction without construction. Without a clear evaluation of our situation, we are facing the ever increasing danger of chaos.

There are two roads that follow from the dismantling of the Stalinist structures. One leads to bourgeois restoration, which is propagated by some oppositionist organizations. The other is the road of the socialization of power and state property, which could lead to a human-centered community and society. This is the road of the Hungarian working classes and the Socialist Party. This is a unique trajectory, which can be modeled neither upon the Eastern nor the Western type of development. We have to return to the positive aspects of the development of the "people's democracy". Thus, the essential feature of the development is the maintenance of the multi-sectoral, "mixed" economy. Within this system capitalism, a profit-centered economy can be socially limited and controlled. We can avoid the danger of being devoured by the system by putting re-privatization under the control of the newly established workers' self-governments. Namely, only the secretly elected councils of the workers' collectives are able to prevent the selling of national property and the rule of a new class, the manager bourgeoisie and the economic and financial apparatuses. If the workers' self-governments have real property rights, we can maintain a socialist development, as opposed to the regime of state and private exploitation.

Even history warns us of "introducing" liberal democracy rather than the elite rule based on the one-party-system. We don't want a "new type" of elite rule. We want a truly democratic development, where the multi-party Parliamentary system is based on the system of territorial and workers' self-governments. Only this development can be a guarantee against the uncontrolled rule of the old and new elites. Political democracy is inseparable from economic democracy. Where there is no employee ownership, there is no real democracy. Effective management requires the interest of the employees, whose highest form is employee ownership.
Property reform can restore the capitalist form but only with the condition that workers' collectives have a say in the division of profit. Alternatively, Hungary is facing massive unemployment, impoverishment, the unscrupulous rule of the International Monetary Fund and a new type of requisitioning. Hungarian workers should not be in a worse position than their Western European counterparts. Any leftist socialist party including the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party has to declare this as a fundamental principle.
Comrades! In today's Hungary, democratic development can only be guaranteed by a strong leftist party, which is primarily based on the industrial and agricultural workers, employees and the producers of intellectual and material wealth. Namely, we speak of a leftist, Marxist, socialist party, and not of a liberal, socialistic elite party; of a party that promotes communal ownership and socialism, and not bourgeois restoration; of a party, which is built "from below", out of the base organizations, and not of the conservation of the Stalinist rule of the political and economic bureaucracy; of a party, which is the party of the membership, and not of various fractions and elite groups; of a party, whose highest forum is the congress, and not the privileged caste of the party apparatus; of a party, which undergoes a moral purification and does not cry for the turncoats, who show up in new parties in the difficult times, refusing to represent those in whose name they ruled for decades. The Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party can no longer be the party of careerists. One advantage of the multi-party system will undoubtedly be a moral renewal and a farewell to many members of the party, who only wanted to advance their personal career.
The crisis of the party is also one of the manifestations of the crisis of our development, the national and international reasons of which I have no time to discuss here. One manifestation of the crisis of the party is the spread of momentary improvisation, as someone formulated it in the corridor, "policy-making from the pocket". At the same time, "cameralism", the clique policy of the apparatuses, causes repulsion among the party membership and the delegates. Thanks to this distorted tradition, theory has become totally superficial in the party and some party leaders would be even happy to get rid of Marxism in order to preserve their positions of power.
Indeed, both the liberal and the conservative wings of the party are ready to split the party in order to maintain power. The great ambitions of self-nominated leaders are threatening us. We have to see that ideological issues do not play a key role in this game. What we are witnessing is rather a conflict of very different social interests within the party. The younger forces of the apparatus were interested in certain changes, and they wanted a bigger role and more influence than they had had before. But we should identify other interests. Apart from the workers' scattered interests, the interests of the financial and manager bureaucracy and various lobbies are strongly present in the party, together with the forces in the apparatus, who want to preserve their privileges, and for this purpose they are willing to make a compromise with the former groups. The real precondition of the rebirth of the party is the "elimination" of these two different types of groups, which have, nevertheless, many common interests. The split in the party can be avoided if the membership is able to control its own apparatus. This split would entail the total dispersion of the left since it is by no means sure that the party will be split in two; and such a development would trigger a unique combination of bourgeois restoration and a Stalinist type of restoration in its methodology.
While the restrictive governmental policy dictated by the International Monetary Fund plunges the country into an ever deepening crisis, the party is unable to control its own government and direct it to a new trajectory. This is largely due to the fact that the party leadership has disintegrated, and the fractional and personal power ambitions have paralyzed its ability to act. The influence of the party has been massively reduced and, besides the democratic opposition, we can witness the appearance of anti-democratic groups with a rightist demagogy on the Hungarian political scene. The party leadership were engaged in internal debates, rather than concentrating on the elections. Fake debates divided the party while in the media, primarily on TV and radio, the old Stalinists appeared as new liberals, waiting for a change in power and scolding the mistaken policy of the party, to which they had actively contributed. Comrades! We need a new party leadership under the presidency of Comrade Nyers, who – together with many young comrades from the countryside – will be able to prepare for the elections and convince the population in the face of the oppositionist demagogy that the real guarantee of social security, the prevention of the continuing impoverishment of millions, the linking of human rights with social justice can only come from a socialist party, which builds on the tradition of the labour movement. Today's task is to create such a party.
Thank you for your attention.