Letters: G. D. H. Cole and Hungary


In the New Statesman on 20th April, 1957, in an article headed “Hungary is the Test,” G. D. H. Cole gave an interpretation of the Communist Manifesto. After dealing with the Communist Manifesto, he states: “ If this vision of contemporary and of coming society were true, it followed that, from the standpoint of the exploited class, correct, and therefore right, behaviour was simply that which would help to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie. Whatever would further the cause of world proletarian revolution was historically correct conduct, and therewith morally right. . . .  It was therefore justifiable and necessary for the proletariat to use any method and to take any action that would help it towards victory over its class-enemies ; and all squeamishness about such matters was entirely out of place. . . .  The Soviet Union forces, in overrunning Hungary and suppressing the so-called Hungarian ‘counter-revolution’ were acting in strict accordance with this principle. . . . Any country that rejects the dictatorship of the proletariat in favour of parliamentary government thereby ranges itself in the camp of the enemies of the revolution. . . .  The logic of this position can be assailed only by those who reject the foundations on which the entire structure of Communist ideology rests.”

Does the S.P.G.B. agree that the interpretation of the Communist Manifesto given by G. D. H. Cole is correct ? If not, wherein is the interpretation mistaken ?
Yours, etc.,
D. Anderson
We do not agree with G. D. H. Cole’s interpretation of the Communist Manifesto, and the latter certainly does not subscribe to the view that “any country that rejects the dictatorship of the proletariat in favour of parliamentary government thereby ranges itself in the camp of the enemies of the revolution.” By “Parliamentary Government” we take it Mr. Cole means parliamentary action. Let us see what the Manifesto has to say on this point. The paging is from our edition of the Manifesto.

   “The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of its means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier and one customs tariff.”—(Page 64.)
  “The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. 
   “But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself: it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons—the modern working class—the proletarians.”—(Page 66.)
   “This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and consequently, into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus the ten-hours’ Bill in England was carried. . . .
   “The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education; in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.”—(Page 69.)
   “Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.”—(Page 78).
   “We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.”—(Page 79.) 

The Russian Revolution, from its inception, has never been concerned with “winning the battle of democracy.” Although it has borrowed Marxian phraseology, suitably amended, it has, in fact, been a capitalist revolution and has followed capitalist imperialist methods, of which its attitude in Hungary is an example. Like the French Revolution, it has inscribed on its banners, “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,” and, like the French Revolution, these words have meant freedom for one group to oppress and exploit another; and like the French Revolution the people at the top engage in internecine struggles to annihilate one another.
G. D. H. Cole misses the fundamental facts and is misled by the phraseology.
Editorial Committee

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