Politics in Hungary

By Peter A. Toma; Ivan Volgyes | Go to book overview

8 Political Socialization and Political Communication

Since 1949, the Hungarian Communist leadership has considered few system-maintenance functions as important as the political socialization and education of the citizenry. Whereas the survival of the Hungarian Communist political system has depended to a significant extent on the acquiescence of the population to the rule of the Party, the progression of the system to a more advanced stage of development has required the active support of the citizenry for the goals set by the Party. The present regime in Hungary has all but abandoned the use of coercion; to assure the acquiescence and support of the citizenry, it relies instead on its political socialization program.

"Political socialization" refers to the process whereby a person receives political knowledge and accepts or rejects the system(s) of political values and beliefs handed down to him. In the literature of political science, political socialization usually means the inculcation of values in children, 1 and the transmission of knowledge from the older generation to the younger one. 2 However, the term has a broader significance in Communist states where the political socialization process includes not only the creation of desirable political attitudes in children who were born into the Communist system, but also the reeducation of adults who acquired their values under conflicting political systems.

In Communist societies the overt behavior of the population must conform to certain norms. These norms generally include participation in organized political activities, maximization of production efforts, and support for government policies. Moreover, members of a Communist society must profess belief in the values deemed desirable by the elite. The inculcation of these values and of the entire Marxist-Leninist ideology is the goal of the political education and socialization efforts of any Communist government.

The inculcation of the desired values may be accomplished through various means. A regime may, for example, coerce the populace into accepting its norms. One drawback of this method is that the regime can never be certain to what extent the popu

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