Not Our Revolution, Comrade

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 25, 2006 | Go to article overview

Not Our Revolution, Comrade


Byline: John O'Sullivan, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

"There aren't any good brave causes left," railed Jimmy Porter in John Osborne's play "Look Back in Anger" on its first night in August 1956. Both the phrase and the play almost immediately established themselves as revolutionary.

Osborne's play changed the theater throughout the English-speaking world and opened the way for new dramas exploring themes of social criticism and the Absurd from playwrights such as Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, Arnold Wesker, and in time Tom Stoppard. As for the phrase, it captured the mood of a Left dissatisfied with the tepid social justice of the postwar welfare state and nostalgic for such grand revolutionary causes as the Spanish civil war.

Two months later, such a grand revolutionary cause pushed onto the stage of history in the form of the Hungarian Revolution. This was actually a better and braver cause than the Spanish civil war because it combined a national struggle for Hungary's independence with a political fight for the individual freedom of ordinary Hungarians. Nor was it corrupted, as the republican side in Spain had been, by the controlling influence of a great power (in the form of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union.)

Indeed, the complaint leveled by Hungarians then and by historians later is that the United States and the West held aloof and gave the freedom-fighters no help against Soviet tanks. Yet for an exhilarating few days it seemed as if this gallant uprising of young men in mackintoshes armed with rifles and Molotov cocktails would prevail unaided against the heavy armor of the Red Army.

The Hungarian Revolution is an instance of a law that has frequently frustrated Marxist plans: the law of unintended consequences. After Stalin's death, his successors in the Kremlin wanted to create a more liberal communism. Khrushchev began the process with his February 1956 "secret speech" denouncing the crimes of Stalin and his cult of personality. As John Lewis Gaddis explains in his short history of the Cold War, this was a devastating shock to a system that was rigid, authoritarian and allegedly infallible. When the Polish communist leader read the speech, he dropped dead of a heart attack.

Discontent, already widespread, began to be openly expressed throughout the Eastern bloc. Riots broke out in Poland and the party shrewdly appointed the relatively popular reformer, Wladyslaw Gomulka, to head the regime. That quieted things temporarily.

Khrushchev sought the same effect in Hungary by informing the hard-line ruler, Matyas Rakosi, that he was ill and needed treatment in Moscow.

Instead of calming things, this stimulated demands for greater freedom. On Oct. 23, a march called unofficially by students grew to a quarter-million people. They pulled down a giant statue of Stalin in one of the main city squares. Police and army units went over to the people, handing over their weapons. Crowds attacked the radio station and the secret police headquarters (now a Museum of Terror.) Within four days, the revolutionaries had defeated a first wave of Soviet troops (some of whom went over to the Revolution) and forced a dithering Kremlin to appoint the reformer Imre Nagy to head a new government.

But the Soviets themselves soon realized this was a half-way house to some other destination. Hungary would either be brought back under Soviet control or it would become a fully independent democratic nation outside the Warsaw Pact. On Sunday May 4, they surrounded Budapest and crushed the revolution with massive force ruthlessly applied. More than 20,000 Hungarians were killed. Nagy was tricked by a promise of safe passage and hanged. Communist gangs roamed Budapest arresting thousands of suspected revolutionaries and deporting them to the Gulag. Thousands more Hungarians fled to the West, greatly benefiting the arts, sciences, academy and business in their adopted countries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Not Our Revolution, Comrade
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.