East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview
7.
The assumption that these migrations were forced upon peasants may be a serious oversimplification, one that fitted well with Erdei's political standpoint. Research in progress by Dr. Antal Juhasz of the Ethnography Department of the University of Szeged suggests that some migrants may have been motivated as much by 'pull' factors as 'push'. See Juhasz 1990.
8.
Szelenyi ( 1988:151) notes that Erdei had a close personal relationship with Kadar in the 1960s. Personal contacts in Budapest have suggested to me that the most important channel in ensuring that the agricultural sector benefitted from the 'reformist' spirit was the Economics Minister Lajos Feher, with whom Erdei also had very close relations. I have also heard suggestions that he was personally responsible for allowing experimental forms of cooperative to flourish in those regions of the Great Plain where small-scale vineyards were historically significant. According to these views Erdei had understood the economic rationale for the 'specialist cooperatives' since serving as a parliamentary deputy for this region in the 1950s, and his understanding of the deeper human issues went back much further still.
9.
The definitive account of Hungarian agriculture in this period is Swain 1985. On symbiosis see also Hann 1980; on Chayanov see Shanin 1987.
10.
One hold is rather less than one and a half acres, and is officially equal to 0.57 hectares; however villagers' statements of the size of farms in the past do not necessarily correspond to precise cadastral measures.
11.
For a full discussion of the Compensation Laws see Swain 1994a.
12.
This corresponds to the broader conflict identified elsewhere in the Hungarian countryside by Swain and others, between traditionalist Smallholders on the one hand and the 'Green Barons' (i.e. the former socialist managers of the cooperatives and state farms) and their alleged allies on the other. See Swain 1994b for an interesting argument about some unintended consequences of this conflict.
13.
It should not be assumed that everyone is motivated by factors of this kind. I suspect that, in the self-help operation described above to regain possession of the lands on the outskirts of the village, some people went along not so much out of loyalty to their parents and grandparents as from an unwillingness to see the land be taken over by others who had no right to it - ie. standard 'dog in the manger' psychology.
14.
For example a recent detailed study of the place of small farmers in Hungarian society pays more attention to French social theory and international rural sociology than to Erdei ( Kovach 1988). The fullest use made of Erdei in English accounts of Hungarian society is that made by Szelenyi and his associates ( 1988). Szelenyi, though generous in his recognition of Erdei's creative contributions in the pre-socialist era, postulates a sharp divide between this early Erdei and the Erdei who sold out to marxist ideology after 1945. On my reading there is no such ideological break and Szelenyi's documentation of the success of the rural population in pursuing 'socialist embourgeoisement' provides the best confirmation of the continuity in Erdei's priorities throughout his career.

References

Erdei, Ferenc. 1957. ( 1937) Futohomok; a Duna-Tiszakoze, (Running Sand; the DanubeTisza interfluve), Budapest: Gondolat Kiado.

-113-

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