Briefly about Aleksandra Kollontai’s fiction

Aleksandra Kollontai is most famous as a revolutionary, women’s liberation activist and a Soviet diplomat. However, she was also a writer of fiction. In this article I will briefly discuss her fiction writing. Unfortunately it is rather difficult to discuss without delving into the much broader topic of Soviet family policy and Kollontai’s career and theoretical development – something which is simply beyond the scope of this article and I’ll have to discuss later separately.

Kollontai’s fiction writing deals exclusively with issues of women’s rights, love, morality and relationships among revolutionaries in the old capitalist society and the new socialist society under construction. Kollontai described her novel Red Love in the following way: “This novel is… a purely psychological study of sex-relations in the post-war period.” (Preface to the English edition of Red Love, 1927)

Her fiction has received extremely mixed responses, for reasons that will become evident.

Red Love aka Vasilisa Malygina (1923) is Kollontai’s earliest novel. Without stating it openly, the novel actually discusses Kollontai’s love-affair with Pavel Dybenko, a Soviet soldier. As such, the novel is somewhat interesting from a historical point of view, although it does take liberties from real life. However, as a work of art the novel leaves a lot to be desired.

The protagonists are both revolutionaries and the story focuses entirely on their troubled relationship. They are both busy, exhausted, have differing political ideas, but unfortunately the story doesn’t rebut wrong political ideas effectively enough.

The character representing Dybenko, named Vladimir in the story, is described as holding anarchist ideas and being unable to follow discipline. This matches the real life Dybenko accurately*. In general the story is quite true to real life: the characters fall passionately in love, but are not compatible.

Vladimir is stupid, immature, cheats on Vasilisa constantly, and cannot take care of his own responsibilities. Vasilisa is responsible, ascetic, extremely hard working and busy, politically a romantic with ultra-left leanings (a true depiction of Kollontai at that point in her career).

Vladimir constantly complains that their life is not enjoyable, they work too hard, are too poor, cannot afford luxuries. He eventually becomes a director under the NEP. He accumulates money and begins to live lavishly, hangs out with black-marketeers and hires prostitutes. As a result he is constantly in trouble with the party and state control commissions, who accuse him of living a bourgeois life and breaking the law.

While that segment is motivated by Kollontai’s ultra-left attempt to oppose the NEP, her criticism against nepmen is basically legitimate and she correctly portrays the party’s negative attitude to abuses of the NEP.

Eventually Vasilisa and Vladimir separate, since Vasilisa cannot tolerate Vladimir’s affairs with other women. However, she also begins to sympathise with the bourgeois woman that Vladimir has an affair with. This part of the story develops the notion of “sisterhood” among women regardless of class. Kollontai struggled with this concept and it was found questionable by Soviet critics.

During war-communism Kollontai had advocated for the rapid abolition or withering away of private families and private homes. This was supposed to be entirely voluntary and facilitated by the creation of state institutions for raising of children (children’s villages etc.). However, this quite unrealistic and ultra-left idea was abandoned during the NEP because of practical problems, and in particular, problems with lack of funds. Kollontai discovered that the withering away of the family would take an entire historical epoch and would not be rapid.

Reflecting Kollontai’s ultra-collectivist anti-family views the story ends with Vasilisa realising she is pregnant with Vladimir’s child and deciding to raise it herself, or rather, without a man, collectively with other women:

“All by myself? The organization will bring it up. We’ll fix up a nursery. And I’ll bring you over to work there. You like children, too. Then it’ll be our baby. We’ll have it in common.”

The collection Love of Worker Bees (1924) contains the story “Sisters”, which explores the roots of sex-work and places the blame on men who hire such services, rather than on the sex-workers themselves.

The collection also contains the more famous (or rather infamous) story “The loves of three generations”. This story discusses the differences in moral attitudes among three generations of progressive women: Maria, a 19th century reformer with narodnik views, Maria’s daugther Olga, a middle-aged Soviet revolutionary, and Olga’s daugther Genia (sometimes translated Zhenia), a young communist radical.

The story takes a rather neutral or “objectivist” stance, which was condemned by Soviet critics. The story does not put forward a marxist position, but simply presents the three women’s points of view, almost without comment. However, Kollontai was accused of sympathising with the young radical view, due to her other statements and writings.

Maria holds clearly bourgeois, conservative and sentimental views, Olga holds the modest and common place views that were mainstream among Soviet leaders, while Genia holds basically libertene, morally nihilist vulgar views.

In reality, Kollontai did not sympathise with Genia in full. Kollontai presents Genia as a possible representative of experimental revolutionary morality, as a possible representative of the new generation that would eventually discover what the morality and sex-relations of the future communist society are. Kollontai realised that Genia’s views are problematic and erroneous, but she did not critique them, partially because she did not know how.

As remarked by Lenin and Clara Zetkin, the so-called “glass of water theory” had gained some popularity among radicals in the 1920s. According to this view, love-relationships were basically meaningless and sex was a merely utilitarian act, a physical necessity such as drinking a glass of water. This lead to innumerable negative consequences, and those who disagreed with it were harassed as “bourgeois”. Kollontai was never explicitly identified with the supporters of this theory, her work was merely somewhere adjacent to it.

“This theory really gained popularity in the RSFSR in the early 20s, but Kollontai never promoted it.” (, Evgeny Antonyuk, Diplomat and sex revolutionary. The first Soviet feminist Alexandra Kollontai)

Lenin said:

“As a communist I have not the least sympathy for the glass of water theory, although it bears the fine title ‘satisfaction of love’. In any case, this liberation of love is neither new, nor communist. You will remember that about the middle of the last century it was preached as the ‘emancipation of the heart’ in romantic literature. In bourgeois practice it became the emancipation of the flesh. At that time the preaching was more talented than it is today, and as for the practice, I cannot judge. I don’t mean to preach asceticism by my criticism. Not in the least. Communism will not bring asceticism, but joy of life, power of life, and a satisfied love life will help to do that. But in my opinion the present widespread hypertrophy [extreme growth] in sexual matters does not give joy and force to life, but takes it away. In the age of revolution that is bad, very bad.

“Young people, particularly, need the joy and force of life. Healthy sport, swimming, racing, walking, bodily exercises of every kind, and many-sided intellectual interests. Learning, studying, inquiry, as far as possible in common. That will give young people more than eternal theories and discussions about sexual problems and the so-called ‘living to the full’. Healthy bodies, healthy minds. Neither monk nor Don Juan, nor the intermediate attitude of the German philistines.” (Zetkin, Lenin on the Women’s Question)

In reality Kollontai considered love to be extremely important, but she argued that lovers should not feel any jealousy, should not “possess” each other, should be entirely free in their actions as individuals. As Engels recognised “lovers feel that non-possession and separation are a great, if not the greatest, calamity” (Origin of the family, private property and the state). Kollontai constantly tormented herself due to her inability to not feel jealousy over the unfaithfulness of her partners – a tragic result of her somewhat misguided notion of what the “human of the future” should be: a crudely collectivist person who feels no exclusive right to her partner.

Kollontai actually advocated individualist views, and always felt threatened that her freedom would be limited. However, she more explicitly voiced ultra-collectivist views (which in fact, were also mere bourgeois-aristocratic individualist views turned upside down), as she frequently stressed the party and society were always more important than love. This had a certain similarity to the glass of water theory, which stated sex was a mere physical necessity.

Kollontai frequently expressed the view that revolutionaries do not have time for romantic relationships, and thus other, casual sex relationships are suitable. This was very close to the advocates of the glass of water theory. At the other extreme of the debate, revolutionary E. Yaroslavsky, the leader of the militant atheist league, ridiculed the libertenes and said that in prison he had been forced into complete celibacy for years, and “it hadn’t harmed him”.

“Kollontai’s critics reminded readers of her “Letters to Working Youth,” which offered the image of a commune where one could love more than one partner, and her “Liubov’ trekh pokolenii,” [Loves of three generations] which featured Zhenia, the “new woman” who had lovers but no time to fall in love…

Iaroslavskii… warned that it was for bourgeois not proletarian youth to flit from flower to flower indulging in Kollontai’s “love of the worker bees.” In fact, Iaroslavskii recalled, for eight or nine years he sat in prison and sexual abstinence had done him no harm” (Farnsworth, Aleksandra Kollontai: Socialism, Feminism and the Bolshevik Revolution, pp. 354-355)

The topic of Soviet family police is too broad and complicated to discuss here, and involves topics such as child raising, divorce, alimony etc. but we must explain where Kollontai’s views fit in the Soviet ideological landscape.

Although policy and emphasis changed during different periods (war-communism, NEP, socialist construction, post-wwii) the marxist-leninist view developed in the Soviet Union was that the family will continue to exist for a while, although in a qualitatively different form in socialism, that the family had an important function in raising children and upholding society, that in socialism relationships ought to be exclusively based on love and comradery, that women were equal to men and should become educated and get a job, should not be economically reliant on men, that there was no necessary antagonism between individuals and society.

There was universal agreement that women were oppressed by being shut inside the home. They needed to be given the opportunity to get educated, engage in politics and in social production. However, since private child rearing was not abolished and neither were private homes, and women still more often contributed more to maintaining the household, it was necessary to give women special support. Alongside private homes, collective child nurseries, laundromats and diners were established near homes and work places. Family members and spouses were obligated to support each other by law, and in the case of divorce men were ordered to pay substantial alimony. Since the 1940s the state created an insurance fund to support single mothers – an idea which Kollontai had advocated in a somewhat extremist form in the 1920s.

Kollontai had opposed the idea of alimony on grounds that it made women seem less respectable. However, other women revolutionaries did not agree. Vinogradovskaia responded to Kollontai on the alimony issue by accusing her of letting men off the hook, shouting “let them pay!”. Kollontai had wanted the fund to include all women, not only single mothers. She had also called for marriage economic contracts. It was deemed impossible to fund such a system in the 20s, especially without alimony. The economic contracts for marriage were also deemed totally impractical, because peasant women wouldn’t have the knowledge, and wouldn’t dare, to defend their rights adequately.

“Individual schemes for children’s homes and children’s towns varied. L. N. Sabsovich, who advocated separation of children from parents from the earliest years, derided as petty bourgeois those who, speaking of biological ties, did not love all children as their own. A radical pamphlet, probably written by Sabsovich, insisted that “one of the first results of the socialization of our education must be that children shall not live with their parents. From . . . birth they are to be in special children’s homes in order to remove them . . . from the harmful influence of parents and family. We ought to have special children’s towns.”

For the majority of Communists these were unwelcome fantasies. [Lenin’s wife, and revolutionary leader] Krupskaia pronounced the dominant reaction to such “leftist” ideas about the family. “Men and women workers are right to refuse to give their children to children’s towns. Socialist education must be organized so that parents and teachers both can take part in it.” There is reason to think that Lenin wished to see an end to individual housekeeping but not to the individual family. His famous conversation in 1920 with Clara Zetkin suggested as much. One Communist has insisted that Lenin, like Krupskaia… seizing upon Marx’s reference to a “higher form of the family,” inferred that the disappearance of the individual household meant not the end of marriage and the family but rather their transformation to a purified form free from [economic] considerations and patriarchal inequalities.” (Farnsworth, p. 155)

Kollontai eventually agreed with the prevailing Soviet position in the 1940s. Certain of her positions were adopted in modified form. In the 20s she had belonged to the opportunist “Worker Opposition”, despite her disagreements with some of its leaders. The said opposition had called for a “producer congress” which would organize the economy free from the party or state. This was condemned as syndicalism.

The group’s other demands included universal suffrage in party organizations, for ending the NEP, for ousting bourgeois specialists, for proletarization of the party etc. These positions were ultra-left in the conditions of 1921, but Kollontai was satisfied when, under Stalin’s leadership, universal voting rights in the party were established in 1935, NEP was ended in 1928 and bourgeois specialists ousted, and the party proletarianized. For a more detailed discussion of these issues, a separate article is required.

The reason why “The loves of three generations” was attacked by critics is that it seemed to advocate complete moral nihilism, or at least did not denounce behavior that the entire Soviet establishment saw as deeply societally harmful. In the most infamous scene of the story Genia explains that she is having sex with her mother’s boyfriend Andrei. Genia considers this completely justifiable, feels absolutely no regret, feels absolutely no love or attachment towards Andrei either and sees it simply as a physical act:

“”But did you never think of me?” Olga Sergejewna had asked her. “You never thought of what I might think of your relations with Andrei?”

“‘But why should that make any difference? You wanted us to be friends. You were happy when you saw that I liked him and he liked me. Where is the border-line of friendship? Why should we be allowed to live together, to have good times together, and not to kiss one another? We have taken nothing that belongs to you. Andrei worships you as he always worshiped you. I have not taken a single spark of the feeling he has for you. That I kissed him…? Have you time for him,? Mother, surely you do not want to chain Andrei so firmly to yourself that he may not enjoy life while you are away! That is not love. That is a selfish desire for possession. Grandmother’s bourgeois training speaks in you there. That is unjust.””

Kollontai’s last fiction work was the novel A great love (1927), which actually tells about her affair with the menshevik economist Maslov in the early 1900s. Maslov was married while this took place. This is quite a depressive story with very little artistic merit. The story is fairly accurate of what really took place. Maslov, according to Kollontai, basically held misogynist and conservative views. In general Kollontai’s work is overly personal and seems rather more therapeutic for her, than art for the masses.

A rather strange myth has developed out of this story, however: “The story “A Great Love”… is often thought to be a depiction of the supposed relationship between Lenin and Inessa Armand, but it is actually a reflection on Kollontai’s own relationship with the Menshevik ideologue Maslov.” (Soma Marik, The Love of Worker Bees in Historical Context, p. 12)

The Merits of Kollontai’s Fiction

Kollontai’s fiction is extremely mixed. While the works (almost without exception) advocate for Soviet socialism and revolution, and can appeal to a certain section of the population, they cannot be considered socialist realism.

“Already in the Literary Encyclopedia, published in 1931, it was said about Kollontai: “K. builds a naive sociology of love of previous social formations, eventually establishing a “proletarian morality” … Essentially, K.’s ethical theories have nothing to do with proletarian morality. As an artist, K. is of no interest”.” (Antonyuk, Ibid.)

Kollontai’s fiction works became quite popular in pre-revolutionary China and other countries, shaking the pillars of bourgeois morality and bourgeois society. While this did not have an unambiguously positive effect, they did stimulate the intellectual revolt of those times, at least in limited intelligentsia circles.

The works are not entirely without value even today, but they have glaring problems, on top of not forming a substantial artistic corpus, but only a relatively small number of works by someone who was primarily not a fiction writer. The works were published largely in the 20s, but also re-published or even re-translated in the west by bourgeois anti-communists, with slanderous introductions added to the texts in an attempt to turn Kollontai into an anti-marxist and anti-Soviet “dissident”.

Despite the criticisms of Kollontai’s fiction and some of her theories, she was a dedicated and heroic revolutionary, a theoretician with a long career, not free from errors but also rich in successes, a legendary diplomat and fighter for peace and women’s liberation, awarded with the Order of Lenin in 1933 and Order of the Red Banner of Labour in 1945.

Kollontai in 1952


*Dybenko was expelled from the party in the Lenin era and charged with treason and to be court martialed, due to his sabotage of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, but the charge was dropped and he was accepted back during the civil war. He was later expelled again and charged with treason again, this time for real, and executed.


10 worst mass killers, regimes and dictators

Naturally this list is subjective to an extent, and probably contains some mistakes and things that I missed. However, I think the top 3 are somewhat obvious and its no great surprise why I chose the regimes and dictators that I did. My criteria was their death toll, their reactionary power and influence, and also their plans and the resulting death toll, even if some of those plans were not fulfilled.

10. Mussolini

The fascist dictator of Italy. He came to power in a coup in 1922 supported by the large capitalist companies, the monarchy and the Vatican. His supporters assassinated the socialist leader Matteotti* and he launched a reign of unmitigated terror. Mussolini suppressed all democratic strivings and used relentless demagogy to try to fool the masses into believing that his fascist system was a “classless society” where workers and capitalist billionaires both work together as equals. Needless to say, the capitalists were in power and got all the profits, while the workers suffered oppression.

*A reformist, but exceptionally a firm anti-fascist

On behalf of the imperialist capitalist class of Italy, Mussolini launched the rapid militarization of the economy. Politics became dominated by nationalist and expansionist rhetoric and goals. Italy intervened in Spain in 1936-38, invaded and conquered Ethiopia in 1936 and Albania in 1939, to turn them into Italian colonies and to enslave their peoples. Communists and other national liberation fighters waged a resistance struggle against fascist colonialism.

The outstanding Italian communist Antonio Gramsci died in Mussolini’s prison.

Mussolini joined the anti-comintern pact with Nazi Germany and joined Hitler’s invasion of the USSR. Mussolini was finally overthrown in 1943. He escaped to the Nazi puppet territory of Saló, but was captured by anti-fascist Partisans and executed by military tribunal in 1944.

9. Syngman Rhee and his successors

Son of an aristocrat, related to Korean royalty. Rhee studied first in an American school setup by Christian missionaries. He then received an elite education in the USA (with degrees from George Washington University, Harvard, and Princeton).

After Korea was liberated from Japanese colonialism by the Korean national liberation movement and the Soviet army, two rival Korean governments emerged: the legitimate people’s government, which included communists and other democratic and patriotic liberation fighters, and the American puppet government.

Originally the USA banned the people’s government in southern Korea, confining it to northern Korea, and established the American military occupation government which lasted from 1945-48. After this the USA created the South Korean puppet government, headed by Syngman Rhee as dictator.

The puppet government was deeply unpopular, being merely a veiled form of foreign American occupation. The Korean people desired unification of their country. The puppet government utilized Japanese colonial officials, supported feudal economic relations and was not in touch with the people.

Syngman Rhee’s government constantly sent invasion forces to attack villages in North Korea and provoked the Korean War. However, his government began collapsing immediately when the war started, due to its unpopular corrupt nature. His fascist dictatorship was only saved by American invasion troops. To enslave the population, Syngman Rhee’s forces and American troops conducted mass killings where hundreds of thousands of suspected communist and national liberation sympathisers were killed. Huge crowds of civillians were killed with machine guns.

In the Jeju uprising against Syngman Rhee and the following persecution by the fascists, 10% of the local population died. In the notorious Bodo League Massacre, Americans and Korean fascists killed 200,000 civilians. Millions of Koreans died in the Korean War and Northern Korea was bombed to complete ruins. All this only to protect Rhee’s fascist puppet government, to protect capitalism and American imperialism.

Rhee’s government was forced to resign by a popular movement in 1960, but it didn’t overthrow South Korea’s fascism. Leftist, communist and pro-unification parties continue to be illegal in South Korea. Leftist and pro-unification propaganda continue to be illegal. After his overthrow Rhee fled to the United States.

8. Suharto and the CIA’s anti-communist massacres in Indonesia

Suharto is on this list for his participationg with the CIA, in the killing of up to a million communists in Indonesia in order to prevent a revolution and liberation of the people. Other leftists, ethnic minorities and atheists were also targeted. The killings were carried out by the army and paramilitaries.

The killers had been to a large extent trained by the CIA. According to declassified documents the CIA knew about the mass killings, had its own plan to “liquidate” the leftist president Sukarno who had communist sympathies.

“The US also provided covert material support for the killings. Telegrams released by the US State Department in 2001 revealed that in October 1965, the US had supplied telecommunications equipment to the military to facilitate its attack, while in December it transferred Rp 50 million to the military-sponsored Kap-Gestapu death squad.”

“US officials co-opted media outlets to actively spread military propaganda accounts of the killings both inside and outside Indonesia. This propaganda account described the killings as the result of a spontaneous uprising by “the people””

7. Churchill

Son of a Lord and a descendent of Dukes, Churchill served early in his career as a colonial official for the British empire and later as a leader of the conservatives. In his early career he wrote vitriolic attacks against communism and made anti-semitic remarks towards them. During this period he also voiced admiration for Mussolini’s fascism.

Churchill was a consistent supporter of the British empire. This is why he eventually started to oppose the policy to appease Hitler. He saw Hitler as a dangerous rival and realized Hitler couldn’t be stopped without the Soviet Union. Churchill still held secret negotiations with the Nazis. He delayed the opening of the 2nd front in WWII which would’ve helped the Soviets. Only when the Soviets were starting to win even without a 2nd front, did Churchill’s government support opening it.

Churchill made positive remarks about the Soviet Union during the war, but they all proved to be cynical and dishonest. He deserves a spot on this list because he was a forceful supporter of the bloodiest British colonialism. He considered Indian people to be animals without rights, he instigated the terrible famine in Bengal which killed millions by taking food from the locals to feed Great Britain. He launched the Cold War with his slanderous and demagogic speech in Fulton.

Churchill had wanted to invade the Balkans in WWII but the rapid advance of the Soviets and anti-fascist liberation struggles prevented it. He still desired world conquest. He came up with a plan to launch world war III, by re-arming Nazi soldiers and uniting with all the Western capitalist countries to invade the Soviet Union. Luckily the bloodthirsty plan of this maniac was not carried out.

6. Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold II, the king of Belgium is notorious for his colonialist policies. In the Belgian colony of Congo, he ruthlessly exploited the population for profits. The population was forced to cultivate rubber and those who failed to deliver, were beaten, tortured, had their limbs cut off, or were killed. As many as 10 million natives were killed in this way.

A few (dis)honorable mentions:

Nicholas II of Russia: the Tsar of Russia, also known as “Nick the bloody”. He kept the people in total darkness and oppression, tried to suppress all democratic, progressive and scientific strivings, banned all workers parties and their publications. His rule was characterized by decay and stagnation. He waged many failed wars to enlarge his empire: the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, WWI etc.

His soldiers carried out countless massacres of workers, most famous being the Lena gold field massacre, where hundreds of striking workers were killed, and the Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905, which sparked the 1905 revolution by firing and using swords on unarmed demonstrators. He sponsored the anti-semitic far-right thugs, the “black hundreds”, who terrorized workers and minorities.

Augusto Pinochet: Fascist dictator of Chile. He overthrew the socialist president Allende in a violent coup, and launched a campaign of terror. This was done in collaboration with the CIA and American imperialism. He launched a free-market restoration in Chile which caused mass misery, and was praised by American and British leaders. Pinochet’s torturers are notorious for their gruesome methods.

C. G. Mannerheim: Finnish white guard leader. He served the Tsar as an officer and had monarchist views. In 1918 he led the whites in the Finnish civil war, committing countless mass killings. Mass graves of his victims exist in nearly every Finnish town, even small towns. Out of the 80,000 reds imprisoned in the white terror, almost half died, either due to mass executions or due to terrible prison conditions, such as deliberate starvation. In WWII he collaborated with Hitler.

Stepan Bandera: Ukrainian fascist leader who committed mass killings against Jews and other ethnicities. He is revered by the government of modern day Ukraine as a hero.

5. Chiang Kai-shek

Fascist dictator and leader of the nationalist Kuomingtang (KMT) party. The KMT was originally a leftist, democratic revolutionary party led by dr. Sun Yat-sen, but Chiang turned it into a far-right fascist party of rich capitalists and landlords.

In 1927 Chiang carried out a coup and established his fascist dictatorship, which lasted for more than 20 years. The KMT had been allies of the communists in the national independence revolution and against feudal warlords, but Chiang betrayed the alliance, carrying out huge massacres against communists and all progressive people.

During the ensuing Chinese civil war, Chiang launched five extermination drives against the communists. His actions, including total blockade of the communist territories, terror, and even deliberate flooding of large regions, killed tens of millions of people.

When Japan invaded China, Chiang refused to effectively resist Japan. He persecuted patriotic anti-Japanese activists. Even after he was forced (almost at gun point) to join with the communists in resisting the Japanese invaders, he did so reluctantly, still continuing to blockade communist territories and betraying them at every turn.

Chiang’s KMT prevented land reform and allied with feudalists everywhere. He also started forming close ties with American imperialism. After Japan’s defeat he restarted the civil war, but lost due to the overwhelming unpopularity of his regime. He had killed tens of millions, prevented the economic and cultural development of his country, betrayed his country to the invading Japanese, became a puppet of US imperialism and supported everything reactionary from fascism to corrupt warlords who kept peasants virtually as serfs or slaves.

After his total defeat in 1949 Chiang fled with his remaining troops to Taiwan, where he established himself with the military and financial support of the USA.

4. Hirohito and militarist Japan

In Japan feudalism was replaced by semi-feudal militarist-fascist capitalism. The Japanese imperialist capitalist class launched a rapid militarization of the economy, so that they could fund their economic development by plundering and conquering other nations, and establish an empire.

“Imperialist Japan’s further aggressive designs were set forth in blunt terms in a memorandum drawn up by the head of the Japanese cabinet, General Tanaka, in 1927. “To conquer China,” the memorandum stated, “we must first conquer Manchuria and Mongolia. To conquer the world, we must first conquer China. If we are able to conquer China, India and also the South Seas countries will fear us and capitulate before us. The world will then understand that East Asia is ours and will not dare to dispute our rights…. Having gained possession of all of China’s resources, we shall proceed to the conquest of India and the South Seas countries, then to the conquest of Central Asia, and, lastly, Europe.” (Liberation Mission of the Soviet Armed Forces in the Second World War by A. A. Grechko, p. 371)

With the advent of militarist-fascism even the limited bourgeois democratic rights were abolished. All political parties were dissolved in 1940. Ruthless terror was waged against communists and all democratic and progressive forces. People were kept in semi-feudal exploitation.

The Japanese militarists invaded Manchuria and rest of China in the 1930s, attacked the Soviet Union in 1938 and had plans to conquer territories from it. They also joined the anti-comintern pact with fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Besides Manchuria, the Japanese militarists also imposed colonial exploitation on Koreans and many other peoples. They advocated racist theories about Japanese racial superiority and treated other nations as cattle, killing them in cruel ways such as using them as practice targets, burying or burning them alive. Japanese militarists were even extremely cruel against their own wounded soldiers.

The Japanese militarists are notorious for their huge massacres, war crimes and acts of genocide, such as the rape of Nanking. They took hundreds of thousands of males for slavery and women for sex slavery. The Japanese secret unit 731 conducted experiments to develop biological weapons, including weaponised bubonic plague. They carried out lethal and grotesque experiments on unwilling prisoners. Heroic soviet scientist Magdalena Petrovna Pokrovskaya created the worlds first truly effective anti-plague vaccine in 1934, and against direct orders she tested it on herself in order to speed up the development of the drug. She did this, because she suspected the Japanese were attempting to weaponise the plague.

Japanese militarist-fascism came to an end due to the crushing blows dealt to it by the national resistance in China, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere, its losses to the USA, and its land army being crushed in Manchuria by the Soviet forces. The Japanese Empire at its height had included the southern half of Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Pescadores, Korea, the Bonin Islands, the Kwantung protectorate in Manchuria, and the island groups held as mandates from the League of Nations (the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, and Mariana Islands. In the early years of the war, Japan had conquered vast new territories, including a large part of China, South-East Asia, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies.

The death toll of Japanese militarism is in the tens of millions. After being occupied by the USA, Japan was turned into an American imperialist military base.

3. The British Empire

The British empire was the largest empire in history. Its development is linked with the development of capitalism. British colonialism created the conditions and speeded up the accumulation of capital for capitalism. This took place through huge theft of natural riches, massive taking of slaves, conquering and enslaving countless nations, and even exterminating or nearly exterminating entire nations.

The death toll of the British empire is well over a 100 millions. It conquered and suppressed the independence of nations all over the world, in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Americas and elsewhere. It created capitalist development in Europe, but hindered and distorted the development in conquered territories. The situation can only be remedied by national resistance struggles against imperialism in all the oppressed regions, and establishment of world socialism and communism.

Even in the 20th century Great Britain tried its best to suppress the national liberation of India, various nations in Africa and the Middle East, and has clung to Ireland tooth and nail. The Irish succeeded in freeing a portion of their country, but Great Britain has used extreme violence and continues to use terror and deception, to prevent the independence of Northern Ireland.

Such British atrocities in Ireland include the execution of the leaders of the 1916 independence struggle, the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972 when paratroopers shot at protesters, the hunger strike in 1981, when political prisoners demanded their rights, and instead of accepting it the prison authorities and the government allowed 10 prisoners to starve to death, including Bobby Sands who was elected a parliament member during his imprisonment.

Although the British Empire is technically no more, as it lost most of its influence and colonies after WWII, Great Britain still continues to be a powerful imperialist country, which intervenes militarily into its old colonies, has attempted and somewhat succeeded in economically subjugating them, and takes part in crimes against humanity with other imperialist powers such as the USA.

2. Hitler and Nazi Germany

Supported by the biggest capitalists, bankers and weapons manufacturers Hitler’s Nazi party gained some electoral popularity. The party relied on deceptive demagogy, trying to get popularity both from nationalism, socialism and anti-semitism. After being made chancellor by Hindenburg, Hitler staged a coup and established a fascist terroristic regime.

Hitler immediately started the militarization of the economy and rapid preparations for wars of conquest. He did this on behalf of German capitalists. Germany had lost its colonies after WWI and needed new markets. The massive state contracts for armaments helped this problem temporarily, but long term the issue was supposed to be solved by colonialism. Hitler particularly wanted to enslave Russia. His plan also included extermination of entire nations, such as the Jews.

Western imperialist powers appeased Hitler and wanted him to attack the Soviet Union. They allowed him to conquer the Sudeten lands, Czechoslovakia, Austria and even attack Poland without doing anything. Only when Hitler invaded France and England to rid himself of rival imperialists did the Western powers begin fighting him.

The Soviet Union was the only world power that consistently opposed Hitler, fighting him in Spain, opposing the destruction of Czechoslovakia, opposing the conquest of Austria etc. Hitler created the anti-comintern pact specifically to destroy the USSR. However, the Nazi invasion of the USSR failed and Hitler’s regime collapsed under powerful blows from the Soviet army.

The Nazis carried out deliberate mass murder on an industrial scale. In the holocaust they killed at least 6 million Jews, and also millions of other minorities, communists and anti-fascists. The holocaust is considered probably the most notorious mass killing in history, and for good reason. However, Nazi crimes go beyond that. The invasions they started killed tens of millions.

In the Soviet Union alone, the Nazis killed more than 10 million soldiers and more than 15 million civillians. Countless villages were burnt and the population exterminated or taken into slavery. These actions were all done in order to turn the Soviet Union into a colony, and to get slaves for German capitalists. The Nazis also propped up murderous puppet dictators in numerous countries: Horthy and Szalasi, Tiso and Nedich, Bandera and Antonescu etc. etc.

Hitler’s death toll reaches tens of millions, and had he not been stopped by the Soviets, he would’ve killed many many more.

1. US imperialism and colonialism

The United States began as a settler colonial project. The European colonists exterminated indigenous tribes in order to steal their lands. The extermination was done by warfare, by deception, by deliberately spreading diseases to the natives, by confining the natives into ghettos or “reservations”, by forcibly sterilizing them, by forcibly converting them to christianity and trying to destroy their culture.

Rich settlers began bringing African slaves to work the land. The United States eventually conquered some foreign colonies, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba etc. but it mainly relied on internal colonialism: by bringing foreign slaves and exploiting them in colonial fashion on American soil. Slavery and plunder was used to create the capital for American capitalism.

Even after the slaves had been freed, many of them were forced to remain as share-croppers, working for their previous masters. The African Americans were still utterly without rights, and racial segregation remained in force in the United States until the late 20th century.

In its racial segregation and bloody colonialism the United States continued the same path as the murderous British colonial empire and Hitler’s Germany. Black people were frequently lynched in the USA in SS fashion, and the modern American police force continues this tradition.

The workers’ movement and all democratic movements have always been persecuted by American reactionary rulers. There have been numerous “red scares”, where the government has used death squads such as the Pinkertons, and fascist terror such as McCarthyism against leftists, anti-war activists and communists.

The American reactionary government has always supported unscientific obscurantism, eugenics and racist pseudoscience, denial of darwinism, denial of climate change and supported religious fundamentalism. To an extent this continues to our era.

The USA has become the most powerful imperialist state in history. It has waged so many aggressive and genocidal wars it would take too long to list them, but the Korean war in the 50s, the Vietnam war in the 60s and 70s, the countless invasions into South America, the invasion into Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are some of the worst.

In its wars the USA also continues the tradition of Hitler. In the Vietnam war the American imperialists relied on burning countless villages to the ground, creating huge ‘dead zones’ to hunt down the Vietnamese rebels, used chemical weapons, and killed as many civillians as possible as a deliberate plan to exhaust and exterminate the Vietnamese nation.

“By 1967, South Vietnam had been so utterly devastated by the massive attacks, that it was threatened with extinction as a cultural and historical entity, along with its environment. After the they could not break the NLF by war, the US shifted more and more into trying to break the population. The CIA reported that in the bombings of North Vietnam, 4 out of 5 of the victims were civilians. It was even considered to starve the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table, by long-term destroying their food economy.

The 1968 Tet offensive – conducted almost entirely by South Vietnamese NLF forces – proved that the US wasn’t winning this part of the war either. By then US forces were suffering a severe loss of morale. After Tet, the US however still had the power to undertake an ‘accelerated pacification campaign’, really a mass-murder operation that killed tens of thousands and destroyed much of what was left of the country.” (US Humanitarian Narratives to justify the Vietnam War, p. 6)

“Murder, torture, rape, abuse, forced displacement, home burnings, specious arrests, imprisonment without due process were virtually a daily fact of life during the war in Vietnam. They were no aberrations, they were the necessary outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest level of the military (and the government).” (p. 8)

“To quote a Vietnamese villager’s perception of the US military: “If a gunner saw anyone, even a woman or a small child or a water buffalo, he blew them apart.”” (p. 10)

“Entire cities were treated as free-fire zones. In the streets, everyone was fair game.” (p. 10)

“More than 60% of army officers said in a survey in 1969 that they would use torture or threaten so during interrogations. Most of the time, officers directly ordered soldiers to carry out crimes such as the burning of villages. In Quang Ngai district, 70-80% of homes had been wiped out. Even” (pp. 12-13)

In its later wars the USA deliberately targets civillians with air strikes, and creates “black sites”, secret prison camps where political prisoners are tortured with the most inhuman methods.

The USA has created the most powerful secret police in world history: the CIA and its various supporting organizations. In Europe the CIA recruited Gestapo and Nazi agents, for example the ‘Gehlen organization’. The CIA has been responsible for countless attacks on different countries. It trained guerrilla and sabotage groups to attack all socialist countries in Europe, it has been involved in countless coups in the Middle East and Latin America.

The number of slaves and natives killed by the USA may be as many as 100 million. The death toll of American imperialist wars is tens of millions: millions killed in Korea, millions killed in Vietnam, possibly several millions killed in Iraq, hundreds of thousands killed in other invasions and regime change operations.


British empire killed 165 million Indians in 40 years: How colonialism inspired fascism,mortality%20crises%20in%20human%20history.

About Chiang Kai-shek you can read e.g. books by Edgar Snow and William Hinton. You can find them under the “China” section here.

How South Korea started the Korean War (video)

“Falsifiers of History” by Soviet Information Bureau (Audiobook) (Text)

US Humanitarian Narratives to justify the Vietnam War

History of the Hungarian People’s Republic (PART 10: Revolution in Culture)


“the government’s new written constitution… came into effect on the 20 August 1949, the traditional national holiday in honour of St. Stephen [Hungary’s first ruler], now referred to as ‘constitution day’… Of the 67 proposed amendments to the constitution, six were incorporated into its final form… The constitution also increased the autonomy of the administration and thus prepared the way for the introduction of a system of Soviets which was officially introduced through Law 1 of 1950.” (Hoensch, pp. 193-194)

The new constitution “came into effect on 20 August 1949, intentionally coinciding with the traditional St. Stephen’s Day, renamed Constitution Day… public debates were staged on the draft, and six of the sixty-seven proposed amendments… were incorporated.” (Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār, p. 253)

“In order to ensure and develop the rights gained by our working people, we created the Constitution of the Hungarian People’s Republic which states: “In the Hungarian People’s Republic all power belongs to the working people,” and that the State of the Hungarian People’s Republic “fights against every form of exploitation of man, and organises the forces of society for Socialist construction.” This Constitution ensures the right of the working people to work, leisure and culture, ensures equal rights to women in every field, and opens wide the gates of development to youth.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)


The western capitalist countries had propped up the Horthy fascist dictatorship, which had kept the Hungarian people in ignorance and oppression. Their goal in supporting Horthy had been to prevent revolutions and to isolate the USSR:

“The French, through a series of fragile alliances, established a cordon sanitaire as a rampart against… Bolshevik political penetration. For this cordon to be effective, it was essential that the social and political systems in the region remain stable lest a major upheaval opened the road to revolutionary change. Thus France, and in time Great Britain, gave its tacit support to the semi-feudalistic order that obtained in most of those countries [countries of Eastern Europe]. The result was virtual economic stagnation; industrialization was slow and the pressure on cultivable land increased, creating a large [landless] agricultural proletariat.” (Eric Roman, Hungary and the victor powers, 1945-1950, p. 2)

Horthyist Hungary had an “ossified feudal system” (Roman, p. 3)

“before World War II, Hungary’s educational system… was… archaic, inequitable, and restrictive… for centuries education had been vested in the hands of the Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic church… and until 1948 [the churches] continued to exercise great influence.” (Randolph L. Braham, Education in the Hungarian People’s Republic, p. 9)

The Horthyist “educational system was basically restrictive and inequitably selective. For example. Law No. XXV of 1920 and Law No. XIV of 1928 (the so-called numerus clausus laws) limited the admission of Hungarian citizens of Jewish faith… The composition of the student body in general was not correlated with that of the country: the number of students of peasant and working-class background was extremely limited. These inequities were eliminated, however, in the post-World War II period” when Horthy had been overthrown. (Braham, pp. 21-22)

“During the Horthy era (1919-44), kindergarten education, like all other levels of education in Hungary, acquired certain patriotic-chauvinistic overtones.” (Braham, p. 43)


Number of students

Under Horthy “Nearly a million people over the age of six were not able to read or write. The elimination of illiteracy made little progress. The children of peasant and working-class families were able to finish four or, at most, six grades of primary school… only 4 per cent of the gymnasium students came from the families of workers and peasants, and in the colleges and universities the figure was only 3.5 per cent.” (Ervin Pamlényi, A History of Hungary, p. 506)

“before World War II many children of the plains were unable to go to school. Now, however, boarding schools have been established in the villages so that the long distances will not prevent farm children from getting an education.” (Marianna Norris, Young Hungary; children of Hungary at work and at play, p. 42)

“At present, the number of students in our universities and colleges is three times as large as under Horthy, and we can proudly point out that in this respect we have left far behind developed capitalist countries like Britain, France and Holland.
Behind the rapid increase in the number of the intelligentsia lies a real cultural conquest of the country. Today, the majority of university students come from those strata which, though representing the overwhelming majority of the nation, were as good as excluded from higher education ten years ago… We are not yet fully aware ourselves of the new opportunities, of the vast perspectives opened up to the intelligentsia by the cultural revolution of the past few years, the like of which are unprecedented in the lives of our people.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

“One of the great revolutionary achievements of this period was that of opening the doors of the secondary schools, colleges and universities to peasant youth. In 1937-1938 only 314 young poor peasants attended secondary schools and only 93 attended colleges or universities. By 1952-1953, 30,600 attended secondary schools and 8,225 were in the colleges and universities.” (Henrik Vass, Studies on the History of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement (1867-1966), p. 335)

“Enrollment in higher schools of education in 1937-1938 was 11,747, in 1949-1950 the number rose to 23,247 and in 1955-1956 to 45,431. From 1938 to 1955 the number of engineers increased from 11,409 to 19,200, that of physicians from 10,590 to 14,153 and of teachers from thirty to sixty thousand. Before the Liberation, young people of worker and peasant origins made up only 3 to 4 per cent of university students, while by 1955-56 this rose to 50 per cent.” (Vass, p. 339)

“While in 1938 only 34,000 pupils completed the eight form of primary school, in 1955 there were 98,000 pupils in the eight form of primary school. The number of college and university students rose from 11,700 in 1938 to nearly 31,000 in 1955/56.” (The Counter-Revolution in Hungary in the Light of Marxism-Leninism, Gyula Kállai, p. 6)
“By awarding grants the government attempted to increase the number of students from workers’ and peasant families, who made up only 5 per cent of the total student population. It also encouraged prospective students to take up the study of the natural sciences.” (Hoensch, p. 198)

“higher education expanded overnight five times.” (Stone, p. 412)

“The number of students at university or enjoying higher education rapidly multiplied, and the government hoped that this was the best investment for the future. Half the students lived on grants, often awarded to them because of their working-class background, and hostels were built to house them. There were special Party schools for the clever, and admission there guaranteed bright prospects… Among the intellectuals… the Party also found much support… Some had been shocked by what they had experienced of fascism and were equally convinced that communism would bring about a just society.” (Pryce-Jones, p. 40)

Example of this support from the best intellectuals include such people as Zoltain Kodaly, and the most respected bourgeois historian of Hungary, Gyula Szekfű, who went to the side of the communists:

“After 1945 Szekfü wholeheartedly sided with the new regime and during the crucial period of the Communist take-over between January 1946 and September 1948, he even held the post of Hungarian ambassador to the Soviet Union. In 1947 he published an anthology entitled After the Revolution, in which, after censuring the Horthy regime and the persecution of the Jews, he sang the praises of the Soviet system with special emphasis on Stalin, whom he called “the object of highest esteem and love”. The Soviet people loved Stalin, he wrote, because they knew that in his simple way of life, almost like a “hermit yesterday, today and tomorrow”, he worked for their welfare.” (Paul Lendvai, The Hungarians, p. 159)

“Szekfü suddenly became an ideologist of the “Left , going in 1945-48 as far as it was possible to go, outside the official Communist party, in support of Soviet policy.” (Béla Menczer, A commentary on Hungarian literature, pp. 115-116)

“Educational reforms in the period of intensive socialization achieved a reduction in illiteracy to negligible levels.” (Kovrig, The Hungarian People’s Republic, p. 54)

“the network of people’s colleges (nepi kollegiumok)…* offered a genuine possibility for social advancement. The people’s college movement was well received in the countryside and brought the Party closer to the country people” (Zinner, p. 76)

*The People’s College movement was a relatively loose movement influenced by communism and left-wing peasant populism. The movement spread basic education to the masses but was often spontaneous rather then academic. The titoist Rajk was influential in this movement. When the working class fully consolidated its state power, there was no longer any reason to maintain a separate non-state system of schools such as the People’s Colleges. Instead, the People’s Colleges were integrated into and replaced by a systematic education system. There were some peasant populists (especially right-wing) and Titoists who demanded that the movement must not become part of the national education system, must not follow the objectives of the state or the guidance of the Communist Party. Those people turned into a reactionary force opposing socialist construction and instead advocating petit-bourgeois ‘peasant romanticism’ and nationalism. (Cf. Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār, pp. 240-242 & endnote on the People’s Colleges in Josef Revai, “Lukacs and Socialist Realism”)

During Socialism “East European states guaranteed women’s full employment and invested vast resources in their education and training.” (Kristen R. Ghodsee, Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, p. 31)

“The instructors constantly encouraged the students in this manner: “Speak up, comrades ! Tell us frankly if you have problems, if there is something you don’t understand, or if there is something you don’t agree with!” Questions or disagreements never got anyone into trouble… If somebody had too many questions to ask and the questions all tended in one definite direction, he was judged to be a comrade who had “too many conflicts” or who was still burdened by “bourgeois influences,” or who was “a little difficult.” He was not punished for this failing. Nor was he removed from the school. On the contrary, more attention was paid to him than before.” (Aczel & Meray, pp. 50-51)

“Revai enumerated the statistics… The percentage of working-class in the secondary school has increased from 17 to 41. And we are only at the very beginning. In 1948, we had 600 village libraries; in 1950, 1,600. But, by the end of the Five-Year Educational Plan in 1954, we shall have 4,000. As against seventy-four Homes of Culture in 1949, we now have 1,000. By 1954, there will be 2,500.”” (Aczel & Meray, pp. 84-85)

“the Communists no doubt succeeded in bringing about a considerable increase in the number of young people who attended schools… enrollments in what are now called ‘universities’ were three times as large as they had been in 1938. The secondary schools also announced a considerable expansion, amounting in some instances to twice the size of their student bodies. The growth was particularly noticeable in so far as trade and agricultural secondary schools were concerned… whereas only four agricultural schools had been in existence in 1938, the number in 1951 was 55. This was a notable achievement… The number of young people in attendance at educational institutions beyond the elementary school is now greater than it has ever been in the history of Hungary” (Shuster, In Silence I speak, pp. 194-195)

During the first Five Year Plan “The number of secondary-school students had increased by more than 70 per cent , including those attending the evening and correspondence courses, enrolments in the higher educational institutes increased to 2.3 times the 1949 figure.“ (Nemes, p. 229)

“Similarly to the political and economic successes of our People’s Democracy, our cultural development too can look upon considerable results. This is true for every section of our cultural life. The number of pupils in our secondary schools is 83.3 per cent, higher than in the last year of peace. The number of university and secondary school students is nearly three times the 1938 figure. In 1950, books and pamphlets were published in sixty-three million copies. Investments in 1950 devoted to education and culture were 100.5 per cent, higher than in 1949. As a result of this development, new Socialist buds appeared in every branch of our culture.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

New schools

“The Communists have added the following institutions: Academy of Heavy Industry, at Miskolc; Academy of Industrial Chemistry, at Veszprem; Academy of Transportation, at Szolnok; Architectural Academy, at Budapest; Agricultural Academy, Trade School (Academy of Domestic Trade), and Lenin University (until 1954, Lenin Institute), at Budapest; Academy of Agricultural (Agronomic) Engineering, at Godollo… the Budapest Language School and Bookkeeping School” (Ernst Helmreich, Hungary, p. 240)

“In the period after 1947, an impressive number of higher educational establishments, including vocational and technical schools, universities and technical faculties, were set up in record time… These institutions also offered evening courses and correspondence courses for anyone in full-time employment. In 1951, the selective awarding of grants supported 24,000 students in Hungary” (Hoensch, p. 198)

The policy of improving education was also demonstrated in “the completion of the new Technical University for Heavy Industry in Miskolcz, the Agricultural College in Godollo and the College for the Chemical Industry in Veszprem. In addition, a Department for Transport Studies was set up in Szeged and a Foreign Languages College established in Budapest. The party was also able to announce proudly that 57 percent of students and 68 percent of secondary school pupils already came from a working-class or peasant background.” (Hoensch, p. 199)

“In 1952, the Presidential Council marked the 60th birthday of Mátyás Rákosi by instituting the Mátyás Rákosi Study Medal of Merit and Study Scholarships for outstanding college and university students.”
(“Culture and education”, on the 1956 institute website)

Electrification, radio, cinemas

Communists started bringing culture to the countryside:

“From 1946, the primary instrument of rural popular education was a series of presentations called Free Land Winter Evenings (Szabad Föld Téli Esték, hereinafter: SzFTE). Within the framework of the SzFTE movement, educational presentations on current political issues and topics from various disciplines and branches of art were held in villages on Saturdays in winter. These educational presentations were sometimes enhanced with brief performances: short drama scenes, poetry recitals, song and dance productions… From 1947, SzFTE Books and Booklets, published weekly as part of the Free Land series, contained program materials and a short synopsis of political, scientific, historical, literary, or agricultural topics… Filmstrip (diafilm) was a frequently used visual aid in rural outreach.” (Ágnes Eitlereitler, “The “Re-Tuning” of János Arany’s Life and Work in the Popular Education of the 1950s”)

Under Horthy “cinema became one of the most important media of mass entertainment. But the majority of villages in Hungary—primarily as the consequence of a lack of electric power—were excluded from enjoying it.” (Pamlényi, p. 506)

During the first Five Year Plan “As a result of the enlargement of the cinema network, the number of cinema tickets sold doubled. Livelier publishing activity, the national increase in the number of libraries and cultural centres and other data also confirmed the great progress made in the sphere of culture.” (Nemes, p. 229)

“During this period the number of cinemas nearly doubled… The number of cinemagoers increased from 18.5 million people in 1935 to 116 million by the end of 1955.” (Kállai, p. 6)

“mention has to be made first of all of the electrification of about a thousand villages by the end of 1952, bringing them, in the fullest sense of the word, brightness and light. This was also a period when books, press, cinema and radio veritably conquered the villages. In 1949 there were 685 cinemas in our villages, while in 1952 there were as many as 2,084. The number of radio-subscribers rose from 162,000 in 1949 to 312,000 in 1953. The policy of the workers’ and peasants’ state with regard to public education, first of all the introduction of the eight grades of comprehensive elementary schooling, served, above all, to eradicate the cultural backwardness of the villages.” (Vass, p. 335)

Book publishing

“The growth of book publishing is also worth noting: in comparison to 8150 books published in 1938, in 1955 it was 17,500.” (Kállai, p. 6)

“Even after the first world war Hungary had over a million illiterate people… Between the two world wars publication activity in Hungary regressed both quantitatively and qualitatively, there were less scientific and professional works, and worthless literary trash won even more ground. Out of the 6,5 million books printed in 1938, 4,8 million (71,5 percent) can be considered pulp trash literature. Healthy development of publication activity was hindered by the political and social system of the time, which prevented the publication of progressive political and philosophical, as well as literary works. It is illustrative that the horthyist police stopped among other things the distribution of Diderot’s “Nature and society” [philosophic work from the 18th century]… because it perceived revolutionary views in the book. Obviously this system persecuted all publications of the workers’ movement, the works of communist writers and banned the publication of certain Hungarian writers such as the great proletarian poet Attila József… At the same time the system did all in its power to spread its fascist, nationalist and clerical ideology. A large part of progressive publications were distributed illegally and they were printed predominantly abroad.

After the liberation book publishing activity in Hungary has advanced enormously. As a result of the revolution in culture, the desire for reading has awakened in the wide masses of the people, and books have become a “necessity” for millions of people. This can be seen even in the increased number of books printed. In the last peace year before the liberation, 1938, 8156 books were published and the number of total printed copies was 17,3 million, while in 1958 15 156 books were published and the number of printed copies was 49 millions (both numbers include pamphlets)” (Halasz, pp. 240-241)

The democratization of society and the spread of education can also be seen from the fact that “In 1949, 176 of the 402 members of Parliament were workers, 115 were peasants and 71 were women. Between 1949 and 1953 almost 50 thousand physical workers were given high positions: they were appointed to lead firms and factories and held leading posts in the various ministries, in the armed forces, etc.” (János Berecz, 1956 counter-revolution in Hungary: words and weapons, p. 32)


Socialist Realism was encouraged in the arts:

“The minister of culture and chief ideologue, József Révai, told a congress of Hungarian writers in 1951 that literature was simply a weapon to defend the working classes and the “peace camp” and that socialist realism and dialectical materialism must go hand in hand in this battle. [Révai, “The Tasks of Hungarian Literature” (1951)]” (Kovrig, The Hungarian People’s Republic, p. 60)

“But the classics were hardly affected. Nor were the skills of artists such as surgeons, pianists, opera singers. Beethoven and Verdi were ‘progressive by the standards of their time’; so were Homer, Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Goethe, Dickens, Hugo, Balzac… In Hungarian classics there was practically a boom. They could be bought cheaply, in good editions, printed in good taste” (Ignotus, p. 216)

“The new post-war Hungary… was optimistically described as ‘an oasis of culture and liberty’.” (Alan Blackwood, The Hungarian Uprising, p. 22)

Along with socialist realism, all the best achievements of past culture were made available to the people for the first time:

“our theatres play the dramas of Moliere and Shakespeare… only recently a complete Hungarian edition of Racine’s dramas was published… we publish Balzac, present Shaw’s plays on the stage… we read Aragon, Eluard, Jack London, Mark Twain and Thomas Mann, and… we were present at the celebrations of Goethe and Anatole France.” (Revai, Lukacs and Socialist Realism, p. 1)

“Years ago in [capitalist] Hungary, culture was mainly for rich people. Today [in the People’s Republic] it is for everyone.” (Norris, p. 51)

“In the 1950s, the institutional system of popular education included a network of libraries and cultural centers, managed extensive outreach activities, played a significant role in book publishing, and published specialized periodicals. The new, socialist culture saw itself as originating from the people, built on the principle of ‘by the people and for the people.’ As József Révai said: “Socialist culture is popular culture, in literature, fine arts, and music alike. Socialist culture is oriented towards the people, creating for the people, and in its content and form, it is based on the tastes, language, everyday life, and great historical aspirations of the people”. Urban and rural popular education endeavors were given a public forum in the specialized periodicals of the Ministry of Popular Culture – Népművelési Híradó [Popular Education News] (1949-1953), Művelt Nép [Literate People] (1950-1956), and Népművelés [Popular Education] (1954-1956)” (Eitlereitler)

“Nowadays in Hungary, Hungarian classics are published regularly, and also such books which were not available in the past. Naturally there are large editions of novels, poetry, plays and other works of current socialist writers. In the past it was unimaginable that large editions of classics of world literature could be published and sold. But now, for example the entire 30 000 copy edition of the complete works of Shakespeare, was sold out in a few weeks. At the same time was printed and sold “Hamlet” in 50 000 copies and “Midsummer nights’s dream” in 45 000 copies. In Hungary in the period of ten years there have been published in Hungarian, works of Tolstoy in 335 000 copies, works of Balzac in 220 000 copies, Dickens in 100 000 copies, Gorky in 775 000 copies and Sholokhov’s “Virgin soil upturned”, an examplary work of socialist realism, in 12 editions, 153 000 copies in total.

As an example of the publication and sale of Hungarian classics, take the poems of Attila József. In 1936 when the poet was already a well known person, his poetry collection “It hurts a lot” sold only 120 copies. Since 1945 Attila József’s works have been printed and sold in 300 000 copies. Works of Endre Ady have been sold in 214 000 copies, Petöfi’s 679 000 copies and János Arany’s 774 000… Hungarian classic prose writers have achieved even higher numbers of sales: Zsigmond Móricz 1 985 000, Kálmán Mikszáth 1 407 000, Mór Jókai 1 280 000 and Ferenc Móra 722 000 copies.

Publication activity in Hungary pays great attention to current authors and helps young writers. In the course of 13 years, the works of Béla Illés have been printed in 1 278 000 copies, Ernö Urbán 359 000, Gyula Illyés 334 000, Pál Szabó 327 000, Jenö Józsai Tersánszky 300 000 and Sándor Rideg in 204 000 copies… These works – with exceptions – are new also in that their subject matter is modern day, they deal with real life issues…

In the current publishing activity of Hungary, well known progressive representatives of modern foreign literature have a significant part. The leading role is played by Soviet literature… Also new works by writers and poets from the neighboring people’s democracies are published regularly, as well as from China and Korea. Great attention is paid to modern western European and American writers. In Hungary new editions of Thomas Mann and Heinrich Mann are always being published. Bertolt Brecht is as popular on the stage as in books. Along with Aragon, Eluard, Camus, Sartre and Vercors, works by the younger generation of French authors are published… A collection called “Contemporary English story-tellers” in an edition of 12 000 copies was sold out in a few weeks. Works by Maugham, Hemingway, Dates, Graham Greene, Faulkner etc. have been published recently.” (Halasz, pp. 241-243)

“Kossuth Prize was the highest award given to writers actors, painters, sculptors, and musicians, as well as to scientists, engineers, doctors, and pedagogics, or even to workers and peasants… who achieved outstanding production records. The award included a large sum of money, country-wide celebration, and fame and glory. The winners had the right to add to their names the title of “Kossuth Prize-Winner” for as long as they lived.” (Aczel & Meray, pp. 44-45)

“Hundreds of scientists, artists, physicians, engineers and teachers have been awarded the Kossuth Prize, the highest recognition for good work. Our People’s Democracy by awarding these decorations has emphasised that it highly appreciates and respects the creative work of talented people.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

“Revai was not only a scholar, but a man who really loved and understood art and literature…. Revai’s articles and essays, and particularly those written during the war while he was in emigration or underground, belong to the treasures of the Hungarian, history of literature and historical research… His long essay on Kilcsey, one of the greatest Hungarian poets and thinkers of the nineteenth century, and his essay on Kossuth and on the 1848-1849 Hungarian Revolution, and his essay on Endre Ady, the foremost Hungarian poet of the twentieth century, are fine examples of analytical writing.”
(Aczel & Meray, pp. 82-83)

“[Revai said:] The victory of socialism is impossible without the solution of the problems of the cultural revolution. What does cultural revolution mean? It means that we have to turn hundreds of thousands of unskilled workers into skilled workers. It means tens of thousands of new and highly qualified experts. It means that we must raise the general educational level of our working people, that we must broaden the cultural and political horizons of tens and hundreds of thousands of state and economic and Party officials. It means that we must harness every means at our disposal to the service of the socialist re-education of our people: the school, agitation-propaganda, art, film, literature in fact, every form of the mass cultural movement. The cultural revolution is not mere schooling, or mere training, or mere political education. It is a composite of all these.” The young Communist writers were carried away by Revai’s zeal. They felt they were being allowed to share in a task which was really epoch-making. The semi-feudal, backward, hitherto uneducated country of Hungary would soon be a cultured socialist country.” (Aczel & Meray, p. 84)

Various events and celebrations discussed historic and contemporary artists. Birthdays and other anniversaries of artists were celebrated:

“Various institutions and societies (e.g., the National Council of Trade Unions, the Ministry of Popular Culture, the Hungarian–Soviet Society, the Union of Hungarian Youth) produced program booklets for these occasions. The programs of the festivities regularly included the performance of Soviet and Hungarian authors’ poems… There was an increased interest in the work of prominent writers and poets on the occasion of the anniversary of their birth or death.” (Eitlereitler)

Rakosi even mentioned Petöfi and Vörösmarthy in his report to the 2nd Party Congress:

“We are the rightful heirs, the straight continuation of all that which was progressive in our thousand years of history, of all which was vigorous and pointed to the future. That is why we could intimately and unitedly celebrate the centenary of the 1848 revolution, the birth of Vorosmarthy, the anniversary of the death of Petöfi”

Sander Petöfi, poet and revolutionary
Sandor Petöfi, revolutionary martyr and Hungary’s national poet

“’Socialist realism’ became the artistic norm. In Budapest and the other major cities the monumental Soviet style of architecture met with an enthusiastic reception from architects.” (Hoensch, p. 188)

“The exhibition named Towards Communal Art opened in the autumn [1948]… In the second half of 1949 a “cultural revolution” was launched in a bid to accomplish a Stalinist turn in art policies. Standing at the helm of the revolution was the newly established Ministry of Mass Education headed by József Révai, a powerful party chief who was to govern culture policies right until 1953. Playing a key role in mobilising artists was the state-run Association of Fine and Applied Artists founded on 24 September, 1949. The founding assembly proclaimed no less than “the artistic founding principle of the Association is socialist realism”. The Association was simultaneously ideological and meritocratic; while relentlessly pressing the official brand of socialist realism, it also welcomed well-respected older artists pursuing other styles. After launching such important new institutions as the Ministry and the Association, and revamping such other institutions as the art academies and the museums… [the communists] pressed on by replacing the country’s free art market by a state-run National Enterprise for Handling Works of Art. The first important duty of the Association was to stage a big, national exhibition. It opened ceremoniously on the first anniversary of the enacting of Hungary’s Stalinist Constitution, i.e. on 19 August, 1950. With the First Hungarian Art Exhibition the paradigm change in art history, i.e. the accomplishment of a “cultural revolution” was complete….

[In 1951] The Association first staged its thematic exhibition named Hungarian Soldiers for Liberty, and then, on 3 November another grand national socialist realist parade, the Second Hungarian Art Exhibition was launched.” (Gábor Rieder, A History of Hungarian Socialist Realist Painting 1949-1956 Ideology and Existence)


“dismissed Horthy officials and dispossessed land-owners, who sat along the boulevard cafes to reminiscence with their cronies about the “good old times” and speculate on how long they must still wait for the Americans to come and restore their estates and their jobs… The government has taken a tolerant view of those that only talk in cafes, but is sharp to pounce if there is any hint of action.” (Burchett)

“I was invited to dinner with a Hungarian family, to whom I shall give the name of Schwartz. Baron Schwartz had been a landowner before the first World War, but his estates lay in that part of Hungary which was given to Rumania. The baron as a token of changed times, dropped his title and was given a position in the Department of Agriculture. He served loyally under Horthy, under the Nazis, under Szalasi Fascists.

When it seemed the Germans would be defeated, Schwartz shipped his son off to Bavaria and as the Russian troops entered Hungary, took his wife and daughter and fled to Prague hoping to get further west and be “liberated” by the Americans.

But Prague was liberated by the Czechs themselves, the Russians got there before the Americans. Schwartz and family returned unwillingly to Budapest, having scattered most of their family possessions along the road in their hurried flight away from the Russians.

Instead of their previous large flat, they had to make do with two small rooms. Mr. Schwartz was invited to appear before a Public Service Commission like all other public servants to decide whether he could continue in his job at the Ministry of Agriculture or whether he could be dismissed. He refused to present himself, as he “knew” the Americans would be in Hungary within a matter of months…

The energetic and intelligent daughter got herself a job with the new government despite papa’s protests that she was compromising herself, and the family. Several jobs were offered Schwartz. He refused them all. Ever since his return from Prague he sits for most of the day in his pyjamas – and waits for the Americans. He does literally nothing, does not read a book nor a newspaper.

“If I take a job, under this government, I would be compromised,” he explained to me, “I would never get my old job again or my pay.”

“But who will ever give you your old job back?” I asked.

“When the Americans come, they will need all of us experienced officials of the old days. And, of course, the new government they set up will pay us back all the salary that has accumulated since 1945.”

Schwartz… sits in his armchair and waits for his daughter to bring home her month’s wages. He pockets the lot and daily doles out enough for her bus fares and one packet of cigarettes. The first salary after they became re-established went for a deposit on a radio set, so Schwartz could listen to the Voice of America and the B.B.C. in Hungarian… both he and his wife are learning English, in order to be ready for the day of “liberation.” He lives five minutes by bus from the centre of Pest, but has no conception of what miracles of reconstruction have been accomplished within a stone’s throw of his own flat. There are thousands of Schwartz’s type in the country, and their opinions on the temper of the people, their stupid little stories are valued like gold in the western legations. Solemn reports are drawn up about oppressions… on the basis of the armchair musings of Mr. Schwartz and his kind. They destroy the future of their own children if they can. Schwartz’s son has several times expressed the wish to return to Hungary instead of working as a house servant in Western Germany… he could start a new life, enrol in a training course and make himself a useful member of society. But Schwartz insists that he remain abroad and only return with the American Army!” (Burchett)

“If you want to see a museum of the past in Budapest, walk along Andrassy Street, which is the Champs Elysees of the city. There are hundreds of little cafes still flourishing here, crowded all day and night with well-dressed men and women sipping tiny cups of coffee, chattering endlessly, dramatically. They are the old Hungarian upper classes, former factory owners, land barons, playwrights, art critics, journalists, police agents, and church and state bureaucrats” (Michael Gold, The Worker, N. Y., July 9, 1950).


Jörg K. Hoensch, A history of modern Hungary

Bennett Kovrig, Communism in Hungary: from Kun to Kādār

Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party (text version) (audio version)

Eric Roman, Hungary and the victor powers, 1945-1950

Randolph L. Braham, Education in the Hungarian People’s Republic

Ervin Pamlényi, A History of Hungary*

Marianna Norris, Young Hungary; children of Hungary at work and at play

Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953 (text version) (audio version)

Henrik Vass, Studies on the History of the Hungarian Working-Class Movement (1867-1966)*

Gyula Kállai, The Counter-Revolution in Hungary in the Light of Marxism-Leninism

Norman Stone, Hungary: A Short History

David Pryce-Jones, The Hungarian Revolution

Paul Lendvai, The Hungarians

Béla Menczer, A commentary on Hungarian literature

Bennett Kovrig, The Hungarian People’s Republic

Zinner, The Revolution in Hungary

Kristen R. Ghodsee, Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism

Thomas Aczel & Tibor Meray, The Revolt Of The Mind

Shuster, In Silence I speak

Dezső Nemes, History of the Revolutionary Workers Movement in Hungary: 1944-1962*

Ernst Helmreich, Hungary

“Culture and education”, on the 1956 institute website

Ágnes Eitlereitler, “The “Re-Tuning” of János Arany’s Life and Work in the Popular Education of the 1950s”

Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos [“Hungary: an illustrated information book”]

János Berecz, 1956 counter-revolution in Hungary: words and weapons*

Paul Ignotus, Hungary

Alan Blackwood, The Hungarian Uprising

Jozsef Revai, Lukacs and Socialist Realism (text version) (audio version)

Gábor Rieder, A History of Hungarian Socialist Realist Painting 1949-1956 Ideology and Existence

Wilfred G. Burchett, Peoples’ Democracies

Michael Gold, The Worker, N. Y., July 9, 1950

*Pamlényi, Vass, Nemes and Berecz are kadarist historians. Their books contain a lot of good information but also wrongfully slander Rakosi and defend revisionism. You can find their books here under the “Hungary” section.

Also see my page on Hungarian revolutionary and progressive art, which is still being updated

Class struggle in Finland in 2022-23 – government outlaws nurse strikes


In 2022 and 2023 the living standard of the Finnish population has fallen. The social-democrat government has continued cuts to social programs and healthcare, has increased military spending, and has used repressive measures against workers.
Finland is a country suffering in the late stage of capitalism, imperialism. In the imperialist stage, mass unemployment has become a permanent phenomena.

The Finnish government has attempted to decrease unemployment numbers essentially by manipulation of statistics. According to the government statistical office “an employed person is someone who has worked at least one hour during the week in question” (see

With such low criteria for “employment”, they can surely eliminate mass unemployment? It is completely obvious that a person working for only 1 or few hours per week, cannot earn enough to survive, and cannot be considered employed.

The government also changed the way they report employment numbers. Employment figures are now calculated based on the employment of persons between 20 and 64, which eliminates 18 and 19 year olds from the statistic. By doing this, the government has achieved a 6% higher employment rate, although according to the statistical office there are “somewhat more unemployed than last year” (see

While billions have been systematically cut from healthcare, the Finnish government has spent a billion euros to arm Ukraine and has planned to spend approximately four billion during the course of 2022 and 2023 to support Ukraine further.
(Sources: Finland’s additional support to Ukraine and TKS #3/2023, Ktp tuomitsee Suomen Nato-jäsenyyden ja tukee työtätekevien palkkataistelua)

Finnish military spending was increased by 2 billion last year, on top of the new fighter jets which cost tens of billions, the new war ships which cost 2 billion and the provocative “wall” which Finland is building on its Russian border. (See and

While the people suffer from social problems such as mass unemployment, lack of healthcare and falling real wages, the government is stubbornly putting the people’s money into imperialist war-mongering and armaments on the instructions of Nato generals. They keep saying we as a society cannot afford healthcare, we cannot afford public services, we cannot afford retirement, we cannot afford care for the elderly, we cannot afford free university education and we certainly cannot afford better wages or working conditions: yet somehow we can afford all these imperialist weapons! The truth is, the government’s warlike imperialist policy is devastating the country.

Real wages have decreased by more than 4%. Largely as a result of the sanctions against Russia inflation has reached 10% and food prices have increased by 20%. The reformist social-democrat leadership of the Finnish industrial union accepted a wage increase of 5.5% over two years, which does not cover the losses suffered by the workers. Living standards and real wages will continue to fall. For context, “For example the wages in the technology and industrial field in Germany will rise by 8.5 percent in two years…” (TKS #2/2023 “The industrial union accepted a discount in real wages – wage struggle continues in other trade unions” [Teollisuusliitto hyväksyi reaalipalkkojen alen – palkkataistelu jatkuu muissa ammattiliitoissa])

Despite the capitulation of the Industrial Union, whose reactionary leadership also voiced support for the governments decision to join NATO, other unions have launched strikes. Practically the bureaucratic reformist social-democrat leadership has only accepted to do so, under heavy pressure from activists and ordinary members.



In 2020 the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals newspaper wrote:

“The situation is worsening even more in the social and healthcare field. Well-being at work has decreased somewhat further in the last 6 months, people are scared at work and nearly 90% are considering changing their profession. The covid pandemic period has been hard for the staff. Coercive measures have been used, but they have not been compensated… a number of coercive measures have been applied to health and safety professionals… 34% have had their annual holidays postponed, canceled or their duration changed, 23% have been transferred to another workplace or tasks and 16% say that the notice period [the time before you are allowed to quit your job~MLT] has been extended.

Respondents were also asked how the employer has compensated for the consequences of coercive measures. Almost all (97%) state that nothing deviating from the normal working conditions has been compensated for…

Almost half (48%) are actively planning a change of field, and a total of 88% have considered it. Only 23% of nurses believe that they will be able to cope with tasks in the health and social care sector until the end of their working career. There are big problems with the attractiveness of the field, and 64% would not go into the field if they were starting their studies now.” (Tehy: Broad survey: nothing about the pandemic has been compensated, an increasing amount are interested in choosing a different profession [Tehyn laaja kysely: Koronasta ei ole korvattu mitään, alan vaihto kiinnostaa yhä enemmän])


The situation had become intolerable in April 2022 when the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) and Finnish Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer) went on strike for 2 weeks. The strike included “approximately 25 000 nurses in 6 hospital districts”. They also started demonstrations in the cities of “Helsinki… Turku, Oulu, Tampere, Kuopio and Jyväskylä” (Tehy: Demonstrations by Tehy members started [Tehyläisten mielenilmaukset alkoivat])

The nurses complained of bad working conditions, exhaustion, shortage of workers etc. but mainly demanded higher pay. The employers did not accept the demand and instead used demagogic attacks against the nurses, as always happens. The nurses were attacked as “selfish” and “endangering patients”, although according to the nurses themselves, the patients are endangered every day by the lack of resources and exhaustion of the workforce, and the government and other employers have never cared about that.

“Tehy and SuPer confirmed the starting date of a second wave of strikes… 35 000 nurses in 13 hospital districts are planned to go on strike.” (Tehy: The first strike ends this friday – the second begins on April 20th [Ensimmäinen lakko päättyy perjantaina – toinen alkaa 20. huhtikuuta])


To crush the justified strike action of the nurses, the government quickly began preparing an emergency law to outlaw the strikes. The nurse unions responded in their declaration on April 4th:

“According to the nurse unions, the government’s proposal for a law on ensuring patient safety during the health care labor strike is a mockery of legislative work. The organizations state in their statement that the government’s proposal is based only on incorrect and unidentified information from the other side of the labor dispute about the inadequacy of the protection work [protection work means necessary measures that healthcare workers must take in order to protect patient’s during strikes~MLT]. The strike is legal, where sufficient protection for the patients is provided and the need for it is constantly negotiated. The country’s government is actually enacting a forced labor law against women [most Finnish nurses are women~MLT].

According to Tehy and SuPer, the patient safety law, which significantly interferes with the basic rights of employees, i.e. the right to strike action and personal freedom, and in practice leads to the breaking of the strike, should not be enacted…

– The only purpose of the Forced Labor Act is to break the legal labor struggle of nurses. This is the last straw for nurses. I have received a huge number of messages from members over the last night. Their main content is the statement that this is the last straw, why work in a profession that the policy makers in Finland hate so much, says Millariikka Rytkönen, chairman of Tehy

The organizations state in their declaration that several healthcare units such as intensive care units, operating rooms, etc. have had a very significant shortage of nursing staff for several years. Several shifts have been regularly run understaffed. The same situation has existed not only in specialized medical care but also in primary health care and services for the elderly. Under normal circumstances, the employer has not considered the shortage of nurses to be a factor endangering patient safety.

– Both political decision-makers and employers are aware of the level of patient safety during normal times. In everyday life, nurses are left to survive on their own, but when we try to improve the working conditions and pay in the industry by legal means, forced labor is the result, says SuPer’s chairman Silja Paavola…

Nursing organizations also criticize the process of drafting the law in harsh terms.
– Today, April 4, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., we were heard at an event where the legislator proposed forcing nurses to work. The invitation to the hearing arrived on Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 4:39 p.m. On Sunday, April 3, 2022, we only received the board’s draft presentation at 18:43 [the union had significantly less than a day to draft a response~MLT]. It is clear that with this schedule it is impossible to respond thoroughly and sufficiently comprehensively to such a large and important legislative project that affects basic rights, state Tehy’s executive director Else-Mai Kirvesniemi and SuPer’s advocacy director Anne Sainila-Vaarno… the representatives of the nurses whose basic rights are severely restricted are not even given adequate time to prepare an answer and be heard in the case.
– In a state governed by the rule of law, the law would not be enacted in this way, they say.” (Tehy and SuPer: Forced labor law should not be passed, the proposal includes several large problems [Tehy ja SuPer: Pakkotyölakia ei tule säätää, lakiesityksessä lukuisia isoja ongelmia])

“Tehy and SuPer announce that they are withdrawing their notice of strike action, which was issued on March 17, 2022. According to the announcement, the strike was supposed to start on April 1, 2022. Minister Tuula Haatainen postponed the start of the strike… by two weeks, so that there would be more time for mediation. Tehy and SuPer have voluntarily postponed the start of the strike after Easter, so that there would be enough time for mediation.

Despite Minister Haatainen’s transfer decision and Tehy’s and SuPer’s voluntary transfer, mediation activities have not resulted in more than one settlement proposal in more than six weeks. The settlement proposal of the national mediator would not have brought any kind of improvement to the salaries and working conditions of the nursing staff. In our opinion, the settlement proposal was of an even lower standard than the previous agreements…

During the mediation – even before the start of the first strike – a patient safety law has been prepared under the leadership of Minister Lindén… Minister Lindén has succeeded in making the nurses’ strike ineffective with their legislative actions. Because of this, the employer also has no desire to promote reconciliation.

We do not consider it expedient to start a strike, which the Minister of the Government has already rendered ineffective in advance.” (The announcement by Millariikka Rytkönen of Tehy and Silja Paavola of SuPer to the employers and the mediation board about the cancellation of the second phase of the strike [Tehyn Millariikka Rytkösen ja SuPerin Silja Paavolan ilmoitus työnantajalle ja sovittelulautakunnalle lakon toisen vaiheen perumisesta])

In August of 2022 the nurses again said they would strike in a more limited capacity in intensive and other specialized healthcare units the next month in the Turku University Hospital, Southern Helsinki homecare unit, Intensive care unit of Oulu University Hospital and the Oulu homecare unit. Approximately 20 nurses planned to strike in the region of Tavastia Proper and 200 in Southwest Finland.

The minister of labor Tuula Haatainen ordered the strike to be post-poned by two weeks. Apparently the minister of labor is allowed to do that. Practically every strike of the nurses, including the ones in April, was always post-poned by two weeks.

The hospital districts of Tavastia Proper, Southwest Finland, Northern Ostrobothnia demanded that the Helsinki district court prevent the strikes. As a result the court actually ruled against the nurses and on September 14th the unions were banned from starting the strikes in the cities of Hämeenlinna, Oulu and Turku. The court stated that if the ban was violated, the unions would have to pay a fine of one million euros per hospital district each.

The Finnish state media reported that:

“The District Court of Helsinki has accepted the demands of three hospital districts for a temporary security measure, which forbids the nurse unions Tehy and Super from starting a strike in the intensive care units of the hospital districts next week and the following week.” (The Helsinki district court prevented all the strikes of intensive care nurses in the coming weeks – the threatened penalty fines are six million euros [Helsingin käräjäoikeus kielsi kaikki tuleviksi viikoiksi kaavaillut tehohoitajien lakot – uhkasakkoja yhteensä kuuden miljoonan euron edestä])


After this fascistic measure one strike still took place in Oulu. The newspaper of the Communist Workers’ Party reported:

“The forced labor laws proposed by Marin’s five-party government and approved by the parliament have not discouraged the nurses’ unions Tehy and SuPer. Neither have the strike bans of the judiciary
which threatened fines made the nurses give up their demands for a salary increase, the salary program and the improvement of working conditions. Tehy and SuPer started the nurses’ strike on Tuesday, September 27 in home care unit of Kontinkankaa-Myllyoja at the Kontinkankaa welfare center in Oulu. The strike continued for four days and ended on Saturday 1.10. The District Court of Helsinki has previously banned strikes by Tehy and SuPer in three hospital districts and home care in Helsinki

with the threat of fines of millions of euros.” (TKS #11/22, The nurses don’t surrender, labor struggle continues [Hoitajat eivät luovuta, työtaistelu jatkuu])


“Nurse unions Tehy and Super organized a demonstration in Helsinki against the government’s proposed patient safety law on Friday.

Members of the unions marched from Citizen square to the parliament building, on the steps of which there was an emotional speech led by Tehy’s Millariikka Rytkönen and Super’s Silja Paavola.

A strange situation was seen in front of the parliament building when a Social-Democrat member of parliament Jukka Gustafsson arrived to speak to the nurses who demonstrated in the rainy weather.

Gustafsson, who introduced himself as a long-term union activist [sic], tried to gain the sympathy of the nurses.

-I actually came here because I want to listen and experience the feelings you have, Gustafsson said.

Judging by everything, the nurses standing in the rain did not warm to the sympathies of the Social-Democrat, but started shouting loudly demanding “higher pay”.

Gustafsson lost his temper and raised his hands as if to fight back the screams.

-Shut up! Gustafsson shouted into his microphone.

…The demonstrating nurses did not shut up, but shouted even more loudly.” (SDP parliament member Jukka Gustafsson lost his temper and demonstrating nurses: “Shut up!” [SDP:n kansanedustaja Jukka Gustafsson hermostui mieltään osoittaneille hoitajille: ”Hiljaa!”])


After strikes had been outlawed, the nurses still kept fighting. The nurses decided they would start quitting their jobs en masse as a form of pressure on the capitalists and the government.

“The board of representatives of the social and healthcare trade union Tehy reached a decision about new labor struggle measures last night. The board decided to implement mass resignations of nurses in special and intensive care” (Tehy: Mass resignation proceeds… [Tehy: Joukkoirtisanoutuminen etenee, koko kunta-alalle julistetaan tilapäisen siirron kielto])

One nurse who signed the declaration to resign from their job said:

“I see no other option at this point than to put my name on paper and thereby try to speed up this difficult situation”

Another nurse said:

“the position and benefits of our nurses will not improve if radical decisions are not made. So I’m happy to be part of this” (Tehy’s busses travel around Finland – nurse Tuija Turunen agreed to resign: “I don’t see any other option” [Tehyn matkailuautot kiertävät nyt eri puolilla Suomea – irtisanoutumiseen sitoutunut sairaanhoitaja Tuija Turunen: “En näe muuta vaihtoehtoa”])


An agreement was finally reached in October 2022. The nurses are supposed to receive a wage increase of around 17%* in the course of five years: 2.5% for 2022, 4.6% for 2023, 5.4% in 2024, 2.8% in 2025, 0.8% in 2026 and 1.2% in 2027.

(*HS, Agreement was reached in the wage struggle of the nurses [Hoitajien palkkakiistassa syntyi sopu])


The newspaper of the Communist Workers’ Party reports:

“The service industry union PAM and retail workers were on a two-day strike from 9–11. February [2023]. The strike included 16,000 workers in 160 stores.

The trade union says that it became aware of several cases where the employer had acted improperly and prevented employees from exercising their right to strike, even though the strike is a constitutional right. According to the union, communication about the strike had also been disrupted and striking workers had been threatened with sanctions.

A new two-day strike would begin on Monday morning, February 13, if no agreement is reached in the labor dispute on Sunday, February 12. There would be 47 distribution centers and wholesale warehouses within the scope of the strike, through which supplies are delivered to the stores of Kesko, S Group, Lidl and other stores. About 4,000 employees would go on strike.

An even wider strike would be coming from the 16th to the 18th of February. 26,000 workers and 415 shops would then be on strike…

The goal of the workers in the retail sector and the trade union is a one-year collective agreement and a salary increase of 200 euros for everyone.” (Teollisuusliitto hyväksyi reaalipalkkojen alen – palkkataistelu jatkuu muissa ammattiliitoissa, TKS #2/2023)


“The Automotive and Transport Workers’ Union AKT will start strikes lasting at least six days on Wednesday, February 15th [2023], if an agreement acceptable to the employees in the working conditions and salary dispute is not reached before then. The strikes concern several contract areas of the union.

The strikes include the stevedoring sector… the trucking sector… the tanker and oil product sector… and the shipping and warehouse terminal operations sector from February 15th to 22nd.

In Finland, the purchasing power of employees only continues to weaken, as real earnings already fell by more than 4 percent last year. The smallest wage increases in Europe are now coming to Finland.” (TKS #2/2023 Ibid.)

The post and logistics workers went on a sympathy strike to support the transport workers. The logistics trade union PAU announced on February 16th that “PAU supports AKT – the sympathy strike begins


According to the Finnish state railway corporation (VR) the “railway workers’ trade union (RAU) is threatening to stop all railway traffic starting next monday (March 30th) until further notice.” (A strike of the railway sector will possibly stop railway traffic on monday [Rautatiealan lakko pysäyttää mahdollisesti junaliikenteen maanantaina])

According to the state media the railway workers mainly demand the ability to rest properly between shifts. To me this sounds like the employer wants them to do “double shifts” i.e. work two shifts back to back or almost back to back. (Solution to the labor dispute of railway men is sought over the weekend… [Veturimiesten työriitaan etsitään ratkaisua viikonlopun aikana…])


Despite the bureaucratic reformist social-democrat leadership of various unions, which don’t want to go against the capitalists or the social-democrat government, there is significant pressure from workers themselves which explodes into strikes. The living standard of the workers will continue to fall and the government will continue its anti-people policy, thus creating more resistance. These processes are part of the general crisis of imperialist capitalism. We must give our support to the workers, organize and educate ourselves.

Capitalism has no future, the future belongs to the workers!


All the Finnish texts translated by MLT (Marxist-Leninist Theory blog).,Teollisuusliitto%20hyv%C3%A4ksyi%20reaalipalkkojen%20alen%20%E2%80%93%20palkkataistelu%20jatkuu%20muissa%20ammattiliitoissa,palkkaratkaisu%20alentaa%20reaalipalkkoja%20useilla%20prosenteilla

The nurses don’t surrender, labor struggle continues [Hoitajat eivät luovuta, työtaistelu jatkuu], Työkansan Sanomat #11/2022

History of the Hungarian People’s Republic (PART 9: The Co-operative farm movement)

“In August 1948 Rákosi announced that mass collectivisation would proceed over the next four years… By 1953 there were… 5,224 cooperative farms… representing a quarter of the arable land.” (Stone, Hungary: A Short History, p. 417)

“State farms… hold 14 percent of farmland.” (Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos, p. 156, based on numbers from 1960)

In total, the socialist farming sector was more than a third of all agriculture.

Around election time in 1949, Burchett visited an election meeting at one of the most conservative regions of Hungary, Celldomolk near the Austrian border:

“After the meeting was over, the taverns were full of excited peasants discussing Rakosi, whom most of them had seen for the first time. All they knew of him, was what they had heard from their priests – that Rakosi was a synonym for anti-Christ… “But he talks good sense,” one glum old peasant told his neighbour, “he talked about seeds and fertiliser and machinery as if he knew all about it. About crops and prices. I was told he’d talk only about kolchozes and the church.” “Kolchozes” was a famous bogey-word at the time in some of the more backward villages where the priests spread the word that the “kolchoz” was a sinful, Soviet invention… Many of the peasants had no idea even that the word meant communal farm. They only knew from the priests that the “kolchoz” was an evil thing and must be avoided.” (Burchett, The people’s democracies)

“Hungary will certainly not remain a country of tiny landholders. The development of the machine-tractor station and the co-operative farm have started the second revolution in five years in the Hungarian villages. Hungarian peasants, because millions of them have had the status of serfs for generations, are backward and fearful of change… and the government is wise in introducing the new co-operative farms very gradually.

The principle is to demonstrate to the peasants that the co-operative farms give the best results, the best crops and give more free time to the farmer. There is no pressure on people to join. Unwilling farmers will not plant crops and the government does not want any interruption in its food supplies. Reactionary priests in all parts of the country warn farmers to have nothing to do with this new evil.”

“our first and foremost task is to strengthen the already existing co-operatives and to make provisions so that these co-operatives attract the working peasantry through their good example and good results…

Owing to the initial difficulties, some of our co-operatives are not sufficiently attractive, and it happens that some of the co-operative members who come from the poorest village class go over to industrial construction or go into the towns which offer sure and permanent wages. If, as in such cases, the maize field of the producer cooperative is covered with weed, or the yield is smaller than that of the individually working peasants of the village, then the enemy, the kulak, grasps the opportunity, exaggerates the situation and spreads the rumour throughout the whole district.

Therefore, we must support with all our strength the work of the producer co-operatives; we must help them to eliminate the difficulties. The help should be led by the Party, the Federation of Working Youth, the State, the councils, the State machine stations, and State farms…

It is important that where development is not sufficient, the highest or the third type of cooperative should not be suggested; but we should be satisfied with the simplest, or first, type, which has the advantage of giving an opportunity to the individual farmer and the still hesitating peasants to try out the good side of co-operation at a time when they still are afraid of a more advanced, higher form, which is too collective for them. We should not be afraid of the first type of co-operation. The superiority of cooperative production will show itself at this simple stage in that, as the experience of the past years has proved, in the majority of cases the members of the first-class co-operative will move towards a higher co-operative grading” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

“All those who want to join, perhaps fifteen or twenty families, will meet together and elect a committee, a governing board of the co-operative. If their farms are not adjoining, the committee will have to do some negotiating with their neighbours, exchanging perhaps some pieces of land so that the co-operative farm will lie in one block of land. The members will have to decide what sort of farm they want to have and there are two main types.

(1) One in which the land is completely pooled… the peasants lose all claim to any land if they withdraw, payment will be made on the same basis to all according to the number of working days he or she has worked.

(2) The land is pooled only for working purposes… if the peasant wants to withdraw he can take his land out with him, payment is based partly on rent paid for his land and partly on the working-day system.” (Burchett)

“Old-established co-operatives have already built their own cinemas, and in some cases small theatres to which troupes from Budapest come and play.” (Burchett)

“The policy of our Government of not tolerating any kind of compulsion or pressure in forming the co-operatives, but strictly adhering to the principle of voluntariness, has been vindicated.” (Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953)

Indeed, after they had seen the efficiency of the co-operatives, the poor peasants gladly joined them:

”the poorest strata, the agricultural population, who received… small plots in the land reform program… the introduction of cooperatives held no terror for them” (Ernst Helmreich, Hungary, p. 115)

“The machine station is an important adjunct to the co-operative farm and a valuable bridge between the city worker and the peasants. Hungary’s small farmers are not wealthy enough to own tractors… The government set up machine stations all over the country, each with a few tractors, harvesting machines and other essentials. They were manned by young men and women from the city, politically educated as well as being first-class mechanics. All of them volunteered for the work. They are the city workers’ ambassadors to the peasantry. At first they were regarded with deep distrust… In some cases they were attacked, their sheds burned. They are there primarily to serve the co-operatives, but any farmer who wants his ploughing done can call up the machine co-operatives and the ploughing will be done at a very modest charge. In some cases the machine stations have been absorbed by the co-operatives and, of course, the latter has priority over private farmers’ work. The private farmer must pay slightly more than the co-operatives.” (Burchett)

“In the old days a villager turned to the priest as the supreme authority on all matters, now they turn to the mechanics. Instead of being completely isolated as they were at first, the technicians from the machine stations are now the centre of the village life. They are good propagandists for socialism by their very skills… “Work hard, develop your co-operatives and you and your-children can enjoy the same sort of life as we have in Budapest,” they tell the peasants. They open up entirely new horizons, give a picture of a life where one need only work eight hours a day, six days a week, have paid holidays… Why should farmers always work from dawn to dusk and live in misery? The co-operative farm and the tractor will alter all that.” (Burchett)

“The government, of course, favours the co-operative farms, by selling them the best seeds and fertilisers, giving them the benefit of any new developments in treating diseases of crops or cattle… By communal effort they lay on an irrigation system, they take the advice of the government and try the deep ploughing and rotation of crops. Specialists survey their soil for them and tell them what is best to plant where. Usually by the second season, there is a demonstrable improvement in their crops and in the financial situation of the members. More farmers want to join and in a neighbouring village a new group starts up and that’s the way the government wants to have it. The co-operatives should grow naturally by the example of successes firmly demonstrated. In 1949 the government had to put a temporary halt to the formation of new co-operatives. They were beginning to grow too fast, faster even than Hungarian industry was able to keep pace with tractors and machinery. But the movement is now on a firm basis with over 1,500 co-operatives farming half a million acres, and 220 machine stations operating 3,800 tractors, by the end of 1949, the last year of the Three-Year Plan.” (Burchett)

Life has become better

“The slow development of individual peasant households is due to the fact that over 80 per cent of them farm small plots. In such cases it is extremely difficult, and often impossible, to use modern agricultural machinery and the latest production methods…

Our Party wants every working peasant to use modern means of production – machines. We want him to have everything that the town is capable of supplying. We want him to have electricity and water supply, doctors, hospitals, maternity homes, cinemas and sports grounds. We want him to have a radio set in his home, we want his sons and daughters to enjoy all the amenities of the town. We want him and his family to benefit from social insurance, old age pensions and all the State assistance which the city worker receives.” (Rakosi, Strengthening the People’s Democratic Order)

“The biggest change has occurred in the lives of the hundred thousand families formerly employed on yearly contracts as farm hands on the great manorial estates… theirs had been the lowest social status in the rural hierarchy… lived in miserable barracks in the manorial courtyard, and worked under the supervision of bailiffs for practically unlimited hours.” (I. P. and E. W., Land Reform in Hungary, in The World Today, London, Jan. 1949, V, p. 22).

The kulak, a rural capitalist.

In capitalist times:

“Milk, sugar and fruit were luxuries in the Hungarian villages. In many places the adults could obtain no work, and the children were compelled to stay home from school for lack of proper clothing. It was stated in parliament: ‘There are families… where four-year-old children do not know what shoes are because they have never worn them.’ Half the village dwellings were mud and adobe huts with earthen floor in which tuberculosis killed off 10,000-12,000 people annually.” (A History of Hungary by Ervin Pamlényi, p. 504)

Under capitalism:

“Millions of peasants had still to struggle along with little or no land while huge tracts belonged to a few magnates. The plight of the landless farm worker was particularly sad. One of their spokesmen, Sandor Csizmadia, presented this gloomy picture at the turn of the century: “I have watched the life of the peasants on the estates, three or four families, sometimes as many as twenty to twenty-five persons living in the single room of a hut. I have seen men collapsing of famine on the richest soil of the country, and I have also seen men being virtually drowned in their fat. Families of the puszta are working for fifteen krajcars (a dime) from three in the morning till ten at night.

The working day of the factory hand was very long, too, and he earned not much more than the farm worker. When the labor unions began to agitate for an eight-hour day, they met violent opposition.

Hunger typhus was endemic in parts of the country, and tuberculosis was called the Hungarian malady. Pellagra and other vitamin-deficiency diseases sapped the people’s health. In some areas, half the infants died before the age of five. Iniquitous tax assessments favored the rich; the richer the taxpayer, the less his share of the burden.” (Emil Lengyel, The land and people of Hungary, pp. 82-83)

But life began to change during socialist construction:

“Many country people lived in straw-thatched mud huts, which had to be replaced by more durable houses covered with tile… The government introduced fertilizers, improved seed, new farm machinery, and farm products; it undertook large-scale irrigation, drainage, and marketing.” (Emil Lengyel, The land and people of Hungary, p. 97)

In People’s Democracy: “The tone of life in Hungary is changed. The peasant has lost his demeanor of chronic servility” (Howard K. Smith, The State of Europe, p. 217)

“Nothing had been done for the Hungarian peasants or villagers for hundreds of years until 1945. Even villages on the outskirts of Budapest had no electric light until the Three-Year Plan brought it to them. Nearly 400 have been linked up with the electricity network during the Three-Year Plan, and by the end of the Five-Year Plan there will not be a village without electric light.” (Burchett)

“The horrible poverty which strangled the village in Horthy’s time has disappeared. The village has become wealthy and consumes more agricultural produce.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

“Collectivisation of land… released an abundant supply of men and women for work in mines and factories; the single-minded Communist emphasis upon investment in heavy goods production… ensured unprecedented increases in output… In terms of gross production figures the growth rates in the first generation of industrialization were impressive” (Judt, Postwar, p. 170)

“Experience of the past has taught [the peasant] to fear the state as their enemy. Today the propaganda of the Church against collectivisation as the instrument of the devil reinforces that fear.” (Warriner, p. 149)

“kulak… bandits brutally murdered Imre Kish, a peasant in the village of Lendelka-polna, the secretary of the local organization of the Hungarian Working People’s Party.” (K. M. Frolov, The Struggle of the Working Class for the Victory of Socialism in the People’s Democracies)

“the Catholic Church, and the adherents of the old regime in the village, former estate bailiffs, and the remaining gentry. All these have made energetic propaganda against the land reform, first saying that those who claimed land would be punished when the rightful owners returned with the Americans and British, and then, when this did not happen, that the reds would drive the peasants into the dreaded golhaz, with collective meals and collective wives…

The first object of communist policy therefore was to dispel these fears, to avoid the word, and to prove that producers co-operatives were better than individual farming. This has certainly been done. The groups started in 1948-49 have been given every kind of help, in the form of credits, fertilisers at

cheap rates, tractor service from the Machine Tractor Stations at special rates, livestock for fattening on credit, expert advice; and they have shown good results” (Warriner, p. 156)

“The following figures show the higher grain yields on co-operative farms, compared with the average on individual farms in the same village… Naturally these results are impressive to the Hungarian peasants, who know what good farming means.” (Warriner, p. 156)

In 1951 Rakosi stated:

“The average wheat and rye yield was 9.2 per cent, higher last year than in the ten years of peace preceding the war. This fact is the more noticeable because production carried on in the large estates before the war, gave 15 to 25 per cent, higher yields than on the peasant farms. Due to this fact, our enemies calculated after the land reform, that it would take much longer to reach the peace-time standard in agriculture.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

And this was in spite of the fact that there had been extremely bad weather:

“We must take into consideration the fact that, there has been a drought every year since the Liberation, which was especially severe last year. In the light of these facts, it can be stated that our working peasantry has, by and large, fulfilled the hopes placed on them.” (Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party)

According to New York Times Hungary “suffered from a severe summer drought and spring frost in 1952” (NY Times, Dec. 27, HUNGARY CONCEDES BIG DROUGHT LOSS; Says She Averted Famine by Importing Food – Progress in Industry Is Seen)

According to a scientific paper by I. Pálfai from 1990 presented at the 14th International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage in Brazil “the most significant droughts occurred in the period 1947-1952.” (Pálfai, Description and forecasting of droughts in Hungary)

“The damage caused by the bad weather would have meant a catastrophe in capitalist times, as they spelled catastrophe in neighbouring Yugoslavia, where now a veritable famine is raging and hundreds of thousands of peasants are becoming impoverished.” (Rakosi, Speech at the Introduction of the Budget for 1953 in the National Assembly)

“Yugoslavia is threatened with a grave food crisis” (“Yugoslav threat of famine”, The Courier-mail, sep. 19, 1950, p. 4)

To fight against the terrible droughts, massive irrigation works were built:

“During the first five year plan the Tiszalök dam was built in Tisza. A 100 kilometer channel was dug from it, which is used to regularly irrigate the area. Thus it has been possible to improve the grazing fields and begin rice cultivation on a huge area, and to plant forests.” (Halasz, pp. 20-21)

“Irrigated area has increased tremendously. Before liberation irrigation was practiced only on 14 000 hectares, but by 1958 it was already practiced on 72 000 hectares.” (Halasz, p. 160)

Rakosi enjoyed immense popularity during socialist construction

“One of the men who led the Communist government following World War I is today deputy premier of Hungary and secretary-general of the Communist Party. He is Matyas Rakosi, easily the most important political figure in his country.” (Martin Ebon, World Communism Today, p. 78)

According to Ebon, Rakosi’s policies were popular, not only among the far left, but also more broadly:

“Rakosi… pressed actions that were favored by genuinely liberal Hungarians.” (Ebon, p. 79)

Ordinary people sent letters to Rakosi asking for his help:

“On one occasion, a small girl, Ida Csombor from Jászjákóhalma, asked “Uncle Rákosi” to provide her with school textbooks, because her family was poor: “I turn to you because I know that you help every child of the proletariat.” Rákosi allocated 100 forints to the girl’s family to purchase the necessary books… the parish priest of Tápiószentmárton asked for the leader’s help in replacing the lost bell of the local church. “We have heard that Mr. Vice-Prime Minister has retrieved the bells of so many villages before. Ours has gone missing too.” “The bell will be recovered,” promised Rákosi.” (Apor, The invisible shining, p. 57)

“letters expressed the people’s gratitude to Rákosi for a new textbook, a renovated school, or the “unity of workers,” as in the case of the workers of the Goldberger factory, who wrote their letter to “the leader of the working people,” “in the happy hours of [the] unification” of the two Marxist parties. Letters of gratitude were written by sportsmen and sportswomen as well. A group of Hungarian athletes at the London Olympics, for example, thanked Rákosi in a letter for providing the opportunity to take part in the event, where they had the chance to demonstrate the “ardent fighting spirit” of the “Hungarian democratic youth.” (Apor, pp. 65-66) Hungary achieved extremely good success in the Olympics due to government’s efforts in helping sports and health.

As told by teacher Gyula Kékesdi, when Rakosi toured the countryside:
“People rushed Rákosi with presents. One of the peasant women brought him bread, the other a cloth, the third a knitted coat… An old woman standing next to me also seemed to want to give something too. [handing over a basket] she pushed into the crowd and said, “Comrade Rákosi, I cooked this, but I could barely save it from my husband, because he loves it too, but you’ll receive it from us with love””
(Pünkösti Árpád, Rákosi a csúcson 1948-1953)

“”[Rakosi] received a lot of presents in Kecskemét,” said the driver Károly Szirmai…

“I remember a truck brought the presents from the rally; the garden was full of them” – said Lajos G.” (Pünkösti, Ibid.)

The peasants gave animals and food as presents:

“there were geese and five sheep. We kept them in the yard for days, then they were taken to the zoo. The edible gifts went to the children’s home and dormitories” (Pünkösti, Ibid.)

Rakosi frequently visited ordinary people to learn about their problems and listen to their opinions: “he would take a walk around the given location (village, factory, etc.), chat with the people about their problems, and sometimes even share their meal with them. His visits, especially those in the countryside, often lasted until sunset.” (Apor, p. 59)

Socialism was being successfully constructed both in industry and agriculture, people’s lives were improving tremendously, and they looked to the future with hopeful optimism.


Stone, Hungary: A Short History

Zoltan Halasz, Unkari: kuvitettu tietoteos

Burchett, The people’s democracies

Rakosi, Report to the Second Congress of the Hungarian Working People’s Party

Rakosi, Speech Delivered at the Election Rally of the Hungarian People’s Independence Front in Budapest on May 10, 1953

Ernst Helmreich, Hungary

Rakosi, Strengthening the People’s Democratic Order

I. P. and E. W., Land Reform in Hungary, in The World Today, London, Jan. 1949, V.

Ervin Pamlényi, A History of Hungary
[Quite a good book otherwise, but the criticism of Rakosi and Stalin and the attempt to defend Titoism and Rajk in Chapter X section 2 and the attempt to justify Kadarism in Chapter X section 3 are totally erroneous.]

Emil Lengyel, The land and people of Hungary

Howard K. Smith, The State of Europe

Judt, Postwar

Doreen Warriner, Revolution in Eastern Europe

K. M. Frolov, The Struggle of the Working Class for the Victory of Socialism in the People’s Democracies


Pálfai, Description and forecasting of droughts in Hungary

“Yugoslav threat of famine”, The Courier-Mail, sep. 19, 1950

Martin Ebon, World Communism Today

Apor, The invisible shining

Pünkösti Árpád, Rákosi a csúcson 1948-1953

HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE USSR: Mechanism VS Dialectics (1920s)

This series of articles will discuss the development of philosophy in the Soviet Union.


“The period of the twenties in Soviet Russia was marked by an extended controversy in science and philosophy over the relative merits of dialectical and mechanistic materialism. There were actually two prongs to the discussion. One issue was whether or not the principles of dialectics, part of the official Marxist philosophy, were applicable to the natural sciences. The other issue was the actual definition of the principles of dialectics.

The initiative in this controversy was taken by a group of natural scientists who maintained that natural science discovers its laws by empirical research, and should not be subject to the imposition of preexisting philosophical laws. Their early spokesman, O. Minin, said that philosophy had to be thrown overboard together with religion… [and his slogan was] “overboard with philosophy… In addition, they favored the models of mechanics as the basis for scientific explanation, and many of the scientists believed that the principles of dialectics could actually be expressed in terms of mechanics. In this contention they found support from Bukharin in his Historical Materialism

Resistance to this attack was organized among a group of philosophers led by A. M. Deborin at the Communist Academy, an organ of the Central Committee of the Party. A Society of Militant Materialist Dialecticians was organized, and support was gained from philosophers at the Lenin Institute, the Marx-Engels Institute, and the Institute of Red Professors… The position of the dialecticians was given further valuable support in 1925 by the Marx-Engels Institute’s publication of two important fragmentary works, Engels’ Dialectics of Nature and portions of Lenin’s philosophical notebooks.” (Raymond A. Bauer, The new man in Soviet psychology, pp. 24-25)

The debate between mechanists and dialecticians centered around the following main topics:
1. Many mechanists considered that philosophy was unnecessary and the only thing needed was natural science, or that the role of philosophy was very small, while dialectical materialists considered philosophy to be very important.
2. Mechanists considered that motion was mechanical, i.e. simple and not contradictory, while dialectical materialists considered that motion was due to contradictions and interactions.
3. Mechanists considered that motion was external to objects and phenomena while dialectical materialists considered motion to be inherent inside objects and phenomena.
4. Mechanical materialists were fatalistic determinists, considering that freedom doesn’t exist. Dialectical materialism holds a dialectical view of freedom and necessity.
5. Mechanical materialists were a heterogeneous group of revisionists and many also held vulgar materialist views and anti-marxist views in general.


“mechanists… believed that the positive science had virtually eliminated the need for philosophy.” (Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the bolshevik revolution, p. 114)

O. Minin distorts the view of Lenin and Plekhanov, claiming their discussions of philosophy were mere “slips of the pen”:

“Both V. I. Lenin, and Plekhanov also, employ old-fashioned terms such as “the philosophy of Marxism”, “the philosophical implications of the natural sciences” and so forth, but these terms as used by Lenin and Plekhanov are merely slips of the pen and nothing more. In fitting out and trimming the ship of science we must take care to throw, not only religion, but also the whole of philosophy overboard.” (O. Minin, Overboard with Philosophy, 1922, quoted in Wetter, Dialectical Materialism pp. 129-130)


“To the mechanist the concept of force is the means of explaining causal relationships in the world. Since his theoretical model is that of a machine which responds or adjusts to external force, there would be no initial motion in the system without the application of external force. The mechanist sees the world as consisting of rigid, isolated elements, so that if force is applied at one point it is transmitted by these rigid elements to other elements and so on. If forces equal in magnitude but opposite in direction are effective on the same point, no motion results but an equilibrium is established… Bukharin’s conception of equilibrium was a good example of this approach. To him society was a system which adjusted to the natural environment. The internal structure—the state of equilibrium within the system— is a function of the system’s external equilibrium. In such a scheme, the initiative always rests in external factors. This is illustrated by Bukharin’s statement: “We may say of a system that it is in equilibrium if that system of itself, without the application of external energy, cannot change its condition.” [N. Bukharin, Teoriia Iistoricheskogo materializma, p. 76]”

Bukharin talks about two kinds of contradictions, ones internal to the system and ones between the system and its external environment. He says the external contradiction is primary, while the internal is only secondary:

“It is quite clear that the internal structure of the system (its internal equilibrium) must change together with the relation existing between the system and its environment. The latter relation is the decisive factor” (Bukharin, Historical materialism, p. 79)

That is a completely anti-marxist position! Bauer sums up the criticism of the dialecticians correctly:

“The dialecticians argued that motion is an inherent property of matter, while the mechanists considered motion to be a property that is imparted to matter from without. The dialecticians contended that the mechanists’ position involved the positing of a prime mover to set matter in motion, and thus led to such concepts as God… This difference in interpretation of the nature of force is a key to understanding how certain Marxists who considered themselves to be dialecticians were criticized as being mechanists.” (Bauer, pp. 26-27)

The classics of Marxism understood the source of motion to be internal contradictions:

“A motionless state of matter is therefore one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas — a “delirious fantasy” of the purest water.” (Engels, Anti-Dühring)

“Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics holds that internal contradictions are inherent in all things… and that the struggle between these opposites… constitutes the internal content of the process of development” (Stalin, Dialectical and historical materialism)

“The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their “self-movement,” in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the “struggle” of opposites… [this view] alone furnishes the key to the “self-movement” of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to “leaps,” to the “break in continuity,” to the “transformation into the opposite,” to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new.” (Lenin, On the Question of Dialectics, in his Philosophical Notebooks)

Dialectical-Materialism holds that motion and development are constant and absolute, while rest and balance are only relative and temporary:

“The unity… of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.” (Lenin, On the Question of Dialectics, in his Philosophical Notebooks)

“All rest, all equilibrium, is only relative” (Engels, Anti-Dühring)

The classics of Marxism held that matter is uncreated, uncreatable, indestructible and eternal. It does not need a creator because it has always been:

“Thus we have once again returned to the point of view of the great founders of Greek philosophy, the view that the whole of nature, from the smallest element to the greatest, from grains of sand to suns, from protista to men, has its existence in eternal coming into being and passing away, in ceaseless flux, in un-resting motion and change, only with the essential difference that what for the Greeks was a brilliant intuition, is in our case the result of strictly scientific research in accordance with experience, and hence also it emerges in a much more definite and clear form.” (Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

“the eternally repeated succession of worlds in infinite time is only the logical complement to the co-existence of innumerable worlds in infinite space… It is an eternal cycle in which matter moves, a cycle that certainly only completes its orbit in periods of time for which our terrestrial year is no adequate measure, a cycle in which the time of highest development, the time of organic life and still more that of the life of beings conscious of nature and of themselves, is just as narrowly restricted as the space in which life and self-consciousness come into operation; a cycle in which every finite mode of existence of matter, whether it be sun or nebular vapour, single animal or genus of animals, chemical combination or dissociation, is equally transient, and wherein nothing is eternal but eternally changing, eternally moving matter and the laws according to which it moves and changes. ” (Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

“Whereas only ten years ago the great basic law of motion, then recently discovered, was as yet conceived merely as a law of the conservation of energy, as the mere expression of the indestructibility and uncreatability of motion, that is, merely in its quantitative aspect, this narrow negative conception is being more and more supplanted by the positive idea of the transformation of energy, in which for the first time the qualitative content of the process comes into its own, and the last vestige of an extramundane creator is obliterated.” (Engels, Anti-Dühring)

“Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself” (Engels, Anti-Dühring)

“It already becomes evident here that matter is unthinkable without motion. And if, in addition, matter confronts us as something given, equally uncreatable as indestructible, it follows that motion also is as uncreatable as indestructible.” (Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

Engels further says “the creation and destruction of motion… presupposes a creator.” (Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

Lenin and Stalin both referred to Heraclitus’s statement:

“Speaking of the materialist views of the ancient philosopher Heraclitus, who held that “the world, the all in one, was not created by any god or any man, but was, is and ever will be a living flame, systematically flaring up and systematically dying down”‘ Lenin comments: “A very good exposition of the rudiments of dialectical materialism.” (Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, quoting from Lenin’s philosophical notebooks)


“The mechanists were criticized for being rigid determinists. They argued that chance or accident were merely the products of our ignorance: “. . . in reality they think that only necessity exists. Accident is a product of our ignorance, and therefore exclusively a subjective phenomenon.” To the extent that the dialectic view of accident can be disentangled from Hegelian terminology it is this: Certain elements in a situation are more relevant than others for the problem at hand. The analyst concentrates on these elements, and factors external to his scheme of analysis, but which may impinge on the events with which he is dealing, he calls “accidents.” “Hence the accidental may be defined as a cause which is not directly related to the lawful inner development of a given phenomenon. It appears as something external in relation to it. That is to say there may be two or more quite independent series of causes and effects which may intersect, and this intersection is accidental.”

The mechanists, in holding to the view that chance is incompatible with causality, are accused of failing to distinguish between the relevant and the irrelevant. The essence of the difference is that to the person looking into the past, “complete” determinism makes sense since the relevance of events can be judged on the basis of the effect they have produced. The person looking into the future does not have such wisdom of hindsight, and he must make some decision before the fact of the relevance of the factors involved since he cannot take all conceivable variables into consideration.” (Bauer, pp. 30-31)

As Engels explained, in trying to deny accidents mechanical materialism actually lowers everything to the level of mere accidents:

“chance is not here explained by necessity, but rather necessity is degraded to the production of what is merely accidental. If the fact that a particular pea-pod contains six peas, and not five or seven, is of the same order as the law of motion of the solar system, or the law of the transformation of energy, then as a matter of fact chance is not elevated into necessity, but rather necessity degraded into chance” (Engels, Dialectics of Nature)

Mechanical materialism was perhaps the most serious threat in the history of Soviet philosophy. The debate between mechanists and dialecticians started in the realm of philosophy of science, because most of the mechanists were natural scientists and not philosophers. They advocated a simplistic position which underestimated the importance of philosophy. They had a tendency of saying that the “simple facts” discovered by science should be accepted at face value, and philosophy should simply repeat those findings. They did not question the methodology they had inherited from the capitalist class, and instead of developing a methodology of science based on Marxism-Leninism, they wanted to twist Marxist dialectics into the typical mechanism used by non-dialectical capitalist scientists and philosophers of science. However, the Soviet mechanists still claimed to support dialectics and claimed that in fact they were the real dialectical materialists. This confusion is exemplified by their slogan that “dialectics is mechanist”.

The mechanists also seriously underestimated the subject matter of philosophy. They believed that philosophy can only closely follow the findings of natural sciences, and thus it was only an appendage to science instead of having any possibility to develop relatively independently. Of course materialist philosophy must base itself on science and make generalizations based on scientific findings, but as Marx and Engels noted, philosophy has often been very much ahead of natural science, and philosophy at the end of the day is a separate and theoretical discipline. Most philosophical discussions and debates do not in fact merely summarize recent scientific findings, but discuss much more broad theoretical topics.

The way of thinking of the mechanists “might be characterized as an extreme empiricism. The word “extreme” here would have reference not only to a total exclusion of opposing philosophic tendencies, but also to a certain “untheoretical,” literal minded quality which attached to their conceptions and methods… “Materialism” to them meant a thorough reliance upon the methods and findings of
experimental and exact natural science, which alone, in their view, was capable of coming to close grips with “matter” in its various phases. They did not hesitate to refer to themselves as “mechanists,” and to advocate the mechanistic terminology, not only in the philosophy of nature, but in the philosophy of history and society as well.” (Somerville, Soviet Philosophy: A Study Of Theory And Practice, pp. 213-214)

The mechanists claimed that only natural science could reach an understanding of matter. But matter is a philosophical category. A narrow empiricist might list various forms of matter: “matter is particles”, “matter is energy”, “matter is waves”, “matter is electro-magnetism”, but those things do not exhaust the category of matter. As Lenin said:

“Matter is a philosophical category denoting the objective reality which is given to man by his sensations, and which is copied, photographed and reflected by our sensations, while existing independently of them.” (Lenin, Materialism and empirio-criticism)

One of the leading mechanists was the future leader of the Right-Opposition, Nikolai Bukharin. He explicitly claimed that dialectics can be adequately explained mechanistically:

“It is quite possible to transcribe the ‘mystical’… language of Hegelian dialectics into the language of modern mechanics.” (Bukharin, Historical Materialism, p. 75)

Lenin had always maintained that Bukharin did not understand dialectics. During the trade union debate of 1921 Lenin said that Bukharin replaces dialectics with eclectics, i.e. mere mechanical combination:

“Bukharin’s fundamental theoretical mistake, which is substitution of eclecticism (especially popular with the authors of diverse “fashionable” and reactionary philosophical systems) for Marxist dialectics.” (Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin)

Lenin had consistently attacked Bukharin’s mechanism and his use of revisionist and capitalist theories. Lenin particularly criticized Bukharin’s reliance on the anti-dialectical empirio-criticist Bogdanov:

“Lenin… particularly disliked what he called the use of “Bogdanovist gibberish” instead of “human language,”… Over and over again he greeted them with “ugh!”, “ha, ha,” “eclecticism,”” (Cohen, p. 114)

“Bukharin came out openly in favor of certain aspects of mechanism in his book, Historical Materialism… his opponents attacked not only his nomenclature, but his basic conceptions and theories, particularly the doctrine of social equilibrium, as being mechanistic.” (Somerville, p. 219)

Precisely what the mechanist group asserted was that the dialectical conception of nature, properly understood, was the mechanistic conception. Thus [mechanist] Stepanov flatly entitled one of his articles, “The Dialectical Understanding of Nature Is the Mechanistic Understanding.”” (Somerville, p. 215)


“The mechanists had gone so far as to advocate, for instance, that the study of the history of philosophy be scrapped in higher institutions… Just as the mechanists were prone to “play down” the study of the history of philosophy as such, they were inclined to belittle the role of classic philosophers in relation to the development of dialectical materialism. These tendencies came out with particular clarity in the voluminous discussions centering around Hegel and Spinoza… they probably would have been glad to forget all about Hegel. But they were not permitted to do so. Hegel became an issue. The “dialecticians” accused the mechanists of failure to comprehend the significance of the fact that Marx and Engels had built on Hegel, had profited immensely from the study of Hegel, and had advised everyone to do likewise.” (Somerville, p. 218)

Lenin wrote:

“the contributors to [the philosophic journal] Pod Znamenem Marksizma must arrange for the systematic study of Hegelian dialectics from a materialist standpoint, i.e., the dialectics which Marx applied practically in his Capital and in his historical and political works” (Lenin, On the significance of militant materialism)

“In the discussion centering around Spinoza, the main question concerned the significance of his work for the philosophic constructions of dialectical materialism. The mechanists— in particular, writers like Axelrod and Timianski— were disposed to make short shrift of the matter by declaring Spinoza an outright idealist. Deborin and his group, however, were inclined to see great value in Spinoza, both as a dialectician and as a materialist. Properly taken, they argued, that is, taken in the light of his historical movement and direction, Spinoza belonged to materialism. They were ready to hearken back to Plekhanov’s conception that dialectical materialism could be characterized as a certain form of Spinozism.” (Somerville, pp. 218-219)


“In 1929 the controversy came to a head. The immediate occasion of the crystallizing of the long debated views was the meeting in April of the Second All-Union Conference of Marxist-Leninist Scientific Institutions. This was a gathering made up of delegates (229 in number) from all the important scientific institutions of the country. All the leading figures were present and took part in the debates… The leading report was delivered by Deborin, and, in the end, as part of its proceedings, the conference voted a resolution on it which acted as a kind of official condemnation of mechanism.“ (Somerville, p. 220)

Points 6 and 7 of the resolution contain the direct and concrete reference to the mechanist position:

“The most active revisionist philosophical tendency during latter years has been that of the mechanists (L. Axelrod, A. K. Timiriazev, A. Variash, and others). Carrying on what was in essence a struggle against the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism, not understanding the foundations of materialist dialectics, substituting for revolutionary materialistic dialectics a vulgar evolutionism, and for materialism, positivism, preventing, in point of fact, the penetration of the methodology of dialectical materialism into the realm of natural science, this tendency represents a clear departure from Marxist-Leninist philosophical positions.

“The conference considers it necessary to continue the systematic criticism and exposure of the mistakes of the mechanist school from the point of view of consistent Marxism-Leninism.

“The most important problems confronting the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism are the further development of the theory of dialectics, and the thorough application of the method of dialectical materialism both in the field of social science . . . and natural science.

“The crisis through which the contemporary theory of natural science is passing is a continuation of that crisis which has already been analyzed by Lenin. The present successes of natural science do not fit into the pattern of the old, mechanistic, formal logic theories. Here, bourgeois philosophy paralyzes
itself, attempting to utilize the crisis in natural science for its own ends. However, a genuine solution of the fundamental difficulties of natural scientists can be attained only by applying the method of materialist dialectics.” (Quoted in Somerville, pp. 220-221)

“the appearance (in 1925) of Engels’ hitherto unpublished work Dialectics of Nature… heartened the supporters of dialectical materialism… The dialecticians took yet further courage from the first publication, in 1929, of Lenin’s Philosophical Notebooks” (Wetter, Dialectical Materialism, p. 130)


“the mechanists see something mystical, teleological, in the notion of dialectic. Bukharin accused Marx and Engels of having bequeathed to the proletariat a world-outlook by no means free from ‘a certain teleological flavour which inevitably clings to the Hegelian formula which speaks of a self-development on the part of “spirit”

In spite of this the mechanists themselves make use of the term ‘dialectic’, though interpreting it in their own mechanistic fashion. Bukharin proposes, in place of the ‘mystificatory’ dialectic, to found Marxism on the ‘theory of equilibrium’, which ‘would constitute a more general formulation, purged of idealist elements, of the laws governing material systems in motion’…

One outcome of this basic conception is the denial of quality, and of the emergence of new qualities. The mechanists taught that phenomena of higher order are attributable to those of lower order” (Wetter, pp. 140-141)

“In the social and political field, mechanism brought forward the theory of spontaneity. The latter represents a radical economic determinism according to which socialism will come about automatically, spontaneously, by natural necessity, in the course of the social and politico-agrarian development of the national economy, in consequence of the socialization process in the towns (industrialization), without the intervention of the collective class-will, without class-warfare in the countryside, without an active struggle for the collectivization of the economy… The class-war and the dictatorship of the proletariat thereby lose their significance…

In the mechanistic theory of samotek [I would translate this as “spontaneity” or “automatism”, the idea that development happens automatically regardless of consciousness] we may see the precise reason why mechanism finds no acceptance in Leninist Bolshevism: the mechanist thesis, which admits only of quantitative changes, leads to the denial of development by leaps and maintains that all such development is continuous. Evolution proceeds steadily, and not in jerks. Mechanism therefore implies the elimination of class-contradictions and avoidance of the class-struggle. Bukharin, the leading exponent of mechanism, was in fact accused of cherishing the hope that the larger peasants [kulaks] would move peacefully over to socialism.” (Wetter, p. 142)


I quoted various authors who stated that the mechanists were mostly natural scientists and not philosophers. This is true, but the group of mechanists did also include philosophers. These philosophers were actually a very heterogeneous group of revisionists, utopian socialists etc.

“the authors reckoned as mechanists… themselves differed considerably in opinion one from another… The mechanists include both the vulgar materialists of the early years of the Soviet regime, such as Minin and Enchmen, and natural scientists… Among the mechanist philosophers, the most prominent is Bukharin, who applied the philosophy of Bogdanov to historical materialism and political economy, and endeavoured to supplant the materialist dialectic by his well-known ‘theory of equilibrium’. Finally, there are various other philosophers who are reckoned as mechanists, such as Axel’rod and Sarab’yanov, of whom the latter, however, is more of a positivist or subjective idealist, and Varyash, who ranks as a disciple of Freud.” (Wetter, pp. 142-143)

Trotsky also supported not only Freud but also a mechanistic view of society:

“Trotsky favored a fusion of Freudian theory and Pavlovian method” (Bauer, p. 54)

“[Marxist-Leninist philosopher] Mitin also draws attention to a further affinity on Trotsky’s part towards mechanism, rightly detecting in him opinions symptomatic of mechanistic materialism… Trotsky maintains phenomena of higher order to be deducible from those of lower order:

‘Psychology, in our opinion, is reducible, in the last resort, to physiology, and the latter in turn to chemistry, physics and mechanics… The same may be said of sociology… Society is just as much a product of the development of primary matter as the crust of the earth or an amoeba. Thus it is that scientific thought, with its diamond-drill methods, can penetrate from the most complex phenomena of social ideology to matter and its constituent elements, the particles and their physical and mechanical properties.’” (Wetter, pp. 173-174)


“The victory of the dialecticians was announced in April 1929, the same month in which Bukharin and other members of the Right opposition were stripped of much of their political power.” (Bauer, p. 26)

In the end some of the mechanists actually realized their mistakes and corrected themselves:

“comrades Perelman, Sarabjanov*, have appeared in the press criticizing mechanistic errors, first of all their own, and so are gradually joining in our common work.” (V. Adoratski, E. Kolman, A. Maksimov, M. Mitin, P. Judin, V. Raltgevitsh, “Questions of the day on the philosophical front”)

*Sarabjanov had already criticized Bukharin’s philosophical views despite himself being a mechanist at the time (Somerville, p. 219)

The physicist A. K. Timiryazev also went on to have a very successful career as a scientist and communist.

Ivan Skortsov-Stepanov died in 1928 right before the condemnation of mechanism, and Stalin praised him at his funeral:

“staunch and steadfast Leninist… Comrade Skvortsov-Stepanov devoted his whole life of brilliant labour to the cause of the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Stalin, To the Memory of Comrade I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov October, 1928)

Bukharin never corrected his erroneous and opportunist views.

Soon after the defeat of the mechanists, the leader of the “Dialecticians” A. M. Deborin, and the entire “Deborin school” were also criticized for idealist and semi-menshevik mistakes – but that will have to be the topic of the next episode. . .


Raymond A. Bauer, The new man in Soviet psychology

Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the bolshevik revolution

Gustav Wetter, Dialectical Materialism

O. Minin, “Overboard with Philosophy”

Bukharin, Historical Materialism

Engels, Anti-Dühring

Stalin, Dialectical and historical materialism

Lenin, On the Question of Dialectics, in his Philosophical Notebooks

Engels, Dialectics of Nature

Somerville, Soviet Philosophy: A Study Of Theory And Practice

Lenin, Materialism and empirio-criticism

Lenin, Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Buhkarin

Lenin, On the significance of militant materialism

Stalin, To the Memory of Comrade I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov October, 1928

V. Adoratski, E. Kolman, A. Maksimov, M. Mitin, P. Judin, V. Raltgevitsh, “Questions of the day on the philosophical front”

The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 5: THE WHITE GUARD



The Finnish white guard had 3 or 4 different roots, which eventually merged.

1) The activist committee, a secret nationalist organization. The activist committee organized for thousands of Finns to travel to Germany and train in the German military for a future war with Russia. They would later play a large part and the alliance with Imperial Germany would be crucial for the Whites. The pro-german fanaticism of some capitalists went so far as to support Finland becoming a German protectorate with a German king as the Finnish ruler. Since early 1917 the activist committee was the white guard central command until the creation of the white army.

2) The military committee, an organization created from Finnish officers in the Russian Tsarist military. This would function as the core of the Finnish white army and the leader of the Finnish white army, Mannerheim was also an ex-Tsarist officer.

3) White guards were formed locally to protect the property of the capitalists and landowners from the poor population. The capitalists hoarded large amounts of food while the population starved. The white guards would prevent the food from being taken by the hungry masses. The white guards would attack workers on strike, and also protect strike breakers. Workers would often demonstrate for better conditions and more rights, surrounding government buildings etc. and the capitalist politicians would bring the white guards to break up the demonstrations.

4) The only “legitimate” use for the white guards was to prevent criminality. However in practice they were almost always targeting the working class for political reasons. There was one famous incident of unruly Russian soldiers murdering a Finnish citizen, and this was used as a justification for keeping and strengthening the white guard. However, this too had a political element since the Russian soldiers largely sided with the working class. They were from worker and peasant backgrounds and in most cases had killed their Tsarist officers during the February revolution. The remaining Tsarist officers looked to the white guards for protection.

In reality there was no need for a white guard police force since there already existed a militia specifically for this purpose. The problem with the militia was that it had a large working class presence and the capitalists couldn’t use it to break strikes, attack innocent workers and demonstrations. The militia itself would sometimes go on strike to demand bread and political rights.

“In the cities the police was dismantled in early April [1917] and replaced by a worker militia or in other ways brought under working class control. In different parts of the country mass meetings of workers demanded unpopular officials to step down. The power structure was flipped on its head…” (Suodenjoki & Peltola, p.188)

“The influence of the organized workers was also demonstrated by the fact that… the [tsarist] police was replaced by a newly formed militia, the man power and leadership of which was formed primarily by organized workers” (Hyvönen, pp. 42-43)

The militia was perfectly suited for preventing crime but was not sufficient for the capitalists to maintain their repression of the organized workers. The capitalists needed to create a fully anti-worker military force, which would in every situation side with the rich elites against the people. This is why the white guard was created.

“During the strikes of Spring and Summer the workers had already gotten a taste of what… strong [bourgeois] rule of law meant; white guards had shot and beaten unarmed strikers. It was known that the bourgeoisie was training and arming their class guards against the working class movement. With these armed forces the bourgeoisie planned to crush the working class organizations, to strip workers of the right to assemble etc…” (Hyvönen, p.84)

Another example was also the demonstration of August 1917 in Malmi, a municipality near Helsinki:

“In Malmi, near Helsinki, workers surrounded the municipal building on 13. of August [1917] to get their demands passed. About thirty white guard soldiers arrived from Helsinki to save the surrounded officials… the white guards together with ex-members of the tsarist police beat the workers with their batons.* …In Spring and early Summer the class struggle had not yet resulted in any deaths, although some were wounded, but in August there were the first casualties.

The food question was still to be solved. On the night of 14. of August the municipal workers of Helsinki began a strike demanding action to save especially the elder, sick and children from famine and starvation.** The Senate did not take any action.” (Holodkovski, p.39)

* source: I.I. Syukiyainen. The revolutionary events of 1917-1918, p. 77
** source: Proceedings of the Helsingfors Council of Deputies of the Army and Workers, 6 (19). Viii. 1917, No 119.

“In the Spring and Summer of 1917 the Finnish working masses mobilized to improve their poor living conditions and to carry out those necessary reforms which the bourgeoisie, allying itself with the Tsar attempted to prevent at all cost, especially the 8-hour working day and to gain at least some working class representation in the municipal organs. Now the bourgeoisie no longer had the tsarist police as their protection; it had been dismantled in the February revolution and in its place had been formed a militia, where the workers in all population centers had a significant influence. The bourgeoisie did not yet have large amounts of armed class organizations with the exception of the few secret activist [committee] organizations. For this reason the bourgeoisie had to give itself to the merciful protection of the Russian provisional government… to prevent the working class movement from carrying out its democratic reforms. This attempt to gain protection from the provisional government didn’t stop at advocating the provisional government’s right to interfere in Finnish affairs, the bourgeoisie also wanted the armed forces of the provisional government to attack the working class movement. This happened in connection with several strikes.

The newspaper “The worker” reported on 24. of April 1917 that the director of Lehtoniemi machine workshop owned by baron Wrede had sent a message to the Soviet of Russian soldiers in Helsinki mostly humbly asking to send soldiers to protect the “state property” held by the workshop “from possible damage”. A similar attempt to provoke Russian soldiers to attack striking workers happened e.g. during the shipbuilders’ strike in Helsinki; the bourgeoisie accused the workers of supposedly being armed and preventing work. Also during the municipal strike of Rauma the bourgeoisie encouraged Russian soldiers to attack peaceful striking workers. As late as August [1917] when the bourgeoisie also had their white guard projects well under way, and had thousands of rifles from Germany the bourgeoisie in Oulu attempted to provoke Russian soldiers to attack the workers holding a meeting at the workers’ club.

In all these cases the soviets of Russian soldiers investigated the situation and recognized them as attempts to end the workers’ struggles for rights by drowning them in blood.

When the bourgeoisie saw its own powerlessness before the masses and when the Russian soldiers even sided with the democratic rights of the workers, it began organizing its armed forces to stifle the workers’ struggle. It wasn’t satisfied with only secretly arming itself, but began using armed forces against unarmed workers. Terror attacks against workers’ meetings and strikers became the order of the day.

The worst attacks were faced by agricultural workers and tenant-farmers who had begun demanding improvements in their conditions, an 8-hour working day and in some cases wage increases. The large mansion owners showed their true character by trying to crush the justified demands of the workers. The newspaper “The Worker” reported at the beginning of May that during the strike of the Latokartano Manor owned by Westermarck, the owner… threatened to slaughter the 700 head cattle in its entirety as revenge of the workers’ demands…

Armed strike breaker forces were recruited from old Tsarist police officers, criminal thugs and in general the most reactionary elements of society. In addition reactionary university students, property owners, businessmen and officials were recruited. These strike breaker groups patrolled armed with guns in different villages, terrorizing striking farm-workers.

One of the most heinous attacks against peaceful farm-workers happened in Huittiset on July 13. A group of striking workers was headed to the Huittiset dairy building where the landowners had gathered. When the loose group of workers approached the dairy building, white guard soldires hidden behind piles of logs opened fire on the unarmed workers. Seven strikers were wounded. This information given by the Finnish information bureau was supplemented by a worker newspaper “The Social-Democrat” appearing in Pori at the time, which reported that the strikers had already agreed before hand to not use arms under any circumstances, nor had they been prepared to use arms.

Few days after the massacre in Huittiset another attack against striking workers happened in Suodenniemi. Strikers had peacefully stood on the road and told strike breakers working on the field, who had been gathered from different villages, that they were breaking a strike. At that moment armed strike breakers had attacked the strikers at the instructions of the local constable.” (Hyvönen, pp. 43-46)

Peltola and Suodenjoki refer in their book to another bourgeois historian Viljo Rasila, and verify that “Near the end of the large strike in Suodenniemi, there was a conflict… fought using staffs, cudgels and scythes… Strike breakers got the upper hand and two farm-workers suffered serious injuries.**” (Suodenjoki & Peltola, p.205)

* Viljo Rasila, “Vuoden 1917 maantyöntekijäin lakot” (“Farm-workers’ strikes of 1917”)
** Juhani Piilonen, Sastamalan historia 3. 1860-1920 (History of Sastamala 3. 1860-1920)

Peltola and Suodenjoki also state that for example in the municipality Satakunta “…strikes were the main reason for the creation of the white guard.” (p.211)

“In the cities the bourgeoisie began already in the Spring to create their armed class guards. The bourgeoisie had threatened to use these guards already… but didn’t have the courage yet. On 17. of August at the Helsinki stock exchange building, white guards disguised as militia men attacked workers demonstrating against the city council, and beat them with batons. Soon the bourgeoisie had organized a nationwide class army to smash the working class movement. The working class press took notice of the bourgeoisie arming itself. The newspaper “The Worker” wrote on 23. of August 1917 stating that due to the [February] revolution, the bourgeoisie had lost their foreign protector [the Russian Tsar] and also the [Tsarist] police… It had begun creating an armed class military.” (Hyvönen, p. 46)

“…[T]o counter food confiscation agricultural producers and other bourgeois citizens began independently creating their own police forces, whose mission was defined as protection of property. This angered the workers… The workers considered the food storages [of the capitalists] to be against the food-supply law and thus considered the “white guards” created to protect them as illegal” [Marja-Leena Salkola, Työväenkaartien synty ja kehitys punakaartiksi 1917-18 ennen kansalaissotaa] (Suodenjoki & Peltola, p. 219)

“After the Tsarist gendarmerie had been dismantled and the police replaced by a militia, where the workers held significant influence, and after the Russian troops had gone to the side of revolution, the bourgeoisie realized that it didn’t have any organized armed force to protect itself against the numerically superior and quite well organized working class. This is why already in the Spring of 1917 the bourgeoisie began creating its own fighting forces, whose purpose was supposedly protecting the safety of civilizens and protection of property from vandalism and criminality. Their creation seemed timely and for this reason, even some workers initially joined these organizations (chapters were formed under the name of sport societies and volunteer fire departments and only later they began everywhere to be called white guards)… The bourgeoisie did not admit that the white guards were its class organizations. The white guards were the bourgeoisie’s military force, with which it believed to create the order it desired.

In Southern Finland where the rural workers’ strike movement began to spread already in April and May, white guards were created especially to fight strikes. In Northern Finland they were being created to oppose Russian soldiers [who sided with the workers]. Soon control of the nationwide organization and action of the white guard was given to the secret Activist Committee.

The Activists had already since before WWI kept connections to Germany and organized the sending of couple thousand young Finnish men to Germany for military training. They were preparing a war to separate Finland from Russia with German help, even if that meant Finland would become reliant on Germany. In June 1917 the Activist Committee divided Finland into regions for better coordination of the white guards. In July a central office for the white guards was created. It was located in Helsinki under the harmless sounding false name of “The new forest office”. The central office held secret communication with local organizations as well as Sweden, Germany and the Finnish Jäger battalion… [i.e. the Finnish soldiers serving and being trained in the German army]

For this new army, weapons for 100,000 men were collected in Danzig. In October 1917 explosives were shipped from Umeå [in Sweden] to Vaasa [the secret white Capital in Finland], from where white guard members transported them in fish barrels and their luggage to local organizations. At the end of October the ship “Equity” left from Germany. To camoflage it, the Russian name “Mir” was painted on the ship’s side and a red flag was waving in its mast. This ship brought the white guards large amounts of rifles (some sources say 4500, others 7000), machine guns (according to some sources 30, according to others 100), 2,800,000 bullets, 1500 hand grenades, 2000 pistols and explosives Weapons were secretly bought from Russia through the [white guard] Vyborg regional organization founded in July and in the Autumn through the harmless sounding [white guard organization] Karelian citizen’s league (this league was funded by a banker, a factory owner and four wholesalers) and through the Finland committee founded in Petrograd…

By creating white guards the bourgeoisie started a process which would develop due to its inherent laws logically towards civil war. The workers could not interpret it as anything else then preparation for an armed attack against them. Despite bourgeois propaganda and press saying otherwise, realities spoke a clear message: white guards were being used to break strikes. Workers reacted to the founding of white guards with determination: to avoid being at the mercy of an armed opponent, workers began creating their own peace-keeping forces… for self-defency purposes.”
(Holodkovski, pp. 29-31)

The Activist Committee had wormed itself to the highest levels of the government:

“…[M]ember of the nationalist Activist Committee…[senator] Åkerman… agreed to handle [the bourgeois senate’s] food issues if he was given authority to gather necessary food supplies to suitable locations. [Source: “Suomen vapaussota vuonna 1918” I, pp. 294-295]

Food, transportation vehicles and other supplies for a white army were stored in Southern Ostrobothnia in preparation for civil war. The Activist Committee had played an important part in creating the white guards and was now recognized as an official organ of the state, and given responsibility to draft the new conscription law and develop the bourgeois military forces. Ignatius, chairman of the committee that drafted the new conscription law proposed in a meeting of investors and industrialists on 3. of October [1917] that they would provide 3 million marks to fund the white guards. In this meeting 9 million marks worth of checks and bonds were collected.
[Source: Ibid. pp. 295-296]
” (Holodkovski pp. 35-36)

“…alongside the Activist Committee founded in 1915, a Military Committee consisting of ex-Tsarist officers was created and recognized as an official state organ by the Svinhufvud senate on 7. of January [1918]. Gustaf Mannerheim was appointed the committee’s chairman on 15. of January.”
(Pekka Myllyniemi: Ajautuminen sisällissotaan, Länsi-Uusimaa, 17.1.2018)


Between late 1917 and early 1918 the white guards were organized into an army. The capitalists had collected millions of marks, tens of thousands of weapons, created a secret capital for the future white guard dictatorship, made connections with their foreign allies and assembled a large armed force. The white guard was recognized as the official state military of Finland by the Svinhufvud government. Mannerheim was appointed its commander. Lets examine the composition of this army:

“In the 20 Southern Ostrobothnian white guard detachments 59% of the soldiers were wealthy farmers and their sons, 8% tenant-farmers, 6% farm workers, 21% workers and 6% officials, students etc.” (Holodkovski, p.307)

“On the other hand for example in the Jyväskylä white guard military district the around one third of those who fell in battle were officials, shop-keepers, students and teachers, foremen, doctors and other wealthier people, even a bank director. Another third were landowning farmers and a third tenant-farmers, workers and farm hands. Capitalists, investors and bankers constituted only a tiny minority of the population. While officials, doctors, military men, police officers and other somewhat wealthier people often sided with the whites, the real bulk of the white army consisted of independent farmers, especially wealthy farmers, and their relatives. This army was then enlarged by forced conscription of the poorer classes. ” (Holodkovski, pp.307-308)

“…regarding armed struggle the bourgeoisie could rely on the officials, who spread accross the whole country and thus could form a nationwide organizational network. The city enterpreneurs and intellectuals, as well as technical experts in industry were largely active supporters of bourgeois policy. The nobility and other large landowners were passionate enemies of the working class movement. The influence of the bourgeoisie also spread itself strongly to independent farmers who had been frightened with the notion that the workers wanted to steal the peasantry’s land.

In military matters the bourgeoisie was in an enormously better position, in the amount of trained and experienced officers it had. The so-called “white army” had 11 people with the rank of general… 480 graduates from the old Finnish cadet school. There were 403 officers and 724 NCOs among jägers. The whites received 118 NCOs from the Vöyri military academy. 27 active officers arrived from Sweden. In total the white officer core was 1700 persons. Initially the whites threw 10,000 men at the front. But in February they had to resort to forced conscription, through which they increased the number to 32,000 men.

According to the whites themselves their army was already 10,000 by the end of 1917, 36,000 by April and 70,000 by the end of the war…

The whites also had better weaponry. Already in October of 1917 they received 7000 rifles, large amounts of machine guns, hand-grenades, bullets etc. from Germany. At the end of January the whites also managed to steal 7880 rifles, 1 ,143,000 bullets, 10 machine guns and 12 cannons from the demoralized Russian troops in Northern Finland. Two more weapon shipments arrived from Germany containing 140,000 rifles and more then 83 million bullets, 250 machine guns, 500,000 hand-grenades and 32 cannons with ammunition. On top of all this they received other weapons and equipment of all kinds, such as pistols, radios and field telephones etc.

The whites also had confirmed knowledge about Germany’s intervention since February; at the beginning of March there was already an exact agreement. Furthermore the whites got a Swedish brigade on their side. Individual officers and volunteers arrived from other nordic countries. Russian counter-revolutionary officers also aided the white war effort.” (Hyvönen, pp. 91-92)


Suodenjoki & Peltola, Köyhä Suomen kansa katkoo kahleitansa: Luokka, liike ja yhteiskunta 1880-1918 (Vasemmistolainen työväenliike Pirkanmaalla osa 1)

Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-1918

Holodkovski, Suomen Työväenvallankumous 1918

I.I. Syukiyainen. The revolutionary events of 1917-1918

Известия Гельсингфорсского совета депутатов армии и рабочих, 6 (19). VIII. 1917, No 119. (Proceedings of the Helsingfors Council of Deputies of the Army and Workers, 6 (19). Viii. 1917, No 119.)

Viljo Rasila, “Vuoden 1917 maantyöntekijäin lakot” (“Farm-workers’ strikes of 1917”)

Juhani Piilonen, Sastamalan historia 3. 1860-1920 (History of Sastamala 3. 1860-1920)

Marja-Leena Salkola, Työväenkaartien synty ja kehitys punakaartiksi 1917-18 ennen kansalaissotaa<

H. Soikkanen, kansalaissota dokumentteina

J. Paasivirta, Suomen itsenäisyyskysymys 1917

“Suomen vapaussota vuonna 1918”

“Пролетарская революция”, No 2

Luokkasodan muisto, ed. Juho Mäkelä

Pekka Myllyniemi: Ajautuminen sisällissotaan, Länsi-Uusimaa, 17.1.2018

“Ilkan ja Poutun pojat. Etelä-pohjalaisten sota-albumi”, ed. A. Leinonen

“Keskisuomalaiset sotapolulla. Kappale Suomen vapaussodan historiaa”, ed. S. Kuusi

Erinnerungen, G. Mannerheim

Sosialistit pyrkivät itsenäistämään Suomea jo heinäkuussa 1917 – porvarit harasivat vastaan (

The meteoric rise of China

Taimur Rahman Political Archive

Published in The Post 28/05/2006

Taimur Rahman

Completely contrary to the current image of a dynamic and driven economy, China at the beginning of the 20th century was a backward, rural, poverty-stricken, feudal society torn apart by warlords and imperial interests. How then did this transformation from “a dinosaur that had survived into the wrong age” to the “fastest growing economy in the world” occur? China’s GDP has risen from Renminbi (Rmb) 362.4 billion in 1978 to Rmb 13.7 trillion in 2004 (both figures at current prices). That implies that the economy is 37 times larger than it was two and a half decades ago. Recently China built the largest hydroelectric dam in the entire world. The Three Gorges Dam not only has the ability to control floods, it can generate the power of 17 nuclear power-plants. Today there are more than eight million industrial enterprises in China. State-owned enterprises…

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Interview with Russell Bentley, American Communist in Donbass

Interview with Russell Bentley, an American military veteran and communist who went to fight for Donetsk People’s Republic in 2014.
This interview was conducted by Comrade Jacobin aka “Raven”. You can also read it on Russell’s blog:;

Also check out the skype interview with Russell Bentley:


Question 1: What is the immediate military situation for Novorussia? We know the military battle lines have stabilized to a certain degree, as Novorussia has held onto the territories of Lughansk, and Donetsk, who’s borders extend all the way south to the Sea of Azov, east of Mariupol. Are there still constant border skirmishes like there were in the earlier years of the war, or has the fighting calmed down somewhat?

The military situation is currently stable, which means the center of the city is relatively safe, but there is still shooting on the front line positions every day. Civilian areas near the front are also still shelled on a regular (almost daily) basis. The threat of a major ukrop offensive is still very real. Most people here believe that the war will not end without one more major battle. That battle will begin with a major military offensive by the ukrop army against the entire Novorussian Front, and it will end only with the liberation and 

de-nazification of all of Ukraine. And the USA.

Question 2: Have the people of Donbass adjusted to the current borders, or are they still focused on gaining most of eastern Ukraine back, like when the war first started in 2014

We have friends and family in the cities of Eastern Ukraine now under nazi control. They suffer. 

Our ultimate goal is to de-nazify all of Ukraine, one way or another. 

Question 3: What would you say would be the percentage of the population in Novorussia who want to their territory to become part of the Russian Federation? Is it higher than the percentage of people who want to stay strictly independent from both Ukraine and Russia? Are there also people there who want to remain part of Ukraine but without the current government?

I believe most people here would like to see Ukraine return to it’s historic place as a strong independent ally of Russia. Ukrainians are rightly proud of their history and culture, which is closely intertwined with Russia’s. The goal is to drive the nazis from power, liberate all of Ukraine, punish the war criminals, and return to being a democratic nation closely allied with Russia, as Ukraine has been for the last 1,000 years.

Question 4: The Ukrainian nationalists have recently released a video of them harassing gypsies, destroying their homes and tents, and it seems like Azov Battalion and Praviy Sektor are ramping up their ethnic cleansing. Is it also your view that the ethnic cleansing is increasing, or have these crimes been occurring at the same rate the whole time and it just hasn’t been exposed until recently? Do you have any stories of more things like this happening?

The crimes of nazis like Pravy Sektor and Azov are ongoing. And they are truly horrific. Human trafficking and organ trafficking are rampant in areas under their control. Kiev is now the child prostitution capitol of Europe. Hardcore nazis from Western Ukraine consider the people of Donbass to be Russians, and sub-human, and act accordingly. NAF prisoners held by nazis are tortured and murdered on a regular basis.

It should be duly noted that ukrop nazis, and nazis in general, prefer to attack unarmed people.

Question 5: You have espoused that you are a communist in many of your previous interviews. What do you personally, and your organization, Essence of Time, define Communism and Socialism as, and how does this apply to Novorussia? Many communists in the west have the criticism that private property and most normal apparatuses of the capitalist mode of production still function in Donbass. How would you reply to or reconcile with this criticism?

To be honest, I laugh at most “Communists” in the West. The vast majority are cowards, hypocrites and poseurs, whose “communism” goes no further than buying a Che Guevara T-shirt from Amazon, and maybe reading a book or two from which to endlessly quote. The fact that they sit in the West, doing nothing but criticizing us here is a perfect example. They spend more time criticizing their comrades than actually fighting real fascists. Ask any group of “Communists” in the West how many have actually killed a nazi. I have. 

People whose “contribution” is nothing more than criticizing those who have done a thousandfold more than they ever will are beneath contempt. When I was in Cuba in 1995, I had a very enlightening discussion with a Cuban Army captain. I said I was a Socialist, and she said she was a Communist. I asked what the difference was, and she replied, “A Communist is someone who is willing to fight for Socialism.” Being willing to fight means being willing to die. By this measure, there are very, very few Communists in the West. But I and my comrades in Essence of Time have earned the right to call ourselves Communists.

It’s high time those who call themselves “Communists” in the West, especially the US, do the same.

Medical care and education are free in the DPR. Food, energy, housing, transportation and communication are a fraction of the cost of what they are in the West, but are as good or better in quality. It’s a good start. This is the Socialism we have fought for, and won. Those who have done the same or better are perhaps qualified to criticize or advise us. Those who have not should shut the fuck up and get to work, unless, as is too often the case, they are too stupid to learn from our example. Then they should just shut the fuck up.

Question 6: When one researches the war in Donbass via conventional sources on the internet such as Wikipedia, there are listed a number of military units fighting on the side of the Novorussian army which are very right wing, such as National Bolsheviks, Russian National Unity, and Serbian Chetniks, all groups which most socialists and communists are vehemently opposed to. For many leftists in the west, this is something which turns them off to supporting the struggle in Donetsk and Lughansk. Many of them (western marxists) admit that there are indeed Nazis on the side of the Ukrainians, but also claim there are Nazis and ultranationalists on the Novorussian side as well. To what degree do these right wing military units operate, and what comments do you have about this? Many will see this as the most important question in the interview.

There have been a few (perhaps 2 dozen, total, out of an army of 60,000) “nationalists” in the ranks of the NAF, all foreigners, mostly in the early days of the war, but they are all gone now. No one I served with at the Front would ever serve beside someone with a nazi tattoo or point of view.  We would probably have killed them. There are Cossacks and even Monarchists in the NAF, but they are in no way fascist or ultra-nationalist. And they stand beside real Communists here, in battle, against real nazis, as brothers in arms.

Anyone who claims there are nazis or ultra-nationalists fighting for the Donbass Republics is an idiot, a liar, or both. It is as stupid a saying “Communism is as bad as nazism.” They use this as their excuse for their failure to support one of the most communist and progressive revolutionary movements in the world today. Again, cowardice and hypocrisy, and again, unwarranted and unqualified criticism from people who not only have never done shit, but don’t even know what the fuck they are talking about, criticizing those who have actually fought fascism and won. 

Question 7. The Donbass region has a rich history of socialist ideals and anti fascist mentalities. The Stakhanovite movement was birthed there, Donbass put up a heroic resistance against the German Nazis during WWII, and up until recently, Odessa was known as a heavily multicultural city where hundreds of different nationalities could live among each other in peace. To what degree do you think the Novorussian population is enthusiastic about socialism past the point of nostalgia or national pride from the USSR days?

Donetsk too, is one of the most multi-cultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.  When John Hughes founded his steel mill and coal mines here in 1869, he sent out advertisements all over the world for people to come get a good job with fair pay. People from over 100 nations responded and moved to Donetsk, then called  “Yuzovka”. The Donbass region has historically been one of the most staunchly Communist areas of the entire USSR. The people here have what it takes to be real Communists – a deep understanding of the theory and history, their own history of struggle, sacrifice, and victory, and real world experience of the rewards of Socialism as well as the evils of Capitalism and fascism. And they are willing to fight when they have to. I would say that even with its imperfections, the Donbass Republics are the vanguard and best example of what Communist people can do in the world today.

Question 8: We know that some factories in Donbass have been nationalized. How widespread is this nationalization, and do you see this spreading to all other sectors of the economy?

Some factories and businesses have been expropriated from oligarchs and nationalized. The DPR economy in general is geared towards benefiting society rather than enriching the wealthy class. It is an ongoing process.  I will say that the quality of life is better here for the average worker than it is anywhere in the US or even most of the EU. This is because the government is responsive to the will of the people. 

Question 9: How do you reconcile Donbass having a state religion (Eastern Orthodoxy) with communist principles? In the Soviet Union and in most Eastern Bloc countries during the cold war, religion was discouraged. Do you feel that this was a mistake? What are your views on liberation theology?

Jesus Christ was the first Communist. He shared what he had equally with others, drove the money changers from the temple with a whip, and gave his life for what he believed in. I have three close personal friends here who are Orthodox priests. All have served in the DPR Army, as soldiers. As the saying goes, “There are no atheists in foxholes”. Some of the greatest anti-fascists in modern history have been men of God – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero, the Berrigan brothers, and above all, Hassan Nasrallah. Soldiers. 

Essence of Time considers the anti-religious aspect of the USSR to have been one of its biggest mistakes. I see no contradiction between Communism and religion. Although I do look at organized religion with some suspicion, I consider the Russian Orthodox Church to be the most trustworthy and least corrupt of any major sect of Christianity. And it is NOT the “state religion”. We don’t have one. There are Jews, Muslims, Catholic and Protestant worshipers and places of worship in Donetsk.

Question 10: You have mentioned in a video you made for people who want to come to Donbass that jobs there are scarce. If people are unemployed in Donbass does that mean that they are forced out onto the street like they are in the United States and other capitalist countries? Do you have a right to a job in Donbass, and, if not, does the state take adequate care of you until you find one? To what extent does homelessness exist in Donbass?

There is no homelessness in the Donbass Republics. None. Everyone here has a place to live, given by the state. If they can’t pay their electric bill, the electricity is not turned off. Many people are employed by the state doing work such as cleaning streets or tending public gardens. It is not necessary work, but it improves the quality of life for everybody here, and the salary, while small, is enough to live on. I will say it again – the quality of life for the average worker here is better than anywhere in the West, and it continues to improve. And doing so under siege conditions.

Question 11: How active are labor unions in Donetsk and Lughansk? The Ukrainian nationalists burned down the trade unions house in the famous Odessa massacre, do you think this was incidental, or do you think it corresponds with Nazi ideology and how the NSDAP historically crushed union power in Germany?

I do not really know what the status of labor unions is in the Donbass Republics is, but I know they exist and have political and economic power. Particularly among the coal miners.

Question 12: What rights do citizens living in Donbass have? We know that Aleksey Mozgovoy professed a stated goal for Novorussia that included the right to education and healthcare. What progress towards this goal has been achieved in the region?

Education and medical care are free and of excellent quality. Sometimes people must buy their own medicine, but it costs a small fraction of what it would cost in the West. 

Question 13: How would you respond to the claim that rebel control of the Donbass region is evidence of Russian imperialism? Also, what is your view of Russia generally? It is known that Russia is a capitalist state since the early 1990’s, but do you view them as imperialist? Why or why not?

Again, only idiots and liars speak of “Russian imperialism”. The people of Donbass are defending themselves against a foreign installed fascist regime. Russia helps us. Russia has many imperfections, but imperialism is not one of them. The USSR improved the quality of life in every single place where they exerted influence, they did not colonize these places and extract profits or resources. Just as in Donbass today, where the Russian Federation gives much more to support Donbass than they receive in return. Certainly the same can be said of Russia’s support for Syria. While Russia does have serious problems,  I would say the quality of life overall is better there than in the West, and while the quality of life continues to improve in Russia, it continues to decline in the West.

Question 14: What are the differences between the Lughansk and Donetsk governments? Do they have differing views on what rights their citizens should have? Are there different laws in each respective region? Is the political and military structure between the two united?

Although the two Republics are separate entities, they are united militarily, politically and economically. The legal and social structures are very similar, if not identical.

Question 15: It has been 3 years since you conducted the interview with Vice correspondent Simon Ostrovsky. How do you reflect on this interview? What is your view of Vice’s portrayal of the Ukrainian situation? Have you watched the Russian Roulette series on Vice, and what do you think of it?

Ostrovsky is a textbook example of a “presstitute” – a professional liar whose job is to conceal and obscure the truth, which he does for money. Vice News is a disinfo and propaganda machine funded by George Soros. There is not a single major Western “news” agency that can be trusted. Not one. But Ostrovsky’s interview of me has been viewed over 400,000 times, with an almost 10 to 1 ratio of thumbs up to thumbs down. In spite of his best (or worst) efforts, the video was a big success for me and the DPR.

Question 16: Events in the United States have been heating up for a number of years now, and today it is normal for the “Alt Right” to gather in the streets with the Ku Klux Klan and hold torchlight rallies like Azov and Praviy Sektor do in Ukraine. Many socialists and anti fascists here have been starting a new socialist gun culture in the United States with the Socialist Rifle Association, Redneck Revolt, and The John Brown Gun Club. Do you feel that this is an appropriate response to events? Should the left be prepared for the worst, or do you think the government will eventually solve these contradictions in American politics and culture? Furthermore, is it appropriate for leftists to trust that the government will quell the fascist flame if it begins to burn?

The fascist flame has been burning in the USA since before you or I or anyone reading this article were born. And the US government and the people who own it are the ones who lit it and keep it burning. They are the mortal enemies of the American people, and of Humanity at large. It is long past time for a revolution in the USA. The oligarchy and government are corrupt beyond any hope of redemption. It is time to tear it down and start over. As for guns – yes, everyone should own and know how to use one, but there is a HUGE difference between having one and actually using one for what the 2nd Amendment intended. But again, the poseur problem – a coward with a gun is worse than useless. Many say they are ready to “fight”, but in practice, they don’t like danger. I would estimate that the number of US gun owners from the Left or the Right who would ever do more than talk, who would actually challenge the government’s monopoly on violence, who would do in the US what we have actually done here, is probably about one in a thousand. If the truth hurts, prove me wrong. 

The Essence of Time combat unit had about 50 soldiers when I joined it in December 2014. We have suffered 11 killed in action, and 15 seriously (permanently) wounded since then. That is a 50% casualty rate. We fought at some of the hottest positions on the entire Donbass Front, including the airport, Spartak and Avdeevka. We have never retreated or lost a position, even in the face of 20 to 1 odds. That is exactly what it means to be a real Communist.

And I will also give some gun advice – The US government will not enact wide scale gun confiscation. They don’t have to. When the time comes, and it will, the government will simply shut off the supply of ammunition. Ammo is much, much more difficult to produce at home than a firearm is. A firearm without ammo is just a club. Stock up while you still can.

Question 17: What are your views on communist gun ownership generally? Did you own a gun while you lived in the US? Are there laws restricting firearm ownership in Donbass where you live/do you have to be in the army or militia to own one?

Only fools and cowards are against the 2nd Amendment. They are willing to be disarmed, defenseless, against the US military and police, the most corrupt and genuinely fascist organizations on Earth.

They are nothing more than willing slaves, unworthy to be called Communists. 

I am a strong proponent of the right to bear arms. It is simply the right to self-defense. I owned and carried guns most of my adult life, regardless of the law. Again, carrying a gun is just a pose unless you’re ready and willing to use it, and I mean use it against armed enemies who will be shooting at you.  It is legal and possible for people to own guns here, even outside the police and Army. I myself have a Makarov and AK (and plenty of ammo for both.) The requirements are simply common sense – you must have a clean criminal record, pass a psychological exam, and have a secure place to store your guns. There is still a very real threat of a major ukrop offensive, so the percentage of people here who own guns is probably as high or higher than in the US.

Question 18: What is your opinion on censorship? Do you think that leftists should be against the censoring of Alex Jones because it will eventually come around to the left like in the McCarthy era? In this current moment, in terms of realpolitik, is it better to censor the right wingers using the government, or just allow them to be seen out in the open, and prepare to fight them?

Only fools, cowards and those with something to hide advocate or support censorship, of Alex Jones or anyone else, because it ALWAYS eventually comes around. Who is qualified to decide what people should be “allowed” to hear, see or read? Nobody is, and I say fuck anybody that says they are. Yes, Alex Jones is a charlatan, but he has also been correct on many issues. I’d say he’s more correct, well intentioned and respectable than ANY of the stupid scumbags, from the Right or the Left, who advocate or support   censorship. Censorship is, always has been and always will be, the tool of the oppressor. Anyone who supports it also, wittingly or not, also a tool of the oppressor. Period.

Russian mass media has political TV programs airing daily, and they often allow open fascists to debate normal people and even try to sell their ideas. To allow fascists, fools, liars and various assholes to have their say is actually the best way to fight them, by allowing them to discredit themselves. Even if the general public is stupid enough to fall for fascist ideas (as is the case in the USA, but not Russia) education is the remedy, and censorship is the exact opposite of education. 

Question 19: You once mentioned that you had spent time in prison in America, for what were you incarcerated and for how long? Did you find that you grew as a person during this time/did you learn anything about yourself or humanity while you were locked up?

I plead guilty to possession of 500 kilograms of cannabis in 1996. I was the only one of the defendants who did not “co-operate” with the Feds, so I got more time than anyone, even the “kingpin”. I got 63 months, 5 years, 3 months. I escaped on August 31st, 1999 for 2,848 days, almost 8 years. I was eventually snitched out and was returned to finish my bit in a maximum security prison.  I finished my prison sentence in 2008, and did 4 years parole.

I was a professional cannabis smuggler for about 7 years. I would move loads from Mexico to the northern USA, Minnesota, Kansas City, Seattle. I made about a quarter of a million dollars per year, and gave about 30% of it away to worthy causes. I was also one of the leading activists in the marijuana legalization movement, and used quite a bit of my money to further that cause. I would also say that the legalization of cannabis is the best, if not the only, way that life in the USA has improved in the last 30 years. I am proud to have played a part in that.

I learned a lot in prison. I learned that people like me, who refused to snitch for a sentence reduction are about 1 in 100. I read hundreds of books and studied Sociology in an inmate college education program.  In the maximum security prison I was in (SEA-TAC FDC) I actually got along better with the Blacks, Latinos, Muslims and Native Americans than I did with the Whites. It was a culturally enriching experience, though I personally do not recommend going just for the culture. But if you have to go, make the most of it.

Question 20: What cultural aspects does the United States share with Donbass? Do people there like the same type of music, movies, and so on? Do people there like to drink and smoke like they do here in America?

I’d say that people here actually drink and smoke a bit more than in the US. It is a traditional Eastern European cultural thing, as well as a reaction to the stress of being in a war zone. The GOOD people in the USA are the same as the good people here, they work towards a better world for all, and they actually WORK towards the goal, not just talk. But among the populations as a whole, the people of Donbass, are much smarter, braver, better educated and better mannered, and have much higher moral and cultural standards than people in the US or the West. 

The people here also have a much better grasp of politics and history, and  many more of my Russian friends have read Jack London,  Fennimore Cooper and other American literary classics than have my friends in the US. And while not perfect, the cultural and political solidarity here is far, far stronger and more advanced than anything in the West. I consider identity politics to be THE major cause of this critical failure of solidarity in what passes for progressive forces in the West.

Question 21: What are your views on identity politics in leftist circles? Should class struggle against the capitalists be the primary duty of communists and socialists, or should they spend an equal amount of time on various other social issues, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia?

Identity politics is an excellent way to identify idiots and provocateurs. It is the single biggest failure of “the Left” in modern history. There is only one war, the class war. Fuck every single selfish piece of shit who advocates rights only for their own sub-group of Humanity. That some groups have genuinely been more oppressed than others is beyond dispute, but giving them special privileges is as stupid as it is immoral and counter-productive. Yes, Black lives matter, but it is a fact that more White people are murdered by police than Blacks, and their lives matter every bit as much. Women, Gays, and racial minorities who are only interested in their own rights are no better than corporations that are only interested in their own profits. There can be no question that Native Americans are the most oppressed and aggrieved minority in the US today. Anyone who doesn’t stand up for their rights at least as much as their own is a hypocrite. The only way to fight for your rights is to fight for everyone’s rights, along with anyone brave and dedicated enough to stand beside you for the same cause. It is the ONLY way.

People get, and deserve, only the rights they fight for themselves, and it is rankest hypocrisy to demand rights for yourself that you do not support for others. The robber baron Jay Gould once said “I can hire half the working class to kill the other half.”  Identity politics is people doing exactly that filthy job for free. Class solidarity is the most important weapon in the fight against modern fascism. It is the ONLY weapon that can win this war for the future of humanity, and identity politics is solidarity’s worst enemy.

Identity politics is just another form of “me first” racism, censorship,oppression, and even worse, it is a form of infantilism, in that oppressed people are asking their oppressors to make things right for them, usually at the expense of some other oppressed sub-group. The last time I had any hope for politics in the USA was when there was some talk of a Ralph Nader/Ron Paul coalition. It never happened. The Right has balls, but no brains, the Left has brains but no balls. Until the Right and Left unite, there will be no progress whatsoever. Communism means above all, egalitarianism. Anyone who advocates identity politics and calls themselves a Communist should be bitch-slapped. 

Question 22: What are your views on confederate statues being down, since you are from a state that was part of the confederacy (Texas)? Do you think the act of taking down the statues in effect masks the fact that the US is still a racist country, with or without the statues being there?

I think it is a meaningless distraction, a waste, a symbolic circle jerk, done by poseurs whom pretend to be tough and pretend to be doing something by fighting inanimate objects. If it wasn’t so stupid and wasteful, it would be laughable. What kind of clowns fight a symbol when they could and should be fighting the real thing? Take a look at who tears down statues in the 21st Century – US soldiers in Iraq, neo-nazis in Kiev and Poland, and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. All misguided dipshits trying to re-write history. Who wants to be like them?

Question 23: Do you think people spend too much time ruminating about the Soviet Union in the west? Should people spend more of their time trying to build a new socialist project?

People must understand the theory and history of Communism and the USSR. They need to understand the mistakes and successes, in order to re-build Communism and a new USSR 2.0. The Essence of Time Movement is doing both, exactly, today. In fact, I consider EoT to be the most important Communist organization in Russia today. The KPRF and even KPDPR are both deeply marginalized by their own internal contradictions and shortcomings. (As are ALL the Communist Parties in the US.) EoT’s plan is the best I have seen. Everyone who calls themselves a Communist should be familiar with it. It is the real deal. You can learn about it here –

Question 24: Who is your favorite Marxist philosopher, and who is your favorite Marxist pragmatist/strategist?

It is hard to pick a favorite. Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara were two of my earliest influences. Big Bill Haywood, Eugene Debs, James Connolly were (and still are) some of my early heroes, and if not strictly “Marxist”, they were true Communists, willing to fight for Socialism and justice. I read Antonio Gramsci’s “Prison Notebooks” when I was in prison. Mao and Fidel, of course, Lenin and Stalin. Lenny Wulff’s “Science of Revolution” was also influential (free PDF here.)

The greatest living Marxist writer in the USA today is undoubtedly Michael Parenti.  I especially recommend “Blackshirts and Reds” (free pdf download here.) and “Dirty Truths”. As I have often said about Parenti, he’s like Noam Chomsky, but smarter, a much better writer, and he has some balls.

Question 25: Why do you think fascism was able to arise in such an open fashion in Kiev?

It must be understood that the Maidan coup was not a spontaneous event.  Beyond Victoria Newland’s $5 billion, beyond the “Orange Revolution” of 2004-2005, beyond operation Gladio, the roots of the Maidan coup are in Bandera’s OUN-B and UPA, pro-nazi armies during the German occupation of Ukraine in WW2. These were (and are) hardcore nazis, mass murderers, war criminals and rabid anti-communists. They form the central core of Ukraine’s military and political structure today. The original members of Bandera’s organizations have had generations to brainwash their offspring and to prepare for the moment when they could seize power.

These groups have been (and still are) supported, directed and manipulated by US and NATO, with financing, training, arms and instruction. The Maidan coup is in line with the “rebellions” in Libya and Syria.

Real Communists can learn a lot from what we have done in the Donetsk Republics. We have defended our homes and our families against a national military power using every weapon at their disposal – tanks, artillery, rockets, aviation, terrorism. And we have fought them to a standstill. Four years later, the Republics still exist, and we are still free. But this war is not just in Donbass, it is global, and it is not finished. 

The greatest enemy of the American People, and of the future of Humanity itself, is the US government and the genuinely fascist kleptocrats who own and control it.  They are right now, today, implementing a plan to rule the world, enslave those who are profitable or useful to them, and exterminate the rest of us. There is no escape, and the time for talking is over. You will not defeat your mortal enemy by voting, or writing letters to your government “representatives”, by lively and deep conversations in the local pub, or by hitting the “Like” button on Facebook. You have only 2 options – Fight or die. Victory or Death. Get busy.

The Finnish Communist Revolution (1918) PART 2: The Eve of Revolution


“That flammable substance, which in January 1918 burst into full flame of armed conflict between the basic classes of Finnish society – workers and capitalists, had been accumulating for decades in the depths of this system. With the rise of capitalistic production, here too the struggle between labour and capital, between worker and capitalist, became the basic contradiction of the whole society. Unjust relations of landownership and the utterly vulnerable status of the vast masses of landless rural people, had created a situation where the capitalists had plenty of very cheap labour at their disposal. Finnish capitalists took full advantage of the situation and wasted no time in setting up a system just as ruthless and unequal as that of the older capitalist countries. The situation was even more favorable for the capitalist class because the workers were at this time timid, scared and did not attempt any kind of organized resistance. Instead they suffered the oppression and injusticy quietly, and this way the bitterness and anger slowly built up among them.” (Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota p. 9)

Different social classes before the outbreak of the revolution:

The Industrial Workers:

“In the old system workers had needed to submit to the ‘legal guardianship’ of their employer, which often meant police levels of surveillance and control by the capitalist. This was officially abolished in 1868 but employers still for a long time considered it justified to continue their old ways. The strict work discipline regulations allowed the employers in many ways to blackmail their workers, punish them for the slightest disobedience, or carelessness, impose heavy fines and thus push down the already meager wages. The employers were especially worried about worker’s organizing, unless they were joining organizations and associations created and controlled by the employers themselves. It was common for capitalists to threaten to fire all workers who joined unions or worker organizations. This happened for example in Pinjaiset, Fiskars and Högfors factories. In November 1903 in Varkaus nearly 200 workers were evicted from their homes for joining the workers’ association. Often buying or subscribing to working class newspapers was enough of a reason to be fired and evicted.” (Lehen, pp. 9-10)

“Despite rapid industrial development having begun in the 1860s it was as late as the 1890s when the country saw the breakout of the first big strike movements. Out of these the strikes of construction workers in Helsinki in 1896 and the baker strike of 1899 have to be mentioned. In both cases the Finnish capitalists shamelessly colluded with the Russian authorities to break the strike: by sending in strike breakers from Russia. In these initial strikes, alongside the struggle for higher wages, the demands centered around shortening the working day which was either unbearable long, or not limited at all in its length, as well as demands for the most basic work safety regulations. During this struggle based on the most vitally necessary demands, the class consciousness of the workers began to awaken. This caused worry among the capitalists, who saw the mass mobilization of the workers as a sign that the workers were turning to revolutionary socialism…

A sign of this worry was the capitalists’ attempt to push the workers towards wrightism, a reformist tendency lead by the bourgeoisie, which told the workers to remain calm and “not demand too much”. Eventually the workers got tired of wrightism, as the experience of their every day lives quickly taught them that improvements in their lives, were never gained by begging and surrendering, but only by forcing the capitalists into granting the workers’ demands.

For this reason the workers turned their backs on wrightism and began more boldly to support the Socialists who expressed the will to directly tackle social inequality, and put forward concrete demands instead of pious wishes. Strenghtening of these sentiments led in 1899 to the creation of the Finnish Workers’ Party… which declared a “split from the bourgeoisie”. (Lehen, pp. 10-11)

“The founding of an independent workers’ party had a crucial significance to the working class and it proved to be a powerful catalyst in favor of developing mass mobilization. An increasing determination and steadfastness was becoming evident in the workers’ struggle.

The struggle took fairly intense forms in 1904 in Voikkaa where the conduct of a foreman sparked the anger of the workers and caused a strike. The employers called in the Finnish-Russian authorities who sent a gang of police to crush the strike. The police arrested the labour leaders and evicted from company apartments the workers who had been fired for participating in the strike.

In 1905 and 1906 there were several strikes that lasted for several weeks, even months. The metal workers’ strike, which consisted of 3000 workers lasted for 19 weeks. The construction workers were able through their disciplined struggle to win a 9-hour working day.

The strike that proved most significant was the logger strike of the Kemi-company in North, which began on logging sites in Kuolajärvi and Sodankylä and spread to Kemi, and which lasted consecutively almost the entire year 1906. The great single-minded determination and discipline of the workers was demonstrated by the fact that out of the 3000 strikers, during the entire year only couple dozen became strike breakers. The most immediate cause of the strike was that the Kemi-company had taken for itself a monopoly on selling food to the workers, had forced the workers to only purchase food from the company store at very high prices, or risk being fired. The food also proved to be dangerously rotten and unfit for human consumption but the employers had arrogantly ignored the workers’ complaints. The workers demanded that the company must sell them only clean and edible foodstuffs. Along with this the workers demanded a shortening of the work day to 10 hours per day, an increase in wages, and the abolition of the blacklist system.
Not agreeing to the workers’ demands the Kemi-company together with the authorities took action to stop the “rebellion”. It closed down the food shops trying to starve the workers into submission. As the company owned all the food stores, the workers had no other option to avoid starvation then to break open the doors of the food shops and organize food distribution to the starving, which was done according to proper payment and under strict observation. The employers asked for help from the authorities… a gang of 35 lead by police liutenant Bruno Jalander was sent to “pacify” the workers of the North. Tens of workers were arrested, around twenty involved in opening the food shops were sentenced for robbery and blasphemy[sic] to varying prison sentences.”
(Lehen, pp. 11-12)

The Workers’ Party

“The success that the workers’ party gained already in its first parliament elections showed clearly that the party had not only gained the uninamous support of the industrial workers, but it had also won a large amount of votes from among the rural population. A contributing factor was that the workers themselves had close contacts to the countryside and the rural poor. Members of the working class were generally speaking young people, only recently left from the countryside to the cities. The poor position of the rural population also naturally brought it close to the working class movement to seek support from it.” (Lehen, p.15)

“The experiences gained in these labour struggles explain at least in part the often pointed out fact that the Finnish working class movement was already early on very interested in struggle for state power, while trade union organizing lagged behind the political struggle for many years. The independent Finnish workers’ party founded in 1899 had to for several years also perform the duties of a central trade union organization, especially during large strikes because the Finnish Trade Union Federation was founded only in 1907.

The active involvement of the state authorities, the police, court system and state church into the disputes between workers and capitalists always on the side of the capitalists, gave rise to anger by the workers towards the reactionary state authority. The close connection of the Finnish representatives of that state apparatus to the Russian tsarist ruling class, whose repressive actions always first and foremost targeted the workers and their organizations, makes it easy to understand why workers had such an exemplary role to play in the indipendence struggle…” (Lehen, p 13)

“The rapid rise of the independent Finnish political workers’ movement culminated in the December 1905 general strike, a mass action of unprecendented size for equal municipal suffrage and to destroy the old feudal system that had resisted all social progress.” (Lehen, pp. 13-14)


The Tenant Farmers

“The most important social grouping were the tenant farmers, who cultivated the land they rented from the nobles, large landowners and capitalist corporations. In the relations between tenant farmers and landowners the essential question was that of terms of rent. In individual cases, such as when tenants would rent land from relatives, the terms could be quite tolerable… The general picture however was something different: a relationship of extreme exploitation and oppression where the position of the tenant was similar to that of a medieval serf. The rent payment in the form of a work-tax i.e. working on the landowner’s land weighed heavily on the tenants. The payment was not merely a reasonable or justifiable compensation for the use of land, but ruthless exploitation…” (Lehen, p.16)

The landlords would often cheat the peasants in rent terms. Most of the time there were no actual written contracts but rent was decided simply in verbal agreement. And of course most of the peasantry were illiterate.
“Another important grievance in the life of the tenants was the uncertainty of their situation. The terms of the rent were usually decided in oral agreement between the two parties. In the cases where written contracts were made, they were always vague and up for interpretation, and it didn’t benefit the tenant to appeal to the legal authorities since it was obvious that “law and justice” were on the side of the aristocrats, corporations and landowners. The violent and ruthless mass eviction of the tenant farmers of the Laukko manor house by the armed force of the “legal authorities” in May 1907 is an illustrative example of how the society of that time saw it as the noble lord’s sacred right, to treat his subjects how ever inhumanly as he saw fit.” (Lehen, p.16)

“The broken down doors and hearths of the cottages of the manors’ tenants, served as a metaphor for the dead end that the oppressed classes found themselves in: they had to do something to improve their lives, yet their attempts were met with even worse suffering.”
(Y. Kallinen, Hälinää ja hiljaisuutta, p. 26)

A common practice by the landlords was to let a tenant family move to an area where the land was of poor quality (this could be e.g. a bog, a swamp or forest) then let the peasant family improve the land (drain the swamp, chop down the trees etc.) so they could turn it into a farm. Then after the rent contract ran out, the landlord would evict the peasant and thus acquire the newly created good quality farm land for themselves. The peasant family would then be forced to move to another bad piece of land and repeat the process.

“For the tenant farmers the threat of eviction was always there, and it was an effective method of blackmail. It was used especially when the landowner wished to acquire a piece of land which the tenant had through their productive labour turned from a wasteland to fertile farmland.” (Lehen, p.17)

“…I met several tenant farmers who had been evicted, often even multiple times and each time had had to once again clear a new farming plot into a thicket or a bog on the property of the same landowner… I met an old man who had sat years in jail for resisting the crown’s police when they came to evict him for the third time… It was clear that people in this position were eager to hear and accept the socialist teachings, as it gave them an explanation about their own societal position and a path to follow towards liberation”
(M. Ampuja, Pajasta parlamenttiin, Turku 1947, p.73)

“… the pitiless violence the landowners had to use against their tenants was a sign of the rising class consciousness of the tenant farmers, who due to circumstance could only see the socialist movement as the strongest defender of their rights.” (Lehen, p.17)

“In those days, the tenant farmers of Finland had begun to follow the example of the industrial proletarians and had started mass organizing for their rights. In various parts of the country there were mass meetings, also strikes, the demands of which were mainly protections against evictions and against the arbitrary and absolute power of the landowners. The Workers’ Party gave its immediate support to the demands of the tenant farmers and other rural poor. It also helped them to organize their struggle. The Party leadership played an importan part in helping to organize the first nationwide congress of tenant farmers’ deputees in Tampere in 1906. The fact that 50.000-60.000 tenants out of a total of hundred thousand had representatives in this meeting was a clear sign of the desire of the farmers to fight side by side with the workers.” (Lehen, p.18)

Servants and Farm Workers: The Rural Proletariat

“The societal situation of [the house servants and farmhands] was even more oppressed and precarious then that of the tenant farmers.” (Lehen, p.18)

“Servants, who lived in spare rooms of houses [of their employer] or in cottages under severe surveillance… were not allowed to leave the house without the permission of their master, or to talk to outsiders. As the status of tenant farmers has often been compared to that of serfs or semi-slaves, that of the servants could rightly be compared to full blown slavery… An 1865 servant law which was only taken off the law books in 1920… gave the master of the servant the right to the most petty kind of spying, ruthless exploitation, inhuman treatment and even physical violence. The servant was not allowed to own a locked chest or a bag, all their belongings had to be visible for inspection by their master. The length of the working day was unlimited. Unlike the old slave owners, the master was not allowed to kill their servant, but he was allowed to hit them. According to the 3. article of the servant law, the master was allowed to physically punish female servants under 13 and male servants under 18 if they didn’t adequately fulfill the tasks their master thought “reasonable”, which according to Miina Sillanpää [a servant] meant 24 hour working days. In the case of the servants, the slavery was not lifelong, but instead was decided in year long contracts on the so-called “hiring markets.” However that year would in most cases turn out to be unbearably hard.” (Lehen, p.20)

“…Often the servant, when deciding upon the terms of the contract, is given entirely false information about the type and amount of the work. The servant is often promised more pay then he ends up getting. And as the contracts are usually made without any wittnesses, how is the servant to prove that he was promised more? The wage is entirely vague and arbitrary, and the servant lives with his master so he has to devote all of his time to working. Speaking about overtime pay is entirely out of the question. The servant can’t say he is working overtime, even if he works 24 hours per day, since the length of his work day is not limited in any way.”  (Minutes of the 6th congress of Finnish servants)

“Servants depended on their master for food. Even in the best cases nutrition was very basic… It was very common that even in those cases where the servants were allowed to eat in the same table as the master’s family, they sat in that part of the table prepared for the house staff and ate worse food.” (Lehen, p.21)

“Living conditions of the servants were below any reasonable standards” (Lehen, p.22)

“The condition of the rural servants is pathetic. The biggest outrage being the living conditions of the house staffs. This is most evident in Southern Ostrobothnia… part of the population lives in the most unhealthy conditions. It seems incredibly that even in winter people are forced to live in rooms which don’t protect from the cold, and contain no heating, not to even speak about the lack of all basic comforts. Therefore it is not uncommon that after a night of wind and snowfall the servent wakes up to find snow on his bed. However these living quarters are not all uplighting to the human soul during the summer either. Typically they have no windows, only a trap-door. Often they are built next to the manure storage, on top of store rooms were all sorts of gargage is held, and where dust and bad smelling air seeps through the loose floor boards… Living in these poor conditions brought an inevitable co-inhabitant – pneumonia, that horror of the poor, which rages among the servant class” (Minutes of the 5th congress of Finnish servants)

The Working Class Movement Before the Revolution

“…[I]n the summer of 1917 Finland was met with another hardship, unprecendented unemployment… the unemployed constituted the most restless element of the population: after losing their livelyhoods they began demanding work and aid. The workers understood that no improvement could be gained without an active struggle. Success depended on unity and organization… the Social-Democratic Party had 70,000 members in 1916, but in the third quarter of 1917 it exceeded 100,000 members. The membership of the finnish trade union federation increased four times over from 41,800 to 160,695. The tenant farmers’ union had 2000 members in May 1917 but at the end of the year membership had risen to 9000 and by February 1918 it was 12,000. The farm laborers who previously had been very badly organized… began to create their own unions and in mid August of 1917 there were already 70 of these organizations. The finnish farm laborers’ union was founded at the end of August in a meeting in Tampere.”
(Holodkovski, pp.18-19)

“…on 26. of March [1917] a strike broke out in Helsinki demanding an 8-hour working day. The same demand was presented as their primary goal by the strikes in April. The 8-hour work day was first implemented in the senate printing press, state railways and fortification construction works. Metal workers won the 8-hour working day on the 18. of April through a one day strike of 30,000 workers accross the country. The strikers’ demands were supported in Helsinki by Russian soldiers, sailors and workers who joined the Finnish workers. The demonstrators surrounded the building where the representatives of the workers were negotiating with the capitalists… The farm laborers continued to fight for the 8-hour working day and the struggle against the landowners’ resistance was often fierce… the farm laborer strikes broke out typically without agreement with the trade union federation… Most often the strikes occurred during the busiest farming seasons – during sowing and harvesting. Tensions tan the highest precisely during farm laborer’s strikes… the workers stopped working and prevented the landowners from bringing their relatives to work on the field… There were times when the large landowners refused to make any kinds of concessions. The owners of the large Westermarck farm declared before the beginning of the farm laborers’ strike, that they will sell or butcher every single one of their 700 cows. In the vicinity of Pori, one landowner left the grain unharvested and appointed White Guard soldiers to guard the field so nobody could harvest it. The workers of the nearby village turned to the Russian soldiers for help. The soldiers fired a few shots with a cannon towards the direction of the farm and the opponent was forced to surrender. Though the information is incomplete, we know that in 1917 there were at least 78 farm laborer strikes on 1949 farms, and they included 16 167 persons. Eleven of the strikes also included tenant farmers, though they were bound by their rent contracts, according to which they could be punished for participating in a strike. Altogether there was a total of 478 strikes in 1917, involving 150 000 workers… Other extraparliamentary activity by the workers also increased. Some declarations or actions by the workers, without the approval of the Social-Democratic Party, demonstrated a spontaneous shift towards revolutionary tactics, already before the Bolsheviks had taken power in Russia…” (Holodkovski, pp.23-24)

“The primary targets of these extraparliamentary actions, were the local government organs, which were in the hands of the rich… Getting working class representation in the municipal organs was not a matter of principle for the workers, it had a purely practical meaning, especially in those hard times. Destitution forced the workers to hasten the solving of this question. Typically the workers presented a demand to the municipal council that the council needed to also include working class representatives. Then they surrounded the building and refused to let the council leave until the demand was satisfied.” (Holodkovski, p.24)

“Municipal elections still used the ancient system, according to which the poor had no right to vote, but the rich depending on their wealth and property could have several votes.” (Holodkovski, p.16)

“The social-democratic municipal organization of Rauma demanded on the 5. of May that half of the seats in the munical council had to be given to the workers. In support of this demand a general strike broke out in the city on the 7. of May. It lasted for 15 days and ended in the victory of the workers. In Turku, a general strike broke out in 29. of May, demonstrators surrounding the city council building and demanding 25 seats for the workers. The newspaper The Worker wrote that if the shock troops the bourgeoisie had assembled tried to rescue the council then the Russian soldiers on the side of the demonstrators would open fire. Later it was told in the communist press that the shock troopers had been captured by the demonstrators… Members of the council were released on June 1. The demand of the workers was fulfilled. Similar incidents took place in Pori as well as other towns and villages.

The parliament also became a target for mass action. On 14. of July when the parliament was discussing the 8-hour working day as well as the municipal election reform, a crowd of several thousands surrounded the parliament… A committee of the demonstrators presented a statement to the parliament in support of accepting the reforms. The parliament was forced to agree… The bourgeois deputees in the parliament were afraid that unless the reforms were signed, there would be serious confrontations because the population was at a boiling point… However the reforms were never implemented because the Russian Provisional Government disbanded the Finnish parliament.” (Holodkovski, pp. 25-26)


The Peasantry’s Demand For Land Reform

“Out of all households with one or more hectares of land, 41.4% were renting, and most of them were tenant farmers… Most tenants had only a small piece of land… out of 96 167 tenant farms… only 1.4% had more then 25 hectares. At the same time 60 000 tenants farmed plots smaller then half a hectare. Poor tenant farmers paid their rent to the landowner in money and work done on the landowner’s land… Because the tenant also had to take care of his own farm, his work day during the summer was an average of 15-17 hours… Only 7% of tenants got enough income from their own farm and the rest [93%] had to seek additional income from employment… The status of a tenant farmer was extremely precarious: the tenant had no security about their future, since at the end of their rent contract, they might be evicted and find themselves and their family, homeless with no income…” (Holodkovski, p.13)
The ruling class refused to grant any meaningful land reform, as that would have gone against the interests of the landowners. They saw the situation was disastrous and peasant revolt inevitable, but in order to not go against the landowners the government opted for a compromise and tried to post-pone the land reform issue as far into the future as possible.

“When in 1908 the time approached when the tenant contracts would run out, the question of new contracts was not raised, instead the parliament signed a bill which prolonged the old contracts… The Czar approved this bill on the 12. of March 1909. The question was not solved in the five years prior to the first world war. In 1916 62 000 contracts were running out despite being extended in 1909. Huge masses of tenants were under the threat of eviction. To avoid massive internal destabilization that Germany could have benefited from in the war, the Czar issued a decree that the contracts would remain effective for the time being. Thousands of tenants escaped imminent eviction but only for a time. [A conservative politician] emphasized in a speech a few weeks before the Czar’s overthrow that the peasantry is rising up against the landlords, that this desperate group of people is dangerous and if the fire now kindling among them bursts into full flame the results will be terrifying.” (Holodkovski, p.13-14)

“Immediately after the fall of Czardom… the social-democrats suggested that in the Provisional Government’s manifesto be included that poor tenants won’t be evicted and are given control of the land they farm. This way the tenants could have been appeased. But the Russian Provisional Government pointed out the negative attitude towards land-reform, of the Finnish bourgeois parties and therefore declined the social-democrat’s proposal.” (Holodkovski, p.14)

“The short sighted and selfish policy of the bourgeoisie had prevented the tenant farmer question being solved by any legal means. Now the tenants had joined with the farm workers in strikes, and became like them targets of retaliatory actions… The finnish working class movement fought on the side of the rural poor, landless, tenant farmers and farm workers and guided these forces to action. The demands of these groups had been stated countless times and the bourgeoisie had not solved the issue. These problems absolutely had to be dealt with. From this foundation, the working class movement developed its demand for the liberation of the tenant farmers and raised them up to join the struggle.” (Hyvönen, pp.89-90)
The bourgeoisie could have solved the tenant question at any time, but when ever anyone tried to fix this crying social crisis, the capitalists prevented it. This way, they made peasant rebellion absolutely inevitable. They made the lives of the tenant farmers, poor peasants and farm workers so unbearable that they were bound to rise up in rebellion.

“The social-democratic parliamentary group proposed on 27. of March a bill for the liberation of the tenant farmers and farm workers…Some social-democratic speakers emphasized the extreme urgency … of this bill because in many localities tenant strikes were already breaking out, and unless the matter was solved the tenants would be pushed to the path of revolution… The bill was defeated with 98 bourgeois votes against 95 socialists.” (Holodkovski, p.136)

“Tenant farmers held rallies all throughout the country and declared that unless they were liberated by the parliament, they would liberate themselves. The tenants’ meetings accepted proposals to cease paying any more rent. For instance on 16. of march 1917 in Sankajärvi the tenants decided to not pay rent unless the bill was passed by the parliament. The tenant farmers of Lapusala demanded on the 3. of December that the social-democratic parliamentary group must take urgent action to liberate the tenants from the centuries old yoke… The final decision of the meeting proclaimed that unless the parliament freed them they would take revolutionary action, general strike and stop of all rent payments. Tenant farmers and farm workers of Kodisjoki demanded on january 6. of 1918 that they must be liberated and all land nationalized. They proposed that each peasant could thus rent on fair terms from the state…” (Holodkovski, pp.136-137)

Count Von Der Goltz, German General who later invaded Finland to crush the socialist revolution, said:

“The ground was fertile for revolution, and not just in the industrial centers but also in the countryside where the peasants were mainly tenants and not owners. As in ancient Rome the rent system caused great dissatisfaction in the countryside and caused even the hard-working and loyal… finnish peasants to be possessed by the … teachings of Russian communism… to become Bolsheviks.” (Graf von der Goltz, Als politischer General im Osten (Finnland und Baltikum) 1918 und 1919)
The reasons that led to the revolution can be summed up as follows: decades and centuries old forms of oppression, horrible working conditions, working days as long as 10-17 hours or even sometimes 24 hours, merciless exploitation and since there were no effective legal ways of making change and solving these problems, the masses were inevitably pushed towards revolution. The municipal elections were entirely undemocratic and in the parliament the capitalist politicians prevented any reforms from being passed. However, there was one even more immediate factor contributing to the revolutionary sentiments: starvation.

The Food Crisis

“At the end of 1917 it can be said that hunger had arrived in Finland… sugar rationing had already been implemented in December 1916 and at the beginning of 1917 rationing was introduced in larger population centers for butter, milk and meat” (Koskinen, p.16)

“Because no strong measures were taken to prevent black market speculation, prices increased to the degree that workers could no longer afford them…” (Holodkovski, p.134)

“…[F]ood was distributed with ration cards, but the food rationing system couldn’t work adequately unless the large food stores of rich persons and capitalist corporations were confiscated. However the government did not heed the demands of the workers as it would have contradicted the interests of propertied classes…” (Holodkovski, p.133)

“The economic situation of the working class had become intolerable. Since the earliest years of the world war, wages had fallen behind the ever increasing prices of foodstuffs… The people could not be given even reduced food rations and the workers and employees could not afford the black market prices. In autumn unemployment also began to increase threateningly. The working class suffered from widespread hunger. The rural poor also fell victim to it.” (Hyvönen, p.87)

“How widespread the hunger was can be seen for example in the notices posted in newspapers by the government food distribution body. A notice for December 1917 states the following:

“As is well known, in all cities, including their suburbs and rural regions whose populations are largely industrial workers or farming is not developed, have already since september been on the brink of famine. There have been two or three week periods when it hasn’t been possible to distribute grain. Thus the continuing and spread of famine threaten the entire country… 800,000 Finnish citizens already suffer from shortage of grain…”

A notice published on the 17. of January 1918 states:
“The number of regions, not only in towns but also in the countryside, suffering from shortage of bread only increases and in some areas it has gotten so bad that, according to the information given by food distribution committees, hunger has caused weakness and deaths.”” (Hyvönen, p.88)
“The food distribution board published in December 1917 that 800.000 Finnish citizens (one quarter of the population!) suffered from a shortage of bread, despite the fact that bread was already being made with flour that had flax, potato skins, lichen or tree bark etc. mixed in with the grain… sometimes people would lose consciousness due to malnutrition… six hungry students of a girl school had fainted during the morning prayer. The food board stated on January 17. 1918 that hunger had caused deaths in towns as well as rural areas. The food board received desperate letters and telegrams from various municipalities begging for help…

From Veteli: Bread grain for one week only, after that even the rye seeds have been eaten…
From Lapland: At the end of the week our stores will be empty, we request urgent action.
From Haukiputaa: People relying on rations have been without food for a week, will die soon unless we get flour.
From Raivola: We ask that you send us any type of food grain so we can distribute something to consumers.
From Pyhäjärvi: We request most humbly, that we could get even a small amount of food grain

The position of the food board became intolerable and on 24. of January its chairman… and [several] members resigned…” (Holodkovski, pp.134-135)

“The lack of food forced the working class to take determined action. On 19. of January the Red Guard of Vyborg began house searches of the bourgeois for food and weapons. The discoveries were bigger then expected. While the working class suffered from hunger, even died from hunger it turned out that the bourgeoisie had large flour, sugar, rice and meat stores as well as basements full of alcoholic drinks, despite the fact that liquor was illegal in Finland. Some bourgeois didn’t even know what ration cards were. The committees created by the workers acted in a revolutionary manner: they confiscated the excess food they found and distributed it to the starving.” (Holodkovski, p.135)

“[T]he so-called butter riots… began when the government temporarily stopped the distribution of butter rations. In Turku on 9. of August a crowd inspected food storages and after finding both butter and cheese (which was already starting to go bad) began to distribute the food in return for ration cards. The next day a mass meeting in Turku demanded that the parliament has to confiscate all food storages, ban the exporting of food (food was being exported to be sold in Petrograd where prices were even higher)… The population demanded that all food storages be taken under the control of the municipal government organs. Also in Helsinki the butter storages were inspected by demonstrators and the distribution of butter according to price controls was begun.”(Holodkovski, p.26)

“At night on the 14. of August the municipal employees of Helsinki began a general strike. They demanded the safeguarding of people, especially children and the elderly from hunger and starvation. The senate did not take any action. On 21. of October a delegation of the Finnish Trade-Union Federation issued a statement regarding the food question. It demanded making a careful inventory of all food stores, confiscation of illegal food storages, the handing over to the control of the state and municipal authorities of the most essential food items, giving full authority to the food distribution bodies in distribution and regulation of price controls, the handing of unused farm land to the state and municipalities and increasing of wages due to increased food prices… the declaration didn’t lead to any action [by the government].” (Holodkovski, p.39)

“The 4th Congress of the Finnish Trade-Union Federation met on December 12 [1917]. It pointed out that the conditions of the workers were so hopeless and unbearable, that unless the congress is ready to make radical decisions, the workers will take matters into their own hands. The food question was top most in importance… Many… deputees saw revolution as the only thing that could save the workers from starvation. Deputee Hakkinen said that unless the working class rises up to fight they will all starve to death… Deputee Pyttynen said that in Ostrobothnia the workers were eagerly waiting for the decisions of the congress and were willing to die in order to put them into effect… The deputee from Tampere said that workers of the city have decided to either win or die. Deputee Lampinen said that in many localities the workers have already began to take action, because it is better to die in battle then to do nothing and die of hunger…” (Holodkovski, p.51)




Tuure Lehen, Punaisten ja Valkoisten Sota
Esa Koskinen, Veljiksi kaikki ihmiset tulkaa: Lohja 1917-18
Viktor Holodkovski, Suomen työväen vallankumous 1918
Graf von der Goltz, As political general in the east (Finland and the Baltics) 1918-1919
Y. Kallinen, Hälinää ja Hiljaisuutta
M. Ampuja, Pajasta Parlamenttiin
Antti Hyvönen, Suurten tapahtumien vuodet 1917-18
Antti Hyvönen, Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue 1918-24
Antti Hyvönen, Suomen vanhan työväenpuolueen historia
Otto Kuusinen, “The Finnish Revolution: A Self-Criticism”

(*1910 figures which were not much different from 1917. Holodkovski, p.13)

Finnish sources have been translated to English by MLT