The Left

Struck dumb

I’ve been re-reading Pete Fryer’s account of the Hungarian revolt in 1956, Hungarian Tragedy.

Fryer was the Budapest correspondent of the Daily Worker (forerunner of the Morning Star) and then the paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The paper refused to print Fryer’s accounts of the crushing of the revolt by Soviet tanks and he resigned from his job and later left the CPGB.

His postscript to his book includes a passionate denunciation of Stalinism which contains some points that might well apply to those who appear to be oblivious to the pathetic way in which they are repeating history.

Struck dumb by Stalinism, we ourselves grotesquely distorted the fine Socialist principle of international solidarity by making any criticism of present injustices or inhumanitites in a Communist-led country taboo. Stalinism crippled us by castrating our moral passion, blinding us to the wrongs done to men if those wrongs were done in the name of Communism. We Communists have been indignant about the wrongs done by imperialism: those wrongs are many and vile; but our one-sided indignation has somehow not rung true. It has left a sour taste in the mouth of the British worker, who is quick to detect and condemn hypocrisy.

Stalinism is Marxism with the heart cut out, de-humanised, dried, frozen, petrified, rigid, barren. It is concerned with ‘the line’, not with the tears of Hungarian children. It is preoccupied with abstract power, with strategy and tactics, not with the dictates of conscience and common humanity. The whole future of the world Communist movement depends on putting an end to Stalinism. The whole future of the British Communist Party depends on a return to Socialist principles.

That I am ostracised by the petty Stalins in the British Communist Party is of no consequence. What is important, and what must be stopped without delay, is their dragging Socialism in the mud. The writing is on the wall for them. Once too often they have lost an opportunity to speak out in ringing words against oppression. This time their shame is so obvious that anyone who has not retired into a fantasy world can recognise it.