András Szalay

About Anarchism

“Against Tyrants All Means Are Lawful”

 

 

Radical Socialists

 

Several years before a burr (who wanted to be a historian of the working-class movement, and for today has already stepped to the „glorious road of the brilliant career”) gazed at the mere fact that the Radical Socialists did exist, although there have been publications about them already in the Kádár-epoch. But this proletarian group didn’t manage to infiltrate into the proletarian common knowledge, to which social democracy and bolshevism had bought a long-term subscription. Collaterally with the well-proved bourgeois methods of concealing, it is also a fault of the working class, that it is not aware of the continuity of its own struggle. So if we look for similarities between the present and past struggles, we usually get into the forest of silent obscurity, and searching there for a while, at last we find our „ancestors”. Down with the veil, down with the mystification, down with the amnesia, down with the dictatorship of the walls of time! – we cry, and try to present our struggle – or at least a corner of it – in its natural continuity.

In the first half of 1881, 11 activists of the General Workers’ Party of Hungary couldn’t stand any longer the lukewarm and compromising social-democratic policy of the party, and established contacts with the journals „Freiheit” (published by Johann Most) and „Die Zukunft” (edited by Josef Paukert). They wrote letters to both of these journals, in which they condemned the reformism of the GWPH. The activists founded a new party which was called Radical Workers’ Party. In September 1881 they established their Executive Committee, through which they could centralise their activity. They met 2-3 times a week. In this meetings they discussed their pieces of reading (the works of Marx, Engels, Most, Bebel, Weitling etc., various journals), and talked about the recent political events. Their organizing ranged all over the Monarchy: from Bratislava to Vienna, from Osijek to Kosice. They had contacts with the Austrian comrades who gave them financial help. This way they could publish from January 1882 their own journal called „Der Sozialist”. The social democrats (just like their future sprouts, the Bolsheviks) always talked with pleasure about the arrests of the radicals, but they couldn’t make a serious critique, because in the essence the radicals stood on the basis of the Communist Manifesto. At the beginning of 1883, after long debates, the editorial board of two papers were set up by the party leadership. Rudolf Hoffmann, Tamás Pudleiner, Róbert Cziegelbrier, András Szalay and Tamás Tóth became the editors of „Radikal” and of „Népakarat”. They had close contacts with the Austrian anarchists, the Communist Workers’ Association in London and J. Most. Usually they dealt a lot with the Russian events, fostered the memories of the Paris Commune and propagated internationalism with undiminished energy. In 1883-84 they participated in several strikes and gave financial support to them, they attacked the wage struggles and called everywhere for revolution. They published Radikal in 6000, Népakarat in 800-1500 copies. In 1884, state of emergency is initiated in Vienna, about 250 anarchists are banished from the country, many of them came to Hungary. In February this year, the police got a command to shadow the militants. At the end of the month, they ordered the turning out of the anarchist and socialist comrades from the capital. Two days after, they arrested by a made-up charge one of the basic members of the party, Ármin Práger. In the 30th of February, András Szalay and his comrades thrashed the sleuths. In the 13th of March, 36 comrades were arrested and expelled from Budapest. After that, Népakarat was published only four times. At the end of March, there were new arrests and the newspapers were distrained. In the 2nd of May, András Szalay, the author of the article below, who was seriously pulmonic, died. One of the reasons of his quick death was, that he was taken to hospital only a week after his arrest. There was a workers’ demonstration on his funeral, in the 4th of May. During the harassment the party was liquidated, but many of the former members continued to agitate all over the country, some of them joined the oppositional current of Engelmann within social democracy. As we can see, this party-cell didn’t make a distinction between anarchist and communist movements. Their program, which was published in 15th of September, 1883 in Népakarat, teems with misleading concepts (for example, it writes „people” instead of „proletariat”), and it accepts uncritically the false theses of the Communist Manifesto (its democratic elements). But their mistakes and errors do not change the fact that the Radical Socialists represented an intransigent proletarian party-cell.

Finally, we publish an article from András Szalay, which appeared in the 15th of April, 1884 issue of Népakarat. This writing is not without lessons: though its returning moralism and wrong concepts, it grasps radicalism at its roots: the propagation of revolutionary struggle. It’s a fact, that the Radical Socialists – just like the whole international proletariat – carried the weaknesses of the historical period, and – according to that – those of the class. So we have to formulate even deeper an deeper the criticism of our own proletarian movement. The clarification of the proletarian program goes hand in hand with the proletarian movement, and we mustn’t organize a political party to the political program. Since program and movement together form a complete unity. It reaches higher and higher levels of organization. But if we fight for this, it is necessary to take into account the struggles of the past. That’s why the history of the anarcho-communists of Radical Socialists is edifying today, tomorrow and always, until we will destroy the democratic chaos of liberals, fascists, social democrats, Bolsheviks, anti-fascists, peace-newsboys, clericals: shortly, of the proletarian-sweaters: capitalism.

 

Barricade Collective, June 2005

 

 

András Szalay:

About anarchism

“Against Tyrants All Means Are Lawful”

 

The further we proceed on the field of battle, the more we do for the welfare of the people oppressed and subjugated by tyrannies, the more the idea which leads us towards the welfare of the people proves to be correct. This is also proven by the abominable behaviour of the ruling class against the people.

The fight for the overthrow of the existing society is no more one of individuals, but of millions. Let us look around the globe and we shall see that in all states of Europe oppressed people have started to fight against the tyrannical privileged ruling class. The people have justly taken up the gauntlet thrown to them provocatively by the ruling class.

Hitherto one part of those working towards general welfare wanted to achieve this aim on a “republican” basis (naturally, with class differences); another part pursued the social democratic (parliamentary) way. Now a third, numerically much larger, has, by its own thinking, reached the insight that the welfare and complete happiness of the people will never be achieved as long as they are confined by the fetters of the state, even though that state may be called a “popular state.”

Because anarchism is convinced that where there is a government there is need for those to be governed, it does not wish to accept any fetters, least of all those imposed by present governments. Instead, it believes that once people are relieved of today’s “paternalist governance,” social life will take immediately a turn for the better, a turn entirely different from today.

The present governments, as they stand, together with their laws, their agents, and mercenary followers, are but bastions of the privileged class. They defend its rights and properties usurped from the people against the millions of those expropriated and disenfranchised. Hence, under the present conditions of governance mankind is exposed to eternal robbery, pillaging, and endless oppression.

If there is any thinking person who regards the system of governance of whatever type good for the people, he commits an unpardonable crime against humanity. Where a government emerges, or where—let us assume—there is need for one, there must be distinguishable kinds of people: lords and servants, wealthy or poor, some differing in nationality or religion. Governance serves here merely to balance the eternal conflicts between these variously differentiated people, or at least this is how it justifies its greedy actions, satisfying its own greedy and selfish needs by keeping order among the people stupefied by the same state.

This is not the case with anarchism. In an anarchist society all that which constitutes the foundation of present society, namely the above-mentioned differentiations, has to be extirpated: there ought not be any class difference in any respect; instead the unity of mankind must serve as the basis for everything.

In order for people to live up to the expectations which characterize anarchy, they have to discard everything which is connected to selfishness; everybody has to act in an unselfish way to the best of his ability for the interest, benefit, and sake of the great majority.

Barriers between masters and servants, rank and authority, have to be demolished. Anarchy does not know rank or authority, only men as equals. Where the former exist, there is humiliation and servility. Authority leads to tyranny, servility to enserfment.

Property, which is the barrier between the wealthy and the poor, has to be torn down. Property is the wellspring of all evil; thence comes class difference between the leisured ruling class and the propertyless working class. Property is a hindrance to equality and brotherhood, for as long as property exists there can be no equality and brotherhood. The privileged class is able to dispose of its appropriated goods so that it descends from family to family, from son to son, together with what they accumulate from the servile people. Why could not a unified enormous mankind decide to take all the goods of the earth out of the hands of those who now usurp them and invest itself with them as its immediate and exclusive property, so that every single one of its members should be obligated to cooperate physically and mentally, and for this equal obligation receive equal rights to enjoy the common goods emanating from the common effort, from generation to generation? For this earth was given to mankind for common use, and hence we have common claims to it.

We must also point to two more major factors, namely to laws and to religion, which act as major forces against progress and enlightenment. It is well known that what compels us to respect the present unjust social conditions is called "law." Anarchism argues that all that which today is called a law has no right to exist. Everybody knows that oppressive governments mislead, cheat, rob, and exploit mankind for their own selfish use in the name of laws. In a unified society there is no need for a government and its tools, manufactured laws. There only the laws of nature will reign, against which no one can trespass. Let us consider: where manufactured laws exist in greatest number there we find the greatest number of those who infringe upon them, and where there are fewer and less exacting laws, fewer people trespass against them. Today's manufactured laws are obstacles to progress and enlightenment and therefore must inevitably be opposed.

Let us abolish the state and grant everybody complete individual liberty and freedom of expression; let us abolish rank, authority, property and with them the present system of production; let us make the people into one great unit—in a word: let us accomplish all that which the holy words “liberty, equality, and fraternity” imply.

We shall see that such a unified human race will not need any of the laws now fashionable. Furthermore, anarchism demands the abolition of all religious confessions, for religions are fetters on the human mind and hinder its development, besides serving as a main tool for secular powers in their oppression of humanity. Priests are there to keep people in eternal sloth and superstition through religion; that they do not awake from that inebriation into which they sank thousands of years ago; that they never become sober and hence remain unable to be their own masters; that through the religious confessions constant conflicts may arise among the people, so that they, bereft of more reasonable considerations and fully occupied by religious fanaticism, could be oppressed by evil men. The proponents of religion claim to be the champions of morality for a blindly believing mankind, which does not realize that all immorality on earth comes from the religious confessions. The happiness and mental enrichment of humanity will not come from religious confessions but from all men being able to confess to being free, free like the birds of the sky! One nation on earth: humanity! One fatherland: the earth! One god: truth! To believe only in that which is proven by sober reason and not in that it is forced to.

If the people will accept the rules and commands of anarchy and fight for it with one will and soul until it is all achieved, then we will have nothing to fear—for the Messiah will have arrived.

Just as the tyrants of those times made the oppressed people kill Jesus of Nazareth, the great teacher, the man of the people, because he rose against tyranny and wanted to bring welfare to the people, the present-day tyrants want to have anarchism, which brings salvation and happiness to the people and redeems them of their slavery, killed by making it hateful to the people. (...)

The “bourgeois” press presents anarchism as a “monster” and wants to depict it as something not to be considered or studied with attention, but rather to be feared. This has always been so: the powers are eager in the most base manner to clip in the bud and trample underfoot all those lofty ideas which were to bring salvation and happiness to the people. The powers have never benefited the people but have always stood for their oppression. Today millions have realized this unforgivable baseness, and oppressed people are now fighting in international unity with all their means and weapons to confront and eventually to stop this happening, disregarding the alarmed protests of the powerful, their jails and bayonets. Nobody should be frightened by this base behaviour against the people, for it is a sign of fear, and he who fears is surely guilty; hence, the people are justified in using all their means against their tyrants and extirpating them to the very last one. (...) When this is done, the foundations for the happiness of the people will have been laid.

Onward the struggle! Against tyrants all means are lawful!

 

(Népakarat [Will of the People], 15 April 1884.)