Class War Movie Propagation: “AGITATORS 1919” movie
Gondolkodó Autonomous Bookshop
gondolkodo. mypressonline.com; electronic mail: gondolkodo[at]citromail[dot]hu
Dialóglista / Dialogue list
AGITÁTOROK 1919 Film – AGITATORS 1919 movie
Produced by a group of young people, including the director Dezsö Magyar, in the experimental Béla Balázs Studios in 1969, Agitátorok (1971) is a response to the 1968 student movements and the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia presented through a cinematic portrait of Hungary’s short-lived 1919 revolution. The film, using newsreels from 1919 edited with reenacted scenes from the Party debates, remained banned by Hungarian authorities for nineteen years.
(Script: Bódy Gábor and Magyar Dezső – forgatókönyve alapján, Writing credits: Sinkó Ervin, Lukács György, Lengyel József, Ady Endre, V. Uraszov, Szamuely Tiborné, Marx, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and F. M. Dosztojevszkij - művei alapján.)
szereplők / starring:
Keserű Katalin-( comrade Anna )
Révai Gábor –Gábor
Bertalan László (László Bertalan) = Marton elvtárs (Comrade Marton =
Bódy Gábor (Gábor Bódy) = Botos= Ervin Sinkó
Cserhalmi György (György Cserhalmi) = vitatkozó (debating man)
Dobai Péter (Péter Dobai, Rajnai) = agitator
Földes László (László Földes) = Földes, a bõrkabátos (Földes=
József Cerny, Lenin boy)
Kézdi György (György Kézdi) = szerzetes (monk)
Kozák András (András Kozák) = színész (actor)
Oszter Sándor (Sándor Oszter) = agitator, újságíró (journalist)
Szentjóby Tamás (Tamás Szentjóby) = Szentesi= József Lengyel
Zala Márk, Márkus László néven (Márk Zala as László Márkus) = színész (an other actor)
Pintér György (György Pintér) = ellenforradalmár (counter-revolutionary)
Directory : Comrades, you will have to do with my greeting you in the name of the comrades returned from Russia. But if we are concerned with the formation of the intellectual group, we must remember: we are the party of revolutionary communists, and revolution is a cruel and bloody reality. You should take this literally if you want to join the party. Moreover, the party’s duty is to become both the high command and the army of the revolution. Therefore party discipline here is not an empty word, but it means that party members have to submit themselves to the will and goals of the party, in everything – in their words and in their actions. Whoever is not with us, is naturally against us. But those are much more against us, who are with us half-heartedly. Such people should stay away. That’s all I wanted to say and with this I declare the intellectual group of the Hungarian Communist Party founded.
Rajnai : You can present it like that, but you should wait with the Darwin–article at least. It’s not that urgent.
Németh: We can’t wait. Revolution will need well trained and versatile agitators soon as possible.
Rajnai: True. But it is important how you train them. I’m only saying wait with the articles on natural sciences.
Németh: Because that’s what I wrote. I know, I’m a mechanical materialist. There’s no God – that’s what you have to explain to the workers. And what’s that there is: material, capital, exploitation, and communism.
Rajnai: All right, agreed.
Németh: That’s what workers are interested in, not in dialectics.
Rajnai: I believe it. Surely, dialectics play an important role.
Németh: Did you come for the agitator course?
Student: Yes, we’d like to find out about it.
Németh: You too?
Németh : Do you know what an agitator does?
Boy: That’s what we’d like to know exactly.
Németh: If you finish these courses you will, if ordered, go to the front, to the villages, to agitate. If you only want to listen, or argue, go now. I need the list of the applicants in ten minutes.
Rajnai (Révai): Often even the most accurately conceived measures will fly off like a hot-air balloon in which anyone can sit bringing any old rubbish. And since they don’t know where they are heading to, they can even change direction.
Anna: That’s still better than when they change it consciously.
Rajnai: Yes. Or it’s not sure if that’s better. I think the worst is that the workers themselves don’t understand: even the most obvious things, are all yours. The factory is yours, the school is yours. What does that mean for you? Go down to the street and ask the first ten passers-by. It would be good to know their answers.
Botos (Ervin Sinkó): Yesterday the dancing masters of the inner city came in to get socialized.
Rajnai: They aren’t tight?
Botos: They fit perfectly.
Anna: Our measures succeeded too easily. There was too little resistance. As if those in whose name they had been made, wouldn’t have noticed them, either. The catastrophe, in the same time, is that we are almost innocent in our victory.
Rajnai: It was us who demanded proletarian dictatorship. We couldn’t say it’s too early.
For that matter, it’s not true. The situation and the masses were ripe enough for our measures. We had to act, and now we must act accordingly. We have to bring the notions of their own ethics to them, from the outside. We have to explain to them the paradox that collective property will be truly theirs not through dissipation, but through work. That only struggle can abolish struggle and only terror can create the world in which love will become reality.
Lenin boy (József Cerny): Are you coming?
Botos: I am.
Lenin boy: What you’ve been talking about?
Botos: About the fact poeple don’t think exactly int he way we have imagined Not all the workers understand our measures, so there are some who could turn them against us.
Lenin Boy: We’ll sort out those who are against us.
Hey, why are all these social democrats still around here? Is this what proletarian dictatorship is like?
Botos: Maybe. You see, that’s what I’m saying. We used to have our ready answers, and now reality is asking different questions. Only the tried, watertight answers are truly ours.
Voice: Did the masses really understand our goals? Did we really consider their level of maturity? Have we really consider their long term and concrete interests? Didn’t we effect measures administratively that could have evolved spontaneously? Did we ensure that our common goals were really common?
Botos: Come on.
Are you sick?
Old Man, servant: My legs have been crippled for a long time, now they had to be cut off.
Botos: You don’ want to help as, do you?
Old Man: I have been eating the count’s bread all my life.
Botos: The count was eating yours. We want everyone to eat his own.
– You’re a believer, aren’t you? ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.’
I. chronicles 28/2-3
‘Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building:
But God said unto me, Thou shall not build a house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood.’
I Cronicles 28/2-3
The Kingdom of Heaven can only be captured by violence. When was your son killed?
Old Man: In 1916.
Botos: Who shed his blood?
Old Man: The Russians killed him.
Botos: The count and his gang killed him! Your count whose bloody hands used to re-distribute your bread to you. Your count who now wants to drown our revolution, your son’s revolution, in blood!
Old Man: I know, I know. If I cut any of my fingers, it hurts the same. I am so anxious.
Voice: We’ve got them.
Old Man: The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.’
Szentesi (József Lengyel): The workers are working or not working the same as in the past, but they don’t have a clue about what’s happening around them, even less than before.
Rajnai: That’s not true. The council members and the party trustees are in their ranks.
Szentesi: Social democrats.
Anna: We regularly send our agitators and the Red News.
Németh: Leave him, the events speak for themselves.
Szentesi: But what are they speaking about? Everything is ours? Don’t you know that the workers are saying that food is as scarce as half-a-year ago? And that the functionaries in the Soviet house have plenty of everything?
Németh: This is counter-revolutionary propaganda.
Szentesi: It is, but it’s reality that makes them believe it.
Rajnai: Reality? What kind of reality?
Szentesi: The reality is that they feel nothing has changed except the posters. People are not liberated in their souls, and you can’t alter this with foot races or with agitation. Not even if you put them in some bourgeois apartment. They’ll forget about all this within half-a-year. They’ll get used to it, as one gets used to anything. Even to Margaret Island. And they’ll still see that the functionaries are living in the Soviet house, just like the officials in the offices, while they are in the bare barracks.
Rajnai: Tell me, who’s sitting behind the desk?
Szentesi: Barracks at least smell of horseshit, a smell I like, but these files smell of nothing.
Rajnai: It might be all the same to you, but it’s not for the workers.
Szentesi: Why should it be? They don’t settle their affairs, anyway.
Botos: Hold on! Put like that it’s a lie!
Szentesi: At least things would be settled easier without them. By the way, who is sitting behind the desk? Old notaries dressed as socialists, pinkish bureaucrats and social democrats – they are all just sabotaging the administration.
Németh: We know about these problems. But you, instead of doing something, are only spouting clichés.
Rajnai: Speak about the communists!
Szentesi: Communists? Well, everyone is a communist, isn’t he? The most communist of all the bureaucrats’ promises then promises more when he should act.
Botos: A lie, again.
Szentesi: Why a lie? You’re not reading the social democratic press?
Rajnai: You started by blaming the social democrats then quote their papers?
Szentesi: It isn’t the party that counts, but truth. Listen, the agitators who are going to the countryside make more damage than profit. New bureaucracy, stinking corruption.
Marton (Görgy Lukács): You should add: problems with the food supply, protests against the ban of bourgeois newspapers. And how strong is their sense of justice! Their every word is a poisoned arrow against the revolution.
Németh: Just like your talent would make more profit in this poisoned arrow industry.
Marton: As much as we agree, I still don’t need you to fabricate aphorisms of my sentences.
Németh: And I don’t need your cautions.
Marton: You think so? If I’ve already made this mistake, I can only hope it wasn’t pointless.
Anna: You should sit down a bit and think, you are talking nonsense.
Szentesi: You are talking nonsense! It’s good you have these slogans on the walls. I can hardly wait to be named a counter-revolutionary.
Botos: Don’t be surprised, I’ve warned you: you are the one who was speaking in second person, plural, all the time.
Németh: Besides, if you are already waiting for it, I can tell you that I consider your bullshit merely counter-revolutionary bullshit.
They have too much time to discuss things. Counter-revolution is counter-revolution. Why spend hours discussing it? What is obvious for you, you and you, for them is like, ‘Despite the fact that we agree...’, ‘Even if we agree, still…’ Do we agree or don’t we?
Rajnai: This arrogance is the arrogance of disillusionment. This disillusionment is as necessary a step in every revolution as any other extreme. This alone doesn’t mean the revolution is weak, only if it isn’t able to overcome it.
Anna: That’s not the problem. Szentesi has just brought up a lot of existing issues that you couldn’t explain, and you’re still avoiding them. Either these questions don’t have an answer, or we don’t know the answers.
Ady guote: „Anywhere you look you see fate and divine destruction, and the enthusiasm of the stupid dying, the people are preparing for sin and before the past disappears, the future arrives, coherent, glorious and ready.”
Marton: What do you want to say? That the revolution is incomplete? Why are you so pleased about this idea? We have to complete the revolution. We know where we stand.
Szentesi: Some people forget about it.
Marton: You are one of them. We’ve taken over the power, and now, with all our strength, we – and you, if you are a revolutionary – we have to preserve that power. Read Lenin! We are aware of the fact that the bourgeoisie will not give up its counter-revolutionary aspirations, we know they have bases here and that they are far stronger than us worldwide. That’s why we have to employ 90% of our attention and actions to enforce the proletarian rule and to eliminate the chance that the bourgeoisie will regain power. At the beginning of a revolution every revolutionary must focus on this. This is natural, necessary and unavoidable.
Botos, Lenin Boy, Agitators… : Suddenly a bunch of women came around dressed in lace, asking us to write into their diaries.
Agitator: You were flirting with them, weren’t you?
Agitator: I’ say, ‘We cannot write’, then she asks what do we know and winks at us.
Lenin Boy: Did you show her?
Botos: Liberalism has different manifestations. Although we know someone is being incorrect, we don’t discuss it with him, because that person is our acquaintance, intimate friend, schoolmate, and for the sake of friendship we tolerate his violation. The result is that both the collective and the individual will be damaged.
Voice: Encore! Encore!
Lenin Boy: Silence!
Botos: We criticize irresponsibly under cover, instead of making our proposals. We don’t say what we think to people’s faces but gossip behind their backs. We are quiet at meetings, and chat afterwards. We ignore the principles of collective life, and we engage in liberal laxity instead.
Old Man: Why are you telling us all this?
Botos: When an issue does not concern us personally, we don’t bother with it at all. We are aware when something is not right, but we prefer to keep silent about it. We only think to save our skin, to avoid the consequences. We place the highest value on individual opinions. We demand care from the organization from whose discipline we withdraw.
Voice: I’ve phoned the Executive Committee.
This is a violation of personal freedom!
Let me go!
Botos: Living among the masses we pretend to live above them. We omit agitation and propaganda work, we don’t care about the vital interests of the people, we don’t even know about them. We behave as we were simple citizens and forget that being a communist first of all means to be representatives of the interests of the masses. We display indifference. We don’t get alarmed at the violations of the masses’ interests and we don’t stop them. We skip our propaganda work and let others make theirs. Direct help is often more efficient than the nicest of speeches. Without the propaganda of acts the propaganda of words is useless. It’s all hit and miss, no plan, no direction and no awareness of whom our work will benefit. We work superficially, following the maxim ‘if one is a monk, one rings the bells’. We’ve made a mistake and we’ve seen it but since we have a liberal attitude towards ourselves, we don’t correct it.
Rajnai : How’re you doing? What’s new?
Szentesi: It seems soviet functionaries have made a deal: they recognize each other by rushing on the street, well, when they don’t go by car. Mortals would hurry or run, functionaries rush.
Rajnai: Now I’m really in a hurry.
Szentesi: I’ll go with you.
Why are you rushing? Do you really think you are doing something big, just because you are sitting in one of the district councils? Or you are a member of the central council? The new upper house?
Rajnai: I am.
Szentesi: I’ve read it.
More than five hundred thousand workers. They presented, as one body, with music, the printed lists with names issued by the Executive Committee. That was the election. I didn’t figure on any of the lists, but the social democrat leader, who had shot on the workers in Salgótarján, was on it. What’s more, he must be sitting in the central council, together with you.
Rajnai: Yes, he does. That should make it clear that the Executive Committee had to take care of the composition of the district councils and of the central council. But you are blaming me for this on the one hand, and on the other, for we had to make further compromises with the less conscious strata of the working class.
Szentesi: Anyway. It’s a pretty little proletarian democracy. All you can see of it from here, are compromises and new bureaucracy. Besides, do you know why these public buildings are so awful? Because people come to work here and not to live.
Rajnai: Just go.
Hey, what are you doing?
Szentesi: Funny. Everybody begins with that. Nothing constructive, unlike you. Just wanted to sunbathe a bit by the Danube but it’s hopeless: no sun.
Rajnai: You’re drunk. Don’t you know we punish whoever infringes the prohibition?
Szentesi: You know what? I’ll found the Useless People’s Party.
You’ve been drinking!
Voice: So what?
Szentesi: Prohibition’s in force, don’t you know it? Where did you get it from? Give me some.
Béla Kun: Comrade Botos! I ordered you to come to inform you that to incite against the members of the central workers’ council is to incite against the dictatorship, and that will cost one the revolutionary court.
Botos: I was speaking out of conviction. Just like up to now.
Kun: We have no time to deal with private convictions.
Botos: This is not a private conviction. What I was speaking about is the conviction of every communist.
Kun: I don’t let anyone outbid me as a leftist. Remember: here and now it’s only a personal question whether you’re a communist or not. And nobody is interested in this question, in this form. Neither myself, nor the workers. Here we have a communist program, the program of the Council Republic, which has been embraced by the united workers’ parties, and for the realisation of which now we are working and fighting. In this fight even the last social democrat is our ally, supporting our work. But even if it was my brother who wanted to disturb it, I would put him to the wall. Now you can leave, comrade Botos.
Comrades (Botos, Rajnai, Lenin Boy, Marton): How are you? Oh, our little patient. Here comes uncle doc.
How are you?
Anna: Can’t you see I’m fine?
Comrades: In this somber room?
Anna: I’ve thrown away all the bourgeois rubbish.
Comrades: What about this dreadful guard?
Anna: It’s good you’ve come, you’ll take him away at last. He’s sitting here all day reading poems.
Rajnai: Be happy you have a nurse.
Anna: I won’t die anyway. In such times one does not die of one’s own problems. What is the news?
Marton: There won’t be a proletarian revolution in Vienna.
Marton: Adler’s influence in workers’ circles is too strong. He managed to make them believe that an Austrian proletarian dictatorship is doomed to fail from the outset. This way he has crossed all revolutionary aspirations.
Lenin boy: That’s treason!
Marton: Responsibility lends a high moral standard to the social democrats of Adler’s kind.
During the war Adler made up his mind to assassinate Stürgkh. This decision was born of moral responsibility: ‘I am responsible for the war if personally I don’t do something against it.’
Now, in defying the proletarian revolution, the same sense of responsibility twists him into a reactionary. It is his sense of responsibility that keeps him from risking other people’s lives, for an uncertain goal. He is incapable of overcoming this dialectic. It is cowardice not to risk others’ lives.
Agitator: The Central Workers’ Council, the papers, are crying because of the terror. Then, when the counter-revolution launches its attack, they will shut up. In Kalocsa two boys were killed, three of them wounded. Do you think they’ll stop moaning now? They’ll restart tomorrow!
Anna: It is like in those ancient Italian towns where they hired a mercenary to destroy their enemies. And when he did the job, they started to moan about what to do with such a bloodthirsty man.
Agitator: And what did they do?
Botos: They killed him to make him the patron-saint of the town.
Agitator: Before, when the old Jews found a dead body in the town, they washed and raised their hands, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, and our eyes did not see it’.
Voice: He likes wine, don’t pour water in it!
Young Man: Could you introduce me to your friend?
Vioce: This is a thirsty comrade.
Szentesi: I’m not a comrade.
Decorator: The simplification of the line starts with us.
Szentesi: It’s as if this process was still too complicated.
Decorator: Deep water. Depth of the evenings, depth of the divers, the girlish depth of white roses.
Another: Stop speaking about depth. Speak about sharpness!
New Voice: The sharpness of the construction.
Szentesi: The construction of speech. The depth of sharpness. The nonsense of those who speak too much. Deep thinkers. I sharply see that the thought doesn’t touch upon things you could live with.
Acclamation: Exactly. And the only possible answer to all this is art. The liberal art, that stands apart.
Botos: We used to say everything and try to realize what we thought was right. Now suddenly we became diplomats, instead of comrades.
Marton: Nobody is acting openly and freely.
Rajnai: Whoever has to exercise power, cannot be as free as they used to be.
I believe your situation is difficult. We must take inhumanity upon ourselves. Much greater inhumanity than what happened to you. The terror itself, maybe even against our own people.
Isn’t that terror a form of the control by the masses, in a fraught situation?
If God posed the sin between Himself and me, who am I to oppose it?
Szentesi (Voice): Join the Party of Useless People! Articles: All members are obliged to praise God for He made them what they are. All members are obliged to feel fine in their shoes. ‘Thanks to You who made me what I am, a man who is of no use to anyone else. Thanks to You for defending me from the arrogance of useful people’.
Go out on the street! Show them the arrogance of their plans!
I don’t believe work makes man a man.
Protest against the violent executors of concocted theories!
I ask your forgiveness, Nature.
Down with the tax-collectors of human faith!
Rise up, pious lady, the dawn is smiling, with golden feather…
Botos: Kun and I have different views of the same question. It is not about who is the greater revolutionary. Remember what comrade Márton said about Adler? Social democrats have lead the workers movement for decades. But the revolution was realized by a handful of communists. Is it at all possible for a single person or single social class to realize both sides of the same dialectic? And isn’t there some division of labor within this dialectic whereby the separate sides stand for themselves? The real responsibility of Kun is to maintain the given situation. But isn’t that irresponsible, from the point of view of the development of revolutionary dynamics? Isn’t it my responsibility to assume that kind of irresponsibility he cannot assume?
Marton: Certain things came to your mind that come to the minds of all true communists these days.
Botos: With the difference that they didn’t do anything about them.
Marton :But this doesn’t mean that you’re right. The reprimand you’ve been given was entirely correct. But don’t worry! Kun wouldn’t exchange you for ten social democrats.
Botos: I’m not sure about that.
Marton: Look, dawn is breaking.
Counter-revolution’s Voices: The Soviet Republic failed! Hurrah!
The Soviet Republic is ended! Hurrah!
Down with the inhabitants of the Soviet House!
Voice: Hold on!
Counter revolution! Counter revolution!
The Soviet Republic failed! Hurrah!
Down with the inhabitants of the Soviet House!
Voice: Hold on!
Hold on or we’re going to shoot!
Whites: The proletarian dictatorship failed! Hurrah!
Teacher: So the Soviet Republic de jure does not exist. It is not a State, only a momentarily successful rebellion by a few people. This rebellion is not supported by any social stratum. It can only survive through terror. Thus the laws of the Soviet Republic don’t exist. This is not a court of law, not a tribunal.
President: I’m quoting from premier Károlyi’s letter of resignation: The Peace Conference in Paris decided to put almost the whole of Hungary under military control. Their aim is clearly to use the Hungarian territory as a spring-board against the Soviet Army. I turn to the international proletariat for help. I resign and give all power to the Hungarian proletariat.
The Soviet Republic got to power when the ruling class could not, and the people did not want to live in the old way anymore. You are now before the court of law of the Hungarian proletarian State, for uprising against the power of the people, and for high treason.
Student: Don’t call it the power of the people! Your dictatorship isn’t rooted in the will of the nation. It doesn’t have either a majority, or even a minority behind it. You’ve been inciting the workers for decades, but the worker is not an adventurer.
Voice: We don’t need you to speak for us!
Student: This is not the power of the people but terrorism.
Rajnai: Our power is the workers’ power. Its majority is a dynamic one which will be given its true meaning from the future of the revolution. It is a majority also because it will lead the whole of humanity to freedom.
Student: With terror! By treading fundamental democratic rights underfoot.
Rajnai: The most fundamental democratic right is that men can have a say over their fate. And the workers today want to exercise this right. According to Marx violence is the midwife of old societies pregnant with a new society. Violence is the tool that makes social progress happen.
The State of this new era has to be democratic for the proletarians, and dictatorial against the bourgeoisie.
We have driven away the factory owners and the landlords. We have expropriated the capital and the large estates. But with this the workers have only started to complete their task. The men of opportunity, the bureaucrats are sitting everywhere, waiting for the right moment to take the initiative and to turn the worker into a meek beast again and build their own power on his back.
Endre Ady poem: Our stone is ready to build with – We will come, not you, to make it – something big and sound, human and Hungarian.
Rajnai: So the workers duty is to crush them, together with you!
Studend: Your public aim is the complete abolition of private property. The aim is theft, the means are murder.
Teacher: And to make murder more official-looking, you set up this tribunal of which the members are as babies in the face of real law. And they dispose above the lives and freedom of people!
Rajnai: These babies are a thousand times more righteous than any previous form of oppression.
Student: The Hungarian National State de facto does not exist. It only lives in the hearts of people.
Student: You know this very well. But you are wrong about one thing: your own subsistence. When Hungary will become again a constitutional state, the law will punish you.
President: The Soviet Republic will use its power to organize, and not to destroy, national unity, through the democracy of the people and the council system. The internationalism of the proletariat is not at all stronger than the internationalism of capital and exploitation, which is perpetrating a lawless international intervention against us, and to which the old lords of Hungary have joined, forgetting all kinds of national feelings, like a bunch of yelping dogs.
Teacher: What I did, I did to restore legitimacy. I don’t feel guilty. Soldiers! You are denying your religion, your home country, denying you nation. This is the greatest sin. For this you will not be punished down here but in God’s…
Botos: The proletarian boys’ division that directly exercises historical coercion is about to be dissolved. In the same time, we deprive people of their lives, not out of historical coercion but out of a historical will directed towards the future. All in the name of an inconsistent conviction of relative safety.
Marton: You are always mentioning different things together. Where are your doubts coming from now? That all knowledge is only relatively safe? Or that we act consciously and not under coercion? Or simply that we deprive people of their lives?
Botos: I apologize if I am confused. Actually, all and none of them, rather something that would link all this.
Marton: Action never comes only from knowledge. For example, Lenin and Trockij could have realized perfectly the revolutionary situation and kept sitting in the library. They could have been watching from the window, like a meteorologist, whether the scientifically forecasted storm will really come. And then it might have not come. Or at least not this one.
All knowledge will make man skeptical. Hamlet is not able to act because he only knows. But he doesn’t have faith. No-one would dare to stand at the head of a revolution simply out of knowledge.
Thinking correctly only requires a correct theory. But in order that a man who knows good and bad can live and fight, he needs faith and responsibility for his knowledge.
Botos: If only I had the faith of Laci Földes… (Cerny)
Marton: Then yours would be the Kingdom of Heaven.
If someone believes because he doesn’t know what he could know, that’s not faith. That’s even worse than your doubts. Faith is not infantile but a Promethean reality.
Rajnai: Infantile faith is fake purity. There’s no resurrection without the Mount of Olives.
Alekszej Karamazov : It’s nonsense what you are saying. Zossima told me once, ’I used to have a brother, he died. He was asking the birds to forgive him. It might seem incomprehensible, still it was right. Because everything is like the ocean. Everything flows and mixes. You induce a movement at one point of the world and it will echo from another point. Be it a nonsense to ask birds for forgiveness, still it would be better for all creatures near by you, if you were better and more animated. Only a little better than normally.
Keep on your enthusiasm, useless as it is in the eyes of people.
Ivan Karamazov: I understand nothing, and I don’t want to understand anything now. I want to stick to facts. I made up my mind long ago not to understand.
Alekszej: Why are you putting me to the test? Will you tell me at last?
Ivan: You’re dear to me, Alyosha. I don’t want to let you go and I won’t give you up to your Zossima. I want to forgive, I want to embrace. I don’t want any more suffering.
But will forgive who has the right to forgive?
I don’t want harmony. I don’t want it out of the love I bear to mankind.
Besides, too high a price has been placed on harmony. I hasten to return my ticket of admission.
It is not God that I do not accept, Alyosha. I merely most respectfully return him the ticket.
And while I’m on earth, I hasten to take my own measures.
Alekszej: This is rebellion.
Ivan: Rebellion? I’m sorry to hear you say so. One can’t go on living in a state of rebellion, and I want to live.
Prisoner: One of the sentenced: I don’t get it. What is he talking about?
Botos: About the revolution.
Student: That’s why he wants the revolution. Revolution is different from rebellion.
What is the revolution?
Botos: To transform the social order.
Student: With new inhumanities!
Call murder a revolution, it won’t cease to be murder.
Botos: Since immense was the suffering of mankind and they called upon him for so many ages, Christ came back to the earth when fires of the inquisition lighted the nights. And again he walked among people, healing the sick and raising the dead, until the Grand Inquisitor appeared to throw him in Prison with his slaves. And one night the door of the Prison opened. The old man came alone to visit him.
Inquisition: Is it you? Do not answer, be silent. And, indeed, what can you say? You have no right to add anything to what you have said already in the days of old. All that you might reveal anew would encroach on men’s freedom of faith, for it would come as a miracle, and their freedom of faith was dearest to you, fifteen hundred years ago. Was it not you who said so often, ’I shall make you free’?
Alekszej: What did Christ answer to this mockery?
Ivan: Won’t you see? He’s silent.
Inquisition: You promised them bread from heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, always vicious and always ignoble race of man?
We’ll stand at the head of them and concede to take their freedom upon ourselves, which is so frightening for them. And we conceded to rule over them.
Oh, this work is only beginning, but it has begun. We shall have to wait a long time for its completion and the earth will have yet much to suffer, but we shall reach our goal and be Caesars and it is then that we shall think about the universal happiness of man.
And they will be all happy, all the millions of creatures. We alone, we who guard the mystery, we alone shall be unhappy.
They declare and prophesy that you will come and be victorious again.
But then I will point out to you the thousands of millions of happy babes who have never known sin. And we who have taken their sins upon ourselves, we shall stand before you and say, ‘Judge us if you can and if you dare’.
Know that I am not afraid of you.
I shall burn you because you have come to meddle with us.
For is anyone has ever deserved our fire, it is you. Tomorrow I shall burn you.
Student: And Jesus is silent?
Alekszej: Jesus is silent. What does his silence mean?
Second student: We are not silent. The parable doesn’t work. Communists do not suffer for power. They don’t suffer at all. What’s more, they feel pretty fine with their sacked goods. They slouch around in the mansions just like the counts used to do. This is a new ruling class of sackers, in the name of the communist ideal.
Student: And whoever tells the truth, will be condemned to death or jail.
Alekszej: But this in praise of Jesus and not in his disparagement! Your suffering Inquisitor is nothing but a fantasy. What kind of secret are they guarding? Maybe that they don’t believe in God.
Ivan: Maybe that they don’t believe in God.
Alekszej: These Jesuits are simply after a universal government on earth. It’s the most ordinary lust for power, for filthy earthly gains, a future regime of serfdom – that’s all they are after.
Ivan: Wait, wait.
Of course it’s a fantasy. But you don’t really think that the Catholic movement in the last few centuries is really nothing but a lust for power for the sake of some filthy gains?
And, mind you, the deception is in the name of him in whose ideal the old man believed so passionately all his life!
And even if there were only one such man at the head of the whole army of men carving for power for the sake of filthy gains, would not even one such man be sufficient to make a tragedy?
Alekszej: Christ would be silent the same.
Ivan: Yes. He’d be silent.
I’ll tell you the end of the story, if you don’t mind.
Botos: Ivan tells the end of the story:
Ivan: The silence of the Prisoner distressed the Inquisitor. He would have liked him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But he suddenly approached the old man and kissed him gently on his bloodless, age’s lips.
There was an imperceptible movement at the corners of his mouth; he went to the door, opened it and said to him: Go, and come no more, never. And he let him out into the dark streets and lanes of the city. The Prisoner went away.
Prisoner: So what do we do next? Kiss Béla Kun’s lips?
If I go to the army again and die, what’s the use of that for me?
Agitator: But what kind of life awaits those who’ll survive, if the dictatorship fails?
Németh: Comrades. The Red Army is the army of the people. Our barracks bear the names of Lenin, Trotsky, Dózsa, Luxemburg. This army is stronger that any army before. Let’s arm ourselves, all of us, and victory is assured.
One worker: But what’s the use of it if we die?
Németh: If we win, the whole world will serve only us, workers and soldiers.
Rajnai: What does consciousness mean?
To examine all our possibilities and compare them to our existence. Consciousness bridges the chasm that then gapes before our feet.
This collective bridge is class, unity and class-consciousness.
If you die, the whole thing is of no use for you. This is the only answer to your question.
The nameless victims of the revolution will give name and meaning not to the fight, rather to the future.
And this future begins with the fights of the Red Army.
How many are there?
Voice: Nobody, so far.
Rajnai: And this name?
Answer: An old veteran.
Németh: Comrades! The monthly pay of a red soldier is 450 crowns, plus a 50 crowns allowance after every family member. Nice money, no-one can deny it!
In the Red News you could read the other week that in Székesfehérvár alone 80 women and girls checked in as volunteers in the Red Army. But will the men here be left behind by the girls of Fehérvár?
And the best of it: It makes sense to enroll in the Red Army if only because the Russians are fast progressing through Romania and at the Tisza our Red Army will meet the Russian Red Army.
Rajnai: The communist agitation is not a pack of lies.
Németh: But we do need soldiers, don’t we? They used to get palinka in the war before the charge.
Rajnai : That war was waged for goals that were alien to them.
Németh: And our war serves the interests of the masses, right? This is what you wanted to say?
Németh: Thank you. That’s new to me.
Today, when the social democrat traitors use demagoguery to raise the workers against us, why shouldn’t we use the same means for our goals?
You deny politics. But we have to make use of it, in the way Kun, the Russians and Lenin are doing.
Rajnai: But what kind of politics?
The pursuit of mere individual wealth was the means of the class struggle waged from below. But after the take-over it can serve the interests of corruption and counter-revolutionary propaganda.
Németh: If we use the same means, we will soon have our worker saying, ’well, I’m a communist, but I want the kind of communism the Americans have.
Rajnai: Take care! Agitation today has to be a far more complex activity than in the past.
We have to take all the circumstances into account and aspire to effective results. That’s our task.
Németh: You shouldn’t believe to be the only trustees of revolutionary truth. Agitation can only strengthen the motions of reality. That’s why you have to learn from reality and adapt yourself to it.
Rajnai: But it doesn’t follow that we have to become the caretakers of the prevailing situation.
Vioce: When do we have to join? Seven days?
Németh: So you will come?
Vioce: It seems all of us have to go.
Németh : How do we stand?
answer: Fifty came from Erzsébet, twenty-three from Csepel.
answer: Újpest is still uncertain. We only have ten of them so far.
Németh: We have to make them accept the necessity of negotiations.
Now we’ll have the best agitators.
Vioce: Who do you mean by best?
Németh: Young workers who are faithful to the ideals and trust our policies.
Trust is very important. More important than faith is.
I could reach to anywhere with these youths.
Németh: Hungary is a small country compared to Russia. Still, the Hungarian revolution can play a bigger role in history than the Russian revolution did.
In this cultivated country they take into account all the experiences of the Russian revolution, they are determined about collectivization, and due to the fact that the ground is better prepared, they can build socialism more methodically.
Comrades! This address of Lenin happily documents the fact that the international proletariat is attentively following our cause.
Our cause is one with the World Revolution.
Botos: What’s going on?
Lenin Boy: A Russian comrade is giving a lecture at the agitators’ course. Just arrived, straight from Moscow. Going up?
Botos: How long are you on duty?
Lenin Boy: Until ten pm.
Botos: Will you drive me to Szolnok tonight?
Lenin Boy: I’ll try to get the car.
Németh: Comrade Sirjev will be in Vienna tomorrow, to reveal to Europe this bloody proof of the outrages of the White gangs. We would prefer to project the film to the whole country but we have no means of doing so.
You, comrade agitators, will understand from it how determined we must be in our fight against the counter-revolution.
Not with fake liberal humanism, and not even with Christian Dostoyevsky-plays, but with arms in hand.
All indecisiveness reduces the reputation of the dictatorship and requires more unnecessary sacrifice from the proletariat.
If we want to make the dictatorship more human, we have to handle this dictatorship even more firmly.
Let’s make this film a weapon in our hands.
Tell everyone about it, workers and soldiers. Let’s lead them to a relentless fight against the counter-revolution!
Voice: The situation of the Soviet republic of Russia is very hard.
The young soviet administration has to focus on the counter-revolutionary interventions and this fight is using up all our forces for the time being.
The Denikin-gangs are raging all over the Ukraine. Recently they have occupied the whole Donets Basin.
Wherever they go, their way is marked by the mass graves of red soldiers and of the inhabitants that supported them.
These corpses are often cruelly mutilated.
This roll of film was found in a raid against the whites.
One voice: Comrades! Let’s do everything to prevent the counter-revolution winning. We must win! We cannot fail in this war, because defeat here, even if we survive it, will mean the loss of everything.
Botos: Comrades! In our situation the most appropriate form of agitation is the fight itself. Armed, merciless fight. We have no way to know how the negotiations with the entente will end. One thing is sure: the fight will go on, and in this fight every agitator has to become a captain, to organize and connect his own small unit with the fight of the Red Army. To fight on the front and beyond the front, behind the enemy. The people support us everywhere. And every small group will trigger the resistance as an avalanche. Our place is in the armed struggle.
Németh: We cannot talk through our hats. This kind of agitation damages more than it helps.
These agitator guys have always known and will always know what to do and when. Not what you but what the given revolutionary situation dictates.
Botos: It would be time for you to start creating the situations. There’s too many already here who only do what their situation dictates.
Németh: And you create strange situations. First you make a speech for counter-revolutionaries, then for worker-agitators. But soldiers are fighting on the front and agitators play an important role in that. And we’ll fight ourselves when it will be necessary.
Botos: But necessity does not present itself always so strikingly as you imagine. Or if it does, it’s often too late.
If the necessity of the fight lives in ourselves, we must make it come true.
Leniny Boy: What are you planning to do?
Botos: First I’ll present myself at the captaincy then we’ll see. It would be good somehow to cross behind the Romanian lines. With a disciplined unit we might organize the occupied territories.
Lenin Boy: Want me to drive?
Botos: Can you?
Lenin Boy: I learnt.
Hey, could we swap scarves? I had wanted to ask you but always forgot about it. I couldn’t find a red one like yours.
Here, take mine.
Botos: I don’t need it.
Lenin Boy: Take it. And write when you need me.
Botos soliloquy (diary): It’s as if everything a man had done and thought were to embrace him. Be careful or the fake present will bury you. There’s no isolation so rich that it wouldn’t long for the dissolution of its borders. And there’s no enclosed perfection that wouldn’t carry its weeping wounds for nursing. The insurance is beyond yourself.
Cease-fire and waiting all along the Tisza.
Now as you are over twenty-one, it’s time to get rid of the bad suit they call yourself. That’s an alien product. A distasteful past tailored it onto you, to become an agent of it for all your life. To cut the thread entangled over your body, to become a nameless, open device. Make the fight your cold and objective function.
8th June. Summer is hot and disintegrating, the past disintegrates with it.
The soldiers are tired of the long wait. There are only a few of us. All quiet on the eastern front. Loose yourself and you’ll win the future.
13th June. I’m allowed to cross the Tisza river with a small division. Our group is made up of three parts: volunteers who had have enough of waiting
I chose the most trained soldiers; a few party members whom we should bring to the occupied towns over there; and some tried and trusted guys who had fled from the other side.
There’s a guy with me I know from the illegal times in Pest. Not much food, more munitions. We are going to cross the river at Tokaj.
27th June. There are birches here and sand, just like in Russia. It’s hot, most of the grass has been burnt out. For the time being we avoid bigger places, we mostly occupy deserted farms.
The remaining population is intimidated by the cruel terrorist actions of the Romanians. They are probably already aware of our presence, since near to Gáva we entered a firefight, and for a short time we occupied the mansion of Vencsellő. We can expect that a bigger unit will be sent against us from Nyíregyháza.
Divided in two groups, we are heading for the south, towards more populated areas.
Do you remember? Once you told me, ‘Try to press your face into long grass, lying on the ground, and you’ll feel how good it is. The ground is good, the grass, the trees. They are not neutral, but good, because they don’t want anything. They don’t impose tasks. That’s only for us, bad humans.
9th July. It’s still hot, it isn’t rained for weeks. We left Kisvárda county behind, where we had managed to stir the situation up a bit. The Romanians fortified the Tisza-line, making it difficult for us to turn back.
The vegetation of the summer is spreading.
Németh: It is important. This kind of romantic revolutionarism of Botos has nothing to do with the fight of the working class. Now, the fight of the working class is the main thing, that always will find its ways.
You can agree or disagree. This is the only thing that exists. This is good. There’s no ’but‘s.
Marton: It’s not right to identify yourself with the working class.
Németh: But I do. I’m a worker.
Rajnai: You are a communist.
Marton: A communist worker.
You are a communist functionary. And your duty is to consider individually all political relations.
For a worker it’s easy to decide, whether a policy is good or bad for him. He feels it. The fight of the working class is one thing, but the fight of one who has an overview of the situation, is another.
And this question cannot be settled by saying that you’re a worker.
Rajnai: At the moment we are living a succession of emergencies. Situations where you can only do only one thing well. But these emergencies shouldn’t be absolutised.
If not today, then tomorrow the moment will come when we’ll need to think, and to a certain degree it will be our thoughts which direct the course and success of the events. And then the trajectory of these thoughts will matter.
Németh: That’s a truism. It only tells me that man is thinking.
Rajnai: Yes, but…
Németh: See? This ’but’. You won’t want to explain this ’but’ to me. It’s not for my stomach. Something is either true or false. This starts to be like the whole Botos-story. He organized his division in the front in the name of this ’but’, and caused the death of the best boys, superfluously. And this ’but’ caused his own death.
Rajnai: Botos’ death is another question. Besides, it depends on the range of one’s thinking.
See, here is your weak point. You can cope very well with self-justifications.
And then, without this ’but’ you have to lie to yourself as well as to others, that everything you did was right, merely because you did them as you could.
But you cannot violate reality for very long.
RajnaI: Won’t you bring the gramophone?
Lenin Boy: We’re only going with you to Győr.
Rajnai: There are two kinds of revolutionary thinking. One is innocent, where the principal is not detached from immediate existence. It wants to improve what exists, therefore it acts. Good or bad.
The other one, too, wants to improve. But it knows that it has to act for it, and assumes the action. Good or bad.
And both are relative. In the first case action is relative: What’s to be done? What can I do?
In the second case knowledge: what I know. What I could know.
And both want to transform history. But history will slip through our fingers.
Marton: There’s only one way of correct revolutionary thinking: the one that is able to act the most appropriately in the given situation. In this sense there’s as many types of correct thinking, as there are revolutionary situations. Now and in the future we have to be aware of that.
Rajnai: While history will laugh up its sleeve.
Anna: We ourselves are history.
Revolution is the only form of war where victory can only be prepared through a long line of defeats.
Rajnai: Who said that?
Anna: Rosa Luxemburg.
Lenin Boy: Cheer up! You’ll come back soon.
Németh: I’m not sad.
Lenin Boy: We’ll wait for you at the station, with cars. The cars will be painted red anew. One machine-gun ahead, another in the rear … tac-tac-tac
Németh: We have to skimp on the munitions.
Lenin Boy: We’ll shoot only short rounds.
Woman voice: You’ve gone mad, Gábor. Won’t you stay here? Run away before it’s too late…
Gábor: Why run, why away? Why is everybody so scared? No surprise anyway that you are scared. But the workers!
Woman voice: The Krauss’ were hung yesterday in their own flat. The man was cruelly…
Gábor: Don’t cry! Tell me instead who came?
WomanVoice: The same gang was strolling twice in the neighborhood. They were searching for you, too.
Varga sent a message that they will smuggle you across the border, in a driver’s uniform.
Leave soon, Gábor, people say Horthy will be here in a week…
Gábor: Stop it.
Marton: Now it seems society has arrived behind its starting point. In reality we still have to create the starting point. That situation, those relations and conditions among which modern revolution can only become serious. Bourgeois revolutions are running from success to success, dramatic effects are created one after the other. Men and things seem to be lit by an eternal flame. Every day is dominated by an ecstatic spirit. But these revolutions are short lived. They reach their climax soon, and society will be caught by the feeling of surfeit before it learns how to appropriate soberly the results of its period of fermentation. (Marx)
Marton: What are you thinking of?
Rajnai: Can have things to think of, can’t I?
Marton: Sure you can. But listen: proletarian revolutions, on the contrary, criticize themselves continuously, their course is getting broken all the time, they turn back to what had already been completed, to begin with again, they cruelly and drastically mock at the awkwardness of their own first attempts. It seems they only floor their adversaries so that they can draw more strength from the ground and attack them anew, and more powerfully. They boggle again and again at the undefined grandeur of their own goals, until a situation is imposed in which all return will be impossible, and then the relations will themselves cry:
‘Hic Rhodus, hic salta!’
Long Live Communism!