The Significance of 1968 in the Party Control of Pop Music
The study strives to introduce a special segment of the cultural policy of the Kádár regime, namely to show the influence of 1968 in controlling pop music. The main emphasis lies on the influence of the Hungarian economic reforms and on the intervention in Czechoslovakia according to Soviet directives. It is important to know that these two historical events had their influences at the same time but in different directions: Hungarian reforms tended towards the liberalization of the regime, while military intervention in Czechoslovakia revealed the reality of the orthodox Communist rule. As a consequence it is a really complicated task to reconstruct the cultural policy of the regime in this period. The study uses the sources of the Department of Propaganda and Agitation of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, those of Scientific, Educational and Cultural Department and the Propaganda and Agitation Committee. Moreover precious details can be found in the documentation of Communist Youth Association. These sources are juxtaposed to the oral history interviews with János Bródy and László Benkő, the representatives of the two most popular bands in the era.
„We Don’t Like this Regime and We Must Do Something about it.” Fly-sheets of Youth in the Summer of 1968
A couple of days after the intervention to Czechoslovakia the police found approximately a thousand of fly-sheets in Budapest. The sheets were produced by critical youth. Their action was one among the few protests against the intervention. As it was reconstructed, they had already made up the idea before the occupation of Czechoslovakia, but it gave them an impetus both for criticizing Hungarian situation and Soviet intentions. The study seeks to understand and introduce the motivation of the youth, which led them to such a dangerous action and it also strives to reconstruct what kind of experiences and principles were behind their action. The social composition of this youth group reflects how mainly young workers and apprentices saw their circumstances and what kind of dissatisfaction they had. They blamed the regime for the present dismal situation and wanted changes. Stories about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 influenced their thinking, they also had some information about Western European student movements and when the events of the “Prague Spring” happened, finally they decided to move. They also wanted adventure, as it is normal among teenagers. But the regime was not gracious to them. Although most of them got only police warnings, but their leaders were sentenced to prison. The verdict was even aggravated, which was a sign for cutting back the former, more “liberal” views of the regime.
Antecedents of a Reform Process The Road of Czechoslovakia to the Intervention of 1968
After the one and a half decades of Stalinist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia a reform process started from the beginning of the 1960s. First reforms appeared in the economy, but very soon the question of political changes emerged. The revision of the legal misuses of the Gottwald era came to the agenda, but the cessation of the cult of personality went very slow and the quest for a real democracy, for freedom of press and speech became greater and greater among the intelligentsia. The progress accelerated in 1967 and the Novotny regime fell into a crisis. The Czechoslovak Communist Party saw the solution in promoting the changes itself, which manifested in electing Alexander Dubček as first secretary in January 1968. This was the first step in the attempt for changes that were later called the “Prague Spring”. However, it had to face the revenge of the Eastern Bloc very soon: Soviet leaders were led by the recognition that the geo-political situation of Czechoslovakia, as being a border country with NATO-states, was very important in the new Soviet military concept. That’s why it gave a pretext to realize an old plan of Soviet Union to increase Soviet military presence in Central Europe. The motif behind it lies in the fears of the Bolshevik political leadership, which found any slight reforms dangerous to the system. The language of force was applied by Moscow, Berlin, Warsaw, Sofia and later also by Budapest, to ruin the first signs of freedom of press.
A Riot Against “the Something” Handbooks of 1968: Marcuse and Debord
As it is well-known, in 1968 “something” happened from France to Czechoslovakia, from Vietnam to the USA, which distinguished the period before and after the events. The Western European upheavals were closely linked to a new type of social criticism, which was based on the critique of modern capitalism and especially that of the existence of the consumer society. The members of the younger generation who had no experiences about World War II openly rejected the value-system of their parents. The principles of this riot, however, exceeded the tenets of a generational conflict because of their universal character. Nevertheless the Western European “1968” could not reach its only faintly defined political aim, although it influenced culture and life-style decisively. The question is open: did the political failure of “1968” result from the weakness of the efforts, or can it be derived from that characteristic of capitalism that it is capable of absorbing and transforming even the attempts to its ruin into commercial goods? The study does not pretend to answer this very complicated question, but recommends two authors who have been often regarded as theorists of “1968” up to now. The analysis of one of the works of Herbert Marcuse and Guy Debord the author wants to shed light on their indirect influence, too, as they not only described the capitalist system, but emphasized the difficulties to overcome it. It is worth pondering because fifty years have passed since “1968”, the last left-wing attempt.
Eszter Zsófia Tóth
Miniskirts, Infecundin and Trial Marriage. The Influence of the Sexual Revolution of 1968 in Hungary
In her study the author examines the influence of the sexual revolution of 1968 with the help of primarily press sources. As a consequence of the scientific development and the movements of 1968, sexuality was released because first in the history women could take pills and thus decide whether they wanted to bear a child or not. This had wider consequences for example in life-style, in partnership and fashion. Western model appeared for example in wearing badges and miniskirts in Hungary quickly, but larger changes occurred slower. For instance trial marriage and communes belonged to the latter. The author discusses also the world of Communist youth camps, called “building camps”. In these communities freedom could be exercised. But the most important motivation was the spread of contraceptive pills.
Shared Life – Shared Space The Commune of Orfeo Group in Pilisborosjenő
The Commune of Orfeo Group in Pilisborosjenő was built by 1974 and became the place of an alternative artistic activity and life-style experience. As the building was ready, the commune was filled with life. The use of time, of space and that of the material culture, the personal interactions, the creative work, the organization of the everyday life of the commune made it very attractive, but at the same time it was a test of theories in the practice. The ground plan of the house, the method of its building, the choice of the materials, the creation of space and furniture reflected a certain social view, an ideological reality and strong symbolism. The creators conceived their project to oppose the official cultural policy and their everyday life was primarily influenced by their created reality. The house was built in the slopes of Pilis mountains and the building is itself the central concept of the existence of the commune. The former members of the community gave oral history interviews to the author of the study, which became therefore as significant historical source as the reports of the agents of the state security. Orfeo can be considered as a political theatre and the commune as an alternative life-style is a part of the cultural opposition. It was depicted as a threat to the society in the reports of the secret police.
The Forgotten Success Story of the New Economic Mechanism: the Agricultural Co-operatives
In the Kádár regime the role of the agriculture was re-evaluated after the continuous crises of the Rákosi era. Because of lacking legitimacy, Kádár gave a crucial role to food production from the very beginning. That’s why the policy of agricultural co-operatives became a central issue after the ending of the collectivisation process. Due to the activity of agricultural lobby a kind of dialogue started between the politics, the science and the local actors of production, which concluded in the gradual detachment of agricultural co-operatives from the Soviet “kolkhoz” model. In the meanwhile the co-operatives gathered very precious practical experiences about the market, the role of individual interest, that of the independent acting of companies. Therefore it is not surprising that the reforms in the agriculture came earlier than the New Economic Mechanism was implemented. This pioneer position had positive effects in the development of co-operatives. After 1968 the difference between the productivity of the agriculture and the industry increased significantly. This problem was over-politicized because industrial lobby attempted to show the political leadership that agricultural success was a fake. Thus the co-operatives found themselves in the middle of fierce debates of reformers and anti-reformers. Finally Kádár decided to stop the reforms in 1972, which concluded in a manifold attack against the co-operatives. The sector, which reached a significant success, was punished. It is not surprising that its success was forgotten…