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The Disloyal "Ruling Class": The Conflict between Ideology and Experience in Hungary

  • The first thesis the paper argues is that a certain collective identity emerged at the shop floor („we“, the workers as opposed to „them“, party leaders, intelligentsia, peasants, the self-employed) that was built - and declared - increasingly in opposition to the official ideology and the communist party.5 Important factors in this process were the growing economic difficulties, the party’s apparent inability to solve them and the increasing materialism people experienced in the everyday life - including party member- and leadership. From the mid-70s onwards, the workers could perceive the worsening economic situation of the country by the decrease of the real wages and the need to do overwork or take extra jobs (first in the agriculture and then in the so-called vgmk-s) to keep the former standards of living. The continuously increasing prices made the impact of the „global market“ real regardless of the stance of the Central Committee. The sharpening criticism of the system is formulated, however, not from the viewpoint of the individual but that of the worker, which suggests the existence of a collective identity. One may call it a paradox of the Communist ideology that the system, after all, was successful to develop working-class collective identities but these were built in opposition to the Communist regime and not for it. The paper will attempt to show how these „oppositionist“ identities were formulated and in what ways they are indicative of the alienation of the workers from the workers’ state.

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Author:Anika Eszter Bartha
Parent Title (German):Arbeiter im Staatssozialismus. Ideologischer Anspruch und soziale Wirklichkeit
Place of publication:Köln
Editor:Peter Hübner, Christoph Kleßmann, Klaus Tenfelde
Document Type:Part of a Book
Date of Publication (online):2017/06/15
Date of first Publication:2005/01/01
Publishing Institution:Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam (ZZF) - Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam (ZZF)
Release Date:2017/09/13
First Page:141
Last Page:162
ZZF Chronological-Classification:1945-
ZZF Topic-Classification:Politik
ZZF Regional-Classification:Europa / Mittel-/Osteuropa
Schriftenreihen des Zentrums für Zeithistorische Forschung:Zeithistorische Studien / Arbeiter im Staatssozialismus. Ideologischer Anspruch und soziale Wirklichkeit (Band 31)
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen
Licence (German):License LogoZZF - Clio Lizenz