The Hungarian business in 1956 was mis-named the Hungarian Revolution. It wasn’t a revolution. There was no revolution. It was an uprising which failed. The people rose up against Soviet hegemony.
In World War II Hungary was one of the axis powers. In other words an ally of Nazi Germany. After the war it became part of the Soviet empire set up by Stalin & Khrushchev Stalin’s successor as leader took the attitude that as Hungary had been on the other side during the war he was not going to let them get away with it in the way that Yugoslavia had. After the people came out in the streets it seemed to them I suppose that they were about to be rid of their Soviet masters. But it didn’t happen. The Hungarians were killing Soviet citizens & burning the bodies in the street. But they sent the tanks in & crushed the uprising & re-established Soviet rule.
The lesson is that the people coming out en masse do not necessarily win. In Egypt there is disorder, rebellion, the people are in the streets demanding revolution. But they have no guns they have no weapons of any sort. They have nothing. Their leader Mubarak is cleverly playing for time. When the dust has settled he will still be there with the cohorts of repression & the people will have lost. There is no revolution in Egypt, in Cairo or Alexandria or anywhere else. Change will not come.
Hungary 1956 was a political awakening for me. |I was at the time at a boarding school where we were taught current affairs, politics really, admittedly from a right wing point of view. But it made aware of what was going on in the World. We learned about the repressive nature of Soviet hegemony in East & Central Europe. At the same Britain was invading Egypt to secure the Suez canal for the West. The Middle East was seen as the chattel of the West. The Arabs as a subject people. During the second world war & at the creation of the state of Israel the feelings of the Arabs & in particular the Palestinians were completely ignored.
Now once again the west is poking its nose into the business of Egypt. Anxiety is completely justified. It could go the way of Iran & let’s face it, it is unlikely to suddenly become a western liberal style democracy with judicial institutions & checks & balances upon those who rule & so on.
What drives the West’s ideas & policies towards most of the world including Egypt & the rest of the Arab world is fear. Fear & greed, for it is in the Middle East there are vast reserves of oil.
For me it was a political awakening. I was at a boarding school aged 10 at the time of the Hungarian uprising. Most of our teachers had fought in the war either against the Germans or against the Italians or against the Japanese. Mainly it was the Germans they hated & mainly it was the Russians – the Soviet Union – they were afraid of. The headmaster’s son who inherited the headmastership had been a prisoner of war of the Japanese & was indeed brutalised by the experience. He used to beat the boys with various implements at the drop of a hat. On one occasion he beat almost the whole school, including myself, with a Jocari bat.
But he was an excellent teacher & one of his subjects was current affairs & he passed on his enthusiasm & knowledge.
Really coming out into the streets doesn’t guarantee success for the people. It didn’t in Hungary in 1956, in East Germany where the people were mown down with tanks, Burma 2007, in Tiananmen Square, in Warsaw towards the end of World War 2, Czechoslovakia 1968, Ivory Coast 2010 / 2011 etc.
Napoleon referred to a whiff of grapeshot to still the mob , the people. Thus Mubarak 2011.