The Ghosts of Hungarian Communism Haunt U.S.

Reflections on a homage to tyranny.

Thomas Peterffy, who in 1965 fled Communist Hungary, recently put out an ad stating:

I grew up in a socialist country, and I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement. The nation became poorer and poorer, and that’s what I see happening here. As a young boy I was fantasizing about one day going to America, making a success of myself, the American dream. America’s wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with bad-mouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us take care of the needy. Yes, in socialism the rich will be poorer, but the poor will also be poorer. People lose interest in really working hard and creating jobs. I think this is a very slippery slope. It seems like people don’t learn from the past. That’s why I’m voting Republican and putting this ad on television.

Peterffy is more on the mark than he knows. This year just happens to be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Janos Kadar, the Communist dictator whose regime Mr. Peterffy had escaped from decades ago. To mark the occasion, the Central Committee of the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party (formally knows as Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, the Party Kadar, which ruled Hungary with an iron fist) has issued a statement celebrating “the heritage of Janos Kadar.” At one point this homage to tyranny proclaims:

The Kadar-era, the decades of socialism were the most successful period of Hungary in the 20th century. Everybody could work. All people had acceptable standard of living and one had to work for it only 8 hours a day. Nobody could become a billionaire but the majority of the people had acceptable life, secure present and calculable future.

This statement is an almost perfect reflection of the ideals of our Democratic Party. No greater confirmation of Mr. Peterffy’s warning could have been as stark as the words of Hungarian Communism’s shadow.

It is rare to find such a concrete example of how the same subject (in this case a time period) is seen both through the eyes of a man who truly values freedom and in the appeals of the siren song of those who love tyranny.

Spyridon Mitsotakis is a history student at New York University studying the Cold War and a research assistant to Professor Paul Kengor. Professor Kengor dedicated his latest bestselling book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obamas Mentor, to Spyridon in appreciation of the invaluable assistance he provided that made the book possible.

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