Bela Kun

A New Centre of Infection

First Published: Pravda April 26, 1918
Source: International Socialist Library No. 15, Revolutionary Essays by Bela Kun, B.S.P., London.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


Not long ago Count Czernin, the former Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, was formally repudiating territorial annexations at the expense of the Russian Revolution. At that time the disturbances in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy were only beginning. The frightened ruling classes of the Danubian monarchy were then still having recourse to methods which were successful, up to a certain point, in disguising the dissolution of capitalism.

Since that time, however, Austria-Hungary also has become a nest of revolutionary infection. The German Imperialists are now not only imposing their quarantine on the Russian frontier: they are defending themselves against the revolutionary bacilli drifting in from amongst the peoples of Austria-Hungary.

The note of the German Government demands the isolation of German prisoners of war, not only from Russian Soviet agents, but also from the “allied” Austrian and Hungarian prisoners. In the eyes of the German Government, the subjects of the Hapsburg Monarchy now in Russia are one mass of “infection.” The German Imperialists have become aware of a new danger — a danger arising from an “allied” country, and portending revolution nearer home. The revolts in Austria-Hungary are now not problems of the future, but questions of the day; they are not isolated hunger riots that blaze up, here and there, but harbingers of revolution, steadily making their appearance in all corners of the monarchy.

The ground has been splendidly prepared for revolution, despite the fact that the official Social-Democratic Party has completely abstained from taking part in these risings. Germany is daily making new impossible demands on Austria-Hungary; the broken Monarchy cannot satisfy these demands; and the German Imperialists are treating it in exactly the same way as the “great” Powers before the war treated Turkey.

The reins of power in Hungary are once again in the hands of Tisza, that best disciple of the Ministers of Tsarism, hated by the whole of Hungary. Even in 1912 he drew up a row of machine guns in front of the Hungarian Parliament, and bombarded the demonstrating workers with artillery. Tisza is the last hope of the Monarchy, the last card of German Imperialism in its attempts to forestall the revolutionary explosion of the proletarian movement.

The Hungarian Cabinet, at Tisza’s demand, has been dismissed, and his servile follower, Baron Burian, has been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. Tisza is thus once again dictator — now no more under the Austrian Charles IV., but under the German William II.

Meanwhile, in Galicia, proletarian and peasant revolts are breaking out. The social traitors in Hungary are losing, with the fall of the Wekerle Cabinet, their last opportunity of carrying on the former policy of compromise. The feeling amongst the Hungarian workers is tense to the last degree, and the party leaders will not be able to avert a general strike. The Magyar troops, formerly, thanks to the assiduous agitation of the Nationalists, the worst oppressors of the Czech proletariat, have already become “unreliable.” The Magyar detachments have now been replaced on guard by Tyrolese sharpshooters, not only at Prague, but also at Budapest and Vienna.

Count Tisza is officially the strategist of the Austro-Hungarian counter-revolution: but he is really the chief factor of revolution.

Germany, beyond all possible doubt, has reason to be afraid — and she is afraid. They have already tried the old method — that of concealing the danger: “Vörwarts” has been suppressed for a day. Not because it has dared energetically to raise its voice against the German Imperialists — those street-corner banditti; oh, no, that could not possibly happen with the Scheidemann Party. But, only because the social-traitorous paper dared to say, very cautiously, that in Austria-Hungary the position had become serious, it was closed by the German censorship.

The German Empire is having recourse to the old methods of Tsarism — lies, and the suppression of any hint of revolution. But this will be of as little avail to save the situation, as the dictatorship of Count Tisza will be to help the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

These circumstances, on the contrary, are the best possible pledge that the Russian proletarian Republic is not waiting in vain for the international revolution. . . . In Austria-Hungary the crisis has matured.