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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 04, 1978

HUNGARIAN SECRETARIAT REPORT ON FIGHT AGAINST 'IMPERIALIST PROPAGANDA'

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    Report on the implementation of the Politburo resolution of May 22, 1973, concerning the need to strengthen the fight against "imperialist propaganda" (especially its emphasis on human rights) and proposals for future tasks (including concern with projected Western satellite television broadcasts).
    "Hungarian Secretariat Report on Fight against 'Imperialist Propaganda'," December 04, 1978, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Magyar Országos Levéltár (MOL) M-KS-288.f. 7/566.ő.e. Obtained by Csaba Bekes. Translated by András Bocz. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121501
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[The report was discussed by the Secretariat at its meeting of December 4, 1978]

I.

The imperialist propaganda that has been targeting our country during the five years since the Politburo made a resolution on strengthening the fight against imperialist propaganda at its May 22, 1973 meeting has not changed substantially in its basic goals and main line. Most of its efforts are still focused on attacking the socialist system from the outside while trying to undermine it internally. At the same time it incites anti-Soviet sentiment, tries to turn the people against the other socialist countries and our fraternal Parties, and gives rise to illusions about capitalism. The hostile propaganda that aims to exert an influence on Hungarian public opinion is no different in a strategic sense from the imperialist propaganda that targets the other socialist countries.

However, the propaganda campaign of imperialism has found itself under new circumstances, both due to our internal development and as a result of geopolitical changes in world politics. International ideological fighting has received priority and become more complex. The imperialist power centers have decided to intensify their anti-socialist propaganda and the ideological tension between the two world systems. On certain issues—such as issues of human rights and democracy—they have even managed to take the initiative temporarily. The propaganda offensive that has emerged recently cannot be traced back to the endeavors of some capitalist circles only, or to the transitional functioning of a particular government. What we should expect is that the offensive behavior of the imperialist propaganda centers will remain a lasting component of the struggle between the two world systems.

II.

There have been significant tactical changes in the imperialist propaganda targeting our country—while the strategic goals are still maintained—as a result of the simultaneous impact of changing internal and external conditions of the ideological fight. The essence of these changes can be summarized as follows: the propaganda campaign has become more complex in its content, more extensive, more versatile in its methods and more focused in using various tools. It paints a very distinct picture of Hungary, giving a semblance of a country which “maintains a system that is more acceptable than that of the other socialist countries, distancing herself from the Soviet model.”

The hostile propaganda campaign attacking Hungary relies heavily on the everyday problems of the people, practically “building on” the practice of developing socialism and its existing conflicts. The propaganda campaign that was initiated in relation to the so-called new Hungarian model in our economic management system has gradually been extended to all aspects of domestic policy, using it as a tool to set our country against the rest of the socialist countries. The bourgeois propaganda centers take great pains to make it appear as if they were the true representatives of the interests of our people.

These endeavors manifest themselves mostly in the campaign concerning human rights and national minority issues. Our country is not the main target of the campaign that was launched on the pretext of safeguarding human rights, but recently it has become more intense even in relation to Hungary. Nationalist incitement has intensified in the ethnic minority issue, because this area is regarded by imperialist propaganda as the most suitable to turn part of the people against the policy of the Party and incite conflicts among the socialist countries. These hostile propaganda centers are also busy working on establishing an opposition in Hungary. They want to argue that the Hungarian opposition is also part of the “Central European opposition movement.” As a result of the stable internal situation and the political decisions made in concrete cases this imperialist propaganda has not been able to fulfill its expectations. It is quite likely though that it will try to make the most of our economic problems in widening the scope of those who could act as the opposition to our socialist system.

The imperialist propaganda organizations have undergone several structural changes in the past few years. In order to enhance their efficiency, they intend to direct all their tools on this aim, on the one hand, and they intend to introduce new methods, on the other.

As a new feature, the hostile radio stations broadcasting in Hungarian do their best to get official recognition in Hungary. Radio Free Europe announced that it would be willing to air critical opinions of its own programs.

There is a new development in the area of radio propaganda. The Radio of Beijing has started a Hungarian language program speaking sharply against the Soviet Union and détente, though poor technical conditions make the reception of its broadcasts difficult for the time being.

As far as propaganda through television is concerned, the United States is currently broadcasting experimental programs through satellites. This means that within a few years Western television programs will probably be received easily in the socialist countries, including our country too.

III.

The hostile propaganda, which mainly targets the intelligentsia, young people, the lower middle-class and those with a petit bourgeois mentality, cannot influence public opinion, political thinking and the frame of mind of the people in the country in any significant way. Hungarian public opinion is largely shaped by the results of socialist development, the policy of our Party, and the constantly strengthening elements of socialist public thinking.

The decrease in the listening rate of the programs of Radio Free Europe, and in general, Western radio broadcasts, is due—in addition to the stable political situation in Hungary—to the fact that the work of [our own] mass media is much more efficient and up-to-date, and the level of providing information for the people has improved significantly. However, the viewing and listening rate to hostile radio stations and television programs that can be received easily in the Western and southern parts of the country may temporarily increase in relation to some domestic or international events that are ignored by the national mass media for some reason, or to which their reaction is subdued and tardy.

Wrinkles in socialist awareness, a still existing instinctive sentiment, remnants of bourgeois views and habits and their reproduction, occasional instances of intensifying individualism and acts and behaviors that violate the norms of socialist morals all create potentially favorable conditions for the imperialist propaganda campaigns. to some extent these factors, coupled with insufficient political-ideological vigilance and lack of effective propaganda, help to maintain the non-socialist view in public thinking, prejudices, and a moral code inherited from societies of the past, and lead to manifestations of anti-social behavior. However, it should be admitted that sometimes real mistakes and shortcomings are criticized, which are then attributed by many exclusively to the results of hostile propaganda.

Closely related to bourgeois propaganda are the intensification of nationalism, the still strong anti-Soviet sentiment, the occasional disparagement of the achievements of socialism, the entertainment of illusions about the capitalist system, the dissemination of false information and the overstatement of our internal and external problems. The hostile propaganda is especially efficient in making use of the shortcomings of our information system in relation to issues concerning the situation in each socialist country, to the position of the fraternal Parties and the way in which relations among the socialist countries and the fraternal Parties are viewed.

From time to time we play into the hands of the bourgeois propaganda campaigns by failing to recognize the imperialist endeavors in time, due to subjective and objective reasons; by wasting time in drawing the necessary conclusions or by not making use of the right conclusions in our national and international propaganda. In certain cases there are international obligations that restrict our ability to provide the necessary information.

IV.

On the basis of the resolution of the Politburo dated May 22, 1973 the fight against bourgeois propaganda has become an organic part of political and ideological work. The need for this fight has been confirmed by the 11th Party Congress and by several resolutions of the Politburo and other Party organs on information and emigration policy. As a result of the resolution of the Central Committee dated October 26, 1976 specifying the current tasks and the further development of Party propaganda, more emphasis has been given to a more effective ideological training of activists at local Party organizations, which is a prerequisite for acting against the hostile views propagated by bourgeois propaganda.

Our national and international propaganda and information policy takes up the fight against hostile propaganda and ideology by representing our general policy in a more convincing fashion, by painting a more appealing picture of existing socialism, and by unveiling the true nature of imperialist policy and the reality of capitalism. We respond to Western campaigns launched against us and the entire socialist community on specific issues in a very cool and principled manner by providing positive arguments. With certain exceptions we refrain from entering into direct disputes with outlets of bourgeois media.

In the past five years a harmonized and operative system of observing, analyzing and evaluating hostile propaganda has been established. The state organs responsible for monitoring foreign propaganda provide regular and scheduled reports. The Central Committee of KISZ [Communist Youth organization] has recently started the regular monitoring and evaluation of bourgeois propaganda targeting the youth of our country.

The four departments of the Central Committee of HSWP involved in this work—the Departments of Propaganda, Public Administration, Foreign Affairs and Science, Culture and Public Education—and six other state bodies—the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the Institute of Cultural Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hungarian Radio, the Hungarian Press Agency—set up an evaluation team which fulfills its tasks well. The team constantly monitors hostile propaganda materials and broadcasts, and prepares a comprehensive evaluation report for every quarter.

Based on this well-established system, the department of Propaganda of the Party conducts up-to-date monitoring and evaluation of the hostile propaganda targeting our country. The data are utilized in the following five ways: quarterly summaries are prepared on the main tendencies; thematic summaries are prepared on the bourgeois reception of our political measures and statements; weekly reports are made on the hostile evaluation of events that influence public opinion in the country; occasional information on certain specific bourgeois propaganda campaigns; the various departments of the Central Committee are continuously informed of the bourgeois commentaries that are relevant to their work. As a result, the level of providing information for the leaders has improved significantly. However, the utilization of the conclusions that can be drawn from these analyses for our domestic and foreign propaganda work is still not sufficient.

In the past few years the members of our Party have become more prepared and trained for the fight against hostile propaganda. The most important element of this increased competence is that they show ideological and political unity, they are well trained and informed about the propaganda targeting our country, and they are provided with information materials that contain some good argumentation. However, the members of the Party, especially the activists working at the local organizations, call for a more prompt response to the rumors of hostile propaganda at every level of the hierarchy of the Party, and require that they should be provided with ample information materials on a regular basis by the competent Party committees and that the necessary information should be made available verbally to all the members of the Party.

The work of the radio intercept station that monitors most of the propaganda against our country does not meet the increased requirements, mainly due to technical problems, the lack of political selection, and personnel problems. The information about hostile propaganda is still not comprehensive enough, e.g. information concerning the experience that could be gained in areas like the churches, tourism and social organizations is still lacking. Furthermore, there is no evaluation or analysis that could predict the possible future tendencies of imperialist propaganda.

As a result of the work conducted in the scientific institutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Foreign Affairs there has been some progress recently in the scientific analysis of the propagandistic machinations of bourgeois ideology. The institutes mentioned above have established extensive relations with similar institutes of our friendly countries. However, the coordination of their work at home is still not ensured, and there is no rational division of labor among them. Although it has prepared very valuable materials concerning certain important issues, the Institute of Foreign Affairs has not yet become a scientific center that can provide long-term analyses of hostile propaganda. Another unresolved issue is the investigation of the impact of hostile propaganda.

The system of press administration that is used to protect our country from hostile propaganda works quite efficiently. Its tasks have multiplied by now, so the staff in this area is working under a lot of pressure. The technical and personnel background supporting their versatile work in organizing and selecting information requires considerable development.

The work concerning the protection of our country from hostile radio broadcasts should be revised. As a result of the resolution of the Politburo dated October 8, 1963 the jamming of the programs of Western radio station in the Hungarian language was terminated as of January 1, 1964. [See Documents 34 and 35] However, the resolution also stipulated that the technical system used for jamming should be maintained [so as to be] reinstalled, if necessary, within 48 hours. The transmitters, antennas and accessories that were installed 26 years ago are by now totally out-of-date, and for technical reasons some of them had to be eliminated. Under such circumstances, the system is only partly capable of fulfilling its task, if the need should arise for it. Without overall reconstruction and the replacement of missing devices, within a few years the whole system will become unable to meet any of the requirements set forth by the resolution of the Politburo. Full reconstruction and replacement would require significant financial resources.

Since 1968 our jamming stations—at Soviet request—jam Western programs broadcast in the Czech and Slovak languages. We have no information at all as to how efficient the jamming of these stations is, or whether jamming is still needed.

The exchange of views concerning hostile propaganda has become part of the ideological cooperation among the fraternal Parties of the socialist countries. The Party delegations visiting our country and the Budapest embassies of our friendly states regularly request and are provided with information about our experience gained in dealing with imperialist propaganda. We also receive such information from some of our fraternal Parties through their embassies. We have also exchanged ideas on this issue with several Western fraternal parties, such as the Italian Communist Party, the French Communist Party, the Austrian Communist Party, and the German Communist Party. The relevant state bodies of socialist countries have also established a similarly comprehensive framework of cooperation. However, international experience is not utilized efficiently in our everyday work.

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