Speech before the congress of young workers

Cecil King, Intrusion - Red, 1974


Speech delivered in 1919 in Hungary

The realization of the dictatorship of the proletariat led to a change of function in all organizations of the proletariat and also within the movement of young workers (Jungarbeiterbewegung).[I] In addition to struggles against militarism and economic and political discussions, which were our main concerns, the struggle for education[ii] (Education) and for culture was, before the revolution, just one goal among many.

However, this fight was (should be)[iii]), even before the dictatorship of the proletariat, one of the most important objectives of the movement of young workers (Jungarbeiterbewegung). Through great struggles and resignations, attempts were made to forcefully obtain the slightest concessions from those who were unwilling to grant anything to workers and, above all, nothing to young workers, who make up the group most excluded from access to knowledge (Knowledge) and education (Education). With the change of function (due to the revolution[iv]), the struggle for culture, for self-education[v] (Selbstildung) and learning.

It seems, at first glance, that the goal, from the perspective of the movement, has become a little more modest. However, this is a very superficial observation. The essence of capitalist society consists in the fact that economic forces dominate society unlimitedly, with complete arbitrariness, as if they were blind natural forces; in which everything else: science, beauty, morals, is just a consequence and a product of these forces left to themselves, liberated, blind, devoid of finality. This situation was radically modified after the victory of the proletariat. Society has taken the management of economic factors into its own hands.

the ultimate goal[vi] (ultimate goal) is that the sinful and harmful autonomy of economic life be eliminated, that economic life and production be put at the service of humanity, humanitarian ideas, culture. If you then go beyond the economic struggle and dedicate yourself to culture, you are dedicating yourself to that part of leading and directing society that will build the dominant idea of ​​a future society. If learning is now the most important task, the next question arises: what should you learn; It is like? This is where the substantial role of young workers in this regard is revealed. All of us, who fight for the victory of the proletariat, are – without exception – contaminated beings and victims of capitalism. If our task now is to see that the spirit and morals of youth can be developed, then for this work we need your[vii] help.

It is also for your benefit that you should engage[viii] (to turn on) in the struggle for culture, so that we can realize it and, also, so that we can establish which of the creations of past centuries still[ix] may persist, which of them can we take advantage of (benützen[X]) and which are useless. That's why we askbits[xi]) to learn. The main objective of their lives must be education (training[xii]), give the new culture a meaning and a purpose (purpose[xiii]). Everything that this new culture contains will be born from your soul; it all depends on how you learn and how you develop. On this depends the construction of this new society, the society of socialism, for which we have fought and still fight.

Even when there are no more economic conflicts, don't forget that fight you fought against militarism. Even if the economic conflict has partially ceased, the proletariat nevertheless continues to struggle. And if they don't need to participate directly in it (the fight[xiv]), take part through that inner participation, through that task that involves learning. In pursuit of the great goal, we are constantly obliged to make compromises[xv] (concessions[xvi]). We must not be too demanding about the means. We have to do everything in accordance with the class interests of the proletariat.

However, you are not directly involved in this struggle. Your role is to wage a political struggle free of commitments (concessions[xvii]), completely pure, uncompromising, immaculate, setting a moral standard for her, as the flame burns completely clean in one place. That place is found in the soul of youth. And believe me, in every struggle and every discussion, the most important thing is that there is a space free of compromises, where the struggle of the proletariat develops in a completely pure way.

Whatever change of function the young workers' movement has experienced (erfahren[xviii]), as long as you remain pure, your role will consist, today and in the future, of representing a vanguard of the revolution. (Prolonged, repeated applause and shouts of “Viva!”[xx]). [xx]

*György Lukács (1885-1971) was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and theorist. Author, among other books, of History and class consciousness (WMF Martins Fontes).

Translation and notes: Caique de Oliveira Sobreira Cruz & Manasseh de Jesus Santos Junior.


[I] We chose to translate Jungarbeiterbewegung as “young workers”, but we warn that there are other possible hypotheses, appropriate and well founded, as is the case of “young workers”. However, to maintain an alignment with the theoretical production of Caique Sobreira, one of the translators of the text, we transliterated it to “young workers”, because in his writings, Sobreira uses “Working class” as the working class as a whole, that is, the “working class” being just one of the multiple determinations of the class, one of its specific elements, which vary according to the phenomenon of procedural transformation of the morphology of the working class. (NT).

[ii] In this case we use the term “education” to better reflect the meaning of Education in Lukács' speech. Then, Education, based on its German root, can also be derived from “training”, “instruction”, “training”, “experimentation”, the term “training” being used in translations into English and Spanish. However, in our vernacular, the more usual semantics (from the general public, not from organized militants who understand “formation”) that we have for “formation” means something formal; Formal education, school and/or college, university and/or academic training, technical training for the job market, etc. However, the meanings ofEducation”, employed by Lukács in his speech, contains two meanings that cannot be expressed in other translations, the first is education sensu latu as a social complex alongside culture, economy, knowledge, terminologies that express general questions that do not fit in the context of “training”, the second is education stricto sensu as a moment and stage of learning for young workers in relation to their interpretation of the world and the class struggle, an education that can be carried out within the organizations of young workers themselves, a kind of “self-education”, an education and militant knowledge. In neither case is it possible to use a term that could refer to formal education: “training”. (NT).

[iii] (AT).

[iv] (AT).

[v] We translate here the Selbstildung, in the same sense used in the Education while education, therefore, with the conjugation: “self-education”.

[vi] In this particular translation, we chose to use “ultimate objective”, unlike the translation we performed of the article “Tática e Ética” in which we perceived the best effect using “ultimate end”.

[vii] We have added, on our own, the possessive pronouns “vossa” and “vosso” recurrently in our translation, based on the fact that it is a speech by Lukács directed to an audience, being, strictly speaking, in the grammatical form, in the second person grammatical and in the plural, being the “famous” treatment pronoun/indirect second person pronoun, accompanied by agreement verbs in the third person. Evidently, because we do not have in-depth studies on Brazilian grammar, we may have misinterpreted this issue. If this is the case, we suggest that all “vossa” and “vosso” be read as if they were “you” or “yours”, as in the German edition. Still noting that, even knowing that all translations have used “vocês”, we have a particular in which, in our vernacular, this term is etymologically derived from “Vossa Mercê”, which contributes to the possibility of using it as we did. (NT).

[viii] In the original: they must join in the fight. (NT).

[ix] (AT).

[X] Literally: to use or utilize. (NT).

[xi] Originally: We request. (NT).

[xii] (AT).

[xiii] (AT).

[xiv] (AT).

[xv] With the term “compromise” Lukács was referring to what we know in our daily lives in the class struggle with the meaning of: concessions of all orders, class conciliations, political/economic collusion with the bourgeoisie or with its representatives in the form of bourgeois parties or politicians, etc. (NT).

[xvi] (AT).

[xvii] (AT).

[xviii] In the original: suffered. (NT).

[xx] "You are lebe. (NT).

[xx] (Rede auf dem Kongreß der Jungarbeiter)To carry out the translation of this speech (transcribed in text) by György Lukács, we based ourselves mainly on the German version entitled “Rede auf dem Kongreß der Jungarbeiter”, made available in 1977 by “ Hermann Luchterhand Verlag GmbH & Co KG Darmstandt und Neuwied”, with general production by “Druck – und Verlags-Gesellschaft mbH, Darmstadt” and editing by the late and brilliant professor Frank Benseler. We kept all the formal structure of the original, from the composition of the paragraphs to the unusual PT-BR punctuations, aiming to maintain fidelity, as far as possible, to the German draft. However, to serve as a parallel aid in the undertaking of this translation, we also used two more versions of the text (in English and Spanish), in order to have support in the inclusion of footnotes that help to better understand the writing and, passi passu, we rescued some terminologies from these other translations that are transliterated into Portuguese with greater precision than the terms that are being exposed in the German edition. The English version we use, “Georg Lukács Tactics and Ethics 1919-1929. The Questions of Parliamentarianism and Other Essays”, with the chapter “Speech at the Young Workers' Congress”, was published in 2014 by “Verso” in New York, with a translation by Michael McColgan and an introduction by Rodney Livingstone, replicated from the first English version, 1972, from New Left Books. Finally, we used the Spanish version, “Táctica yética. Early Writings (1919-1929)”, with the chapter “Discourse before the congress of young workers”, which was published in 2014 by “Ediciones Herramienta” of Buenos Aires-Argentina, translated by Miguel Vedda and with an introduction by Antonino lnfranca and Miguel Vedda.

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