Actors, Ruptures, and Continuity. New Socialist Order or Legacy of the War Economy: The Hungarian Vehicle Industry around 1950
Eötvös Loránd University
Hungarian Historical Review Volume 10 Issue 3 (2021):466-494 DOI 10.38145/2021.3.466
This article investigates the formation of a Hungarian socialist enterprise in the vehicle industry. After giving an overview of the legacy of World War II in a (nationalized) vehicle industry plant, it explores political, production, and wage conflicts on the basis of company and party archives and considers the kinds of resources which workers and engineers could use in their efforts to assert their interests. It also considers how these efforts limited the abilities of the central economic authorities to exert influence. It arrives at the conclusion that the main features of the early socialist enterprises, such as technology, the structure of the skilled workforce, the attitudes of this workforce, etc., were shaped by the industrial boost which had come with the war. Furthermore, the relationship between workers and firms was itself shaped by the shortage of consumer goods during and after the war, because the supply of consumer goods (above all, food) was considered the responsibility of the enterprises. These circumstances set narrow limits within which the central economic administration had to operate in is efforts to create so-called socialist enterprises. So, the early socialist enterprise seems to have had few genuinely socialist elements. It was shaped far more by the prevailing conditions in the postwar context, networks among engineers, and a sense of solidarity among skilled workers which had been inherited from the pre-socialist era.
Keywords: Socialism, Hungary, technocracy, labor history, enterprises.