The Socialist Youth of Linz, Austria, has announced that it intends to dissolve two of its branches, "Römerberg" and "Steg". These branches are known for their Marxist positions and their high profile in the local labour movement. The group "Römerberg" was the only group that survived the offensive by the right wing which took control of the city organisation of Linz in the 1990s and subsequently closed down all left groups. The other branch was created only a few years ago, after overcoming serious obstacles by the district bureaucracy.
This move by the right wing of the YS follows a series of smaller and bigger attacks on the Marxist current Der Funke. Undoubtedly, the right wing was encouraged to stage an offensive as it has witnessed the left-reformist's attacks on the Marxist tendency since November 2006. The left-reformist bureaucracy has opened a Pandora's box. The very methods it used against Der Funke are now also being applied by the right wing.
This spring, the Austromarxist-led Socialist Youth of Vienna made the headlines as it dissolved the two groups in the Floridsdorf-district which had been attacked in November. This followed a bureaucratic take-over of the district organisation orchestrated by the right wing in November last year, effectively putting the seal of approval on the previous coup. The right wing of Floridsdorf had used hooligan methods in order to take over what had been one of the most active and respected YS branches in the whole of Austria.
The campaign had been well prepared. E-mail accounts had been hacked and a dossier on the "evil doings" of Der Funke was circulated. As the findings obviously did not satisfy the needs for a witch hunt, the stolen e-mails were manipulated to make the "findings" a little more interesting. This created a poisonous atmosphere in the Vienna regional organisation. As the Marxists of Der Funke explained at that time, such methods would open the flood gates for ever more bureaucratic measures against political opponents - Der Funke, being the most consistent left current in the Socialist Youth, was only the first to be attacked.
This prediction turned out to be true sooner than expected. At the conference of the Vienna YS, which took place only a few weeks after the dissolution of the two Floridsdorf branches by the district organisation, the dissolutions were not only approved, but the slate for the new Executive Committee of the organisation reflected the new correlation of forces: Of course, not a single activist from a branch in which activists of Der Funke are active was on the list. However, other left-wing, critical groups, who had even previously supported the attacks on the Marxists, could also feel that something had changed: They did not appear on the slate for the new executive. This might start a dangerous spiral: With ever more bureaucratic measures being used against opponents, critical members will drop out of activity, which in turn shifts the political spectrum to the right.
No to the Grand Coalition
The political issue behind all this is the peculiar political situation in Austria. Even before the elections last autumn, the Marxists had predicted that a coalition government between Social-Democrats and the bourgeois People's Party would lead to a complete sell out of the party's election programme. Under the pressure of the Marxist current, the YS adopted this position.
During the critical days after the coalition talks had been finalised, the YS was in the headlines on a daily basis. Thousands, if not tens of thousands of activists of the labour movement saw a potential political alternative dawning, as the chairman of the YS, Torsten Engelage, publicly attacked the party's policies.
Unfortunately, the leadership of the YS did not want to draw the necessary conclusions from its position against the coalition. So the campaign against the coalition died down. Even though the official position has not changed, in reality they have made peace with the coalition. Supposedly it is now the duty of the left to make the best out of the situation. If this is their approach, they have not been very successful: from extending working hours to the acquisition of Eurofighter aircraft (which had always been opposed by the SP), the Social Democratic leadership is carrying out a bourgeois agenda.
With the YS leadership having become silent regarding the opposition to the coalition government, Der Funke was the only tendency that reminded the leaders of what they had promised to do. Under these circumstances, the attack on the Marxists was launched.
We urge all readers to sign the petition that the two YS branches have set up.
We demand that the YS Linz not dissolve these two branches. For a strong pluralistic YS Linz.