Austria

The Austrian crisis is a particular manifestation of the crisis of democracy as the main form of bourgeois rule. The excessively high tension of the international struggle and the class struggle results in the short circuit of the dictatorship, blowing out the fuses of democracy one after the other. The process began on the periphery of Europe, in the most backward countries, the weakest links in the capitalist chain. But it is advancing steadily. What is called the crisis of parliamentarism is the political expression of the crisis in the entire system of bourgeois society. Democracy stands or falls with capitalism. By defending a democracy, which has outlived itself,

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70 years ago the Austrian workers were the first in Europe to undertake an armed struggle against a rising fascist regime. The events in Austria 1934 show quite clearly that there is no “peaceful” and “democratic” way to socialism on the basis of a bourgeois parliament.

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After the pension reform in spring 2003, the conservative black-blue government (Peoples Party and Freedom Party) wasted no time in launching a new attack on the Austrian labour movement. The Austrian Railways (OeBB) were to be split up similar to the fragmentation of British Rail 10 years ago into 10 different companies. This would make downsizing the workforce much easier and would also have tremendous effects on one of the most highly organised sectors of the labour movement.

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Today the railworkers' union, GdE organised a 12-hour strike against the plans of the right-wing government to split the Austrian Railways into different units which has to be seen as a major step towards the privatisation of the railways.

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Earlier this year we witnessed the reawakening of the Austrian working class in a series of huge mass mobilisations. The bureaucratic leadership of the unions called off the movement without having gained any major concessions. If they think that was the end of it then they have surprises coming their way.

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146 comrades attended our "Pfingstseminar", a socialist youth camp organised by the Marxist tendency of "Der Funke" in co-operation with several branches of the Young Socialists (Sozialistische Jugend, SJ) and other left wing youth organisations.

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Today Austria is going on strike. It is the biggest strike movement the country has seen for decades. All sections of the Austrian working class will participate in this mobilisation against the pensions reform planned by the right wing government.

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Tuesday afternoon Vienna saw the biggest thunderstorms people can remember. Despite these catastrophic weather conditions 200,000 workers turned up from all over the country in response to the call of the ÖGB (Austrian Trade Union Federation) to protest against the proposed pensions "reform".

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On April 23 the National Executive of the ÖGB, the umbrella organisation of 13 trade unions (the equivalent of the British TUC), took a historic step in its unanimous decision to call for strike action. This comes after five decades of class-collaboration and so-called "consensus" democracy.

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In the last few months the level of activity of nazi organisations in Vorarlberg has risen dramatically. These developments have reached a new qualitative stage when about 1000 nazis from Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic attended a concert on the October 12 this year in Hohenems. As reaction to the inactivity of the Executive and the policy of the Regional authorities concerning the Nazi concerts in Vorarlberg, the marxist-led Vorarlberg Socialist Youth (SJ) started to build antifascist committees in the schools and called for the formation of a platform called "No Nazi Concerts in Vorarlberg".

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This is a report of the demonstration in Salzburg against the World Economic Forum from Der Funke. The international "anti-globalisation movement" has reached an entirely new stage after the mass protests against the G8 in Genoa and after the second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. This attempt to structure the movement into so-called Social Forums has been accompanied by the increasing political influence of openly reformist forces.

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This event was organised by Der Funke and the Young Socialists from May 17-20. The thirst for ideas amongst the activists was demonstrated in 28 workshops held over the three days.

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After a wave of protests against the right-wing government at the beginning of last year and the first signs of mobilisation by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Osterreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, OGB), the coalition government formed by the conservative People's Party and the extreme right-wing Freedom Party was finally able to temporarily stabilise its position, thanks mainly to the policy of the leadership of the OGB which tried to prolong its old "social partnership". Now however things are getting hot in Austria and this Autumn we could see a worker backlash.

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After an "interregnum" of five years the Social Democrats regained an absolute majority on the council of "Red Vienna". Vienna has a symbolic value for the Austrian labour movement. Ever since the democratic revolution of 1918 this city has been governed by the Social Democrats, with just two interruptions: the period of Austro-Fascism, followed by the Nazi regime (1934-1945), and the period from 1996 to 2001, when the party lost its absolute majority and collaborated with the weak Conservative party. Now the Social Democracy is back again. But will they be able to live up to the expectations of the workers who voted for them?

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One year ago a shock wave went through Western Europe with the coming to power of the coalition government of the OVP and FPO in Austria. A lot has happened since then. Herbert Bartik of the Austrian Marxist journal 'Der Funk' was interviewed by Filip Staes of the editorial board of Vonk (Belgian Marxist paper).

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"Widerstand! Widerstand!" - "Resistance! Resistance!" - that is the main slogan of the protest wave which has been shaking Austria for more than three weeks. When it became clear that the conservative Peoples Party (ÖVP) was to form a coalition with the extreme right-wing Freedom Party of Jörg Haider, this sharp political turn sparked a spontaneous movement never seen before in Austria.

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Railworkers took the initiative in launching demonstrations against the entry of the extreme right wing Freedom Party of Haider in the new government on the third of February. Since that day, students and other young people have not stopped hitting the streets of Vienna and other towns in Austria. This country has definitely broken with its smooth and consensual past. Today class struggle in its different forms is again on the order of the day. We spoke with Herbert Bartik, activist of the Vienna Socialist Youth and of the Marxist paper Der Funke about...

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Since 1945 Austrian politics were characterised by coalition governments with the participation of the Socialist Party. But on Friday January 21st the pressure from the trade unions forced the break-down of coalition talks between the SP and the conservative PP. Gernot Trausmuth, Editorial board of the Austrian Marxist magazine 'Der Funke' , looks at the implications of this for the future of the class struggle in Austria. January 2000.

On October 3rd Austria was shaken by a political earthquake. After decades of "social partnership", after 13 years of a 'Grand Coalition' between the Social Democrat Party (SP) and the conservative Peoples Party (VP) characterised by enormous stability these parliamentary elections mark a turning point in Austria's post-war history. Especially the big success of the extreme right-wing party of Jörg Haider, the FP÷, was not only a shock to a lot of people in Austria, but also internationally.

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