Austria

The crisis of capitalism is shaking every corner of the world. Now Austria, considered in the past as a country of social peace and “dialogue”, has been hit by a massive student protest that is attracting widespread support among the workers, who are also showing signs of radicalisation.

In the provincial elections in Vorarlberg Lukas Riepler, the chairperson of the Young Socialists and also a supporter of the Austrian Marxist tendency Der Funke, is standing as a candidate on the SPÖ list. He is campaigning on a Marxist programme and getting an important echo among workers and youth. Here we provide a report and the interview he recently gave to the German newspaper Junge Welt.

Austria is in recession, and it gets worse as each day passes. More and more workers are being hit hard, with sackings and cuts in hours and wages. On Saturday we had a taste of what is to come, with a successful demonstration which initially the trade union leaders refused to support, but were later forced to back as the pressure from the ranks built up.

75 years ago workers in Austria took up arms in an attempt to stop the fascists from taking power. Unfortunately, although the workers fought valiantly, the reformist leaders who dominated the labour movement refused to move in the direction of revolution and thus the workers suffered a terrible defeat. Today, as similar conditions begin to re-emerge what are the lessons we can draw?

The extreme right has risen again in Austria leaving many shocked. In reality what we have in Austria is growing political instability with swings to the left and the right as successive governments come up against the opposition of ordinary working people. Meanwhile there is ferment in the unions and within the ranks of the Social Democracy, the SPÖ.

The grand coalition in Austria has fallen apart, the two main parties of Austria, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives came under the opposing pressures of the bosses and the working class. In the ranks of the labour movement a militant mood is developing. The long established relative social peace is at an end as the Austrian workers prepare to join their brothers and sisters across Europe in a fightback against the bosses onslaught.

Since the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe the whole region has become a field of investment for western capital. Austria has invested big time in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Now however all the contradictions are mounting up and from a source of stability the region could become a source of instability. Here we provide a brief comment on the economic situation of the CEE region.

On Saturday the "Der Funke" Marxist tendency organised a big event with Trotsky's grandson, Esteban Volkov, as special guest, to commemorate and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Around 200 people came to listen to the speeches in defence of "Red October" and between 400-500 celebrated all night long at the party that was organised after the meeting.

The Socialist Youth of Linz plans to dissolve two of its branches by the end of August. The obvious reason is the political work that the comrades, most of them activists of the Marxist current Der Funke, have developed for almost a decade. We urge all our supporters and readers to sign the solidarity appeal and speak out against bureaucratic manoeuvres against political opponents.

May Day in Austria was a bit different this year. Participation was lower than usual, and the mood was distinctly different. Many came to demonstrate their anger at the behaviour of the Social Democratic Party in the coalition government, and expressed their solidarity with the comrades recently expelled from the Socialist Youth.

After great successes in the Socialist Youth organisation of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, supporters of Der Funke have come under attack inside the youth organisation. The bureaucracy of the party as well as the youth organisation have employed the worst bureaucratic methods to attack the Marxists, in an attempt to stop the spread of Marxist ideas. Please support our campaign against expulsions by sending letters of protest.

The Austrian labour movement and Social Democratic Party have been rocked by a scandal. After months of promises, the SPÖ jettisoned its central election promises in order to join a coalition government with the bourgeois People's Party. The betrayal of the leadership of the party has become the focal point in the formation of a left opposition within the party.

The visit of George W. Bush to Vienna for the EU-US-summit is over. The Austrian police forces were given a great opportunity to test their "emergency procedures" under the guidance of the CIA while thousands of people demonstrated against Bush and the imperialist policies he stands for.

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