On Thursday, December 12, the German translation of Reason in Revolt was presented at the Political Academy of the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (ÖGB) in Vienna. Hugo Pepper, a well known Austrian trade unionist, chaired the event. Andreas Wolf was on the platform to represent the editors of the German edition of the book (i.e. the Editorial Board of the Marxist journal Der Funke). The main speech was given by Alan Woods, co-author of Reason in Revolt with Ted Grant. He spoke to an audience of approximately 120 people - mainly YS (Young Socialist) activists, shop stewards and students.
On the basis of some concrete examples taken from the natural sciences Alan Woods demonstrated the validity of dialectical materialism, i.e. the philosophy of Marxism. Apart from this he stressed another aspect which was also echoed in Hugo Pepper's opening statement. Alan Woods quoted Karl Marx: "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Basing himself on this quotation he linked his ideas on the natural sciences, geology, biology etc., to the social reality of today and to the contradictions of capitalist society.
Unlike many events that take place on the left, the presentation of Reason in Revolt in Vienna did not provoke complaints about the dullness of the working class or its subservience to the ruling class. Arguing against these prejudices Alan Woods explained the dialectical process of the development of the political consciousness of the masses. Due to Alan's enthusiastic and fascinating speech time went by almost unnoticed. Little time was left for further debates on the subject during the plenary session. Lack of time in the main session, however, did not stop those who were interested in discussing. After the event more than a hundred visitors stayed at the bar of the Academy in order to talk, debate, argue etc., about the book and the subjects dealt with in the speech.
This event marked a successful opening of the campaign around the German edition of Reason in Revolt. The supporters of Der Funke will be organising further meetings to present the book to a broader audience. The establishment of reading and discussion circles is already taking place at various universities around Austria.
Two successful meetings in Linz
As part of the launch of the book in Austria, Alan Woods also spoke in Linz, the main industrial city of Austria. He spoke at two meetings. In the morning of Friday, December 13, he gave a speech at a business school, the HAK Auhof. This is not the kind of audience which is generally expected to be sympathetic to revolutionary ideas, as one could imagine! However, there were many positive reactions among the students. A number of students had already bought the book before the meeting and they are now involved in discussion circles that we have organised. Even one of the teachers bought a book at the end of the meeting. This event was organised by a comrade of Der Funke who is the school students’ representative. There were about 250 school students present at the meeting!
In the evening we organised a meeting for comrade Alan to speak to some Young Socialists. About forty activists and sympathisers turned up. Many of them have also discussed the book in our discussion circles. Between Alan’s speech and the intense discussion that followed, the meeting lasted for three hours, with no signs of tiredness on the part of anyone! It was very inspiring for all our activists. It served to emphasise once again that all our political activities (our anti-nazi campaign, our anti-war activity, our activities in the schools for publicly funded schools, etc., ...) and our general political perspectives rest on a truly philosophical basis - that of dialectic materialism.