Austromarxism
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Austromarxism (also stylised as Austro-Marxism) was a
Marxist Marxism is a Left-wing politics, left-wing to Far-left politics, far-left method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a Materialism, materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as historical materialism, to understand S ...
theoretical current, led by Victor Adler, Otto Bauer,
Karl Renner Karl Renner (14 December 1870 – 31 December 1950) was an Austrian politician and jurist of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria. He is often referred to as the "Father of the Republic" because he ...
, Max Adler and
Rudolf Hilferding Rudolf Hilferding (10 August 1877 – 11 February 1941) was an Austrian-born Marxist Marxism is a Left-wing politics, left-wing to Far-left politics, far-left method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a Materialism, materialist interpr ...
, members of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria in
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire,, the Dual Monarchy, or Austria, was a constitutional monarchy and great power in Central Europe#Before World War I, Central Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed with t ...
and the
First Austrian Republic The First Austrian Republic (german: Erste Österreichische Republik), officially the Republic of Austria, was created after the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919), Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 10 September 1919—the se ...
, and later supported by Austrian-born revolutionary and assassin of the Imperial Minister-President Count von Stürgkh, Friedrich Adler. It is known for its theory of
nationality Nationality is a legal identification of a person in international law, establishing the person as a subject, a ''national'', of a sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a polity, political entity represented by one c ...
and
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the State (polity), state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of peo ...
, and its attempt to conciliate it with
socialism Socialism is a left-wing Economic ideology, economic philosophy and Political movement, movement encompassing a range of economic systems characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to Private prop ...
in the imperial context. More generally, the Austromarxists strove to achieve a synthesis between social democracy and revolutionary socialism. Uniquely, Austromarxists posited that class consciousness in the working class could be achieved more organically through the maintenance of national autonomy, in contrast to the internationalist perspective and the notion of the party vanguard popular in orthodox Marxist circles elsewhere in Europe.


Overview

Beginning in 1904, the Austromarxist group organized around magazines such as the and the . Far from being a homogeneous movement, it was a home for such different thinkers and politicians as the Neokantian Max Adler and
Rudolf Hilferding Rudolf Hilferding (10 August 1877 – 11 February 1941) was an Austrian-born Marxist Marxism is a Left-wing politics, left-wing to Far-left politics, far-left method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a Materialism, materialist interpr ...
. The term "Austromarxism" was first used by the American writer and Marxist theoretician Louis B. Boudin just before the first world war. In 1921 the Austromarxists formed the
International Working Union of Socialist Parties The International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP; also known as the 2½ International or the Vienna International; german: Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialistischer Parteien, IASP) was a political international A political in ...
(also known as 2 International or the Vienna International), hoping to unite the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, with Friedrich Adler as the first secretary of the IWUSP. After it failed to maintain momentum as a force, the IWUSP was integrated with what remained of the Second International and formed the
Labour and Socialist International The Labour and Socialist International (LSI; german: Sozialistische Arbeiter-Internationale, label=German language, German, SAI) was an international organization of socialist and labour parties, active between 1923 and 1940. The group was establi ...
(LSI). Austromarxism, as the main political current within the SDAP, was responsible for guiding much of the municipal programs instituted by the SDAP-controlled (English: Municipal Council) of Vienna in the years after the establishment of the First Austrian Republic. Under SDAP leadership, the capital city of Vienna instituted widespread economic and social reforms such as the introduction of widely available, publicly subsidized
healthcare Health care or healthcare is the improvement of health via the preventive healthcare, prevention, diagnosis, therapy, treatment, wiktionary:amelioration, amelioration or cure of disease, illness, injury, and other disability, physical and menta ...
, a substantial number of municipal housing projects, and expansion of the
educational system The educational system generally refers to the structure of all institutions and the opportunities for obtaining education within a country. It includes all pre-school institutions, starting from family education, and/or early childhood education ...
in
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, most populou ...
, which during this time was known colloquially as
Red Vienna Red Vienna (German language, German: ''Rotes Wien'') was the colloquial name for the Vienna, capital of Austria between 1918 and 1934, when the Social Democratic Party of Austria, Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria (SDAP) maintained almo ...
, and which mirrored similar projects undertaken by the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Scandinavians, and the British Labour Party, all of which were fellow member parties in the Labour and Socialist International. In 1920, the SDAP- CSP coalition in the Austrian broke down, resulting in the SDAP losing its parliamentary majority in the 1920 Austrian legislative election, a loss from which the SDAP would not recover. From that point forward, the CSP maintained nearly unbroken control over the until it was suspended by CSP politician and Engelbert Dollfuß, who then radically transformed the political landscape and government of Austria between 1933 and 1934 from a conservative parliamentary democracy into a clericofascist single-party dictatorship under the rule of the Vaterländische Front, an
Austrofascist The Federal State of Austria ( de-AT, Bundesstaat Österreich; colloquial Colloquialism (), also called colloquial language, everyday language or general parlance, is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) ...
political party. In the process, the SDAP was banned along with the Austrian branch of the NSDAP, which crippled the social democrat movement and Austromarxism as a whole. After the takeover by the , a brief
Civil War A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change go ...
ensued that ended with a defeat for the socialists. The Austro-Marxist principle of national personal autonomy was later adopted by various parties, among them the Bund (General Jewish Labour Union), left-wing
Zionist Zionism ( he, צִיּוֹנוּת ''Tsiyyonut'' after ''Zion'') is a Nationalism, nationalist movement that espouses the establishment of, and support for a homeland for the Jewish people centered in the area roughly corresponding to what is ...
s (
Hashomer Hatzair Hashomer Hatzair ( he, הַשׁוֹמֵר הַצָעִיר, , ''The Young Guard'') is a Labor Zionism, Labor Zionist, secular Jewish youth movement founded in 1913 in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, Austria-Hungary, and it was also the na ...
) in favour of a
binational solution The one-state solution, sometimes also called a bi-national state, is a proposed approach to resolving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most enduring conflicts, beginning in the mi ...
in
Palestine __NOTOC__ Palestine may refer to: * State of Palestine, a state in Western Asia * Palestine (region), a geographic region in Western Asia * Palestinian territories, territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely the West Bank (including East J ...
, the Jewish between the two world wars and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania after 1989. Some scholars hold the opinion that everything that Austrian socialists thought and published from 1900 to 1945 should be subsumed under the generic term "Austromarxism", that the term is more a description of origin in the sense of an Austrian school of scientific socialism rather than a clear basis of a common substantive school of thought.


Ideology

Prior to the First World War and subsequent collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, much of the Austromarxist body of thought was based upon the works of Karl Renner and Max Adler. In the later war years and especially after the foundation of the First Austrian Republic, the Austromarxist current rapidly began to shift into the orbit of Otto Bauer's political positions, particularly in regard to its negative relationship to the
Bolshevik The Bolsheviks (russian: Большевики́, from большинство́ ''bol'shinstvó'', 'majority'),; derived from ''bol'shinstvó'' (большинство́), "majority", literally meaning "one of the majority". also known in English ...
current predominant in the
Third International The Communist International (Comintern), also known as the Third International, was a Soviet Union, Soviet-controlled international organization founded in 1919 that advocated world communism. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congress to ...
and the concept of national identity abstracted from territory. It was also influenced by contemporaneous intellectual trends, including the prominence of
neo-Kantianism In late modern continental philosophy Continental philosophy is a term used to describe some philosophers and philosophical traditions that do not fall under the umbrella of analytic philosophy. However, there is no academic consensus on the ...
and
positivism Positivism is an empiricist In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are of ...
in philosophy and the emergence of
marginalism Marginalism is a theory of economics Economics () is the social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Econ ...
in economics, and sought to confront questions around the rise of the interventionist state and the changing class-structure of early 20th century capitalist societies.


Nationalism and imperialism

Writing in the political treatise, ''Social Democracy and the Nationalities Question'' (1907), Bauer defined the nation as "the totality of men bound together through a common destiny into a community of character." Bauer's synthesis of the notion of nationhood with socialism was unusual in relationship to the then-orthodox Marxist internationalist interpretation. The delineation between the two resides within Bauer's assertion that the national identity is not necessarily obstructive toward class consciousness, existing as a useful praxis for the self-determination of the worker. For Bauer, the problem lurking within national identity in the capitalist context was not the national identity itself so much as it was the tendency of peasants to cling to traditions that tethered them to the institutions of the old monarchical and capitalistic systems, as well as for nationality to be conceived of exclusively in racial and territorial means. Bauer, desiring to explain how the notion of territorial principle could be substituted in cases where minority populations risked being subjugated by majorities, resurrected Karl Renner's notion of the " personal principle" as a way of gathering the geographically divided members of the same nation. In ''Social Democracy and the Nationalities Question'' (1907), Bauer wrote that "The personal principle wants to organize nations not in territorial bodies but in simple association of persons", thus radically disjoining the nation from the
territory A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a country, person, or animal. In international relations, international politics, a territory is usually either the total area from which a state may extr ...
and making of the nation a non-territorial association. Bauer's position echoed earlier writings from Karl Renner, who expressed the importance of doing way with sub-national territorial identities as undemocratic and allowing for the oppression of non-majority populations within each nation. Like other theorists operating within the Marxist umbrella, many of the prominent members of the Austromarxist current utilised a determinist perspective of history in the formation of their political critiques. Bauer in particular regarded the phenomena of imperialism to be an inevitable and inescapable consequence of the evolution of capitalism, stating that " mperialismresults from the insatiable and uncontrolled drive of capital to realize itself". However, Bauer asserted in ''Social Democracy and the Nationalities Question'' that a socialist society could rid itself of the possibility to be ruled by a foreign nation by democratizing the control of the military, which would necessarily entail wresting it from the hands of the controlling class.


Revolution


Rejection of the Bolshevik model

The Bolshevik model of revolution, while initially bearing some weight within the SDAP, quickly fell out of favor as several major Austromarxist thinkers, most prominently Bauer, became concerned with the feasibility of such a revolution in Austria. Between 1918 and 1920, Bolshevik-style revolutions and governments were staged in Germany (both the
German revolution German(s) may refer to: * Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European ...
and the
Bavarian Soviet Republic The Bavarian Soviet Republic, or Munich Soviet Republic (german: Räterepublik Baiern, Münchner Räterepublik),Hollander, Neil (2013) ''Elusive Dove: The Search for Peace During World War I''. McFarland. p.283, note 269. was a short-lived unre ...
) and
Béla Kun Béla Kun (born Béla Kohn; 20 February 1886 – 29 August 1938) was a Hungarian Communism, communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919. After attending Franz Joseph University at Kolozsvár (today ...
's
Hungarian Soviet Republic The Socialist Federative Republic of Councils in Hungary ( hu, Magyarországi Szocialista Szövetséges Tanácsköztársaság) (due to an early mistranslation, it became widely known as the Hungarian Soviet Republic in English-language sources ( ...
, all of which were either crushed or otherwise fell apart within the first several months of existence. Alerted by the collapse of these radical movements, Bauer and the others in the SDAP distanced themselves as much as possible from radical communist agitators, treating them with suspicion and, when possible, bringing the force of the judicial system down upon would-be revolutionaries. Bauer specifically noted complications with the feasibility of the revolution in Austria that were not encountered by the Bolsheviks in 1917. The aggravation and consciousness of the peasants and the
proletariat The proletariat (; ) is the social class A social class is a grouping of people into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes. Membership in a social class can for example be d ...
s were distinct in a manner that caused the two interest groups to be diametrically opposed to one another. Among the peasants, the mass outrage that had stirred up over the course of the war was not due to the perceived manipulation of their livelihoods by a corrupt and evil structure of capitalism insofar as it was the dearth in cattle ownership that resulted from requisition efforts by the military over the course of the war. Moreover, influence of the Catholic Church was far more substantial in the provincial Alpine hinterlands than it was in the industrial center of Vienna, and the predominant bulk of the peasant class did not share the virulent anticlericalist attitude nor the predilection toward the dispossession of private property held by the urban working class. Additionally, unlike in the case of the October Revolution in Russia, the new
First Austrian Republic The First Austrian Republic (german: Erste Österreichische Republik), officially the Republic of Austria, was created after the signing of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919), Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on 10 September 1919—the se ...
was under close watch by the victorious Entente Powers that had dismantled the
Austro-Hungarian Empire Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire,, the Dual Monarchy, or Austria, was a constitutional monarchy and great power in Central Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed with the Austro-Hungarian Compromise ...
, and would likewise pose a credible threat of militarily intervening in the event that they suspected a violent revolution in Austria to be likely. Thus, Bauer dismissed any interest in pursuing the Bolshevik model of revolution in Austria on the basis that any such movement would both fail to defend itself militarily against intervention by external parties and to capture the mass support of both the urban working class and the agrarian rural peasant class, whose reactionary nature would be exceedingly difficult to overcome with rash action. As an alternative, Bauer saw the path of social democracy to be the most feasible method for the success of socialism in Austria. The ability to grant major and permanent concessions to the proletariat while avoiding an open civil conflict, which may have involved the military power of the Entente, granted the Austromarxists safer and more numerous opportunities for generating lasting transformations in the social and economic structure of Austrian society.


Role of the Party

Bauer rejected elitism as a method for the dissemination of class consciousness, straying away from normative Bolshevik notion of the party vanguard. The embodiment of the revolution in the Bauerian thought was an organic movement that developed from a groundswell of working-class awakening and gradual transition toward socialism. Bauer's assertions were grounded in earlier writings by other Austromarxists who had written before him, such as Max Adler, who posited that "the cultural interests of the intellectuals, and the mere interests of the working class, as a self-enclosed class, have little in common except the very general claim for a humanly decent existence." This departure from international socialist norms had been the consequence of the Austromarxists' desire to avoid creating what Gruber describes as a "the dictatorship of a caste over the masses." Paradoxically, the more normative Marxist structure of the core inner circle of educated urban intellectuals within the party had also developed in the SDAP well before the end of the war and remained at the center of party politics, reflecting a gap between the ideological persuasions of SDAP leadership and the party's behavior in practice that often manifested in other circumstances, such as with the relative lack of concern toward insufficient housing until the housing crisis in postwar Vienna necessitated the introduction of substantial construction projects.


Relationship with the Internationals

During the First World War, the relationship between various social democratic member parties of the
Second International The Second International (1889–1916) was an organisation of socialist and labour parties, formed on 14 July 1889 at two simultaneous Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitan ...
grew strained, as member parties of opposing nations involved in the conflict that espoused support for their respective countries could no longer cooperate. Following the war, two divergent currents within the Broad Left attempted to restore the unification of the international worker movements. In 1919, the more hardline
Third International The Communist International (Comintern), also known as the Third International, was a Soviet Union, Soviet-controlled international organization founded in 1919 that advocated world communism. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congress to ...
was established with support from the Bolsheviks in Russia. As a response to the Third International, Friedrich Adler took part in founding the '2 International', formally named the
International Working Union of Socialist Parties The International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP; also known as the 2½ International or the Vienna International; german: Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sozialistischer Parteien, IASP) was a political international A political in ...
, as the IWUSP's first secretary in 1921. The IWUSP represented a general alignment of social democratic parties that leaned away from the Bolshevik current, having grown initially out of a wartime pacifist bloc of the Second International. Other members of the Austromarxist movement, including Bauer and Hilferding, backed the IWUSP over the Third International, considering the Bolshevik model to be undesirable or unworkable in Austria. Despite general support from social democratic parties in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy (in addition to the Austromarxists' own SDAP), the IWUSP failed its objective of bridging the divide between the competing Internationals. After confidence and momentum in the IWUSP was lost following the German delegation's withdrawal under pressure from Third International chairman
Grigory Zinoviev Grigory Yevseyevich Zinoviev, . Transliterated ''Grigorii Evseevich Zinov'ev'' according to the Library of Congress system. (born Hirsch Apfelbaum, – 25 August 1936), known also under the name Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky (russian: Ов ...
, the IWUSP merged in 1923 with what was left of the Second International to form the
Labour and Socialist International The Labour and Socialist International (LSI; german: Sozialistische Arbeiter-Internationale, label=German language, German, SAI) was an international organization of socialist and labour parties, active between 1923 and 1940. The group was establi ...
, with Friedrich Adler again leading as secretary.


End of the First Republic

The rise of the agrarian clericofascist Vaterländische Front was in part the consequence of the SDAP's failure to generate substantial momentum for the party outside of Vienna. The dichotomy of rural Catholic Austria and the urbanised, educated elite of Vienna generated distrust among the rural working class due to perceptions of the Austromarxist cause having deteriorated and, additionally, due to the rise of similar nationalistic political forces in Germany at the time, which had similarly pivoted the rural working-class vote against the left movements of urban centres like Berlin. Owing in part to the collapse of Austromarxism in Vienna was the inaction of SDAP leadership to counteract the growing forces of the Austrian right, paralleling failures by the SDP in Germany to likewise undermine the growth of the
NSDAP The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (german: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right politics, far-right political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945 that crea ...
. The growing political gap between rural Austria and the capital was exacerbated by the radicalising influence of the Catholic Church against socialism. Minimal economic opportunities for rural Austrian provinces such as
Steiermark Styria (german: Steiermark ; Serbo-Croatian language, Serbo-Croatian and sl, ; hu, Stájerország) is a States of Austria, state (''Bundesland'') in the southeast of Austria. With an area of , Styria is the second largest state of Austria, ...
and
Vorarlberg Vorarlberg ( , ; gsw, label=Vorarlbergisch, Vorarlbearg, , or ) is the westernmost States of Austria, state () of Austria. It has the second-smallest geographical area after Vienna and, although it also has the second-smallest population, it is ...
to pursue industrialisation, which further perpetuated the rural-urban divide in Austrian society, can be considered a primary reason for the failure of the SDAP to penetrate the Austrian hinterland. Consequently,
Engelbert Dollfuss Engelbert Dollfuß (alternatively: ''Dolfuss'', ; 4 October 1892 – 25 July 1934) was an Austrian clerical fascism, clerical fascist politician who served as Chancellor of Federal State of Austria, Austria between 1932 and 1934. Having served a ...
was awarded the Chancellorship in 1932, and by 1934 the Austromarxist project in Vienna had been fully unravelled, the SDAP banned nationwide in Austria, and most of the party's leadership and active membership had been placed either in exile or in prison.


References


Bibliography

* . Originally published in German a
''Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie''
Vienna: Verlag der Wiener Volksbuchhandlung Ignaz Brand, 1907. . * * Krätke, Michael R. (1997)
"Otto Bauer (1881-1938): Die Mühen des Dritten Wegs Die Linke [Otto Bauer (1881-1938): The Trouble of the Left's Third Way]"
''spw – Zeitschrift für sozialistische Politik und Wirtschaft''. No. 97: 55–59. Also available i
PDF format
* Leser, Norbert (1968). ''Zwischen Reformismus und Bolschewismus. Der Austromarxismus als Theorie und Praxis etween Reformism and Bolshevism: Austromarxism in Theory and Practice'. Vienna; Frankfurt; Zürich: Europa-Verlag. . * Loew, Raimund (November–December 1979)
The Politics of Austro-Marxism
. ''New Left Review''. No. I/118. * Máiz, Ramón; Pereira, María (8 June 2020). "Otto Bauer: The Idea of Nation as a Plural Community and the Question of Territorial and Non-Territorial Autonomy". ''Filozofija i Društvo''. Vol. 31, No. 3: 287–300. .
''Otto Bauer - Austromarxismus und Internationale zweieinhalb [Otto Bauer - Austromarxism and the Second-and-a-Half International]''
Last accessed 2021-09-02. * Mark E. Blum, William Smaldone (2015) Austro-Marxism: Austro-Marxist Theory and Strategy * Mark E. Blum (2017) Austro-Marxism: The Ideology of Unity


Further reading

* Julius Deutsch (2017)
''Antifascism, Sports, Sobriety: Forging a Militant Working-Class Culture. Selected Writings''
Edited and translated by
Gabriel Kuhn Gabriel Kuhn (born 1972) is a political writer and translator based in Sweden. Biography Kuhn became straight edge and active in Political radicalism, radical circles as a teenager. Following post-secondary studies in Austria and the United Sta ...
. Oakland, California: PM Press. .


External links


Otto Bauer speaks about the crisis of 1929
{{Authority control Communism in Austria Eponymous political ideologies Marxism Marxist schools of thought Minority rights Political history of Austria Political science terminology Social Democratic Party of Austria