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A Letter From An Austrian Comrade

 General Secretary,                              2nd April, 1950.
The S.P.G.B.

Dear Comrade,

 In the name of our still tiny group of Austrian comrades I send fraternal greetings to all comrades assembled in London for the Annual Conference of the Party.

 Knowing as I do the insatiable ambition and desire for expansion, I fear that the conquests and acquisitions made this last twelvemonth will be deemed unsatisfactory by some impatient delegates. No doubt, these stormy petrels will be pacified and steadied by reminding them that, if progress is slow, it is steady and solid. Which is more than the pseudo-parties can say. Have these conglomerations of befogged and bewildered elements that come and go, a future at all? No, whatever our adversaries may say, and however slow progress may so far have been, the future is with us. One is apt to forget that Capitalism, though it has lasted far too long for us already, has after all only had a short run, compared with preceding stages in the evolution of human society. Even so, it shows already unmistakable signs of decreptitude and is almost at the end of its tether as far as successful coping with its problems and dilemmas is concerned. Just observe the pitiful helplessness of the whole crowd of capitalism’s henchmen and hirelings, of its spokesmen in press and wireless, on platform and pulpit, in face of such problems as the spectre of another war! Note Capitalism’s prominent men, its scientists, its military experts a.s.o. warning and imploring “the ordinary men and women throughout the world to supply the irresistible impetus to end the menace of war” which they, the “intellectuals” know not how to end. Note, along with the gigantic armament race, the frantic appeals of the modern medicine-men for the observance of national days of prayer to the Almighty who, though He has let us down in the past, is implored to stop dealing further blows to His creation in future.

 One wishes that the “ordinary men and women throughout the world” would indeed take their masters and pastors by their word and really “supply the irresistible impetus” to intelligent action. Such impetus can of course only spring from a mental revolution, from understanding the CAUSE of all the trouble. Only such knowledge can make the ordinary men and women of one country unite, not, as hitherto, with their class-enemies, but with the workers of all countries, to end the menace of war by sweeping away its cause, the sordid system of competitive Capitalism.

 The task of spreading this knowledge is left to the socialist. With our scant means, and all the wide channels of propaganda closed against us, it is indeed a heavy task. There is only one ally for opening the workers’ eyes and driving home the lesson that nothing but a fundamental change as proposed by socialists, can help. That ally is the constant deterioration of conditions and the glaring failure and futility of all efforts and measures to cope with it. With all the long and painful experience before them, the workers should certainly no longer be as ready as they have been in the past, to swallow the rubbish that Capitalism is the only possible system and that common ownership and democratic control of the means of life by society as a whole is supposed to be a Utopia.

 Our task over here is rendered even more difficult by the special conditions of which you are well aware and which I was able to explain when I had the great pleasure of meeting many comrades personally last summer. We do the best we can in the circumstances, sowing the good seed and hoping that by your next annual Conference there will be better news from this part of the world also. If not, then it will be, as comrade Waters said last year, our misfortune but not our fault.

 With all good wishes for the wellbeing of our comrades and for the success of your Conference, let me finish my message with the words written by comrade Webb many years ago in the Standard, on “The Meaning of Life”:—

       “There is the task, a hard task admittedly, but worth the doing. Life to the socialist means unremitting toil in the cause of Socialism, perseverance in spite of all discouragement, the marching onward in the face of all doubts and difficulties. Even if we of this generation do not see and taste the fruits of our sowing, yet even then we shall have our reward—in the knowledge that we have fought on the side of energy against apathy, of youth against the decrepit, of life itself against death.”

Yours fraternally,


Rudolf Frank.