Address By A Comrade From Vienna
I had considered it as a bit of luck for me that your Delegate meeting coincided with a visit to my sons in England, following on a business trip to Paris. It would give me a chance and the pleasure of meeting so many comrades assembled and speaking to them. Unfortunately, the strain of a long journey and attention to business forced me on the Sunday to take a rest and to renounce my original intention of attending the delegate meeting. In so far as I could anyway not have come before you as a delegate appointed by Austrian comrades organized in a socialist party, no harm has been done. Only the small number of comrades and friends, some of whom are personally known to those of you who visited me in Vienna, have asked me to bring their fraternal greetings and good wishes to all members of your party. I am sorry that we have not yet managed to combine our forces to some organisation but we shall continue to work towards that end. The example you are setting to workers everywhere is a great inspiration. There is your amazing war-record established under most appalling trials, your magnificent election efforts, etc., as evidence of what enthusiasm and devotion to the great cause of the working class can accomplish. It makes one truly ashamed and should spur any worker to whom knowledge of your work is brought home.
My own merit—if that can be called a merit—is that I am both in regard to association with the S.P.G.B. and age, one of the old comrades, having joined the party about 40 years ago. It was my privilege to have known personally some of the founders of the party, such lamented comrades as Jack Fitzgerald, Alex Anderson, Jacomb, F. C. Watts and Jacobs, Kohn, and numerous others—men for whom I have always had the highest admiration, to whom the international working class should be grateful and of whom they can be proud. Another of my own “merits” is that I seem to have been among the few first exponents —a poor exponent though—of the policy and declaration of principles of the S.P.G.B. in the German language on the Continent. I am sorry to say that my example does not so far seem to have been followed to any marked degree. Do not think that I am enjoying this honour and solitary position. I would much rather know crowds of comrades with greater abilities and potentialities coming forward everywhere and vying with me and others in spreading the real, revolutionary socialist message not only in the German speaking parts, but in all the continents. I would much rather be outdone and submerged in a flood of socialist propagandists.
As regards conditions in Austria, socialists do not need a lot of telling. They know that where money and capital rules, with its degrading wage-slavery, there our class suffers poverty, privation and insecurity with all the unhappiness and frustrations due to these things. Notwithstanding all the millions of dollars pumped into the country’s industries by the Marshall-plan, there are a hundred-thousand unemployed and fears of more to come. So used are the capitalist statesmen to high figures of unemployment that a hundred thousand is considered negligible, it is even called “full employment” which, they say, “must be maintained.” Meanwhile prices keep rising, the four “Allied” Powers are still in occupation, jealously watching each other and giving no sign of quitting. It is of course part and parcel of the world-wide commercial rivalry between these Powers, notably between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. Thus demarcation-lines, censorship, requisitions, victimisation and all the rest of the chicanery and threats continue unabated.
After 60 years of social reform activity fraudulently presented under the name of socialism or communism, the Austrian workers are today in a worse plight than ever before. This is not surprising because what, after all, do all these so-called reforms purport and amount to? Are they to make the worker’s life easier and more comfortable? Do they make for the enjoyment of life? The answer is No. All the legislators are concerned with is to stem the utter deterioration due to the exploitation of the workers, and to see to it that the burden of want, which is the bludgeon indispensable to drive the working class to work under the horrible conditions imposed by capitalist exploitation does not become heavier than the workers are expected to bear. Freedom from want and insecurity can only be ensured by the ending of exploitation and the total abolition of the capitalist system—which has been the consistent policy of the S.P.G.B. from its inception. To support any other policy, is to play into the hands of the workers’ enemies,
I wish I could bring our friends and others here to see you at work. 1 am sure it would be a great inspiration and fire them on to greater activity. During my brief visit I have of course also viewed your new premises and I congratulate you on having successfully mastered what must have been a difficult problem for workers not having the financial resources of the anti-socialist organisations, like the labour and “communist” parties, at their disposal. It would give me the greatest pleasure to be able to make some financial contribution towards your fine efforts, but unfortunately I can only express to you my best wishes for the continued prosperity of your labours. In taking leave, I renew my pledge to continue spreading the revolutionary message to the best of my ability and ask you to accept this fraternal salute from,