From an Austrian Comrade

Dear Friends,

During my work as professor of scholastic philosophy in Innsbruck I could not but dwell when occasion arose on my findings in Das Kapital in the course of my lectures. Certain students raised objections to my views and reported me to the authorities and I was eventually called to account for it. It should be remembered that no more than about 5 per cent of the students come from the working class; the bulk come from the propertied class with a more pronounced orthodox, bourgeois outlook than the sons and daughters of workers.

The former could not stomach my explanation of social phenomena and problems. I was asked to send in the manuscript of a brochure The Social Question—Its Being, Origin and Solution, which I had prepared. Soon afterwards, without warning or getting a chance of answering the charges, I was ordered forthwith to stop lecturing and publishing my writings, and suspended from service. It meant that I had to give up my living at Innsbruck and move to Vienna, where I was “graciously” given a small job and a pension many times less than would have been my due. As these gentlemen had it in their power to dismiss me uncermoniously, without any pension at all; I had to submit to these strictures and even be grateful for such “generosity and forbearance.” 1 am now atoning for my sins.

All this happened in this boasted democratic welfare state Austria, while the “great socialist leader” Dr. Karl Renner was president of the country. (By the way, under his parliamentary presidency, there occurred in February 1934 the greatest defeat and disaster the Socialist Party of Austria ever suffered in the whole of its 60 year existence! The unsoundness of that party’s policy is also glaringly demonstrated by Dr. Renner having voted for Hitler, as did also the catholic cardinal Dr. Innitzer!).

As a result of Press reports of a conference of “socialist catholics” in November 1959, at which I gave a lecture on Marxism, I received a letter from comrade Frank, expressing a desire to meet me. We subsequently had some talks, and I also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of his son on a visit to Vienna, when we had a most interesting and heartening discussion.

Through comrade Frank I learned of the existence of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Ireland, and the great work they are doing to spread the glorious message of socialism throughout the world against terrific odds. Not the smallest obstacle is the dull apathy of the masses of the working class, who seem to use their undoubted talents for nothing but making profit for, and increasing the wealth of, their masters.

Comrade Frank has also made available to me copies of your publications and those of the companion parties, which I am assiduously studying and tremendously enjoying. Let me express my deep admiration for the fine work of so many devoted comrades. A group of workers in the English-speaking world saw through the monstrous nature of capitalism and saw the way out of its quagmire years before the first world-war, and started, in the S.P.G.B., a revolutionary movement. It does not speak well for the political intelligence of the workers of this Continent that even after two world-wars, a number of smaller wars, civil wars, and other appalling human tragedies brought about by the mercenary commercial rivalry between the workers’ exploiters, only so few have so far realized that nothing but the overthrow of the imbecile system of capitalism, and its replacement by a system of production for USE (instead of for profit) can save mankind from further and even greater disasters.

And now a word on the false friends and the betrayal of the Marxian teaching.

If the bankruptcy of the big self- styled “socialist” parties and their betrayal of scientific socialism were already clear when Dr. Karl Renner declared that two of the largest world-empires, namely the Russian and the British Empire, were under the leadership of the working-class and that socialism was close at hand, the leaders of these pseudo-socialist/communist parties have now sunk the last vestige of the revolutionary content of Marxist theory by finally and completely identifying themselves everywhere with the avowed capitalist parties. These parties have been absorbed by the State, and their leaders are only vying with one another for the well-paid jobs in the government and administration. I remember that the well known English labour leader Attlee, when his party held power in 1947, declared that there was no coherent alternative policy to that of the Labour Party and that the opposition was bankrupt in ideas. Just as Attlee and the Labour Party, after suffering three successive defeats and seeing power being taken over by the Conservatives, must eat their words, so Dr. Renner lived to see his ridiculous assertion belied, for it must be evident to even the politically little informed that the Russian workers are today unfortunately as far away from socialism as their English brothers.

Anybody looking at the Socialist Party of Austria today will discover hardly a remnant of revolutionary spirit. What it really does can at best be described as a kind of leftist bourgeois reform politics—no more. Anybody observing the attitude of their leaders must come to this conclusion. At three successive presidential elections the “socialist” candidate was elected President of Austria, and he is at the same time Commander-in-Chief of the Army!

There is also its position to the various Church organisations. The early Party always laid it down that “religion is a private matter”. Now it has made peace with the churches. It now even recognizes the Dollfus Concordat (concluded on May 1st 1934 between Austria and the Vatican), although it had previously refused to do so. Even the financial claims of the Church are being recognised (church property and estate confiscated under Josef II returned to the Catholic church, plus hundred million schillings annually). It does this in the hope of getting votes. Whether this hope will materialise is more than doubtful, as despite its readiness to make these concessions, the Socialist Party of Austria is now as in the past turned down by the church.

On the occasion of the annual Conference of your party I send fraternal greetings to all delegates and other participants, and hearty wishes that your great efforts for the spreading of revolutionary socialism may bear further good fruit. We here shall continue to add our bit to the furtherance of the great cause.

Yours for Socialism,
J. K.

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