Extraordinary TeleConference of the IMCWP, Contribution of Party of Labour of Austria

12/11/21 11:10 AM
  • Austria, Party of Labour of Austria Extraordinary TeleConference of the IMCWP En Europe Communist and workers' parties

The current crisis of capitalism is taking place in the context of a change in the international imperialist power structure that has been emerging for many years. The US, as the strongest imperialist state, is still at the top of the imperialist pyramid, but its influence is decreasing. On the international stage, it is above all the rise of China and Russia that is causing a change in the power structure. In Europe, however, Germany's new economic strength since the annexation of the former German Democratic Republic, the resulting conflict with Great Britain and France and its orientation towards a policy more independent of US imperialism also play a role. 

The current crisis of capitalism represents a superposition of different crises. Firstly, there is the ecological crise, caused by the unrestrained exploitation of the environment in favour of profit maximisation by capital. Secondly, the economic crisis, the cause of which is the over-accumulation of capital, and which is intensified in imperialism by the concentration of capital in monopolies. Thirdly, the health crisis in the wake of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed the serious deficiencies in the health systems of even the most advanced capitalist countries and the subordination of the health protection of the working class and the popular strata to the most undisturbed course of the capitalist mode of production. Fourthly, the political crisis, which reflects a crisis of bourgeois parliamentarism and bourgeois parties and opens the space for new political parties. The crisis of the bourgeois democratic establishment is caused by the hypocritical politics of the bourgeois parties and ever new corruption scandals. The obvious discrepancy between reality and statements of scientists on the course of the pandemic on the one hand and the actions of the bourgeois parties on the other hand has contributed the final rest to this political crisis. The new political parties, some of which are now appearing, are no alternative to the established bourgeois parties. They are old wine in new bottles, taking the place of this or that bourgeois party that has been all too battered by its policies. However, this is not a must, and these parties can just as well disappear again, it depends on the concrete circumstances. 

The crisis of capitalism, which in fact are multiple crises of capitalism, have further intensified the confrontations in the international structure. An expression of this confrontation is, for example, the fact that in many states of the European Union legal regulations have been enacted against the participation of the Chinese Huawei group in the construction of 5G networks, or the approval of the Russian corona vaccine Sputnik in the EU, which is still pending. Austria plays a subordinate role in the imperialist pyramid. However, Austrian finance and monopoly capital should by no means be underestimated. Since the victory of counterrevolution in the socialist states in Europe, Austrian imperialism has secured significant pieces of the pie. Austrian banks, for example, play a significant role in Central and Eastern Europe. Austria also had a hand in the division of the former Yugoslavia and provides a significant share of the NATO occupation forces in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Austrian finance capital also plays a dominant role there. As a small imperialist force, Austria manoeuvres between bigger imperialist forces and acts in line with bigger partners. 

The crises of capitalism hit the working class and the popular strata in Austria hard. Since the beginning of the economic crisis, in which the pandemic acts as a catalyst, the government has enacted a variety of measures to safeguard the profits of the monopolies and passed on the costs of the crisis to the working class and the popular strata. Thousands of workers have been put on short-time work, which means that their salaries are partly paid from the contributions of the working class to the unemployment insurance system and that they have to accept a loss of wages, many more have been dismissed and have lost their jobs. Many employees were sent to the so-called home office under the pretext of health protection and in many cases had to pay for electricity, internet, working materials, etc themselves, while capital was able to save all these costs. During various lockdowns and closures, capital received extensive compensation for lost sales from taxpayers' money. In the first days of the first lockdown, capital federations, the Social Democrat-led Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) and the bourgeois parties negotiated a new version of the Austrian epidemic law and cancelled the workers' right to full pay during factory closures. As a substitute, short-time work was negotiated, which entails wage losses for the workers. In addition, there is an enormous inflation with price increases of 11.4% for transport, 4.7% for housing, water and energy and 4.8% for vegetables. The social democratic ÖGB negotiated wage increases below the inflation rate with the capital federations. 

The Party of Labour of Austria opposes the bourgeois crisis management with the slogan "We won't pay for your crisis!". In spring 2020, the party newspaper was relaunched and renamed. The party's central organ is now published with the label “Zeitung der Arbeit” and not only as a print edition, but also online. The party intervenes in the neighbourhoods and workplaces of the working class and the popular strata to organise resistance to the policies of capital. In autumn, at the beginning of the annual collective bargaining in Austria, the Party of Labour organised a central rally in Vienna in front of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. 

In Austria a phase of military armament and an integration into the imperialist alliances began even before the crisis. Austria joined the EU and the so-called NATO Partnership for Peace in 1995. Within the framework of these two alliances, Austria regularly participates in joint military exercises and foreign missions with other states. In addition, Austria is also a member of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (SSC) and PESCO. Apart from its military engagement in the former Yugoslavia, Austria is currently involved in several military missions abroad with a contingent of 1,500 soldiers. In Mali, 100 soldiers are involved, another 260 are available as short-term reinforcements and about 60 soldiers are entrusted with supply tasks. Next year, Austria is also to take over the leadership of the EU training mission (EUTM) in Mali. 

The Party of Labour repeatedly attacks the dangerous plans of various bourgeois governments in Austria, which involve Austria ever more deeply in military plans and alliances. The sons and daughters of the Austrian working class and the popular strata are sent abroad in such missions for the interests of the Austrian monopolies. Austria is also becoming a target in the inter-imperialist confrontation as it becomes more and more entangled in the various imperialist alliances. The Party of Labour mobilises annually on 1 September, the World Day of Peace, for anti-militarist peace rallies and also uses 26 October, the Austrian neutrality day, for agitation against imperialist wars and Austria's participation in imperialist alliances and foreign deployments. 

The environmental crise is a fact. It has disastrous consequences for the working class and the popular strata in many parts of the world. The bourgeois parties suggest in the political debates that the aim is to create a green capitalism. The debate is meant to distract from the fundamental contradiction between capital and labour in capitalism. It is characterised by the false contradictions between "democrats and the right", "welfare state and neoliberalism" or "state investment and the free market". In reality, this contradiction represents the contradiction between the capital factions about the future capitalist administration. Various reforms and attacks on the working class and the popular strata are presented as if there is no alternative, such as the new tax on CO2. For the Party of Labour, the environmental crisis and climate change represent an undeniable fact. At the centre of the Party's policy on this question is the exposure of the false bourgeois propaganda on the crisis, which hides an intense competition of the monopolies for new technologies, markets, raw materials, transport routes and energy. 

The Party of Labour struggles to show the working class and the popular strata the only way out of the crisis or better the crises. The only way out for the working class is the struggle for socialism-communism. Only in a society where the working class has conquered political and economic power can efficient health protection be organised for the working class and the popular strata. Only under socialism-communism can the climate and environmental crisis, which is caused by the capitalist principle of profit maximisation and the unrestrained exploitation of people and the environment, be stopped.