Youth and workers need a socialist alternative
On 20 June, in a western Vienna district, Ottakring, the Socialist Left Party (CWI in Austria), organised an anti-fascist demonstration against an important and dangerous Nazi-club, the Stüber-Heim, which is linked to violent fascists, including to sections of the youth wing of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), formerly led by Jörg Haider, and now by Strache (previously a far right activist who undertook military training).
One hundred and fifty people attended the protest, which was held mid-week and during very hot weather. It was not the first demonstration and it will not be the last, as the danger of far right populism, mixed with more aggressive fascist elements, will most likely grow under the impact of prolonged government cuts and poverty. In the past, illegal weapons were found in the neo-fascist club, and Nazi-leaders who were jailed in recent years now try to recruit new activists in and around this area of the city. These developments are even more shocking taking into account developments with the far right FPÖ. This party spent six years in a neo-liberal coalition government between 2000 and 2006, yet now presents itself as the (only) alternative to the establishment parties. It is trying to rebuilding its strength. While doing this, it is clear that there is a strong involvement of fascists within the FPÖ’s youth wing.
Many people watched and even applauded when our anti-Nazi demo passed by and it became clear for what we stood for. We said that the fascists are ‘alien’ to the district and people have a right to remove this potential threat of right-wing violence. In the last few months, we produced leaflets in six languages during the anti-fascist campaign, which is important to reach people from different backgrounds.
The SLP (CWI) managed to build a united front on this issue with the Young Socialists (youth wing of the Social Democrats, SPÖ), including one activist who is a member of the local district council. One success for the anti-Nazi campaign was the successful submission of a motion to this district council which will evaluate possible legal steps against the Nazi-club. In a discussion that followed, we made clear that only by building a movement from below we bring enough pressure on the authorities and "big politicians" to act. At the same time, the establishment parties, especially the Social Democrats who are back in power at national level after 7 years, have nothing to offer working and unemployed people.
Need for a new political force
The more capitalism and its cuts-making representatives alienate wider parts of Austrian society, the more the far-right FPÖ, and even fascists, like those meeting in the club, can grow. Therefore, it is a question of a race against the far-right for anti-fascists and the left, to build a counter-movement, which also provides answers to the social and economic problems people face. This must include a clear position against all pro-capitalist measures, which widen the gap between rich and poor. Therefore, our slogans on the 20 June anti-fascist demonstration and during the discussion afterwards, included issues like calling for a minimum wage and for shorter working hours, without loss of pay. A new political force, independent from all pro-establishment and pro-capitalist parties, is necessary.
Anti-racist protests in Salzburg
Our anti-fascist and anti-racist work is now to be widened to Hallein, a town near Salzburg, in Western Austria, where a demonstration against racism and social cuts will take place at the end of June. Aggression against Turkish-speaking people is growing in the area. We will make clear who is really to blame for problems such as unemployment and an insecure future. This protest will be a starting point for the development of a left and explicitly socialist youth movement in the region.