Vienna attack shocks Austria – Need for a united movement to fight oppression and capitalism

Our previous article on the Vienna elections was posted just before the murderous 2 November attack on hospitality workers and people out for the evening in Vienna. There can be no justification for this attack, which has killed and injured ordinary people while playing into the hands of the oppressors.

It gives governments the opportunity to divert attention from the corona disaster and unfolding economic crisis, plus an excuse for strengthening state powers, as the dead attacker had previously been convicted of terrorist offences. In Austria, this attack is a gift to both the far right Freedom party and the Strache movement, as they try to recover from their recent defeats in the Vienna elections. Both have a history of trying to rally support by using centuries’ old stories of the former Austrian empire’s battles with the then Ottoman empire; so they may exploit the dead attacker’s Balkan background in addition to him being an ‘Islamic State’ fighter.

It is good that Austrian Chancellor Kurz now emphasises that it is not about a division “between Christians and Muslims or between Austrians and migrants”. But it is deeply hypocritical when Kurz evokes national unity and solidarity. Firstly, it is Kurz and his conservative party that have repeatedly divided and split along racist lines. Secondly Austrian society, as in all capitalist countries, is already divided along class lines and has within it different forms of oppression. It is not surprising that the leader of the pro-capitalist social democrats, Rendi-Wagner, does not address this division along class lines but focuses on “values”, reminiscent of previous public debates begun by the far right Freedom party.

The unity that needs to be built is amongst the majority of the population who have to go to work, live on unemployment benefit or a minimum pension – regardless of nationality or religion – against terror and right-wing agitation, and to create a society that does not drive 20-year-olds into the arms of Islamic, or any other religious fundamentalism; a socialist society. For this, we need campaigning trade unions and a socialist movement that fights to change society in order to end oppression, exploitation and the repeated crises of capitalism.

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November 2020