Year 2000 No.26, February 14, 2000

What Values Are the Austrian Government Threatening?

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

What Values Are the Austrian Government Threatening?

Actions by States against Austria

Birmingham Branch of RCPB(ML) Organises Leafleting Campaign of Longbridge

Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0207 627 0599
Web Site: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
e-mail:office@rcpbml.org.uk
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition: 70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)

Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail ): 1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10



What Values Are the Austrian Government Threatening?

The media, politicians and others have been quick to condemn the racist views of Joerg Haider of the Austrian Freedom Party and his well publicised support for Hitlerite fascism, but should not the unprecedented interference of the British and other governments in the affairs of a sovereign state also be condemned?

It might also be asked exactly what values are the new Austrian government threatening? The countries of the EU including Britain are well known for their racist and xenophobic immigration policies, such as the Labour government’s Immigration and Asylum Act which have produced what has become known as "Fortress Europe". At the same time the Labour government retains the 1981 British Nationality Act and other racist legislation which perpetuates an openly racist division of the polity. It has also been Britain and the other big powers of NATO and the EU who have acted in a Hitlerite manner through their bombing and invasion of countries such as Iraq and Yugoslavia based on their notion of "a new strategic concept" and "doctrine of international community". Having established the principle that they can ignore the sovereignty of any country and meddle in its internal affairs, Britain and the other big powers are now seeking to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria.

It is important that the democratic people should beware of the protestations of Britain and other countries when it comes to their views on the "right-wing" Haider. At stake are the values which these European countries and the US seek to promote and to impose around the world. These values which the Paris Charter of 1990 embodies, and which have recently been succinctly enumerated again by the US Defence Secretary when he spoke of "democratic ideals, civil and human rights and open markets", underpin the promotion of globalisation and that countries should present no barrier to the activities of the monopolies, the banks and financial institutions, and the transnational companies. At issue is the particular conception of "democratic ideals, civil and human rights" which are attached to drive for "open markets". Will Haider threaten these conceptions?

What is certain is that what concerns Robin Cook and the bourgeoisie is connected with what the Foreign Secretary has termed Britain’s "enlightened self-interest". He has made it plain that this "enlightened self-interest" runs through Europe and involves Britain’s participation in strengthening the European Union as a reactionary bloc under the signboard of "stronger in Europe, stronger in the world". The war against Yugoslavia was fought in the geo-political context of the contradictions between the big powers, particularly over the US imperialist need to control Europe, as a stepping stone to global domination and a uni-polar world. Austria is also in a strategic position, between Germany and Slovenia and the Balkans, as well as on a west-east axis, bordering on the eastern European countries which are being taken into the fold of NATO. Nor can the context of the developing of a growing alliance of "centre-left" governments around the promotion of a "Third Way" or "middle way" be ignored. For example, the Austrian Social Democrats supported the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and took Austria into the single currency. The "centre-right" coalition in Austria cannot be counted on to continue on the same course.

The interference of the British government in Austria’s internal affairs whether based on the Freedom Party’s opposition to the EU and its continued enlargement or any other pretext has created another dangerous situation in the heart of Europe and must be opposed by all democratic people. The working class must see through the smoke-screen with which the Labour government diverts attention to its own reactionary stands.

Article Index


Actions by States against Austria

The Labour government and all the other governments of EU member states announced a series of sanctions aimed at the new coalition government in Austria, which contains six members of the Freedom Party led by Jorg Haider. The sanctions spelled out on January 31 state:

-- The other 14 EU governments will not promote or accept any bilateral official contacts at political level with an Austrian government containing the Freedom Party.

-- There will be no support for Austrian candidates seeking positions in international organisations.

-- Austrian ambassadors in EU capitals will be received only at technical level.

The Freedom Party won a 27% share of the poll in Austria’s general election last October. The coalition between the Freedom Party and the conservative People’s Party was announced on February 1, despite the EU threats. The government was sworn in on February 4. Jorg Haider is not in the Cabinet. The Social Democrats had previously been in office for some 30 years. Some other EU countries have also imposed limited economic sanctions and it was reported that Belgium has demanded that Austria be expelled from the EU. The US has also announced measures to limit official contact with Austria, while Israel withdrew its ambassador.

According to the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, Britain and the EU have taken these measures in order to make clear "our deep concern and distaste at the inclusion in the Austrian Government of a far-right party which appeals to xenophobia". Other government ministers have spoken of the threat which Austria now poses to the EU’s values.

Austria was occupied by the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France from April 1945. On May 15, 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was ratified and Austrian neutrality was enshrined in the 1955 constitution. The Social Democrats are said to be opposed to abandoning neutrality while the People's Party favours joining NATO. However, Austria is already a member of the NATO "half-way-house" Partnership for Peace. Austria joined the European Union in January 1995 and adopted the European single currency on January 1, 1999.

Article Index


Birmingham Branch of RCPB(ML) Organises Leafleting Campaign of Longbridge

On Friday, February 11, RCPB(ML) activists organised a successful mass leafleting of the dayshift at the Longbridge site as part of its programme to assist in the process of ending the marginalisation of the workers. Once again the leaflet, already distributed around housing estates where workers at the main Rover plant actually live, was taken directly to the producers of Rover cars. The leaflet, carrying the title The Line of March to a New Society and addressed directly to the workers of Rover, contained news of the Workers, Daily Internet Edition and also the exciting news of the WORKERS’ RESOURCE CENTRE, which has been placed at the disposal of the workers and is an important step in organising for a new society.

Workers received the leaflet at the gate often with enthusiasm. It was obvious that many workers were pleased to see the appearance of literature which spoke from their standpoint after what has been a period of total monopoly by the bourgeois media. The Party in the area intends to add to the growing oppositional voice of the workers to the plans of the German Monopoly BMW and the European Union. The Party intends to continue with its ongoing campaign by helping to organise around a meeting of Rover workers on the issues affecting them

Article Index


RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page