National Sections of the L5I:

Successful left-wing demonstration against the EU-treaty in Austria

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The demonstration was the high point of a campaign for several months and took place on the Saturday before the ratification of the treaty in the parliament by the Social democratic, the Conservative and the Green party. The League campaigns against the EU-Reform treaty because it is an important step towards building an imperialist EU-state apparatus to increase the neoliberal attacks, the militaristic policy around the globe and to reduce the democratic rights in Europe. (for a detailed analysis of the treaty in German language you can download our pamphlet [INT http://arbeiterinnenstandpunkt.net/stor/broschueren/EU-Reformvertrag_s-w.pdf]here[/INT].

As in many other European countries there is a mass opposition against it in the working class and amongst the middle layers. In Austria 60% of the population demand a popular referendum and clear majority would vote against it (which is why the ruling class and therefore the government are vehemently opposed to such a referendum).

The LSR participated and played a leading role in the ìPlattform Volxabstimmungì because we saw the importance of the issue for the class struggle. Another important factor was our understanding of the need to build a left-wing campaign against the treaty to avoid that the right-wing opposition could fuel the popular resentment against the treaty with chauvinism. Of course their opposition against the treaty is pure opportunistic demagogy since in 2005  when they were in government  they voted nearly unanimously in favour of the EU constitution. However since they are the only opposition against the treaty in parliament (and have the tactical support of some mass media) it is an important and difficult struggle to build a mass left-wing opposition against the treaty which rejects any form of nationalism and racism.

This was particularly difficult since social democracy and the trade union bureaucracy fully supports the treaty and while the SP youth organisation and some regional politicians demand a referendum they didn't raise a finger to mobilise for the campaign and didn't even participate in the demonstration. Similarly the Communist party supported the campaign only half-heartedly  a decision certainly influenced by the fact that the European Left Party gets a huge amount of official financial support from the EU funds.

Given all this factors the demonstration was a huge success since we achieved mobilising sectors of the unorganised working class who are outside of the traditional small left-wing milieu. However there were attempts of organised right-wing forces to infiltrate the demonstration and it took actions of the LSR/REVOLUTION security service and some other left-wing people to kick them out. (There was a problem of the demonstration that most organisations hardly provided any security service.)

Another political problem was the presence of a number of Austrian national flags at the demonstration (carried by unorganized people). This reflects a political challenge for our work: there is a strong patriotic sentiment in important sectors of the white Austrian working class  a tradition which was build for decades by social democracy and the Communist party. There is a widespread hope for a turn back to the "good old days" of Austria in the 1950s-1980s where Austria was a "little island" with no military alliance (neutrality declared in the constitution), full employment and social stability. (In this regard there are certain similarities to other small imperialist countries like Swiss or Sweden.)

It is therefore an important task for Marxist revolutionaries in Austria to fight against any form of nationalism and for an internationalist, class struggle perspective. For this Marxists must turn towards the working class as it is and fight existing prejudices inside the class instead of retreating to the little world of the petty-bourgeois left  a mentality which is unfortunately widely spread amongst the radical left (not accidentally from the radical left beside us only the CWI participated in the campaign and they did so only half-heartedly.)

LSR and REVOLUTION played an active role in the campaign and participated in the demonstration with a militant, revolutionary contingent of 40-50 activists. (for photos of the demonstration see the link below). As a result our contingent was shown in the TV-reportages of the demo and various web videos of the daily papers and our organisations and speakers where mentioned in several daily papers. (see e.g. [INT http://www.kurier.at/nachrichten/146252.php] here=[/INT]. [INT http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=3294008]here[/INT], [INT http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=3294008]here[/INT] or [INT http://www.oe24.at/zeitung/oesterreich/politik/article286878.ece]here.[/INT]

One of the four moderators of the demonstration was comrade Mercan S¸mb¸ltepe  a militant from REVOLUTION. REVOLUTION provided also one of the speakers at the starting rally. In his speech comrade Max Kmieczik stressed the need of the unified struggle of workers, migrants and youth against the Europe of the bosses and for a socialist Europe. (On the LSR Channel of Youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/RevolutionSocialism you can watch parts of his speech [INT http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbrH7Bapook] )

At the final rally Nina Gunic spoke for the League of Socialist Revolution. She began her speech with drawing attention to the huge gap between the government and its intention to push through its EU-treaty on one hand and the mass opposition against it on the other hand. Her slogan directed at the parliament (in front of which the rally took place) was taken up spontaneously by thousands: "NOT WITH US!"At the same time Gunic sharply denounced the demagogic rejection of the EU treaty by the right wing opposition. She called for resistance against their racist hate-mongering and for joint resistance of migrant and Austrian workers and youth. She closed her speech by calling for mass resistance against the treaty including strikes up to a general strike. (Her speech can be viewed in full on the LSR Channel of Youtube [INT http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S4W5p4pU7E]here[/INT])

All in all it was a very successful event for our organization not only because of the media presence and the size of our contingent but also of the opportunity to spread the ideas of revolutionary Marxism and an internationalist class-struggle perspective. As a result we sold many papers and pamphlets at the demonstration and our info stall attracted many people.

The LSR and REVOLUTION organized another rally on 8th April  the day before the voting in the parliament.

While we lost the battle and the parliament ratified the treaty our struggle continues. The militant workers and youth in Europe must not believe that the ratification of the treaty is the end. It is only the starting signal for a new neoliberal, militaristic offensive of the imperialist bourgeoisie in Europe. We have to prepare for the battles ahead and this means first and foremost building rank and file movements in the unions, building revolutionary youth organizations and parties on the national and international level. Our struggle against the EU bosses is therefor an integral part of our struggle for the 5th international!

Photos and Videos oft he demonstration against the EU-treaty on 5th April 2008 in Austria

[INT http://arbeiterinnenstandpunkt.net/stor/demo05042008/Thumbnails.html] Photos of the demonstration[/INT]

[INT http://www.youtube.com/RevolutionSocialism]Videoclips of the demonstration and speeches of the LSR&REVOLUTION-speakers [/INT]

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