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Joseph Carter

Stalinism on Austria

Comments Refute Course in Germany

(February 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 9, 24 February 1934, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“But the Austrian workers had drawn a lesson from the German events, a lesson that every worker must learn. They chose to die fighting on the barricades rather than to be tortured in the Fascist camps.”

Who penned this unquestionably correct lesson from the German events? None other than those who shout from the roof-tops that the German workers should not have fought, that the Communist party did not have a majority of the workers behind it, that armed resistance to the Fascist mob would have been a putsch! None other than the Stalinist editorial writer of the Daily Worker (Feb. 14, 1934) who only yesterday fulminated against the “counter-revolutionary Trotskyists” who have the audacity to say that the Communist Party of Germany, which had a parliamentary strength of six millions, should have fought a defensive struggle against Hitlerism!

What happens to this bookish strategy of revolution (or rather retreat) of the Stalins, Heckerts and Piatnitskys? These “generals” have clearly (?) explained that without a majority of the workers behind the revolutionary party, armed struggle against Fascism was impossible, futile and counter-revolutionary!

After the German defeat, the American Stalinists were quiet for a few days – Pravda had not yet given them the line! Today they write voluminously – following the Pravda editorials! “The Social Democratic workers of Austria, abandoned by their leaders, are carrying on their struggles with supreme courage and devotion”, writes Pravda (Feb. 14). If it appears that the leaders called the general strike, that some of them are on the barricades, all this must be “overlooked”. They do not like the facts, because they do not fit their theories. So they invent others. “The Social Democratic Leaders Are Alreday Coming to Terms with the Dollfuss Government” runs the subhead of the Daily Worker report of the Pravda editorial (Feb. 14, 1934 – Special Edition). Without any proofs being offered!

“The devoted fighters for their class, the Austrian Communists, are in the front ranks of the present struggle. The small Austrian Communist Party has given thousands of fearless fighters to this struggle, fighters who are leading tens of thousands of workers in heroic struggle,” writes Pravda. That Communist workers are active in the fighting is undoubtedly true: but that the non-existent Communist Party of Austria, wiped out without leaving a trace by the Dollfuss government months ago, is leading the struggle is a lie made out of whole cloth.

What happens to the theory of “social-Fascism”? Like all the spurious theories of Stalinism it goes up the chimney with all their other rubbish. The fact that Social Democracy and Fascism are irreconcilable is once again proved by life itself. This does not disturb the equanimity of the Stalinists: so much the worse for the facts – they still persist in their theory!

The fact that the leaders of the Austrian Social Democracy by their whole course since the World War have paved the way for reaction and Fascism is indisputable. Their support of Dollfuss’ emergency decree was a result of their programmatic bourgeois democratic viewpoint: Dollfuss was the “lesser evil (as compared to the Nazis). This permitted Dollfuss and the Nazis to consolidate their forces. Their threat of a general strike “if and when” legality was violated by Dollfuss was a logical outcome of their “constitutional” program. Instead of putting it on this basis, the bureaucratic Stalinists turn the entire question on its head. Their whole emphasis is placed under the purely secondary consideration of the personal cowardice of the individual leaders of the Austrian Social Democracy.

By such methods the Stalinists are alienating the Socialist workers. instead of clear-cut explanation of the facts – distortions, fabrications, stupid boastings as to the activities of the non-existent Austrian Communist Party. And yet they shout with added emphasis for a “united front with the Socialist workers.” What hypocritical gestures!

The Daily Worker of Feb. 14th carries an appeal of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. for a demonstration that day (Wednesday) before the Austrian consulate at 4 P.M. It appeals to all workers, particularly Socialist workers. The conscientious Stalinist worker is attracted by the apparently militant tone of the call. The Socialist worker reading the appeal grits his teeth at these professional splitters. For the Socialist Party, and several of its sympathetic organizations, had already made public its call for a demonstration for the same day at the same place at 5 P.M.! Not a word of this is mentioned in the Stalinist appeal! No attempt is made to appeal to the New York City Central Committee of the Socialist party for a united front demonstration !

At the demonstration itself the Stalinists behaved in a shameful manner. The misled Stalinist workers shouted “Socialists and Communists unite and fight!” but time after time their leaders disrupted the orderly procession of the demonstrators. Fist fights between Socialists and Stalinists were barely avoided. After some time, through the intervention of a member of the Communist League, the heads of the Socialist and Stalinist steering committees met and agreed to the demand of the Stalinists that their banner be at the head of the parade with the Socialist banners. But even this was not sufficient for the Stalinists.

Various of their leaders, including Norman Tallentire, ran up and down the line of march calling on the Stalinists’ workers to break their lines and get near the beginning of the parade! Here again fist fights were barely avoided.

The Stalinists repel the Socialist workers by such tactics at a time when it is a dire class need that a united front of all workers’ organizations be formed which will rally behind the heroic Austrian working class. Time presses.

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