Austromarxism

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Austromarxism was a Marxist theoretical current, led by Victor Adler, Otto Bauer, Karl Renner and Max Adler, members of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria during the late decades of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the First Austrian Republic (1918–1934). It is known for its theory of nationality and nationalism, and its attempt to conciliate it with socialism in the imperial context. Hence, Otto Bauer thought of the "personal principle" as a way of gathering the geographically divided members of the same nation. In Social Democracy and the Nationalities Question (1907), he wrote that "The personal principle wants to organize nations not in territorial bodies but in simple association of persons.", thus radically disjoining the nation from the territory and making of the nation a non-territorial association.

Overview[edit]

The Austromarxist group congregated since 1904 around magazines such as the Blätter zur Theorie und Politik des wissenschaftlichen Sozialismus and the Marx-Studien. Far from being a homogeneous movement, it was a home for such different thinkers and politicians as the Neokantian Max Adler and the orthodox Marxist Rudolf Hilferding.

In 1921 the Austromarxists formed the International Working Union of Socialist Parties (also known as 2½ International or the Vienna International), hoping to unite the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, something which eventually failed.

Austromarxism inspired later movements such as Eurocommunism and the New Left, all searching for a democratic socialist middle ground between communism and social democracy and a way to eventually unite the two movements.

Austromarxism was also put into practice as a precursor of radical reforming in Europe. Advanced social economic reforms, healthcare, housebuilding, and educational system in Vienna would inspire the Scandinavian social democratic parties and the British Labour Party.

Austromarxism was also the first movement in Europe to see adherents mount an armed resistance to fascist government, although eventually defeated in 1934.

The Austromarxist principle of national personal autonomy was later adopted by various parties, among them the Bund (General Jewish Labour Union), left-wing Zionists (Hashomer Hatzair) in favour of a binational solution in Palestine, the Jewish Folkspartei between the two world wars, and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania after 1989.

Further reading[edit]

  • T. Bottomore and P. Goode (eds), Austro-Marxism, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978).

References[edit]

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