Editors’ Note: As US Communists refound their own party, it makes a great deal of sense to study the experience of other countries.
Information on the Foundation of the Party of Labour of Austria
The founding congress of the Party of Labour of Austria [Partei der Arbeit Österreichs, PdA] will take place on October 12, 2013 in Vienna.
With this congress a revolutionary party of the Austrian working class will exist again. A party firmly grounded on Marxism-Leninism, class struggle, proletarian internationalism and anti-imperialism.
In the draft party constitution it says: ÂThe PdA is a revolutionary party of the Austrian working class and the popular strata that are oppressed by capitalism and imperialism. The PdA advocates and defends the interests of the working population. The PdA strives for the overthrow of capitalism, for the construction of socialism and the realization of a classless society. The PdA takes a stand for peace, democracy, social and ecological progress, and the right of national self-determination.Â
Based on these positive developments, over the last two years people from the above- mentioned organizations have initiated concrete steps towards the construction of a revolutionary party on the initiative of KI members. These included organizational, structural, strategic, theoretical, and fundamental practical steps.
In February 2013 the Party of Labour was officially registered at the Austrian Interior Ministry, so that it already exists from a judicial point of view. In almost all regions of Austria local and regional committees have been established which are building the foundation for the organizations of the party.
An elected founding committee will serve as the provisional central committee until the first party congress this year. Outlines of the foundation document, the draft of a party programme and the party constitution have been worked out and discussed. These documents will be presented to the party congress for approval. Last but not least, the party has started the process of admitting members.
Among the membership of the PdA Â and this is already clear Â will be a large number of active or former works council members, active and former representatives of the Chamber of Labour, representatives of various bodies of the Austrian Trade Union Federation [Österreichischer Gewerkschafsbund, ÖGB], former members, functionaries, officials and municipal council members of the Social Democratic Party [Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs, SPÖ], former members, functionaries and officials of the KPÖ, former members, functionaries and officials of the Socialist Youth of Austria [Sozialistische Jugend Österreichs, SJÖ], former members, functionaries and officials of other social-democratic organizations as well as members, functionaries and officials of the KJÖ, the KSV and, of course, the KI.
With its founding congress the PdA membership will already exhibit quantitative and qualitative breadth and excellence shaped by fundamental political experience, and Â also worth mentioning Â will have a young average age.
The essential task Â education, mobilization and organization of relevant parts of the working class Â is by far the greater challenge, but it will be possible to meet on the basis of the existing fundamentals. It is certain that the PdA will find its place among the class by unyieldingly and sincerely participating in the struggles ahead.
The PdA is also ready to take its place internationally. In this regard the outline of the party constitution emphasizes: ÂThe PdA is a party of proletarian internationalism. The PdA views itself as a part of the international workers’ movement and the collective of communist and workersÂ parties.Â Based on these principles and in accordance with proletarian internationalism and international solidarity we are hoping to strengthen and expand the international ties of the PdA in the course of time.
Statement by the provisional Central Committee of the PdA, Vienna, July 2013
Declaration of the Foundation and Principles of the Party of Labour of Austria
The Austrian workers’ movement has an honourable and fighting history. Its milestones are the foundation of the Social Democratic Party (SPÃ) in 1888/89 and the Communist Party (KPÃ) in 1918. In 1918 the Austrian workers’ movement was on the verge of a possible overthrow of capitalism. In 1934 it rose up against the Austro-fascist putsch. It bore the main burden of the fight against the two fascist dictatorships between 1934 and 1945 and in the national liberation struggle from 1938 to 1945. In the first and second Austrian republics it won important reforms and democratic and social improvements. It was the pacesetter for social progress, for peace and democracy.
The present is different. The leadership of social democracy switched to the side of capitalism, imperialism and counter-revolution a century ago. Today in essence the SPÃ is a capitalist party that itself represents an important support and profit-oriented participant in state-monopoly capitalism in Austria.
The smaller workers’ party, the KPÃ, has reached the zero point of social relevance as a national party Â and it also bears the responsibility for this itself. Inasmuch as it has abandoned the working class, the class struggle, revolution and thereby also socialism as a point of reference, it is today indeed critical of capitalism but otherwise it is a party that is completely alienated from the working class, ideologically arbitrary, a general left party that hopes for the transformation of capitalism into a "society of solidarity" and propagates erroneous, petty-bourgeois and reformist ideas.
It may be regrettable that the two classical previous workers’ parties of Austria no longer correspond to their original character, indeed, no longer wish to correspond to it, that they are therefore hardly of any use to the working class any more. But that is their decision, more or less to position themselves as integral parts of the bourgeois party spectrum, and this has to be recognised.
The main fact, however, is that the present situation already and certainly the future demand a independent, fighting and ultimately revolutionary party of the working class again, which bases itself on class struggle instead of on "class harmony" subjugation to capital.
It is time to take up the best traditions of the Austrian workers’ movement once again and to take them forward.
It is time to reorganise and form the workers’ movement under the changed conditions of the 21st century.
It is time take up again and consistently wage the struggle of the workers’ movement against capitalism and imperialism and their destructive effects.
It is time for workers and the allied strata of the population to have a fighting and revolutionary party for these ends.
Based on these considerations the foundation and constitution of the Party of Labour [German: Partei der Arbeit, PdA] is hereby declared.
This formal act is not an isolated one. It has been extensively prepared for both theoretically and practically. Naturally, subsequently it demands the further targeted structural development and extension of the party organisations, the development of comprehensive activities and operations and constant analysis of the strategy and political practice of the PdA.
The PdA’s understanding of itself, its essence, its tasks and objectives will be explained in the following chapters, which contain the political, ideological and programmatic foundations of the PdA.
Article 1. The PdA is a party of the working people. The working class is the repressed and exploited class in capitalism: the capitalist purchases the labour power of a worker and receives the product of their labour. However, this is of greater value than the wage the worker receives.
Article 2. The PdA is an anti-capitalist party. Capitalism is a global system of repression and exploitation, of the division of humanity into a small minority of capitalist owners and a large majority of propertyless workers, into rich and poor. Capitalist wage-labour is the instrument for the amassing of ever greater wealth on the part of the exploiting class of capitalists, the bourgeoisie, and permanent existential insecurity and material scarcity for the working people.
Article 3. The PdA is a revolutionary party of class struggle. Class struggle is the means and the driving force of social change. The PdA wages class struggle against the bourgeoisie and the instruments of bourgeois rule on political, economic and ideological terrain. The integral highpoint of the class struggle of the working class is its social revolution in which the capitalist class is removed from power and the monopolised means of production in their hands is expropriated.
Article 4. The PdA is a socialist and communist party. And in the actual meaning of the word: its strategic goal is socialist revolution and the construction of socialism. The socialist state as the democratic rule of the organised working class and strata associated with it ac- companied by the simultaneous suppression of counter-revolutionary elements is the precon- dition for the later transition to a classless society (communism) and thereby the abolition of dominance of any kind.
Article 5. The PdA is an anti-imperialist party. The world system of imperialism divides the earth into imperialist powers and dependent countries that are oppressed and exploited by the former. The PdA always stands on the side of the oppressed and threatened. It defends the right of peoples to self-determination, stands for national sovereignty and independence and supports anti-imperialist liberation movements. It fights the various national imperialisms, whether it is US imperialism or the imperialist alliance of the powers combined in the European Union, in particular the aggressive German imperialism, which Â not least through the vehicle of the EU Â also seeks to rob Austria of its national and democratic sovereignty.
Article 6. The PdA is an Austrian party. It defends the national sovereignty and independence of Austria as well as its population’s democratic right to self-determination. It fights for the interests of the working people in this country regardless of their origin or language. The PdA determines its tasks according to the national particularities and specific concrete conditions of Austria and the dynamic composition of its working class.
Article 7. The PdA is an internationalist party. The actual field of struggle for the PdA is in Austria. This is where the class struggle must be carried out, this is where capital must be forced back and overthrown. To pursue and fulfill this task, with all its consequences, is the best contribution to the joint international revolutionary struggle of the international working class and its parties. In this sense the PdA understands itself as an integral part and as the Austrian section of the international movement of communist and workers’ parties.
Article 8. The PdA is an anti-fascist party. It vehemently fights against all attempts at creeping fascism of the state apparatus "from above" as much as against the activities of fascist groups "from below". In this connection it unconditionally defends bourgeois democracy, the rule of law and liberal society against fascism, in the knowledge that these too are elements of bourgeois rule.
Article 9. The PdA is an anti-militarist party. It fights against war, militarism, armament and imperialist interventions and occupations. It stands for the dissolution of military alliances, in particular of NATO, which is the main threat to peace. It rejects the militarisation of the EU and the participation of the Austrian army in EU military and occupation activities. It defends Austrian neutrality and on this basis demands that the Austrian state pursue an international crisis-resolution and peace policy.
Article 10. The PdA is an emancipatory party. It regards the struggle for complete equality, self-determination and liberation of women as an obligatory part of the class struggle of the working class for their rights and for socialism. The PdA rejects gender-specific discrimination, sexism, reactionary role models and patriarchal hierarchies and campaigns for their overthrow.
Article 11. The PdA is an ecological party. The human ability to intervene in the flora and fauna, shaping the landscape and even the climate in decisive areas of nature, intentionally or unintentionally to change them, brings with it the obligation to act in a sustainable way and to protect threatened life forms and ecosystems, in our own interest and in the interest of future generations.
Article 12. The PdA is a democratic party. It is organised internally on the principles of democratic centralism. This includes rights and obligations of members, of party organisations and party organs. The party statute gives precise information on the norms of party development and party life determined and agreed democratically by the membership itself on this basis.
Article 13. The PdA is a Marxist-Leninist party. Its entire work is based on the fundamental theoretical findings of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and V. I. Lenin. The task of the PdA is to apply and creatively develop Marxism-Leninism. It defends Marxism-Leninism against distortions and attacks, whether they are of a revisionist or a "left-radical" nature.
Article 14. The strategy of the PdA is directed at the main aim of a socialist revolution and the construction of socialism in Austria. This cannot be replaced by a "social democracy", a "society of solidarity", a "social market economy" or the like, because these either remain within the framework of capitalism or constitute a contradiction in themselves.
Article 15. With the pursuit of this main aim, the PdA as part of an international, worldwide revolutionary workers’ movement is contributing to the worldwide overthrow of capitalism. Just as the Austrian road to socialism and to a classless society will be a self-determined one, conversely it is impermissible to seek to lay down prescriptions for other nations.
Article 16. The aim of the liberation of the working class cannot be achieved under capitalism, but improvements in favour of the working people can be won. For this, it requires a strong workers’ party and militant trade unions that are ready, willing and able to defy capitalism and wring concessions from it.
Article 17. The aim of complete equality between people remains reserved to the classless society; only in the higher phase of communist society will the principle "each according to his/her abilities, each according to his/her needs" apply. Even in socialism, inequality will continue, as this serves the principle of work as the basis of the distribution of goods, as well as on grounds of social fairness, which demands the different treatment of differing situations and conditions.
Article 18. The aim of a fraternal community and society of solidarity is one of the core tasks of a socialist state. In the bourgeois state and under capitalism only elements of a social solidarity, which are hard to win and must constantly be defended, can be wrested from the politically and economically dominant class, the bourgeoisie and their abetters. Because the capitalist class does not like seeing part of its profits being created and retained for state and communal intuitions that produce no profit for it but benefit working people, the propertyless and poorer strata.
Article 19. The aim of the complete democratic participation and political decision-making authority of the working class and its allies is a fundamental condition of a socialist community. The bourgeois democracy of capitalism only formally concedes full democratic participation to all.
Article 20. The aim of the transfer of the means of production into social ownership and its control through the working class in power, as well as the social planning of the economy, are economically the central elements of socialism. Under capitalism there is temporarily and/or partially state ownership of the means of production, above all of large companies.
IV. Functions and Tasks
Article 21. The main task of the PdA consists of the education, mobilisation and organisation of the working class. The liberation of the working class and the overthrow of capitalism must and can only be the own work of the workers; they must therefore be empowered to do this. No party can lead this struggle as a proxy for the workers, but they must become active themselves and also themselves be convinced of the question of socialism on the basis of their own experience and insight.
Article 22. It is the task of the PdA to organise the connection with the masses and to fill the working class with comprehensive political awareness. Because the PdA wishes to and must engage in politics not just for but with the working people, it is its duty continuously and repeatedly to build contact with the masses. It is not just an aspect of educating working people, it is also necessary to learn from them.
Article 23. It is the task of the PdA to fight for positive reforms. The PdA is a revolutionary and anti-capitalist party, but this does not mean that it does not fight for and defend actual and immediate reforms, for social and political improvements in favour of working people within the context of capitalism. But these cannot be begged for from the ruling class or negotiated through "social partnership", but can only be forced through the Â primarily extraparliamentary Â pressure of the working class. It should be noted, however, that a chain of reforms does not make an automatic progression into socialism or a transformation of capitalism possible.
Article 24. It is the task of the PdA to conduct the fight also inside bourgeois institutions. The bourgeois-democratic representative bodies, the parliament, the provincial assemblies and the municipal councils, trade union bodies and the Chamber of Labour are certainly not tools of socialist revolution, but they are platforms of class struggle.
Article 25 It is the task of the PdA to be capable of building alliances. It must not isolate itself in a sectarian way or behave in an all-knowing and reproving way. It is therefore ready to work together with all socialist, communist, revolutionary and left forces, but also with all democratic, socially progressive, pacifist and anti-fascist forces, if this arises on the basis of concrete agreement, without reservation owing to differences of opinion. The PdA has to prove itself as a reliable ally that is true to its word.
Article 26. It is the task of the PdA to be tactically flexible and mobile. It must command all forms of political, economic and ideological struggle and also know when to apply them at the right time. Correct tactical approaches arise out of the specific analysis of the respective conditions, of theoretical considerations and historic experience.
Article 27. It is the historic task of the PdA to fight for socialism. The world is in the epoch of the transition of humanity from capitalism to socialism. This is today a global historic necessity for the continued human existence and for civilisation, because capitalism stands for the way to barbarism, which calls the very survival of humanity into question.
Article 28. The PdA is prepared for unity in action with all Marxist, class-related and left forces. Above and beyond that it is prepared to participate in alliances with all advanced and democratic forces.Â The PdA calls for cooperation between all these forces, groups and people on the basis of equality, solidarity and democracy.
Article 29. The PdA invites all socialists, communists and Marxists who see the necessity for a revolutionary reorganisation or who are currently unorganised to make contact with it. Â The PdA calls on all these people or groups for a joint discussion on the future of the workers’ movement and its organisational form.
Article 30. The PdA will stand by all workers in word and deed, whether they are in employment or unemployed, and support them in independent action. Â The PdA calls on them for joint resistance against the oppression and exploitation of capitalism.
Article 31. The PdA calls on all those interested to form their own picture for themselves and to work together in the sphere of the PdA. Â Membership of the PdA is open to all, regardless of their social position, origin or nationality, if they recognise the fundamental principles of the PdA and wish to become active on the basis of them.
Article 32. Finally, the PdA calls on all those whose situation is threatened by the conditions of capitalism and imperialism not to accept this as an unalterable fate. Because people become masters of their fate when they are aware of it.
The PdA disdains to conceal its views and aims. With these principles it openly declares that its ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at the working-class revolution. The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Workers of all countries and oppressed peoples, unite!