But the Freedom Party, despite its use of fascistic propaganda and
symbolism, is not a fascist party in the sense that Hitler and Mussolini's
Mussolini came to power after a period of revolution and
counter-revolution in the early 1920s after the working class movement was
defeated. In Germany the repeated failure of the leaders of the workers'
parties to carry out a socialist transformation in the 1920s allowed
disillusion to set in.
Despite the failures of the workers' parties leadership, German workers
did attempt to mobilise to stop the fascists coming to power. Hitler
eventually gained a mass base because of the desperation of large sections
of society when the late 1920s bubble economy collapsed. Large sections of
the middle class and even some sections of workers looked desperately for
any solution to the prevailing capitalist crisis.
Hitler, like Haider, never achieved majority support in elections, but was
handed power by German big business who were desperate to smash the
militant German working class. The German and Italian capitalists looked
to the fascists1 paramilitary groupings to liquidate working-class
Once in power the Nazis literally wiped out a whole generation of
communists, socialist and working-class militants before they embarked on
their racist genocide against the Jews.
Austria today, by contrast, has not got at this stage a deep capitalist
crisis. Nor has the working class suffered major defeats at the hands of
the capitalists. Also, Haider's party does not have a paramilitary wing
which can be used to smash working-class opposition.
HAIDERS PARTY has capitalised on the fact that the former workers1 parties
- Labour and social democratic - long ago abandoned offering any
alternative to capitalism. In fact these parties are now the most ardent
advocates of capitalism1s free market.
In many cases workers see no distinction between the main parties, where
cronyism and patronage permeate every level. William Keegan of the
Observer commented that "one factor behind the rise of the Nazi apologist
Jorg Haider is the political paralysis resulting from the Austrian
Whilst Austria' economic 'stability' is an exception and will not last
indefinitely, its political climate is not much different to many other
European and capitalist countries. In all cases there is this political
paralysis and corruption which has produced alienation and disaffection.
This disillusion has allowed the scum like the Freedom Party, the Front
National in France, Vlaams Blok in Belgium and other far-right parties to
rise to the surface.
In all these countries, whenever the far right have raised their head
workers and youth have reacted in opposition and driven the racists back.
In Sweden it's member of the Socialist Party's (and Socialist
Alternative's) sister organisation that have led the resistance against
racist murders. In Austria our sister party has been prominent in the
Haider's tentative steps towards power do not at this stage constitute a
return of 1930s1 fascism. But they nevertheless represent a threat which
the socialist and workers1 movement has to challenge.
As capitalism's economic crisis becomes more intense and class antagonisms
much sharper then the capitalist class could turn to embrace a new variant
of fascism, possibly from the likes of Haider's party, to try and smash
the working-class movement.
At this stage socialists must mobilise the workers; movement to oppose the
small fascist splinter groups and the larger racist right-wing parties
like the Freedom Party, wherever they raise their head. But in the longer
term the task remains to build new mass parties of the working class and
fight for a socialist transformation of society.
How Did Haider Achieve Power?
Youth Against Racism in Europe Oppose Haider
Austrian Workers History of Anti-Fascism
Austrian Socialists Analyse Haider
Youth Against Racism in Europe Web Site
Committee for a Workers' International Web Site