Elisabeth Rizy – Austria

The New Revisionism in the KPÖ and the foundation of the Communist Initiative

Elisabeth Rizy – Austria

While the KPÖ has now reached a new nationwide low in national elections, Walter Baier and the group around him are steering an ever more revisionist line, which means an explicit rejection of the communist character of the KPÖ: it is neither to be Marxist-Leninist nor a workers’ party.

As a pluralist and reformist left party, the KPÖ is above all to appeal to “socially critical” intellectuals. The rejection of Austria’s membership of the EU has been continually been watered down, finally, against the will of most of the members, the demand to leave the EU has been dropped. At the international level, the KPÖ leadership has distinguished itself by a lack of solidarity with the remaining socialist or socialist-oriented countries as well as with regard to the revolutionary and anti-imperialist liberation movements. In the understanding of history there has been a wholesale condemnation of the USSR and the socialist countries of Europe. Here, Baier has used the complete arsenal of revisionism and opened the party to self-declared anti-communists. KPÖ members who were not prepared to go along with the revisionist, ultimately anti-Marxist transformation and possible liquidation of the KPÖ organised an opposition in order to maintain its communist character. These critics included the provincial organisation in Styria and in Tyrol, as well as individual Vienna district organisations and groups of comrades, including Bruno Furch, Eduard Rabofsky and Erwin Scharf, who have been publishing a journal, the “New Volksstimme” since 1992.

In April 2003, after the narrow results at party congresses and conferences, at the 32nd party congress of the KPÖ, at which all members were able to participate and Baier was again narrowly able to maintain his position as party leader against the challenger Manfred Eber from Tyrol.

A commission was elected to draw up the compromise document “What does the KPÖ stand for?” which was to be presented to the next aggregate (all-member) party congress. This did not happen: Baier’s supporters, in a minority in the national leadership and in the programme commission, against the decisions of the party congress, maintained their organisational power and by means of administrative and anti-democratic measures went onto the offensive against the Marxist opposition. In April 2004, this organised itself within the party as the Communist Initiative for the Renewal of the KPÖ.

In the following months Baier’s KPÖ leadership again targeted this left opposition: the Tyrol provincial organisation and the district organisation of Vienna Ottakring, two centres of the anti-revisionists, were unceremoniously dissolved. Prominent critics of Baier were expelled from the party. The work of the programme commission was ignored. Contrary to the decision of the 32nd party congress to convene congress as an aggregate congress, the 33rd congress was called as a delegate congress, as which the KPÖ leadership could select its delegates as it wished. The opposition’s attempt to organise an alternative, aggregate congress failed. In December 2004, the 33rd congress of the KPÖ took place, which the opposition from Styria, Tyrol and several Vienna districts unitedly boycotted. At this congress, Baier had himself as party leader and his party line confirmed, and a new party statues were extraordinarily adopted..

With this, the final split in the KPÖ could no longer be avoided. The work of the left opposition within the party bodies and at district level was thereby made impossible. Administrative-bureaucratic measures such as further expulsions from the party and the refusal to renew party cards were used against comrades. In the name of the KPÖ and in his name, Baier also took some of his critics to court. Many of those who had been expelled from the KPÖ as well as other opposition forced decided for a reorganisation outside the KPÖ. In Vienna January 2005, the Communist Initiative (KI) was founded. Otto Bruckner was elected as its chair. Only the Styrian region and the Vienna district of Liesing remained as a structured opposition within the KPÖ, although the Styrian provincial organisation did not recognise the results of the 33rd party congress and currently sees itself as being outside the current “National Federal KPÖ”. The KPÖ is continuing its course and as a “transformative left” is currently part of the revisionist and reformist European Left Party (EL). The KI represents the tradition of Marxism-Leninism and of the revolutionary communist workers’ movement and sees its task in the building of a revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist and anti-imperialist and internationalist fighting party of the working class.

Naturally, not all Austrian communists are organised in the KI: In the KPÖ, too, in different structures, above all however in the Styrian KPÖ, there are people who stand for an anti-revisionist, Marxist-Leninist line.

The communist youth organisation (KJÖ) and the communist students’ organisation (KSV) also base themselves on Marxism Leninism and reject the line and orientation of the KPÖ. The attempt of the KPÖ leadership to set up a new youth organisation as a substitute and counter structure to the KJÖ failed miserably. The attempt to split the KJÖ and the KSV and to sabotage its work was at least partly successful in Vienna. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Austrian young communists see their allies as the Styrian KPÖ and the KI. Because of the non-communist character of the KPÖ, the task of the creation of a new communist party in Austria highly topical. Here, the KI would like to make a contribution in solidarity and cooperation with communists and socialists who are members of other organisations or who are not organised,. Above and beyond this, the KI is committed to the politics of anti-monopoly alliance. There is no alternative to the task of the creation of a powerful communist force in Austria and the creation of an anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist pole in society.

The communist movement in Austria began 90 years ago in order to engage itself consistently for the interests of the working class and all oppressed people. The tasks of the communist movement – in Austria and worldwide – are no less than the revolutionary defeat of capitalism and the construction of socialism. If this is to happen, a strong communist movement that orients itself ideologically on Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and V. I. Lenin, which stands in the best traditions of Hainfeld social democracy and the earlier KPÖ is indispensable.