Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Vienna-New York Connection: Karl Lueger

All visitors to Vienna who stay at least one or two days will come upon the Ringstrasse. The Ringstrasse was built between 1860 and 1888. It was the 19 Century´s largest urban public works project of any city in Europe or North America. It was designed and built by the Bourgeoisie once they had effectively taken control of Vienna. It was built as a ring around the Hofburg, the imperial palace of the Hapsburg monarchy. It was an aggressive fencing in of the monarchy and the Catholic Church. The new ruling class of Vienna made it clear in no uncertain terms that they were the masters of the city. The Ringstrasse was a monument of the victory of Democratic Liberalism over the Feudalism and Clericalism.

All of Vienna´s famous monuments are found along the Ringstrasse. The Burgtheater, which is the most prestigious hall for German drama is found there. The State Opera House is also located on the Ringstrasse. The Burggarten as well as the Volksgarten are on the Ringstrasse. Also located on the Ringstrasse is the Austrian National Parliament Building. So too is Vienna City Hall situated on the Ring. All of the streetcars or Strassenbahn that cross the Gurtel or cross over the Donaukanal run along one part of the Ringstrasse. It is the heart of the city.
Since I am an attentive observer and read the writings on the wall and on buses, trains and streetcars, I noticed a name that kept appearing: Dr. Karl Lueger. Many of the streetcars that run and terminate along the Ringstrasse have Dr. Karl Lueger Ring written as a destination. The Ringstrasse is divided physically into 5 sections. Each of the 5 sections run at straight angles which curve sharply from one into the other. The Ring has 9 sections divided by names: Stuben-ring, Park-ring, Schubertring, Kaerntner Ring, Opern-ring, Burg-ring, Dr. Karl Renner Ring, Dr. Karl Lueger Ring, Schottenring.
The U3 U-Bahn line stops at Stubentor. In a poem written 7 months ago entitled An Die Winerverkehrsbahnlie(On Vienna Public Transit), I describe a voice that is heard on all the streetcar and subway lines which announces each station with clear enunciation. When the U3 approaches Stubentor the voice announces: Stu-ben-Tor. Dok-tor Karl Lu-eg-er Platz. (Dr. Karl Lueger Plaza)
I was curious to know who Dr. Karl Lueger was. I had asked my best friend Alexandra about him. She told me that he was the reactionary mayor of Vienna at the turn of the 20th Century. I started to read more and research who he was. I was astonished to discover that Lueger was the Rudy Guiliani of Vienna exactly a century earlier.
An aside. The Austrians are really into academic titles. Every Mayor of Vienna and every Chancellor of Austria all hold Doctorates. A big difference between Austrian and American politics today is that the Austrians have educated reactionaries for politicians while the Americans have uneducated reactionary politicians.

Der Schoene Karl versus Rude Rudy
I could write a thesis comparing the two political men. Since this is simply a blog, I will keep it concise and to the point. If anyone wishes to follow up, please send a comment and I will gladly give references and books to read should one request it.
The political and personal biography of both men are identical to the point of disbelief. They both come from the petite bourgeoisie class. The father of Lueger was the Superintendent or manager of maintenance at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute. His mother owned a tobacco shop. Lueger was brilliant and earned his title of Doktor. He gained admission to the Theresianium which was the Austrian equivalent of Eton. The Theresianium was where the aristocracy sent their children to school. Lueger was from the lowest social and economic class admitted to that school. He was not unlike George Orwell, who attended Eton despite his lower class background. Both Lueger and Orwell were treated as outsiders.
Lueger obtained a degree as Doctor of Law and Political Science. Guiliani has a law degree and started his career in Law before entering politics. Both Lueger and Guiliani started their careers as liberals and obtained political power as reactionaries.
Lueger as a law student denounced and opposed German nationalism. As a Law professor at Manhattan College in the 1970s, Guiliani denounced right wing politics. Guiliani was also a fierce critic of Zionism and the State of Israel. Guiliani was one of the most pro-Palestinian American intellectuals.
Between the 1860s and 1890s, Vienna city politics was dominated by the Liberal Party monopoly. Between the 1960s and 1990s, New York City politics was dominated by the Liberal-Democrat Party monopoly.
In the 1870s Lueger fought against the corruption of the Liberals in Vienna city politics. In the 1980s Guiliani as US Attorney prosecuted the New York City Liberal Democratic Party monopoly for corruption.
In Vienna, Liberal Mayor Kajetan Felder was the chief target of Lueger. Over one hundred years later Liberal Democrat Mayor Ed Koch of New York was Guiliani´s target. Both men fought against waste in city government and patronage. These issues are always the ones that upset the petite bourgeoisie most.
Mayor Felder resigned due to Lueger´s pressure in Vienna. Mayor Koch was defeated in the 1989 Primary election for reasons of corruption and Black people´s anger over a series of racial murders that rocked New York in the latter half of the 1980s.
Lueger targeted men of high finance in Vienna. As US Attorney Guilianiwent after Wall Street Junk Bond brokers. Junk Bonds were assigned blame for the Stock Market crash of 1987. Lueger charged Liberal politicians of bribery. Guiliani prosecuted Democrat politicians for both bribery and corruption.
In these respects both men appeared to play the role of David against the Goliath of ¨international capital¨. Politically, Guiliani was the David against the NYC Democratic Party machine´s Goliath. For Lueger, he was David to the Vienna Liberal Party machine´s Goliath. Karl Lueger said: ¨These financial cliques and money powers...posion and corrupt public life.¨ Guiliani made identical comments in Court and in his many press conferences he held announcing his latest indictments. Both men declared them selves to be democrats, ie: representing and cleaning up Democracy. They both played and declared themselves to be of the Left in their respective anti-corruption campaigns.
In the 1880s Lueger transformed from democrat to protofascist. In the 1980s, Guiliani made the same transition. The difference was that Guiliani hid his conversion until 1992. Lueger went from Liberal to social reformer to Anti-Semite. Guiliani went from liberal Democrat to Republican to political reformer to anti-Black racist. Lueger remained loyal to the Hapsburg monarchy. Guiliani was a pro-American patriot loyal to the ascending Republican dictatorship that began to take place in the 1990s.
Finally, Karl Lueger was elected to his first term as Mayor of Vienna in 1897. Rudy Guiliani was elected to his second term as Mayor of New York in 1997. In 1897 liberalism ended in Vienna. In 1997, liberalism ended in New York City.
In the next part, I will talk about the political movement that Lueger started: Christian Socialism. I will show how Christian Socialism was the first manifestation of modern right wing politics. I shall explain how Christian Socialism was the first stage in the development of far right politics which led to Fascism and later National Socialism. I will also explain how Guiliani was able to win the Mayoralty of New York on an overtly anti-Black racist campaign in an identical way as Lueger was able to win the Mayoralty of Vienna using overt Anti-Semitism.

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