Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Economic Politics of Austria

Saturday 29 Oct 2011
By Der Kosmonaut

The pressure against Epizentrum this week can be measured against the strains facing Austrian finance capital. Austria's largest bank, Raiffeisen, is on the brink of bankruptcy. Raiffeisen needs to immediately raise nearly 3 Billion Euros in order to operate beyond the end of this quarter. BUWOG itself is in a financial coma as well. BUWOG is on life support by the shares still owned by the Austrian State. Had BUWOG been completely privatised, it would have been one of the dominoes which would have fallen after Lehman Brothers. 

Indeed, the very fact that BUWOG is a living corpse makes many in Austria question how BUWOG can afford to tear down the existing structure of Epizentrum and then to reconstruct a brand new building. Moreover, many Austrians ask, what's the rush? Why the sudden volte-face? When asked directly by the media a week and half ago about the occupation, BUWOG replied that the occupiers could stay until the end of December. Then, suddenly without warning and without any explanation, BUWOG reneged. What does BUWOG have to hide?

It's very likely that the Austrian banking, finance, real estate corporations and institutions are bankrupt. Should that be the case, then they are still surviving on subventions by the Austrian State. This means that the Austrian Treasury has simply absorbed the debt of private fiance capital. If the Austrian state has absorbed billions of Euros of corporate debt, plus add the national debt, one can conclude that Austria is in dire financial straits. However, one is not going to read, see or hear about it in the Austrian, European and international media. There have been nearly 3 years of rumours about a pending Austrian state bankruptcy. However, both the ruling coalition parties SPÖ and ÖVP are working diligently and thoroughly to hide the true state of the economy. 

Not all Austrians believe what the government and media tells them. Two weeks ago, the metal workers staged a national strike involving more than 100,000 workers. It was the most militant industrial action seen in Austria since the 1950s. The masses in Austria live through long working hours, rising costs in food and groceries. Taxes and fees are increasing as well..  The point is that sooner or later, the illusion tricks employed will no longer work and Austria will be the latest EU country to go under.

Austria currently has the reputation of being part of the rich Northern Euro zone countries along with Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden. Officially, the Austrian government takes the position and side of Germany. The Austrian bourgeoisie hide behind the large skirt of Germany to conceal their own economic weakness. The Austrian bourgeoisie calculate that they can pool their resources closer to the German bourgeoisie. Most likely, there is strategy to get the German bourgeoisie to buy out the most profitable assets of Austrian capital and property. In other words, the Austrian bourgeoisie are betting that a new type of economic Anschluß with Germany will keep them wealthy. In return, they only demand that Germany respects the "Austrian" nationalism. For example, the German airline Lufthansa recently took over Austrian Airlines. However, the corporation still retains its Austrian corporate name (AUA) and the board of directors are all Austrian. The planes are still painted in the Austrian national colours. The headquarters of AUA remains in Vienna. Still, the airline is owned by the German company. Just as the Canadian bourgeoisie have pushed for deeper political integration with the United States in order to maintain their position, the Austrians are pushing for deeper economic and financial integration with Austria.

Like the capitalist class worldwide, both the German and Austrian ruling classes are accelerating plans to impoverish the masses and revoke all their social, economic and democratic rights. Any and all resistance by the masses is to be dealt with seriously. In this light, the establishment of Epizentrum represents the first serious resistance to the establishment of totalitarian capitalism in Western Europe.

The Austrian bourgeoisie cannot and will not cede an inch of private property without making a profit. A free autonomous fortress independent from both the state and finance capital cannot exist within totalitarian capitalist society. Any space in which "the spirit of capitalism" is absent from must be destroyed and erased. This is the economic political significance of Epizentrum.

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