All interested men may witness in Austria variations upon a theme by Hitler. It has come to be accepted as a law of social development that a waning capitalism will attack and destroy evolutionary social democracy. The corpse of the Austrian Socialist Party is being divided between the Dollfuss fascists and the pro-German Nazis. Its press has been silenced, its power is being alienated, and now reports have it that large numbers of its members are going over to the Nazis. It makes no difference whether Dollfuss or the Nazis win; both represent the inevitable triumph of capitalism by violence over socialism by votes.
The history of Austrian socialism parallels that of the German. Originally militant Marxists, they became parliamentary gradualists under the stress of immediate problems, gathering support, and an apparently un-Marxian social evolution. In Vienna, their stronghold, they made astounding progress in developing a workers' paradise, with miles of modern apartment houses with landscaped courtyards, plenty of open air and light, great pools and bath houses--all for an average of $5 per month. This was accomplished by taxation of wealth and luxuries, which means, in effect, throwing a monkey wrench in to the capitalist works without substituting any new works.
All this material success so softened the socialist movement that by the time Dollfuss, using the Nazis as a bogey, declared a fascist dictatorship, the Socialists had not one revolutionary kick left in them. They did not even attempt a general strike; they merely acquiesced. This was partially due to Dollfuss' cleverness in declaring the dictatorship to stop the Nazis, pet hate of all Marxists. Moving one small step at a time he has not offered the Socialists a sufficient pretext to declare a general strike, yet he has succeeded in gradually hamstringing them by taking away their surplus and by slowly abolishing their major taxes. No blow has been struck, but the Socialist Party may now be considered dead.
The Austrian Socialist Party has been reduced from the most powerful party in the country to prostrate nullity and will proceed to disintegrate peacefully, or if necessary, forcefully since Dr. Dollfuss is now in a position to use force. The fact that many of the Socialists in Austria could be so blind as to join the Nazis merely indicates the dazed stupefaction of a working class movement which dreamed a beautiful dream--but suddenly woke up to face the bared teeth of an angered capitalism.
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Only England remains to enact the final tragedy of a trusting proletariat; the Labour Party is all that remains of the vast labor movement of the early twentieth century. The murder of an already senile Labour Party is perhaps not far off. Recent municipal elections, good indicators, have been strongly Labour. Predictions of a Labour victory in the next general election are heard more frequently. If Labour should finally get a working majority and really attempt something, there is the House of Lords to stop it, produce a stalemate. The King would piously call for Nation before Party, allegiance to England above a class. All was rehearsed in 1931. Only add rule by Orders in Council to the creation of a National Government; it would be legal and it would be dictatorship, what more can one ask. Or again, Sir Oswald Moseley will have a chance. TERTIUS