Information in English
September 17th 2011 is the 100 year anniversary of a revolt in vienna. It was caused by building up social injustice, rising rents and food prices, that led to widespread poverty and famine. The intervention of the military at a protest rally in the morning, in front of the city hall, forced the people out of the city center towards the suburbs, the neighbourhoods most of them came from. Especially in what is now the district of Ottakring, people refused to let the military and police “restore order”, they built barricades in the streets, took the opportunity to get what they needed from stores and warehouses, stormed administrative buildings, schools and police stations and destroyed what they found that is usually used against them, especially files and means of surveillance.
It took days for the military to regain their superiority in some of the worker’s districts of the city. Several people were shot or stabbed to death by the military, hundreds wounded and arrested. Punishments were harsh for mostly minor offences.
The social democrats, who had among others mobilised for the demonstration, later tried to dissociate themselves from the events that happened afterwards. They criticised the military for their violence, but also denounced the direct actions that people had started after the military had forced them out of the city. For them, the attacks on the state and the security apparatus were unbearable, because they wanted to get in charge of these institutions themselves, rather than abolishing them. They found an excuse in the people’s poverty, but used it only to uphold their project of taming the capitalist machine by social security and some workers rights.
Now, a hundred years later, this project is more dead than ever. Quite often in the last ten, fifteen years, social democratic governments were the driving force in demolishing all welfare and social aspects of the state, reducing it to its core functions of enforcing a state of order that guarantees unlimited private property, the enforcement of treaties between private parties and the prevention of an uprising.
History is there for us to learn, and the history of resistance needs to be studied, to enable ourselves to develop a perspective of what we can do today.
The advance of the people that revolted in Vienna on the 17th of September 1911 was a logical step for them after they had lost their patience with the way their “representatives” from the social democratic party were going, claiming to improve their situation. They turned not only against the logic of commodities, but also against the state that organises the frame set necessary for a world of commodities and wage labour to stay secure for its profiteers.
But all around the world people are refusing to accept this “order” any longer. Social movements are springing up in the most unexpected places, and quite quickly they swell in size. But what’s more impressive than their size is the fact that they stay leaderless, refrain from accepting any party politics and symbolism, and that they are multiple issue movements from the beginning that set out to change society and not only to remedy some of its worst evils.
This makes them potentially revolutionary, as well as their mode of action, which is insurrectionary in the sense that they rise up and and stay, for example occupying squares and streets, instead of just having several consecutive mobilisations for a day each. And they have moved on from just protesting, they from the beginning try to find grassroots democratic ways of organising themselves. This is actually the first purpose of their getting together in public – to meet with many others and talk about what to do. This is a much different approach to one demonstration after another where everyone goes home afterwards and leaves the rest of the job to be done by politicians.
One hundred years after the revolt of 17. September 1911, we had some gatherings in public where we got together in a festive atmosphere, shared food, ideas and laughs, and started to get ourselves ready for a new round of struggle coming up this autumn. We are happy to know that in many other places of the world, other people are motivated by the same feelings: That it can not go on like this, and that we will rise up and start to create a different world.
It will take time, but that is not a reason to wait any longer now.