Report (with Pictures and Videos) about big protests against the governments’ COVID-19 policy in Vienna on 31. January 2021, RKO BEFREIUNG (Austrian Section of the RCIT), www.rkob.net and www.thecommunists.net
On 31. January Vienna saw an extraordinary, one could say historic event. Way more than 10,000 people demonstrated against the anti-democratic policy of the conservative-led government – despite a ban by the police which had been widely reported in advance by the media in order to deter people from joining. In addition, there were several smaller rallies in other cities of Austria.
The conservative interior minister had ordered about 1,000 police from all over the country which tried to suppress the rally by force in the center of Vienna. All in all, police filed 2,300 charges and arrested 32 people.
However, due to the huge numbers of demonstrators it was impossible for the police to stop the demonstration from taking place. In the end about 10,000 (according to mainstream media, in reality the figures was certainly much larger) marched for more than five hours on main streets of Vienna. Due to the massive intervention of the police, the demonstration was split into several contingents widely apart.
The protest was rightly directed against the despotic and silly government measures. Instead of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with serious health policy (e.g. additional public hospitals, more staff with better wages), the government utilizes the pandemic as a pretext for political and economic power interests. In times of the worst crisis of capitalist world economy the Austrian government – like many others globally – is not interested in public health but in expanding the police and surveillance state and the degradation of democratic rights. Furthermore, the policy of hysteria and lockdown serves the profit interests of big corporations (pharma, high-tech, online retail, etc.)
This illegal mass demonstration was remarkable also because it had not been organized by any sizeable organization but rather exclusively via mobilizations of smaller networks in social media.
The demonstration was distinguished by the fact that it represented the broad masses of the population. Instead of petty-bourgeois pseudo-intellectuals and hipsters the demonstration was dominated by families with working class and lower middle class background, migrants, old hippies, bikers, people from rural areas, etc. Another very impressive development was the spontaneous solidarity from people on the sidewalks and from houses.
Among the most popular slogans were “Peace – Freedom – No Dictatorship” and “Bring Down Kurz” (Kurz is the name of the conservative Prime Minister). This was a spontaneous mass demonstration which was not dominated by any political force. Of course, among the huge mass of people there were various small groups. A few people from left-wing as well as right-wing groups distributed leaflets. Christians with cross and pictures of Jesus were also present. One could see repeatedly people with the colorful peace flag.
Government and media present the demonstration as one dominated by right-wing extremists. This is simply a lie which only serves the purpose to slander a spontaneous mass movement. Of course, such forces were present. But the presence of 20 or 50 right-wingers within a mass demonstration pf 10-20,000 people can hardly be called “dominating”!
However, it is a fact that the so-called “left” was hardly present at the demonstration. If there would have been a substantial and organized number of left-wing forces, it would not have been difficult to remove any right-wing provocateurs. But this is not possible since the so-called “left” has hardly any relations to the working class and “ordinary people” and shows no interest to overcome this. This years-long self-isolation has resulted in the fact that such “left” is mostly confined to the university milieu and bobos – and is quite happy with this situation.
This shamefully marginal existence has been intensified more recently by the fact that most of the “left” – in Austria as well as internationally – supports the anti-democratic lockdown policy of capitalist governments. If they have any criticism, it is that they want even more and longer lockdowns! (e.g. the ZeroCOVID campaign) Some of these Lockdown Left had the effrontery to make silly provocative stunts on the sidewalks against the mass demonstration on 31. January (e.g. by shouting the slogan “We will vaccinate all of you!” – a slogan which is surely highly popular among the bosses of drug corporations!)
By the way: these “leftists” were also mostly silent when the same Austrian government launched a huge raid with 1,000 police on 9. November 2020 when they arrested several dozen Muslims in their homes. Despite announcing the most absurd accusations against them in media at that time, prosecution has been unable to put forward any charges against the Muslim brothers until now!
Activists of the Austrian section of the RCIT participated in the demonstration. We call for:
* Massive expansion of public health service – under control of the working population and not drug corporations and corrupted politicians!
* Down with the Lockdown policy and restrictions of democratic rights! No police and surveillance state!
* Stop the hate-mongering against refugees! No persecution of our Muslim brothers and sisters!
* No cuts in wages, no sacking! For a public employment program! Expropriation of corporations under workers control!
* * * * *
Our international organization – the RCIT – has analysed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published more than 70 pamphlets, essays, articles and statements plus a book which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/. In particular we refer readers to the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/. In addition, we draw attention to our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/. See also our very first article on this issue by Almedina Gunić: Coronavirus: "I am not a Virus"... but WE will be the Cure! The chauvinist campaign behind the “Wuhan Coronavirus” hysteria and the revolutionary answer, 2 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/wuhan-virus/