Austria

Reconstructing Karl Polanyi: Excavation & Critique
By Gareth Dale
Pluto, 2016
246 pp., $33.88

As a well-known British socialist activist and an academic political economist, Gareth Dale is thus ideally placed to write about Karl Polanyi, writes Derek Wall.

Polanyi was a leading 20th century critic of the free market economics that crystallised into the neoliberal system that is now threatening our planet.

The Austrian legislative elections, held on October 15, finished with one clear winner: 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, who leads the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP). His party emerged as the biggest political force in the country, winning 31.7% of the votes and 61 of the 183 seats in Austrian parliament’s lower house, the National Council.

Kurz is now set to become Austria’s new chancellor – the youngest in the country’s history – and thereby completing his meteoric rise to the top.

Austria elected its president on May 22 in the second round of voting, with the neoliberal green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly beating far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) candidate Norbert Hofer with 50.3% of the vote.

The FPÖ, a right-wing populist and authoritarian German nationalist party of former leader Jörg Haider, was founded in the 1950s. It was a political party for ex-Nazis who never broke with their Nazi tradition.

Austria, as well as Serbia and Croatia, have joined other European countries in temporarily closing their borders.

On September 21, Croatia closed its last checkpoint for trucks on the Serbian border where thousands of refugees are waiting to cross in the hope of a better life.


30,000 people marched in Vienna on August 31 to demonstrate against inhumane treatment of refugees.

In less than a fortnight a series of tragedies took place on the borders of Europe, spurring a continent-wide debate over refugee policy.

On August 26, about 200 refugees perished at sea as their ship capsized off the coast of Libya on its way to Italy.

For nine long years Gail Hickey and her family have indefatigably campaigned for justice over the death of their son, TJ Hickey, an Aboriginal man who was 17 years old. He died as a consequence of a pursuit by Redfern police that ended with his death the following day.

For nine long years Gail, the family and their supporters have been telling and re-telling the history. His bike was rammed by a police car, he was thrown in the air with great force, and landed on a spiked fence line with great force.

Thousands gathered in Vienna and other cities across Austria on November 27 to oppose government cuts in education, heath care and family allowances, the Morning Star said on November 28.

Students, trade unionists and pensioners carried placards reading: “Take it from the rich”, and “You want to prune the budget, we want to overturn you”.

The government, a coalition between the Social Democrats and the conservative People’s Party, is seeking to reduce public spending by €1.6 billion next year.

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