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The Austro-Marxists 1890--1918

The Austro-Marxists 1890--1918: A Psychobiographical Study

Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Austro-Marxists 1890--1918
    Book Description:

    In the brilliant world of Vienna at the turn of the century four men -- Karl Renner, Otto Bauer, Max Adler, and Friedrich Adler -- sought to develop political and economic resolutions to the racial and cultural tensions that were beginning to strain the bonds of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In this highly original study of these Austro-Marxists, Mark E. Blum uses the insights of depth psychology to trace the roots of their political philosophy in their family and social backgrounds.The Austro-Marxists 1890--1918is the first book to offer a systematic examination of the thought and milieu of these four thinkers. The only major work on the subject in English, it is a significant contribution to the history of European socialism and, in particular, to the development of Marxist thought outside Russia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6216-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    The Austro-Marxists, Karl Renner, Otto Bauer, Max Adler, and Friedrich Adler, were the second generation of the Austrian Social Democratic party, founded in 1889 by Victor Adler (Friedrich’s father) and other German-Austrian Social Democrats in an attempt to bring together the various nationalities of the Austrian Empire.¹ As a member of the Second International, the party was recognized as an orthodox organization of Marxist thought, one of the vanguard bodies in the proletarian struggle toward socialism. The Social Democratic political vision relied on Karl Marx for both intellectual and political reason. Intellectually, he brought the potential of a comprehensive system...

  5. Part One: 1890-1914

    • 1 The Austro-Marxist Idea
      (pp. 19-30)

      The Austro-Marxists did not represent a “school of thought.”¹ They were separate thinkers who shared membership in the Social Democratic party but were a generation younger than its founders, lived in or were closely associated with life in Vienna in the quarter century before World War I, and contributed significant theoretical and practical analyses of the many social issues that concerned the party.² Although each man adhered to such Marxist concepts as the dialectic in history, class conflict, and the alienation of the worker from the value of his labor, each based his thinking on different philosophical positions, and so...

    • 2 Karl Renner’s Search for a Home
      (pp. 31-49)

      Karl Renner’s tribute to Marx in 1908 on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death can be seen as the credo of Renner’s life:

      The worker who wished to understand his relation to Marx must, as I do, think back to his father, his grandfather, and his ancestors as far back as they go—then he will encounter men who were not industrial workers or proletarians, rather fathers of families [Hausvaeter] … who lived in their own homes and exercised an iron rule over their children and domestics. One never spoke to one’s father and mother in the familiar “thou,” for...

    • 3 Renner and the Interpretation of the State
      (pp. 50-71)

      The themes of Karl Renner’s theoretical writings were directed toward the public world that sustained his identity. His attachment to society and its norms recalls Freud’s term for individuals who have a firm belief in their indissoluble bond with the external world: “Out of this world, we cannot fall.”¹ As he matured in Vienna, he became a doctor of law, a civil servant, a member of Parliament, and a participant in the oligarchy of the Austrian Social Democratic party. His writings dwell on the negative shadow of the public institutions that nourished him, as well as on the positive changes...

    • 4 The Party as Family for Otto Bauer
      (pp. 72-87)

      Otto Bauer was born September 5, 1881, in Vienna, the oldest child of a German Jewish family. His only sibling was his sister Ida, fourteen months younger than he. Bauer’s father was a wealthy textile manufacturer, one uncle on his father’s side was a prominent Viennese lawyer, and another was a well-known physician. Although spending most of his youth in Vienna, Bauer attended the upper classes of theGymnasiumin Reichenberg in northern Moravia, where his father had moved to open a textile factory. Thus, like Renner, Bauer experienced the cultural complications of a German minority in a territory dominated...

    • 5 Bauer’s Cultural Dialectics
      (pp. 88-108)

      Otto Bauer concerned himself with the same themes as Karl Renner—nationality and other tactical questions of Austrian Social Democratic policy. His extroverted nature inclined him toward the immediate events of Social Democratic politics. He had the ability to abstract issues and find organizing concepts that clarified the relationships of events to broader historical causes, but the emotional pressure of his life kept such studies in a deductive rather than an inductive mode. Inductive analysis of historical life requires the gathering of data and deliberation of alternative explanations. Bauer’s mind dwelled continually at too high a level of abstraction for...

    • 6 Max Adler, the Eternal Youth
      (pp. 109-122)

      Max Adler never became an active politician within the Austrian Social Democratic party, although after World War I he represented the party in the Austrian Parliament.¹ Adler did, however, represent the purity of the Marxist ideal in the sense Karl Marx lived it—except for a brief period during World War I he never compromised principle with the class enemy. As a youth of twenty-one, Adler wrote of the danger that beset the Austrian intellectual: “The chief characteristic of the … student proletariat [is] their goal to work themselves out of their difficulties into a good bourgeois positio…. Thus the...

    • 7 Max Adler, the Incomplete Theoretician
      (pp. 123-139)

      In his theoretical writings Max Adler pondered a theme central to Marxism—individuality within an interdependent world. According to his interpretation, Karl Marx had inherited the problem from cultural fathers such as Kant, and Marxism was a political expression that relied on epistemological and social-psychological principles integral to Kant’s thought. In fact, the conundrum of human freedom within the laws that bind man to nature and society is as old as historical philosophy; the idea of individuality within interdependence can be traced from Plato through the whole of Western thought. Adler recognized the historical nature of the problem and thus...

    • 8 The Party as Father for Friedrich Adler
      (pp. 140-152)

      For Otto Bauer, Karl Renner, and Max Adler, the Austrian Social Democracy party served as a trans personal father, providing a thread of hope in the labyrinth of the Habsburg state. For Friedrich Adler, Austrian Social Democracy was the Gordian knot of his existence. Whereas Renner and Bauer found a sublimation to their family situations within Austrian Social Democracy, Friedrich Adler’s family, personally and transpersonally, was truly the party, and any solution to his problems of personality could come only by a direct confrontation with the chimeric presence of Victor Adler as party leader and personal father, and not, as...

    • 9 Friedrich Adler: From Physics to Marxism
      (pp. 153-166)

      In his article in 1909 forDer Kampfentitled “Wozu brauchen wir Theorien?” (Why do we need theories?), Friedrich Adler stated: “A single individual can only have a limited amount of experience himself. He depends, therefore, on other people’s theories concerning experience in his own approach to the manifold of life…. The child who listens to his mother when she says: ‘Don’t touch the oven, it burns, other children have already tried it,’ can live a whole life without burning his fingers.”¹

      At the time this article was written, Friedrich Adler was still under the thumb of his father, not...

  6. Part Two: 1914-1918

    • 10 Karl Renner as German Chauvinist
      (pp. 169-179)

      World War I disrupted Austrian culture, as war disrupts any culture. The complexity and range of everyday activities is truncated, and the inherent supports that social norms give to individual growth are lost in the poverty of the emergency environment. In Austria in this dearth, individuals whose prewar actions were guided by principles shaped by their own deliberation tended to remain balanced and consistent in their personalities. One’s essential self came to the surface in everyday encounters of coping with social chaos. There were ersatz norms, just as there were ersatz products. There was chauvinistic passion in the early war...

    • 11 Otto Bauer: Success through Equivocation
      (pp. 180-186)

      The day after the German nation declared war upon Russia, Otto Bauer was called into service in the Austrian infantry regiment No. 75 in which he had served as a reserve lieutenant during peacetime.¹ His regiment was sent to the Russian front, so Bauer had at last the opportunity to confront his archenemy in physical conflict (for Bauer’s antipathy to the Russians, see Chapter 5). Bauer’s correspondence to intimates in the first few months of his war duty tells a great deal about his reaction to the war he had so long predicted and contrasts with his behavior after his...

    • 12 Max Adler: Will and Idea in Wartime
      (pp. 187-195)

      Max Adler’s olympian distance from the political arena of daily life did not prevent the chaos of the earthly polis from affecting his reason. The man who had struggled so hard to penetrate to the truth of the immediate reality in order to see clearly the general will of the times, and thus be in the forefront and in control of the general will, was carried in the stream of blind passion that supported the “Day of the German Nation.”

      For more than a year after the outbreak of the war, Adler struggled for an overview, a conceptual way to...

    • 13 Friedrich Adler Encounters His Fate
      (pp. 196-206)

      On the day that Austria began to mobilize for war against Serbia, July 27, 1914, Victor and Friedrich Adler traveled to Brussels, where the Second International had called an emergency meeting to decide upon a course of action. Victor Adler told the assembly that no resistance to the war was possible by Austrian Social Democracy; the mobilization and the war regulations precluded any action against the government. Friedrich Adler later said of this moment when he listened to his father describe the impotence of the Austrian Social Democratic party: “I had for the first time the strong sensation that I...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 207-210)

    The four Austro-Marxists stood naked in the essential limitations of their personalities and language during World War I. Wartime conditions put their characters and the principles they espoused over the years of their maturation to the crucial test of a society in chaos. Each man had sought to live within the aegis of socialist principle and the ideational and behavioral norms of the Austrian Social Democratic party. The conflicts between socialist principle and party norms emerged clearly after 1914. As long as the disjunctions between ideal and action that were normative for any Austrian Social Democrat could exist unchallenged, the...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 211-246)
  9. Index
    (pp. 247-254)