Otto Bauer


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Bauer, Otto

 

Born Sept. 5, 1882, in Vienna; died July 4, 1938, in Paris. A leader of the Austrian Social Democrats, ideologist of Austro-Marxism. Born into a bourgeois family. A lawyer by education. Editor of Kampf, the theoretical monthly journal that he founded jointly with F. Adler in 1908.

Bauer, together with K. Renner, advanced the opportunistic theory of cultural national autonomy, which he substantiated in the work The National Question and Austrian Social Democracy (1907; Russian translation, 1909). He was a prominent figure of the Second International. Before World War I he was secretary of the Social Democratic parliamentary faction and editor of the social democratic newspaper Arbeiter Zeitung. In World War I, Bauer was mobilized into the Austro-Hungarian Army as a reserve officer and was taken prisoner by Russian troops. While he was in Petro-grad, after the February Revolution in Russia, he became close to the Mensheviks (1917). He returned to Austria in the middle of 1917. From November 1918 to July 1919 he was minister of foreign affairs of the Austrian republic and favored the annexation of Austria to the German republic. Bauer was one of the founders of the Second and a Half International (1921) and of the so-called Socialist Workers’ International (1923). He opposed the proletarian revolution and the policy of the Bolshevik Party in Russia in works such as The Way to Socialism (1919) and Bolshevism or Social Democracy? (1920). He defended the idea of “socialization” of industry with payment of compensation to the capitalists. In the book Austrian Revolution 1918 (Russian translation, 1925) he tried to justify the opportunistic policy of the Austrian Social Democratic leaders in 1918. He was one of the authors of the opportunistic Linz Program of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (1926). Nevertheless, watching the successful development of the USSR, he declared in a speech in December 1925 that the struggle of the socialist forces against the capitalist elements under way in the land of the Soviets made it possible to expect a victory of socialism. After the defeat of the Austrian workers during the February battles of 1934, he emigrated to Czechoslovakia and later to France.

While Bauer held a predominantly opportunistic centrist position, he began revising some of his reformist views toward the end of his life, under the influence of the successes of socialism in the USSR, the unfolding struggle against fascism in different countries, and the rise of the anti-imperialist struggle in the colonies. In the book Between Two World Wars? (1936) he admitted that the Soviet state enjoyed the support of broad masses of the people and declared that the USSR would in a few years show to all the peoples of the world the economic, social, and cultural superiority of the socialist system.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “O natsional’noi programme RSDRP.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 24.
Lenin, V. I. “Sotsializm i voina.” Ibid., vol. 26, pp. 328–29.
Lenin, V. I. “Imperializm, kak vysshaia stadiia kapitalizma.” Ibid., vol. 27, pp. 306–07.
Lenin, V. I. “Zametki publitsista.” Ibid., vol. 40, pp. 136–39.
Lenin, V. I. “Doklad o mezhdunarodnom polozhenii i osnovnykh zadachakh Kommunisticheskogo Internatsionala 19 iiulia (II kongress Kommunisticheskogo Internatsionala 19 iiulia-7 avg. 1920).” Ibid., vol. 41, pp. 229–31.
Kommunisty ν bor’be za nezavisimost’ Avstrii: Sbornik. Moscow, 1956. Pages 28, 31, 33, 74, 75–79, 82. (Translated from German.)

B. A. KRYLOV

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Part of a two-volume set, this first volume aims to bring a wide-ranging and representative selection of the works of Austro-MarxismAEs leading thinkers, including Otto Bauer, Karl Renner, Rudolf Hilferding, Max Adler, Friedrich Adler, and Otto Neurath to an English-speaking audience.