Bauer, Otto

(1881–1938)
   Among the leading theoreticians of Austro-Marxism, Bauer also played an important part in the practical work of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SDAP). Following the death of Viktor Adler in November 1918, he served as foreign minister of the new Austrian Republic until 1919. Bauer was also his party’s leader. He functioned in the latter role until 1934, when, after the February Uprising, which ended in a smashing defeat for Austria’s SDAP, he fled Austria for Czechoslovakia. Here Bauer founded and headed the office of his party in exile. Four years later he died in Paris.
   Bauer’s most important theoretical work took up the question of how nationalism and international socialism were to be reconciled (The National Question and Social Democracy, 1907). Like many Austro-Marxists, he argued that socialists should treat their proletarian constituents as individuals. Regardless of their ethnic identity, workers should be given the opportunity to better themselves through education. Linguistically and nationally different though they might be, they could all be part of a larger cultural community. Though Bauer generally hoped to realize the SDAP agenda through parliamentary and peaceful means, he did not rule out the use of violence altogether, especially should the opposition to the party program itself become undemocratic. His opinion, and that of others like him, was expressed in the Declaration of Linz in 1926. This statement also justified dictatorship should the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie refuse to accept socialist measures, however democratically adopted. The middle class and peasant population of the First Austrian Republic remained wary of such rhetoric, which identified Bauer with the left wing of his party.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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