Diskussionen über Familienpolitik in Österreich und Europa
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PostPosted: 04.03.2008, 23:44 
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Joined: 28.08.2006, 08:49
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Location: Österreich/Austria
This website is dedicated to the memory of Doctor Engelbert Dollfuss and is maintained by the
Christian Falangist Party of America


"Simple, homely, without demands on life, highly intelligent, with absolute integrity as a fundamental of his character, social, jolly, always on the move, swift - sometimes too swift - in decision, a foe to all pose or ostentation, yet carefully mindful for the respect due his office of representing the Fatherland; direct and courageous, effective by reason of his personality, which needed to put no distance between himself and his surroundings to carry his purpose - and this despite the fact that his actual person was certainly not impressive - all these he was. A loyal friend to companions and fellow workers, always ready to be helpful; a man of faith and ideals, a true son of the German people, yet a fanatical believer in his Austria - as such we have seen and known him, we who were privileged to be at his side at the height of his activity, from the beginning of his public life, along that path of success and fortune, and up to the hour of departure - we who now bear witness, and will so long as life is granted us, for Engelbert Dollfuss and his Austria" Kurt Schuschnigg, My Austria ~ 1938

There are some truly great men who are so maligned by an antagonistic press during their lifetime that, even though their names make the headlines when they die or are murdered, history must rediscover them. Engelbert Dollfuss was murdered by Nazi agents - it makes us realize that this victim of National Socialism deserves to be placed on a pedestal as one of the very great leaders of the twentieth century - and possibly one of the finest Catholic statesmen of all time. Why then should his name be unknown to the vast majority of American and English citizens who have no sympathy at all for National Socialism and who should be eager to have an acquaintance with one of the most remarkable of its opponents?

Engelbert Dollfuss was one of the few political leaders of the day who saw with matchless clarity the evil of the National Socialist philosophy and who, in spite of the weakness of his country, which had been largely dismembered in the wake of World War I, became a new David confronting a new evil Goliath, Adolf Hitler.

Himself the son of peasants, who worked all through his early years in unforgiving agricultural labor, Dollfuss stands as a noble contrast to the resentful idler Adolf Hitler, the narrow-souled pamphleteer Lenin, or the dreary Socialist time-servers of the French Third Republic. His actual experience of rural life inoculated Dollfuss against intellectual fantasies that romanticized the lifestyle, exalting as "folkish" whatever narrow and bigoted ideas a polemicist wished to promote. Nor had Dollfuss any patience for those on the Left who dismissed the peasantry as a reactionary barrier to progress which must be eliminated. Instead, he saw the maintenance of a strong, independent farming class as a critical guarantor of both the nation's cultural continuity and liberty and its economic security. If anything, Dollfuss followed the Popes of his era in seeing the proletariat as the one class which must be "redeemed" - not eliminated, of course, but rather delivered from their dependence on the vagaries of employment in the factories, and granted a share in the means of production, either in the form of land, or small businesses, or at least some say in the administration of the industries which provided their livelihood.

More than most self-defenders of the working man, Dollfuss knew the bitterness of hard labor, and what a privilege it is to enjoy afterwards a truly liberal and humane education. But the severities of his youth did not lead Dollfuss to resentment against those who had earned or inherited greater wealth; as a faithful student of human nature and a son of the Church, he knew that the diversity of conditions within society is part of the hierarchical nature of the State, and the inevitable result of human freedom and natural inequalities among individuals. Instead of working to collapse or exploit these differences, to punish the achiever or repress the needy, Dollfuss struggled in all of his writing and work to bridge the gap of understanding that divided rich from poor, urban from rural, skilled from unskilled. In his "Corporate State" which Nazi putschists strangled in its infancy, he sketched out one attempt to forge links among the classes, by uniting men politically according to their particular trades - regardless of their station. Thus factory workers and owners, farmhands and landowners, tailors and fashion designers, respectively, would be represented in "corporations", whose variety was meant to displace the partisan multiplicity of political parties. The desire to do away with factions must have seemed especially urgent to a citizen of a nation whose two most prominent political movements were a variant of Socialism, one "German" and National, the other Bolshevik and International.

Inspired by the writings of Pope Leo XIII and Pius XI, Dollfuss sought to create the first sate directly modeled on Catholic Social Teaching - drawing on the recent organic traditions of guilds and crafts unions which for so long had flourished in Austria, to forge a political experiment in solidarity among classes, and charity among men. Before we dismiss this idea as quixotic , we ought to note that the same idea was in fact partly implemented in post war West Germany; to achieve labor peace, and avoid the historically crippling effects of general strikes, the Adenauer government instituted a mechanism it called "co-determination", through which labor unions were granted important voting powers on the corporate boards of their companies.

On a smaller scale, we see here the very "corporations" which Dollfuss hoped to construct. And indeed the, this institution largely succeeded in eliminating strikes, and reducing the polarization that once pitted workers against their employers in murderous hate.

Whereas National Socialist ideology sought to cancel class conflict by channeling aggression outward towards neighboring countries or inward against those citizens of Jewish background, Dollfuss sought to diffuse it altogether, by concretely encouraging men to view their economic relationships as cooperative, rather than competitive. If there is some necessary tension tension between the interest of an employer who seeks low labor costs, and a worker who yearns for a higher wage, it is nevertheless true that they also must cooperate if either of them is to profit; in fact, this truth is primary, essential if anything is to be created or accomplished. Whatever ways in which these men's interest diverge are secondary to the greater truth of their mutual dependence. Where this ceases to be the case, where mutual interests are outweighed by conflicts, it's time to dissolve the business relationship and find a new employer or worker.

Instead of making international affairs the realm of sublimated aggression, pseudo-Darwinian competition, or grandiose "historic" crusades, Dollfuss saw that the relations between governments must be ruled by the same laws of justice and charity that should prevail in families, among co-workers and employers, even among competitors in the same business; because he accepted the Natural Law as a universal mandate, which applied equally from the microcosm to the macrocosm. Dollfuss was never tempted to delusional notions of the significance of the nation, to the grand-scale national egotism that so often masqueraded as patriotism - usually to the ruin of the actual concrete nation. Since the rump of post-Imperial Austria was not a promising candidate for territorial expansion, men who were tempted to such dreams of empire tended to gravitate towards the parties of the political extremes - the Socialist partisans of a universal Bolshevik revolution, beginning in Moscow but radiating throughout the world, or the National Socialists who abandoned their homeland and its tender claims, identifying instead with a bloated, expansionist Germany that sought to gobble up bleeding hunks torn from its weaker neighbors.

Dollfuss was tempted by neither of these crass alternatives. Instead, he remained loyal to his concrete patria, his little fatherland with its local customs, its variegated texture and internal contradictions, its ancient traditions, and deep rooted Catholic Faith. For all imperial past - which had provided such a rich cultural background and immeasurably enriched Vienna - the new German Austria was more akin to her ancient rival Switzerland in population and political importance. The patriotism which Dollfuss championed and attempted to awaken throughout his countrymen in his short term of office in many ways resembled the proud particularism one finds among those mountain cantons - a human sized loyalty to genuine human goods, instead of a grandiose attachment to fetishes of gigantism.

For an image of of the contrast, compare one of the tiny, jewel-like onion-dome churches of Tyrol or Carinthia with the hulking constructions Albert Speer threw together for Hitler. The former still shine after centuries, while Speer's very marble, revealed by a few decades as defective, rots away with each year's rain. Like another great opponent of National Socialism and defender of the moral component of economic life, Wilhelm Röpke, Dollfuss found the spirit of greatness amidst the small things of this world.

Of Dollfuss' life and death, others are more qualified to write. The narrative which follows is a little window into the life of a saintly and courageous man, whom history has neglected most unjustly. When people write of the first opponents of Adolf Hitler, how many think of Dollfuss? He is dismissed, by the typical left-leaning historian, with the label "clerico-fascist," as if the term signified anything beyond the author's biases. In fact, it is simply a leftist slogan of abuse. What we want to make clear is that Dollfuss ought to be remembered alongside all other principled, patriotic opponents to totalitarianism. When he held supreme power in Austria, Dollfuss used the minimal force necessary to repress terrorist groups of the extreme right and left, each of which cherished openly treasonous plans to turn their homeland over to foreign invaders or revolutionaries. In the depths of the Great Depression, he attempted bold economic and political reforms, experiments such as have never been tried before, in the attempt to diffuse the hatred that separated social Austrian Christian Falangist Youth March 1934classes, and prevent the poison of biological racism taking root in his homeland. He never imposed Catholic Faith or practices on religious minorities, and rejected the wild anti-Semitism that was appearing across the continent at the time. How many men in position of leadership recognized the evils of their day so clearly, fought them so forthrightly, and offered their lives so bravely, as this little-remembered Austrian peasant statesman? The list is sad and short. The biography that follows will forever enshrine Dollfuss in his rightful place in that list, just as he will be forever enshrined in the Christian Falangist Party of America. A humane, generous, brave and decent man, Engelbert Dollfuss' merits ought to commend him to the attention of the Church. If we may speculate, let us suggest that this story may someday serve as the first exhibit proving Dollfuss' heroic sanctity. How fitting it would be if the humble Dollfuss someday joined his last sovereign, the Blessed Emperor Karl, among the saints of the Roman Calendar. Reading his story, one cannot help thinking Dollfuss would be embarrassed by the attention.

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