top of page

"Active Neutrality": An imperialist conception

Aktualisiert: 17. Nov. 2023

Neutrality - a term that has been used controversially in recent times. While for one part of the ruling class it is perfectly clear today, that neutrality is contrary to their interests and that they are working on its abolition, another part still tries to use neutrality as a "vehicle" for stronger foreign policy interference and the stabilisation, as well as the preservation, of Austria's sphere of influence in other countries. A concept closely related to the second position is that of "active neutrality", which attempts to hide imperialist influence behind "neutral state policy".

The term "active neutrality" was coined above all by the former Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, whom many members of the Socialdemocratic Party (SPÖ) remember nostalgically, because of the strength of Socialdemocracy at that time. With regard to neutrality, Kreisky-nostalgia is warmed up again above all, because Austria, as a small imperialist country, had comparatively much to say in this period. One could emphasise one's own "pacifism" while nevertheless rich profits beckoned from abroad. Especially with joining the EU, "active neutrality" was no longer emphasised by the ruling class, because it was best stowed away in the drawer in order to advance rearmament, NATO partnership and EU army. The concept of „active neutrality“ remained more or less withing some pacifist initiatives, liberal democrats and other sections of the popular movement. But can active neutrality be a proper demand for a new peace movement?

Active neutrality refers to the observance of military neutrality, with simultaneous diplomatic involvement and participation in so-called "peace missions" (especially the UN). Since neutrality is a form of state policy, it is practised (or not practised) by those in power. When parts of the peace movement call for "active neutrality" today, they are asking those in power to intervene more actively in international conflicts and wars. But even "peaceful" state activity is not neutral, but linked to the interests of those who pursue it. When the Austrian state, as a member of the EU and in partnership with NATO, intervenes in foreign policy or participates in so-called "peace missions", it does so, of course, not out of "solidarity" and "friendship between the peoples", but to protect its own interests. For example, Austria is part of the "EU peacekeeping force" Eufor in Bosnia, which was recently increased by 120 Austrian soldiers. This is an example of Austria's described "active neutrality", which in the Balkans is above all to ensure that Austrian investments are made, companies can continue to produce cheaply and profits can be raked in - in order to create "stability" for the capital.

Pamela Rendi-Wagner (SPÖ) recently also spoke out in favour of an "active, committed neutrality" in the course of the Ukraine war, the prerequisite for which was increased EU cooperation on security policy. The open supporters of war criticise this diplomatic "mediator role" as out of place, since one would have to become a warring faction in order to really support Ukraine. On the one hand, "active neutrality" in the sense of a "immediate peace" through diplomacy is currently not in the interest of the international warmongers; on the other hand, a peace negotiated by the imperialists themselves would only mean further territorial division and subjugation of Ukraine. "They [the revolutionaries] will participate most passionately in every movement and in every demonstration which grows on the ground of indignation at the reactionary character of the war, but they will not deceive the people by allowing the idea that without a revolutionary movement a peace without annexations, without subjugation of nations, without robbery, without the germ of new wars between the present governments and ruling classes is possible. Such a popular deception would only benefit the secret diplomacy of the belligerent governments and their plans." (V. I. Lenin) All the lessons of history show that oppressed peoples can only win real peace and self-determination if they oppose the plans of the imperialists and rulers in their own country in a revolutionary uprising, if they trust not in the "goodwill" of the rulers but in the people. The "active neutrality" is opposed to a new peace movement and the interests of the people, as it opposes the right of self-determination of the peoples and their aspirations for freedom and sovereignty. Peace can only and must be defended by the workers and the peoples themselves!

Image: EUFOR_TACTICS by Rock Cohen, CC BY-SA 2.0


bottom of page