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Josef Ehmer: Rote Fahnen – Blauer Montag. Soziale Bedingungen von Aktions- und Organisationsformen der frühen Wiener Arbeiterbewegung [1979]. [Abstract] [Article in German]

From the 1860s to the 1880s, Vienna was the hotbed of organising for a permanent labour movement in the Habsburg lands. During this period, Vienna proved to be a social and political laboratory in which very different forms of workers’ protests and organisations were tested. Moreover, there was no clear trend towards unification or homogenisation; rather what appeared were breaks and reversals. The aim of this chapter is to map the colourful variety of labour movements in this brief period and embed them in the equally colourful structures of the Viennese working classes. Numerically dominant were workers and journeymen engaged in small-scale production still dominated by traditional artisanal working and living conditions, such as living in the master’s household, being unmarried, and moving frequently between workplaces and cities. The opposite and much smaller pole was formed by mechanical engineers, who were qualified and well-paid married men in stable occupations. I argue that the latter small group of workers shaped the Viennese labour movement in its early years. The economic crisis of 1873 and the years that followed, however, significantly weakened their social and political position and created space for the revival of forms of protest and organisation rooted in artisanal traditions. The “Blue Monday”, as the Saint Monday was called in German, symbolises this tradition.

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