REVIEW of REVIEWS

Austria’s One Chance of Life

If This Unhappy Land Effects Drastic Changes She Might Become Another Switzerland

J. ELLIS BARKER December 15 1922
REVIEW of REVIEWS

Austria’s One Chance of Life

If This Unhappy Land Effects Drastic Changes She Might Become Another Switzerland

J. ELLIS BARKER December 15 1922

Austria’s One Chance of Life

If This Unhappy Land Effects Drastic Changes She Might Become Another Switzerland

J. ELLIS BARKER

IN DISCUSSING the question of

Austria’s desperate financial position in the Fortnightly Review, Mr. Barker points out that it is not so desperate as to be altogether beyond recovery, and he shows how she might still live and prosper:—

“The frequently heard assertion that Austria’s troubles spring from the Peace Treaty, from the shortsightedness and the greed of the Powers, is utterly untrue. Austria can live and prosper, although its position has greatly, and inevitably, changed. After all, that country is in exactly the same position in which is its neighbor, Switzerland. Switzerland, like Austria, is chiefly mountainous and is greatly overpopulated. Hence it is dependent upon foreign nations for a large portion of its food and of its raw materials, and it has even less coal than Austria. Switzerland, like Austria, has no access to the sea. Notwithstanding its difficulties, Switzerland is exceedingly prosperous. Its agriculture and its manufacturing industries are highly developed and the people are patriotic and contented. Switzerland, like Austria, occupies an exceedingly important strategical position in the centre of Europe, but there is no danger of a foreign Power seizing Or attaching to itself the country, because

the Swiss are determined to defend their liberty and independence against all comers. The Swiss are thoroughly united, although four different languages are spoken in the country.

“Austria should aim at becoming another Switzerland. The Austrians have lost their resources situated outside the country, but they still have vast resources which might be utilised. Their waterfalls can furnish about 2,000,000 horse power to industry. Hydro-electrical development in Austria is very backward if compared with development in Switzerland and elsewhere. The Austrians are skilled workers and are very artistic. They might create large industries similar to those of the Swiss, and they might vastly extend their tourist industry. The Austrian forests could furnish far more wealth than they do. Last, but not least, Vienna occupies a unique position with regard to SouthEastern Europe. It is the natural centre of trade and culture to the Danubian countries. The potential w-ealthof Austria is undoubtedly far greater than that of Switzerland, but it needs exploitation.

“An isolated Austria may be as prosperous as Switzerland is and may be as independent and secure. How’ever, there is every reason to believe that far greater possibilities are in store for that country

provided it can preserve its integrity for a few years. Austria-Hungary offered a free market to 60,000,000 people. The Succession States have closed their frontiers against each other in the hope of benefiting themselves thereby. However, they are recognising that any advantages resulting from an exclusive policy are balanced, or more than balanced, by the harm resulting from restriction of their foreign trade. The Little Entente, which was concluded for the sake of mutual defence, will probably in the course of a few years become an economic entente. Another Zollverein should arise on the Danube, and it should include both Austria and Hungary. Thus a greater Austria-Hungary may spring up. The policy of giving self-government to all the portions of the Hapsburg Empire and uniting them by trade bonds and by a federal organisation, which was in vain urged upon the Emperor Francis Joseph for decades, may be carried into effect, and thus a greater and peaceful AustriaHungary may be evolved in the near future, provided the difficulties of the present can be overcome.”

Before this end can be achieved, however, several drastic internal reforms

would be necessary notably in connection with the public services. As pointed out by a writer in the Contemporary Review official salaries represent by far the greater part of the national expenditure, and the services rendered in return are of the most inefficient kind.

“In return for this expenditure,” writes this contributor, “the public receives what is beyond question immeasurably the worst service now to be found in Europe. Here are some examples. To get a railway ticket, an ordinary citizen in Vienna has to stand in a queue—for certain destinations, in the open air—for four, five, six or more hours. This for no other reason than that the booking-offices in which there are literally hundreds of lazzaroni doing nothing, do not open except at certain hours. For the rich, as always in the new Austria, there are various ways of getting round these restrictions. If the English or American public were subjected to a tenth part of the indignities now taken as a matter of course in Vienna, the railway stations would long since have been burnt down, and the station-masters hanged on the lamp posts. Until something of the sort is done, there will be no improvement.