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<nettime> free.netbase: 1 year after...
Konrad Becker on 5 Mar 2001 17:10:50 -0000

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<nettime> free.netbase: 1 year after...

Its one year since the members of the extreme right have come into power
in Austria- And it has become fashionable for some to argue that that the
response to this has been a hysteric reaction... after all "nothing" has
happened.... nothing?

It is true that not every "popular" suggestion of the Haider party has been
put into practice:
there are no detention centers for the opposition (for treason)- 
there are no labor camps for "low lifes" -
and the death penalty has not been reintroducedy yet...
And, Mr Haider resigned from his position and became a simple member of the

But, as political observers generally agree, he is not only controlling
his party but he is actually running the country and in fact much more
powerfull than the (christian democrat) chancelor Schuessel. As Haider
recently stated: " I do not care who is chancelor, under me" A country run
by a person that -you must not call a Nazi sympathizer- but you can
legally describe as the "godfather of extreme right terror" in Austria.

And you can "feel" it:
The Institute for Communication Science of the University of Salzburg, in
its annual report on "The State of Journalism in Austria" has found: "
considerable negative consequences for freedom of speech" in the year
2000. This is partly explained by the continuing political attacks on
journalist and interventions by political actors, legal harrasment and
structural measure to cut ressources for independent media.

While free speech is on the downslope and the right wing tries to assume
total control of the national broadcast organisation (ORF), newspapers
like "Zur Zeit", run by Haider's "cultural advisor" are booming and
regularly feature articles by government officials alongside with
holocaust revisionists and followers of plain old nazi ideology, actively
endorsing antisemitic literature.  Haider is repeatedly refering to a
jewish conspiracy of the "east coast" connected with restitution and
compensation agreements which are pursued very halfheartedly anyway and
which Haider would like to link to compensation for "german territories"
in the Czech Republic (Sudetendeutsche) "Haider accused of unconcealed
anti-Semitism" : http://www.austriatoday.at/cgi-bin/at_article.pl?id=3353


But then the tragedy in Austria plays like a farce...  a number of
ministers of the Freedom party had to step down for being totally
incapable for their jobs... Scandals and embarrassing situations for the
top candidates are a daily routine. The main candidate for Vienna was
withdrawn after calling the Austrian president a crook, explaining his own
(supposedly statefunded) visits to brothels with "security checks" and
potentially facing a prison sentence for "criminal conspriracy" with
members of the police force... The husband of one of the protagonists of
this "law and order" party was shot during a series of bank robberies
while another MP is in prison for major fraud. The minster for technology
writes official orders that bann high heels and short skirts in her
administration while withdrawing statelaws 2 hours after they were
publicly announced....

What does it mean for Public Netbase??

The support signatures at http://free.netbase.org were indeed very
helpful- specially in countering an active slandering campaign which tries
to insinuate that we are not working in the interest of artist and
cultural workers. We have been informed that only mentioning the name of
Public Netbase in the State Secretary presence drives him to emotional
outbursts... Thanks for helping us giving him a hard time!

A picture of State Secretary Morak, fleeing from a member of Netbase which
is trying to provide him with a printout of the "Open Letter" and list of
supporters has been published by "Haaretz", the second largest newspaper
in Israel http://free.netbase.org/scans/haaretz.jpg

The plans to establish a center for "contemporary art" in the Vienna
Museumsquartier that is controlled by right wing conservatives has been
seriously damaged by the international reactions... we and the other small
independent institutions like "Depot" have been invited to return after
the renovation phase- At least one important victory - in an still ongoing
battle. It remains to be seen how this will turn out but it is clear that
international solidarity had a big influence in this development!

Stuctural censorship from the Austrian state was applied not only by
withdrawing all financing but by months of harrassment through a financial
auditing firm- with the hope to find some irregularities that could be
used against us. Obviously this was also meant to keep our office busy and
to bring our activities to a standstill.... Allthough no evidence of any
irregularities could be found, repeated vague accusations of "misspending
of public funds" is used in a propaganda campaign in the media.

Last week, again, an assigned payment for the year 2000 (!) from the
Vienna City Council (which has a socialdemocratic coalition as opposed to
the federal government) was sucessfully blocked by the christian
democrats: Senator Peter Marboe from the conservatives: "It would be a
political stupidity to support Public Netbase"

The fact that we are still operational is only due to some high risk
financial "constructions" which involve high personal liabilities ... But
the fight goes on: with securing not only the finances for last year but
also getting a budget for this year and raising the fund to be able to
relocate to the Vienna Museumsquartier at the beginning of next year.

We would like to thank the many people who supported us and the cultural
resistance in Austria over the last year! There are too many to mention
but you know who you are....

Specifically the cooperation with the Dutch net community has brought a
perspective beyond the immediate difficulties....

greetings from the Netbase crew, ~>Konrad


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