Konrad Becker on 5 Mar 2001 13:10:47 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] free.netbase: 1 year after...

Its one year since the members of the extreme right have come into power in
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....

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

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
"Haider accused of unconcealed anti-Semitism" :


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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