Konrad Becker on Wed, 22 Jul 1998 21:54:49 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> >more info (Netbase Attack)

I`ve been asked to put into context some of the latest events concerning the
assault on Public Netbase by Mr. Haider and the right-wing Freedom Party

Obviously the whole cultural community (at least to whom I have spoken)
feels that this really is a significant assault not only on a specific
sector of cultural practice but on the whole spektrum of intellectual and
cultural life in austria. To many it was quite a shock.

Summer has arrived and is a bad time for networking as many are out of 
town - but there is a strong interest to issue a joint statement from a wide
variety of cultural institutions against the intimidation strategies and
infowar of reactionary forces and for free cultural expression.

(The latest development in our case is that the FPOe demands to have us pay
back all funding, threatening the other parties with a propaganda campaign
if they do not comply. This would obviously mean personal bancrupcy for
quite a few of us at Netbase. It is kind of scary but we keep spirits up.)

Historically the FPOe, originaly called VDU (Association of Independents),
was a postwar receptacle for people involved with the nazis. There was a
split in the party in the eighties when the more liberal fraction started
their own "Liberal Party".

Haider steered the FPOe from a small party of 8-12% votes  to a modern
populist rightwing "movement" which scores up to 30% in general elections
and managed to overtake the Christian Democratic conservatives in many
parts of the country. Nowadays the Freedom Party tries not only to cater to
(german-) nationalists but intensivly seeks to make an alliance with
reactionary catholic circles and most importantely tries to stylise
themselves as the new option for the "working class" targeting a group of
traditionally social-democratic voters.

Deliberately projecting a "young" image Joerg Haider uses the aesthetics of
"rave flyers" for his propaganda and changed from wearing traditionalistic
chlothing to fashionable designer suits and outfits.

He plays on traditional sentments of xenophobia and racism and unfortunetly
manages to set and define themes and topics in politics and the media. A
recent example is the EU extension towards the eastern european countries
in which he instrumentalizes the fear of "native" austrians being "overun"
by the "hordes from the east".

His declared aim is to win the position of the prime-minister of Austria.
Due to his gruesome use of nazi-jargon and fear of bringing themselves into
a strategical impaired position the conservative Christian Democrats are
rather reluctant to go into a coallition nowadays.

The party has a stronghold in the police forces and a police-union AUF
(which recently wanted to provide cost-free legal assistance for members of
the police-force involved in abusing civilians. This is quite drastic seen
within the context of a notorious presence of the austrian police in the
annual reports of Amnesty International).

There is some indication that there is an inofficial network of right-wing
symphatizers in miltary, police and municipality. The military intelligence
agency also played a dubious role in the years long search for an
extrem-right letterbomb terrorist.

The Freedom Party started to attack writers and theater play authors in the
early 90`s and stepped up their hostility towards the arts and cultural
scene since. Only 2 years ago a dozen well established "decadent" artists
were singled out on larger than life billboards and branded for allegedly
being in line with the Social Democrats (SPOe).

A year ago the Austrian catalogue for the Biennale of Venice featuring work
from the socalled "Vienna Group" from the 50-60's was declared "3 1/2 
Kilos of state-funded childpornography" by FPOe paliamentary speakers.

Just weeks ago a notorious catholic reactionary and militant anti-porn and
anti-abortion activist threw buckets of red paint on a painting of Otto
Muehl in an exhibition of the Vienna Secession. (The painting depicts the
Pope with a errect penis next to a naked Mother Theresa.)

Mr. Haider defended this act as "civil disobedience". Otto Muehl, one of
the original group of Viennese Actionists from the 60's served a prison
sentence for sexual abuse in his now defunct commune Friedrichshof. He has
been a serious target of conservative polemics since.

The vandalized picture is permanently brought into the discussion and waved
infront of all available TV-cameras. The Vienna Secession has two legal
cases running.
As part of a campaign to get signatures for an initiative against "public
funded pornography" and a petition "No Mercy for Childabusers" a handout
from the FPOe features works of art each with a banner over it "This is
paid for by our goverment".

It includes all the beforementioned cases and the picture of a performance
from (I believe) the 60's with someone shitting on a canvas. (This artist
Cornelius Kolig has become a target because he was commisioned for a
mural/painting in an municipal building in Carinthia and the FPOe is
strongly opposed to that. The original painting by his father was destroyed
by the Nazis)

This should give you an overview of the situation here and as you can tell
we need all the support we can get...
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