Later today I will be flying to Austria to visit family for Christmas and meet friends. But yesterday’s events cast a somewhat dark shadow over things. Of course, nothing about my visit will have fundamentally changed. I will not suddenly find myself in some Man in the High Castle style state. But I am about to travel into a country – my home-country – that has a right wing government.
So, Austria has a right wing government – not just a right wing party in government, but a full blown right wing government. Because, as far as I’m able to judge, I think Sebastian Kurz’s conservative party is far from being a center-right party these days.
President Van der Bellen, elected by many on the promise that he would not swear in a right wing government, seems to have failed the Austrians completely. Still, one has to give him the benefit of the doubt, as looking at the big picture. It may have been done with the hope of preventing worse. Not swearing in this government could have led to new elections which might well play into the right’s hands and give them an even larger majority in parliament.
So here’s to hope – currently the only hope – that this government will soon prove incompetent enough to crumble…
Meanwhile International media are hardly mentioning it. Is it because fascists (“neoliberals”) in power in a small country in central Europe are no longer newsworthy? With Trump’s shenanigans both domestically and internationally – including the prospect of a looming nuclear war. With Brexit symbolizing the cracks in the idea of European community and the project for peace and prosperity the EU, imperfect as its current realization may be, is thought to – and could – be. Has the drifting to the right in so many European countries simply been accepted as normal or not relevant enough?
Or is it, because most media channels have long been bought up by a few major corporations, all in cahoots with the global financial and industrial big players who are served well by an increasing balkanization of Europe with low waged workers who’re increasingly stripped off their rights? While, conveniently the conflicts, waged in the interest of these international big players, provide politicians with neverending streams of (human) scapegoats? And was that the same role the media played in the run up to the election?
And, unlike in 2000 when the right-wing Freedom Party, many of whose founding members were Nazis, and who is still home to many members who engage in more than dubious circles, first became part of the Austrian government under Chancellor Schüssel, there is no noticeable outcry from international politics.
Why one may ask: Is it because the right has become stronger in many countries? Is it because there is a Tory and not a Labour government in the UK, a center(?)-right government in France, quasi libertarian idiocracy in the United States?
Or is it part of a trend of political fatalism? Of the silent, growing acceptance that we may be anticipating events similar to those in the 1930s, that we are about to repeat history?
Why is it that the neoliberal right is so strong, especially in a country where the average citizen is actually relatively well of? And how come that the left seems increasingly unable to promote their ideas?
Right now I’m only shaking my head, have many questions and am at a loss – as it seems many are – for answers. But in the months – years (I hope not) to come, we shall have opportunity to reflect and maybe learn from those reflections.