Ruth Pauli: Does the virus make you blind?
Seldom in Austria have there been so many complaints about the loss of freedom as during the long, grueling months of the pandemic. But is it the right occasions that trigger our worries?
eXXpress columnist Ruth Pauli
Of course, government interference in our private lives – from lockdowns to limited numbers of people even in private circles – is uncomfortable and worrying for all of us. The vaccination requirement, the 2G rule and the obligatory mask seem to be the end of democracy and freedom for many. Only: They are demanded of us in an exceptional situation to protect our own health and that of our fellow human beings, to protect the health system and in all cases only for the duration of the pandemic. If they remain in effect beyond the end of the threat, then it would be time to fight back.
But while we are all fixated on these temporary curtailments of freedom, we don’t even notice when our democratic freedoms are actually threatened, even restricted, in other arenas.
This is obviously how everything works if it only serves the sacred purpose of saving the climate from itself. The energy future of this country has just been handed over to a handful of citizens (that would not be a bad thing in itself), who will be advised by experts and NGOs over six weekends and will work out assignments for politicians. Binding, as the Federal President emphasized. After all, that was the task of the climate protection referendum.
Direct democratic instrument is misused for paternalism
Oh how democratic? On the contrary. It starts with the fact that this referendum was signed by only 5.9 percent of those entitled to vote – not even by all Green Party voters. So that’s quite an order – even if referendums with many more signatures were pigeonholed. Here, a direct-democratic instrument for paternalism over the majority of citizens is being misused. Politicians choose what the people (i.e. the five percent that is acceptable to them) can demand. This is massively people-democratic, as it was called in the days of the Soviet Union.
Once again, Parliament abdicates to Ms. Gewessler. The representatives of not 5 but 75 percent of the population (national council election 2019) did not resist when their law, in which road construction projects (keyword: Lobau tunnel) were laid down, was simply wiped out by the minister. And now they are supposed to nod off “binding recommendations” coming from some citizens, who for 12 days are being advised by experts (chosen by the minister) and NGOs to decide difficult energy and thus economic matters, where experienced scientists struggle for valid answers for years.
We have already gotten used to many restrictions
Of course, you can govern a country on “Fridays for Future” level and blame the “Council” (Russian: “Soviet”) for decisions that you know will make the lives of the citizens more difficult, expensive, and hopeless . However, it is part of our freedom to be able to vote out those who make our lives worse and restrict our freedom. But how do we vote out “councils”?
We have already become accustomed to many other restrictions on freedom. It starts with the quotas for women on boardrooms and supervisory boards, even in companies where the state has no business. And that’s the foot in the door, by the way: SP women’s functionary Ngosso calls for migrant quotas on executive boards and a Gewessler consultant wants “people of color” in the Philharmoniker. Where civil liberties do not exist, one does not get a good job through ability, but through criteria set by the powerful.
Proper gendering is more important than proper citation
In the case of Alma Zadic, we see that the correct gender is more important than the correct citation in dissertations: gendering that is not “correct” is not accepted at all. Although an overwhelming majority of the population opposes this language destruction, it is being imposed. Ironically, at the universities – which once saw themselves as a place where young people could practice the freedom of thinking, learning, and researching. But at the high schools, the freedom of science is already suppressed.
In Austria, too, scientific arguments and discussions are no longer allowed, which do not correspond to the majority opinion. Such “dissidents” are not allowed to speak or teach, according to the “Cancel Culture”. And the media are keen to join in. They not only remain silent, they also report: The traditional journalists’ association “Concordia” recently wrote a “statement of facts” against satirical comments on Servus-TV that do not fit the mainstream: The model was probably the Soviet Union of Writers. The loss of freedom comes slowly – we should take a closer look.