An enigma and conspiracy

Jorg Haider
This is a figure that has divided much of Austrian society and is always guaranteed to heat up the conversation should it be flagging. Born in upper Austria, his career was launched here in Carinthia under the Freedom Party banner.

In my opinion he is a populist with nationalist tendencies. He said some pretty irresponsible (to say the least) comments regarding Hitler, National Socialism and immigration policy. I say irresponsible not because there should be an absolute taboo on such subjects but because in Austria a significant percentage of the population are sympathetic towards the policies of national socialism. Some of Haider’s speeches carry enough wait to make this Austrian minority of extreme nationalists legitimized within mainstream politics. His speeches carry the risk of increasing race crime and passive discrimination.

Some of the more controversial comments he made were:
Referring to concentration camps as punishment camps,
Describing a gathering of Waffen SS veterans as respectable, whilst accusing the Interior minister Franz Loeschank of making ‘primitive attacks’ on the veterans whilst letting crime by immigrants go unchecked.
Praising Hitler’s employment record.

The mainstream press in the rest of Europe including the UK, and internationally, pigeon holed Haider as an extreme far right politician, a wild card that by chance made it into the mainstream. The focus was entirely on his most controversial speech excerpts. Indeed many here in Carinthia will say that there was a sustained and calculated campaign to discredit Haider to the disadvantage of Austria. Haider was seen in this sense as the only politician standing up for Austrian rights. It is interesting how the press enjoyed framing him as the fascist politician from Austria. It makes good copy. Austria escaped punishment largely unscathed for its contribution towards the national socialist dream. So there is a narrative in place for emergence of such a character. Certainly discussion of Nazism is not nearly as taboo here as it is in Germany where legislation allows for prosecution of those voicing Nazi politics. I think it is interesting that Haider was depicted as an extreme nationalist whilst Berlusconi, president of Italy, who’s rhetoric was equally abhorrent, was depicted as, well, Italian. I am again reminded of former UK prime minister Gordon Brown’s ‘British jobs for British workers’ speech.

Now here in Carinthia, Haider is much loved. I was at a Bushenshanker farm restaurant last night and the owner could claim that Haider had visited it. Mara’s father could claim that Haider had visited his farm in remote Stockenboi. Indeed everyone here seems to have either met him or know someone who met him. This is his lasting image in Carinthia as the champion of the rural class. He introduced a series of measures to protect small farms. He sought to increase the welfare benefits for Austrians out of work. Haider chased investment opportunities from Russian oligarchs to help develop the Austrian countryside. He voiced opposition to EU policies that would expose Austrian farmers to unfair competition from abroad.

Ofcource not all were happy with Haider. One Klagenfurt DJ said that Haider was the death of the dance scene in Carinthia. Once he became governor the police began carrying out stop and searches on every car that left a club. A sustained campaign against popular youth culture lead to the closing of Fabrik, a Worthersee club that had been a cultural-music intersection for Austrians, Italians, Slovenians and Hungarians. Ironically, Haider ever the publicist, had his picture taken at Fabrik’s once yearly launch night dancing with the youth, this shortly before he had the club closed down.

Then, three years ago his car was found crashed outside Klagenfurt and he was pronounced dead. Days later it emerged that he was secretly homosexual. And then the conspiracies begun.

Who killed him? The Austrian secret service? Russian or Italian mafia? Mossad? Why was he killed? For his anti-EU position? For his anti-Semitism? For an investment that lost someone a lot of money? For taking money that did not belong to him? Two contracts he was working on at the time of his death were a water treaty with Egypt to supply drinking water through pipelines. The second was an oil contract with the now deceased president of Libya, Gadaffi. Both of these contracts were upsetting sectors of the European establishment. Then there was his ties with the Saddam regime, some contacts of which he maintained long after the Iraq war.

The Haider enigma remains a charming mystery of Carinthia.

Update on the Zil

A quick update on the status of the Zil.

It is non-operational but we hope to have it back on the road in a weeks time.
The Oil sump seal needed changing. On removing it I realized that the plate that sits between the sump and engine block also was leaking oil so needed fresh gasket silicone.

The Daf store charged me E58.00 for the sump seal and E20 for the silicone.
I also bought the thrust bearing seal that sits between the engine and gear box (this is a job for Morocco).
And some O rings for the oil filler which was also leaking.

The Sump drain plug would not come out – and ended up rounded – so I had to go to a garage and borrow an impact drill to get it off (cost E2). The Daf shop sold me another drain plug for E15.

Having cleaned up the engine and begun re assembling the unit I discovered that the Daf seal was the wrong one. I had suspected this and even taken a photo of both seals and gone back to the store to show them but they insisted it would be fine. The old seal was 5mm thicker and the bolts could not go in tight enough to clamp tight the new seal. I ended up snapping a bolt into the block. I also discovered that the internal thread on two other holes was damaged.

So now I am waiting for a bolt extraction kit from the UK and a tap & die set to repair the threads.


Dinner at the Pizza House

Austrian table talk is pretty frustrating. I can not find common ground with people. Sitting with Mara, her conservative brother, his quiet friend from Georgia, Mara’s exhausted mother and her orator boyfriend. This, I believe, makes up a typical Austrian dinner table at the pizza house. Mara’s mum works hard hours at a nursing home which gives her little time to do anything else. Her boyfriend works for the local government and spends his free time doing private paid jobs as a handy man. Mara’s brother works in sales. He has a good range of hobbies and is looking for a girlfriend. His Georgian friend, she is studying nursing.

Our table talk swung onto the subject of Lakes. I had previously voiced frustration to Mara over the privatization of large lakes in Austria so that the shoreline was no longer accessible to the public. It was translated to me by way of reassurance that there were ten public swimming zones around lake Worthersee. We visited one of these yesterday and it had a seven metre stretch of shoreline. The lake itself is over 15km long! I expressed my dismay that this was the case. What a shame that such a public asset was made inaccessible, barred by private villas, hotels and clubs, some of which granted access to the water for a fee. How could this have been allowed to happen?

I must say the response from the table was frustrating. It seems casual criticism touches a raw nerve in Austrians. The immediate defensive position was that privatization – the barring of the general public – maintains water purity (a spurious argument given lake Wisensee which has excellent water purity is accessible along its entire circuit by footpath) and their offensive position was that myself, Mara and Anika shall experience far worse conditions in Africa, pointedly suggesting we had better appreciate what we have got here (I get frustrated by this kind of side stepping issues with irrelevant comparisons). I am also getting tired of people implying that we do not know what hardships await us when we leave Austria. As if we expect life beyond the EU to be utopian. As if we look on the EU as a plague. We are told that ‘water of a quality on par with what is found in Austria will cost us a fortune in a place like Morocco’. This is not an interesting statement. I tell them as much. I was talking about privatization of public assets. I am interested in the commons (along the lines of Negri and Hardt). Taking our finite resources e.g. lakes – and making them, not State (public) owned, not privately owned, but commonly owned. I used open source software as a case in practice. Ofcource, my contribution was disparaged in favour of an Austrian status quo (with a few snide remarks thrown in). Honestly, some people just like the sound of their own voice!

This complacency of the dead reflects very well on another incident that has taken place over the last two days where the status quo permits abusive behaviour. Old Walter, who comes to collect wood from Marcus farm, in an ambush, pinched Mara’s arse, invited her to the woods, and as he stepped away, rejected, stroked her cheek. This naturally made her very uncomfortable. Old Walter is rumoured to have molested his grand daughter. This further made us both very uncomfortable for Anika’s safety. Why has this crazy man not received medical help? He is clearly sick. On hearing from Mara what had happened I told Walter that his behaviour constituted sexual harassment and that if continued, we would go to the police. I must say though, there is little good in going to the police here. I can imagine the difficulty in trying to explain to a police officer that harassing a woman is an offence! Sexism is endemic in Carinthia. Men see women as objects. Doubtless the men spend too much time watching boks brutally take their goats, cocks mount chickens and dogs continually fucking. Animalistic country behaviour that has permeated the minds of many in the provinces. What really sickens me is that people here do not put their foot down and say ‘No Patriarchy!!’ Men cat call from cars, make sick jokes and persist in conversations that have moved well beyond humour. People do not seem to see the boundaries. Patriarchy runs deep here, as illustrated by Walters justification for his sick behaviour by saying Mara is a legitimate prey when left alone by her ‘man.’ As if a woman is somehow less of a person, needing a man to be complete.

This leads onto another slippery subject that ruined my day. An educated woman from Vienna spouting such utter nonsensical nazi propaganda that I felt quite ill. She started her hate speech with the Turks. She was furious that the ‘Red’ party (I wonder if this is how the left leaning parties call themselves? It sounds so old-fashioned, so Marxist) had granted them so many rights that now Austrians are prohibited by law from opening a kebab shop! I am sorry but, even if that were true which I doubt, how many Austrians want to open Kebab shops?! Can’t people see beyond the ‘in your face’ and appreciate the complexity of the subject; immigration & welfare – Can they not appreciating that we are all humans living off of the crumbs thrown down from above. The lady then insisted that Jews arrived in Austria to take over key industries, to the exclusion of Austrians (I wanted to point out that Jews were living here before Austria existed as a nation-state!). She then proposed that the Jews put Hitler in power, ordered him to gas most of the Jewish population (reason unclear – but she was certain it was the rich Jews that gassed the poor Jews) before having Hitler killed and robbing the Nationalist Socialist dream of its proper conclusion. What utter guffaw!

Well thats my rant on things that have ground me down. That and having been ripped off buying parts for the Truck at prices more than double what I would have paid in London, apparently Austrians do that to foreigners. And I would not mind if they were not so self righteous at the same time.