"Suffering under the political climate"

Kurier 4th December 2006 | Text: Christian Böhmer

Hubert von Goisern on the EU scepticism of the Austrians, letter to FPÖ head Strache and mumbling politicians.

He is musician and world traveller and is setting off in the spring on a "musical eastward expansion": Hubert von Goisern on traditions, the SPÖ and ÖVP and letter to the Freedom Party.

Mr von Goisern, you start your "cultural eastward expansion" in June, in which you will travel the Danube with a barge converted to a stage. Can such a project help take some of the Austrians' scepticism towards the EU?

I don't think that the Austrians are any more sceptical of the EU than anyone else. It's an up and down. Sometimes there's more panic, sometimes less. To be totally honest: I am not taking it on to take countermeasures. I'm doing it above all for myself.

Egotism as driving force?

Is there another motive? Is there another driving force apart from one developing a vision for oneself? I don't think much of developing visions for other people.

But you want to bring people together, don't you?

Bring them together, yes - but that happens at every concert. A connection always arises when people listen to music together. Fans come to my concerts who on the street would never have thought that they would have something in common. I want to extend this coming together across the regional scope.

Does the reserved attitude towards the new EU partners and Turkey preoccupy you?

What preoccupies me is a Europe that abolishes internal boundaries as a single market, only to guard its external boundaries even more sharply. Europe doesn't end at the Urals as far as I'm concerned. People must travel and also be able to work where they end up. Why shouldn't that be possible?

The "turmoil of traditions" gets on your nerves. Now you are travelling to south east Europe, where there are very strong traditions. Have you suddenly become a traditionalist?

I'm split here. Other dishes, sounds, instruments and attitudes to life are hugely fascinating. What upsets me is when one withdraws behind the traditions. When one makes someone a proposal and doesn't give any thought to whether it is clever or stupid, but only asks: Have we done that before? - and if not, then it doesn't work. This understanding of tradition is really crippling.

But there is this approach in every country. Don't you regularly think you've had enough of it on your travels?

Yes, but not only in connection with tradition. In Tibet for example I got really annoyed about the snotty Chinese with their loudspeaker masts. At sunrise and sunset of all times, the most beautiful times of the day, Chinese propaganda blaring out of the loudspeakers. The screeching had me so at the end of my tether that I wanted to saw a mast down. The saw wouldn't have been a problem, but someone would have been arrested. If not me, then those with whom I was staying, or with whom I had contact. So the mast stayed.

You grew up as a red and recently complained about how lacking in a profile the SPÖ are. Is that still true?

I suffer under the SPÖ, I suffer under the ÖVP, I suffer under the political climate. It is extraordinary that there is still only communication in front of and for the media.

Was the political culture of before better - or just different?

Difficult to say. The almost natural authority that politicians enjoyed is gone - and that's good. But as far as communication is concerned, it has worked better. In other words: in the past politicians used to - if you want to put it this negatively - "mumbled together". But this is how I see it: there was constant debating and discussing in the social partnership - and that was worth something.

Does day-to-day politics interest you?

At times. Sometimes I get totally sucked into it and look at pages on Teletext at night.

And sometimes you write letters too. Why did FPÖ boss Strache get post from you?

Back in the spring the FPÖ played one of my songs at a rally in Innsbruck, while the speaker on the podium warned of "Islamification". I asked them not to play my songs, because I don't give two figs for these politics.

Does something like that make you angry?

No, because I think it's great when someone listens to my music - I am convinced by it. I saw the whole thing as a chance to reach these people. And I explained my motive. Music simply opens hearts. And I don't want my music to help make it easier for poisonous words to enter hearts. I didn't forbid anyone to listen to my music. One should just know: I am totally against exclusion and demarcation.