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Streeruwitz, Marlene

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Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany | 27/09/2006

Marlene Streeruwitz on Austria as a magical society

Austria will hold National Assembly elections on October 1. In an interview with Norbert Mappes-Niediek, novelist Marlene Streeruwitz criticises the way politicians use language. "Austria is a magical society, more heavily influenced by emotive signals than other societies. Other countries have a language that can describe the welfare state as the most natural thing in the world, but not Austria. Here, the welfare state is referred to in Josephinian terms, as if it were an act of Christian charity or a therapy. Austrian politicians employ a triumphal child-like language… A kind of language that does not allow for any kind of objection. The Raiffeisenbank, for example, which has a strong Catholic tradition, advertises in Austria with the slogan 'Let there be money'. The bank's directors sponsor papal visits and sit down to breakfast with the cardinal. There's no limit to the breaking of taboos in Austria. In a country where the Raiffeisenbank is allowed to make the words of the Creation into an obscene slogan, any hope of fixing meaning has been lost."

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