“It is necessary to stop being a patient"

Eva Illouz, one of today’s most established sociologists (yes, I am a HUGE fan), whom German “Die Zeit” called one of a few people that will shape the thinking of tomorrow just published a very interesting essay on psychology titled “How therapy became a multimillion dollar industry”.  In 2008, Illouz published a book on this topic called “Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help”. In her new essay, she talks about some very important and interesting (but also controversial: Israeli psychoanalysts attacked her strongly because of the essay) aspects of the commercialization of psychology.

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Reconnect

Yesterday, Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving, when sales start in US), a woman pulled out pepper spray and injured 20 people in order to get a discounted Xbox. A man was leaving a store with his family and got shot when he didn’t want to give up his purchase. Another man was stabbed in a shopping mall. Rihanna’s latest video, widely watched in US is banned in France. It is showing, and glorifying, a couple of drug addicts smoking crack, popping pills, drinking, having sex, tattooing each other. All to a funky beat, her happily singing “We found love in a hopeless place”. It looks like so much fun! Her “S&M” video was banned in Europe for glorifying S&M practices. 

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Occupy Wall Street

Yes, I've been there. I had to. I am for change. I wrote about things Occupy people are fighting against (and for) in my essay about the financial crisis back in 2008 (see my "Ana Almighty"  article in The Vienna Review, December 2008). I wrote about it in my second book "Knockout" - let's hope it will come out soon.

I was excited to witness Occupy Wall Street. But it made me sad.

First, the whole neighborhood is under a blockade and there are more policemen and securities than traders. Walking through Wall Street felt like walking through Zagreb during the war - especially during an air raid. That was last year, before Occupy. It is even worse now. How fair and innocent can the financial sector be if it needs an army of policemen to protect it?

Second, Occupy Wall Street is actually Occupy Zuccotti Park - the protesters are squashed together in a tiny park away from the Wall Street and surrounded by Mc Donald's and Burger King and a million of police cars. There are more police cars then protesters. It looked like they were put there, where they don't disturb, and left until they lose the drive and just leave. And this is what will happen. It reminded me of Uni Brennt, the protest that started at the University of Vienna in 2009 and spread through Europe. Universities were occupied for months. There were workshops, work groups; famous intellectuals talked and supported, media covered. Students were left to protest until they lost the drive. Nothing has changed.

Don't ask me how to make a change. I don't know. Maybe we should all just quit our jobs in the same time.

Unfortunately, the danger is that with every try like this, which ends up in just dying away, people lose hope. Hope in their power and hope in their ability to change things. When we lose hope, we can take a triple dose of anti depressants and turn into robots. And this is exactly what the system needs.

And last, yesterday I found a large article about the big Occupy protests in Okland on the home page of Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard. Then I looked into LA Times. NY Times. Huffington Post. No one covered them. For the US media - and thus US public - they have never happened.

Yes, I'm sad. Still, the fact that so many people recognize problems, have a critical mind, want to find solutions, are willing to protest and say NO MORE - that is hope.

 

Only Bad Mood?

Norway: A right wing radical puts a bomb in the government building in Oslo and then goes to an island where he kills 77 teenagers in a summer camp organized by the social-democratic party. He wanted to warn the party, which he accused of letting too many Muslims into the country. Austria: A yearly youth study shows that more and more young people support FPÖ, the right-wing party. FPÖ directly appeals to (and then nourish) their fears. The study shows that Austrian youth is increasingly anxious. It also shows that those sympathizing FPÖ are much more scared (than those more left oriented) of the future: of inflation, terrorism and one day not receiving their pension.

USA: In current debt-ceiling debate, the Republicans are bringing the country - and the world economic system to the verge of a catastrophe. The only thing they want to achieve is – ultimate power. Even if the world crashes.

Brusselles: EU is facing a political disintegration and economic collapse. We’re facing a catastrophe, hand in hand with USA.

See any links? Well I do. For me, all of these are puzzle pieces of the same story. In September 2008, our western system known as democratic liberal capitalism proved to have failed. Under the strong lobby of those who hold the money, but not officially the power, we didn’t do what seemed impossible but was the only solution – erase and start from scratch. It wouldn’t have allowed rich to get richer, as they did since the crisis. Instead, we took the corpse, dabbed on it some make-up (couple of trillions of dollars worth of make-up) and pretended it’s going to be OK. Well, it’s not. The corpse has rottened and there’s nothing left but a huge mess and unpayable debt.

Of course people are scared. This could be the end of the world as we know it. The systems, the beliefs, the rules, the rulers, everything that should keep us in place and safe from chaos and suffering - it has all proved (continuously) to have failed. In our globalized world that means there’s nowhere to escape. We fail, you fail.

One more time, the only solution would be to start from scratch. But how do you start from scratch and change the whole paradigm? How do you explain to people who speed up when you signal you’d like to change a lane, just so that they don’t have to let you in front of them (even if it means endangering yours and their life) that the only way this poor planet and its billions of people can survive is if we LIVE solidarity, respect, altruism and modesty? There’s no space here for greed and power games.

Either we reach that or we’ll go through a catastrophe in the scale of WW III. Unfortunately, I’m afraid we’ll need to experience such a tragedy to (re-)learn real value. It’s human nature.

Yes, I’m in a bad mood today.

Artificial Biological Clock

I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for. I guess this one. I found it in “Why Design Now?”, National Design Triennial at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. If you are in New York, see it – you have time till Jan. 9 2011. This is not just a design exhibition, it is more about projects from various fields of design such as architecture, product design, fashion and new media trying to solve some of our most important human and environmental problems. See how creative people propose to save the world. I’m missing one main point: how about moving away from the culture of consumption (and that’s asap)? But I guess poor designers are a very wrong address for that one. Here my favorite project: “Artificial Biological Clock” by Revital Cohen. The point is that through birth control, ideas of self-realization and career, independency, youth cult, Peter-Pan complex, hedonistic way of life, etc., we have completely lost the idea of biological clock - so why not have the artificial version (I’m sure Steve Jobs could think of a very cool gadget here. Actually, why not simply making an App out of it?). This one “reacts to information from her doctor, therapist, and bank manager via an online service. When she is physically, mentally, and financially ready to conceive the object awakes, seeking her attention.” Yes, alienation, my favorite topic. And a perfect example of critical design. Bravo, Revital.

More on Why Design Now?

More on Revital Cohen

45 Years of Chiffon

Almost fainted in my bathroom while re-reading the June issue of British Vogue today. Those cool British fashion people had a wonderful idea of shooting a fashion editorial in Cuba ( with pictures of Che in the background of course). Because enormously expensive clothing looks soooo boring against a non-contrasting background. On one of the pictures, a svelte blond model (looking like an alien who just landed on Cuba) is sitting in front of a shabby wooden door painted with a Cuban flag, wearing what is described as following:

“HOW BETTER TO HANDLE THE HEAT THAN CHLOÉ’S WHITE WASHED BREEZY, CHIFFON LAYERS? Pleated silk cape, £910 (€1100). Pleated silk dress, £4,510 (€5400). Both Chloé, at Chloé, Harvey Nichols, Matches and Selfridges”

Average monthly salary in Cuba is £10. This means that someone can live for 45 years from these the two pieces of white washed breezy chiffon layers. 542 people can survive for a month.

What to say about this enormous amount of stupidity, ignorance and lack of sensibility? Except “I’ll never buy that shitty magazine again”. And be proud of handling the heat in a white cotton t-shirt (€5, at H&M).

P.S. I couldn’t fall asleep last night, so instead counting sheep, I did a bit more math. 45 yearly salaries translated to UK-terms would mean taking a picture of a Cuban woman in front of the Buckingham Palace wearing 2 layers of (white washed breezy) chiffon worth  £1,045,980 (€1,257,036). Have fun shopping!

Hookers-Time

What happened? Are we all hookers now? Last night, I went to the traditional summer party organized by Vienna’s snobbiest bar. I used to be a regular guest in that bar - Back then, when I was still a snob. And when I was still partying.

I know I sound like my grandma, but: Things were different back then.

I don’t know if that is the new fashion, if there are more prostitutes in Vienna or have women all turned into hookers? The bar to which we used to go to wearing LBDs (for the male readers: Little Black Dress) was now filled with porn stars and hookers. The dresses were tight, (too) short and see-through, the heels were all above 15cm. My (male friend) told me: “Look at them. The moment you show them your brumm-brumm (no clue why he’s speaking baby language. Maybe too much skin melted his brain) you don’t need to put in any effort anymore. And if they see the house (he has a gorgeous villa in Vienna hills) they’re done. Yours on the spot.”

Hmm. Either the times were different back then, or we were different back then. Or we were simply naïve. That’s also a possibility.

And then he went on: “Look at that blonde in the red dress at the bar. Polish call girl (I don’t know why he knows. Maybe if you have a villa and a brumm-brumm you also have an overview of the hottest call girls in town). Turn around and look at that sexy Czech group behind you. For sale.”

I don’t know. I have a feeling that prostitution is on the rise. Not necessarily the “official” prostitution but the unofficial kind.  Wearing a skinny dress to be able to “give” yourself to the ones with more expensive brumm-brumms. It is the greed. It is the hunger for luxury. It is the “money as religion” thing. It is “get as much as you can while you can”. It is the whole new value system. Has it turned us into hookers?

G8 - The Fiasco of Change

G8 summit has finished today. Conclusion: the financial transaction tax as proposed by the EU has been rejected. Also, we should restraint the public spending and reduce our budgets. In plain English: While rich continues being freed of paying taxes tax while getting richer, we get to save on schools, pensions, medical care, infrastructure, and other. Great. Have we learned nothing from the financial crisis? Bravo, politicians. (Why don’t we just get rid of them?)

Please note that the news about the rejection of the transaction taxis is quite hard to find. G8 concluding that they are angry of Iran and N. Korea is so much more important.

P.S. What about the change Obama was promising? Anybody seen it?

Tajder in EMMA

I am happy to announce that my commentary about "Sex and the City 2" is going to be published in the next issue of EMMA, the most renown feministic magazine in German speaking countries. As announced on the Website:

"Alice Schwarzer hat für die nächste EMMA einen Kommentar zur Sache von Ana Tajder in Wien bestellt – und das Resultat begeistert uns EMMAs alle sehr."

Link to the EMMA article

"Sex and the City2". Or "We're all Stuck in the Dessert!"

“Sex and the City 2” is coming to European cinemas on Friday. I, as the ultimate S&C fan should be ecstatic. Well, I’m not. I passed by a cinema with a jumbo poster above the door featuring Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda (in a dessert?!) and I had a very strange feeling. It was a bit like looking at a corpse. A mixture of curiosity, disgust and sadness. S&C used to be our Bible. What we watched on TV screens were our lives. Yes, we were just like them. And our stories were just like theirs. We were educated, had great jobs, paid for our own luxury, we looked good, had enormous fun and we shagged gorgeous men (Really! I was so offended when Playboy commented on my book: “Is it at all possible that all those men were that gorgeous?” Yes, they were!). We were completely independent. And mesmerised with our lives. We were experiencing the probably best phase of our lives. And S&C was an affirmation for it all.

This was 12 years ago. Many things have changed since then. Towards the end, the series wasn’t as true, cheeky, crispy and fun as it was it the beginning. The first S&C movie came to cinemas and, although we were glad to see our old friends, we were disappointed. And now the 2nd part? I’m not sure. I’m even wondering if we should go to see it. I’m afraid it will be everything but empowering.

First of all: Sex is not what it used to be. The S&C sex, that is. The S&C sex was about freeing a new form of female sexuality. Sexuality which was in the same time our weapon and our shield. Sexuality as the ultimate proof of the newly conquered independence in all aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, the sexuality we freed back then has quickly turned against us. The moment we turned female sexuality into a mean for achieving a goal, somebody else used it for their own purposes: To earn money. In no time, our society has became overly sexualised and pornographised. Fashion copies SM styles. Music spots look like soft porn. School kids are watching hard core on their phones. Media is bombarding us with the new image of a woman, a über-sexualised, über-natural sex doll. She is created by using styling, plastic surgery and Photoshop. She fills us (both women and men) with craving for unreachable, constructed “perfection” and makes us spend billions trying to buy it.  She is turning women into objects. Again. Our grandmothers and mothers fought against this - how did we, the S&C generation, allow it to happen?

And then there was shopping. They spent fortune shopping. And they had enormous fun shopping. So had we. Shopping was symbolising the connection between our financial independence and our newly freed sexuality. We were buying (with our own money) sexy stuff that made us feel great about ourselves. And that helped us manipulate the world which is known to be easily manipulated by attractive looks. But hen came the financial crisis. And made it very clear to us that we became hostages of our own consumption. We worked to consume, we identified with the consumed, and we searched for fulfilment where it couldn’t be found.  It all became painful when we realised that the consumerist attitude reflected on other aspects of our lives. We were consuming men, relationships, friendships. Ourselves. And then came the threat of an environmental catastrophe. It is not fun paying for stuff which you know will burry you one day. No, we don’t shop any more.

S&C showed us how fantastic a friendship can be. A constructed family. Four friends, all obsessed with themselves and their tightest circle. Four friends and their never-ending search. For love, for the perfect relationship, for THE man, for happiness… The search lasted for 12 years. And it goes on. It used to be cute. It’s not anymore. Because it is a product of the individualisation which is ruining our society. One of the biggest lessons we were supposed to learn from the financial crisis is that globalisation made us all interdependent. We cannot be solely focused on ourselves anymore. If Greece crashes, Europe crashes. Same is with women. We cannot live our emancipation alone. There are African women sold to our men as sex workers. Indian women are sewing our jeans for $16 a month. And there are many gorgeous East European girls who, of lack of alternative to support themselves, accept traditional gender roles. They are willing to trade their youth and beauty for financial security. Having a beautiful East European wife who keeps her mouth shut and is satisfied with a gift of designer shoes became sort of a trend: Viennese businessmen travel to East Europe searching for wives. Scared of losing their “competitive advantage”, many West European girls are giving up emancipation.

Yes, the world has drastically changed in the 12 years since S&C first became a symbol of our emancipation. The financial crisis revealed a deeper crisis – our whole system is in crisis. In order to survive, we have to rethink everything anew: The economic system, the values, the priorities. To be able to inspire us again, S&C would have to drastically change. And here an idea: Now that it is clear that we have reached the limits of the male world order, how about offering a new alternative? A female, solidary, cooperative, humanistic world order.

I know - it is too much to wish from a US TV-series-turned-film.

But please, allow me to dream.

The Punsihment

We’ve lost punishment somewhere along the way. We’ve lost it together with many other things we keep on losing in this scary process called “social change”. All those things, good and bad, that slowly, or suddenly, changed their form and meaning or completely disappeared from our culture.

Yes, we’ve lost punishment. Or rather, the idea of punishment.  Even when we do punish, the punishment is actually very mild. Murderers and child rapists simply dissipater from our eyes and get locked in institutions with warm showers, few meals a day, visiting rights, walks in the yard, workshops and exercise facilities. Punishment? A lesson not to do it again? And most of all, a warning to others with similar intentions? Am not sure about that.

What I am sure about is that that for the chosen few, we have completely lost the idea of punishment.

Is punishment good? Is it bad? Who has the right to punish whom? And for what? I don’t know. As a kid, I’ve never been punished. But then, it wasn’t necessary. I was an extraordinary good kid. A nerd by nature, just pretending to be cool. So I can’t tell if punishment really works. What I know that definitely doesn’t work is double morale.

But kids we’re not and there are some dreadful crimes happening in front of our eyes (thank you, globalisation and mass media!), shocking us, some having major impact on our lives, just to end up with the ones responsible leaving without any corrective action being taken. People guilty for those injustices are known to us, and so is their undoubtful guilt, but out of some reason, we are not punishing them. We are not even considering punishing them. Why? What makes bankers, catholic priests, consulting companies (and other conglomerates), and American/British presidents untouchable?

Why should they be treated differently than you and I? Because you and I would, in contrary to them, end up in a prison (enjoying all those nice features described above) if we:

  • Conducted some major financial fraud in which we would financially ruin a few (and not billions) people
  • Raped, tortured and beaten children
  • Helped someone to falsify their account books with the result of a few (and not millions) people ending in debt they cannot possibly ever pay back
  • Broke in into someone’s home, destroyed their belongings and killed their family (especially if we did this with absolutely no reason)

Is this democracy? I don’t know. If “those up there” can do whatever they want to the people they should be serving and not get punished, isn’t that called something else? What effect does this have on our perception of morale? Of fairness? Of responsibility?

And why the hell do we not speak out????

Let's play "Direct Democracy"

On 11 February, Vienna is starting a game called “Direct Democracy”. It is a very cute game. Really! It is designed and promoted for 6-10 year olds. The only confusing thing is that to play, you have to be at least 18 (or did it drop to 16?). The game has been advertised for past weeks in various media including newspapers and TV, with those lovely people smiling in the camera and saying stuff like “We should all have a bicycle”. Yes, and a lollipop! The intention of the game is very nice: It’s an “instant feel good game”. It should give you a feeling that you have the power to determine the circumstances you live in. Like in Huxley’s Brave New World, where kids get conditioning lessons played directly into their ears while they are sleeping, so we in Vienna listen for past weeks about “direct democracy”. Few weeks ago, we all (that includes Austrian citizens with permanent residence in Vienna) received a bunch of pre-printed envelopes, letters and a ballot. I love my ballot! I am actually considering framing it with a scripture “Direct Democracy” and hanging in on my wall. It has a touch of Warhol with its pastel pink and baby blue and vanilla yellow and those big round JA and NEIN buttons all around it. It looks like something that would come with your new Barbie doll. And then you read the text. And you really feel like 6. The questions are completely suggestive: “Vienna always wanted to be a metropolis and is still suffering because it hasn’t achieved that status. And London and New York have metros operating whole night long (we have night-buses and they work fine but we want what NYC has!!!). So shouldn’t we have the same thing?” Or things that are too generalised to make any decisions: “Should the owners of attack dogs have a licence for the dog?” (Exactly which dog is an attack dog? And how does the licence really help against dogs killing babies?) and questions that are just so clear, they shouldn’t even be asked: “Should Vienna offer the possibility of day-long schools?” (in Vienna, schools finish at 13h so if both parents are working, the kid is…. well…on the street? Home playing World of Warcraft or watching porn on the Internet? No clue.) And questions we really don't give a damn about: "Should we re-introduce janitors?"

No, don’t get me wrong, the game is really cute! It should be - it costs  €6,7 millions. But it makes me sad. Because I want to play the same game of “Direct Democracy” with questions that really matter - when it is decided if another country should be bombed in my name or not; if my billions should be given to bail out banks who brought the whole global financial system to collapse; if managers should really get millions of bonuses for messing up the world; and if financial transactions should be taxed or not.

But in that case I guess this cute design should be changed a bit. Pink wouldn’t really fit…..

Holidays in a coma (stole this from Beigbeder)

God, this is just as horrible as the Tsunami was five years ago. Why do catastrophes like this always hit the poorest regions of the world? On the other hand, I guess that this is part of the reason why they are poor.

And the most horrible is - my friends have left to Carribean today in the morning. For holidays. To spend their money on five star hotels (are there any left?) and basking in the sun. That constant clash of rich and poor, catastrophe and extravaganza, emergency and abundance. Out world is far from healthy....

My sympathy goes to people of Haiti.

Altruism for sale

Have you noticed the new trend: “altruism for sale”? Yes, we are now we are selling out altruism to the corporations! Helping others, making a difference, the most crucial aspect in our feeling of fulfilment is being sold out. Altruism, so precious for our well being, has lately been suffering a crisis just as big, if not bigger, than our economy. We lose altruism, here comes 1984! Buy a certain Gucci bag and 25% of the retail price will go to UNICEF (for the trick, check out the small letters: only if you buy it between 16 November and 31 December). Kate Spade’s new collection is featuring those cute mittens and hats, all hand-made by women in Bosina. Those women get $7 pro piece, which is, according to Spade, double of what they normal wages. Oh how nice! The small letters say: It is a day’s work to knit such a hat. Its retail price is $85. Is it great help, is it fair, should we really be proud to make people earn $7 a day, only 500km from here? How about teaching them to fish instead of giving them a (small) fish? Roberto Coin, jewellery designer is helping CARE. A percentage of every package of Pampers goes to some charity (sorry, no details, am not into diapers). If you subscribe to The Economist, they will plant a tree for you. And you can even watch your tree online….

The trick is new: they are trying to make us feel better about spending money on unnecessary, overpriced stuff and keep the vicious circle of consumerism alive by promising that our action will benefit someone. Instant clearance of consciousness. Instant great feeling. Of course, the ones that benefit the most are the corporations. Rich getting richer. The effect is sad: we are deep into learning to hand over our responsibilities, decisions, even feelings, to the corporations. We only need to consume and everything else will be taken care of. This distances us even further from the actual problem. We don’t need to understand what is going on, and why. We don’t have to consciously decide to help someone, we don’t have to chose whom and why. Gucci/Economist/Spade will take care of that. And nothing changes. Gucci keeps on making millions, we keep on slaving to afford a Gucci bag and women in Bosnia keep on living in poverty. But hey, now we feel good about it! Thank you Gucci/Economist/Spade/Pampers.

Florida, last Friday. A guy walks in into the company he has been fired from, starts shooting around, kills one and shoots six. He was unemployed and had $90,000 debt. Info in Telegraph

Paris, last month. Yet another France Telecom employee killed himself. He jumped off a bridge and left a note complaining about the bad atmosphere at work after he has been transferred to Customer Services department. This makes 29 suicides among France Telecom employees in past year and half. Not to forget is a bunch of attempted suicides which were prevented on time.

France Telecom decided to employ 200 psychiatrists and invest €1 billion in preventing Burnout. Can it happen that this will make the people feel sicker than they are? And result in everybody thinking they have a personal problem – while the money keeps pouring from one pocket (FT) to the other (some private firm who employed the psychiatrists). Instead of securing jobs, cutting stress (how about starting with working hours?) and starting to treat employees like human beings?

Info in Financial Times

We have never been this well off – and this desperate. Why?

From (and for) Unibrennt (uni is burning)

What fascinated me when I visited the demonstration/siege at the Vienna University (Audimax) yesterday was the fact that it was not only about education. I was extremely happy to arrive on time to listen to a speech by Corinna Milborn (author and journalist) who spoke about the multiple crises we are facing right now. She spoke about the fact that this is not only a financial crisis, but also political, environmental, educational, migration crisis. Among other speakers, Chistian Felber, the founder of Attack (the anti-globalization organization) in Austria, as well as Robert Misik, a renowned author and journalist were speaking in Audimax. Pity I missed them. Felber will speak again on Monday at 17h at the TU (University of Technology).

I must say: congratulations to this great agenda! It makes the movement move away from being only about the education to being about the system in general. Because, hey, if the system was not about the corporations/profits/moneymaking but the people, high quality education would not be in question. The protest is expanding throughout Austria and support comes from unions (metal/textile/food workers) and political parties (Grüne/Green & SPÖ/Social Party Austria), as well as the Upper Chamber of Employment. If you want to support, want to listen to the speeches, or are just curious, take a look at the agenda at http://unibrennt.at/?cat=8&lang=en

Here the information on speakers:

Corinna Milborn

Christian Felber

Robert Misik

And here a few pictures from yesterday. Check out my favourite banner: "Rich parents for everyone!"

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Proud to be (also) Austrian! II

I have been angry with Austrian students since half a year ago, when I’ve witnessed a class in which the students were asked to prepare 3min presentations with the topic “What moves me/touches me”.  27 out of 30 students started their presentation by saying “It was extremely hard finding something that moves/touches me”. I was mad!!! At the times of a major financial crisis, ongoing destruction of our environment, movements in Iran, two unjust wars, those young people who should be the intellectual elite of Austria were not able to find something that moved them?! Shouldn’t the students be the ones kicking-off changes in a society? At the same class, many students were protesting against the freedom and spontaneity so untypical for the lectures at the Vienna University. The professor tried to teach through opening her students’ minds, and making them experience the lessons, not learn them by heart. Quite few people in the class didn’t like this.

But surprise, surprise! The past few days, we learned that there is something that moves them, after all. And – now they are fighting for more freedom!

Since five days, the University of Vienna is under siege by its students. The dissatisfaction began with the transition form the old system (Mag.) to BA and MA system. Apparently, the new system is more restrictive and unfair. Yesterday’s demonstration in Vienna was attended by somewhere between 10.000-50.000 people. The demonstrations expanded to Graz, Salzburg, Linz. And hey, they are loud and determined. And they know what they want. They want more freedom in their curricula, they want a free entry (which I do not agree with. I think one should prove they really want and are able to study. By letting everyone study everything, you crowd the universities and thus decrease the quality of education). They want to be freed from fees. They want 50% of women employed at the university (YES!). They want no discrimination. They want better, transparent financing of the academic system (true, if we have billions to rescue banks, why are we stingy with our most strategic area – education?). And a more transparent, democratic system. For a complete list please go to: http://unibrennt.at/?cat=8&lang=en (Have patience with the site, it is currently very slow.)

Yes, we have been bitching long enough about this new generation being too passive, completely apolitical and unwilling to demonstrate. I am happy and proud (hey, this is the second time in a week that I am proud to be also-Austrian!!!) that Austrian students showed that this is not necessarily true. I hope they will make a change (since Obama didn’t really)  and inspire the older generation to openly and loudly articulate their dissatisfaction. Because this world is what we make of it.

I am off to the demonstration.