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Die IG BILDENDE KUNST ist eine Interessenvertretung der bildenden Künstler_innen in Österreich. Wir initiieren kulturpolitische Debatten und intervenieren in Entscheidungsprozesse, die Auswirkungen auf Arbeit und Leben bildender Künstler_innen haben. Unsere Aktionsfelder sind Kunst, Politik, Service und Zeitung. Wir fordern: Freiheit der Kunst! Recht auf soziale Rechte! Bleiberecht für alle! Gleiche Rechte für alle!

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“the master's tools will never dismantle the master’s house” [1]

A comment by Sheri Avraham

“A total of 46 percent of the population over the age of 15 carries out voluntary activity … That means there are more than 3.5 million people in Austria engaged in voluntary activities. …” [2]

As it was reported in this brochure, produced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Austria has a long tradition of taking part in activities with no aim for direct finance reward. People, with intention to share their privileges, are participating within fields such as in the art, culture, politics, community activities, etc. The motivation to join such activities mostly can be described as a sense of solidarity.

Those figures from this brochure wondered me. But I was quite happy to read them, not only since it is another strong argument for the Global Unconditioned Basic Income. [3] More participation – more influence, more opportunities to contribute individual creativity and by that improvement of public services. Through volunteers' innovation- potential the beneficial consequences are numerous when local citizens become active.

But, I wonder, are those figures a result of holes in the social networks or of the financial dehydration of the public good? Volunteers make it easy for the state to make cuts in the social network since the work is carried out for free. There are few more questions I asked myself, such as how those activities maintain economic and social classes or take advantage of people with no working permit. In any case, the conditions for voluntary work and the political-economic are two sides of the same coin and both are directly connected with the collapse of the neoliberal order.

Civil engagement is indispensable in a democracy, however, if it is abused – institutionalized and calculated in the long run – it serves to plug the holes in the budgets of public services of general interest instead of remedying them.

Sheri Avraham ist Vorsitzende der IG Bildende Kunst

[1] Audre Lorde: The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Crossing Press: Berkeley 2007, p. 110–114.

[2] Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, Stubenring 1 1010 Vienna

[3] See my comment in the last issue.