Hubert von Goisern
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INTERVIEW

Miscellaneous: 2008

"Small is beautiful"

Wirtschaft im Blick October 2008

Globetrotter Hubert von Goisern on Austria's regions, the good side of the stock market crisis and the
creative work that is only possible for him in the city.

Hubert von Goisern

Mr von Goisern, you have spent many years abroad - in South Africa, Canada, the Philippines - how does this external perspective change the view of Austria's regions?

The further you go from Austria, the less significant the national borders become. Austria dissolves into the context of Europe - and this image corresponds with me a great deal, because I feel like a European. What that means for regions? I am convinced that in the future regions - regional collaboration, regional culture and regional economy - will be more important in than the provincial divisions for example.

Staying with this external perspective for a moment: from your point of view how are Austria's regions, their leading businesses and positioning perceived worldwide?

My impression is that we have a very positive image - as a country, but also as a part of Europe. People connect us with a "healthy size": nothing artificial or self-important, where you can't be sure that it will still be there the next morning. The dominant images in people's heads are certainly of fresh water, good air and the beauty of nature. And it is vital to use this image, you have to build on it. And it does a great deal already now: Austria is producing world market leaders in renewable energies and environmental conservation - it's just that too few people know this.

What does "economic management in the region" mean for you personally?

To be honest, I don't really feel responsible for the economy. But regionality - and clearly the business in Austria's many regions belong to this too - mainly means to me "small is beautiful". And I think that this is what people in Austria and around the world value in regionality: the original, the authentic.

Keywords tradition & innovation - two terms that characterise your music. How is the power of innovation of traditional businesses doing in your opinion?

My music is certainly regional in this respect and traditional too in a certain way, because it is definitely coloured linguistically. I've never tried to produce for the entire world market - how, in German? But I think I'm successful because I've retained my regionality. And I think this is why regionally-anchored business are successful too in Austria and on the world market: they have a healthy setup, they don't want to just produce for everything and everyone, but rather they think about substance. You have to look after the little plant, the tree first, before you think about the whole forest. Many today want to put the cart before the horse, thinking only of the great profit right from the start ...

A general symptom of a globalised economy?

Yes, unfortunately! I'm almost happy about the current stock market crash - it shows us that its spirit of the economy - and simply can't work long-term - if you simply want to just get more and more in. You can't earn money without taking it away from someone else. And you shouldn't be able to get rich just from pushing money around on stock markets. It doesn't have anything to do with producing and creating, it's just a game following the motto of: will I win or lose in the casino? I think that the current crisis will make a lot of people think.

Keywords: sustainable economies. Do you see a need to catch up here too?

Of course, and it's going to become ever more important. It's also a question of being able to afford it too: in my eyes environmental conservation is a privilege of the wealthy nations, my stays in Africa showed me that. When people are living hand to mouth then clearly environmental conservation doesn't matter at all to them - they have other problems. You need to be able to afford sustainable economies first.

Coming back to Austria's regions: which appeals to you the most?

For me the Salzkammergut is unsurpassed as a region. I like the combination of water and mountains, so I think the lake regions in Carinthia are wonderful too. I like Vienna too, the cultural and pulsing elements give me strength.

The mountains don't do that? I would have sworn that they would be preferred above the city ...

Of course they do too, no question. But when I'm in nature, I have no ideas - I just enjoy it and think that the world is wonderful and is a great thing the way it is. I feel as though I'm a guest, who just gathers, but has no productive thoughts.

And these thought then follow in the city?

Right. I have no inhibitions here, to create, to change, to question - I can't do all that in nature. I'm just happy in nature and take things in.

How strongly do regions shape people?

I think that it's not so much the landscape that shapes people, but rather society. It starts in the smallest core, the family. I think that what people need to grow is a mixture of challenge and confirmation. To only ever be confronted with being forbidden doesn't do anyone any good. But you can grow and develop against resistance, no question.

Apropos developing: time and again you have reinvented yourself artistically. What is your tip for personality development?

You can only work within confined with tips, I think. It's connected with the structure of personality - I'm simply a very curious person, who likes to go to his boundaries. The path of least resistance is out of the question for me. I love risk and want to continue collecting new experiences. And that often means starting from zero time and again. Its sometimes economically counterproductive, sure, but hugely exciting.

Why is it counterproductive?

The consumer - and thus the people who listen to my music too - is actually very conservative, asking themselves: what am I getting for my money? You have to persuade them each time that new doesn't equal bad. And it takes a lot of strength and sometimes money too. That is less important to me, what counts is the art, its originality and identity. Profit alone doesn't bring happiness.

Thanks Stefan