Perhaps one of the most risky things about getting a job is the fact that you become part of an organisation and represent its political tendencies and convictions. This may not be that important for your average concrete manufacturing plant, but in some cases this is a thing you might want to be aware of. The moment you sign your contract, you agree to work together for the profit of whatever thing you are employed by and you better consider your boundaries well before they are reached, lest you do things you’ll regret.
Again, for the average worker (like you) this is a pretty trivial thing. But what if you were asked to perform your tasks not just for, but with some party that you strongly disagree with, supporting their propaganda? Perhaps you can imagine that, as an employee of a city theater, you better have your principles in order or you might find that you crossed them in retrospect.
As a public service, the city theater upholds an ideal of political neutrality. You and I both know, this is of course utter bullshit. In reality, the theater follows the decisions of the political party in control of the city, and if you want to organize an event with the specific goal of going against that power, I suggest you get yourself a lawyer.
Democracy does work in this regard: A fascist metal band that wanted to use our smaller venue for their performance filed a complaint against the city and the judge ruled in their favor: They were permitted to perform and not only did they do so with our full support, but the case made all kinds of newspapers and whatever organisation responsible didn’t even have to pay for country-wide publicity.
While it might be easy to jump to conclusions and say that the city council didn’t manage to prevent the show and thus the neutrality of the theater is maintained, consider that this had to be taken to court. If that band hadn’t bothered (and I assume most bands wouldn’t), the whole thing would have died with little more than an angry email in some politician’s inbox. It makes me wonder just how many of these events were successfully blocked, and how the situation might be if the parties supported by the bands in question, were to rise to power.
So there you are, little soldier: Single-handedly responsible for the success of a gig for neo Nazis. You are expected to perform just as well as any other night, and you will put those lights on those fascist flags. You will amplify and fine-tune the words of the lead singer so that everyone understands them. If the paying customer is not satisfied at the end of the night, it’s all on you.
Not what you signed up for? Should have considered that before you did.
I myself, was thanked by the spokesperson of a right-wing political organisation because I had interrupted my holidays so that I could work on their big meeting day, forgetting to mention that I was contractually obliged to do so. I got a round of applause, and I waved a little because that’s what I usually do. If anyone could have read my thoughts at that point in time, I don’t think they would have clapped.
I have always claimed to be apolitical but obviously there are certain ideas I agree or disagree with. Generally, I consider the right-wing side to be the greater evil, if for no better reason, because they tend not to support culture very much if it doesn’t fit into their agenda. Oh and because of their structural neglect of refugees of war- you know, the little things.
And I don’t agree with my colleagues’ argument along the lines of “I’m just doing my job.” I am strongly convinced that you remain responsible for every single one of your actions. Circumstance (like gunpoint) might speak in your favor when your actions are questionable, but ultimately, no one forced you (in this case) to do any of it. You chose to do it. You chose to be the sound tech of a fascist band, and the light tech for racist seminars.
I chose to do these things when I started here, and I would lie if I said that I had considered these things adequately before signing. I was poorly prepared. And I seriously considered quitting when the job was pushed on me. Instead, I voiced my objections with the boss and then did what I am getting paid for. What pays the bills and lets me go to Czech Republic. What upholds the principles, fake or real, of our democracy.
Let’s get one thing straight: While I agree with the right of an opinion, I want to point our that this does not include a stage. If your views are unfounded, if you advocate violence against the powerless, if you promote hatred, there is no place for you in our culture. We, as a community, are ever so slowly growing past that and you are in the way. If you see me at any of these events, you can safely assume that there is a sufficiently appealing contract pushing me, and that I carefully reconsidered that contract before I let it.
I am there as a technician, representing the policy of the city theater and the cultural center. I’ll do what I can to make your thing a success because it’s what I do. Even without the enthusiasm that I displayed when doing the performance at the refugee center, you can count on a good result.
Just don’t ask me my personal opinion, lest I might give it to you.
1h after writing this: I have decided I am not going to participate in these events anymore, contractually obliged or not. I don’t regret doing it, but it was the last time in my life.