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An Interview with Claus Volko, M.D. on Politics and Social Life in Austria (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/05/08


Claus Volko is an Austrian computer and medical scientist who has conducted research on the treatment of cancer and severe mental disorders by conversion of stress hormones into immunity hormones. This research gave birth to a new scientific paradigm which he called “symbiont conversion theory”: methods to convert cells exhibiting parasitic behaviour to cells that act as symbionts. In 2013 Volko, obtained an IQ score of 172 on the Equally Normed Numerical Derivation Test. He is also the founder and president of Prudentia High IQ Society, a society for people with an IQ of 140 or higher, preferably academics. He discusses: blue collar sensibilities; current Austrian political environment; religious dynamic influence on politics in Austria; social life and social roles expected in Austria; ethnicity in Austria; equity and religion; economics and the coronavirus; main impediments to economic development; an ethic underlying Austrian culture; find thoughts on general content for the first questions; Chancellor Sebastian Kurz; the People’s Party and the Green Party; social tension without violence; a broader palette of potential roles for men; better roles and exemplars for men; the private affairs nature of religion; coronavirus as a wake-up call the reason for joining the European Union; industries of the Austrian economy; naive and cynical uses of immigration for political and social points; the meaning of non-religion in the context of Austria; social isolation and health; male earning capacity and supporting a family; women’s earning capacity; changing social arrangements and religious leaders not being opposed to it; the social character of Austria and immigration; metaphysical questions; and some speculation.

Keywords: Claus Volko, computer scientist, medical scientist, politics, religion, social life.

An Interview with Claus Volko, M.D. on Politics and Social Life in Austria: Austrian Computer and Medical Scientist (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: For this session, I want to focus on the some of the political and social issues of import to you. We can touch on philosophy in the next session. Did the menial job and farming background of family provide a ‘blue collar’ sensibility more than a ‘white collar’ sensibility growing up for you? In that, a hard physical work life is still a life and a good life with the manual labour side of life as no less important than computational work in the computer sciences.

Dr. Claus Volko: In the part of Vienna where I am living, most of the inhabitants are former blue-collar workers who managed to gain a fortune by virtue and clever economic considerations. When I accompany my mother when she is walking the dog, I often meet our “neighbours” and we have a chat. I have no problems communicating with people who do not have such a high formal education as I have. Basically all of us are workers, no matter whether we work with our hands or with computers.

2. Jacobsen: What is the current political environment of Austria?

Volko: Austrian politics is dominated by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a young man who took over control of the People’s Party a couple of years ago. While the Social Democrats used to be the strongest party for many years, they are now behind the Greens at place three according to
polls. The People’s Party and the Greens have formed a coalition and the government is very popular because the population endorses its measures against coronavirus.

3. Jacobsen: Most of Austria is Roman Catholic followed by Eastern Orthodox and Islamic.  How does this religious dynamic influence the aforementioned political context?

Volko: I know a lot of Roman Catholics who are of the opinion that only Roman Catholics are true Austrians. In fact, Eastern Orthodox and Islamic believers are immigrants. Among Austrians without migration background there are minorities of Protestant and Jewish believers. As you indicated these minorities are small compared to the religious groups of the immigrants. In general Muslims are rather unpopular with the Christian majority, but the situation is quite peaceful, there have been no terrorist attacks for decades. The Freedom Party is an anti-migration, anti-Islam party which sometimes gains more than 20% in national votes and which formed a coalition with Kurz in 2017 to 2019. Meanwhile, due to some scandals, popularity of the Freedom Party has dwelled down.

4. Jacobsen: How about social life in Austria? The central hot spots of social, and political, tension in several North American and Western European states comes from the religious, ethnic, and sex and gender realm. Perhaps, we can provide some commentary within the bounded geography of Austria. How do Austrians view the relationship between social roles and expectations, and sex and gender?

Volko: Some parts of Austria are quite conservative, yet I have the impression that gender equality is very high. Both boys and girls attend school, more girls than boys graduate from high school and study at university. Of course, women have the option of marrying and staying at home with their children, while young men have no other choice than work. There are mixed marriages of ethnic and religious groups, but mostly among Christians of different faiths; Muslims mostly marry among each other.

5. Jacobsen: Following from the last two questions, is ethnicity a live issue or something socially uninteresting at the moment?

Volko: It is an important issue because of the large number of immigrants, especially since 2015. Employees are expected to master the German language well, and in some realms of economy good English knowledge is a requirement too. Immigrants often lack these language skills. The government is trying to support them in acquiring these skills.

6. Jacobsen: You mentioned equity as an important value previously with the responses. How does the cultural value of equity mix with the social life of the different religious groupings in Austria? Also, as a small aside, what about the minority of the non-religious in Austria along the same lines?

Volko: I am a non-religious person myself and I do not feel that I am discriminated against because of my (non-)religious views. The situation was a bit different when I was studying at medical school because at the Medical University of Vienna, Roman Catholic fraternities still have quite a lot of power and as a non-religious person I was unable to join them.

7. Jacobsen: For the economic development of Austria into the future, will equity be a necessity or excellence as a value be a necessity moving forward? How is Austria handling the coronavirus and its various impacts on the economy of Austria?

Volko: The Austrian economy is highly developed, but it is facing a recession due to coronavirus. It will take some months or perhaps years until it will have regained its strength. The Austrian government is handling coronavirus by massive restrictions, which have only recently been loosened up a little. In the past six weeks, we were not supposed to leave home unless for work and to buy food; restaurants and stores were closed; we still have to keep one meter distance between each other at minimum. These drastic measures have successfully prevented spread of coronavirus.

8. Jacobsen: What seems like the main impediments to economic advancement in the country now? How is its relation with the European Union?

Volko: As said, the country is in a recession due to coronavirus. Regarding the European Union, Austria has been a member since 1995.

9. Jacobsen: Is there an ethic underlying Austrian culture? The thou shalts and thou shalt nots of Austrian culture giving rise to the social, political, and economic dynamics seen today. What is it? Or if a multiple or a plural answer, what are they?

Volko: I remember from my days at school that teachers emphasized diligence. “You must also do something”, was a phrase I heard my teachers say often. They wanted to say that it is not enough to be intelligent but that you also have to work hard in order to achieve something. Another phrase that was to be heard often was: “What you do, you have to do properly.” Austrians do not like sloppiness.

10. Jacobsen: We’ve covered politics, social life, economics, religion, and ethics of Austria. Any final thoughts for this section relevant for the audience?

Volko: Basically Austria is a good place to live in, which is also one of the reasons why we have so many immigrants.

11. Jacobsen: How is Chancellor Sebastian Kurz performing in his duties? He is a 33-year-old man with nice hair and an air of a Roman Catholic aristocrat about him.

Volko: He is very popular. In recent polls his party came to 48%, which is almost the absolute majority. It is a long time since another party had such a high percentage in the polls. So, as people are satisfied, he is probably doing his job well.

12. Jacobsen: What do the People’s Party and the Green Party stand for today?

Volko: The People’s Party is a conservative party based on Christian values. This has not changed since Kurz became its leader. However, what has changed is the acting politicians. Kurz replaced the old staff with a new one. The Green Party is a left-wing part that is friendly with immigration and emphasizes ecological responsibility.

13. Jacobsen: Is this social tension without violence replicated in contiguous nations of Austria?

Volko: Mostly yes, although in Germany, for instance, outbreaks of violence do happen occasionally.

14. Jacobsen: How can we provide a broader palette of potential roles for the men in our rapidly changing societies?

Volko: The role of the male adult is to earn his and his family’s living. The professions a grown-up can be occupied with are changing rapidly. It seems to be a natural event that does not need government interference.

15. Jacobsen: How can we provide better role models for these men? Any exemplars at present?

Volko: Well, if you turn on television you will see series such as Grey’s Anatomy or Doctor House which show how medical doctors should, or rather should not, behave. These TV figures might serve as role models.

16. Jacobsen: How is this ambivalence for the treatment of non-religious in public and some academic life replicated in other ways, in spite of the positive equality in Austrian society in general?

Volko: Most people I know view religion and religious belief as private affairs which you do not have to disclose to others.

17. Jacobsen: How has the coronavirus been a wake-up call to the general public about the importance of a stable society and harmonious social relations?

Volko: Well, due to the enforced isolation people realized how valuable it is to have social contacts. On the other hand, the enforced isolation also showed people that it is possible to live for weeks and months without having much interaction with other people.

18. Jacobsen: Any idea as to the original or instigating reason for joining the European Union for Austria in 1995?

Volko: Back when the referendum on joining the European Union was held politicians mostly argued that the economy would profit of Austria joining the European Union.

19. Jacobsen: How is the Austrian economy highly developed? What industries? What were the conscious moves to make the economy desirable in the first place?

Volko: The Austrian economy is mostly service-based. Agriculture makes up only a small percentage of the gross national product. There is some industry, such as the VOEST steel factories, but mostly it is doctors, barbers, small shops that make up the economy.

20. Jacobsen: How has this development of the economy provided a desirable society for immigration? How has immigration been wise and unwise?

Volko: Many immigrants come to Austria because there is a highly developed social welfare system. Even if you lose your job, your existence is not endangered. Of course social welfare is only possible because the economy is reasonably highly developed. It is a system in which every employee pays taxes to the government and the government gives back money to those who need it.

21. Jacobsen: How have there been naïve and, also, cynical uses of immigration as a means by which to score some political and social points with different sectors of the Austrian citizenry?

Volko: The Freedom Party organized a referendum opposed to immigration back in the early 1990s. Also after this referendum the Freedom Party often campaigned slogans against immigration.

22. Jacobsen: What does non-religious mean in this context? In that, going deeper into the title, what does imply about belief or non-belief in a god or gods, in the efficacy of supernaturalism claims about the operations of the world, about the centrality of religious divine figures and holy texts, or the importance of ritual and formalized hierarchical structures?

Volko: Non-religious primarily means not being affiliated with a particular religious group or church. It does not mean that you do not hold views about how the world was created, what the purpose of life is, etc. Not every non-religious person is necessarily an atheist. There are some
who care about metaphysical questions and some who do not care.

23. Jacobsen: Social isolation has been correlated with various health risks. Is this something of concern to Austrian authorities with the lockdowns? So, people can be used to living for weeks and months in isolation. What about the prior health research in observational studies on negative health outcomes based on isolation?

Volko: I think that it is good we have Internet and social networks such as
Facebook. Despite the social isolation these new technologies enable
people to communicate. This certainly has a beneficial effect upon
health as they can get informed about health problems and discuss them
with other people.

24. Jacobsen: Series of three related questions: Is the male earning capacity capable of supporting a family, in or out of coronavirus times?

Volko: Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. There are still huge gaps
between incomes depending on profession and institution where you

25. Jacobsen: Are women’s earning capacities changing the social, political, and economic dynamics here?

Volko: Sure, there are more self-sustaining women than in the past, and there
are also many single mothers raising their children all alone.

26. Jacobsen: How are the dominant faith traditions reacting to this possible shifting landscape with higher education as key in a knowledge economy and Austrian women graduating more from university than the men? This, in turns, provides greater economic opportunity for women never before seen on such a global scale in recorded human history. To some, the beginning of a new era, a phase change; to others, the signs of the End Times, as foretold in Abrahamic eschatological holy writ.

Volko: In Austria it is widely accepted that women work. The official
religious leaders do not seem to be opposed to that.

27. Jacobsen: How does immigration change the social character of Austrian society for the better and for the worse?

Volko: Nowadays we have a lot of national groups in Austria whose members
interact among each other and there is little interaction between the
groups. Some people complain that immigration has made Austrian
society worse while I do not think so.

28. Jacobsen: Do you care for the metaphysical questions? If so, any answers about it?

Volko: I am interested in metaphysics and I occasionally read publications
about this area. But I think there are no definite answers to
questions such as the origin of the universe and the goals of mankind.
It is all just speculation.

29. Jacobsen: Also, aside from answer, any speculations about intelligences external to humanity (or somehow incorporating them)?

Volko: There are a lot of animals that exhibit some sort of intelligence. If
you are referring to extraterrestrial intelligence, maybe it exists, I
do not know.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Austrian Computer and Medical Scientist.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 8, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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