Cornered?

Of course it feels often like tyranny – in the understanding of Hannah Arendt:

Not cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.*

But then it may be necessary to blame a bit ourselves, us, the members of the scientific community, but more in general: we as member of any republic. Isn’t there a tendency towards accepting that we as members are made to res, to things instead of making things public?

Much had been said about open access, and the spirit of the words quoted above may be taken as a guidance for further thinking about the direction and necessity. It is of utmost importance to acknowledge developments that move into the direction of open access – surely in very different directions as The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities of 22 October 2003, but also the increasingly mushrooming sites as libgen.io, sci-hub.tw or achieve.org and even google, researchgate, academia and the like…, or the non-commercials as RePEc, Mupra and in addition one I only spotted now: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org
The really interesting point is that apparently all in the field are under various pressures: publishers, libraries, academics, students, readers – and of course, in many cases we are concerned, occupying different of these roles at the same time. Doesn’t this suggest to switch to organising, controlling, coordinating an counter-hegemony? – Sure, without forgetting complaining? May be the long march through the institutions should be seen in a more political light, seeing OA not simply as something one may beneficially use but as a weapon.

____________________

* Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zuerich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; the 2nd English edition: Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition; Introduction by Margaret Canovan; Chicago: University of Chicago Press; second edition 1998 does not contain the passage in this way

Annunci

conventions

Conventions – one of the meanings is the following, taken from an online etymology dictionary I occasionally use:

In the social sense, “general agreement on customs, etc., as embodied in accepted standards or usages,” it is attested by 1747 (in a bad sense, implying artificial behavior and repression of natural conduct, by 1847). Hence “rule or practice based on general conduct” (1790).

Yes, there is a bad sense to it – in a book, I was reading I stumbled upon the phrase of the

Interwar Years

http://peacefultomorrows.org/stories/promoting-peace/

I hesitated: as the book – talking about education and democracy during that period – was not clearly European, British, US-American … , I was wondering what this could mean: interwar years? Of course, the convention refers to the years between WW I and WW II, and this is what showed up when looking up on google, also on wikipedia a special site dedicated to this period. However, digging a bit further, there is on the same conventional site (yes, google and wikipedia managed to become some kind of today’s “convention”) one titled

List of wars 1900 -1944.

Quite a result:

148 incidents, counting wars and conflicts commencing between 1919 and 1938, thus definitely “between” the two world wars, literally interwar years.

A piece of peace, if one wants, and if understands piece as “a little bit”. Easily overlooked when reading too fast, just accepting conventions: The INTERwar years had been years engaged in many wars

Marsh …

We, in academia, are promised the Garden of Eden, though getting there is not about eating oneself through the thick wall of gingerbread – instead it is about the tedious and painstaking work of climbing up the ladder of disciplined work, or with other words more like the way up to Calvary (or more frequently known as Golgotha), todays crown of thorns being the expectation that young applicants for academic jobs should be proven successful applicants for grants, successful in teaching in particular Phd-students, by possibly contributors to some form of community but most importantly: publishing in very specific journals and having successfully concluded their degree at one of the “outstanding” = high-ranking schools.
  • Much had been said, suggesting even the Suicide of Social Science
  • is being said as for instance in the NBER WORKING PAPER, titled PUBLISHING AND PROMOTION IN ECONOMICS: THE TYRANNY OF THE TOP FIVE (by James J. Heckman Sidharth Moktan)
  • and will be said increasingly, even more convincingly in a new approach, testing the calculations of published articles – the founders of this more or less recent initiative state in the editorial
  • This is what they actually want to overcome, or at least to oppose with the new publication/journal

Lack of reproducibility is seriously undermining the credibility of science as a whole. By extrapolating the findings of isolated checks, one may expect a substantial fraction of published articles in scientific journals to contain findings that simply do not hold. But we do not know which articles are affected – they usually remain uncovered.

Grunow, Martina, Hilmar Schneider, Gert G. Wagner, and Joachim Wagner (2018). Editorial. International Journal for Re-Views in Empirical Economics, Vol 2(2018-2).
DOI: 10.18718/81781.6

  • This is what they actually want to overcome, or at least to oppose with the new publication/journal
****
The really strange thing is: apparently we all know and we are still proving unable to do better: socio-moral envy? hoping to come to a position where we are the able to do good?
And in order to achieve any of our supposed dreams we are educated and educating that we should be proud entering the stage with people like – …
… – the other day it had been as scales would shed from my eyes. I cannot recall exactly why I came across Steve Bannon – vaguely I do remember that it had been in the context of the Harvard Business School, one of the celebrated temples, educating all the High Priests of today’s business world – the new-religious title is MBA which presumably stands for Master of Bullshit Arrangements (I suppose a higher variation of what David Gaebler calls Bullshit Jobs – that is the topic then for two public talks first half of December).
Naiv as I am, not knowing every – in human(istic) terms – irrelevant existence, I checked a bit on this Steve B. – anything easier than wikipedia? (I know, yes I really do …. )
November 6th, the afternoon – searching for Trump on the WP-sites
177 hits
23 hits
(川普) 8 hits (Trump) 3 hits
(Трамп) 28 hits (Trump) 12 hits
29 hits
It is a nice picture, right? It is somewhat remarkable that these people succeeded while doing the long march across the marsh – and they did not only succeed personally but they did so in ways that we are supposed to take them and their institutions as the ultimate “standard of success”. Isn’t it not timely to look for other idols?
Yes, these people did and they succeeded collectively as “neoliberalism” did – this ideology is well captured in a book by Kean Birch, titled A Research Agenda for Neoliberalism, elaborating the problematique by questioning the one-term-catches-all-use in a more differentiated way, also analyzing the long time of its steady development – yes, that agenda succeeded with its long march across the morass, whereas the solid ground of the current establishment swallowed most of those who were serious about Rudi Dutschke’s plea for The long march through the institutions
By Smartartone100 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42674174

Ten years on … – no wisdom gained?

Of course, there are many contestable issues concerned with the “ten years on” – leaving the question of timing aside, one point may well be concerned with the word “on”, considering that it should be replaced by “into” or even “digging the grave deeper”. The success-stories so far are, if they exist, stories about de-synchronisation: the fact that some countries succeeded again in a more pronounced way to live on the back of others, temporary victories, and often victories for the countries, not for the people (for instance good overall “economic performance” often means increasing inequality)  …
Preparing the class for coming Monday, but also working on finalising the book
Changing the Socio-Economic Formation – Revisiting Value and Valuation in a Globalising Digital World
I looked up a Briefing Note, presented in 2008, in preparation of the OECD Global Forum on International Investment, titled
It is not looking at the crisis – if the collapse of Lehmann Brothers is taken as reference, it would be even a pre-crisis work, presented on a pre-crisis conference. What makes it interesting (surely – not only – for my classes “Development versus Growth”) is the fact of presenting in a masterful way the shortcoming of an understanding of economics and political economy that can well be seen as structural weakness leading to a crisis like the one we are still suffering from (sure, not everybody).
A quote right from the beginning of the briefing note:
The service sector makes an important contribution to GDP in most countries, providing jobs, inputs and public services for the economy. Trade in services can improve economic performance and provide a range of traditional and new export opportunities. However, services liberalisation also carries risks, and appropriate regulation and other complementary policies help to ensure that liberalisation delivers the expected benefits. We have reviewed the literature on these issues for 6 service sectors (tourism, financial services, energy services, information and communications technology, and Mode IV), … .
And it goes on and goes on and goes on in this spirit, not talking about the essentials of what should be at stake of any analysis. Engels, in 1884, wrote:
According to the materialistic conception, the determining factor in history is, in the last resort, the production and reproduction of the immediate life. But this itself is again of a twofold character. On the one side, the production of the means of subsistence, of food and clothing and shelter and the implements required for this; on the other, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social institutions under which men of a definite historical epoch and of a particular country live are determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour, on the one hand, and of the family, on the other.
(Engels, Frederick, 1884: Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Preface [to the First Edition]; in: Karl Marx Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 26. Frederick Engels. 1882-89; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1990: 131-133)
The OECD-experts go exactly the other way round, starting from the end – and actually defining the end as ultimate point of departure and ultimate goal: growth, though remaining undefined, only specified by the reference to the GDP.
Indeed, there is something interesting about GDP and Development.
In fact, the up for some may mean the move back for others
Commonly the “concept” of GDP is attributed to Simon Kuznet – detailed in 1934 in
, it is time to acknowledge that already then the author spelled out – more or less at the outset:
The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above. (page 7)
And he continues:
The abuses of national income estimates arise largely from a failure to take into account the precise definition of income and the methods of its evaluation which the estimator assumes in arriving at his final figures. Notions of productivity or welfare as understood by the user of the estimates are often read by him into the income measurement, regardless of the assumptions made by the income estimator in arriving at the figures. As a result we find all too commonly such inferences that a decline of 30 percent in the national income (in terms of “constant” dollars) means a 30 percent decline in the total productivity of the nation, and a corresponding decline in its welfare. Or that a nation whose total income is twice the size of the national income of another country is twice “as well off”, can sustain payments abroad twice as large or can carry a debt burden double in size. Such statements can obviously be true only when gualified by a host of “ifs.”
A detail, mentioned at the end of the report, is surely of special interest:
The individual industries included here are photography, undertaking, mausoleum and cemetery operation, social service agencies, athletic, yacht, and country clubs, Y.M.C.A.’s, Y.W.C.A/s, and other services not accounted for elsewhere. Most of these services are of a type not easily curtailed or dispensed with, while social and welfare agencies have had a special reason for increasing since 1929. The number of employees was about a quarter of a million in 1929 and probably increased, or at least did not decline greatly, during the 3 following years (see table 200). The estimated average compensation of employees is probably fairly near the actual situation for 1929 but the trend shown since that year, except that there was probably very little per capita decline, is open to question as far as the country as a whole is concerned. (page 140)
Well, perhaps this is what the briefing says???: “Think of your people and your countries economy and accept: poverty is good for you.” In plain language – and this is very much the underlying gist of IMF and World Bank politics – be nationalist and socially unjust.
I am sure, those who write those reports, will not face what poverty or lack of wellbeing etc. mean.
Of course, this is only the visible, more or less tangible part of the underlying misinterpretation of economics: While calculations may well be correct, fact is – as John Maynard Keynes convincingly wrote in 1936:

Too large a proportion of recent ‘mathematical’ economics are mere concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols.

(Keynes 1936)

Still, if we look at the title of the quoted opus magnum presented by Keynes reads

The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

and we still may remain without considering the entire depth of reference. Of course, not every book can start with all the life stories …- but at least it should commence by focusing on the real life situation and the supply conditions and the relationality that is part of it. – Think about employment conditions that allow flexibility and reduction of working time without lowering wage and without stress caused by any fear, thus possibly causing the GDP to drop, but enabling employees to care for relatives, to be politically active, to follow their “intellectual needs” … As much as items expressed by GDP are mere means to an end, the same is true for employment, the ends not being products and services, the end not being income but “production and reproduction of the immediate life”.

Even Alfred Marshall, rightly criticised for his contribution to the mathematisation of economics, knew better than many who still highlight the centrality of employment today, (and here; and many could be added) knew better. As we can read in the Memorials of Alfred Marshall (edited 1925 by Arthur Cecil Pigou), Pigou states in his own contribution to the book (page 84):

Though a skilled mathematician, he used mathematics sparingly. He saw that excessive reliance on this instrument might lead us astray in pursuit of intellectual toys, imaginary problems not conforming to the conditions of real life: and further, might distort our sense of proportion by causing us to neglect factors that could not easily be worked up in the mathematical machine.

Acknowledging this, there would not have been any need to write to the Queen …

Gach rud is fearr! …

Quick info – just in case: My phone does not work at the moment, thus I also cannot be reached via ordinary phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp or WeChat …

here the little “novel” to it:
Why not reachable? Here you see, first by taking a quote from Graeber’s book:
3. what duct tapers do
Duct tapers are employees whose jobs exist only because of a glitch or fault in the organization; who are there to solve a problem that ought not to exist. I am adopting the term from the software industry, but I think it has more general applicability. ”
…..
On the social level, duct taping has traditionally been women’s work. Throughout history, prominent men have wandered about oblivious to half of what’s going on around them, treading on a thousand toes; it was typically their wives, sisters, mothers, or daughters who were left with the responsibility of performing the emotional labor of soothing egos, calming nerves, and negotiating solutions to the problems they created. In a more material sense, duct taping might be considered a classic working-class function. The architect may come up with a plan that looks stunning on paper, but it’s the builder who has to figure out how to actually install electrical sockets in a circular room or to use real duct tape to hold things together that in reality simply don’t fit together the way the blueprints say they should.
Passi di: David Graeber. “Bullshit Jobs”. iBooks.
Anyway:
(it had been nice chatting with you)
and of course, everything noticed …
(Here are the minutes of the chat
Sunday …
Duration …)
no success, but a lengthy chat with I…, from Portugal, now in Ireland, chatting in German as my phone provider … and probably miserably paid .. but for the time being she likes it – Gach rud is fearr! – everything is good …
Some “tiny things” though — may be it is just a matter off paranoia …
  • There was another Apple-message popping up, from M… – USS – Unknown Supervising Subject ??? I…’s and P…’s big brother…?
  • “probably miserably paid” … – we surely have to think more about precarity and voluntariat – taking the latter term from piece written by Geoff Schullenberger in 2014 in the Jacobin. The point I want to make – as I did already on various occasions – is the following: as relevant as issues of social security, uncertainty are as consequence of a managerial strategy of undermining social rights, the really important thing seems to me the aggressive restructuration of the conditions and strategy of capital accumulation, characterised by the fact that “capitalism dissolutes itself” – something many would welcome, though the real and serious problem is the direction it currently does. A lengthy quote from the Jacobin-article may be allowed:

Coursera’s founders are no doubt aware that translation, no less than software engineering, is traditionally a paid activity done by trained professionals with specialized knowledge (particularly when it involves the kinds of technical vocabularies used in many college courses); otherwise, they would not have sought the considerable financial resources of the Carlos Slim Foundation to facilitate translations of its courses into Spanish in January.

But who needs Carlos Slim’s billions when you can have the courses translated free of charge by “a tight-knit community of committed individuals” enthusiastic about “helping millions of learners” and, well, helping Coursera expand its profit margin?

While joining Coursera’s “community” does not resemble a job in the “getting paid” aspect of things, it does require you to sign a “Translator Agreement,” which makes clear that the relationship between Coursera and members of the GTC is subject to employment law insofar as it ensures Coursera’s complete and perpetual ownership of value produced by employees — or rather, “volunteers” — but in every other respect, it is not a job, just a way to be nice.

  • While talking to I… – actually we had been really chatting a bit (the old Irish country boy  coming through), I was not only thinking about a possibly enthusiastic young women, who did not see any future in Portugal, exited to migrate to the country with forty shades of green, only lacking the sun (that is what she said); I was also thinking about her social security, health services, old-age pension etc. – at least most of those jobs ARE badly paid; and living in a country that refuses to accept the tax-money owed by her employer Apple (a random collection of reading: here and here and here and here), money that could well be used to develop a sustainable infrastructure instead of violently enforcing unsustainable growth)
  • Last, not least and not finally: as I… could not help me, sending me to a shop here in Łódź, I hoped … – la speranza è l’ultima cosa a morire – Nadzieja umiera ostatnia – the hope is the last thing to die …, well, being the last thing does not change ultimate death: they could not help me either, suggesting they could send it for repair and …

Most likely they will have a brief look and replace it with a new one – for 1699 Złoty, it is new, but coming without the box and without cable for charging and without warrantee, A new one in a box, comes with cable and warrantee …., we sell it for 2229 Złoty. that is for the 7, the 8, brand new with box and everything is 2979 Złoty

Everything = even this thingy-thing called Rip-Off, theatre, show

Taking this together – and adding some other things about that I will talk early December (being announced here on the 3rd of December) I suppose Graeber is wrong, saying “BS-jobs don’t pay”. In fact they, part of them do … until the bubble birst, again destroying human lives or this time opening for the 99% re-occupying public space …   under penalty of victory of V.

By Enrique Dans from Madrid, Spain – We are legionUploaded by SunOfErat, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30480799

 

The Vicious Cycle of AIV*

We enter a vicious cycle

Doing what we hate to do,
loosing any virtue
just in order to gain virtuosity which is
in fact nothing else then virtual perfection
– escaping then … into some virtual world
 gaming, drug-binge, bungee experience …
… and in fact the weird excitement of entering with your friend
an exhibition,
getting the spectacles that allow
experiencing the virtual reality
fearing …, not being able to help yourself,
in order to allow helping your friend —
the fear to fall
together from the narrow beam,
so close
– you thought
you would be to heaven,
so close you are
to the ground
awaking, having learned something
* the artificially intelligent virtuality

You should sleep nine hours without dreams. Then you have the day for dreams

Herbert Marcuse supposedly said this …  Is it another version of the words written on a postcard I recently received?

Swim to Nowhere, With No Thoughts.

So there we are worrying about big brother, watching us, algorithms rule the world and with Artificial Intelligence taking over.
Sure, there are important issues linked to these catchwords – though one seemingly tiny point is a negligence, not just as matter of language I suppose.
Just a few mails, from a Spam-poor night, and a mail-free one too. Leaving the obvious SPAM aside, to mails are perhaps even more worrying: the one at the top …, well, is there a term like SPAM-IFICATION? At least it does exist now.
* Instead of thoughtful targeting advertisement and communication in general, we accept the wikiwiki culture, leading us to just throw things out, without much thinking.
* Instead of “academic matchmaking”, I mean: bringing me/us academics in contact with relevant other academics, sites like academia, researchgate … often come to the most confusing proposals: does it really make sense to send me a link to an article on trading chemical products between China and Europe, presumably on ground of the fact that I gave a presentation on OBOR or the fact that I lived some time in China?
* hat is the premium of having access to something that is out of reach in terms of manageability?
over two million papers …? What are the criteria forlinking them …, and when will I be able to read them?
Artificial Intelligence?
Indeed, I read an article some time ago, a short one in a newspaper, talking about
artificial stupidity
… which is too often more characterising.
BUT HANG ON …
Don’t we have to blame ourselves for it – not because of using FB; twitter etc.. It is probably a much more serious problem that we – living and working in academia – accept this world and work being directed by ranking; publishers’ journal sites that manipulate our reading behaviour by aggressively suggesting that “readers of this article also read … — and quoted ….” and boxing our thinking and acting.
A new trinket in the jewel case of administrative stupidity, with which the Polish government (as a Czech friend said yesterday on the phone “we are joining”) is blessing us: every academic, working in a university, has to commit her/himself to two subject areas: sociology, economics, medicine … – sure, they are very broad which may be taken as some comfort. Articles for the assessment of the academic will only be taken into account if it is in line with this self-attribution. What now if I am looking into
as M. Keith Chen did.
What if I am looking at the question of European unemployment insurance in the light of legislation, sociological aspects and the economic development, possibly publishing the results in a journal on European history …?
There is not only direkt and outspoken censorship but also the seemingly “tame brother”,
And predictive shopping is not really new – though earlier it occurred in different forms
(Saw this the other day in Berlin: “What is missing today?” – Bakingpowder, bread, butter, eggs … onions)
Still, there is surely the need to resist …
… though there is also the time … – well, as said the other day I received a postcard, with a colour drawing, not algorithm-based but manufactured in the true sense by the sender, much appreciated by the recipient …, occasionally I allow myself resisting the need to resist, sitting there
and looking at it,
Swim to Nowhere, With No Thoughts
as the few words under the drawing suggest. nd making me think, energizing me … to resist!