Making a Difference

Peter Herrmann, currently research fellow at the Human Rights Centre at the Law School, Central South University, Changsha, PRC, has been interviewed by an Irish radio station – the interview will be broadcasted February 14th, 12:00 hrs. Irish time and can be listened thee by following link The interview is part of a series, titled Making a Difference. It is an interesting format, accommodating reflections on general issues of societal development and political issues and at the same time linking this to questions of personal development and life of the interviewee. Importantly, such format supports or even urges to think about human rights as matter of daily life, in many cases the importance of this dimension not being really perceived. There are, of course, the big questions like racism – a forthcoming book, going back to an event at the human rights centre in 2020 and is looking at different aspects thereof. It is now in print under the title Between Ignorance and Murder – Racism in Times of Pandemics. But equally and mainly we are talking about those issues where rights are embedded in a complex moral and ethical context without which they cannot be understood. In the interview, Herrmann emphasised that for him – working as university teacher and researcher – Making a Difference had been very much a matter of respect, engaging in a communicative act, aiming on understanding the other. Something that requires not least leaving the lecture theatres and seminar rooms. Having been able to live and work in different countries had been a topic frequently coming up in the interview. The answer in a nutshell: “Living as ‘eternal tourist’ is nothing that I would recommend as ultimately “best and only way of life.’ But it surely made a difference, helping me to make hopefully also some difference in the life of people.”

Tanti auguri per il 2021

paura, speranza, luce alla fine del tunnel …. Forse ora si svegliamo, prendendo coscienza del fatto che stavamo guidando ad alta velocità e verso un treno proveniente da altra estremità.


The other day, the App Store announced an update. When are going there the window with the latest security announcement (dictating this, I had to correct announcement, exchange it from “and nonsense”) opened, apparently concerned with some gaming. While I’m not into gaming, I thought I’ll still have a look: data protection is it always somewhat interesting, challenging and not least funny issue. And indeed, some interesting issues can be raised.
1) The operating system of my computer runs in Italian language, however the data protection site opened in German language, apparently taking it from my current location. – being able to read and understand German, I didn’t bother.
2) Still later I thought I’d change the language, not least because I want to do look something up for this blog entry. This is easy as I thought it would be, not least I ended up in the store for apps, but not in the section of data protection. I’m sure, if I would have wasted more time …. Somewhere that will be an English, an Italian, a French, a Swedish … version.
3) Reading through all the information and data protection, security and not least my own control options, more or less at the outset there had been the following sentence
Apple ist der Überzeugung, dass Datenschutz ein grundlegendes Menschenrecht ist. Jedes Apple-Produkt ist daher so konzipiert, dass so wenig Daten wie möglich erfasst und verwendet werden, dass, wo möglich Daten direkt auf dem Gerät verarbeitet werden, und dass höchste Transparenz herrscht und du die Kontrolle über deine Daten hast.
(in translation from the German, thanks to believes that privacy is a fundamental human right. That’s why every Apple product is designed to collect and use as little data as possible, process data directly on the device where possible, and provide the highest level of transparency and control over your data.
Alright then – a Human Right, it means there is no difference, we are born equal and avail of such human right independent of ethnicity, sex, gender, age, maturity, religion, faith and belief etc. — some relief it seems.
4) I flipped through all the information, thought it is a lot of reading, and also thought a lot of  knowledge is required to understand all this – knowledge concerned with technology, jurisprudence, administration … and I thought that human rights are “universal” not least in the sense of non-discriminatory. The UN-website

The international human rights legal framework contains international instruments to combat specific forms of discrimination, including discrimination against indigenous peoplesmigrantsminoritiespeople with disabilitiesdiscrimination against women,  racial and religious discrimination, or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Well, education is not amongst it. Although accessibility to education is frequently mentioned is human right, I am not aware of any mention of a human right independent of the educational status. In other words, availing of human rights may well be dependent on a certain level of education, allowing to access ones rights. Sure, there are various mechanisms in place that ensure to some extent that everybody, even without education, can avail of protection – but that is usually another long way.
5) long ways, having much time …. An important issue when it comes to human rights; and as well an issue that is interesting to look at on a macrolevel. The juridification of modern life does not only require knowledge but also time — and it is societal time, time of society. Let’s have a look at the cost of reading privacy statements:

McDonald, Aleecia M./Cranor, Lorrie Faith: 2008: The Cost of Reading Privacy Policies;; 08/01/19; S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, vol. 4, no. 3 (2008), 543-568

Human Rights – there is much more to it than killing people of colour or silencing political opponents; and as long as the small print is ignored, there is the danger that people feel legitimised to storm the white fortress in order to protect the “superior inmate”.

Reflections for the New Year

Again and again it is said that we are living in unusual times. Of course, in some way it is unquestionably true – taking unusual as exceptional.

Still, I’m wondering if it is not – for some – about returning to usual life, life and what it is really about, including some Jolt of Pure Joy  – taking unusual as ordinary in its most positive understanding of authentic, genuine: wiping away all the stupidities and useless wants that come along with commerce and business and their harsh fairy tale of growth as ultimate goal; perhaps overcoming arrogance, ignorance, dishonest tolerance.

Of course, it is not about all this for all and in every respect: there are still many who barely get the bare necessities; there are people cramped – in a rich city as Berlin – with 14 persons on 100 square meter; there are entire countries living in severe poverty …, obviously I am not speaking about that kind of consumers and consumption but …

Of course, much is replaced by online shopping, still the old ding-dong, veiled in new dresses, the heavy weight now to be carried by … the couriers, badly paid, working under harsh conditions … I am not celebrating these new victims … and yes, a good cuppa or something like that, sitting down in the bar around the corner is something we all miss as we miss the local theatre, the music club and the cinema – many of them possibly not getting back on their legs. Still, perhaps it is a time, an opportunity to pay more respect to the little walk with a friend, an opportunity to talk about the film we saw in our little or large home, perhaps it is the time where we are becoming aware of some essentials …

And perhaps there is something many of us can actually DO. Sure, don’t ask me how many jackets and trousers I have, how old my mobile phone is, how many useless gadgets I own and …. – but I made personally perhaps a small step from words that may be exceptional to what should be ordinary, authentic action. And I offered as well to enter conversations about the books there, socialising the means of production … and perhaps we have to and can think about new ways, collective ways of reflecting and debating ….

The fish rots from the head

To be sure, it is not the worker – and even if it is the worker we have to look at the system in which s/he is engaged. And it is still the responsibility of all of us: complaining as obligation and democratic engagement of citizens -and as we are living in a service society or a society that claims to be a service society, the service provision has to be targeted.
DHL, the little that is left from the public postal service in Germany, now an internationally dominante player in the transport sector, claims for instance on LinkedIn to be highly engaged in activities that are promoted —, ops, promoting social engagement. On the other hand, at least in my experience of the delivery of goods and letters to private users is highly questionable. So far this has been for me a question of not delivering to the door or letterbox, even if I had been definitely in the apartment. Another topic is the fact that includes extremely complicated to get post delivered to one of these 24 hours lockers.  But it’s the most recent experience is just appalling, the way in which complaints are handled. An open letter may give some insight, and definitely expresses my annoyance due to the ignorance and lack of respect I met. I feel sorry for the workers who are pushed into the direction of functioning as machines, cum grano salis “sine ira et studio” as known from Tacitus, later applied by Weber on the bureaucracy, here seen as determining the way in which services are provided: instead of being a matter of public services, guaranteeing the rights of citizens (in this case: the right to free communication), service provision, privatised now, is geared to generating profit, hardly compatible with citizens’ rights and even standing detrimental against consumer rights.— Seems to be far fetched? It is .. but not seeing the complex interaction and dependency of things is exactly the problem: as long as we think in terms of cogwheels we will not be more than instrumental cogwheels; as soon as we begin to understand ourselves as part of a machine, we may be able to develop  alternatives.

Open letter to DHL, German original

Open letter to DHL, English translation,

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning

When I left Rome a couple of years ago I decided to leave my books there, making a donation so that the books and material can be accessed by the public. EURISPES kindly accepted this and took it as opportunity to establish this small collection (so many books I lost over the time due to moving from one place to another and also due to political attacks from the extreme right; not least, university libraries did not accept earlier offers of material which means many EU-(project-) documents from pre-internet times are lost as I could not store them privately) as a foundation for which I propose the name

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning.

Admittedly there is only a small number of those books, I owned during my lifetime, left. Still, I hope that those books left can serve as a foundation stone for an increasing number of books donated by others, offering what educational institutions unfortunately offer less and less: access to books including such books that are not mainstream and not topical in the sense of offering little space for independent thinking behind catchy titles, in other words books that allow studying beyond the usual textbooks. The small and hopefully growing collection contains study material that allows developing independent and critical thinking. Saving space in my own accommodation, socialising the means of production of knowledge and avoiding further damage while moving on had been  important reasons. Furthermore, it had been the experience I made in Rome: the joy of reading in public libraries, being together or at least feeling together with others, experiencing the production of knowledge as a social, collective process. It may sound pathetic, but indeed it would be a great satisfaction for me if I could contribute a wee bit in the creation of such orientation from young scholars (and old peers too, of course).

The library including reading space is located adjunct to the office of EURISPES

  • Istituto di Studi Politici Economici e Sociali, Via Cagliari, 14 – 00198 Roma
  • +39.06.6821.0205 (ra) +39.06.4411.7029

It can be assessed during office hours and I sincerely hope that many people make use of it and also get support and an open space for debate when visiting the library. I haven’t seen the place and do not know if I will ever see it. In any case the satisfaction of knowing about it is great.

I am grateful for support and also for interest.

Peter Herrmann. Prof. Dr. habil.; Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center. Law School at the Central South University, Changsha, PRC

IASQ (The Netherlands); CU (Hungary); IPE (Germany); LU-MSU (Russia); MPISoc.Law (Germany); NUI-M (Ireland); UEF (Finland)

Lushan South Road, 410083 Changsha, Hunan, PRC/

Brainstorming with B

What comes to mind these days when hearing the letter B sheds days?

Of course, Black Friday – walking along the street, looking in the shopping centres, opening a website, switching on the radio … Black Friday is everywhere. Leaving economics aside, one may wonder how it is possible.

Black lives matter – this could be another one; working on a book is coming to an end. It is a book, going back to the public event organised by the Human Rights Centre at Central South University; while the publication is running late, the topic of racism is still an important one. It is about racism in the sense of hostilities and physical attacks against people of colour, including the Chinese, as it is still suggested that the virus is a Chinese weapon against the rest of the world etc.. But there are also more subtle forms of racism as the fear of the West to loose its hegemonic power. It is the hegemonic system,, that systematically caused huge poverty in countries of Latin America and Africa; and economic model which exploited countries on a global scale, not shying away to call that policy developmental aid.

Black humour then – although one has to hold breath seeing a Twitter-message as the following, not least as it doesn’t even look like black humour but is an blunt reflection of the carelessness of exactly that exploitative model that is erected on harsh individualism of the privileged.

The image fo this tweet had been linked from an article, titled Christmas Slopes on the Ropes , informing about restrictions for holiday makers during what is known as festive season – the feast of Christ, once again showing that there is not much in praying for individuals’ support and mercy when it comes to fight for human rights, the rights of people to live and be safe.

Quality … – consistency is everything

Surely unwanted, but done — at the desk, when I paid for the headphones in a market selling multi-media ….The product’s barcode was scanned, and the same moment I have been asked if I wanted to add insurance, the question being accompanied but a brief explanation of what is covered:

if you use the headphones and you are getting dizzy …., well, if the headphones then fall down and are getting damaged, it is covered by the insurance.

Of course, I had been thinking .. not about buying such insurance but about the meaning of quality and what it means in such context of a multi media supermarket (and other outlets, stores, shops and of course also producing entities. A somewhat official definition of quality managements goes like this:

A quality management system (QMS) is defined as a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous basis.

I found it on the website of the American Society for Quality – as they have certification courses in place, I suppose it is somewhat authoritative. Back to the shop and the question then, I assume that the main point about quality is that a consistent system its in place – it reminds me of ISO-standards: in principle they work in a very strange way: you say what the standard is and if it is reached you are good. We have had a discussion on this, in connection with shelter for the homelessness. An organisation offering services for homeless people may set s standard for its performance that only 5 % of the people whom they helped finding accommodation return at some stage to the centre, being homeless again. Wow, that would be success, right? Now, looking at the other side it may become tricky. Let us assume they supported 10 people to find accommodation, two people actually stay in the accommodation, five pass away after sleeping rough on the street during frosty nights, two disappeared … unknown destiny and one actually returned to the organisation, looking for help again, What can be said? I feel glad for the two who have proper accommodation now. I am sad, seeing that such a norm-setting process can claim to be successful as the self-set target is reached and I am upset to see that such quality assessment still allows so much misery in there real world.

Sure, back in the shop …. it is in this perspective complaining on a level of high living standards. But still, I felt tempted to ask if the insurance covers as well the cost for medical treatment or if this would still up to health insurance – an institution that is increasingly under pressure due to privatisation of health services, mismanagement and wrong politics. Well, I resisted temptation.

maintaining mental health

Bill Gates, profession: philantrop and good-doer.
PH, profession: grumpy complainer.


Saw an SUV, standing half on the footpath, a sign saying:

dear police, dear regulatory authority, here it is allowed to park on the footpath, reference §§§….

After walking on for a few meters I return, leaving a note: dear driver, i am wondering if it is about doing what is legally allowed or what is reasonable and thoughtful.
Signed: PH, professor of legal science


Parship und Statistik: alle 11 Min verliebt sich jemand, es macht freilich nur Sinn, wenn sich 2 verlieben und dann noch gegenseitig – Caravaggio ist eh unschlagbar.
Parship hat aber nun neue Plakate – endlich haben die alten Ladenhüter es auch geschafft😈

Parship and statistics: every 11 minutes someone falls in love, but it only makes sense if 2 fall in love and then even fall in love with each other – Caravaggio is unbeatable anyway.
But Parship has new posters now – it seems that finally the old shelf warmers have made it.😈

(in the meantime they changed again: interesting how images of such services change: from originally “selling people”, now selling social relationships and even attitudes – resembling some form of Gleichklang – harmony)


Daily Malice

Seeing this fellow, I felt tempted to find some comforting words like: don’t worry. Even if you look ugly, you may have some inner values … – that is what really counts.
The real and serious point: why is it that they bread dogs, so much against nature? Even leading to the poor fellows suffering ill-health at some stage, e.g. suffocation, spinal dispositioning, hip-problems …


A new laptop, the worst I ever owned. To some extent it is not a problem HP is responsible for (windows 10 is just a disgrace), but to some extent it means there is a good part left for HP: a repair under warrantee had not been undertaken properly; the battery does not keep up with what had been promised (to say the least); and not least the figuration of the machine is overcomplex, thus the opposite of userfriendly, contradictory and not well thought through.
Writing and submitting a feedback (“esteemed customer and user, we highly value your opinion and reporting your experience allows us to improve our performance”) had been another waste of time, a message that had been ignored. On the issue of privacy from my side: I will surely not recommend HP to others.


“I see said the blind man” – one of the favourite phrases, Bob, an old friend of mine, used to say. He surely would have said so, seeing this:

It is a special application, part of a general application. The applicant is asked to complete this form in case s/he needs a barrier-free version, the font-seize surely not allowing access for those who have limited eye-sight.

It reminds me of a toilet, the door hosting a large sign

The problem: the door had been too narrow to access it even with an ordinary small wheel chair

forgetful …

Too often I forget, announcing publications – may be that it is an inner-opposition, an attempt to stand up against the academic system of which we can hear and read again and again how corrupt it is. The book Es werde Licht. Die Einheit von Geist und Materie in der Quantenphysik has another example right at the beginning. Anyway, hear some info on recent publications that may be of interest:

Social Policy Development in the International Context—Social Investment or a New Social Treatise?; in: R.-D. Hepp et al. (eds.), Precarized Society, Prekarisierung und soziale Entkopplung – transdisziplinäre Studien; Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien: 2020;; pp 41-57

The Comedy of Big Data or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, While Corporations Wither Away? In: M. Mulej et al. (eds.), Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance, Palgrave Studies in Governance, Leadership and Responsibility, 2020: pp. 57-92; 3- 030- 46095- 2_3

Цифровизация в контексте прекаризации Digitisation – putting precarisation into context
Получено 09.08.2020 Одобрено 02.10.2020 Опубликовано 10.11.2020 DOI: 10.19181/lsprr.2020.16.4.10

Для цитирования: Херрманн П. Цифровизация в контексте прекаризации // Уровень жизни населения регионов России. 2020. Том 16. No4. С. 119–128. DOI: 10.19181/lsprr.2020.16.4.10
For citation: Herrmann P. 25 Digitisation – Putting Precarisation Into Context. Living Standards of the Population in the Regions of Russia. 2020. Vol. 16. No.4. P. 119–128. DOI: 10.19181/lsprr.2020.16.4.10
Vortrag auf dem Europatag des Diakonischen Werkes Deutschlands und Eurodiakonia; 2.10.2020
Steht der Sozialschutz unter Druck und muss durch die Suche nach Neuregelungen gerettet werden? Oder stehen wir vor der Aufgabe, moeglicherweise Chance, Gesellschaft neu zu denken? Dies ist die Grundfrage, an denen sich die Diskussion von Sozialschutz, Digitalisierung und künstlicher Intelligenz in der EU heute abarbeitet.