social policy … and the value of values

Hum, in general Augustine is classified as theologian and philosopher … – and in general one can suppose that people’s remarks are based at least to some extent on personal experience. If so, and thinking for example about extremely high fees students have to pay, university administrator’s incomes increasing more than that of lecturers, and then looking at the fancy dresses of many priests, I am wondering what to make out of the following:

[I]t was Augustine who proposed to found not only the Christian ‘brotherhood’ but all human relationships on charity. But this charity, though its wordlessness clearly corresponds to the general human experience of love, is at the same time clearly distinguished from it being something, which, like the world, is between men: ‘Even robbers have between them [inter se] what they call charity.’

(quoted from Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, with reference to Augustine’s Contra Faustum Manichaeum)
Annunci

self-degrading academia

I am wondering … – if I should be wondering … – on different occasions I used the blog to describe issues from the academic world, and to reflect upon it. A kind of ‘series” looked into writing references for students and the way universities acted as business: externalize work, disrespect interest of students in learning and look how they fit into prepared boxes – if I am not mistaken this is the latest, and there are several links from there to earlier musings. Well, may be THIS PRESENT one will be the latest, a mail I received – a joke, SPAM, sent by mistake …? In any case hugely disappointing suggesting that to “meet industry expectations” is the primary and outspoken goal of a supposedly academic institution. Annoying to see that they abuse colleagues’ references as point of departure for SPAM-campaigns, looking for support. To be clear, I supported a student’s application – I definitely did not support the university’s programme In actual fact I discussed in several cases with students their choice, trying to make them aware of their steps, Faustian dimension which is not changed by the devil’s new clothes: blank business interest.

Here SPAM letter:

Dear Peter,

 

Thank you very much for serving as a referee and sending us the reference form for one of our candidates who applied to the Master of Science in Business Analytics [MSc(BA)] programme at The University of Hong Kong this year.

We sincerely appreciate the time you spent and the comments you provided to support the candidate’s application, which are critical for us to evaluate and select students who can best fit our programme.

Our programme office will continue to fully support the programme with the aim to meet industry expectations, maximise our resources, and enhance students’ experience. We would greatly appreciate for your continued support to the MSc(BA) programme. If you know anyone who may be interested in postgraduate education in business analytics, you can ask them to reach out to our team or learn more about our programme at our official website.

Thank you again for your support to HKU Msc(BA) programme.

Best Regards,

HsiaoPHui Lee (Dr.)  Programme Director Master of Science in Business Analytics The University of Hong Kong

Copyright © 2017  School of Business, The University of Hong Kong

Our address is  Room 304, Block B, Cyberport 4, 100 Cyberport Road, Hong Kong, China

If you do not wish to receive future email, click here.

A disgrace, indeed ….

Approximately 4,600 miles

Early morning, walking through the countryside, the cityscape, the coastline – somewhere, does the location matter? A glance across fields, the well-known image, familiar from various paintings that can be admired in the museums across the world. Does it matter where it is?
I listen to Dostojevski’s novel The Idiot, the following passage standing out:

“Here’s another alternative for me,” said Nastasia, turning once more to the actress; “and he does it out of pure kindness of heart. I know him. I’ve found a benefactor. Perhaps, though, what they say about him may be true — that he’s an — we know what. And what shall you live on, if you are really so madly in love with Rogojin’s mistress, that you are ready to marry her — eh?”

“I take you as a good, honest woman, Nastasia Philipovna — not as Rogojin’s mistress.”

“Who? I? — good and honest?”

“Yes, you.”

“Oh, you get those ideas out of novels, you know. Times are changed now, dear prince; the world sees things as they really are. That’s all nonsense.

Images and stories, the real life condensed in them, moments … – realities, moments lived according to images and novels … — the old Platonic questions, in simple minds, ad common sense put as question about hen and egg.

But what are these moments, how can we understand them as matter of time?
The opening words of Rüdiger Safranski’s book about time what it does to us, hat we make out of it [Zeit, was sie mit uns macht und was wir aus ihr machen. Hanser, München 2015, ISBN 978-3-446-23653-0] are as follows:
Time, says the Marshall in Hofmannthal’s The Knight of the Rose is a peculiar thing/if we just thoughtlessly live it seems to be nothing/ but then, out of a sudden/ one doesn’t feel anything like it.
We can measure all of it: space, realities, time – the various devices may come to mind as the chronometer, and the means to measure physical existence, it’s chemical composition, magnetic and electronic oscillations … – But how  can we really grasp this …. – matter that is without matter and still completely determines everything that matters. I remember one question I asked the students in Changsha:
Three brothers are living in a house. They truly look different from each other, but if you want to distinguish one from the other, each is like the other two. The first is not there, he returns home. The second is not there, he already left. Only the third is there, the smallest of the three, because without him the other two would not be there. And yet there is the third one, with whom we are concerned, just because the first is transformed into the second. Since you want you look at him, you will always just see one of the other brothers. Now tell me? Are the three perhaps one and the same? Or there are only two of them? Or is it even none? And if you can you tell me their names, you will see three mighty rulers. Together they govern a mighty empire and they are a mighty empire themselves.” (own translation from Michael Ende: Momo; P.H.)
Time completely determines everything that matters … – some people come to my mind: colleagues, acquaintances, students – encounters, casual or not, enjoyed or not, controlled or not, remembered … and somewhat present, if missed or not … .
In this way at least it is probably true what we say:
老师 – lǎoshī – it is not just being a teacher, it is about a lifelong position, a …., a matter?
Lifelong presence in undefinable space, not clear when it comes to its materiality/imagined character. Mind, imagined has nothing to do with illusionary. Instead, it is about the power we all have, the necessity to acknowledge responsibility to resist. Of course, always determined, limited as
[m]en make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, ….
These the words used by Marx in the Eighteenth Brumaire.
***
The 8th of July 2018 …, a very concrete time and place and matter: in Changsha my laoshi of special kind, celebrate their graduation. 4,585.20 miles away from where I am now, and still close. It is about the students of the “first intake” at Bangor College China (2014), my students who also had been my teachers – there had been so much hard work, efforts, failures, illusions, deceptions … Illusions and disillusionments …. – and so many others involved: non-students, non-lǎoshī. And what really mattered over the years, matters  at this very moment …, and will matter in the future of all those who play(ed) on this stage is not this piece of paper, testifying for the students their achievements – with which they live, which make them saleable; testifying the staff in one way or another the money they gained or earned; and testifying for some the power they gained or failed to gain on the ranking vanity fair …. [some further reflections can be found in the contribution Challenges for Education in an International Setting; more is published here].
A flow of timespacematter merged, condensed in an event, graduation as celebration but perhaps also a distraction by eventialisation, … eventialisation … eventually they, we got here, eventually as concrete result, as the concrete which is the condensation of the many-multifold – Marx wrote about it in The Grundrisse
The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse. It appears in the process of thinking, therefore, as a process of concentration, as a result, not as a point of departure, even though it is the point of departure in reality and hence also the point of departure for observation [Anschauung] and conception.

And it is also the condensation as the concrete on which the future can and will develop: concrete – also the concrete as matter, the firm ground which allows to stand and develop power, the pouvoir, the ability each of us, of them has … and will develop further as Foucault insists.

A large plain, timespacematter for each as individual, as personality … and still – it was a permanent topic when I was together with a friend of those days – a plain of gain only when it is walked on together: emerging as reality of lived life in real spaces when the different images and stories are put together like a jigsaw with different optional results, not as volens purum – and equally not resulting by way of nolens volens.

***

Early morning, walking through the countryside, the cityscape, the coastline – somewhere, does the location matter? A glance across fields, the well-known images, familiar from various paintings that can be admired in the museums across the world. Does it matter where it is? A novel … whatever it is, it will be about the best of our world, the Candide-world.
Images and stories, the real life condensed in them, moments … – realities, moments lived according to images and novels … — the old Platonic questions, in simple minds, ad common sense put as question about hen and egg.
Altro tempo. Non c’è più. Arrivato e fuggito. Rapidamente. Ma sempre soggiornare.

Dead Clowns

meaning, relevance, sense – questions people who live are too often compelled to leave them to philosophers …. – like issues of production as reproduction of real life are, on the other hand left to people while economists read in tea-leaves of heroic, even quasi-divine formulas that are distant from peoples’ and people’s life — just remaining meaningless and non-sensual.
Some time ago already – after I gave a presentation at the Symposium organised by the European Academy of Sciece and Arts – looking at
a later presenter was carried way by
Several month later, by accident, I was getting nicely aware of the misleading question of humanoid robots replacing humans, spotting by accident a clip showing
Baseline? There is no real danger of human beings becoming replaced – the danger is that some Kurzweil’ig ‘systems’ are brought forward by those sigularitarian minds in their Plutocratic caves [see Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else]. The danger is that some powerful forces succeed in reducing us to mindless clowns, caught in Platonian caves – the circle of virtuality emerging as vicious circle, its life depending on he fact that no needle will be used, by nobody.
Mind, all this is not really about  Humanoid toys – it is about comedians and actors like Beppe Grillo in Italian politics, natioal citizens attacking fellow citizens from other countries, narcissistic tyrants rethinking the liberty statue and overlookin the old rebukes
Skerbischs „Lichtschwert“ vor dem Opernhaus Graz
Von Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner – Eigenes Werk, Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5016791
And yes, it is also about administer-infantilisation.
Overcoming humankind, if it then happens, won’t be much else then the
(EN)

« My makeup is dry and it clags on my chin
I’m drowning my sorrows in whisky and gin
The lion tamer’s whip doesn’t crack anymore
The lions they won’t fight and the tigers won’t roar »

(IT)

« Il mio trucco si è asciugato e cola sul mio mento
Sto affogando i miei dispiaceri nel whisky e nel gin
Il domatore di leoni non da più colpi di frusta
I leoni non si azzufferanno più tra loro e le tigri non ruggiranno »

 

 

Social Networks and Network Effect

Today these are keywords, snatch mechanisms and catch tools – firmly anchored in many lives, seemingly providing a second skin, solidified to an extent that the idea they could disappear one day, even attempts to a controlled use as outlined in the Cor Orans occurs as weird, absurd.
But what harm one may say – looking at the wikipedia-List of social networking websites is somewhat instructive: Many of the early ones had been about people ‘just meeting’ or joining for a specific purpose as ADVOGATO, defining itself as ‘the free software developer’s advocate’. – May then be that we should not worry about these networks, instead look at their use? But then again, isn’t another great hit ‘social capital’, community building, self-orgainsation and solidarity? Sure, terms could and should be twisted and turned, social networking – its structures and use – needs to be controlled. Finally all this is not least about social responsibility – the term nowadays so often discussed with the little extension ‘corporate’- Actually not at all a new topic. Milton Friedman – writing under the title

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

in The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970 contends:

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

A bit later this is followed by the statement

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it correct that

in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Indeed, this had been already issued much earlier – namely by Thortstein Veblen who wrote in 1904

The motive of business is pecuniary gain, the method is essentially purchase and sale. The aim and usual outcome is an accumulation of wealth.[.] Men whose aim is not increase of possessions do not go into business, particularly not on an independent footing (Veblen, Thorstein, 1904: Theory of business Enterprise: New York: Charles Scribers: 20)

There is another general point to it: Economics is since David Ricardo obsessed by the idea of comparative advantage – though originally not focusing on individuals, it is of course still based in methodological individualism: individuals act as individuals, do what they are good at, and the aggregate is a ‘supposed social’.

A recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung brought back to my mind that we also have to make sure that we do not forget any of these issues, and any of these Social Networks. The article, published on May, the 20th 2018, 09:51hrs, is titled
Aufsichtsräte. Deutschlands Netz der Macht/Board of Directors. Germany’s Net of Power.
And there are so many scandalous things mentioned … – these directorates: the chairs of the 30 DAX-enterprises get in average 408,000 Euro which seems to be a nice little top-up, commonly adding to incomes that are extremely high anyway. Just Bilderberg – like … ops: Bilderbuch [picture-book]-like incomes – yes ops, yes, there is this Bilderberg-conference, there is a World Economic Forum, there is the Club of Madrid, there is the  Mont Pèlerin Society … – well, in the case of these gatherings we may not have to talk about additional income …, perhaps … – the payment for giving a presentation …, peanuts … when it comes to money we are here talking about dimensions that are negligible – at some some stage, beyond a specific threshold, it is simply getting ridiculous and we should talk about the need of psychological control – of people and societies. Here it is surely about additional power.

Il denaro regola il mondo

Money governs the world

Pecuniam regit mundi

Geld reguleert de wereld

L’argent gouverne le monde

돈이 세상을 지배하다

At stake is, however, … a kind of oxymoron or paradox. There is the simple network effect: they know each other, communicate with each other … – it is a ‘manageable circle’, the borders so tight that even leaks aren’t able to emerge. The problem is of course not that they meet for probably extensively expensive dinners – instead it is about … – ‘corporate social responsibility’, the fact that these are interlaced social networks with a clear goal and strategy:
In fact it is this network effect that secures success, make it even possible. The point here is, however, there contradictory effect. Social networks are getting more powerful as more people are part of it – the simple example is the little joy to have the only telephone in the universe – you have the item but you cannot use it. If at least one other person has a phone, you can talk – getting a bit of joy out of it. If everybody has one, communication may become universal – and in some way communication is power: you are empowered to reach out, to speak, to develop things together with others … – or, of course, also to influence others. However, the networks that are looked at here, depend on their exclusivity: the smaller the group that executes the control over a huge pool of resources, as larger the power, the influence. We may speak of an inverse network effect. — Anything new?
Well, surely one thing: The ’new’ aspect is that we are now not least dealing with ‘controllers’ and ‘directors’ who are not immediately owning the means of production. At the same time, many of the owners – or better to say: the primitive accumulators, are actually in some way disappearing, for instance Gates as well as Soros showing up on the stage of humanitarian help and supposed world liberation respectively.
May we say in this light that, taking the perspective of national origin – possibly the most ’successful’, and equally most dangerous, are Ireland and Italy  – in the first case it is explicitly a U2-showman, claiming the role of a global politician, in the second case an even further step is made: a M5S-comedian, switching on five startling stars to enlighten a country that feels in many respects happy by maintaining the status of a sleeping beauty of a special kind.
— Again though: anything new?
As we know from Matthew 13: 11ff.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

Well, political and enforced self-control obviously included.

Hot air …

Some time ago I talked to Rainer – the gist and my suggestion: we need a new approach when it comes to digitisation – and part of it is to look at the side of capital – not simply as ongoing concentration and centralisation  – or as matter of concentralisation as I call it, but by focussing on …, well, that day I said money laundering. Sure, more appropriate is the debate under terms as over-accumulation/devalutation as Paul elaborated.

[Yes, such sermon as the following needs slow reading, or slow listening, making sure that one gets every single word of nonsense, of being fooled …].
Sometimes, spotting Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on the new in-store experience, or listening/reading about Microsoft’s next Act, presented by Satya Nadella, I am wondering about change and stability.

For the second I would say that all this stands in the well-known tradition of ripping people off, extensively using different forms of brain-washing . The change is also clear I guess: the times of good fairy tales is over.

[royalty free from https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-rotten-apples-compost-heap-allotment-site-image59349576]

The hope for more change – Snow White found a prince to revive her – let us hope that today men and women awake themselves, seeing the rotten fruit.

Today – an Era?

Contemporariness-Society, it seems that this may a useful term characterising part of today’s Zeitgeist: a society that is exists in the presence, fades out its emergence from history, and fades out its developing character into the future, with this strangely enough counteracting its real self: presence is only happening in the one location, and with this the factual globality is apparently getting lost: only the we/I and the now/here counts.

(https: //irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/2f1f8bea/dms3rep/multi/tablet/ES-JCR1-1814×1208.jpg)

Not claiming to be based on a systematic study, it is interesting to see that soccer and the EUropean migration question had been heading the weekend journals while the elections in Turkey, a truly historical and existential issue, had been sidelined. As if the Turkish history – past, presence and future – is happening without us and we could happen …, sorry: act without Turkish history. Yesterday democracy faced a major challenge and failed to master it – a victory on paper, qualified by a high price. Today democracy faces new challenges which we have to master

and this challenge does not exist since yesterday – it is about Saviour and sultan, ally and foe – west in a bind over Erdoğan