Post-modernism can be seen to be the discourse of cognition without an intention of intellectual reconstruction.
E. Kiss, Hungarian Philosopher
Post-modernism can be seen to be the discourse of cognition without an intention of intellectual reconstruction.
E. Kiss, Hungarian Philosopher
On the occasion of my recent visit in Warsaw were I attended a conference on which the translation of one of my books had been launched I had been after my presentation asked by Jan Smoleński from Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique), an organisation of the Polish left if I would be available for an interview. Dealing with a critique of current developments and looking for the fundamental politial-economic shifts in particular in the EU-member states over the last decade(s), the interview is now available on the website of the organisation.
A recent mail (24/05/2011 12:45) had been circulated by the President of UCC – showing the lack of dealing with current challenges. And to be clear: I do not consider this as personal failure of anybody involved in the following, and only to a limited extent as personal merit in other instances.
Quickly from the mail – it states:
I wrote to you on 11th April 2011, asking you to participate in the QS academic peer review 2011 and I write again to remind you to please participate in this exercise. QS has informed UCC that the closing date for participating in the academic peer review has been extended to 14th June 2011.
As you know, there are a number of university ‘league tables’ which influence the perception and standing of universities worldwide. In 2010 over 20 million people viewed the QS University World Ranking with more than 600 newspapers and other media publishing the results. A critical part of the methodology employed by the QS World University Ranking is to undertake an academic peer assessment through a process of consultation with the global academic community. This involves the completion of an electronic questionnaire and accounts for 40% of the overall assessment. In 2009, 9,300 academics completed the questionnaire and in 2010 15,000 academics completed the questionnaire. Maximising participation in the QS academic peer review represents a significant opportunity for UCC to improve its world university ranking position in this particular ranking scheme
In an attempt to raise UCC’s the profile, I am requesting that all UCC academics contact at least three non-UCC academics and ask them to complete the questionnaire, which can be accessed at the following link – ….
It is important that the academics you contact understand the importance of UCC improving its University world ranking and that they complete the questionnaire by 14th June 2011.
To assist you in undertaking this task I have included at the end of this email a draft text for emailing to academic colleagues.
Thank you for your assistance,
As the mail had not been marked as confidential I have the clandestine hope that I will not be sacked for quoting it. And having written before
> I do not consider this as personal failure of anybody involved
is not meant as friendly gesture of excuse. I think we are facing a serious structural problem here.
Should we really look for such peer-review – and can we honestly do so?
Just two small incidences may show why I am sceptical – again, no personal failures, no personal merits.
Case one: If a mail is sent (from a colleague in the department) to a responsible person in the same department, making a serious proposal which is linked to discussions on the development of a new course and is not answered this may be simply considered as bold, forgetfulness or work-overload. However, it may also be seen in another way: The proposal did not fit in the overall business strategy (not a personal orientation but one of the National University of Ireland, HETAC, OECD etc.pp.), thus it is reason enough to ignore it. – It may be interesting to mention on this occasion that an earlier mail, fitting into such business strategy, had been answered by a mail sent (by the same ‘responsible person’) by mail which had been sent on a Saturday (or Sunday – can’t trace it now).
Case two: Working in different institutions, i.e. also teaching at different universities (something celebrated as UCC’s and the schools assets during the last review: international reputation) requires some special logistics, for instance organising marking exam papers not in the comfort of the home institution office but somewhere abroad. This is a somewhat common procedure. One university where I am teaching has a well staffed administration that makes sure that (where applicable) exam papers are scanned at the end of the exam day and sent for correction – and ‘well staffed’ means as well that people are not stressed out though well organised and hard working. UCC is entirely understaffed – and lecturers support each other [better to say here: support me, and the school’s reputation] with scanning and sending documents.
Is this what the President wants to be evaluated?
Courses – new and old – should not be set up as matter of business strategies but as matter of a meaningful academic work, as matter of contributing to new teaching, teaching new matters and systematically fostering relevant research.
And academic work needs bureaucracy, management – but one that has sufficiently scope to support the development of the academic work and reputation.
If anything should be ranked it is the role an academic institution fulfils in the democratic development of society of which it should be part rather than striving for positions in ranking lists of which in the meantime even the European Commission knows, stating already in a 2008-Press release (Reference: IP/08/1942 – Date: 11/12/2008) the need for
a new multi-dimensional university ranking system with global outreach
knowing that the currently still used systems are extremely limited in their meaning (to say the least).
Well, Mr President, alluding to one of our sayings*
You surely point out ‘the right way from here’ – but you should consider if we really want to go there.’
* after explaining the way, completing by saying ‘but I would not start from here’
Now available is a new publication which may revive an old and never ended debate:
Jacob Kornbeck / Niels Rosendal Jensen (Eds.): Social Pedagogy for the Entire Lifespan. Volume I.
Es editor of the series Studies in Comparative Social Pedagogies and International Social Work and Social Policy I am glad to make this announcement. The book is published with Europäischer Hochschulverlag in Bremen. My personal of working internationally in the area of social professional activities convinces me of the importance to develop an unprejudiced discussion. I hope my own contribution in the volume, titled
The Lifespan Perspective in Comparative Social Policy Research: a Critique of Gøsta Esping-Andersen’s Model of Three Welfare States and its Implications for European Comparisons in Social Pedagogy
will give some useful perspective, not least aiming on developing a more political perspective as framework and questioning Esping-Andersen’s position which I find (to say the least) rather limited in its ongoing repetition of a perspective that maintains to fail to provide an understanding of the welfare state, just by reproducing the cage of traditional ‘welfare capitalism’. With this he falls short in developing a truly historical perspective, repeating the pitfalls of affirmative policy orientations of social science in general and social policy in particular.
Visit for further details the website of the series Studies in Comparative Social Pedagogies and International Social Work and Social Policy. The book can also be ordered in the usual ways, including of course your local bookshops and Amazon.
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Добро пожаловать в Москву, Питер – I don’t really understand a word, only that hostage finally begins. Тимофей? – Yes, that is me, indeed! Timofey is my host, well a kind of. As usually on these occasions, especially in countries like Taiwan, Japan, Poland, Russia, Moldova I am well looked after. Not that it would be only in these countries – in other places it is just a different way: More familiar? Less formal? More privately or at most semi-institutionalised? As nice as it is having the comfort of a limousine waiting and all worries taken away, the new worry is the lack of freedom. Or better to say: the different forms of freedom. At least I enjoy after the more or less long trip to be freed from the luggage, the liberty of moving around without worrying abut language (and my lack of knowing it) ….
Entering the country – not being allowed to use the control boot for Russian citizens, the need to produce the documents: passport, visa, diplomatic ID – in some way it is for all of us a matter of exclusion: exclusiveness created by the establishment of an unholy trinity: the citizen, defined by the nationality of the country of destination; the non-citizen, defined by the country of destination and by the country of origin; and the super-(-non-)-citizen – defined by a universal un-belonging, being distinguished by being not really one of us nor truly one of them and not even one belonging to somebody else. Here it is somewhat real: quartium non datur.
… coming back to the free movement and language …, it reminds me of a visit in Wroclaw a couple of years ago. I gave a presentation on a meeting which had been organised by the Democratic Women’s Union in Poland – and as actually everything had been in Polish language I had been encouraged to enjoy myself after the short performance I had to make. That is what I did, well looked after by two people, who showed me the beautiful city and not least the hidden places, not seen by the ordinary tourist. In the evening, however, we returned to the others, to be correct: we met with the small group that had been organising the meeting. A small dinner – small in term of simplicity, of ‘this is what people really eat and drink’. Well, yes: and drink. Though I didn’t drink alcohol, it surely had been part of the gathering and we just enjoyed ourselves, laughed, discussed, disputed – chatted also but private things. At one point the conversation between the chairwoman and myself came to a halt. And speaking of a ‘conversation between the chairwoman and myself’ of course means that actually the translation stopped. Instead of translating, the others – hostess and chairwoman – engaged in conversation. For me it sounded somewhat harsh, confrontational …, and it soon turned out: the hostess/translator refused to translate, thinking what she had been asked to translate would be too …, too intimate, should not be translated – and after finally translating ‘against her will’, the relationship of all of us had been better then ever before. – Openness helps … .
I have to think about it frequently these days – when meeting my host-translator and thinking about the one who helped me when I had been here last year: the obedience version, submissive and keen to be useful; versus the proud version, knowing that all is a matter of exchange, real exchange as part of a ‘productive relationship’. Surely the lack of openness explains to some extent that I have little intention, little drive to do during the breaks all the things other would panting for. – Sure, I cannot put all the blame on him. Another reason is me, my silly, lazy me, lacking energy, standing in front of the mental kerbstone. But I can pass that also on as this kerbstone is heritage of my implanted Protestantism – even if I left my protestant coat long time at the cloth rack of a state-office, unregistering my church-membership, I left my infiltrated brain in the head which I still have. And finally, I had been definitely brought up in a house which celebrated this protestant spirit – and all my protest didn’t help and doesn’t help. Anyway, trusting Martin Luther it seems at least that Jesus did not suffer to take the cross from our shoulders. 1534, Luther opines in a letter:
Jesus, who wanted to place you at this place as his tool, may fill you with the spirit of joy and eagerness to create plenty of fruit in his grace.
Here the German original – in case my own translation doesn’t satisfy you:
Der Herr Jesus, welcher euch zu seinem Werkzeug an diesen Platz setzen wollte, erfuelle euch mit dem Geiste der Freudigkeit und Strebsamkeit um recht viel Furcht zu schaffen nach seiner Gnade.
Still, briefly coming back to the other question. There may well be some gender dimension to it. Tatjana, some readers may know her – or they may read about here at one stage, Katerina, Timofey – and with gender issue I do not refer to the fact that I am male. Perhaps there is a specific self-confidence, perhaps there is also some special meaning in the fact that the Western fatherlands find their analogy here in the more frequent reference to the mother country. – And what do we then think about the high heals that are so common here? Expression of having an overview? Expression of raise – spirit of as matter of a ‘silent upheaval? –Erhebung – Erhobenheit – Erhabenheit – and in any case a broken back.
After – for Moscow – a reasonably short time we arrive at Moskovskij Gosudarstvennyj Universitet, the old, majestic building – the one of the ‘Seven Sisters‘ standing on Sparrow Hills.
Later, I am entering the building – after going through another bureaucratic procedure. Now I have a special pass, stating something I cannot read but that makes me ‘one of us’, one of those allowed to freely enter and leave the building.
It is a majestic building, a massive building and a building which is in its architectural outlay and positioning rather interesting. I am mentioning it the first morning, while jogging through the large green area around the main building: parks, forest, sports grounds …, I nearly get lost. The building is frequently getting lost – I loose sight of it though knowing it is ‘there’, close but still not visible. – Instead of seeing the edifice, I watch the sunbeams making their way through the leaf canopy, showing the spider webs of the early morning and dance of the dust particles and pollen which is later covering the cars like a silken quilt of snow, allowing to see the mosquitoes venerating the light with their ballet – the haze of the air making good for the missing music. Later, when I am on the road next to the building I try finding my orientation by looking at the four sides …, I still do not know exactly to which extent they are equal to each other, symmetrically build and to which extent they differ. And interesting then looking not just at the massive building but also recognising the details.
– One may say like real life: what looks massive from the distance is dwarfing, disappearing when we are next to it, becomes so much part of the present that we do not recognise it in its distinctiveness. And what is so close, allows us to look at the all the details, the festooning of the walls, the difference given by shades and light – and the perspective we take …
… it is all about histories and history. Against may habit I pause while I am jogging: at the monument in the little park opposite of the entrance to the wing in which I am accommodated: 1941-1945 – the flames of the eternal fire, which is part of the monument waver in the lite wind of the early morning. It is still very quite – some birds singing, occasionally the sound of the engine of a bus, sounding as if it would enter from another world. From history, bare of the histories, an overview is quickly gained.
– The other day, reading the Moscow newspaper: the awakening extreme right, even the fascists creeping out of their little holes-in-the-wall, I know even better why I am pausing: a short but honest acknowledgment of what happened during those years, and what found its roots not leats in the country of which I still have the passport.
If we agree with the interpreting the concrete as ‘a synthesis of many determinations, thus a unity of the diverse’
(Marx, Karl [1857/58]: Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58 [First Version of Capital]: in: in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 28: Marx: 1857-1861; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1986: 38)
, we may also say the concretised, condensed, monumentalised history is the position we take towards and the interpretation of – past, present and future – reality.
The first morning I am collected at the main entrance – this day is all about the meeting at the All-Russian Centre of Living Standard, contacts I still have from other opportunities, a net spanning amongst others between Rome, Ankara, Berlin and Amsterdam – the small Cork, that is me, somewhat in the dragrope. And of course, being in Moscow, it had been an opportunity to meet. ‘We’ll organise a small seminar’, Evgheni told me when we talked the first time about my visit. ‘It would be a great opportunity to get a little bit more known about the Social Quality.’ Fine with me and so I am collected at the main gate of the old university building in the morning at 8:30. Wisdom: a short walk to the Metro-station. ‘It would be foolish to take the car. We have to go the other end of the city.’ It would have been silly indeed not only for traffic reasons -I still remember last year’s nightmare when I had been brought by car to the airport; but travelling by Metro also allows some sightseeing. It even gives a little insight into history of the country’s politics, as expressed by the Metro. The very ‘ornamental period’, showing the achievements and also celebrating the achievers, the ‘imperial style’, the very simple building – different political periods and also different economic periods … – and surely also just different standards of, views on beauty. And the little ‘individual stories’: Kropotkin station, the cathedral, the basilica, as some want it: being destroyed, the grabble used for building a public swimming pool … – At the other end of the city …, including changing the metro line, and including getting of just to look at the remarkable Пло́щадь Револю́ции (Ploshchad Revolutsii) station means a trip of about one hour: fast, and only very short times waiting for the next train. And it means standing cramped between people: tired faces; people reading the newspapers; others holding books and changing from time to time with some effort from page to page; and several people around holding an e-reader in their hand, scrolling through the text. Not less sure: many engaged in vivid chats. – We leave the train …, yes, it seems “this my world” cannot do without cars: the Institute’s driver is already waiting with the limousine at the metro station where we get off, driving us the short way to the Institute. The small seminar turns out to be a larger event, the conference room is packed – two ‘reports’ given, followed by a discussion. I begin with my presentation – and Subetto is asked to raise some questions before the floor is opened for questions from the audience. Then Subetto’s presentation on ‘The social quality of the life as a rart (component) of the system of modern qualitativism’ – interesting, wide-ranging from Aristotle to today’s environmentalist challenges. First now, it is up to me: my right to begin with posing questions – sure, I have some questions, but I fell also obliged. And in my mind I anticipate already to upcoming meeting in Vilnus at Mykolas Romeris University next month: viva voce, one on ‘The Impact of Information Technologies on Increasing Efficiency of the Health Care Institution: analysis, evaluation and effectiveness’, the other on ‘Family Policy Formation In Lithuania’
So much bureaucracy before – the ‘review of the reviewers’, providing the documents, the verification of status … – and after they first told me I would participate via skype, I had been told ‘another life-show’, another two days travelling in order to be four hours or so present. – But as formal as that will be too, I will not have a gown in my suitcase, actually I will not have a suitcase – travel light, tough life is not necessarily easy then.
Back to the All-Russians. Both discussions are rather interesting – the one dealing with a more traditional, well-ordered, power-point scaffolded presentation – which nevertheless brings some powerful points forward; the other trying to capture complexity ….
… how to deal with it: complexity and the means we have for capturing it? The other day, last Sunday in Istanbul, I visited an exhibition in the Pera Muezesi: works of İhsan Cemal Karaburçak. And he had been struggling with the same question, saying:
When I paint, I am not concerned about the things in the back or foreground. What matters to me is to draw a two-dimensional picture on a two-dimensional canvas. Lending perspective is both easy and equally deceptive.
But he equally said
I am a painter of colour. Since the sun kills all the colours, I may be inclined to like nature more when it grows dark.
But perhaps all this is not really about complexity or its neglect and instead we are looking more a different qualities. The other day I am getting aware if this, being on the globalistics conference, talking about economic developments, engaging in seemingly abstract development-calculations, looking at the graphs with the more or less differentiated curves, contesting calculations but more discussing the underlying definitions of the variables …
Or should we say instead
Terms and terminology are surely limited in grasping what we are actually looking at – it is also the experience from the day before when I walked from Kropotkin – the basilica is there again – along Lenin library to the Red Square, around the Kremlin, looking at the GUM and then standing in front of the Mausoleum, remembering the various memorial inscriptions on the wall behind it. Even not being here for the first time it is in some way so different. I saw so many historical places, celebrations of the great men, rarely women of history, engaging with so many great thinkers – dead since long time and still relevant: alive in their own way. And in several respects not much is different here: like Paris, Berlin, Dublin … – and still, there is something different too. Even if it is the celebration of ‘great men and events’ here too, there is some part of that carries also another message: it had been the great men, the great events that actually had been nothing else than the concretised, condensed, monumentalised history not in the position we take towards and the interpretation of – past, present and future – reality. It is the monumentalisation of peoples’ engagement and practice. It is especially here that I feel it – perhaps to some extent because it is in some way also MY history, MY practice – in the understanding of “a practice in which I took in some way part”. Surely only mediated: through the reading of so much of the countries unforgettable literature: Nikolai Leskov, Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, the often forgotten, unknown Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Maxim Gorki …. Literature from later years too. And only parts of the history of other contries is so familiar to me: Seghers’ and Brecht’s Germany, Balzac’s France for instance – but rarely merging in such close way as here: the everyday’s struggles, the political battles and the ‘great men’ …
But indeed, I came here to work. I am happy for Timofey. Seeing him about an hour before the workshop in which I am actively taking part in the debates with Andrey and Leonid – we know for some time now from the work on the Almanac History & Mathematics – I see how nervous he is. Finally I could give him some stuff for the preparation of the translation. But still: I told him again and again: I won’t read this. Flow with the crow – it does not mean opportunism but engagement with reality.
He is a little bit a nerd if this is the correct term. And he is surely caught in prejudices: still the Golden West – and surely a most appropriate issue for this conference. Listening to the various presentations is surely enlightening – leaving those aside who present more an ideology or themselves than anything else, ignoring those how are only here because they want to be seen rather than see, those who want to be engaged rather than engaging themselves in cooperation. It is in particular interesting as it clearly shows one of the central difficulties we have in social science – and in real life: the loss of a common …, not language: practice. And it is the paradox that we really see in everyday’s life and we need to reflect more upon. Apparently, seemingly we grow ever closer together. And nevertheless, in actual fact it is only a space of non-communication, of deception that emerges and in which we get absorbed. – And, for me at least, the question following me all the time is to which extent I am actually truly engaging in and aiming on simple and genuine cooperation in order to enhancing knowledge and knowledge-based practice. The other way round: I also have to make sure that ‘I make a living’ rather than allowing pure life to disappear.
I mention it permanently, as I occasionally (or permanently even) have to leave this real, present world – presence as matter of time and space. The pressure to interrupt what I am doing here and now: work on the book which I edit together with Bernadette – now, at its final stage it requires frequent communication; the involvement in an EU-FP7-project – I didn’t step out as others did, using their senses and avoiding work-overload, and as I actually ended up with more work then expected, doing part of the work of those just mentioned, I have to maintain contact with Anna – and I also have to look after things with Bálint in Budapest and Aitor in Barcelona; the membership on the committee for the Stockholm conference, and the jury for the Jörg-Huffschmid award 2011 …., Vanessa mailing from Athens – of course last minute-question; other projects …- and not least the reminders I feel obliged to send as people do not come back with promised and/or needed information. All this requires stepping out of the flow of living globally, roaming around in different places, the different local universities, research centres and coffee-shops and tea-houses, the debates and chats with ‘the locals’; and it means going back to the ‘global centre’. As I wrote on an earlier occasion – in the post PHILOSOPHY ON KERBSTONES III – … AND DANCE:
The tension we face, choosing between the small, local place in the alley way – sitting on a stool for a tea – and reducing our communication to those we know: limited by knowledge of language, of culture and the lack of a wireless internet connection – and the star pubs, the shamrock pub and the coffee shop we know from Barcelona, Munich, Helsinki, Budapest, Taipei, Melbourne, Rome – and even the Campus of the university in Cork: One world as we always wanted it, the security of knowledge, of knowing, of accessibility – the world present in this place, wherever it is located; and the rest of the world also present: free internet.
And there is surely much deception in both worlds – and even more if we think about leaving the local, diving into the global. Which direction do we have in mind? Entering the global by entering the for us alien, beguiling local market of a country we visit and leaving this global by entering the weird wireless world, defined by a code without any smell, without any taste and sound: html – High Technic Minimalised Life?
A conference break – I retreat, sit down on the edge of the well in front of the memorial: 1941-1945. The venue of the conference is close – nevertheless it is quite, tranquil. It reminds me of a visit to to the concentration camp near Nordhausen. I remember the one year – I had to go there on my own: it is …. a beautiful spot. The forest, at the time the blossoming flowers, the trees with the bright green leafs, nourished by the sun of late April – a beautiful place and part of European history that we cannot imagine – indeed, as Jean Mialet, French survivor said
History – so different, so many histories and so different places. Sitting there I look into the sky, see the clouds moving, allowing me a glimpse of real life, unlike the life of traffic …. that turmoils on the nearby street.
I am actually not so negative or positive about one or the other – as long as we are allowed to control the borders. And mind: we are we – not me nor you.
Is that the reason behind making survival for the prophet easier in another country than his/her own? The stranger as mentioned by Georg Simmel: the one of which we can be sure that he leaves as well – and doesn’t reveal the subterfuge. And is that stranger able to stand against the other stranger – the one for whom three dimensions, the 3-D, does not mean the free movement in time, space and action therein but simple a dirty, dangerous and degrading job.
Zygmunt Bauman makaes an on page 1o of his article ‘From Agora to the Marketplace, and Whereto from Here?‘ an important point.
In an insecure world,
and he elaborates that this is a world that is made insecure by interested political-economic groups
security is the name of the game. Security is the main purpose of the game and its paramount stake. … It is a value that in practice, if not in theory, dwarfs and elbows out from view and attention all other values – including the values dear to ‘us’ while suspected to be hated by ‘them’, and for that reason declared the prime cause of their wish to harm us and our duty to conquer and punish them. In a world as insecure as ours, personal freedom of word and action, right to privacy, access to truth – all those things we used to associate with democracy and in whose name we still go to war – need to be trimmed or suspended … Or at least this is what the official version, confirmed by the official practice, maintains.
Children – in their play – imagine almightiness, want to be and imagine to be magicians. Waving the magic wand is sufficient to change the world; spreading out the arms, defining them as wings makes us fly; setting fourth an idea makes it become real. Adults lost this; so they explore – in their play – things, they say ideally by positivist approaches. But again and again it is history they want to explore, look at the other or even more investigate the history of the other. It is so attractive as the subject is concluded, cloistered. No change is needed and no change is even possible. And there is obviously a limitation to exploration that makes it even more attractive: the many blanks, not verifiable. Open to nearly any projections. The ideas the child uses in the play to change the here and now are translated by the adult into the projections: the other, the past – the different interpretations.
Looking at the scripture on the old papyrus allowing us to see the greatness of humankind – or allowing us to see how little really changed.
It is so difficult to understand the true history, the history of histories and to make it part of the own life – not the life in some self-erected cloister, not the life of the hedonist, cocooned individual but the life of every social human being:
Which can well be seen as a stricter wording for what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic.
In any case, it clears the way for moving forward, recognising that
There is time left after the working day – not least as the evenings are bright, it is only after ten that it is getting beginning to get dark. Still, I hesitate to go to the city centre, the touristy places. After some hesitation I decide to go for a stroll around the campus. As impressive as the green belt is, as quick one reaches …, an estate. I am not sure if this is the correct term. Or I am actually more or less sure that it is not the correct term. Is suburb more appropriate? The stroll turns out to be a two-hour walk – along the main road, ‘walking around a square’. Even if the exact figure is apparently not clear – the first day I had been told that there are officially 10 million people living in Moscow, much less than the figure I had been told last year: 16 million, but still quite impressive, especially for an Irish country-boy – all these people have to be accommodated and transported. Broad roads to accommodate the traffic congestions during rush hours, huge buildings of different kind – I walk along the large park somewhere, the smaller shopping centres, smaller parks …, and the countless small shops, little booths – something that seems to be so common here as well as I mentioned it when writing about the stumbling blocks. And finally, actually rather close to the main building of the university there is a market: stands selling fruits, vegetables, nearly everything. And the stands are of nearly any kind: a woman, holding one bunch of flowers in her hands, having a second bunch in a bucket next to her feet side by side with the large stands with proper tables, sun roofs, nearly looking like litte shops, the small basilica, not politically pushed away but pushed into a corner by the relentless challenges of daily life that cannot be left to any god or holiness. The challenges of survival, of which probably one of the the nicest is to take a photo of the girlfriend, standing under the lilac tree, watching the children on the trike or sitting together with the venerable, listening to the old tales and contemplating about …, of course: the future – People’s life – go where they live ….; yes, and go where they shop – not designing their life, but living it, reproducing it in the various dimensions.
The last working day – not part of the conference anymore. I meet Andrey and Leonid. It is a rather open talk – open in terms of expected topics, results and also in terms of the assumption. We do not have the same point of departure, nor the same frame of reference. What we actually have is a common interest: Defining clear questions and opening spaces, not by kerbstones, not even by stepping stones. A field that allows for, that encourages amalgamations across borders. The editorial work, the ventilation around different networking projects, the involvement in the new centre here at Lomonosov University – the realisation of globalistics …
And at the same time the thought: does all this really make sense, is it meaningful? Are things getting more meaningful because said on a different stage? Or is it about developing something new by putting it in different contexts and linking it with other contacts? Crossing lines, climbing over kerbstones, using stepping stones – dance floors?
Some time left – though I cannot deny that I would like to be home, currently it means: returning to Ankara, back in everyday’s life, back to routines – including the Turkish coffee, the tea and the simit for breakfast. Still, I have time left here in Moscow. Sitting in a coffee shop for lengthy spells: writing. But not only. Katerina contacted me the evening before and we arrange to meet. ‘Товарищ Ленин – in front of the mausoleum.’ She agrees to my proposal: ‘Yes, in front of the Lenin Mausoleum.’ And so it means strolling a last time across the Red Square, around and through the Kremlin. The Lenin library. There is some very specific contentment in the simplicity. Looking into the faces of the people, looking at those sitting on the banks in the sun, with the books. Perhaps it is the contentment of the reading worker – the awareness of the reader to be the actual main player, the awareness of being at the end – in one or another way – part of the history. A peculiar humility of the real maker of history. And the forbearance … – And even the ‘young Russia’ has it – the young woman accompanying me, showing me – as she did about a year ago – so much in the brief time: not in terms of places but in terms of …, well, possibly a glimpse into the future.
And I think even more about it today, after having met Diarmaid in the morning, asking somebody for the direction ended in a nice and lengthy chat
Aghabullogue meets Dublin in Moscow!
The guy I asked was an Irish fellow, now working in Moscow – and we had been chatting about the Irish history, the resistance and the lack of it, the visit of the Queen which we both missed … – whatever the similarities, dissimilarities, the different ways …: the future can and will be, for the good or the worse, only one future.
Looking at all these places, strolling along with her I am asking myself what did the golden archway across the red square and the bucks of stars on the green of park-lanes bring to the country?
A short article comes to my mind – I read it the one day in a Moscow newspaper, dealing with road rage, apparently a frequent problem – and with it the abuse of the migalka. As short paragraph from the article:
‘When another car refuses to let him pass he (the driver) shouts abuse through his loudspeaker.
‘Do you want to get shot in the head, retard?’ The driver booms on tape.
‘When the incident took place, only the driver was in the car,’ a spokesperson for the Emergency Situations Ministry told …”
Another article in the same paper on taxis: unregulated, self-regulated and involving quarrels about stands that are at the, no: beyond the margins of the law, supposedly including even the use of weapons.
For me it doesn’t say anything really about the Russian soul, but it tells a whole lot about the new system: open class division, a growing gap between rich and poor and a tormenting law of competition – isn’t it right. May be worthwhile to think about this: What we know as competition law is in the US termed anti-trust law. And a definition of this is given in the following from Law.com – an occasionally useful web-dictionary for law-stuff:
The little note from which I quoted provoked on my facebook site the question:
Does this means, if the driver is not on his own shooting is allowed?
And thinking about these developments I return in my contemplation also to other times: the golden ancient times with the purity of virtues, the Renaissance, now celebrated for the reflection of morals and the creation and collection of inventions and arts. The monuments – monumentalisation of history as the position we take towards and the interpretation of – past, present and future – reality.
Sure, we may easily conclude that at the end all these current developments could well mean another Renaissance, another original accumulation of treasures of a nee era of global culture. But we may also remember what we easily overlook when voyeuring the excessive splendour: that its real pedestal is not the visible marble block. The real pedestal are the bones of the people who left their life, who had been sacrificed and whose life had been washed away by the streams of the blood of people like themselves. – A golden arch …, it is on a red square …
Coming back to Zygmunt Bauman’s article, we read on page 12
If 40 years ago the income of the five richest percent of the world population was thirty time higher than the income of the poorest five per cent, 15 years ago it was already sixty time higher, and by 2002 it reached the factor of 114.
Tanzania earns 2.2 billion dollars a year which it divides among 25 million inhabitants. The Goldman Sachs Ban earns 2.6 billion dollars, which is then divided between 161 stockholders.
And there is a paradox going hand in hand with all this: Especially today it is consumption that is valued – I had been already told the first day, when we went to the All-Russian centre, that today the shopping centres are the landmarks, the stones of the edifices providing guidance
In the old times it had been the plants, the factories.
The paradox however is the following: formerly it had been said ‘The customer is king.’ And today the appreciation of the customer is expressed in different ways: private shop detectives, in many cases employees of few multinational private securitas-businesses, x-raying at the entrance of Ankara’s modern shopping malls and … – there is a new variant here: Entering the grocery supermarket, not even a French passport (have a guess of which chain the shop is?) would help to surround the control – a somewhat funny and surely wasteful one: rather than randomly checking handbags at the exit, all handbags etc. are have to be packed into a plastic bag which then is sealed.
Another day passed, another trip, doing some ‘business abroad’, allowing interesting debates, causing other disappointments, bringing some support and relief and meaning to accept some new tasks …
… and another evening to be spent, not at work this time – instead, an opportunity to lean back: Moscow, an evening at the Bolshoi: humans, swanlike moves on the stage, music carrying us away, lifting us on soft clouds, nothing challenges us to think about the endless Scenes Behind the Scenes; and all the rehearsals, the work, also the anguish that is now forgotten, transformed into something of which we do not even see the tension which is still present in the very moment of the appearance of beauty.
But it is here: Quartum datur. An area – a jasnaja poljana. A plane, a space with stones, a variety of stones like a scenography.
Detachments – Attachments – the permanent, at least frequent attempt to disenchant power – power executed by others and the fascination by power as emerging ability: the idea of being able to do something, to change and create. Not more and not less than the question of drawing borders, redefining and overcoming them … – allowing thinking in complex scenographies.
The engine of the aircraft revs – TK 7365, direct flight from Moscow operated by Anadolujet. Murat will wait at the other end to collect me.
I am tired, exhausted, overwhelmed – actually I do not know which term is the most appropriate – perhaps it is nothing of it. And instead it is the acknowledgement of what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote in the West-Eastern Divan
TELL it the wise alone, for when
Will the crowd cease from mockery !
Him would I laud of living men
Who longs a fiery death to die.
In coolness of those nights of love
Which thee begat, bade thee beget,
Strange promptings wake in thee and move,
While the calm taper glimmers yet.
No more in darkness canst thou rest,
Waited upon by shadows blind,
A new desire has thee possessed
For procreant joys of loftier kind.
Distance can hinder not thy flight ;
Exiled, thou seekest a point illumed;
And, last, enamoured of the light,
A moth art in the flame consumed.
And while thou spurnest at the best,
Whose word is ” Die and be new-born! ”
Thou bidest but a cloudy guest
Upon an earth that knows not morn.
And the German, the real version.
Sagt es niemand, nur den Weisen,
Weil die Menge gleich verhöhnet:
Das Lebendige will ich preisen,
Das nach Flammentod sich sehnet.
In der Liebesnächte Kühlung,
Die dich zeugte, wo du zeugtest,
Überfällt dich fremde Fühlung,
Wenn die stille Kerze leuchtet.
Nicht mehr bleibest du umfangen
In der Finsternis Beschattung,
Und dich reißet neu Verlangen
Auf zu höherer Begattung.
Keine Ferne macht dich schwierig,
Kommst geflogen und gebannt,
Und zuletzt, des Lichts begierig,
Bist du Schmetterling verbrannt.
Und so lang du das nicht hast,
Dieses: Stirb und werde!
Bist du nur ein trüber Gast
Auf der dunklen Erde.
The danger of kerbstones not being transformed to stepping stones – the bright scenography being overshadowed by the grey of the gravestones: marking the places where we find those who never lived, those, who remained in the presence, mistaking it as life.
Mathematics has the completely false reputation of yielding infallible
conclusions. Its infallibility is nothing but identity. Two times two
is not four, but it is just two times two, and that is what we call
four for short. But four is nothing new at all. And thus it goes on
and on in its conclusions, except that in the higher formulas the
identity fades out of sight.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Managerialism is often seen as distinct “political form” of steering, formalist and led by technocrats, still on this ground serving specific interests: on the one hand seen as matter of “bad governance”, ignoring higher political virtues and based on individual greed; on the one hand as pure “administrative violence” to engineer neoliberakl interest.
During today’s presentation during the second Globalistics congress in Moscow I presented a different view, highlighting the importance to base the debate on the development of modes of production and accumulation regimes. In this perspective e may distinguish in particular four management approaches:
Considerations are surely only at an early stage. But following from here it will also be possible to develop the Social Quality Approach further, linking it closer to questions of the economic system.
The publication of a version of the presentation will be hopefully announced soon.