It could be different …

It could be different, but it is possible this way too ….

These are words of the last e-mail before the INKRIT-meeting, gathering for some general debates, and mainly working on the Historical-Critical Dictionary Marxism, referring to Brecht’s Three-Penny Opera.

The location of a rather intense couple of days: Esslingen, a small town, or even village in the proximity of Stuttgart, in Southern German. Writing: or even village means that I actually didn’t see it. Arriving there by train Wednesday night, I took the bus to a remote conference-hotel, not really seeing anything of the place. And remote means remote, giving an exciting view: the (low) mountains, the valley covered by the raising fog – a carpet – seen from the height, a ceiling from the other side … It actually is different, depending on the side from which we look.

The usual ‘regular verb’ behaviourthe meeting in of the editorial board of The Argument as new field of activities and then the workshops. A rather interesting, not to say exciting work. Discussions that seem to be as remote even from our daily academic work as the Jaegerhof and even Esslingen. And although the debates are intense, it is in some way relaxing: concentrated on such a wide range of areas as Human Rights to Laughing, as life conduct to courtesan ….. And ranging as wide rural exodus – a term in itself so varied if looked at by the colleagues from Germany or Cuba and Brazil.

And relaxing in any case, being directly engaged – ex officio so to say – with Étienne Balibar on whose draft I comment or as listener, just ordinary participant. And as relaxed as all this is, as open the debate is there is surely also the tension. How to describe it? Between those who own all the experience simply due to age and those who have all impartiality on their side – sure one may also say: the claim of authority versus, or going hand in hand with gormlessness, and the deadlock engaging with innovativeness. The productive tensions as well, growing out of so different people meeting there: Brasil, Cuba, Germany, Italy, France …; villages, large cities ….

Yes, all could be different. And perhaps that is what makes it so inviting: A tension one can perceive as relaxing in its open way, as it aims on producing something new, aims on making a difference rather than continuing to move along, the dogtrot. So remote, even the tensions being so remote that I only mentioning its actual meaning after Mehmet dropped me at Stuttgart’s train station. First plans for future collaboration – the hug when we say farewell – knowing it is this way possible too. And emerging in relaxed atmosphere around Stuttgart’s train-station: people enjoying the sun, licking ice or sitting in the sun” the German Sunday-tradition: “coffee and cake” ….

… and the flowers in front of the station:  a reminder: Stuttgart 21 – not always as peaceful as it appears on the Sunday afternoon, not always as remote from daily quarrels as it suggests this sunny afternoon. And I feel as well how important all these apparently purely academic debates are in order to make sense, to change such reality. 

It could be different, but it is possible this way too …. – and to make it possible that the daily, centered around commodities, consumption, so-called performance possible in everyday’s life we need the remoteness: clear, concise thinking: exhausting, focused, provoking to contradict and not allowing any contradiction.

It is also something that is so simple, and so difficult to achieve. An excellent, energising experience – though showing how remote we are ourselves from really living it, maintaing so many illusions, voluntarily chosen subordinations and authoritative deification. But at least there is an open field for contest – from which academic life distanced itself so much.

All has to be different, it only pretends to be possible this way too …








If you want you can term it a little bit pretentious the legacy of the research stay and visiting professorship at ODTUe: the new book which had been just after leaving Ankara sent to the publisher and will not take long to be available:

Sibel Kalaycioglu/Peter Herrmann (Eds.)
Precarity – More than a Challenge of Social Security
Or: Cynicism of EU’s Concept of Economic Freedom

It will be published in Bremen by the Europaeischer Hochschulverlag as part of the series Studies in Comparative Social Pedagogies and International SocialWork and Social Policy.

The following Table of Contents gives some overview.

Acknowledgements… 9

Peter Herrmann/Sibel Kalaycioglu

Introduction… 11

Peter Herrmann

Precarity and Precarisation in the Light of EU-Integration… 22

Marco Ricceri

Europe and social precarity Proactive elements for system interventions… 52

Klaus Mehrens

Precarious Work in the EU – What Can Trade Unions Do?… 77

Pietro Merli Brandini

Globalisation and Solidarity.  Regulatory reform for a more balanced system adjustment… 83

Alexander Sieg

Theoretical thoughts for psychosocial interventions in precarious working and living conditions… 95

Sabine Kergel, Rolf Dieter Hepp

Ways of Precarisation… 104

Sibel Kalaycioglu/Kezban Celik

Gender dimensions of precarity in Turkey… 120

David Kergel

Integration or Inclusion – Towards an alternative ‘European Gaze’ on the Roma… 134

Vyacheslav Bobkov, Еkaterina Chernykh, Ulvi T. Aliev

Precarity in Russia and Labour and Employment Markets Transformation… 145

Appendix 1…

Ankara-10-Point-Memorandum… 164

Ending Precarity – Acting Now for Sustainable Future… 164

Appendix 2…

List of contributors… 167

The book gathers a wide range of contributions – reflecting the complex character of the topic – with its different causes and consequences and the various answers needed. However, the presentations also make clear that the EU which could and should well take a role reflecting the responsibility for developing a European Social Model that fundamentally reflects the need for a new economy rather than limiting itself to striving for a rescue of an outdated model of economic growth.

As editors we come at the end of our introductory remarks to the conclusion:

Thus, we can see how the pillars of such model crumble away in a situation like that of France, Kregel highlighting (in this volume) that it can on the one hand be seen as crèche of the ‘modern Europe’ but on the other hand now showing its inability – or lack of political will – to actually maintain this system which had been inaugurated not least by the supposedly all-decisive great revolution, claiming to be the Procrustean-bed not just of the modern French nation but much beyond of global modernity in general. We surely have to be careful, not throwing the baby out with the bathing water. But we have to be careful as well and look for a new realism. It is a realism that consciously intervenes into shaping a new mode of production.

Postmodernism ….

…, post-modernism can be seen as the discourse of cognition without an tention of intellectual reconstruction.

Kiss, Endre: The Dialectics of Modernity. A theoretical interpretation of Globalization; in: Journal of Globalization Studies. 1/2. November 2010: 12-26; Volgograd: Uchitel

Looking Back – Looking Forward: Responsibilty

It is so easy: Talking about Human Rights as matter of charity and good will and virtues. And it is so difficult: of course we find this blunt, brutal violation: open for everybody. And of course we have to everything we can against the killing of women for religious reasons, religious fundamentalism (which, by the way “we” enlightened people of the west, can easily see as serious issue when we look at them, though we are easily overlooking when it comes to religiously motivated  violation in the christian traditions in every days life).

Some real issues are then easily left out – and can easily be seen not only here but also here – just mentioning two examples: Not just the gap between rich and the poor – but especially the fact that this growing is not least consequence of the rich gaining on the back of the poor. Just one of the interesting facts that had been mentioned during the one of the sessions of the conference that took place over the last days: tax evasion as one of the causes – and it is so easy. Another issue which cannot be easily issued is the fact that the mode of production is limited not least by its orientation on commodity production which is systematically, structurally fading out issues of producing the social as equity oriented system.

Of course, it is a complex issue – and I hope that I can make at least some contribution to the debate. It had been part of the work I undertook in Ankara and Moscow over the last month and will be part of the work which is planned for the next month – it is on the way under the title

Social Policy – Production rather than Distribution. A Rights-Based  Approach.

The final publication of this publication will hopefully be announced some time at the end of the year, proposing the need for a fundamental change of  the social policy debate. It is also meant to lay the ground for a shift in the social quality debate and its orientation on sustainability.

Indeed, human rights are about economics and the responsibility of the rich countries. – Surely something to be further discussed during the next days in Esslingen,where we will be working during the XVth International INKRIT-workshop on the Historical-Critical Dictionary on Marxism.

A short PS: on the positive, not to say delighting side: though not dominant in the published debate, sessions on such critical issues had been well attended.

On another positive side: the forum I attended and I mentioned in earlier posts took actually place in the building which in earlier years hosted the German parliament. It is now an international conference centre. Other buildings, formerly hosting parts of the German government, are now accommodating offices of the United Nations. Some shifts, at least ….

Breaks – Still on the Way to Modernity

Pioneer of Modern Art – the English translation doesn’t catch the ambiguity of the German title of the exhibition of the work of Max Liebermann to which I went during the lunch break: Wegbereiter der Moderne. It could also be translated just as Pioneer, trailblazer of modernity, emphasising that he had been a pioneer not just as somebody who did something before others did the same, but underlining his proactive role, the ‘fight for something’. And it doesn’t limit the something to arts but leaves it open for a much wider scope.

I do not want and cannot engage in Max Liebermann’s complex and contradictory personality: citoyen and demotic; orderly, like the lanes in the part of his villa and allowing, provoking and even planning the impressionistic as seen in the flowerbeds on the roadside of the little palace ….

Surely as such – as other representatives especially of the citoyenitée of the time (see Thomas and Heinrich Mann, read the Buddenbrooks, The Small Town Tyrant, The Forsyte Saga ….) – reflecting very much the contradiction of the time.

One thing is sure: in life and in general there is surely not one pioneer – it is people as groups, peoples and personalities …

…. and it is about movements, ‘inventions of acceptance’. Entering the exhibition had been already exciting by looking at the plain pictures of life – ‘socialist realism’ came to my mind. Looking at his depiction of the twelve year old Jesus in the Temple – emerging as another simple life: simplicity of deification without simplifying the apotheosis; and then looking at her, looking into her face: Eva. It is a painting from 1882. And the way she looks says it all: No need, Adam. Not for you. And though I my not look like it. I have the apple, I eat the apple and I enjoy eating it.

Giving the impression of weakness and happiness, of inferiority and forcefulness … – modernity.

Not November …. – On Path Dependency

It hadn’t been often that I had been in Bonn – and I do not want to be negative. It is a nice, placid village, once the capital of Germany, hosting that part of Germany, better: German mentality which had been twice the cradle of a World War

I hadn’t been many times in Berlin – the first time I arrived there in the ‘new era’ had been some strange experience – the government had not yet moved to the new centre, but part of it and as had been on government-meeting then, I experienced the tension between the old: the West, and the new, the East. It is a difficult to tell story too interesting to put into a nutshell. When I returned later I had been impressed, the feeling of …, well, perhaps the best term to be used is: the feeling of mental suppression. Again, I do not want to be negative, knowing about the stirring figures as Friedrich Wilhelm Humboldt, having lived mentally side by side with notable people as Helene Weigel and having known extraordinary colleagues as Juergen Kuczynski …, and having enjoyed the great Jazz-festival, the theaters, parks …. of this city which than later showed so open its difficult to figure-out hegemonic spirit of violence and mental control – mentor of Otto von Bismarck’s policy which became known as cradle of the social state and which had been in some way the accoucheur of the first world war.

Sure, globalisation, postmodernisation …. – the entire world changed and so did the country of which Bonn had been and Berlin is the capital. And so did the cities themselves.

Still – if you look for synonyms you may find for placid: introspective and you may find for impressing: imposing.

It is impressive, arriving here and there always reminds me of Heinrich Heine – and his return to Germany. It had been a long time ago, it had been November.

See here for more.

But I am here to talk about Human Rights – perhaps it is a different thing …, perhaps ….

Expectations – at least

Go open the door.

There might be someone there.

Go open the door.

There might be a bird. Or a firefly.

Go open the door.

If nothing, there will be at least a breeze.

Or a current of fresh air.

(Hakakian, Roya, 2004: Journey from the Land of No. A Girlhood caught in revolutionary Iran; New York: Crown Publishers: 41)