There is always a solution

Dear Herr Doctor,
You are already 10 months behind with the manuscript of Das Kapital, which you have agreed to write for us. If we do not receive the manuscript within 6 months, we shall be obliged to commission another to do this work.

From a letter Karl Marx received from his publisher in Leipzig.

If publishers would just do their job authors could do their job in much batter ways.

If reviewers would do just do there job: looking for integrity of arguments rather critising authors on things they never came across academic work and publications could be much more innovative.

And if politicans would be delayed in writing shallow programs – paraphrasing Marx’ famous sentence from the 18th Bonaparte – Men and women could make more of their own history, and could do it more as they please.

There is always a solution – and there is always something behind the various triple-A-standards– though not necessarily wisdom.

Yes, there are connections though many people may not (want to) see them ….

Bu the way, I will look more in detail into issues of this kind end of September – during the OeFEB-Annual Meeting in Graz – the overall topic of the congress is “Research on Demand”.


Historical Errors

How can one submit something like this for publication – and possibly expect positive review?
In the course of the actual attainment of selfish ends – an attainment conditioned in this way by universality – there is formed a system of complete interdependence, wherein the livelihood, happiness, and legal status of one man is interwoven with the livelihood, happiness, and rights of all. On this system, individual Happiness, &c., depend, and only in this connected system are they actualised and secured. This system may be prima facie regarded as the external state, the state based on need, the state as the Understanding envisages it.
The Idea in this its stage of division imparts to each of its moments a characteristic embodiment; to particularity it gives the right to develop and launch forth in all directions; and to universality the right to prove itself not only the ground and necessary form of particularity, but also the authority standing over it and its final end. It is the system of the ethical order, split into its extremes and lost, which constitutes the Idea’s abstract moment, its moment of reality. Here the Idea is present only as a relative totality and as the inner necessity behind this outward appearance.
Isn’t such sentence simply an attempt to link a vast number of abstract concepts and statements in a rather inconsistent way, then mixing it with simplistic and unexplained statements like ‘Happiness’?
A short note of explanation: the author of those sentnences did not submit it anywhere and it had not been reviewed. But published and at one stage well recognised as an important contribution to philosophical thinking. It is § 183 and 184 of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, talking about Civil Society.

Old Problems

We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. … It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.

So far Mr. Abraham Lincoln, a sentence he wrote 1864 in a latter to William F. Elkins. I am afraid, god didn’t really help.

And I can’t help, there may be another point of interest: 1867 saw the publication of volume one of The Capital, written by Karl Marx – now accessible as volume 35 of the Selected works by Marx and Engels.

Joerg Huffschmid Award – press release – German only

Attac Deutschland
Frankfurt am Main, 19. August 2011

* Preis in Gedenken an Jörg Huffschmid erstmals vergeben
* Arbeit über Steuergerechtigkeit in der Globalisierung ausgezeichnet

“Determinanten einer nachhaltigen Steuerpolitik im Kontext der
Globalisierung” ? so lautet der Titel der Dissertation, für die die
Politologin Nicola Liebert kürzlich den Jörg-Huffschmid-Preis erhalten
hat. Verliehen haben die Auszeichnung das globalisierungskritische
Netzwerk Attac und sein Wissenschaftlicher Beirat, die Arbeitsgruppe
Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik, die EuroMemo-Gruppe sowie die
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. Der Preis in Gedenken an Jörg Huffschmid wird
künftig alle zwei Jahre verliehen und ist mit 2000 Euro dotiert.

In ihrer Doktorarbeit geht Nicola Liebert der Frage nach, wie
Steuergerechtigkeit in einer globalisierten Wirtschaft geschaffen werden
kann. In seiner Laudatio betonte Elmar Altvater, Emeritus der Freien
Universität Berlin und im Wissenschaftlichen Beirat von Attac, die
Arbeit bilde auch deswegen einen wichtigen Beitrag, weil sie sich nicht
nur gründlich mit der Ausgaben-, sondern auch mit der Einnahmeseite des
Staates auseinandersetzt. Elmar Altvater: “Es ist ein Unding, dass
Parteien in der aktuellen Krise weiterhin Steuersenkungen fordern.
Verantwortliche Politik müsste zudem wieder verstärkt die
Vermögensbesitzer zur Finanzierung des Staates heranziehen.”

Ulrich Brand von der Universität Wien, Mitinitiator des Preises und
Mitglied der Jury, begründete die Einrichtung des Preises mit dem
wissenschaftlichen und gesellschaftspolitischen Engagement des im
Dezember 2009 gestorbenen Jörg Huffschmid. Dieser rief 1975 die
Arbeitsgruppe Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik mit ins Leben, die so
genannte Memorandum-Gruppe. 1995 gehörte er zu den Mitgründern der
Europäischen Memorandum-Gruppe und 2002 des Wissenschaftlichen Beirates
von Attac. “Jörg Huffschmid hat mit seinen Analysen der Finanzmärkte
ganz wesentlich zur analytischen Unterfütterung der
globalisierungskritischen Bewegung beigetragen”, sagte Ulrich Brand.

Für den Jörg-Huffschmid-Preis 2013 können erneut
Studienabschlussarbeiten (Magister-, Master und Diplomarbeiten) sowie
Dissertationen eingereicht werden, die thematisch im Bereich der
politischen Ökonomie der Finanzmärkte angesiedelt sind.

Die Dissertation von Nicola Liebert erscheint kommenden Monat im Verlag
Westfälisches Dampfboot unter dem Titel “Steuergerechtigkeit in der
Globalisierung: Wie die steuerpolitische Umverteilung von unten nach
oben gestoppt werden kann”.

Pressefotos (freie Verwendung bei Angabe der Quelle):

* Nicola Liebert:
(Fotohinweis: Nicola Liebert)

* Jury und Preisträgerin (3.v.l.):
(Fotohinweis: Stefan Thimmel)

Für Rückfragen:

* Ulrich Brand, Wissenschaftlicher Beirat von Attac, Tel.

* Nicola Liebert, Trägerin Jörg-Huffschmid-Preis, Tel. 0163 – 163 6127

* Stefan Thimmel, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung,, 030 –
44310 434

Excursus – Reality …. – or: World as Surreal Jigsaw

There may be good reason to think occasional writing – reference to Kant, Hegel … are bizarre, a kind of excursus, an excursion into another world of the unreal, surreal …

And there may be equally good reason to think that an occasionally look at the reality is about engaging with something surreal, something that is not real but an invention of thinking, a jigsaw of different pieces which are – and that would be the difference to a real jigsaw – randomly spread across an open field.

I frequently use the actual travel time: the time of actually moving from one place to another, hanging around on airports, being cramped into one of these tubes made from metal, wires, plastic … – the tube called aircraft and while standing at the belt, waiting for the luggage, occasionally for more or less extensive reading of different newspapers – I admit, sometimes it is just because they are there, offered for free. So censorship, own selectivity, availability simply replaced (or complemented) by chance. And I admit that especially the ‘random airport collection’ is occasionally very much a favoured one, especially as it is frequently the more ‘serious’ press that is offered to those who would easily have the money needed to buy them (or to those who paid ‘special money’ for their flight ticket). The ‘serious journalism’ not least of the business papers and the liberal press: liberal here more in the humanist sense rather than its perverted economic stunt.

And a short snapshot may be offered here, yesterday’s reading. The initial reason for writing this short ‘review’ is twofold. An article in Monday’s FAZ. Baerbel, with whom I had been sitting together in the train on the way from Freiburg to Karlsruhe – the first leg of the trip to Finland – gave it to me. An ‘analysis’ offered by Schirrmacher, titled ‘I begin believing that the left is correct’. Though the title raises the expectation to read something extraordinary, the article itself had been very much an ordinary piece about the apocalyptic mood of a bourgeois.

Than later read in the Handelsblatt, if you want: The real German Financial Times (The paper that had been established many years later as German offshoot of the original FT, which goes back to 1884

launched as the friends of the ‘Honest Financier and the Respectable Broker’, with Leopold Graham as editor

is a relative shallow brother) the news about the measures planned by Merkel and Sarkozy: ‘Core Europe hits back’, looking at the ‘anti-speculation campaign’ by the two heads of state, claiming to establish an instrument against short sales. ‘Short sales’…, sounds like ‘zero-‘ and ‘negative growth’.

The truth of zero-growth is probably that we are really facing a growth of nulls in politics and economy. Indeed, coming to the German Financial Times then, an article, criticise that there are so many Pettifoggers in the Higher Echelons, talking about the fact that Germany’s most important managers do not respect laws and contracts, ant think this is normal.

And we can read that

this is worrying: In place of a sense for justice and injustice which we would especially expect from top managers we find expertises to secure dubious practice which legal experts compose in any required dictum.

(The German term is Absicherungsgutachten).

So far so good – and we all – left and right know that we are facing a

Sick Society, to which the youth rampage in Great Britain left deep wounds


judges sentence the rioters in summary trial to prove the superiority of the legal system

(German Financial Times)

Ops, the sick society proves its strength literally: showing its ‘strength’, its ‘power’ by means of coercion? One has to say then that (I may add: fortunately)

The public is not impressed: The Critique of the British societal model is increasing.

How should the public be impressed? Some may even look for strength as long as the hegemonic power is able to stigmatise the youth as hooligans and looters.

But there is more at stake, getting obvious when one looks at UK plans to remove rioter’s benefits as we learn in the short note on page one of the Europe Edition of the Financial Times. As I frequently and on very different occasions pointed out: The new social state is lurking around the corner as state based on mercy and charity, any time possible subject to politicians decision to withdraw it. Again we find the search for protection, for securing measures and their legimitation by procedure rather than the legal right …

Who could deny though that some kind of regulation is needed? But does that justify such breach of principles that we thought off as fundamental and human rights?

Hans Zacher, emeritus in Munich, founder of the MPI (the one to which I am corresponding) and surely more at the conservative end of political spectrum, emphasises in his book on the Social State (which I consider as rather Kantian in its foundation) the close connection between the social and democracy, stating for instance

Therein lies another essential communality between democracy and the social. Democracy is a process. The social is a process. And both processes feed and drive each other forward.

He points as well on the appropriateness of the title of a book edited by Wolf-Dieter Narr and Claus Offe: Welfare State andMass Loyality (Cologne, 1975).

But David Marsh in the Handelsblatt has no problem in taking a broad brush in order to get rid of any Kantian notion of reason, rationality, discourse of rights, employing instead frank words: it is not about benefits for one and withholding them for others. He sees it as fact that it is

only the concentrated power that secures silence.

And back to the economy:

– also when it comes to the financial markets.

Good one may say: finally somebody who sees the need of taking control. It may well be that I am obsessed by this topic: the political, the economic and how it is separated from and merged with each other. And as much – and regrettably – both are frequently separated, here they are dangerously brought together: as if the protest by the young people, though not expressed as political protest, would be the same as the ‘protest by the bankers’, though also not expressed politically. In actual fact the self-aggrandisement of the top-managers is not really a moral abjection. It is the protest that is in some way parallel to the representatives of the heavy industry in the late 1920s/early 1930s: They are looking for expansion and for this they need political control – and this is what they are aiming at.

Could it really be financial capital that plays today the role formerly played by the heavy industry? At least it has to be noted that earlier analysis and statements, drawing on parallels between the 2008(ish) and end of 1920s-ish crisis have to be completed – and actually we may refer to an article in the weekend edition of the Sueddeutsche, where Ulrich Schadefer wrote

What an illusion – and what worrying parallel to today’s crisis, the second world economic crisis as it has to be called in the meantime.

What they mean is that the crisis lasted much longer as politicians admitted (in 1931 they called the crisis off, spoke of returning to growth and prosperity …) and that the crisis could by now means be seen as regionally limited.

If Merkel, Sarkozy and others would be willing and able to act against it (The article in the Handelsblatt states that politicians up to know helplessly watched at development but Nicolas Sarkozy and … Angela Merkel [want] to end this game that is ignoble) would doubtlessly be good.

But reading then the FT’s Europe edition one may loose hope.

Berlin and Paris rule out eurobonds

and what follows is the well-known squabble, concerned with their own – national and personal – princedom, not concerned with any ‘common good’ if such thing would exist at all.


Finishing the Jigsaw?

The one ‘vision’ of finishing the jigsaw presents itself as total destruction: the power, creating total disorder in the name of order. One may honestly ask if the helpless reaction of a David Marsch* is not leveling the way for people like Anders Behring Breivik …

And one should ask why there is so much debate – in the Handelsblatt even a little special – on the financial market, the debt crisis and obviously related matters, but for instance only leaving a small note in the political section  in the political section on page 8 of the SZ for just briefly announcing that EON, the multinational trust, plans to lay-off 11,000 of 85,000 workforce. In the Handelsblatt it ‘scores better, being left to page 54. Admittedly the SZ has a long article on page 24 which deals more indirectly with the EON issue – but the way it is written suggests it as a distinct, somewhat distant topic.

And one may ask why there is so much talk about liberalisation, free entrepreneurship and these days the division of the German nation – until 1989 the FRG and GDR – and at the same time there is so little attention given to the fact that it had been liberalisation of the finance markets that are a major part of the crisis scenario, that free entrepreneurship led to such a power concentration that today even liberal politicians fail to keep it under control and that today the German society is deeply split by a social wall – I commented already earlier and elsewhere on this issue.

And one may consider the link between the surely in many cases helpless, desperate youth protests, the ‘protest’ by bankers, gamblers and the like, fighting tooth and nail against democratic control and the loss of hope of the middle class. An earlier edition of the Handelsblatt asks

Is it really the money? What is in many cases more important is something else: recognition. Some would say respect. What matters is the self-esteem that is rooted in the sense and certainty of being part, of being valued as human being. If somebody feels excluded of ignored does – in the worst case – not respect property of others or even respect of other people. It is also when we look at the decent of the middle classes where it is not just money, but fear of loosing the respect of society – a respect that is considered to be rightful.

Discussing middle class politics and policies is surely a matter in its own right, a wide and contradictory field. However, reeding in Saturday’s about Italy austerity measures: Government ‘puts its hands into the pockets of Italian people‘ and learning that

The proposed cuts to such critical services as local transportation and welfare would have “a depressive … effect,” hurting most the underclasses and inhibiting the productive north of contributing to national GDP, Roberto Formigoni, the governor of the northern Lombardy state, told reporters

does not tell much new – and we find a similar article for instance in the German FT; but thinking at the same time about what Philipp Loepfe writes in today’s Tagesanzeiger (Switzerland), namely that Capitalism destroys itself, – a suicide based on the fact that middle classes, small entrepreneurs: the supposed core or the liberal market society is pushed to the margins by the multinational trusts … – and reading in the SZ the somewhat heartening story about a small entrepreneur of the former GDR, too old to continue the business, not finding a successor as all potential successors moved to the former West – the entrepreneur faces now the problem of not having sufficient private resources to retire …. Indeed, after The Underclass Had Been Left Behind (as Wolfgang Streeck titles in the Handelsblatt, writing about the youth protest in London, precarity moves more and more to the centre of society.

Looking at the US, all this plays not least into the hands of the political right, namely the demagogic tea-party.Ands it plays into the hands of some not less anti-growth attitudes. To avoid being misunderstood. I am the last who suggests uncritically following the mainstream growth policy – I made this occasionally clear when talking about Joseph Stiglitz and his reaction on my question during an UN-University-conference to years ago or so. But the Handelsblatt article on Tyler Cowen as ‘The Theorist of Stand Still’ shows how subtle the arguments can easily move into a dangerous direction of a new-new liberalism.

Easily celebrating ‘The Good Spirit of the Neighbourhood’ in the last article of a series in the German FT, looking at ‘Do-It-Yourself-Citizens’, going hand in hand with celebrating the ‘Entrepreneurs emerging from the Street’, and article in the same paper: it is about the new capitalists in the so-called countries of the developing world.

And it is indeed about what I had been working on over the last weeks: emphasising in Bonn during the Global Forum on Human Rights, as part of the presentation to the MPI and during discussions with colleagues: again and again criticising the holy trinity as today’s capitalist saviours suggest:

* pre-modern, feudal patronage, charity and self-help – pure individualism as talked about in the contribution with Claire

I* suppression and open violence as means of stabilising the interest of the minority – pure government; governance, dismantled from its embellishing rhetoric and wearing the veil of Corporate Social Responsibility

* globalisation of pure capitalism – the Emperor, like resurrection of a superpower to which we just said farewell.


Today’s Trinity of father, son and holy spirit – Today’s form of securing profit, rent and wages, suggestively merged in the postmodern patchwork biography, based on and leading ‘democratically’ to precarity for everyone. – Sure, there had been even some of the top managers getting suicidal when facing the hard reality of having abused the trust of so many people, facing the reality of having been part of the machinery that destroyed the foundation of the existence of individuals as societies. They faced a kind of reality which recently presented itself to me in form of one of the great pieces of paining: Peter Paul Rubens The Large Great Judgment from 1617.

I started by saying that reference to Kant, Hegel … my be bizarre, a kind of excursus, an excursion into another world of the unreal, surreal … But in either world we surely have to search for criteria

that allow to identify what is just and what is unjust (iustum et inisutum).

         May be after all that the worlds are not so much apart as they seem at first glance.


*******    *    ********


* Marsch (sounds like Marsh) is the German term for march, walk

Spiders and Vipers

It is somewhat odd – before going to the train station, I have had some time left, sitting for some time on the market square of Freiburg. Saying “odd” actually is more about something else: looking around it feels somewhat anachronistic: enjoying what could easily be the last sun beams of the year, the day still youngish, the tourists only slowly showing up, instead the locals being around. Sitting there at the Lazzarin, facing the cathedral and the large welcome sign: Benedetto XVI. The presence of extreme conservatism, of a kind of mental and intellectual parochialism, complected with the presence of the modern network-society: De Netwerkmaatschappij as Jan van Dijk coined the term.

Supposedly it is this pope who started to use twitter – and though this is likely a well invented rumour, it is well invented as it reflects that today’s power of the church is very much founded on the ability to adapt to ‘modern” means of hegemonic power. – The new mechanisms simply a replication of old networks, old communitarianism under new veils?

– twitter, facebook … like the little canals that are in their unique way characterising the townscape. A couple of inches in width, others – the larger ones – perhaps a foot, enough to grasp attention; enough for some kids, playing with little boats or plastic ducks … – around me the Italian words, mingling of different worlds. Bravi – ma bravi … – the bell of the cathedral interrupts:  loud enough to bring my thoughts back into the real world, and also sufficiently other-worldly to allow my thoughts going stray …


Later, many of the locals are not just the philistines one may expect. Also a ‘modern, postmodern’ populace, like men of private means, some possibly in their own way vanguards … – not in need of working, living from their worldly fortune (from wherever they got it) – and taking the freedom of looking for the fortune of the world; as if the four apostles are returning on stage.

Being able to claim a natural law of goodness as they are able to behave like goddesses, beyond the depths of fighting for daily existence ….

…. or is that a wrong impression – what appears to be vanguard actually being duplicators of what the centre produced and lived already for a long time?


Is it really and entirely by accident and by being intellectually employed by exploring questions of law that I am thinking so much about Immanuel Kant, his definition of law, and the underlying methodological issues? Or is it the parallel of mental settings: Freiburg 2011 – Koenigsberg in the middle and late 1700s. And as he had been thinking about law in that remote place, being stuck in the routines of carrying his umbrella around: every day the same hour ….– and having this very open mind, he is now employing me. The distinction between conceptus dati and conceptus factitii – the given versus the made terms. It had been the analytical distinction which allowed, actually challenges him in elaborating a system for their linkage. Such abstract question you may suggest – though it is actually very the question we discuss today again: ‘good people’, the human as it is in itself given and a ‘naturally given value’, standing apparently against the greedy people, looking for their permanent personal enrichment. ‘Goodness against grabness’. Which easily had been seen by others as good against evil, god against the deveil – obviously the old question: What to do with the apple?

And coming back to the man from Koenigsberg it is at first stance rather simple: A matter of a constitution, a matter of making

THE constitution of the most extensive human freedom according to laws which allow the freedom of everybody to coexist with the freedom of others.

Reason, here, Kant’s understanding is that of a matter of the

practical idea.

And as such Kant sees it as matter of a constitutional process – if I recall his words from 1798 correctly

The idea of a constitution that is one with the natural rights of the human beings: those who are obliged to observe the law ought to be, united, also those who are legislators

He sees it as the general idea guiding the modern forms of the state and it is an idea that is based on the platonic ideal (respublica noumenon).

But as practical idea it is also in a permanent tension with an ‘absolute idea’ (as Hegel would call it), for instance and coming back to the philosopher from Koenigsberg: the

idea of reason of a peaceful community of all people.

A(n inter)play of the absolute, the eternal and the concrete, ephemeral …

People: regions, nations, individuals reaching for the apple and forgetting over the effort the joy of eating it.


ICE 72: Freiburg-Karlsruhe (nice: by accident I met Baerbel and we had been sitting together in the dining car — IC 203: Karlsruhe-Stuttgart — S 3: Stuttgart/central station-Stuttgart/airport — S 2: airport-Filderstadt — a short walk, sitting in the sun, some writing, after hesitating: there seems to be a swimming pool nearby … eating the role I bought somewhere on the way – some more writing, now in the room as it is already getting chilly outside – a short night in the hotel — CSA 563: Stuttgart-Prague – CSA 480: Prague-Helsinki …. — Juhani will collect me from the airport ….

About one month working in Finland – research, some teaching, also taking part in a conference. Networking – being caught in and building up links: links across countries, bridges between disciplines: leaving real expertise to others but being perhaps a little bit expert in opening some doors, contributing a little bit of the cement needed for the bridges.

And – paradoxically perhaps – destroying bridges, or loosening ties between dualities. Overcoming dichotomies by trying to enforce larger networks, including more aspects, working on creating larger networks rather than maintaining the small ones. Reaching out to the centre rather than staying in the periphery. Making the periphery centre … – and the centre somewhat peripheral … – either way getting lost, also in the thoughts and impressions: the joy I felt during the last mornings: jogging through the valley near Freiburg, breathing the air of the early morning, the smell of the hay; the joy of seeing the apple trees while walking the short distance from the local train to the hotel …


Sure, the story goes that there had been Adam, Eve, knit firmly together. Intervention: an apple and a viper. The scene of apparent harmony had been destroyed – all so well captured for instance in Albrecht Duerer’s painting from 1507: the tension between the unchanged and unchanging paradise of remote standstill: the indulgence of the here and now or any imagined telos of a final goal and the bravery of making freedom real, facing also the danger of failure. – As much as the viper opened the weld-seam between just the two: the dyad, opening the door to a triad, which then emerged as holy trinity; as much the viper crossed the border between spirit and body, opening the space for pure spirituality dichotomous to the space of pure physicalness, Kant surely crossed borders too: opening a space beyond dyad and trinity: the space for practical idea, limited as the practice had been bound to and coined by the idea, failing to emerge as real-real, remaining in the Platonic realm of the respublica noumenon. And thus remaining caught in the trinitarian formula – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, being later indirectly replicated in bourgeois political economy where profit, rent and wages had been defined as income of same quality, overlooking that – as Karl Marx said –

[t]he alleged sources of the annually available wealth belong to widely dissimilar spheres and have not the least analogy with one another. They have about the same relation to each other as lawyer’s fees, carrots, and music.

This trinity is the equality of the bourgeois society – a society with only the one vision and virtue: profit. and the faster the movement, the faster the turnover-rate of capital is, as better: leading money as financial capital to developing itself to an independent exchange mechanism, (apparently) remote from production; pushing land as source of rent to the danger of permanent over-fertilisation and monocultural use – including the abuse in form of deforestation of the rainforest; and forcing the workforce to accept alienated conditions, supplemented by the option to accept preacious conditions – the turnover reaching stupefying speeds.


ICE 72: Freiburg-Karlsruhe — IC 203: Karlsruhe-Stuttgart — S 3: Stuttgart/central station-Stuttgart/airport — S 2: airport-Filderstadt — a short walk, sitting in the sun, some writing, after hesitating: there seems to be a swimming pool nearby … eating the role I bought somewhere on the way – some more writing, now in the room as it is already getting chilly outside – a short night in the hotel — CSA 563: Stuttgart-Prague – CSA 480: Prague-Helsinki …. at this stage Juhani collected me already from the airport …., I am sitting in the car ….; too busy with thinking and talking about the packed work schedule for the next weeks – too busy to think about the high degree of alienation that apparently makes the normal to something so very special: the smell of hay, the look at apples growing on a tree … – and being there to be picked and eaten and even the exact place where I am. Using the words of Pollock at altera, having lost the

ideal of national sovereignty,

in tendency opposing that

nationhood is the social form that renders modernity self-conscious – conscious of being contemporary – so that the cosmopolitan spirit may inhabit a world that is ethically synchronous and politically symmetrical.**


It is the goal – even in a non-theological society it is still some kind of telos – though movement seems to be the only thing, claiming true importance – it is the telos. And that an unspoken Bernsteinainism seems to re-emerge is only consequence of excessive movementalism, afraid of defining clear goals, hesitating to accept the need of a constitution as matter of positive law.

For some short periods it may be true:

What we usually cal final goal, socialism as a kind of telos is in my view not impartant. It is the movement that counts.

(Das, was man gemeinhin Endziel des Sozialismus nennt, ist fuer mich nichts, die Bewegung ist alles. [Bernstein, 1899])

For short periods, as part of the constitutive process of constitutions.




* Quotes are translations of Kant-texts, though the translation is rather liberal

**  Pollock, Sheldon/Bhabha, Homi K./Breckenridge, Carol A./Chakrabarty, Dipesh, 2002: Cosmopolitanisms; in: Breckenridge, Carol A. et altera (eds.) 2002: 1-14; here: 6

I had been recently reading Ralf Dreier’s text: Rechtsbegriff und Rechtsidee. Kant’s Rechtsbegriff und seine Bedeutung fuer die gegenwaertige Diskussion (Frankfurt/M.: Alfred Metzner, 1986 – surely inspiring in many respects inspiring for writing this little epistle.

The World – Perhaps Unexpected Impression from an International Meeting

ENA – the European Network Academy for Social Movements took place in Freiburg. An opportunity also for ATTAC’s academic council to be involved and also to have one of its regular meetings. For me an interim stop to take part, also taking part in the ceremony during which the hugely important contribution by Joerg Huffschmid to the development of political economy had been acknowledged.

Leaving the different facets aside there had been an impression that came probably rather unexpected – and it surely is unexpected as issue popping up as part of the various reporting on the event which will be done by the organisers, participants and many others. I lived a little bit outside of Freiburg – possibly a little bit comparable with the place in which I live in Ireland. A tiny, little bit dozy village (sure, in the positive sense). My first impression hadn’t been great – though arriving in a lovely spot I thought: here you are caught, you’ll spent a fortune for taxi-transport. I could spend several bits and bites now …, but to keep it short I’ll jut leave it with Saturday morning’s  impression: I took the bus at 6:10 – we arranged an early meeting with some people and I wanted to go for a nice coffee and a bite to eat before, and perhaps a stroll through the old town in the black forest (yes: town; still also more or less tiny, dozy … – black forest, which is still a little bit the world of fairy tales where one may expect gnomes and fairies at least lurking around some corners (surely not Saturday afternoons though, when the entire place is packed with people: shopping, and speaking a language which makes me believe I lost at least 60 percent of my knowledge of speaking German). The bus trip took about 8 minutes. And it had been a small bus – actually a taxi (8 seater or so). The three people had been dropped off at the tram station: line 1, the end stop, seen in the morning: the start of the tram heading to Freiburg. I stamped the ticket, took a seat, looked out of the window …, about three other small busses arrived, people walked across the small square of the bus stop, the door of the tram had been opened … – it didn’t take long – probably half ano hour after leaving the guest house I arrived in the centre.

Sure, much is about moving from the periphery to the centre – like the mosquito to the light: from the small villages, the remote areas, the detached farm houses … . And one may discuss such a move in more general terms – in this small  perspective of commuters and in the larger perspective of global world systems. But one may also discuss the way of moving – and the actual direction. Option one: the strict divide – the centre remaining the centre, the periphery being periphery – and all living in their own way and place and pace. Option two: reaching out from the centre: huge buses, like steamrollers: an offer to those who are living int he periphery and being able to withstand the pressure, better to say: to keep with the strength of such huge mashines. Said again in a different way: Those who are in the centre of the periphery. Those living a little further back – the periphery of the periphery …,

There are some who are in darkness
And the Others are in light
And you see the ones in brightness
Those in darkness from from sight

Option three, though the centre is still point of reference, the way of bringing centre and periphery together is one of looking after the needs of the centre, adopting to space and pace.


I go for a lovely espresso, have my croissant (still miss my simit with which I fell in love the months I spent in Ankara, especially as the Freiburgian croissant is much more distant to the real French pastry than the distance between Freiburg and the French border may suggest), meet the others later: Baerbel first, Gunter … – we sit down for the meeting …, I have to leave little bit early – Brigitte kindly agreed to transport some stuff for me to Graz where I will collect it end of September when I go  there for the OFEB-congress, before finally returning to Ireland. After leaving here, I head back: ENA, discussing the development of strategies bringing people from the different local groups from the different countries together, diffuse impressions, opinions, various topics, seemingly not going well together, slowly merging, like little rivulets, coming together, merging to a stream  …


Sure, until finally arriving in Graz, it is not really the quite life, my space and pace trying to keep the space and pace of the global …

And in Ireland I will see, if I find a bus, bringing  me home. If things changed since the last time that I had been there? I do not know if these small buses do exist elsewhere in Germany nowadays. If so it is a new development. Perhaps something, Germany learned from countries in the periphery: personally I saw them the  first time in Moldova, the Ukraine …, recently so common again in Ankara … and now they reached the centre …

…; learning is possible.

May be all this is just another Kantian story – he once defined

Law is the  epitome of the conditions under which the caprice of the one can be brought together with the caprice of somebody else by observing a general law of freedom.

Recht ist der Inbegriff der Bedingungen, unter denen die WIllkuer des einen mit der Willkuer des anderen nach einem allgemeinen Gesetz der Freiheit zusammen vereinigt werden kann

And as the same author wrote elsewhere

That what people cannot decide for themselves cannot be decided by the legislator for the people.

Was das Volk nicht ueber sich selbst beschliessen kann, dass kann der Gesetzgeber auch nicht ueber das Volk beschliessen.(Kant, 1793)

An easily misinterpreted sentence from his work ‘Über den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht für die Praxis’. And still a sentence that may be worthwhile to think about – as it is worthwhile to think about bus services and the like.