Asia Studies – A New Book Series

This weekend, during the 3rd Annual Conference of Asian Studies Ireland Association a new book series will be launched. It is published by Rozenberg publishers and will thus provide high-quality books on issues that are interesting for developing an in depth debate on current issues. and the books will be available for a reasonable price. The title of the series is

Asia Studies – Within and Without

Edited by the School of Asian Studies at the University College Cork General Editors: Fan Hong, Auke van der Berg, Peter Herrmann

This book series aims on opening different perspectives on Asian studies by publication of relevant documents in the present framework. Publications are focusing on the subject area of Asia – the understanding of which is not taken in a restrictive way, but a wide understanding. Focussing on Asia includes looking at relationships and connections between countries within this region..

Publications in this series are looking at issues from an insider perspective – studying Asian issues sui generis, as issues of academic interest without interest in (immediately) applied knowledge. They are also looking at Asian issues as they arise in the context of relation- ships and increasingly globalisation.

Although the series is edited by the School of Asian Studies at the University College Cork it will gather contributions from a global pool of experts.

The first volume, written by Nicholas O’Brien, is titled

Irish Investment in China Setting New Patterns

At least my personal interest when joining the editorial team had been about launching a series of publications that provides more in-depth material that allows serious debates on important issues of global political-economic issues.


Anything Else to Think About? or: Re-finding Truth in Research

Vladimir Fedosejev and the Tschaikowskij-Symphonieorchester Moskau, performing Tschaikowskij and Shostakovich in the Large Hall of the Musikverein.

A more or less busy day coming to an end, beginning with talks about projecting a new book series (around global democracy), discussion about a film project, catching up with a good friend, answering and writing mails in the meantime and finalising the short contribution for the next Euromemo (had been easier to write the 80 pages for the recent workshop) …. and sometimes asking myself the difference between the real world and the facebook world. At least there is one commonality: it is not always easy to be clear about the difference friendships, acquaintance and colleagues. Perhaps better, it is not always clear to separate roles.

And really coming to an end then (leaving the Tchaikovsky’s concert for violin and orchestra [d-minor; the violin beautifully performed be the still young Arabella Steinbacher] and the encores aside) it is Shostakovich’s 5th symphony (also d-minor) – what a masterpiece, and indeed is there anything else that can come to mind than Schiller’s ‘Letters upon the Aesthetic Education of Man‘, Jehring’s ‘The Struggle for Law’ and the presentation I will give on Thursday in Graz, titled ‘Science/Scientists between Reflexive Responsibility and Penance’.
Schiller’s main concern is that what really is at stake is the balancing act between different poles, in particular the unbridled sensuous nature of human beings and the refined nature, finding its true and unique expression in arts, and being as such a matter of highest rationality: independent of unrestrained natural forces and allowing as such determination of a higher order.
In Schiller’s words
Two principal and different states of passive and active capacity of being determined (Bestimmbarkeit) can be distinguished in man; in like manner two states of passive and active determination (Bestimmung).
(Schiller, J.C. Friedrich von, 1793: Letters upon the Aesthetic Education of Man; Literary and Philosophical Essays, New York: Collier, 1910 [The Harvard Classics, 32]: 36 (I hope there is a better translation somewhere)
It is in his eyes not least a matter of striving for and – though only in tendency – achieving wholeness, in his idealist vision of course very much perceived and defined as holiness as the incontestable absoluteness. One does not have to follow this idealist aberration in order to agree in Schiller’s view on the two dimensions of determination: the passive and the part, the Bestimmtsein and the Bestimmung. Much later we find this of course reflected in Max Weber’s discussion on ‘vocation’.
Before I come back to the latter remark, a short note on a linked subject – a closer look at the link will be looked at later. One can easily see from here that this strive for wholeness is not an everlasting matter of development of humankind but also a matter of developing personality. And indeed, it is also a matter of the two forces permanently at work, one claiming dominance over the other. Even within certain institutions as Rudolph von Jhering  pointed righty at the beginning of his book I really have to than Lorena for making me aware of this piece) out that
[a]ll the law in the world has been obtained by strife. Every principle of law which obtains had first to be wrung by force from those – legal rights of a whole nation as well as those who denied it; and every legal right the of individuals – continual readiness to assert it and defend it. The law is not mere theory, but living force. And hence it is that Justice which, in one hand, holds the scales, in which she weighs the right, carries in the other the sword with which she executes it.
(Jhering, Rudolph (1872): The Struggle for Law; Chicago: Callaghan and Co, 1915: 1 f.)
What is now the connection between this and my presentation on ‘Science/Scientists between Reflexive Responsibility and Penance’?
It may get clear when we look at what Schiller said in the same piece:
Art, like science, is emancipated from all that is positive, and all that is humanly conventional; both are completely independent of the arbitrary will of men. The political legislator may place their empire under an interdict, but he cannot reign there.
(op.cit.: 19)
And indeed it is not so much a strictly idealist position as we see when we read on page 8
Therefore, totality of character must be found in the people which is capable and worthy to exchange the state of necessity for that of freedom.
Aren’t there obvious repercussions – reading Kant, Schiller and later Marx? And if we read further we see that this tension between dependence/independence, between necessity and freedom, between being-determined and determination, between passive and passive is very much an issue of …, indeed: The Struggle for Law, the struggle for – and here I come explicitly back to Weber – Science as Vocation.
Of course, in this perspective we may pose the question from the beginning in a different way: Re-finding Truth in Research can also be formulated as (Re-)Defining Truth in Research. In such a perspective we should not look for freedom from demand but for our own right, very much in the understanding of Schiller:
Culture, far from giving us freedom, only develops, as it advances, new necessities; the fetters of the physical close more tightly around us, so that the fear of loss quenches even the ardent impulse toward improvement, and the maxims of passive obedience are held to be the highest wisdom of life. Thus the spirit of the time is seen to waver between perversions and savagism, between what is unnatural and mere nature, between superstition and moral unbelief, and it is often nothing but the equilibrium of evils that sets bounds to it.
(op.cit.: 10)
A more or less busy day coming to an end … – and it is a more or less long fight ahead for science, for research that also acknowledges again that it is not least based on two major pillars: the one being about asking questions rather than waiting for questions to be asked. And the other being ready to accept also the role of an educator, not in an elitist understanding; but very much int he understanding of entering a dialogue and taking firm positions within it. Surely as well with both the readiness to make mistakes. And finally it means to be ready to makes these mistakes together, rather than simply claiming to be the greatest and to know only what is considered to be the ‘most important people’.
Otherwise such masterpieces as that of Shostakovich will never exist – not in arts, not in politics and not in science.

ireland – austerity or not?

So, my “little presentation“, draft, incomplete and actually a more or less lengthy background paper but a suitable framework to discuss the question from above by saying: Yes, but it is much worse. And at the same time: We should not blame Europe where we have to blame capitalism and Irish capitalism.

Talking about austerity easily fails to acknowledge the fact that we are facing a most fundamental restructuration of capitalism, possibly a kind of new phase of what Marx called original accumulation.

A completed version will be elaborated and published later.


PS: My special Thanks go to the University of Eastern Finland, personally to Juhani Laurinkari, who generously supported the research!

A Question …

… though it is probably not a deeply academic or philosophical one.

Reading the Economic and Financial Outlook, published with last year’s budget in Ireland I spot on page 24 the following sentence:

In the EU Commission’s assessment of the Programmes, a greater emphasis will be placed on fiscal policies for the following year(s) – in other words, there will be more ex ante analysis of budgetary plans as opposed to the ex post analysis that characterised the approach heretofore.

Now I am seriously wondering if we needed such a thorough global crisis and then further two to three years to arrive at such wisdom?


9/11 – Day of Remembrance

I remember it too well, and all came up again when I saw this remarkable short film.

9/11 – it all had been forgotten – and we all: those who had been witnesses and those who had been too you to witness and those who had not even been alive should never forget this date:

Chiles 11th of September 1973

My respect to the victims and my wish and engagement that those who are still living, spreading this toxic spirit, will never succeed.

Then and now it is time to stand up to stand together.

The Irish Recovery and Naughty Children

What will happen: writing a critical assessment of the Irish economy, approaching it in a radical way, assessing also the current Irish situation Irish in a long term perspective, I am wondering if there will be dear Irish readers who ….

Well, I remember one day few years back now. A colleague, I think he originally came from Belgium to Ireland, had been tabling publicly some fundamental critical points concerned with the Irish Universities, the prevailing clientelism and the fact that there are forces within this system claiming to work for smart developments and factually milking the system for their own sake. As said, he did it publicly, using the all-user-exchange e-mail service: mails circulated to all staff. Now, one of those days I had been sitting with colleagues down for a coffee – and this topic, more precise: his mails came up. There had been not much said against his positions. But one remark mad me  …, well one remark had been perhaps even a little bit of a surprise, not being expected amongst members of the claimed intellectually enlightened elite. Somebody asked the question: ‘But if it is all so bad, why doesn’t he go back to from where he comes?’

I don’t mind in one way: I will write and say what I think I have to write and say – and perhaps somebody will ‘send me back’ as well one day [btw., I never saw the colleague from Belgium again. Though I do not want to say that he had been physically pushed out of the way, I have to say that bullying is …, well: not nice]. Why I am writing about it here has another reason – of course, some readers know by now: nothing simple, and just a short straight line.

* Yesterday I posted on facebook:

of course madness: sitting in Finland, writing on Ireland, to be presented in Austria, and talking to colleague in Turkey on project on HR-finding out that we may meet in Germany as by chance we will be there at the same time. May introduce him then to my Irish students – taking them to Munich for study trip.

seems we are safe – Benedetto won’t be around then. Seen from another angle it is a funny idea thinking about different global players and different global games: from the top and from the bottom.

500-limit, otherwise I would have added: getting interesting info from Yu-ze in Taiwan, on Neurosociology and some news on Gramsci, of course from the south of Europe. All a question of hegemony, right?

And got some photos from back in Ireland. Really nice spot, have to go there one day to make holidays rather than hear from the holidays others make there 😉

* Contrast that with what I stated before ….


Reading through the papers that I need for the analysis of the Irish development and situation (and further development from here), looking at documents like budgets, the recovery plan, the ECB-statements, the Taoiseach’s action plan …, I can only find one of the issues confirmed, linking the different positions of “academic-pub talk about opposing colleagues” and governmental analysis together. The confirmation is concerned with one of the governance issues, only linked to the economic policy by allowing the government to proceed in such disgraceful and un-virtuous way of robbing the people, celebrating communities as self-sufficient and self-reliant and serving those who brought us onto the cemetery of the Irish tiger. I am talking about the following:

Of course, much of this can be linked to the following dimensions of ‘insularity’

  • the obvious fact of insularity in geographical terms;
  • the long-lasting  and persisting dominance of agriculture;
  • the persisting parishialisation and communitarianisation

the political ‘segmentation’, welding together what does not belong together – for instance communities and localities, claiming against each other rather than bringing together people whose common interest is based on the social class to which they belong.


This socio-political outline is important in order to understand the lack of ‘expressed demand’ of systematic and structurally sound public welfare and also the lack of public protest on a societal level. Family and community orientation has to be understood as being very much a matter of forbearances and inwardness of protest.

So, what do you do with the small, naughty child? ….

Sure, but there they often face the same situation – and perhaps they actually left there because of it: the readiness to assess situations by looking at a broader spectrum of historical explanations than that offered by misbehaviour of virtue-less governance. Hegemony is about more, it is also about acceptance – the larger brother beating up the smaller, saving the parents from doing a proper job.

– Having said this, may be at least some of the parents are less closed, less narrow-minded than the parochial wolves, wearing a cosmopolitan fur.

My neighbour: farmer’s wife, well educated about and having left her job in favour of marriage and farmer’s-wife existence may be about fifty years ago: she won’t read this – but I cannot recall that she said anything like what I reported above. Sitting for a nice cuppa at the kitchen table there had been some undeniable wisdom coming from her.

(see Herrmann, Peter, forthcoming: Social Policy – Production rather than Distribution. A Rights-Based Approach – as volume XIX of the socialcomparison series)