Taming of the Screw*

Taming of the Screw*

Mapu ñuke – Mother Earth

Mapu ñuke, mapu ñuke
tami rewkvleci jawe
coyvmkey kom puh ka kom antv
fvxa kuifi kakerume fvh,
wefkey bewfv reke
ka dewkey pehoykvleci xayen,
alofkvleci wagvben keciley,
dewmalekenmu, coyvlekenmu
fij kuyfike kekerumeci folil.

Mapu ñuke, mapu ñuke
mi pu pvxa jeqkey pu mapuce,
amuleci hegvmvwvnmu
naqvn antv meu ka pu liwen

Lelfvn mew ka mawida mew,
xiwe, peweh ka foye
leliwvlnieygvn ta kaifvwenu,
wixapvray tami pu toki
mi kisu gvnewam ka mi rumekagenuam
ka tami poyeatew ka ayvatew
mapu ñuke

**

Mother earth,
in your undulating body
the eternal germs
pullulate at day and night.
like rivers they debouch
and outpour in cascades
of enigmatic stars
sprouting, burgeoning –
the roots of the ancestors.

Mother earth,
in permanent change
elevating from dusk and daybreak
your inmost bears Mapuces.

In the valleys, in the mountains
Rewes, Pewenes and Canelos are standing
the countenance directed to the sky,
raise the Tokis
to liberate you, to protect you
to love you fondly.
Mother Earth

(Rayen Kvyeh; translation P.H.)

*****

A study trip – officially it came to its end on Friday night, when UCC’s Higher Diploma Course in Social Policy went together for dinner, returning to Cork then on Saturday lunchtime. For my part, I could not join, some work still needs to be done.
And as part of this I date the end of the study trip on Sunday afternoon – Orhan Akman, deputy of Die Linke in the city council in Munich, whom the student group met on Friday morning in the town hall, is again my host. This time it is in the building of the Trade Union – and it is on an entirely different occasion. The title of the event is

Struggle for Freedom, self determination and human dignity by Kurds and Mapuche.

While I go there I read Frigga Haug’s Die Vier-in-Einem-Perspektive. Politik von Frauen für eine Neue Linke (Four-in-One-Perspective. Politics by Women for a New Left). The book is a plea for recognising the need to approach different facets: employment, reproduction, politics and culture as organic whole.

Orhan welcomes me – as I am arrived before the official beginning I have the opportunity to talk a little bit with him. And also with Rayen Kvyeh, the writer, poet and activist of the Mapuche.
It is such a difference: the meetings during the week, all in their own way highly political, the reading of Frigga’s book – surely radical but nevertheless very much so much dealing with the reality as we know it from our daily experience – and now the confrontation with an apparently entirely different array. After Orhan’s general opening remarks – the personal welcomes of some participants and the speakers, after giving an outline of the event: the presentations, the open discussion and the ‘cultural event’ at the end – he gives a brief introduction into the topic, namely ….

Chile under Fire
…., the student movement, the massive protests against an educational system which is by its high costs extremely exclusive, not allowing ordinary people to access it … – and the fact that the students are expressing their solidarity with the Mapuche. But who did ever hear about the Mapuche, who knows that it is a minority living to a large extent in Chile, having been dispelled from their own land, resisting and asking to be recognised as ethnic group, claiming as such the recognition of their own rights. A people who resisted the conquest – first by Christobal Colón who arrived by a navigation error in 1492 in the Americas rather than in India, the subsequent ‘import of capitalism’. They resisted and continue to resist not least by maintaining collective property and sustainable economic development.
A people of the moon rather than the sun – the first being female, the second being male; a people not knowing pyramids – triangular, hierarchical constructions – but maintaining ‘levelled structures’ of collective governance. As such their resistance is not least geared against the establishment of reservations aiming on reocupación – re-occupation. – Rings a bell?

Something they have in common with the Kurds …, they have in common like the

Luna of Ashes
The eyes, blinded with a black bandage
the air compressed into a meter by a meter
captivated, tormented silence
between cables, bashes and blood

My comprehension goes astray
in endless labyrinths
made of the raw realities and its dark imaginations

Sweating cold, rage shivering
my skin
spans across the flayed skeleton
it begins leaving is life behind itself
in slow, pertinacious agony

My children are calling for me
under the chime they call
immersing my eyes, engrossing in drifty flood
my body purifying, laving in the warmth
my moribund thoughts

step by step, a small step
my blinded eyes stride
the narrow paths of my soil

Aside the loom
my grandmother gins the maize
a kiss from the auricaria, you are collecting
pignolias,
sweating in the oven
you shed tears
the streets conquered by the military forces

A forest of affection strikes roots
deep
in my body
and gives raise
to a rebellious fruit.

(Rayen Kvyeh; translation P.H.)

A song concludes the first presentation – the sounds of Victor Jara.

****

Songül Karabulut, member of the board of the Kurdish National Congress, presents: the history of the Kurds, making the point that a people living according to their origins cannot be easily erased. As people of freedom they first contributed – during the Ottoman wars and the dissolution of the Empire between 1908 and 1918 – to the liberation of Turkey. However, it meant laying the ground for their own oppression by the new Turkish regime, the fate they shared with the communists. Genocide, psycho-genocide, assimilation – the traditions of the divide et impera – against the Mesopotamian people who stood at the crèche of civilisation.

***

On the way back I remember Frigga’s book, her reference to Marx’ Grundrisse, where he states that it is finally the economy of time that is at the core of all economy. She argues against glorifying the past, rebukes the neglects of developing the productive forces.

However, the oppression of women, structurally linked to the dominance of increasing profit as Leitmotif has to be limited in favour of “goals of quality of life”. (116)

***

It had been a long day – the conclusion of the study trip in its own way. Surely the end of a week with diverse impressions:

  • A quick overview over four-hundred year’s of Western arts: the development of Western culture in a nutshell: From Duerer’s Four Apostles to the work by Chamberlain.
  • The confrontation with the most barbarian derailing which may be the most pronounced culmination of the ambiguity of a modernism which turned a people of thinkers and poets into a people of judges and hangmen (a Volk of Dichter und Denker wurde zum Volk der Richter und Henker)
  • The various impressions of The Taming of the Screw*: the well-ordered system, its success peaking in the fact that Lenin described by saying that there surely will not be a revolution starting n Germany as the German’s will first buy a ticket for the Platform before they conquer the railway lines
  • And the insights in silent revolutions – germs of resistance, confessions and the adaption of rational rules in order to change …

A circle coming to a close – on a personal level: Monday it will come to a close, providing a stage for new steps. Not as means of strangulation but as point allowing a new departure: The collaboration on Human Rights I started with Mehmet from ODTUe some time ago; this Monday’s meeting with Lorena from the MPI, hoping that we develop cooperation on this topic and linking it to her country: Bolivia. Drawing a bow between the three of us – and in some way brought together by the activists: Rayen and Orhan.
Many facets, laboriously and playfully coming together like the different individual bars and melodies in a symphony. A process of relational appropriation – it may be a machine of alienation and oppression but it also may evolve as an artful symphony which allows individuals to develop with their own timbre, merging to a gorgeous masterpiece of humanism.

There is a good reason for thinking more about what taming may mean.

***************

by any means we should erase any negative undertone when talking of a screw, highlight instead the independence and resistance.

Annunci

Where to go …? – Obituary for Vaeterchen Franz, Looking Ahead

It had been the first program day of this year’s study visit with a group of students from Ireland: The Higher Diploma in Social Policy. A small group of students, entering with entirely different backgrounds from their first studies, doing this postgrad-course in order to be able to move on in studying social work, social policy, or just to leave it there after obtaining some fundamental knowledge in social (political) science. I had been near to write “basic” but it is really more about fundamentals. Not so much about how this society works at the moment and what contemporary issues are about. It is more about gaining an understanding of the principles …
…, and of course this includes some fundamental issues on political economy – what do figures mean: from the changes of some figures we don’t learn much as long as we do not know that the profit rate is not just a different name for turn over, corporate income or the like) and philosophy of law (paragraphs and regulations may change more or less on a short term basis – but law, legal systems will maintain their character as means of control: oppression and establishing a very specific hegemony for a long time, lasting much longer than their frequent offspring). And for the first time I took the opportunity to include a little bit history of arts: the tour through the exciting exhibitions of the old and the modern Pinakothek.

(Sure, mighty proud that Martha and Lorena, colleagues and friends from the Institute, joined – aren’t we all glad if people listen who do not have to listen, people who just are interested in what we are saying?
And also glad that the students asked me if I would join them the afternoon – apparently they cannot get enough from me 😉 – so we went for a visit at the memorial: KZ Gedenkstaette Dachau)

… the first program day, visiting two agencies, one working with ‘unaccompanied minor refugees’, the other an umbrella organisation, supporting self-help.

In the evening I still have some time left, thinking about the insights from the visits, also thinking about the words I read the other day:

that one cannot write about social policy issues like writing a music score, with the different chimes coming together, building one large symphonic piece.

And then I come across a sad news: Vaeterchen Franz …

Franz-Josef Degenhardt, born in December 1931 in Schwelm in Westphalia passed away the afternoon. Our first study day – the day he drew his last breath:
bearing the academic degree of Doctor of Law – a great poet, satirist, novelist, and – first and foremost – folksinger/songwriter left us, standing for decidedly left-wing politics.

Remembering having met him, remembering his songs … – perhaps he had been doing the impossible with his songs as it is perhaps more in general arts we have to pay more attention to as it is about:

writing about social policy issues like writing a music score, with the different chimes coming together, building one large symphonic piece.

He is gone – so it is even more now up to us not to forget and to move on, looking for the truth.

And we have to continue – we can hear the challenge ahead here: ….

Academic Strangulation – or …

… what is the parallel between modern academic life and fox hunting?

Much had been written on the effect of bureaucratisation, the emergence of an ‘iron cage’, contributing to the ‘specialist without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of humanity (Menschentums) never before achieved’ as Max Weber developed it in his work on the protestant ethics. A process of rationalisation, entering into all pores of life. As such this bureaucracy is not much more than the political-administrative complement of what Karl Marx analysed as the penetration of daily life by the complete commodification of the capitalist economy- the hegemonic system with the two firm legs.
And in academic life we complain frequently about managerialisation as principle that brings these two legs as crutches into the university. We complain about the administrative burden and also about the requirements defined by cost-efficiency of research and the need of applicability of research results.
Surely, there are good reasons to ask researchers to show that what they are doing is ‘good’, is useful for society and not the waste of money in ivory towers.

But most part of the weeks work here in Barcelona – on PERARES (Public Engagement with Research and Research Engagement with Society) – overall surely an exciting enterprise, not least due to a highly committed team that runs the overall project – showed a dimension we do not take sufficiently into account, we easily forget by the more or less short-term orientation of the complains: the shift to ‘project’ financing of academic work and research is not just an administrative burden and a permanent threat – for many an existential threat. Beyond that – and reaching much deeper – is the adaptation of a narrowed thinking, not really reaching much beyond the three (or the like) project circle and instead even looking for ‘real questions’. Action plans instead of research plans – accountable and calculable … action research rather than search for sound social practice. Researchers being more politicians than anything else.
But politicians not in the sense of generalists with spirit, activists led by their heart; but like politicians of the mainstream ‘democracies’ of Western shape: hunting success measured in lack of substance: sentences written in figures and letters forced into calculations.

Thinking in particular about young colleagues, growing up in the environment of good-will hunting: projects – at least a desk for some time, some kind of title …. – and …
… it reminds me a little bit of the life in the part of the world where I live, where fox hunting is still alive. In these hierarchies every member of the community has  a place. And everybody knows about the place: its opportunities and limitations …. – and as long as there is a fox we can hunt everybody is ‘better off’.
It is a little bit like researching about social exclusion: as long as we, the researchers know the terms and (claim to) define them we are better off. So it keeps all us busy, running like the fox: hoping for the ditch where we can hide, knowing that it will allow us only minutes of rest; hiding behind the next tree, allowing us to avoid for short times at least to face the barrel of the hunter, fleeing into a kennel, forgetting about the pack of hounds waiting for us at the exit.

When will we learn how to run together …? And when will as well younger colleagues learn again that are asked to do research and not write sentences rather then filling in forms …

… – at the end the experience of the week’s work shows: it is surely not a question of age and it is not true that all is and all are the same. There are even bright lights, also making shadows more visible.

Perhaps that made it especially enjoyable to visit before all this work started the Liceau, listening  to Scenes from Goethe’s Faust. Isn’t most important who is the last to break out in joyful Mephistophelean laughter?

Surely not another third way

In a presentation, titled

Quines són les competècies qu l’alumnat universtari necessita per a l’emprenedoria social?

(Facultat Pedagogia. Universitat de Barcelona – November 2nd, 2011), another dimension of the globalisation and crisis challenge will be looked at – different from what had been presented recently in the “ten arguments” adopted by the scientific council of attac.

Many debates on Third Ways can be found, accompanying revolutionary movements, aiming on overcoming the need for revolutionary changes or seeing themselves as some kind of fundamental change itself. Leaving these debates aside, there are especially in the current crisis surely good reasons to think about the co-operative sector or social economy. And doing so surely requires taking a perspective that is going beyond the more traditional stance of seeing them as ‘entrepreneurs with a broader understanding of entrepreneurial goals’. Point of departure is not another look at the enterprises of the social economy. Rather, central point of reference for the presentation will be a look at the processes of societal (dis)integration and (de-)focussing, in particular

* the loss of the wider understanding of economic processes as genuinely social, including the reference to processes of relational appropriation as matter of working on “different goals” such as the provision of goods and services, social integration, environmental maintenance and others;
* the loss of an integrated understanding of the different stages of production: from generating raw materials to processing them, manufacturing, distribution, exchange and consumption;
* the loss of local reference of production and consumption (the well-known strawberries for Christmas dinner in Alaska);
* last but not least, the dissolution of use value and exchange value as integrated moments of the overall process.

In this perspective, the social economy (rather than primarily the enterprises of the social economy) may actually function as at least one facilitator for a new debate on perspective global for economic development, complementing other areas. Also, this may open perspectives for teaching that is not oriented along lines of moral commitment, pleading for corporate social responsibility. We need indeed a new perspective in economic development that focuses again on political economy rather than improved economics and management techniques.