De Nieuwe Kerk and attac

Can there be anything more appropriate than sitting in De Nieuwe Kerk, listening first to the smaller transeptorgel – while looking at the windows that depict the relationship between church, state and capital -, then the hoofdorgel – with this facing the established power, as later personalised by Napoleon Bonaparte, ruling between 1803 and 1813 The Netherlands – and preparing the SOAK-session on economic theories for next week, when going to the attac summer academy?
What is so often forgotten when discussing economic theories is the fact that they have to be seen in the historical context.
Karl Marx gives one example, writing in 1864 in the Inaugural Address
of the International Working Men’s Association:

This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labor raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class. Hence the Ten Hours’ Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class.

This means not less that the solutions we are looking for today have to be the solutions for today …. – not simply claming moral behaviour within an amoral system, not looking for new Napoleonic leaders; but it is about solutions that are founded in and approproate to today’s development of the productive forces.

Why then de Nieuwe Kerk and attac? It is rather obvious: solutions that are founded in and approproate to today’s development of the productive forces means to look for ways ofdeveloping a new hegemony (or counter-hegemony). Is there any better place to think about it when looking at the old ones? Seeing where they had been successful and knowing where they failed? The bourgeoisie, surely, had been at some stage a progressive force – as Marx states in chapter 26 of the first volume of Capital:

Hence, the historical movement which changes the producers into wage-workers, appears, on the one hand, as their emancipation from serfdom and from the fetters of the guilds, …

He speaks of the chevaliers d’industrie and continues:

The industrial capitalists, these new potentates, had on their part not only to displace the guild masters of handicrafts, but also the feudal lords, the possessors of the sources of wealth. In this respect, their conquest of social power appears as the fruit of a victorious struggle both against feudal lordship and its revolting prerogatives, and against the guilds and the fetters they laid on the free development of production and the free exploitation of man by man.

And today we see not amoral hoarding etc., we see that the accumulation by dispossession (Harvey) – or accumulation by appropriation of all pores of life is again such a fetter of new developments – cum grano salis what Marx said in chapter 3:

The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.

This is what we truly need today – and reflecting thoday’s hegemony.


Einstein and the Elderly Man in Stockholm’s Metro

May be people are right saying I cannot wrap up my professional mind and consciousness, leave it somewhere and stroll around, enjoying myself as possibly other people do. But I think it is not anything like that – it us nothing else than common sense. So, taking the opportunity to do a bit of a touristy side trip (actually yes, Stockholm: I’m lovin’ it), I left bit earlier – and at the central station I saw that I hadn’t been the only one. A colleague from Uruguay asked me for the green line of the tunnelbana. I explained to her as good as I could:

Por favor síganme. Estoy yendo más o menos la misma manera.

It is the opposite platform of the red line which I have to take to Södermalm.
Arriving on the platform she looked puzzled, and I showed her again on the map. An elderly man asked us:

Du förlorat? Kan jag hjälpa?

All questions had been solved in a blink of an eye – and with some arms and pointing of fingers and looking into each others faces, this replacing words (which we didn’t have in the needed language)  – she walked green, I walke red. The old man “walked black” – even in a rich country like Sweden there are people depending on what they find in the black plastic bags of the rubbish bins.
Sure, he has time – time to help, time to wait for any train taking him at any time to anywhere. Perhaps it is the fear of people to end in a similar situation that urges them to be pushy: as soon as the train arrives they want to jump on board, disregarding those who disembark, disregarding those who are in front of them.
It is surely an entirely different story that comes to my mind when I visit later the Nobel-museum.
I’m tremendously impressed by Albert Einstein – yes, I know about the issues: women, emancipation …. – sure, very much two different stories. But leaving the “dislikes” aside, there is one thing I appreciate so much. In the exhibition it says

You have to be brave to think differently. Albert Einstein was daring. He read all the books about physics he could find and agreed with some of what he read but not with everything.

And my personal emphasis:


Today it seems that Nobel laureates – not least in the area of economics – are those who are “there in time”. A kind of “peer-trend-setters”: they sniff around, see obvious gaps, reproduce the solutions that are known already, presenting them with a slightly new flavour – and rush to the door as soon as it opens. And they aren’t even surprised (do the actually even mention) when the door opens towards a deep cave of eclecticism: spider webs of commissions that lack anything beyond pragmatism.
It may be that the insight from a station at the tunnelbana in Stockholm and the thought about the Nobel laureates are two completely different stories. It defitely is one story – and one that is hugely relevant here – that there is no Nobel laureate for economics. We should never forget: it is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. A prize for opportunists and pragmatists but usually not for brave visi0naries.

freedom ltd.

Limitating freedom by offering free markets

Sometimes I think people who say that things are further deteriorating after I said it is TIME TO SAY GOODBYE.

Yesterday I met a colleague – he worked probably for most of his life in Ireland (though “traveller” as myself – see Diary from a Journey into Another World: Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments (forthcoming).

After having worked for University College of Cork – and after not he best possible experiences in terms of collegiality, acknowledgment etc. – he moved to Italy. Of course, free movement – the fundamental freedoms ….

UCC runs a special pension scheme – basically a private one. Free movement now means that the time he spent working under that private scheme will not be recognised when it comes to calculating his public pension.

Don’t blame me now for having left working in the EU-lobbying area etc. .. – well, seriously, it is a complex issue where EU-law is surely as major hurdle int he way; and equally national policy of privatisation is in the way, and this national Irish path is surely not least enforced by EU-policies towards privatisation. Bottom line: nobody is “guilty” – and everybody has to pay: everybody as matter of our societies loosing sight of being societies. They are increasingly a collection of forced-to-be-individuals.
Can anything else be the result of a policy that defines general interest as matter of economic competitiveness?