The New World – Nearly There?

Friday night I retuned from another visit in Hangzhou, China. It had been less than a year ago that I visited that place (btw with the most beautiful scenery of the Westlake and a pleasant surprise visit by 吕思, who came from Shanghai. To be mentioned because of dimensions.

The new line travels between the Shanghai Hongqiao Station and Hangzhou East Station. The trains travel the 150 kilometer distance in about 45 minutes. It reaches a top speed of about 350 kilometers an hour or 217 miles an hour.

It is surely something one would not even think about in Europe, especially as the longest part of the trip had actually been from her home to the train station itself. Dimensions … – she said to me:

Coming to Hangzhou, it always feels like coming to a small town.

Well, this you may judge, or try to judge: coming from a metropolis with about 24 million inhabitants surely qualifies a place with 5 million people. But speaking of a small town …. Well, then you can imagine that distance and trip to meet a friend for a couple of hours is measured and assessed in different ways. But also time and development takes new dimensions. As stated ‘It had been less than a year ago that I visited that place’. And the development is one that one could imagine for a couple of years. It is the building, the reshaping of the city, the economy and politics (“social politics” in the sense of shaping everyday’s life) and indeed everyday’s life, still caught by some form of the communist, and also traditional Asian perspective; but also totally emerged in the new capitalism. Including the increasing criminality, drug abuse …
May be we see there something that the world saw in respect of religion at some stage: the reformed catholicism (well, the term “reformationated” does not exist) being the better bearer of the tradition than the dogmatics. So the “reformed (or reformatted) capitalism” may in this case be the “better capitalism”. I am not sure if one can say it this way, but at least the breakthrough of a very specific capitalism is amazing and also challenging in analytical terms.
I am just trying to elaborate the question – far from being able to find an answer. I have to prepare a paper for Moscow and in some way you may say all that: China, Russia … is very much about working in some way in the future. The same is – possibly – also the case with my occasional engagement in Cuba. While having been in China, I received an invitation from the Cuban embassy here in Rome: an information session on “Investing in Cuba”.

I think and have the impression that all this is not just a matter of globalisation in terms of sprawling of capitalism. This may include the development of a “new human” – to some extent reminding me H.G.Wells’ Time Machine: an upper class, living kind of leisurely, privileged, even acknowledging that they are privileged but not doing anything about “the others”, invisible …, untouchable … – and there we may then come back to some form of “new feudalism” – I titled once a publication as “New Princedoms” (World’s New Princedoms. Critical Remarks on Claimed Alternatives by New Life; Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publishers, 2010; New edition: Bremen/Oxford: EHV academic press, 2012 [as: Writings on Philosophy and Economy of Power, 1); and just a day before having left Europe, I returned from Budapest. Just a tiny remark, not saying anything about the awful situation and the frightening real politics, instead a metaphor: Orban intends to move to Buda Castle; and he is still aiming on getting the Karl Marx statute out of the building of my university (Corvinus).

– No hope then? Flying back, I watched a film which I found in youtube. A “novelist documentation” on Giordano Bruno. This narrative presentation made it especially comprehensible what happened – and at the same time absolutely elusive. Sure, we do not need martyrs – if we may see him as such. But we surely need people who are, as he had been, ready to complex thinking – and people who are ready to enter the process of ‘making society’, instead of engaging in politics – and that is something Bruno showed for his time, now the monument on the Piazza Fiori reminding those how know …, those who are ready to accept the importance of not accepting …

The intellectual power is never at rest; it is never satisfied with any comprehended truth, but ever proceeds on and on towards that truth which is not comprehended. So also the will, which follows the apprehension; we see that it is never satisfied with anything finite.

A long and winded road …

… but in some ways this may be a wrong impression.

It is not often that I go to the Porta di Roma, one of the main shopping centres in Rome. And though many of us don’t like them, we all have to admit at least some kind of fascination.

Not often that I enter that temple, but I had to go there today. It means starting more or less from the Porta Pia. And following the Via Nomentana to the “paradaise of consumerism”.

And in the light of it, it is so easy to think of the good old times. But wait a while. Sophokles already said:

Money! Nothing worse in our lives, so current, rampant, so corrupting. Money – you demolish cities, rot men from their homes, you train and twist good minds and set them on to the most atrocious schemes. No limit, you make them adept at every kind of outrage, every godless crime – money.’

And though Protestant Reformation wanted to break with the rule – 1517 the theses had been published by Luther – the selling of indulgence did not come to an end at the time.

And perhaps the famous “branding” of so many products is similar to the shift from seeling of indugence to absolution through good deeds.

And talking about good deeds is also today a major topic.

That may today then be shifted to what is called Corporate Social Responsibility. Good words coming from the palaces and temples of finance-, trade- and surely also production centres. But it is not new – don’t we know this pattern?

‘Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff,’ Christ had commanded his apostles. He had sternly warned, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for someone who is rich to enter into the kingdom of God.’ And he had instructed one of the faithful, who had asked what he needed to do to live the most holy sort of life, ‘if you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give your money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.’

(Bailey, Michael D., 2003: Religious Poverty, Mendicancy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages; in: Church History; Vol 72.3; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 457-483; here: 457; with reference: Mathew 10:9-10, 19:10, 19:24, and 19:21 respectively; quotes taken from the New Revised Standard Version)

Sure, not least we know from a famous colleague of mine that what is needed is not the change of interpretating reality, but the change of the reality itself.