small print

Probably only few people perceive reading arithmetical formulas exciting, but writing them is somewhat exciting, in particular if one thinks about the small print, i.e. the thorough definition of the underlying and inherent items. Sure, the exiting part is then reading the work by others, using those formulas in a more or less novelist manner.

Is it the same in looking at real history? What is the small print, what is the big formula? The textbook-like and short official presentations, the various official documents on IMF policies etc.  or the handwritten notes, that had been buried in the achieves? Showing what irresponsible people knew, how they managed – or failed to manage – to influence private capitalist interests (another expression for: left control over national politics to global capitalists) and what they had been eating before, while and after decisions had been taken.

There is surely a good reason for burying “personal documents” in the vatican archives for 70 years …

Based a little bit on both is the draft on “Economy of Difference and Differentiation. Precarity – searching for a new interpretative paradigm” which is the preparation for moving collaboration with Vyacheslav Bobkov from the All Russia Centre of Living Standard  on our next book forward.

The work is especially building on:

Also the working Papers



Austerity policies (for some more general considerations on austerity see here)  in Belgium are not new – and a 2013 study by Oxfam about


may provide a glimpse at the problem. And it clearly shows the tensions that are not least caused by the European Union policies. So, it is no wonder that we find no measures against countries as Hungary where we find an ongoing battle about the attempts of the Orban-Government to criminalise homelessness and the homeless – relative success stories, informing us that the

Hungary Supreme Court Allows Homeless Back on Streets

are surely overshadowed by the fact that the same policy is now pursued by different means, as according to the same source now

The bill allows district local councils to rule certain areas as prohibited for the homeless. [1]

Of course, it still is a success, not least as we have to recognise in this context that

Civil Rights Groups Rally against Ban of Homeless from Public Areas

But, coming back to Belgium, there is more to it:

In short we may speak of a “convergence” of policies in Europe against homelessness as policies against the homeless.

Noteworthy is that austerity policies in Belgium are increasingly virulent.

In consequence not least of this Belgio-European political course we find that the scale of poverty increased tremendously recently, doubling in just four years.

But that is not all – these dramatic cuts in personal lives are going hand in hand with the redefinition of public spaces and the responsibility of private.

If EUrope really wants to claim its roots in ancient traditions (which is surely dangerous in some respect, e.g. if we think about the abduction of Europe by Zeus)[2]/[3] there would be good reason to revisit for instance Cicero’s work stating in paragraph 22 of the first book of De Officciis

Sed quoniam, ut praeclare scriptum est a Platone, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici, atque, ut placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignantur, ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent, in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi, communes utilitates in medium adferre, mutatione officiorum, dando accipiendo, tum artibus, tum opera, tum facultatibus devincire hominum inter homines societatem.

Steven Hill argues that

Europe … was founded on a feudal and Catholic value system which believed that the exercise of privilege by the wealthy came with wider social obligations beyond mere charity. Typical of this view, St. Augustine in the 5th century AD declared, “He who uses his wealth badly possesses it wrongfully.”

But even in Northern American law we find, according to Gregory S. Alexander the notion

that American property law, both on the private and public sides, includes a social-obligation norm, but that this norm has never been explicitly recognized as such nor systemically developed

Sure, engaging in this debate would open a wide field – Aquinas, for instance can be interpreted in both ways, as supporter of equality and inequality alike, as advocate of accumulation and modesty. And there would also be the need to discuss the “translation” of ancient traditions (not only of Christianity but also of Islam and all the others) into “modernity”.

In any case, the reality is rather simple: the public, the common, the general interest had been redefined by these European institutions – and they are further redefined – giving the power away to private bodies that are now building their fortresses within the fortress.

Looking at this fortress then, here the recent excessively violent form, it remains to be discussed if it is in line with Article 1 – Protection of property of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [4]

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

Sure, looking at the formulation of this passage from the protocol shows the entire dilemma: lawful is what is said by the law and the law says what the lawmakers say.

There can only be one conclusion then: we need a law made by the people and not for the people …. – and of course, for this we need the public spaces.

Otherwise, there are too many ways of people being killed – and some are slower than this, but not less brute.



[1] Hmmmm …: I opened the Wall Street Journal website for several times now and there is always the same ad coming up: “Discover your Perfect Home”

[2] see Maria Mies: Europe in the Global Economy or the Need to De-Colonize Europe; in: Peter Herrmann (Ed.): Challenges for a Global Welfare System: Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; 1999: 153-171; here: 160 f.

[3]            see in this context also the reflections SURELY PROVOCATIVE – THE STAGING OF ‘RUSALKA’ and EUROPE ANCIENT AND PRESENT

[4] as amended by Protocol No. 11 (Paris, 20.III.1952 – according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155), as of its entry into force, on 1 November 1998)

Natale – alcune cose non cambiano

– A proposito, – soggiunse il burattino, – per andare alla scuola mi manca sempre qualcosa: anzi mi manca il più e il meglio.
– Cioè?
– Mi manca l’Abbecedario.
– Hai ragione: ma come si fa per averlo?
– È facilissimo: si va da un libraio e si compra.
– E i quattrini?
– Io non ce l’ho.
– Nemmeno io, – soggiunse il buon vecchio, facendosi tristo.

E Pinocchio, sebbene fosse un ragazzo allegrissimo, si fece tristo anche lui: perché la miseria, quando è miseria davvero, la intendono tutti: anche i ragazzi.

Collodi, Carlo, 1183: Pinocchio

… What is really needed …

“I am very sorry, sir,” said Bob. “I am behind my time.”

“You are?” repeated Scrooge. “Yes. I think you are. Step this way, sir, if you please.”

“It’s only once a year, sir,” pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. “It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.”

“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

Charles Dickens, 1843: A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas


Eine andere Weihnachtsgeschichte

Unser Alltagsleben besteht aus lauter erhaltenden, immer wiederkehrenden Verrichtungen. Dieser Zirkel von Gewohnheiten ist nur Mittel zu einem Hauptmittel, unserm irdischen Daseyn überhaupt, das aus mannichfaltigen Arten zu existiren gemischt ist. Philister leben nur ein Alltagsleben. Das Hauptmittel scheint ihr einziger Zweck zu seyn. Sie thun das alles, um des irdischen Lebens willen; wie es scheint und nach ihren eignen Äußerungen scheinen muß. Poesie mischen sie nur zur Nothdurft unter, weil sie nun einmal an eine gewisse Unterbrechung ihres täglichen Laufs gewöhnt sind. In der Regel erfolgt diese Unterbrechung alle sieben Tage, und könnte ein poetisches Septanfieber heißen. Sonntags ruht die Arbeit, sie leben ein bißchen besser als gewöhnlich und dieser Sonntagsrausch endigt sich mit einem etwas tiefern Schlafe als sonst; daher auch Montags alles noch einen raschern Gang hat. Ihre parties de plaisir müssen konvenzionell, gewöhnlich, modisch seyn, aber auch ihr Vergnügen verarbeiten sie, wie alles, mühsam und förmlich.

Den höchsten Grad seines poetischen Daseyns erreicht der Philister bey einer Reise, Hochzeit, Kindtaufe, und in der Kirche. Hier werden seine kühnsten Wünsche befriedigt, und oft übertroffen.

Ihre sogenannte Religion wirkt blos, wie ein Opiat: reizend, betäubend, Schmerzen aus Schwäche stillend. Ihre Früh- und Abendgebete sind ihnen, wie Frühstück und Abendbrot, nothwendig. Sie können’s nicht mehr lassen. Der derbe Philister stellt sich die Freuden des Himmels unter dem Bilde einer Kirmeß, einer Hochzeit, einer Reise oder eines Balls vor: der sublimirte macht aus dem Himmel eine prächtige Kirche mit schöner Musik, vielem Gepränge, mit Stühlen für das gemeine Volk parterre, und Kapellen und Emporkirchen für die Vornehmern.

Die schlechtesten unter ihnen sind die revoluzionairen Philister, wozu auch der Hefen der fortgehenden Köpfe, die habsüchtige Race gehört.

Grober Eigennutz ist das nothwendige Resultat armseliger Beschränktheit. Die gegenwärtige Sensazion ist die lebhafteste, die höchste eines Jämmerlings. Über diese kennt er nichts höheres. Kein Wunder, daß der durch die äußern Verhältnisse par force dressirte Verstand nur der listige Sklav eines solchen stumpfen Herrn ist, und nur für dessen Lüste sinnt und sorgt.

Novalis, 1798: Blüthenstaub

things in perspective

Yes, the development of Cuban-USNA-relationships is great. Still, there are some things a bit worrying, for instance if we read in a

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba

we read

… it does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people …

There are many more interesting aspects in the formulation that provokes some thoughts … – about who states and people are, about what is good and what is bad …

One source we should not forget when following the debate is surely the one from Cuba itself.