Serious Lessons

Lessons have to be learned.

Student asks his principal, “Where is my teacher?”
“Citywide layoffs”, replies the principal.
“My text books?” asks the student.
“State austerity plan”, says the principal.

“Student loan?” continues the student.
“Federal budget cuts”, says the principal.
Finally, exasperated, student asks, “But how am I going to get an education?”.
To which the equally exasperated principal replies, “This is your education”.

We make take it as lesson to be learned from Greece

On the referendum in Greece

Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras
For six months now, the Greek government has been waging a battle in conditions of unprecedented economic suffocation to implement the mandate you gave us on January 25.

The mandate we were negotiating with our partners was to end the austerity and to allow prosperity and social justice to return to our country. It was a mandate for a sustainable agreement that would respects both democracy and common European rules and lead to the final exit from the crisis.

Throughout this period of negotiations, we were asked to implement the agreements concluded by the previous governments with the Memoranda, although they were categorically condemned by the Greek people in the recent elections. However, not for a moment did we think of surrendering, that is to betray your trust.

After five months of hard bargaining, our partners, unfortunately, issued at the Eurogroup the day before yesterday an ultimatum to Greek democracy and to the Greek people. An ultimatum that is contrary to the founding principles and values of Europe, the values of our common European project.

They asked the Greek government to accept a proposal that accumulates a new unsustainable burden on the Greek people and undermines the recovery of the Greek economy and society, a proposal that not only perpetuates the state of uncertainty but accentuates even more the social inequalities. The proposal of institutions includes: measures leading to further deregulation of the labor market, pension cuts, further reductions in public sector wages and an increase in VAT on food, dining and tourism, while eliminating tax breaks for the Greek islands.

These proposals directly violate European social and fundamental rights: they show that concerning work, equality and dignity, the aim of some of the partners and institutions is not a viable and beneficial agreement for all parties but the humiliation the entire Greek people.

These proposals mainly highlight the insistence of the IMF in the harsh and punitive austerity and make more timely than ever the need for the leading European powers to seize the opportunity and take initiatives which will finally bring to a definitive end the Greek sovereign debt crisis, a crisis affecting other European countries and threatening the very future of European integration.

Fellow Greeks,

Right now, weighs on our shoulders the historic responsibility towards the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people for the consolidation of democracy and national sovereignty. Our responsibility for the future of our country. And this responsibility requires us to answer the ultimatum on the basis of the sovereign will of the Greek people.

A short while ago at the Cabinet meeting, I suggested the organization of a referendum, so that the Greek people are able to decide in a sovereign way. The suggestion was unanimously accepted.

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will be urgently convened to ratify the proposal of the Cabinet for a referendum next Sunday, July 5th on the question of the acceptance or the rejection of the proposal of institutions.

I have already informed about my decision the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany, the President of the ECB, and tomorrow my letter will formally ask the EU leaders and institutions to extend for a few days the current program in order for the Greek people to decide, free from any pressure and blackmail, as required by the Constitution of our country and the democratic tradition of Europe.

Fellow Greeks,

To the blackmailing of the ultimatum that asks us to accept a severe and degrading austerity without end and without any prospect for a social and economic recovery, I ask you to respond in a sovereign and proud way, as the history of the Greek people commands.

To authoritarianism and harsh austerity, we will respond with democracy, calmly and decisively. Greece, the birthplace of democracy will send a resounding democratic response to Europe and the world.

I am personally committed to respect the outcome of your democratic choice, whatever that is. And I’m absolutely confident that your choice will honor the history of our country and send a message of dignity to the world.

In these critical moments, we all have to remember that Europe is the common home of peoples. That in Europe there are no owners and guests. Greece is and will remain an integral part of Europe and Europe is an integral part of Greece. But without democracy, Europe will be a Europe without identity and without a compass.

I invite you all to display national unity and calm in order to take the right decisions. For us, for future generations, for the history of the Greeks. For the sovereignty and dignity of our people.

Translated by Stathis Kouvelakis

Hegemony

The are different sides and it is crucial to recognise where one stands.

  • You see the car driving, tainted window, not allowing you to look into it — let alone to throw stones …
  • You are sitting in the car, tainted windows, not enabling you to see what is going on outside — if there is a need, others may throw stones or come with tanks …
  • You are on both sides, at different times, and at no time really being on either side … — definitely, really sitting in the glasshouse, just don’t throw stones, they will definitely hit back …
  • Walking – no tainted windows …, no side …, just the one: and we may throw stones … — but why should we?

So accepting

Of course, there is some hassle when it comes to using the Internet here in China – this includes services like dropbox, google and wordpress. Still, there is a but …, we are easily throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Searching for “a way around”, I found this:

Welcome to the wonderful restriction colloquiallly known as “the Great Firewall.” All of China’s Internet providers route through national proxies that block specific terms, redirect certain sites, and do various other kinds of nastiness.

As an example, if you’re outside China and perform an image search for “Tiananmen,” you’ll see photos of the confrontation in the square. If you’re inside China and do the same thing, you’ll see photos of trees and tourists, but no tanks.

I do not want to discuss tanks and trees but the underlying supposition of tremendous freedom in other parts of the world. I am using a “multilingual” computer, i.e. writing in different languages, the operating system running in one language, the software running in (a) different language(s) and traveling a bit around the world. The google-censorship, the youtube-censorship etc. is frequently stunning – we ac tally all know about it, though may be to different degrees and we easily accept it.

Also, reading different national newspapers, especially when traveling … – well, the critique should not worry so much about the single cases but about about principles of hegemonic structures that are defending what is the great achievements of enlightenment, namely sovereignty and freedom, stripped off their humanist stances and veiled in the spirit of nationality and capitalist market principles and religious fundamentalism and parochialism.

I came across a kind of perfection of the principle the other day, opening a website, obviously open for google advertisement. The that had been shown pointed to a VPN-service for China, promising

Be Free, Truly Anonymous & Secured

and opening the way to Facebook, youtube etc. – the imagined freedom of (not only, but also) exhibitionism.
For me the only reason for not getting too worried is somewhat frightening in itself: I grew up in Western Germany, what had been the FRG. I remember too well this times one could there a little and telling “click” when using the phone, seeing a tiny stripe on the envelope, telling us about the “special treatment” and the cameras behind the curtains when we rallied against and for .. a better world. (For detailed documentation, please contact the headquarters of the NSA, though I am not sure if the freedom of information act applies ….).

If it fails, you may apply for a job directly.

Still along way to go … – the real danger is that we slide down the way Uncle Sam uses

Back from the celebration of Dragon Boat Festival at 汨罗江

Just returning from the celebration of Dragon Boat Festival at 汨罗江, remembering a poem:

Alone I stand in the autumn cold 

On the tip of Orange Island, 

The Hsiang flowing northward; 

I see a thousand hills crimsoned through 

By their serried woods deep-dyed, 

And a hundred barges vying 

Over crystal blue waters. 

Eagles cleave the air, 

Fish glide in the limpid deep; 

Under freezing skies a million creatures contend in freedom. 

Brooding over this immensity, 

I ask, on this boundless land 

Who rules over man’s destiny?

I was here with a throng of companions, 

Vivid yet those crowded months and years. 

Young we were, schoolmates, 

At life’s full flowering; 

Filled with student enthusiasm 

Boldly we cast all restraints aside. 

Pointing to our mountains and rivers, 

Setting people afire with our words, 

We counted the mighty no more than muck. 

Remember still 

How, venturing midstream, we struck the waters 

And waves stayed the speeding boats? 

毛泽东 (Mao Zedong)

Surely a beginning only

It is surely not a complete analysis of the encyclical letter which is due to be published today. But one thing seems to be striking: it continues to dichotomise economy and ecology, only demanding taking responsibility FOR nature. 

Quando si analizza l’impatto ambientale di qualche iniziativa economica , si è soliti conside- rare gli effetti sul suolo, sull’acqua e sull’aria, ma non sempre si include uno studio attento dell’impatto sulla biodiversità, come se la perdita di alcune specie o di gruppi animali o vegetali fosse qualcosa di poco rilevante.

(Para 35)
Shouldn’t we move further, looking for responsibility IN nature?
Indeed there are several instances in the letter that suggest a too technical understanding to the real social responsibility, i.e. a responsibility that sees nature as an inherent part of the social existence.

Difficult questions and the surely important contribution of the 

LETTERA ENCICLICA

LAUDATO SI’

DEL SANTO PADRE

FRANCESCO

SULLA CURA DELLA CASA COMUNE

will offer many impulses for a hopefully productive debate.
… Camminare insieme … 

con tutte le nostre differenze 

Narratives

 梁啟超 (Liang Qichao) said

to renovate the people of a nation, one must first renovate its fiction

Which can be about the dissemination of ideas, though with modern sociology we can know that society is itself a kind of fiction, a narrative that is the result of power games between people, and their organisations and institutions, resulting int he great narrative that we ay call society, be it in the shape of small communities and neighborhoods or be it as matter of the word society.

The part of the narrative is not (only) a matter of the presentation but moreover and importantly a matter of establishing the inks, thus also the gaps that we may be able tip open fro a counter-hegemony. Wasn’t Goethe right? 

An extremely odd demand is often set forth but never met, even by those who make it: i.e., that empirical data should be presented without any theoretical context, leaving the reader, the student, to his own devices in judging it. This demand seems odd because it is useless simply to look at something. Every act of looking turns into observation, every act of observation into reflection, every act of reflection into the making of associations; thus it is evident that we theorize every time we look carefully at the world.

 From: Goethe, Preface,” Theory of Color, Miller 159; Quoted in: Frederick Amrine, 1990: The Metamorphosis of the Scientist. Goethe Yearbook, Volume 5: 187-212; here: 188