Another world is possible

Soccer, should get politicians thinking

Annunci

Coming Home

August 25th — actually just trying to cope with the hassle and bussle of leaving home, moving to another site. Anyway, coming home at about 7 in the morning, I cannot walk into the street where I still live, police stropping me and saying I have to enter from the other side — he briefly looks pass the van that is blocking the entrance. I turn around and a scary idea comes to my mind: of course, the house opposite of VAM 9. I walk and feel anger coming up: my dearest neighbors being threatened, part of what was at some stage my property being “under fire”. I arrive at the other end, facing a little army. The one of the police force asking me —  I say I am living there. He allows me to pass, to enter the zone where the weapons are still only firing symbolically, though provoking violence. And the anger is changing in some way: I feel that I am to just in another war zone — I am feeling at the very same time how helpless I am: war against against young people. Since I am living in VAM they were flying a flag: dégagé. The peaceful occupation of a previously empty house. I look across the street, see the face of the young woman standing at the gate, peaceful … – the rest is interpretation: disillusioned, frustrated, disappointed … — will she, will the lads from across the street remain as peaceful as they had been all the time? I talked occasionally to some of them, had been invited to their parties: nice folks: “We just want to work and study, and for that we need a place to live … — that is all.” — Nothing about fractious attitudes, so often seen in the seemingly peaceful surrounding of an Italian middle-class area, peaceful with the various nunneries around, people, being good and doing good and of course all being honest …

This is the future Europe, and Italy is part of it, offers to its youth. It is that future about which I talked during the conference against war in Berlin last year – as follow-up a book had been published. It is that future of which unemployment, homelessness and migration are just different sides. It shows that we all are still and increasingly Greeks. And it is a future that is in this way dangerously creating a tinderbox.
had been the slogan — and when Kaethe Kollwitz dedicated her poster in 1924 to the youth gathering in Germany, it had been not least a statement against these forms of war mongering.
And it had been always clear that burying a person (and here) does not equal getting rid of a system.

Migration – They do it their way

From an article on telesur, published August 20th

The U.K. is also adopting laws to make it less attractive for migrants to come and work in the country. New immigration policies will allow the government to seize wages and deport illegal immigrants without appeal.
“Border Force officers, operating on the ground, provide migrants with a more dissuasive and realistic sense of life for illegal migrants in the United Kingdom. That reflects the United Kingdom government’s work to render the UK a less attractive place for illegal migrants, including through limiting access to housing and health services in the U.K., and through targeting disreputable employers who seek to employ illegal migrants,” the accord states.
As part of the recently signed agreement, the U.K. government will provide US$11.1 million over two years, which will be allocated towards enhancing security measures around the perimeter of the Eurotunnel railhead.
Reading this after having talked a short time ago with a friend in Greece about the hospitality migrants experience in many cases especially by people on the street  … – I guess no further comment is needed.

New Princedoms II

— or: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science

Of course, now I could state: what I wrote earlier on the New Princedoms had been just a prolegomena, and I could even be much bolder, claiming what follows is not less than a new “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Present Itself as a Science”, the one that had been presented by Kant in 1783, surely in need of some update.

But in actual fact both, modesty, honesty and realism require that I admit that I only heard about it yesterday evening, having been asked

Hai sentito dell’ archeologo del sito di Palmira? … Era in pensione, ma era rimasto al suo posto dando la vita per la Bellezza e per il suo lavoro, a cui aveva dedicato tutto sé stesso.

Checking then a day later the WWW, I soon found a bit more about what happened, namely

The killing of Khaled Asaad

Siria: perché l’Isis ha ucciso l’archeologo di Palmira

I am not in a position to engage in depth — perhaps as I am a non-religious and non-fundamentalist person, not seeing myself in a position to comment on the details, not being able to clearly distinguish between the broad lines and the distracting details. Still, there is a bit that I can say.

The article mentions five reasons — and I am wondering if it is not just one reason that is relevant: the change of the foundation of the old world order: a world order in which difference had been defined and accepted, inequalities being taking for granted and clearly defined — some will remember the cartoon of the 1960 and early 70s, wasn’t it a Chinese one: showing the pulling of hair down the line, the cat being the last in the row that started from the accepted authority. Wondering means: not knowing, asking, or even more: going on in searching the question, namely the non-technical one. Just like Stephen Hawking who asked

In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?

and continuing:

I don’t know the answer. That is why I asked the question.

Coming back to the article on the murder of Khaled Asaad, it brings us at the end to part of the question that has to be asked, looking for all those who stated earlier

Je suis Charlie

and who are silent now.

One problem is obviously a matter of information, or to be precise: the two matters of information. The one is that the information overflow goes hand in hand with non-recognition; the other is the way of selection: you can’t have it all. It is our own limitation and it is …, well, that is the second part: the process of directing attention by algorithms, defined by the powerful.

When browsing the Panorama further on “L’Isis e la guerra al terrorismo islamico” — and I will not go into details; furthermore, picking the Panorama is due to laziness, due to accepting the guide of some http://www.engine.algorithm, which will bring you probably to something similar in the place that big brother determines as “your country” — something had been …, well I could say, surprising:

  • many/most of the news are about violence, are presenting sad and “unbelievable” stories
  • many/most of the news are presenting some form of “weighing” — cynically one may say: the life of a person does not count much, the life of a woman or child, and of course: even more the lives of women and children counts much more, if there are enough men it counts too, or if there are such exceptional people as Khaled Asaad — and from what I know by now, he really was exceptional
  • many/most of the stories are marked in some strange way, looking at the reporting, by a contradiction: the “colorful” way of writing about the horrors is accompanied by the black-and-white-presentation of the good and the bad. And indeed it remains difficult to say “Je suis Charlie” in a world of which the actual struggle seems to be very much the old one, fought not during the Risorgimento. Those times seemed to be clear — to quote Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel The Leopard:

“Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com’è bisogna che tutto cambi.”

i.e.

“Things must change, in order that they can stay the same.”

A nice saying, though really important is the context. The words are spoken by Tancredi, following his statement

Unless we ourselves take a hand now, they’ll foist a republic on us.

And the entire story is about the disintegration.

But WHAT disintegrated? We may look at the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies — Il Regno delle Due Sicilie; and we may also look at the different types of government, royalty standing against republic ecc. .

It is easy to overlook that all this had been — here and (at least) in all the European countries at the time — an expression of fundamental changes of the economic system …. — but now I am hesitating, or I am afraid, coming too close to figures. As said previously

If we want to look at figures, we should look at figures that are relevant: unemployment rates, orientation of economic policies on national performance instead of global responsibility, the privatisation of hospitals and the subsequent maltreatment of patients and staff, the Making of the Migration Crisis, going hand in hand with fears of extinction of nations, prices that make accommodation unaffordable, thus opening space for speculation and leaving places prone to alienation by different forms of ghettoisation …

But the meaning of this can only be understood when we read it against what Engels stated:

According to the materialistic conception, the determining factor in history is, in the last resort, the production and reproduction of the immediate life. But this itself is again of a twofold character. On the one side, the production of the means of subsistence, of food and clothing and shelter and the implements required for this; on the other, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social institutions under which men of a definite historical epoch and of a particular country live are determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour, on the one hand, and of the family, on the other.

(Engels, Frederick, 1884: Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Preface [to the First Edition]; in: Karl Marx Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 26. Frederick Engels. 1882-89; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1990: 131-133: 131 f.)

The figures — of course important, and of course important as indicating main problems — are at the same time (potentially) misleading as they fall short of grasping the really relevant aspect of

the production and reproduction of the immediate life

As especially the reference to the Making of the Migration Crisis shows, they are very much about the production and reproduction of the immediate life under very specific capitalist conditions. And these capitalist conditions. And with this, there is very little hope for a Vatican Spring, a remark that is not directed against setting up a broad movement of very different forces; but it is directed against the reliance on value systems, appeals and hopes that are not clearly addressing capitalism and reduced the critique on “this capitalism”.

Approaching “this capitalism” has to look fundamentally at the following, something I elaborated on a different occasion — it is very much a translation from a text originally written in German

1. The discussion of the current crisis remains trapped in the old tracks — and it is often just looking at the glass, asking if it is half-empty or half-full, at the end being oriented on re-establishing a status-quo ante. This is in many cases also true in cases where critique is brought forward with the claim of fundamentally rejecting of the existing system. However, when talking about a structural crisis, the question must be whether the glass is actually completely broken. …

2. The current challenge is then to look at the crisis of the hegemonic system. If this is seen as power of ideas, it should also be emphasised that the so-called neoliberalism reflects a one-sided interpretation of the objective conditions and not simply a voluntary statement of values of a self-proclaimed ruling-class. …). We need … a courageous utopia that is based in the objectively given conditions of the productive forces and the real potential, and partly implicitly realised in the existing forms of socialisation.

3. The “limits to growth” are not simply a matter of discussing the negative constellations; it is necessary to consider the wider context, allowing to understand the limits of growth in the context of the ongoing limits to limitations that are to a large extent directly and causally related. We are talking about increasing inequalities, which are much more extensive than shown by Piketty: It is still the question of the (lack of) access to basic resources such as water, nutrition, housing, etc., all this increasingly a problem in all societies.

4. Finally, politics are always made for an uncertain future – risks should not result in paralysis nor lead to excessive adjustments.

Looking from this angle, the war against evil is a kind of Hobbesian Bellum omnium contra Omnes. However, we have to observe fake and original — as we are now dealing with a new dimension, going far beyond the individualist stance proposed by Hobbes. Today’s war is taking place in the gabbia di matti, the place where confusion reigns: individuals against individuals are still fighting, as much as we are also facing wars of states against states. However, in addition we find the “war of citizens against citizens” — even if the citizens are split personalities, fighting against each other — well-known from role-theory: and it is the war of the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations against the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations — it least the war of everybody against him and herself … . And to make it easier to bear it, it may be and will be a war of the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations against the consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of other nation states, citizens of associations of other countries.

Not so much that changed, one may say — and it is true although the change is fundamental insofar the borders actually do not work anymore. Of course, it is not entirely clear if and in which way they actually worked in previous ages and eras. But at least there had been some stability over time. In terms of regulation theory, we look at accumulation regimes as

[a] particular combination of production and consumption which can be reproduced over time despite conflictual tendencies (Jessop)

and modes of regulation as

[a]n institutional ensemble and complex of norms which can secure capitalist reproduction pro tempore despite the antagonistic character of capitalist social relations (Jessop)

When we look closely the possibility of “reproduction over time despite conflictual tendencies” is broken — not globalisation as such requires a new definition of borders and rule(r)s. Instead, the fact that globalisation becomes increasingly real, defends such requirement. The end of history — this has been stated for many times — is the beginning of a new era, rightly characterised by Antonio Gramsci, contending that

[t]he crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

Walls are erected, to maintain the old borders: States against states — interestingly nations defining themselves as ultimate external border as in the Hungarian case; different fundamentalists each claiming to be the better of the people of god, the one wanting to capture Istanbul, the Turks claiming that their fence is about keeping “them” out, joined by the big brother across the great ocean, but actually aiming against the Kurds and the “old fight”, now being combined with a seemingly new one.

And all the other walls (see also here for one that is often misunderstood) and fences as the many in Latin America and against Latin America … the main wall still waiting to be lifted: the embargo against Cuba. And. with all this we easily forget the one of utmost important, the wall that is much more than the namegiver to a street,  that a major, the real divide of the world, for so many the wall against which they stand while being executed, listening to the song that speaks about Killing me softly.

As Max Weber stated 1919 in “Politics as a Vocation”

Every state is founded on force,’ said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of ‘state’ would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as ‘anarchy,’ in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state — nobody says that — but force is a means specific to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions — beginning with the sib — have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that ‘territory’ is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the ‘right’ to use violence. Hence, ‘politics’ for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.

Sure, it is easy to point on the walls of shame — many others could be added, including the “virtual walls” by European migration polices along the Mediterraneans. It is not so easy to acknowledge that there is another wall that actually establishes the foundation of shame: This is the wall of fame. Well, here the plural applies too

Universities, striving for excellence, expressed in ranking lists, causing a suicide of social science (irony that this article is only accessible for the academic insiders, those in the safe heaven of the ivory towers of academia); the mentioned celebration of little starlets that feel their marriage threatened by working time of 20 days per year; broken-up politicians establishing a Forced Choice Between ‘Suicide or Execution’. And other politicians cynically mocking

“You shouldn’t commit suicide because you’re afraid of dying,” the commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “You should say ‘yes’ regardless of what the question is.”

 

Well, how can we then try to understand what cannot be understood? Now, a renaissance has usually two sides, it consists of the character of dialectics as matter of maintaining and overturning.

Returning to the five reasons mentioned above, trying to put them into one nutshell (while remaining alert — such attempt is always as tempting as it is dangerous) we may take home what Hegel states in the Philosophy of Right, namely in § 258:

Rationality, taken generally and in the abstract, consists in the thorough-going unity of the universal and the single.

Such “universal and single” cannot consist in the dishonest erection of walls of fame that evoke equally dishonest walls of shame.

One does not have to live in Rome (though it may help) to appreciate una vita per la bellezza — the appreciation of beauty, not only as e(x)ternal phenomenon but even more as matter of a state of life.

 

Another quick turn to Hegel, who wrote in § 257

The state is the actuality of the ethical Idea. It is ethical mind qua the substantial will manifest and revealed to itself, knowing and thinking itself, accomplishing what it knows and in so far as it knows it. The state exists immediately in custom, mediately in individual self-consciousness, knowledge, and activity, while self-consciousness in virtue of its sentiment towards the state, finds in the state, as its essence and the end-product of its activity, its substantive freedom.

But if the actual state has nothing else to do than permanently driving wedges between people and peoples, if sovereignty is undermined by confronting the sovereign with the decision between suicide and execution, it will be difficult to find a solution. If a Coalition (of the Radical Left – Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς, ΣΥΡΙΖΑ (Syriza)) is forced to loose (even if they may win another election), the unity as Λαϊκή Ενότητα (Laiki Enotita), the Popular Unity may be forced to go its own way.

It surely is an important point that had been mentioned in a recent TeleSur-article

the one thing that we can continue to look for in Greece is that anti-austerity movement is coming from the streets and communities.

The challenge is to bring the various communities from across the globe going the same direction, not as they usually did: along the Rabbit-Proof Fence, erected against humans degraded to animals, themselves degrading

So, if we turn down the real fences, the fences that imprison the minds will fall — we only have to make sure that the minds have to set free, allowing to turn down the fences. And if we look around, if we look at people helping migrants, caring for others, and fighting for and with others we may manage to really turn them down and use the huge potentials that we do have.

New Princedoms

I know that several people are afraid of drawing long and occasionally somewhat contorted lines, preferring more technical approaches as those suggested in modern text books. But I am a bit afraid that this only defers matters and the history books in 50, 100, 200, 500 years, opening the view on the wider perspectives, will evoke the same disbelieve as the books today when they teach us about the cruelties of ancient and medieval times.

Sure, Keynes said in the First Annual Report of the Arts Council [1945-1946]

The day is not far off when the economic problem will take back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the ear and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems — the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behaviour and religion.

Now, when we look around, we can see already some of these grandchildren amongst us … — well, not really amongst us but when peeping across the walls of the gated communities we gain some insight. We then read for instance about an artist that

she also insisted she worked less than 20 days a year in order to be with their family.

She said: “I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them. I’m looking for movies that will shoot in Los Angeles, for projects where I’m part of an ensemble so I can shoot in and out in 10-20 days. It’s all about trying to spend as little time away from my kids as possible.”

Sooooo caring — this had been the “news” from August the 20th. News of the same day inform us about Rome:

Il funerale si è svolto in pieno giorno con sei cavalli con pennacchio che trainano una antica carrozza funebre, una banda che intona prima le note composte da Nino Rota per il film “Il Padrino”, poi la colonna sonora di “2001 odissea nello spazio” e la canzone Paradise, altra colonna sonora, ma, questa volta, del film “Laguna Blu”. Una scenda degna de “Il Padrino”. Adesso esplode la polemica per capire chi abbia dato l’autorizzazione al funerale.

It is about a “festive funeral” for a Mafia boss in the middle of Rome, blocking the entire traffic, which is bad enough though we are used to it. But dead as he is, he still sends a clear political message about “governance today”. Of course, this is frightening. And reading further one wonders what is more frightening:

  • the fact that such funeral happened — and had been allowed
  • or the fact that there are now investigations called for, signalling a state that is substantially weak … — and can only deal with the technical side of what happened, but does not have anything to say on the “state of the nation” that actually makes such things happen.

From my side, no word on this occasion on the church — the relevant article in today’s Il Messaggero’s Cronaca is written by Mauro Evangelisti.

It is indeed a sign that politicians — be they state actors, “societal civilians” or corporate actors — are completely disempowered, let alone people being able to gain and maintain power — just these days I stated in an article on the “Death of Representative Democracy”:

Und paradoxer Weise ist gerade auf diese Weise der Demos von den Herrschenden gewählt: an technischen Entscheidungen darf es teilnehmen und auf dem Jahrmarkt der Eitelkeiten darf es sich tummeln, während die eigentliche Politik hinter der Bühne gemacht wird.

Nur auf der Erscheinungsebene hat sich das Politikfeld zu einer Bühne verwandelt, auf der sich die Eitlen tummeln: Konsumbürger, Aktivbürger, Staatsbürger, Vereinsbürger … — für jede(n) findet sich eine scheinbar einheitliche Bühne. Sachverstand wird gern gesehen — soweit er sich an Details zermürbt. Als großer Sachverstand aber stört er die Schau, denn die großen Rollen bleiben immer noch den Mächtigen vorbehalten.

In short, I highlight there the degeneration of democracy — it is now a playing field of vanity, providing a stage for “different kinds of citizens” as consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations … . They can present their specific skills, get crunched by discussing technical details, thus hiding the fct that the real power is still just that: power by way of force.

The latter can be taken from the interview with Yanis Varoufakis:

HL: You’ve said creditors objected to you because “I try and talk economics in the Eurogroup, which nobody does.” What happened when you did?

YV: It’s not that it didn’t go down well — it’s that there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. … You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on — to make sure it’s logically coherent — and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply. And that’s startling, for somebody who’s used to academic debate. … The other side always engages. Well there was no engagement at all. It was not even annoyance, it was as if one had not spoken.

(Varoufakis, Yanis, 2015: The full transcript of the former Greek Finance Minister’s first interview since resigning; Interview in the New Statesman: 13.7.2015; 17:37)

It remains a declaration of war — a scenery that is not much more than a translation of what Bert Brecht had in mind, talking about Freedom and Democracy.

So it makes much sense when the German PDS notes in a press release highlights

that Tsipras decision to step back and to call for bend elections shows how far the intervention of the creditors in the national sovereignty of Greece reaches: under the conditions imposed by the institutions Syriza can not fulfill its mandate to govern.

Now, it remains an open question if and to which extent politicians should be blamed — at least the intellectual elites have to bear their part. After recent allegations against Zygmunt Baumann, a new muddy wave had been launched. Just believe me, as I refuse to name the person who does not deserve an increase of his citation-index — as a commentator rightly states, it is an

appallingly crass piece of attention grabbing nonsense.

(sorry for omitting reference, Leslie — see the argument before)

In sum it is about this: a critique bringing forward that Bauman, on many occasions, is guilty of self-plagiarism. It is one of many similar debates: substance does not matter, is not even recognised and only form counts — as it is form that can be counted — see also the recent entry here.

If we want to look at figures, we should look at figures that are relevant: unemployment rates, orientation of economic policies on national performance instead of global responsibility, the privatisation of hospitals and the subsequent maltreatment of patients and staff, the Making of the Migration Crisis, going hand in hand with fears of extinction of nations, prices that make accommodation unaffordable, thus opening space for speculation and leaving places prone to alienation by different forms of   ghettoisation …

We can be somewhat cynical-optimists and turn Clausewitz’ statement around. Instead of

War is the continuation of politics by other means

it is nowadays still:

Politics is the continuation of politics by other means.

Indeed, a matter of establishing New Princedoms, while the old princes are finding their pompous chaperon to the last rest.

But how long will this last? the last rest, and the war by politics?

— Nomen est omen? A friend of mine said the other day that the danger of the Northern American trump …, ops Trump, with capital T of course, is that he says what many USNA-citizens want to hear. And also Mr., ops, sorry: Dr. Schäuble and his mates clearly showed this link between the two wars.

Even if history does not repeat itself, the question remains if we can see at the horizon a new Spartacus, a new Cicero or a new Cesar … .

There are thoughtful words coming from a possibly unexpected corner of the world, written in a letter by Fidel Castro Ruz on the 5th of July of this year, and published in the Granma

Cuba conoce el valor y la capacidad combativa de las tropas rusas, que unidas a las fuerzas de su poderoso aliado la República Popular China, y otras naciones del Medio Oriente y Asia, tratarán siempre de evitar la guerra, pero jamás permitirán agresión militar alguna sin respuesta contundente y devastadora.

En la actual situación política del planeta, cuando la paz y la supervivencia de nuestra especie penden de un hilo, cada decisión, más que nunca, debe ser cuidadosamente elaborada y aplicada, de modo que nadie pueda dudar de la honestidad y la seriedad con las que muchos de los dirigentes más responsables y serios luchan hoy por enfrentar las calamidades que amenazan al mundo.

Of course, there is more to be said.

Intelligence intellectuals and other people

I was rather interested in my fellow-prisoners, who seemed to me in no way morally inferior to the rest of the population, though they were on the whole slightly below the usual level of intelligence , as was shown by the their having been caught.

(Russels: Autobiography: 256)

I had supposed that intellectuals frequently loved truth, but I found here again that not ten per cent of them prefer truth to popularity

(Russels: Autobiography: 240)

Of course, after having read today an article in the German Die Zeit, I am wondering if only the latter is true, and the first should read today: Intellectuals and the rest of the population tend increasingly to lock themselves up in virtual worlds of numeric and algorithmic truth:

Nun, die leise peinliche Antwort lautet, dass ein System scheinbar raffinierter Anreize die Gefühlswelt der Wissenschaften neu codiert hat. An die Stelle des Zorns über die Verhältnisse in der Welt und an die Stelle des interpretativen Abenteuers mit offenem Ausgang ist die Sorge getreten, ob man genug Drittmittel eingeworben und ausreichend Aufsätze in internationalen Zeitschriften publiziert hat. Die Höhe der eigenen Drittmittel und für eine breitere Öffentlichkeit zumeist nahezu unzugängliche Fachaufsätze gelten im Wettlauf um Evaluationspokale inzwischen als der zentrale Ausweis von Kompetenz.

Indeed, as I read recently:

Un mondo dove non serve farsi domande, cercare risposte, pensare, provare a fare bene e costruire.

Thus, they are easily losing increasingly the ground under their feet