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.

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