Christianity – the Halloween-effect

So far we may consider us as lucky beings — as said: caught in a cage, but knowing by whom, clearly seeing the tamer, being able to find the addressee when considering resistance. Though extremely brutal at times, it is a somewhat simple mechanism, not to say: mechanics … . The cogwheels of the machines that are taking control of the body of the workers are working along the finely Taylored (yes, I know: some would like to see tailored … — I am speaking of Taylored though) lines, producing the car for the ‘Emporio Ford T’. And as much as this is a matter of production, it produces and reproduces itself in all fibres of life and living. As much as the wheels are turning the machines, they are also mechanisms that are securing what had been said before, quoting again Marx’s Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

For one thing, the object is not simply an object in general, but a particular object which must be consumed in a particular way, a way determined by production. Hunger is hunger; but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat eaten with knife and fork differs from hunger that devours raw meat with the help of bands, nails and teeth. Production thus produces not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption, not only objectively but also subjectively. Production therefore creates the consumer.

This is winding up the entire life then:

I wind up a clock, I wind up a chain at the chain of the web at the loom, I wind up the automatic toy: Everywhere it is about mechanical activities, dealing with things: unresisting and lifeless.[1]

This is a short passage from Victor Klemperer, written is his notebook of a philologist, dealing with the LTI, the Lingua Tertii Imperii — and he writes it with reference to the language of the “German Reich”. There the term Aufziehen, winding up had been frequently used to describe the way the fascists had been winding up people, human beings. — Frightening brutality, and still allowing naming the adversary.

Indeed,

words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed without that one is getting aware of it, seemingly they do not show any effect, but some time later the poisonous action is virulent.[2]

Is that the step that stands at the end of such a terror regime? Or is it just the foundation on which another regime is erected, seemingly a completely different one?

I watched a film — Yanis mentioned it once and I thought it could be worthwhile to learn about the Invasion of the body snatchers.

Frightening — especially as I switched directly after the end of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers to the other film, seeing (one may say) the opposite: The human bodies seemingly snatching the body of the machine, though actually being absorbed by it. This does not happen to the body snatchers: they are really “taking over” — a so-called thriller, but extremely weary when confronting it with the Chaplin film which I watched just after the Invasion

Right at the beginning of the Modern Times, at minute 1:13 ff., we see the shift from the sheep brought to the shambles to the workers now being tied into the e ‘Emporio Ford T‘  … .

As explained on the 12th of September 2015 in an article

Digital Taylorism. A modern version of “scientific management” threatens to dehumanise the workplace

in the Economist

Taylor’s appeal lay in his promise that management could be made into a science, and workers into cogs in an industrial machine. The best way to boost productivity, he argued, was to embrace three rules: break complex jobs down into simple ones; measure everything that workers do; and link pay to performance, giving bonuses to high-achievers and sacking sluggards.

Seen in this light, next the Emporio Armani comes to mind — and all the similar No Logo empires, tayloring in at least two new ways:

The one may be seen as simple form of “imagined inversion of body-snatching”: wearing the Armani skin, walking on the Nikely across the catwalk, following the time as it is set by Patek Philippe, looking at the Swarovski glamour through Gucci-eyes, the head, carried by the gym-athleticised body, the eyes produly peeping out of the makeup-made up face — who knows what is real what is fake, who can know it as we finally are all critical about GM-food and environmental protection and the logo-industries, now presented on the perfected catwalk that hides behind google-algorithms being against GM-food of course allow us to drive the GM-vehicle. The new show is about ourselves, the new “We”, digitally taylored and finally gaining its real form: the total fiction.

Indeed, the other form of tayloring goes beyond simple body snatching and is about Identity Theft. It can only be understood if we honestly consider our own readiness of giving identity away, in the extreme revealed by the Confessions of a Shopaholic (Just ignore the kitschy Happy End) — the extreme form that most of us can avoid, however, without avoiding the form itself: the fiction of the Pearly Gates replaced, taking the form of the shiny imagination of fictive money within the brute world of fictive capital.

It is reflected by Adorno, stating in his Minima Moralia

The trick consists of certifying and expressing the fact that private property no longer belongs to one person, in the sense that the abundance of consumer goods has become potentially so great, that no individual [Individuum] has the right to cling to the principle of their restriction; that nevertheless one must have property, if one does not wish to land in that dependence and privation, which perpetuates the blind continuation of the relations of ownership. But the thesis of this paradox leads to destruction, a loveless lack of attention for things, which necessarily turns against human beings too; and the antithesis is already, the moment one expresses it, an ideology for those who want to keep what is theirs with a bad conscience. There is no right life in the wrong one.

And indeed, the damaged life about which Adorno wrote was located in the damaged world of the after WWII, the world the post-fascist period — still exposing with Adenauer in Germany, McCarthy in the USNA, Kurt Waldheim in the UN, the world being nearly driven to war as the self-proclaimed world-gendarme felt threatened by the Sputnik, end even more so by the Cubans the womb from which it emerged —, this world was founded in the 80/20 rule, mentioned previously. But even this developed further, the 80/20 replaced, or should one say: refined by the 99/1 rule: the oligarchy of the 1 percent, ruling the 99 percent.

The paradox is that the ruling classes themselves obviously lost control – no sympathy, no pity; though perhaps hope? Wolfgang Streeck importantly asked the question

Has Capitalism Seen its Day?

He points out five aspects characterising a crisis of capitalism that mark the potential end: Core of his definition of capitalism is his reference to a “social order build on a promise of boundless collective progress xyz” And the following are the five aspects highlighted in the presentation.

  • The crisis of growth, giving way to stagnation
  • The increasing inequality of the distribution of the remaining growth
  • The reference of the money economy to a growing mountain of promises that are becoming less likely to become true
  • The at least three major crisis the capitalist centre has undergone since the 1970s, namely a matter of inflation, public finances and private debt
  • The inability of the regulatory system to provide satisfying answers.[3]

— Of course, the imaginary plastic world, the identity theft and body snatching can at least serve as metaphor of such “new world (order)”. Perhaps this is so scary real that we have to distract ourselves by going for something really scary these days.

Coming back to that “wrong life”, we see that it gets even further distracted by the fact that the bodies are snatched, now it is better to say: obsessed by the ideas of a certain omnipotence of the alienated existence: on the one hand it is about replacing real life, real experience, real learning by projection on a canvas. Well, you may learn to fly your DIY-aircraft with your DIY-pilot license and you face a heart-attack because after your DIY-economics course you miscalculated the energy consumption of the plane, now being afraid to crash … — don’t worry, you can solve the problem as you surely attended the course on advanced cardiac life support. It is the blackboard-leaning method par excellence.

Politically we are caught in the idea of globality, a state of immeasurableness — the problem is only that we are limited in our understanding of the actual meaning: “We” claim easily for us, and start screaming, shouting, erecting fences as soon as “they” claim the same right. We still lead the debate on ius sanguinis versus ius soli, mixed with a notion of ius culturae, having difficulties with accepting that the “we” has now a completely different meaning:

Et la voix prononce que l’Europe nous a pendant des siècles gavés de mensonges et gonflés de pestilences, car il n’est point vrai que l’œuvre de l’homme est finie que nous n’avons rien à faire au monde que nous parasitons le monde qu’il suffit que nous nous mettions au pas du monde mais l’œuvre de l’homme vient seulement de commencer et il reste à l’homme à conquérir toute interdiction immobilisée aux coins de sa ferveur et aucune race ne possède le monopole de la beauté, de l’intelligence, de la force et il est place pour tous au rendez-vous de la conquête et nous savons maintenant que le soleil tourne autour de notre terre éclairant la parcelle qu’à fixée notre volonté seule et que toute étoile chute de ciel en terre à notre commandement sans limite.

This so well said by Aime Cesaire in his book on the return to the country of birth. Indeed, such “we” has to have understood in a new way, as I ventilated in an interesting discussion with Nadia early this year after the Thinkshop of Laboratorio Expo “Perspectives on Agency and Participation“, which took place on the 15th and 16th of May at the Institute of Advanced Study (IUSS), in Pavia — as summary of the debates will soon be published under the title

You, me and the ‘WE’: Global Responsibility

on the Feltrinelli/EXPO-site.

There I concluded the considerations, surely very much stimulated and enlightened by Nadia, saying

What I kind of propose is a positive notion at the end. I think it happened on the 15th of May about 400 years ago that the Treaty of Westphalia had been signed, I remember the date, but not the year — 1648 was it? It has basically always been seen as the point of beginning of nation building, of the establishment of constitutions and of the modern nation state. Let’s consider this: before, we did not have a nation state. So the optimist part of this is: we did manage for a long time without the nation state, perhaps it is the time now to say that we can do without the nation state again today. It does not mean falling back in time to before 1600, but it may be that we have to look more at the levels of power and redefine the power of global, international organisations: the European Union, the World Bank, the IMF, the United Nations and their regional bodies, the recently declared new Global Goals: there has already been quite some development in this respect and I think through these bodies, taking up what you just said, we need to make aware of the importance, of the content, of the challenge there is. As I said, we cannot do without it, but we have to better define what we want to do with it. And I think this is the point now on which we should focus when talking about urban, environmental or economic sustainability, and of social responsibility.

And talking then about any ius culturae can only be valid when we are ready to think about a new culture, leaving behind, overcoming the arrogance of the centre-right, i.e. the right of the centre to act as standard for the rest of the world. The right has to be one that is not based on centre and periphery, but the right of overcoming those categories. And we may even say the right to overcome categorical thinking. The right of living Multiple Identities as the maestro does …

Do we still not know what Confucius stated as simple principle of learning?

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

Actually, I think we do know and I saw it the other day in the eyes of 章熟艏. We talked about e-leaning, computer courses and …, then she asked me who would be teaching her next semester. I told her and I saw her joy when I said it would be a human being, not a computer.

It is still time to escape the body snatchers – if we manage to resist them.

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death. (Leonardo da Vinci)

****************

 

[1] A longer quote here from the German text

 AUFZIEHEN

Ich ziehe eine Uhr auf, ich ziehe die Kette eines Gewebes am Webstuhl auf, ich ziehe ein automatisches Spielzeug auf: überall handelt es sich um mechanische Tätigkeit, die an einem widerstandslosen, leblosen Ding ausgeübt wird.

Vom automatischen Spielzeug, dem drehenden Brummkreisel, dem laufenden und nickenden Tier, führt der Weg zur metaphorischen Anwendung des Ausdrucks: ich ziehe einen Menschen auf. Das heißt: ich necke ihn, ich mache ihn zur komischen Person, zum Hampelmann; Bergsons Erklärung des Komischen, es bestehe in der Automatisierung des Lebendigen, findet sich hier durch den Sprachgebrauch bestätigt.

Gewiß ist „Aufziehen“ in diesem Sinn ein zwar harmloses, aber doch ein Pejorativ. (So nennt der Philologe jede „verschlechterte“ oder verringerte Wortbedeutung; der Kaisername Augustus, der Erhabene, ergibt als Pejorativ den dummen August, den Zirkusclown.) (Victor Klemperer, LTI – Notizbuch eines Philologen (1947) Oktober 2012 in Allgemein, eBooks, Exzerpte und Sprachen

[2]      Or in the original by Klemperer

Worte können sein wie winzige Arsendosen: sie werden unbemerkt verschluckt, sie scheinen keine Wirkung zu tun, und nach einiger Zeit ist die Giftwirkung doch da.

[3]            Sure, it still needs an agent — Streeck does not discuss this. And I will not discuss this shortcoming as it would end not least in a critical debate of social-democraticism.

 

 

There is much more in it …

… or one may also say: there is much less in it.
This year’s development of the relationship between Cuba and the USNA came surely for many as surprise – and though I discussed aspects of it since some time with the colleagues from CIPI in Havana, I did not foresee this speed and depth of the development, and surely nobody in the room did.
Still, there is something that let’s many of hesitating when it comes to the overall assessment – and the skepticism had been conformed another time, namely on the 27th, when
economic sanctions, which have caused some US$833.8 billion in damage to the Caribbean island
making the life of people harder, before they allow them to continue their work of further developing the country?
There is another detail that is worthwhile to be considered in this context and that clearly allows us to see what US-politics are about: put negatively it is definitely not about the interest of any people, not even the Americans. The day they voted against the Cuban people, they voted against their own people by another decision:
 In this light, the is surely much less in the honesty and respectability in USNA-politics than it seems to be at first glance.

Spring …

A short text – published in German language – is titled

Frühling nach dem Winter – oder Trost in der Eiszeit?

and published in the recent edition of future2. Zeitschrift fuer Strategie & Entwicklung in Gesellschaft und Kirche (Journal for strategy&development in society and church)

The article is in particular discussing more recent developments of the catholic church. It does not aim on providing a systematic analysis. Instead, the aim is to look for the potentials of different societal movements to join forces aiming on societal change.
The abstract reads as follows.
Die Gedanken lassen sich zwar auf Religion und Kirche insgesamt beziehen, hängen sich aber vor allem an einigen jüngeren Entwicklungen der katholischen Kirche auf. Ziel ist nicht eine systematische Analyse, die weit mehr Platz benötigen würde1. Mehr geht es darum, einige Fragen aufzuwerfen, deren Beantwortung ein gemeinsames Handeln verschiedener gesellschaftlicher Kräfte ermöglichen.
Other contributions on this topic can be found here on Social Pedagogy and Liberation Theology and on The Vatican Spring.

Christianity – caught in the cogwheel …

Sure, we still speak of Modern Times though those times seem to be backward if seen from today. Sure, in one way or another they meant that we all would be caught between the cogwheels of this machine so well captured by Antonio Gramsci in his work and visualised by Charlie Chaplin.

In Quaderno 22 Gramsci gives a concise insight:

Registro di alcuni dei problemi più importanti o interessanti essenzialmente anche se a prima vista paiono non di primo piano:

1) sostituzione all’attuale ceto plutocratico, di un nuovo meccanismo di accumulazione e distribuzione del capitale finanziario fondato immediatamente sulla produzione industriale;

2) quistione sessuale;

3) quistione se l’americanismo possa costituire un’«epoca» storica, se cioè possa determinare uno svolgimento graduale del tipo, altrove esaminato, delle «rivoluzioni passive» proprie del secolo scorso o se invece rappresenti solo l’accumularsi molecolare di elementi destinati a produrre un’«esplosione», cioè un rivolgimento di tipo francese;

4) quistione della «razionalizzazione» della composizione demografica europea;

5) quistione se lo svolgimento debba avere il punto di partenza nell’intimo del mondo industriale e produttivo o possa avvenire dall’esterno, per la costruzione cautelosa e massiccia di una armatura giuridica formale che guidi dall’esterno gli svolgimenti necessari dell’apparato produttivo;

6) quistione dei così detti «alti salari» pagati dall’industria fordizzata e razionalizzata;

7) il fordismo come punto estremo del processo di tentativi successivi da parte dell’industria di superare la legge tendenziale della caduta del saggio del profitto;

8) la psicanalisi (sua enorme diffusione nel dopoguerra) come espressione dell’aumentata coercizione morale esercitata dall’apparato statale e sociale sui singoli individui e delle crisi morbose che tale coercizione determina;

9) il Rotary Club e la Massoneria[1]

Leaving the cogwheels aside and not thinking too much about the body being reduced to an annex of the machine, one may still see the undeniably positive side of the “project industrial modernity”.

* We are talking about the independent individual, the personality as it emerged from the great enlightenment which, if we want to say so, gave the starting signal from the different angles – the trinity of the enlightenment represented by the central powers: the Scottish enlightenment with its emphasis of the liberty of the utilitarian market citizens; the French national unity of equal individuals as for instance highlighted by Montesquieu; and the Germans contributing by the idea of a rational fraternal political system – fraternity for those who ate the carrot and avoided the stick by anticipating its blows.

* We are also talking about ‘wealth for all’ – of course, it needed German fascism to avail of the ‘blessing’ of the Volkswagen, the people’s car. But it did have earlier the ‘Emporio Ford T‘ to become a simple reality. Yes, not for the people; and not for everybody – but for many as part of the programme had been the orientation on the domestic market, with this the orientation on relatively high income of the workers.

* Still, the system remained in need of two emergency breaks: The one is mentioned by Gramsci: the Rotary Club and the Masons. We can also translate this into a broader terminology, namely a capitalist anthropology which Herbert Marcuse characterised nicely in a presentation titled Man in a Socialised World. He highlights the following as characterising the current anthropological Zeitgeist, pertaining in modern capitalist economies:

  • life is presented and perceived as plight and alienation
  • however, there is a ‘better life’: the satisfaction of needs and wants as remuneration of labour – though suffering is the irretrievable foundation of happiness
  • life is a matter of striving for being – and the substance of life is productivity with and in favour of society
  • refined values are separated from ever day’s life, from the daily performance. Finding to yourself is left for the time outside of work.[2]

We usually do not think much about how frightening this really may be – and perhaps permanently thinking about it would leave us unliveable. Still, we should occasionally pause – not least as we are today again facing this strive of exception, for excellence, for greatness. The presentation of Wilhelm Klemperer’s thoughts on the truth of language  (listen to 23:00 ff) can serve as an eye-opener. Paradoxically it had been German fascism that used an Americanised language: speaking in figures and in superlatives.

* The other had been presented in 2010 with an amazingly naïve or bold frankness by James Wolfensohn, who worried about the ’80/20-rule’. Expressing his fear, he stated

By 2030, two-thirds of people in the world’s middle class will be Chinese, Wolfensohn said. “These are not trivial changes — they are tectonic changes in the way the planet works. In my generation we didn’t have to think about it. We knew we were a rich country.”

But today’s students will have to confront a new world in which Africa is no longer an isolated continent but the fastest-growing market for cell phones.

Yes, even if modern times had been geared to mass-production also for the domestic markets, this world depended still fundamentally on the division which Andre Gunder Frank characterised as Development of Underdevelopment.

And indeed, it should not be forgotten that the enlightenment and its expression in the French trinity of Liberté, égalité, fraternité (mind the sequence) had been standing on another pillar, one that is often forgotten. The complete parole reads

Unité, Indivisibilité de la République; Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité ou la mort

And it would be an easy task to turn the death into a strategy of Development of Underdevelopment.

Of course, Development of Underdevelopment is one side of the medal though, and the other is the shift mentioned by Wolfensohn – and as usual, each of these issues deserves intense debates. And still, we should not forget impressions, prejudices … – the world is complex and exactly this complexity gives permanent raise to debating convergence and divergence, sameness and difference – also looking for heuristic means. Indeed, one thing seems to be clear

… a wing does not make an angel …

Ernst Bloch elaborated on different facets of ‘possibility’, allowing us with this an informed approach to understanding them in their objectivity. He points on (i) the formally possible – what is possible according to its logical structure; (ii) the objectively possible – possible being based on assumptions on the ground of epistemologically based knowledge; (iii) the objectively possible – possible as it follows from the options inherently given by the object; (iv) and the objectively real possible – possible by following the latency and tendency which is inherent in its elementary form.[3]

Recently I went to a concert – something there caught my special attention. A young pianist – as people say: one of the two top pianists here, playing mainly Chopin. People sitting there, making photos (as everywhere), some using flash though not allowed to do so (as everywhere), some chatting (not as everywhere) … – and something else: some people say that a problem of many Chinese artists, when playing ‘Western music’ is the lack of emotional engagement. It links to the wider picture, suggesting that Asian economies and their success is very much based on copying and producing cheaply. I do not want to engage with this argument; I do not want to generalise. Still, Chopin, for me, saw better pianists. Really interesting are two other points though: During the technically really difficult parts Yundi really performed well – but in other parts …: well, I occasionally got from his play the impression that difference of emotions seems to be translated into simple difference of volume, evoked by the strength of the key-stroke (I admit that, listening later on youtube I got a slightly better impression of the musician).

I remembered videos, presenting Daniel Barenboim in the masterclass with LangLang histories, life stories finding an impression in how a person is playing and living, living and playing. So much more in it than ‘technique’. And this brings me to the second remarkable point: the encore. It had been a little Chinese piece. The best part of the evening I think, not because it had been for me something ‘exotic’, ‘new’, but because there was the ‘drive’ one would expect.

A critical statement on globalisation if you want – something we also see in learning and teaching that is pressed into an electronic blackboard frame: the corset fitting to students, the students requiring the corset …, an endless story, without real end and without real beginning. The enlightenment ending in the eclipse of reason, we unlearning to write notes on the thing Zuszsa refers to, asking does it

mean what it did in my childhood?

No, though at this stage we still have it; and I always suppress my slight temptation to curse: dust, the dirty clothes, and the fear to lean against it … – Yes, I see you smiling …, you know about the odi et amo here too.

All this is surely also part of a somewhat strange development of social thinking – the difficulty may be not primarily to smoothen the contradiction, or even to surmount it. Instead, only by fully acknowledging the tension we can truly solve the problem. It is the old tension of ‘objectivity’ and ‘value’ as structural factors determining historical development. I discussed this in the work on the Vatican Spring and Liberation Theology; and recently I was getting aware of it again and perhaps even more, when looking a bit into the reformation. It is too often that we forget the extremely conservative factor of this reformist movement, (cl)aiming to be a movement of renewal. Leaving all the other facets aside, reading the last sermon in Wittenberg on the Second Sunday in Epiphany by its main protagonist Martin Luther is enlightening – and it is so well captured in a collection of quotes and sayings:

Vernunft und Verstand sind des Teufels Huren. Ein altes, tüchtiges Pfaffen-Wort, Allen denen zu Lieb und Ehren, denen Vernunft und Verstand im Wege stehen. Sie sagten auch: ‘Verstand und Vernunft können Gottes Wort nicht verfechten; sie sind nur große Wettermacher und Hagelsieber in der Schrift! Freilich machen sie anderes Wetter in der Schrift, als es die Pfaffen gerne haben, welche lieber im Dunkeln munkeln und immer nur vor dem Teufel warnen, aber nicht anders, wie jener Dieb auf der Flucht, der immer aus Leibes-Kräften rief: ‘Haltet den Dieb!’ – damit man ihn selber nicht dafür erkennen möchte.[4]

Really, are reason and intellect the whores of the devil? One of the problems will be that we do not easily recognise that such valuations are in some ways evaluations of a historical situation, of a phase of transition that deals with the entirety of the value system that defines and redefines human existence. Indeed,

[t]he qualitative leap from the animalistic to human = societal existence is thus given by the new quality of the relations of inner and outer nature. While even the most developed species reach at most the individual adaptation to the given living conditions, humans change the outer nature in an in independent, socio-historical process, thus creating the conditions of their own development. So human existence means much more than striving for individual survival under the given conditions; it is identical with overcoming dependence … . As part of this process of anticipating change of relevant living conditions we see that human abilities, cognition, needs and relations are also developing.[5]

And indeed, this defined also part of enlightenment – the part that had been enlightening in a very literary way, namely when Michael Kohlhaas showed in the 16th century his understanding of freedom that would be only much later accepted as part of the bourgeois revolution. And indeed, all this was not least about putting Anselm’s dictum on its feet. For him it had been clear:

Ergo Domine, qui das fidei intellectum, da mihi, ut, quantum scis expedire, intelligam, quia es sicut credimus, et hoc es quod credimus.

In other words, he accepts ‘understanding’, ratio, as understanding the reasons for subordination under god. The question gains a slightly different turn if we turn it towards on open understanding of ends and means. Of course, we may agree in some way with Antonio Sabetta when he says

Anzitutto, in quanto due ali, fede e ragione si presentano come necessarie in vista dello scopo; propriamente esse hanno lo statuto del mezzo rispetto al fine, il quale, oltre ad essere più importante del mezzo, ne qualifica l’identità e il valore, poiché il mezzo è per sua natura ordinato ad un fine, senza il quale perderebbe significato. Il fine in questione è la verità che lo spirito umano desidera conoscere o, più esattamente, contemplare; infatti, la conoscenza di cui si parla nel testo non ha un carattere astratto ma concerne la vita dell’uomo.

But latest when he ultimately insists on the dogma, linking truth to abstract ideals, saying

La tensione alla verità, ovvero, in definitiva, a Dio, nella cui conoscenza l’uomo incontra la verità su se stesso e comprende chi egli sia, costituisce il segno distintivo della sua creaturalità.

It is not by chance that the protestant reformation had been reluctant to reforms, and aggressively combatting those who, like Kohlhaas, did not see the end in god but in the change needed in reality, in the change of the mode of production – the words Luther used are testimony of misanthropy, oppression, violence, support of the rulers and plea for drabness:

Drumb sol hie zuschmeyssen, wurgen und stechen heymlich odder offentlich, wer da kan, und gedencken, das nicht gifftigers, schedlichers, teuffelischers seyn kan, denn eyn auffrurischer mensch, gleich als wenn man eynen tollen hund todschlahen mus, schlegstu nicht, so schlegt er dich und eyn gantz land mit dyr.

history establishes, indeed, a weird pattern when forgetting that the real struggles are not those between values but those between ‘ways of life’ as matter of productive relationships in wich humans create themselves as social individuals, though too often still caught in the idea that social is nothing more than superior individuals looking after others. Indeed – and as said earlier – the attentive reader of Marx Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy will surely know it:

For one thing, the object is not simply an object in general, but a particular object which must be consumed in a particular way, a way determined by production. Hunger is hunger; but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat eaten with knife and fork differs from hunger that devours raw meat with the help of bands, nails and teeth. Production thus produces not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption, not only objectively but also subjectively. Production therefore creates the consumer.

Without doubt, it has a bit of the Gordian Knot … – respecting individuals who are individuals only because they are …., just a cogwheel in a systemic setting.

********

Eclipse of the moon, the recent noonday, mid autumn festival … I did not see much of it. There were different reasons, the ‘difficulty’ to access this world which is to some extent the personal laziness and lack of the spirit of adventure. It is also about the development being so fast that those things that are specially worthwhile to see and to experience are more pushed to small corners, nearly invisible, or visible in passing, in small corners – showing up by accident, randomly roaming, roaming randomly …. – … and showing up in the small remarks, as for instance when the driver pointed at the moon, being excited … – such a meaningful, telling gesture for somebody coming from a world of cogwheels where moon and sun lost somewhat their meaning ….

… well, caught in cogwheels – at least it seems that we are still enough we, ‘independent’, personalities that can be caught …. Only death and decay of the thousand superlatives lost all its faces whereas, to use the words of Daniel Barenboim

[e]very great work of art has two faces, one towards its own time and one towards future, towards eternity.

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[1]            See in this context as well The Gramsci-Reader. Selected Writings 1916 – 1935; edited by David Forgacs; New York: New York University Press; 2000; http://ouleft.org/wp-content/uploads/gramsci-reader.pdf; see here for a short presentation of Fordismus

[2] Marcuse, Herbert, 1966: Der Mensch in einer sozialisierten Welt. Aufnahme: 03.10.1966, BR Technik: Schmitt Laufzeit: 47:13; CD 2: track 1: 2.45 min; from: Der Mensch in einer sozialisierten Welt. Originalvorträge von Herbert Marcuse. Autor: Herbert Marcuse. Sprecher: Herbert Marcuse. Aus der Reihe: O-Ton-Wissenschaft. Thema: Soziologie, Wissenschaft. 4 CDs – ca. 200 Minuten; see in this context also for further discussion: Herrmann, Peter, 2014: Social Policy – Production rather than Distribution. A Rights-Based Approach: 92 ff.

[3] see Bloch, Ernst, 1959: Prinzip Hoffnung; Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp [written in 1938-1947; reviewed 1953 and 1959]: 258-288

[4] Die Sprichwörter und sprichwörtlichen Redensarten der Deutchen: nebst den Redensarten der deutschen Zechbrüder und aller praktik Grossmutter, d.i. der Sprichwörter ewigem Wetter-Kalender; Wilhelm Körte; F.A. Brockhaus, 1847; 567 pagine; hier: Seite: 450; see in this context not least Martin Luther’s Last Sermon in Wittenberg … Second Sunday in Epiphany, 17 January 1546.Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe; Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1914), Band 51

[5]            Osterkamp, Ute, 2000: Hat der Marxismus die Natur des Menschen verkannt oder: Sind die Menschen für den Sozialismus nicht geschaffen? aus: Schriftenreihe der Marx-Engels-Stiftung 20; Kommunistische Streitpunkte – Zirkularblätter – Nr. 6 – 15.10.2000 – Onlineversion; 1

 

simplified

Of course, capturing an entire eeast history, present time and future development in one sentence, or even in three, cannot tell everything. Still, the following three sentences from an article in the Times Higher Education surely say  lot, making clear what we mean, when we speak about neo-colonialisation and when Rosa Luxemburg presented her thoughts on the ‘inner colonilisation’:

In the aftermath of colonialism, the development of higher education was characterised by publicly funded national universities. However, while the number of public universities in the region doubled from approximately 100 to nearly 200 between 1990 and 2007, the rate of growth in the private sector in recent decades has been much faster. According to the 2009 World Bank report Accelerating Catch-up: Tertiary Education for Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of private universities and colleges, including for-profit and not-for-profit institutions, mushroomed from 24 to an estimated 468 over the same period.

Three things may be added, the first referring to another article from the same source, simply outlining the catastrophic consequences of public “savings” in Higher Education, undermining quality.

The second is an “offer” from a famous publisher of (High Ranking) journals:

Throughout October and November, we’re providing a number of great offers around Open Access Week, including discounts on article publishing charges (APCs) for over 35 journals, and a chance to win one of eight APC credits, meaning you can publish your article OA for free.

So we are doing the work for free as authors (and peer reviewers and colleagues discussing issues), then we are expected to pay for publishing and finally publishers make a special offer:

This month we your rate of exploitation is reduced.

Is this already the result of lowering educational standards? “We at T&F think you are so dumb that you will not see how we are fooling you.” Sure, the other point is that the invasion of the body snatchers, the kraken of inner colonisation moved already so far that we apparently do not have much choice.

Well, coming to the fourth issue then – this is a personal one. To be precise the experience a friend mentioned the other day  – and I sincerely hope and believe my dear friend does not object to finding his words here. So, look at his report from a recent visit to the library, after not having been there for a while:

I was shocked and nearly cried!
NO JOURNALS.
Along the wall there were maybe 30 journals that looked like
decoration.. The room was filled with
tables where you can plug in your computer.
Oh, I long for the days that I would spend hours browsing through
journals that were on the shelves.  I would go once every three
months to catch up on what was going on in sociology, political science,
policy and economics.  Not one journal.
I found more good articles to read by accident, browsing, than those I
came specifically to read.  No surprises any more. The academic
experience is utilitarian.

In a way you may see the following as part of a “personal countermovement”. I donated the books that remained from a larger personal collection in order to make them publicly available. I am waiting currently for the press release and will post it here as soon as I receive it. And I how it will a place where readers find books by accident, where they find surprises that stimulate and enhance free research.

New Publication: Social Pedagogy and Liberation Theology

Social Pedagogy and Liberation Theology; in: Kornbeck, Jacob/Úcar, Xavier (eds.)
Latin American Social Pedagogy: Relaying Concepts, Values and Methods between Europe and the Americas
Approaching the topic liberation theology is of some difficulty as for the non-catholic layperson the tension is actually located on a level that stands at the very core of reflection about theology. Two completely different positions can be brought forward: on the one hand it may be proposed that theology and liberation are in some fundamental way exclusive as much as religion is seen being in principle non-emancipative  … On the other hand then we find the position that we are actually dealing with a unit, or even identity of theology and liberation …
See for more details:

Christianity – after secularisation …

 Reading the Ten Commandments we find the words
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Secularisation meant in some way that human kind took power over, making us to self-conscious beings, being responsible for our being, and thus doing. And secularisation is – rightly or wrongly – very much matter of Western enlightenment which I criticised frequently (see volumes 2 and 3 of my “writings on philosophy and economy of power”:

for its “structural individualism”. This, however, developing to the highly unequal capitalist society, ended in a fatal situation, blocking critical development. Obviously too many people consider themselves as gods now, not accepting critique, not even being able to take it up. Can’t all these self-elected gods now claim:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me
This is the spirit from which the New Princedoms emerge.
This is the spirit of the 1%, carrying the Renaissance heritage of the living here and now and for themselves – and though they may engage with and for others, establish their foundations and engaging in “their communities” by buying soccer clubs, and infecting us all by the Hello– and Vanity-Fair-effect, obscene as the Billionaire Toys.
Though princes may hurt and princedoms may oppress, sovereignty has a true advocate – we find it formulated by Bertrand Russell in A Liberal Decalogue:
 The problem is a little bit what 珍妮弗 said last night, when we went for dinner:
We do not have to be all excellent – it is much more important to be healthy and happy.
Yes, I guess, she is a little bit right, but there is something else that seems to be more important, concerned with the question: What are the standards and who is defining them?

This is something we find so difficult to understand, making us to coevils, companions of the evil, not to say devil, even if it possibly too off their sheepskin …). When it comes to objects of desire – for upper and middle classes, and of course for all others, is a bit more complicated – and the attentive reader of Marx Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy will surely know it:

For one thing, the object is not simply an object in general, but a particular object which must be consumed in a particular way, a way determined by production. Hunger is hunger; but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat eaten with knife and fork differs from hunger that devours raw meat with the help of bands, nails and teeth. Production thus produces not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption, not only objectively but also subjectively. Production therefore creates the consumer.

In principle, the same pattern as we find it in Modern Times and on occasion of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.