Democracy – Freedom of Research

While in Turkey harshest measures can be found against academics and it is a witch-hunt like atmosphere, calls for  the Support of Turkish academics being answered with even more severe punishment, while there is the ongoing debate on the problems of socio-economic security for academics, another, more subtle, aspect should not be forgotten, linked to the ranking systems:

Fearing for their budgets, rectors responded with both carrots and sticks. A few weeks before the submission deadline, the CRUI announced a “university spring day”, on which every campus would hold a debate about the problems facing Italian universities. Meanwhile, Pisa suspended all planned appointments, promotions and payment of research expenses until the effect of the boycott on its budget is ascertained. And the University of Pavia announced that future resources would be distributed to departments on the basis of their VQR results: hence, fewer protesters means more resources.

An interesting way of strangulating democracy is shown  where

Academics in Italy have boycotted assessment

and the questions is

What has it achieved?


Not changing my mind – though some rankings may be really useful when it comes to universities. As this insecurity ranking.

Now it would be the next task to look at an overall ranking that takes insecurity on a national level, performance in research and teaching and social quality into account. At least there is good reason to believe in what we read:

Nearly half of university teaching staff are on insecure contracts – a scenario that is sure to shock university students and is far worse than universities will own up to,” said Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, adding that this job insecurity was likely to “compromise” their ability to teach or research.

Equally remarkable is the fact that these scenarios are considered as world leading model of and for third level education.

Teaching ….

… back in the Middle Kingdom since a week, enjoying teaching learning to “walk economics”. Special fun the workshops – teaching without income (no extra pay), and learning without points (a course, the students take without points etc.).

Sometimes it is really like looking into the eyes of small children who see something amazing for the first time in their life (like a “summer child”, seeing the first snow) – so much more satisfying than looking at the faces of “adult colleagues” who only see what they supposedly know, struggling with maintaining that knowledge, and the jobs in which it is founded. – It is so nice to be witness, and it is so nice to accept again being student, opening the eyes like a small child and exploring together what I seem to know and of which I detect so much that is new.

I would not say renaissance, and increasingly hesitate to celebrate The Renaissance. There is still at least the one fact that needs to be considered: much of what had been ‘detected’ and ‘invented’, was known a long time before and just forgotten. Look for the work of Archimedes – and all those things that had been forgotten. No, the world was not flat in the earlier years – only some people made human kind believe it is flat. And so we find them today again, suggesting in ‘A Brief History of the Twenty-Firts Century’ that ‘The World is Flat’. Namesakes by accident? The one Friedman believes everybody can access everything; the other Friedman emphasing already earlier the Power of the Market.

May be journalistic masterpieces, surely not more than Sunday’s prayers, eye washing, pleading now from all sides for a moral economy, instead of clearly analysing the economy and demanding rights.

My be  I can move the rights part on tomorrow when going to Juzizhou island for a meeting.

There may never be one truth

But after the contributions last week in Poland – the one on security, the other on precarity I remembered the song

La razza in estinzione

by Giorgio Gaber. Much to think about. And and after workshops with my Chinese students the last two days, I may immediately revise, considering that we are not a lost generation but we still and more than ever can move forward, we only have to be aware that we should not save this “endangered race” of the past; instead we should think more about the future as it is given in the presence, actually this is what I talked about, right?

The two last days made another time clear to me: “we” should not blame “them”. Instead we still can and have to work together to make the future happen instead of continuing to allow that it is “exported to Panama“. Also here it is not “them” who export, but all of us allowing the structures to “make things happen” – again and again. – Also something for the discussion the week after next, in Havana.

Unveiling Lines Behind Dichotomies_Warsaw 4/2016

Presentation in Warsaw, April 6th 2016:

International Conference

Precarious Places: 

Social, Cultural and Economic Aspects of Uncertainty and Anxiety in Everyday Life

The recording of the presentation can be found here


A fundamental methodological problem is the specific relevance of one of the antagonisms of capitalism, though not replacing the meaning of class-conflict but redefining and classifying it in the light of the developmental stage of the means of production: Far too little attention is paid to the contradictory character of individualisation and socialisation as it is inherent in the political economic system.
Polányi’s main argument of disembedding is inherently linked to the somewhat contradicting tendency of colonialisation which can also be seen as specific form of embedding.
The juxtaposition or dichotomisation of individualisation-socialisation is a different presentation of control of the underlying process. The term inner colonialisation gains special meaning not least in the understanding of the land grab and its metaphoric use as matter of “commons”. As such it will be used in the presentation as means for investigating 5 major myth and 5 major tensions that allow us to go beyond considering the 5 giant evils (Beveridge) that guide the welfare state debate.
[The author gratefully acknowledges the generous financial support from Zhejiang University Fund, Hangzhou, PRC and Bangor College China, Changsha, PRC]

Security in insecure times

A short presentation, addressing the conference Edukacja Dla Bezpieczeństwa (Education for Security), April 6th, 2016, in Gdansk


Looking at the economic development of the recent years, the first that comes to mind is of course the crisis and its far-reaching impact on the living conditions and perspectives of many people – social security systems are threatened by austerity, and they often appear as at most shunting yard, without offering real and sustainable perspectives. This is obvious, and the need for immediate changes, securing basic human rights – for individuals and societies – is high on the agenda.

However, it is obvious that the crisis is more fundamental, reaching much beyond this and presenting itself as human crisis, crisis of humanity, crisis of agency and the like.

We best may refer to the antroponomic system crisis as outlined by Paul Boccara.

In other words, when we look at the current economic crisis we have to understand that we are confronted with the potentiality of a fundamental change of the entire mode of production. So, the old security of the Keynesian Welfare National State are failing and seem to be irretrievable, the transitory Schumpeterian Workfare Post-National Regime.

Can economics, and possibly social science in general, only bemoan the developments, leaving the search for security to religion and the violent reestablishment of the traditional systems of security? The question is not only one of social security, but even more so one of thoroughly analysing the burning global demand – and potential – for a new antroponomic balance.


See here for the recording.