The power of love – the love of power … The need for genuine truth

I am sure many of you know it:
– apparently “one of these videos”, going viral … (sorry, it is youtube but you may manage – or look for “What Did I Do Is For Your Own Good」 – Shanghai Rainbow Chamber Singers”
Can make somebody who is working in third level education thinking …, about “towards what” are we teaching, and also thinking about the doctor and professor uncles and aunties …
There it is also said it would be about love … or something this way. And sure it is: love of people, love of the job and career in terms of “commitment” and “inner devotion”, what Max Weber had in mind when he speaks of personal calling (see e.g. in Economy and Society in the paragraph on Prophet versus Priest; and of course, when he looks as Politics as Vocation and Science as Vocation.
And this is surely something we – as students and teachers (i.e. eternal students) – have to emphasises: it is the love to truth. Something that means also the readiness to engage, eve if it possibly painful at times.
I was thinking about this the other day, when reading an article, dealing with Trump’s “real moves” now.
No, nobody can claim “But I did not know.” And we all have it remember

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Last Sunday I spoke to a friend, also saying: yes, he is dangerous – but sometimes I think the many distractions we saw for instance as determining the recent Davos-Agenda are more dangerous, hiding the agenda  behind …, yes, exactly, behind words of love …..
And yes, harshness of Trump makes if too often forgetting what is behind some of those declarations, makes us forget that others standing the second row, calling for a new leadership. And it makes us equally easily forgetting or overlooking that it is still relevant to speak about
and how they work today, in the supposed of the open community, with the five rules of providing encyclopedic knowledge, written from a neutral point of view, (re)presenting free content – free to us, edit and distribute – offered by people who treat each other with respect and civility, without firm rules, and available where we find all the Wisdom of the Wide World — may be that, while I wrote on “New Princedoms“, I should have asked as well if these New Princedoms are also about repulsing women’s status on a new level.
Power and love is not only a topic for feminism (just some ideas are outlined here;  but .., yes, also for where we, the old and the young want to go together.
Anyway, all the best for the new year …, the year of rooster …, we have to give the bird some wings …!! And talk also about power again … – and the contradictions of hegemonic systems, systems where we can apparently only succeed by using those instruments against which we fight …

Davos these days …

… even today, it seems that little changed since I visited it as child. Looking at it, even some of the old impressions return … – a smallish village, a nit drowsy in the middle of the Swiss mountains. This way, it also reminds these days a bit of a tiny village in …, well, the Romans of the time thought it should be under the their rule, the …, well today we would say French would have claimed it under their aegis. And the people of the village claimed to rule it themselves, under the wise guidance of a druid, and made strong by a magic drink – was its secret really the vast physical power or more the condition that this is “the own land”: independent, hegemon not of anybody but only of itself. Of course, it was the little village that occasionally made its way into the headlines

As said, there is some reminiscence when going there these particular days end of January 2017.

I do not know if and to which extent you followed the debates – but there had been some interesting contributions made here in connection with “our topic”, the collaboration on precarity, and also collaboration on new industrial developments. And indeed, the WEF-debates showed great awareness, in one way or another dealing with the “hollowing out of the  welfare state”, the need to revisit issues of social security and even basic income .. – but  importantly all this had been discussed as matter of threats on governing (populism and “antiestablishment movements”) and the changing technological basis, not much concerned with the reference points of accumulation regime, living regimes, modes of regulation and modes of life as I explored them in last year’s book, the demand of

Opening Views against the Closure of the World (Economic Issues, Problems and Perspectives)

And of course, hope is set in individual contributions and solutions – there are good reasons behind getting Sergey Brin and Joe Stiglitz here together. It reminds a bit at the solution of the world problems that once upon a time had been announced and asked for – if I am not mistaken the same  venue: Bono (I think), “donating” a huge lump some, and asking the other rich to follow.

Perhaps it is worthwhile, if somebody has time interest and is eagerly looking for a topic for research to investigate this (well, you don’t have to look into Christine L’s moral and ethical standing …, the story of wine and water is well known, but not the other part, the one concerned with the contradictory character of the ruling classes, and its tightly knit network. A text written in German language, relatively old at this stage, but hugely interesting.
At least it allows us to look as well into a complex system that lives exactly by maintaining the contradictions as means of distracting from their true attempts of further destruction – with Trump, now the “new duce”, we clearly know what is up to. With the Lords of the four rings we don’t. So highlighting the attention they paid to burning questions does not suggest to buy into what they say, but I think it is surely remarkable: several topics topped the agenda which up to previously would have been at most seen as relevant for what had been then seen as “developing world” – surely the agenda proposed from different sides for the global north showing its own traps….
Yes, Davos …, there are some parallels at least with the little village mentioned earlier: it is a place where a small group of people occasionally meet, a tiny elite that tries to make fun of the ret of the world by resistance. Without discussing the resistance of the druid-village, it goes without mich discussion here: it is the resistance of the inner circle against admitting that they have to give up on their hegemonic claims to rule the world by exploiting the 99 % – and it is about admitting that throwing some brad crumbs at the masses while indulging in caviar is not the answer on the structural challenges …
Guess time to get back to the desk and becoming serious again … – also looking at the contradictions in the real world of industry 4.0.

A strange competition ….

It seems at least that underlying the main topics of public debates – growth, competitiveness, sustainability, ratio (as in rationality), digitalisation and globalisation, of course – we find some matter that may be called by the apparent misnomer “competition in self-degrading”. It does not really sound better than the more appropriate “nomer” which then should read nationalism, often in its most crude and primitive form. – A quick “synoptical view”, linking few articles I came across in the more or less recent press (like in printing press). Some of it is not so much about reading between the lines, more about reading the small print.

*****

So, in the beginning stands the word; and it says that

many young people started their businesses out of an interest, instead of a market need, which increases the risk of failure.

The report found 29.2 percent of the males and 37.6 percent of the females cited personal interest as one of the main factors for their decision to start a business.

This, to me, sounds at least equally worrying as the complains about working conditions, bribery and some of those aspects that are supposed to deal with human rights here in the Country of Aurora – without any intention to deny their relevance. And I do not refocus, supposing that we should strike a balance and count (breach of) rights here and there. Though yes, the ignorance of some Westeners is remarkable, personalising things or seeing them more as “failure and weakness n individual cases. Still, it is never wrong to look “Trumps special wall”, saying

‘No Way’ to Toyota Plant in Mexico

Of course it is relevant even if said just by one person, dangerously entering the stage, important even if it would be only for the reason to find out about his nasty followers as

[f]rom Mr Trump’s perspective … things are working well: Fiat Chrysler said it may have to pull production from Mexico. Ford, which has already cancelled a $1.6bn plant in Mexico, is now discussing compensation with suppliers.”

[1]

Yes, freedom is such an important issue when it comes to Human Rights – the freedom for the market, and we find the old story of preaching water, while drinking – fermented grape juice, this probably the more appropriated term, finally point on the process of rotting that stands behind this concept of freedom:

Donald Trump has called for tariffs of 35 per cent on cars imported from Mexico to the US, and has criticised companies that move manufacturing south of the border, with tweets directed at General Motors and Toyota.

Self-degrading in terms of showing the lowest instincts in place – by no means a new issue as it for instance getting clear from Domenico Losurdo‘s article on the

Bürgerliche Gesellschaft und Staat: Hegel, Marx und die zwei Liberalismen (Bourgeois/Civil Society and State: Hegel, Marx and the two liberalisms)

And of course we should talk about the need to do something immediately and in the singular cases, seeing that

NHS faces ‘humanitarian crisis’ as demand rises

And nevertheless, if it is true that the word stands in the beginning, we should take it from here: the vocabulary of gain as leading motive, as marked by Karl Polanyi – seeing it as the turning point

Nineteenth century civilization alone was economic in a different and distinctive sense, for it chose to base itself on a motive only rarely acknowledged as valid in the history of human societies, and certainly never before raised to the level of a justification of action and behavior in everyday life, namely, gain. The self-regulating market system was uniquely derived from this principle.

The mechanism which the motive of gain set in motion was comparable in effectiveness only to the most violent outburst of religious fervor in history. Within a generation the whole human world was subjected to its undiluted influence.[2]

*****

This word was step by step translated into numbers, which mark today the

The testing struggles of American teens

On the one level this is the issue Hannah Arendt looked at, stating in her book on the Human Condition that

 

the situation created by the sciences is of great political significance. Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being. If we would follow the advice, so frequently urged upon us, to adjust our cultural attitudes to the present status of scientific achievement, we would in all earnest adopt a way of life in which speech is no longer meaningful. For the sciences today have been forced to adopt a “language” of mathematical symbols which, though it was originally meant only as an abbreviation for spoken statements, now contains statements that in no way can be translated back into speech.[1]

The analysis of the

The Rise and Fall of the Washington Consensus as a Paradigm for Developing Countries

by Charles Gore clearly shows that this problem also and increasingly applies to the “good-willing”, “good-doing” policy approaches:

These changes have certainly made the Washington Consensus more humane. But at the same time, the SHD approach has had the eff􏰀ect of conserving key features of the world- view of the dominant paradigm. Although its di􏰀fferent values have emphasized di􏰀fferent indicators and weighting systems, particularly to capture levels of human development and poverty, these measures have reinforced a focus on short-term performance assessment.

*****

But here I also reached the point of talking about competition in self-degrading. Similar studies and complaints and fears in so may countries – and it does not really matter that we find similar claims when it comes to countries (or national NGOs, social group … …) claiming for “their populace” or “their constituency” the “highest unemployment, poverty, homeless rate …”, or the most severe problems with racism, lack of solidarity, democratic deficits, bureaucracy or bailing out the multimillionaires profit sources … , or the least support for alternatives, the closest and strictest and responsive and exclusive (as in exclusion) … .

All these are too often seen in just one respect:

“We’re losing ground – a troubling prospect when, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world,” says US Education Secretary John B. King Jr. “Students in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Minnesota aren’t just vying for great jobs along with their neighbors or across state lines, they must be competitive with peers in Finland, Germany, and Japan.”

*****

Yes, indeed, we are living in an era of globalisation. And with all the issues around privatisation even those who are in its favour should never forget that they ultimately can and do only gain by relying on the state – this is pointed out by Mariana Mazzucato, writing about

The Entrepreneurial State

It is of course important not to romanticize the State’s capacity. The State can leverage a massive national social network of knowledge and business acumen, but we must make sure its power is controlled and directed through a variety of accountability measures and diverse democratic processes. However, when organized effectively, the State’s visible hand is firm but not heavy, providing the vision and the dynamic push (as well as some ‘nudges’) to make things happen that otherwise would not have. Such actions are meant to increase the courage of private business. This requires understanding the State as neither a ‘meddler’ nor a simple ‘facilitator’ of economic growth.

And here we may come to another issue that is relevant when talking about globalisation as we can know that:

Company has invested more than $10 billion overseas so far, with gross value of assets reaching $40 billion

State Grid Corp of China has signed a deal to purchase a minority stake in Greece’s power grid operator ADMIE, a move to further extend its international reach.

The company will purchase a 24 percent state in ADMIE, Greece’s state-backed Public Power Corporation’s subsidiary, …

An interesting detail (and I am definitely not talking about the figures) is here the following:

Being part of Greece’s international bailout, ADMIE operates more than 11,000 kilometers of high-voltage power cable in Greece, earning an operating profit of 155 million euros last year, with a regulated asset base of 1.4 billion euros and a total debt of 490 million euros.

So, indeed there are complex new structures not only of cross-interlocking, but emerging new entities, still nameless, as any attempt to call them PPP, global control, interdependence, global governance or the like is all too closely linked to past and present. – In the beginning is the word, but nobody should say that this defines for ever the same language code.

*****

All this does not fit into any model of linearity or mathematical formula …

The old political economy, even of an Alfred Marshall[3], would have been more knowledgeable on this than the “modern” entrepreneurs that had been envisaged in the article, quoted at the beginning of these few thoughts.

At the end there should still be the person to be reproduced as such, and with all the irrational joys and disturbing worries and sorrows.

– It this person (as in personality) that enlightenment – as humanist (though unlike as in humanitarian) movement – wanted to bring on stage.

And as history is made up of contradictions and paradoxes, it may be most appropriate to quote at the end the “self-enthroned antichrist”, leaving aside if he could rightly claim so, and surely not suggesting that this Übermensch would be the incarnation of true humanism:

Those who keep silent are almost always lacking in delicacy and courtesy of the heart; silence is an objection, swallowing down necessarily produces a bad character — it even ruins the stomach. All the silent are dyspeptic. — One sees, I do not want crudeness to be undervalued, it is by far the most humane form of opposition and, in the midst of modern over-indulgence, one of our foremost virtues. — If one is rich enough for it, it is even a matter of good fortune to be in the wrong. A God come down to earth ought to do nothing other than wrong — to take upon himself not the punishment but the guilt, that alone would be divine.

It had not been Zarathustra, saying this.

— At the end of the day, all this is the essence of what my students should have learned from the lectures during the last semester, their first encounter with academics. One could say not much for an entire semester. But one could also say: if some people in Washington, London, Berlin/Frankfurt …, and yes: Beijing would have not forgotten these simple facts we would still have many problems, but many of those fundamental problems we do have, we would not have and we would not have to join the legions of people and peoples, mourning about their own hardship being the most severe … .

**********

[1]            Webber, Jude, 13.1.2917: ¡No pasarán!; FT-blog LatAmViva; Your Weekly briefing on the region

[1]            Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition; Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1958: 3 f.

[2]            Polanyi, Karl, 1944: The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time; Boston: Beacon Press, 1957: 30

[3]            Even remaining “Non-Marshallian”, an interesting academic article by Geoffrey Hodgson, asking “Alfred Marshall versus the historical school?

The Three Wise Monkeys of our Age

Indeed, stunning and beautiful,

Harbin Ice And Snow Sculpture Festival

but perhaps also showing some danger of our times … of celebrating the cold …
… leaving us without words, forgetting the warmth of words and pushing us into the standards of the new world, mentioned by Lewis Mumford, talking in his book an The Myth of the Machine:

the only speed: faster, the only tempting destination: further away, the only desirable measure: larger and only one worthwhile quantity: more

Not allowing for any conflict, for anything in the way of the illusionary world of deception self-deception and promises which are not even meant to be kept.

The famous 3 wise monkeys, today not so much what thy stood for:

“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”;

but instead it is about not having time to look closely, hearing, but being not easily ready to listen and permanently speaking, without saying anything …, or even worse: “speaking through emoticons”. I think there is still much unchanged, at least not much changed over time.

But all this, and finally the reduction of using words on emoticons, and reducing what we say on what we “have to say” — reflecting that what we produce is for exchange, and not about value … – the rest dissolving in an unbearable lightness of being, into nothingness …

We cannot change the fact that we are moving on in time, but we may be able to change the direction …

No matter how obvious the irrational character of the whole may manifest itself and, with it, the necessity of change, insight into necessity has never sufficed for seizing the possible alternatives. Confronted with the omnipresent efficiency of the given system oflife, its alternatives have always appeared utopian. And insight into necessity, the consciousness of the evil state, will not suffice even at the stage where the accomplishments of science and the level of productivity have eliminated the utopian features of the alternatives-where the established reality rather than its opposite is utopian.

From Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man: 283