Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism …

Teaching is over now – most of the exam papers corrected and time …, to look forward. Teaching always is caught in the tension: dealing with the ‘real realities‘ on then hand and with ‘clear’ theories and the supposed ‘objective, value-free’ analysis of the reality on the other hand – and in economics it is even worse than other disciplines: the ‘objective reality’ being the reality of rational individuals. If it would be only for my neighbours and colleagues: I know that humans are not rational actors. Some are not acting, some are solely actors, some are not rational – and the worst category are the irrationally acting actors …
Well, leaving this aside …, or actually no: taking it from here, there is always also the point that even the ‘rational systems’, as central banks, money, exchange values etc are never following the books – it is not because they have their own lives but more because text books create ‘an own life’: the life of a world as it should or could be, the life of a world that had been imagined by some as political programs etc.
Two issues, the one like to pure doctrine when it comes to banking and central banks: be they independent or not, they are usually considered to be public bodies, committed to the common wheal etc. Still, in one way or another, i.e. more or less explicit, these banks serve – in most if the cases – public AND private interests, usually without being specified.
However, sone specification can be seen in the generally agreed upon ‘holy trinity’: maximisation of employment, stabilisation of prices, moderating interest rates.
But ….. where is the challenge addressed that Dani Rodrik poses as irresolvable trilemma: we cannot have democracy AND sovereignty AND global integration.
In fact – this is indeed part of the story –  we see that over the recent years and even decades the overall goal of controlling inflation is positioned over the goal of maximising employment. Stating this, it is necessary to ask as well: why maximising employment if we are already producing large surpluses?
From there it is worthwhile to look at the second issue: the question of value, valuation and valorisation. It haunts me for a long time, always asking myself and perhaps even more so: talking about values, calling for living along the lines of the cardinal virtues …- beh, forgotten what the quarterly reviewer said?
“Capital is said … to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital es- chews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vac- uum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent, will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent, certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., posi- tive audacity; 100 per cent., will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave trade have amply proved all that is here stated” (T.J. Dunning, 1. c, [Trades’ Union and Strikes,] pp. 35-36; from: Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital; Volume I; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996: 748, footnote 2)
Still, working currently in the ‘mainstream’ [or to be more precise: trying to swim against it], I am looking at questions of digitisation, all the new economic forms emerging in that context, linked to primarily in the issues about technical developments but more about relations of procession and the mode of production. Profitability plays a role and …, exactly the issues around value, valuation and valorisation. in the context of a paper I am still developing not least in connection with the preparation of the G20-discussions I am wondering of it is time to change perspectives in political economy. Famously Max Weber centre-staged an issue that was already issued – more en passant – by Marx: the question of the protestant ethics. Marx saw it, of course, as matter of the superstructure, without denying its importance whereas Weber saw the emergence of this ethics system as driving force.
My question is a different one at this stage: instead of counterpoising catholicism and protestantism, we may have tops of a merger, we may call it
Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism …
The reflection behind it? Well, quoting from the paper – work in progress –
Early capitalism was characterised by the fundamental ambition to follow the principle of exchange of equivalents – inequality existed at the point of departure but after ‘free individuals entered the economic sphere of exchange – they had been equals. The ten new capitalism stood against the feudal system that was based on violence. However, looking at the situation today, we see that the foundation is not simply and solely about the different points of departure. The economic process of the data economy is itself a violent relationship that has little to do with equivalence: it is the violence of withholding information, utilising the directional power of information, the enforcement of conditions, perfectioning of control etc.
A world which has lost much of the foundation in reality and where, indeed, values seem to be virtual, even if they are presented by concrete numbers as Peter Wahl pointed out already some time ago:
Even if every business transaction was protected by derivatives, the real economy-based proportion would still be less than 5%. Therefore, by far the largest portion is used for speculative trading. Buyers and sellers no longer have anything to do with each other. Dealers with not the slightest interest in wheat purchase large quantities of grain forwards in order to sell them profitably when the contract matures. Only a very small proportion of this business actually refers to material objects such as grain, gold or oil – the BIS assumes this proportion to be approximately 1%. The predominant proportion concerns financial products. There is practically no end to fantasy in developing derivatives: meanwhile, the system has achieved such a complexity that there are derivatives dealing with derivatives of derivatives.
Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism … – just another form of indulgence payments, from old violence to new violence.
And in any case, this violence is real.

teaching about realities?

Sometimes, when teaching about harsh realities, I admittedly ask myself if I am not exaggerating, making things looking worse than they are. Sometimes, when writing about economic and social facts, I am wondering if it is really about facts or about vested interests that are suggesting some biased interpretation. At least, when looking at the OECD-countries there is the assumption – or proposition –  that we are living in enlightened countries, developed on the basis and for the sake of wealth and well-being of their people, now even ‘thinking-tanking’ about an Inclusive Growth Opportunities Index 2017. And indeed, reading what the OECD member-states suggests as Our Mission suggests that we can put our minds to rest – rest assured that things are not perfect but at least moving towards perfection:

The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. We work with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change. We measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment. We analyse and compare data to predict future trends. We set international standards on a wide range of things, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals.
We also look at issues that directly affect everyone’s daily life, like how much people pay in taxes and social security, and how much leisure time they can take. We compare how different countries’ school systems are readying their young people for modern life, and how different countries’ pension systems will look after their citizens in old age.
Drawing on facts and real-life experience, we recommend policies designed to improve the quality of people’s lives. We work with business, through the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), and with labour, through the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC). We have active contacts as well with other civil society organisations. The common thread of our work is a shared commitment to market economies backed by democratic institutions and focused on the wellbeing of all citizens. Along the way, we also set out to make life harder for the terrorists, tax dodgers, crooked businessmen and others whose actions undermine a fair and open society.

Well, often the small print is overlooked, when putting minds resting assured …, so often it is overlooked that people, humans are put to rest – or even more: that people are not even considered to be human beings. So we read for Australia, on of the OECD-countries:

In the past, Australia’s Indigenous communities were administered under fauna and flora laws, according to Reuters.

Indeed, teaching about realities is not only a matter of teaching about more than models – it is also about teaching something that can be very different.


Of course, there is never then side or the other only, never the ‘deep-black’ or the ‘bright-white’[1] – and there remains and increases the concern when it comes to Mr Trump. There is another concern – and the reader may know that it haunts me in very general terms.

Trump then …, or actually today not but Francis and both in Rome. We learn from telesurtv

Trump curiously gifted the Pope a book of Martin Luther King’s writings, while the Pope returned the gesture by giving the U.S. president a copy of his climate change encyclical.

Now I am posing the question again: honesty, symbolic politics and meaning: what is the possible meaning of a pope’s words on climate change, as long as he allows a person like Trump to cross the doorsteps? A person, passing on words of a pacifist who pursued the ideas of non-violence, while building violent walls of nationalism against his opponents. And actually the formulation should be more precise: as long as the Vatican is itself a fortress, securing its ‘monarchial power’ behind a high and barely surmountable wall (leaving aside that I occasionally walked in and out without hassle, though hardly entering its centre).

– BTW, it should not be forgotten that a large part of the ‘black movement’ in the USNA actually pursued the ideas of a strong world power, however one that is black and white … obviously a long way to go for the really colourful for all.


It may be seen as tiny detail, though of huge interest – symbolically. Looking at Frances schedule for the 24th we see the following:


What does it say? First the leaders – then the people. And in the rome case, ‘audience’ means two sides speaking, in the other it means: one side talking, the other listening … – In the one case it had been about

… cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations …

In the other case it was about bringing two brothers together:

Il segreto della strada che conduce a Emmaus è tutto qui: anche attraverso le apparenze contrarie, noi continuiamo ad essere amati, e Dio non smetterà mai di volerci bene. Dio camminerà con noi sempre, sempre, anche nei momenti più dolorosi, anche nei momenti più brutti, anche nei momenti della sconfitta: lì c’è il Signore. E questa è la nostra speranza. Andiamo avanti con questa speranza! Perché Lui è accanto a noi e cammina con noi, sempre!

– may be as excuse for previous meeting or may be as hoping for the cunning of reason?

Well, walls …

  • —-

[1]            not talking about bride, bribe bridling ….

New Economy – New Economics

 Just uploaded is a presentation, given in Hangzhou on the 21st of May 2017, dealing with the question … – well actually looking for the relevant question.
In connection with discussing digitalisation, new productive forces etc., we are frequently caught in the old patterns: interpreting presence and  future in the light of past and presence. The presentation tries to point out some areas where asking questions that are indirectly reinterpreting the past in the light of the future, allowing to explore the future in the light of a newly interpreted presence. – Complicated ? May be, but better thinking slowly and openly, instead of coming hastily to the wrong conclusion by simply extending what we claim to know.
There had been something that was called a Critique of the Political Economy [see volumes one to three of The Capital] – and is often forgotten that it was based on what its author wrote, here pointing on theses 8 to 11:
All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.
The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is contemplation of single individuals and of civil society.
The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
See also researchgate – there are two projects that are of relevance in this context:
* Is it really about Industry 4.0.?
* Wandel des Wirtschaftens – Wandel des Rechts. Forschungsskizze zu Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik
Special thanks go to Thomas Weiss-Roisdorf, scientific council of attac and the federal ministry official affairs im Germany with whom I maintained over the last couple weeks contact on this issue – discussions that I perceived as hugely beneficial.

… trapped …

Not avoiding the hazard actually means being trapped, condemned to the worst of all things: eternal life …. – is that what Hesse meant in his novel Steppenwolf?

“Gentlemen, there stands before you Harry Haller, accused and found guilty of the willful misuse of our Magic Theater. Haller has not alone insulted the majesty of art in that he confounded our beautiful picture gallery with so-called reality and stabbed to death the reflection of a girl with the reflection of a knife; he has in addition displayed the intention of using our theater as a mechanism of suicide and shown himself devoid of humor. Wherefore we condemn Haller to eternal life and we suspend for twelve hours his permit to enter our theater. The penalty also of being laughed out of court may not be remitted. Gentlemen, all together, one-two-three!”

On the word “three” all who were present broke into one simultaneous peal of laughter, a laughter in full chorus, a frightful laughter of the other world that is scarcely to be borne by the ears of men.

Brainifactorer – … Supplement

There are so many checks … , and though it is often talked about ‘checks and balances’, there is not much done about the latter. Perhaps, as incentives matter, it should be made easier to think more about balances by pitching them to business, talking about cheques and balances?
Anyway, looking at mails I get, things people say or expect, things that are done, promises that are made … it may be a good idea to think more thoroughly about inventing a
— I consider it as a ‘smart’ [without seeing it as smart it would already be lost] merger of spell-check, brain-scan, lie-detector and something more … I guess, at the end of the day it could be called common sense. But if we would just use exactly that, life would be easier and …, well, actually, we would not need such a ‘think-check’ and could instead think about ways to chase those people away that cause so much hassle and actually frequently hinder us by inflicting parts of their hedonism and all such gadgets as the mentioned ‘checks’ on others.

‘Swabian Housewife’ – and what not only Angela Merkel missed

A presentation at CSUFT/BCC in ChangSha, PRC is available here – approaching a more profound system of national accounts – something every REAL ‘Swabian Housewife’ can understand immediately, but where Angela Merkel’s austerity poster girl obviously missed the lessons in economics, thus being hailed for the wrong reasons.

A bit more difficult stuff (see for more info already here) can be found here, in German language – more soon to be added – and more will be added over time in this space and also here.