Another great day ….

… and there I am hesitating. Sure, the terrible rain on the 25th had been not really bearable – even if I just received the day before my fancy new boots:

promising comfort, security …

… promising a deception? As enjoyable as it is to see the sun back, as delightful it is to look back on a long spell without rain, with pleasant weather in Changsha, looking back on a summer in Berlin with near to zero drops of rain and plenty of warmth, it comes with a bitter smack of fear and worries. Is that the global warming, possibly bringing draught and extinction at some foreseeable time in the future?

Perspectives change – also the perspective that is entailed in the variety of my work and jobs, being now law-prof. I asked this in different ways earlier, and put it now in a juridical nutshell:

Can we continue calling on individual rights, rights of the individuals witnessing that so many individuals, and on occasions being just one amongst them, have no other idea than buying a gun to amok? Sure, a person who finally storms a school to kill kids is being severely sentenced (if he is caught alive and did not kill himself – he/himself, never heard bit she/herself); but, while acknowledging the difference, I dare to ask if we should simply allow people driving their SUVs, companies dumping waste water into the rivers, ourselves sitting in a comfortable warm room, wearing a shirt instead of reducing the temperature a bit and wearing a warm jumper; seeing mass-SPAM-mail not just as matter of intruding into the private sphere but as terrorist attack on the environment (considering the cost of sending mails), defining it as criminal act to heating rooms while leaving the windows open ..? …. – Human rights had been and still are defined as protecting individuals against the state. isn’t it time now to think about human rights as matter of protecting society against excessive individualism … – protecting it by law?

some interesting notion for further debate can be taken from work undertaken in the 19th century. An important aspect is mentioned in the following para, taken from a work on the history of the rule of law, reading

The impossibility of opposing to it aliunde-founded elements was the ground of the central dilemma: how to combine an unlimited sovereign power with a legal order regulating it and making its intervention foreseeable. The central features of the theory that was gradually refined throughout the second half of the century and was thoroughly elaborated by Jellinek were the idea of the state’s self-limitation (which made sovereign absolutism compatible with the existence of fetters on its power), the existence of legal relationships between the state and individuals, the distinction between the state (as a whole) and its several institutional components, so that this or that organ could be limited whilst the state “as such” could be deemed as the holder of an absolute power.

New challenges, old debates, the need to reformulate and “reinvent” them – not least under changed and changing conditions: where states are not nation states anymore; and where the corporate sector strives to replace state.

Forthcoming: Herrmann, Peter: Human Rights: watch out for the trail before you bridle the horse – The search for a Future Global Human Rights Agenda; in: International Journal for Social Quality

Herrmann, Peter, December 8th, 2019: Search for Future Global HR-Agenda; Conference presentation, Changsha

unintended

I had been communicating with colleagues from different countries recently, looking at “this and that”, i.e. the question or meaning of and perspectives for academic work and remaining true to oneself, without becoming egoistic and stubbornly obsessed by something. An interim conclusion, not put into  nutshell, perhaps one may say “entwined around the lines of a question mark”.

They are all so much harmed by different forms of disciplinary measures, offended by an illegitimate hegemonic system, did they just have to become in one or another way thinking and writing now more in a way that is far from being harmless …

Do we all have to wait to become retired to be good academics?

Surely not intended by the hegemons

Zombies

another offer …..

an exchange and visiting programme  – the inviting centre is another institute that contributes by and to “outstanding leading research”, and of course thigh they are not stating this they are moving the robbers of the world and universe. Being just a modest light at the firmament of global research, I am wondering what happened to what Thomas Kuhn said – something that is widely accepted:

Few people who are not actually practitioners of a mature science realize how much mop-up work of this sort a paradigm leaves to be done or quite how fascinating such work can prove in the execution.

So there are no ordinary people anymore around?

Everybody standing on the tiptoes – nobody can see better. And every chef a 5 *-chef, 

there is no place anymore for the stew we loved eating as child, there is no way having hated spinach until Popeye convinces us from its better side … life already being paradise … – which, in consequence means we are actually already dead.

外国高端人才确认函

The official document arrived Monday, it means that I am accepted by the government as High Level Foreign Expert – this does not change my opinion when it comes to ranking, excellence and special personal merit. Here as in other cases it is what it is.

Wednesday then – I arrive at the airport, already checked it. The special jacket kept me warm on the scooter tough it is getting nippy, with little signs that it may be a stormy autumn. I left it in the “boot”, walk in may civilised cat to the terminal building.

A short while later: I put all the stuff into the boxes, pass the security, also the second “special” security check, go to the belt to got ready: pockets stuffed, electronics put back into place …. nearly there, just last box .. “Is this yours as well?” Nodding, I haste a bit, thinking that he wants to take it in order to return it with the other boxes … “Can you come with me, please?!” I follow, the small room, the frequent test for explosives. Of course, nothing found: ”Thank you, Sir … and please accept my apologies for any inconvenience” – “I thank you” – finally it is an exercise to protect myself and others. About two hours later – I just reply a text message, clarifying what I wrote earlier: that it is so often that I receive that special treatment. And I add “But what is really worrying: here at Paris airport everybody gets special treatment now: they reintroduced passport control … – all are equal.”

I am moving with the crowd through the halls of the airport, the RER, ligne B. Instead of changing the train to go to St Denis, I walk the short distance from the Stadium. Half way, the phone rings .., – unknown number, 030…. – it takes some time: “Yes, of course .. yesterday we talked about the visa …” – “Everything is OK, it is a visa type …, the letter does not mean anything to me, only when she explains I am asking myself about the different meaning something may gain, depending on the concrete conditions. The different meaning for instance of “freedom of movement.”

– Well, the外国高端人才确认函 means as well that I am going to fill the position of professor at the Law School of Central South University, Changsha, PRC, part of the remit will be concerned with Human Rights.

Sure, some things happen by accident; but it may well be that small accidents happen in order to avoid major averages.

Superiority

it may be that superiority is in fact with the apes – not walking upright, not properly knowing about tools and still ..
Currently there is a poster campaign , run by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, celebrating the 100s anniversary of the Berufsbildungsgesetz – the Vocational Training Act. Fair enough one would say, seeing the main message:

That is what keeps our economy going ..

Still, I dare to ask, for instance:

What is this economy about? What does it mean when it is going? Are we really talking about vocations or are we talking about people just in need of a job? And aren’t those job we have to make a living, just “un-make” our living: annoying, alienating, straining …?

Pessimist? May be. Still, I dare to ask, for instance:What about job centres and regulations that make it in the first instance for so many rather cumbersome to complete forms and accept controls to avail of support (material and job search) and then, for some, so troublesome and slow to withdraw because one found income and work without the jobcentre?What about a  project application being thought through, looking at possible administrative hurdles but making all these considerations, doing all this admin work with just a vague idea of the content?What about finding a coconut, looking around, considering the ground not hard enough and looking for a stone which then is applied in a specific way to open the nut without loosing any milk from inside?  … – and whoever is behaving this way, surely knows why s/he wants to open the nut.
The last example is most likely a monkey, or some other animal acting this way. The others likely being concerned with humans’ behaviour. The question now is: which is the superior way to act? The last example with its immediate link between means and ends? Or the others where there is certain level of abstraction reached: not being hungry and thirsty here and now being the motivation to act, but the knowledge of hunger and thirst at some later time. This is still a simple one. However, there is a turning point namely when the link between means and ends is twice broken:

• The first time when some act is executed in anticipation of its need (I have to look for resources now as I will need them in the the future)

• The second time when resources are generated by means without considering their usefulness for the second-level end (I have to apply a hammer as I have one under control; it is of secondary interest for what I use it, if what I use it for is actually useful; or bluntly: I use the hammer to repair the fin watch.
Sounds absurd? AS praxis it surely is. But this is what reality looks like: economic growth for the sake of economic growth, getting a job to generate income without having any vocation that is intrinsically linked to the job’s requirement); going for projects because …, well, there is usually money or reputation in it….
Simple? Not really? Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg did not always know exactly what they were doing? And I suppose there is noting wrong in learning “because I want to know”, without further questioning, without more requirements than necessary, setting only one interest: Being really part of a process and structure that starts from reality !
SUPERRIOTITY …. …

Worrying …

indeed it is worrying to see the right-wing, nationalist, fascist, populist spawn, occupying so may positions, spreading their words and establishing with their deeds a kind of new system (indeed, we should be careful, not just putting all of them under the hat of populism – László Andor highlighted this in a recent article. Gabor, a Hungarian colleague, now working in Milano, recently said

I think Hungary has already exited politics as we know it, and it decided to recreate Monty Python in a horror comedy version. 

The reason for his remark: I mentioned my encounter with one of the Hungarian Ministers and his nationalist tirade. Actually is reference to Christian traditions …, somewhat subtle: we are not against anybody, we just have to protect our “great traditions”, and these are those of Christianity … – well, another fundamentalist religious states like the IS, lurking on the Hungarian horizon?

The fact with many of these crops is that they establish systems that do not allow to be reversed — even if they would loose power, the authoritarian structures will survive them at least for a long time. As sich it is not just another round, part of a regular up and down of different political strands.

Now, some rumour – even that it is thinkable is disgraceful. Alexandra Brzozowski and Sarantis Michalopolous state in their EURACTIV-BRIEF, titled

Berlaymont’s rumour mill

László Trócsányi, Viktor Orban’s right-hand man in Brussels, might get the humanitarian aid and crisis management portfolio – a move that could easily fit into Fidesz’s migration narrative that instead of receiving immigrants, “help should be given at the point that it is needed.”

As said, that this is thinkable, made possible then by the German …, yes, of course, CHRIST-demagogue, uniting with Hungarian Christian fundamentalist.

There is another news these days:

Swedish FM to Resign from Her Post

As we read in the article

“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement.

I remember Margot from those years in Brussels. And I would say that there as well she put a lot into the job, without necessarily agreeing, it still had been a pleasure to find a commissioner convinced of what she was doing and convinced that it must be about opening: opening the institutions to the European citizens had been her remit at the time.
Who would deny her the right of doing what she intends to do:

It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.

However, so often we talk about modernity as process if reduction (“halved modernity”), its eclipse etc. And Daniel Kehlmann came up with this most telling story about Measuring the World, taking up on the tension between exploring reality (Alexander von Humboldt, and Aimé Boland) and calculating it (Carl Friedrich Gauss). Isn’t this in some way also today the baseline when it comes to artificial intelligence – the hope set into it and the fear facing it.

Part of the structure established with this process we usually refer to as modernisation/modernity had been about individualisation, a very special and specific establishment of the individual as ultimate point of reference. But isn’t this then also the need and justification of moving between the “outer world”, a public, seemingly/supposedly hostile, at least strange, alien and this cocoon of family and perhaps few very close friends, eagerly securing the borders … The public, in tis constellation, bears two labels:

HANDLE WITH CARE, MAY LEAD TO ADDICTION

says the one

DO NOT OVERUSE, SOCIETY IS CAUSES LOSS OF INDIVIDUALITY AND ENDANGERS THE PERSONALITY

states the other

Excellence

There is so much talk and wrong-doing about excellence, high performance striving for exceptional individual results. And there is so much forgetting of the fact that any human performance is part of a process, picking up the seeds and germs, delivered “for free”, often by really great minds, so often greater than the celebrities. Excellence, well understood, is about being part of a wider social and historical performance, not about individuals who – by chance or fierce violence in a competitive strive – are excluding themselves from the cooperative context, possibly even positioning themselves against it.

http://www. haleadvisors.com/wp-content/uploads/Dollarphotoclub_65673150-1024×576.jpg

William Guthrie is  somebody who showed by exposing his modesty what this actually means, writing in the second half of the19th century the following words, part of the Introduction and Translators Notes to the translation Savigny’s Private International Law and the Retrospective Operation of Statutes (A Treatise on the Conflict of Laws, and the Limits of their Operation in Respect of Place and Time)

Now, when a considerable portion lies before me completed, I might wish that much of it had been more exhaustive, plainer, and therefore different. Should such a knowledge paralyze the courage which every extensive enterprise requires ? Even along with such a self-consciousness, we may rest satisfied with the reflection, that the truth is furthered, not merely as we ourselves know it and utter it, but also by our pointing out and paving the way to it, by our settling the questions and problems on the solution of which all success depends ; for we help others to reach the goal which we are not permitted to attain. Thus, I am now satisfied with the consciousness that this work may contain fruitful seeds of truth, which shall perhaps find in others their full development, and bear rich fruit. If, then, in the presence of this full and rich fructification, the present work, which contained its germ, falls into the background, nay, is forgotten, it matters little. The individual work is as transient as the individual man in his visible form ; but imperishable is the thought that ever waxes through the life of individuals, the thought that unites all of us who labour with zeal aud love into a greater and enduring community, and in which even the meanest contribution of the individual finds its permanent place.

This is surely part of Marx probably meant when talking about the fact that humans are social beings and can even individualise only in society.Now, when a considerable portion lies before me completed, I might wish that much of it had been more exhaustive, plainer, and therefore different. Should such a knowledge paralyze the courage which every extensive enterprise requires ? Even along with such a self-consciousness, we may rest satisfied with the reflection, that the truth is furthered, not merely as we ourselves know it and utter it, but also by our pointing out and paving the way to it, by our settling the questions and problems on the solution of which all success depends ; for we help others to reach the goal which we are not permitted to attain. Thus, I am now satisfied with the consciousness that this work may contain fruitful seeds of truth, which shall perhaps find in others their full development, and bear rich fruit. If, then, in the presence of this full and rich fructification, the present work, which contained its germ, falls into the background, nay, is forgotten, it matters little. The individual work is as transient as the individual man in his visible form ; but imperishable is the thought that ever waxes through the life of individuals, the thought that unites all of us who labour with zeal aud love into a greater and enduring community, and in which even the meanest contribution of the individual finds its permanent place.

This is surely part of Marx probably meant when talking about the fact that humans are social beings and can even individualise only in society. It is not (only) the dwarf on the shoulders of giants, but (also) the cogwheel without which the entire engine cannot work.