Honesty

I have never been friend of addressing people by opening a letter with a lie, e.g.

  • Dear/Esteemed ….
  • I am/we are grateful for …
  • Honourable …

Or ending it by using a statement like

  • With friendly regards
  • Warmest
  • Kindly

Why not state honestkly what one means — also being honest to oneself:

  • Dear colleague, thanks for the mail though I really do not have time to bother

And then, from the customer-side, instead of writing Thanking you for the reply in anticipation

  • Please, do not reply – I know it is not the problem you as actual office clerk are dealing with; but instead of answering, please pass it on to the CEOs etc. who make profit from the sheep-like patience of workers like you and customers like myself …

Part of the move from use to echange value is surely reflected in “using” langauge as means of exchange, but not echanging “meaning” (meaning being the use value of information and any form of serious communication) – instead: exchanging paralysing formulae that allow selling nothing in a beautiful looking gift box.

There is another point, going beyond comminication: a perverted consumer protection. Today, especially when it comes to online-business, we reveice the goods we ordered and with it we receive the label for “free return-shipment”, addressed to the dear customer and sent with kind regards., Great, if needed – and “deserved”. But then: how many people order a commodity or several of them, anticipating that they will return some of them. Even worse perhaps: omne orders an item and something seems not to work. So you call for help

The result is too often the”kind offer”

you can return the item

it does not really help if you want to use it … – did I mention use and exchange value? The use value is shifting to a perverse “KEEP THE BALL MOVING ON”, don’t bother what the ball is and where it goes. This kind of thinking and system ? It goes sooner or later onto the dustbin of history.

Human Rights or Rights of Humanity?

I guess it will be an interesting discussion – April 8th I will address the

International Conference on The Communist Party of China and the Progress on Human Rights in China

It is hosted by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, and organised by Jilin University Human Rights Center, Jilin University School of Law, and Center for Jurisprudence Research. My address is titled

Planes, not Stages: A Reply to Karel Vasak’s Classification as Useful Answer to Critiques of China’s HR-Politics

After working on it,  I came across the following chart, published in the update I received from the economist (April 1st, what a day for this …🤔)

Now, this seems to be far fetched, not connected. But let’s think about it a bit further – yes, taking a broad brush, though enough for now.

* The Global North “solving” its problem of environmental stress by externalising pollution from the cities and industrial centres to power stations in less populated areas (yes, the production of energy still is somewhat dirty, even if the pollution in the cities is lower when people use their “clean” e-SUV in the city)

* these e-SUVs or whatever e-engines depend on batteries – and there we arrive at the chart – part of it:

The mining companies pump up 63,113,852,000 liters of brine per year. In terms of quantities, this corresponds to the annual water consumption of 1.6 million Danish households – though the brine is too saline for human consumption.

There are more interesting facts to be found here ; see also here.

* As said, we arrive at part of the chart. Another part has to ask why the cost has fallen. Now, I won’t do the maths but I may ask a question: why are the the poor countries becoming poorer and poorer? Because people are lazy, sitting in the sun? Why is the gap between rich and poor people in the Global South getting larger all the time? Because the soil belongs to everybody and everybody super exploits it is proposed under the title “the tragedy of the commons”? (see for a presentation and some of the critique: Banyan, Margaret E.. “Tragedy of the commons”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 14 May. 2020).


Well, there is good reason for what had been said: the most serious historical criminal act had been the enclosure of land, i.e. the establishment of private property of the initial “means of production”, Fencing off, the establishment of private property and with this the prioritisation of individual rights brings us back to the question of the presentation: are human rights really first and foremost about individual freedom etc.? Or shouldn’t we first look at the right of societies to prosper in their own terms instead of continued enslavement? 

Tanti auguri per il 2021

paura, speranza, luce alla fine del tunnel …. Forse ora si svegliamo, prendendo coscienza del fatto che stavamo guidando ad alta velocità e verso un treno proveniente da altra estremità.

Reflections for the New Year

Again and again it is said that we are living in unusual times. Of course, in some way it is unquestionably true – taking unusual as exceptional.

Still, I’m wondering if it is not – for some – about returning to usual life, life and what it is really about, including some Jolt of Pure Joy  – taking unusual as ordinary in its most positive understanding of authentic, genuine: wiping away all the stupidities and useless wants that come along with commerce and business and their harsh fairy tale of growth as ultimate goal; perhaps overcoming arrogance, ignorance, dishonest tolerance.

Of course, it is not about all this for all and in every respect: there are still many who barely get the bare necessities; there are people cramped – in a rich city as Berlin – with 14 persons on 100 square meter; there are entire countries living in severe poverty …, obviously I am not speaking about that kind of consumers and consumption but …

Of course, much is replaced by online shopping, still the old ding-dong, veiled in new dresses, the heavy weight now to be carried by … the couriers, badly paid, working under harsh conditions … I am not celebrating these new victims … and yes, a good cuppa or something like that, sitting down in the bar around the corner is something we all miss as we miss the local theatre, the music club and the cinema – many of them possibly not getting back on their legs. Still, perhaps it is a time, an opportunity to pay more respect to the little walk with a friend, an opportunity to talk about the film we saw in our little or large home, perhaps it is the time where we are becoming aware of some essentials …

And perhaps there is something many of us can actually DO. Sure, don’t ask me how many jackets and trousers I have, how old my mobile phone is, how many useless gadgets I own and …. – but I made personally perhaps a small step from words that may be exceptional to what should be ordinary, authentic action. And I offered as well to enter conversations about the books there, socialising the means of production … and perhaps we have to and can think about new ways, collective ways of reflecting and debating ….

preparing the end of humankind ?

Ratio turns into nonsense, benefit into menace  
Woe unto you, that you are grandchild!  
The right, that is born with us,

Translated from Goethe’s original:

Vernunft wird Unſinn, Wohlthat Plage;  
Weh dir, daß du ein Enkel biſt!  
Vom Rechte, das mit uns geboren iſt  
(Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1790: Faust. Ein Fragment; Leipzig: Goeschen: 32)

Well, this could be written today without changing any substantial issue. Online teaching will remain if not dominant so at least as co-player on the agenda. To discuss respective issues, I attended recently a meeting for lecturers and casual lecturers. One of the issues had been the problematic that students are reluctant to switch on the video. Of course, there are many sides that can be discussed in this context. One point that came up, and been about obliging students to leave the video switched on – confirming the decision would not be recorded for the purpose of publication. However, such a proposal was harshly rejected, the reason being concerns with data protection. 

You may kindly ask them, but not oblige them … doing so, would be a serious issue of breaching the right to privacy.

Indeed, ratio turns into nonsense, benefit into menace. , If we continue thinking this way, we have to be afraid that one day attendance in the class is equally problematic in the light of data protection. Going even further anything, that forces us to show up in the public, can be seen as problematic in the light of data protection, in the light of breaching privacy rights: going shopping, taking a means of public transport, going to coffee or pub, and of course even going to the public administration as for any service becomes seriously problematic. And the service workers ???? — sure, seeing this as a matter of privacy rights and data protection; equally true is, however, another interpretation: we have been fighting to be heard, to have a say in public matters, however, the result of a conservative turn is complete individualism, the loss of any rights that could be considered as social rights. Finally, MargaretThatcher succeeded — there will be no such thing as society. Taking Aristoteles, Marx, Durkheim and the many others who said that humans are social beings, seriously, we are thus preparing the end of human existence.

Looking back in order to search for the future

Pausing for a moment is not a bad thing, even if we are forced to. There is a lot of talk about the new normal and indeed, it had been last week that we had been confronted with some news that had been surely worthwhile to think about. It had been world overshoot day, this on a global level. Qatar reached it already on the 11th of February, Indonesia will be the last, reaching it on the 18th of December (https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/)

Of course, there are massive economic problems as consequence of the pandemic. However, a detailed analysis shows that these are problems of production: the commodity system of capitalism requires to keep costs of production low, thus separating production proper and consumption. This appears a to be a problem of distribution and linked injustice. However distribution is not really the problem. The problem is that commodity production in the understanding of capitalist production depends on separating production of use value and production of exchange value. Only refocusing the entire process on use will allow to produce what is needed by human beings instead of investors.

Artificial Intelligence

It is in the meantime a widely used term, possibly also a widely misunderstood one?

Wikipedia suggests on the disambiguation site the following:

Artificial intelligence is at this stage a widely used term, and of course we even agree by small-signing the dotted line of the big thing:

Occasionally I access websites, using the phone. In a blink of an eye the search history is available on the other machines. Sure, I do not have anything to hide …, and as said: I signed. But what exactly did I sign when? Recently I had been looking for a shop – I needed the address and knew that there are some branches in town, however, I did not know that this is actually a national chain. The web suggested the maps with the branches in Berlin, then the general website, and then … the question if I would allow google to use my position. hum …and at the very bottom

Consoling: the postcode is wrong. Or in more popular terms: Artificial intelligence has something humane: it is at times equally stupid.

皮特·赫尔曼:种族主义:日常致死还是拒绝陌生人的问题 – Racism, a matter of daily killing

(English below)

由中国人权研究会指导,中南大学人权研究中心、阿姆斯特丹自由大学跨文化人权研究中心和国家高端智库武汉大学国际法研究所联合主办的“针对当代形式种族主义:疫情带来的挑战与各国应对”国际视频研讨会7月3日召开,来自中国、美国、荷兰、德国、南非等国家和联合国的近20名人权领域专家学者围绕相关议题展开深入研讨。中南大学人权中心教授,欧洲科学与艺术学院院士皮特·赫尔曼在会上作题为《种族主义:日常致死还是拒绝陌生人的问题》的发言。

  皮特·赫尔曼认为,我们必须寻找提供公共担保的条件,来塑造我们自己的生活。在社会中,这是关于健康和服务,是关于教育,也是关于提供一个环境,使生活便利。在我们有条件的地方,从生活在不同的国家和在不同国家工作的经验,我们有条件真正展现在社会中。你不会发现种族主义,只有这种限制性的和公共的私人问题。

 视频

Under the direction of the Chinese Society for Human Rights Studies, the Centre for Human Rights Studies of Central South University, the Centre for Intercultural Human Rights Studies of the Free University of Amsterdam and the National Human Rights Commission of China. Against Contemporary Forms of Racism: The Challenge of the Epidemic and States’ Responses”, co-hosted by the Institute of International Law, Wuhan University, a high-level think tank “The international video symposium was held on July 3, with participants from China, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and other countries and the United Nations’ Experts and scholars in the field of human rights held in-depth discussions on related topics. Peter Herrmann, Professor of the Human Rights Center of Central South University and member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, made a speech entitled “Racism: everyday life”.

  Peter Herrmann argues that we must look for conditions that provide public guarantees to shape our own lives. In society, it is about health and services, it is about education, and it is about providing an environment that makes life easier.

Video

I am George

It is a while back – already on the 25th of March, George Floyd was brutally murdered. And still it is high on the agenda: the lasting shock, the protests around the world, the impossibility to understand what happened. And it is on my personal agenda, preparing a presentation for the seminar “Best Practices to Combat Contemporary Forms of Racism”. As part of this preparation I came across this statement by the US-president in office, Trump:

‘I could shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters’

It is a statement he made in 2016, supposedly a joke. But listen to the context and you won’t be laughing anymore. And we actually will be able to understand what is impossible to understand.

As many proclaimed in 2015

Je suis Charlie

we have to proclaim five years on

I am George