Once upon a time … – a success story

Once upon a time there were Kings and Queens and the entire feudal fo<it had been said. But …

https://www.frontlinemissionsa.org/uploads/1/0/4/1/104153586/bastille-day-parisianist-6_1_orig.jpg

There had been times when all this would change: the rulers would be chased away, the formerly ruled becoming the new rulers. Or concrete: customers had been appreciated by giving them “royal status”: treating the customer like Kings or Queens had been treated in the ancient regime … And even more so, of course: really radical forces wanted to overcome even these relics of the old system, getting completely rid of the feudal system … and indeed, so often we see they succeeded.

the new kings and queens, the customer-king and customer-queen would now be treated just as dairy cow and fat-stock ….

new princes and princesses … – making themselves known under the title ABC.XYZ

overlooked the valleys of the new age, be they silicon valleys, silicon docks or whatever the emperors new clothes appeared to be – surely not allowing the customer to play a noble role anymore.

Well, the 15th of March is annual World Consumer Rights Day – it surely makes sense to acknowledge this breed of capitalism as mire and different from paying customer, now increasingly as the prosumer, is not only called to the stable to be melken; instead it is about a trend to produce, sell-it to yourself and continue to develop your product ,,, . for free,

The Deepening Crisis of the European Union …

Nothing new: the crisis in question is still the”old one” and the publication is already from 2014. New is that the book

The deepening crisis of the European Union: the case for radical change 

is now available for free – it can be dwoonloaded from the dedicated website of the Central and Eastern European Online Library

(if you do not have access via an affiliated institution, you have to a new, free account).

Contributor(s): Włodzimierz Dymarski (Editor), Marica Frangakis (Editor), Jeremy Leaman (Editor)
Subject(s): Politics, National Economy, Supranational / Global Economy, Governance, Labor relations, Government/Political systems, International relations/trade, Welfare systems, Economic development, Law on Economics, EU-Accession / EU-DEvelopment, Fiscal Politics / Budgeting, Globalization, EU-Legislation, Geopolitics
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego w Poznaniu
Keywords: European Union;crisis 2008+;Berlin consensus;Spain;EU social model;capitalism;uneven development;
Summary/Abstract: This volume is drawn in large part from academic papers presented at the 18th EuroMemo Conference at the Poznań University of Economics in September 2012. The first section is devoted to an examination of deficiencies of both the structures of political decision-making in the European Union and of the conduct of EU crisis management since 2008. The second section considers broader features of Europe’s political economy which have a fundamental influence on its general evolution and the development of its deepening crisis. The third and final section includes the chapters which, in different ways, address key challenges facing the advanced economies of Europe at a fundamental and critical juncture in their development. “The book is a much needed addition to the literature on Europe’s structural growth weaknesses and the mismanagement of the ‘Great recession’ at both European and member state level. The critical viewpoint is stressed on the EU basic institutional biases together with suggestion of alternative solutions respectful of social needs and the well-being of citizens” (Nicola Acocella, Professor of Economic Policy, Department of Methods and Models for Economics, Territory and Finance, Faculty of Economics, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’).

TABLE OF CONTENTS (THE CHAPTER I CONTRIBUTED TOGETHER WITHJ MARICA FRANGAKIS IN BOLD)

  • Berlin consensus and disintegration: monetary regime and uneven development in the EU
  • The political economy of the ‘Euro-system’
  • Boom and (deep) crisis in the Spanish economy: the role of the EU in its evolution
  • Impact of the global crisis on the economic performance of Central and East European countries
  • The financial crisis and the restructuring of the EU social model
  • Crises and capitalist oligarchies: a radical critique of society and its political economy
  • EU governance: democracy as a mere fragment of political discourse
  • The need for a radical ‘growth policy’ agenda for Europe at a time of crisis
  • The future of capitalism will be decided in the cities
  • The preconditions for reducing social inequality in Europe
  • Lists of tables, figures and boxes
  • Notes on contributors

Oh folks, remain realist …

Definitely, it is for us in China a kind of nightmare-situation: the threat, the insecurity, the psychological strain and also the inconvenience and thus physical strain: shops being closed, villagers deciding quarantine-ing themselves and people just accepting, staying calm and cooperating. And then …. – the German news magazine coming up with a title-page like this:

Sorry, for me it is sending a wrong message, it is simply tasteless … “when globalisation is becoming a deadly danger” …, I suppose that is more about Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, though mind: not produced there … and so many other similar incidents …

And, indeed, there is something else made in China – the other day I received a message from a former student of mine – when I had been teaching economics. We are still in touch and Isn’t him a message, just the hello and how r u and take care -part of the answer:

Not only protecting myself, also protecting people around me. Ordered nearly 1,800 face masks from Japan last week and looking forward to receive them. Going to sell them at original price with a limit number per person and donate revenue from selling them. Purchased 2kg of “hande desinfektionsgel” from Germany for my parents.

now, I would not even be surprised if les boches claim that is “German benevolence”

…………..

Machine translation of the letter mentioned:

Hello, I thank you for this letter and the assurance of solidarity from the German side. While searching for this mail-address of the BS I also see the reference to the naturally welcome wish for respectful cooperation. Germany East not Germany and the AA can not be everywhere and control etc. But I must confess that such a tasteless cover picture, like the one of the Spiegel, simply shakes me. The experience that I make with my life in China lets me see with my German passport such an insult with shame and anger.
Der Spiegel is not the German press and I can only hope that this is the exception to the rule of reporting. This “naughtiness” of the seal with criticism and rejection but the AA would certainly be compatible with the freedom of the press, because this is equal to the responsibility in reporting.
With kind regards
Peter Herrmann

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

NewYear, the 3rd

It has a little bit of a third New Years Celebration in a row: first to 2020, then the year of the rat and finally Brexit. a commemorative coin, a celebratory speech and surely for many some form of hangover feeling …

Of course this date is a fake – and it is impossible to assess history before it actually happened. What we just witnessed is not more than another stage of long process. Still, it is a crucial one. I will not try to make an analysis of it. However, three points are worthwhile to be mentioned.

from: TeleSUR. January 31st, 2020:Brexit day has come …; 
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Brexit-Day-Has-Come-The-United-Kingdom-Quits-European-Union-20200131-0001.html?utm_source=planisys&utm_medium=NewsletterIngles&utm_campaign=NewsletterIngles&utm_content=18

I.

Let’s start with the kind of success story: it is the extremely low unemployment rate on the island. According to The Economist we see in unemployment rate of 3.8 percent. So Brexit is already now a success? The Economist – and mind it isThe Economist – highlights of the following context:
* A low unemployment rate
* Young people sticking to their job and not ready for change
* And the stability translates into stable low wages.

In the labour market, loyalty does not pay: shifting jobs tends to be a good way of getting a salary boost. In 2017 the average pay rise for a worker staying with the same employer was just 1.1% after inflation compared with 5.4% for someone making a change.

And

You might also expect supposedly flighty 20-somethings to be eager movers. Yet younger workers remain more wedded to their current jobs than they were before the financial crisis of 2007-09. There is a similar trend in other rich countries, but it is particularly pronounced in Britain. Young Britons’ reluctance to move may be part of the explanation for their dismal wage-growth. In the five years after the crash, they experienced a larger cut in real wages than their older colleagues.

Success? Things are open for discussion.

II.

I do not recall the time and occasion of the proposal of a “EU-free day”: all fees and taxes due, all regulations and bureaucratic procedures to be accepted -of course, everybody having the own national money in the pockets. Difficult to imagine? Trying to buy a computer, produced by a global enterprise, while you are residing in China. Go to the website of HP, DELL, xyz – at least in one respect they are global: you cannot find what you. It is a language problem, of course; however in this case the language problem is the fundamentals of the computer you buy are geared too the country where you buy  in this case China. It may be even more obvious, if ui look at the Huawei mobile phones: for the Western market they have all are Google preinstalled while it is banned here. Then you may try going to a European site, ask for instance a friend in Germany or France to buy a laptop with an Italian keyboard. Please do not forget, to send a train ticket or flight billet – such keyboard will not be available in Gemany or France. As you will be more lucky if you go to the Internet. – there’s a good deal of deceiving – anyway we may speak of a veil of globalisation. It is topped by Apple, of course: they offer you to come into the shop, nowadays called store. You can go there and they will help you going to the Italian website and buy the computer online. The last hurdle: you will need the codice fiscale (the Italian tax number), an address in Italy and a friend who sends it from there to you. Writing the last hurdle, does not mean that the curtain falls: instead of saving  the VAT, you will have to pay import tax – on top of the money paid for transport.

III.

Did you ever have the spiderweb apps? Well, it’s just another expression for a broken screen. It had been a little bit of a nuisance, so I decided to get repaired. Is so often, Guo Min helped me, suggesting:
Don’t go to the high-street. There is the small workshop – actually as well on the high-street, the Lushan road, but it is kind of hidden – under the rarely used stair case. It is such cheaper.
So, one day, in the evening when I went home, I stopped there and asked the guy if he could repair the screen. Kind of spontaneously he replied

No!

I walked on, not thinking much about it anymore. But then, a few hundred metres further, there had been another “under-the-stairs-shop” – here it a lady and she looked is a phone, checked a number, look something up in the catalogue and on the Internet, finally saying

Yes, that’s no problem. It will take about three hours

Great, I’ll be back tomorrow.  what time do you start business?

10:30

– and that had been the time I arrived there the following day.She looked at me, shook her head:ù

I am sorry, but I cannot repair it – it is a foreign phone.

Hum,

I look at the brand-name, saying:

Foreign? But it is the leading Chinese brand, isn’t it?

Yes, indeed, but you bought it abroad, right?

Yes, that is a fact. And of course I know what you mean ….

So I trotted away, not thinking about it any further. Another day Lv visited me, saw the broken screen and she said

I sorted out, don’t worry.

A couple of keystrokes on the phone:

It is a workshop nearby – he will still do it if we go there now. He won’t close the shop then.

So we went there, about one hour later the screen had been replaced –  but the brand-name, ingrained in it, had not been the original – just that of the main competitor.

IV.

Now, don’t believe I will let you go. In actual fact, we are arriving now at the most exciting point the the tragicomedy. according to the one article in teleSUR

For proponents, Brexit is a dream “independence day” for the U.K. escaping what they cast as a doomed German-dominated project that is failing its 500 million population.

And another article is headlined 

Scots: Leave a light on for Scotland because we will be back

Indeed, a mess, isn’t it. As outlined earlier, and anecdotical, there are truly “good points”, favoring the EU. And we should not forget that the British orientation for independence is prevailing since a very long time – some will surely remember the fear and hostility around the tunnel; for others this remembrance day may be about the various anti-social, even anti-human(e) attitudes. I remember e.g. the way of dealing with the BSE-issue. I remember one Council meeting – the British refusing to accept a “package” (it contained a major social initiative) unless the discontinuation BSE-trade limitation would be included into the package. A very sad example of ignorance of human rights. The EU could you at least mean some control of such imperialist, anti-humanist, most egoistic behaviour. One of these successive stories, although not especially concerning, is the progress in the area of gender equality –  though this is still limited, it is undeniable. Nevertheless, there is the trap we easily forget consciously ignore: in actual this European Union is a project of the centre-states, Germany still playing a leading role. And the historical comedy – or is it a parody – is, that Scotland – or to be precise the Scottish independentistas – want to counter British colonialism by joining the Franco-Germanic imperialism. – This could, indeed, emerge one day as  real tragedy of the commons. 

*****

Brexit – a kind of third New Years eve and New Year … . One of the visible similarities consists in the fact, there is much ado about it, a lot of it is for us, as people from all ways of life, just like a pool with many bubbles: some shallow waters, dangerous currents, and of course stretches of smooth sailing and many paired with traps. But I suppose in the end, it is just about opening another web, and we will be easily victims of the spider – on both sides of the border, not so much both sides of the classes. though there will surely be a hangover for everybody.

It reminds me of in some strange way of something – when theGerman Basic Law had been discussed, Kurt Bachmann said the German Bundestag something like the following

Although we are going to vote this act today, you will see the we will be the strongest defenders at some stage in the future.

Indeed, so it came. And so it seems to be with the institutionalized Europe: although we had been fundamentally critical about it, about THIS Europe, we are now those who are defending it in the most pronounced way.

Moving On …

2019, now 2020
the year of the pig, now the year of the rat

the time of old years coming to an end and new years taking their commence is often and commonly the time of thinking back … – the year that just come to its end and the early years of our personal lives and the lives of societies, ach and all with thither own dreams of “once upon a time ….” – some of the dreams possibly became true – and probably more that had been disappointed – what else could be the reason behind the new-years-resolutions: he hope for change and at least the little one can do oneself.

*****

Recently a friend (acquaintance, colleague, somebody I occasionally meet and like to meet, just to chat with across so many borders that mark our completely different backgrounds and lives) … , well, already last year she had been a bit in despair “…. I hear a problem.” – “Tell me!” and she did: her mother was going to retire – 55 years old (as it is [going to change now] the retirement age here in China. So young if we are honest and in many cases marking such an obvious break, evidencing that employment is not only some time we spend in some place, doing something defined in a contract and getting remunerated according to the same contract); it is a complex social relationship, also – at least very often – defining our “lives beyond” (this evidencing the simplification that is entailed in the formula of “work-life-balance”). And when it ends … – well, presumably especially daughters taut come up with what she said : “I have a problem”. The parents now expecting … – well, what do they expect? That the children compensate for the social loss: permanent visits, invites “wouldn’t it be nice …”; overacting the grandchildren or even moving into the same house: making their own loss to the loss of the children, in turn loosing their children just in order to get another time lost (mind the subtle though difficult to understand formulation of this formulation of the multiplication of loss). All this actually a consequence of justifying the alienation by auch nonsense of speaking off work-life-balance, affirmation and celebration of that fact that the worker

feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home.
(Marx, Karl, 1844: Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 3: Marx and Engels: 1843-44; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1975; 229-346: here: 274)

Instead of work-life balance we should investigate more the question of individual and society in the spirit as Norbert quasi-implanted it into my thinking (Norbert had been surely grater influence than Niklas Luhmann although I had been occasionally classified as pupil of the latter, also with some justification).

Recently the said friend came back to this her problem, though she did not draw the link: My mother is getting more and more child-like …

*****

– for some time something popped up again and again seeks for a rest, wants to be resolved in one way or another – small things, and perhaps such blog is a way of resolving one issue, perhaps also by way of leading to a resolution …?

One or the other reader will remember what is still rather common here in Asia – I remember it from my childhood in the West: The Henkelmann, or as we usually said Düppe.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henkelm%C3%A4nner.jpg#/media/Datei:Henkelmänner.jpg 
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Henkelmänner.jpg/901px-Henkelmänner.jpg
Von Claus Ableiter – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5197464

A simple container made from metal. Where I had been grown up it had been used by the workers: meals, having been prepared at home, had been carried to work and often heated up in large water basins – the workers sitting together, munching their individually prepared meal together. Today and here they are still used – but supposedly for carrying food from restaurants home, to be consumed then there. But what seems to be here and there the dominant pattern is different: the container is replaced by plastic bags and paper cups and the consumption …, well it seems to happen – while the various traditions of the family meal, the we-meal, the luncheon and you name it still play an important role, another and perhaps increasing role plays the throw-in-meal on the way: consumed out of throw-away crockery, throwing away the breaks between events and activities by focusing on the title plastic bag that send up in a bin …  seen from today’s perspective the vocation of an archeologist in hundred, two-hundred or five-hundred years time appears to be promising: looking at what is left a long time after there eis not much left of us individually and exploring what we just throw away today, not only materially.

*****

Is it justified to say it is the ability of togetherness that depends on the ability of independence and vice versa? Does this not suggest, that such break as entering retirement-age brings up all disappointments, all the unrealised dreams we have heard at some time and that remained unfulfilled while growing into a society that did not allow us to make them becoming true in mature forms. I do nit remember the exact wording – Pablo Picasso said something like the following:

It to me three years to paint like an artist that is recognised by the academy – but it took me ages tor paint like a child again.

Highly recommended reading on this occasion the work by Norbert Elias, it least that part that is directly addressing the question of individual and society.

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

Brexit, Europe and the Left

The blog titled Brexit, Europe and the Left and edited by the Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation Brussels and Trademark Belfast, published recently a short piece they asked me to write – on the German economy.

from the blog, Ivan Radic/Flickr

The teaser they added

Made in Germany or Made for Germany?

  • 25 October 2019

The once “strong tiger” of the German economy might be crumbling. For decades, the Made in Germany strategy pursued by successive governments suggested high quality goods worth paying for. Systemic faultlines, structural conservatism and policies of privatisation have created new lines of conflict domestically. Why this is bad also for the rest of Europe and the world explains Professor Peter Herrmann.

APPs-generation

A more or less recent decease pattern may be called APPSISM, it is transferred by a virus that comes along with different subtypes, as e.g. kakao, telegram, WeChat, QQ and not least WhatsApp. All the details are not yet known, also it remains open if the virus itself originates the symptoms or only activates something that has been there in a dormant state. The following lists the main single features:

  • communication via network sites, even small thoughts are fragmented
  • there is some quantum-theoretical asset: as smallest units of a communicative act they can be applied in different contexts  in other words: communication becomes arbitrary, potential empty; but also: they are potentially all-encompassing, suitable for universal statements
  • any contact should be organised in first arranging to meet, even spontaneous phone calls are expected to be arranged in advance.

The problem is not primarily the short span of attention (an often discussed issue nowadays), but the lacking readiness to take dining decisions, formulated in a positive way: the claim to be as far as possible in control of situations – who would deny that this is at most for seconds.

— What, taking hypothetically, there would have been a god, and not that only, but the that god would have created the world with this attitude …, or knowledge? – But perhaps god and the followers are guilty, asking for obedience, asking for avoiding risks, asking for permanent calculability.

— I was watching Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (Der Himmel ueber Berlin), right at the beginning there is a scene, the two angles talking to each other, one expressing his wish being expressed in words like “to be normal again, visible, not observing but living.” Mind the paradox: While he is observing, it is him who is observing those of which “heaven” demands to observe every step they do.

better – different – less — what is more?

a tiny riddle – or living with contradictions by ignoring them?

One of the global players, stating “invented for life” under its name and probably claiming inventing for life, commencing business with a

Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering

and subsequently really moving into the area of the various areas that are connected to electricity, promises (= advertises) by suggesting to

become carbon neutral from 2020.

Appreciating the efforts of this and other companies to work towards more “environmentally friendly technologies”, there are so many promises that must evoke suspicion, for example provoking the question how electricity – the production and consumption of it – can be carbon neutral.

At least one ad I see these days is remarkable in this context, really remarkable. It is an ad from a shop, selling groceries — with one simple message:

Buy less

A short step

The plan for Sunday: visiting the “Mittelmeermonologe“, it will be performed in the Heimathafen in Neukoelln. It is about people, daring the risky way across the Mediterranean Sea, hoping for a better life in Europe.

Sunday … Wednesday I walk to therein train station, going the rest to the airport by bus. At about 4 a.m. I am in the area Brandenburger Too, US and UK embassy. For reason of completeness I have to mention the French embassy, though it is kind of hidden – the time around “Je Sui Charlie” had been the only occasion that it had been really visible. Anyway, waking there that morning I was getting aware of the number police force.

12.10. landing at Dublin. Only elders of the Irish ID and European passports can go through the automated border control. Technology … but standing there in the queue, now being “all other passports”, I get a fright, my own Mittelmeermonolog, my personal talk of the past is coming up, more or less a soliloquy.

Berufsverbote the political control of people orating in any public service, the political refusal of people who did not want to go military service, the roundups – sure, justfied in some respect but not by way of starting from the assumption everybody being terrorist, threatening everybody by holding a machine-gun against their chin …

And now, instead of opening the places, increasing closure, and closure directed again everybody – positive reading: there is no We and Them. All are We, though Them …, well, they are those who tighten control …, closing borders and trying to spread parochial thinking ….

Leaving the terminal, buying the Busticket to Maynooth, the “Hi, dear” mutates, blurs to something like “Hei deer”, thinking about the old bull defending the little empire, maintaining a war that is lost already for a long time … -A saddening welcome, a saddening reminder of the state of Europe.

See here for another lecture on the topic.