Small Print on Freedom of Opinion and Speech

It had been again and again an issue over the last two years or so, I spent in China: does it exist? How is it oppressed? and not least: But ‘we/they in the west’ can say what we want’.


though there is some small print we should not forget – an example may show what this is about.


Looking back in order to enhance looking forward

There is no intention on my side to engage in a wider or deeper debate on Chinese issues – it would require volumes, acknowledging successes, failures and contradictions now and then. And there is surely no intention to deny one or the other, be it in absolute terms or in the light of comparative reflections.

Still, having arrived in Moscow, I dare looking briefly back. The 19th CPC National Congress, having taken place the recent days, marks a shift in the orientation of which the meaning will be seen in the future. The congress suggested as main, i.e. ‘principal contradiction’ the country faces now is the society being

between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing need for a better life.

Previously – for 36 years – the maxim was seen as being caught between

the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people and backward social production.

Sure, even commenting on this can only be an attempt to make us thinking about what is at stake – actually far beyond China.[1] And any commenting is of course facing the danger of ‘loosing due to translation’. A bit of comfort for me is looking back at some experience in daily life, the glimpses into Chinese life and perhaps a bit of the mentality – glimpses, surely not more.

Well, then, isn’t there potentially a ‘mental’ or ‘intellectual typo’? Shouldn’t it read peoples’ instead of people’s. In the second case there is an individualist undertone while the challenge is really the life of the people, not people.

Sure the resolution of the congress has inscribed this new project:

addressing the development’s imbalances and inadequacies, and push[ing] hard to improve the quality and effect of development

into the party’s constitution. Important is now to see emphasis that constitutions are about processes, not structures. We are dealing with the constitutive process, the formation. And with this it remains to be seen if the apostrophe will be shifted into the right position, to promote a course that is worth to be carried on by a party that claims to be left. At stake is indeed the peoples’ life as foundation of people’s life – seemingly a tiny difference though remarkably one that is decisive for the meaning of the social.

Looking back at the experience of teaching in the PRC up to recently there is the tension not just in the party’s document and in reflecting on it. Surely, some of my students would go for moving the apostrophe into the right place. And surely, this means not least confronting an Americanised and Europeanised orientations of the educational system.[2]

Sure, there is the wider question, looking back much further. Here we have to ask if Deng had actually been right – or completely wrong. First we have to eat, that stands before any moral considerations are made – well known from Brecht’s Three-Penny Opera. The ‘Deng-question’ remains, better to say, the question Deng did not sufficiently consider: ‘What kind of moral will those, being well fed, while others receive little more then the bread crumbs, develop?’

There is no reason to question successes – over the last years more than breadcrumbs had been made available for many. Equally, as appalling as developments in Higher Education is in ‘the West’ are, there are exceptions and there are increasingly counter movements: claims for higher quality, for

an education … [that] will teach you how to think, not what to think

to use the words of Jazreel Goh, education marketing director of the British Council in China. More than glimpses of hope?

The hopes I personally have, and it means to take up on and support the excitement I see in the eyes, I hear in the voices, I read in the words of so many students; the hope that they withstand the strangulation that is still going on.

Looking back … – or looking forward? There is no real need for marketing directors but there is a need for academics being aware that they are and will always be students and for students that are aware of being academics, not future bean counters or Wall Street-pedestrians [follow the links for the interviews that are in these articles] – I found it striking that the congress paid a lot of attention to the economy and its development, while it neglected by and large many of the questions that are ore fundamental, namely those dealing with the actual processes of production and its ‘what and how’.


[1]            This far beyond may well be taken as part of the interpretation of the outspoken claim to be a global payer.

[2]            I dare to say that the congress was apparently clear on the question of education – but in a very unfortunate direction towards competitiveness, undermining ‘deep quality development’.

vie veritable III

La vie – les comptesla sagesse – mais que savons-nous vraiment?

Quand je joue avec ma chatte, qui sait si je ne suis pas son passe-temps plutôt qu’elle n’est le mien? Nous nous ta- quinons réciproquement. Si j’ai mes heures pour jouer ou refuser de le faire – il en est de même pour elle.

Off, perhaps some mooncake left just after the Chinese holidays

But in any case there is something when it comes to the moon …

… Is it perversity – or a dormant and clandestine wisdom? I was recently listening on YouTube to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, seeing the German advertisement link to a game: manufacture your own tank – the screenshot from the youtube-site

Digitisation … Perversity? Wisdom? Strange coincidence? ….- Knowing the text of O Fortuna and seeing this ad connected to it one wonders …
There is much to the entirety of the texts found in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern in Bavaria. And part of it is surely the tension in the ‘O Fortuna’ of which the text reads as follows – below in EnglishItalian and German – always posing the challenge to live a veritable life, even if it is often against the odds:

O Fortune

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
always waxing
or waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
and power
it melts them like ice

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
stand malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through trickery,
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate, in health
and in virtue,
is against me,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating string;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!

O fortuna,
A guisa della luna
Nell’atteggiamento dell’incostante
Sempre tu cresci
O vai diminuendo
La vita detestabile
Ora perdura salda
E proprio ora (la fortuna)
Occupa l’ingegno con un gioco:
La miseria
Il potere
Dissolve come ghiaccio.La fortuna immane
E vuota
Tu ruota che giri
Funesto stato
Futile benessere
Sempre dissolubile
E velata
E su di me chi più si appoggerà,
Ora che per un gioco
Il dorso nudo
Porto per la tua cattiveria?La fortuna del benessere
E della virtù
Ora a me contraria
È un desiderio,
È una debolezza.
Sempre in corsa obbligata
Ora per di qua
Senza sosta
Sentite il battito nel cuore
Poiché a causa della fortuna
(Egli) acquieta la forza
Piangete tutti con me!
Oh Schicksal,

wie der Mond
von veränderlicher Position,
immer wächst du
oder schwindest;
das grässliche Leben
ist jetzt hart
und heilt dann
die Geisteskraft spielend,
die Armut,
die Macht
löst es auf wie Eis.

Monströses und
leeres Los,
du sich drehendes Rad,
üble Position,
unzuverlässige Gesundheit
immer auflösbar,
und bedeckt
Du stützt dich auch auf mich;
jetzt trage ich
deinen Schandtaten zum Spiel
den Rücken bloß.

Los der Gesundheit
und Tugend
jetzt gegen mich,
es ist beeinflusst
und beeinträchtig
immer im Frondienst.
In dieser Stunde,
ohne Verzug,
kommet zu jenem, der im Herzen geschlagen wurde4;
denn durch das Los
breitet es den Zufall aus,
klagt alle mit mir!

vie veritable II

Il y a plus à la vie véritable – pas seulement ce qui ne peut être compté

La bêtise et la sagesse se rencontrent au même point quand il s’agit de l’attitude à prendre face aux malheurs qui frappent les hommes : les sages répriment le mal et le dominent, les autres l’ignorent. Ces derniers sont, en quelque sorte, en deçà des événements fâcheux, les autres au-delà, et après les avoir bien soupesés et appréciés, les avoir mesurés et jugés tels qu’ils sont, sautent par-dessus grâce à leur courage.

Vie veritable

I was actually looking for the reference to this quote:

“Our life is part folly, part wisdom. Whoever writes about it only reverently and according to the rules leaves out more than half of it.”

A sentence I found in a review of Bakewell’s Montaigne-review. and I failed. But I found huge pleasure in reading Montaigne then, and just a bit for you to look for.

For instance looking at the question of true life – pouvons-nous encore le trouver?

Numbers and what cannot be counted // nombres – et ce qui ne peut être compté

Quel que soit le moment où votre vie s’achève, elle y est toute entière. La valeur de la vie ne réside pas dans la durée, mais dans ce qu’on en a fait. Tel a vécu longtemps qui a pour- tant peu vécu. Accordez-lui toute votre attention pendant qu’elle est en vous. Que vous ayez assez vécu dépend de votre volonté, pas du nombre de vos années. Pensiez-vous ne jamais arriver là où vous alliez sans cesse ? Il n’est pas de chemin qui n’ait d’issue. Et si la compagnie peut vous aider, le monde ne va-t-il pas du même train que vous ?

Montaigne: Essais. Livre Premiere: 116

Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means Between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities

The article

Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means Between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities

is now online [her for the DOI], before it is available in the printed version of the The International Journal of the History of Sport


Physical exercise, beyond the mere physical aspect, is very much a social construct. But it is as well a means of constructing the social and as such it can be used in different ways. The contribution, taking a broad comparative perspective, will reflect on two major possibilities: the one may be called social inclusion as subordination and the other can be looked at as a matter of social inclusion by strengthening individuals. This also allows an understanding of new dangers of exclusion in the era of liquid modernity.