The True Virus hiding behind Covid19

My University, more precise the Human Rights Center at the Law School of Central South University, Changsha, PRC asked me, when I left in February for some
conference visits. to report a bit on the CVC-the Corona Virus Crisis, which is actually at least equally a lesson about how crises are managed. Much had been said, is being said and will be said. Too much? Well, there is hopefully some special perspective here to be added – at least the original publication (part 1 and part 2 … to be continued) met huge interest and acclamation.

0. Introduction

Just to be clear from the beginning: thinking biology, medicine and the like are as exact science impeccable, without errs. But this is not the topic – it only mention as some definitely competent people stated that without downplaying the dangers, they should not be exaggerated and, for Corona that as it is, there is surely something to be said about the virus being very much “holder of its own passports”.

1. My Life with the Corona Virus

During the holidays I faced some difficulty at the checkout of a supermarket – Biyu, another customer helped me …, knowledge of language definitely helps. Then, bidding farewell she said: I am so sorry that you experience the country now, the virus doesn’t allow real Spring Festival Mood. Strangely enough it seemed that she had been more worried about me missing out than her own “loss”. Every little makes a difference – I remember one Christmas day when I lived in Ireland, a power cut making it impossible to live the traditional “turkey” – more worrying than anything else. This is not to say that the Irish aren’t hospitable or less than Chinese people. But it still may point on a rather meaningful difference between the East and the West (this as any other categorisation has to be taken with care !!): There is a generally a more pragmatic orientation to be found in China – call it resignation, subordination or you also may call it freedom, of which one definition says that it is the “insight into necessity”. What I saw these days, being back in Europe had been just the opposite: first, complete ignorance, of course suggesting that there is a problem in China, increasingly reacting protective – here protective is just another word for hostile; then, second, the reaction had been more like stepping hastily into a chicken barn, exaggerating reactions instead of a calm, systematic approach.

Some examples will follow over the next time – impressions. And as valuable – and a bit entertaining – as they hopefully are, a systematic analysis, perhaps under the title of The Virologist’s Socio-Political Compass, may be valuable for developing global responsibility and rights-based approaches as crisis management.

2. 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 cannot 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 (free version)

3. Every Little Counts – The Common Good

Finally, with 14 hours delay, I left the Empire of the Middle on the 9th of February – I use this old-fashioned reference to mark the ongoing mystification of China, but also other Asian countries: in the West there is often a strange way of …, well, call it respect for the unknown, the exotic. And as exotic as anything unknown is, a new version of “the magic” appeared to me, walking from the shuttle train to the final passport control: the “magic” of a futurist scenario:

Please, walk slowly – temperature measurement in progress

Compliance again, very likely everybody saying I do not want to be infected and I do not want to infect anybody else – sure this measurement is not the proper medical one in the strict sense …, but every little helps. Big Brother as good friend – let’s take it pragmatically. And of course, every control has different sides. This is what I mentioned earlier, filling in some questionnaire, amongst others containing the questions:

  • Have you ever have had temperature?
  • Did you feel exhausted recently?

I guess even every toddler did have temperature and then: in connection with the delay of the flight I had been chased across the airport for a couple of times – consider that I’m not trained olympionique, consider as well that I’m not the youngest anymore, it seems quite natural that I had been exhausted. Every little helps …, and every little needs attention, even the smallest thing. All this shows that there is always the “human factor”, leaving us with some errors of a special nature: Formal approaches are applied, assumptions are made and the best and probably the only thing we can do is moving on, accepting the four fundamental notions:

  1. Common sense is – not always, but often – a sound guide for our action and activities
  2. Though we may often feel alone – seemingly a characteristic of modern societies – we are never alone; thus, any kind of complex situations and processes needs toell be explored from different sides, not only considering what is self-evident for ourselves (think about it: you see something that is “yellow”; your friend sees the same thing but does not see it as yellow but as “in a very bright colour” – you may easily end up in some misunderstanding).
  3. Not least: communication is decisive – society had been characterised by various terms: society as theatre, as leisure society, court society, welfare society, and of course as industrial society, service society, class society, middle class society. It is Niklas Luhmann’s merit to have introduced the term communication society, however, he understood communication in such a way that …, ehem, there had not been any people left: communication in his understanding had been a process without subjects (if you do not understand this “autopoitic process”, you actually are right: it cannot be understood – it has a bit of swimming in a lake without getting wet). I propose it may be appropriate to speak of a court-room society, the latter understood as place where justice is negotiated by applying a specific language, one that is necessarily both, precise and disputatious, neutral and strictly goal-oriented.

This way the every little helps, combined with the every little needs attention is joined by a third pillar, namely everybody has an important role to play.

Thus, the Kantian categorical imperative –

  • “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law”

(this is the wording from Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals from 1785, later he used slightly different formulations)

applies, but needs to be enhanced:

  • Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that you action and activity is well interwoven and coordinated with the action and activities of others


  • Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that the result is one that can prove validity in the future.

And the expert may justifiably feel tempted to see some Rawlsian veil of ignorance at play.

Leaving the funny aspects of obviously (and also seemingly) unreasoned questions aside, there is a further serious issue, not least in perspective of rights to be raised: we are always caught between highly standardised means, possibly applied in a mechanical way on the one hand and the need for what had been frequently called the struggle for law, that is the dispute and human empathy to elaborate a solution that is just, meaning that is appropriate to the situation. Or in more common terms, the tension between legality and justice (and those who studied law will of course remember the seminars on the different takes on “ought” and “is”).

This section may be concluded by the most crucial point, arising from what had been said so far: at the very core we are dealing with the common good, and importantly this stands at the beginning – as such it is one of the interpretations of the Marxist thinking, expressed in two frequently quoted sentences:

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past”

standing at the beginning of The Eighteenth Brumaire.

And in the Introduction to the Outline of the Critique of the Political Economy

“The human being is in the most literal sense a ζώov πoλιτιχόv [political animal], not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society”

Seeing here a superiority of the social would be problematic, as such interpretation presupposes the social as “reification of its own”, arising from nowhere – like a deus ex machina. However, this common good is nevertheless of special – quasi-superior – character, as it is source and objective of acting individuals – take (a) simple issues as language (needed to speak with somebody else, something that is shared), (b) more complex issues as common sense and morals (yes, something you share) or (c) highly elaborated systems as the regulative body (or call it civil code and related legislation) of a country or the trans- and international system –and remember: crossing the street, buying a tiny commodity or making a present …. all these are legal acts. Highlighting the crucial meaning of the social – for instance in form of the common good gains at present some special relevance as in the context of CORVID19, one of the leading online gazettes on EU-affairs laments its BRIEF (Stam, Claire: Common Good;; 12/03/20; ) that “[t]he swiftly-spreading coronavirus forces all of us to take a reality-check and face the ugly truth. It also forces us to adapt and change our behaviour for the common good. Because this is what it is all about. This is what is at stake.” This statement – and the then following reference to “disruption” caused by the virus, is remarkable, showing the Western (under)valuation of the public good: peripheral, related to emergencies, the last resort. With some good will one classify see it as slip – an argument of bad taste brought forward by one of the many unsettled journalists. However, looking at EU policies over the years, in particular the debate of services of general interest, there cannot any doubt that there is little appreciation of the common good as general standard: everything is geared to individuals looking for their own, personal benefit.

– Doesn’t this connect nicely with the argument I brought forward, when addressing the international Human Rights conference in Changsha in December 2019, an argument that is widely discussed, often as matter of a fourth generation of human rights – here I would put it under the heading of human rights (also) as right of humanity, not (only) of individuals.



Tour- and Life-Guides

recently ….., well, yes taking a historical perspective it had been recently I had been strolling through Rome and a touristy asked for the way – I cannot recall where he wanted to go, but it actually doesn’t matter. 

“You should just walk to the Main Street and then turn right; you see the church on left side, cross the street and into the little Street, just go on for a few yards, you will come to church and turn right until you see …”

overview result from google-image search churches

I gave up this way of explaining a route – being in Rome, churches are not really useful to guide a persons way. The other day I went out for a walk in Changhsha – nobody asked me for any way. Still, I was thinking, making a route:

“Walk along the Lushan Road, it is not long walk – approximately 30 minutes. I guess after passing probably between 5 and ten universities

overview result from google-image search universities

you will pursue the huge statue. What ever you say at the end (and I said a lot in the 60s and 70s), it is with him that everything begun.”

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 …;


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


– 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.


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.


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.


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.

circularity of madness

New technologies – the other day I bought a new phone card – life without such gadgets as mobile phone with connection to the world wrapping weirdness seems to be barely possible even if there is the internet-connection in the office. Arriving at about 17:00 it took about 1.5 hours.

Oh yes, fortunately I did not come during peak hours …

Still, time enough to wonder how such technology initialises a momentum of a certain …, well perhaps we can speak of “circularity of madness”:

First we are mad to avail of the new junk; and having it, we are becoming mad, being busy with maintaining it … installing the upgrades and updates; adding the credit card to an account, adding the account to the social network, installing the security apps, going back to website of the bank in order to fix a bug that actually occurs only with this bank … And then being told that this card would not be accepted anyway ….

It reminds me (for good reasons I guess) of the often quoted passage from Marx’ Capital

Capital is said by a Quarterly Reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. 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., positive 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, l. c. [Trades Union and Strikes], pp. 35, 36; in: Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital; Volume I; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996: 748, footnote 2)

In fact we can make out that all this is part and parcel of the capital circle: the need to continue, even accelerate – like a bike, falling as soon as we stop cycling … 

Add my name to it, say it is Herrmann’s circularity of madness, named after the person who first formulated it … , it may make me famous one day, having found one of the diseases of our times … (mind, not being founder …)

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.


The other day I walked into a coffeeshop, a bit off the main road, a bit multiculti and hipster – yes, one of these things I like: paradoxes: off the main street, on the main trends …

Anyway, I looked around, found it OK and put my stuff down, before going to to order …

An espresso …,

I know hipster, snob …, call it as you want – instead of pronouncing it in proper German

Einen Espresso …

Part of the “einen” was shortened to an/un, the pronunciation of the “r” of espresso …, Gosh, it would make every Italian blush.

Ah, the answer had been clear …, at least clearly Italian.

A brief chat …, sitting down and working away – working away with a smile, coincidentally on identity, for the presentations later this week on Maynooth.

Then, walking away I am smiling even more, hearing at every table the sound of “one of my languages”, thinking back, having often been located between many chairs, but finding so seldom chairs that are growing with the number of cultures, walks of life … of the people sitting down. Perhaps it is because the chairpeople are always walking away. multiculti presenting itself as multifailure.

It is not long anymore, wondering since a long long time if I am leaving more behind or will be finding more ahead. – Gracias. Realmente disfruté conociéndote.


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.

joining or not

The rally – not climate is out of control but life and living … or the other way round?

Vienna, September 19th;
Finally on the meeting Roland gratefully says in a short “impulse statement” for the debate: I do not have an answer, a solution …, I just know that we have to do something, namely look for the right question. Everybody agrees …, and so many say “but we know the narrative”

Berlin, September 20th, around 10 a.m.: traffic congestion on the highway 100 – I leave after a while, even with the scooter I am ore or less stuck

Berlin, September 20th, around 2 p.m. walking at the back of the metro/S-Bahn Friedrichstrasse, many years ago the place of “crossing” from one oa of the city another, divided by a wall.
Today crossing arms with strangers, building a wall – nobody has the answer, many have some answer and some may even think they have THE answer.

An old point comes to my mind – I am full of fear:

Ci dicono, in molti, in queste ore: non dobbiamo avere paura. Io invece ho paura. Voglio avere paura. Non dell’ineluttabile possibilità che questo orrore possa colpire me, o i miei cari; credo che per questo dovremmo affidarci alla nostra collettività, abbracciarci, dalla piccola alla grande, fino su in alto alle istituzioni che ci rappresentano e che dobbiamo aiutare a proteggerci.

Ho paura di chi dice: non sono umani. Ho paura delle risposte semplici alle domande complesse. Ho paura delle espressioni come: Parigi brucia. Ho paura di quello che può succedere: delle mamme che benedicono sulla porta i figli pronti alla guerra, ho paura dei numeri che prendono il sopravvento sulle storie, ho paura delle lacrime sulle bare che voglio altre lacrime su altre bare su altre bare su altre bare. Mi fanno paura i politici che hanno paura. Le frontiere europee chiuse unilateralmente senza logica apparente. Ho paura dei coprifuoco, dei concerti annullati, delle cene al ristorante con un occhio sempre fisso sulla porta.

Ho paura del Bignami della Fallaci. Mi fanno paura nella stessa frase “vaticinio” e “Sottomissione”. Quelli che pensano “scappiamo finché siamo in tempo”, come i bambini che chiedevano a Primo Levi: perché non siete scappati prima? Ho paura di chi mette tutto insieme nello stesso calderone, di quelli che non nascondono l’entusiasmo di pronunciare la parola “guerra”, ho paura anche del Piave che pure non ne può nulla e stava lì quando ero più felice. Ho paura di saperne troppo poco, di non trovare le parole o di dirne troppe, e fuori luogo. Ho paura della rabbia istantanea sulle notizie non verificate, una rabbia che rimane attaccata sulla pelle come una crosta, un trasferello nella testa anche se la notizia è smentita. Ho paura dei paragoni a capocchia, della banalità del male che non mi ha mai convinto, del sentirsi estranei, come se l’umanità non fosse sempre una e una sola, nel bene e nel male.

Mi fa paura anche “il tuo amico ti fa sapere che sta bene”. Si, ho una paura fottuta del tasto “sto bene” appeso sempre al collo come un salvavita per anziani, come una nuova coperta di Linus collettiva che non potrebbe che toglierci il respiro. Io non sono buonista. Non sono buono, sono cattivo. Proprio perché sono cattivo ho paura: perché in fondo, alla fine, a farmi paura siete tutti voi, siamo tutti noi.

I am to least afraid that we do not really know the answer, that we are moving without getting anywhere …

And a comment – the reproduction of a letter by Enrico Galiano:

Caro Ministro dell’Interno Matteo Salvini ,
ho letto in un tweet da Lei pubblicato questa frase: “Per fortuna che gli insegnanti che fanno politica in classe sono sempre meno, avanti futuro!”.
Bene, allora, visto che fra pochi giorni ricominceranno le scuole, e visto che sono un insegnante, Le vorrei dedicare poche semplici parole, sperando abbia il tempo e la voglia di leggerle. Partendo da quelle più importanti: io faccio e farò sempre politica in classe. Il punto è che la politica che faccio e che farò non è quella delle tifoserie, dello schierarsi da una qualche parte e cercare di portare i ragazzi a pensarla come te a tutti i costi. Non è così che funziona la vera politica.
La politica che faccio e che farò è quella nella sua accezione più alta: come vivere bene in comunità, come diventare buoni cittadini, come costruire insieme una polis forte, bella, sicura, luminosa e illuminata. Ha tutto un altro sapore, detta così, vero?
Ecco perché uscire in giardino e leggere i versi di Giorgio Caproni, di Emily Dickinson, di David Maria Turoldo è fare politica. Spiegare al ragazzo che non deve urlare più forte e parlare sopra gli altri per farsi sentire è fare politica. Parlare di stelle cucite sui vestiti, di foibe, di gulag e di tutti gli orrori commessi nel passato perché i nostri ragazzi abbiano sempre gli occhi bene aperti sul presente è fare politica.
Fotocopiare (spesso a spese nostre) le foto di Giovanni Falcone, di Malala Yousafzai, di Stephen Hawking, di Rocco Chinnici e dell’orologio della stazione di Bologna fermo alle 10.25 e poi appiccicarle ai muri delle nostre classi è fare politica.
Buttare via un intero pomeriggio di lezione preparata perché in prima pagina sul giornale c’è l’ennesimo femminicidio, sedersi in cerchio insieme ai ragazzi a cercare di capire com’è che in questo Paese le donne muoiono così spesso per la violenza dei loro compagni e mariti, anche quello, soprattutto quello, è fare politica.1
Insegnare a parlare correttamente e con un lessico ricco e preciso, affinché i pensieri dei ragazzi possano farsi più chiari e perché un domani non siano succubi di chi con le parole li vuole fregare, è fare politica. Accidenti se lo è.
Sì, perché fare politica non vuol dire spingere i ragazzi a pensarla come te: vuol dire spingerli a pensare. Punto. È così che si costruisce una città migliore: tirando su cittadini che sanno scegliere con la propria testa. Non farlo più non significa “avanti futuro”, ma ritorno al passato. E il senso più profondo, sia della parola scuola che della parola politica, è quello di preparare, insieme, un futuro migliore. E in questo senso, soprattutto in questo senso, io faccio e farò sempre politica in classe.

Enrico Galiano

Yes, I am afraid – and even if I am especially afraid saying what I think is the truth, saying that I have doubt and that I do not know but want to search, honestly, with others – Camminiare insieme – I will try to do, even if walking may mean building a wall. Not knowing the answer does not suggest moving on with giving the old and wrong answers

Berlin, 20th of September, about 5:00 p.m., I am waiting in the canteen – we want to go to the new performance of Brecht’s Baal …

The Juggler

he is standing there since about a week now – every time I pass, thus it means very different times. Sure, it may be by accident that he is just there – arriving short time before I do arrive, and leaving just the second i am around the corner. More likely is that he has longish working hours – where? motor highway 100, going to Hamburg … the rich cities of the former West, exit Tempelhofer Damm, turning to the right, direction Platz der Luftbruecke, once thought to be the square linking Westberlin to the so-called free West, the rich Uncle Sam bringing presents.

I do not know the juggler, only know that he is free to stand there, performing his art.

juggling – and he seems to be a cheerful nature, nearly forgetting over his play to stop, collecting money some of the drives give. The traffic light switches, he plays again – a cycle like that of the economy of the country, and that of the global economy – here it is smaller, of course, manageable.Also – I guess – the money he has at the end of the day is most likely manageable.

Also – I guess – the money he has at the end of the day is most likely manageably 


The modern building, mostly men, white, middle-aged though far from belonging to the middle ages, upper-middle class though not thinking about classes and class interests, not even thinking about nations, while far from accepting “nationality human being”,  wearing their suits to make them suit into the smooth ivory towers, though those may be of glass .. – they aren’t elephants, are they? — all spruced up though looking a bit chivy … 

… finally it is 11 c’clock, nobody to blame: not the traffic – that might change anyway when the bureaucracies do not undermine the  use of helicopters for short distance flights anymore; not the driver – finally there is public space between the gated community and the fortress of the business-tower – public space that requires accepting public rules in order …, yes, in order of maintaining law and order; not the attendant at the golf tournament which had been finally a matter of meeting business colleagues  … – some time now to be spent in the office: brief meetings with other CEO’s, with secretaries, a call “No, I have to speak the minister personally …” – at the end of the day this juggler writes on the personal flag: the day’s turnover amounts to …, well, there are amounts mores suggest it is better not to mention them; this day’s regular income …, there are figures that cannot be imagined anyway; this day’s additional income, gathered from some private consultancy work … psst, not everybody has to know, some would even say it is income gathered in the shadow economy … isn’t shadow the natural companion of the bright sun they make shining everyday?

Despite the bright light many of them look grumpy, the kind of official face matching the severity of the job …the serene mind they have to employ to set the, to their algorithms into notion.

Jugglers, one job, one society, one world — gosh, such a difference …