small print

Sure,elections – and results matter. Still, one may dare to ask how much. Merkel in a speech, opening the recent G20-meeting came back to my mind – you can watch it here. The really interesting part can be found at the and of the video:

I ask the members of the press to leave so that we can start to do our serious work.

Well, that is transparency -masterpiece behind the closed rhombus.

Annunci

Simplifications

Keynes himself suggests in his supposed main work

The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

that

the essence of the General Theory of Employment

can actually be reduced on three points

Hence the volume of employment in equilibrium depends on (i) the aggregate supply function, (ii) the propensity to consume, and (iii) the volume of investment, D2.

And the entire theory can be reduced in other ways as the following quotes from the same work show:

Consumption—to repeat the obvious—is the sole end and object of all economic activity. Opportunities for employment are necessarily limited by the extent of aggregate demand. Aggregate demand can be derived only from present consumption or from present provision for future consumption. The consumption for which we can profitably provide in advance cannot be pushed indefinitely into the future.

And another contention:

When involuntary unemployment exists, the marginal disutility of labour is necessarily less than the utility of the marginal product. Indeed it may be much less. For a man who has been long unemployed some measure of labour, instead of involving disutility, may have a positive utility. If this is accepted, the above reasoning shows how ‘wasteful’ loan expenditure may nevertheless enrich the community on balance. Pyramid-building, earthquakes, even wars may serve to increase wealth, if the education of our statesmen on the principles of the classical economics stands in the way of anything better.

 

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is.

If we reflect a little bit further on these few passages, and not withstanding the fact that Keynes is surely a great economist, at least in the sense of circumspection there remains a main obstacle that may suggest that there is not only a problem with

the education of our statesmen on the principles of the classical economics

but obviously also the assumption that the bottles, suggested to be filled with banknotes and hidden in disused coalmines had been full of high-percentage alcoholic drinks, consumed before suggesting such as mentioned above – in fact Keynes, in this ‘General Theory’ and especially, of course, in his outline of the

Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren

seems to be aware of this. The reader of the quoted lines – and of the entire ‘General Theory’ – may take a few minutes and concentrate on the quoted passages, asking:

What society is suggested here and what role has economic activity in it?

It is a society that is distant from any meaningful social existence, founded in a circular understanding of consumption. Although production is not abandoned as relevant point of reference, in other words: although such economics does not necessarily reduce the process of generating value entirely in the sphere of consumption, it still does refer to the principle of marginality as ultimate motif de décision if not raison d’être.

In consequence it is a society and economy that is established by an inherent supposition that growth is the ultimate mechanism of reproduction, disjoined from any needs that are based in use value.

This also means that such economics fails to recognise that one cannot stop anybody striving to be a bubble in an economy that is conceptualised as bathtub. This refers to Keynes, stating

Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. The measure of success attained by Wall Street, regarded as an institution of which the proper social purpose is to direct new investment into the most profitable channels in terms of future yield, cannot be claimed as one of the outstanding triumphs of laissez- faire capitalism—which is not surprising, if I am right in thinking that the best brains of Wall Street have been in fact directed towards a different object.

As briefly said, Keynes himself was to some extent critical about this, stating in his work on the

Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren

For many ages to come the old Adam will be so strong in us that everybody will need to do some work if he is to be contented. We shall do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines. But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter – to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!

Even long time before him, the surely conservative economist John Stuart Mill was pursuing in his

Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy

the idea of stationary state.

Leaving aside that nothing of this is reality, we should not forget to ask for the real reasons standing behind such unfulfilled unmatched state, not least

  • the permanent furthering of breeding ‘the old Adam’
  • and …, well, the unquestioned power of those who drowned the bit of education in the distilled and fermented content of the bottles that Keynes suggest to hide in the coalmines.

Indeed, as we know from Schumpeter

The conquest of the air may well be more important than the conquest of India was—we must not confuse geographical frontiers with economic ones.

And this conquest is going on: the conquest of air and everything, going hand in hand with the “re-conquest” of Venezuela etc, and the new conquest, now directed towards the outer space.

Her

At least new for me, and even if it may not be necessarily a good idea to reform the language and write always

his and herstory

it is something that surely deserves attention and consideration. Sure, even Karl Marx wrote that

men make their own history

we surely have to recognise that men and women make our own history. And as much as it is about ‘great men and women’ that are usually considered, as much it is about recognising that we all do and that we should have the firm and permanently affirmed right of doing so: women and men, independent of their beliefs and the coiler of their skin etc, – and not least it is about

Latinos and Chicanos Reject Columbus, Embrace Indigenous Roots

the article in which I saw for the first time the formulation his and herstory. And it is also concerning other groups we to often don’t even know about.

And the formulation his and her story also points on another issue: it is about stories of everyday’s life, it just about the outstanding events and issues that are at most focal points in which all those stories are condensed.

 

human beings or markets, products and services?

Do we really need markets everywhere, protecting products and services, instead of humans?

At least this is the impression while reading the [Guardian]report, titled

Israeli airline can’t make women move seats for religious reasons, court rules

El Al loses case brought by Holocaust survivor asked to move after ultra-orthodox man refused to sit next to her

Seeing there the remark on the background of the judgement:

Cohen-Lekah said the policy was a “direct transgression” of the Israeli discrimination laws relating to products and services.
So easy to be satisfied as such appalling behaviour is rebuked to result in overlooking a tiny, though fundamentally important point:
I suppose it would have been enough, simply saying: 82-year-old Holocaust survivor and a former lawyer, Renee Rabinowitz is a human being.
I suppose It would have been enough to simply take being a human as point of departure for a a judgment that is humane …
legal syllogism has two dimensions
* the formal:
  • legal norm/rule
  • case at hand
  • judgement as conclusio
* the substantial
  • humanity as socio-natural being
  • being member of a ‘social group’
  • claim of human rights

sorry, I wrote what I meant …

… although it is most likely that it will go unnoticed.

In a 2017 discussion paper from the McKinsey Global Institute, posing the question

Where will Latin America’s growth come from?

we can read on page 15

… shifting from an abundance mindset to a productivity mindset.

The hegemony of competitive market economies, grounded in and aiming on eternal growth as source of wealth is far reaching – and part of the mindset is: scarcity is nearly everywhere and abundance is actually a negative occurrence – widespread in the pattern that is crucial for these economies: we have to create scarcity if it is does not exist anyway. And we do so not least by social distinction [or should we say maintaining class divides and exclusion?], by ruthless exploitation of the environment and by simply maintaining the unsustainable Growth-of-Developed-Product[ion] ideology. Thus, the proposal in the report suggests:

Latin American countries need to make the most of their rich resources by extracting them, selling them, and using them more efficiently. [ibid.]

Admittedly there are some valid points made about lack of efficiency and the environmental problems within those economies. But if and to which extent commodity-production-oriented extractivism is the solution may be questioned.

And it should also make us thinking if there is something fundamentally wrong if

[o]verall, macroeconomic fundamentals in the region have been strong, with low inflation and low volatility in exchange rates and interest rates. Public debt levels have fallen slightly over the past 15 years. [22]

– the latter remarkable as it has to be seen against the enormous pressure from many uncivilised attacks from the so-called developed countries – protectionism is not protectionist if used by certain countries …

Well, abundance is bad … ??? – Well, perhaps it really is, namely if it based in the permanent and extended production of superfluous products, if it is a matter of Growth-of-Developed-Product[ion]-ideology

… beginning …

I saw the highly esteemed Ken Loach, as so many others, getting somewhat trapped – or trapping himself:
saying what is so often said by many people, by many of us:
We have to begin where people are
He corrected himself shortly later, talking about those people whom he wanted to collect as being
part of our struggle
He did not ‘correct himself explicitly’, referring to the earlier statement, may be he did not even mention it. And I am surely one of those who used the same phrase, or thought in the way of ‘beginning where …’ and ‘collecting from …’, forgetting that it is our common and one world. Sure, there is the need to ‘translate’: abstract models in political science as in economics as in linguistics … translating them in ‘real life world meaning’. And there is the need to translate what we say into the language of ’the other’ – and in actual fact we permanently do it, without even thinking about it and even mentioning it.
Talking about arts, academic work, politics …, isn’t the need for such ‘beginning where …’ and ‘collecting from …’ the simple fact of these areas very much captured by the overall alienation [if this is the right word], things we do becoming meaningless [again: if this is the correct word which it is probably not]. In academia as elsewhere we are ‘producing papers’, are ‘working on problems’, for ‘outstanding journals and universities’ … – I heard the other day that ‘being invited from a foreign university’ is awarded higher than being invited by a national one … – and in this way we can surely say that it is our world – even if the one form of alienation is simply called alienation, another may be called extreme expert knowledge and specialization and again another illusion of … being ore intelligent than others.
Coming back to Ken, it is obvious that he did not mean what in some way he said: and amazing character of simplicity in the best of all senses, the simplicity of lived common sense, reflecting the deepest knowledge of things that is possible.
[And this makes his films so meaningful for all of us, how have a bit of it, i.e. the common sense, left].

with – for – by ?

Europe must be close to its citizens.

This is the concise statement we find on page 26 of the document that became known as Tindemen-report – and it is indeed worthwhile to read here: European Union 1/76 : Report by Mr Leo Tindemans to … – EU Bookshop the ‘old stuff’. the sentence can be found at the end of the first paragraph of the section

IV. A citizen’s Europe

And indeed, also this heading is interesting if we allow digesting it – that is what slow reading is about.

  • The citizens ‘own it’
  • and we are actually talking about the citizens as individuals – the ‘citizen’s Europe’, and not the citizens’ Europe
  • and looking at the other side: this ‘Europe’, it seems that it is somewhat ‘objectified’, a social fact in the Durkheimian understanding: independent from the actors
  • therefore an actor in its own right and as such confronting the citizens – as said: these being seen as individuals.

Of course, if this is the underlying attitude, determining what politics is about, legitimacy is a permanent challenge – the challenge every hegemon faces, and we can read the Modern Prince in it, well aware of the task that – as we read on page 28 of the report

[a] strenuous effort must be made by the European institutions and by governments to improve the way in which our common activity is presented to public opinion and to link the daily decisions of the institutions to the motivations behind the construction of Europe and to the idea of society which is inherent in it.

Coming from here back to page 26, we may become a bit skeptical, when we read about Europe being

a rapprochement of peoples who wish to go forward together

Whereas it is the individual citizen, it is here the people as collective …, suggested as emerging from

the will of governments

and only because that

alone is not sufficient for such an undertaking

it returns to the individuals, suggesting – to them – that

[t]he need for it, its advantages and its gradual achievement must be perceived … so that effort and sacrifices are freely accepted.

Sure, that was 1975, and one may suggest it is not relevant anymore. And one may even suggest: it is not relevant anymore because the citizen of the state[s] submerged in the meantime completely under the rules of the market, making us to market citizens, feeling and behaving and thinking that way, too often not being away of it, as reading faster is more important than reading more, reading the full content of such tiny statement that

Europe must be close to its citizens

thus never being a Europe that is an entity established by us.