paradoxes of jurisprudence

  • All right, but also all just?
Recently I received a mail (see below), calling against ending the discriminatory practice of the AirBnB-business, namely the difficulties of “foreigners”, namely potential customers with a foreign, non-european name (see here an article in Le Monde, here in the Guardian). For the organisation that sent the mail, la Maison des Potes – Maison de l’égalité, reason to argue against the discrimination – and up to some point there is nothing wrong with such complain.
But then … there is a point: AirBnB is one of those “sharing-economy” ventures that are in fact not sharing anything. On the contrary, they contribute to ruining local accommodation markets, make housing unaffordable to many due to the fact that speculators are buying apartments, blocking them for normal use as it is more profitable to use the space for “quasi-hotel”-business and forcing ordinary citizens to live in some subordinate quarters … or even on the streets.
So, the constellation becomes weird when looking at it from the legal side:
calling for the protection of people who want to rent, legitimising this way indirectly AirBnB, and thus contributing to a situation that is too often contributing to eviction … then, however, the legal system is reluctant to protect the homeless.
– All right, but also all just? – below a documentation of the mail
– Before another and (for me) similar contradiction – economic and political issues, political-economic issues aren’t different: the immediate personal encounter during the Economic Forum in Krynica – with (not only) the Polish Vice-capo and a high-level politician from Hungary’s fidesz had been simply shocking – as much as seeing who was providing the stage: not only KPMG:
and the “excellence” in performing Panem et Circenses as means of establishing and maintaining hegemony. But even there remarkable: during the same panel the voice of a multi:
“Nationalism is bad for you!”
So there will be and are somewhat strange coalitions again – again, as all this is of course well known from history. – Hegel’s Cunning of history?
In the following the mail mentioned above:

Cher(e) ami(e),Selon une enquête de France Info diffusée la semaine dernière, de nombreux utilisateurs d’Airbnb estiment que leurs demandes de location ont été rejetées en raison de leur nom à consonance étrangère.

Certains particuliers qui mettent en location leur bien sur ces sites web annulent la location lorsque la consonance du nom du locataire ne leur plait pas. La preuve de cette discrimination est apportée par des opérations de testings : lorsqu’un ami présente sa candidature avec un nom à consonance plus européenne, le bien lui est loué sans problème.

Pour la Maison des Potes ce type de comportement discriminatoire, prouvé par ces opérations de testings, peut être et doit être condamné par les tribunaux. La Maison des Potes épaulera chaque victime de discrimination pour l’action en justice à mener et se constituera partie civile à ses côtés.

Si vous avez utilisé ces sites web et que vous avez le sentiment d’avoir été écarté d’une location du fait de la consonance de votre nom nous vous invitons à nous contacter le plus rapidement possible par e-mail ou par téléphone au du Lundi au Vendredi de 10h à 18h.

Des testings pourront être organisés suite à vos signalements.

Si vous souhaitez nous aider à réaliser ces opérations de testings pour combattre ces discriminations, nous vous invitons à nous contacter en vous inscrivant sur ce formulaire :

Amitiés antiracistes


Public-Private .. a hoax?

When a company opens its databases to users, as Amazon, Google, and eBay have done with their Web services, it is encouraging participation at new levels. The corporation’s data becomes part of the commons and an invitation to participate. People who take advantage of these capabilities are no longer customers; they’re the company’s developers, vendors, skunk works, and fan base.
Kelly, Kevin, 08.01.05: We Are the Web; in: Wired
Which is, of course, embellishment. However, there is more to it as an article in The Economist, titled
made recently clear. It raised the question if social media, shutting down websites, that they see as channel for hate speech, are in breach of the law by undermining “free speech”. Of course, it is easy to say that they have the right doing so and even the obligation. However, at second glance it is not as simple as that. In actual fact it turns out to be extremely tricky:
The meaning of the so-called rule of law is primarily protecting citizens against arbitrary action of the state. However, it is obligation of the state as democratic instance to guarantee freedom of speech, but also to agree in this very same function of being a democratic state on the limits of freedom of speech. It is about the limit given in the case of one individual or group infringing the rights of (an)other individual(s) or groups – the latter is the second dimension of the rule of law, namely the protection of individuals against each other. In other words, we are a bit in trouble, not least if we take as point of reference T.H.Marshall’s view on citizenship with the three dimensions: civil, political and socio-economic rights: the state, against which citizens have to be protected by the rule of law in case of unjustified state action has to apply the same rule of law in case of citizens that are in conflict with each other. The problem is that these citizens would, then, have the right to use the rule of law if they feel threatened or wrongly treated by the state. It seems to be an endless circle of recursive applications.

36721749 – wooden gavel on book with golden scale on table

The solution seems – at least in theory – that citizens are actually not simply individuals but already as such “social instances”. Thus, the rule of law can only be meaningful if it is intrinsically conjoined with the rule of democracy – obviously a non-juridically defined matter, to be valued in the same realm of praxis.
This, then, is also the problem when it comes to decisions concerning social media and the (not existing) obligation to publish information that is submitted by third parties: such “institutions” as facebook etc. are entirely private agencies. Thus we are confronted with some far-reaching contradiction: while they are in some way public (namely they are publicly traded), they are equally private and self-referential, defined by the one and sole motive of making business. Legally it simply means:
  • In the business-cases we are dealing with terms of use with reference of an exchange relationship, in principle focused on a mutual interest, namely the conclusion of a contract
  • However, in the case of publicness we are dealing with terms of mutual responsibility with reference of common interest which needs to be negotiated – which includes also the conflict of interest, the result of which is conclude by a treaty.
The kernel is, consequently, to look at the congruence and divergence of private and public. This emerges from business leaving the private realm, becoming public (and suggesting, like facebook’s Zuckerberg in the Washington hering, to be

an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And, as Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to the people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses.

And it emerges if publicness claims to fulfill its “mission” by accepting the rules of private business (as we find it in so-called public-private partnerships).

World Teachers’ Day

The 5th of October, since 1994, the World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The 1966 Recommendation provides the main reference when it comes to teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.


Worthwhile to remember what Alfred Marshall said in 1890.

The schoolmaster must learn that his main duty is not to impart knowledge, for a few shillings will buy more printed knowledge than a man’s brain can hold. It is to educate character, faculties and activities; so that the children even of those parents who are not thoughtful themselves, may have a better chance of being trained up to become thoughtful parents of the next generation. To this end public money must flow freely. And it must flow freely to provide fresh air and space for wholesome play for the children in all working class quarters. (Marshall, Alfred, 1890: Principles of Economics; MacMillan and Co., London, 1930: 718)

It seems that with the “refeudalisation of society” we face the situation that the positions of the revolutionaries of the olden times, whose authors had been yesterday’s conservatives, are becoming joining on the side of the revolutionaries again. In this light there is also something about the illustration, ensuring to sin – surely not catholic-literally but to accept that pupils and students are partners.


Worthwhile a note on the world and China: on September the 10th I received a mail from 张伟, a former student of mine – well, she would say “a student of mine”, skipping the word “former”. She sent her congrats and best wishes for the teachers day. First I was puzzled – did she mix up the date? 2018, the Chinese teachers’ day is on the 10th of September, the world teachers’ day on October 5th, a simple explanation. I checked later on the web and found something that is … – well, I leave it up to you to think about it:

10 September is an official holiday in China. This day the whole country fetes educators and teachers. This holiday, in its different interpretations, has been existed in China as early as the Middle Ages. Teachers and coaches have always been honored and respected in China. Very often teachers acted as mentors throughout the whole life; especially it is true for the traditional Chinese martial arts.

It also says something on the reason of making it a public holiday: the official acknowledgment of teachers – as intellectuals – and their important role in boosting the development of the country. Also

Since the school system in China is based on the Western model, many old traditions in honor of teachers have not been preserved today.

One may have different opinions on this, the political background …, well. But at least it seems to be worthwhile to mention that there is a deed in the one part of the world, and that there are just words, probably widely unspoken, unwritten, unheard, unread … in another part of the world.


Worthwhile a personal note:
Only recently, visiting with a friend the Kunsthalle in Munich, I remembered one point of all this, when standing with her in front of one of Emmanuel Maignan’s works, the “Anamorfosi San Francesco di Paola”. A pleasure to experience the amazement of both of us. Though it had not been about a visit with a student, it is very similar anyway: Something of learning together and admitting that it is about the experience of being caught by what one sees – in this case actually being caught by what one does not see: the praying person only visible from two specified angles, the sides. It reminded me of having used Holbein’s equally magnificent  work “Gli Ambasciatori” for showing the same effect: the hiding of something, the fact of leaving something invisible for those who lack the enlightenment – an enlightenment that is emerging from the standpoint, the perspective. Never having seen the original of Holbein’s work, seeing something similar entailed still the experience of being amazed. – What foolish teacher would say s/he knows the one and only perspective. Doesn’t such perspective emerge only from putting together experiences, that may at some stage get stuck, paralyse the experienced if it goes together with closing the eyes, blocking off, not allowing new experiences to be made; and even more: not allowing looking at something “known” through new spectacles and of course forcing looking at the new through the old glasses.

Teachers’ Day – an opportunity to congratulate students, and to thank my students for allowing me to learning together with them.

The Most Dangerous Game

This is the title of an exhibition, showing the

Situational International en route for May ’68.

Earlier this week, well, actually already the week before, before I went to the EuroMemo conference in Helsinki last week, I was reminded of today’s understanding of occupying the streets and the meaning of the spectacle – though entirely different from the S.I.’s understanding
Germany’s “largest Festival of the Year”
showing its vedettes: So many roads closed, even part of the park between the Victory-Column and the Brandenburg Gate, the intangible power
provoking the question: what do they mean stating that this festival is
only together with you
There can, in some way, only be one answer: it is about the continuation and replication of how the former East had been and still is treated, prolonging the tradition of the East when that part served as corn-chamber of the West. That is what had been established also in 1989, though it isn’t about corn anymore; the new debates on the floors where the CEOs of the large national and international corporations meet in their offices and meeting rooms had been concerned with the division of work and influence and living conditions within Gemany and between Germany, the other “old Europeans” and the “newcomers”. Those years I travelled a bit across countries as Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Moldova …, clearly witnessing the “occupation of the streets”, clearly witnessing a strict pattern of the positioning of the different enterprises in a well-ordered fashion, clearly showing that competition can well be about the friendly distribution of market power.
I suppose it had been around those years that I wrote on page 232 in the
– ‘We are the people’, this phrase still sounds in my ears – and I see the crumbling of ‘the wall’, socialism had been building – rightly or wrongly – to protect itself against… ‘We are the people’ they say now – and the walls of Tesco, Aldi, Mango, Springfield, Dell, MAC, BMW and all the others make it difficult to hear the real voices of many who are just following their own way, now whispering for instance in the thermal bath of Hajdubösösmerny.
Well, there are these two worlds, within Germany, within EUrope and Europe and globally: the one attend “happenings” and their spectacles are about spectacular money; others see
The first of October … – it took me much longer to go to the House of the Cultures of the World then it took me “those years” to cross at Bahnhof Friedrich Strasse – the German State needs much protection, a huge contingent of police and private security when switching to circenses while limiting panem …  
The third of October … will it ever be a day of celebrating globalism, cosmopolitan spirit and life instead of supporting strengthened nationalism?
These days in October, very often, my experience with the police, when passing the security points to enter the gated areas “outside office hours”, may be mentionable – one example: I referred to the “Nur mit Euch” (only with you) on the poster depicted above, stating something like “it is an interesting concept: ‘Only with you’, and we are all screwed …” – Comment by the officer, though surely not an official one: “I do not have a clue what they meant by this.”

Centre-Periphery reversed

It had been a strange feeling or mood – returning Sunday around lunchtime from Helsinki – taking a longish walk from the railway station zoo through the park, passing the memorial fro Rosa Luxemburg at the Landwehr Canal, doing some text editing and having an early dinner in the canteen of the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht’s place of activity – then off to the Gorki theatre: Les Justes. En route passing the metro station at Friedrichstraße where I occasionally crossed the border for visits at the peace council an others …. a bit further the Humboldt university, where I gave one of my first public presentations as young academic …. the statue which Käthe Kollwitz made before I enter the theatre for the performance of the Albert-Camus-piece.

The is still some repercussion from Helsinki – opportunity for a short visit in the national gallery. There hadn’t been the great names – most of the names never heard outside of the country, the paintings more placid than those of the great names, depicting more the landscapes, unknown people and everyday’s life – the periphery one may say. Sure, they can also be found in other galleries  some time ago the New Pinakothek came up with a special exhibition:


But that is the point: it is more about a special exhibition – paintings that usually do not make the way in the main halls.and even there mostly it is the depiction accepted power,

Different in the museum in Helsinki. Much could be thought and said, at the end very much concerned with the fact that the centre of power is looking too often at the periphery of culture, distracting from “ordinary life”, from the worries and joys of people in their real life, that kind of life that is not about glory and that is not reflected in income statistics, employment figures and the like. And that life in which even angels may get wounded.

(Hugo Simberg: The Wounded Angel, from the Ateneum website)

It is the normality of what actually defines life: Kaethe Kollwitz, the hesitation in Camus’ piece when it comes to revenge while facing a real human being, not just the personification of a role, a specific vulnerability that is acknowledged and offers some special strength – that kind of strength that does not need huge power centres as materialisation of control, that does not need helicopters or massive “intelligence” for its protection,

(BND – the fortress of FRGs secret service – this part of the building sowing a fraction of the entire complex)

a strength that emerges from acknowledged truth. The open centres of exhibited power

loose centrality where they loose the respect of the seeming periphery: the real life; political and imperial power moves to the periphery where the actual meaning is emerging from the way in which people shape and share every day and everywhere, where we find confirmed that

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. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

And where we have to add that it is not only history but also the attraction of present power, the presentation of power in attractiveness, meaning beauty and might that takes this nightmarish character.

Still, it remains the question. often asked: can people be just in a world that is profoundly unjust? – All this surely something to reflect upon when we talk about populism.

The no-problem-society V – is there really no right life in the wrong one?

[the no-problem-society (I, II, III, IV)]


Adorno coined the phrase
Though without referring to him, we had been chatting about this topic, Yi wondering why “you in the West have this strange attitude: not living, working and then condensing life in a brief period called holidays …”
A few days after our chat this came back to me, 8:30, taking a morning-train to the German capital: eleven man, not too young, entering the passenger compartment, loud enough to entertain a train station, occasionally quietened by reading the famous boulevard journal … . After a short while I saw one of them sitting there with a bottle of sparkled wine, only minutes later he got a little box of Kuemmerling, the herb liqueur – don’t get misled by the name, it is not going back to any worries (the German term “Kummer” can be translated as worry).
Obviously they went for a weekend to live, forgetting existing during unbalanced work, caught in alienation.
I pointed it out to my companion: people, clearly showing the meaning of what Marx stated 1844 in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts:
What, then, constitutes the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, that is, that it does not belong to his essential being; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel well but unhappy, does not freely develop his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker, therefore, feels himself only outside his work, and feels beside himself in his work. He is at home when he is not working, and when he is working he is not at home. His work therefore is not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need, but only a means for satisfying needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that labor is shunned like the plague as soon as there is no physical or other compulsion.
It has nothing to do with what is called intelligence, it is nothing that can easily be overcome, by nobody and nowhere – again Marx, again the first volume of Capital:
If money, according to Augier, “comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,” capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.
And more or less the same kind of blood-stain:
to the development of productivity and the more economic use of the conditions of production. It imposes on the worker an increased expenditure of labour within a time which remains constant, a heightened tension of labour-power, and a closer filling-up of the pores of the working day, i.e. a condensation of labour … the denser hour of the 10-hour working day contains more labour.
And as commodity consumption becomes “production”, the act of buying itself becomes a means of satisfaction, it is the emergence of the real life becoming itself a wrong life.
Yes, Yi, we know and still we do not fully grasp it, we remain caught with the two souls you talked about. Still … as much as we now … a stone know as well a lot, is there on the ground, condensed, the impressions of hundreds of years ingrained – but it is unable thinking to think even a nanosecond, as unable as it is to feel …, to love, to acknowledge and eve enjoy the madness of everyday’s life. No way for it to escape, to start thinking, no way to make it thinking …
The answer is prompt:
Poor stone –
And turning towards me:
If you are angry against the stone; I feel sympathetic with him.
Looking into the eyes, the face, I would like to have a stone in front of me, touching it, comforting it, softening it …
No, I am not angry with him, I feel sorry for him … There is a chapter in one of the books I wrote for children, it is about a person wo had been like a stone …. But actually he had been cured one day.
Followed by her question:
Cured by a Mr. Hammer?
Of course:
No, a hammer can only make things worse; after using it you only have more stones … wait, just a sec …
While searching the file of “Phanresias Geschichten von der Freundschaft” and the chapters dealing with Mr. Messerscharf, the train attendant walks through the train offering a cookie.
Well, it seems that there can be some realm right life in the wrong one – but looking into her face, the frozen smile of the person offering the DB-present …that thought meaning to stay for a long time with us …
Isn’t it also linked to the point mentioned earlier, the West and the East: yes, there is on the one side this egoism, hedonism, egocentrism … – living for oneself – it means for a social being: not living at all. Freedom is not only the freedom of those who think differently (Luxemburg), not only the insight in necessities. It is also the lived “ubuntu” – the knowledge of and acceptance and appreciation of living ho one lives in dependency of the other. On the other hand it is also the trap in which we easily may end – with every lament concerning the “you in the West” I hear and see also the ambiguity of the other side: ubuntu as “I do not live my own life”, at times expressed as satisfaction, at times expressed as melancholy and even sadness, the feeling of loss, though never denying the devotion … – freedom brings us back to the dilemma of the right life in a wrong one, in a wring society — the price to be paid is surely high …
… Those days I listend to an interview, or better to say a TV-discussion: Rudi Dutschke, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Matthias Walden and Kurt Sontheimer (recording: 13. Juni 1978) – I do not remember exactly, was it Daniel or Rudi, talking about bottomless hatred? – The flint-stone comes to mind …, the brother of Mr. Messerscharf. And the question of directing explosions. And that would be the real end of comedians on the political stage, not only in Italy under the five “guiding stars” …

Digitisation – Employment – and What?

The recording of the keynote presentation on Digitisation, Employment, and What? is already online. It is an attempt to socio-locate the challenge of today’s productivity puzzle and had been given on occasion of the symposium in Helsinki, organised by the Pellervo Society and the European Academy of Science and Arts, today on the 18th of September 2018.

Usual beginning is about “I do not know where to start” – all is so terribly confusing, a multitude of extremely different things.

There seems an obvious reply in the present case,

  • at least for digitisation – the apparent omnipresence of issues that are in one or another way about digital stuff – from the CD-player to the computer on four wheels
  • also for AI – the fact that it is not entirely clear is part of AI itself: there seems to be something that we, humankind, came up with and that is now “beyond our capacities” – the Frankenstein of Intellect if you want
  • and what seems to be equally clear: precarity in the vein of decreasing employment – another time we hear in different rhythm the old melody: there is not enough work anymore. But if we listen around we hear also something else – something we also heard for many times throughout history: There will never be an end, though there will be many changes.

Having said earlier that presentations are often started with something like “I do not know where to begin”, waiting for an Ariadne who may help. At present, my point is a different one, namely “I do not where it will end”. It is the famous Alice-in-Wonderland-situation, leading elsewhere to the conclusion “but I would not start from here”.