The State of Law – The Code of Answers, ignoring what the question is about

Nil sapientiæ odiosius acumine nimio. (Seneca)

Taking the floor during the BEN MASS Global Conference on Religious Diplomacy, organised by the Academy of Arts and Science on the 17th of July 2021, I raised my old concern again, elaborating on the tension between a purely formal understanding of the rule of law, based in an individualist understanding as it stands in the tradition of the Roman Law doctrine on the one hand and the need to emphasise that humans have to be understood as social animals, shaping there life through production as social process on the other hand. This leads us to an understanding of law that includes what is commonly called an ethical dimension; at the same time it has to be emphasised, however, that such dimension is not based in voluntary perspectives, but in clear guidelines emerging from the social character of production. Even if the importance of individual genius (and individual failure) should not be underestimated, it is at the end of the day the social, the social conditions, the historical context that determine our action – be it success or failure. This provides strong point of reference for the definition of the rule of law, defining responsibility and in particular social responsibility not as matter of distribution of what had been privately appropriated, but of securing societal conditions – material and ideational – that allow people to live comfortably together, meaning leading an appropriate life. And obviously this entails the two spects, one being about approriation, the other being about appropriateness as coherence.

Flying to the Moon

Work in Progress, together with Maria Yudina

While Sir Richard and JB entered a fierce competition, presumably standing every day in front of a mirror, asking themselves “mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the biggest smartass in the world”, I thought it may be worthwhile to publish the abstract of an article to come.

SOCIAL NARCISSISM – HOW SOCIETY PUSHES US TO OVERESTIMATE OUR CAPACITIES, LEAVING MANY BEHIND

Abstract

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Old Saying (taklen from E.A. Poe: THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE OF SCHEHERAZADE

The following introduces the concept of overlife, not claiming that it is an entirely new idea, however suggesting that it is a suitable term to bring different problems of contemporary societal development together. Broadly speaking, overload is defined as simultaneously condensing patterns of life and the actual living, i.e. intensifying living by establishing patterns of multitasking; however, doing so occurs for the price of a shallowed concept of life by a differentiated system of standardization. Simplification of cognition and education, not least in the context of digitization, are important factors: The apparently increasing control, everybody experiences, goes hand-in-hand with increasing difficulties of understanding – and enjoying – the complexity with which we are confronted. Still, although this seems to be a secular process concerning humanity and humans in general, control and power remains in the hands of a few who, as individuals and corporations, design life and society. Paradoxically, the theoretically gained possibility to answer complex questions and develop long-term perspectives, turns, at least under capitalist conditions, into narcistic idiosyncrasies, making people fly to outer space for 1.5 hours and wasting huge amounts of monies for the thrill of egos instead of strategically developing socio-economic strategies addressing major challenges as poverty, environmental threats, digitisation and new forms of stupidification.

Derek Chauvin trial verdict – and a missing word

It had been a much celebrated judgment on three accounts – the wording as follows

Judge Peter Cahill: (01:01)
Verdict Count One. Court file number 27 CR 2012646. We, the Jury, in the above entitled matter as to count one, Unintentional Second Degree Murder While Committing a Felony, find the defendant Guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April, 2021, at 1:44 PM. Signed Juror Foreperson, Juror Number 19.Judge Peter Cahill: (01:27)
Same caption, Verdict Count Two. We, the Jury, in the above entitled matter as to Count Two, Third Degree Murder Perpetrating an Eminently Dangerous Act, find the defendant Guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April, 2021, at 1:45 PM. Signed by Jury Foreperson, Juror Number 19.Judge Peter Cahill: (01:46)
Same caption, Verdict Count Three. We, the Jury, in the above entitled matter as to Count Three, Second Degree Manslaughter, Culpable Negligence Creating an Unreasonable Risk, find the defendant Guilty. This verdict greed to this 20th day of April, 2021, at 1:45 PM. Jury Foreperson, 019.

(The full transcript can be find here) – but the entire text does not use the word racism, it does not say anything about the political motives of the crime, i.e. racism let alone that it gos beyond the individual, highlighting the inbstitutional racism (not only) in the United States of Northern America. The same holds true for the complaint

So we are made to belive that an individual failed, acted in an irresponsible way. Sure, a new Act suggests at first sight that there is a fundamental change:

H. R. 1280 – AN ACT

To hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1.SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021”.

But when we look at it, it is somewhat frightening:

This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It increases accountability for law enforcement misconduct, restricts the use of certain policing practices, enhances transparency and data collection, and establishes best practices and training requirements.

The bill enhances existing enforcement mechanisms to remedy violations by law enforcement. Among other things, it does the following:

lowers the criminal intent standard—from willful to knowing or reckless—to convict a law enforcement officer for misconduct in a federal prosecution,

limits qualified immunity as a defense to liability in a private civil action against a law enforcement officer, and

grants administrative subpoena power to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in pattern-or-practice investigations.

It establishes a framework to prevent and remedy racial profiling by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels. It also limits the unnecessary use of force and restricts the use of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds.

The bill creates a national registry—the National Police Misconduct Registry—to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. It also establishes new reporting requirements, including on the use of force, officer misconduct, and routine policing practices (e.g., stops and searches).

Finally, it directs DOJ to create uniform accreditation standards for law enforcement agencies and requires law enforcement officers to complete training on racial profiling, implicit bias, and the duty to intervene when another officer uses excessive force.

– ll this is surely important, but again it is without pointing out the political perspective, this act states something that should be acceptd alredy for a long time, considering that the USA is one of the “civilised” countries – May be that we have to revisit our understanding of civilisation, juxtapose its reality with the self-set claims. Indeed, as Steven Demarest stated:

Supporters of racial justice must not make the mistake of thinking that Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd signals a fundamental change in the criminal legal system. True justice requires the wholesale transformation of the institution of policing and investments in communities to truly advance public safety. That is more than what can be provided by the criminal legal system, let alone a single trial — especially one as atypical as that of Chauvin.

And Augustine Hungwe, contributor to the book Between Ignorance and Murder (see below) rightly highlights:

United States was founded on slavery, dispossession and genocide of the indigenous populations. It is a country founded of institutionalized racism and violence against people of color. It is a country that has normalized white privilege and whiteness as the organizing principle of society. The role of police in this instance is to ‘keep the native in his place’. Policing black and brown bodies becomes a priority of a white-centred and white dominated police force. Elements of this sordid history of America’s toxic history of guns and racism have been laid bear in the Chauvin trial.

(private conversation by email; 2021/04/25)

Indeed, at the end there had been some words: guilty on all three accouts

and one decisive word had been missing: racism, a criminal offence, commited by a society not being able to live up to the standards of Human Rights.

****

PS April 27th:

Reading on, looking at other statements etc., of course the statment president Biden made, is worthwhile a comment, especially as he begins with an astonishingly clear statement, saying

It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to. The systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul. The knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans. Profound fear and trauma. The pain, the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day.

But then a bit later he continues by saying:

****

Again, as we saw in this trial from the fellow police officers who testified, most men and women who wear the badge serve their communities honorably. But those few who fail to meet that standard must be held accountable, and they were today. One was. No one should be above the law, and today’s verdict sends that message.

No doubt that there are hontest and honarable police officers; hower, this formulation is missing the point: it is not about honorable individuals; it is about a dishonest society.

******

I may take the opportunity to mention four pieces of work:

I.

Published is the book

Between Ignorance and Murder – Racism in Times of Pandemic, edited by Junxiang Mao, Peter Herrmann, Tom Zwart, Qinxuan Peng, and publishewd by Vienna Academiuc Press, Bad Voeslau (ISBN/EAN: 9783990610237)

II

Just the final strokes on the keyboard are being made on a contribution titled

The Limits of Social Law in the Face of Social Justice, to be published in a Festschrift ffor Otto Kaufmann, edited by Alpay Hekimler

III

In the final preparatory phase is a book with a critical review of the concept of Human Rights, the working title

Human Rights in a Changing World – Reflections on Fundamental Challenges, edited together with Mehmet Okyayuz.

IV

And not least a key note speech, looking at Solidarity as regime of governing – it is addressing the S.U.P.I- online conferfence “Shifts and Reorientation within the social crisis and catastrophy: Towards the Realisation of pendemic epistemological processes”, scheduled for the 29th and 30th of April 2021

Human Rights or Rights of Humanity?

I guess it will be an interesting discussion – April 8th I will address the

International Conference on The Communist Party of China and the Progress on Human Rights in China

It is hosted by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, and organised by Jilin University Human Rights Center, Jilin University School of Law, and Center for Jurisprudence Research. My address is titled

Planes, not Stages: A Reply to Karel Vasak’s Classification as Useful Answer to Critiques of China’s HR-Politics

After working on it,  I came across the following chart, published in the update I received from the economist (April 1st, what a day for this …🤔)

Now, this seems to be far fetched, not connected. But let’s think about it a bit further – yes, taking a broad brush, though enough for now.

* The Global North “solving” its problem of environmental stress by externalising pollution from the cities and industrial centres to power stations in less populated areas (yes, the production of energy still is somewhat dirty, even if the pollution in the cities is lower when people use their “clean” e-SUV in the city)

* these e-SUVs or whatever e-engines depend on batteries – and there we arrive at the chart – part of it:

The mining companies pump up 63,113,852,000 liters of brine per year. In terms of quantities, this corresponds to the annual water consumption of 1.6 million Danish households – though the brine is too saline for human consumption.

There are more interesting facts to be found here ; see also here.

* As said, we arrive at part of the chart. Another part has to ask why the cost has fallen. Now, I won’t do the maths but I may ask a question: why are the the poor countries becoming poorer and poorer? Because people are lazy, sitting in the sun? Why is the gap between rich and poor people in the Global South getting larger all the time? Because the soil belongs to everybody and everybody super exploits it is proposed under the title “the tragedy of the commons”? (see for a presentation and some of the critique: Banyan, Margaret E.. “Tragedy of the commons”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 14 May. 2020).


Well, there is good reason for what had been said: the most serious historical criminal act had been the enclosure of land, i.e. the establishment of private property of the initial “means of production”, Fencing off, the establishment of private property and with this the prioritisation of individual rights brings us back to the question of the presentation: are human rights really first and foremost about individual freedom etc.? Or shouldn’t we first look at the right of societies to prosper in their own terms instead of continued enslavement? 

poverty alleviation

South-South Cooperation in Poverty Alleviation and Human Rights Protection

Wednesday, the 17th of March the China Society for Human Rights Studies and Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerlands will host a conference under the title

南南减贫合作与人权保障South-South Cooperation in Poverty Alleviation and Human Rights Protection

as China Side Event of the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. Further information can be found here.

if you want to participate, please, send an email with name and affiliation at your earliest convenience to 1135081517@qq.com – it is needed for approval. Thank you.

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning

When I left Rome a couple of years ago I decided to leave my books there, making a donation so that the books and material can be accessed by the public. EURISPES kindly accepted this and took it as opportunity to establish this small collection (so many books I lost over the time due to moving from one place to another and also due to political attacks from the extreme right; not least, university libraries did not accept earlier offers of material which means many EU-(project-) documents from pre-internet times are lost as I could not store them privately) as a foundation for which I propose the name

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning.

Admittedly there is only a small number of those books, I owned during my lifetime, left. Still, I hope that those books left can serve as a foundation stone for an increasing number of books donated by others, offering what educational institutions unfortunately offer less and less: access to books including such books that are not mainstream and not topical in the sense of offering little space for independent thinking behind catchy titles, in other words books that allow studying beyond the usual textbooks. The small and hopefully growing collection contains study material that allows developing independent and critical thinking. Saving space in my own accommodation, socialising the means of production of knowledge and avoiding further damage while moving on had been  important reasons. Furthermore, it had been the experience I made in Rome: the joy of reading in public libraries, being together or at least feeling together with others, experiencing the production of knowledge as a social, collective process. It may sound pathetic, but indeed it would be a great satisfaction for me if I could contribute a wee bit in the creation of such orientation from young scholars (and old peers too, of course).

The library including reading space is located adjunct to the office of EURISPES

  • Istituto di Studi Politici Economici e Sociali, Via Cagliari, 14 – 00198 Roma
  • +39.06.6821.0205 (ra) +39.06.4411.7029

It can be assessed during office hours and I sincerely hope that many people make use of it and also get support and an open space for debate when visiting the library. I haven’t seen the place and do not know if I will ever see it. In any case the satisfaction of knowing about it is great.

I am grateful for support and also for interest.

——-
Peter Herrmann. Prof. Dr. habil.; Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center. Law School at the Central South University, Changsha, PRC

Affil.
IASQ (The Netherlands); CU (Hungary); IPE (Germany); LU-MSU (Russia); MPISoc.Law (Germany); NUI-M (Ireland); UEF (Finland)

Lushan South Road, 410083 Changsha, Hunan, PRC/
湖南省长沙市岳麓区麓山南路中南大学南校区文法楼219

皮特·赫尔曼:种族主义:日常致死还是拒绝陌生人的问题 – Racism, a matter of daily killing

(English below)

由中国人权研究会指导,中南大学人权研究中心、阿姆斯特丹自由大学跨文化人权研究中心和国家高端智库武汉大学国际法研究所联合主办的“针对当代形式种族主义:疫情带来的挑战与各国应对”国际视频研讨会7月3日召开,来自中国、美国、荷兰、德国、南非等国家和联合国的近20名人权领域专家学者围绕相关议题展开深入研讨。中南大学人权中心教授,欧洲科学与艺术学院院士皮特·赫尔曼在会上作题为《种族主义:日常致死还是拒绝陌生人的问题》的发言。

  皮特·赫尔曼认为,我们必须寻找提供公共担保的条件,来塑造我们自己的生活。在社会中,这是关于健康和服务,是关于教育,也是关于提供一个环境,使生活便利。在我们有条件的地方,从生活在不同的国家和在不同国家工作的经验,我们有条件真正展现在社会中。你不会发现种族主义,只有这种限制性的和公共的私人问题。

 视频

Under the direction of the Chinese Society for Human Rights Studies, the Centre for Human Rights Studies of Central South University, the Centre for Intercultural Human Rights Studies of the Free University of Amsterdam and the National Human Rights Commission of China. Against Contemporary Forms of Racism: The Challenge of the Epidemic and States’ Responses”, co-hosted by the Institute of International Law, Wuhan University, a high-level think tank “The international video symposium was held on July 3, with participants from China, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and other countries and the United Nations’ Experts and scholars in the field of human rights held in-depth discussions on related topics. Peter Herrmann, Professor of the Human Rights Center of Central South University and member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, made a speech entitled “Racism: everyday life”.

  Peter Herrmann argues that we must look for conditions that provide public guarantees to shape our own lives. In society, it is about health and services, it is about education, and it is about providing an environment that makes life easier.

Video

the cases we are becoming the other

Last Friday, 3rd of July, the Human Rights Center. Law School at the Central South University, Changsha, PRC organised with our partners a webinar, titled

Addressing Contemporary Forms of Racism: Challenges Posed by the Pandemic and National Responses

It had not least been looking at the different forms and “incidences” where Chinese Identity had been negatively met by afronts, reaching from reservation over hate speech to violence. A longish report can be found here.

who is it? who are we?

Now available – don’t blame me for the price – further info below and even more here

Chinese National Identity in the Age of Globalisation

Editors: Zhouxiang, Lu (Ed.)

  • Examines the transformation of Chinese national identity in the era of globalisation
  • Addresses issues central to national identity in the context of Chinese culture, politics and society, including ethnic identity
  • Considers the birth of Chinese national identity in the late Qing era and the influence of popular culture on national identity

I am the law

Written for the blog of the Human Rights Centre of the Law School at Central South University, Changsha, PRC

Obviously we are facing a very dramatic challenge since some time: the virus that dominates the world, suggesting to humankind

Nothing will be the same again after defeating me!

If this is true or if we will fall back into the age-old ding-dong, we are challenged today for example by

  • near to 1,000.00 deaths per day in the UK (the figures from the 10th and 11th of April)
  • an increasing fear amongst people
  • lack of coordination – globally and locally
  • political debates that are not discussing the security of life but the maintenance of individual freedom – and economic profitability
  • in many regions of the world – the so-called developing countries – substandard of medical supply and medical care and the lack of means to secure a minimum what is needed, Including the lack of Social Security
  • the president of the United States – carelessly or stupidly – stating in a press conference, talking about the virus , that
    “It comes from China. It will disappear, one day – it is like a miracle – it will disappear …”
  • the president of the European Union proclaiming – nearer to tears then to political realism – that we have to help each other and there’s no other way then helping each other
  • the murder of a 33-year woman in Berlin, FRG, who suffered from psychological distress, killed by a policeman, “executing his duty” – this in itself is a complex story. What is of interest here is the fact that since 2016 the police is not allowed to file psychological abnormalities in order to protect the privacy of the individual (https://de.indymedia.org/node/61800 and https://www.tip-berlin.de/polizist-erschiesst-maria-b-kommentar/)
  • and finally another time Trump who

Signs Order Allowing Private Companies to Mine the Moon    

The list could be extended, but in the present context of the so-called virus-crisis I want to highlight the following three – seemingly not  belonging to the current humanitarian challenge, they can be seen as the core of the entire debate we have to engage in. These are the * political debates, * the politicisation and * the fact of private companies being encouraged to move to the moon. Why? At the very core of the current debate we are dealing with the process of socialisation and its analysis, characterising a specific relationship of accumulation regime and life regimes. The cutting edge concerns the question of valuation with the two dimensions of exchange value and use value. The globalised economy has – today – as its focus the production of exchange value and furthermore the orientation of life and living along this line. Exchange value is as such considered as the ultimate use value – the actual use in terms of managing daily life is shifting away from the metabolism of human practice. This, in consequence, means that we externalise control of daily life as artificial aspect of an alienated economic process: we live in order to work instead of work in order to live; we are in order to eat instead of eating in order to be; we consume in order to keep the machine going instead of maintaining the economic process in order to satisfy our needs; we absorb knowledge in order to be informed instead of gathering and processing information in order to develop knowledge … . Indeed, these are complex processes at the core of which we see an alienation of the social as the core of human existence today. In this light the privatisation of the moon, the exploration that has as its ultimate goal the enclosure, the destruction of the common good, can be seen as a metaphor, though a very real one, of the current debate. Happening in the background of the debate of the virus crisis, it is clearly showing that the core of the crisis is about the disruption of the connection between accumulation regime and life regime. This disruption establishes a hiatus that is difficult to overcome. As stated on a different occasion, we face the following dilemma – a cage from which it is difficult to find an escape. It is this constellation of mutual dependencies, that makes an escape nearly impossible. Individual behaviour can hardly be changed due to system requirements; change of the system is equally impossible due to the endurance of individual behaviour. Equally, there is the blockage between the accumulation regime and the life regime on the one hand and the mode of regulation and the mode of living on the other hand. The complexity is furthered by the tension between the two different regimes and between the two modes.

Indeed, as Hannah Arendt suggested that a country has to be very rich to be able to cover the loss of imperialism, a country has to be also veryrich to cover the cost of privatisation of public services.

All this means not least that we have to find a different way of discussing rights. So far,  we are usually concerned with the juxtaposition of social  and individual. In other words, the rights of individuals, indeed individual freedoms, are counterposed to matters of intervention in the public interest – the first is expressed by individuals being allowed to define their own rules, as mentioned previously with the reference to Tinder; the latter can be expressed by the phrase recently brought forward in a Chinese article, saying

don’t be the farmer who saved the snake.

Realistically, the complex situation is not about social and individual orientation of action, activities, praxis and behaviour, but about the relationship between accumulation regime and life regime, and subsequently the mode of regulation and the mode of living. The following definitions are underlying this interpretation:

  • the accumulation regime is the way in which we make money and spend it for reproduction
  • the life regime presents the fundamental pattern of production and consumption in the perspective of classes and social groups
  • the mode of regulation can be understood as the framework and the rail system, supporting and limiting the processes of accumulation
  • finally we arrive at the way in which individuals translate the general opportunities and restrictions into their real life.

At the very core we find the metabolism, determining the position of human beings in relation to the world around them, determining the two dimensions: “what is  given” on the one hand, “what had been built” on the other hand.

Thoroughly thinking through these dimensions and the interdependencies will reveal the true dimensions of the political: on the one hand it is about the political economy which is today specifically shaped in order to promote profitmaking instead of securing people’s life; on the other hand it is about is the political management not only of the healthcare sector but of services of public or general interest and their denial. In other words, we are dealing with the question if the economy is grounded in commons, understood as common control of the use of means of production in the widest sense in the common interest of the common people, or if the economy is geared to secure the profits of a minority. This is not only about the immediate threat, but it is an issue that concerns the way in which society is shaped, the way the social is actually understood – on the one hand we have the merciful understanding and support, on the other hand we see a rights-based approach that emphasises the need of social security not as matter of supporting individuals, but as matter of societal responsibility, the focus of government action on the common weal and the balance of rights and obligations, based on the principle of acknowledging everybody’s needs and everybody’s capabilities.

Epistemologically it should not come as a surprise that in the country that provided the fertile ground for a very peculiar philosopher from Koenigsberg coming up with the categorical imperative:

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.[2]  

social distancing takes the form of a very different peculiarity,

namely that of being by and large ignored – finally one acts in the supposed freedom, of the individual who defines the rule … – go back a bit, and read again, and perhaps a third and even forth time as it is such a paradoxical situation that in fact results in pulling the wool over one’s eyes, making white to appear as black. As stated on another occasion, all this is concerned with the question of how to define freedom – as liberty to do what one wants or as insight into what is necessary – and how to understand public responsibility – as control or provision of social security. And to be honest, I do not value freedom of miners to work on the moon; instead, I value the security of minors, established on a firm foundation of rights.

***************************

A long time ago, in a very different context, I wrote

One highly important although by no means conclusively defined aspect is the blurring of borders and boundaries in conjunction with increasingly strict closures. Thus, the contributions to this book may also be read as contributions along the line of tension between ‘gated communities’ and the open global village. The question quo vadis? gains a twofold meaning. It is asking where people actually go, where and why they move and where they find some kind of belonging. And the question is also about frames and gains. Where are moves allowed and how is moving allowed and what are the expected outcomes for the different actors? One point can be made at the outset: we have to start from here – this hugely tensional question. And there is a long way to go until we arrive at a position which allows all of us to feel – at least for some time – comfortable in the global village.

Decisively, we are today all migrants and as such in need of The Right to Stay – The Right to Move with its mental, intelectual and spatial dimension. This makes it also meaningful to speak of lockouts in the context of the virus crisis and the crisis of the health system: while we are in fact locked in/quasi-locked in – being privatised, dispelled from the social and this way denaturalised considering that humans are social beings.


[2]               Kant, Immanuel, 1785: Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals