Meanings of a Term – Global Village

Bizarre, n’est-ce pas?
Turning away from teaching at a university in a more or less large city [well, a city with 9 million people is in China not considered to be really large …], in a country that is classified as ‘emerging economy’ in a setting of a joint venture, i.e. the collaboration of a Chinese and Welsh university to debates in a small village in France – 1.200 inhabitants allow to speak of a village.
What makes it bizarre is not so much the huge difference in the settings but the fact that the teaching in the supposed global setting had been very much about  narrowly understood economy, suggesting individuals acting rationally on transparent markets, being completely informed, whereas we discuss in the village – really transparent, a real market with all its imponderables, including that of non-market performances, solidarity, neighbourly support etc.- strategies hat are suitable for new politics and policies in a globalised world.
The internet is there and used in both cases and one wonders if it offers a net sufficiently strong to absorb the tension?
The one meeting is relocated – we go on the river.
The reflection of the trees and bushes in the water make me reflecting on the actual meaning of the relationship between base and superstructure.
The roots as base, more or less rigid in the ground, the stem and strong branches, the leaves … – not moving this calm evening – the firm regulatory framework that is completed by the actual ‘governance’ and mode of life and living regimes [and here].
Or is it the other way rond, the accusation regime being the flexible part, adapting to the changing conditions of utilising capital? Perhaps such ‘flexibility of the accumulation regime is just a temporary matter – during phases of massive change as we see them at the moment?
Bizarre – and interesting – how short the way can be between trees, reflected in a river and ventilating for instance matters of digitisation and sharing economy. surely much shorter than the reflections teaching model economics in the modern ivory tower of wrongly understood curricula.

The cat’s tale – the difficulty of academia then and now

It seems to be relatively easy to deal with Schroedinger’s cat – the question is well known:


Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.[2]

The one way of dealing with it is to open the box in order to see if the cat is alive or not. However, it is a way of dealing with the problem by actually denying it as checking, giving ‘empirical evidence’ in actual fact changes the conditions to such an extent that, what had been the question at the outset is actually redefined: the conditions from which the question emerged are not anymore given.

The other way is to admit that there is no answer and that there cannot be any answer for ever. One could see this as a purely academic issue – though this is probably seen differently by the cat – being eternally in a situation of not knowing if her is dead or alive which must admittedly a hugely unpleasant state of existence. And both ‘easy answers’ prevail when we are looking at academia, in particular universities: researching, studying and teaching. One question may be asked though: what is if we simply look at the tale, not the entire cat but also not something that exists only as chimera?

Some reflections on the development of third level education today can be found here, impressions and reports, resulting from having worked in China for two years at a ‘joint venture’ between a EUropean and a Chinese university, and reflecting more general trends than really anything like ‘this is China’. And also reflecting on a general trend of supposed academic education where one learns not to agree with but to follow rules, where you have to like numbers but yu do nit have to like maths … – at the end where you should end with a major that makes sure that the cat is dead while the mice are dancing a bubble dance, appealingly majoring in accounting without understanding the economy of which it takes account.


[1]  ; 27/07/17

[2]            IFLScience – The lighter sight of science: Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained;ödinger’s-cat-explained/; 27/07/17

Digitisation – some general questions

A presentation under the title

‘Gig Sharing Economy’: Value Chains or Poverty Chains – Challenges posed by Digitisation in the Context of Globalisation

is now published. The presentation does not go into much details but aims on ventilating some general issues of a specific strand of digitisation, namely sharing economy, gig and cooperative economy and the like.

The presentation [i] explores a little bit the context of globalisaiton, [ii] considers the wider framework of reshaping capitalism and the composition of capital and [iii] looks at different classificatory aspects of the ‘new economies’.

It is part of my work at the moment, and further information may be found for instance via the following links:


Talking yesterday in ChangSha about academia, and a life committed to it also in terms of a political obligation, it is today about contributing to the

Summit for Global Solidarity

you may also see it as real G20-meeting – real as it is reality that we need alternative approaches to the worlds pressing problems and great opportunities.

Attac’s Academic Council contributes with various workshops, one of them looking the Digital Platforms.

In German language my contribution during a workshop – and below some more detailed description. In a few days, a more extensive, and more academic presentation will be posted in English language.

follow also the two projects

Is it really about Industry 4.0.?

Wandel des Wirtschaftens – Wandel des Rechts. Forschungsskizze zu Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik

BEITRAG zum WIRKLICHEN G20-Treffen, dem


[Aus der Programmankuendigung]

„Digitale Plattformen“, „sharing economy“, „crowd working“ sind neue Begriffe, an die sich Hoffnungen, aber auch Sorgen knüpfen. Laptops, Tablets und Smartphones revolutionieren die Arbeitswelt – tun sie das, und wenn ja, wie? Im Workshop soll unter Beteiligung von Prof. Peter Herrmann diskutiert werden, ob und wie sich unser (nicht nur Arbeits-) Alltag durch diese Digitalisierung verändern könnte und wie wir darauf reagieren.

Dieser Beitrag speziell versucht, die Änderungen der Kapitalstruktur herauszuarbeiten – die Schlussfolgerung ist einfach: Vergesellschaften anstatt Teilen.

knowledge, education, digitalisation, information …

… or what is all this about?

Just stumbling upon the two more or less recent publications:

Peter   Herrmann,   Fan   Hong, and Remi Rzepka: Education in an International Setting. In Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Peter Herrmann,   and   Andrey   V.   Korotayev   (eds.), Globalistics and Globalization Studies: Global Transformations and Global Future: 76-92. Volgograd: ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, 2016

In this volume there is also a co-authored introduction:

Leonid Grinin, Ilya Ilyin, Peter Herrmann, and Andrey Korotayev: Introduction. How Global Can Be Global Future? In Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Peter Herrmann,   and   Andrey   V.   Korotayev   (eds.), Globalistics and Globalization Studies: Global Transformations and Global Future. Volgograd: ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, 2016: 5–9

Для дополнительной информации


Working now a bit more on this topic, also for the conference

Education and Globalization – Opportunities and Challenges

教育与全球化 – 机遇与挑战

organised by

  • Central South University of Forestry and Technology中南林业科技大学
  • Bangor University班戈大学
  • British Consulate-General in Guangzhou英国驻广州总领事馆

and scheduled for the 5th of July, 2017.

All that will then be middle of this month available on my other sites – here and here, also a bit more from another side … .

… first want to close this door behind me, with a bit more time then.



Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism …

Teaching is over now – most of the exam papers corrected and time …, to look forward. Teaching always is caught in the tension: dealing with the ‘real realities‘ on then hand and with ‘clear’ theories and the supposed ‘objective, value-free’ analysis of the reality on the other hand – and in economics it is even worse than other disciplines: the ‘objective reality’ being the reality of rational individuals. If it would be only for my neighbours and colleagues: I know that humans are not rational actors. Some are not acting, some are solely actors, some are not rational – and the worst category are the irrationally acting actors …
Well, leaving this aside …, or actually no: taking it from here, there is always also the point that even the ‘rational systems’, as central banks, money, exchange values etc are never following the books – it is not because they have their own lives but more because text books create ‘an own life’: the life of a world as it should or could be, the life of a world that had been imagined by some as political programs etc.
Two issues, the one like to pure doctrine when it comes to banking and central banks: be they independent or not, they are usually considered to be public bodies, committed to the common wheal etc. Still, in one way or another, i.e. more or less explicit, these banks serve – in most if the cases – public AND private interests, usually without being specified.
However, sone specification can be seen in the generally agreed upon ‘holy trinity’: maximisation of employment, stabilisation of prices, moderating interest rates.
But ….. where is the challenge addressed that Dani Rodrik poses as irresolvable trilemma: we cannot have democracy AND sovereignty AND global integration.
In fact – this is indeed part of the story –  we see that over the recent years and even decades the overall goal of controlling inflation is positioned over the goal of maximising employment. Stating this, it is necessary to ask as well: why maximising employment if we are already producing large surpluses?
From there it is worthwhile to look at the second issue: the question of value, valuation and valorisation. It haunts me for a long time, always asking myself and perhaps even more so: talking about values, calling for living along the lines of the cardinal virtues …- beh, forgotten what the quarterly reviewer said?
“Capital is said … to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital es- chews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vac- uum. 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., posi- tive 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, 1. c, [Trades’ Union and Strikes,] pp. 35-36; from: Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital; Volume I; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996: 748, footnote 2)
Still, working currently in the ‘mainstream’ [or to be more precise: trying to swim against it], I am looking at questions of digitisation, all the new economic forms emerging in that context, linked to primarily in the issues about technical developments but more about relations of procession and the mode of production. Profitability plays a role and …, exactly the issues around value, valuation and valorisation. in the context of a paper I am still developing not least in connection with the preparation of the G20-discussions I am wondering of it is time to change perspectives in political economy. Famously Max Weber centre-staged an issue that was already issued – more en passant – by Marx: the question of the protestant ethics. Marx saw it, of course, as matter of the superstructure, without denying its importance whereas Weber saw the emergence of this ethics system as driving force.
My question is a different one at this stage: instead of counterpoising catholicism and protestantism, we may have tops of a merger, we may call it
Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism …
The reflection behind it? Well, quoting from the paper – work in progress –
Early capitalism was characterised by the fundamental ambition to follow the principle of exchange of equivalents – inequality existed at the point of departure but after ‘free individuals entered the economic sphere of exchange – they had been equals. The ten new capitalism stood against the feudal system that was based on violence. However, looking at the situation today, we see that the foundation is not simply and solely about the different points of departure. The economic process of the data economy is itself a violent relationship that has little to do with equivalence: it is the violence of withholding information, utilising the directional power of information, the enforcement of conditions, perfectioning of control etc.
A world which has lost much of the foundation in reality and where, indeed, values seem to be virtual, even if they are presented by concrete numbers as Peter Wahl pointed out already some time ago:
Even if every business transaction was protected by derivatives, the real economy-based proportion would still be less than 5%. Therefore, by far the largest portion is used for speculative trading. Buyers and sellers no longer have anything to do with each other. Dealers with not the slightest interest in wheat purchase large quantities of grain forwards in order to sell them profitably when the contract matures. Only a very small proportion of this business actually refers to material objects such as grain, gold or oil – the BIS assumes this proportion to be approximately 1%. The predominant proportion concerns financial products. There is practically no end to fantasy in developing derivatives: meanwhile, the system has achieved such a complexity that there are derivatives dealing with derivatives of derivatives.
Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism … – just another form of indulgence payments, from old violence to new violence.
And in any case, this violence is real.

New Economy – New Economics

 Just uploaded is a presentation, given in Hangzhou on the 21st of May 2017, dealing with the question … – well actually looking for the relevant question.
In connection with discussing digitalisation, new productive forces etc., we are frequently caught in the old patterns: interpreting presence and  future in the light of past and presence. The presentation tries to point out some areas where asking questions that are indirectly reinterpreting the past in the light of the future, allowing to explore the future in the light of a newly interpreted presence. – Complicated ? May be, but better thinking slowly and openly, instead of coming hastily to the wrong conclusion by simply extending what we claim to know.
There had been something that was called a Critique of the Political Economy [see volumes one to three of The Capital] – and is often forgotten that it was based on what its author wrote, here pointing on theses 8 to 11:
All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.
The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is contemplation of single individuals and of civil society.
The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
See also researchgate – there are two projects that are of relevance in this context:
* Is it really about Industry 4.0.?
* Wandel des Wirtschaftens – Wandel des Rechts. Forschungsskizze zu Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik
Special thanks go to Thomas Weiss-Roisdorf, scientific council of attac and the federal ministry official affairs im Germany with whom I maintained over the last couple weeks contact on this issue – discussions that I perceived as hugely beneficial.