Clarity …, and what undermines it

Sometimes, just near to publishing something, or sending it to the printer, I envy a bit other authors – everything they write is so terrible clear easy to understand — and then I remember what a colleague one wrote, Kant, it is some comfort …

many a book would have been much clearer if it had not been made quite so clear. For the aids to clarity helpb in the partsbut often confuse in the whole, since the reader cannot quickly enough attain a survey of the whole; and all their bright colors paint over and make unrecognizable the articulation or structure of the system, which yet matters most when it comes to judging its unity and soundness.

Kant: Critique


Annunci

Are they really learning?

The Vienna Academic Press/Wiener Verlag fuer Sozialforschung, after a complete relaunch, now being under new management, I met yesterday evening in Vienna the new chief manager who took on board the republication of my PhD-thesis – a reprint without changes:

Die Organisation. Eine Analyse der modernen Gesellschaft

The Organisation. Analysis of Modern Society

In the following the forward is published, in German and English language. Thinking back the line of my academic work since then, I have to say that I never did what so many of the colleagues said oder the years: I closed this chapter once and forever. I did not even think this would be tempting

Scroll for English

Die Organisation. Eine Analyse Moderner Gesellschaft – Vorwort zur unveränderten Wiederauflage

Organisationen sind, so wird gesagt, lernende Einheiten. Sicher ist dies in mancher Hinsicht nicht zu bestreiten, aber doch lässt sich auch schnell zögern, denn die Frage ist doch zunächst sehr grundsätzlich, ob denn Organisationen überhaupt als handlungsfähige Einheiten bestehen. Ihnen einen solchen Charakter zuzusprechen bedeutet letztlich, dass man sie als vollständig verselbständigte Einheiten sieht, die Menschen darin im Grunde zu unselbstständigen Ausführungsorganen degradiert, und zugleich die historisch-gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen zu Randglossen verkommen (sind).

Das mag tatsächlich oft durchaus so erscheinen – und die persönliche Erfahrung des Engagements in den fast dreißig Jahren seit der hier unverändert aufgelegten Studie, gesammelt in verschiedenen Bereichen und verschiedenen Ländern, gaben oftmals Anlass zu solchem Gedanken an ein „Vergib Ihnen nicht – sie machen sonst doch nur, was sie selbst wollen“. Zugleich aber ist doch ein Punkt hervorzuheben, der in der Arbeit gemacht wurde – vor allem mit einem Zitat von Antonio Gramsci belegt: bei solchen scheinbaren Detailbetrachtungen wie Parteien, Organisationen etc., muss man die ganze Geschichte der relevanten Länder mitdenken.

Tatsächlich kann daran wohl der Kern gesehen werden, der allen Zweifeln entgegensteht: die damalige Analyse hat sicher manches voreilig verallgemeinert. Aber die grundlegende Unterscheidung der handlungstechnischen Dimension der Aneignung einerseits, der verwertungsmäßigen Dimension andererseits ist eine sinnvolle Handreichung vor alle auch bei der Entwicklung strategisches Handeln und bei Überlegungen, innerhalb von Organisationen ein solches zu entwickeln. Dies gilt es dann eben konkret in den historischen Analysen zu entwickeln. Und wird dann auch schnell deutlich, dass „Verselbstständigungen“ schlicht morbide Erscheinungen sind.

Das ermöglicht auch, Organisationen in einem gesamtgesellschaftlichen Rahmen von doch immer noch modernen kapitalistischen Gesellschaften zu verorten. Intermediär ist ihre Rolle nicht nur als Vermittlungsinstanz verschiedener „Ebenen“ gesellschaftlichen Handelns, sondern auch im Sinne von Vermittlungen zwischen verschiedenen Möglichkeitshorizonten. In diesem Sinn muss man wohl sagen, dass der Sieg der verselbstständigten Organisation nichts anderes ist, als der Sieg der konservativen Kräfte auch in einer Zeit des Interregnum, jener Phase, von der Antonio Gramsci schrieb, dass die Krise darin bestehe, dass das Alte zwar im Sterben liege, aber das Neue noch nicht geboren werden kann. Die morbiden Erscheinungen, die bei dem italienischen Hegemoniekritiker betont wurden, sind eben nicht zuletzt Organisationen, die ein „Heim“ für jene bieten, die den Weg in die Neuzeit verpassen.

Dank gilt dem Wiener Verlag, namentlich Herrn Heribert Renkin. Nunmehr hat der Verlag unter neuer Leitung dieses Projekt übernommen.

Łódź/Berlin, March 2019

The Organisation. An Analysis of Modern Society – forword to the republished original work

Organisations are, it is said, learning units. Of course, in some respects this cannot be denied, but one may well hesitate, because the initial question is a different, and a very fundamental one, namely whether organisations do exist at all as units capable of action. To attribute such a character to them ultimately means that they are seen as completely independent units, people being basically degraded to dependent executives, and at the same time the historical and social conditions made to marginalia.

This may indeed often seem to be the case – not least the personal experience of engaging during the almost thirty years since the study had been originally published, experience made in different areas and different countries, often gave rise to he thought “Do not forgive them – they will otherwise only do what they want to do themselves“. At the same time, however, one point should be emphasised – made in the study itself above all by quoting Antonio Gramsci who suggested that in such analysis of detailed phenomena as parties, organisations, etc., one has to think along the line of the entire history of the country in question.

In fact, we can see the core of this demand indeed also in the presented work: while the analysis certainly generalised some issues prematurely, one point proved to be valuable: the fundamental distinction between the technical dimension of appropriation on the one hand, and the exploitative dimension on the other. This is a meaningful help, especially in the development of strategic action and when it comes to considerations of developing change oriented action within organisations. This must then be developed concretely in the historical analyses: it becomes quickly clear that “autonomies” are simply morbid phenomena.

This makes it also possible to locate organisations within the overall social framework of still modern capitalist societies. They are not only intermediaries in their role as mediators of different “levels” of social action and classes; they are so as well in the sense of mediation between different horizons of possibility. In this sense, it must be said that the victory of the independent organisation is nothing else than the victory of the conservative forces even in a time of interregnum, the phase of which Antonio Gramsci wrote that the crisis consists in the fact that the old is dying, but the new cannot yet be born. The morbid phenomena stressed by the Italian critic of hegemony are not least organisations that offer a “home” for those who miss the road to modern times, some kind of zombies.

My thanks go to the Vienna Press, namely Mr. Heribert Renkin; he has taken over this project in the publishing house which is now under a completely new management.

Łódź/Berlin, March 2019

Happy New Year

Or New Years Eve, celebrated those days when it had been linked to the vernal equinox. Some uproar in the BaseCamp because of some mates celebrating NEWRUZ … not worthwhile elaborating on this quarrel in detail (though there is much to learn about this holiday, now also internationally recognised). But I was chatting with Loay about it, and expressed my conviction that we have in general so much nationalism in our thinking, not the extreme but just the apparent need to classify everything and everybody, not least making reference to nationality: “We” (people of the country 1 or 2 or country 148 …) are so different, special, compared with the others … . It may well be about being especially good, but also about especially neglecting, neglected, poor untidy … And “they” are … and yes, so often it is about negative things: “their music”, “their meals and eating habits”, “their law”, “their attitude to work” … and one may even add: though often there is some truth in it, there are too often ridiculous prejudices, stereotypes and unjustified generalisations.

Still, I am wondering why we are so often sticking together – I still remember my time in Brussels:

Les Français avec les Français, Język polski z polskim, Na Gaeilge leis na Gaeilge, Gli italiani con gli italiani, Die Deutschen mit den Deutschen – occasionally one felt alone, not being French, Polish, Irish, German or anything … until one decides for this and other reasons it is Time to Say Good-Bye, moving forward, leaving so many behind

A lot has to do with lack of knowledge, missing opportunity to engage in deep learning. Why are we talking about deep learning for computers and any IT-“self”-driving cars, while we are forgetting over all this the need to have deep learning as part of school and university curricular?

Soon to be published, interesting in this context:

Peter Herrmann: Right to Stay_Right to Move, With a preface by Lorena Ossio
Vienna:
Vienna Academic Press.

An interesting constellation …, or: anything goes

(well, anything though surely no slide-presentation-simplification)

A colleague in Turkey had been

charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” (Article No. 7/2 of Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law No. 3713) for signing the Academics for Peace statement “We will not be a party to this crime”. The statement criticized military actions in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and called for international observers to monitor the situation in place.

The colleague had been charged, and confronted with a “choice”: accepting being sentenced, with this admitting that the political activism had been a criminal verdict – then being “gratified” with the suspension of the sentence – the alternative: appealing and going to jail if the appeal is rejected.

Looking at it as matter of human rights, the case grasps attention on this/such case as it is the state who hinders the citizen to express a personal opinion – other issues may be raised.The human rights issue is about the fact, that HR emerged especially (if not only) as matter of protecting citizens (thought as being  “global”, though implicitly “private”) against arbitrariness of the state.

So far, so good. Only now comes the interesting part.The message – and call for action – came from the UK, currently also known as BREXITUK and had been sent by a colleague, using the university office mail at the

University of [… ] which is a charity and company limited by guarantee, registered in England (reg.no …)

Hesitation: First, I simply thought “a university”

Second thought (not the first time though): uni as charity sounds strange – education as charity, doing good. Doing so but to and for whom in whose name?

charity (n.)
late Old English, “benevolence for the poor,” also “Christian love in its highest manifestation,” from Old French charité “(Christian) charity, mercy, compassion; alms ….caritas by ‘charity.’ But the 16th c. Eng. versions from …

Doesn’t it say in Mathew 5.3.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Well, this opening for other field . I will have a go for that in another occasion …

https://www. aier.org/sites/default/files/Files/Images/Blog/9270/complexity.jpg

For here and now, adding to the puzzlement: does it mean a private body, engaging something like “spirit of general interest”, benevolent to society by providing education. This is actually a tricky one (yes, sloooooooooww reading, more thinking): it easily entails

  • the public, commonly understood as “statutory”, provided by the state, is not providing what it should provide, thus some other instance has to do it

or

  • The public cannot look after itself, thus an “instance from outside”, e.g. a benevolent “private”

Or it is

  • possibly “benevolence” itself the public and finally becoming true (well, for the philosophers, of course, a bit of Hegel’s cunning of reason and the absolute idea)?

Now, down to earth, nearly trivial, my question was and is: are (those) universities public institutions or not. Later I met Jeremy, how is fearing about the future of his home [he is European] as the Brexiters want to take it off him [well, their name does not say it clearly: they are Brits = they do not want to leave Britain but that want Britain to leave]) and asked him –  he confirmed that nearly all British universities are public.
Part of the exact definition of these universities is then, institutionally and legally that in this case we are dealing with a body that is

“registered as a higher education provider with the Office for Students (OfS) and is subject to the OfS Regulatory Framework. The OfS is also the University’s principal regulator for charity law purposes on behalf of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.”

Is then the OfS the public and who/what is it? Possibly a kind of council, or “soviet” to use another term?

So, coming back to the HR-issue: Having stated

The human rights issue is about the fact, that HR emerged especially (if not only) as matter of protecting citizens (thought as being  “global”, though implicitly “private”) against arbitrariness of the state.

it now means that one state (to be more precise: an institution from one state, or even more precise: somebody working in a representative position of one institution of one state has to stand ups against one the breach of HR by another state.Did I say by another state? Well, more precision would suggestBreach of HR by one person (Erdogan) who claims that he represents the state – as the public – and can thus oblige every citizen to accept those rules, even if they are finally private rules in the sense of the rules an individual defines …

Still to be added: representing in the one case means “speaking for”, in the other case it claims to mean “to be”. ‘L’État, c’est moi’

At the end it surely still remains a lot to be clarified, and even to be formulated as question. I suppose it is a challenge I may pass on to my new students, when commencing teaching next week

Company, business, work

at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.

five years ago

“It’s indisputable that there’s a real pay gap. People can argue about how big, but that’s almost besides the point, The point is that every woman, every girl deserves to get paid what they’re worth.”

These are words by Sheryl Sandberg, taken from the Huffington Post, looking only on the year, not day, it had been five years ago. I am wondering if this is about a modern form of slavery and trafficking? Is payment about worth, even value of people in monetarised form? The difference is today’s deference of women: in old slave societies “owners”, the previous slave owner had been paid; Sandberg proposes to pay the slaves themselves. Hummmm, enslave yourself as alternative to wage work? Or is it just the same?

Surely an interesting question, most appropriate for the 8th of March, the International Women’s day.

A different point – as matter of a different chapter in the same book. In a brief note, titled

Was Studenten im Job wollen (What students are expecting in their job)

(even) the IWD (Institute of the German Economy) contends that inequality is going far beyond the gender pay gap, engraved in the entity and the expectations:

Although an attractive basic salary is at the top of the employers’ wish lists for both sexes, women in the various disciplines have on average significantly lower expectations than men in this respect.

www. assignmentpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/labor-theory-of-value1.jpg

While my perspective on some of these questions concerned with the

Value Theory – is there still any value in it? – is it still worthwhile to talk about it? 

is still waiting for final publication (just looking at the proofs), Amit Bhaduri’s

On the Significance of Recent Controversies on Capital Theory: A Marxian View

may be of interest.

Plans – struggling ….

The plan for the weekend is concluding the final touch – the topic a huge one – and the aim to put struggle on the human rights agenda, understanding these rights not as matter of achieving global harmony but als permanent contest about self-determination in a world without borders – obviously an oxymoron.

The subtitle of the present intro, well, actually the title of the book will be

The Right to Stay – the Right to Move

Aren’t we living in a world of abundance?

Foreword

The present two contributions emerged in rather different contexts than being immediately concerned with what the title suggests: first, the topic employs my thinking for several years – background had been discussions with a former student, Lucey O’Leary, a while back, when I had been teaching in Ireland. She did have a degree in law and discussions emerged from my teaching: social policy, which in my understanding included political economy and also law (social law, philosophy and sociology of law). My background in Political Economy is that of Marx(ism), that of law the learning experience and work at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law/Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich. Over the years, it never worked out to elaborate the reflections which had been nevertheless engaging my mind, guided by the idea of the need of a ‘fourth generation of human rights’.

These considetations moved back towards the top of the agenda while working more recently on economic issues: digitisation and the subsequent hollowing out of social protection systems, but more importantly the far-reaching, though often not sufficiently reflected changes of the mode of production.[1] Leaving the many aspects aside (technology and economics, composition of capital, investment of otherwise overaccumulated capital, shift of and between sectors to name but a few – and considering also that some of the legal issues are very ‘simple’, i.e. issues of blocking social-protection-flight as subspecies of capital flight, applying labour (protection), employment law and (re-)establishing collective bargaining (law) or even more ordinary the criminal offenses of bullying and (sexual) harassment, there are others that require revisiting fudamental issues of law and even further issues around the meaning of justice in a world that is at the very same time shaped by two tensions that are increasingly meaningful and also increasingly interwoven:

  • it is the tension between globalisation, accompanied by standardisation on the one hand and processes of diversification on the other hand.
  • the other trend is about the possibilities of overcoming poverty;[2]but this is just one side of the coin, the other being about an increasing impoverishment, the quasi-destitution of the middle-classes, the shift of impoverishment to the countries that are still the countries of the north and not least the re-establishment of the concurrency of public poverty and private wealth 

Against this background, quesitons of human rights, universality and not least the meaning of socio-economic developments gain new importance, not least demanding overcoming even the standard criteria, or we may also say the standards of criteria. If the present volume had been successful in pursuing this goal is, remains to be decided by the reader.

For me as author remains to thank too many people to list them by their names. There are the many discussants; and there are – two exceptions may be allowed to be personally mentioned: Dorota Borkowska from the Faculty of Economics and Sociology at the University of Łódź, looking after the many students who come every year, diving into what is even today an adventure: studying in a foreign country; and still finding time to support me. The second is Peter Kube, yes, a priest, aus Halle – still, appreciated as discussant and friend to laugh with. Talking with and to him means so much about listening to oneself and I can only hope that it does not mean that he has to go one day a similar way as a person from whom he apparently learned – that person was finally condemned to drinking the hemlock, then price for saying the truth.

Not least, I am grateful for the generous support by The EKSOC Visiting Fellowship Programme at the University of Łódź, Poland (2018/2019) and the preceeding support by the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich, Germany (2017/2018).


[1]     I see thisas core of the entire process while I am admittedly still not entirely sure about the range and wider meaning – the standard answers: (i) nothing really changed, (ii) we witness fundamental changes but they are limited to niches, possibly only temporary outlayers and finally (iii) we are already at the doorsteps of a new mode of production are not really satisfying.

[2]     Evidence may be taken from the success in combatting poverty in China, and also the increasing number of people from the so-called emerging economies joining e.g. the club of the superrich (e.g. Mc Carthy, Niall, 9/2018: Where Super Rich Populations Are Growing Fastest [Infographic])

Uncertainty as the highest state of insecurity

The following gives an outlook on a new publication, contributing to the work at the HIGHER SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SCHOOL IN GDAŃSK (WSSE) on Security issues in education and management, selected aspects of social security

Discussing increasing populism and right-wing political movements and social law together is commonly – and without any doubt importantly – dealing with issues of social legislation, employability and emphasising the importance of ‘honesty and reliability’ from the political side. And while globalisation is not condemned, it is at least in tendency suggested to be a centre piece of the present quarrels; migration, low-wage policies, capital-flight and tax competition are then highlighted as major issues. The present contribution aims on taking a wider approach, arguing that one of the major problems is the aggravation of a secular process that may be called – alluding to Karl Polanyi’s work – disembedding of law.