The once “strong tiger” of the German economy might be crumbling. For decades, the Made in Germany strategy pursued by successive governments suggested high quality goods worth paying for. Systemic faultlines, structural conservatism and policies of privatisation have created new lines of conflict domestically. Why this is bad also for the rest of Europe and the world explains Professor Peter Herrmann.
Having been awarded membership of the Institute for International Political Economy Berlin (IPE) at the Berlin School of Economics and Law has, of course a personal dimension, and looking at the colleagues and also the history of the Institute makes such award a special honour.
The programmatic statement on the website states that the
IPE is concerned with the relation between the economy and political power in a globalised world, and the social implications that this raises.
In this light I see myself as member of the Institute as well as support and general encouragement of a very traditional view on economic issues: they are political questions, they are concerned with the core of what society is about and they are not “standing against the social”, the question has always been and will be “Not ‘how much’ economy, but what kind of economy do we want”?
Here is how capitalism actually works — use a legal framework of private ownership to extract value from the labor of others. The end game is a system that hoards wealth, stifles innovation, and ultimately destroys the value created by cooperation among those who seek to do things that cannot be done alone.
Leaving various problematic aspects of Brewer’s view aside, it is a fine formulation of the meaning of law. Isn’t it indeed astonishing in which way law is explicitly used tome injustice the accepted foundation and framework of living together? I find this an interesting thought, which possibility culminates in a statement suggesting that law is ideologically the equivalent to what enclosure of land and primitive accumulation are as foundational act and permanent renewal and extension of the socio-material conditions of exploitation whites the expropriation of the actual worker from his/her product? Isn’t it remarkable in which law is becoming increasingly complex and differentiated, the reflecting – and justifying – the separation not only of the worker from the means of production but also the complex mechanisms of “division of labour” and the segregation of production, consumption, distribution and exchange that find they-to-day expression in the fact that (making Marx’ formulation from the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844
The worker … feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it.
In the meantime this moved further, IKEA advertising now that you can book the style, though don’t need the location.
Before heading to the University of Vienna, teaching about European Integration and its failure, here something about …, well, Europe too, though very different: looking at enterprises as specific forms of socialisation … – Something we often forget: socialisation has to be understood in historical terms and as such it is concrete, also at times high individualist and/or oriented on maximising individual gain.
This work contains Peter Herrmann’s reflections, an admirable result in terms of time and cultural productivity of his research stay and material support at the University of Łódź, Poland (2018/2019) and the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Germany (2017/2018) as he mentions in the following pages. Munich is perhaps the place, that might be considered as a possible common point where international and national experts in Social Law and Social Policy intertwine their destinies in this „labyrinth of lines“.
Among the main contributions of this work is the sharpness in the use of the author’s knowledge in different disciplines particularly in Economics, Sociology, Social Policy and Law. As well as his academic audacity in resorting to a great ample baggage of sources both of current political conjuncture citing digital media as well as of return to the classics of Economy and Law, pleasant historical narratives and even of literary novels. As well as the use of recent publications identifying clear and provocative ideas of a path dependency and the “development of underdevelopment” for those who are willing to understand the connection between social space and social time of the global village.
In the first part, with greater emphasis on economics but always keeping faithful to what is known in Germany as Grundlagenforschung. He follows in many respects the thought and academic legacy of Hans F. Zacher whom the author has personally known and who unites in his human warmth, sensitivity an attempt to understand that there is a “black hole” and to find interdisciplinary research questions regarding the relationship between inequality in the Global and the poverty chains. Peter Herrmann has the comparative advantage of being a global researcher – he does not seek to benefit from his competitive or cooperative advantage of coming from the scientific community of the North – trying to paraphrase his lucid explanations in these concepts, Peter Herrmann knows and is able to adapt to the viscitudes that many scientists of the global South must face day by day and in his words that are also taking place in Europe.
The work deals with one of the most relevant and current topics: Migration and Mobility.
In the second part dedicated to human rights, the reading demands a level of abstraction that can reveal that a naked reader in his capacity of magination of certain realities or on the contrary as Löwenstein would compare in his constitutions and forms of government policies that there are different „Kleidungsstücke“ or suits to understand certain realities and the scope of interpretation will depend on each reader.
The classification of human rights into three generations is a discussion that the author takes up again by proposing a fourth generation. A fourth generation of human rights has to acknowledge the responsibility for socio-economic development not in terms of distributive policies but as matter of (re-)productive responsibility. Interestingly, he also proposes to reflect on: “new dimensions of power but also the fundamental structural change which we may classify as ‘socialisation by privatisation of public power’. One of the greatest current challenges in public international law.
As a bridge between the two parts of this work, he uses the very illustrative scheme to understand the order in which States can be classified in the process of globalization: Accumulation Regime/Mode of Regulation/Life Regime/Mode of Living. With a very precise and brilliant explanation of the term “threshold countries” as an idea(l) of modernization, declaring mass consumption as highest stage of socio-human existence – with this he obviously criticises Rostow and the mainstream approach to “development”. In his view, obviously two major issues remain without being problematised: the crucial meaning of the differentiation between public and private is not considered; also, there is no thought directed towards sustainability. The threshold, thus, means capitalist industrialisation, in reality possibly directly moving to the ‘advanced’ stage of finance capitalism.”
The book ends with a very critical quote from internet access as a human right that reminds us of Cristobal Columbus’ initial quote when he used the knowledge of the eclipse to colonize what would be called the Indians in the author’s words “undermining sooner or later the productive foundation, the indigenous mode of production”.
Dr. Lorena Ossio, LLM
Koordinatorin der Forschungsgruppe “Das Soziale im globalen Süden”
Coordinator of the Research Group “Understanding Southern Welfare”
Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung der Universität Bielefeld
Center for Interdisciplinary Research at Bielefeld University
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.
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 …
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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.
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.