Cara Silvia

Cara Silvia, non sarebbe giusto rispondere scrivendo semplicemente “mi dispiace”. Infatti, mi dispiace leggere la tua situazione, ma sono ancora di più sconvolta, arrabbiata. Presto manderò una mail “Osato” – tempo passato …

And In the following the translation and nearly the entire epistle in English language – publishing it on a Friday 13th is not because of lack now or in the past. Much what is mentioned is a sign of lack of courage …, a matter of forbearance …

Dear Silvia it would not be right to reply by writing simply “I am sorry”. Indeed, I am sorry to read about your situation (being degraded by the Italian government: degraded by having been made “self-employed”/àFreelancer” as university teacher); but even more I am upset, angry. I will soon send another mail, a follow up to the previous one where I dared .. .
 … – and there the sermon begins. In other words, not least after having sent the original mail, with replies in mind and richer by the experience I gained, all this is emerging as an issue that is really gaining relevance in a very broad way. Seemingly becoming impersonal, but that is, I guess, my personal/psychological problem: kind of empathy unlimited, context without borders … 

At the moment I am OK, due to the help of others; and due to the fact that I received a “call” from a Chinese university. For one year then, if things finally work out, I will be “Professor at the Law School of Central South University, Changsha, PRC” (that its the official version, the way I will have to sign). And as we already talked about my work there, it will be working in the area of law in strcitu sensu. At the moment it is still about bureaucracy getting things to the end. However, there are at least the following points regarding the recent problems: 
* the help of others – I should write of some others which would be absolutely OK. When writing the original mail, I had been aware that not every recipient would be in a position or willing to help. And I did not think every recipient should feel obliged. In actual fact I included some just to let them know what happened and how I feel. Still, there is a “but”: people who do not have much, were helping (between ‘every little helps’ and ‘I can’t believe – you probably put the dot into the wrong place’) – on the other side people who would not even mention … lets say 100 or 200 less per month, not giving a single cent, however stating ‘I am thinking how to help’. And there had been others … sending ‘my best wishes. Sometimes that is important, I know.’ And indeed, knowing, “readfeeling” that it is meant, helps – probably not expressed well, but I guess you know what I mean. At least it is not that they are looking for structural solutions …
* All this was/is not solely about me – sure the very moment it had been just me; but so many wrote back that they … – well, for instance a friend from Brussels, she worked as senior office clerk (if this is the term) for an NGO, writing “I manage with my old age pension but at the moment I am in Spain, looking If I can move here – life in Brussels (actually in a village near to it, not even in the city itself) is unbearably expensive in relation to my pension” – sure, probably complains on a high level, but still. May be there is a good reason to call for another me-too-movement as I guess many try to cope with the situation and actually manage – there is still the shame of it: being poor, disabled, suffering from ill-health, being lonely after loosing all contacts from work … and too many do not dare to talk about their difficulties – with the “shame” hand in hand there is the difficulty of even asking the correct question let alone finding an answer. I suppose it is the difficulty of making out individual and social identities and subsequent responsibilities – There is no such thing as society, it had been destroyed …
* it had been also and not least about those – and it seems many – who are looking on the footpath, in the bins and elsewhere for empty bottles to make a living out of returning them to the shops, and who are not complaining – there is nobody who listens, anyway – do we speak about bottle-sharing then, like car sharing, airb&b-sharing etc, in our beautiful new sharing societies? – A strand of Christianity talked at least about “sharing into poverty”, living in poor material conditions, giving mental space for the good (mind the “some” and “talked bout”) * do you (the original addressee) remember long time ago, the afternoon, we had been sitting in Trastevere, somebody approaching us, asking for some money: we then talked about the economic situation, you mentioned the crisis … – when I talked later to somebody (you know), mentioning an Italian crisis, I had been rebuked: ”Non dire sciocchezze – non c’è crisi in Italia” …“nonsense, no crisis” …. is that also true for young colleagues … for instance the son of a colleague and friend in Turkey who moves to Copenhagen, leaving everything behind because he fears the political future; the colleagues from Hungary who are moving and are lucky enough being able to find something e.g. in the UK; the many who move to places like Berlin, the new edition of La Boheme” ….
* also, nobody asks if I really want to go, if I would possibly like – after so many years traveling, unrest – to come to a halt, relax a bit, not starting a new life again; nobody asks if siam actually really able to do so – as the climate in academia is coined by competition, skills training and exploiting cheap labour but not geared to establishing a healthy atmosphere that allows independent research and teaching, committed to social sustainability instead of increasing so-called effectivity and efficiency without asking the age-old question: cui bono …
Sure, being invited as I am, is a great challenge and honour indeed – coincidentally I talked the other day about it to a girl here: my “broken carrier” and the fact that I probably would not really have liked the straight “I know with twenty what my life looks like when I am 80 – the excitement of life being bungee jumping or the like” – why to her? I guess because she is a bit like myself in this regard and that means living against the odds as our societal economies are still based on the opposite gist: stability, no risk …;looking for knowledge not an additional vocational training – although societies today cannot provide the conditions for what they expect and truly accept. At least such orientation on risk-aversion and stability is then and for them the justification for doing what they do, for instance making you and our colleagues “independent, self-employed, your own boss” another affront by theItalian(employment) system – is such employment the compliment of the bottle-sharer mentioned earlier? There are surely major gaps … and all this is about difficult issues. And there are people who are not looking for the simple way: subordination, intelligence adapted to and reduced on zer-one. The simple answer, part of it: Freedom of Decision and the lack of it. And freedom only exists if it is materially backed … if my language skills are correct something interesting happens: look at
the ability to say something 
the ability – la capacità
the ability to say – la capacità di dire
the ability to say something – la possibilità di dire qualcosa
The lack of specificity (ref to something, not specifically to this or that) can also be interpreted as shifting the definitional power to the speaker (say something, i.e. you, the speaker, can and has to define what exactly it is, what you want to speak about and say on it) – from the simple capacity to the possibility which is, I suppose, much more.- it seems to be far-fetched – I think it is not: When I woke up, scanning The Economist; I spotted n interesting article, filed it in the to-do-box. The title: “Quantum computing Proof that a quantum computer can outperform a classical one” … Indeed, year-one is very limited.
The recent elections in two of the German Länder clearly showed: it is not, as Brecht wrote – entirely correct at the time – that the womb ist still fertile; today we are witnessing a new breed, spreading the germs of its rotten spectre in all wounds and gaps and niches, protected by the olden forefathers who could never be overcome. And they can easily do so as societies in decline leave many spots fro them to build their dangerous beds.

The middle class – erosion or conversion? – this is the topic they set for me in Krynica recently. I dared to ask two questions (https://youtu.be/CdCrqXLu9W8), hopefully provocative; and surely it had been reflecting only one tiny aspect of the entire middle-class isssue:

I
Did we ever have a middle class? isn’t more appropriate to speak of a non-productive working class? Or a quasi-working upper-class, complementing the workers aristocracy? There had been some good reason for the middle class coming into existence . It had been professionals being engaged, aiming on changing peoples’ life, helping as doctors, also “professionally maintaining the system” as it had been the main concern of solicitors, some seeing the fight for justice, defending workers’ rights as their task … – it would be interesting to go back to Quesnay and his distinction between the classe productive (farmers), classe des propriétaires/classe distributive (proprietors , feudal landlords letting land for rent/lease) and classe stérile (traders) – based on the distinction between original and derived income – for him industry and trade did not generate value. It surely would be interesting to play with such a distinction today. Who is nowadays creating value – and what is value today? One thing, I suppose, is unquestionable: though there is still a middle class that is in the middle of society, playing an active role, there is a large number of people who are supposedly middle-class but whose sole purpose of work is to pretend that they are needed … Dirk Greaber speaks of bullish-it jobs – jobs where people put a stamp an a paper i order to confirm that they passed it on to somebody who put it into an envelope in order to send it to somebody who checks if the stamp is in the right position … – Is it really a problem if middle-class jobs are getting lost? I suppose not, if it is those administrative jobs that are today more important in education than the teachers; I suppose not if it is about those working in the administration of the health sector, hindering doctors, carers, physiotherapists to cure people; I suppose not if it is about people who are inventing and building electro cars for kids, making them unlearning to walk (well, good for the medical staff and the administrators of the health sector …
… and possibly good for solicitors: the other day I nearly needed one because a kid, sitting in an electro-mini-car, nearly knocked me down – actually it had been the father, massing around with the remote control … – when waste occurs to this extent on the one hand, it should not surprise that even the “doing good of society”: measures against pollution, in favour of substantial deepening and broadening of education, the claim of a wider perspective policies around accommodation, not being limited on providing a roof over the head is entering a state of stumbling: indeed it seems to be a similarly harsh conclusion as that drawn by Adorno, writing “There is no right life in the wrong one.” (Yes, it had been written in a very specific context.so making it a bit problematic to reproduce it here) 

II
… and that is the second point I make increasingly in the entire debate on precarity and the middle classes: the real problem is that there is no society. I do not refer to the Iron Lady’s understanding, more the self-imposed withdrawal, finding its foundation in acceptance of competition as guidance. While this is surely in general a questionable way of relating, it is even more problematic when we look at professions. Of course, medical professions should be aiming at healing of and caring for the sick, something that is impossible if undertaken in the spirit of competition. Or librarians – for a tiny project I approached the local archives in Brandenburg and indeed several came back tome with helpful answers, and of course none suggesting they would be better than their colleagues. Taken even book-sellers, I guess also members of the middle-class. Admittedly, each of them wants to sell books, making profit this way. But aren’t they also “servant of books”, or call them “ambassadors of books”? So, if a bookseller gives good advice and the customer still goes to amazon, ordering the book, the seller still did some great job … and we will return sooner or later, then buying the book there. – Of course, this is a bit simplified but I guess it shows the train of my thinking: really qualified jobs, positions where people are engaged, interested, committed – and where they are getting paid for being exactly that: engaged, interested, committed.

Coming back to “my case”, the difficulties I have been confronted with, asking for help, I received also some spiritual, intellectual, psychological support. Conosce cosa hanno detto i colleghi – Do you know what colleagues said? Well, in short, a bit of “reformulation” and seemingly so trivial:

“We appreciate that you did your job, that we could engage with you on the topic we are working on, that there had been space for an academic debate that is so often closed by administrative procedures and/or competitive narrow-mindedness, and as well drowning in routines of everyday’s departmental and office life.”

In other words, it is another dimension of privatisation of the social, one of these typical paradoxes of our time. There is no socio-material security from doing the work we should do, from following “our calling”; such security has to be gained by fulfilling the demands of the system. If we insist on following the calling, doing what we have to consider as our genuine job: teaching, looking after the students and doing thorough, independent and innovative research, it is through investing our own means, investing the time and money it needs.
Thus, making us independent, self-employed, actually reflects exactly those patterns we are expected to perform – in short:
Do your own thing — don’t worry, be happy

One of the new phrases I learned coming after the odd twenty years to Germany, matches exactly this:
Alles Gut – All Well
= nothing to worry about, just be yourself and don’t even think about being part of the others: tinder yourself through life, it is all about you …

And what can we say about this “you”? These days the German government runs a campaign – a poster campaign by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, celebrating the 100s anniversary of the Berufsbildungsgesetz – the Vocational Training Act. Fair enough one would say, seeing the main message:

What keeps our careers going

OR

What keeps our economy going 

Still, I dare to ask, for instance:

What is this economy about? What does it mean when it is going? And how can we specify a career? Are we really talking about vocations or people just in need of a job? Doing something that is well paid?

All this sounds rather abstract, intellectual, is however for me the real process, it is what I feel as a kind of physical thread, a mill-stone, every round causing a crunching sound … 

Non of the posters speaks about why and what is the meaning in substantial terms – the meaning is the career itself: il giro … fare un giro per arrivare all’inizio, in grado di fare un altro giro. And of course, like capital runs its rounds
M – C – M’
decisively aiming on the ‘, the little bit more; perversely it reads in respect of education 
K – L – M’
Education as matter of obtaining knowledge is thus reinterpreted: 
• K standing for knowledge, and of course, entering any education builds on some form of already existing knowledge,
• L standing for learning, too often a matter of replicating, providing little space for exploration
• M’ standing for better income. Do we, who are working in education, do we not see it anymore? Do we blindly accept that educational standards are today set by wrongly programmed administrative systems, executioners of their donors, the donors executioners of the ‘ = the surplus, at the end clearly defined as money.

Well, I better stop here, having already been carried away quite a distance – my empathy problem: what may sound very theoretical, abstract is actually very much the opposite: the understanding of this “one injustice” with a systematic affront, an attack on people like you and me. Sure, we = each of us have to find a way of accommodating with the situation as it is. But … – last theoretical issue at the end – for me not theoretical at all, but something that pesters me every day, a question of personal responsibility: prevailing is in social science the so-called methodological individualism, i.e. the supposition that there are individuals and everybody acts as individual, pursuing the now individual interest – what better expression can this find as that given in Adam Smith’ presentation of the “egoism” of the butcher. Another expression is given by Leonard E. Read, titled „I, Pencil“.

I find an impressive, plausible presentation – as neat as it is presented as “process of production under the condition of the division of labour”, it is also suggesting “this is how we humans behave”, it is also claimed to represent “human nature”. Still, I dare to raise some doubts:
• There IS another dimension – guess nobody would think that Aristotle, stating “man is a social/political being”, and as we know since Marx, it is to such an extent and in such a way the case that even individualising depends on ourselves being social beings: are you sitting in your living room right now, while reading these lines, perhaps the very cosy corner you consider as your shell as much as the snail “carries her house” into which it can withdraw, perhaps wearing your very personal house-dress – one you would not like to be seen wearing by your closest friends? Even such fact: not wanted to be seen is nothing else as considering them being part of the very moment you do not want to see them around; I find it so strange that in the most social area, i.e. work, we claim to be individuals and nothing else, the “social” in actual fact reduced on some kind of anti-social behaviour, acting by outcompeting the other; • while we do “our own thing” we do so with the very consciousness of some connectivity – the ability of others to link, the ability to link with other situations – marking the paper of a student means relating him or her to others. Each act, executed or not, consciously, habitual, “lemmingual”, i.e. following others like the lemmings supposedly do …, expressing our very personal decision or being reflection a discourse;
• even if we do things, deciding according to the aim of achieving “personal benefit” or advantage, such benefit/advantage is “social” – it is a reflection of what is allowed and also what we allow ourself: as much as we CAN only individualise in society, connectivity HAS TO link to society, also in opposing it – in other words the challenge is about striking a balance between being part of and withdrawing (this is as such also “being part of by de-/a-parting”).

From here I come back to the question I originally raised: feeling guilty of having accepted precarious employment, this way allowing me doing something precious to me, then consequently depending on friends and colleagues while the social benefit system lacks accessibility – not least due to the fact that I previously accepted precarious employment, allowing me …
This deals with one of the most interesting animals on earth, the cat chasing its own tail.
But I really better stop here — writing too much anyway, bottom line: Thank you and lets in one way or another do together what should be our job but what receives little recognition as such. Amongst lawyers: Ubo societas ibis justitiam est.
All the best from Peter

外国高端人才确认函

The official document arrived Monday, it means that I am accepted by the government as High Level Foreign Expert – this does not change my opinion when it comes to ranking, excellence and special personal merit. Here as in other cases it is what it is.

Wednesday then – I arrive at the airport, already checked it. The special jacket kept me warm on the scooter tough it is getting nippy, with little signs that it may be a stormy autumn. I left it in the “boot”, walk in may civilised cat to the terminal building.

A short while later: I put all the stuff into the boxes, pass the security, also the second “special” security check, go to the belt to got ready: pockets stuffed, electronics put back into place …. nearly there, just last box .. “Is this yours as well?” Nodding, I haste a bit, thinking that he wants to take it in order to return it with the other boxes … “Can you come with me, please?!” I follow, the small room, the frequent test for explosives. Of course, nothing found: ”Thank you, Sir … and please accept my apologies for any inconvenience” – “I thank you” – finally it is an exercise to protect myself and others. About two hours later – I just reply a text message, clarifying what I wrote earlier: that it is so often that I receive that special treatment. And I add “But what is really worrying: here at Paris airport everybody gets special treatment now: they reintroduced passport control … – all are equal.”

I am moving with the crowd through the halls of the airport, the RER, ligne B. Instead of changing the train to go to St Denis, I walk the short distance from the Stadium. Half way, the phone rings .., – unknown number, 030…. – it takes some time: “Yes, of course .. yesterday we talked about the visa …” – “Everything is OK, it is a visa type …, the letter does not mean anything to me, only when she explains I am asking myself about the different meaning something may gain, depending on the concrete conditions. The different meaning for instance of “freedom of movement.”

– Well, the外国高端人才确认函 means as well that I am going to fill the position of professor at the Law School of Central South University, Changsha, PRC, part of the remit will be concerned with Human Rights.

Sure, some things happen by accident; but it may well be that small accidents happen in order to avoid major averages.

joining or not

The rally – not climate is out of control but life and living … or the other way round?

Vienna, September 19th;
Finally on the meeting Roland gratefully says in a short “impulse statement” for the debate: I do not have an answer, a solution …, I just know that we have to do something, namely look for the right question. Everybody agrees …, and so many say “but we know the narrative”

Berlin, September 20th, around 10 a.m.: traffic congestion on the highway 100 – I leave after a while, even with the scooter I am ore or less stuck

Berlin, September 20th, around 2 p.m. walking at the back of the metro/S-Bahn Friedrichstrasse, many years ago the place of “crossing” from one oa of the city another, divided by a wall.
Today crossing arms with strangers, building a wall – nobody has the answer, many have some answer and some may even think they have THE answer.

An old point comes to my mind – I am full of fear:

Ci dicono, in molti, in queste ore: non dobbiamo avere paura. Io invece ho paura. Voglio avere paura. Non dell’ineluttabile possibilità che questo orrore possa colpire me, o i miei cari; credo che per questo dovremmo affidarci alla nostra collettività, abbracciarci, dalla piccola alla grande, fino su in alto alle istituzioni che ci rappresentano e che dobbiamo aiutare a proteggerci.

Ho paura di chi dice: non sono umani. Ho paura delle risposte semplici alle domande complesse. Ho paura delle espressioni come: Parigi brucia. Ho paura di quello che può succedere: delle mamme che benedicono sulla porta i figli pronti alla guerra, ho paura dei numeri che prendono il sopravvento sulle storie, ho paura delle lacrime sulle bare che voglio altre lacrime su altre bare su altre bare su altre bare. Mi fanno paura i politici che hanno paura. Le frontiere europee chiuse unilateralmente senza logica apparente. Ho paura dei coprifuoco, dei concerti annullati, delle cene al ristorante con un occhio sempre fisso sulla porta.

Ho paura del Bignami della Fallaci. Mi fanno paura nella stessa frase “vaticinio” e “Sottomissione”. Quelli che pensano “scappiamo finché siamo in tempo”, come i bambini che chiedevano a Primo Levi: perché non siete scappati prima? Ho paura di chi mette tutto insieme nello stesso calderone, di quelli che non nascondono l’entusiasmo di pronunciare la parola “guerra”, ho paura anche del Piave che pure non ne può nulla e stava lì quando ero più felice. Ho paura di saperne troppo poco, di non trovare le parole o di dirne troppe, e fuori luogo. Ho paura della rabbia istantanea sulle notizie non verificate, una rabbia che rimane attaccata sulla pelle come una crosta, un trasferello nella testa anche se la notizia è smentita. Ho paura dei paragoni a capocchia, della banalità del male che non mi ha mai convinto, del sentirsi estranei, come se l’umanità non fosse sempre una e una sola, nel bene e nel male.

Mi fa paura anche “il tuo amico ti fa sapere che sta bene”. Si, ho una paura fottuta del tasto “sto bene” appeso sempre al collo come un salvavita per anziani, come una nuova coperta di Linus collettiva che non potrebbe che toglierci il respiro. Io non sono buonista. Non sono buono, sono cattivo. Proprio perché sono cattivo ho paura: perché in fondo, alla fine, a farmi paura siete tutti voi, siamo tutti noi.

I am to least afraid that we do not really know the answer, that we are moving without getting anywhere …

And a comment – the reproduction of a letter by Enrico Galiano:

Caro Ministro dell’Interno Matteo Salvini ,
ho letto in un tweet da Lei pubblicato questa frase: “Per fortuna che gli insegnanti che fanno politica in classe sono sempre meno, avanti futuro!”.
Bene, allora, visto che fra pochi giorni ricominceranno le scuole, e visto che sono un insegnante, Le vorrei dedicare poche semplici parole, sperando abbia il tempo e la voglia di leggerle. Partendo da quelle più importanti: io faccio e farò sempre politica in classe. Il punto è che la politica che faccio e che farò non è quella delle tifoserie, dello schierarsi da una qualche parte e cercare di portare i ragazzi a pensarla come te a tutti i costi. Non è così che funziona la vera politica.
La politica che faccio e che farò è quella nella sua accezione più alta: come vivere bene in comunità, come diventare buoni cittadini, come costruire insieme una polis forte, bella, sicura, luminosa e illuminata. Ha tutto un altro sapore, detta così, vero?
Ecco perché uscire in giardino e leggere i versi di Giorgio Caproni, di Emily Dickinson, di David Maria Turoldo è fare politica. Spiegare al ragazzo che non deve urlare più forte e parlare sopra gli altri per farsi sentire è fare politica. Parlare di stelle cucite sui vestiti, di foibe, di gulag e di tutti gli orrori commessi nel passato perché i nostri ragazzi abbiano sempre gli occhi bene aperti sul presente è fare politica.
Fotocopiare (spesso a spese nostre) le foto di Giovanni Falcone, di Malala Yousafzai, di Stephen Hawking, di Rocco Chinnici e dell’orologio della stazione di Bologna fermo alle 10.25 e poi appiccicarle ai muri delle nostre classi è fare politica.
Buttare via un intero pomeriggio di lezione preparata perché in prima pagina sul giornale c’è l’ennesimo femminicidio, sedersi in cerchio insieme ai ragazzi a cercare di capire com’è che in questo Paese le donne muoiono così spesso per la violenza dei loro compagni e mariti, anche quello, soprattutto quello, è fare politica.1
Insegnare a parlare correttamente e con un lessico ricco e preciso, affinché i pensieri dei ragazzi possano farsi più chiari e perché un domani non siano succubi di chi con le parole li vuole fregare, è fare politica. Accidenti se lo è.
Sì, perché fare politica non vuol dire spingere i ragazzi a pensarla come te: vuol dire spingerli a pensare. Punto. È così che si costruisce una città migliore: tirando su cittadini che sanno scegliere con la propria testa. Non farlo più non significa “avanti futuro”, ma ritorno al passato. E il senso più profondo, sia della parola scuola che della parola politica, è quello di preparare, insieme, un futuro migliore. E in questo senso, soprattutto in questo senso, io faccio e farò sempre politica in classe.

Enrico Galiano

Yes, I am afraid – and even if I am especially afraid saying what I think is the truth, saying that I have doubt and that I do not know but want to search, honestly, with others – Camminiare insieme – I will try to do, even if walking may mean building a wall. Not knowing the answer does not suggest moving on with giving the old and wrong answers

Berlin, 20th of September, about 5:00 p.m., I am waiting in the canteen – we want to go to the new performance of Brecht’s Baal …

The Juggler

he is standing there since about a week now – every time I pass, thus it means very different times. Sure, it may be by accident that he is just there – arriving short time before I do arrive, and leaving just the second i am around the corner. More likely is that he has longish working hours – where? motor highway 100, going to Hamburg … the rich cities of the former West, exit Tempelhofer Damm, turning to the right, direction Platz der Luftbruecke, once thought to be the square linking Westberlin to the so-called free West, the rich Uncle Sam bringing presents.

I do not know the juggler, only know that he is free to stand there, performing his art.

juggling – and he seems to be a cheerful nature, nearly forgetting over his play to stop, collecting money some of the drives give. The traffic light switches, he plays again – a cycle like that of the economy of the country, and that of the global economy – here it is smaller, of course, manageable.Also – I guess – the money he has at the end of the day is most likely manageable.

Also – I guess – the money he has at the end of the day is most likely manageably 

 

The modern building, mostly men, white, middle-aged though far from belonging to the middle ages, upper-middle class though not thinking about classes and class interests, not even thinking about nations, while far from accepting “nationality human being”,  wearing their suits to make them suit into the smooth ivory towers, though those may be of glass .. – they aren’t elephants, are they? — all spruced up though looking a bit chivy … 

… finally it is 11 c’clock, nobody to blame: not the traffic – that might change anyway when the bureaucracies do not undermine the  use of helicopters for short distance flights anymore; not the driver – finally there is public space between the gated community and the fortress of the business-tower – public space that requires accepting public rules in order …, yes, in order of maintaining law and order; not the attendant at the golf tournament which had been finally a matter of meeting business colleagues  … – some time now to be spent in the office: brief meetings with other CEO’s, with secretaries, a call “No, I have to speak the minister personally …” – at the end of the day this juggler writes on the personal flag: the day’s turnover amounts to …, well, there are amounts mores suggest it is better not to mention them; this day’s regular income …, there are figures that cannot be imagined anyway; this day’s additional income, gathered from some private consultancy work … psst, not everybody has to know, some would even say it is income gathered in the shadow economy … isn’t shadow the natural companion of the bright sun they make shining everyday?

Despite the bright light many of them look grumpy, the kind of official face matching the severity of the job …the serene mind they have to employ to set the, to their algorithms into notion.

Jugglers, one job, one society, one world — gosh, such a difference … 

Superiority

it may be that superiority is in fact with the apes – not walking upright, not properly knowing about tools and still ..
Currently there is a poster campaign , run by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, celebrating the 100s anniversary of the Berufsbildungsgesetz – the Vocational Training Act. Fair enough one would say, seeing the main message:

That is what keeps our economy going ..

Still, I dare to ask, for instance:

What is this economy about? What does it mean when it is going? Are we really talking about vocations or are we talking about people just in need of a job? And aren’t those job we have to make a living, just “un-make” our living: annoying, alienating, straining …?

Pessimist? May be. Still, I dare to ask, for instance:What about job centres and regulations that make it in the first instance for so many rather cumbersome to complete forms and accept controls to avail of support (material and job search) and then, for some, so troublesome and slow to withdraw because one found income and work without the jobcentre?What about a  project application being thought through, looking at possible administrative hurdles but making all these considerations, doing all this admin work with just a vague idea of the content?What about finding a coconut, looking around, considering the ground not hard enough and looking for a stone which then is applied in a specific way to open the nut without loosing any milk from inside?  … – and whoever is behaving this way, surely knows why s/he wants to open the nut.
The last example is most likely a monkey, or some other animal acting this way. The others likely being concerned with humans’ behaviour. The question now is: which is the superior way to act? The last example with its immediate link between means and ends? Or the others where there is certain level of abstraction reached: not being hungry and thirsty here and now being the motivation to act, but the knowledge of hunger and thirst at some later time. This is still a simple one. However, there is a turning point namely when the link between means and ends is twice broken:

• The first time when some act is executed in anticipation of its need (I have to look for resources now as I will need them in the the future)

• The second time when resources are generated by means without considering their usefulness for the second-level end (I have to apply a hammer as I have one under control; it is of secondary interest for what I use it, if what I use it for is actually useful; or bluntly: I use the hammer to repair the fin watch.
Sounds absurd? AS praxis it surely is. But this is what reality looks like: economic growth for the sake of economic growth, getting a job to generate income without having any vocation that is intrinsically linked to the job’s requirement); going for projects because …, well, there is usually money or reputation in it….
Simple? Not really? Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg did not always know exactly what they were doing? And I suppose there is noting wrong in learning “because I want to know”, without further questioning, without more requirements than necessary, setting only one interest: Being really part of a process and structure that starts from reality !
SUPERRIOTITY …. …

Worrying …

indeed it is worrying to see the right-wing, nationalist, fascist, populist spawn, occupying so may positions, spreading their words and establishing with their deeds a kind of new system (indeed, we should be careful, not just putting all of them under the hat of populism – László Andor highlighted this in a recent article. Gabor, a Hungarian colleague, now working in Milano, recently said

I think Hungary has already exited politics as we know it, and it decided to recreate Monty Python in a horror comedy version. 

The reason for his remark: I mentioned my encounter with one of the Hungarian Ministers and his nationalist tirade. Actually is reference to Christian traditions …, somewhat subtle: we are not against anybody, we just have to protect our “great traditions”, and these are those of Christianity … – well, another fundamentalist religious states like the IS, lurking on the Hungarian horizon?

The fact with many of these crops is that they establish systems that do not allow to be reversed — even if they would loose power, the authoritarian structures will survive them at least for a long time. As sich it is not just another round, part of a regular up and down of different political strands.

Now, some rumour – even that it is thinkable is disgraceful. Alexandra Brzozowski and Sarantis Michalopolous state in their EURACTIV-BRIEF, titled

Berlaymont’s rumour mill

László Trócsányi, Viktor Orban’s right-hand man in Brussels, might get the humanitarian aid and crisis management portfolio – a move that could easily fit into Fidesz’s migration narrative that instead of receiving immigrants, “help should be given at the point that it is needed.”

As said, that this is thinkable, made possible then by the German …, yes, of course, CHRIST-demagogue, uniting with Hungarian Christian fundamentalist.

There is another news these days:

Swedish FM to Resign from Her Post

As we read in the article

“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement.

I remember Margot from those years in Brussels. And I would say that there as well she put a lot into the job, without necessarily agreeing, it still had been a pleasure to find a commissioner convinced of what she was doing and convinced that it must be about opening: opening the institutions to the European citizens had been her remit at the time.
Who would deny her the right of doing what she intends to do:

It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.

However, so often we talk about modernity as process if reduction (“halved modernity”), its eclipse etc. And Daniel Kehlmann came up with this most telling story about Measuring the World, taking up on the tension between exploring reality (Alexander von Humboldt, and Aimé Boland) and calculating it (Carl Friedrich Gauss). Isn’t this in some way also today the baseline when it comes to artificial intelligence – the hope set into it and the fear facing it.

Part of the structure established with this process we usually refer to as modernisation/modernity had been about individualisation, a very special and specific establishment of the individual as ultimate point of reference. But isn’t this then also the need and justification of moving between the “outer world”, a public, seemingly/supposedly hostile, at least strange, alien and this cocoon of family and perhaps few very close friends, eagerly securing the borders … The public, in tis constellation, bears two labels:

HANDLE WITH CARE, MAY LEAD TO ADDICTION

says the one

DO NOT OVERUSE, SOCIETY IS CAUSES LOSS OF INDIVIDUALITY AND ENDANGERS THE PERSONALITY

states the other

Differences

Zhouxiang – we had been sitting together for breakfast in 芜湖 – looked at me, somewhat sincere – we had been taking out some professional issues and editorial work – saying:

People of your age …

and in the following he appreciated my experience, positioning them in a positive way against the way things are done today…  I admit, my first (inner reaction) had been .., I felt a bit upset, not feeling old though this is what he openly meant by “pope of my age”. Learning Chinese means also learning to feel and appreciate the deep respect behind his words – and again and again, when we meet I feel this as such an asset of our friendship.

****

Our chauffeur brought us – there had been two of us – from the airport for this three to four hours drive to the congress venue. Not knowing each other we presented ourselves, just in an informal way, talking about the work and a bit about the failure of striking a balance with life. In my case it meant taking out being in different places, giving presentations, teaching at different universities, and even in different countries and continents. May I ask how old you are … “No problem” and I revealed the middle 60s. She smiled

Isn’t it great then, being still able to do all these things.

https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/120623104830-tall-ships-01-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg

Funnily enough, during our talk I also talked about China, the respect older people experience: an appreciation of experience. And I said, I would not know about something like it in the West”. If old age is respected, it is the respect towards somebody “who did his job, deserving to retreat. It feels different than being respected – and perhaps even challenged – with the experience one gained. It is a bit the difference between a shipwreck and a windjammer.