the red of the black

Black Friday, another bad import from ‘big brother’

– the following doesn’t even look at the small print let alone at what seems to be so small that it is not even printed: such day we are bombarded with goods — all those ‘special offers’ the sale of which, I am sure, still allowed to make a profit good profit: whatever the historical background is, that special day was not made a tradition of making loss. Besides this probably everybody reading these lines had been bombarded with e-mails, many unwanted SPAM-mails

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44458281

, aiming on convincing us to buy buy buy …

Leaving aside the wasted time – deleting all the unwanted mails and getting upset …- there is another, actually real cost: According to the Guardian

The sending, sorting and filtering of spam email alone accounts for 33bn units of electricity each year

According to another source – PhysOrg

Sending even a short email is estimated to add about four grammes (0.14 ounces) of CO2 equivalent (gCO2e) to the atmosphere.

To put this into perspective, the carbon output of hitting “send” on 65 mails is on par with driving an average-sized car a kilometre (0.6 of a mile).

And furthermore they calculated

The global carbon footprint from spam annually is equivalent to the greenhouse gases pumped out by 3.1 million passenger cars using 7.6 billion litres (two billion gallons) of gasoline in a year.

Of course, it is difficult to draw a line and perhaps such blogs as this should not exist. But leaving this aside, Black Friday was surely a red day, a warning lamp switching on such day when looking at the environmental question: a huge cost for the environment …, rarely considered or calculated; a huge “contribution to the GDB”, proving that in capitalism production of waste is considered to be valuable.

Annunci

Hidden Slavery

Chrystia Freeland, in her book
mentions something interesting, a bit sublime perhaps, and subtle, but surely more shocking than all the calculations by beancounters as Piketty – though their work may also be of some importance – at least for those who prefer the wooden hammer info of numbers instead of approaching harsh reality shows of life. So, the reality, the real meaning is grasped in the book I just mentioned, talking about Eric Emerson Schmidt, whom wikipedia sees simply as “Software engineer and businessman” and his “interesting views”.

If you traveled to Mountain View to visit Eric Schmidt when he was CEO of Google, you would have found him in a narrow office barely big enough to hold three people. The equations on the whiteboard may well have been scribbled by one of the engineers who works next door and is welcome to use the chief’s office whenever he’s not in. And while it is okay to have a private jet in the Valley, employing a chauffeur is frowned upon. “Whereas in other cultures, you can drive your Rolls-Royce around and just sort of look rich and have a really good time, in technology it’s not socially okay to have a driver who drives you to work every day,” Schmidt told me. “I don’t know why, but you’ll notice nobody does it.”

This egalitarian style can clash with the Valley’s reality of extreme income polarization. “Many tech companies solved this problem by having the lowest-paid workers not actually be employees. They’re contracted out,” Schmidt explained. “We can treat them differently, because we don’t really hire them. The person who’s cleaning the bathroom is not exactly the same sort of person. Which I find sort of offensive, but it is the way it’s done.”

This is also mentioned in a presentation that is available on the web.
Doesn’t this remind a bit of the treatment of slaves – we are frequently shocked when thinking about the blunt ignorance of ancient times, or the slave trade in modern times. And we may be shocked (only “may be” as not all are) when we hear about migration and the fortress Europe. But the day-to-day trafficking within this system is easily ignored, not even recognised by so many.
I remember, taking part in a conference organised several years ago by the European Commission, taking place in Birmingham. The event’s concern: labour market and using the ESF as means for the integration of the weakest. During the conference dinner a friend of mine asked the waitress a few questions – about income, working conditions … We learned that the lady had been underpaid, and “on call”. Whenever she heard (short notice) that she would be “allowed” to work few hours she had to do it: “you can say “no” once, but surely not more. She had to look then for somebody taking care of her little boy.
All this surely appalling – but it came worse: We went to somebody from the Commission – the organiser. “We cannot do anything. This service had been advertised. We looked for the best bid – and we can only check the technical correctness ….”
****
Switching scene, back to Eric Schmidt. Wikipdia also lets us know:

Schmidt was a campaign advisor and major donor to Barack Obama and served on Google’s government relations team. Obama considered him for Commerce Secretary. Schmidt was an informal advisor to the Obama presidential campaign and began campaigning the week of October 19, 2008, on behalf of the candidate. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Chief Technology Officer position, which Obama created in his administration. After Obama won in 2008, Schmidt became a member of President Obama’s transition advisory board. He proposed that the easiest way to solve all of the problems of the United States at once, at least in domestic policies, is by a stimulus program that rewards renewable energy and, over time, attempts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

He has since become a new member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology PCAST.

****
Switching scene, back to Europe again: there is something in all this, that reminds me of an article I read recently, talking about refugees and consumerism. The main argument: The crisis is not least a warning that we have to move away from consumerist attitudes – a bit of solidarity as sharing attitude. Yes, may be there is some truth also in that. But to be honest, the baseline of it is in my view not much more than a left good-doer attitude, not looking FIRST AND FOREMOST at the untouched relations and mode of production. The comments on the article are actually quote telling, and though I agree on many issues with the author, I see (and disagree) as well with the “quasi-religious attitude” behind it, pleading nolens volens for all of us tightening the belt …. Eating less meat and vegetarianism does not make a revolution.
And thus it easily leaves the old patterns intact – the following little episode could well be one that we find referred to in the works of Milton Friedman – I had been revisiting his work recently more or less extensively. There is no free lunch – but the “free market” surely guarantees that inequality remains:
In the journal distributed in Italian trains I saw this ad for luxurious transport bytrain:
Later then, in the same travel journal, the editorial or a dedication presented the move to make train stations public, offering space for those most in need – yes, and it is even free of charge:
And next to it again a fancy ad – but we know such clash from earlier. So to say, the free lunch, falling from the table of the super-rich ….
****
Switching scene, back to the world.
Currently we can follow the UN-debates on the New Sustainability Goals.
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa made some valid and crucially important points in his speech, highlighting the necessity to change the foundations of the current system – not by changing the determinants of exchange (more just etc.), but by changing the foundations of the current system. And these foundations are not about changes of norms, of consumerism etc.: they are about the change of the mode of production. And though we are talking (rightly) about globalisation, and even if we criticise war-mongering, we forget that nationalism is still one of the fundamental features of the current system. It causes the externalisation of cost; and it causes the ongoing debate on migration as matter of “accommodating people from other countries” instead of acknowledging the need for a more fundamental re-thinking, looking for
human mobility laws based on human rights
In his speech, Correa  also criticises “social minimum approaches”, vehemently arguing for the need of moving to social maxima.
Indeed, religion, also in a modernised form, will not get us anywhere. Dealing with distribution, has to be about production.

Strengthening the European Social Model by Going Beyond

The following are the notes of the closing remarks during the conference “Rafforzare il Modello Sociale Europeo. Il contributo della Qualità Sociale alla coesione del sistema comunitario”, Venerdì 31 Ottobre 2014 presso la Sala Polifuzionale, Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Rome

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I want to thank all participants for their contributions – they had been especially in their diversity a major challenge for me to think about the tasks ahead. The actual challenge is – another time – to overcome the contradiction between what we know and what we do. And it is probably correct to say that there is a general good will and acknowledgement of the virtues as we know them already since ancient times. And nevertheless we fail acting accordingly.

I will keep it short and will not develop the long story which we know from Pinocchio:

Pinocchio’s legs were so stiff that he could not move them, and Geppetto held his hand and showed him how to put out one foot after the other.

When his legs were limbered up, Pinocchio started walking by himself and ran all around the room. He came to the open door, and with one leap he was out into the street. Away he flew!

Of course, you may also refer to the work for instance of Max Weber, Niklas Luhmann and many others.

It seems today that we are facing a similar story: Europe had been established as system based on values as – amongst others – peace and justice. And now it seems to go entirely stray, following its own ways.

Already in the mid 1990s a large number of academics called for a focus on social quality as central parameter for future politics. In a declaration in Amsterdam it had been stated in 1997:

Respect for the fundamental human dignity of all citizens requires us to declare that we do not want to see growing numbers of beggars, tramps and homeless in the cities of Europe. Nor can we countenance a Europe with large numbers of unemployed, growing numbers of poor people and those who have only limited access to health care and social services. These and many other negative indicators demonstrate the current inadequacy of Europe to provide social quality for all its citizens. We want, in contrast, a European society that is economically successful, but which, at the same time, promotes social justice and participation for its citizens.

And actually there had been a very positive reception, the then commissioner for employment and social affairs highlighting the importance of focussing on social quality.

The two crucial points claimed had been the need to arrive at a policy design

  • that accepts the complexity and interdependencies of society. This meant to overcome a departmentalised approach, aiming on a new integrity which is not subordinated under rules of a de-socialised model economics
  • that goes beyond standard parameters of measuring economic success in quantitative terms, taking social quality as reference, and looking at peoples real and everyday’s life.

This merged in the claim concerned with politics, i.e. the need to develop policies beyond finding technical and short-term solutions.

I do not want to discuss the Lisbon strategy which stated in 2000

  1. The Union has today set itself a new strategic goal for the next decade: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion

Leaving a structural analysis aside, THIS Europe had not been able to address the crisis, and actually it can be seen as part of a global political arena, leading straight into it, deepening and accelerating it. In actual fact we find today major challenges – most of them well-known and often discussed.

A major reason for the failing of the debates and analysis had been and is that the complexities and interdependencies had not been sufficiently considered: a matter of power, interests and of Pinocchio running his own way, even if they may have – or claim to have – the same vision.

Proposals for alternatives had been made from different sides, too often limited to models and dreams, simply based on abstract values. However, the reality needs to go beyond this. One of the major steps had been shown in November 2013, coming from an angle that had been perhaps unexpected by many, Pope Francis, writing about an economy that kills. More important than this statement had been another sentence in that paragraph, asking

How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.[1]

Indeed,

  • exorbitant growth of capital and productive potentials is going hand in hand with decreasing GDP and an increasing inequality instead of socio-economic security for all
  • growth is translated into production of waste, speculation and privatisation of public goods – which translates into “values” equal “consumables” instead of providing a foundation for social cohesion
  • employment is loosing its productive dimension – and also its function of “making a living”. Precarity is the norm instead of suggesting a new take on socially meaningful activities and cooperation that secures social inclusion
  • migration is not a problem – though it is made being a problem as long as it is an answer to which individuals are forced by the externalisation of costs of production instead of seeing the major potential for social empowerment.

All this can be put into a nutshell – at least people living in Rome will understand immediately and others probably just have to replace the names of places and streets. And it is only a rephrasing of what Francis said:

How is it possible that we ignore the homeless people and “celebrate excessive consumerism”: go to Termini station at 4 o’clock in the morning – and in the afternoon have a look at excessive luxury on the Via dei Condotti and even the Via del Corso.

Indeed, all the answers will remain a torso as long as we do not manage to re-embed all policy areas into one guiding principle, that orient on

the interaction between people (constituted as actors) and their constructed and natural environment. Its subject matter refers to people’s interrelated productive and reproductive relationships.[2]

The objective conditions of making use of the potentials will allow to translate social justice (equity), solidarity, equal valuation and human dignity, the normative factors presented in the framework of social quality, into meaningful parameters of an analytical tool and an instrument to systematically develop alternatives.

Urgently needed is in this light the confrontation of some major flaws of current politics:

Excessive cheap production and low fare trade, being a major feature of quantitative growth strategies are established on the strategies of sheep advertising and “low fair production”.

But we urgently need

  • planning
  • public responsibility
  • solidarity enshrined in rights
  • making people themselves the public

What else remains to be said? Since several years now there is a label on cigarette now: Smoking kills Perhaps we should think about this in connection with the words of Pope Francis and public responsibility.

Demands

EU

The EU has to refocus policies: instead of adjoining welfare policies to a growth oriented strategy of competitiveness, policies have to be focused on the social as people’s interrelated productive and reproductive relationships in everyday’s life as the true aim of policy making.

National Governments

National governments have to commit themselves to the same goal, strongly considering their action as part of their global responsibility.

Municipalities and Regional Bodies

It is necessary to orient local and regional policies on strategies that take overall sustainability into account, and allow for participative approaches that foster the interaction between people (constituted as actors) and their constructed and natural environment.

Trade Unions

It is necessary to develop new understandings of syndicalism, thoroughly analysing the critical developments on labour markets and in society, putting more emphasis on the representation of men and women in atypical employment and the societal contributions made outside of labour markets.

Civil Society

The role of civil society is to provide a glue between the different levels and realms of society and to link particularistic interests into the wider context of an overall sustainable society

Academic World

Interdisciplinary orientation cannot be a catchword alone but has to be implemented and a permanent guideline of academic world – be it in teaching or research. For this the academic world has to be open for heterodox approaches, a truly open debate and a non-competitive working climate that is rooted in discourse and exchange.

Our Commitment

We as European Observatory on Social Quality commit ourselves

  • to further elaborate the theory and practice,
  • to contribute with concrete analysis of living conditions and daily life in a comprehensive understanding
  • to develop a network of and link between academics, politicians and civil society
  • to provide services that foster the overall aim of moving towards a society that is based in the orientation on overall sustainability and social cohesion.

The goal then will not be paradise – but a proper use of the resources we have.

 

[1]            Pope Francis, 2013: Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, consecrated persons and the Lay Faithful on the proclamation of the gospel in today’s world; Città del Vaticano; Libreria Editrice Vaticana; http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html – 28/10/14

[2] van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan, 2012: Social Quality and Sustainability; in: Van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan (eds.): Social Quality. From Theory to Indicators: Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 250-274; here: 260

The Beauty and the Beast – or: Variations on the Seemingly Eternal

I admit, I did not expect that the question of the Beauty and the Beast would have so many different manifest facets, but I would always have assumed many hidden facets and we rarely think about them, and perhaps even barely recognise them. Some of these meanings may come across in a modern-dusted gown, others in old fancy dresses – of course I am aware of such formulation standing against the general expectation which usually sees dust on the old and fanciness with the new.

Be it so, I suggest starting with some patchwork snippets.

* The Beauty and the Beast – Crusades: the world of lords, knights, foot-soldiers, peasants: suggesting the fancy world of a suggested good: the One Lord reigning eternity, a holy empire for secularity, being an empire of holiness with gods, angels, gnomes and fairies …, presenting itself as mystical for some, but as simple and massive power block for others.

* The Beauty and the Beast – it is[1] about palaces and hovels: the world of glory, of glamour, first derived from gods; then derived from people’s votes; and frequently based on pure violence, all being seen as matter of power: the possession of ultimate control, all this standing against the corners, hidden, though they do not have anything to hide, suppressed though people are already living very much on the bottom, first supposed by gods as “his will” is that we are deprived from material goods which would distract from god; then seen as consequence of people’s decisions: the lack of work-ethics, the failure to show eagerness …, the refusal to serve the goods in form of commodities, and the adherence to the gods, seen as values of humane existence, worshipping justice and hoping for solidarity; and very often based on pure violence: open or structural, the force of competition of the pure market-society, people deprived from rights as much as labour is deprived from its social character – a disembedded economy.

– We may halt for a second as there seems to be another side to it: the lonely emperor, suffering from his old clothes, and the rich peasant, not controlling much, but at least controlling the little according to the own will. Much had been said about the happiness and the paradoxes, not only starting with the work presented by Richard Easterlin and the critique of the same – but too little had been said that the rat race is, or becomes at some stage purely capitalism as perversion, and nothing else: the production of waste, the perversion of its own rules and the perversion of people’s life – further topped by celebrating such perversion by a kind of exhibitionism.

* The Beauty and the Beast – new identities: in the society of No Logo the logo counts, and though there is still value to things in terms of their use, this use is shifting increasingly to a symbolic instance, the so called positional goods – the use of defining and allocating oneself, thus generating the social on a secondary, derived level: not the direct interaction as production and reproduction of everyday’s life as metabolism with nature, but the possession of goods: commodities, power and control over nature is “what counts”.

The old economy is “factory based” and “capabilities driven” and hence “production-focused” an manufacturing actual products

– and we should not forget: also on enjoying these products, nor should we forget that all this is also about hard work and suspension of gratification and satisfaction and maintaining, even reinforcing the Victorian distinction between the deserving and the non-deserving poor

while the new economy is “consumer based” and “consumer-focused” and hence concerned not with manufacturing products but “creating brands”.[2]

There is surely much to be discussed in the connection with all this and some had been pointed out earlier: the supposed facts, the analysis and the interpretation. Not least we have to consider

[t]hat defence [of traditional livelihoods] is easily supported by an anticapitalist Left in opposition, and has been adopted by the current World Forum Movement: ‘We do not want development. We just want to live’, declared a front-stage banner at the World Social Forum in Mumbai in 2004.

(Therborn, Gøran, 2008: From Marxism to Post-Marxism?; London/New York; Verso: 35)

As already stated elsewhere,

Of course, we should not overlook the inherent danger – and in particular looking back to Ireland as one of the pronounced EUropean countries or also looking at countries like Brazil one should not overlook what is easily forgotten: Pleading for more equal societies cannot mean ‘equality on unbearable levels of subsistence. The ‘old Irish poverty’, people likely saying ‘we are all poor’ may have had something tempting in its simplicity of suggested equality,[3] but it surely did not have anything tempting with respect to living standards, living conditions and simply in terms of bare existence.[4]

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It seems that all this found a point of culmination recently – at stake is a place of adoration: La Cappella Sistina, a place of stunning beauty and a place of spiritual elevation which is second only to the Vatican catacombs and there Confessio[5] and the private chapel where the popes supposedly begin their days with a private celebration of a mass[6]. The latter has this meaning at least in terms of the spiritual elevation (in modern language it translates to something like it the meeting room where the boss [= god] provides everyday the guidelines to one of the top CEOs, the branch manager of the Catholic section of human kind – it is widely unknown if and where he meets the CEOs of other branches, let alone that we any idea if and where he meets the CEOs of other planets).

Now there is a “new access”: The Vatican opened the Chapel for “the public”, another public, namely that public that is able to pay: in this case a Porsche club, accessing the chapel supposedly as part of a charity event. The Vatican rejects that it is a business issue and claims the charitable character standing at the very centre.

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Still, one may ask if this is the right point for surely needed disenchantment – or perhaps the question should be put forward in a different way: if this is the right way for such disenchantment. Asking this is not about religious issues: the justification of the claims of mystery that is usually connected with religion. But it may admittedly be a matter of the valuation of arts and the excitement of really experiencing the immediate and “private” confrontation with such masterpiece – I have am lucky and privileged in having some personal experience standing behind this statement, though linked to van Rijn’s Nightwatch and Picasso’s Guernica. Such experience – standing in front of such piece just by way of a “private encounter”[7] is truly unique and actually the opposite of private: it is about delving into the public, social world of another era: an era of unbelievable grandess and construction in the one case; an era of unbelievable dehumanisation and destruction in the other case.

Thinking about the “nuova porta santa”, I am torn between different interpretations: disenchantment of religion and arts by commodification of another realm; the need of money to appreciate something special or the availability of money as making something special – visiting the chapel because it is expensive, because others cannot do it (this way); and finally the interpretation that all this actually the return of (though not religion so at least) the institutionalised “modern” church to its very existence, while wearing a new dress. History gives surely some clues, the two most important: first, the sale of indulgences can be seen as taking a new form: “doing good”, paying for charity and being allowed to experience the extraordinary even during this life; second, the role in particular of the Medici, somewhat alternating between the two roles of being banker of the Vatican and being pope. Indeed and cum grano salis we may refer to the famous passage

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

This is surely a question about religion, the self-understanding of the Vatican, institutionalised religion and so on. But it concerns also a much wider issue. One commentator brings it to the point

Ma si! Affittiamo pure il Colosseo per fare di nuovo i giochi gladiatori. Renzi contro Berlusconi non sarebbe male! Sai i soldi che farebbe la RAI trasmettendo il duello in mondovisione!

It would also fit well into my considerations about World’s New Princedoms. Critical Remarks on Claimed Alternatives by New Life.

And even the recent posting on the Finnish Babybox plays a role.

Finally, is it true then… ? Can progress only be obtained for the price of exclusion ….? How do we define the backyards and the yards of the courts – and how do the rulers of the courts define us who are living in the backyards, occasionally being allowed to have a glimpse over the fence?

Disenchantement. Enlightenment suggested it in different versions as “pure reason”: The French rational citoyen; the German rational bourgeois, the Scottish rational market citizen – all moving rationally forward by the “pursuit of Happiness”.

This had been well summarised a long time ago:

This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and seller of a commodity, say of labour-power, are constrained only by their own free will. They contract as free agents, and the agreement they come to, is but the form in which they give legal expression to their common will. Equality, because each enters into relation with the other, as with a simple owner of commodities, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent. Property, because each disposes only of what is his own. And Bentham, because each looks only to himself. The only force that brings them together and puts them in relation with each other, is the selfishness, the gain and the private interests of each. Each looks to himself only, and no one troubles himself about the rest, and just because they do so, do they all, in accordance with the pre-established harmony of things, or under the auspices of an all-shrewd providence, work together to their mutual advantage, for the common weal and in the interest of all.

Now, disenchantment has also some other dimension, bringing dialectically two issues together: It had been said that

[m]en make their own history.[8]

And it had been said that

[t]he philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

In this light, thinking about progress has to mean to change the conditions under which we make our history, i.e. to control these conditions under which we make history.

Finally, isn’t it true?

There are no supreme saviours

Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune.

 

[1]            Keep also Buechner’s Hessian Courier in mind.

[2]            Barber, Benjamin R.: Consumed. How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole; Bew York/London: W.W. Norton&Company: 169 f., with reference to Marc Gobé, 2001: Emotional Branding. The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People; New York: Allworth Press: XIV

[3] Leaving aside the fact that such equality surely had been at no stage absolute.

[4]            Social Policy – Production rather than Distribution. A Rights-Based Approach; Bremen/Oxford: EHV Academicpress; 2014: 89

[5]            Rarely open to the public

[6]            Of course, more or less never open to the public – here religion finds the only location it should be allowed to claim: the private realm.

[7]            Yes, there had been security …

[8]            Yes, women too – just one example for Marx thinking in this way comes from a letter to Kugelmann, written in 1868:

“I think that German women should begin by driving their husbands to self-emancipation.” Actually there are many other references, taking up the immediate role of women and also the reference to assessing progress by looking at the emancipation of women.

A long and winded road …

… but in some ways this may be a wrong impression.

It is not often that I go to the Porta di Roma, one of the main shopping centres in Rome. And though many of us don’t like them, we all have to admit at least some kind of fascination.

Not often that I enter that temple, but I had to go there today. It means starting more or less from the Porta Pia. And following the Via Nomentana to the “paradaise of consumerism”.

And in the light of it, it is so easy to think of the good old times. But wait a while. Sophokles already said:

Money! Nothing worse in our lives, so current, rampant, so corrupting. Money – you demolish cities, rot men from their homes, you train and twist good minds and set them on to the most atrocious schemes. No limit, you make them adept at every kind of outrage, every godless crime – money.’

And though Protestant Reformation wanted to break with the rule – 1517 the theses had been published by Luther – the selling of indulgence did not come to an end at the time.

And perhaps the famous “branding” of so many products is similar to the shift from seeling of indugence to absolution through good deeds.

And talking about good deeds is also today a major topic.

That may today then be shifted to what is called Corporate Social Responsibility. Good words coming from the palaces and temples of finance-, trade- and surely also production centres. But it is not new – don’t we know this pattern?

‘Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff,’ Christ had commanded his apostles. He had sternly warned, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for someone who is rich to enter into the kingdom of God.’ And he had instructed one of the faithful, who had asked what he needed to do to live the most holy sort of life, ‘if you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give your money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.’

(Bailey, Michael D., 2003: Religious Poverty, Mendicancy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages; in: Church History; Vol 72.3; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 457-483; here: 457; with reference: Mathew 10:9-10, 19:10, 19:24, and 19:21 respectively; quotes taken from the New Revised Standard Version)

Sure, not least we know from a famous colleague of mine that what is needed is not the change of interpretating reality, but the change of the reality itself.