“political crap – well Cook-ed”

Scandals and no end … – still, there are some that deserve special attention. The Apple-tax avoidance policy is one of peculiar interest – for different reasons:
Think about the following:
I.
I pleaded on different occasions –  not least in connection with the data abuse by Facebook – for their socialisation: there seems to be little point in regulating monopolies – while at first glance tempering – it is a  no-go policy to break up monopolies that actually depend in their very functioning on being monopolies. Socialisation, e.g. state control, does not solve the problem but at least it puts it into a different regulatory perspective:
regulating private entities that are too big or securing democratic control over relevant political bodies, that is the question.
II.
Public control, then, is of course an issue that deserves …, not just special attention but a conceptualisation of the public itself that is serious about …, well , its public character. On this topic we read for instance:
public (adj.)
late 14c., “open to general observation,” from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus “of the people; of the state; done for the state,” also “common, general, public; ordinary, vulgar,” and as a noun, “a commonwealth; public property,” altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes “adult population, adult”) from Old Latin poplicus “pertaining to the people,” from populus “people” (see people (n.)).
In any case, this is quite different from what we learn about the tax system in Europe and Ireland, reading in the mentioned article (my translation);
Instead, first Lienemeyer has to investigate and understand the Irish tax model as it is applied by Apple, that means first and foremost detective work.
Thus, adding value or or piracy-policies, that is another crucial question.
III.
There is the common saying about milking the cow to limits and it is commonly said that the pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last.
There is, in economics, so much talk about value chains – suggesting that the enterprise and country in which the enterprise is located gets a “fair share” – said in another way: as many products today – computers, phones, cars, fridges etc. – are produced in various places, with parts from different countries, the overall value of the product will be distributed between the countries, the contribution of each “valued proportionally”. One point to be considered here is that these value chains are, as Benjamin Selwyn points out, in actual fact poverty chains, the Apple-case clearly gives another good reason to question such concept.
Two passages from the said article in the SZ clearly show the contradiction:
At the time, Ireland replied in a letter to Brussels that Apple’s advanced technology, design and the intellectual property are exclusively rooted, developed and managed in the USA, thus making it impossible to attribute it to the Irish enterprises [enterprises  set up by Apple as mediators, solely dealing with sales]
However, a little later we read the following:
In the view of the head of the department at the EU-Commission it is fact that the Irish Apple-branches run their offices solely in Ireland, have their employees only there and are, thus, ordinary Irish companies. “Then the question is: who is generating the profit? A virtual headquarter or an industrial premise with real people working?” says Lienemeyer. As Apple maintains offices in the city of Cork. this is his conclusion, Apples global business is Irish. Consequently all profit has to be taxed in Ireland.
Ireland and Apple react by being shocked. In their understanding the global Apple-tree with its mature fruits always had its roots in California.
Both, Ireland and Apple see this a affront. At the end, the question is here:
eating the apples and rejecting the tree – is that a feasible option?
To be or not to be, that question needs urgently to be replaced: Who is allowed to define what being is – and who is allowed to determine the conditions of existence of others, of majorities?
Cook, Apple’s CEO, once spoke of ‘political crap’ coming from Brussels. Actually he may be not entirely wrong after all. Leaving the tax scandal aside, there are two fundamental issues that remain without consideration:
First, regulating sick and decaying systems, that are not only undermining like cancer the entire body but already replaced completely the entire body, is hardly enough as cure against the body snatchers.
Second, this requires not least to fundamentally overcome methodological nationalism: as long as we still think in competition between regions and nation states, global capitalism will unfold exponentially – paradoxically in niches of arrogant and sexist plutocracies.

 

Annunci

Social Networks and Network Effect

Today these are keywords, snatch mechanisms and catch tools – firmly anchored in many lives, seemingly providing a second skin, solidified to an extent that the idea they could disappear one day, even attempts to a controlled use as outlined in the Cor Orans occurs as weird, absurd.
But what harm one may say – looking at the wikipedia-List of social networking websites is somewhat instructive: Many of the early ones had been about people ‘just meeting’ or joining for a specific purpose as ADVOGATO, defining itself as ‘the free software developer’s advocate’. – May then be that we should not worry about these networks, instead look at their use? But then again, isn’t another great hit ‘social capital’, community building, self-orgainsation and solidarity? Sure, terms could and should be twisted and turned, social networking – its structures and use – needs to be controlled. Finally all this is not least about social responsibility – the term nowadays so often discussed with the little extension ‘corporate’- Actually not at all a new topic. Milton Friedman – writing under the title

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

in The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970 contends:

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

A bit later this is followed by the statement

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it correct that

in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Indeed, this had been already issued much earlier – namely by Thortstein Veblen who wrote in 1904

The motive of business is pecuniary gain, the method is essentially purchase and sale. The aim and usual outcome is an accumulation of wealth.[.] Men whose aim is not increase of possessions do not go into business, particularly not on an independent footing (Veblen, Thorstein, 1904: Theory of business Enterprise: New York: Charles Scribers: 20)

There is another general point to it: Economics is since David Ricardo obsessed by the idea of comparative advantage – though originally not focusing on individuals, it is of course still based in methodological individualism: individuals act as individuals, do what they are good at, and the aggregate is a ‘supposed social’.

A recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung brought back to my mind that we also have to make sure that we do not forget any of these issues, and any of these Social Networks. The article, published on May, the 20th 2018, 09:51hrs, is titled
Aufsichtsräte. Deutschlands Netz der Macht/Board of Directors. Germany’s Net of Power.
And there are so many scandalous things mentioned … – these directorates: the chairs of the 30 DAX-enterprises get in average 408,000 Euro which seems to be a nice little top-up, commonly adding to incomes that are extremely high anyway. Just Bilderberg – like … ops: Bilderbuch [picture-book]-like incomes – yes ops, yes, there is this Bilderberg-conference, there is a World Economic Forum, there is the Club of Madrid, there is the  Mont Pèlerin Society … – well, in the case of these gatherings we may not have to talk about additional income …, perhaps … – the payment for giving a presentation …, peanuts … when it comes to money we are here talking about dimensions that are negligible – at some some stage, beyond a specific threshold, it is simply getting ridiculous and we should talk about the need of psychological control – of people and societies. Here it is surely about additional power.

Il denaro regola il mondo

Money governs the world

Pecuniam regit mundi

Geld reguleert de wereld

L’argent gouverne le monde

돈이 세상을 지배하다

At stake is, however, … a kind of oxymoron or paradox. There is the simple network effect: they know each other, communicate with each other … – it is a ‘manageable circle’, the borders so tight that even leaks aren’t able to emerge. The problem is of course not that they meet for probably extensively expensive dinners – instead it is about … – ‘corporate social responsibility’, the fact that these are interlaced social networks with a clear goal and strategy:
In fact it is this network effect that secures success, make it even possible. The point here is, however, there contradictory effect. Social networks are getting more powerful as more people are part of it – the simple example is the little joy to have the only telephone in the universe – you have the item but you cannot use it. If at least one other person has a phone, you can talk – getting a bit of joy out of it. If everybody has one, communication may become universal – and in some way communication is power: you are empowered to reach out, to speak, to develop things together with others … – or, of course, also to influence others. However, the networks that are looked at here, depend on their exclusivity: the smaller the group that executes the control over a huge pool of resources, as larger the power, the influence. We may speak of an inverse network effect. — Anything new?
Well, surely one thing: The ’new’ aspect is that we are now not least dealing with ‘controllers’ and ‘directors’ who are not immediately owning the means of production. At the same time, many of the owners – or better to say: the primitive accumulators, are actually in some way disappearing, for instance Gates as well as Soros showing up on the stage of humanitarian help and supposed world liberation respectively.
May we say in this light that, taking the perspective of national origin – possibly the most ’successful’, and equally most dangerous, are Ireland and Italy  – in the first case it is explicitly a U2-showman, claiming the role of a global politician, in the second case an even further step is made: a M5S-comedian, switching on five startling stars to enlighten a country that feels in many respects happy by maintaining the status of a sleeping beauty of a special kind.
— Again though: anything new?
As we know from Matthew 13: 11ff.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

Well, political and enforced self-control obviously included.

Hot air …

Some time ago I talked to Rainer – the gist and my suggestion: we need a new approach when it comes to digitisation – and part of it is to look at the side of capital – not simply as ongoing concentration and centralisation  – or as matter of concentralisation as I call it, but by focussing on …, well, that day I said money laundering. Sure, more appropriate is the debate under terms as over-accumulation/devalutation as Paul elaborated.

[Yes, such sermon as the following needs slow reading, or slow listening, making sure that one gets every single word of nonsense, of being fooled …].
Sometimes, spotting Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on the new in-store experience, or listening/reading about Microsoft’s next Act, presented by Satya Nadella, I am wondering about change and stability.

For the second I would say that all this stands in the well-known tradition of ripping people off, extensively using different forms of brain-washing . The change is also clear I guess: the times of good fairy tales is over.

[royalty free from https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-rotten-apples-compost-heap-allotment-site-image59349576]

The hope for more change – Snow White found a prince to revive her – let us hope that today men and women awake themselves, seeing the rotten fruit.

GAFA and BAT – is that all Big Data has to offer?

Big scandals – Big lies, abusing terms as sharing and gig – Big communities, allowing access, participation and common action – Big portals, opening new ways of empowerment  of citizens who move and customers who control

— Debates around BIG DATA have to span between these four poles. It would be presumptuous to discuss this field without acknowledging the diverse tensions, trying to limit the debate by focusing on one corner only. Any of those debates is prone to get caught by self-limitation, continuing the way we seemingly always walked; or dreaming of visions that overlook the limits of the realm of the seemingly borderless space of imagination.
The presentation, made on the 20th of June at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, focuses on property and competition as core issues, emphasising that both have to be used in a substantiated way that starts from a perspective of praxis. This means to least that notions “corporate social responsibility” are critically rebuked, insisting on cooperative social responsibility as pathway that needs to be developed. it surely is an illusion to think about ways to regulate and reform matters that actually do not exist (anymore).
The recording should be listened to in connection with a document providing some definitions and references:

ordinary madness

http: //cf.mp-cdn.net/b9/42/12f04789eaa51ed84f12d30948cd-is-hypocrisy-the-greatest-threat-to-human-societies.jpg
I am working a bit on digitisation, and with this also looking at these Silicon Valley folks, these CEOs, their strategies and a bit of the ‘academic backing’ some of them get. The wisdom is mostly much inferior tho what my grandmother said, the difference: she did not have income comparable to that of Zuckerberg, McApple or Nadella. What is equally [or more?] worrying: we believe much of this rubbish [sorry] and even admire them. The other day I read about Mr Z., now being celebrated for his outstanding benevolence. And around the same time he had been accused of supporting Anti-Refugee-Campaigs …
In Washington, during the Senate hearing, Z. stated

Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And, as Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to the people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses.

BTW, a hearing that was a bit mute people asking a wall, their hearing not able to figure out that, naturally, the reply would be a kind of echo.

  • Is it worthwhile to add that nearly every senator explicitly and pronouncedly expressed gratefulness for Z’s appearance, much more than general curtesy, basic good manners would have suggested? And to ask why he meets the European Parliament’s leaders in private sessions ?
  • Is it worthwhile to ask if everybody who has to appear at Court – the small pickpocket, shoplifter or the murderer and rapist – meets the same curtesy?

It is necessary to ask for the real the reason for such ‘liberal’ case Z. – at least it is obvious that the view on liberalism and market equality deserves some qualified review, looking at the foundation and meaning of the ‘free market’.

About the real realities of the presence … and its morals

As we read in

Bernard Shaw’s Preface to Major Barbara

Now to deplore this preference as sordid, and teach children that it is sinful to desire money, is to strain towards the extreme possible limit of impudence in lying, and corruption in hypocrisy. The universal regard for money is the one hopeful fact in our civilization, the one sound spot in our social conscience. Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honor, generosity and beauty as conspicuously and undeniably as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness and ugliness. Not the least of its virtues is that it destroys base people as certainly as it fortifies and dignifies noble people. It is only when it is cheapened to worthlessness for some, and made impossibly dear to others, that it becomes a curse. In short, it is a curse only in such foolish social conditions that life itself is a curse. For the two things are inseparable: money is the counter that enables life to be distributed socially: it is life as truly as sovereigns and bank notes are money. The first duty of every citizen is to insist on having money on reasonable terms; and this demand is not complied with by giving four men three shillings each for ten or twelve hours’ drudgery and one man a thousand pounds for nothing. The crying need of the nation is not for better morals, cheaper bread, temperance, liberty, culture, redemption of fallen sisters and erring brothers, nor the grace, love and fellowship of the Trinity, but simply for enough money. And the evil to be attacked is not sin, suffering, greed, priestcraft, kingcraft, demagogy, monopoly, ignorance, drink, war, pestilence, nor any other of the scapegoats which reformers sacrifice, but simply poverty.

One can read as complement then from Marx, according to Harvey’s Companion to Marx’s Capital (London/New York: Veso, 2010: 257)

He is fanatically intent on the valorization of value; consequently he ruthlessly forces the human race to produce for production’s sake. In this way he spurs on the development of society’s productive forces, and the creation of those material conditions of production which alone can form the real basis of a higher form of society, a society in which the full and free development of every individual forms the ruling principle. Only as a personification of capital is the capitalist respectable. As such, he shares with the miser an absolute drive towards self-enrichment. But what appears in the miser as the mania of an individual is in the capitalist the effect of a social mechanism in which he is merely a cog. Moreover, the development of capitalist production makes it necessary constantly to increase the amount of capital laid out in a given industrial undertaking, and competition subordinates every individual capitalist to the immanent laws of capitalist production, as external and coercive laws. It compels him to keep extending his capital, so as to preserve it, and he can only extend it by means of progressive accumulation.

Indeed, no reason for wanting for the moral entrepreneur, doing good and emerging as pursuer of cooperate social responsibility … mind: the term “entrepreneur” translates nicely into undertaker … – first bringing the workers to the graves, and then preparing himself to be buried on the dust heap of history.

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.