Failing projects

This week, meeting the students here in Lodz for the second time, the work will get more serious. The topics

I.

European Integration – A Failed Political and Social Union?

(from: Zeit Campus: September 2018/2019)

Though proposal had been made a while back – not focussing on issues GREXIT, BREXIT and the very recent “EU-developments” in Switzerland – one is wondering if these developments are seriously distracting the debates: Although they are highlighting the vulnerability, they are easily moving debates on solutions strategies – saving a torso – while neglecting the more fundamental issues that can be seen as fundamentally structural flaws, undermining the supposed plans and claims. In other words, the project had been from the beginning as half-hearted as the project of enlightenment. – In principle, already the lectures in Vienna (2017) had been dealing with these questions. However, in Poland the more philosophical may hopefully be more focussed upon.

II.

The second course will look at

Development versus Growth. Perspectives for a Qualitative Dimension in Developmental Economics

Not an easy one, as there is the fundamental issue of determining value, or to be more precise : to determine what economics/the economy is about. Unfortunately, also in debates one alternative paradigms, easily accept the flawed definition of economy

The economy of humans emerges from two roots. They have to beeconomically active because the means are scarce in relation to the ends …; and they are in a position that allows them to be economically active as, though with some limitations, they can make decisions about the purchase and use of the goods regarding the kind, quality, quantity, use etc., thus influencing the use-impact that are achieved …

(Schoenfeld, Leo, 1924: Grenznutzen und Wirtschaftsrechnung [Marginal Rate and Business Mathematics]; Wien: Manz’sche Verlags- und Universitäts-Buchhandlung; unchanged reprint München/Wien: Philosophia Verlag: 1)

While in very general terms there is nothing wrong with what is said, there is everything wrong if we use this as real point of reference or economy and development. An alternative is Frederick Engels’ proposition:

According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the last resort, the production and reproduction of immediate life. But this itself is again of a twofold character. On the one hand, the production of the means of subsistence, of food, clothing and shelter and the implements required for this; on the other, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social institutions under which men of a definite historical epoch and of a definite country live are determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour, on the one hand, and of the family, on the other. The less labour is developed and the more limited the volume of its products and, therefore, the wealth of society, the more predominantly the social order appears to be dominated by ties of kinship. However, within this structure of society based on ties of kinship, the productivity of labour develops more and more; with it, private property and exchange, differences in wealth, the possibility of utilising the labour power of others, and thereby the basis of class antagonisms: new social elements, which strive in the course of generations to adapt the old structure of society to the new conditions, until, finally, incompatibility of the two leads to a complete transformation. The old society, based on ties of kinship, bursts asunder with the collision of the newly developed social classes; in its place a new society appears, constituted in a state, the lower units of which are no longer groups based on ties of kinship but territorial groups, a society in which the family system is entirely dominated by the property system, and in which the class antagonisms and class struggle, which make up the content of all hitherto written history now freely unfold.

(Engels, Frederick, 1884: The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. In the Light of the Researches by Lewis H. Morgan; in: Marx&Engels Collected Works. Volume 26: Engels 1882-89; Lawrence & Wishart, 2010 [Electric Book]: 129-276, here: 131 f.)

A lengthy quote, a position that should also allow thinking what “the old society, based on ties of kinship, bursts asunder with the collision of the newly developed social classes” means today.
In a forthcoming publication – titled

About You – Nur frage nicht ob Du ueberhaupt bist

part of the topic, dealing with modes of life, will be looked at. After publication in the Tarantel, published by the Ökologische Platform bei Der Linken it will be announced here.

Annunci

The Middlemen

It seems to be a somewhat weird way: people have to make a fuss out of everything, ideologise the smallest act and thus apparently make even the non-market, non-political, non-whatever act a somewhat utilitarian one: give it a ‘defined purpose’, the definition being aim and instrument at the same time giving it meaning in relation to others, as – thus it is implicit – the existence and all these acts do not have meaning in themselves, it seems not have any meaning that can be derived from its inherent relationality.

So – what I did not know, let alone think about – we have a World Vegetarian Day, actually it is today, as every year on the first of October, and we have of course also, now also amongst leftist and progressivists, the reasoning behind being vegetarian: it reduces, thus they speak, the ecological footprint, is even an opening for an alternative economy [or eve mode of production] and even the beginning of a new era, allowing us to be not simply humans but finally being also humane.

I a hesitating, not agreeing with all this fuss: sure, much of it may and will be true, simple given facts. But well, I am human, I guess humane, vegetarian – but I simply, without any Cartesian claim that ideologise it, calling out the world-revolution based in the fact that I think about it, rationalise every little f…, or a or z.

But there something nice – and thought-provoking – when it comes to C, D and P, expressed by Winston Churchill.

Christopher Soames, Churchill’s future son-in-law, remembered] Churchill showing him around Chartwell Farm [around 1946]. When they came to the piggery Churchill scratched one of the pigs and said: I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.[1]

So. where do we find humans then, not looking up, not looking down …  – the middle offering apparently for us, and for pigs, some space.

*******

 

[1]                   Christopher Soames, speech at the Reform Club given on 1981-04-28, reported in Martin S. Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill. Volume Eight: Never Despair: 1945–1965. p. 304

 

counting towards the off

So, counting the years – but mind where all this counting can end.

My feeling is that the green movement has torpedoed itself with numbers. Its single-minded obsession with climate change, and its insistence on seeing this as an engineering challenge which must be overcome with technological solutions guided by the neutral gaze of Science, has forced it into a ghetto from which it may never escape. Most greens in the mainstream now spend their time arguing about whether they prefer windfarms to wave machines or nuclear power to carbon sequestration. They offer up remarkably confident predictions of what will happen if we do or don’t do this or that, all based on mind-numbing numbers cherry-picked from this or that ‘study’ as if the world were a giant spreadsheet which only needs to be balanced correctly.

Paul Kingsnorth [without date; 2011]: The Quants and the Poets

In other words:

It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

(William Bruce Cameron, 1963: Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking – http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/26/everything-counts-einstein/)

In any case, consider it when taking stock of 2014, and making plans for the future.

All the best for 20…, which one? Any and everyone …