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

Corporate irresponsibility ?

Tomorrow, in the framework of the ‘hour of contemporary issues’, organised at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, Amalienstrasse 33, Peter Herrmann will give a presentation titled

The Comedy of Big Data, Or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, While Corporations wither away?

The following gives some idea what the presentation is about.

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility requires at least a bit of historical clarification: it would be surely misleading to attribute any kind of entrepreneurial ‘social activity’ to the array of Corporate Social Responsibility. However, such review will be only briefly introduced in order to classify certain activities as related to what may be called social responsibility, the emphasis on the corporation as actor. What, however, if we come to the conclusion that certain shifts in the economy lead – in some digitization industries – to forms of the classical corporation withering away, being successively replaced by a new formation of which we cannot see clear, elusive contours. Are we moving towards revived arbitrary systems of socio-charitable controls, Lidle financing professorships, Aldi and Lidl presenting themselves as supporters of social housing and Facebook controlling elections?  Or can we foster a model which leans towards inherent publicness?

Changing the Vita Activa

Digitisation – Challenges between Changing Social Securitisation and Changing the Vita Activa

Recording of the Presentation at the Symposium ‘Digitalisation’, organised by the Academy of Sciences and Arts – taking place at the Faculty of Law, University of Salzburg, March 2nd, 2018.

In general, having worked on this topic for quite a while now, I see the following major questions that urgently require thorough systematic consideration:

  • In which way and to which extent is digitisation a matter that changes also the process and mode of production [not limited top robotisation]?
  • What are the conditions for pursuing forms or digitisation in the interest of users and the common wheal instead of being solely an instrument for new businesses?
  • Which different perspectives on law and justice are emerging from the new political- and socio-economic conditions that go hand in hand with digitisation?

Of course, this requires not least thorough and systematic classification and demarcation of the different aspects that are commonly loosely and vaguely subsumed under such catchall term as digitisation.

I am grateful to a friend, discussing life with her, helped me taking much of the mist of the topic, and also remaining aware, and feeling the challenges of real life, persisting when talking about the virtual one – 감사합니다 !

Artificial intelligence is like …
Poetry in translations is like
taking a shower with a raincoat on.

Alternative Economic Policy Today

 

In the presence of the two award winners:

the award ceremony is scheduled for the 6th of December at 18:00. The event will take place at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung [Salon], Franz-Mehring-Platz 1, 10243 Berlin.

The Scientific Advisory Board of Attac Deutschland, Attac, the Working Group on Alternative Economic Policy, the EuroMemo Group and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation award the Jörg Huffschmid Prize 2017 in memory of Jörg Huffschmid’s scientific work and socio-political commitment.

This prize is awarded every two years since 2011.

Schedule of the event:

Welcoming address by Prof. Dr. Rainer Rilling, Member of the Executive Board of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation

Introduction by Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich

‘A different and better way of running the European economy! Alternative Economic Policy Today’ lecture by Dr. Axel Troost, Working Group Alternative Economic Policy e. V.

Speech by Dr. Silke Ötsch, Innsbruck; Member of the Scientific Advisory Board Attac Germany

Laudatory speech by Prof. Dr. Thomas Sauer, Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule Jena; Member of the Scientific Advisory Board Attac Germany

Replies by the winners

Verleihung des Jörg-Huffschmid-Preises 2017

In Anwesenheit der beiden Preisträger: Dr. rer. pol. Ulaş Şener für seine Arbeit «Die relative Autonomie der Zentralbank – Eine politökonomische Analyse der türkischen Geldpolitik nach 2001» und Etienne Schneider für seine Arbeit «Raus aus dem Euro – rein in die Abhängigkeit? Monetäre Dependenz und außenwirtschaftliche Restriktionen alternativer Wirtschaftspolitik unter den Bedingungen der Eurozone und des Weltmarktes»

Der Wissenschaftliche Beirat von Attac Deutschland, Attac, die Arbeitsgruppe Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik, die EuroMemo Gruppe und die Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung vergeben im Gedenken an das wissenschaftliche Werk und das gesellschaftspolitische Engagement von Jörg Huffschmid den Jörg-Huffschmid-Preis 2017.

Zur Bewerbung um die mit 2.000 Euro dotierte Auszeichnung, die seit 2011 alle zwei Jahre verliehen wird, konnten für 2017 Studienabschlussarbeiten (Magister-, Master- und Diplomarbeiten) sowie Dissertationen eingereicht werden, die thematisch im Bereich der politischen Ökonomie der Finanzmärkte angesiedelt sind.

Ablauf:

Begrüßung durch Prof. Dr. Rainer Rilling, Vorstandsmitglied der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

Einführung durch Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann, Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik, München

«Anders und besser wirtschaften in Europa! Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik heute.» Fachvortrag von Dr. Axel Troost, Arbeitsgruppe Alternative Wirtschaftspolitik e. V.

Laudatio von PD Dr. Silke Ötsch, Innsbruck; Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirates Attac Deutschland

Laudatio von Prof. Dr. Thomas Sauer, Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule Jena; Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirates Attac Deutschland

Antwort der Preisträger

Moderation: Peter Herrmann

To where do we go from here?

From teaching economics at Bangor College China, in Changsha, China – some reflections had been published here earlier, and also here – I arrived now – after some interim work in France and The Netherlands – in Munich, Bavaria, a generous grant from the Max-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social Policy allows me occupying from today a research position for the next twelve month, looking at issues around digitisation – some books I asked for are already at my disposal on my new desk. And right at the beginning, after having been giving out against orthodox economics [not so much from a heterodox, but from an unorthodox position (or was it more from an alternative orthodoxy?)], I am now wondering if – cum grano salis – heterodox thinking is needed also when it comes to law?

[scan from: Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust – Der Tragödie Erster Teil, mit Illustrationen aus drei Jahrhunderten, ed. by Hans Hanning, Berlin: Rütting & Loening, 1982, 2nd ed., p. 123
Teufelspakt_Faust-Mephisto, by Julius Nisle]

And much as Marx did not ‘invent communism out of the blue’, but based it in historical analysis [see in particular Engels’ Work on ‘The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State’] , such historical review is also most valuable in jurisprudence. A nice passage I found – in a book by St Germain, writing  on the Dialogues between a doctor of divinity and a student in the laws of England –  and surely not suggesting that we find the alternatives in divinity …

And so it appeareth, that equity taketh not away the very right, but only that that seemeth to be right by the general words of the law. Nor it is not ordained against the cruelness of the law, for the law in such case generally taken is good in himself; but equity followeth the law in all particular cases where right and justice requireth, notwithstanding the general rule of the law be to the contrary. Wherefore it appeareth., that if any law were made by man without any such exception expressed or implied, it were manifestly unreasonable, and were not to be suffered …

Reading this on page 45, we read already a page earlier as definition:

Equity is a right wiseness that considereth all the particular circumstances of the deed, the which also is tempered with the sweetness of mercy. And such an equity must always be observed in every law of man, and in every general rule thereof: and that knew he well that said thus, Laws covet to be ruled by equity. And the wise man saith, Be not overmuch right wise; for the extreme right wiseness is extreme wrong: as who saith, If thou take all that the words of the law giveth thee thou shalt sometime do against the law.

Questions of a customer who reads …

There is a poem, written by Brecht:
I recently wrote about academics who may also have some special questions.
Perhaps it could also be ‘re-writtten’, like this … as
Questions of a customer who reads …
What is it one can find in a shop, for instance in a small town like Confolens, FR:
The shop: it is Lidle, German company
a chain soaring across more and more countries
distributing Asian food
produced in Germany
sold in France
with English-language label
– where did they produce the package,
from where did they get the oil for the plastic
from where the truck to transport the stuff to the train
which railway company brought the stuff to …
and from where are the workers who uploaded and unloaded the trains and trucks ..?
Who looks after the kids of the workers – are there creches maintained by the enterprise, public facilities or what solution is there for them?
Where do the owners of the enterprises pay taxes
– if they pay taxes at all
And what do they do with the profits …?
Who prepares the meal for the workers if they have to work all day long?
And what do the boss and the worker talk about
if they meet on the soccer pitch …?
There would be so many more questions to be asked – though Lidle has a shop, not a school, and a school has not time to go to shops, there are too many models to be learned about, not leaving space for reality, the pace not allowing to think too much …

Responsibility versus Success?

“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life has sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold
Had you been as wise as bold,
Your in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been in’scroll’d
Fare you well: your suit is cold.’ Cold, indeed, and labour lost: Then, farewell, heat and welcome, frost!”

― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Responsibility and Success, at times and in some cases may stand in contradiction, at least tension to each other … – while the cat is chasing its own tale, not being sure if it is dead or alive.
… It is said of medical doctors that they cannot perform well unless they overcome a certain kind of empathy – some interventions cause instant pain, providing relief in the longer run. Is that the same with doctors in economics and even social science in general?
In any case the question to be asked is more specific as empathy as such is a rather empty and shallow notion as long as it is not specified. And specifying means here as in most of the cases to ask the simple question for which in particular Marcus Tullius Cicero was getting famous:
Cui Bono – for whose benefit?
Reading the other day an interview, made with a former …, shall I still say colleague?, brought this question back to me. I do not want to question the interviewees qualification, have no doubts that he is committed – but that may make things even worse.
If finance and stock analysis is such an advanced discipline, I feel obliged to ask why in 2007 a crisis manifested, actually already visible for some time for attentive observers? And it had been a crisis in particular around finance and stock markets.
I also feel obliged to wonder how it is possible to elevate a tiny fraction of the economy, an actual tool of the entire socio-economic processes, making it a major?
Sure, I agree with the emphasis of students responsibility – but it is not about them entering life – students are surely already living and perhaps we, as teachers, should think more about keeping them alive, not killing these lives by subordinating them under the rules of the ‘Lehmans of this world’.
Reading, as said to students
You are not far away from productively enter society and the real world. For that, you  will need to be as ready as possible to become accomplished and successful professionals.
shows in my reading a bit of disrespect – at least as student, I and many of my generation, would surely not have accepted such suggestion – though what is presented in the interview is surely view on young people and on life reflecting very much an negative approach to academic work: first work and then think about what you are doing. First act, and then reflect on the issues of responsibility – and even more: you may come to the conclusion that you don’t have to. There is surely a complex issue at stake – unfortunately very positive experience of the Polytechnic Secondary School education in part of Germany, finding roots in Henry Holmes Belfield’s foundation of the Chicago Manual Training School [founded in 1883] are surely more valuable than orienting on professional skills training, without sound academic foundation.
Yes, it is indeed time to take on responsibility …. – I returned to Europe – the interviewee once talked about one of my ‘homelands’, namely Italy. At least there he was right, stating that the country is in a mess. But he also celebrated another of my ‘homelands’ Germany and the U.K. suggesting that their success was very much due to austerity measures … – well, there is a point in it: the relative wealth of both is founded in austerity which can be taken as externalisation of cost and privatisation of gain: social inequality in Germany is increasing; an increasing number of people, though in full-time employment, do not earn enough money to make a living; after a full working life, the old age pension is mot secure; the health system is deteriorating, although the private contributions are extremely high. the UK took another way: exiting the EU, hoping to be thus in a position to avoid any obligation under the gelding ’solidarity’ – Indeed, Cui Bono as in both countries the rich are getting richer and more infueotnail! Being in Europe now – a bit of a tour de force through Italy, Germany, France, The Netherlands it is very visible what it means … – and there are too many facets that would need to be highlighted.

I take a short passage, from the end of an article I am currently finalising [‘Plattformökonomie – flexi, ein Schritt vorwärts oder zwei Schritte zurück?’] … Sorry, it is in German language ….***

Ein Eindruck vom mehrfachen Druck

Ein Eindruck sei hier am Schluss gegeben – dies meint auch: eine eindrückliche Verdeutlichung des Gesamtzusammenhanges. Es handelt sich um ein persönliche Erfahrung des Autors – gemacht im August 2017: Ziel des Fußweges war die mehr oder weniger zentrale Geschäftsstelle einer Krankenkasse in einer größeren deutschen Stadt. Der Weg führte an den verschiedenen Geschäften der Ketten vorbei: einschließlich etwa Esprit,[1] TK, Starbucks, Karstadt, H&M, s.Oliver,[2] Victorinox, Subway, Zara, Primark, Nespresso, Manufactum, O2 – auch der ‚discounter’ Lidl, alle nun auch in den Zentren mehr oder weniger reicher Städte Deutschlands zu finden.

Vor dem discounter kniet ein Bettler, im danebenliegenden Kaffee wird der Verkäufer der Straßenzeitung von der am Tresen stehenden Verkäuferin vertrieben, in der Geschäftsstelle der Krankenkasse wird die Summe des Versicherungsbetrages genannt – es handelt sich um mehr als 16% des Einkommens. Im Falle der Einkommenslosigkeit sind es immer noch um knapp 180 €. – Glücklich, wer da noch beim discounter kaufen kann oder gar auf andere Weise den Wert der eigenen Ware Arbeitskraft senken kann, etwa durch die Inanspruchnahme des Foodora- oder Uber-Dienstes, möglicherweise bei einem Urlaubsaufenthalt, erschwinglich durch den solo-Unternehmer, der als Pilot arbeitet und die Airbnb-reduzierten Unterkunftskosten – die letzte Warnung: spätestens wenn der Trevi-Brunnen oder Ähnliches zum Verkauf angeboten wird,[3] sollte man sich fragen, ob die Grenzen nicht wirklich überschritten sind. – Déjà vu, das letzte Geschäft, welches ich nun auf dem Rückweg sehe – wohl Zufall, ebenso Zufall, wie die aufschimmernde Erinnerung an einen Platz in Rom, den ich vor einigen Jahren überquerte – selbst im Zentrum des katholischen Wohlgefallens ist bekannt, dass Wohlfahrt in der Konkurrenzgesellschaft Grenzen hat.

But I may submit something else to the discussion here – the short story written by L.N. Tolstoy: Master and Man – there is a no need to buy into the religious part of it. Many aspects are making if a good read – the main story line, and the little ramifications.
Reading the short story in the light of finance, there is one crucial sentence, and should not be forgotten when looking at the tool of finance – and applying tools without knowing sufficiently about the entire context:
Vasili Andreevich stopped, stooped down and looked carefully. It was a horse-track only partially covered with snow, and could be none but his own horse’s hoofprints. He had evidently gone round in a small circle. ‘I shall perish like that!’ he thought, and not to give way to his terror he urged on the horse still more, peering into the snowy darkness in which he saw only flitting and fitful points of light.
Indeed, limited perspectives don’t allow much – there is always good reason to take wider perspectives on studying, responsibility and life.
***********
*** Too lazy, and not trusting google-translation, I still dared – the result is reasonable, here inserted without changes made.
An impression of multiple pressures An impression should be given here – this also means: an impressive clarification of the overall context. It is a personal experience of the author – made in August 2017: the goal of the footpath was the more or less central office of a health insurance in a larger German city. The route took us past the various shops of the chains: including Esprit, TK, Starbucks, Karstadt, H & M, s.Oliver, Victorinox, Subway, Zara, Primark, Nespresso, Manufactum, O2 Also in the centers of more or less rich cities of Germany.   In front of the discounter, a beggar kneels, in the coffee next to it, the seller of the road is expelled by the saleswoman standing at the counter, in the office of the health insurance the sum of the insurance amount is called – it is more than 16% of the income. In the case of loss of income, it is still around € 180. – Happy, who can still buy at the discounter or in some other way reduce the value of the own goods labor, for example through the consumption of the food or over-service, possibly for a holiday stay, affordable by the solo entrepreneur, who as Pilot works and the Airbnb reduced accommodation costs – the last warning: at the latest when the Trevi well or the like is offered for sale, one should ask whether the limits are not really exceeded. – Déjà vu, the last business I see on the way back – coincidence, just as coincidentally, as the glimmering memory of a place in Rome, which I crossed a few years ago – even in the center of the Catholic prosperity is well-known that welfare In the competition borders.

[1]            Ja, es ist ein bemerkenswerter Geist, der da über allem schwebt. Und wie Namen, Images und Design eine immer prägendere Rolle spielt, was unter anderem durch Halbbildung ermöglicht wird.

Yes, it is a remarkable spirit that floats above everything. And how names, images and design play an ever more prominent role, which is made possible, among other things, by semi-education.

[2]            Es fehlt nur das an das S angehängte t um dem Ganzen etwas Heiligkeit zu anzuhängen.

The only thing missing is the t attached to the S to add something holiness to the whole.

[3]            Vom Teilverkauf in der Form von Besichtigungskosten, gig-sightseeing-tours etc. abgesehen.

 From the partial sale in the form of sightseeing, gig-sightseeing-tours etc. apart.