Moving or Staying – is that the question?


Peter Herrmann Right to Stay – Right to Move ISBN/EAN: 9783990610169, first 1; 2019; http://www.wienerverlag.at http://www.viennaacademicpress.com

This work contains Peter Herrmann’s reflections, an admirable result in terms of time and cultural productivity  of his research stay and material support at the University of Łódź, Poland (2018/2019) and the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Germany (2017/2018) as he mentions in the following pages. Munich is perhaps the place, that might be considered as a possible common point where international and national experts in Social Law and Social Policy intertwine their destinies in this „labyrinth of lines“.

 Among the main contributions of this work is the sharpness in the use of the author’s knowledge in different disciplines particularly in Economics, Sociology, Social Policy and Law. As well as his academic audacity in resorting to a great ample baggage of sources both of current political conjuncture citing digital media as well as of return to the classics of Economy and Law, pleasant historical narratives and even of literary novels. As well as the use of recent publications identifying clear and provocative ideas of a path dependency and the “development of underdevelopment” for those who are willing to understand the connection between social space and social time of the global village. 

In the first part, with greater emphasis on economics but always keeping faithful to what is known in Germany as Grundlagenforschung. He follows in many respects the thought and academic legacy of Hans F. Zacher whom the author has personally known and who unites in his human warmth, sensitivity an attempt to understand that there is a “black hole” and to find interdisciplinary research questions regarding the relationship between inequality in the Global and the poverty chains. Peter Herrmann has the comparative advantage of being a global researcher – he does not seek to benefit from his competitive or cooperative advantage of coming from the scientific community of the North – trying to paraphrase his lucid explanations in these concepts, Peter Herrmann knows and is able to adapt to the viscitudes that many scientists of the global South must face day by day and in his words that are also taking place in Europe.

The work deals with one of the most relevant and current topics: Migration and Mobility.

In the second part dedicated to human rights, the reading demands a level of abstraction that can reveal that a naked reader in his capacity of magination of certain realities or on the contrary as Löwenstein would compare in his constitutions and forms of government policies that there are different „Kleidungsstücke“ or suits to understand certain realities and the scope of interpretation will depend on each reader.

The classification of human rights into three generations is a discussion that the author takes up again by proposing a fourth generation. A fourth generation of human rights has to acknowledge the responsibility for socio-economic development not in terms of distributive policies but as matter of (re-)productive responsibility. Interestingly, he also proposes to reflect on: “new dimensions of power but also the fundamental structural change which we may classify as ‘socialisation by privatisation of public power’. One of the greatest current challenges in public international law.

As a bridge between the two parts of this work, he uses the very illustrative scheme to understand the order in which States can be classified in the process of globalization: Accumulation Regime/Mode of Regulation/Life Regime/Mode of Living. With a very precise and brilliant explanation of the term “threshold countries” as an idea(l) of modernization, declaring mass consumption as highest stage of socio-human existence – with this he obviously criticises Rostow and the mainstream approach to “development”. In his view, obviously two major issues remain without being problematised: the crucial meaning of the differentiation between public and private is not considered; also, there is no thought directed towards sustainability. The threshold, thus, means capitalist industrialisation, in reality possibly directly moving to the ‘advanced’ stage of finance capitalism.”

The book ends with a very critical quote from internet access as a human right that reminds us of Cristobal Columbus’ initial quote when he used the knowledge of the eclipse to colonize what would be called the Indians in the author’s words “undermining sooner or later the productive foundation, the indigenous mode of production”.

Dr. Lorena Ossio, LLM

Koordinatorin der Forschungsgruppe “Das Soziale im globalen Süden”

Coordinator of the Research Group “Understanding Southern Welfare”

Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung der Universität Bielefeld

Center for Interdisciplinary Research at Bielefeld University

Methoden 1, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany

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 ….”
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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.

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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 ….
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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.