There is no such thing TINA said …

A short article, published in the magazine Sozialextra, is now i open access available, looking back at the history – the ideological change – behind what is again and again called neoliberalism and austerity policies:

TINA said, There is no such thing as society.

Eine kleine Gedenk-Schrift an die geistig moralische Wende der wilden 1980er

I suppose that it presents a view on the history of “social policy”, neoliberalism and austerity that is important to understand the deeper meaning of what is actually going on today – deeper meaning in terms of the underlying ideological shift, rooted in a development for which some (to least a matter of age, though not only) of us are responsible – nolens volens. And it deserves as such attention, not least when we discuss perspectives.. – I thought it is important enough to present at least a rough translation – deepl.com as aching transition tool, with some minor corrections; And als leaving the formatting, referencing a nit chaotic spread across the text. At least you will get the gist of it …

Peter Herrmanni

TINA said, There is no such thing as society[1]

A small commemorative writing on the spiritual-moral turn of wild-west in the 1980s

So there is no alternative, because there is no society – and anyone who knew Margaret Thatcher a little bit, also knows that what she said in 1987 in an interview with a women’s magazine was by no means an unfortunate statement.

Once upon a time …

Today we are complaining about exactly what she said already then. If today anything historical appears at all with the reference, it is a general regret: egoism (sic!) is getting worse and worse, ‘greed’ was even the cause of the crisis and then – yes, only then – neoliberalism has dismantled the remnants of society: The dismantling of the welfare state, austerity, capital-friendliness or even citizenship are then quickly at hand, and if a person has to travel a little, he or she quickly gets tired, because wherever one goes in Europe, for example, the situation is supposedly particularly bad: Oh, our state of careemergency – Il numero sempre crescente di disoccupupati – qu’est-ce que l’État fait pour s’occuper des enfants – Accommodation? Who can still go for that?…. – Buteveryone knows that it’s not so bad ‘everywhere there’, because it’s especiallydramatic only in one’s own country. Irony aside, the urge to bring things to the point of one place and one time, more precisely: the urge we feel to reduce issues on the here and now, is strong – and yet this is precisely also part of the policy that was already embarking on a social restructuring at the end of the 1970s: it was the point of methodological nationalism. And with the news of the ‘weare the poorest’ the foundation was laid for special diligence, but also for the special willingness to accept political changes. Basically, the policy of sticks and carrots advocated by ‘Chancellor Bismarck’ also works here. Itis, however, more than remarkable that the so-called Bismarckian social insurance was in the end decisively enforced by the efforts of the then Minister of Trade – it can even be sharpened: Bismarck held the whip in his hand and those interested in trade, distributed pieces of sugar.

… and now it’s coming true. 

It may bea coincidence that the re-release of the film Invasion of the Body Snatchersintroduced exactly this time – according to the imdb database it is about the fact that

In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077745/; 23.02.19)

So the screen was free for a spectacular game, which followed – but then it followed not only on the screen, but on the massive stage called society, even if this allegedly did not exist at all.

Just a little something
relative stabilization of the post-68 period of success, although as an
unstable tension field (seehttps://www.buko.info/http/kongress/buko31/deutsch/groups/68_zeitstrahl.pdf; 23.02.19)

Opening the exit door

1979: Takeover of the government by Margaret Thatcher; takeover of thegovernment by Labour (Leonard James Callaghan).
Since 1980 in various speeches Kohl's demand for a 'spiritual-moral turn',

‘spiritual renewal’ …

September 1982: Landtag election in Hesse with the first Landtag mandates
for the Greens
October 1982: Vote of no confidence against the Schmidt government and
government declaration
March 1983: Bundestag elections, with considerable profits for the CDU/CSU and the first entry of the Greens.
First evacuation
1982 a first rejection of the EU's 'poverty reduction programmes
1995 Judgment of the European Court of Justice confirming that the EU in fact has no social policy competence
1997: EU treaty definition: Poverty reduction is labour market policy and anchored in the Amsterdam treaty.
Blocking the return path
2006 Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market[2]2
epilog

2012 – according to Wikipedia: “Helmut Schmidt, who had been overthrown,  said in 2012 in retrospect in an interview that there had been no change at all, but that the social-liberal policy had been continued and “only thepersonnel had been replaced”. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geistig-moralische_Wende; 23.02.19)

It can’t be

A look at the mixture of those years of change must come as a little surprise, for the first impression was quite positive: just as the students had turned against the muff of thousand years, the new regulators resisted the dust that had been stirred up in less than half of a century. However, this wording should be corrected immediately: (i) It is probably more correct to speak of new founders of the old order, because at least some of the old founders had died or were expelled, such as Alt-Nazi Kiesinger. (ii) It was also about the fact that the dust whirled up was just the dust left behind by the fathers of the new founders – from Vietnam to Pinochet-Hayek’s Chile.[3]

The success and lasting effect of the ’68ers are not at issue here – but with all the necessary caution, one can probably speak of a relatively successful implementation of the welfare state concept: here, too, the whip played a role – in the form of a civil war on several fronts;[4]but the carrots seemed large enough to ensure at least a temporary peace. For Germany at least it has to be said: what presented itself as a social sector was not without problems – at least three moments should not be forgotten:

  1. The 2ndGerman ‘socio-economic miracle’ was above all the result of a rather aggressive export orientation – and thus it basically dug its own grave.
  2. Last but not least it was possible to outsource or hide large part of the problems – only later this should become really virulent: Poverty did not exist – it was officially “clere by definition”, classifying welfare payments as poverty being overcome.
  3. Germany – above all, together with Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK – also made its mark in the 1972 hesitant European policy of social order, which shows its true essence cum grano salis only in retrospect, and one must admit (at least to some of the ‘doers’) that none of them opened the exit door, but suddenly all of them were in a kind of social cold.

What lasts long won’t be good for long.

The ‘free, not success-bound’ orientation as a regular task (see Scherr in this issue) found a symbolic supplement through the programme and project policy, which indeed offered partly exciting openings5– but the sadly exciting aspect was exactly the wrong reluctance6– subsidiarity was seen by professional representatives as a possibility of securing the existence of new areas of experience and also used to open up new ones, but at the same time there was no strength, who used this as a basis for a relevant policy at the EU level and finally demanded EU responsibility – for the projects there was no scope for influence, the profession was busy with day-to-day work, colleagues from the academic world usually lacked access, as there were hardly any relevant project calls and the exceptions demanded bureaucratic effort and the courage to speak a foreign language – the welfare associations were overburdened, because the EU’s day-to-day business demanded a lot and moreover, it had been caught in nitty-gritty such as the treatment of stamps with a welfare surcharge under European tax law. Government representatives interpreted these activities more as an excuse for abstinence, because after all there was no EU competence. Border-wise we can say that it was a hike in terra nullius: the land that does not belong to anyone, which thus became the land ofthe dispossessed as well. An internal land seizure then took place, bit by bit, linking further activities more and more to the ‘core tasks of the EU’. In plain language: where most of the social affairs was already outside, the border trees were lowered: Competition was now the magic word – by no means presented as an exclusion of the social. Everything should be even better, and now, at last, truly EU-Romanian, for example through the free movement of services. That cannot be7seen as denying the social sector, can it? Rather, ironically the full recognition of the social has been achieved: social service providers as equal economic partners, for example alongside Deutsche Bank and Hoch&Tief or Flixbus.

  • see for example Herrmann, Peter, 2000: Social work and European integration – dangers of confusing the left with the right shoe; in: New practice. Zeitschrift für Sozialarbeit, Sozialpädagogik und

Sozialpolitik; Neuwied: Luchterhand, Issue 6: 601 – 607; Herrmann, Peter, 2009: Die Europäischen

Union als Programmgesellschaft. The European Social Model, Social Policy and the Third Sector

  • Herrmann, Peter, 1995: Subsidiarity and the wrong restraint or: On the meaning of European poverty

programmes; in: Intelligence Service of the German Association for Public and Private Welfare, Frankfurt/M., Issue 2: 79 – 86

  • Herrmann, Peter, 2011: The End of Social Services? Economisation and Managerialism; Bremen:

European University Publishing House

Who once looks into the metal bowl …

So it was visionary exactly in the way it happened: Kohl and Thatcher spread with their slogans the main ingredients for an ‘alchemistic circle soup’, which systematically redefined the social space as we knew it and actually let parts of the profession run in circles. Basically, we have a constellation again where trade policy and general social order policy have to come together. The EU’s fortress policy of global trade follows the usual cross-paths of a fortress wall that is only closed from one side. Moreover, it is currently also a question of far-reaching structural shifts – keywords are digitization, service capitalism, trade capitalism and financial capitalism, at least in the Western centers, and at the same time so-called Brazilianization. The crucial thing is that in this way a ‘climate’ is created which is much more radical than what is repeatedly called neoliberalism. The abandonment of the social space was more skilfully promoted than any policy of cutbacks, savings and restructuring could have achieved: It is a kind of ‘inner emigration’ – almost exactly we are writing the fortieth year of this counterrevolution: it was against the demonized socialists, clarifying in advance

Our aim is not just to remove our uniquely incompetentGovernment from office—it is to destroy the socialist fallacies— indeed the whole fallacy of socialism—that the Labour Party exists to spread.8

That was easily visibly translated as the actual combat task, far beyond serving the short-term interests of the economic bosses. In fact, the view of the economy was seen much more fundamentally – Kohl, for example, turned out to be a kind of Gramscian and stated in the government statement

The ultimate fate of the market economy is decided – beyond supplyand demand.9

(Excerpt:

https://www.1000dokumente.de/pdf/dok_0144_koh_en.pdf)

Here, too, it wasn’t simply about the real problems,10but also about the problems that had been made or, more precisely, those that allegedly didn’t exist.

“The new poverty is an invention of the socialist jet-set.”

STERN, July 24, 1986

It is significant that they are often negative statements; critiques which, as it were, also describe negatively what the conservatives did not want to be, was the main programmatic point: socially and responsibly – as early as 194911– Thatcher pleaded for the Swabian housewife who later became known through Angela Merkel. According to this, national budgets also have the primary goal of not incurring debts.

Above all, however, they did not want to be socialists – remarkable when one considers that the predecessor of this a-social era, Schmidt, said that there had been no turning point anyway (see box); and equally remarkable that then the ‘third way’, which was later allegedly longed for with Tony Blair in the UK (1997) and Gerhard Schroeder in the Federal Republic (1998) – shortly before the election – in an article in the Financial Times (international edition; passim), with the tenor that a change was necessary to secure the continuation of the conservative way. Basically, the “masterpiece” was done: the social space was abandoned, a sign was hung on the door:

Careful, don’t look back! Poisonous deposits!

And new strangleholds were trained purposefully (see Bohnenberger in this issue) – they were supposed to prepare themselves for private services, competition, division, and stress for ‘social customers’ and ‘providers’, dressed up as zeal, among other things, and finally to accept the good wishes of TINA.

These ‘socialists’ have overlooked many things, including the fact that they have paved the way for an alternative of false demagogues (see Butterwegge in this issue).

  1. Admittedly, Kohl mentions some of the core problems in the government declaration with a certain systematic approach, including those of a kind that not only concern obvious facts but also those of amore techno-political nature (monetary and budgetary policy, etc.).

11Speech at her adoption meeting as Conservative candidate for Dartford (28 February 1949);https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/100821; 24.02.19Prof. Dr. phil., Sozialphilosoph, News. Thoughts. Provocations www.esosc.euPart of the literature is freely accessible via https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Peter_Herrmann


[1]              Thatcher, Margaret, interviewed by Douglas Keay (1987, September 23). Interview for Woman’s Own; Thatcher Archive (THCR 5/2/262): COI transcript; https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689; 17/06/18

[2]       OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36-68; http://data.europa.eu/eli/dir/2006/123/oj; 24.02.19

[3]           Zu dem letzten Punkt: Farrant, Andrew, et al. “Preventing the ‘Abuses’ of Democracy: Hayek, the ‘Military Usurper’ and Transitional Dictatorship in Chile?” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 71, no. 3, 2012, pp. 513–538., http://www.jstor.org/stable/23245188.)

[4]           Strike depositions, anti-trade union activities, legal violations, bans on employment, war with/against the RAF

Annunci

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.

The need to search for what we cannot know

Wittgenstein once wrote:

For that would appear to presuppose that we were excluding certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case, since it would require that logic should go beyond the limits of the world; for only in that way could it view those limits from the other side as well.

We cannot think what we cannot think; so what we cannot think we cannot say either.[1]

 

And later he concludes his tractatus with the words

6.54 My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)

He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world alright.

7 What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.[2]

And Bertrand Russell summarises in his Introduction that

What we cannot think we cannot think, therefore we also cannot say what we cannot think.[3]

This may leave us in a state of paralysis when it comes to the need of change; but it may also lead us to use the mistakes we make as some form of beauty: as challenge and opportunity to work on unknown paths – not simply as path we did not know before but going beyond this, at path we did not even imagine that they would exist. Paradoxically it means to start from what is really given, unveiled from abstract thoughts and political-economic frameworks, starting from real reality as fundamental truth, and develop things from there.

Talking about economics, as we did end of September in Athens on occasion of the annual Euromemo-conference, we may see this as special challenge to move further with what is today called heterodox economics. Some reflections, trying to radicalise approaches, made at the end of the conference can be found here.

********************

[1]            Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1921: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; Translated by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness With an introduction by Bertrand Russell; London/New York: Routledge, 1974: 68

[2]            ibid.: 89

[3]            Russell, Bertrand, 1922: Introduction; in: Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1921: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; Translated by D. F. Pears and B. F. McGuinness With an introduction by Bertrand Russell; London/New York: Routledge, 1974: XX

Lectionis et Seminario – De sociali et politica in Europea

European Integration – a failed political and social union?

2017 S. BA-Course at the University of Vienna, Department of Political Science.

A series of fifteen sessions delivered at the University of Vienna, Department of Political Science. The series is looking at the process of European integration – a wide topic looked at under the guiding question if EUrope failed to deliver the ambitious perspective of establishing a political and social union. The answer is by the present author given in somewhat negative terms: we cannot really say that the EU-institutions failed to reach the target of a political and social union … – it is worse: such targets never existed. So, we have to be clear in our critique. This means not least that we are challenged – and may gain sufficient insight – to develop the EU to something meaningful – meaningful not for the people but a reflection by the people – men make their own history, but it is not only the nightmare of the past, it is also a matter of the conditions of the still present hegemons who employ gatekeepers of different kind – even if the princes today wear the clothes of normal people, it is very much about behind the veils of the most expensive princely garments.

The various sessions, of which the recordings [German language] are available, present the historical development, some key issues and relevant theories in a more or less narrative way.

Dulcinea …

PS: why we all need our Dulcinea … – or: carrying on the dream.
May-day not anymore … – back to everyday …!! ??
Facts are the enemies of truth
as Cervantes says in his defense … – And he says
it is the most severe frenzy to see life as it is and not as it should be.
Sure, there are two versions of it … the one idealistically glorifying things by white washing, the other demanding, fighting for the visions that are hidden as germs in the dung heap through which, according to Dulcinea, we walk.
And this is, why at the end, she beckons to be Dulcinea, not Aldonza anymore ….
… nous sommes …
– at least we have to try! Try together … as
only when everything is said and done, one is alone
[as I found it remarked in the Schiele-exhibition, at the moment in the Albertina]

May-Day

or: learning and living and teaching Europe …

To be more precise: it is not May-Day but the evening before the 1st of May – Uli said the other day: it is in Vienna a special cultural event and if you are around you have to go to the town hall … – surely not the same as one year ago when I gathered on the Plaza de la Revolución in La Havana.

Indeed, I am around, teaching European Integration – latest on the 9th the recordings should be here.

So, may-evening then – I am sitting in a tiny park, munching my Simit while I am waiting for the volksoper – the people’s opera – to open its door.

Thoroughly enjoying the moment – anticipating the tale of the

Man from La Mancha

Sitting there, I am also thinking about the programme of the next days – teaching, writing, rushed trip to Bremen for a presentation and  … Vienna again …

Le nozze di Figaro

…. the upcoming performance …. – while waiting that day for the doors to open, I will most likely sit in the small resto-bar opposite of the venue, sipping some wine, tasting a canapé …

… May-Evening …. And I am asking myself if I am wondering or not: why is the one place named people’s opera, the other – the one for the higher echelons of society, the bourgeois – is called state-opera.

Les Distinctions

as Pierre Bourdieu called them – hadn’t been small at the end (as the German translation suggests) …, they had been about the nearness, even the identification with the centres of power.

L’état c’est moi

Not yet …. The evening of the first of May ….
…. And I am teaching about European Integration …. Indeed

Commodification of labour power and appropriation of surplus value cannot be thought of without an outside, by which they profit in social, economic and  ecological terms
(Brand, Ulrich/Wissen, Markus: imperiale lebensweise; Muenchen: oekom: 63)

Which is another formulation of what Dulcinea probably meant:

The world is a dung heap and we are grubs walking through …

So it is a long way until we will say

Je suis e aussi moi es nous sommes le peuples

 

Infantilisation

isn’t there such discussion in political science and sociology? The EU is trendy and we all are creating and shaping Europe now.

Listening to what the leader says and looking at how they expand on it is as rich in content as what we are all asked do now.

Some of my earlier, though recent thoughts on the EUropean question can be found herehere and here.