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



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.


  • but top of what? in which way?
  • top – the top people, world leaders meeting in Hangzhou?
  • top – the sheer audacity, ignorance and injustice?
  • top – as matter of separating issues, discussing at most single issues?
  • top – as matter of education, research … – all the excellence-centres, defined by extreme specialisation, which is result of division of labour and results in further division of labour?

Being modest, not talking about any top but the bits and pieces, and looking at them scattered … – and scattering may be another issue. So, off we go:


the apple scandal – it is the story of humankind in Christianity … – the general appeal to modesty and austereness as which it may be interpreted, was suggested to be a guiding line, guided by responsibility. And as said: claimed to be general. And many now the story of the first incidence: the rejection of the rule, and the punishment that followed.

But it seems that in the Apple-story today (see also here) things have turned around: apples made themselves to gods, not being eaten but eating … And to remain in the metaphor, it is remarkable how the US-multinational-Apple makes the Irish-snake to its priest, collecting the obulus from the people. In which way ever, and even considering the laudable EU-judgment against tax evasion, the real problem is that superpowers today are the representatives of a system that once stood up against the feudal system – then progressive in their claim for liberty, now being oppressors of any kind of freedom, clandestinely selling our friends. A more or less small thing  if it would not solve the entire problem, it surely would avoid much of its emergence: Big enterprises, paying taxes, not “fair taxes”, but according to what they owe, would surely help – a point I recently ventilated elsewhere.


Another splinter: the same Commission that calls “against” (really against????) Ireland to act against tax evasion as it sees unfair competition, sets up a programme that is similar to the Irish on a mich larger scale:

Commission proposes €5.3 million from Globalisation Fund for former Microsoft workers in Finland

Doesn’t that propose exactly the same, factually proposing you make the profits as long as toucan make the profits …, and then you leave a desert behind, turn the back to a Dantesque calamity, leaving the clearing of the place to others?

Trinity …

The third point then … bits and pieces … – splinters … shivers making us shivering …


Apple, Microsoft, and the summiters … they may let us ask how they managed. It had been said in Genesis 3

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened,

So far so good, but then the story continues

they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

This is what todays summiters do not face: they see themselves beautifully dressed, not hiding between trees but on the contrary: exposing their wealth which they gained by standing on the shoulders of dwarfs …. . dwarfs as long as they believe that it had been the snake, and then the women … . As long as they did not really come to terms with the fact that

There are no supreme saviors,
Neither God, nor Caesar nor tribune;
Producers, let us save ourselves,
We decree common salvation!
So that the thief should offer us his throat
So that spirit be wrested from its cell,
Let us fan the forge’s flames ourselves
And strike while the iron is hot.

Well, there is indeed an easy answer to the question

Why the study of transnational companies should be part of the economics curriculum

It is noted — starting then next week again – trying to educate for building the right normalcy, instead of asking for restoration of one that may well be overcome.

=== PS, Having talked about the top, there is something that deserves as well attention – I read the day after having posted the entry:

The decline in unionization is strongly associated with the rise of income shares at the top.

More to be done

Please find a reminder – there is still a possibility to prepare your participation by announcing your input – and the is in any case the opportunity to join our debates, more important then ever.

22nd Conference on Alternative Economic Policy in Europe

from 15-17 September 2016, organised by the EuroMemo Group and jointly hosted with the Faculty of Economics at the University of Coimbra in Portugal

The European Union: the Threat of Disintegration 

The EuroMemo Group conference 2016 will be jointly hosted with the Faculty of Economics at the University of Coimbra, from 15-17 September 2016 (Thursday-Saturday). We would like to invite you to attend the conference and to submit paper proposals. Please find the call for papers here.

All papers that present an alternative economic perspective on the conference theme ‘The European Union: the Threat of Disintegration’ are welcome. In particular, we encourage submissions specific to one of the workshops outlined in the programme below.

The programme will be as follows:

Thursday afternoon: The state of the Union

  • Hans-Jürgen Bieling (University of Tübingen): Political State of the Union
  • Catherine Mathieu (OFCE/Science Po): Economic State of the Union
    • Ricardo Cabral (University of Madeira): The politico-economic situation of Portugal


Friday morning: The second day will be dedicated to key themes of EU policy within six different workshops.


Friday afternoon: Plenary on policy proposals from workshops and special plenary ‘Disintegration or Refoundation of the European Union?’

  • Cédric Durand (Paris 13 University)
  • Fabio De Masi (MEP GUE/NGL)
    • Angela Wigger (Radboud Univ. Nijmegen) (tbc)


Saturday morning: Planning meeting: EuroMemorandum 2017 and other activities

Proposals for papers together with a short abstract (maximum 250 words) should be submitted by 10 July. If possible, please indicate the workshop which the proposal is intended for. If accepted, completed papers should be submitted by 25 August so that they can be read before the conference.

We strongly encourage participants to submit short papers (10-12 pages) and to explicitly address policy implications.

If you would like to participate in the conference and/ or submit a paper proposal, please copy the registration form below into an email and reply by the 10 July 2016 to

Stop Austerity

One of the many answers needed on BREXIT – “it is not about Britain and the Brits”, anyway.

Stop Austerity!

The outbreak of the crisis in 2007 led to many states having to take out emergency loans in order to save banks. Money was tight and interests were increasing. Therefore, some EU countries had to face serious economic problems up to illiquidity. The usual response of relevant institutions and many economists is that this undesirable development can only be corrected by wage reductions and by cutting welfare expenditures. Based on this idea, their solution strategy consisted of strict austerity policy and put high pressure on labour markets and welfare systems which impacted the living conditions of people in a massively negative way.

For this reason, many institutions demand to cut public spending, be it pensions, wages and salaries or unemployment benefits. This policy of savings leads to a permanent repetition of cuttings of public and private expenses and therefore to reduced social security. It is not, however, a solution for the actual problems of rising inequality, unregulated financial markets and recession, but reinforces the negative social impacts of the economic and financial crisis.

We demand solutions which do not consider the economy as an end in itself but serve us, the people.


For a way out of the crisis we demand:

  • Coordinating economic policy: A common, socially compatible economic policy for the Eurozone is needed. The implementation of a democratic and European economic fund is needed. Its aims are to coordinate monetary and fiscal policies in the interests of humans instead of corporations and banks, to remove imbalances and ensure a fairer distribution in Europe. Therefore, more people will benefit from prosperity.
  • Rebuilding the banking system: Banks must be brought into service of the people again. For this reason, commercial and investment sectors have to be separated. This enables banks to fulfil their main task again – collecting deposits and granting credits. If banks work badly, they have to be able to go bankrupt in an organized way so a bailout paid for by the public will not become necessary.
  • Introducing Eurobonds: Introducing Eurobonds means that Eurozone countries issue joint bonds for government financing and are also jointly liable. As a result, interest rates on government bonds will decrease and government financing as well as financing public projects will be facilitated. Joint liability strengthens the position vis-à-vis financial markets and takes the rating agencies’ influence away.
  • Regulating financial markets: Clear regulations for financial markets are needed in order to reduce the enormous complexity. Thus, financial products and business models which endanger the stability of the financial system have to be controlled or forbidden. The financial system has to be brought into service of the real economy again.
  • Introducing a financial transaction tax: A financial transaction tax adds a percentage surcharge to every purchase and sale on the financial market. Short-term and speculative trading on financial markets therefore becomes unattractive. This leads to more investments in the real economy and therefore to higher employment and additional revenues for the states.
  • Enforcing fair distribution: Fair distribution means to redirect capital from the financial capitalism to the real economy. This ensures the financing of public goods from education to health care. The people therefore can share in the surplus value they, ultimately, produce themselves.

We demand to break with the neoliberal policies of austerity and speculation. We demand a Europe of social equalization and perspectives. We demand to #StopAusterity!

… and frequently overlooked

After saying yesterday Easily Condemned, it may be time to think about what is easily overlooked, especially while sliding apparently elegantly on the surface.

The title in the Huffington Post says

Deutsche Bank è maggior fonte di rischi sistemici al mondo

and A FT-briefing tells us

Deutsche Bank hit by IMF hazard warning A report has branded the German lender as the riskiest globally significant bank on the back of its failure to pass another US Federal Reserve stress test.

Sure, there are good reasons to distrust these rankings and stress tests. But on the other hand, what comes to mind is the obvious failure of German (misled EU-) policy of externalisation. The exsanguination especially of Greece (though we should not forget Ireland, Portugal,  Spain) is not a limited strategy against one (or a few countries), but it is part of a systematic bloc-building: strengthening the centre in order to  establish and tighten a fortress that finally culminates in a complex network of systematically fostered “unequal development” (in line with TISA etc.). Andre Gunder Frank’s thesis of the “Development of Underdevelopment” finds a new confirmation, now on the changed global scale.

What Britain actually did is not so different from the EU- and German strategy: a strategy of externalisation, aiming on limiting the cost (which had been very small when considering the increasing strangulation of arms of social EUrope), while redistributing the resources as it already started, considering (so the FT-briefing) that

companies with overseas earnings or in haven sectors have benefited most, while others have announced job cuts and profit warnings

and the chancellor announcing a new easing, while Cameron now pleads for “looking beyond”, aiming on big business for big business: China, India, US and Commonwealth as fields for new harvest.

– And it still is the old story: never tidy up your own places as long as there are fields that can be devastated, i.e. fields that allow you to dump your waste. Will it work? Well, coming back to the article in the Huffington Post it is remarkable to see that

Secondo l’istituto di Washington, inoltre, il sistema bancario tedesco pone il maggior grado di rischi di contagio esterni in proporzione ai rischi interni (seguono Francia, Regno Unito e Usa).

In other words, the supposedly strong economies are not only the culprits in terms of being a danger to solidarity, but they are also the real hazard when it comes to global economic disintegration. An interesting measure that is different, seemingly of national scope only, can be found in India:

India’s 10m civil servants The government has approved a 23 per cent rise in salaries, allowances and pensions for current and former civil servants. The once-in-a-decade increase will cost about $15bn and is aimed at boosting private consumption.

Such step is likely to be globally more responsible than the European and British and American fortress building.

Easily condemned …

It is easy to condemn the Brits for exiting – though it had been only part of them anyway. But is also easy that one overlooks the fundamental flaws of the formation to which they are turning the back. While writing on CSR, i.e. Corporate Social Responsibility, I found this definition on the Commission’s website:

What is CSR?

The Commission has defined CSR as the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society. CSR should be company led. Public authorities can play a supporting role through a smart mix of voluntary policy measures and, where necessary, complementary regulation.

Companies can become socially responsible by:

  • following the law;

  • integrating social, environmental, ethical, consumer, and human rights concerns into their business strategy and operations.

So, the European Union is a place where respecting the law is not an obligation, but a “bonus”?

There is surely much that the “remainers” have to think about in more serious terms: not the lack of legitimacy but the lack of legitime claims of being a legitimate integrative and integrating force.

There may be something to be learned from two contributions I wrote a while back:

… It is easy to chastise the children, and it likely to forget the failure of the parents …