Who gets the third phone, I ?

The Networking-effect, not anything else than spiraling what does already exist ….

… though here as with any kind of this effect the fundamental question is about hen, egg …, and the rooster, at some stage pretending that he (yes, he) is the real creator of everything. One may reword the question and ask:

Who gets the third phone?

In case this sounds strange, a brief explanation will do: the network effect is often explained by making reference to the phone:

  • Having one phone, just being the first and only one, is surely an exiting thing in terms of holding a device in your hand that is potentially a world changer, though it is equally frustrating as it value depends on somebody else also having a phone.
  • In actual fact, being the second having such device is …, well, it is probably the same person as the one who has the first because it is necessary to have two devices to test and proof that “it works” – From Ray Tomlinson, who had been working on this, we learn the following:

The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the ARPANET. I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other. The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence.

These first messages were sent in late 1971. The next release of TENEX went out in early 1972 and included the version of SNDMSG with network mail capabilities. The CPYNET protocol was soon replaced with a real file transfer protocol having specific mail handling features. Later, a number of more general mail protocols were developed.

http://openmap.bbn.com/~tomlinso/ray/ka10.html, there with courtesy Dan Murphey.

  • Being the third who owns a phone, makes a decisive difference: it is the step “beyond the idea”, the moment of take off: if it is …, well, we may call it a “social decision first order”, it is the want to be in touch with somebody even if that person is not physically present; we may say there is another option, let us call it “social decision second order” – this is the want to change the world by initialising a new way of communication, namely communication across a long distance, limited to the participants of the communicative act (many people can hear fanfares or see smoke) – it is communication across the world, or at least within the village or the community – mind, this community is already a changed one if compared with “the original one”: it consists of more people than those being in the immediately (= without mediation) reachable present presence …. – but we may also find a different background, namely an economic one: again, one of first order: the need to maintain in touch to execute a specific business; the other of second order, which is about establishing a large network that can execute one task, composed of different sub-tasks that: if you want the institutionalisation of the six degrees of dependence, focused on  a special, though not entirely pre-defined “undertaking”.
  • Many of these in fact implying the need of going beyond the overall use of three phones. And this opens the way for a another reasoning, can we say it is a social-economic one? Or on of anticipated surplus-value? Or one based I a felt or assumed further process of socialisation? Surely different aspects play a role, and surely it is difficult to find the exact and reliable answer. And surely, in hindsight motives are coming to the fore that are in the meantime completely overgrown and changed by
    • mechanisms required by running the show – academic networks that change focus due to the requirement of financing the work
    • people who joined and take over with different interests
    • or we find a shift towards using nice wrapping paper with beautiful ribbons – perhaps the ribbons made of the ropes with which people could have hanged in other eras as their acts are just ordinary criminal offenses.

http://i2.wp.com/snaps.tic.bo/media/uploads/2016/08/Ilustración-de-Pinocho-e1470486261161.jpg

Annunci

Are they really learning?

The Vienna Academic Press/Wiener Verlag fuer Sozialforschung, after a complete relaunch, now being under new management, I met yesterday evening in Vienna the new chief manager who took on board the republication of my PhD-thesis – a reprint without changes:

Die Organisation. Eine Analyse der modernen Gesellschaft

The Organisation. Analysis of Modern Society

In the following the forward is published, in German and English language. Thinking back the line of my academic work since then, I have to say that I never did what so many of the colleagues said oder the years: I closed this chapter once and forever. I did not even think this would be tempting

Scroll for English

Die Organisation. Eine Analyse Moderner Gesellschaft – Vorwort zur unveränderten Wiederauflage

Organisationen sind, so wird gesagt, lernende Einheiten. Sicher ist dies in mancher Hinsicht nicht zu bestreiten, aber doch lässt sich auch schnell zögern, denn die Frage ist doch zunächst sehr grundsätzlich, ob denn Organisationen überhaupt als handlungsfähige Einheiten bestehen. Ihnen einen solchen Charakter zuzusprechen bedeutet letztlich, dass man sie als vollständig verselbständigte Einheiten sieht, die Menschen darin im Grunde zu unselbstständigen Ausführungsorganen degradiert, und zugleich die historisch-gesellschaftlichen Bedingungen zu Randglossen verkommen (sind).

Das mag tatsächlich oft durchaus so erscheinen – und die persönliche Erfahrung des Engagements in den fast dreißig Jahren seit der hier unverändert aufgelegten Studie, gesammelt in verschiedenen Bereichen und verschiedenen Ländern, gaben oftmals Anlass zu solchem Gedanken an ein „Vergib Ihnen nicht – sie machen sonst doch nur, was sie selbst wollen“. Zugleich aber ist doch ein Punkt hervorzuheben, der in der Arbeit gemacht wurde – vor allem mit einem Zitat von Antonio Gramsci belegt: bei solchen scheinbaren Detailbetrachtungen wie Parteien, Organisationen etc., muss man die ganze Geschichte der relevanten Länder mitdenken.

Tatsächlich kann daran wohl der Kern gesehen werden, der allen Zweifeln entgegensteht: die damalige Analyse hat sicher manches voreilig verallgemeinert. Aber die grundlegende Unterscheidung der handlungstechnischen Dimension der Aneignung einerseits, der verwertungsmäßigen Dimension andererseits ist eine sinnvolle Handreichung vor alle auch bei der Entwicklung strategisches Handeln und bei Überlegungen, innerhalb von Organisationen ein solches zu entwickeln. Dies gilt es dann eben konkret in den historischen Analysen zu entwickeln. Und wird dann auch schnell deutlich, dass „Verselbstständigungen“ schlicht morbide Erscheinungen sind.

Das ermöglicht auch, Organisationen in einem gesamtgesellschaftlichen Rahmen von doch immer noch modernen kapitalistischen Gesellschaften zu verorten. Intermediär ist ihre Rolle nicht nur als Vermittlungsinstanz verschiedener „Ebenen“ gesellschaftlichen Handelns, sondern auch im Sinne von Vermittlungen zwischen verschiedenen Möglichkeitshorizonten. In diesem Sinn muss man wohl sagen, dass der Sieg der verselbstständigten Organisation nichts anderes ist, als der Sieg der konservativen Kräfte auch in einer Zeit des Interregnum, jener Phase, von der Antonio Gramsci schrieb, dass die Krise darin bestehe, dass das Alte zwar im Sterben liege, aber das Neue noch nicht geboren werden kann. Die morbiden Erscheinungen, die bei dem italienischen Hegemoniekritiker betont wurden, sind eben nicht zuletzt Organisationen, die ein „Heim“ für jene bieten, die den Weg in die Neuzeit verpassen.

Dank gilt dem Wiener Verlag, namentlich Herrn Heribert Renkin. Nunmehr hat der Verlag unter neuer Leitung dieses Projekt übernommen.

Łódź/Berlin, March 2019

The Organisation. An Analysis of Modern Society – forword to the republished original work

Organisations are, it is said, learning units. Of course, in some respects this cannot be denied, but one may well hesitate, because the initial question is a different, and a very fundamental one, namely whether organisations do exist at all as units capable of action. To attribute such a character to them ultimately means that they are seen as completely independent units, people being basically degraded to dependent executives, and at the same time the historical and social conditions made to marginalia.

This may indeed often seem to be the case – not least the personal experience of engaging during the almost thirty years since the study had been originally published, experience made in different areas and different countries, often gave rise to he thought “Do not forgive them – they will otherwise only do what they want to do themselves“. At the same time, however, one point should be emphasised – made in the study itself above all by quoting Antonio Gramsci who suggested that in such analysis of detailed phenomena as parties, organisations, etc., one has to think along the line of the entire history of the country in question.

In fact, we can see the core of this demand indeed also in the presented work: while the analysis certainly generalised some issues prematurely, one point proved to be valuable: the fundamental distinction between the technical dimension of appropriation on the one hand, and the exploitative dimension on the other. This is a meaningful help, especially in the development of strategic action and when it comes to considerations of developing change oriented action within organisations. This must then be developed concretely in the historical analyses: it becomes quickly clear that “autonomies” are simply morbid phenomena.

This makes it also possible to locate organisations within the overall social framework of still modern capitalist societies. They are not only intermediaries in their role as mediators of different “levels” of social action and classes; they are so as well in the sense of mediation between different horizons of possibility. In this sense, it must be said that the victory of the independent organisation is nothing else than the victory of the conservative forces even in a time of interregnum, the phase of which Antonio Gramsci wrote that the crisis consists in the fact that the old is dying, but the new cannot yet be born. The morbid phenomena stressed by the Italian critic of hegemony are not least organisations that offer a “home” for those who miss the road to modern times, some kind of zombies.

My thanks go to the Vienna Press, namely Mr. Heribert Renkin; he has taken over this project in the publishing house which is now under a completely new management.

Łódź/Berlin, March 2019

forever …

One prime social function of a university is to inquire freely and to criticize freely And the more managed, the more planned, the more ‘efficient’ the rest of society grows, the more important this function becomes.

(from: E.P. Thompson (ed.), 1970: Warwick University Ltd. . Industry, Management and the Universities; Nottingham: Spokesman, 2014; 39)

Uncivilised people

Much had been, will be and can be said about tax evasion. One point is that there is an obvious link between paying taxes and civilisation, which, if turned around, demands to conclude that those who evade paying taxes, and of course especially those who do it on  a lagre scale for personal enrichment, are simply uncivilised people. A link that is also confirmed as being “legally relevant”, even the US-law considering in some way civilisation as legal(ly relevant) issue. the issue in question had been raised by judge Holmes, in the case

Compania General de Tabacos v. Collector, 275 U.S. 87 (1927) – Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue (U.S. Supreme Court, No. 42, Argued October 18, 19, 1927, Decided November 21, 1927, 275 U.S. 87)

Holmes stated there that

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure.

The Quote Investigator came up with several other occasions and perspectives on bringing up this link  between civilisation and  payment of taxes.

And it is surely worrying then to see how many uncivilised people are occupying positions not only in big business it also in governments and national and international governing and  governance bodies. However, mind ….

New Princedoms

I know that several people are afraid of drawing long and occasionally somewhat contorted lines, preferring more technical approaches as those suggested in modern text books. But I am a bit afraid that this only defers matters and the history books in 50, 100, 200, 500 years, opening the view on the wider perspectives, will evoke the same disbelieve as the books today when they teach us about the cruelties of ancient and medieval times.

Sure, Keynes said in the First Annual Report of the Arts Council [1945-1946]

The day is not far off when the economic problem will take back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the ear and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems — the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behaviour and religion.

Now, when we look around, we can see already some of these grandchildren amongst us … — well, not really amongst us but when peeping across the walls of the gated communities we gain some insight. We then read for instance about an artist that

she also insisted she worked less than 20 days a year in order to be with their family.

She said: “I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them. I’m looking for movies that will shoot in Los Angeles, for projects where I’m part of an ensemble so I can shoot in and out in 10-20 days. It’s all about trying to spend as little time away from my kids as possible.”

Sooooo caring — this had been the “news” from August the 20th. News of the same day inform us about Rome:

Il funerale si è svolto in pieno giorno con sei cavalli con pennacchio che trainano una antica carrozza funebre, una banda che intona prima le note composte da Nino Rota per il film “Il Padrino”, poi la colonna sonora di “2001 odissea nello spazio” e la canzone Paradise, altra colonna sonora, ma, questa volta, del film “Laguna Blu”. Una scenda degna de “Il Padrino”. Adesso esplode la polemica per capire chi abbia dato l’autorizzazione al funerale.

It is about a “festive funeral” for a Mafia boss in the middle of Rome, blocking the entire traffic, which is bad enough though we are used to it. But dead as he is, he still sends a clear political message about “governance today”. Of course, this is frightening. And reading further one wonders what is more frightening:

  • the fact that such funeral happened — and had been allowed
  • or the fact that there are now investigations called for, signalling a state that is substantially weak … — and can only deal with the technical side of what happened, but does not have anything to say on the “state of the nation” that actually makes such things happen.

From my side, no word on this occasion on the church — the relevant article in today’s Il Messaggero’s Cronaca is written by Mauro Evangelisti.

It is indeed a sign that politicians — be they state actors, “societal civilians” or corporate actors — are completely disempowered, let alone people being able to gain and maintain power — just these days I stated in an article on the “Death of Representative Democracy”:

Und paradoxer Weise ist gerade auf diese Weise der Demos von den Herrschenden gewählt: an technischen Entscheidungen darf es teilnehmen und auf dem Jahrmarkt der Eitelkeiten darf es sich tummeln, während die eigentliche Politik hinter der Bühne gemacht wird.

Nur auf der Erscheinungsebene hat sich das Politikfeld zu einer Bühne verwandelt, auf der sich die Eitlen tummeln: Konsumbürger, Aktivbürger, Staatsbürger, Vereinsbürger … — für jede(n) findet sich eine scheinbar einheitliche Bühne. Sachverstand wird gern gesehen — soweit er sich an Details zermürbt. Als großer Sachverstand aber stört er die Schau, denn die großen Rollen bleiben immer noch den Mächtigen vorbehalten.

In short, I highlight there the degeneration of democracy — it is now a playing field of vanity, providing a stage for “different kinds of citizens” as consumption citizens, active citizens, citizens of nation states, citizens of associations … . They can present their specific skills, get crunched by discussing technical details, thus hiding the fct that the real power is still just that: power by way of force.

The latter can be taken from the interview with Yanis Varoufakis:

HL: You’ve said creditors objected to you because “I try and talk economics in the Eurogroup, which nobody does.” What happened when you did?

YV: It’s not that it didn’t go down well — it’s that there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. … You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on — to make sure it’s logically coherent — and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply. And that’s startling, for somebody who’s used to academic debate. … The other side always engages. Well there was no engagement at all. It was not even annoyance, it was as if one had not spoken.

(Varoufakis, Yanis, 2015: The full transcript of the former Greek Finance Minister’s first interview since resigning; Interview in the New Statesman: 13.7.2015; 17:37)

It remains a declaration of war — a scenery that is not much more than a translation of what Bert Brecht had in mind, talking about Freedom and Democracy.

So it makes much sense when the German PDS notes in a press release highlights

that Tsipras decision to step back and to call for bend elections shows how far the intervention of the creditors in the national sovereignty of Greece reaches: under the conditions imposed by the institutions Syriza can not fulfill its mandate to govern.

Now, it remains an open question if and to which extent politicians should be blamed — at least the intellectual elites have to bear their part. After recent allegations against Zygmunt Baumann, a new muddy wave had been launched. Just believe me, as I refuse to name the person who does not deserve an increase of his citation-index — as a commentator rightly states, it is an

appallingly crass piece of attention grabbing nonsense.

(sorry for omitting reference, Leslie — see the argument before)

In sum it is about this: a critique bringing forward that Bauman, on many occasions, is guilty of self-plagiarism. It is one of many similar debates: substance does not matter, is not even recognised and only form counts — as it is form that can be counted — see also the recent entry here.

If we want to look at figures, we should look at figures that are relevant: unemployment rates, orientation of economic policies on national performance instead of global responsibility, the privatisation of hospitals and the subsequent maltreatment of patients and staff, the Making of the Migration Crisis, going hand in hand with fears of extinction of nations, prices that make accommodation unaffordable, thus opening space for speculation and leaving places prone to alienation by different forms of   ghettoisation …

We can be somewhat cynical-optimists and turn Clausewitz’ statement around. Instead of

War is the continuation of politics by other means

it is nowadays still:

Politics is the continuation of politics by other means.

Indeed, a matter of establishing New Princedoms, while the old princes are finding their pompous chaperon to the last rest.

But how long will this last? the last rest, and the war by politics?

— Nomen est omen? A friend of mine said the other day that the danger of the Northern American trump …, ops Trump, with capital T of course, is that he says what many USNA-citizens want to hear. And also Mr., ops, sorry: Dr. Schäuble and his mates clearly showed this link between the two wars.

Even if history does not repeat itself, the question remains if we can see at the horizon a new Spartacus, a new Cicero or a new Cesar … .

There are thoughtful words coming from a possibly unexpected corner of the world, written in a letter by Fidel Castro Ruz on the 5th of July of this year, and published in the Granma

Cuba conoce el valor y la capacidad combativa de las tropas rusas, que unidas a las fuerzas de su poderoso aliado la República Popular China, y otras naciones del Medio Oriente y Asia, tratarán siempre de evitar la guerra, pero jamás permitirán agresión militar alguna sin respuesta contundente y devastadora.

En la actual situación política del planeta, cuando la paz y la supervivencia de nuestra especie penden de un hilo, cada decisión, más que nunca, debe ser cuidadosamente elaborada y aplicada, de modo que nadie pueda dudar de la honestidad y la seriedad con las que muchos de los dirigentes más responsables y serios luchan hoy por enfrentar las calamidades que amenazan al mundo.

Of course, there is more to be said.

Death of civilization….

I received a mail …

Il giorno 13/set/2014, alle ore 14:30, …

It is a death ,..

Actually I received the mail after arriving in Berlin for a planning meeting of a network on precarity …

I follow the article – thinking that it is a somewhat unusual death notice, though I know the person who sent it. The article is speaking about the library closures going on in the UK, it could and should speak bout the library closures in the global north-west …

… and the moral …?

Never allow dead people making politics or policies …:-(

I rely by adding another point – referring to something I read earlier in another mail:

Libraries ,,doors to knowledge and haven of peace ,,,what is there (in the libraries) not to like. For me ? To make a choice ,,,hate to do as I am greedy about certain things ( eg : books) Having to return them ,,

I personally would have a huge library, part of it destroyed by my parents: you could name it a “private book burning” though in that case they intentionally drowned them. Part of it actually drowned in my Irish estate – d e to frost damaging some pipes; others still existing somewhere I could not store them anymore. Just a side remark on the latter: I offered a huge store to the university library in Cork – for free: interesting unpublished stuff s well, from EU (or EC) times: documents, project documentation, project analysis …. They declined: No space, but not least “it is not in English” (just in alien languages as Dutch, French, German, Italian, Russian, Swedish).

Today the same university library in Cork, as many others, stores the books somewhere, one has to order them and they will be available next day, perhaps even the afternoon of the same day.

Sure, there is a problem of space – but there is a problem of building cages, prisons … I have been very privileged at times: One of the universities where I studied provided all year round access (I think it had been closed just one day, they called Christmas). Overnight and holiday limitations applied: only one entrance open. It had been in a way just one huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge room, probably one entire floor of the University in Bielefeld. All departments; sure “we” have had “our” area: economics, law, sociology; but in some way we shared the “room” with physics, quantum mechanics, nuclear biology, impressionism, renaissance architecture, philosophy of Mencius – things we sometimes (many times) did not know how to spell, we did not know that they existed. But as much as there had been in the 1840s a spectre hunting Europe, there had been the spectre of universal knowledge hunting many of us in such a library. I encountered this spectre also when I worked (did I ever work? Didn’t I only study throughout my life?), so many books I didn’t understand, but being there and begging for respect, though I should have been the begging one: asking humbly to be part of this affluence of knowledge …

… there we come to the tricky point, the im-materialisation of the spectre, emerging as spirit.

Marx said once (something as) The idea turns into a material force if it gains the support of the masses (bad memory, bad translation – I remember only the German original:

Die Idee wird zur materiellen Gewalt wenn sie die Massen ergreift

Another, very special experience when I studied (or worked …, or played, or worked on the project of changing the world?) in Amsterdam. I remember once finding myself in part of the law library, asking one of the librarians a silly question. Actually, silly had been that I asked as he wanted to see my library card which I handed over. He looked at it and said

Hm…, actually you are not allowed to be in this area …. – but …, well for these documents you have to go to the third shelve …, actually I will come with you and give you the box with the commented drafts of the legislation ….

On another occasion I visited the library for anthropology, looking for a special book. I walked along the Prinzengracht (if I remember correctly, may be it had been the Herrengracht) and looked for house number (lets say) 378. Walked along, saw house number 374, 376, 380, 382 — strange, walked back, and the house number 378 had been a house without number, I entered: I saw “glimpses of a library”: a sign with opening hours, the name … . “Glimpses” because it had been just one of the beautiful “private houses” now being used as library. And the library had been only really coming to the fore after I left the corridor – indoors one could walk into house 376 – just the ordinary rooms but full of books. Sure, systematic, but at the same time due to the architecture not: one section ended …, and had been continued in another room, perhaps not the next because that had been used for another subject area.

In such places you CAN CHOOSE; and nothing has to be returned because it cannot be taken out – all remains OURS: written by us, inherited by us, read by us, carried on by us.

I won’t tell you about my stays in the library for theology, for philosophy (sitting under a beautiful “Rembrandt-like “ paining, a “reading cushion” and on it the second addition of Spinoza, in Latin, in front of me (and admittedly the Latin language added to the pleasure, though caused as ell some pain; and I will not expand on being more or less the only reader for several weeks in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam: arts …. history, techniques, epochs, great artists, exhibitions … (well, I could have gone to look at van Rijns “Night watch” as break – but going there before, being on my own just with security, had been more fun…) – sitting there in the reading room: computer, fountain pen, book from the library, note book … I remember a gentleman with two kids walking along (it is one of these “show libraries”, but usually people watched from the balcony). The guy, standing with the kids next to me, pointing at me, I could not hear, don’t know if he really said

… You see, this is what they did and how lived in those old times ….

I still buy books, and I get your point

what is there (in libraries) not to like – For me ? To make a choice .. hate to do as I am greedy about certain things ( eg : books). Having to return them …

But try to get my point: I do not know if I really want to buy more books, want to own them, instead of sitting in a good library, reading, browsing, possibly meeting people, talking with them about what they read, what I read, what we read.

It is a privilege – and it is THIS privilege that makes me coming back to Frances: his camminare insieme.

In a completely different context a Hungarian friend of mine wrote

But it is a big question whether spirituality (and genuine morality) ought to have a basis in faith (or religion).

And she did not mean spirituality in the strict sense, but something of empathy, solidarity, justice …

Her answer simply

I don’t think so

And my answer is the same. I replied to her

I think that being only based in this, it will fail – there must be the material force …

And one of the material forces is the provision of common spaces, common ways on which we can walk together. The church, and other orders, provide that; however, “the public” – after undermining its own basis – cannot do so anymore, lost its own ground. – Slowly but surely it pushed people out of the public realm, calling it enlightenment, but actually meaning reducing them on instruments of instrumental reason, torsos calculating utilities …

As I wrote earlier:

Sure, there is a problem of space – but there is a problem of building cages, prisons …

Books, being imprisoned in storerooms warehouses, libraries … closed because of lack of money … – the revenge lurking around the corner: prisons that have to accommodate those people who could not access education, who had been excluded from society, who lived in a society that actually did not exist anymore, that had been reduced by liberals, by the right. Reduced by the liberals? Well, that is exactly it when what Thatcher did when programmatically stating:

There is now such thing as society.

I guess analytically she had been right; but she did not mean it that way, she meant it as program ….

 

Berlin, I walk to the meeting point …, passing memories, memorials.

Walking along the Spree where the life of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht found its end, a memorial plaque saying

The defiance of life and the brutality against human beings show people’s ability to inhumanness. It can and should not be a means to conflict resolution of any kind.[1]

Passing presence and future ….

Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist stating:

Their sickness is a result of structural violence: neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.

Surely all this also being part of those things that have to be discussed when we talk about war, standing up against it

 

[1]            Original

Die Missachtung des Lebens und die Brutalität gegen den Menschen lassen die Fähigkeit der Menschen zur Unmenschlichkeit erkennen. Sie kann und darf kein Mittel irgendeiner Konfliktlösung sein und bleiben.