where legal scholars and economist (should) sit at the same table

And of course, they should be joined by political scientists and politicians …

As usual, i am working on different projects, the one being the preparation of the workshop on The political economy of right wing populism, the other the question of digitisation and, of not anything else: continuing the work we started in February as part of the International scientific and practical seminar: “Occupation: Russian practice and international experience”: the book I am editing together with Vyacheslav Bobkov – we will discuss this further during the International Scientific-Practical Conference

“Instability Of Employment: Russian And International Contexts Of Changing The Legislation On Labour And Employment”

commencing tomorrow at the ФГБОУ ВПО “РЭУ им. Г.В. Плеханова” in Moscow

where I arrived a few minutes ago, coming from Anhui.

The following paragraph – the draft of a co-written contribution, that links to the different projects mentioned – may be worthwhile to be published here – taken out of its original context, valid in various contexts that characterise in my view much of the current situation in which economic greediness and acquisitiveness, political populism, and so-called hedonism alike are finding futile ground. So the para is the following:

… this is about the ‘major conflicts’ but also about the small print. One example may do suffice – in fact it is one that also shows that we are facing a thorough interpenetration, already going on for a long time, reaching seemingly unrecognised into the mentality: the common law tradition is increasingly eroding for a simple reason: “modern business” needs reliable frameworks for “mathematised rationalities” and “protestant ethics” – something that common law does not guarantee to the same extent as civil law (Romano-Germanic tradition). This is a particularly interesting example as it clearly shows the way in which accumulation regime and mode of regulation are entangled. This is expressed not only expressed in the fact of the legal regulations ‘for business’ as a system of systematic compilation and deductions (Leges Duodecim Tabularum or Duodecim Tabulae) but also in the regulatory system itself establishing the tradition of the “constitutional state” (Rechtsstaat).

Interestingly, this comes right now under pressure and is in different ways qualified, hollowing out the scope and degree of liability of the state,[1] the emphasis of individuality (including corporate social responsibility) and the accentuation of ‘governance’ as systematic deregulation of government. Such shifts can be found by way of “Global Governance”, characterised by different strands, entangled like the threats of a rope: (i) international and global organisations play increasingly a role and in tendency even openly contesting state power; (ii) not strictly “statutory” in character, there is a tendency of strong think tanks developing power positions that go far beyond the traditional role of opinion leaders: the World Economic Forum, The Bilderberg Conference and the Club de Madrid are examples, all characterised by the fact that leading representatives of big business, [former] members of governments and some mainstream ‘trendy’ academics are part of these undertakings; (iii) the traditional lines of division and distinction are frequently blurred and contested – here it is about socio-economic strata but also about boundaries of states, regions etc.; (iv) non-binding, often “think-tank-like” left-intellectual-liberal proposals; (v) critical and clientelist claims (iv) new ethics also being brought forward in organisations as the WEF, IMF, WB and Bilderberg. – It has to be said that all this does not replace objective societal structures and division; much of the effect can probably be seen as reflection of changing processes of politisation: the trend of a flattening can be seen on the one hand, establishing mechanisms of ‘presentationalism’ as dominant feature, supporting the emergence of a post-factual; on the other hand we find the push and pull effects when it comes to redefining politics as administrative issues, solely bound to factuality and rules.[2]

[1] This is still relevant even if we accept that even the Rechtsstaats-traditon strongly emphasised “The Limits of State Action” as the title of the work by Wilhelm von Humboldt suggested (see Humboldt, Wilhelm von, 1792: The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action); London: John Chapman, 1854)

[2] one has to acknowledge that there is ontologically and epistemologically a close kinship between post-truth and evidence based politics and policies, both dissecting complex truth.


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.

Living in and for academia – an international[ist] perspective

Published is a presentation given on the 4th of July in ChangSha, PRC, looking against the personal background from an academic perspective at the topic of international and global education. While sociology, economics, political science, law and arts are explicitly mentioned, philosophy remains as companion of all in the background. Highlighted is the need to regain and maintain academic integrity.

The video-recording, in some respect an extension to the interview published recently, can be found here.

Learned from the time I lived in Australia, and altered all this is not least about the statement that

I fully acknowledge the Right and Duty of the students to learn in a way that allows not only to administer their own life and land in a globally respectful way, to study the possibilities to work and connect with the world that is respectful against themselves, against their fellow beings past, present and emerging.

Where we are standing

From one of the Great Works of European Literature (here for the English), written by Victor Hugo and published in 1862; and there is still so much in it “from today”.

For a less “poetical account” see the recent report by OXFAM: A EUROPE FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW


Look down, look down
Don’t look ‘em in the eye
Look down, look down
You’re here until you die

The sun is strong
It’s hot as hell below

Look down, look down
there’s twenty years to go.

I’ve done no wrong
Sweet Jesus, hear my prayer

Look down, look down
Sweet Jesus doesn’t care

I know she’ll wait
I know that she’ll be true

Look down, look down
They’ve all forgotten you

When I get free
You won’t see me
Here for dust

Look down, look down
Don’t look ‘em in the eye.

How long, O Lord
Before you let me die?

Look down, look down
You’ll always be a slave
Look down, look down
You’re standing in your grave.

Now bring me prisoner 24601
Your time is up
And your parole’s begun
You know what that means.

Yes, it means I’m free.

NO! It means you get
Your yellow ticket-of-leave
You are a thief.

I stole a loaf of bread.

You robbed a house.

I broke a window pane.
My sister’s child was close to death
And we were starving.

You will starve again
Unless you learn the meaning of the law.

I know the meaning of those 19 years
A slave of the law.

Five years for what you did
The rest because you tried to run
Yes, 24601.

My name is Jean Valjean!

And I’m Javert!
Do not forget my name
Do not forget me

Look down, look down
You’ll always be a slave
Look down, look down
You’re standing in your grave.

Les Miserables – Prologue Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

Just doing there final work – proof reading etc. – A book under the title

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

should then soon ready for publication at http://www.wvfs.at. Some overview in the following. 

The contributions collected in this volumes are all centred around challenges we face globally – and saying globally means that they are taking such perspective seriously as one that “concerns us all”. Too often social science remains explicitly limited by understanding the process of globalisation as a matter of (i) maintaining the old developmentalist perspective, presuming the superiority of what is today called global north or (ii) as suspicious, i.e. defending in one way or another indigeneity. A possible further move consists in (iii) claiming some form of merger, the caminare insieme, for which the present pope can claim some fame, is then reduced on some moral statement, translated into demanding collective rationality against greed and the appealing to the mercy, facing the invisible hand with the negative effects of pure individualism. There remains a huge gap here and there – when it comes to developing an understanding that goes fundamentally further, actually seriously discussing the autochthonous mindsests. And saying this, it is also necessary to remind ourselves that these concepts are anything else than autochthonous. History calls for caution – and though the contributions cannot claim the present a radical rupture in thinking, it is at least an attempt to push considerations further into that direction. In this way the book also tries to give space for questions instead of coming up with answers.

TOC (page numbers provisional)

Preface and Acknowledgements……….. 6

Research on demand Academics between self-consciousness and self-chastisement……….. 14

European Policies of Social Inclusion – Fatality of Good-Will……….. 32

Capability and Social Policy – The Search for Social Quality……….. 63

Social Quality – Social Anomie. Two Sides of one Coin?……….. 88

World Systems Theory and Theory of Social Quality as Proposal for a Methodology for Rethinking a World in Crisis and Transformation……….. 105

Environmental Democracy – New Challenges……….. 133

Crisis and no end !?……….. 152