Principiis obst! Mind the beginning!

We talked a couple of times about Hannah Arendt – point of departure was actually something that seems to be very distant from her work: criteria that constitutional courts can refer to when taking decisions. And of course, taking the perspective from the legal doctrine is different from that taken by others. Funnily enough, legal doctrine translates into German as Rechtsdogmatik – suggesting something like dogmatic law, of even dogmatic thinkers on legal issues?

At some stage I mentioned some literature to my office mate – stuff I would think being important on this topic. Books, some more or less legalist, at least coming from sociology of law, philosophy of law, and perhaps stuff philosophising on justice – we both laughed when I dared to say – mind, to a jurist:
law is not interested in justice, hardly knows about it. what we share – legal scientists and economists – is a more or less blind interest in coherence. that may be rather simple: you put numbers and articles and even laws, we put numbers on goods and people – no matter on how bad the goods are, no matter how deep personalities are buried behind the figures.
 We laughed, knowing that it is reality and when it is lived reality it is harsh.
After such books, and after working a bit on our different tasks, I interrupted the silence:
Right, there is another one: Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition. it is probably the most comprehensive book she wrote, and from reading this, it is possible to understand the others …  to least the one on he Eichmann-trial and the banality of evil.
 A short chat, a couple of days later, we had been sitting for lunch – just across the street. Else a rather dull, grey day. I don’t know why she asked me about Hannah and Martin Heidegger … – I said what I knew, and part of it, actually part of the question had been already about Heidegger’s relationship to the fascists.
The romantic relationship between the two philosophers was known as a difficult one – and apparently the relationship between Heidegger and the fascists had not been so clear …
– can one say it was part of this banality of evil? We talked about it, the time, the difficulty of admitting that it is difficult. For me it is again and again emotionally a difficult matter, having known comrades, colleagues, friends who went through that hell – making impossible to accept that those had been ordinary people.
It could be him
I pointed on the table to the left
or her
my eyes moved to the right. I looked into her eyes:
It could be you — or do you know if it is not me at some stage?
It was loud, the snowfall was not too bad and I proposed to leave. I opened the brelli:
Let’s go to the LMU. I do not know exactly where it is …
– did you ever hear about the Geschwister Scholl?
She did not – and I told her the bit I knew, talked also about Anne Frank, my visit in the Anne Frank House, im Amsterdam. I remembered, at the end of the museum little notes, one asking
Why do we feel such a pity for this one child, knowing that there had been so many more being brutally slaughtered. – it is because we hardly can cope with this one, bearing the large number would crash us completely. 
After a while we found one person who could help us finding the way – and a little while later we find the little memorial – I had to swallow, as usual when being confronted with my past which is not my past and against which I had been fighting. I managed, we entered – we walked along the exhibits, I have had the impression getting slower and slower. And for my part I was wondering if it was right to put all this weight on her shoulders. Or if it was my duty? Or …just something like a waste of time?
 After we left, we stood a while at the bottom of the broad stairs …
Do you know, I fell sometimes so … riven, so unsure, insecure …
She talked about Korea, the occupation by the Japanese … – and I had to ask sincerely and honestly to forgive me for not knowing anything about her country. A bit later, when we walked back to the Institute, I remembered Albert Einstein – I used this reference to underline what I said before, and already while we have had lunch:
I cannot guarantee that I would be as brave as these people – I would like to be, but would I be as strong as they had been? Albert, with all his knowledge, he was one of the enablers – finally his contribution mad it possible that the USA developed the nuclear weapon. And he did so intentionally, ‘knowing’ that the bomb in the hands of the US would better than it would be in the hands of the fascist Germany. Later, when he knew better, namely that it had been used so senseless, the US playing with the muscles without any military need and humane consideration, he changed not just his mind but concentrated much of his effort on condemning .., well part of his own deeds. – Braveness …
The morning of the same day I submitted another recommendation letter for  student – the boxing exercise – the mail to the university is already prepared but I have to wait, sending it:
Earlier I just submitted a recommendation – and I dare to make a recommendation to your institution:
Be professional and serious, and do not breach confidentiality law – there is much improvement for you, actually I was near to recommend to the student not to go further with the application due to your highly unprofessional way of treating students.
Sincerely worrying about the quality of academic standards I remain
Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann
The evening I went to a presentation at the institute:
„Jenseits der Praxis? Die aktuellen Vorschläge für eine Reform des Gemeinsamen Europäischen Asylsystems (GEAS) aus rechtlicher und praktischer Sicht“
 A very clear presentation, also highlighting some fundamental flaws – followed by a ‘soft debate’, leaving some important points out,
Principiis obsta. Sero medicina parata, cum mala per longas convaluere moras.
Mind the beginning| Too late the remedy is prepared when the evil became stronger simply by time.
Ovid wrote it, thinking Remedia Amoris – what then about the self-loving academics …?
Today, I went for my usual walk  the first time that I really was getting aware of the name of the one street I passed so often: Ackermannstreet – the city of Munich still celebrating this loyal property of a man who had to go to court because of misappropriation,
This day I did not listen to my usual lectures and audio-plays, I remembered my last visit in Athens. After that visit I wrote:
a long way … from the priests on the Acropolis [ἄκρον (akron, “highest point”) and πόλις (polis)] to the gardens which had been the roaming place of the philosophers to the reality of today’s Europe.
It is a way full of the tensions: on the one hand the small academies of free thinking – free and ready for the hemlock; on the other hand the abduction, about which Maria Mies wrote in the one book on Europe I edited [Mies, Maria, 1999: Europe in the Global Economy or the Need to De-Colonize Europe; in: Peter Herrmann (Ed.): Challenges for a Global Welfare System: Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.: 153-171].
Studying the history – sine ira et studio – as Tacitus said.
Also making history without hate and zealousness? There is always the danger then of abduction: the legal doctrine, expressed in the constitutional state, the state under the rule of law is turned into the one-sided application of law, its consistency the utmost and only validation. The economic doctrine, being caught in the mirage of closed systems, the equations make equal what is different, and not able to see that not figures but power matters.
Life goes on – only not forgetting its complexity and ambiguity can make us free. [I could not find the link to the one, the eleventh song].

Digitalization, immigration and the welfare state – A Book Review

Just published:


Digitalization, immigration and the welfare state, by Mårten Blix, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017, 186 pp., ISBN 978 1 78643 294 0 (hardback)

One may be grateful, seeing a title as the one of the books for review, that finally it is about some- thing that can well be perceived as a crossroads for the future, defined by: digitization as one of the main new hopes, and equally a major variable of insecurity; migration is seen by many as a major threat; and the welfare state as known centre and channel, allowing taming rough sea. …

It is published in the


and can be accessed – if you have access via:


Over the last year or so, a working group on Migration of the Scientific Council of attac –  Association Pour La Taxation Des Transactions Financières Pour L’Aide Aux Citoyens, elaborated a working paper on issues of Refuge and Migration. At the core of the work stood the elaboration of a document that evaluates and assesses the controversy of the topics Refuge/Asylum/Migration from a non-nationalist perspective. It can be seen as an important contribution against the raising nationalism and strengthening of right-wing movements in Europe, which is not least a futile ground of international terrorisms.
A short version of the document – in German language –  is now published in the journal Sozialismus (43/10): 26-30. The full document (also in German language), which is explicitly understood as working and discussion document, can be found by following this link.

“Interesting times” we may say …

“Interesting times” we may say …

… and we may say that “probably every generation, every era was in its own terms an interesting time” …

but in any case we, at least not all of us can dance it away:

“Frankly speaking I am a bit afraid”

“Ich weiss nicht, wie es weither geht”

“Ho paura!”

Yes, every generation …


It may appear to be about details – and these are forgotten, overlooked details – and they are details by way of being

the concrete … [being] concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse.

As such they are part of the long history of imperialism, colonialism ….

Today it is for instance visible in the fact that the 6 richest countries of the world host only 9 % of all refugees.

Old colonialism went fro a kind of crusades, violently occupying foreign territory; the new colonialism presenting itself as “humane” by closing borders; like the old fascism, gasifying people in concentration camps, compared with its modern form of gasifying populations as we learn from the FT-Brussels briefing, Duncan Robinson stating on the 20th of July:

A conspiracy that started in a “cosy hotel” in Brussels ended in the EU’s biggest cartel fine, after the European Commission handed five truck makers a €2.9bn bill. Senior managers from Iveco, DAF, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and MAN fixed prices and delayed the introduction of emissions-reducing technology. MAN’s decision to blow the whistle was the best financial decision the German group has made in years: it dodged a €1.2bn bill as a result.

Back to the obvious colonialisation in its new dress. Indeed, as the OXFAM-media briefing contends

This crisis is far too big for any one country to solve alone. To save and protect lives, governments worldwide must act together and responsibly. In a couple of months the United Nations and US President Obama are holding back-to-back summits in New York to address this unprecedented situation. These summits are opportunities for rich countries to commit to offering refuge to far more refugees than almost all have done to date, and for all countries to improve the way people forced to flee are treated, and provide them with a dignified future.

Thinking about this, we surely have to go beyond the sole “distribution of surplus”, moving as close as possible to production. And though Imagining a New Bretton Woods, is still not much more than a Modest Proposal, it may be one of the first steps towards radicalisaiton …

Furthermore, and importantly mind: … the concrete is part of the solidarity against this system of global exploitation – the weak showing their strength by “giving more than they have themselves”

Community Doctors: A look inside Cuba’s medical scholarship program


The idea of inner colonialisation is usually seen in close connection with Rosa Luxemburg – it is, in a nutshell, the idea of the permanent and ongoing “primitive” or “original accumulation” as we know it from instance from Smith and Marx.

And we may think about it by recalling the occupation of the Americas by the White Settlers – the harsh reality that stood behind the kitschy and euphemistic images of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, presented by Karl May – and looking today at their conservative successors – peacefully dumb (sorry for ads – the clip itself is German/English); and aggressively taking over power (sorry for ads – the clip itself is German/English)


“Frankly speaking I am a bit afraid”

“Ich weiss nicht, wie es weither geht”

“Ho paura!”

– And there are enough who have good reasons to be afraid – for instance Erdal. Or Thuli Madonsela

And there still is something we, in the jobs of teachers and researchers have to do, resisting the permanent and ongoing inner colonialisation: We cannot take the fear away, but we have to teach about the conditions under which fear develops, searching together for ways to change this reality …

… living trustfulness as matter of accepting the other and supporting confidence – as condition for being active, for resisting

… as matter of Dreaming of a Butterfly becoming possible and true, rising against eagles and vultures …

… this way we may be searching and finding together with others – colleagues and students valuable people, truly acknowledging the value of people.

Migration, German openness and … – the other side

Germany is frequently praised for the policies in connection with migration. And there is surely no reason for any kind of black and white paintings, nor for applying a too broad brush – we are currently elaborating in a small group from the scientific council of attac (Association pour la Taxation des Transactions financières et pour l’Action Citoyenne (Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Citizen’s Action) a positioning paper.

There is surely one thing that is frequently overlooked, and it is sufficiently shocking to have a look. It is the

Institutional racism and a lack of government action


Yes, writing “quick comments” is admittedly always dangerous, hastily arriving at wrong conclusions. Still, there is occasionally a huge temptation, and it may be justified as such writing possibly provokes …, well, some really important and not so hasty thoughts, easily overlooked when it comes to detailed analysis of …, well detailed analysis.

Reference at presence is a European Commission’s press release, titled

How digital is your country? New figures show action needed to unlock Europe’s potential

It presents results of the recent study of the DESI.

What is the DESI?

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is an online tool to measure the progress of EU Member States towards a digital economy and society. As such, it brings together a set of relevant indicators on Europe’s current digital policy mix.

If I am not mistaken, it fundamentally solves one fear of the past. People were afraid of the development, as they did not want to be “just a number”. We do not have to fear anymore that this may be coming up in the future. It is already the case.

And it also allows us to understand the attitude of those people in the glass palaces towards migration and migrants: Numbers cannot simply decide independently to enter an equation. Only the magician with numbers is The Lord, able and allowed to present the formula …, the white hair and long beard now appearing as netting of bits speeding through fiber glass.

  • Action needed to reach the global top: …

Yes, summits have to be reached – erected like the towers of fortresses. Would it not be an alternative to start with action to reach true global cooperation?

  • Better connectivity, but insufficient in the long-term: … . The EU needs to be ready to meet future demand and to provide the next generation of communication networks (5G).

Sure, but I am still wondering if our brain is fast enough to cope with the improvement of obtaining information, barely allowing for the time needed to think about it. – Since some years now I am introducing in my lectures a unit under the heading “slow reading”, the aim of which is UNDERSTANDING.

  • Digital skills to be improved:

It may not be much more than a side note, it may be that it actually is more: Apparently there is a paradoxical constellation in China where the language is strongly characterised by characters (instead of letters) and sound/pronouncation. The computer keyboard requires to write first by using letters, and moving from there to “choosing characters”. The consequence seems to be the emergence of a new form of analphabetism.

  • e-Commerce, a missed opportunity for smaller businesses:

Two of the issues, if you want: major reference points, in mainstream economics are scarcity and comparative advantage. Well, there is no reason to question the empirical data:

65% of European internet users shop online, but only 16% of SMEs sell online – and less than half of those sell online across borders (7.5%).

However, instead of aiming on change there could be another suggestion: SMEs may claim to move towards comparative advantage: offering something special instead of mass web-products, offer excellent individual advise, offering products that are even individually produced, or produced by individuals working together in cooperatives, and seeing the consumer as co-producer …

  • More public services online, but they are under-used:

Underused? If so, the conclusio may be that there is still hope and people still have more sense than those who govern them.

As said in the beginning, there are problems with such ad-hoc readings – there is much ore to it, including coproducing in particular due to the internet-use etc. – part of it I will deal with next month, when working briefly in Havana. But the problem of blasphemy is not necessarily the heretic; it may well be the self-acclamation of gods who forget that their suggested prayers are mere phantoms as long as their only purpose is … the bubble of their own believe system, the believe system of an old society of which we may say with Shakespeare:

Sans teeth, sans eyes

Sans taste, sans everything

Sure, talking about the believe system of an old society may end in a paradox: it easily lacks the opportunity to get a really good caffellatte.

PS: I hope my students anywhere do not read this blog-entry – as I am required to push them towards the global top, so to say: migrants with global access rights.

Morals and Standards

Another time we see the meaning of the words we find in the first volume of The Capital, chapter 31, dealing with the Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist

“Capital is said by a Quarterly Reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all that is here stated.” (T. J. Dunning, l. c., pp. 35, 36.)

It is not about the genesis though, it also and even more so about maintaining the role of capital in general, paradoxically pushing you to produce and tighten the rope that may one day be seen hanging down the gibbet, when walking up the last stairs. Or is there another way to interpret the following

Saudis Use European Arms for ‘Human Rights Violations’

Is it too cynical to demand that the profits should be at least used to accommodate the refugees?

It is just appalling  to see that, what we sometimes hope to be exaggerations, is brute reality.