Centre-Periphery reversed

It had been a strange feeling or mood – returning Sunday around lunchtime from Helsinki – taking a longish walk from the railway station zoo through the park, passing the memorial fro Rosa Luxemburg at the Landwehr Canal, doing some text editing and having an early dinner in the canteen of the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht’s place of activity – then off to the Gorki theatre: Les Justes. En route passing the metro station at Friedrichstraße where I occasionally crossed the border for visits at the peace council an others …. a bit further the Humboldt university, where I gave one of my first public presentations as young academic …. the statue which Käthe Kollwitz made before I enter the theatre for the performance of the Albert-Camus-piece.

The is still some repercussion from Helsinki – opportunity for a short visit in the national gallery. There hadn’t been the great names – most of the names never heard outside of the country, the paintings more placid than those of the great names, depicting more the landscapes, unknown people and everyday’s life – the periphery one may say. Sure, they can also be found in other galleries  some time ago the New Pinakothek came up with a special exhibition:

L WIE LAND UND LEUTE… LANDSCHAFT UND GENRE IN DER STUDIENGALERIE DER NEUEN PINAKOTHEK

But that is the point: it is more about a special exhibition – paintings that usually do not make the way in the main halls.and even there mostly it is the depiction accepted power,

Different in the museum in Helsinki. Much could be thought and said, at the end very much concerned with the fact that the centre of power is looking too often at the periphery of culture, distracting from “ordinary life”, from the worries and joys of people in their real life, that kind of life that is not about glory and that is not reflected in income statistics, employment figures and the like. And that life in which even angels may get wounded.

(Hugo Simberg: The Wounded Angel, from the Ateneum website)

It is the normality of what actually defines life: Kaethe Kollwitz, the hesitation in Camus’ piece when it comes to revenge while facing a real human being, not just the personification of a role, a specific vulnerability that is acknowledged and offers some special strength – that kind of strength that does not need huge power centres as materialisation of control, that does not need helicopters or massive “intelligence” for its protection,

(BND – the fortress of FRGs secret service – this part of the building sowing a fraction of the entire complex)

a strength that emerges from acknowledged truth. The open centres of exhibited power

loose centrality where they loose the respect of the seeming periphery: the real life; political and imperial power moves to the periphery where the actual meaning is emerging from the way in which people shape and share every day and everywhere, where we find confirmed that

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

And where we have to add that it is not only history but also the attraction of present power, the presentation of power in attractiveness, meaning beauty and might that takes this nightmarish character.

Still, it remains the question. often asked: can people be just in a world that is profoundly unjust? – All this surely something to reflect upon when we talk about populism.

Annunci

Why Regulatory Control misses the Point

Writing on the 10th of June a post programmed for publication on the 18th of June, I do not dare to refer to ‘the latest scandal’ dealing with Facebook-security issues – it does not really matter as sooner or later others will follow, perhaps one between writing and publishing. Reading an article (by Alexis Madrigal, published on the 4th of June) that wants to inform the reader about

W,hat We Know About Facebook’s Latest Data Scandal,

I stumble upon the following sentence right at the beginning:

Facebook said this special access to data existed only for old devices that did not have a native Facebook application.

It also shows why any regulation and stricter control of security will not solve the underlying problem. Reading the sentence slowly reveals its exact meaning, suggesting that Facebook is actually saying “go with us the entire way – otherwise we let you go.” It is not only about using FB as social networking tool but its home made application etc. Moving the analysis from here to the main point shows that we are not “only” concerned with the envisaged control of a dubious advertising bubble market

(cut from: http://view.stern.de/de/rubriken/streetlife/berlin-street-fruehling-seifenblasen-clown-entertainer-original-3849611.html?k=3045&r=9)

Instead, at the centre we find a major overall shift of control of capital in terms of concentralisation, i.e. concentration and centralisation closely interwoven. The aim is taking at least for the time being total control over an entire sector of capital movement, going far beyond advertisement. Reading later in the said article that

(t)he drive for growth led Facebook to share data with device manufacturers. Device manufacturers were competing for market share themselves, and needed a Facebook experience to be competitive

reveals the meaning: control over complex processes of accumulation. “The winner takes all” translates into a “modern” version of absolutism: “society, that is me” – signed Gates, Jobs, Zuckerbergs … As Steve Jobs supposedly said

It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

Pirates, that is what they surely are – and it surely makes little sense asking pirates to accept rules that control piracy.

Looking closer at the scene, not individual cases, some feeling of unease must remain:

I.

Though I would not share the positive assessment of the US-hearing suggested in the article, the result in Washington and Brussels surely had been similar:

Here is what most people feel after seeing the European Parliament hearing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: The questions were tough but the format was rubbish. This is in contrast to Zuckerberg’s hearings in Washington DC last month where the format was right but questions were rubbish. The end result though was same in all hearings, in Europe and the US: Zuckerberg easily avoided answering tough questions.

II.

Should we really widely ignore – acceptimg that we may have temporary personal advantage – that Ryanair, whose pilot had been at least “independent entrepreneurs” – opens now also to RyanairRoom, apparently marking a strategic move from putting existing accommodation-businesses under pressure to directly controlling them?

III.

Is it by accident that APPLE’s tax-avoidance policy in Ireland is especially now being issued again – now, after moving back to the US?

IV.

A nasty tiny thing at the end: Seeing Zuckerberg giving his “testimony” in Brussels, I am asking myself, after hearing again all the gratefulness also of the EU-politicians (admittedly not as bad it had been as in Washington) … – who paid for his flight, a flight that didn’t even allow Mr. Z to stay really to the end? – Well. the rushed leave saved the tax payer at least paying for his dinner …

Not only paradise lost …

That paradise is lost is well known and widely accepted. And we probably have to accept that finally politics is lost too.
Some speak at least still changing the imperial mode of lifepleading for vegetarianism and opposing the use of SUVs – of course especially the latter easily accepted by the unemployed …. [see in this context Peter Herrmann / Mehmet Okyayuz: What to do with the revolution – and what does the revolution do to us?]
Others rejecting political responsibility completely … – well, passing it on to incompetent night watch [wo]men.
[Von Julian Herzog, CC-BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43002116]
Some time ago, March 15th, 2018, the then designated Minister-president of Bavaria, stated in an interview
I will understand myself on the one hand as manager of Bavaria, but also as maker./Ich werde mich einerseits als Manager Bayerns verstehen, aber auch als Kümmerer.
His principle philosophy is Bavaria plus:
If the federal government decides something, ‘let’s put a scoop on it’./Wenn der Bund etwas beschließe, ‘legen wir noch eine Schippe drauf’. 

Schumpeter stated in his book on ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’

The conquest of the air may well be more important than the conquest of India was—we must not confuse geographical frontiers with economic ones.

At the moment it seems that exactly this applies to supposed
as for instance the GAFAs are selling us – HOT AIR, nothing more than extremely well paid gobbledygook, of course well displayed [BTW, habe a closer look at the logo on the mugs]
All this is even more remarkable when we consider that the top-CEOs are increasingly taking over politics as I elaborated in one of the recently submitted and accepted book-contributions, namely the one titled

The Comedy of Big Data – Or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, while Corporations wither away?: in: Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance – a 21st Century Challenge; Mulej, Matjaž/O’Sullivan, Grażyna/Štrukelj, Tjaša (eds.): forthcoming

Some adjunct issues are also looked at in recent presentations of which the recordings can be found here.

Reading history – slowly and in large steps

beMemorials are important as we are only by remembering, i.e.

consciously re-(-sur-)-facing

enables us visioning the future, needed to act today. All this is much more demanding than behaving.

Memorials are important, and perhaps even more so if they remind us and allow us questioning – as it happened recently, the second day, coming after a long time to Munich again. The first day I actually met a friend – a nice surprise call:

Time for a coffee?

I was sitting in the coffee shop at the Amalienstrasse anyway, so not much could have been nicer. We had been chatting – amongst others about the fame of places, and for Munich it unfortunately means not least that it is famous for the beer festival and the German dark ages of the last century …

The next day I strolled a bit around. Though I thought I would know those places, actually visited some with a group of students from Ireland, several years ago, I saw one that I passed as frequent as it remained unrecognised by me, all the times ignored. Was it because moving along Briennerstrasse/Maximilian Strasse did not make me expect much, just outrageous wealth?

“Im gedenken an die opfer der nationalsozialistischen gewaltherrschaft   –   verfolgt aus politischen gründen   verfolgt aus rassistischen gründen   verfolgt aus religiösen gründen   verfolgt wegen ihrer sexuellen identität   verfolgt wegen ihrer behinderung”

In my own translation

“In memory of the victims of the national-socialist tyranny persecuted for political reasons, persecuted for racist reasons, persecutedr for religious reasons, persecuted because of their sexual identity, because of their disability[1]

 

Written in the wall behind the pillar, accommodating the eternal fire

– all part of the monument which has been launched on November 8th, 1985 by the then Lord Major, Georg Kronawitter.

I was alerted by the words

BECAUSE …

Then I looked again, reading the entire text.

FOR political, racist, religious REASONS….

Indeed, for the German fascists it had been “sufficient”: being gay, being Jew …, all this has been a sufficient ‘reason’ to terminate the life of people, ‘arguments’ in a state which seemingly did not need arguments. A state that used its power arbitrarily – Max Weber comes to mind, speaking of the

“state” insofar as its administrative staff successfully upholds the claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order.[2]

Memorial – in German language the term carries some ambiguity with it. It simply means memorial, but can also be read as: “hang on, think!”

Had people really been killed because they were Jews, disabled ….?

Were they killed for political and the other names reasons?

Doesn’t this easily make us overlook the real reasons? What seemed to be arbitrary violence, was in fact a sophisticated system of an authoritarian state which was needed as backing of an economic system that was fatally wounded: a capitalism that was not really capitalism anymore but a system in which profit-making was not linked to profitable accumulation (which is a bad enough system anyway) but on the violent securitisation of profits made in a system in which finance is not about money but about the permanent reaffirmation of power.

******

This reminds us of what the quarterly view said, quoted in volume one of Marx’ The Capital; and it reminds us of what Saskia Sassen presented:

So I sort of want to throw out the notion that finance is a capability. And so when you look at some of the measures of its value today, for instance outstanding derivatives, a basic measure—a quadrillion…that money doesn’t exist, you know. Global GDP is something like sixty trillion. There is no— Quadrillion is many many zeros. I know that in Europe you have different designations. It’s more zeros than you’re used to in your average figures that you see with lots of zeros—it’s more than a trillion, let’s put it that way.

So I think one first step is to distinguish between traditional banking, which sells money it has (or it can borrow very quickly, whatever) and finance, which sells something it does not have. And in that selling what it does not have lies its creativity. It has to invent instruments. And secondly—and they go together—it has to invade other sectors. Because it itself does not have what it needs to produce.

******

And we may feel reminded when reading the manager magazine, as I did that day – in some way one may call it the gossip-journal of parts of the upper classes.

Finance not being equal to money, as much as life does not equal living. It is frequently suggested that there are two options, the one being about working to live, the other living to work. In this case there may be a third way, saying that life is work and work is living. Sure, this opens to a broad discussion. One point that can be made is that put forward by the old idealist, bit of a dream-dancer, Schiller, demanding

Reason also utters the decision that man shall only play with beauty, and he shall only play with beauty.

For, to speak out once for all, man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.

While this comes along as a nice suggestion, it urgently needs a material foundation that allows play of that kind. It requires a material situation that is marked not by resources that are merely enough to survive but is in need of amounts that are surely enough to live from.

The material side of ‘playing’ is surely not a problem for perverted highflyers, but they have problems, mental problem of lost grounding. So to the gossip-journal then, and really going into its going to the gossip section means to dive into the article on Ibiza,

as life-style island an international brand[3]

We see them removed from living not because of the need to merely secure life, but because their life needs to be stylised and branded – I am not really into any of it, I supposed it is like people who lost their hair, replacing it by a wig: artificial and more beautiful than reality is. And of course, it has to be a wig with brand-name – interesting by the way: assuming something, I checked Leo’s dictionaries. I see the following

 

 

Yes, brand – the trademark – is the also the term of the mark by which horses had been classified and ‘proprietised’ …: Oh glory, may be we should not think only of refeudalisation – see also here – but also about animalisation: the return to instincts as foundation and guideline. What makes it worse, more weird than it is anyway: we press the burning iron against our own skin and instead of feeling the pain we turn it into pleasure …

Oh,

Fuck me, I’m famous[4]

This is the new stoned of leisure society, as Tired Is The New Stoned of the postmodern work society, tired suggesting that one is extremely busy, even too busy to be really busy when it comes to working life – presence everywhere and anytime. It is like being too tired to actually sleep. And all this is also the illusion of singularity: be it singularity in the understanding of the Big Bang, or as claimed hyper-individuality.

Sure,

[t]he spreading luxury begins to be a problem for accommodation – for those who lack privileges. Because the personnel cannot commute between mainland and island and the rents are exorbitant, many spend the nights in the cars or on the balconies, let by enterprising Ibizians. For having a shower a membership In one of the gyms s recommended.[5]

And paradoxes, as usual, are included as the highflyers search for seclusion …, and of course it is not a problem as a

concierge service … offering any service to his moneyed customers, around the clock. The most have only one: anonymity.[6]

Also no problem as

It is easy on Ibiza to dive away, …, [in both ways:] hiding from the media and escaping from reality.[7]

Not being famous, not being rich and powerful? The solution may be found in another world

Yaşamak bir ağaç gibi

tek ve hür ve bir orman gibi

kardeşçesine,

bu hasret bizim.

Nâzım Hikmet

Translated into English

To live in solitude and free

like a tree but on the same time

like a forest in solidarity

this yearning is ours.

Nâzım Hikmet

******

But that solution is somewhat a paradox in its own terms – the going together with others and the withdrawal. The danger of escapism – actionism, saving life, searching tranquility of living, and in both respects depending eon others and the own personality.

As I wrote later those days to a friend back in China

I was reading the ‘manager magazine’ yesterday – only reading such stuff when I get it for free. Amazing to read about fascinating careers and enterprises … – most successful … and when I allowed myself a closer look I was thinking about ‘for what’? People doing things, making a huge fortune and that was it: no purpose, just following some ‘instinct’, struggling without knowing for what … – not sure if I can explain it well. But I thought: well, may be not so bad lacking that kind of wealth but being ‘content’ in some ways.

Again and again I feel obliged – in different contexts and different times, addressing different people – to mark the difference between living, life and now in addition the life style as stylised life – products changing their character, being commodities; it translates into the human being commodities: in the one case the human labour power, in the other case the stylisation of life – two ways of terminating living.

And as I wrote – as PS – to the colleagues with whom I share the responsibility in the Joerg-Huffschmid-Award.[8]

PS: Being now in the ‘rich city of Munich’ I cannot refrain from writing the following yesterday: Yesterday I arrived here I Munich, and with this, after living more than two years in China, in Germany. Piece, and especially joyfulness: In all the shops the window displays for the Oktoberfest, Munich’s beer festival, because ‘casual wear’ as dress code means in this case it should be authentic-colourful costume-like garb. There is bit of a problem with the pancake [well, ‘those years’ it was a kind of teasing trinity: piece, joyfulness, pancakes]: I will not mention the rent I have to pay for my tiny flat. One impression from today, early in the morning I want to mention: an elderly lady moved with her bike from waste bin to waste bin [well even at this stage not everything is completely privatised] … – it is probably her proactive approach to life, avoiding ending up as beggar – that is part of the first impressions, arriving in the rich city of Munich, the impression after teaching two years in China, where – under the leadership of a university with a supposedly high ranking – young, curious personalities are encouraged to ‘seize the world’ … , and seizing it according to which rules? Here you may get an impression.

And I remembered the headlines I red some time ago – also impressions, anecdotal ….

Die besten jobs für Renter – the best jobs for retirees

the other

Wiesn – die bittere Wahrheit – Munich Beerfestival, the bitter truth

Yes, once upon a time, in 1986, the Christian Democrats promised:

„Denn eins ist sicher: Die Rente“ – But there is one thing you can rely on: the pension.

You can rely on, you hardly make a living, you may just stay alive, and even for that you may need a job, and even then ‘living’, by way of going out for a pint,  having fun is limited – well, sure, there are surely also other ways of having fun, most likely equally liked; and it does not play a role that of indigenous Bavarians it is not about a pint but a Mass, but they also say:

“Ah geh weida, dees is doo mia wurschd, wia ma dees iatz auf Houchdeidsch schreibd, Haubdsach, schmegga duads ma, mei Mass Bier”

And I remembered a paragraph, taken from Freeland’s book on The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else:[9]

If you traveled to Mountain View to visit Eric Schmidt when he was CEO of Google, you would have found him in a narrow office barely big enough to hold three people. The equations on the whiteboard may well have been scribbled by one of the engineers who works next door and is welcome to use the chief’s office whenever he’s not in. And while it is okay to have a private jet in the Valley, employing a chauffeur is frowned upon. “Whereas in other cultures, you can drive your Rolls-Royce around and just sort of look rich and have a really good time, in technology it’s not socially okay to have a driver who drives you to work every day,” Schmidt told me. “I don’t know why, but you’ll notice nobody does it.”

This egalitarian style can clash with the Valley’s reality of extreme income polarization. “Many tech companies solved this problem by having the lowest-paid workers not actually be employees. They’re contracted out,” Schmidt explained. “We can treat them differently, because we don’t really hire them. The person who’s cleaning the bathroom is not exactly the same sort of person. Which I find sort of offensive, but it is the way it’s done.”

******

Back to square one of these reflections on antifascist memorials, reasons and the reasoning about life, living and branding lifestyles and the implied animalisation. Doesn’t all this show n an excellent way the real because and rationales: What happened:

  • the holocaust which was also a system of exploiting humans down to the bones
  • in a nutshell: the war of one country against the rest of the world, a slightly extended interpretation: the new division of the world amongst different political and economic powers
  • the establishment of a ‘culture of animalisation’, artificially breeding destructive and even self-destructive instincts
  • the breeding of culture of fear, emerging from the fear of complete disempowerment

are surely a frightening development – and the need of remembering, i.e.

consciously re-(-sur-)-facing

enabling us to vision the future, being needed to act today surely should also look at capitalism today. The meaning of the words of Brecht’s Epilogue from the parable play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui [written in 1941) have to be taken very seriously, even and because of Arturo Ui today changed names, wears different clothes and my be found on Ibiza, stylizing animalistic non-sense, i.e. dangerously breeding senseless instincts against human kind

Therefore learn how to see and not to gape.

To act instead of talking all day long.

The womb he crawled from still is going strong.

******

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denkmal_für_die_Opfer_der_NS-Gewaltherrschaft_(München)

[2] Weber, Economy and Society; page 54

[3] Ifrom the manager magazin; August 2017 – print edition; https://heft.manager-magazin.de/MM/2017/8/152235337/; 05/09/17

[4] Ifrom the manager magazin; August 2017 – print edition; https://heft.manager-magazin.de/MM/2017/8/152235337/; 05/09/17

[5] Ifrom the manager magazin; August 2017 – print edition; https://heft.manager-magazin.de/MM/2017/8/152235337/; 05/09/17

[6] Ifrom the manager magazin; August 2017 – print edition; https://heft.manager-magazin.de/MM/2017/8/152235337/; 05/09/17

[7] Ifrom the manager magazin; August 2017 – print edition; https://heft.manager-magazin.de/MM/2017/8/152235337/; 05/09/17

[8] On the 6th of December there will be a public event, taking place in Berlin, handing over the two awards

[9] Freeland, Chrystia, 2012: Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else; New York: The Penguin Press: 123

 

 

 

 

 

New Economy – New Economics

 Just uploaded is a presentation, given in Hangzhou on the 21st of May 2017, dealing with the question … – well actually looking for the relevant question.
In connection with discussing digitalisation, new productive forces etc., we are frequently caught in the old patterns: interpreting presence and  future in the light of past and presence. The presentation tries to point out some areas where asking questions that are indirectly reinterpreting the past in the light of the future, allowing to explore the future in the light of a newly interpreted presence. – Complicated ? May be, but better thinking slowly and openly, instead of coming hastily to the wrong conclusion by simply extending what we claim to know.
There had been something that was called a Critique of the Political Economy [see volumes one to three of The Capital] – and is often forgotten that it was based on what its author wrote, here pointing on theses 8 to 11:
VIII
All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.
IX
The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is contemplation of single individuals and of civil society.
X
The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.
XI
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
—-
See also researchgate – there are two projects that are of relevance in this context:
* Is it really about Industry 4.0.?
* Wandel des Wirtschaftens – Wandel des Rechts. Forschungsskizze zu Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik
—-
Special thanks go to Thomas Weiss-Roisdorf, scientific council of attac and the federal ministry official affairs im Germany with whom I maintained over the last couple weeks contact on this issue – discussions that I perceived as hugely beneficial.