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.

Annunci

Wisdom versus educating for “bubble-existence”

Again it is the one painting in the Lehnbachhaus that catches some special attention, fascination and wondering …

It simply says Children on the Balcony (by Albert Burkart) though our question is if these are children or – if it is about maturing, being able to look over the fence, preparing for the stage where the fence does not exist anymore … –

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.

I nod

Yes, you are right

– and I ask

Do we need the birds-eye, the ease of the flight to reach such independence – an independence that only exists through the complete sintesi – a state of conflation and consolidation?

Marc was not able to see that this flight would bring him only to death – he may have thought of a peaceful merger, the merge towards peace, the two pieces fighting with each other for a while …

Colours as deceiving interims, though appropriating after some time the essence, ignorant when it comes to the need to communicate, to apply different, i.e. substantial criteria.

From where can we take them? Now I am the one to quote Schiller – again from the Letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man

The greater part of men are much too exhausted and enervated by their struggle with want to be able to engage in a new and severe contest with error. Satisfied if they themselves can escape from the hard labour of thought, they willingly abandon to others the guardianship of their thoughts.

And I add: the greater part is not able any more to dance, at least to dance the dance of the sintesi.

 

On the way back, passing the King’s Square, the former headquarter of the Fascist murderers that accommodates today a school for music and theatre (“Hochschule für Musik und Theater München”) we arrive at the back of the Old Pinakothek – today the place for free play, the place for free play today … – The freedom, registered as association according German law, once per year, between 14:00 and 18:00 hrs – the lawn is nicely cut, fresh .., one can still smell what The Grim, the man with the scythe revealed, a sweet odour of decay …

Additional opportunities can be booked as special service package – later such packages turn to boxes, but that is for students already …

… indeed, there’s nothing like starting young …

The way to reach free play, the state of free of play, constraint by bubbles

And true too:

… indeed, there’s nothing like starting young to reach wisdom ….

Age .. here it has to accept the responsibility – accepting what we may call Schiller’s paradox

It would be necessary that they should be already sages to love wisdom: a truth that was felt at once by him to whom philosophy owes its name.

Shall we … – the sun is too tempting … – we sit down … with the ease of true playfulness.

Big Data – Publicness versus Regulating Quasi-Monopolies

A bit more than fifty years ago a panel discussion took place in Berlin, published in the book: Herbert Marcuse: Das Ende der Utopie. Vorträge und Diskussionen in Berlin 1967. The discussion took place in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Benno Ohnesorg. It had been one of a series of events, organised by the SDS (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund).

Interestingly we read in the TOC ‘Morals and Politics in the transition society’, going the to the relevant section the title reads ‘Morals and Politics in the affluent society’. The major topic is best looked at in terms of public spaces, freedom and responsibility. The presentation looks at digitisation, GAFA and BAT in the light of regulating private quasi-monopolist ownership versus regaining publicness.

The recording of the lecture can be found here.

Squalidness of a System – Gravediggers of Dreams – Murderers of Humanism

… which is all a continuation of the entries on boxing and the attempt to open the box and various other blogposts and you may have a look at
Sure, one may say it is not a great deal, all the advantages of the digital world will of course also be there to make universities a better world and even help to open the doors to these still somewhat sacred halls of humanism, Western education strongly claiming this tradition as still guiding principle, proudly showing the two Humboldt’s, sitting in front of the main building
[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Wilhelm_von_Humboldt_Denkmal_-_Humboldt_Universität_zu_Berlin.jpg]
[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Alexander_von_Humboldt_Denkmal_-_Humboldt_Universität_zu_Berlin.jpg]
Admittedly – oh vanity – it had been an delightfully exhilarating feeling when entering the building for [one of?] my first public presentations, passing the busts and insignia of the many ‘great forefather’ – and the few mothers mentioned. Being able to say ‘my forefathers’ allowed me to redefine my strange orphanage, knowing that it was indeed about moving on and moving up and stumbling through the academic world – witnessing and being part ….
Indeed, the baby can remain alive while occasionally the bathing water has to be changed. The problem, however, begins as soon as the new water proves to be poisoned.
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Warwick University is amongst quite a number that deserve being ‘reported’ as institutions boxing humans – and I will later return to this  case. Others are e.g. Brook [Canada], CUHK [HongKong], LSE [London], Oxford U and some UCL [somewhere on the island of independence-dreamers], being sufficiently arrogant to assume that everybody has to know who UCL is [actually it is possible to find out who is hiding behind the three letters: it is not Université catholique de Louvain, not the UEFA Champions League, Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research … [interesting to see the differences in search engine results, depending on the location from which you search], but it is University College London – sure, symptomatically, being at such a UCL people begin to think like a puddle [see also here for the entire text about the Salmon of Doubt]: there is only one UCL – it is like the puddle being the entire world, only made for you], are part of the experience of disrespect and a ‘special kind of illiteracy’ which may well go as culprit to court at some stage – though for me the [il]legal side is only a wee part of a story that shows the squalidness which higher education reached.
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Now coming back to it: Talking about Warwick University means talking about one amongst many, denouncing one as example for a systematic defect. But it also means that it has some especially bitter taste as the history should have taught some wisdom.
Warwick is one of the universities founded during the times of a spirit of change: the forerunner, shock and also aftermath of the so-called 68-movement – forerunners, shock and aftermath also in a positive sense of taking up the need of investing in education, and understanding education as part of …, well not necessarily a revolutionary movement, but an emancipative strive in the spirit of the bourgeois enlightenment for which names like Kant and Humboldt and, yes also Mill and Smith stood. However
And at some this this culminated and
At stake was
And with this it was already at an early stage clear that the entire enterprise was concerned with a shift of understanding of subject matters, i.e. the self-uderstanding of disciplines. Here it changed for instance lets say from economics to ‘Management Science’.
Of course – and Andrew McGettigan makes us aware of it – this has to be seen against the background of the changing economic situation in Britain at the time – though it hadn’t been Britain alone.
It is an often forgotten factor, unfortunately – as seeing this context may help us to understand the moves today, for instance looking at the ‘Eon Energy Research Center’ in Aachen, Germany or the more or less recent ‘donation’ of twenty professorships: the technical university in Munich receives these from the discounter Lidl.
Much more could be said, also that Foundations [the professorships are provided by the Lidl-Foundation, not directly Lidl] are a kind of money-laundry-undertakings, other cases could be mentioned — mind snatchers are under way, even resulting in more or less funny …, perhaps Freudian slips? Briefly retuning to Warwick, we read that
Yes, God save the Queen and long live there multiple heirs. And though I recently looked into kind of shocked eyes when I mentioned the personal experience of the 1972 Anti-Radical Decree [oh, if official documents are looked at …and if some others are considered].
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Back to the presence and the bad habits and style when it comes to dealign with applicants and referees – again:

  • Students, naming referees, are asked to provide ‘institutional e-mail addresses’ – Shouldn’t a university that claims to be international and global accept that lecturers are international and global, sometimes not able to maintain mail addresses from previous positions, sometimes just making life a bit easier using onky one ‘private’ mail address instead of permanently changing and/or checking various addresses?
  • Mails sent out  to the institutional address are sent in completely automated fashion or at least the responses are not checked. Concrete: for my part I set up an auto-reply, informing the sender that the mail address they used is rarely checked and asking them to use another contact address. What happens? Nothing. The keen interest of students to get their application properly lodged and also the right of lecturers to be available in a self-defined way are not respected – even the self-respect of the universities diminished to the extent that they reduce themselves to illiterate, at most semi-literate machines.
  • This is completed then by the expected formats of references: a questionnaire any person who is at least a little bit qualified in data analysis [not to speak of common sense] would immediately see as inappropriate, lacking meaning and not allowing gaining any insight it the student’s ability. Personal questions about the referee that breach protection of privacy and are completely irrelevant …
    – Of course, the entire procedure may [and should] be questioned and there is the need to find better ways. But leaving this aside, it may deserve some further reflection: Should a questionable procedure, a matter that is extremely difficult to be answered, be followed up by further sub-standardising the way of dealing with it?
  • Useful, then, would be to to protect referees against being bombarded by advertisement from those universities, offering the referee to apply for a graduate course … — so, apparently undergrads can act as referee??
End Administrative infantilisation – Please stop it
Artificial intelligence … – I am more concerned about artificial stupidity – but then again, it is certainly true that computers, also intelligent systems, are just doing what they are told do by humans: in other words there is no artificial stupidity, even if messages are from academic systems, we should not blame those algorithms. And one may summarise, saying that algorithmisation, further administration and infantilisation are very much different forms of incapacitation.
Other things may be added, different combinations can be found – the bottom line: human issues are dehumanised and passed on to systems that are completely lacking empathy, and do not even show some basic mindfulness and respect of the values the system they supposedly represent, claims as guiding. Simple: If a university claims to reflect and pursue the values of humanism in the truest sense, the same university should make sure that the instruments and tools, used by its departments work by applying and supporting these values.
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Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse – Plutarco
The other day I talked with a colleague about all these developments in academia, she commented: ‘And we all accept it.’ I think it is really one of the problems, may be we get up, oppose on small items individually, may be even as small or large groups but at the end of the day  … – how can a system be changed, if changes are not approached on the system level, and systematically. Well, those who try have to pay. Those who have the say, always find a way. It is not least about  ‘squeezing more into less’.
To sum up, it is about universities and their development from academic educational settings to slaves of business further to administered systems, now to IT-led information providers.
Of course, the ‘old Bologna’ was also about business – and there Polanyi comes in: business was controlled by society – sure, we should not forget that it was a more or less rotten feudal society … And society itself is today actually often a stupid bubble economy, only leaving some small niches, suggesting real life is about withdrawing, looking for individual escapes … .
So, there you see me back, unsettled, opposing the temptation of a navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse as already criticised by Plutarch. I just want to live, and I want for everybody the right to do exactly that. That is surely different  from permanently steering, moving from one emergency patch to another. And for the educational system it was already said by Alfred Marshall, thus even on the conservative side, stating

The schoolmaster must learn that his main duty is not to impart knowledge, for a few shillings will buy more printed knowledge than a man’s brain can hold. It is to educate character, faculties and activities; so that the children even of those parents who are not thoughtful themselves, may have a better chance of being trained up to become thoughtful parents of the next generation. To this end public money must flow freely. And it must flow freely to provide fresh air
and space for wholesome play for the children in all working class quarters. 

And we should never forget: at the end we are all complying! Nolens volens? Being algorithmicised, further administering life instead of living it or being infantilised – as long as we are not ready to stand up collectively and speak out loudly.

Higher Administration versus Higher Education

Recently, Denis Rogatyuk wrote in a telesur article about

Britain: University Teachers Launch the Largest Strike in Modern History

There we find the sentence

university staff, lecturers, and students have organized picket lines, rallies, occupations and protests across all major cities in the country in their bid to defend their future livelihood and bring the university administration back to the negotiating table.

Well,it deserves some slow reading, becoming fully aware of the fact that administrators are not mentioned. – Admittedly and importantly,

In a number instances, the vice-chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Chris Day, came out in support of the academic staff’s decision to strike, while Glasgow University’s Vice-chancellor, Anton Muscatelli, joined the staff on the picket lines on February 27th. Even the Conservative Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, expressed support for further negotiations between UCU and UUK

[An image from a University and College Union rally in London on February 28th. | Photo: UCU]

Of course, the one point is simply a matter of the ‘organisational framework’: Administrations are formally responsible for dealing with the issues of payment. However, considering that today admin-staff in UK universities gets higher pay [raises] as academics, the underlying is getting clear: universities are money generating systems, the academic freedom and academic standard seems to be – in the institutional  light – increasingly a necessary, though not valued by-product – as it is with any other commodity. – Achieving high academic standards is a matter of private engagement.

In this context another point should be mentioned, though just anecdotal: I talked to several colleagues, who confirmed that forty, four-five percent of standard teaching is nowadays at their uiversity undertaken by casual teaching staff. Mind: standard teaching. These teachers, often highly committed, still have another commitment: paying rent and getting some food on the table.

Was machen wir mit der Revolution – und was lassen wir die Revolution mit uns machen?

Peter Herrmann/Mehmet Okyayuz[1]/[2]

Was machen wir mit der Revolution – und was lassen wir die Revolution mit uns machen?

Der Titel des folgenden Beitrages ist eine Anspielung auf das Motto der diesjährigen Sommerakademie von attac – dort soll es um ‚1918 – 1968 – 2018: für Veränderung – Wo bleibt die Revolution’ gehen. Aber in dem hier vorlegten Beitrag geht es um eine Auseinandersetzung für den Kampf ums gute Lebenzu dem am 23.12.’18 in der TAZ von Ulrich Brand aufgefordert wurde. Unseres Erachtens knüpft Brand insofern an jenes SOAK-Motto an, als er richtig darauf hinweist, dass eine solche Revolution bereits im Ansatz stattfindet, irreführend ist aus unserer Sicht aber, diese als eine Revolution zu klassifizieren, die aus der Lebensweise kommt und von dort weiter getrieben werden soll. Es geht in diesem Bild um eine anti-imperiale Lebensweise gleichsam als neu-Kantianische Realität eines kategorischen Imperativ: Vernünftige aller Länder, vereinigt euch. Anstatt eine ökonomische Analyse des globalen Neoliberalismus als Bezugspunkt zu nehmen und daraus abgeleitet konkrete Überlegungen zum Kampf ums gute Leben vorzustellen, konzentriert sich Brandt auf Einstellungs- und Verhaltensmuster, die dann fast wie von selbst zum guten Leben führen sollen.

 

Der Weg zum guten Leben hat dabei zugegebenermaßen natürlich auch mit Mustern des täglichen Verhaltens zu tun; die aufgezeigten Alternativen münden in dem Text von Brand – und ebenso in dem Buch, welches er mit Markus Wissen vorgelegt hat, allerdings in eine diffuse und individuelle, vom ‚freien Willen‘ geleiteten, Negativhaltung. Dies kann man wohl am treffendsten mit Konsumverweigerung umschreiben: Folglich soll man sich keine SUVs mehr kaufen, nicht zuviel Fleisch essen, möglichst nicht fliegen, oder dies doch zumindest begrenzen. Die Liste kann fortgeführt werden, und all dies klingt ja auch lobenswert. Aber hat nicht schon Adorno in seiner Minima Moralia festgestellt, dass kein richtiges Leben im Falschen möglich sei. Es mag sein, dass diese Feststellung – bewusst – plakativ daherkommt; ihren Grundgehalt sollte man aber – so meinen wir – dahingehend konstruktiv verändern, dass man strukturelle Vorbedingungen, die zu einem guten/besseren Leben führen könnten, auf einer analytischen Betrachtungsweise erarbeitet – und das gilt gerade, wenn eine Leserschaft wie die der TAZ angesprochen wird. Anderenfalls läuft man Gefahr, dass Wunschbilder konstruiert werden, die bestenfalls das Gewissen zu beruhigen in der Lage sein werden. Genauso, wie die imperiale Lebensweise spätestens seit Beginn der 1990’er Jahre auf subjektivistische Weise produziert, reproduziert und legitimiert wird, so wird hier der antithetisch daherkommende Gegenentwurf auf die gleiche Weise konstruiert.

Diese Vorgehensweise, die – analog zu Lawrence Harrisons ‘liberalem’ Ansatz, dass Unterentwicklung quasi das Resultat einer ‘Geisteshaltung’ sei (siehe Harrison, L.E., 1985: Underdevelopment is a State of Mind. The Latin American Case; Lanham: Madison Books), wird hier in dem Sinn modifiziert, dass der Ausbruch aus der imperialen Lebensweise bzw. aus der globalen Unterentwicklung ebenfalls das Resultat einer Geisteshaltung der Verweigerung sein könne.

In der Tat, ‚es ist aber nicht nur das individuelle Handeln, das diese alles andere als solidarische oder nachhaltige Lebensweise am Laufen hält. Es sind auch machtvolle Produktionsstrukturen, die in der kapitalistischen Konkurrenz Handys, Autos und Nahrungsmittel produzieren, Profite und Wachstum generieren.’ Eine solche Feststellung ist aber nur dann in kritischem Sinne ‚komplett‘, wenn auch Forderungen nach klaren Regulierungen und Verteilungsstrukturen, aber mehr noch nach klaren Strukturen für die Produktion und deren Organisation damit einhergehen: So etwa die Forderung, dass die Existenz von Genossenschaften nach Unternehmens- und Steuerrecht abgesichert werden muss; Anerkennung dessen, was wir produzieren, neben den Gütern die diversen Schäden, aber ebenso das diverse Gute, dass allerdings schon bald den Charakter des Guten verliert, wenn es dann in Bilanzen und neue Buchführungstechniken gezwängt wird … – Im extremen Fehlgriff geht es dann beim pricing of everything’ (George Monbiot) um sogenanntes Grünes Wachstum. Auch das ist durchaus konkret, wenngleich mühselig. Nicht zuletzt geht es auch hier um kleine Schritte und das ‚Kehren vor der eigenen Tür’ – etwa sich für dem Ausbau des OePNV und der Radwegnetze einzusetzen, anstatt sich auf die gefährliche ‚Nutzerbahn’ zu begeben; etwa gilt es, die Überfüllung der Laden-Korridore anzuprangern anstatt sich mit Trolley und Kind den Gefahren der Verführung und Verletzung auszusetzen. Freilich sind auch dies Binsenwahrheiten und werden wohl kaum als Kritik an der Imperialen Lebensweise angesehen werden. Der Unterschied aber ist ein gewaltiger – und nun muss ein wenig Theorie her, denn sonst bleibt es doch leicht dabei, dass ‚eine besserwisserische „Ökoelite“ […] der Gesellschaft vorschreiben [wolle], wie sie zu leben habe, damit Klimawandel und andere Umweltprobleme eingedämmt werden.’

In der Gegenüberstellung – und im Eingeständnis der Gefahren durch Verkürzung – sind aber doch folgende Punkte leicht als Ansatz für die konkrete, also machbare Utopie zu erkennen.

 

Erstens, Brand geht von der Kritik der Lebensweise aus und sieht dann ‚auch machtvolle Produktionsstrukturen’. Dagegen steht unserer Auffassung – stark geprägt durch die französische Regulationsschule – als Viergespann: [a] entscheidend das Akkumulations-Regime in einem weiten Sinn als System der Definition dessen, was ‚Wert hat’ und die entsprechende Strukturierung der Wertschöpfung; [b] das Lebensregime als Rahmen oder ‚Setzkasten’, innerhalb derer Individuen Lebensentwürfe planen können – sehr verschieden, aber doch begrenzt durch Eckpfeiler wie etwa Erwerbsarbeitsverpflichtung, zunehmend private soziale Sicherung [man beachte dieses Oxymoron der Privatheit des Sozialen] u.v.m.; [c] die Regulierungsweise, allgemein als nicht zuletzt ideologisches und formales System, welches die Umsetzung der beiden genannten Regime sicherstellt. Und auch hier gibt es ein Pendant, namentlich [d] die Lebensweise – hier geht es darum, was denn jeder Einzelne wirklich aus dem Leben macht – unter Berücksichtigung des Kleingedruckten oder bei Beachtung des Grundsatzes ‚Es gelten die allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen’.

Mit diesem Rahmen lässt sich nun genauer bestimmen, wo wir stehen – und wogegen wir systematisch angehen müssen: es ist der methodologische Nationalismus und der methodologische Individualismus – dies geht weiter als einfach Nationalismus und Individualismus, denn es geht um die Wurzeln dieser Erscheinungen, ohne die eben auch eine linke Kritik schnell an die Grenzen stößt. Mit dem Viergespann lässt sich auch schnell ein wenig systematischer der Entwicklungspfad ausleuchten und auf die Perspektiven des ‚Nicht Weiter So’ eingehen – fünf Kernbereiche sollen genannt werden. Dabei geht es auch ganz bewusst um eine Ablösung der Keynes-Beverdige-Orientierung an den fünf großen Übeln: Gier, Krankheit, Unwissenheit, Elend und Faulheit.[3] Auch wenn sich viele Herausforderungen immer noch hierum drehen [müssen], so soll hier von fünf Spannungen gesprochen werden:

  • Die Überproduktion von Gütern schlägt – global und lokal – in eine Produktion von ganz konkreten, fassbaren Belastungen um
  • Enormer gesellschaftlicher Reichtum paart sich mit extrem-ungleichen Zugangschancen
  • Reichhaltigkeit des Wissens wird durch eine Orientierung auf Fähigkeiten zurechtgestutzt
  • gerade aus der Individualisierung von Problemlagen erwachsen gesellschaftliche Probleme
  • die Komplexität von Regierungsprozessen mündet in der Regierungsunfähigkeit von ‚governance’, die in Deutschland teils als Methode Merkel des Allen-Recht-Machen-Wollens kritisiert wird.[4]

– Nun bleibt – zugegebenermaßen ein wenig bissig – die Bemerkung anzufügen, dass auch die Diskussion um die anti-imperiale Lebensweise, die ja bei Brand mitgeführt wurde, etwas von jenem o.g, Oxymoron der Privatheit des Sozialen hat – und leider ist das ist etwas anderes und vielleicht gar Gegensätzliches zur Losung, dass das Private Politisch sei.

Klar, der Kommunismus ‚ist das einfache, was so schwer zu machen ist’ – so legte Brecht es der Palagea Wlassowa, Der Mutter, in den Mund. Und so ist es mit jeder Art des besseren Lebens. Allemal, angemessener als die hier kritisierten, seinerzeit als Weihnachts- und Neujahrswünsche vorgetragenen Gedanken seien dann hier einige Anregungen und ‚Wünsche’ genannt:

  • Bewusstes Leben – als Anerkennung und Beurteilung bereits erzielter Erfolge anstelle fortwährender Neuberechnungen von Bekanntem [19.7 % Armuts- und Ausgrenzungs-Betroffene in Deutschland[5] sind zuviel – aber auch 15 % waren schon zuviel.
  • Als Teil dessen Betonung bestehender Möglichkeiten, die sich bei öffentlicher Nutzung der ja auch öffentlichen Güter ergeben – etwa mehr Datenzugang für alle als Schutz einer künstlichen Privatsphäre.
  • Gelebte Gleichheit und Offenheit anstatt Schließung der verschiedenen, auch linker Gruppen, um Konsens zu sichern
  • offene und ehrliche Dispute und Streitkultur gegen die eigene konsens-belastende Schein-Friedenskultur

Sicher, so ist es nicht gemeint – gleichwohl der Kampf ums gute Leben, wie er von uns kritisiert wird, kann fast dazu verleiten, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg und Kumpane als Mitkämpfer anzusehen. Sie leben ja bereits in einer solchen Vernunftwelt des Teilens und Gut-Tuns, freilich fern von Recht und fern vom Gedanken, anders und anderes zu produzieren. Selbst Umverteilung fürchten sie wohl weniger als ein Recht, dass sie schon zur Ordnung ruft, wenn sie das Umzuverteilende unter knechtenden Bedingungen produzieren lassen – im Rahmen eben einer Akkumulationsweise, die uns bis in die letzten Fasern unserer Lebensweise zügelt. Gerade so macht sie solche zu nicht viel mehr als zu wohlmeinenden, und sicher nicht ganz wertlosen, Individual- und Klein-Schichten bezogenen Bemühungen. Im Führungszeugnis einer solche ‚Revolution’ wird dann stehen müssen, dass sie stets bemüht war das Ziel zu erreichen – jede[r], der Formulierungen von solchen Dokumenten kennt, weiß was tatsächlich gemeint ist: Bemühungen ein Ziel zu erreichen, bedeutet nicht, es tatsächlich zu tun.

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[1] Sozialphilosoph; UEF, Finnland; Corvinus Universität Ungarn; EURISPES, Italien; gegenwärtig Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik [Sozialrecht], München

[2] Sozialwissenschaftler; Middle East Technical University, Ankara

[3] Im Original want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness

[4] diese fünf Spannungen sind erstmals angesprochen in Herrmann, Peter, 2016: From 5 giant evils to 5 giant tensions – the current crisis of capitalism as seedbed for its overturn – or: How Many Gigabyte has a Horse?; Seminar ‘Continuidad y Cambios en las Relaciones Internacionales’ at ISRI (Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales Raúl Roas García), Havana; Growth and Development – Complement or Contradiction? Challenges for a Global Agenda; Shanghai Forum, China and Latin America. The Development Partnership of Trans-Pacific-Section

[5] https://de.statista.com/themen/120/armut-in-deutschland/; 31/12/17

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