Poison, Gifts and Intoxication

Well, much can be said about China – not the issue here and not for me at the moment. Still, I am wondering if a country and continent [sorry, all links are to articles in German language]


[Bei der Düsseldorfer Tafel bekommen alle Bedürftigen Lebensmittel. In Essen vorübergehend nur noch die mit deutschem Pass. – photo dpa]


should really worry about a Chinese investor, who steps substantially in at Daimler Benz? Carrying in his luggage the gift of advanced technologies for electric cars, a gift that does not promise venom-free driving[1], but is at least a small contribution to reduce emissions. – It would be more desirable to think about possibilities to move with this to cooperative advantage instead of maintaining comparative advantage as guide, – Sure, here state regulation could take new forms.

Less complains here I suppose than about google as potential competitor on the market of car manufacturing.


Two of the many points that should be mentioned in detail:


Quoted from the first article, in translation:

The spokesperson of the job center … says that persons who re receiving basic basic social income would not depend on begging.

It is the old flam that here is no poverty [a] because everybody has the right to receive that kind of income and [b] it is sufficient for a decent life. But it is as well a matter of defining begging as smiliar-to-employment activity.


In all these contexts [there are similar cases, also in other German cities, the issue of donations is coming up: basically it says money – also goods – given to people who are begging, also food and other support people receive from charities – are legally ‘donations’ [non-deductible] to the recipient, i.e, beggar.

So, playing this bitter game a bit further we arrive at the state where actually income may soon be defined as donation, the employer soon being defined as good-doer, and the employee …

Well, NOW I think it is time to return to the China issue: I discussed with a colleague more or less extensively about Corporate Social Responsibility – the project to co-author an article finally failed, admittedly it was my fault: I simply could not accept that paying business tax can be seen as corporate social responsibility … .


And all this is much about a topic I discuss occasionally with my colleague here, in a nutshell the old, and still unresolved question about justice and right. And John Stuart Mill, in Volume X of his Collected Works [Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society], in particular writing on the ‘On the Connexion between Justice and Utility’ is at least stimulating, asking us to think about social and individual.

Is it far fetched then if the gist of my presentation, titled

WYSIWYG – Also for Big Data?

is the necessity to think about the a radical ‘new beginning’ when it comes to thinking about social and welfare issues?

Now lean back and think a bit: In the presentation I mention towards the end that one of the most serious problems with the ‘new economic and juridical normal’ is the -delegalisation, ops: the fact that we find a substantial trend towards charitibilisation: the replacement of social rights by charitable activities ….


[1]            The German term ‘Geschenk’ translates into English as ‘gift’, the German term ‘Gift’ translates into English as venom, toxic, poison.


complements to bubble economies

Sure, some debate is needed on it; and on the conclusion and the needed conclusions have to be brought on the agenda. Not least the various strategies of exploitation that stand behind impoverishment.


But at least we see: more bubbles, a failing system of global policies complementing the bubble economies, and even more: making them possible.

Peanuts …

A commonly known – und uncontested – pattern is that people who are more or less poor, have to turn every cent, 人民币, копейка, centavo … around and round before spending it … – so different to those who have enough, barely looking at the denomination.

And so it is as well on the “other side”, those who are at the receiving end, or those who are dealing with the “payers” – these are then people who do the same with the money they receive or that have to check, when closing a bank account, transferring petty money from these poorish people into another account or even country etc.: every cent, 人民币, копейка, centavo … has to be turned around and around again and again, forms have to be completed … .

The prayers of the rich and superrich may be better, more substantial, in any case surely: “closer to the higher ecehlons”, to those whom they elected as the political leaders and to heaven?.

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.[1]

And so is it with all the rest of it – cum grano salis and at times inversely: A petty crime will be most likely detected and at court it will be turned around and around like the cents until a reason is found to penalise it I the most stern manner. The major and definitely criminal offense of speculators and other “functionaries” may even get away with some fanfares, re-interpreting the delict as support of economic development, act of fostering investment and growth and good deed.

You remember Brecht’s Macheath, asking in Act 3, scene 3

What is the burgling of a bank to the founding of a bank?

Indeed, we have to take up again o the wisdom of the ancestors, already struggling with a world characterised by these patterns

To nonsense, reason’s self they turn; Beneficence becomes a pest; Woe unto thee, that thou’rt a grandson born! As for the law born with us, unexpressed;– That law, alas, none careth to discern.


[1]            T.J. Dunning, l. c. [Trades Union and Strikes], pp. 35, 36; in: Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital; Volume I; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996: 748, footnote 2

About the real realities of the presence …

… not the realities of a proposed future in the making,

There we are talking about digitalisation, the abundance of today’s society and zero-marginality, of course often or not, considering, admitting, commiserating the poverty, asking even for changes of the distribution and policies of distribution, allowing the “inclusion”. Looking honestly at the other sides, we should surely register also the “exclusion of mindfulness”, the fact that the reference we use is actually itself exclusive, establishing a real- and mind-set that evokes and even is excluding. In his book Mike Davis, looking at the Planet of Slums, we find on Page 49 the decisive statement:

“Most displaced … are social outcasts, excluded from formal life and employment.”

 – important to note that he is quoting an aid NGO.

The attempts to arrive at a really integrated approach, understanding concisely the intimate link, are at least today too often caught in a certain kind of “positivity/Positiveness of the future” – be it by looking at the Precariat as the New Dangerous Class
In sum, all these positive approaches are overestimating – for one or another reason – the somewhat futurist view, proposing some new normal, and easily forgetting that fact that for many life is still actually still “the normal we thought to be overcome fro some time already”, the suggested “historic, early normal”.
Sure, development is rapid – we find also his statement in Davis’ book:
Angola, only 14 percent urban in 1970, is now a majority urban nation. Most of its city-dwellers are both desperately poor and almost totally ignored by the state, which in 1998 was estimated to spend only 1 percent of its budget on public education and welfare. The unending civil wars in Colombia likewise have added more than 400,000 IDPs to Bogota’s urban poverty belt, which includes the huge informal settlements of Sumapaz, Ciudad Bolivar, Usme, and Soacha.
And although I think we are too often look at crude data which do not really say anything about life and what it is about here is another figure, taken from Davis’ book:
If UN data are accurate, the household per-capita income differential between a rich city like Seattle and a very poor city like Ibadan is as great as 739 to 1 – an incredible inequality.
A gentle reminder to the readers of the blog — whenever the modern and “postmodern” world is looked at on these pages, taking the “positive outlook” the author is well aware of the ore “positivist perspective”, if you want: the story told by the reality as it is shown by the far too many real lives standing behind every “single figure” that amounts to the brute reality of global capitalist development that is by no means flat and where talking about Postcapitalism as a Guide to Our Future is really more science fiction and should realistically not be seen as vision.

Merry Go Around

Yes, it is the time of the year again … – the time to get easily mixed up, or mixing up things and times when Mary goes around, making us thinking

Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me but I could’ve sworn

Merry Christmas I meant …, it is the time of joy and happiness … and of giving. Where we do not give to the “loved ones”, we make donations to … to those who are not loved, not by anybody, at least not by us, taking the liberty of buying our peace of mind … – ploing, ploing … the cents drop into the charity’s tin, one piece for “them” and piece for “us”, for our peace of mind.

Marry Christmas, join in … walking around the one morning, a few days only left to the holy day my mind could be in peace, I was “safe” so to say – it was too early for the collectors of the good, the good collectors and could be wondering, while my thoughts wondered around: SALES, SALES, SALES … clearly telling us to join …, now even for the special price: reductions … reductions of prices here, reductions of the income and worming conditions of those who produced the commodities … somewhere on the globe … . It is that part for the party who truly is homo oeconomicus, buying without warm thoughts of the loved ones but with the true thoughts of the times: look for the best offer, be rational actor on the market.

Merry Christmas … –

It is about entering the new temples:

The archetype of that particular race in which every member of a consumer society is running (everything in a consumer society is a matter of choice, except the compulsion to choose – the compulsion which grows into addiction and so is no longer perceived as compulsion) is the activity of shopping. We stay in the race as long as we shop around, and it is not just the shops or supermarkets or department stores or George Ritzer’s ‘Temples of Consumption’ where we do our shopping.[1]

Merry Christmas … – I see, while walking these early hours of the day, those who are waiting for the charities collections being opened for them …, those sleeping rough in so many entrances of those shops that will later open their doors for the pre-Christmas sales …, yes, many of those shops have something for everybody …, even if it is only the sheltered areas that offer some comfort for the night.

– I feel a bit like ridiculing myself or the matter, but still “I have to do it”, the wee bit I can: and I carry the bag, instead of allowing the noise, coming from the comfortable “4×4-suitcase”, disturbing them even more – or is it about hiding myself, hiding the comfort, the comfort of having slept in a hotel-bed …?

Merry Christmas for those who are protected from all this for instance in London’s noble corners:

for the price of a house in Heritage Park you will buy your entry to a community. ‘Community’ is these days the last relic of the old-time utopias of the good society; it stands for whatever has been left of the dreams of a better life shared with better neighbours all following better rules of cohabitation. For the utopia of harmony slimmed down, realistically, to the size of the immediate neighbourhood. No wonder ‘community’ is a good selling point. No wonder either that in the prospectus distributed by George Hazeldon, the land developer, community has been brought into focus as an indispensable, yet elsewhere missing, supplement to the good restaurants and picturesque jogging courses that other towns also offer.[2]

– all this

entrusted to hidden TV cameras and dozens of hired gun-carrying guards checking passes at the security gates and discreetly (or ostentatiously, if need be) patrolling the streets.[3]

Dear Mary, my little Christmas celebration that morning: a coffee and a Simit: the latter from a small shop, its smell lifting my spirit which was admittedly a bit drowsy after the nearly 20 hours flight and the 3 hours sleep that I got before heading on. It was a real Simit – it reminding me of the campus-restaurant I visited every morning when I worked many years ago at ODTU-university in Ankara: so nice to get them immediately from the oven, “baked with love” and brought to me with tenderness. And yes, I enjoy the espresso – the “Italian coffee” that can be bought every where now – machine-made, admittedly that is what it was also in the bar, around the corner of my Roman domicile …, and I don’t know exactly the difference between here and there – perhaps it is simply in the mind, defined as mindset by the way we stand here and there in the queue … – the shop here a kind of corridor, inviting to move faster; the counter in the bar inviting to slow down, to take a breath in the small group standing, mixing, chatting … – the difference between express-o and espresso …

And while enjoying both, I return with one thought to Salzburg: the very local shops in the Getreideasse now pushed aside, away even by the global retailers that unit the colours … – does this thought come to my mind because I see one “speciality bakery”, with the one stall …, now having a second stall … and perhaps …

A bit later I have time, sitting in the train for the last leg of the journey … Merry Christmas …, no high-speed train but a local train, inviting to adapt to its speed: slow down … it is direction to Leipzig – and I remember the delicious roles we got every morning when I studied there, in a country that does not exist anymore, not anymore “as such” … .

– I am listening to Rousseau, the audiobook of his Confessions, the text reading in book 1:

I never thought money so desirable as it is usually imagined; if you would enjoy, you must transform it; and this transformation is frequently attended with inconvenience: you must bargain, purchase, pay dear, be badly served, and often duped. I buy an egg, am assured it is new-laid- I find it stale; fruit in its utmost perfection’tis absolutely green; a girl, and she is tainted. I love good wine, but where shall I get it? Not at my wine merchant’s — he will certainly poison me. I wish to be universally respected; how shall I compass my design? I must make friends, send messages, come, go, wait, and be frequently deceived. Money is the perpetual source of uneasiness; I fear it more than I love good wine.

Christ, what a mess … – Merry Christmas, Marry Christmas, Mary Christmas …

Merry-go Round


[1]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 73

[2]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 92

[3]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 93

No to austerity

Elsewhere and in EUrope alike — The One Percent
The one percent being rich is one side of the coin;

the same one percent making poor is the other side of the same coin.

Hunger is just one side of austerity.

Doing a little bit of maths, we easily see that we would not even have to make the one percent poor in order to make the many not living in poverty anymore. We all know the figures, though at times a reminder may be useful

Natale – alcune cose non cambiano

– A proposito, – soggiunse il burattino, – per andare alla scuola mi manca sempre qualcosa: anzi mi manca il più e il meglio.
– Cioè?
– Mi manca l’Abbecedario.
– Hai ragione: ma come si fa per averlo?
– È facilissimo: si va da un libraio e si compra.
– E i quattrini?
– Io non ce l’ho.
– Nemmeno io, – soggiunse il buon vecchio, facendosi tristo.

E Pinocchio, sebbene fosse un ragazzo allegrissimo, si fece tristo anche lui: perché la miseria, quando è miseria davvero, la intendono tutti: anche i ragazzi.

Collodi, Carlo, 1183: Pinocchio