free candies for all

Some stimulation can emerge from this article indeed. It wants to convince us that

European regulators are about to kill the digital media industry

While working on digitisation, and becoming increasingly aware of the fact that much it means that social property, namely data, are used for private gain, I am wondering if it is not time to think about free candies for all.

[from https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–_qErm2R8–/c_scale,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/1514533461230255138.jpg]

Much of the debate is apparently misled, suggesting that we are mainly concerned with the protection of private data – leaving aside that there are some issues around this, I suggest that the main issue is the use of social data, i.e. public property. To me it seems to be a much more important point in question.

At least it is time to think seriously about the dangers of privatisation of everything, not being funny at all – this German language docu on privatisation of airlines and training of pilots

under the title

Die Schattenseite des “Traumberufs”

 

is definitely frightening.

Annunci

The Windfall of Security …

It had been a quick trip, probably a 3/3 trip: 2 days going there, 2 days working, 2 days return trip. While travelling, I am marking student’s essays and still preparing a tomorrows 8 hours lecturing – don’t say “hard working”, it is not least about gaining time to have the day of return free from work, just doing something nice. Returning early, it means there will be a long day of pleasure-leisure-time ahead.

Approximately 5 a.m. the aircraft is touching Chinese ground, Beijing – the state aircraft returning to the state. Admittedly I am a bit tired, after the usual long-haul flight sleep deprivation. There is not much time to catch the connection flight due to some delay, and due to the fact that I do not have a boarding pass yet. Waiting in the endless “one queue for all”, expecting the visa control is not my favourite activity anyway; under these conditions and standing next to a Yank who is permanently mocking does not lift my mood. Being through, I have to run: trough customs, leaving into departures … – thinking about the good old times when on such occasions the European then state-airlines offered some special support, bringing me occasionally the fast-track to the aircraft. Yes, it sill happens today on some occasions – on some …

I asked the board assistant and she said there is sufficient time, and I also asked at the boarder control, admittedly keen to jump the queue: “No no, there is plenty of time.” But while running, while leaving through the departure gate, looking helplessly around I am not entirely convinced. A small light of hope, I remember the words of the board assistant who said that, if there would be a problem, the ground staff would help …, and so there is a kind of natural relief when next to the gate a friendly person asks me if I have to transfer … – all goes so fast, he pushes the staff only sign aside, helps me with the suitcase and I feel safe … until he says “It is hundred dollars.” We pass a security/help desk, next to the exit to the parking desk, I grab the suitcase, turn to the uniformed security girl. Her kind help … does not really help due to the language barrier. But at least she points into the direction, where to go fro transfer, just he opposite direction … – and I GO, I RUSH, the guy is still behind me for a while. So I am eingekesselt xyz now: in the back the service robber, in front of me the time pressure. “No wait, wait …”, sorry, my dear, I won’t – just forget your 100 dollar. Another desk to ask, for the right desk to check in. “No, here is still the wrong terminal …” – well, a bit of exercise is good in the morning – so … I arrive at the terminal, and … yes, help is at hand. Unerring I am brought to the check-in desk, jumping with his help the queue, I hold the boarding pass in my hand, off to the security check …, it seems to be hopeless, but … my helper goes to the staff only sign, just while he is reaching out asking for money, “service charge” … I am wondering about free decisions on free markets and the agreement between two parties, the voluntary agreement based on in advance complete information … – The good thing: I really get the flight, without the last service robber I surely would not have managed. It is “privatisation the cold way” I suppose, through the backdoor: reduce service, make “state service” competitive – externalise the cost by allowing a windfall profit, now called service charge.

Today’s China Daily, Page 3 – one headline reads

Modern life presents new security challenges.

And the article says

While changes brought by the internet and the free flow of people have made life more convenient, they also pose new challenges in maintaining public security, according to the 2017 Blue Book of China’s Society, released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Wednesday.

It is Thursday, December 22ndMerry Christmas ….

Of course, also here in China and everywhere

Ho ho ho, market’s right here!

It is reflecting that

Rationality (is) essential for new startups

The recipe of which we know since two days

many young people started their businesses out of an interest, instead of a market need, which increases the risk of failure.

It is something others know – and they get well away with it, maintaining their power.

How to write a bestseller and get a Pulitzer Award?

I am not sure if I missed something, or if it was just a rumor about some things that went wrong around that time?

What makes capital provision work so well in America is the security and regulation of our capital markets, where minority shareholders are protected. Lord knows, there are scams, excesses, and corruption in our capital markets. That always happens when a lot of money is at stake. What distinguishes our capital markets is not that Enrons don’t happen in America—they sure do. It is that when they happen, they usually get ex- posed, either by the Securities and Exchange Commission or by the business press, and get corrected. What makes America unique is not Enron but Eliot Spitzer, the attorney general of New York State, who has doggedly sought to clean up the securities industry and corporate board-rooms. This sort of capital market has proved very, very difficult to duplicate outside of New York, London, Frankfurt, and Tokyo. Said Foster, “China and India and other Asian countries will not be successful at innovation until they have successful capital markets, and they will not have successful capital markets until they have rule of law which protects minority interests under conditions of risk… We in the U.S. are the lucky beneficiaries of centuries of conditions of risk… We in the U.S. are the lucky beneficiaries of centuries of economic experimentation, and we are the experiment that has worked.”

From: Thomas L. Friedman: The World is Flat; New York: Picador: 2007: 332 f.

Well, the Friedmans, be it Thomas or Milton, don’t understand that we face what James Galbraith calls

The End of Normal: The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth

as reviewed here.
One important point is, and that is another way of thinking about the end of the normal, the need to question the normal or at least part of it. Three (we always strive for trinities) essential parts of the normal were: growth, growth, and some form of regulation – and indeed Friedman talks about such regulation. But what he does not say is that this had been about marginal forms of social distribution, limited control of excesses and in particular/not least about securing the conditions of and for growth. It is interesting that even this is now largely taken away. As we know since recently, namely the leak of the TISA-Annex on the Annex on State Owned Enterprises the role of securing the conditions of and for growth is now under the increasing pressure of being finally, formally and completely handed over to the ‘market’. This is globalisation not simply by imposing specific structures and conditions on other countries but by establishing the control
Freedom and democracy – the flattening of the world by fattening the few global players.

Does one ‘super-corporation’ run the global economy? Study claims it could be terrifyingly unstable

The Network of Global Corporate Control – Research Article

The Network of Global Corporate Control – Annex

Indeed, I took up on some of the issues of the supposedly flattened world not only recently in Havana (here for for a background paper), but now again during the Shanghai Forum, presenting on Growth and Development – Complement or Contradiction? Challenges for a Global Agenda– more information can be found here.

The Murderer and the Victims

In particular in recent times remarks are concerning in particular the catholic church … . Though there is on the one hand the fear when it comes to religious fundamentalism, many initiatives taken by the current pope are celebrated – and indeed I joined a little bit in, asking in the title of a contribution for the Primavera vaticana?, i.e. Vatican Spring. Now there had been the one celebrated ‘Spring’ in the recent times which turned out to be the beginning of a hot autumn. And though there are the surely critical remarks and initiatives as not least in the Evangelli Gaudium and the Laudatio Sì and also the recent proposals in connection with abortion and divorce, one should not overlook that these can well be a threat: on the one hand a kind of Trojan horse; on the other hand a suicidal fuse, provoking fundamentalist catholics to start a palace coup. Well, in any case, much could be said and documented, also on the modern way inquisition – I found an article recently, and of course did not store it, post it …

With all this, I find another thing pretty interesting point: I received a hint on a BBC cast, specifically on China, even promising the unveiling of the Secrets of China. A young presenter. Indeed, she reveals some interesting stuff, gives some insight into real life of some people. I think she is much too positive in some way: on young people, the gambling addiction etc, youth issues – too positive and somewhat naïve. So I checked up on the presenter as I found it interesting to see such a young presenter being so …, well, in some instances ‘critical (which can be translated into conservative) about how young people live today’, the life of her own generation. The result – if this is her: she walked some … let’s say: ‘strange paths’, and if she would not have been as lucky as she has been, she would be at this stage in prison, undergo a drug detox treatment or already at the stage of addiction therapy – or worse: without it; in some way she is still behaving in the same way though she has now other ways with exactly the reputation these starlet producers provide and is now starting a career as ‘everything’: documentaries, fashion, activism …, as a veil and wrap of nothing else than the old habits, now ‘authorised’ by the Holy grail of BBC, fashion magazines and others ….

There is no reason to contest what is stated; and there are also some moments where one mentions the genuine approach and ‘empathy’ of the documentarist. The actually shocking about this is that it is not really about China: it is a ‘slow motion picture’ of many developments [including cosmetic surgeries, gaming and computer addiction, drugs, a lost youth, the pressure from careerism and (threat of) unemployment] which in western societies are now regretted, and faced with helpless despair, currently in part taken over in China, where inequality can easier be seen as ‘we’, the folks in the wild west are usually somewhat used to it, intoxicated by the Hello-press or to overlook it or are not able to see it easily as they happen in secret corners or where we cannot see them due to ‘commercial censorship’. We are somewhat used to it to such an extent that we often do not even hesitate when reading the paper like the Corriere della Sera: The edition of September 3rd showed on page 6 an article on Le tragedie in uno scatto, horrible photos, including the famous from the Vietnam war, showing the naked child, screaming and running away from the US-Napalm-bomb source of its pain and on page 7 we see an ad: Emporio Armani. – Yes, if reading the name it may sound a bit like the story about an armed empire, the arms being those of designer and finance capitalism – and we know that ‘this economy kills’ as Francis said. Sure, if you ‘join the wrong forces’ and are on the losers end, they will still gain, literally make profit after sending you to jail – saying all this in connection with a critique of the China-series is just saying this and has nothing to do with China, let alone the defence of any political past or presence. Still, it is worthwhile to read the ‘official critique‘ of the series … – there is surely some good reason for stating that

 

‘Professional media practice,’ the Xinhua commentary reads, ‘should be to interview sociologists… and education experts to give authoritative explanations; but the BBC has not done this.’ Instead, they say the programme ‘selectively uses non-mainstream phenomena to give subjective judgements the impression of objectivity.’

What we can learn from the series, though not necessarily outspoken, is that there is a China that is now kept out of the roundelay of the centre states in different ways. Andre Gunder Frank’s thesis, suggesting the Development of Underdevelopment has surely not completely lost its value also for analysing today’s (under)developments. And surely the series could have shown (it is stated in parenthesis) that it is exactly this fact leading to many of the problems: an over-stressed youth extreme inequality and so on: the attempt to build another armed empire or even to take over the existing one even if the arms are not the traditional ones but now those of brands and designs. But when it comes to talking about empires, it is still too often forgotten that the Most Violent Nation is indeed to be found in another corner of the world – and the violence there is really penetrating the entire society, coined by a high degree of feeling supremacy as ultimate characteristic of the state and the nation. This surely is somewhat different to what we read in the Diplomatic Words of Wisdom.

It may be far fetched, but interestingly: the UN-resolution on Debt Restructuring (I did not find it, only reports on it) had been adopted by a majority but against countries where the most important forces are referring to be servants of religious faith, in particular USNA and FRG. And it is a country where Christianity plays a major role, also in the reference of the relevant power holder (Hungary), now beginning to move military forces to the border to ‘solve’ the problem of migration. And …, well, it was also the Christians who did not allow critiques in West Germany of the 1970s entering state services, Christians who are again attempting to close Corvinus university in Budapest (or at least the relevant part of critical work there) while they are putting up barbed wire and engaging the army against migrants … and who make (with reference to god and the good will and hope) empty promises which let people end up on the street…

It is not too late yet …

It was in the dreary month of November,

The gloomy days grew shorter,

The wind tore the foliage off the trees,

….

No, not the time I visited Germany, as Heinrich Heine did, writing A Winter’s Tale about Germany

 

We ended a European conference: social services, the meaning of care with its various facets, not least the pressure from marketisation and the neglect of a system of which it had been said in 2013 that this capitalism kills.

 

I said good bye to a colleague from Hungary – I did not know her, mentioned en passent my position at the Corvinus University and ….

… Could I only recite that then

She sang of love and its woes,

Of sacrifice and meeting again,

High above, in a better world,

Void of suffering, void of pain.

I heard another story instead

Orban finally took him away

– so on the occasion of my next visit I will not see the Marx statue that stood in the central hall of the university. Of course, it had been only a monument, a symbol – but yes: it had been a symbol: a manifestation of a writer, scientist and activist. And it had been a symbol for a writer who had been recognised as important contributor to the development of world culture – part of the heritage of Western culture which means in the understanding of the UNESCO a recognition not only of the importance but also in terms of the positive contribution.

With the news about Orban’s recent coupe I leave the venue – a stale feeling, weakness and disgust …

Indeed, Orban and his myrmidons learned what their recent victim said:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

Of course, it is important, necessary to accuse this infringement of respect of Western culture, this arrogance of a snooty-nosed little upstart who is known for his pathological outages, his populist megalomania. Still, there is a wider perspective.

Some may recall the sentences by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.[1]

And indeed, it is cum grano salis also relevant here:

  • First they came for the social commitment of property and established the radical freedom of the market – but we enjoyed it: choice and being able to decide
  • Then they came for the regulation, and dismantled the systems of regulating at least some standards – but we always objected bureaucratic rule and did not bother, assuming that reason will win anyway
  • Then they took the last public services away, establishing the market rule across the board – didn’t we complain for a long time of the lack of quality of public services …
  • Finally, there had indeed not been such thing as society, only individualists, pretending sociality by the commodities they buy, the brands by which they exhibit themselves … and even the memory of alternatives had been wiped out – then it will be too late …

Not yet – if we are serious now in interpreting the development correctly and, indeed, change it fundamentally.

[1]            There are different versions and there is along discussion on the statement – see here… And here.