differences

John, we met on occasion of a couple of conferences, frequently said:

I always see you sitting with you work in the hotel lounge or in the reception area.

And indeed, for many parts of my work I like an inspiring atmosphere as I can find it in hotel lounges or …

…, yes in some cases it is a privilege, being able to sit in a spot like this
It had been a year ago, near Amsterdam, children playing nearby did not really disturb me – more the other way round: I found it even motivating as it is a bit like having the “dedication of my work” directly as motivation and appeal around:
this work is dedicated to the future generations, aiming on contributing to a society that is worth living in
Such privilege can easily reverse – an adult abruptly dragging one of the kids at the arm, shouting at him
Just leave here, don’t play while we are sitting here.
 – I felt paralyzed, I had to leave soon after this “incidence”. Because of this old fellow’s misbehavior towards the children, but also as I felt disturbed by the permanently incoming beep-sound of incoming messages and swoosh-sound of outgoing messages on his phone.
Two days later, I went there again – I urgently needed a place that provides quietness and inspiration. I was a bit …, no, I was not really surprised that nobody calls the group of adults to order: about fifteen to twenty people, sitting in one of the corners, chatting and laughing loudly, cheering at each other with the beer and wine glasses, and walking around – each of them wanted to take a photo – about about fifteen to twenty people wanted to have more or less the same photo.
I left, feeling guilty that I did not make the point there, both days – the point of difference and sameness. And I left with the confirmation of the position of a lecturer and researcher: there is no such thing as value freedom, the place, any lecturer and researcher has to look for, is the place of the future, not a future ’that happens’ but a future that we have to develop. – Well, the value-judgement dispute should never be reduced on an abstract issue of academics disputing in an ivory tower.
Annunci

“political crap – well Cook-ed”

Scandals and no end … – still, there are some that deserve special attention. The Apple-tax avoidance policy is one of peculiar interest – for different reasons:
Think about the following:
I.
I pleaded on different occasions –  not least in connection with the data abuse by Facebook – for their socialisation: there seems to be little point in regulating monopolies – while at first glance tempering – it is a  no-go policy to break up monopolies that actually depend in their very functioning on being monopolies. Socialisation, e.g. state control, does not solve the problem but at least it puts it into a different regulatory perspective:
regulating private entities that are too big or securing democratic control over relevant political bodies, that is the question.
II.
Public control, then, is of course an issue that deserves …, not just special attention but a conceptualisation of the public itself that is serious about …, well , its public character. On this topic we read for instance:
public (adj.)
late 14c., “open to general observation,” from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus “of the people; of the state; done for the state,” also “common, general, public; ordinary, vulgar,” and as a noun, “a commonwealth; public property,” altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes “adult population, adult”) from Old Latin poplicus “pertaining to the people,” from populus “people” (see people (n.)).
In any case, this is quite different from what we learn about the tax system in Europe and Ireland, reading in the mentioned article (my translation);
Instead, first Lienemeyer has to investigate and understand the Irish tax model as it is applied by Apple, that means first and foremost detective work.
Thus, adding value or or piracy-policies, that is another crucial question.
III.
There is the common saying about milking the cow to limits and it is commonly said that the pitcher goes often to the well, but is broken at last.
There is, in economics, so much talk about value chains – suggesting that the enterprise and country in which the enterprise is located gets a “fair share” – said in another way: as many products today – computers, phones, cars, fridges etc. – are produced in various places, with parts from different countries, the overall value of the product will be distributed between the countries, the contribution of each “valued proportionally”. One point to be considered here is that these value chains are, as Benjamin Selwyn points out, in actual fact poverty chains, the Apple-case clearly gives another good reason to question such concept.
Two passages from the said article in the SZ clearly show the contradiction:
At the time, Ireland replied in a letter to Brussels that Apple’s advanced technology, design and the intellectual property are exclusively rooted, developed and managed in the USA, thus making it impossible to attribute it to the Irish enterprises [enterprises  set up by Apple as mediators, solely dealing with sales]
However, a little later we read the following:
In the view of the head of the department at the EU-Commission it is fact that the Irish Apple-branches run their offices solely in Ireland, have their employees only there and are, thus, ordinary Irish companies. “Then the question is: who is generating the profit? A virtual headquarter or an industrial premise with real people working?” says Lienemeyer. As Apple maintains offices in the city of Cork. this is his conclusion, Apples global business is Irish. Consequently all profit has to be taxed in Ireland.
Ireland and Apple react by being shocked. In their understanding the global Apple-tree with its mature fruits always had its roots in California.
Both, Ireland and Apple see this a affront. At the end, the question is here:
eating the apples and rejecting the tree – is that a feasible option?
To be or not to be, that question needs urgently to be replaced: Who is allowed to define what being is – and who is allowed to determine the conditions of existence of others, of majorities?
Cook, Apple’s CEO, once spoke of ‘political crap’ coming from Brussels. Actually he may be not entirely wrong after all. Leaving the tax scandal aside, there are two fundamental issues that remain without consideration:
First, regulating sick and decaying systems, that are not only undermining like cancer the entire body but already replaced completely the entire body, is hardly enough as cure against the body snatchers.
Second, this requires not least to fundamentally overcome methodological nationalism: as long as we still think in competition between regions and nation states, global capitalism will unfold exponentially – paradoxically in niches of arrogant and sexist plutocracies.

 

Social Networks and Network Effect

Today these are keywords, snatch mechanisms and catch tools – firmly anchored in many lives, seemingly providing a second skin, solidified to an extent that the idea they could disappear one day, even attempts to a controlled use as outlined in the Cor Orans occurs as weird, absurd.
But what harm one may say – looking at the wikipedia-List of social networking websites is somewhat instructive: Many of the early ones had been about people ‘just meeting’ or joining for a specific purpose as ADVOGATO, defining itself as ‘the free software developer’s advocate’. – May then be that we should not worry about these networks, instead look at their use? But then again, isn’t another great hit ‘social capital’, community building, self-orgainsation and solidarity? Sure, terms could and should be twisted and turned, social networking – its structures and use – needs to be controlled. Finally all this is not least about social responsibility – the term nowadays so often discussed with the little extension ‘corporate’- Actually not at all a new topic. Milton Friedman – writing under the title

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits

in The New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970 contends:

When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free en­terprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.

A bit later this is followed by the statement

In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it correct that

in his capacity as a corporate executive, the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them.

Indeed, this had been already issued much earlier – namely by Thortstein Veblen who wrote in 1904

The motive of business is pecuniary gain, the method is essentially purchase and sale. The aim and usual outcome is an accumulation of wealth.[.] Men whose aim is not increase of possessions do not go into business, particularly not on an independent footing (Veblen, Thorstein, 1904: Theory of business Enterprise: New York: Charles Scribers: 20)

There is another general point to it: Economics is since David Ricardo obsessed by the idea of comparative advantage – though originally not focusing on individuals, it is of course still based in methodological individualism: individuals act as individuals, do what they are good at, and the aggregate is a ‘supposed social’.

A recent article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung brought back to my mind that we also have to make sure that we do not forget any of these issues, and any of these Social Networks. The article, published on May, the 20th 2018, 09:51hrs, is titled
Aufsichtsräte. Deutschlands Netz der Macht/Board of Directors. Germany’s Net of Power.
And there are so many scandalous things mentioned … – these directorates: the chairs of the 30 DAX-enterprises get in average 408,000 Euro which seems to be a nice little top-up, commonly adding to incomes that are extremely high anyway. Just Bilderberg – like … ops: Bilderbuch [picture-book]-like incomes – yes ops, yes, there is this Bilderberg-conference, there is a World Economic Forum, there is the Club of Madrid, there is the  Mont Pèlerin Society … – well, in the case of these gatherings we may not have to talk about additional income …, perhaps … – the payment for giving a presentation …, peanuts … when it comes to money we are here talking about dimensions that are negligible – at some some stage, beyond a specific threshold, it is simply getting ridiculous and we should talk about the need of psychological control – of people and societies. Here it is surely about additional power.

Il denaro regola il mondo

Money governs the world

Pecuniam regit mundi

Geld reguleert de wereld

L’argent gouverne le monde

돈이 세상을 지배하다

At stake is, however, … a kind of oxymoron or paradox. There is the simple network effect: they know each other, communicate with each other … – it is a ‘manageable circle’, the borders so tight that even leaks aren’t able to emerge. The problem is of course not that they meet for probably extensively expensive dinners – instead it is about … – ‘corporate social responsibility’, the fact that these are interlaced social networks with a clear goal and strategy:
In fact it is this network effect that secures success, make it even possible. The point here is, however, there contradictory effect. Social networks are getting more powerful as more people are part of it – the simple example is the little joy to have the only telephone in the universe – you have the item but you cannot use it. If at least one other person has a phone, you can talk – getting a bit of joy out of it. If everybody has one, communication may become universal – and in some way communication is power: you are empowered to reach out, to speak, to develop things together with others … – or, of course, also to influence others. However, the networks that are looked at here, depend on their exclusivity: the smaller the group that executes the control over a huge pool of resources, as larger the power, the influence. We may speak of an inverse network effect. — Anything new?
Well, surely one thing: The ’new’ aspect is that we are now not least dealing with ‘controllers’ and ‘directors’ who are not immediately owning the means of production. At the same time, many of the owners – or better to say: the primitive accumulators, are actually in some way disappearing, for instance Gates as well as Soros showing up on the stage of humanitarian help and supposed world liberation respectively.
May we say in this light that, taking the perspective of national origin – possibly the most ’successful’, and equally most dangerous, are Ireland and Italy  – in the first case it is explicitly a U2-showman, claiming the role of a global politician, in the second case an even further step is made: a M5S-comedian, switching on five startling stars to enlighten a country that feels in many respects happy by maintaining the status of a sleeping beauty of a special kind.
— Again though: anything new?
As we know from Matthew 13: 11ff.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

Well, political and enforced self-control obviously included.

Hot air …

Some time ago I talked to Rainer – the gist and my suggestion: we need a new approach when it comes to digitisation – and part of it is to look at the side of capital – not simply as ongoing concentration and centralisation  – or as matter of concentralisation as I call it, but by focussing on …, well, that day I said money laundering. Sure, more appropriate is the debate under terms as over-accumulation/devalutation as Paul elaborated.

[Yes, such sermon as the following needs slow reading, or slow listening, making sure that one gets every single word of nonsense, of being fooled …].
Sometimes, spotting Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on the new in-store experience, or listening/reading about Microsoft’s next Act, presented by Satya Nadella, I am wondering about change and stability.

For the second I would say that all this stands in the well-known tradition of ripping people off, extensively using different forms of brain-washing . The change is also clear I guess: the times of good fairy tales is over.

[royalty free from https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-rotten-apples-compost-heap-allotment-site-image59349576]

The hope for more change – Snow White found a prince to revive her – let us hope that today men and women awake themselves, seeing the rotten fruit.

GAFA and BAT – is that all Big Data has to offer?

Big scandals – Big lies, abusing terms as sharing and gig – Big communities, allowing access, participation and common action – Big portals, opening new ways of empowerment  of citizens who move and customers who control

— Debates around BIG DATA have to span between these four poles. It would be presumptuous to discuss this field without acknowledging the diverse tensions, trying to limit the debate by focusing on one corner only. Any of those debates is prone to get caught by self-limitation, continuing the way we seemingly always walked; or dreaming of visions that overlook the limits of the realm of the seemingly borderless space of imagination.
The presentation, made on the 20th of June at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, focuses on property and competition as core issues, emphasising that both have to be used in a substantiated way that starts from a perspective of praxis. This means to least that notions “corporate social responsibility” are critically rebuked, insisting on cooperative social responsibility as pathway that needs to be developed. it surely is an illusion to think about ways to regulate and reform matters that actually do not exist (anymore).
The recording should be listened to in connection with a document providing some definitions and references:

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 …

ordinary madness

http: //cf.mp-cdn.net/b9/42/12f04789eaa51ed84f12d30948cd-is-hypocrisy-the-greatest-threat-to-human-societies.jpg
I am working a bit on digitisation, and with this also looking at these Silicon Valley folks, these CEOs, their strategies and a bit of the ‘academic backing’ some of them get. The wisdom is mostly much inferior tho what my grandmother said, the difference: she did not have income comparable to that of Zuckerberg, McApple or Nadella. What is equally [or more?] worrying: we believe much of this rubbish [sorry] and even admire them. The other day I read about Mr Z., now being celebrated for his outstanding benevolence. And around the same time he had been accused of supporting Anti-Refugee-Campaigs …
In Washington, during the Senate hearing, Z. stated

Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And, as Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to the people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses.

BTW, a hearing that was a bit mute people asking a wall, their hearing not able to figure out that, naturally, the reply would be a kind of echo.

  • Is it worthwhile to add that nearly every senator explicitly and pronouncedly expressed gratefulness for Z’s appearance, much more than general curtesy, basic good manners would have suggested? And to ask why he meets the European Parliament’s leaders in private sessions ?
  • Is it worthwhile to ask if everybody who has to appear at Court – the small pickpocket, shoplifter or the murderer and rapist – meets the same curtesy?

It is necessary to ask for the real the reason for such ‘liberal’ case Z. – at least it is obvious that the view on liberalism and market equality deserves some qualified review, looking at the foundation and meaning of the ‘free market’.