Corporate irresponsibility ?

Tomorrow, in the framework of the ‘hour of contemporary issues’, organised at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, Amalienstrasse 33, Peter Herrmann will give a presentation titled

The Comedy of Big Data, Or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, While Corporations wither away?

The following gives some idea what the presentation is about.

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility requires at least a bit of historical clarification: it would be surely misleading to attribute any kind of entrepreneurial ‘social activity’ to the array of Corporate Social Responsibility. However, such review will be only briefly introduced in order to classify certain activities as related to what may be called social responsibility, the emphasis on the corporation as actor. What, however, if we come to the conclusion that certain shifts in the economy lead – in some digitization industries – to forms of the classical corporation withering away, being successively replaced by a new formation of which we cannot see clear, elusive contours. Are we moving towards revived arbitrary systems of socio-charitable controls, Lidle financing professorships, Aldi and Lidl presenting themselves as supporters of social housing and Facebook controlling elections?  Or can we foster a model which leans towards inherent publicness?


living and being lived …

Without doubt, a great piece

Turandot, Prinzessin von China Friedrich Schiller
Ein tragikomisches Maerchen nach Gozzi
– though personally I found the presentation too stagy. The core remans unchanged and valid


Prinz, noch ist’s Zeit. Gebt das verwegene

Beginnen auf! Gebt’s auf! Weicht aus dem Divan!
Der Himmel weiss, dass jene Zungen luegen,
Die mich der Haerte zeihn und Grausamkeit.
– Ich bin nicht grausam. Frei nur will ich leben;
Bloss keines Andern will ich sein; dies Recht,
Das auch dem allerniedrigsten der Menschen

Im Leib der Mutter anerschaffen ist,

Will ich behaupten, eines Kaisers Tochter.
Ich sehe durch ganz Asien das Weib
Erniedrigt und zum Sklavenjoch verdammt,
Und raechen will ich mein beleidigtes Geschlecht
An diesem stolzen Maennervolke, dem
Kein andrer Vorzug vor dem zaertern Weibe
Als rohe Staerke ward. Zur Waffe gab
Natur mir den erfindenden Verstand
Und Scharfsinn, meine Freiheit zu beschützen.
-Ich will nun einmal von dem Mann nichts wissen,
Ich hass’ ihn, ich verachte seinen Stolz
Und Uebermuth-Nach allem Köstlichen
Streckt er begehrlich seine Haende aus;
Was seinem Sinn gefaellt, will er besitzen.
Hat die Natur mit Reizen mich geschmückt,
Mit Geist begabt-warum ist’s denn das Loos
Des Edeln in der Welt, dass es allein
Des Jaegers wilde Jagd nur reizt, wenn das Gemeine
In seinem Unwerth ruhig sich verbirgt?
Muss denn die Schoenheit eine Beute sein
Fuer Einen? Sie ist frei, so wie die Sonne,
Die allbeglueckend herrliche, am Himmel,
Der Quell des Lichts, die Freude aller Augen,
Doch Keines Sklavin und Leibeigenthum.
And even the English version still offers a glimpse:
Young prince, I clearly recognise your worth.
Be wise in time. Relinquish your attempt.
Too arduous is the trial. Do not tempt
The Fates. I am not cruel, as they say,
But shun the yoke of Man’s despotic sway.
In virgin freedom would I live and die;
The meanest hind may claim this boon,–shall I,
The daughter of an emperor, not have
That birthright which belongs to all? Be slave
To brutish force, that makes your sex our lord?
Why does my hand such tempting bait afford?
The gods have made me beauteous, rich, and wise,
Presumptuous man considers me his prize.
If nature dowered me with bounteous treasure
You tyrants think ‘twas all to serve your pleasure.
Why should my person, throne, and wealth be booty
To one harsh, jealous master? No, all beauty
Is heaven’s gift, and like the sun, should shine
To glad earth’s children, and their souls refine.
I hate proud man, and like to make him feel
He may not crush free woman ‘neath his heel.

Teaching ….

… back in the Middle Kingdom since a week, enjoying teaching learning to “walk economics”. Special fun the workshops – teaching without income (no extra pay), and learning without points (a course, the students take without points etc.).

Sometimes it is really like looking into the eyes of small children who see something amazing for the first time in their life (like a “summer child”, seeing the first snow) – so much more satisfying than looking at the faces of “adult colleagues” who only see what they supposedly know, struggling with maintaining that knowledge, and the jobs in which it is founded. – It is so nice to be witness, and it is so nice to accept again being student, opening the eyes like a small child and exploring together what I seem to know and of which I detect so much that is new.

I would not say renaissance, and increasingly hesitate to celebrate The Renaissance. There is still at least the one fact that needs to be considered: much of what had been ‘detected’ and ‘invented’, was known a long time before and just forgotten. Look for the work of Archimedes – and all those things that had been forgotten. No, the world was not flat in the earlier years – only some people made human kind believe it is flat. And so we find them today again, suggesting in ‘A Brief History of the Twenty-Firts Century’ that ‘The World is Flat’. Namesakes by accident? The one Friedman believes everybody can access everything; the other Friedman emphasing already earlier the Power of the Market.

May be journalistic masterpieces, surely not more than Sunday’s prayers, eye washing, pleading now from all sides for a moral economy, instead of clearly analysing the economy and demanding rights.

My be  I can move the rights part on tomorrow when going to Juzizhou island for a meeting.

History and Rights, and Justice

The nature of injustice is that we might not always see it in our own times,” Kennedy wrote in Friday’s opinion. “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.

A conservative judge made on the occasion of the judgment on gay marriage in the US.

Two tales from academia

Did you know that thanks to your librarian, you and your colleagues have access to hundreds of highly downloaded and cited articles, all available on the award-winning SAGE Journals platform?

An advertisement came with this content by mail from SAGE (ah could have been any other of these DIY-grandeurs (not as spammy as offers from Ivory coast but not containing more substance.

Valery comes to my mind, a librarian I really admired for her excellent work – she fearlessly faced the flood of

highly downloaded and cited articles

and still found the really interesting ones, barely known, this not (often) cited, but allowing true excitement when reading and thinking further …. 


We never find the entire truth … but part of it is written at least in the preface

As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions.

Not sure if the book is as exiting as it is promised in the prefaced “Explanatory Note” – but I am sure that I like to ask questions, and apply then the tools, instead to doing the thing the other way round.
Looking at academia I am wondering if denying the right to ask questions, forcing us to go the other way around, may be about denying a fundamental right ?

forgotten rights

Well, toilets are not the most favorite topics: we all use them, but we usually do not talk about them.
Did I say we all use them? Actually I received the other day a mail, linking me to a website with the heading
An amazing and alarming figure. Much has been done, but a lot remains to be done, indeed.
But looking at what is actually done is not less alarming: the use of “public” toilets is increasingly also absorbed in the stream of privatisation, i.e. you have to pay in train stations etc.; last year I used such facilities in a coffeeshop (one if not the one of the most widespread places not only in Germany) and read something like:
I am cleaning this toilet without being paid by the owner. I appreciate your donation.
Yes, I remember the word donation had been used and that the lady had not been paid by the owner.
All this, by the way, gets an additional slant if we think that more and more people in the so-called developed countries are homeless – for them this kind of privatisation is another obstacle in their life.
And there is another additional remark that may usefully be made: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are supporting the UN-initative: the 19th November now being World Toilet Day. Do something good and talk about it … – why not: don’t do any harm initially, then there is not so much reason for doing good to repair the damage.