social policy … and the value of values

Hum, in general Augustine is classified as theologian and philosopher … – and in general one can suppose that people’s remarks are based at least to some extent on personal experience. If so, and thinking for example about extremely high fees students have to pay, university administrator’s incomes increasing more than that of lecturers, and then looking at the fancy dresses of many priests, I am wondering what to make out of the following:

[I]t was Augustine who proposed to found not only the Christian ‘brotherhood’ but all human relationships on charity. But this charity, though its wordlessness clearly corresponds to the general human experience of love, is at the same time clearly distinguished from it being something, which, like the world, is between men: ‘Even robbers have between them [inter se] what they call charity.’

(quoted from Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, with reference to Augustine’s Contra Faustum Manichaeum)
Annunci

“Interesting times” we may say …

“Interesting times” we may say …

… and we may say that “probably every generation, every era was in its own terms an interesting time” …

but in any case we, at least not all of us can dance it away:

“Frankly speaking I am a bit afraid”

“Ich weiss nicht, wie es weither geht”

“Ho paura!”

Yes, every generation …

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It may appear to be about details – and these are forgotten, overlooked details – and they are details by way of being

the concrete … [being] concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse.

As such they are part of the long history of imperialism, colonialism ….

Today it is for instance visible in the fact that the 6 richest countries of the world host only 9 % of all refugees.

Old colonialism went fro a kind of crusades, violently occupying foreign territory; the new colonialism presenting itself as “humane” by closing borders; like the old fascism, gasifying people in concentration camps, compared with its modern form of gasifying populations as we learn from the FT-Brussels briefing, Duncan Robinson stating on the 20th of July:

A conspiracy that started in a “cosy hotel” in Brussels ended in the EU’s biggest cartel fine, after the European Commission handed five truck makers a €2.9bn bill. Senior managers from Iveco, DAF, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and MAN fixed prices and delayed the introduction of emissions-reducing technology. MAN’s decision to blow the whistle was the best financial decision the German group has made in years: it dodged a €1.2bn bill as a result.

Back to the obvious colonialisation in its new dress. Indeed, as the OXFAM-media briefing contends

This crisis is far too big for any one country to solve alone. To save and protect lives, governments worldwide must act together and responsibly. In a couple of months the United Nations and US President Obama are holding back-to-back summits in New York to address this unprecedented situation. These summits are opportunities for rich countries to commit to offering refuge to far more refugees than almost all have done to date, and for all countries to improve the way people forced to flee are treated, and provide them with a dignified future.

Thinking about this, we surely have to go beyond the sole “distribution of surplus”, moving as close as possible to production. And though Imagining a New Bretton Woods, is still not much more than a Modest Proposal, it may be one of the first steps towards radicalisaiton …

Furthermore, and importantly mind: … the concrete is part of the solidarity against this system of global exploitation – the weak showing their strength by “giving more than they have themselves”

Community Doctors: A look inside Cuba’s medical scholarship program

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The idea of inner colonialisation is usually seen in close connection with Rosa Luxemburg – it is, in a nutshell, the idea of the permanent and ongoing “primitive” or “original accumulation” as we know it from instance from Smith and Marx.

And we may think about it by recalling the occupation of the Americas by the White Settlers – the harsh reality that stood behind the kitschy and euphemistic images of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, presented by Karl May – and looking today at their conservative successors – peacefully dumb (sorry for ads – the clip itself is German/English); and aggressively taking over power (sorry for ads – the clip itself is German/English)

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“Frankly speaking I am a bit afraid”

“Ich weiss nicht, wie es weither geht”

“Ho paura!”

– And there are enough who have good reasons to be afraid – for instance Erdal. Or Thuli Madonsela

And there still is something we, in the jobs of teachers and researchers have to do, resisting the permanent and ongoing inner colonialisation: We cannot take the fear away, but we have to teach about the conditions under which fear develops, searching together for ways to change this reality …

… living trustfulness as matter of accepting the other and supporting confidence – as condition for being active, for resisting

… as matter of Dreaming of a Butterfly becoming possible and true, rising against eagles and vultures …

… this way we may be searching and finding together with others – colleagues and students valuable people, truly acknowledging the value of people.

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

Thanks Conny!!

SOLIDAR Weekly Round Up 15-07-2016

Editorial by Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR Secretary General

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

15 July 2016

Yesterday, 14th July, Bastille Day commemorates the French Revolution. Its three principles engraved on every town hall and every public school in France have again been under attack, this time in Nice. What more symbolic day! France is mourning yet again and we express again our solidarity reaffirming that the defense of democracy, of freedom, equality and solidarity, the call for social progress remains the core of our commitment, our compass!

After the Brexit vote, these principles should more than ever lead a value-based debate on European policy.

Liberté is not only a principle of rights, it also means being free from poverty and exclusion. The 125 million people in Europe who live in, or under the threat of, poverty do not have Liberté. How can we get them out of poverty? How can we get the less qualified back into the labour market and into decent work? The EU had – once upon a time – a social agenda, a Lisbon strategy and later it had a Europe2020 strategy. Unfortunately, instead of taking the lead and using the mid-term review of Europe2020 as a basis for action, the Juncker Commission is instead continuing the European semester process, while not working on improvement of the strategy to make it more effective. The news that the ECOFIN Council has decided to send a letter to Spain and Portugal illustrates the main reference to guideline Number 1 of Europe2020: “the vigorous application of the Stability and Growth Pact”. In the interpretation of Schäuble and others, vigorous means vigorous, without taking into account the damage it has on society or without even taking electoral results and referendum results into account. Did the message not get through? This European Union of austerity has been rejected as the majority of citizens do not have the feeling that the EU cares about them.

Egalité. In the last four years the Commission has reported on Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE). We are not all equal. We are still a long way from equal pay for equal work in the same workplace. The gender pay gap is still huge, not to mention the unfair tax system that allows tax evasion and tax havens for the rich. Since 2008 there have been some efforts to tame the financial markets, but these initiatives have been watered down under a Commission President who has now been recruited by the bank responsible for the implosion of the financial markets eight years ago. So much for the the credibility of leaders! Only a handful protested at the publication of this news; at the same time some people in the European Parliament were preparing a report on whether Civil Society Organisations and NGOs should continue to be financially supported by the EU when they are being ‘too critical’ of it.

Fraternité. Competitiveness is the new criterion under which everything is evaluated. The dangerous poison of nationalism is unleashed because there is now also competition between member states in the north and member states in the south. Pensioners in Greece and in Germany are in completely different situations, but both expect the EU to contribute to ensuring the stability and the availability of decent, ‘poverty-preventing’ pensions. And what about the arrival of migrants and refugees? After the wave of solidarity last year, the Balkan route is now closed and people are dying daily in the new ‘Dead Sea’ (i.e. the Mediterranean). There are indeed fewer images on the news but the human loss is immense and it cannot be excused by ignorance. How to strengthen a sense of solidarity (Fraternité) is indeed a challenge, but first the mutual benefits of sharing need to be proven before solidarity can mould our thinking.

This foreword is not a new “J’accuse” in the Emile Zola sense. These are just the thoughts that many of us have who want the EU to progress, but we want an EU with different assumptions. Sustainable economic, social and political development, social investment and social protection for all should be the basis of the EU. We Europeans have to take the lead in the post-Brexit debate. We have to challenge the political leaders and the policy makers in the Institutions to make sure they put people’s concerns first. They should use the momentum for political change that delivers a real safeguarding pillar of social rights, and that translates the Sustainable Development Goals agenda into an ambitious European agenda. They should trust the next generation and promote their skills and competences and deliver on integration and the inclusion of migrants and refugees. Ambitious? Maybe! But still feasible. It is a matter of will. Those who believe that this Europe should first be destroyed and then reconstructed are playing with fire and instead they should learn from history. Reform is not a term of abuse, it is a progressive challenge!

See also Immanuel Wallerstein’s

Commentary No. 429, July 15, 2016: “Bastille Day: France’s Ultra-Confused Present”

Relationality …. forest – trees

We, working on social quality, thought for many years now how to explain properly what it is about, the social, defined as

an outcome of the interaction between people (constituted as actors) and their constructed and natural environment. Its subject matter refers to people’s interrelated productive and reproductive relationships. In other words, the constitutive interdependency between processes of self-realisation and processes governing the formation of collective identities is a condition for the social and its progress or decline.[1]

Perhaps it is easy – at least grasping one decisive part. It is a poem which I actually quoted already many years ago, when writing my doctoral thesis:

 

Yaşamak bir ağaç gibi

tek ve hür ve bir orman gibi

kardeşçesine,

bu hasret bizim.

            (Nâzım Hikmet)

_____

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)

 

How often do we forget the essentials – also in daily life, even if we try to improve it. Or especially then …

 

[1]            van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan, 2012: Social Quality and Sustainability; in: Van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan (eds.): Social Quality. From Theory to Indicators: Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 250-274; here: 260