never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them

A widely known problem is that students today have – supposedly – problems to read: are unwilling, only printed on exams and subsequently the reeding they need for proceeding. My personal experience suggest something different: if students have space: literally by way of sufficient “quality location”, time and mental space, not being pestered by problem-solving urgency, allowed to foster critical thinking (as Robert Cox outlines it in the piece from 1981: Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory; in: Millennium – Journal of International Studies 1981; 10; 126-155 DOI: 10.1177/03058298810100020501) most of them would love reading more, more widely, critically working with texts.

However, if politicians educate teachers who then educate students and then these students become politicians, educating teachers who then educate students who then become politicians … … … – it is quite natural that after going a couple of times around, policy documents and texts books look very much alike, nit even reaching the intellectual level of A Little Bit of Everything for Dummies.
Though already from 2011, a document issued by the Irish government can be taken as example for such dummies=stultification-strategy, showing on page 7 the following:
It reminds me that at some stage “Communications“, issued by the European Commission had not been allowed to be longer than 20 pages – politicians are not reading longer documents …  the paradox then and there: instead of producing one document with 30 pages, two documents with twenty pages each had been produced … , and so forth and so forth … at least the printing press being extensively used. The crux of “maths”: making two documents out of one 30-page document dos not mean having two 15-pages docs. because additional space is needed for the cross-references and the like. though we end up with something like 30 divided by 2 = 20+20 = 60, or in short: 30 divided by 2 equals 40. There is a German term “Milchmaedchen-Rechnung”, literally “calculation made by a dairymaid”, meaning fallacy, naive. Perhaps it should be changed, the new term being Commissioner- or Politician-Calculation.
May be it is still better then producing one document that is so much simplification of everything that it requires a guideline to show the reader the way through (though to sweet) nothingness.
In any case, please, never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them.
Some voluntarily, some lazily, some being forced .., and some still resisting.

A Year Ahead

Well, a bit strange year coming to an end, after commencing on September the 8th 2017: taking it as “year” extended by some days, shortened by some events standing in the way of “routine work” in the office at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in the Amalienstrasse 33 in Munich, standing in the way of life and living … – still several lucky events as concerts, visits of museums … or events in which I had been lucky enough to be able to do at least to some extent what I wanted to do — following the commitment of a dwarf

standing on the shoulders of giants, and even walking some distance with them, side by side.

It proved another time for me that the real – and really exciting – tension of working in academia is not so much about fundamental and applied research but between research and taking position in the biased debates of our times – the times of past, presence and future.

The list below provides gives a more or less small insight into what I could achieve, not mentioning the endless disputes with universities about references for former students, peer-reviewing (though being hesitant when it comes to accepting this task) and also not mentioning the frequent chats with colleagues becoming friends and …, well and friends becoming colleagues.

– The latter may deserve some explanation. While academic work seems to be in some way impersonal, strictly bound to rule and while this is to some extent actually true, it is important to acknowledge the most fundmental rule: any knowledge has to be aobut the acknowledgment of reality as ultimate point of reference. And reality is not primarily what we learn from textbooks, statistics, legal and administrative regulations – even economists, usually at least, do not look at figures for the sake of the figures. Instead, it is about how people act and interact …, and omit (inter)acting. Of course, it is about specific observations and observations of the specific. Nevertheless, it is also about gathering different perspectives, not those expressed in interviews but those expressed in life, or we may say in “open dialogue”. Of course, this is first and foremost a very vague approach. And as much as it may end in accidental contacts – easily ending in accidents of misjudgments due to not knowing background and context of the other – it is also something that emerges naturally when engaging with people around – and this is equally a source of possible accidents due to the limited outreach of contacts.

– Supposedly, the Brandhorsts, before buying paintings for their collection (which then became the Brandhorst museum in the Arts Areal in Munich), borrowed the pieces of art, kept them for a few weeks in their home where they received guests – the purpose was to gather loosely for some chitchat, together exploring the paintings and getting different perspectives. The end result: a new opinion, not algorithmitically defined, but by allowing something to emerge from the unexpected, also from the unknown. it is abitu to gather, merging to something, coming together.

Chats on the corridor of the institute, Wednesday’s for lunch in the Old Simpel or somewhere else: the Vietnamese restaurant next door, Limoni across the street, or the Bavarian around the corner, of course … – with so different people – I guess all this had been like I imagine those visits in the Brandhorst’s home, or like visits  to the Arts Areal in Munich, on my own, with others … – always opening the mind …, and asking only to accept one condition: a mind that is sufficiently open to further unfold – the magnificent blood of the orchards needs at least those burgeons that are ready to unravel, the light, seen somewhere in the background …


The list of what had been done, though still not all being dusted

Articles/Book Contributions

  • The Comedy of Big Data or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, while Corporations wither away?, in: Tjaša Štrukelj/Matjaž Mulej/Grażyna O’Sullivan (eds.): Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance: Volume 2, The Tools for Practice; Palgrave (in print)
  • together with Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.), 2017: Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Global Studies/Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Oriental Studies/The Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting International center for education and social humanity research; Volgograd: Uchitel
  • together with Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Korotayev, Andrey V., 2017: Introduction: From the First Galaxies to the 2040s; in: Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Herrmann, Peter/Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.), 2017: Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Global Studies/Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Oriental Studies/The Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting International center for education and social humanity research; Volgograd: Uchitel: 5-8
  • Potentials for Taking a Strategic Role for Sustainable Sociability; in: Grinin, Leonid E./Ilyin, Ilya V./Herrmann, Peter/Korotayev, Andrey V. (eds.), 2017: Global Evolution, Historical Globalistics and Globalization Studies; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Global Studies/Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Oriental Studies/The Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting International center for education and social humanity research; Volgograd: Uchitel: 349-364
  • Csoba J., Herrmann P. “Losers, good guys, cool kids” the everyday lives of early school leavers. Monitoring of Public Opinion : Economic and Social Changes. 2017. No 6. P. 276—293. DOI: 10.14515/monitoring.2017.6.15
  • Erinnerung an Paul Boccara; in: Sozialismus. Monatlich Hintergründe, Analysen und Kommentare; Heft Nr. 1 | Januar 2018 | 45. Jahrgang | Heft Nr. 425: 64
  • Art, recherché, création et politique; À la mémoire de Paul Boccara; in : Economie & Politique ; Novembre/Décembre 2017 ; no 760/761: 30
  • Nationale Entwicklungen im Bereich Sozialer Sicherheit und des Sozialschutzes in Irland. 2017-18 – Jahresbericht
  • For Him Art, Research, Creation and Politics Were the Same Thing—In Memory of Paul Boccara; in: CASS: World Review of Political Economy (WRPE)
  • Precarity – it isn’t employment, it is the economy, stupid; in: ”Living standards of the population in the regions of Russia”; Moscow, forthcoming
  • Precarity – it isn’t employment, it is the economy, stupid – extended version of article mentioned before; forthcoming
  • (together withN.Bobkov/I.B. Kolmakov/E.V. Odintsov): Двухкритериальная модель социальной структуры российского общества по доходам и жилищной обеспеченности/Two-Criterion Model of the Social Structure of Russian Society by Income and Housing Security; in: Экономика региона/”Economy of region” (; in print
  • About You – Bei Strafe des Frageverbots, ob man überhaupt ist; erscheint in Tarantel. Zeitschrift der Ökologische Plattform bei DER LINKEN
  • Preparatory work for The Development of the Concept of Universal Human Rights: A Critical Perspective; In: International Human Rights, Social Policy and Global Welfare: Critical Perspectives; eds.: Féilim Ó hAdmaill/ Gerard McCann; Policy Press, forthcoming
  • A foglalkoztatás precarity – A tőke felhalmozódásának előfeltétele – A társadalomtudomány szenvedélyessége; in: METSZETEK. Társadalomtudományi folyóirat; Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem Politikatudományi és Szociológiai Intézet


  • Changing the Socio-Economic Formation: New Labour Relations, New Forms of Accumulation, New understanding of Intelligence
    • Changing the Socio-Economic Formation: New Labour Relations, New Forms of Accumulation, Artificial Intelligence and Sharing Economy
    • Value Theory – is there still any value in it? – is it still worthwhile to talk about it?
    • Migration between value and poverty chains
  • with Vyacheslav Bobkov: Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society (with Contributions from Australia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Russia; Springer
    • Own Contributions:
      * together with Vyacheslav Bobkov: Foreword: Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society
    • Economy of Difference and Social Differentiation. Precarity – searching for a new interpretative paradigm
  • Preparatory work, together with Laurinkari, Juhani/Unger, Felix: Documentation of the Symposium of the European Academy of Science and Arts and the Pellervo Society, Helsinki: Digitisation, Artificial Intelligence and Stultification of Society; also contribution: Digitisation – Employment – and What?


  • Digitalization, immigration and the welfare state, by Mårten Blix, Cheltenham, UK & Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017, 186 pp., ISBN 978 1 78643 294 0 (hardback) – European Journal of Social Work; 2018;
  • D’Aprile, Dorothee/Baur Barbara/Kadritzke, Niels (Red.): Chinas Aufstieg. Mit Kapital, Kontrolle und Konfuzius; Berlin: taz Verlags- und Vertriebsgenossenschaf; Edition Le Monde Diplomatique 23/2018; in: im Erscheinen in
  • Greve, Bent: Technology and the Future of Work. The Impact on Labour Markets and Welfare States; Cheltenham/Northhampton: Edward Edgar, 2017; ISBN: 9781786434289


see for some:


  • Phanresia, volume IV, in progress
  • Commencing Phanresia I-III audio-access, in progress
  • Commedia Della Vita or Pánta Rêi’s Firm Ground – blog entries, trying to inspire thinking – ongoing, usually twice per week


Well, the suitcases are packed … – off tomorrow with some hand-luggage, collecting the large bags on Friday …

Now, time to say good-bye – as done so often before,       and          again               and       again

and              even much later too.


There are two things to remember – and I am still grateful to the people teaching me: I will continue being scared; and I will continue even if, or probably better: because there is a light; and I am grateful for to the person that asked me many questions, allowing me to learn about the value of my freedom; and to those who stayed with me while disappearing

– Thank you – 고마워요! – 谢谢 – Köszönöm – Merci – Danke

trying to open the box


Looking at how academic institutions deal with applications by students – and with lecturers who support their endeavour – when it comes to applications there seems to be little hope: one meets ignorance, lack of respect and unqualified ways of handling procedures – I referred to this issue earlier.. I suppose part of the problem is also that we usually accept such misbehavior and move on, allowing ‘them’ to move on their way. Hopeless …

“HOPE is what makes us strong. It is why we are here. It is what we fight with when all else is lost.”
– Pandora’s last words

With this attitude I wrote the letter/mail to some completely ignorant universities: if asking for a reference that supports students to follow their path of curiosity, has any meaning, there are some institutions that themselves delve in complete lack of meaning.


Dear colleague, I am writing to you after overcoming some hesitation and also after reflecting if there is any point in it.

Still, for the sake of students and due to my commitment to academia and academic standards I feel obliged to follow up on the way your university is dealing with applications. If there is any claim on hour side to be an academic institution of reputable rank and with an international standing, at least revisiting the following is highly advisable – to say the least.
Lecturers today are encouraged to move, and some actually manage to be engaged by different universities and research institutes – for my part I can humbly state that I had been in the lucky situation of being involved in teaching and research in different countries, linked to various institutions, amongst them those with high international standing. However, this also means that e-mail addresses change. Apparently, so I had been informed, your institution requires students to submit contact details of lectures whom they nominate for their recommendation, valid at the time of teaching. In other words, I had been teaching students who asked me for a reference after I left the respective university – and still the students are asked to provide contact details from an outdated position. In this light, what is really outdated is the requirement you set. It shows that your institution does not reflect standards of todays academia, and instead follows somewhat ‘provincial’, ‘parochial’ ideas. – I may add, that historically at least in Europe, the mobility of academics had been the norm, the settled, academic the exception – settled in terms of space usually also meant settled in thinking, lacking openness to exchange and innovation.
Now, moving on to the next point: In several cases it is [was] possible for me to keep the e-mail address from an earlier position. One option to deal with this is to check different mail accounts. Sometimes it is possible to forward mails; and another option is to set an automatic reply, informing and asking the sender to use a different e-mail-address. I had to chose with one of the accounts the latter option. So, the request for a reference, sent by our university to the one ‘official’ mail address, was answered by such automatic reply, providing an alternative address. Although the mail from your institution was not sent by a completely automated system and replies had been received, the responsible department or person did not consider to react in an appropriate way. On the contrary, later a reminder was sent to the same, inactive, address. This behaviour from your institution shows in my opinion cum gram salis the same attitude as that mentioned previously. It is highly disrespectful, ignoring the serious interests of students and showing no collegiality to academics. It is even topped by the fact that I once set a mail to the relevant department of your institution, using the ‘dormant address’. The rely I received gave apt evidence of the fact that the mail I sent was not properly read.
I may then add: the standardised ‘questionnaires’, used to ask to assess students, are substandard. In general I think it is questionable to use multiple choice questions and similar for such assessment – it is about young personalities and not machines or fat-stock. Still, if such approach is used, the design requires a bit more reflection. If a student of mine, would submit such questionnaire which I had been asked to complete, as part of exams, that student would end, on a generous day, with a very low grade.
Again, the way your institution is currently handling – at least – this part of the application process is simply appalling and lacks any respect towards students and those lecturers who are in a position to support their curiosity about learning. This part of their learning experience provided by you is apt to undermine such curiosity, and teach that studies you offer may not deliver what they promise.
Sincerely disappointed
Peter Herrmann


Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann
Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy/
Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik
[section social law]
– Research Fellow –
skype: …
QQ: …
University of Eastern Finland (UEF)
Department of Social Sciences
PL 1627
70211 Kuopio
—-Corvinus University
Institute of World Economy
Faculty of Social Sciences and International Relations
Fővám tér 8
1093 Budapest
Active Member of the European Academy of Science and Arts

Academia Now and Then

I am wondering if and in which way we can and have to speak of changes in the academic world.

Putting it into a question one could ask:

Can living in the academic world be compatible with working academically?

It has something religious – similar to the questions, leading to and accompanying the Reformation, criticizing the institutionalised church in order to rescue faith.

It has something ancient philosophic-economical, where we find the contrast of Oikonomia, roughly  use-value oriented and resource-respecting management of the household  and Chrematistike, roughly the exchange-value oriented money-making, money becoming as fetish a use-value.

If we are generously accepting that different sides are justified, instead of insisting on a romanticised ideal, there still remains the

cui prodest, cui bono?

To be precise, it is not just the question who benefits. Centre-stage we have to ask

Where do we find systemically and what are the leading motives?

Looking at the distribution of income within the sector of Higher Education is revealing. And understanding that this is not the only sector where power is abused is frightening. And that power is often abused not just for private benefits, but where dependents are guided into wrong directions is a disgrace …

And there are still people speaking about freedom of thought and speech? Well, we see, it is not just a matter of a finger …, it can also be about having a different approach or uncovering injustice or speaking about it. And then people hear they should think outside of the box …?

Well, there is something biblical in all this as we know from Genesis 26 ff. – still encouraging some to ask Why can’t we do what we like to do?

The cat’s tale – the difficulty of academia then and now

It seems to be relatively easy to deal with Schroedinger’s cat – the question is well known:


Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.[2]

The one way of dealing with it is to open the box in order to see if the cat is alive or not. However, it is a way of dealing with the problem by actually denying it as checking, giving ‘empirical evidence’ in actual fact changes the conditions to such an extent that, what had been the question at the outset is actually redefined: the conditions from which the question emerged are not anymore given.

The other way is to admit that there is no answer and that there cannot be any answer for ever. One could see this as a purely academic issue – though this is probably seen differently by the cat – being eternally in a situation of not knowing if her is dead or alive which must admittedly a hugely unpleasant state of existence. And both ‘easy answers’ prevail when we are looking at academia, in particular universities: researching, studying and teaching. One question may be asked though: what is if we simply look at the tale, not the entire cat but also not something that exists only as chimera?

Some reflections on the development of third level education today can be found here, impressions and reports, resulting from having worked in China for two years at a ‘joint venture’ between a EUropean and a Chinese university, and reflecting more general trends than really anything like ‘this is China’. And also reflecting on a general trend of supposed academic education where one learns not to agree with but to follow rules, where you have to like numbers but yu do nit have to like maths … – at the end where you should end with a major that makes sure that the cat is dead while the mice are dancing a bubble dance, appealingly majoring in accounting without understanding the economy of which it takes account.


[1]  ; 27/07/17

[2]            IFLScience – The lighter sight of science: Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained;ödinger’s-cat-explained/; 27/07/17


[to the recording]

[see also here for some reflections on academic work]

Peter Herrmann教授,班戈学院金融学专业教师


2015年春季,俄罗斯普列汉诺夫经济大学(Plekhanov Rusian University of Economics)客座教授

2012年起 匈牙利布达佩斯考文纽斯大学(Corvinus Univesity经济学院访问学者

Peter Herrmann教授曾在世界多个国家任教,包括俄罗斯、匈牙利、德国等,主要研究领域为宏观经济学,微观经济学,政治与社会学。

读万卷书,行万里路。Peter Herrmann教授给我的第一印象是,一个高挑的学者,脖子上随性地搭着一条意大利风格的围巾,手里握着一把雨伞,一举一动都让我觉得有一种“大师”的风范。

















Herrmann教授分享了一个他对共享的认识。他向我们介绍在国外有一个网站,可以联系到其他国家的人来share accommodation,当你外出旅行不需要住在家里的时候。这是他对“共享”的认识。







Living in and for academia – an international[ist] perspective

Published is a presentation given on the 4th of July in ChangSha, PRC, looking against the personal background from an academic perspective at the topic of international and global education. While sociology, economics, political science, law and arts are explicitly mentioned, philosophy remains as companion of all in the background. Highlighted is the need to regain and maintain academic integrity.

The video-recording, in some respect an extension to the interview published recently, can be found here.

Learned from the time I lived in Australia, and altered all this is not least about the statement that

I fully acknowledge the Right and Duty of the students to learn in a way that allows not only to administer their own life and land in a globally respectful way, to study the possibilities to work and connect with the world that is respectful against themselves, against their fellow beings past, present and emerging.