values and interests – one or two or more?

values and interests – last week the Polish Vice suggested in Krynica being them as one, being backed by his high-level Hungarian colleague, who suggested that these values are Christian values.

http://www.leftvoice.org/local/cache-vignettes/L653xH294/arton1691-dae94.jpg?1500497777

Seems people like me are in danger again, even and especially if and when we show readiness to move towards common goals of humankind and humanity. It had been this remark that contributed to writing to Simone, back in Munich at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy:

Perhaps I should offer a contribution for next Wednesday’s talk on contemporary issues.

Indeed, later I concretised this proposal, suggesting as title:

Social injustice and social (de)legalisation – A hegemony-theoretical perspective on social and human rights

It is remarkable, as I think, to see how explicit some people suggest that THEIR ONE interest has too be the interest of all: the claimed universality of human rights fading away behind the claim of unquestionable hegemonic claims. Though it is remarkable, it is in actual fact nothing new behind such supposed enlightened claim. Didn’t Marx discuss this already in a footnote in the first volume of Capital:

 

Proudhon begins by taking his ideal of justice, of “justice éternelle”, from the juridical relations that correspond to the production of commodities: thereby, it may be noted, he proves, to the consolation of all good citizens, that the production of commodities is a form of production as everlasting as justice. Then he turns round and seeks to reform the actual production of commodities, and the actual legal system corresponding thereto, in accordance with this ideal. What opinion should we have of a chemist, who, instead of studying the actual laws of the molecular changes in the composition and decomposition of matter, and on that foundation solving definite problems, claimed to regulate the composition and decomposition of matter by means of the “eternal ideas”, of “naturalité” and “affinité”? Do we really know any more about “usury”, when we say it contradicts “justice éternelle”, “équité éternelle”, “mutualité éternelle”, and other “vérités éternelles” than the fathers of the church did when they said it was incompatible with “grâce éternelle”, “foi éternelle”, and “la volonté éternelle de Dieu”?

If we really want to talk about values, it may be time to acknowledge not only that there is a variety of interests, clashing against each other and values MAY be referred to as attempt to take them – but not anything else no anything more. Something to be thought about on Wednesday – and also on Tuesday next week in Helsinki, talking about

Digitisation – Employment – and What? An Attempt to Socio-Locate the Challenge of Today’s Productivity Puzzle

as part of the symposium Digitisation, Artificial Intelligence and Stultification, September 18th, 2108, organised by the European Academy of Science and Arts and the Pellervo Society (The recording will be made available here from the 18th of September onwards.

Annunci

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)

translating from the past II

Perhaps the contemporary version of it would read like this:

… I do not blame personally the administrators and the suicidal colleagues who consider academic work and life as focused on ranking journals, ‘top-universities’ where leading academics are not available as they are writing for those journals or travelling around to give presentations or are working as advisors in ‘Commissions’ to gain some additional money … – they should not be blamed for following the rules, though they surely have to be blamed for elevating these into the status of holy grail, as standard others have to follow.

In this light I would ask them for one favour: Criticise and reject those of the scholars with whom I spent time and spaces in academia – friends, colleagues, students who see me as hojam, as lǎoshī …, those with whom I spend time and work without anybody thinking in utils of the togetherness – in the same way as I reject those who criticise me on wrong grounds, while drinking out of the grail, leaving the plastic cups, or just the hands to others … criticise and reject them if you see them striving for money instead for truth, if you find them being interested in others as ‘tools for themselves’, if you sense that they are interested in power to control others instead of power to improve people’s life in society. And criticise and reject them if they plagiarise and make life and work a plagiarism.

It is time to go know, all the work I could do here is done, the academic year clearly concluding, the next step changed – and I may have to move on in insecurity, facing precarity as it is the one norm in academia today. Others will stay, will settle, being secure – in what they say after the ‘wings of free speech’ had been truncated … – …, looking at the many careers of the giants, on the shoulders of whom we stand, it cannot be immediately clear who is going to the better place.

***

Those triumphant at the moment while others sit down and cry?

***

  • just in plain text: this is not [necessarily and completely] a direct reflection  of current experiences and moves – more a matter of ventilating generally ‘academia today’ – and without denial: yes it is as such also about personal experience of somebody who may be seen as ‘globally active academian and academician. And somebody who …, well I said the other day to Yi ‘I think I’m getting old, increasingly not really being able to link to many of these developments, feeling positioned outside …’ – she smiled though I am not sure if in affirmatin or joining in part into the claim …
    – In any case we should stay alert, never forget: many of those issues we complain about today, have their roots in the academic world of science [here understood as ‘natural science’] and geographically in the United States of America. – All this will also be soon published in another format, as talk you may listen to, before then diving into todays real world of the G20-debates on digitisation …. . Well, yes, life is full of contradictions, as is the world which I live …

… to the point …

Well, you may say I am burning in the Heraclitean Fire, carried away and not doing what the academic world-order asks me to do – moving on with the metaphor, one may add: this little bit of disobedience is like playing with fire, a dangerous not to say: life threatening game.

So to the point, reading Erwin Chargaff’s

Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature.

He refers on page 171 to another work by himself**, which he wrote earlier and where he contended:

The fashion of our times favors dogmas. Since a dogma is something that everybody is expected to accept, this has led to the incredible monotony of our journals. Very often it is sufficient for me to read the title of a paper in order to reconstruct its summary and even some of the graphs. Most of these papers are very competent; they use the same techniques and arrive at the same results. This is then called the confirmation of a scientific fact. Every few years the techniques change; and then everybody will use the new techniques and confirm a new set of facts. This is called the progress of science. Whatever originality there may be must be hidden in the crevices of an all-embracing conventional makeshift: a huge kitchen midden in which the successive layers of scientific habitation will be dated easily through the various apparatuses and devices and tricks, and even more through the several concepts and terms and slogans, that were fashionable at a given moment.

Chargaff’s book had been published in 1978, he was, as widely known, professor in biochemistry, he emigrated from fascist Germany … – and one may ask if it is purely by accident that with this background already

[a]s early as 1949, this eminent scientist described certain irregularities in the composition of DNA and formulated the concept of ‘complementarity’ – later referred to as ‘Chrgaff’s rule’ and still later as ‘base pairing’ – which was the most important single piece of evidence for the double-helical structure of DNA’ [from the book-cover blurb].

‘Back to the fire’ – what he states, looking at methods, can cum grains salis also said for today and social science: where ‘methodology’ chapters in theses too often present methods, not showing any awareness of the difference between method and methodology, where publications and universities and people are ranked on the basis of algorithms and where entities are cut into pieces, making us forget the following:

The insufficiency of all biological experimentation, when confronted with the vastness of life, is often considered to be redeemed by recourse to a firm methodology. But definite procedures presuppose highly limited objects; and the supremacy of “method” has led to what could be called by an excellent neo-German term the Kleinkariertheit (piddling pedantry) of much present-day biological research. The availability of a large number of established methods serves, in fact, in modern science often as a surrogate of thought. Many researchers now apply methods whose rationale they do not understand. [170]

*****

End of term, and of the academic year – students, sometimes inviting lecturers, celebrating; preparing for holidays, but also asking for references, preparing the next career moves.

I have to admit, I am am happy that some say they did not ‘invite me to their celebration’ but invited me ‘to celebrate with them’; and I also have to admit that it is an honour to be seen by some as 老师, as lǎoshī – a bit like the hojam as we use it at ODTU in Ankara.

An unwritten chapter for the

Diary from a Journey into another World: Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments

to be closed.

======

** Chargaff, E. 1965. On Some of the Biological Consequences of Base-pairing in the Nucleic Acids. In: M.D. Anderson (Ed.), Developmentn.l and Metabolic Control Mechanisms and Neoplasw. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, p. 19.

 

 

Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism …

Teaching is over now – most of the exam papers corrected and time …, to look forward. Teaching always is caught in the tension: dealing with the ‘real realities‘ on then hand and with ‘clear’ theories and the supposed ‘objective, value-free’ analysis of the reality on the other hand – and in economics it is even worse than other disciplines: the ‘objective reality’ being the reality of rational individuals. If it would be only for my neighbours and colleagues: I know that humans are not rational actors. Some are not acting, some are solely actors, some are not rational – and the worst category are the irrationally acting actors …
Well, leaving this aside …, or actually no: taking it from here, there is always also the point that even the ‘rational systems’, as central banks, money, exchange values etc are never following the books – it is not because they have their own lives but more because text books create ‘an own life’: the life of a world as it should or could be, the life of a world that had been imagined by some as political programs etc.
Two issues, the one like to pure doctrine when it comes to banking and central banks: be they independent or not, they are usually considered to be public bodies, committed to the common wheal etc. Still, in one way or another, i.e. more or less explicit, these banks serve – in most if the cases – public AND private interests, usually without being specified.
However, sone specification can be seen in the generally agreed upon ‘holy trinity’: maximisation of employment, stabilisation of prices, moderating interest rates.
But ….. where is the challenge addressed that Dani Rodrik poses as irresolvable trilemma: we cannot have democracy AND sovereignty AND global integration.
In fact – this is indeed part of the story –  we see that over the recent years and even decades the overall goal of controlling inflation is positioned over the goal of maximising employment. Stating this, it is necessary to ask as well: why maximising employment if we are already producing large surpluses?
From there it is worthwhile to look at the second issue: the question of value, valuation and valorisation. It haunts me for a long time, always asking myself and perhaps even more so: talking about values, calling for living along the lines of the cardinal virtues …- beh, forgotten what the quarterly reviewer said?
“Capital is said … to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital es- chews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vac- uum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent, will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent, certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., posi- tive audacity; 100 per cent., will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave trade have amply proved all that is here stated” (T.J. Dunning, 1. c, [Trades’ Union and Strikes,] pp. 35-36; from: Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital; Volume I; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996: 748, footnote 2)
Still, working currently in the ‘mainstream’ [or to be more precise: trying to swim against it], I am looking at questions of digitisation, all the new economic forms emerging in that context, linked to primarily in the issues about technical developments but more about relations of procession and the mode of production. Profitability plays a role and …, exactly the issues around value, valuation and valorisation. in the context of a paper I am still developing not least in connection with the preparation of the G20-discussions I am wondering of it is time to change perspectives in political economy. Famously Max Weber centre-staged an issue that was already issued – more en passant – by Marx: the question of the protestant ethics. Marx saw it, of course, as matter of the superstructure, without denying its importance whereas Weber saw the emergence of this ethics system as driving force.
My question is a different one at this stage: instead of counterpoising catholicism and protestantism, we may have tops of a merger, we may call it
Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism …
The reflection behind it? Well, quoting from the paper – work in progress –
Early capitalism was characterised by the fundamental ambition to follow the principle of exchange of equivalents – inequality existed at the point of departure but after ‘free individuals entered the economic sphere of exchange – they had been equals. The ten new capitalism stood against the feudal system that was based on violence. However, looking at the situation today, we see that the foundation is not simply and solely about the different points of departure. The economic process of the data economy is itself a violent relationship that has little to do with equivalence: it is the violence of withholding information, utilising the directional power of information, the enforcement of conditions, perfectioning of control etc.
A world which has lost much of the foundation in reality and where, indeed, values seem to be virtual, even if they are presented by concrete numbers as Peter Wahl pointed out already some time ago:
Even if every business transaction was protected by derivatives, the real economy-based proportion would still be less than 5%. Therefore, by far the largest portion is used for speculative trading. Buyers and sellers no longer have anything to do with each other. Dealers with not the slightest interest in wheat purchase large quantities of grain forwards in order to sell them profitably when the contract matures. Only a very small proportion of this business actually refers to material objects such as grain, gold or oil – the BIS assumes this proportion to be approximately 1%. The predominant proportion concerns financial products. There is practically no end to fantasy in developing derivatives: meanwhile, the system has achieved such a complexity that there are derivatives dealing with derivatives of derivatives.
Protestocatholicism …. or … Cathoprotestanism … – just another form of indulgence payments, from old violence to new violence.
And in any case, this violence is real.

Values

Ah well, of course
But how obvious is it?
  • We cannot change our core Roman, or were it Greek ? values, as we subdued them by European enlightenment,
  • Smith and Bentham triumphing over Kant and the French tricolore,
  • leveling the field for the yanks who returned with their reinterpretation to Europe and …
  • … and allow today Merkel’s Schäuble to squeeze the Greek like lemons
  • and “allow” Orban’s barbed wires to cut into the veins of migrants who leave war and starvation behind before they can enter Europe
The tricolore did not say that we share with everybody – it only said we have to share something with some — selected. Some – people and countries – have to pay, so said by the slogan of the time:
  • the inner and outer periphery on which the centre can establish its affluence …. –
  • reflecting these values of individual freedom = precarious jobs
  • and equality = not allowing anybody to sleep under the bridges of Paris … – don’t we remember:
La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.
Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894)
  • and fraternity = the soup kitchens that take the place of the rights that the universal declaration of human rights failed to guarantee ….; where fraternity means redefining sleeping rough by offering a “pillow” near to the churches, softening the hardship by the pretension of a better world, the other world – and for the time being through charity, still leaving space for the question: is there a link between the (name of) the train station Termini in Rome and “its offer of sleeping rough in its protection” – the termination of dignity?
Of course, it may be that these – few – examples also “tell of a political reality far removed from Mr Tao Zhang’s “Europe(an) Dream”, inspired by historical “visions” (let’s take Delors or let’s refer to the founding-FATHERS) and believing in claims that gain much of their positivity not from their inherent greatness but from the fact of a lack of today’s power holders that do not allow to even think outside the ideological and physical fortress of the single finance market.
And of course, all this is about the European Dream which people like Riffkin have, putting like Albert the “Rheinian Model” against the rest of the world – a world order that allows and evokes worries about possibilities to continue  selling the same number of Lamborghinis, Porsches and Mercs to the empire of the middle.
Sure, when it comes to education then, we may have to deal with the
difficulty Chinese students face, particularly in the arts and social sciences, is in adopting the critical thinking that the Quality Assurance Agency insists master’s level courses must inculcate
this does, of course, not exist for European students (and lecturers alike) – used to the censorship of peer-reviewed publications and ranking systems that, to a large extent controlled by quasi-monopolist publishing houses, are very much algorithm-ised like google: write what we know, quote what we and our peers stated for many times, contend what is publicly accepted … and redefine harsh principles by using softened and softening frameworks like social investment, knowledge management and the failure of implementation of strategies … – you may easily make a rocketing career as long as you do not question the strategies themselves.
There is a wider perspective, looking at the secular issues and developments – or a perspective that is very narrow: lookig the current debates – you may take it as you like:
It surely opens a field for debate when people call for
indirectly suggesting the possibility of a national democracy which in actual fact is one of the core breaking points: the contention of the principle of nationality and externalisation – this is how the core value of European democracy worked since the ancient city states until the Fortress EUrope.
And this is the core European and EUropean value that asks if
without considering that we will not have a legitimate parliament – national or EUropean – as long as we have an economic system that leads to the permanent
Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disiganno – the Triumph of Time and Truth
The critical attitude …. – sure, there is some space, though we should not forget that when Baudelaire first presented Les Fleurs du mal, he was condemned to put them aside, allowed to present them later in a revised version, leaving critique to the space of sympbolism, providing there the framework for talking about the Island of the Death (Boecklin) to where Europe seems to be moving, after facing L’angelo ferito (Hugo Simberg) – the disappointed carriers make look grimly but are not allowed to revive the hope they once have had … – not so much changed perhaps, today’s critics turning away from reality and hoping for the savour from Rome who rightly criticises that this economy kills, a critique that is turned down if and when it comes from others who ask for material changes that allow and enforce liberty, equality and fraternity.
.. stating all this does not mean not acknowledging some of the problems mentioned – it means, however, to say that they are much deeper and profound, not least reflecting the need of confronting issues that emerge from the
centre on China’s Confucian cultural tradition
with the issues that are emerging from a limited understanding of rationality that systematically crucifies its own claims and pretensions and sacrifices “Moral Sentiments” on the altar of the “Wealth of the Nations” …
No, we surely cannot change the values for anybody – not for the Chinese, not for anybody … they will pay anyway …
As long as any nation or region claims today that the specifically national or regional core values cannot be changed for those of anybody else we may easily end up as An Idiot Abroad – abroad being everywhere and anywhere, and we being everybody who is still believing in the old answers suitable for dealing with the new questions, questions that are not yet correctly formulated.