Uploaded also this text now, dealing with the Vatican Spring on ‘my’ researchgate-site – kind of old stuff, though still of interest I suppose, reflecting on the limits of a ‘new catholicism’. As such it is also relevant as reflection of the limited meaning of religious ‘revolutionary claims’.


revista interdisciplinar revistaentelequia.wordpress.com

Peter Herrmann *



Tanto en los discursos de —o acerca de— la economía como en los discursos de —y acerca de— la ética se puede observar una evidente abstinencia mutual, y esto independientemente de la orientación política. Y si un lado reconoce la existencia del otro, suele ser más para identificarlo como su antagonista. Este prefacio, que se centra en la pregunta de si un ‘nuevo fantasma recorre el mundo’ desde la elección de Jorge Mario Bergoglio como máximo Pontífice —el espectro de una orientación católica fundamentalmente renovada— se propone discutir ese ‘despertar’ sugerido por muchos comentaristas desde una perspectiva más amplia. Al adoptar un punto de vista más amplio, llegamos a la conclusión de que existe una cierta necesidad de increpar al individualismo y al economismo desde una perspectiva ética, pero que esos reproches quedan muy cuestionables mientras no analicen y critiquen los fundamentos estructurales de tales ‘aberraciones’. Y concluye que seguramente existe la necesidad y el espacio para un ‘renacimiento de la ética’, pero que esto sólo se puede alcanzar por medio de la intervención colectiva y de procedimientos legislativos, no por la dicha de la oración. Si el cambio pretende ser sostenible, deberá de ser drástico, mucho más que ligeros rasguños en la superficie; y si el cambio pretende ser justo, deberá de ser estructural en lugar de moral.

Palabras clave: Iglesia Católica, ética, economía, reforma, sociedad.



Of course, there is never then side or the other only, never the ‘deep-black’ or the ‘bright-white’[1] – and there remains and increases the concern when it comes to Mr Trump. There is another concern – and the reader may know that it haunts me in very general terms.

Trump then …, or actually today not but Francis and both in Rome. We learn from telesurtv

Trump curiously gifted the Pope a book of Martin Luther King’s writings, while the Pope returned the gesture by giving the U.S. president a copy of his climate change encyclical.

Now I am posing the question again: honesty, symbolic politics and meaning: what is the possible meaning of a pope’s words on climate change, as long as he allows a person like Trump to cross the doorsteps? A person, passing on words of a pacifist who pursued the ideas of non-violence, while building violent walls of nationalism against his opponents. And actually the formulation should be more precise: as long as the Vatican is itself a fortress, securing its ‘monarchial power’ behind a high and barely surmountable wall (leaving aside that I occasionally walked in and out without hassle, though hardly entering its centre).

– BTW, it should not be forgotten that a large part of the ‘black movement’ in the USNA actually pursued the ideas of a strong world power, however one that is black and white … obviously a long way to go for the really colourful for all.


It may be seen as tiny detail, though of huge interest – symbolically. Looking at Frances schedule for the 24th we see the following:


What does it say? First the leaders – then the people. And in the rome case, ‘audience’ means two sides speaking, in the other it means: one side talking, the other listening … – In the one case it had been about

… cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations …

In the other case it was about bringing two brothers together:

Il segreto della strada che conduce a Emmaus è tutto qui: anche attraverso le apparenze contrarie, noi continuiamo ad essere amati, e Dio non smetterà mai di volerci bene. Dio camminerà con noi sempre, sempre, anche nei momenti più dolorosi, anche nei momenti più brutti, anche nei momenti della sconfitta: lì c’è il Signore. E questa è la nostra speranza. Andiamo avanti con questa speranza! Perché Lui è accanto a noi e cammina con noi, sempre!

– may be as excuse for previous meeting or may be as hoping for the cunning of reason?

Well, walls …

  • —-

[1]            not talking about bride, bribe bridling ….

forward, right- or upwards or where should we go?

Yesterday we stood a step back from the abyss … – today we are looking for The progressive way, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the EU.

It is frightening that the linked article, explicitly claiming a social democratic orientation, is even opened by a photo, making direct reference to the pattern that has in the meantime even a name: Trumpism or Trumponomics.
Is this really the way to go?
All this, including the address with which the pope addressed yesterday the heads of state of a somewhat crumbling EU-member states, comes just in time while I am preparing both, the teaching of an intensive course on European Integration at the University of Vienna, department of political science end of the coming month, and a debate at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Foudation to which I want to contribute later this year.
There are some short reflections and questions that come to my mind.
  • Why can’t we move back, taking up on the traditions?
  • But do we really have to move forward instead, forgetting about the old wisdom that characterises linearity in economic thinking
  • There is more to be done, and in particular there is still some serious thinking to be done, resisting a subjectivist and voluntarist turn – be it to the right or also left populism, the one aiming on making nations great again, the other on making the EU great again.
  • And it is surely also about the rejection of platitudes, equalising right and left populism in a way in which earlier in history the thesis of totalitarism was put forward – there is surely left populism though it is surely an issue that needs some reflection – interesting is at least when ISI [import substitution industrialisation] is rejected while such sides rarely question the manifold ways of subsidies and new indirect protectionism of multi-speed policies. And equally interesting that such proposal of an entrepreneurial state is indeed something that made an earlier proponent, namely J. A. Schumpeter and his opus magnum highly contestable.
My tiny and humble contribution, planned to make the next 60 years something of which the positive results, which surely had been made already, are more then appreciated side effects of a structurally defunct model are outlined in the following:
Some of this employs my thinking in the realm of economics, under the title
– in close cooperation with Vyacheslav Bobkov from the Plekanov University in Moscow, currently as well with the College of Public Administration, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou and it is also playing a role in some preparation of this years G20, I have to do.
Another strand is employing me already now, and especially from September onwards, when taking up work at the Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik/Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy under the title
Still, at the moment it is about teaching students economics – and a decisive challenge remains to resist the number-crunching mind snatchers in a tiny village at the coastline of Wales, even unable to communicate, but trying to creep into the CORE.
see also here for some small but important action

Spring …

A short text – published in German language – is titled

Frühling nach dem Winter – oder Trost in der Eiszeit?

and published in the recent edition of future2. Zeitschrift fuer Strategie & Entwicklung in Gesellschaft und Kirche (Journal for strategy&development in society and church)

The article is in particular discussing more recent developments of the catholic church. It does not aim on providing a systematic analysis. Instead, the aim is to look for the potentials of different societal movements to join forces aiming on societal change.
The abstract reads as follows.
Die Gedanken lassen sich zwar auf Religion und Kirche insgesamt beziehen, hängen sich aber vor allem an einigen jüngeren Entwicklungen der katholischen Kirche auf. Ziel ist nicht eine systematische Analyse, die weit mehr Platz benötigen würde1. Mehr geht es darum, einige Fragen aufzuwerfen, deren Beantwortung ein gemeinsames Handeln verschiedener gesellschaftlicher Kräfte ermöglichen.
Other contributions on this topic can be found here on Social Pedagogy and Liberation Theology and on The Vatican Spring.

New Publication: Social Pedagogy and Liberation Theology

Social Pedagogy and Liberation Theology; in: Kornbeck, Jacob/Úcar, Xavier (eds.)
Latin American Social Pedagogy: Relaying Concepts, Values and Methods between Europe and the Americas
Approaching the topic liberation theology is of some difficulty as for the non-catholic layperson the tension is actually located on a level that stands at the very core of reflection about theology. Two completely different positions can be brought forward: on the one hand it may be proposed that theology and liberation are in some fundamental way exclusive as much as religion is seen being in principle non-emancipative  … On the other hand then we find the position that we are actually dealing with a unit, or even identity of theology and liberation …
See for more details:

The Murderer and the Victims

In particular in recent times remarks are concerning in particular the catholic church … . Though there is on the one hand the fear when it comes to religious fundamentalism, many initiatives taken by the current pope are celebrated – and indeed I joined a little bit in, asking in the title of a contribution for the Primavera vaticana?, i.e. Vatican Spring. Now there had been the one celebrated ‘Spring’ in the recent times which turned out to be the beginning of a hot autumn. And though there are the surely critical remarks and initiatives as not least in the Evangelli Gaudium and the Laudatio Sì and also the recent proposals in connection with abortion and divorce, one should not overlook that these can well be a threat: on the one hand a kind of Trojan horse; on the other hand a suicidal fuse, provoking fundamentalist catholics to start a palace coup. Well, in any case, much could be said and documented, also on the modern way inquisition – I found an article recently, and of course did not store it, post it …

With all this, I find another thing pretty interesting point: I received a hint on a BBC cast, specifically on China, even promising the unveiling of the Secrets of China. A young presenter. Indeed, she reveals some interesting stuff, gives some insight into real life of some people. I think she is much too positive in some way: on young people, the gambling addiction etc, youth issues – too positive and somewhat naïve. So I checked up on the presenter as I found it interesting to see such a young presenter being so …, well, in some instances ‘critical (which can be translated into conservative) about how young people live today’, the life of her own generation. The result – if this is her: she walked some … let’s say: ‘strange paths’, and if she would not have been as lucky as she has been, she would be at this stage in prison, undergo a drug detox treatment or already at the stage of addiction therapy – or worse: without it; in some way she is still behaving in the same way though she has now other ways with exactly the reputation these starlet producers provide and is now starting a career as ‘everything’: documentaries, fashion, activism …, as a veil and wrap of nothing else than the old habits, now ‘authorised’ by the Holy grail of BBC, fashion magazines and others ….

There is no reason to contest what is stated; and there are also some moments where one mentions the genuine approach and ‘empathy’ of the documentarist. The actually shocking about this is that it is not really about China: it is a ‘slow motion picture’ of many developments [including cosmetic surgeries, gaming and computer addiction, drugs, a lost youth, the pressure from careerism and (threat of) unemployment] which in western societies are now regretted, and faced with helpless despair, currently in part taken over in China, where inequality can easier be seen as ‘we’, the folks in the wild west are usually somewhat used to it, intoxicated by the Hello-press or to overlook it or are not able to see it easily as they happen in secret corners or where we cannot see them due to ‘commercial censorship’. We are somewhat used to it to such an extent that we often do not even hesitate when reading the paper like the Corriere della Sera: The edition of September 3rd showed on page 6 an article on Le tragedie in uno scatto, horrible photos, including the famous from the Vietnam war, showing the naked child, screaming and running away from the US-Napalm-bomb source of its pain and on page 7 we see an ad: Emporio Armani. – Yes, if reading the name it may sound a bit like the story about an armed empire, the arms being those of designer and finance capitalism – and we know that ‘this economy kills’ as Francis said. Sure, if you ‘join the wrong forces’ and are on the losers end, they will still gain, literally make profit after sending you to jail – saying all this in connection with a critique of the China-series is just saying this and has nothing to do with China, let alone the defence of any political past or presence. Still, it is worthwhile to read the ‘official critique‘ of the series … – there is surely some good reason for stating that


‘Professional media practice,’ the Xinhua commentary reads, ‘should be to interview sociologists… and education experts to give authoritative explanations; but the BBC has not done this.’ Instead, they say the programme ‘selectively uses non-mainstream phenomena to give subjective judgements the impression of objectivity.’

What we can learn from the series, though not necessarily outspoken, is that there is a China that is now kept out of the roundelay of the centre states in different ways. Andre Gunder Frank’s thesis, suggesting the Development of Underdevelopment has surely not completely lost its value also for analysing today’s (under)developments. And surely the series could have shown (it is stated in parenthesis) that it is exactly this fact leading to many of the problems: an over-stressed youth extreme inequality and so on: the attempt to build another armed empire or even to take over the existing one even if the arms are not the traditional ones but now those of brands and designs. But when it comes to talking about empires, it is still too often forgotten that the Most Violent Nation is indeed to be found in another corner of the world – and the violence there is really penetrating the entire society, coined by a high degree of feeling supremacy as ultimate characteristic of the state and the nation. This surely is somewhat different to what we read in the Diplomatic Words of Wisdom.

It may be far fetched, but interestingly: the UN-resolution on Debt Restructuring (I did not find it, only reports on it) had been adopted by a majority but against countries where the most important forces are referring to be servants of religious faith, in particular USNA and FRG. And it is a country where Christianity plays a major role, also in the reference of the relevant power holder (Hungary), now beginning to move military forces to the border to ‘solve’ the problem of migration. And …, well, it was also the Christians who did not allow critiques in West Germany of the 1970s entering state services, Christians who are again attempting to close Corvinus university in Budapest (or at least the relevant part of critical work there) while they are putting up barbed wire and engaging the army against migrants … and who make (with reference to god and the good will and hope) empty promises which let people end up on the street…

Surely a beginning only

It is surely not a complete analysis of the encyclical letter which is due to be published today. But one thing seems to be striking: it continues to dichotomise economy and ecology, only demanding taking responsibility FOR nature. 

Quando si analizza l’impatto ambientale di qualche iniziativa economica , si è soliti conside- rare gli effetti sul suolo, sull’acqua e sull’aria, ma non sempre si include uno studio attento dell’impatto sulla biodiversità, come se la perdita di alcune specie o di gruppi animali o vegetali fosse qualcosa di poco rilevante.

(Para 35)
Shouldn’t we move further, looking for responsibility IN nature?
Indeed there are several instances in the letter that suggest a too technical understanding to the real social responsibility, i.e. a responsibility that sees nature as an inherent part of the social existence.

Difficult questions and the surely important contribution of the 






will offer many impulses for a hopefully productive debate.
… Camminare insieme … 

con tutte le nostre differenze