In the shadow of the German elections

It had been a major day in terms of elections in Germany, going far beyond the elections to the German parliament, which marked the stepping down of Angela Merkel after 16 years as Chancellor. In Berlin there had been four votes, three for the different levels of the federate system, and one that is especially outside of Berlin perhaps not even known: the referendum concerning the expropriation of the Deutsche Wohnen& Co, i.e. major real estate groups. Looking at the figures, it had been a referendum about more than 200.000 flats. As the rbb-website knows:

Everyone who was also allowed to vote in the elections to the House of Representatives was allowed to vote in the referendum. That was around 2.47 million Berliners. The referendum is successful if the majority of those voting ticked “yes”.

And this is what happened: though the final results are not yet available, there had been a clear majority.The vote had not been about the expropriation as such, but about forcing the senate (the Parliament of Berlin) to elaborate a plan for the expropriation. In legal terms a more or less tricky thing, as the referendum referred to article 15, not 14 of the German Basic law – and the term expropriation is far from being clear (— at the end of this blog-post I paste a passage from a text I wrote in a completely different context, to be published soonish).

Here and now I only want to make the vote, or even the fact of the referendum known, and congratulate the initiators.What is going to happen? It is far from being clear; and that means that major work, including campaigning for accommodation as Human Right — this is standing at the bottom line as affordable housing does not exist, not least due to speculation – will be necessary. Not least, if we look at the results of the election. – Again, the rbb-website

Since the referendum “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.” will also elect a new House of Representatives, the result of the vote is more or less a basis for consultation for the parties that will negotiate a coalition after the election – probably led by Franziska Giffey (SPD), who recently clearly opposed the referendum.

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Interesting aspects had been discussed in the early 1950s by German public and constitutional law. Helmut K.J. Ridder, in a prominent presentation during the annual conference of the public policy and international law academics, engaged in the topic expropriation and socialisation, aiming on specifying the terms.[1] Although his contribution had been very much of the employed by discussing specific issues of the German basic law and it it’s articles 14 and 15, it is of general interest. Summarising the highly differentiated analysis, we have to point on two fundamentally different forms: the one aims on specifying the use of property, without actually changing the legal title whereas the other changes the property title. However, this is only part of the difference. Another, and more important, aspect becomes clear when we follow Ridder’s reflection on the motives. The following quote marks the fundamental difference:

In the case of expropriation, the de-privatisation of property is also seen on the part of the expropriating state or the state granting the right of expropriation, as it were, with an expression of regret for the affected party, necessary for the sake of the administrative project, because a free contractual settlement was or would be rejected by the affected party or would be practically impossible to implement for other reasons.

In the case of social devaluation, the de-privatisation of the assets of the person effected is decisive, because the private character of the assets is thought to be currently or potentially harmful to society. Compared to this negative purpose of social devaluation, the positive aspects of a general nature (new impulses for the national economy, raising the standard of living of broad strata, etc.) are at most of secondary importance and those of a special nature (increasing the profitability in a certain branch of the economy, etc.) are almost insignificant … .[2]

In short, we see in the one case a measure, that intervenes in an individual case, thus making a specific ‘project’ possible; in the other case we are witnessing a kind of system change that is independent of an individual case, aiming on a change of a structural issue. It may be in one case, the intervention allowing to build a road, in the other case it would an intervention that allows to structurally influence the availability of accommodation. Another aspect is occasionally added, also in some way proposed by Ridder: the latter case is distinct from nationalisation, transferring ownership – responsibility for care and use – directly to citizens.

Finally, he suggests that subsequently the social devaluation – unlike expropriation is not a legal institution but a legal form, as such part of a fundamental change:

Cases, regulated by expropriation, can recur randomly. The state uses expropriation ad hoc. That is why its focus is also … on the individual act.

The social devaluation has a unique aim; it fulfils the mission of socialisation. The Basic Law expressly permits, as is appropriate to the matter, only the legislative path for social devaluation according to Article 15. And it is a condition that these laws are not only applied do not only cover a part of the enterprises of a certain branch of industry.[3]

As much as all this is crucially a matter of the economy, it is important to note, that with this the establishment of a mindset is going hand in hand. We can easily see that for instance health related behaviour, health services, and related issues are influenced by this mindset: the question would then be, if health is considered as something that is secured by society or that must be secured by individuals themselves; the question is also, if the individual has in case of transmittable diseases main responsibility towards others.

To conclude, we may say that appropriation should in its definition be linked to an elaborated understanding of appropriateness. Politically this can only be realised by developing a multilateral and global approach towards democracy, on the one hand referring to the fact that we are dealing with the global economy, on the other hand equally accepting the diversity when it comes to the mode of production.


[1] Ridder, Helmut, 1951: Enteignung und Sozialisierung; in: Ungeschriebenes Verfassungsrecht. Enteignung und Sozialisierung. Verhandlungen der Tagung der Deutschen Staatsrechtslehrer zu Göttingen am 18. und 19. Oktober 1951. Mit einem Auszug aus der Aussprache. With contributions by: Ernst von Hippel, Alfred Voigt, Hans P. Ipsen and Helmut K. Ridder Volume 10 in the series Veröffentlichungen der Vereinigung der Deutschen Staatsrechtslehrer; 124-147; https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110900750; 22.09.21

[2] Supra 14: 140

[3] Supra 14: 142

a question

Our answer to the question what the most thought-provoking thing might be is the assertion : most thought-provoking for our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.

Martin Heidegger, 1968 (German original 1954): What is called thinking? – A translation of Was ist Denken? by Fred D. Weck and J. Glenn Gray; with an introduction by J. Gay Glenn; New York and later: Harper & Row: 17

Remarkable proposal by artificial intelligence – I came across Heidegger’s book – and then this quote, when working on the internet, searching for something on today’s high-tech/AI-ideology and their manipulation of the world — no need to think, everything made to measure.

The fish rots from the head

To be sure, it is not the worker – and even if it is the worker we have to look at the system in which s/he is engaged. And it is still the responsibility of all of us: complaining as obligation and democratic engagement of citizens -and as we are living in a service society or a society that claims to be a service society, the service provision has to be targeted.
DHL, the little that is left from the public postal service in Germany, now an internationally dominante player in the transport sector, claims for instance on LinkedIn to be highly engaged in activities that are promoted —, ops, promoting social engagement. On the other hand, at least in my experience of the delivery of goods and letters to private users is highly questionable. So far this has been for me a question of not delivering to the door or letterbox, even if I had been definitely in the apartment. Another topic is the fact that includes extremely complicated to get post delivered to one of these 24 hours lockers.  But it’s the most recent experience is just appalling, the way in which complaints are handled. An open letter may give some insight, and definitely expresses my annoyance due to the ignorance and lack of respect I met. I feel sorry for the workers who are pushed into the direction of functioning as machines, cum grano salis “sine ira et studio” as known from Tacitus, later applied by Weber on the bureaucracy, here seen as determining the way in which services are provided: instead of being a matter of public services, guaranteeing the rights of citizens (in this case: the right to free communication), service provision, privatised now, is geared to generating profit, hardly compatible with citizens’ rights and even standing detrimental against consumer rights.— Seems to be far fetched? It is .. but not seeing the complex interaction and dependency of things is exactly the problem: as long as we think in terms of cogwheels we will not be more than instrumental cogwheels; as soon as we begin to understand ourselves as part of a machine, we may be able to develop  alternatives.

Open letter to DHL, German original

Open letter to DHL, English translation, DEEPL.com

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning

When I left Rome a couple of years ago I decided to leave my books there, making a donation so that the books and material can be accessed by the public. EURISPES kindly accepted this and took it as opportunity to establish this small collection (so many books I lost over the time due to moving from one place to another and also due to political attacks from the extreme right; not least, university libraries did not accept earlier offers of material which means many EU-(project-) documents from pre-internet times are lost as I could not store them privately) as a foundation for which I propose the name

Fondazione della biblioteca per l’apprendimento profondo – Foundation of a library for deep learning.

Admittedly there is only a small number of those books, I owned during my lifetime, left. Still, I hope that those books left can serve as a foundation stone for an increasing number of books donated by others, offering what educational institutions unfortunately offer less and less: access to books including such books that are not mainstream and not topical in the sense of offering little space for independent thinking behind catchy titles, in other words books that allow studying beyond the usual textbooks. The small and hopefully growing collection contains study material that allows developing independent and critical thinking. Saving space in my own accommodation, socialising the means of production of knowledge and avoiding further damage while moving on had been  important reasons. Furthermore, it had been the experience I made in Rome: the joy of reading in public libraries, being together or at least feeling together with others, experiencing the production of knowledge as a social, collective process. It may sound pathetic, but indeed it would be a great satisfaction for me if I could contribute a wee bit in the creation of such orientation from young scholars (and old peers too, of course).

The library including reading space is located adjunct to the office of EURISPES

  • Istituto di Studi Politici Economici e Sociali, Via Cagliari, 14 – 00198 Roma
  • +39.06.6821.0205 (ra) +39.06.4411.7029

It can be assessed during office hours and I sincerely hope that many people make use of it and also get support and an open space for debate when visiting the library. I haven’t seen the place and do not know if I will ever see it. In any case the satisfaction of knowing about it is great.

I am grateful for support and also for interest.

——-
Peter Herrmann. Prof. Dr. habil.; Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center. Law School at the Central South University, Changsha, PRC

Affil.
IASQ (The Netherlands); CU (Hungary); IPE (Germany); LU-MSU (Russia); MPISoc.Law (Germany); NUI-M (Ireland); UEF (Finland)

Lushan South Road, 410083 Changsha, Hunan, PRC/
湖南省长沙市岳麓区麓山南路中南大学南校区文法楼219

Brainstorming with B

What comes to mind these days when hearing the letter B sheds days?

Of course, Black Friday – walking along the street, looking in the shopping centres, opening a website, switching on the radio … Black Friday is everywhere. Leaving economics aside, one may wonder how it is possible.

Black lives matter – this could be another one; working on a book is coming to an end. It is a book, going back to the public event organised by the Human Rights Centre at Central South University; while the publication is running late, the topic of racism is still an important one. It is about racism in the sense of hostilities and physical attacks against people of colour, including the Chinese, as it is still suggested that the virus is a Chinese weapon against the rest of the world etc.. But there are also more subtle forms of racism as the fear of the West to loose its hegemonic power. It is the hegemonic system,, that systematically caused huge poverty in countries of Latin America and Africa; and economic model which exploited countries on a global scale, not shying away to call that policy developmental aid.

Black humour then – although one has to hold breath seeing a Twitter-message as the following, not least as it doesn’t even look like black humour but is an blunt reflection of the carelessness of exactly that exploitative model that is erected on harsh individualism of the privileged.

The image fo this tweet had been linked from an article, titled Christmas Slopes on the Ropes , informing about restrictions for holiday makers during what is known as festive season – the feast of Christ, once again showing that there is not much in praying for individuals’ support and mercy when it comes to fight for human rights, the rights of people to live and be safe.

Quality … – consistency is everything

Surely unwanted, but done — at the desk, when I paid for the headphones in a market selling multi-media ….The product’s barcode was scanned, and the same moment I have been asked if I wanted to add insurance, the question being accompanied but a brief explanation of what is covered:

if you use the headphones and you are getting dizzy …., well, if the headphones then fall down and are getting damaged, it is covered by the insurance.

Of course, I had been thinking .. not about buying such insurance but about the meaning of quality and what it means in such context of a multi media supermarket (and other outlets, stores, shops and of course also producing entities. A somewhat official definition of quality managements goes like this:

A quality management system (QMS) is defined as a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. A QMS helps coordinate and direct an organization’s activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve its effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous basis.

I found it on the website of the American Society for Quality – as they have certification courses in place, I suppose it is somewhat authoritative. Back to the shop and the question then, I assume that the main point about quality is that a consistent system its in place – it reminds me of ISO-standards: in principle they work in a very strange way: you say what the standard is and if it is reached you are good. We have had a discussion on this, in connection with shelter for the homelessness. An organisation offering services for homeless people may set s standard for its performance that only 5 % of the people whom they helped finding accommodation return at some stage to the centre, being homeless again. Wow, that would be success, right? Now, looking at the other side it may become tricky. Let us assume they supported 10 people to find accommodation, two people actually stay in the accommodation, five pass away after sleeping rough on the street during frosty nights, two disappeared … unknown destiny and one actually returned to the organisation, looking for help again, What can be said? I feel glad for the two who have proper accommodation now. I am sad, seeing that such a norm-setting process can claim to be successful as the self-set target is reached and I am upset to see that such quality assessment still allows so much misery in there real world.

Sure, back in the shop …. it is in this perspective complaining on a level of high living standards. But still, I felt tempted to ask if the insurance covers as well the cost for medical treatment or if this would still up to health insurance – an institution that is increasingly under pressure due to privatisation of health services, mismanagement and wrong politics. Well, I resisted temptation.

maintaining mental health

Bill Gates, profession: philantrop and good-doer.
PH, profession: grumpy complainer.

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Saw an SUV, standing half on the footpath, a sign saying:

dear police, dear regulatory authority, here it is allowed to park on the footpath, reference §§§….

After walking on for a few meters I return, leaving a note: dear driver, i am wondering if it is about doing what is legally allowed or what is reasonable and thoughtful.
Signed: PH, professor of legal science

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Parship und Statistik: alle 11 Min verliebt sich jemand, es macht freilich nur Sinn, wenn sich 2 verlieben und dann noch gegenseitig – Caravaggio ist eh unschlagbar.
Parship hat aber nun neue Plakate – endlich haben die alten Ladenhüter es auch geschafft😈

Parship and statistics: every 11 minutes someone falls in love, but it only makes sense if 2 fall in love and then even fall in love with each other – Caravaggio is unbeatable anyway.
But Parship has new posters now – it seems that finally the old shelf warmers have made it.😈

(in the meantime they changed again: interesting how images of such services change: from originally “selling people”, now selling social relationships and even attitudes – resembling some form of Gleichklang – harmony)

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Daily Malice

Seeing this fellow, I felt tempted to find some comforting words like: don’t worry. Even if you look ugly, you may have some inner values … – that is what really counts.
The real and serious point: why is it that they bread dogs, so much against nature? Even leading to the poor fellows suffering ill-health at some stage, e.g. suffocation, spinal dispositioning, hip-problems …

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A new laptop, the worst I ever owned. To some extent it is not a problem HP is responsible for (windows 10 is just a disgrace), but to some extent it means there is a good part left for HP: a repair under warrantee had not been undertaken properly; the battery does not keep up with what had been promised (to say the least); and not least the figuration of the machine is overcomplex, thus the opposite of userfriendly, contradictory and not well thought through.
Writing and submitting a feedback (“esteemed customer and user, we highly value your opinion and reporting your experience allows us to improve our performance”) had been another waste of time, a message that had been ignored. On the issue of privacy from my side: I will surely not recommend HP to others.

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“I see said the blind man” – one of the favourite phrases, Bob, an old friend of mine, used to say. He surely would have said so, seeing this:

It is a special application, part of a general application. The applicant is asked to complete this form in case s/he needs a barrier-free version, the font-seize surely not allowing access for those who have limited eye-sight.

It reminds me of a toilet, the door hosting a large sign

The problem: the door had been too narrow to access it even with an ordinary small wheel chair

forgetful …

Too often I forget, announcing publications – may be that it is an inner-opposition, an attempt to stand up against the academic system of which we can hear and read again and again how corrupt it is. The book Es werde Licht. Die Einheit von Geist und Materie in der Quantenphysik has another example right at the beginning. Anyway, hear some info on recent publications that may be of interest:

Social Policy Development in the International Context—Social Investment or a New Social Treatise?; in: R.-D. Hepp et al. (eds.), Precarized Society, Prekarisierung und soziale Entkopplung – transdisziplinäre Studien; Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien: 2020; https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-22413-4_3; pp 41-57

The Comedy of Big Data or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, While Corporations Wither Away? In: M. Mulej et al. (eds.), Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance, Palgrave Studies in Governance, Leadership and Responsibility, 2020: pp. 57-92; https://doi.org/10.1007/978- 3- 030- 46095- 2_3

СОЦИОЛОГИЧЕСКИЕ ИССЛЕДОВАНИЯ
Цифровизация в контексте прекаризации Digitisation – putting precarisation into context
Получено 09.08.2020 Одобрено 02.10.2020 Опубликовано 10.11.2020 DOI: 10.19181/lsprr.2020.16.4.10

Для цитирования: Херрманн П. Цифровизация в контексте прекаризации // Уровень жизни населения регионов России. 2020. Том 16. No4. С. 119–128. DOI: 10.19181/lsprr.2020.16.4.10
For citation: Herrmann P. 25 Digitisation – Putting Precarisation Into Context. Living Standards of the Population in the Regions of Russia. 2020. Vol. 16. No.4. P. 119–128. DOI: 10.19181/lsprr.2020.16.4.10 

https://youtu.be/mDdUK5PtGLU
Vortrag auf dem Europatag des Diakonischen Werkes Deutschlands und Eurodiakonia; 2.10.2020
Steht der Sozialschutz unter Druck und muss durch die Suche nach Neuregelungen gerettet werden? Oder stehen wir vor der Aufgabe, moeglicherweise Chance, Gesellschaft neu zu denken? Dies ist die Grundfrage, an denen sich die Diskussion von Sozialschutz, Digitalisierung und künstlicher Intelligenz in der EU heute abarbeitet.

Ratio turns into nonsense, benefit into menace – again

Applying for citizenship/naturalisation in Germany means that the applicant has to undergo a test with a variety of questions. The concern issues of culture, religion, politics and policies, the economy and you name it. One of them asks

What does the abbreviation CDU stand for in Germany?

It is a multiple-choice question and the following is suggested:

  • Christian German environmental protection
  • Association of German entrepreneurs
  • Christian German Union
  • Christian Democratic

Now, leaving the official and formally correct answer aside, there is a good reasons for identifying the Christian Democratic Union at least ideologically with a club of German Entrepreneurs. Well, we may speak of a dilemma: saying the truth instead of blindly following the rules may be hugely counter-productive.

semplificazione attraverso la denuncia

Così spesso sentiamo lamentarsi delle restrizioni, del fatto di non poter vedere “le vecchie pietre”, i quadri moderni, di poter bere un drink o mangiare con gli amici…, così raro è anche il tentativo di pensare dialetticamente

  • Venice, l’acqua in mare vicino, l’aria in Rome, Milano, Berlino, Londra, Pecino … – tutto questo era già da tempo pulito come non lo era più da secoli. Un rallentamento della distruzione
  • il lamentarsi della burocrazia e delle “grandi imprese”, che si tratti di AMAZON, DHL, E-dreams, HP, Zalando – o uno dei tanti altri tra la A e la Z -, farla franca su tutto … – e la disponibilità a non cedere i diritti nel caso specifico di essere vittima diretta dei loro cattivi affari
  • la critica delle oligarchie, il mecenatismo politico, il nazionalismo nelle organizzazioni politiche, sociali e professionali, come può andare di pari passo con la mancanza di impegno, il ritiro in famiglia e il “boondoggle” individuale

Vigliaccheria, stupidità, pigrizia, auto-dimenticanza?

Mi viene in mente Hannah Arendt, un passaggio che vale almeno la pena ricordare:

Il nuovo corpo politico è concepito a vantaggio della nascente società borghese del XVII secolo e la descrizione della natura umana contiene in realtà un profilo del tipo di uomo che meglio si addice ad essa. Il «Commonwealth» è basato su una delegazione di potere, non di diritti. Esso acquista il monopolio dell’uccidere e offre in cambio una garanzia condizionata contro l’essere uccisi. La sicurezza è fornita dalla legge, che è una diretta emanazione del monopolio statale del potere (e non è stabilita dall’uomo secondo criteri umani di ragione e torto). E poiché tale legge scaturisce direttamente dal potere assoluto, rappresenta una necessità assoluta agli occhi degli individui che vivono sotto di essa. Quanto alla legge dello stato, cioè il potere collettivo accumulato dalla maggioranza e da essa monopolizzato, non si parla piú di ragione o torto, ma solo di obbedienza assoluta, di cieco conformismo borghese. Spogliato com’è dei diritti politici, l’individuo, a cui la vita pubblica ufficiale si presenta sotto la maschera della necessità, acquista un nuovo accresciuto interesse per la sua vita privata e le sue sorti personali. Escluso dalla partecipazione alla gestione degli affari pubblici che riguarda tutti i cittadini, egli perde il suo legittimo posto nella società e il vincolo naturale coi suoi simili. Ora può giudicare la sua vita privata soltanto confrontandola con quella altrui, e i suoi rapporti con gli altri in seno alla società assumono la forma della competizione. Poiché gli affari pubblici sono regolati dallo stato sotto la parvenza della necessità, la carriera sociale dei competitori è determinata dal caso. In una società di individui, tutti dotati di eguale capacità di potere dalla natura ed egualmente protetti nei confronti l’uno dell’altro dallo stato, soltanto il caso può decidere chi ha successo.

Secondo i criteri borghesi, le persone diseredate dalla fortuna e dal successo sono automaticamente escluse dalla competizione, che è la vita della società. La fortuna è identificata con l’onore, la sfortuna con la vergogna. Attribuendo i suoi diritti politici allo stato, l’individuo gli delega anche le sue responsabilità sociali … (Arendt: Le Origini del totalitarismo)