Guns are the things most likely to kill young people in America.
And the former US-president Trump boldly demanding a further escalation, making it easier (still possible?) to buy a weapon, allowing (not to say encouraging) teachers to use weapons ….
… and undermining public debates in a weird way: accepting and promoting and even celebrating what fits into the scheme, rejecting and even criminalising what does not:
… and paradoxically resulting in a kind of binary code: if you are not in support of me, you are against me. Let’s afce the truth: as much as MZ may well be a criminal, there is something about Facebook that we may consider as being valuable; and as much as JA acted in the name of freedom, there is something about “unspecified freedom” (not to say unqualified freedom) that is more than problematic. – Perhaps we may have to talk more about responsibility and look for a serious way to accept the series and unending string of challenges.
Of course, it is easy to get it wrong – especially as we all tend to look for the confirmation of what we know and think … – so, this blog post surely is in danger of being born out of …, well, let me say hesitation to accept the US role as world gendarme, securing peace and democracy.
Be it as it is, and surely not accepting war as means of conflict resolution (which does nit say anything about the conflict as such):
Up to recently, there had been only very limited security at and around the Russian embassy in Berlin – just 2 cops walking up and down and having a good or not so good day. Since the outbreak of the war against Ukraine this changed, and in the meantime several police guards are standing there and the area is secured by security fences.
It is worthwhile to compare this with the US-embassy, since years the areas has something of a fortress, an entire road blocked by heave iron bulwarks, only cyclists and pedestrians being allowed to pass, permanently observed by quite a number of guards, not only on that street but also in the surrounding and elsewhere.
This marks the situation today, and even historically it says a lot — doesn’t it make the talk of the Traenenpalast (palace of tears) a matter of showing crocodiles tears? (btw. also forgetting those who indeed travelled freely … – “forgotten” parts of history).
Is it fair to say that Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (yes, I mean THAT Rembrandt) had been a great artist? Ever thought to buy one of the paintings ? Most likely not, not easy to get the money you would have to pay.
It is said that he did not have enough money to buy blue pigments – and indeed he did not often use it.
Still, he managed to paint these amazing pieces of art. – What would he do today?
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:
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
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. 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 … .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.