multiplication tables – or: it’s enough to be able to count to three

1

The German (and increasingly international) discounter Aldi runs a campaign, announcing that they will in the future sell only milk from farmers that guarantee “living standard” 3 (e.g. freedom to move, fresh air, more space as standard 2, food without gene tech) or 4 (e.g., ref to bio: open space to roam, more space as standard 3, food without gene tech) of the life stock. Good news one could say …

+ 1

A short message in DER SPIEGEL, issue 3, page 61, explores the difficulties of farmers: being left without subsidies, the higher requirements will make it near to impossible to stay in business as the cost for necessary changes are too high for the individual farmer. “Ilchmann [head of the Working Group of Rural Agriculture in Lower Saxony/Bremen, arguing against the quasi-dictate by Aldi and subsequently others – Edeka, already announced similar steps] is placing more hope in the planned state animal welfare label … . For this purpose, the calculation of the surcharges for individual husbandry levels could be made binding.”

+ 1

The inflation rate make it for many households increasingly difficult to cope with the cost of living.

= 3

Being part of the entire green growth strategy, the policy by Aldi (and subsequently others) shows that the mainstream of this thinking is not feasible. A “correct 3” requires an integrated strategy, involving a strong intervention by the state and an overall approach, bringing producers, distributors and consumers strategically together. There is not much sense in taking ‘corporate social responsibility’ (Bowen) and/or a ‘sensible mode of life’ (Brand/Wissen) in isolation.

easily overlooked

There are the BIG questions, going hand in hand with the one: climate (change). And threre are the big players, governments, non-governmental players, artists finding a new stage (not mocking, I trust he is serious about it) and people like you, Greta and myself.

We all know about the small print – even if contracts and agreements a big, the small print is not getting larger (though probably longer).

And then there is something else – the story with the apple …, well, not Isaac’s apple

,the other.

Keeping up with the news from the fruitshop, I checked the website: what is the new standard in the computer world?

Nothing, really:

  • first we are driven through and by design — sure, makes a difference but computers are for most of us utilities: things we have to or want to use: work, info, communication, games – only all the fuzz on design makes makes reputation and showing off an additional utility
  • second, the website – yes, amazing the design, yes akward the ease of accessing relevant info – is so overburdended with nicesities (is there a term like uselessities) that all the potential speed is absorbed — the other side of Moore’s law: though the chips are getting cheaper and faster the ammount of waste they have to carry and process is multiplying ….

Perhaps it would be a valuable contribution by ex-computer manufacturers to think about such issues, instead of retiring, becoming professional philantropists and writing books on how to save the planet. It would save them from flying in their bio-fueld aircrafts to summits, preaching for a better world …

who is to blame

China – you can blame it for everything … at least it is done this way. And I will shortly engage in this by posting a video, talking a bit about 10 years “Peter’s China”
Anyway, I finally I read the article in the NZZ, initially hesitating to jump across the paywall. Be it as it is, surveillance – the big topic and of course in some way employing my thoughts. Indeed, even if compared with what I say a year or so ago, there are more cameras, there are these “distant temp-measures” and ……, well, finally reading the article, there is one obvious point: the author ended apparently up in one of the extreme techno hubs, where simply the technicians are keen to do everything that is possible and put every effort into making possible what is not yet possible – and for this all data have to be collected …, oh mind, next time being possibly too generous with your toilet tissue. Yes, it is often as ridicules as that. – so. what he says is not really about China – or it is much about China as the Silicon Valley is about the US.

Anyway, the article … first complaining and at some stage comfortably settling in – no key necessary .. just walk if you are who you seem or pretend to be. But there is something else that comes to my mind, when looking at the kist in front of me and when thinking about “blame the Chinese, they have broad shoulders and are many, they will carry it”.

The List, I mean the “to-do-list”, seeing the many things I wanted to do, have to so, I could not do because I am waiting for something that I need so that I can do …, something else comes to my mind: It is often said the that in China the n-word is barely used: Even if you mean NO, you do not say it. I cannot say that this is definitely not true – and one can speculate if it is because one does not want to hurt somebody else, is it a continued effect  of a clandestine resistance during the various dynasties, or simply ignorance or even part of the genetic code?

Looking at the said list, seeing all things promised, I am wondering if not is possibly not the Chinese but a “nowadays-code”: ignorance due to self-centredness of the “last man”, taking it from the subtitle of Fukuyama’s book on the End of History. Seeing it this way makes sense, as the last man does not need to think about the future – end of history finally means end of time, including end of past, so that there is no future which makes the process of life rather dull and shallow: we add and define our status on Facebook etc, it is a bit like going back to the good old medieval times. And then we blame China — while we forget to ask ourselves: DO WE LIKE TO LOOSE FACE? If we do not ask this question, we lost it already and should SAY NO to continuing this way … never forget: some entered where Dante entered … and that they had to mark as status!

The State of Law – The Code of Answers, ignoring what the question is about

Nil sapientiæ odiosius acumine nimio. (Seneca)

Taking the floor during the BEN MASS Global Conference on Religious Diplomacy, organised by the Academy of Arts and Science on the 17th of July 2021, I raised my old concern again, elaborating on the tension between a purely formal understanding of the rule of law, based in an individualist understanding as it stands in the tradition of the Roman Law doctrine on the one hand and the need to emphasise that humans have to be understood as social animals, shaping there life through production as social process on the other hand. This leads us to an understanding of law that includes what is commonly called an ethical dimension; at the same time it has to be emphasised, however, that such dimension is not based in voluntary perspectives, but in clear guidelines emerging from the social character of production. Even if the importance of individual genius (and individual failure) should not be underestimated, it is at the end of the day the social, the social conditions, the historical context that determine our action – be it success or failure. This provides strong point of reference for the definition of the rule of law, defining responsibility and in particular social responsibility not as matter of distribution of what had been privately appropriated, but of securing societal conditions – material and ideational – that allow people to live comfortably together, meaning leading an appropriate life. And obviously this entails the two spects, one being about approriation, the other being about appropriateness as coherence.

Honesty

I have never been friend of addressing people by opening a letter with a lie, e.g.

  • Dear/Esteemed ….
  • I am/we are grateful for …
  • Honourable …

Or ending it by using a statement like

  • With friendly regards
  • Warmest
  • Kindly

Why not state honestkly what one means — also being honest to oneself:

  • Dear colleague, thanks for the mail though I really do not have time to bother

And then, from the customer-side, instead of writing Thanking you for the reply in anticipation

  • Please, do not reply – I know it is not the problem you as actual office clerk are dealing with; but instead of answering, please pass it on to the CEOs etc. who make profit from the sheep-like patience of workers like you and customers like myself …

Part of the move from use to echange value is surely reflected in “using” langauge as means of exchange, but not echanging “meaning” (meaning being the use value of information and any form of serious communication) – instead: exchanging paralysing formulae that allow selling nothing in a beautiful looking gift box.

There is another point, going beyond communication: a perverted consumer protection. Today, especially when it comes to online-business, we reveice the goods we ordered and with it we receive the label for “free return-shipment”, addressed to the dear customer and sent with kind regards., Great, if needed – and “deserved”. But then: how many people order a commodity or several of them, anticipating that they will return some of them. Even worse perhaps: omne orders an item and something seems not to work. So you call for help

The result is too often the”kind offer”

you can return the item

it does not really help if you want to use it … – did I mention use and exchange value? The use value is shifting to a perverse “KEEP THE BALL MOVING ON”, don’t bother what the ball is and where it goes. This kind of thinking and system ? It goes sooner or later onto the dustbin of history.

EASILY OVERLOOKED – HUMAN RIGHTS, THE SMALL PRINT AND THE UNIVERSE

The other day, the App Store announced an update. When are going there the window with the latest security announcement (dictating this, I had to correct announcement, exchange it from “and nonsense”) opened, apparently concerned with some gaming. While I’m not into gaming, I thought I’ll still have a look: data protection is it always somewhat interesting, challenging and not least funny issue. And indeed, some interesting issues can be raised.
1) The operating system of my computer runs in Italian language, however the data protection site opened in German language, apparently taking it from my current location. – being able to read and understand German, I didn’t bother.
2) Still later I thought I’d change the language, not least because I want to do look something up for this blog entry. This is easy as I thought it would be, not least I ended up in the store for apps, but not in the section of data protection. I’m sure, if I would have wasted more time …. Somewhere that will be an English, an Italian, a French, a Swedish … version.
3) Reading through all the information and data protection, security and not least my own control options, more or less at the outset there had been the following sentence
Apple ist der Überzeugung, dass Datenschutz ein grundlegendes Menschenrecht ist. Jedes Apple-Produkt ist daher so konzipiert, dass so wenig Daten wie möglich erfasst und verwendet werden, dass, wo möglich Daten direkt auf dem Gerät verarbeitet werden, und dass höchste Transparenz herrscht und du die Kontrolle über deine Daten hast.
(in translation from the German, thanks to deepl.com)Apple believes that privacy is a fundamental human right. That’s why every Apple product is designed to collect and use as little data as possible, process data directly on the device where possible, and provide the highest level of transparency and control over your data.
Alright then – a Human Right, it means there is no difference, we are born equal and avail of such human right independent of ethnicity, sex, gender, age, maturity, religion, faith and belief etc. — some relief it seems.
4) I flipped through all the information, thought it is a lot of reading, and also thought a lot of  knowledge is required to understand all this – knowledge concerned with technology, jurisprudence, administration … and I thought that human rights are “universal” not least in the sense of non-discriminatory. The UN-website

states:
The international human rights legal framework contains international instruments to combat specific forms of discrimination, including discrimination against indigenous peoplesmigrantsminoritiespeople with disabilitiesdiscrimination against women,  racial and religious discrimination, or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Well, education is not amongst it. Although accessibility to education is frequently mentioned is human right, I am not aware of any mention of a human right independent of the educational status. In other words, availing of human rights may well be dependent on a certain level of education, allowing to access ones rights. Sure, there are various mechanisms in place that ensure to some extent that everybody, even without education, can avail of protection – but that is usually another long way.
5) long ways, having much time …. An important issue when it comes to human rights; and as well an issue that is interesting to look at on a macrolevel. The juridification of modern life does not only require knowledge but also time — and it is societal time, time of society. Let’s have a look at the cost of reading privacy statements:

McDonald, Aleecia M./Cranor, Lorrie Faith: 2008: The Cost of Reading Privacy Policies; https://kb.osu.edu/bitstream/handle/1811/72839/ISJLP_V4N3_543.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y; 08/01/19; S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, vol. 4, no. 3 (2008), 543-568


Human Rights – there is much more to it than killing people of colour or silencing political opponents; and as long as the small print is ignored, there is the danger that people feel legitimised to storm the white fortress in order to protect the “superior inmate”.

Reflections for the New Year

Again and again it is said that we are living in unusual times. Of course, in some way it is unquestionably true – taking unusual as exceptional.

Still, I’m wondering if it is not – for some – about returning to usual life, life and what it is really about, including some Jolt of Pure Joy  – taking unusual as ordinary in its most positive understanding of authentic, genuine: wiping away all the stupidities and useless wants that come along with commerce and business and their harsh fairy tale of growth as ultimate goal; perhaps overcoming arrogance, ignorance, dishonest tolerance.

Of course, it is not about all this for all and in every respect: there are still many who barely get the bare necessities; there are people cramped – in a rich city as Berlin – with 14 persons on 100 square meter; there are entire countries living in severe poverty …, obviously I am not speaking about that kind of consumers and consumption but …

Of course, much is replaced by online shopping, still the old ding-dong, veiled in new dresses, the heavy weight now to be carried by … the couriers, badly paid, working under harsh conditions … I am not celebrating these new victims … and yes, a good cuppa or something like that, sitting down in the bar around the corner is something we all miss as we miss the local theatre, the music club and the cinema – many of them possibly not getting back on their legs. Still, perhaps it is a time, an opportunity to pay more respect to the little walk with a friend, an opportunity to talk about the film we saw in our little or large home, perhaps it is the time where we are becoming aware of some essentials …

And perhaps there is something many of us can actually DO. Sure, don’t ask me how many jackets and trousers I have, how old my mobile phone is, how many useless gadgets I own and …. – but I made personally perhaps a small step from words that may be exceptional to what should be ordinary, authentic action. And I offered as well to enter conversations about the books there, socialising the means of production … and perhaps we have to and can think about new ways, collective ways of reflecting and debating ….

Looking back in order to search for the future

Pausing for a moment is not a bad thing, even if we are forced to. There is a lot of talk about the new normal and indeed, it had been last week that we had been confronted with some news that had been surely worthwhile to think about. It had been world overshoot day, this on a global level. Qatar reached it already on the 11th of February, Indonesia will be the last, reaching it on the 18th of December (https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/)

Of course, there are massive economic problems as consequence of the pandemic. However, a detailed analysis shows that these are problems of production: the commodity system of capitalism requires to keep costs of production low, thus separating production proper and consumption. This appears a to be a problem of distribution and linked injustice. However distribution is not really the problem. The problem is that commodity production in the understanding of capitalist production depends on separating production of use value and production of exchange value. Only refocusing the entire process on use will allow to produce what is needed by human beings instead of investors.