Peanuts …

A commonly known – und uncontested – pattern is that people who are more or less poor, have to turn every cent, 人民币, копейка, centavo … around and round before spending it … – so different to those who have enough, barely looking at the denomination.

And so it is as well on the “other side”, those who are at the receiving end, or those who are dealing with the “payers” – these are then people who do the same with the money they receive or that have to check, when closing a bank account, transferring petty money from these poorish people into another account or even country etc.: every cent, 人民币, копейка, centavo … has to be turned around and around again and again, forms have to be completed … .

The prayers of the rich and superrich may be better, more substantial, in any case surely: “closer to the higher ecehlons”, to those whom they elected as the political leaders and to heaven?.

Capital is said by a Quarterly Reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. 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., positive 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.[1]

And so is it with all the rest of it – cum grano salis and at times inversely: A petty crime will be most likely detected and at court it will be turned around and around like the cents until a reason is found to penalise it I the most stern manner. The major and definitely criminal offense of speculators and other “functionaries” may even get away with some fanfares, re-interpreting the delict as support of economic development, act of fostering investment and growth and good deed.

You remember Brecht’s Macheath, asking in Act 3, scene 3

What is the burgling of a bank to the founding of a bank?

Indeed, we have to take up again o the wisdom of the ancestors, already struggling with a world characterised by these patterns

To nonsense, reason’s self they turn; Beneficence becomes a pest; Woe unto thee, that thou’rt a grandson born! As for the law born with us, unexpressed;– That law, alas, none careth to discern.


[1]            T.J. Dunning, l. c. [Trades Union and Strikes], pp. 35, 36; in: Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital; Volume I; in: Karl Marx/Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996: 748, footnote 2

To Those Who Follow in Our Wake (Brecht)

I am not really friend of simply reproducing from another website – ther are exceptions though:

Bertolt Brecht, An die Nachgeborenen first published in Svendborger Gedichte (1939) in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 4, pp. 722-25 (1967)(S.H. transl.)



Truly, I live in dark times!

An artless word is foolish. A smooth forehead

Points to insensitivity. He who laughs

Has not yet received

The terrible news.


What times are these, in which

A conversation about trees is almost a crime

For in doing so we maintain our silence about so much wrongdoing!

And he who walks quietly across the street,

Passes out of the reach of his friends

Who are in danger?


It is true: I work for a living

But, believe me, that is a coincidence. Nothing

That I do gives me the right to eat my fill.

By chance I have been spared. (If my luck does not hold,

I am lost.)


They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad to be among the haves!

But how can I eat and drink

When I take what I eat from the starving

And those who thirst do not have my glass of water?

And yet I eat and drink.


I would happily be wise.

The old books teach us what wisdom is:

To retreat from the strife of the world

To live out the brief time that is your lot

Without fear

To make your way without violence

To repay evil with good –

The wise do not seek to satisfy their desires,

But to forget them.

But I cannot heed this:

Truly I live in dark times!




I came into the cities in a time of disorder

As hunger reigned.

I came among men in a time of turmoil

And I rose up with them.

And so passed

The time given to me on earth.


I ate my food between slaughters.

I laid down to sleep among murderers.

I tended to love with abandon.

I looked upon nature with impatience.

And so passed

The time given to me on earth.


In my time streets led into a swamp.

My language betrayed me to the slaughterer.

There was little I could do. But without me

The rulers sat more securely, or so I hoped.

And so passed

The time given to me on earth.


The powers were so limited. The goal

Lay far in the distance

It could clearly be seen although even I

Could hardly hope to reach it.

And so passed

The time given to me on earth.




You, who shall resurface following the flood

In which we have perished,

Contemplate –

When you speak of our weaknesses,

Also the dark time

That you have escaped.


For we went forth, changing our country more frequently than our shoes

Through the class warfare, despairing

That there was only injustice and no outrage.


And yet we knew:

Even the hatred of squalor

Distorts one’s features.

Even anger against injustice

Makes the voice grow hoarse. We

Who wished to lay the foundation for gentleness

Could not ourselves be gentle.


But you, when at last the time comes

That man can aid his fellow man,

Should think upon us

With leniency.


Bertolt Brecht, An die Nachgeborenen first published in Svendborger Gedichte (1939) in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 4, pp. 722-25 (1967)(S.H. transl.)



No-Cash-on-the-Table Principle

… or about the deforming of human minds …
Measuring the World – the title of a novel by Daniel Kehlmann …
 … The title of another novel could be Simplification of the World … the textbook version exists already
Still, the No-Cash-on-the-Table Principle is important. It tells us, in effect, that there are only three ways to earn a big payoff: to work especially hard; to have some unusual skill, talent of training; or simply to be lucky. The person who finds a big bank note on the pavement is lucky, as are are many of the investors whose stocks perform better than average. Other investors whose stocks do well achieve their gains through hard work or special talent. For example, the legendary investor Warren buffet, whose portfolio has grown in value at almost three times the stock market average for the past 40 years, spends long hours studying annual financial reports and has a remarkably keen eye for the telling detail. Thousands of others work just as hard yet fail to beat the market averages.
(Moore McDowell et altera, 2012: Principles of Economics; London et altera: Mc Graw hill. Higher Education; 3rd European Edition: 220)
It is always interesting to see how economics is able to separate distribution from production – thus resulting in assessments that focus on distribution, pleasing for “a bit more of justice”, and reducing production on an annex to distribution, trusting the markets and fortune.
There is something else that is interesting: my students, for example, immediately ask, similar stuff to that reflected in the Questions from a Worker Who Reads, and they immediately a surprised when looking the Warrens & Friends. It seems that only economists have this strange ability to reduce the world on some kind of formula that reflects the distribution of something without bothering too much about the from where things come.
Mad cow disease and “the discovery of a new breed of chickens that gain more weight than existing breeds that consume the same amount of food” (from the same “bible of Simplification” by Moore McDowell) just appear like in the ancient world gods turned up: today they are just the gods of the “market” I talked about on another occasion.

Freedom of Opinion

Some facts – from
Alexander Kentikelenis, Marina Karanikolos, Aaron Reeves, Martin McKee, David Stuckler:
Lancet 2014; 383: 748–53
drastic reductions to municipality budgets have led to a scaling back of several activities (eg, mosquito- spraying programmes20), which, in combination with other factors, has allowed the re-emergence of locally transmitted malaria for the first time in 40 years. (748)

Researchers from the Greek National School of Public Health reported a 21% rise in stillbirths between 2008 and 2011, which they attributed to reduced access to prenatal health services for pregnant women. (751)

It is about
Denial …
The cost of adjustment is being borne mainly by ordinary Greek citizens. They are subject to one of the most radical programmes of welfare-state retrenchment in recent times, which in turn affects population health. Yet despite this clear evidence, there has been little agreement about the causal role of austerity. There is a broad consensus that the social sector in Greece was in grave need of reform, with widespread corruption, misuse of patronage, and inefficiencies, and many commentators have noted that the crisis presented an opportunity to introduce long-overdue changes. Greek Government officials, and several sympathetic comm- entators, have argued that the introduction of the wide- ranging changes and deep public-spending cuts have not damaged health59,60 and, indeed, might lead to long-term improvements. Officials have denied that vulnerable groups (eg, homeless or uninsured people) have been denied access to health care, and claim that those who are unable to afford public insurance contributions still receive free care.However, the scientific literature presents a different picture. In view of this detailed body of evidence for the harmful effects of austerity on health, the failure of public recognition of the issue by successive Greek Governments and international agencies is remarkable. Indeed, the predominant response has been denial that any serious difficulties exist, although this response is not unique to Greece; the Spanish Government has been equally reluctant to concede the harm caused by its policies. This dismissal meets the criteria for denialism, which refuses to acknowledge, and indeed attempts to discredit, scientific research. (751)
Further references are omitted and can be found in the original; and it has to be emphasised that similar denialism can be found not only also in Spain but in Italy and …. – and in some way also in the so-called rich countries, thigh the situation is by no means as bad as in Greece.
Frightening as it is, the situation is made much less bearable if we look at the various denunciations and rebukes of Greek claims to return to control of the countries situation and to reject the external control under the heading of Washington consensus and Troika.
It may be somewhat naive that I still expected the German Green Joschka Fischer not to support openly this reactionary policy and to show more responsibility and circumspection when it comes to looking for solutions. But …
He has nothing better to do to suggest an end of the crisis, saying
Die Euro-Krise scheint vorbei zu sein. Zumindest haben sich die Finanzmärkte beruhigt, auch wenn der Wechselkurs gesunken ist und die Wirtschaft in den südlichen Krisenländern der Europäischen Union nach wie vor darniederliegt.
And he speaks of political risks, due to the lack of a sound stability after the crisis and the fact that austerity policies did not end in the promised results:
Aus dem politischen Raum droht daher großes Unheil für das europäische Projekt.
He rightly sees the problems in Italy too, but then dares to state comment on the result of the Greek elections on the 25th of January with the words that there is
… the high risk that the left socialists of the party SYRIZA will be elected.
… mit dem hohen Risiko, dass die Linkssozialisten von der Partei Syriza gewählt werden.
Joschka Fischer: Worauf wartet ihr noch?; 15. Januar 2015, 12:07; Süddeutsche Zeitung
The rest of Fischer’s comments show that he lost his sense for assessing what is important and real (well, perhaps her never had it).

Important is to accept the right of the people to elect THEIR government – there is some “risk of democracy” that the governing forces do to like it

Important is to fundamentally work towards a solution of the crisis, which means to move to an economy that does not need austerity but on the contrary is there to enhance social quality, well-being and welfare for all

Important is to recognise that the solution is not about


real european solutions in the direction of increased economic growth

echter europäischer Lösungen in Richtung auf mehr Wirtschaftswachstum

To be fair, Fischer highlights the serious problem of the emergence of nationalism, the staple food of the extrem right. Going beyond Greece he states


that the resentment of the Italians is increasingly not solely directed against austerity policies, but also against the Euro itself. And if the Italians are captured (by Anti-EU/nationalist sentiments, P.H.) we likely will also face a crisis in France.
der Unmut der Italiener richtet sich zunehmend nicht mehr nur gegen die Austeritätspolitik, sondern auch gegen den Euro als solchen. Und wenn Italien erst einmal erfasst wurde, dann droht eine französische Krise.

As said, democracy is dangerous. But a factor of utmost importance is that there had not been any democracy yet when it comes to the EU and Euro-policies – taking a metaphor: It had been a one-sided European strategy, geared towards the establishment of a fortress of which the walls had been standing firm against those who wanted to enter, but also standing firm against the Landsknecht, sacrificed on the altar of competitiveness. Then, if the colorful uniforms of the European army fall and are burning in the ablaze of the failed strategy of enhancing competitiveness, we should not be surprised by nationalism and fascism.

As we know from Brecht’s “Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui [The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui]”


Der Schoss ist fruchtbar noch,
aus dem das kroch
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.
See in this context also (In German only)

Die Soziale Mobilmachung Europas

Peter Herrmann[i]

Die Soziale Mobilmachung Europas

Notizen im Zusammenhang mit einem Beitrag aus der Antikriegskonferenz in Berlin, 3.-5. Oktober 2014

„Es gibt viele Arten zu töten. Man kann einem ein Messer in den Bauch stechen, einem das Brot entziehen, einen von einer Krankheit nicht heilen, einen in eine schlechte Wohnung stecken, einen durch Arbeit zu Tode schinden, einen zum Suizid treiben, einen in den Krieg führen usw. Nur weniges davon ist in unserem Staat verboten.“[1]

Einführung und Grundführung

Krieg und Nichtkrieg – darum geht es ja bei einer Initiative wie der hiesigen – war und ist immer eine Frage um Grenzen. Und es erscheint es als eine Frage von physischen Grenzen zwischen Staaten bzw. Nationen. Zu sagen, es handele sich um eine Frage von Staatsgrenzen, richtet schnell den Blick auf einen Ausdruck, der verschiedentlich den Staatsbegriff in metaphorischer Weise verwendet und damit – wohl ungewollt – den Blick auf einen wesentlichen Teil des Problems richtet: die Rede ist vom Staat im Staate.

Dieser Begriff findet sich vor allem in zwei wichtigen Verwendungen. Zum einen als Bezeichnung für eine „konspirative Herrschaftsorganisation“, die die innere Ordnung sichert und dabei in eigenartiger Weise die beiden Dimensionen, die Gramsci für Hegemonie benennt, zusammenbindet: Nicht zuletzt geht es um das Militär als Staat im Staate. Zum anderen geht es um eine mögliche Gegenmacht: nicht zuletzt war die frühere Sozialdemokratie mit dem umfassenden Netz von der Wiege bis zur Bahre auch als Staat im Staate klassifiziert – das war freilich pejorativ gemeint. Ob es sich dabei um eine Art innere Emigration handelte, um die Kopie von Herrschaftsstrukturen oder anderes handelte, muss hier nicht interessieren. Wichtig ist, dass auf diese Weise die Klassenstrukturen als Kern des Problems genannt sind. Denn immer, wenn es um militärische Auseinandersetzungen ging und geht, steht die Soziale Frage mehr oder weniger direkt im Begründungszusammenhang.

So oder so, diese kurze Diskussion zeigt, dass es im Kern eben nicht um einen kapitalistischen Staat als einen homogenen Block geht, der einen ebenso homogenen Block entgegensteht. Ich schlage folgende Gliederung für die weitere Analyse vor:

  • Die Kernkräfte des mehr oder weniger direkt gewaltorientierten Herrschaftsapparates
  • Die eher globalistisch orientierten Hegemonialkräfte
  • Die formierten Gegenkräfte
  • Die – scheinbar – Passiven

Die Metapher vom Staat im Staate soll im Folgenden nicht weiter verfolgt werden. Nun ist auch nicht jede „soziale Ungerechtigkeit“ gleich eine Kriegserklärung. Wohl aber lässt sich derzeit davon sprechen, dass die alte soziale Frage heute genau diesen Zusammenhang wieder Bedeutung gewinnt: Es geht um die Neudefinition der entscheidenden Grenzen. Wichtig ist daher, die komplizierte Überschneidung verschiedener Interessensphären auch in räumlicher Hinsicht:

  • Traditionale Nationalstaatlichkeit
  • „Regionale Staatlichkeit“ – hier und gegenwärtig insbesondere die EU
  • Die subnationale Regionalebene, die wieder verstärkte Bedeutung gewinnt und dabei nicht zuletzt eine neue Form von Antimilitarismus begründet – Schottland ist als jüngstes Beispiel hier zu nennen
  • Eine virtuelle Globalität – trotz des virtuellen Charakters haben wir es dabei aber mit sehr realen Ansätzen zu tun:
    • dem globalen Kapitalismus, der real, aber zugleich in diffusen Formen auftritt
    • der globalen Anti- und Alter-Globalisierungsbewegung mit ihren äußerst heterogenen Formen der Erscheinung und Äußerung.

All dies ist nun vor dem Hintergrund zweier weiterer Momente zu sehen, die die Neuordnung der Welt bestimmen – es handelt sich im Grunde um die zwei Seiten einer Medaille:

  • Die radikale Herausbildung einer neuen Stufe der Produktivkraftentwicklung
  • Die auf eine neue Stufe gehobene Akkumulation durch Enteignung.

Dies sind allgemeine Bestimmungen, die einen Rahmen abstecken, gegen den eine Bestimmung und Analyse verschiedener Politikmomente möglich ist. Es wird vor diesem Hintergrund auch möglich, die Widersprüchlichkeit zu erfassen, und ebenso die tatsächliche Gefahr der gegenwärtigen „inneren Mobilmachung“ bzw. „inneren Aufrüstung“ zu erkennen – Dabei ist eine Art Paradox festzustellen: die Aufrüstung hängt von einer pervertierten Abrüstung der Arbeitskräfte bzw. Ware Arbeitskraft ab. Der „Staat über dem Staat“, von dem Liebknecht gesprochen hat, hat eben auch eine andere Seite: die (un-)soziale Unterfütterung, die das Militär, der Militarismus und allgemein die Bereitschaft, Gewalt als eine inadäquate Antwort auf politische Fragen anzuerkennen, gesellschaftsfähig zu machen.

Zwei Seiten einer solchen Mobilmachung sind zu unterscheiden: die generelle Verunsicherung, mit der Entfachung eines „Kampfbewusstseins des Jeder-gegen-Jeden“. Zum anderen die Fortsetzung des Überwachen, Kontrollieren und Intervenieren, wie von Volker Eick vorgestellt.


Meines Erachtens greift es zu kurz, wenn wir immer wieder allgemein von Neoliberalismus sprechen – insbesondere der Blick auf das Problem der sog. Arbeitsmarktpolitik sollte uns weiter aufhorchen lassen – wir müssen es ernster nehmen, wenn von einem fundamentalen Umbau gesprochen wird. Die Zahlen sind allemal erschreckend. Dies bezieht sich auf die absolute Höhe, aber auch die zunehmende Anzahl von Nicht-Standardisierten Arbeitsverhältnissen.

Ein kleiner Überblick in Zahlen:

The figures are alarming. Some 5.2 million young people are out of work in the EU today. The youth unemployment rate, which stood at 23.5% in 2013, is thus over twice as high as that for people of working age in general. A staggering 7.5 million of people aged 15-24 are not in employment, education or training (NEET). One third of young unemployed have been jobless for more than a year. Even when they find a job, young people often find themselves trapped at the precarious end of the labour market: 42.7 % were on temporary contracts in 2013 compared with 13.8 % of the over- all population of working age.[2]

Speziell mit Blick auf befristete Arbeitsverhältnisse ergibt sich folgendes Bild:

Over the three years 2009–2012, the proportion of young people in work with temporary contracts of employment rose in 20 of the 28 countries. The increase was particularly large in a number of countries which were most affected by the crisis – in Ireland, Slovenia, Spain and Italy. The proportion of young people employed in temporary jobs as opposed to permanent ones was larger in 2012 than in 2007 in all but nine countries, despite the initial reduction in the number of fixed-term contract jobs in many cases in the recession years.[3]

Dabei fällt neben der schlicht erschreckenden Höhe auf, dass es nun zunehmend auch die sog. bildungsnahen Schichten sind, für die die im Marktselbstlauf versprochene rosige Zukunft eine Illusion ist. Dies wird verschieden interpretiert – und nicht zuletzt von einem zunehmend verängstigten Mittelstand als Gefahr angesehen. Aber genau hier liegt eines der großen Probleme. Es handelt sich in gewisser Weise um eine Normalisierung des Kapitalismus: zeitweilige Privilegien sind nun unter Druck geraten. Die für viele schwer akzeptierbare Crux ist eben, dass vermeintliche Normalitäten nun durch tatsächliche Normalitäten eingeholt werden. Daher ist das Nachtrauern um eine verlorene Mittelstandsvergangenheit selbst schon eine Art akzeptierte Kriegsvorbereitung: die Kriegsbegeisterten waren ja vor allem immer diejenigen, die den inneren System-Krieg verloren haben.

Nun ist es freilich doch ein wenig komplizierter: Hinter dem Verlust von Privilegien stehen zwei Faktoren: zum einen waren diese durch einen zeitweisen Überschuss möglich – das nicht auf Deutschland begrenzte Nachkriegswunder ist nun auf den Boden der weniger wunderbaren Alltagsrealität zurückgekehrt. Zum anderen haben sich aber die Bedingungen des Kapitalismus selbst mehr oder weniger grundsätzlich gewandelt; vor allem der Wandel der Produktivkräfte und Produktionsweise – in engem Zusammenhang mit einer spezifischen Ausprägung von Globalisierung – sind hier zu nennen.

Die spezifische Ausprägung der Globalisierung ist ein zweiter wesentlicher Punkt: Schaut man sich die Zahlen zur Jugendarbeitslosigkeit genauer an, so fällt eine enorme regionale Disparität auf. Wichtig ist, dies als eine neue Definition von Peripherie und Semi-Peripherie zu sehen.

Fasst man beides zusammen, kann es auf einen einfachen Nenner gebracht werden:

Auf dem Altar der inneren und äußeren Neuordnung der Welt werden bestimmte Gruppen und bestimmte Regionen zur Opferschlachtbank geführt. Eine entscheidende neuere Entwicklung ist, dass diese Opfer zunehmend auch von der „alten Mitte“ gefordert werden. – Damit sind zwei weitere Fronten errichtet.


Die EU-Politik ist in dieser Hinsicht „erfolgreich“: Betrachtet man die Politik, die mit Blick auf Rassismus relevant ist, so ist sie zunächst als Fortsetzung der Festungspolitik zu sehen. Begleitet wird dies von verschiedenen weichen Maßnahmen, die eher appellativen Charakter haben.

Ein zweiter Punkt besteht in der Entsolidarisierung – unabhängig von den Details: Ein Land wie Italien steht dabei allein vor einem massiven Problem: ein Problem, weil Einwanderung „einfach passiert“, ein Problem auch, weil eine globale Entwicklung nationalisiert wird: ein Nationalstaat soll allein eine Antwort finden.

Einige wenige Zahlen zu der L’emergenza, der „Notlage“, wie es il sole 24 ore bezeichnet

1.889 Morti e dispersi

Stima Onu di morti e dispersi in mare per raggiungere l’Europa da gennaio 2014

108.172 Sbarchi in Italia

Stima Onu degli arrivi via mare sulle

coste italiane da gennaio 2014

453 Scafisti arrestati

Dati del Viminale, da ottobre 2013

ad agosto 2014[4]

Der Streit um FRONTEX-plus und die Gegenüberstellung dieser neuen EU-Initiative gegen die italienische Initiative Mare Nostrum erscheint dabei zynisch:

E il ministro dell’Interno, Angelino Alfano trona a parlare di Frontex plus che partirà dal primo novembre: a quel punto «chiederemo al governo di chiudere l’operazione Mare Nostrum».[5]

Aber dann finden sich auch Hinweise, dass es eben nicht um einen Ersatz gehen könne, dass es ein Ergänzungsprogramm sei etc. – dies wird dann als Beschwerde vorgebracht, oder aber als resignierte Feststellung. Allemal muss bedacht werden:

De plus, si Frontex doit prendre le relais, son mandat doit être clarifié. Parce que pour l’instant il s’agit d’une agence spécialisée dans le contrôle et la dissuasion des migrants.[6]

Teil einer EUropäischen Lösung wäre in der tatsächlichen Implementierung der Dublin-Regelungen zu sehen:

La solution c’est que les états européens qui ne sont pas sur la frontière méditerranéenne acceptent de partager la prise en charge de ces personnes. Certaines dispositions de Dublin III sont inexploitées ou mal interprétées. Le règlement permet de transférer des personnes vers des états où elles auraient des attaches familiales, linguistiques ou culturelles.[7]

– Freilich, dass man nun als Linker eine Einlösung einer letztlich konservativen Regelung fordern muss, zeigt, wie degeneriert die Situation bereits ist. Ein Punkt, der in diesem Zusammenhang auch Erwähnung finden sollte ist in der Klassifizierung der Scafisti, der Menschenhändler bzw. Fluchthelfer zu sehen.[8] Außerdem ist FRONTEX und sind die verschiedenen Regelungen vor allem immer in dem Doppelcharakter zu sehen, dass sie einerseits strikt der Sicherung der Sicherung der äußeren Grenzen dienen, andererseits gewisse humanitäre Momente beinhalten.

Dabei ist ein weiterer Punkt zu berücksichtigen: Tatsächlich wird ein bemerkenswerter Teil der Wirtschaft, nicht zuletzt der Einzelhandel, von Migrant(Inn)en getragen. Es entsteht eine seltsame – und allemal gefährliche – Gemengelage von mafiösen Abhängigkeiten, Abhängigkeiten von Billigprodukten und teils Konfrontationen zwischen „Wir“ und „Ihr“: Wir erscheinen nun abhängig von den anderen, die, anders als wir, ihr Glück machen. Wahrheit spielt dabei keine Rolle. Und so kann die verlorene wirkliche Solidarität ersetzt werden durch eine Scheinsolidarität gegen die MigrantInnen.

Das Gewalt insgesamt bisher nur eine relativ geringe Rolle spielt, haben wir der permanenten, teils in den Köpfen selbst stattfindenden (Selbst-)Überwachung zu verdanken (siehe den Beitrag von Eick). Diese Selbstüberwachung nimmt dabei nicht zuletzt die Form der vollkommenen Individualisierung an, die sich als Neudefinition des Sozialen ausdrückt. Und es ist der Tatsache geschuldet, dass ein Grossteil der Gewalt an die Außengrenzen verlagert ist. – Und wie der Beitrag von Susann Witt-Stahl gezeigt hat, auch in ein Außen des Selbst: Computer-Spiele töten nicht unbedingt, aber wenn das Leben selbst gleichsam zum Computerspiel verkommt, wird das Töten gleichsam zum Spiel.

Modernisierter Arbeitsdienst

Von einem modernisierten Arbeitsdienst zu sprechen, weist auf unterschiedliche Dimensionen:

(i) Konzepte der sogenannten Aktiven Arbeitsmarktpolitik haben vielfach den Charakter struktureller Gewalt. Die Lebenssicherung erfordert zu einem Grossteil Selbstverleugnung. Diese entsteht nicht zuletzt durch die Verbindung mit einer Sozialpädagogisierung und einer Art von Therapeutisierung von Maßnahmen. Verschiedentlich wird von der Unmöglichkeit von empowerment gesprochen, weil das Konzept eine strukturelle Ungleichverteilung von Macht voraussetzt. Dies kann man selten so deutlich sehen, wie in diesem Zusammenhang: betroffene werden zunächst einmal zumindest psychologisch entmündigt, um sie dann zu „ermächtigen“ – Councelling wird dabei explizit in den Maßnahmekatalog einbezogen.

(ii) Der Aspekt des „Modernen“ bei diesem Mechanismus verdient hervorgehoben zu werden. Entscheidend ist nicht so sehr, dass es um neue Formen geht, sondern dass diese neuen Formen in ausgearbeiteter Weise auf den Grundmechanismus des selbstverantwortlichen und selbst-schuldigen Individuums aufbauen. Der autoritäre Charakter ist gerade auf einer Art selbst-beschuldigendem Individualismus aufgebaut, der dann in pervertierter Form in Resignation oder Gewaltbereitschaft auftritt. Wir sollten nicht unterschätzen, welche Rolle Resignation und in der Folge Duldung im Zusammenhang mit Militarismus spielt. Solidarität ist nicht nur unerwünscht – und teils verboten (s. etwa das Verbot von Gewerkschaften ….); Solidarität ist zunächst auch kontraproduktiv, gleichsam unmenschlich, denn menschlich, so wie es die Moderne sieht, ist der eigene Zwecke verfolgende, individualistisch bzw. egoistisch handelnde Mensch. Und hier treffen dann die Worte Karl Jaspers:

Gleichgültigkeit ist die mildeste Form der Intoleranz

und damit eines der Saatbetten für Militarismus. Wenn Horst Köhler dann sagte,

[e]s wird wieder sozusagen Todesfälle geben. Nicht nur bei Soldaten (…) man muss auch um diesen Preis sozusagen am Ende Interessen wahren.

sollte deutlich werden, dass Militarismus, Krieg gleichsam zum Kulturgut aufsteigt, auch wenn wir es scheinbar mit „weichen Formen“ in der Gesellschaftsentwicklung zu tu haben: governance, Rechte des Individuums etc.

Wenn ich früher gesagt habe, das Soziale wird neu definiert, so ist es genau dies:

  • Das Prekariat wird geschön-deutscht als Ich-AG vorgestellt: Dabei geht es nicht nur um die Individualisierung, sondern zugleich um die Degradierung der Person, die nun eine Art Institution ist und sich selbst instrumentalisiert – die Zuspitzung und Verallgemeinerung des Entfremdungszusammenhanges: man ist außer der Arbeit bei sich.
  • „Soziale Versorgung“ – in den verschiedenen Formen – erscheint in der neuen Definition als Frage des Tausches von sich rational verhaltenden Wirtschaftssubjekten; neben den vielen anderen Punkten ist hier zu fragen, ob man denn wirklich so naiv sein kann, und Arbeitsunwilligkeit als allgemeine Verhaltensregel zu sehen.
  • Bereitschaft zur Selbstzerstörung bzw. Selbstverleugnung wird als selbstverständlich vorausgesetzt. Ein makabres Beispiel besteht darin, alleinstehende ErzieherInnen (Eltern) vor die „Wahl“ zu stellen: Arbeit um den Preis der Vernachlässigung der Kinder oder Sorge für die Kinder um den Preis der materiellen Destitution.
  • Die „Schuldfrage“ wird in all diesen Fällen in gleicher Weise gestellt und gleich beantwortet: Die Ich-AG wird zum Ich-Soldaten; jeder kämpft gegen sich und gegen alle – und wenn nicht Resignation obsiegt, so ist der äußere Feind willkommen.
  • Es findet sich eine Zuspitzung und Verallgemeinerung des Entfremdungszusammenhanges: man ist außer der Arbeit bei sich. Nun muss aber auch das genaue Gegenteil festgestellt werden: die Arbeit wird für einige auch zu einem Feld der Selbstverwirklichung: Politik existiert nicht mehr, Engagement ist – freiwillig oder unfreiwillig – auf Selbstverwirklichung reduziert, und findet als solche nicht zuletzt eine pervertierte Form einer sogenannten Infantilisierung:

Infantilization in this instrumentalist form signals the abandonment of Western civilization’s understanding (not necessarily shared by earlier cultures) of childhood as precious legacy, and children – not yet capable of autonomy or self-defense – as ends in themselves whose happiness and well-being are the ultimate object of the public good. Thus our democracy is little by little corrupted, our republican realm of public goods and public citizens is gradually privatized, and the capitalist economy, once intended to serve democracy and the republican commonwealth alike, is bent and soon likely to be broken.[9]

Freilich ist in diesem Zusammengag einmal mehr an die Gefahren der Debatten um Gemeinschaft und romantizistische Vorstellungen zu erinnern.

Allemal, es bleibt nicht einmal das „Gott für uns alle“, sondern der Boden ist für den Ruf nach dem starken Staat bereitet – der sich ja tatsächlich als stark darstellt. Und – dies scheint fast ebenso gefährlich – er stellt sich als technisches Instrument dar, welches eben doch noch einen Rest an Sicherheit zu geben vermag. – Dass dieser starke Staat dann als eine Art Privatstaat, mit privatisierten Sicherheitskräften, selbsternannten Industriebaronen, Fürsten und Königen daherkommt, kommt durchaus der neuen Gemengelage zugute.

Freilich, dies ist der allgemeine und dominierende Trend der immer noch auf Lissabon 2000 ausgerichteten Politik. Es gibt dann aber auch konkrete Bereiche, die teilweise ein wenig neben der Hauptstrategie stehen und leider schwer in eine linke positive Gesamtstrategie zu überführen sind

  • Einige durchaus positive Momente des Investment in Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs).
  • sowie Teile der Social investment strategy
  • die Durchsetzung von Minimum Wage Regelungen
  • Einige Entwicklungen auch im Care sector

Für eine Gesamtanalyse und ebenso mit Blick auf die Entwicklung von Gegenstrategien muss auf die genuine Integration von Akkumulationsregime, Regulierungsweise, Lebensregime und Lebensweise und entsprechende Desintegrationstendezen geschaut werden. Ein Blick auf die Entwicklungen in den ALBA-Staaten mag hier interessanter sein, als auf Russland oder China zu setzen.


Am 1.10. 2014: Treffen von Bürgermeistern EUropäischer Großstädte in Rom – es war nicht ganz leicht, die verschiedenen Sicherheitsstufen zu überwinden, mit etwas Beherrschung der italienischen Schauspielschule gelingt es aber.

Leichtherzige Reden, Versprechungen und allgemeine Selbstverpflichtungen, nicht zuletzt darauf, sich für die „Erhaltung der Rolle der Städte einzusetzen“.

So warmherzig der Empfang dann doch nach Überwindung der Sicherheitskontrollen war, so kalt ist er dann beim Heraustreten:

Ein Plakat zeigt Schiffbrüchige, mit anklagendem Blick:

Nel vi Municipio. Non vogliamo morire di accoglienza. Stop immigrazione. Basta schiavitù.

In unserem Rathaus. Wir wollen nicht am Empfang sterben. Stop Einwanderung. Beendet Sklaverei.

Gezeichnet vom Capogruppo Forza Italia = der Gruppenführer.

Und ob direkt oder indirekt, bewusst oder unbewusst, was dieser Gruppenführer „schützen“ will, ist eben diese Grundorientierung der freien und gleichen Marktkapitalismus:

Western Europe, with 6.4 percent of the population, controls almost 29 percent of expenditures … On the other hand, sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly 11 percent of the population, controls only 1.2 percent of consumer expenditures.[10]

Und weiter – auch wenn es sich um USNA-Zahlen handelt und der Autor meint, in Europa sei die Welt noch in Ordnung, muss ein solcher Optimismus wohl angezweifelt werden:

… the advertising industry in the United States alone spent over $ 230 billion in 2001, which much as $ 40 billion aimed at children (up from $ 2.2 billion in 1968 and $ 4.2 billion in 1984)[11]

Es ist interessant, in diesem Zusammenhang auf zwei Grundrechte zu verweisen, die in den USNA bestehen: der Privat-Besitz von Waffen, und ebenso das Recht eines jeden Menschen, eine Bank zu gründen.

Es ist schwer, einzelne Momente von einander zu trennen. Und es ist sicherlich gefährlich, ein Schwarz-Weiß-Bild zu denken. Aber es ist ebenso gefährlich, die Tendenzen zu übersehen, die ganz fundamental das Sozial-, Denk- und Verhaltensmodell einer individualistischen Marktgesellschaft definieren. Ein kürzlich wieder aufgetauchter Plan kann dies verdeutlichen – wiederum hinkt Europa dabei den USNA hinterher. Es geht um das eigentlich alte System: der Lebensmittelkarten bzw. Sachleistungen, die nun auch im nördlichen Inselreich Europas wieder eingeführt werden sollen. Das Stichwort lautet EBT – Electronic Benefit Transfer.

Nochmals: es ist eine Zuspitzung der Politikorientierung durch ein Paradox: diejenigen, die den Krieg Aller gegen Alle verloren haben, werden vollends ausgegrenzt, entmündigt: was früher der Entzug der Bürgerrechte für Kriminelle war, ist heute eine Quasi-Kriminalisierung derjenigen, die mit den Bedingungen des Konsumentenkrieges nicht mithalten konnten. Und die entzogenen Rechte sind nun nicht die Wahlrechte o.ä., sondern die Rechte der freien Konsumentscheidung. Es scheint nur einen Weg zurück zugeben: Sich auf das Schlachtfeld zu begeben. Es ist bezeichnend, dass etwa bei den Französischen NationalistInnen um Le Pen nun auch vermehrt junge Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund auftauchen: If you cannot beat them, join them. And in order to join them you have to beat yourself – and „the other“.

Darin ist neben anderen Faktoren sicher auch ein Moment der Schwäche von sozialen Bewegungen zu sehen.

Schließlich: wenn sich der derzeitige Papst kritisch und mit eindeutigen und scharfen einmischt, ist dies zu begrüßen. Es ist wichtig, die sich warnende Stimme wahrzunehmen, die sagt, dass dieser Kapitalismus tötet. Aber es muss klar darauf hingewiesen werden, dass es nicht nur dieser Kapitalismus ist. Es ist Kapitalismus im allgemeinen.[12]


Wird es Wahrheit, oder ist es schon Wahrheit, was für H.G. Wells noch eine vermeidbare Zukunft erschien?

And very vaguely there came a suggestion towards the solution of the economic problem that had puzzled me.

‘Here was the new view. Plainly, this second species of Man was subterranean. There were three circumstances in particular which made me think that its rare emergence above ground was the outcome of a long-continued underground habit. In the first place, there was the bleached look common in most animals that live largely in the dark—the white fish of the Kentucky caves, for instance. Then, those large eyes, with that capacity for reflecting light, are common features of nocturnal things—witness the owl and the cat. And last of all, that evident confusion in the sunshine, that hasty yet fumbling awkward flight towards dark shadow, and that peculiar carriage of the head while in the light—all reinforced the theory of an extreme sensitiveness of the retina.

‘Beneath my feet, then, the earth must be tunnelled enormously, and these tunnellings were the habitat of the new race. The presence of ventilating shafts and wells along the hill slopes—everywhere, in fact, except along the river valley—showed how universal were its ramifications. What so natural, then, as to assume that it was in this artificial Underworld that such work as was necessary to the comfort of the daylight race was done? The notion was so plausible that I at once accepted it, and went on to assume the how of this splitting of the human species. I dare say you will anticipate the shape of my theory; though, for myself, I very soon felt that it fell far short of the truth.

‘At first, proceeding from the problems of our own age, it seemed clear as daylight to me that the gradual widening of the present merely temporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer, was the key to the whole position.[13]

(Wells, H.G., 1898: The Time Machine)


[1]            (Brecht: Me-Ti. Buch der Wendungen)

[2]            Social Europe guide 8: 27


[4]            Romano, Beda, 28.08.2014: Operazione Ue nel Mediterraneo; in: Il sole 24 ore; Giovedì; 02 Ottobre 2014; Aggiornato alle 22:15; – 2.10.2014

[5]            Il Sole 24 ore, 16.09.2014: Oltre 800 morti in tre giorni nel Mediterraneo; in: Il Sole 24 ore – Giovedì, 02 Ottobre 2014, Aggiornato alle 22:15; 2.10.2014

[6]            Dubost, Jean-François/ Emilien Urbach, 30. September 2014: Contrôle aux frontières, l’Europe doit changer de cap; in: L’Humanité;

[7]            ibid.

[8]            Siehe in diesem Zusammenhang: Nagler, Axel, 2014: Lob der Schleuser: WER MENSCHEN IN NOT HILFT, IST KEIN VERBRECHER; in: RAV: Infobrief 109, 2014: – Für den Hinweis danke ich Volker Eick

[9]            Barber, Benjamin R., 2007: Consumed. How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults and Swallow Citizens Whole; New York/London: W.W. Norton: 20

[10]            ibid.: 10

[11]            ibid.

[12]            Siehe in diesem Zusammenhang Herrmann, Peter, forthcoming: Vatican Spring? (working title); in: Tausch, Arno (ed.): The Pope – How Many Divisions Does he have?; forthcoming (in Spanish language)

[13]            Wells, H.G., 1898: The Time Machine

[i]            Dr. phil (Bremen, FRG). Studies in Sociology (Bielefeld, FRG), Economics (Hamburg, FRG), Political Science (Leipzig, GDR) and Social Policy and Philosophy (Bremen, FRG).

Since 2013 he is senior academic at the Osservatorio Europeo Sulla Qualità Sociale, a research unit at EURISPES in Rome, Italy. He is also adjunct professor at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Department of Social Sciences (Kuopio, Finland), honorary associate professor at Corvinus University in Budapest, Faculty of Economics, Department of World Economy and visiting scholar at National University of Ireland Maynooth.

He had been teaching at several Third Level Institutions across the EU and beyond; and had been correspondent to the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law/Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy (Munich, Germany). He holds position as for instance that of a senior advisor to the European Foundation on Social Quality (The Hague, Netherlands), member of the Advisory Board of EURISPES – Istituto di Studi Politici, Economici e Sociali, Rome, member of the Scientific Board and its coordination committee of ATTAC – Association pour la taxation des transactions financières pour l’aide aux citoyens, Associate Member of the Eurasian Center for Big History and System Forecasting, Lomonosow Moscow State University, Russia.. He held various positions as visiting professor at different universities. He also had been research fellow at National Taiwan University, Taipei; The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Australia; Visiting Scholar at Orta Dogu Teknik Üniversitesi (ODTU), Ankara, Turkey; Visiting Scholar at the Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik, Munich, Germany.

He started his work in researching European Social Policy and in particular the role of NGOs. His main interest shifted over the last years towards developing the Social Quality Approach further, looking in particular into the meaning of economic questions and questions of law. He linked this with questions on the development of state analysis and the question of social services. On both topics he published widely.

Member of several editorial boards; editor of the book series Applied Social Studies – Recent Developments, International and Comparative Perspectives (New York, USA) and Studies in Comparative Pedagogies and International Social Work and Social Policy (Bremen, Germany); peer-reviewing for several journals in the social area and book series.

Backyards – Courtyards*

Sure, what Brecht used in his theatre and his theoretical considerations as Verfremdung, i.e. (a specific kind of) alienation has also its linguistic version, comes for across as linguistic Verfremdung.

Having previously spoken of the backyards, the Italian term is perhaps more telling: we speak of the

 cortile interno.[1]

And I also said

there may a good reason to finally open the also doors of the Villa Doria Pamphilj.

Finally then, I contended that

the others, the unknown, the unnamed, the dwarfs and voles didn’t take anything, in first instance.

In social science we know very much about the difficulty which is only in words easily overcome:

the individual being nothing without the social being nothing without the individual.

 Or we may of course also say

the social being nothing without the individual being nothing without the social

For instance we can refer to Norbert Elias. He stated

[t]hat the human being is a process is certainly one of the most fundamental of people’s experiences, but it is usually suppressed from thinking because of the overwhelming tendency of thought to reduce processes to state conditions.[2]

And he continued metaphorically

[o]ne may say that a person passes through a process, just as one says the wind blows, although the blowing is, of course, the wind.[3]


Applying this relational aspect together with the thought of processuality, the story looks more difficult than social science commonly admits, even more so if we include the socio-hierarchical dimension. To put it into a simple (though difficult to answer) question: Can we really imagine development that starts from the premise of not taking anything as primary cause in the first instance? Can we imagine the beauty of a palace like the Villa Doria Pamphilj with initially open doors? – Or would that mean denial of causality?

In any case, there had been nearly always the two sides anyway, up to hitherto not really coming together, always contrasting the two sides, celebrating the one, barely mentioning that another had been involved, and even necessary. And the decisive questions had not been asked by many – Brecht however did:

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates?

In the books you will read the names of kings.

Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?


And Babylon, many times demolished,

Who raised it up so many times?


In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live?

Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?


Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.

Who erected them?


Over whom did the Caesars triumph?

Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants?


Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,

The drowning still cried out for their slaves.


The young Alexander conquered India.

Was he alone?


Caesar defeated the Gauls.

Did he not even have a cook with him?


Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.

Was he the only one to weep?


Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.

Who else won it?


Every page a victory.

Who cooked the feast for the victors?


Every 10 years a great man.

Who paid the bill?


So many reports.


So many questions.


Two examples added, and possibly showing in a very drastic way the bloodshed on which much of bellezza, gloria e lustro are established.

Palazzo Vecchio in Firenze – there is somewhere at one of the houses surrounding the square a memorial plaque, reminding that the place where we see no the palace and the square had been offering at least a place where people lived. It describes as well that this offering a place had been actually not more, and even that is somewhat understating the reality: it had been a location which had been characterised by the nearness of the Arno: Mud, mosquitoes … –and of course the subsequent epidemics. Beauty then, with the building of the palace, replacing the misery, power emerging where the powerless lived.

– They are still on the reading list, but there is probably a good reason for Umberto Eco writing two separate volumes: one on Storia della bellezza, the other on Storia della bruttezza.

Tiny additions can be made to this short excursus to Florence, historical details, not (necessarily) following a chronological order and perhaps not even entirely true – as the real truth has to include asking all the questions of reading workers of which Brecht only mentioned a few.

Anyway, the Piazza della Signoria had been at some stage during antiquity also a roman theatre – some of the buildings structures apparently still showing signs of this period. And these theaters had been closely linked to the imperial idea of the panem et circenses – bread and games, of which we easily forget that many of these games had been actually deciding over life and death. And isn’t it striking that such a place is the birthplace of the early republic – the res publica, indeed claiming to give bread and games to the people, actually being the bread and games of the people.

And it still is also the place where Girolamo Savonarola had been executed in 1498. It surely says something that Claiming the Triumph of the Cross had been the crime for which he lost his life about the time when the Medici reclaimed power. And probably it had been claimed that all this had been in the name of the people – surely using other words than today’s court systems do.

In this light we have to be careful when we refer to the origin of bread and games. Juvenal used it in his satire X to reprimand the people’s numbness.

iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli

uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim

imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se

continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,

panem et circenses.

Giordano Bruno, Girolamo Savonarola, Galilee Galileo … – even if they had not been really the people, they are examples for what happens if people are interested in more then bread and games.

Finally entering the palace, we find not just the overwhelming beauty, nearly not allowing us to see the scaffold behind it, the foundation on which it had been erected. The room where Niccolò Machiavelli had his office while being secretary of the new republic, actually employed by developing a strategy for the new prince, not enlightened as Frederick II suggested in his anti-Machiavelli. And as true as it is that Machiavelli’s position had not been clear (finally he also wrote the Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio), it is also true that during his time as servant of the republic the doors of his office showed to the Signoria, the rulers, and not to the people. And there had been still the door to chapel … – a new state, competing with the church and still being its servant, trusting its support … – So true even if we consider the work in the Stanza della Guardaroba – a collection of globes and maps of which the accuracy is even for today’s eyes of surprising precision: didn’t this clear view contradict the ongoing apotheosis. Or it is especially then true, showing the tensions between the new state, the ancient state, present in the two marble pillars, taken from a Roman temple, and the bridging Christianity. The claim of the latter had been clear: the universal state of god, the church speaking of

 umanesimo cristiano, umanesimo integrale, nuova cristiano

only really accepting universality and universal human rights with the Vatican II discourse in the early 1960s.

And in the middle of all this there had been another detail: a hidden room, the workshop of an alchemist, working on the new universalism – it had been known and mentioned in laments of Sophocles which had been mentioned elsewhere. .

Renaissance overcame the lament – instead, now gold and not least its monetarised form had been celebrated and ultimate goal. If it had not been achieved …

… another detail shows the Mephistophelean way: an invisible door leading to another hidden room, even more unknown and only having an entrance, not an exit.

It is the metaphor of what we know from the 24th chapter of Capital

At the historical dawn of capitalist production, – and every capitalist upstart has personally to go through this historical stage – avarice, and desire to get rich, are the ruling passions. But the progress of capitalist production not only creates a world of delights; it lays open, in speculation and the credit system, a thousand sources of sudden enrichment. When a certain stage of development has been reached, a conventional degree of prodigality, which is also an exhibition of wealth, and consequently a source of credit, becomes a business necessity to the “un- fortunate” capitalist. Luxury enters into capital’s expenses of representation. Moreover, the capitalist gets rich, not like the miser, in proportion to his personal labour and restricted consumption, but at the same rate as he squeezes out the labour power of others, and enforces on the labourer abstinence from all life’s enjoyments. Although, therefore, the prodigality of the capitalist never possesses the bona fide character of the open-handed feudal lord’s prodigality, but, on the contrary, has always lurking behind it the most sordid avarice and the most anxious calculation, yet his expenditure grows with his accumulation, without the one necessarily restricting the other. But along with this growth, there is at the same time developed in his breast, a Faustian conflict between the passion for accumulation, and the desire for enjoyment.

The second example, namely the Duomo in the same city. The plan, Brunelleschi submitted for the building of the cupola had been apparently so bold that there had been two reaction amongst the members of the jury: one group said that it would be impossible to build and somebody else should be granted the mandate; another group agreeing that the submission would be extremely bold – but presenting something of this kind would mean that one can only be completely convinced that there it must be possible – so they pleaded for granting the work to Brunelleschi. As the first group finally surrendered, the impossible architectural work had been undertaken. If one believes the legend, it could not be explained until today how this magnificent dome had been actually erected and one version claiming the explanation is that a “scaffold” of sand had been offering the support while the building work had been done; later the poor had been told that inside there would be coins … – so they found eager people doing the dirty work of cleaning the inside, thus actually making this beauty possible. Today, the beautiful fresco does not even allow to presage that something like this could have happened. It may be a rumour – and in any case there is one question to be added to those asked by Brecht.


Taking then the terms together: backyard and cortile interno, we arrive at the different dimensions:

  • Backing something
  • Being internal, and thus element, i.e. elementary
  • Yard, providing the playing ground

And with a tiny alteration we may arrive at inferno on the one hand and courtesy on the other – a kind of arch that seems to characterise historical development, expressed markedly in 1848 in the Communist Manifesto where we read

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

If we read the text carefully we see that it is an in-depth analysis, arguing on four dimensions, looking at

  • the accumulation regime
  • the mode of regulation
  • the living regime
  • the mode of life

These are four dimensions that clearly mark the dialectical relationship between the different levels: there is no economic determinism – instead we are dealing with people who are constituted as actors, responsible for their own life; but it also argues that the hegemonies are not simply a result of one class being superior. The hegemonic power is established by linking the two, the accumulation regime and the living regime, wage labour being the major brace; mode of regulation and mode of life, the major brace being consumption which makes many political scientists speak of ‘political markets’ and stands behind the notion of the so-called consumerist societies.


Walking through Rome then (and it could be any other place), we actually walk in two dimensions: following the footsteps of the great men of history and on the backs of those who had to provide the floor on which these people could walk.

Though the fundamental structure is very much the same throughout history – captured in the German Ideology by emphasising that

[t]he production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life

the patterns, the design of these historical carpets varies.


I talked recently with Birgit who said that some generous spending: e.g. for renting a car without chasing the best offer is not least about “buying time”, gaining leisure time as pleasure time. And after chatting a bit about this, she asked

But what are people coming to Rome want to buy? What is the special pleasure, the experience they are looking for when coming to the so-called eternal city?

No lo so ma sospetto – it is really only an assumption, or a mosaic, a patchwork that possibly merges to some entity, entirety …

… eternality. In any of the areas, perhaps even more those that are closed to the eyes of tourists, it seems that development stopped – better to say: that development took place as maintenance. Not the conversation we find in museums but the functioning of a system with at least many traditional, archaic patterns. Coming here somebody may easily feel in some way time-displaced –and living here is in some respect not so different: it is a bit like living in an encapsulated world with its own laws. Approaching it from another end we may take Norbert Elias’ words who looks at an

era during which functions of protection and control of the individual, previously being pursued by the tighter associations of birth as clans or village, estate owner, guild or estate are transferred on highly centralised and increasingly urbanised statuary associations (Staatsverbaende). In response to this shift the individuals, when grown up, leave these tight, local associations based on birth and providing protection. Their cohesion is lowering according to the increasing loss of the functions of protection and control. And the individual being is within the wider, highly centralised and increasingly urbanised state societies to a larger extent depending on his/her own positioning. There is an increasing mobility of the individuals – understood as local and as social mobility[4]

And actually – sure, using a broad brush, being in danger of missing many other parts – much of what Elias says about the traditional settings – is the admirable charm of the Roman eternity. But what makes it even more charming is that fact that all this is merging closely with modernity: yes, there are buses and not horse carts though many people complain about them; yes, there is a developed system of police and public administration not the antique system of legionaries – and there is still the campanalista even in the city. Referring to campagna, i.e. the countryside, and perhaps not knowing, at least not being aware of two other close links: campanile is the Italian term for bell tower; and campagna also translates into campaign, even if it may only be a campaign for the dole vita.

– Is it then surprising that within the confines of Rome there is the real eternal city, the city state of the Vatican? Indeed it is simple to draw a line:

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth! Break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.[5]

Hic Rhodos – Hic Salta

 But what are people coming to Rome want to buy? What is the special pleasure experience here in the so-called eternal city?

Well, perhaps it is then the experience of being gladiator in the urban jungle, knowing that even in the confines of the Colosseo there are no lions; knowing that the modern emperor will with all his pomp finally not emerge as new Caesar or Nero.

And still it may be exactly this power that is perversely looked for: the string leader that cannot called for in the real world and that could maintain against the odds the claim of justice in this eternal externality. It remains for me an irresolvable riddle how it is possible that an island can be and is maintained that suggests a little bit a communist habitus ….

… dressed in the habit of the “professional believers”, people are allowed to live in some kind of idyll. Doesn’t much remind us a bit of what we read in the German Ideology about

communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.

… but it surely is only some kind of idyll …

… at least as long as this world, this system of faith with its very specific institutions allows the many sleeping rough on the doorsteps while proclaiming that

this capitalism kills

not acknowledging being ultimately part of it.

… but it surely is only some kind of idyll …

… at least as long as this world, this system of faith goes hand in hand with unbelievable material wealth – not just the cathedrals, churches and others but also when we look at the wealth of everyday’s life: It is so present that the present pope had to emphasise that he only has a simple cross, if it is true: made from iron, in any case distinct from the pomp of predecessors.

… but it surely is only some kind of idyll …

… at least as long as this world, this system of faith with its very specific institutions that are internally split …, not by different opinions but by power interests.

… but it surely is only some kind of idyll …

… at least as long as this world, this system of faith with its very specific institutions rebuke even an alternative within their own world, not seeing themselves as instrument of liberation.

Nel suo ultimo viaggio in America centrale e riferendosi al Nicaragua, [Giovanni Paolo II] annunciò la morte di questa teologia [i.e. della Teologia della Liberazione], avvenuta dopo la morte del marxismo. …[6]


Ecco il contesto di questo affermazione: a settembre del 1984 il cardinale Ratzinger aveva condannato duramente la Teologia della Liberazione ….

Isn’t it striking that Francis now condemns hierarchy, refuses to accept the pomp and vehemently criticises this capitalism, but is also ultimately joining this choir refusing liberation?

… but it surely is only some kind of idyll …

… at least as long as it is only for those who believe in god, but not for those who truly believe in mankind, in human beings being able to interact as people, who are consciously social actors.

… but it surely is only some kind of idyll …

… at least as long as it is not clear to themselves and everybody

No saviour from on high delivers

No faith have we in prince or peer

Our own right hand the chains must shiver

Chains of hatred, greed and fear


Morning walks … – a little bit exercise every morning, the air still reasonably clean, the traffic limited, where I live there are few people around: some flower shops open – actually open the entire night as the shop keeper can save this way the money for a bedroom; few people around: in some house entrances people cleaning the corridors and court yards; the news paper stands begin to open, some bars preparing for caffè e cornetto … . Women going to work – a few of them I know by now, early in the morning they smile at me, somewhat confused shy, sheepishly … – and while they walk further they turn the eyes down again, the face being covered by the Christian headscarf. They open the gates of one of the palaces from which I hear already the singing of chorals behind the doors, preparing for the day. And as their own, closed society of the faithful

regulates the general production


makes it possible for [them] to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as [they] have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.

Morning walks … – a little bit exercise every morning, the air still reasonably clean, the traffic limited, where I live there are few people around – a little bit later,

Sunday, at about 7 a.m.,

Via Ombrone: A middle aged man being busy with polishing the black Merc – for the family trip into the countryside? Or for any boss to be driven to the airport? Or …?

Sunday, at about 7 a.m.,

Via Regina Margherita, just around the corner the doors of ENEL – energia alla tu vita as they say – energy for your life: CSR and CER – corporate social and environmental responsibility … an enormous heat coming from the basement …; the guy from security services looking checking the charging stations for the ENEL-e-cars. Yes: CER, and the CSR ad tells us about flexible working time – of course especially for women, allowing a healthy “work-life balance” …

Sunday, at about 7 a.m.,

Via Arno: A man, covered by a woollen blanket, turning around – I cannot really see him, do not get a hint to guess his age; he is trying to turn around, trying to sleep a little longer, having enough time – no family to be driven to the countryside, no need to go to the airport …

CSR – he sleeps under the eaves of the ENEL-building …

Sunday, at about 11:37 a.m.,

Via di Villa Patrizi: a helicopter is leaving nearby, only a short time earlier they arrived there. Presumptions, sure …: an emergency case, admission to the hospital. Sure, only presumptions …:

  • the driver of a Merc, dangerously overtaking whiled driving to the airport;
  • members of a family, a car speeding on one of the country roads, just outside of Rome – the driver trying to “make the most of the weekend”
  • a homeless person, having been injured by a passing car while he stepped out of his “home”: a place in one of the tunnels at the outskirts of the city – such “new settlements” under bridges, in house entrances, in parks and green belts along the city wall are increasingly visible
  • a person who had been desperately disappointed, having lost perspectives …, trying to find the “final solution to the problems” but having been “rescued” though still without hope of being saved.

Presumptions, sure … – and the names of streets can be changed Canterbury Street, Bismarck Strasse, Rue de Pasquale, Youyi Rd, Komsomolskaya Square, Carrer dels Mercaders, Grevgatan, Dongja-dong, Yongsan-gu; the cities are diverse, not only in Europe

Presumptions, sure … – but also a question or two: what is speed when it is disjoined from its meaning? what is the “value” of a life? and why do we wait, then paying the high price although we could do much more with less if we look earlier at the cost?

And there is surely one more general question: Although street names can be changed, are contingent, there is something that is probably not … – you may want to know about the patricians who once lived in the Villa Patrizi, and all those people who gave the names to many streets …

But what are people coming to Rome want to buy? What is the special pleasure experience here in the so-called eternal city?

What kind of idyll is it

… even if it surely is only some kind of idyll?

Part of it is surely that the borders between private and public, between individuals and institutions, between past and presence are in some way blurring, this strange setting that allows people to forget, allowing charisma to develop and take over. Or taking the words from Goethe’s Journey to Italy, the more secular version reads like this:

Wenn man so eine Existenz ansieht, die zweitausend Jahre und darüber alt ist, durch den Wechsel der Zeiten so mannigfaltig und vom Grund aus verändert, und doch noch derselbe Boden, derselbe Berg, ja oft dieselbe Säule und Mauer, und im Volke noch die Spuren des lateinischen Charakters, so wird man ein Mitgenosse der großen Ratschlüsse des Schicksals, und so wird es dem Betrachter von Anfang schwer zu entwickeln, wie Rom auf Rom folgt, und nicht allein das neue auf das alte, sondern die verschiedenen Epochen des alten und neuen selbst aufeinander.[7]

The question from the beginning remains unanswered

Can we really imagine development that starts from the premise of not taking anything as primary cause in the first instance? Can we imagine the beauty of a palace like the Villa Doria Pamphilj with initially open doors? – Or would that mean denial of causality?

And probably it is even the wrong question – it is in now way historical to asks for different pathways of the past.

But looking at it – and merging Dichtung und Wahrheit with Sturm and Drang is surely allowing us to move forward in different ways: not denying the beauties but acknowledging the even more by opening the doors further, opening the doors not least for the producers, allowing all of them

to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.


* These reflections are also part of the wider considerations in the context of writing two book  contributions,  I had been asked to write: one on liberation theology, the other on a presumed “Vatican Spring”

[1]            Of course, the English also knows the back courtyard but it is not really used often, is it?

[2]            Elias, Norbert, 1980/81: Social Process Models on Multiple Levels; in: Elias, Norbert: Essays III. On Sociology and the Humanities; Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2009: 40-42; here 41

[3]            Elias, Norbert, 1980/81: Social Process Models on Multiple Levels; in: Elias, Norbert: Essays III. On Sociology and the Humanities; Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2009: 40-42; here 41

[4]            Elias, Norbert, 1939: Die Gesellschaft der Individuen; in Norbert Elias. Gesammelte Schriften. Edited on behalf of the Norbert Elias Stichting, Amsterdam. Vol. 10; Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 2001: 166 – translation P.H.

[5]            Isaiah 49: 13

[6]            Regidor, José Ramos, 2010: Teologia della Liberazione: Diritti umani, diritti dei poveri, diritti della Terra; in: Boff, Leonardo/Boff, Clodovis/Regidor, José Ramos: La Chiesa dei Poveri. Teologia della Liberazione e diritto dell’uomo; Roma: Datanews: 53-158; here: 89

[7]            Italienische Reise 21 ??;