Small Print on Freedom of Opinion and Speech

It had been again and again an issue over the last two years or so, I spent in China: does it exist? How is it oppressed? and not least: But ‘we/they in the west’ can say what we want’.


though there is some small print we should not forget – an example may show what this is about.

speed …

… the way we seem to live today.

From Alice, Through the looking glass: page 32 f:

Alice looked round her in great surprise. ‘Why, I do believe we’ve been under this tree the whole time! Everything’s just as it was!’

‘Of course it is,’ said the Queen, ‘what would you have it?’

‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else—if  you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’

‘A slow sort of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get some- where else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

mind snatchers

Back home now, taking up teaching again – and with this the “major challenge” we face – nolens volens

E.P. Thompson wrote in an article in 1970:

Collectively, all of us – all we liberal academics – were struck with a paralysis of will as the system not only grew round us, but built us into its own body-walls. Once inside there it looked as if we were running our bit of the show: but the show itself was being directed towards other ends.

Andrew McGettigan, also quoting this, comes in his review article in Radical Philosophy (186 – July/August 2014) to the conclusion that the really important thing about the book Warwick University Ltd. is the investigative journalism. The importance of such investigative journalism cannot be denied.
And I am right now again made aware of it: there had been the change, now the business school teaching economics with reference to the CORE-programme – I commented earlier on it, saying that there would be some progress at least. During the last days I learned that even this is a questionable assessment, reading in mails:
… we have to bear in mind when looking at the CORE information, that we are teaching economics to u/g students in a Business School and so interprete the information accordingly, although I do however understand that students might be interested these other areas. …
… As you state, the e-book is substantial and so we are clearly not covering all aspects in detail but the relevant staff are deciding which aspects of each unit to focus on. You can reasonably assume that we have discussed all of the “Key Points” listed at the end of each unit. …
 Looking then at other documents, I see exactly those walls, replicated and known …, and not touched.
With all the complains, however, we should never forget that there may be a mechanism here name “distraction by attraction”: Being carried away by the presentation of “simple facts”, scandalisation, and also the play with abstract ideas and models lets us easily forget the actual core of any academic work:
This surely goes beyond (and deeper than) descriptions and statistical meticulousness and the learning of formulas. Indeed, academics should refrain from moving on the stages, “cutting things into pieces”, describing facts like playing roles. But mind:

That’s enough words for the moment,
Now let me see some action!

While you’re handing out the compliments,
You should also make things happen.
Why talk so much of inspiration?
Delay won’t make it flow, you see.

taking up the “major challenge” we face – nolens volens. And the worse answer is:ignoring it, turning head and mind to business as usual, business in capital letters…

The Big Formula – and a “look between the windows”  – or a Pre-Christmas Story

I walked back from the library where I had been working during the day – a few days before Christmas 2014 – elaborating a formula that makes it possible to formulate (of course, no formula can calculate) schemes of (dis-)integration of societies – I left my scooter near to the office, so I have to walk down the Via dei Condotti, one of the most luxurious shopping malls in Rome, at this time of the year probably also one of the busiest places in town although many are here just for window shopping, the displays full of surprises showing that the world is a stage, and lost its sense.

It is not often that one sees it, that I see it (may be that I am not often enough walking through the city): a more or less young man, a man in “his best years”, obviously foreigner, migrant, being dragged by another man – “private security” is written on his jacket. That he has to look after his bike while dragging the other along the street does not make things better. A few people turn around … – few people turn around, watching the scene. – What could one do, what we see is most likely legal, according to the letters of the law.

A few meter further: one policeman, one policewomen, their car standing in the way, but still leaving enough space for a large Merc to pass and turn from one of the side streets into the narrow mall; enough space for the not smaller BMW that follows. I am not aware of a sign that limits traffic here but even of their would be –

Wound for a wound, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth

Leviticus 24:20

But here it about something else:

sign for a sign

And of course it is telling – it is also part of the formula on which I had been working – that we find this division of labour between private security service and police, executing sovereign tasks.

Via dei Condotti, one of the most luxurious shopping malls in Rome, at this time of the year probably also one of the busiest places in town although many are here just for getting absorbed by the window dressing of our societies.

Yes, plural as it is only by accident that I see it here; there are so many other places like it, and many more…