New Economy – New Economics

 Just uploaded is a presentation, given in Hangzhou on the 21st of May 2017, dealing with the question … – well actually looking for the relevant question.
In connection with discussing digitalisation, new productive forces etc., we are frequently caught in the old patterns: interpreting presence and  future in the light of past and presence. The presentation tries to point out some areas where asking questions that are indirectly reinterpreting the past in the light of the future, allowing to explore the future in the light of a newly interpreted presence. – Complicated ? May be, but better thinking slowly and openly, instead of coming hastily to the wrong conclusion by simply extending what we claim to know.
There had been something that was called a Critique of the Political Economy [see volumes one to three of The Capital] – and is often forgotten that it was based on what its author wrote, here pointing on theses 8 to 11:
VIII
All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.
IX
The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is contemplation of single individuals and of civil society.
X
The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.
XI
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
—-
See also researchgate – there are two projects that are of relevance in this context:
* Is it really about Industry 4.0.?
* Wandel des Wirtschaftens – Wandel des Rechts. Forschungsskizze zu Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik
—-
Special thanks go to Thomas Weiss-Roisdorf, scientific council of attac and the federal ministry official affairs im Germany with whom I maintained over the last couple weeks contact on this issue – discussions that I perceived as hugely beneficial.

Easter Maths?

Of course, there had been a good reason for Ciro Guardaccione, saying

This is a fantastic thing, I would like to thank Pope Francis for everything

the background for this statement being a recent step made by the Vatican  on which teleSUR reported in an article on April the 12th:

On Monday Pope Francis opened a free laundromat for people living on the streets in Rome.The Pope Francis Laundry, located in an abandoned hospital near the Vatican, was opened to “restore dignity to many people who are our brothers and sisters,” according to a statement.

It is good news, those, who are preparing for the Easter celebrations, going then to mass, make take into their hearts.

Still, doing the maths I am a bit hesitant when it comes to joining into any jubilee, or asking for extending the Misericordiae Vultus, even if the pope also rejects harshly hypocrisy, stating:

“There are those who say ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association’,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church said.

He said some of these people should also say, “‘my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life’.”

Of course, we see that the church under the current leader is working on the issue:

The Vatican passed its first legislation against money laundering and terrorist group funding in 2011. At the Vatican Bank, Pope Francis has brought in new leadership, increased transparency and limited access to the bank to diocese and other Catholic organizations to further fight against money laundering. Under his watch, the bank also disclosed its very first annual financial report in 2013 (the bank released a second annual report last year).

But there some issues remain on the agenda that raise doubts and the question if we are actually facing a double hypocrisy: arguing against hypocrisy in the world while standing on hypocritical feet makes two right? And though knowing too well, that selling the assets and feeding the poor is not the solution, issues as the following remain on the table:

So far, at least, and if we can believe the satires, the son, when going to the cross, was joined by two people: Dismas, the penitent thief, and Gestas, the impenitent thief, the latter supposedly asking for salvation, the first asking to be remembered, the first very much behaving according the ‘life style’, that was much later named utilitarian – and on which I reflected recently. It surely is over-interpreted, still, there remains the question why Dismas was supposed in the left side of Jesus

the latest issue of The International Journal of Social Quality

A bit of advertisement – the copy of a mail I received via a mailing list:

Dear Colleague,

We are pleased to announce that the latest issue of The International Journal of Social Quality has recently been published by Berghahn Journals. 

In this issue, the articles consider multiple approaches as they address societal issues such as the challenge of sustainability, gender parity and equality, the digital revolution and its effects on labor markets and Corporate Social Responsibility. This issue also includes an article by Steve Corbett that examines the 2016 Referendum on the United Kingdom’s (UK) European Union (EU) membership. This article will be free to access until March 15!

Please visit the Berghahn website for more information about the journal: 
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Current Issue: Volume 6, Issue 1

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Humanosphere Potentiality Index: Appraising Existing Indicators from a Long-term Perspective
Takahiro Sato, Mario López, Taizo Wada, Shiro Sato, Makoto Nishi and Kazuo Watanabe
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Gender Parity and Equality in the Sultanate of Oman: A Case in Education for the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries
Faryal Khan and Maricel Fernandez-Carag
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Social Quality: Regaining Political Economy
Peter Herrmann
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An Exogenous Path of Development: Explaining the Rise of Corporate Social Responsibility in China
Ka Lin, Dan Banik and Longfei Yi
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How Our Collective Representations Affect the Future of the European Union
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… and frequently overlooked

After saying yesterday Easily Condemned, it may be time to think about what is easily overlooked, especially while sliding apparently elegantly on the surface.

The title in the Huffington Post says

Deutsche Bank è maggior fonte di rischi sistemici al mondo

and A FT-briefing tells us

Deutsche Bank hit by IMF hazard warning A report has branded the German lender as the riskiest globally significant bank on the back of its failure to pass another US Federal Reserve stress test.

Sure, there are good reasons to distrust these rankings and stress tests. But on the other hand, what comes to mind is the obvious failure of German (misled EU-) policy of externalisation. The exsanguination especially of Greece (though we should not forget Ireland, Portugal,  Spain) is not a limited strategy against one (or a few countries), but it is part of a systematic bloc-building: strengthening the centre in order to  establish and tighten a fortress that finally culminates in a complex network of systematically fostered “unequal development” (in line with TISA etc.). Andre Gunder Frank’s thesis of the “Development of Underdevelopment” finds a new confirmation, now on the changed global scale.

What Britain actually did is not so different from the EU- and German strategy: a strategy of externalisation, aiming on limiting the cost (which had been very small when considering the increasing strangulation of arms of social EUrope), while redistributing the resources as it already started, considering (so the FT-briefing) that

companies with overseas earnings or in haven sectors have benefited most, while others have announced job cuts and profit warnings

and the chancellor announcing a new easing, while Cameron now pleads for “looking beyond”, aiming on big business for big business: China, India, US and Commonwealth as fields for new harvest.

– And it still is the old story: never tidy up your own places as long as there are fields that can be devastated, i.e. fields that allow you to dump your waste. Will it work? Well, coming back to the article in the Huffington Post it is remarkable to see that

Secondo l’istituto di Washington, inoltre, il sistema bancario tedesco pone il maggior grado di rischi di contagio esterni in proporzione ai rischi interni (seguono Francia, Regno Unito e Usa).

In other words, the supposedly strong economies are not only the culprits in terms of being a danger to solidarity, but they are also the real hazard when it comes to global economic disintegration. An interesting measure that is different, seemingly of national scope only, can be found in India:

India’s 10m civil servants The government has approved a 23 per cent rise in salaries, allowances and pensions for current and former civil servants. The once-in-a-decade increase will cost about $15bn and is aimed at boosting private consumption.

Such step is likely to be globally more responsible than the European and British and American fortress building.

“There is no right life in the wrong one”

a friend of mine recently mentioned “stupidity” while talking about the situation that emerged after somebody passing away and the bereavement and non-bereavement  … – unfortunately I see stupidity increasingly in life itself, not in death and surrounding it; it is about permanent hypocrisy, death being somewhat part of the solution. There we are teaching, excellence (the new general trend: we all are “excellent” and we are easily forgetting that, if everybody is standing on the tiptoes, nobody can see better), and we are accepting  non-excellence, swimming in and with the  stream because swimming against it, ends most likely in drowning, and this way we are drowning in the stream with which we swim …., dead already while still breathing, not allowing for alternatives, paradoxically by claiming that only we – as individuals, as Asians, as Europeans, as Latinos, as men or women are the alternative. Establishing false identities as individuals or groups that define us not by saying who we are but by saying that there is “the other”.

*****

… “one of the girls”, one of my students was in the office last week, handing in an admin document. I never really talked to her throughout the entire year (no surprise – excellence is a mass product) and invited her to sit down for a chat. … “actually I know, I have to study harder [though she is one of the “good students”] and I will do what I have to do in order to finish my education. But then …, I do not know … My dream is to open a bakery shop, be happy and pass my happiness on to the customers”. It sounds familiar? I heard similar stories from a couple of students … – and in some I really saw the deep sorrows and I also saw the real excitement – in some way I felt the joy and happiness they were talking about …
…, knowing that there are illusions and romanticisms, knowing that the argument I put forward, stating that there cannot be excellence for and by all”, is in danger of being close to elitism, I still think there is some cause for consideration (re-consideration I should say as we ventilated this issue so often). Why are we pushing towards “higher education” in this way if the result is that

[a]ccording to one analysis, fully 43 percent of Chinese workers already consider themselves to be overeducated for their current positions.

Mind, I am not talking about China and robots. But .., how to say …? Is it correct saying that I am talking about this world in which education is dominated by administration, encapsulated in the iron cage Max Weber was talking about and offering little space for the development of personalities, replicating itself by forcing everybody to follow the supposed wisdom  of “if you can’t beat them, join them”, a fatal motto as we all know that

*****

And how then can we settle …?
Chatting with Yi, Xiao, Tricia, Tomi, Liu and Lv and Steph of course  … to name a few from the many years; working with the few who are really ready to co-work; and thinking about just meeting friends for a good and “innocent” laugh. Traveling recently with Jiaying to 岳陽 (Yueyang)  was nice, and so are meetings with 邹, talking about “uncombed ideas” (to use her words), flowing in the stream to change its direction …

And nice was the trip to the Forum in Shanghai. Actually the meeting itself was “just OK” – some really exciting discussions, but then too many screenplays of presentation of the “we” against the other, but it had been nice to come back to 上海 (Shanghai), to do the boat trip and chat with interesting people – and to make the 5(ish) hour trip from Changsha to Shanghai and back by train – I really like it, being able to work a bit, but also to look out of the window: the beautiful landscape and its variety, letting the thoughts flow …, thinking about the people living there along the route, making their living but also making their life …

Well, and then it is so strange when we are teaching and studying, we are supposed to forget all this, we are dealing with forms and matrices and equations … and we are forgetting what studying is about: helping us making their life and, of course, then making a living …

… a strange world, indeed,, while sitting other time in an “excellence centre”: strange is a world that is turning things around, and  excellence is actually flat …, and reality claims to exist in perfected algorithms

I remain skeptical, and still think with Bohr that

[w]e must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.

But still, and I admittedly did not fully theory of relativity or quantum mechanisms , we have to acknowledge that

E = hf
is superior over
E = mc²
In this way we have to make sure that the sentence that saying
Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems. (Bohr)
also means changes we aim for have to go beyond changes of particles. A theory of revolution – in science and society – wi be inspired by quantum mechanics and we may consider the need to establish a theory of quantum mechanical economics and quantum mechanical social quality.

Political Economy

Three videos had been uploaded, presenting in German language the foundations of political economy.- Thank you to MrMarxismo.

 

Grundlagen der Politischen Ökonomie – Prof. Dr. Peter Herrmann – (attac Sommerakademie 2015 in Marburg). http://www.attac.de/bildungsangebot/s… – Sowohl in der Krisenanalyse der vergangenen Jahre als auch in der allgemeinen Diskussion und Darstellung von wirtschaftspolitischen Fragen finden sich oft zwei grundlegende Fehlannahmen:
o Vorgeschlagen wird ein Wirtschaftsverständnis, bei dem weitgehend ausgeblendet wird, dass es sich um inhärent soziale Verhältnisse handelt.
o Vorgeschlagen wird, dass es sich um nichtpolitische Verhältnisse handelt, bei denen es sich um reine Sachkonstellationen handelt – im Extrem können diese in Algorithmen gefasst werden.
Oft wendet sich gerade die linke Diskussion gegen solche Positionen, ohne die tatsächlichen Konzeptionen in Rechnung zu stellen.
Das Seminar will mit der Darstellung Klassischer, Marxistischer und Keynesianischer Konzepte zumindest die Grundbegriffe aufbereiten und damit auch Alternativen der Wirtschaftspolitik systematischer verstehbar zu machen.
Themen:
o Klassische Politische Ökonomie – Die Rechtfertigung des Nationalismus
o Keynes – Modernisierung der Nationalökonomie vor dem Hintergrund der Neuordnung der Welt
o Marx – Proletarier aller Länder – (wie) könnt ihr euch einigen?
Im Zusammenhang mit diesen Grundverständnissen werden auch weitere Konzepte (etwas Finanzialisierung, Lange Wellen etc.) aufgearbeitet.

Religion

Economics is the religion of equations.

Had been said before, by several others … . A pity that good presentations on the role of monetary expansions are “religionised”, so much deceiving the real issues, even if the directly deal with them.

If you put an ‘almighty god’ into any equation, there is only one solution. If you leave human beings, there needs, the abuse of power ecc. out of economics, there is no solution. As recently said, the devil is not always in the detail; and as also said Brazil is not just a geographical place …

Economics – beyond calculations

Nothing special though possibly a small contribution on matters of understanding economics as social science in its true sense. It is very basic – recordings from teaching students in China who are in their first year (second semester) learning about economics. The first lectures can be found here.

Methodology – some general questions

I uploaded a lecture I gave today,  25th of December 2015 to Students at 中南林业科技大学班戈学院/Bangor College CSUFT
中国湖南省长沙市天心区韶山南路498号. Changsha, PRC

 

Though the lecture refers to the work of a group of students and their work on essays (mostly concerned with “Studying Abroad”), some fundamental issues of methodology are raised and may be of interest when doing research in economics and political economy.

They may be used in different ways as a kind of “propedeutico”.

Reference to the books mentioned:

References in the text:

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.