isn’t there such discussion in political science and sociology? The EU is trendy and we all are creating and shaping Europe now.

Listening to what the leader says and looking at how they expand on it is as rich in content as what we are all asked do now.

Some of my earlier, though recent thoughts on the EUropean question can be found herehere and here.

BREXIT – is that actually the real topic

I was just approached by Yang Yuhan, asking for my opinion on the results in the UK.

I mentioned in a brief note some of the problems, e.g. that the result may be just the date of preparing a new referendum (as it happened so often), that the claimed economic strength by the “leavers” may be just another illusion but also that it is a strategy of one country to look for advantage on the back of others.
And then I said, “as it had been the case with (in particular) the German-Greek relationship.
As Yang said she would not know about Germany-Greece-relationships
 I answered in a nutshell – more is barely possible via QQ:
Perhaps we meet at some stage again, and we can chat. Too much to write …: Germany forced Greece to take loans, knowing that they would not be able to repay. Germany also kept the economy of Greece down, not allowing them to develop – we talked about world-systems, center-periphery etc. in the workshop. After a while the Germans said: now you have to return the money. And because you cannot do it “easily”, we dictate the conditions under which you do it. In consequnece, for instance, the social security systems had been dismantled (people getting 60 % of the retirement they expected, and it must in many cases serve the entire family; the health system is deteriorating; children cannot go to school, or they cannot concentrate because they are hungry …), the ariports had been “bought” by the German FRAPORT (Frankfurt airport), without proper pay …
Of course, the Germans could rely o their “European supporters” and the IMF and the World Bank but still they had been the main drivers.
And I directed her to things I wrote earlier – about Two Dreams and One Nightmare, there looking in particular at the second dream. Indeed, many things had been not known to the public, they had been veiled in populist disguises, hiding the
 And so we may even take up on people like Churchill who said, in a different context:
This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.
And as Henry added in the mail he sent a few minutes ago:
the beginning of the complete disintegration of the EU….
Cunning of unreason – including the unreason of populist movements back in the other home? There was one star in Bethlehem, now there are five in Rome …
Just received another mail . actually taking up on the point I alluded to in the blog entry:
“The triumph of malign populism and a betrayal of the younger generation.”
Yes, there had been some betrayal, and my generation is guilty, if not directly betraying, allowing those others they dirty business …
Seeing all this in a wider context, I just feel miserable, actually since a couple of days already, the BREXIT is only a small part. It is about “us” – the elderly, the Europeans, the “better Europeans” … all these … “superiors” who claim to know everything and know everything better, and in which way ever, it is differ difficult to “escape”, difficult to remain sane and honest, and the only thing ome can do is to talk to some students, encouraging them …, to do what we cannot do anymore to the extent to which we want: move on and be honest …. – but also considered, not following the populist tendencies that lurk around everywhere, making education to a fun-park.

Migration – aren’t there any ways to stop criminals?

Yes, it is a heading that can easily be mistaken, but reading about EU-policy and referring “being criminal” to various policy makers, and the new Foreign Office minister, Lady Anelay, will hopefully easily get you there.

It is a disgrace, reading in yesterday’s Guardian

British policy was quietly spelled out in a recent House of Lords written answer by the new Foreign Office minister, Lady Anelay: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” she said, adding that the government believed there was “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths”.

What we currently see as anti-migrant policies is unbearably when considering the human tragedy and it leaves only one demand: If we are serious about human rights people like Anelay should be immediately convicted.

(For the original reference click here)

Where are we going?

Looking at the edition of the 25th of November 2013 of L’Osservatore Romano, and the online version of the article

Between Dignity and Transcendence

we read the report on the pope’s visit in Strasbourg, where he addressed the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

Opening that page, I saw on the top one of Raphael’s most beautiful frescoes:

The School of Athens

Now, one may take it simply as nice ornament. And actually meaningful as it is frequently claimed that Europe today has the still strong roots in ancient history in particular of Athens and Rome. Looking at Plato and Aristotle at the centre — it is surely a remarkable reference to European tradition then: can we interpret their appearance together as hinting to the claim for a “moral, ethical state”? Plato’s obviously pointing on a merger of dialectics and the trinity – we may take from the book in his hands: the Timeaus the famous passage:

“For whenever in any three numbers, whether cube or square, there is a mean, which is to the last term what the first term is to it; and again, when the mean is to the first term as the last term is to the mean—then the mean becoming first and last, and the first and last both becoming means, they will all of them of necessity come to be the same, and having become the same with one another will be all one”.

And we see Aristotle, holding the Nichomachean Ethics in his hands, as a kind of secular challenge, asking for the goodness in the here an now, guided by the two sets of virtues

  • moral virtues are in his view prudence, justice, fortitude, courage, liberality, magnificence, magnanimity, temperance;
  • intellectual virtues are in his view justice, perseverance, empathy, integrity, intellectual courage, confidence in reason, autonomy.

There is so much more in it, even the positioning of the various colleagues of the two central figures is telling: For instance Diogenes – the personification of putting into practice of complete modesty and self-sufficiency – somewhat degraded on the stairs, “scientists” as Heraclitus, Euclid or Parmenides somewhat sidelined, working “on the ground”, though it is left open if this is meant to be a positive or a negative reference to the “exact sciences”.

But there we may actually hesitate, assuming that is not so open.

Obviously, at Raphael’s time such fresco had not been a standalone work, and indeed we all know that it is part of La Stanza Della Segnatura, The Room of the Signature. And such “being part of” means nothing less than the different sides of the room being in a “communicating relationship.

This means that the Scuola di Atene is actually only one part of a wider dispute: it is confronted with

accompanied on the one side by the

and on the other side by

Taken together it reflects the dispute between philosophy, theology sidelined by jurisprudence and poesy.

It may be open for dispute in which way La Stanza actually is mainly a reference to humanism and universalism. And it may be left open in which way each of them finally has to be defined. In any case the perspective in particular of the two main sides is eye-catching: the philosophers, “walking out” of the painting, into the room and slightly stepping down … passing the realities: “exact science” science (Heraclitus, Euclid or Parmenides) and “self-chosen modesty” (Diogenes), from there taking us – all of us who are standing in the middle of La Stanza, and thus being part of the entire scene, part of this history – with them: now “ascending”, open for the dispute of the sacrament which is not much different from the last judgement (for that, of course, my favourite is that by Rubens — former students of mine may remember the tour I made with them through the Alte Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.

Having read the speech in Strasbourg and the interview Francesco gave on the return trip, I realise that … – I think I realize just some surprise. Of course, Im a not against reference to some ancient philosophers — but I am surprised if we stepped from there only about 300 to 500 years (I know, generous with figures) forwards.


Coming back to one on the lower levels, Parmenides. He reflected on

Being is all there is.

According to him there are two realities: the one of truth, i.e. the one that objectively is and cannot be changed; according to him, the other is a reality of opinion and appearances – deceitful and tempting on the basis of nothingness.

Sure, the solution sounds simple: acceptance of reality, rejection of appearance.

The tricky thing however is …, well, a world in which appearance is reality. In other words: a world in which a virtual economy: speculation on financial markets, faked insurance of risks which is assessed by corrupt systems … where such a world is the world of Parmedian truth.

Indeed, we have to return to Plato here, and to what he said about dialectics — and to how dialectics had been put on its feet, much later.


Raphael, surely one of the most outstanding artists of the renaissance … —

— … the pope’s visit in Strasbourg under the umbrella of La stanza della Segnatura … —

— … the positioning of the event under the heading Between Dignity and Transcendence … —

all this may be a reminder to think about some aspects of what I wrote under the title

Prolegomena. Encore Citizenship – Revisiting or Redefining? in the book I edited under the title

World’s New Princedoms. Critical Remarks on Claimed Alternatives by New Life

(Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publishers, 2010 and Bremen/Oxford: academicpress, 2012)

Worrying and enlightening is in particular what had been said at the end of the interview, and it should be the Italian (as far I know original) version. It is about a certain denial of the past, of having been archbishop of Buenos Aires – though this personal history remains as such present, the emphasis is now laid on being successor  of St. Peter which is strangely interpreted in a highly Eurocentric way. Is there so little from Latin American historical experience – past and present – that is worth to arrive at a truly global respective, a perspective that is inspired also by the wealth of indigenous people?

So, where are we going? And to where is the pope actually leading us?

It is something that needs to be discussed further – not so much the Vatican’s perspective but the perspective for instance emerging from the socialist movements in Latin America.

A tiny contribution may be found in a chapter I wrote for a book. The chapter is on

Social pedagogy and liberation theology,

written for a book titled

Latin American Social Pedagogy: relaying concepts, values and methods between Europe and the Americas”?


edited by Jacob Kornbeck and Xavier Úcar (forthcoming)