slow death – of individuals and societies


a long way … from the priests on the Acropolis [ἄκρον (akron, “highest point”) and πόλις (polis)] to the gardens which had been the roaming place of the philosophers to the reality of today’s Europe …- back at the desk after returning from Athens, where we organised at the Harokopio University in Athens, with support of the Nicos Poulantzas Institute the Euromemo-conference under the title

Can the EU still be saved? The implications of a multi-speed Europe


I remember the recent reading of Juergen Roth’s Radetzkymarsch from 1932. It seems to be clear that we can speak of a kind of congeniality when it comes to death of individuals, stubbornly caught by their ideas and societies going through some agony before the final step:

He lived long enough to know how silly it is to say the truth. He allowe people making this mistake and he believed less than the jesters who talked about him in the wide realm of anecdotes, that his world would persist. [1]


He was old, and tired, and death already expected him, still life did not release him. Like a gruesome host it kept him at the table because he did not go through all the suffering that life had prepared for him.[2]

I leave it to the reader to find out why it returns right now to my mind ….: after having returned to Greece after the elections in Germany, after Macron launching his ‘Initiative for Europe. A sovereign, united, democratic Europe’ and while going on with the personal attempt to figure out how old and how European one has to be to understand the challenges and options that are showing up ahead; and how old and how European one has to be to misunderstand them. And how much it personally helps me not to know exactly how old I am, how EUropean …call it uprooting, or call it a bit of transcending the ‘conventional wisdom’ J.K. Galbraith wrote about in this book on the ‘Affluent Society’.


[1]            Own translation; an English version of the book is available …, somewhere
Original: Er hatte lange genug gelebt, um zu wissen, daß es töricht ist, die Wahrheit zu sagen. Er gönnte den Leuten den Irrtum, und er glaubte weniger als die Witzbolde, die in seinem weiten Reich Anekdoten über ihn erzählten, an den Bestand seiner Welt.

[2]            Own translation; an English version of the book is available …, somewhere
Original: Alt war er und müde, und der Tod wartete schon auf ihn, aber das Leben ließ ihn noch nicht frei. Wie ein grausamer Gastgeber hielt es ihn am Tische fest, weil er noch nicht alles Bittere gekostet hatte, das für ihn bereitet war.


How Europe slides down further …..

Taken from the Euroactiv-Brief

Today’s EU policy news, 28.10.2016, 5PM

Commissioner mocks Chinese and gay marriage

By James Crisp

Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger has mocked the Chinese, gay marriage, and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s divorce in a shock speech.

Oettinger is infamous for putting his foot in it. But after footage emerged today of the jaw-dropping tirade, it very much looks like Germany’s man in Brussels is guilty of a gaffe too far this time.

He said at a speech in Hamburg, “Last week Chinese ministers visited us […] nine men, one party, and no democracy.

“All of them in suits, single breasted dark blue jackets. All of them had their hair combed from left to right, with black shoe polish on their hair.”

Germany has a quota for female representation on company boards. “There is no quota for women [in China], and there were consequently no women [among the ministers],” Oettinger said to nervous laughter.

The source of the embarrassing footage claims they began filming after Oettinger used the term “Schlitzaugen” – slitty eyes – in reference to the Chinese.

We could not independently confirm he used the racist term on Wednesday. Oettinger’s communications advisor told us she had no comment to make.

To nervous laughs, Oettinger ploughed on. Discussing German politics, he sarcastically said, “Perhaps obligatory homosexual marriage will be introduced.”

He said that Gerhard Schröder, who now works for Gazprom, would have time on his hands after the collapse of his fourth marriage.

“Now he has time. North Stream 2 won’t be built and his wife has left,” he said, referring to the controversial plans for a Russian-German gas pipeline, which is under European Commission scrutiny.

Oettinger also bemoaned the loss of the good old days when everyone read a newspaper, instead of their smartphones. Soon we will have more committees than people, he added.

And it was all going so well for him in Brussels recently. Expect this story to run over the weekend.