Roland Dürre
Sunday November 30th, 2008

Thus Spoke Dr. Zetsche (at TUM on Nov, 26th )

“The Second Carreer of the Automobile” is the topic Dieter Zetsche, managing director of Daimler AG will talk about on November, 26, at 4.30 p.m. at Munich Technical University. Organised by “Handelsblatt Junge Karriere” and TUM under the motto “economic leaders live”, this presentation of one of the most dynamic and well-known representatives of German economy will take place at the Audimax of TU München at 4.30 p.m.. After his talk, Dieter Zetsche will gladly answer students’ questions.

The text is taken from the Portal der TUM (Munich Technical University). It is well worth taking a look at it once in a while. You will find truly interesting announcements and presentations on that homepage. My mentee Michael of Manage&More (unternehmerTUM) made me aware of this announcement, so both of us went to hear the presentation by Dr. Zetsche after our mentee/mentor session. After a short report, I will add some comment of my own:

Following a short and humorous introduction by the president of TUM, the presentation started. I seldom heard a famous economic leader or politician speak as precise and clear as Dr. Zetsche. I liked his presentation very much. In the following paragraphs, I will give a short and simplified version of what he said and include some personal remarks of mine.

In his presentation, Dr. Zetsche gave reasons why he absolutely believes in “The Second Carreer of the Automobile”. He focussed on three words:

  • Emancipation: A car contributes significantly to the emancipation process of a person. It gives independence and mobility, personal freedom is hugely extended through using a car and thus having more mobility. Many people only grow up to be adults through owning their own car. For some of us, personal freedom only started with the VW Beetle. People still living in not-as-emancipated societies as we Middle Europeans therefore strongly desire to own a car as the main step towards progress in their lives. The social and economic rise of Germany can be best described through the metaphor “from the Isetta to the VW Beetle, from the VW Beetle to the Mercedes”. Our society, so Dr. Zetsche, is a model for people in economically less developed countries such as China, India or South America. Even though the market in Europe and the USA is satiated, there is still enormous potential in China, India and South American. The following statistics can serve to prove this assumption: in the USA, every 1,000 people own 700 cars, in China, the same number of people own only 14 cars, and in India only 7. Thus, these countries have a huge potential for catching up. In a few years, there will probably be twice as many cars “populating” the world as there are now.
  • Emotion: Cars are also key products for people attempting to make a public show of their life-style and identity. There is no other consumer good which makes it possible for the owner to define and demonstrate his or her true self and personality in the same way as does the automobile. Cars cause personal identity. This high emotional significance of cars for people will guarantee a future demand for individualized cars in the future. This is why compromises with respect to technical details or differentiation must not be made with future cars.
  • Innovation: To be sure, says Dr. Zetsche, the planet earth cannot cope with twice as many cars with current technology. This problem, however, must and will be solved with innovative technical progress. In the near future, modern automobile designers will supply us with cars that emit less and less. Eventually, the innovation will result in cars totally without emission. Cars will run on hydrogen or electricity, totally emission-free or with vaporized water as their only by-product.

Hoping that I succeeded in repeating Dr. Zetsche’s ideas more or less correctly, I will now start with my own comment:

  • Emancipation: I believe new generations and new countries learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Although I know that this view of mine is optimistic and that the development up to now in countries like China and India seems to contradict my hope, I still see that more and more people understand that consuming goods is not the equivalent of happiness. And they change their ways, some of their own accord, some because they must. On foot, I am less mobile than by bike, the motorbike has more potential than the bike, by car I can easily travel 250 km per day. Using a private airplane, I can even manage 2,500 km per day. Does my freedom depend on my mobility? Mobility and freedom have nothing in common.
  • Emotion: I, too, am subject to the temptation of defining my personality through the choice of my car (or bike). There was a time when, as a matter of principle, I drove nothing but the latest BMW model (always red) with the strongest motor available (it was only a “3” series car). Once, another BMW driver gave me the approving thumb in front of the Bavarian Staatskanzlei as he saw me in my brand-new, red 325i. That was a really nice feeling. However, I also remember almost getting killed with the same car on the motorway bridge in Holledau when I drove back to InerFace rather fast from a visit to the Federal Employment Agency in Nürnberg. A Mercedes (as it happens it was the business car of one of the then leading database producers) suddenly swerved to the left for taking over directly in front of me and thus pushed me aside. The driver had not seen me and not even given a signal. My red BMW turned around several times, touched the crash-barriers on both sides and then came to a standstill on just about the highest point of the bridge. I got out of the car and looked down. That was quite a shocking experience for me. Barbara, too, looked rather pale when she saw the indentations on the crash-barriers and the damaged car. I was not injured. There were not even marks on my skin from the safety belt.
  • Innovation: Technology has advanced considerably. This, however, does not really show, because simultaneously cars have become bigger, heavier and faster all the time. As far as environment-friendliness is concerned, we could easily have achieved a lot more by now if the cars had gone back to being more sensible. And that is where the customers would have to vote through their money. Still, I do not believe the ZERO emission will ever come. Even if everything is moved by electricity or hydrogen, there is still the question where electricity and hydrogen should be generated. And then the washing-machine will most likely be given preference before the car, because it is a lot more inconvenient to go back to washing in a tub, rinsing the laundry and then hanging it up than going places by bike. Also, producing a car costs a lot of energy, and when there are twice as many cars being driven, you will also need twice (?) as many streets, parking lots, garages, service stations, etc. I will then be glad that those will be built in China and India, rather than here. And then the term “low-noise traffic” gets more and more relevant in social discussions. Even though the motors have been getting softer, it is still rather noisy in a zone with a speed-limit of 30 if a “housewife-truck” (copyright with Herrn Schindler) takes you over and the winter-proof tyres can be heard from afar. After all, noise can also be regarded as emission.

On my way to the presentation by underground train, I found a copy of the “WELT KOMPAKT” of the same day. What a coincidence that an article on page one had the title:

The Internet is the Most-Beloved Child of the Germans

and the sub-title:

Poll: the Web is More Important than the Car

Being a computer scientist, this filled me with hope for our profession. The article also said that “the usage of computers among Germans has changed significantly and laptops get more and more important. Also, for 76 % of the men, a running power of the batteries as long as possible is the key criterion when they buy a notebook. For women, however, the design gets more and more important”.

The article appealed to me, because it looked like another symbol to me that my thesis might, after all, be correct: We are on the move from an auto-mobile to an information-mobile society!

At an aside, Dr. Zetsche spent all his professionally active years at Daimler (Mercedes-Chrysler-Daimler). It was clearly visible, too, that he was a “Mercedes-Person” to the bone, and I find that just great. Personally, I always get nervous if I hear of a managing director suddenly changing from, say, pharmacy to machine construction.

Something Dr. Zetsche said during the hour of question-answering gave me pause. When someone asked if he foresaw that the number of global players in the automobile industry will change due to fusions or the emission of participants on the market, Dr. Zetsche answered that probably some producers will disappear but be replaced by new producers already standing ready to take over. And these new global players will then come from India or China! In the past, we witnessed several times what this could mean for our national technology producers.

And, as I see it, the fact that Chrysler has been all but a success story in the past is certainly not due to Dr. Z (”Ask Dr. Z”), as they call him in the USA (for an American, ”Zetsche” is not easy on the ear). I believe that, even if you are a managing director, you have not much of a chance against developments that will take place anyway. Either you adapt to where the wind blows and use it, or you will sooner or later cease to exist.

RMD

At an aside, here is an anectode: Dr. Zetsche told us that Daimler and Merrcedes probably feature in more than 150 pop songs. BMW in less than 10. So here comes a short song or a nice advert little for the nice Mercedes brand. mehr »

Ulf D. Posé
Friday November 28th, 2008

Against Semantic Crime, for a New Honesty

Aristotle himself advised us to distinguish between two categories of humans: honest ones and dishonest ones. For him, honesty was defined by knowing what you were talking about. That meant that an honest person talked about issues, rather than just emotions he had when thinking of something. Before indulging himself in emotions, an honest person defines what he is talking about. He distinguishes between knowledge and opinion.

Today, a closer look at people in politics, economy and culture often reveals that they prostitute themselves unscrupulously with the waste of their cerebral cortex. They expand on emotions while at the same time professing to talk about the issue itself. However, they are not saying anything on the issue. More than a few politicians, economic leaders and cultural figures seem to act according to the motto: “Why burden myself with knowledge, since I already have an opinion?”

Why is that possible without us sufficiently noticing it? Ever since George Edward Moore developed his emotivism in ethics in 1903, we have paid lip-service to an ethics of inclinations. Since Moore it is ethically correct for people to do what feels good to them. Instead of asking of what they do is also nice, more than a few find this perfectly acceptable. This emotional porridge is largely responsible for our dishonesty when we speak and act. The second aspect is the inclination towards an ethics of pleasure. If their attitude is honest, many people no longer ask if they combine their attitude with the competent behaviour that should go with it. What we get is a fatal pairing of pure conscience and incompetence. I am causing trouble and even feeling well doing so. Thirdly, we have developed a culture of feeling sympathetic in order to calm our conscience. To some people, it makes more sense to join chains of marching lights than actually do something. Some people feel more pity for the misery in Africa than for the misery of their neighbours. Thus, we suffer from love for who is far away; while there is no place for love for the neighbour next door. To me, these seem to be the basic, general characteristics of our new dishonesty.

What remained unattended are the meanings of our socially important terms. Be it democracy, social justice or freedom, all those terms cause emotions that are not backed by knowledge about the meaning of the words. The most important words of our society are thus no longer defined by their semantic, but only by their emotional meaning. Consequently, semantic crimes and incompetent actions prevail, both of which we hardly notice any more. Let me give a few examples taken from how words are used in our society.

Politicians talk about freedom while depriving us of it by seeing to it that the state carries more and more responsibility for our well-being. The fact that our state goes bankrupt in the process is apparently irrelevant. I used to believe that freedom means you can take responsibility for your own life, rather than someone else telling you how to do so.

Politicians and unionists demand social justice and forget that justice is the firm belief that everybody should have what is his due. Nobody seems to notice any more that the adjective “social” runs contrary to exactly this firm belief. Thus, we have more “social palaver” than social justice. Economic Nobel price winner professor A. F. Hayek called adjectives like »social« weasel words. They are characterized by making the meaning of a word vague and giving it a new direction that no longer has anything to do with the original noun. According to John Rawls, social justice is a principle that is supposed to regulate the relationship between basic freedoms, social and economic discrepancies, unequal chances, restriction of basic rights and consumption limitations for those who are least privileged. The problem is: how to determine who belongs to the group of least privileged and where is the upper limit? And here comes a last remark on the semantic meaning of social justice: to this day, nobody has come up with a valid and universally accepted definition of social justice. Everybody uses the term very emotionally for their own goals, forgetting that social justice was invented by the ancient Greeks in order to fight jealousy. In those days, the fight was lost, the method was subsequently abandoned.

Something similar to social justice can be perceived in the use of the word democracy. We believe democracy to be the best of all governmental concepts and deny that this invention of the ancient Greeks, “democracy”, by the very roots of its morphology “demos” implied that it was a strong rule of the upper classes. Besides, it was only developed as an interim between two government systems. The ancient Greeks believed that an entire people should never be permitted to rule loner than absolutely necessary.

At the same time, we today mentally associate the term democracy with liberalism. Apparently, we no longer even notice that democracy and liberalism contradict each other. Liberalism always wants as much freedom as possible and will only tolerate as little force as is absolutely necessary. That means that democracy and liberalism are basically two different issues. Our mental association of the two has become so self-evident that we no longer think about the meaning of the words. We cannot imagine them separately. Seen with a critical mind, much of what we consider undemocratic is merely illiberal. Moreover, we have forgotten that freedom and equality contradict each other in a liberal democracy. It is all a polar opposite. All forms of equalization at the same time trims all forms of freedom. We are not similar. The vagueness about the semantic meaning of the word democracy eventually also causes our inability to critically ask if our constitution is upheld in our democracy. Actually, our constitution does not say anything about political parties being part of the government. All it says in the constitution is: “The parties are concerned with forming public political opinions”. It says nothing about ruling. That means the forcing members of the party to vote unanimously is basically unconstitutional. To be sure, nobody cares, but it is still unconstitutional.

And then the populist parties are surprised at the people starting to refuse them their vote. Before talking about democracy, our politicians would be well advised to learn what the term democracy means.

Unfortunately, our heads of economy are no better. The economy fights for a system where the principle of achievement should dominate, but it forgets that the achievement principle is an ideal type of socially oriented payment demanded and introduced by Karl Marx. In it, market and usefulness pay no role. The achievement principle is a concept where the employee is shown appreciation according to his achievement. An employee’s achievement is either measured by the extent to which he delivers what has been set as goals for him or the amount of work done in a certain time. That sounds pretty clear! But is achievement really the basis for our salary?

In former times, it used to be quite simple: if you wanted to work, you advertised yourself on the employment market. Your work got a market value relative to the work of others. This work was then bought by directors on the employment market. They did that because they believed your work would be beneficial to them. Work had a value by its usefulness. If the usefulness increased, the employee got a higher salary, because it was possible to hand some of the increased usefulness down to him. If the usefulness decreased, the director no longer wanted the work, so the employee was made redundant. The principle was that you got paid according to your market value and usefulness. To this day, the determining factor for how much your salary should be is the usefulness the director expects from your work! So it is the usefulness, rather than the value of the work, that determines what your work is worth. That means that, even though it is highly emotional, it is semantically incorrect to demand the achievement principle as a capitalist method of payment.

As the examples show, it is high time to demand semantic honesty. We should start talking about the issues themselves, rather than just the emotions triggered by certain words. It is worth the effort. Otherwise we would have to say Bernhard Shaw was correct when he said: Some people are only prepared to die for issues if they are sufficiently unclear to them.

UDP (translated by Evelyn Gemkow)

mehr »

This is a very personal contribution in three parts (here comes part 1). Before starting to write it, I have spent considerable time wondering if I should publish it in the blog. But I feel the issue is important to me, maybe also as a message for a time when I am no longer among the living. So I will write.

In 1956, the city of Augsburg was still all ruins. The downtown streets, too, were full of hideous gaps. Nights of bombs were not yet a thing of the so far gone past. However, the economic miracle was already under way. In 1956, I was six years old. Winters got warmer, because a fire was regularly lit in the morning. Light, electricity and running water were a matter of course. To be sure, washing water was still cold, because the hearth in the bathroom – which from the perspective of a small child seemed huge – was lit only once a week with coal. Saturdays were family bathing days, and the warm water was evenly distributed among parents and children. On Sundays, we all went to church.

I do not consciously remember anything about the first four years of my life. However, I feel that I was dearly loved by my parents. The part of my education that I experienced as extremely negative must have started later. With my entry into school, the real horror began.

Since 1955, we had been living in a beautiful and bright newly-finished building in the Rosenaustr. 18. Even though it did not yet have central heating, it was quite modern. Between our flat and Augsburg central railway station, the broad railway tracks for both the passenger and cargo station were situated. From our kitchen window, we were able to see arrivals and departures, as well as some sidetracking. And the laundry hung for drying behind the building, to the detriment of my mother, was often soot-black. In front of the house, Rosenaustrasse got more and more frequented and broader as the years went by. Once, a car almost knocked me down. Whenever I go to Augsburg by train, I see this house and remember those times.

The Rosenaustrasse is part of the recruiting area for the primary school “Wittelsbacher Volksschule”, which is where I started school in the summer of 1956. The school was situated behind our local church St. Antony’s. My way to school was 15 minutes. I went through the town park, then past the church and I stood in front of the military-style school building. It consisted mainly of two buildings: one for the girls and one for the boys. Both were towering old buildings with high ceilings, long corridors and big toilets. In winter, the huge radiators of the central gas heating system warmed the bones and joints that had gone cold from walking the way to school. The smell of oil paint and linoleum, like I witnessed it again in the GDR in 1989, prevailed.

Classes were crowded, we were more than 40 in a classroom, of course exclusively boys. We had an older teacher whose disciplinary methods were stunning. Once he had installed a film projector. We were allowed to see a short film, the projector transmitting a small and unfocussed image to the grey wall. On the image, we saw a man who had a vague likeness to our teacher. Then, a coloured man appeared on the image. The coloured man approached the white man, bent before him and offered him an elongated object. That was the entire film. Black-and-white and with considerable optical noise. Probably not ideal for “youtube”.

In our class, this caused a collective, positive attitude of expectation. Most of us had only seen a television set from afar. Cinema for children or such like did not exist, either. The surreal device that transmitted images to the wall was really something special.

And then we heard the explanation that went with the images. Our teacher told us that we had just witnessed something extraordinary. The film, so he said, showed his meeting a magician in Africa. The magician gave him a magic wand particularly suitable for disciplining disobedient children. And now that magic wand lied on his desk. With these words, he showed us a piece of dark, smooth, massive rod made of unbelievably pure wood. My not so reliable estimate from memory would be that its measures were about 2,5 x 5 x50 cm of hard wood, but not ebony. As we would soon feel ourselves, the magic wand had rough edges. Then he started: each of us got hit on the fingers with the magic wand. Afterwards, the fingers were bleeding a little, because children’s hands are sensitive. The beatings were purely for prophylactic purposes, simply so we all know how much it will hurt whenever we disobey. Such were the times.

If you are cynical, you can say that the idea of applying this kind of shock-therapy is quite creative. What had that man done during the war? Basically, I am quite happy that these days most of the primary school teachers are female. I am also happy that I did not turn into a school sharp-shooting assassin.

To me, this sounds like the Americans when they used the atomic bomb. Two Japanese cities were destroyed, just as a demonstration of power. I do not think that this kind of behaviour is excusable, even if the atomic bomb quickly ended the war and thus perhaps reduced the total number of casualties. You cannot measure up human life for human life.

After this experience, my attitude towards school was irrevocably blemished. However, the suffering was not limited to school. We reached an age where the beloved parents, too, demanded that we function in the way they thought was right. More and more, we were “trained”. Rules that, to us, were obviously not making any sense became the determining factors of our lives. In the families, too, alleged misdeeds were punished. The repertory of punishments included physical violence (for example a certain amount of beatings, dependent on how serious the crime was), the restriction of liberty (incarceration) and denial of things that were extremely important to children. Naturally, withholding love was also among them. And this all happened without evil purpose and in the interest of the child. At the age of 6, we were no longer considered children by our environment. Instead, we had to adapt to the social rules. We were more than a little “socially adapted”!

I received fewer beatings than my classmates (if I remember correctly). Instead, I was time and again forbidden what would have meant happiness for me. Often – but not always – parental love won and punishment was remitted shortly before its execution. However, there was also the punishment of “incarceration”. Then I had to sit in my room for an hour or two, during which I fled into the land of my dreams – or thought about revenge (even before I started school, I was an avid Karl-May reader). Occasionally, however, an act of punishment caused a marital dispute between my parents (about the necessity of punishment and whether or not it should be rigorously applied or remitted). Then the punished child felt he was twice the criminal: once because of the misdeed and once because his parents quarrelled over him.

In those days, violence was a normal method in education. We all know the not at all humorous anecdote where the father who beats the son tells him that the beating hurts him more than the son, but that for reasons of education and because of strength of character both had to suffer. By the way, in the 1950ies the “master craftsman” still had the right to use violence against his “apprentice” in the BRD. I think the law was only changed about 10 years after I started school. And I fear with reason that even today, many children are (believed to be) disciplined with violence. Occasionally, I even see in public places like the underground trains that children receive “smacking” or get undue reprimands for the most innocent of “crimes”, thereby being belittled in front of everybody. What will those children do when they are grown up?

In other cultures this is unheard of. I was able to see for myself how intense the parent-child harmony is in Indian families, even in critical situations. Rumours have come to my ear that Germany has the reputation in Japan to be the country where parents beat their children. But also wherever I came into contact with “less” civilized cultures, the parent-child communication was significantly free of violence.

Only few people are prepared to talk in public about these experiences. One of them is Jörg Hube, a famous Munich actor who used to play in the “Kammerspiele” and now plays in the Residenz. In his punch shows, be it with heart and “Biograffl” or be it as hung-up or made-up man, he strips psychologically – and lately also physically – on stage. He shows the spectators his pain. Then he reads texts by the brutal teacher Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber (who invented the “Schreber”-garden and became a hero in his day). And for me, his words are close to home

I estimate Jörg Hube to be about 7 years my senior. He was born during the war. I think he experienced worse than I did. His martyrdom exceeds mine. I always sit in the front row – or at least try to sit up front. When he still played in the studio at “Kammerspiele”, this was easy. All you had to do was be there early. At the end of the performance, I would always have liked to storm the stage and fall into his arms. But that is also something I learned as a child: you do not do this kind of thing! Which is why I was never courageous enough to do it. Then there was a day when, after the performance in the studio, Jörg Hube came and kissed me on the forehead (I have witnesses). Perhaps there is something like congeniality of spirit, after all. Thank you, Jörg Hube! Now I strip in my if-blog just like he does on stage.

In my life, I found a number of people who helped me to heal my wounds. Meeting Rupert Lay, who became mentor and friend, was important for me. When I first attended one of his seminars, I was 30 – and just on the way to becoming a father for the first time. Rupert knew how to let us understand and sense all the ideals parents project into their children from their own lives and how they try to shape their children according to their own perfect image and super-ego. He made it clear that this is a natural consequence of our civilization and socialization processes over a long period of time and that parents, too, are just helpless people who want the best but often fail. Thus, I started understanding what went wrong in my own childhood. They wanted to take away my autonomy in order to make a socially acceptable and successful person out of me. However, to me my autonomy was important. I did not want to let go of it and had to pay the price.

And above all, he made it clear to me that you should never try to point the way for others, especially your dear ones, according to your own concepts. Instead, you should try to give them confidence for their individual path in life. This sounds quite simple, but can have various degrees of difficulty. He also taught me that this is how the vicious circle parents/children can be broken. All parents can do is try to help their children a little towards a successful life of their own. We should attempt nothing more. And this is where I continue to hope that I did a little better with my own children. That is where Rupert helped me and I want to thank him for it.

In his seminars, Rupert Lay also taught us how to de-learn our established mistakes and how to take the sting out of our social “training. Even though this was only a partial success, it was very valuable. If you want to know what I am talking about, I recommend you read his book “Führen durch das Wort” (Leadership Through the Word). At Amazon you can buy it second hand and in good condition for up from 50 cents (plus an additional 3 € for postal service – after all, Amazon, too, has to live) or new for about 9 €.

And 10 years after my first day at school, luckily the beatles came with “All you need is love, love, love” (Music)!

Here two citations from Georg Büchner:

1836

“In order to penetrate the peculiar nature of each of them, you have to love people; none of them must be too small or too ugly, only then you can understand them”

and

1837

“Every human is an abyss”

RMD (translated by Evelyn Gemkow) mehr »

Klaus-Jürgen Grün

Nuclear Melting

It is not even 20 years since real socialism has disappeared through its own nuclear melting. However, the designers of the change were as far from imagining that the fantastic capitalism might just barely avoid bankruptcy as the functionaries of the Sowjet nomenclatura had earlier imagined their own GAU. By now, capitalism has grown just as rampant beyond its borders as planned economy did before.

Some people have been heard to wish the security line for capitalism had never been installed. It is expected to support more and more artists and financial jugglers who fell from spectacular heights. Why not let them drop and fall hard on the floor of reality? – Because we are afraid they might cling to us during their downfall, and because we cannot let go of prosperity. This makes us all receptive towards federal bribes.

If you want to end capitalism, you have to be aware of the fact that there are at least two kinds of capitalism. You should decide which of them you want to support towards a position of power while voting for the abolition of the other one. The one kind of capitalism is characterized by limitless accumulation of capital in the hands of a few who take the liberty to do or not do with it whatever is in their power or helps against their boredom. Perhaps this kind of capitalism is the lesser evil.

The other kind of capitalism is administration organized by law and order down to the smallest detail of work and private life. These legal structures have to calculate and minimize all risks by means of bureaucracy and systematic concepts of world-wide production and service organization. Special methods, innovations, and the courage to take a risk are dangerous to this kind of capitalism. It is the kind of capitalism that means intra-world ascetics and the rationalisation of work. Max Weber saw the final result of it in a grotesque totally rationalized world. He saw an “ascetic rationalism” in the making which “would now also be responsible for the content of social-political ethics, i.e. for the organization and functions of societies from convent to state “ (Weber).

This capitalism is a result of the individual fear of meaninglessness. By subjecting everything down to the smallest detail to the reign of his organization through methodical planning, not letting a single worker unsupervised and leaving nothing to chance, we make sure that we belong to a non-destructible entity. In this capitalism, the peculiarly pale and anaemic system agent whose greatest interest lies in transforming living organisms into dead, bureaucratic systems unexpectedly gains power.

Max Weber was not happy with this vision. He tried to get a grip on it with words from Nietzsche’s Zarathustra: “Then, however, the word might become reality for the ‘last people’ of this cultural development. ‘Technocrats without brains, hedonists without heart: this nonentity believes to have reached a height of human existence that never existed before.’“

Without having to copy Max Weber, Herbert Marcuse called for resistance against this totally bureaucratic administration half a century ago. Later, he hoped that a future youth would be able to liberate itself from the social repression of “systematic control”. For him, capitalism of “suppressed instincts”, against which the “revolt” was to grow, was a weave of “manipulation in the interest of certain enterprises, political orientations and interests”, for which it is “the common and objective superior aim to appease the individual with the style of living he is forced to endure in society”.

Nowadays, by letting our focus be directed towards the capitalism of social injustice and there sacrificing culprits, we – as the diagnosis of Marcuse unveiled – are getting “more ready for compromise and more obedient, because we submit ourselves to a society which, by its prosperity and power administers and satisfies our deepest instincts.”

I am sure the advice of Marcuses to counter the repressive power of the puritanical duty ethics with an “aesthetical moral” which would improve our happiness to work productively and innovatively – not exploited – by taking advantage of the natural human instinct to play, rather than by suppression of instincts, would more easily lead us out of the swamps of rotten credits than the moral reprimands of those who, by patching their guidelines and standards, want to correct a prior mistake by making a new one.

KJG (translated by Evelyn Gemkow)

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 27th, 2008

(Deutsch) 2-Wochen-News – #12

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Saturday November 22nd, 2008

(Deutsch) Betriebswirtschaftslehre und Rendite in 1967

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Friday November 21st, 2008

Of Beloved Money and Nice Oil – Vivat Speculation!

Of Beloved Money and Nice Oil – Vivat Speculation!
A few weeks ago, listening to a talk by Franz-Josef Bierbrauer, I heard that only about 2% of all commerce with Euros and Dollars is actual exchange of products. The remaining 98% of the world-wide currency volume is exclusively executed through speculation! I have not done any research on the numbers myself; I am prepared to just believe Herrn Bierbrauer. What is more:

🙂 The number is a perfect match with my pre-conceived prejudices…
In my mind, speculation works as follows: there is a heavy pendulum hanging from the ceiling. There are two groups of people: one group tries with all its strength to get the pendulum to swing in one direction. During the process, the individual members of the group even dynamically change membership. As soon as the pendulum has reached the uppermost point on one end and it gets hard to reach it, it starts swinging in the opposite direction. The other group gains more and more and there comes a time when the pendulum is on a maximum at the opposite end. Thus, it swings to and fro, but you never know when it is at its maximum and therefore will reverse its course. The process can take months, years, or even decades.
As the pendulum swings to and fro, so the currency course goes up and down. And all participants of the game want to cash in on it. However, since it is a game of numbers, the amount you can “earn” has to be “lost” elsewhere. And because of additional fees, it is not even a game of numbers. Some increase the additional costs by speculating with borrowed capital, which means they have to pay interest. From the perspective of value increase, the entire game seems pointless. It can only be beneficial to participants who are wiser (?) than others, much luckier (?) than others, or capable of manipulating successfully(!).

Now I would like to know: what is the situation with oil? How much of the world-wide oil actually gets to the consumer for burning or use? Maybe one of the readers of this article can answer that question?
I can easily imaging that – like with currency – the actual amount of oil used is just a small percentage of the entire exchange volume. Then I would finally understand why the price of oil has as little to do with the real value of oil (if such can be determined at all) or with scenarios like the “oil peak” as currency value has to do with its purchasing power.
That would also be a kind of “virtualisation”!
RMD (translated by Evelyn Gemkow)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday November 18th, 2008

(Deutsch) IT-Treff ’99 – Feiern gegen die Krise! ♫

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