The Federal Minister of Transportation and Traffic, Alexander Dobrindt followed the mandate of the Federal Cabinet and his Chancellor and constituted an Ethics Commission . Among other things, it is supposed to clarify whose liability it is if an autonomous vehicle causes an accident – the driver’s or the manufacturer’s.

After all, it is quite possible that one of those crazy autonomous computers will cause an accident because they made the car speed! Who will then get the ticket – or even the complaint?

However, the ethics commission is also supposed to find out if there are ethical norms which the autonomous vehicle has to adhere to in conflict situations. The former Federal Constitutional judge Udo di Fabio will preside over the commission. The minister gave the “Wirtschaftswoche” an interview about it.

11348857_10206989802848252_348583267_oEver since my first seminar with Rupert Lay in the early 1980ies, ethics has been something that interested me very much. As I understand it, ethics is also concerned with moral dilemmas. One of the fundamental examples is the Trolley-Problem (Trolley-Problem).

Let me cite a Wikipedia Article:

Due to a wrong switch stand, a freight train is threatening to collide with a stationary train full of passengers. A worker discovers the threat and moves the switch in such a way that the freight train will end up on an auxiliary track where it runs into a group of maintenance workers, all of whom die. How accountable is the person who moved the switch?

Welzel is said to have asked this question in 1951. In the following years, up until today, many “mental experiments” of this or a similar nature were formulated. One of the most acute, at least one of those that impressed me most, is the following:

A doctor has ten patient waiting in his medical practice. Every one of them is at death’s door because one of his inner organs (a different one for each patient) is completely destroyed. In order to get well, they all need an “organ donation” immediately. But there is no chance that any organs will be available.

By chance, a healthy person enters the practice. He has all the organs the doctor would need in order to save all his patients. Should the doctor kill the man in order to save all the other ten?

Well, the example brings the topic to a culmination. Regardless of it ethically being absolutely within the scope of consideration to kill one person in order to save ten, most people will consider this solution completely inacceptable. Why? Perhaps because then nobody would ever again dare to go and “see the doctor”.

To me, this seems the real purpose of moral: we want to make things we are afraid of impossible. Things that we want to avoid at all costs. Consequently, those are the things where you have to say: this is a no-go! The very idea is a taboo.

For me, this “mental experiment” is so valuable because perhaps it teaches us what lies behind morals (You do not do this!).

The public television channels, too, are now concerned with ethics. On October, 17th, 2016, the ARD broadcast the TV experiment “Terror – Your Verdict“. And then they asked the audience to decide how the film ends (guilty or not guilty for the pilot with the ethical dilemma). However, the critical voices I read afterwards were not really enthusiastic about the experiment.

Incidentally, I find the doctor example a lot more realistic than the one with the trolley. I imagine that doctors will actually once in a while be faced with this sort of dilemma, for instance if, after a catastrophe such as the Bad Aibling train crash, they have to decide what patients to help first. Even if this, too, is a lame example.

Let us go back to all those mental experiments with trolleys, trams, freight trains, etc. They are all rather exciting material for an intellectual discussion. But for practical application, it all seems extremely useless to me.

All those constructs originate in examples with traffic that is bound by tracks. However, I never heard of a single event where something like this happened in reality. Which means that no worker in transportation world-wide ever was confronted with this kind of situation. So we actually discuss and work intellectually and ethically with pure mind games.

In week-end SZ edition, you can find a well-written “digital” article about the Bad Aibling train accident. Twelve persons were killed and 89 wounded on the morning of February, 9th. The digital article is titled
Chronologie eines vermeidbaren Unglücks
(Chronology of an accident that could have been avoided).
I strongly recommend that you read the article by clicking on the link.

This shows that reality looks totally different. Especially if you have an accident situation. We learn that:

  • With those electronic signal-boxes that are technologically up-to-date as far as DB standards are concerned, the station inspector would have been notified of his first ok-signal a lot more sternly: at least by a thick, red, sparkling arrow. However, there is no such display at the Bad Aibling signal-box, because the technology was older. This was a safety risk the Deutsche Bahn had long been aware of. An internal guideline would have recommended as early as in the 1980ies that the relay signal-box should be updated. If the signal-box had been “digitalized” to meet the “current state of technology”, there might have been a good chance that the accident would not have happened. A complete digitalization would probably have prevented the entire accident. Maybe we should discuss if that is ethical?

What else do we learn?

  • Shift work is not a good thing! 
The station inspector had started work at 5 a.m. The way from his family residence on a farm to his place of work at Bad Aibling – ten kilometres west of Rosenheim – is forty-five minutes. Due to a storm the German Weather Service had announced during the night, the station inspector had probably left home even earlier than usual. This makes me assume that his alarm clock will have rung around 3.00 a.m. In other words: he cannot have had a very long night. 
Shift work is always a problem. It is detrimental for your health. There are many studies that prove this fact. And whenever I sit in an S-Bahn train early in the morning (with which I mean before 6.00 a.m.), I only see grey faces (except those of the young girls and boys who enter at Ostbahnhof on their way home from the “Kunstpark Ost”). And all those people are not really at their best at this time of day. At least I am not. But here the good news:  
Computers (digital systems) do not mind night shifts!

We also learn that you should not play computer games when working.

  • Computer games are dangerous! 
At 5.11 a.m., the station inspector starts the video game “Dungeon Hunter 5“ on his smartphone. In the virtual role play, he is hunting monsters and villains as reward hunter. It says in the railway service regulations that station inspectors may use their smartphones at work when it is necessary for their job. Games are explicitly forbidden. And everybody will immediately say that, of course, computer games are not allowed at work. 
But is that realistic? Who abides by the rule? After all, we get more and more standby work places. The best example is the extremely well-paid job of the pilot. They are top earners and their job is tough. Shifting work schedules, night shifts, climate changes, etc. 
Except that they told me that the average pilot of a long-distance flight of around eight hours only has two five-minute intervals during which he actually has to work hard. So what to do during all the other hours? Drink? Well, that is something you are not allowed to do. So the only thing you can do is play. I also remember well all the fairs I attended where the bored personnel enjoyed playing solitaire on their PCs – and I freely admit that I, too, had a time when I was solitaire addicted. Mind you, this is not because of the game addiction. Anybody can get game addicted. Instead, it is because this game was probably the reason why Windows ever became great. The good news is again: 
Computers (digital systems) do not play! They focus on their work!

That is why I believe we should – first and foremost – get digitalization well under way in order to make life healthier and safer.

Except – the cars of the future are now supposed to solve these problems by using programs – at least that is what the ethics commission thinks. And they have to decide which cyclist is to be victimized if in a situation (mental experiment!) there is a choice between killing one or the other cyclist. Let us assume the one cyclist is a man riding without a helmet. The other cyclist is a woman wearing a helmet. Should the system decide that the woman will be overrun because – due to her helmet – she has the better chance at survival? Or the man as punishment for not wearing his helmet? Or should they base the decision on gender or age? Or on what social responsibility the man or the woman has …

To me, this all looks like nonsense. Consequently, I do not appreciate the Dobrindt ethics commission. As likely as not, it is just another small piece in the mosaic for the next election race with which the Big Coalition wants to show what important topics it – as the only administration world-wide, just like with data security – has been tackling so courageously and prudently, thus having a particularly responsible position in digitalization. Even if such a position is actually far from reality in current times.
Someone once said: all politicians talk digital change and throw terms such as block chain and big data around. Yet they have no idea what those terms mean! Just like they want reforms but no change (reform is violence-free change). And innovation is promoted, but nobody promotes destruction. Except: innovation is basically nothing other than creative destruction. I always get the impression that politicians who hear stories of bloggers and blogs always secretly contact the block warden in order to prevent things from happening.

If at all, I would wish for an ethics commission in the ministry of Frau van der Leyen. Such a commission could relate how ethically desirable the use of fighting drones and robots  is, for instance, for freely killing humans. The problem that the internet runs following the motto “the winner takes it all” and the question if it is ethical that some day a concern like google might determine the world alphabet are perhaps useful commission topics. Why not for the Ministry of Trade and Social Relations?

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday September 8th, 2016

HELLO WORLD – An Open Letter – #PEACE

Symbol of westeuropean peace movement

Symbol of west european peace movement.

A short time ago, I had a great conversation with someone I hold in very high esteem and learned to love. I want to recruit him for our project PEACE. A day after our conversation, I sent him a letter – here is what I wrote.

My dear friend!

Now that one night has passed since we met, I would like to thank you again for yesterday’s conversation.

You asked the right and important questions. That is of high value. Because you will only find solutions if you have asked the right questions.
Here is my attempt at giving a short answer to your wise questions about the project PEACE (why and how):

For me, PEACE is the general metaphor for the opposite of what, in my opinion, is wrong in our society.
All over the world (with very few, rather dubious exceptions), an economic system that manipulates people is pre-dominant. It puts “shareholder value” and the increase of wealth for the acting agents over all else in unprecedented consistency. War, too, serves as a means to this end.

This system could not care less about the well-being, the physical and emotional health of the humans and also about our planet. I can prove this for many sectors, also due to the special insights I have gained through my network.

Among my sources – just to give an example – are discussions with managing directors of a very relevant pharmaceutical concern I cooperate with in a research project. And if I then take a look at the current evaluation of the newest pharmaceutical projects (one out of 23 is labelled green, few orange and more than half of them are labelled red), I know exactly why that is so (see yesterday’s SZ).

Unfortunately, this is true for many (perhaps even all) sectors, be it healthcare in general, food, energy, finances (banks and insurances), raw materials, merchandize, cars, communication, technology … Of course, it goes without saying that the weapons industry is also among them.

And (unfortunately) this is no conspiracy theory but can be proved by facts.

The EU, too, unfortunately, is (now?) a very undemocratic organization. It is dominated by the concern interests and, when all is said and done, you can even say that they were the ones who founded it. Just like the EURO is not a political product but one that was demanded by “business”. Yesterday, an EuGH decision, again, proved this (see yesterday’s ZEIT).

However, I do not wish to start a discussion about all these wrongs. I would rather talk about terms such as reform, revolution, change, modification, innovation, evolution, transformation. Those are also the terms my presentations are based on, no matter if they are about digitalization, leadership or entrepreneurship.

These are all difficult terms: in my book innovation means “creative destruction”. Reform is violence-free change. Everyone calls for reforms – yet nobody wants change. And change always means violence.

For the project PEACE, I use the term: transformation. Perhaps it is my goal to create a communicative concept to counterbalance the “non-peaceful” concepts. And I definitely do not want it on a religious level. In other words, I am not a missionary.

Instead, I want to give emotional and rational incentives for thinking. My intention is to inspire people. I would like to plant the idea of contemplation and activity. I am thinking of a snowball system that allows people to find autonomy without dogmata and drugs – that would be nice.

I kindly ask your forgiveness for my heart brimming over and consequently my goals being rather high. It is partly because – at least that is how I perceive it – I already managed to do quite surprising things in my life. Things I myself would never have believed possible.

On the other hand, I see myself as a rather humble person who can also live quite well with small success. After all, first and foremost, the journey is the reward!

But: not noticing and doing nothing is out of the question.

In my role as a mentor, I only support people in “homeopathic” doses. And I am happy whenever I can make others a little happier and more successful. And then I am very content and happy myself. The same is true for “my start-ups”..

My main personal goal is to live in gratitude.

Many heartfelt greetings and let us remain in contact!

(Translated by EG)

2036_500Through my friend Thomas Michl, the call for a blog parade on #FutureVision2036
 by Yasemin Akdemir came to my attention.

I do not wish to speculate about what the world might be like in twenty years.

Because since Hans Ulrich of St. Gallen wrote his theories about “Change in Management”, we know that “the future cannot be predicted”!

And it is not at all my style to come up with courageous outlooks.

But I will gladly relate to you what I would the world to be like in 2036!

First and foremost, it would be important for me to see most people being wiser and more peace-loving all over the world.

When I say wiser, I mean that humanity should increase both in its mental concepts and behaviour and that it should push the ever-present enmity into the background, both externally and internally.

Peace in my definition means that more and more persons manage to live in harmony with their own existence, also by appreciating their own value. The only way external peace can grow and prevail is if people like and appreciate themselves and thus find their own inner peace. It is the only way to make the many beloved enemy concepts disappear and also the only way towards successfully living in peace with nature, other people and other social systems.

Apart from this, I would wish for more neutrality and less moralism, for example also when it comes to sexual prudery. On the whole, the importance of religion should dwindle. How can anybody claim something to be the absolute truth that has been constructed by humans? For example, I also would not wish that children are still injured and maimed in 2036 for “religious reasons”.

There is a great sentence by Frederick II. Of Prussia: “Let all people become happy in their own chosen fashion” and it would be nice if this sentence were still true in 2036. But not the “violation of religious feelings” should be illegal. Instead, the social discrimination of “infidels” by “believers” and the attempt of those believers to “religiously reform” those infidels should be against the law.

In 2036, we should no longer misinterpret peace as a state of affairs where all that is possible is permitted. The meaning of the word must be replaced by an understanding of peace in the sense of “being able and willing to live your life responsibly”.

It would make me very happy if, over the next twenty years, people learned how to become independent of marketing and external control. And maybe they could understand that their most valuable commodity is time. And that we can enjoy our life at the moment in joy – without having to think about it too much. How about a little more sub-consciousness and, to make up for it, less cerebellum?

In 2036, we would like to live in a “fear-free” space. Fear grows between your ears and has nothing to do with really threatening situations and a healthy respect of dangers. It would be nice if, by then, we no longer think we have to define ourselves by our looks, property, success, money….

There is actually one concern of mine for 2036: can we live our lives in harmony with our environment? I would like to be able to breathe the air in the cities even if I am a pedestrian or ride a bike. In order to achieve this, we would have to understand that “individual mobility” it not a concept of the future if it is based on heavy vehicles. Nor does it matter if said vehicles are powered by a combustion motor or an electric motor.

And, in 2036, I would like to live in a society that accepts that I am a human being of flesh and blood who has the right to enjoy his body with lust, which would mean that I am entitled to enough physical exercise in everyday life. And I mean in a way that does not just make me a means to an end. I want to be able to rollick and romp even when I am grown up.

In 2016, I no longer wish to be manipulated by marketing and ruled by lobbyism. Instead, I would like to be what we were created to be: agreeable mammals equipped with a little bit of ratio who can live their lives autonomously.

Another prevalent principle of our economic activity should be “sustainability”. This means the economic cycles would have to be organized and practiced in such a way that the principle #nowaste has highest priority. This is also true for energy – just like with everything else, this has to be done by using “smart technologies”, but also by every one of us limiting ourselves to the necessities.

We humans are not here to serve the economy – instead, the economy should serve us. Instead of a global “predator capitalism”, we need a functioning regional “common-good economy” in 2036. Even if said common-good economy might be a little less efficient – which, incidentally, I do not believe it would be.

Many of our habits have to – and, as I believe, will – change drastically. This will be true both for mobility and the production of goods. One possible solution might be the increase of „shared economy“, individually promoted by “less vanity and egoism”. The success recipe of the future will be “less is more”. “Growth as the solution to all problems” was yesterday (and even then, it was utter nonsense).
Consideration will also have to prevail whenever we actually do something. And we will permanently have to ask ourselves if we really need all the things we buy.

So what I wish for 2036 is an enlightenment 2.0 that we take seriously and develop diligently. It should also be the formative factor of all our lives. And I am and will remain optimistic that, with courage and joy, we will get there. Among other things because we support the new “digital world” and nice blog parades.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday May 14th, 2016

Letterbox Companies and More of the Same … (Series) #4

Come and work for me – make me rich!

The following experience of mine is one I consider a display of particularly bold behaviour. It will be the last article of my series (Serie) on corruption for the time being. But it was definitely a very attractive offer and it was by no means easy to say no.

What happened did not happen as long ago as what I related in the other three articles. My memory is of it happening early or in the middle of the 1990ies.

At the time, we were a respected and also well-known supplier of support and service for products of the best hardware and software producers. We provided service and support their customers in the name of the producers. As a general rule, both parties behaved like good partners, which made for nice “win-win” situations.

During those days, new enterprises with special software solutions in the service and security fields grew like comets, both in the USA and other countries. And, of course, it was our goal to service different producers and all varieties of technologies. After all, we wanted to have a broad range of products on the market and thus remain independent from individual producers.

One day, as a total surprise, a famous and very successful technology provider called us, asking if we were interested in servicing exclusively their products in huge parts of DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

Es ist immer schön, wenn das Bargeld in der Kasse klimpert.

It is always nice to hear money jangling in the box.

Of course, this sounded fantastic. Today, I know that you always want to be sceptical if you get this kind of offer, because in entrepreneurial reality, miracles just do not happen (or if, then very, very rarely). And if they happen, there is (always) something (very much) wrong. As a meeting point – surprise, surprise – they proposed the lobby of an airport hotel.

We were curious and wanted to test the chance by all accounts. So we agreed to the appointment. And it was all true. The Europe support head of the enterprise welcomed us very kindly and hospitably and told us convincingly why he had chosen our enterprise as a candidate for a future partnership. He offered to hand us the service for his products and customers exclusively for a very attractive region. The necessary training of our colleagues for his products was offered for free, we only had to provide the time. It all sounded like a new and wonderful partnership.

Then came the glitch. Our business partner pointed out that, with such a model, we would have no sales costs and could still realize excellent prices. After all, all the orders would come directly from and be paid for by his enterprise. Consequently, it would be only fair and in no way against our interests if we paid a 10 per cent sales fee for all the turnover with our new customer. We would get invoiced at regular intervals from a sales enterprise in Switzerland and all we would have to do is pay on time.

We asked for time to consider and drove back home. And then, with a heavy heart, because the turnover we missed was absolutely relevant, we rejected the offer. Incidentally, the company in Switzerland was also some sort of letterbox company. Who knows where the money ended up.

During my rather long professional career, I witnessed quite a few very definite kick-back transactions. Mostly, persons from the middle management of rather famous and also German enterprises expected a “little back” from their service providers – and received it, too. Mostly, this was also done through letterbox companies. But I never knew such a bold procedure as the one I just told you about.

(Translated by EG)

I took the picture from Wikipedia. 
About bank notes: Hermann Eidenbenz for the Deutsche Bundesbank. Coins by various artists for the German Federal Republic – bank notes: edited by the Deutsche Bundesbank. Coins: edited by the Federal Republic of Germany, PD-Amtliches Werk.

In the country of horse-trading …

After previously having written in my last two articles (1 and 2) about what generally happens, I will now continue this small series on corruption by relating to you two things that actually happened to me. Here is one example of what I experienced.

As most of you know, I founded an enterprise more than thirty years ago and was its managing director and board member.

Even as early as in the 1980ies, cars were highly subsidized in the FDR as business vehicles. Since in those days it was a matter of course that everybody went places by car, we offered our employees to get a so-called business car as part of their salary if that was what they wished. If you buy a “business car”, you save the entire added value tax, you can deduce all (!) costs, such as the purchase of the car, repair parts, tyres, additional gadgets, insurance, maintenance and repairs, service and the entire cost of gas as normal business expenses. This is how you can economize on the entire added value tax and more company taxes (income, trade).

Calculated over the entire life of a vehicle, you can save an enormous amount of money in taxes, even with a medium-size car. The sum is considerably higher than the money the employee has to pay in taxes for “money-worth advantages”. Especially if the employee has only a short way to go from his home to his work place. And “prudent” employees usually have a short way from their home to the work place, even if sometimes only on paper.

The subsidized profit (difference between the added value tax you saved and the tax the employee has to pay for “money-worth advantages”) can easily be divided between the employee and the enterprise, which means both sides will profit from the car-industry subsidy. And since in those days I was still rather naïve when it came to driving cars, I used the incentive “you will get a business car” frequently when looking for new employees.

Thus, the number of business cars grew as massively as the number of employees in our firm. After a short time, the term “small fleet” was actually adequate when we talked IF cars. And it kept growing in size (10, 20, 30 …). If you have a fleet, the car salesperson will come and talk you into a fleet contract, pointing out the many advantages of same. So I also signed said contract.

Auch die Rückseite dieses Scheines hat manches Herz erfreut :-)

The opposite side of this bill, too, has delighted many

Well, now I believed that, since we had a fleet contract, we would get the cars cheaper than private buyers. But as it turned out, this was not the case. Again and again, I heard from friends who had “privately” bought a car, that they had been granted a higher individual discount – after long and intense negotiations, but still – than I got for the fleet. This annoyed me.

Additionally, the fleet contract salesperson made all kinds of promises, but the service was abominably poor. Consequently, I sometimes changed suppliers, once even the brand. The negotiations were always a disgrace, because the salespersons always used their entire sales repertory in an offensive way, which, to me, was very disagreeable.

And when I absolutely refused to continue, the super salesperson came to see me. He entreated me to remain with him as a supplier and with his brand. Everything was going to get better. And he also offered me a special extra treat, one he only offered to his very best customers:

He offered to pay 5% of the value of every car I would buy in the course of the fleet contract into an account of my personal choice!

I was shocked and replied that I had no account for this kind of purpose. His reply was that he could help me when it came to starting such an account – preferably abroad. Did he mean a letter-box company?

This was a time when InterFace had high growth rates. We always renewed our car fleet early and consequently ordered 10 cars for the year. I am sure that the total value was more than 250,000 DM. Consequently, the 5 % he had offered would have easily equalled 12,500 DM. Well, that was 12.5 times the bill you see on the picture – and in those days you actually got quite some material for this kind of money. And it was all tax free and would have had a tendency towards growing in the future. …

I declined, because for me such behaviour would not only have been bribery, but also fraud against my partners and employees. Today, I am very happy to have refused the then very seriously made offer. I will not tell you the brand and the supplier, because I assume that this was not usual business behaviour but the individual activity of one person. But then: who knows?

(Translated by EG)

I took the picture from Wikipedia.

Roland Dürre
Monday April 25th, 2016

The Masters of Reforms.

Here is what happened before I wrote this article:
Currently, I have much-loved visitors from China. Yesterday, Sunday (April, 24th), our visitor wanted to see the Federal Talk Show “Anne Will“.

Well, there is nothing you will not do for your guests, is there? So we watch “Anne Will” together. The show is about the current EU politics and its relationship with the partner Turkey. Particular attention is given to Erdoğan, the twelfth president of the Turkish Republc (whom I personally see more as a dictator). The guests are mostly the usual candidates … (here is the link to the Show).

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 015

A Great Reformer?

Initially, it is quite boring. Then Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is praised by one of the guests as a great reformer.

What annoys me about this statement is that all the other guests not only agree, but that this also gives the dictator a better reputation in the assembled circle. As a counter-argument, you get the question why he now “abolishes all his (good) reforms”?

Before talking reforms, maybe you should think about the definition (Begriffserklärung) of “reforming”. So I first look up the term reform in Wikipedia.

The first item given in the listing says that reform is:
“The planned and violence-free change of prevailing circumstances“.

To me, this looks like a halfway valid definition. And alas – it is totally unbiased. It does not say anything about being “positive” or “good”.

Neither does the definition ask about the purpose of change. Consequently, a reform is still a reform, even if, for example, it introduces a (good or bad) dictatorship or a (perhaps just as good or bad) democracy.

The actual Wikipedia article on reform does not look very convincing to me. All it does is give examples for reforms out of history; political reforms in current Germany and church reforms. It also suggests that a reform only deserves the name if it causes a modification that brings considerable change.

It seems that the only way of realizing reforms in a democracy is legislation. Reform means introducing a new law. So where does the constant cry for new reforms come from? Since we do not have the strength to remove old legislation, it means we demand new legislation all the time. And that is exactly what happens both in the counties, on state level and in the EU at an inflationary rate.

For me, the history of the German Railway is a good example for studying reforms and the consequences thereof. Initially, they merged all the county railways to become the Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR). This generated one of the world’s biggest enterprises and the biggest job provider world-wide. The advantages were easy to see: now they could build “standardized parts” in huge amounts. This “reform” probably also made the organization rather capable. Allegedly, the German Reichsbahn actually was more punctual during the first years of WW-II than the DB AG and its competition are today.

After WW-II, the Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB) in West Germany succeeded the DR. In addition to the GDR taking over the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the Deutsche Bundesbahn was privatized and converted into the DB AG, along with it being divided into many small railway societies and an extension by “private” competition.
One could easily have a long discussion about the purpose of these reforms.

But back to the Anne Will Talk Show.
Initially, when the Erdoğan reforms were mentioned, I had to think of Adolf Hitler. After all, he was not only the greatest warrior of all times (GröFaZ), but also the greatest reformer of all times (GröRaZ)? After all, many reforms and the resulting legislation that is still valid today have been initiated during the Third Reich (labour, maternity protection, relationship between church and state – including the church tax, protection of cultural goods and much more).

Here is Turkish history as I learned it:
When I was a child, I learned at school and during my socialization as a citizen of the FRG that Turkey and the Turks are very friendly-minded towards us Germans. In military terms, Turkey has always been a good partner. The fear of the Turks as we had it in medieval times is no longer appropriate. To be sure, Turkish internal policies are a sensitive issue, because the separation of church and state is never an easy thing with Islamic countries. Luckily, however, the secular heritage of Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk), who was the father of all Turks, was protected by the generals of the strong armed forces, which in doing so also guaranteed the Turkish democracy. And, of course, they also taught us that Turkish labour was also an important factor for the German economy. This was about it when it came to information about the NATO country and then still soon-to-be member of the European Community.

Well, perhaps Erdoğan and his reforms did bring some change.

(Translated by EG)
I took the picture from Wikipedia
Встреча Президента России Владимира Путина с Президентом Турции Реджепом Тайипом Эрдоганом в Баку

Roland Dürre
Friday January 8th, 2016

The “Events” of Cologne, Hamburg and … Augsburg.

They say that Germany is appalled by “what happened in Cologne”. At least that is what I read and hear. However, I have not witnessed the same in everyday life. The politicians, who to me always seem so far remote from the world, are particularly shocked and surprised. Perhaps that is only what they pretend to be.

And as soon as the news from Cologne have reached the media, Hamburg, too “outs” itself. There, “something similar” happened. And I remember that I, too, already witnessed similar things. A few decades ago in my home town of Augsburg.

Das Augsburger Rathaus ist zusammen mit dem Perlachturm das Wahrzeichen der Stadt Augsburg

The Augsburg City Hall and the Perlach Tower are the landmarks of the honourable city of Augsburg.

In the mid-1960ies, all the closed streets in the inner city of Augsburg were full of “senseless behaviour” on Carneval Tuesday. The general outbreak of disinhibition with the many young persons on the streets gave young men (true-born Augsburg guys) the idea to generate chains and “grab” girls under cover of all this tumult.

The chains had only one goal: catch and feel up girls. And part of the chain were definitely also some high-school sophomores or senior high-school students, all of who later became very respected citizens of Augsburg. Later, I concluded that this was probably the wish to break away from a then totally inhibited time (some people today cannot imagine what it was like). It was like a valve in a pressurized container.

And that is probably the reason why such behaviour was tolerated in Augsburg and maybe in many other cities, as well. But then, perhaps at the time simply no woman would ever have thought of reporting such a thing to the police. Well, it does not really matter. On the whole, it was a difficult time. And I am afraid that times have not really changed very much, only the methods of subjugation have become more sublime.

These days, I think a lot about those (and other) “juvenile sins”. Imagining that all the guys could have ended up behind prison bars does not seem to be the proper solution. The same is true for other, perhaps even worse “criminal deeds” committed for which, at the time, we were just lucky enough not to get caught. Consequently, we actually managed to avoid severe punishment.

Well, it is obvious, isn’t it: we are dealing with a society problem. It concerns more or less all humans – both asylum seekers and “locals”. And it particularly concerns those who have been socialized in an archaic way (physical violence, educational barbarism, religious indoctrination, “making someone look small”, not giving them love, …)

We must come to a stage where, even in border situations (alcohol, other exceptional states of mind, group dynamic effects,…  ), we know borders. Borders we cannot cross, because if we do so we wound or damage other persons. And we must have civil courage. Saying NO even when we are part of a pack (see the Milgram-Experiment).

The only way to get there is enlightenment, education and, above all, love during your childhood and youth, instead of punishment, “education”, morals, religion or the famous cry for more “law  & order“ and even more irrational new legislation. Consequently, the families and society are now called upon. Along with the country. Because it has to spend money for the “right things”, instead of the “wrong things”. Unfortunately, the latter happens far too often today!

And when it comes to sexuality, all those constraints and respective taboos must also at long last disappear. Incidentally, more often than not, they are religiously motivated. And this is an area where manipulation is not restricted to the archaic religions, but also extends to those that call themselves “modern”.

(Translated by EG)

I agree with you that the erratic information policy of the administration was and is the opposite of helpful or goal-oriented.

The beautiful Wikipedia picture is a work by Guido Radig.

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 12th, 2015

The World’s Biggest Project?

Today (November, 12th, 2015), there was an SZ article about a mega project in the “knowledge” category. It was titled: “India links its rivers” and written by Robert Gast. Let me cite:

India links its rivers

In order to distribute the water reserves of the country more evenly, they plan to build 30 channels and 3,000 water reservoirs. It would necessitate moving half a million people.

As early as December, the Indian Government wants to promote the realization of a gigantic infra structure project. Over the next years, they plan to build 3,000 water reservoirs and 30 channels with a total length of 15,000 kilometres. For instance, they want to connect 37 rivers on the sub-continent. The project, which is assumed to cost more than 150 billion Euros, is a reaction to the fact that there is extremely much rain in some regions of India while other regions have extreme aridity. The west and north of the country regularly fight against floods, while the districts in the east and south of the sub-continent again and again suffer under the drought.

KrishnaRiverConsequently, India started as early as ten years ago making plans to connect the great rivers of the country. Also, they want to pond rivers, especially in the Himalaya region. This is how engineers want to store excess water and then transfer it to dry parts of the country. They plan to re-route 174 billion litres of water each year. Farmers could then work their fields in times of drought, as well, says the Indian Authority for Water Development – who promote the channel building project. On top of this, they also plan to install water-driven power stations with a total capacity of 34 gigawatts.

However, the project meets resistance among the citizens. According to a study done by Upali Amarasinghe of the International Water Management Institute of 2008, more than half a million persons would probably have to be relocated. Environmentalists think the project intervenes too strongly with nature. For instance in the tiger reservation of Panna. After all, they plan to pool the river Ken and re-route it to merge with the Betwa river through a 230 kilometre channel as part of the channel project. Yet this would cause the flooding of parts of the national park and 1,600 families would have to move. Additionally, the 32 tigers living in the reservation would become totally isolated from other preserved areas. Regardless, the Indian government is determined to run the project. In September, they already inaugurated a new waterway between the rivers Krishna and Godavari in the south-west of India.

For me, this article was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, this project might well be the world’s biggest project. Secondly, there are many similar projects all over the world. They all want to facilitate access to water, initiating huge geographical changes. Because water gets more and more dear. And perhaps India does not really have a choice if they want to cope with the expected climate changes like long droughts and extreme amounts of rain.

Except that, to me, this all does not really sound sustainable in terms of our planet. Perhaps India and all these many other countries planning similar projects can postpone their collapse by a few decades. But in the end, it reminds me a little of the “thinking in terms of the next three months” as practiced by the concerns. Except that, in politics, the three months are a little longer and perhaps closer to a five-year period.

Perhaps we should, along with these projects that might well be necessary, try to heal the worst destructions we subjected our planet to during the last hundred years?

(Translated by EG)

About the author:
Robert Gast, born in 1984, is editor in the science sector of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He studied physics and wrote his diploma thesis about Gamma Radiation in Space. Afterwards, he worked on a nine-months grant of the „Initiative Scientific Journalism “. This initiative gave scientists a journalistic training. Before signing up with SZ, he had worked for some time editing the “Zeit”, as well as the “Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung”, the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”, the “Deutschen Presse-Agentur dpa” and the “Spektrum der Wissenschaft”. In 2013, he was awarded the Georg von Holtzbrinck Preis für Wissenschaftsjournalismus (category: young academics).

About the photo:
Krishna River Gorge by Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India, 13 January 2008, own work of Zeman, the file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

On November, 8th, Sina Trinkwalder wrote on Facebook.


You simply have to sit down and realize; what currently happens in Germany is not “like 1933”.

In those days, the people followed a rat-catcher, because there was mass unemployment. They went onto the streets hoping for a better life.

Today, the people follow a rat-catcher, regardless of the fact that, officially, with 2.6 million unemployed, we have full employment. They populate the streets because they fear they might have to share even a slight morsel of their unjustified wealth.

That is the difference. Both are comprehensible. Both are condemnable. And the social community must oppose both

I found it impossible to resist, so I commented:

I rather like the term “unjustified wealth”. And I would find it a good idea for us to, at long last, step by step reduce our “reserves in wealth”. Incidentally, I find going places by car a good metaphor for unjustified affluent behaviour.

Wouldn’t that be a good place to start renouncement? – See also

The reply was:

Do I understand correctly: if you work in car production, that makes you an “unjustified affluence profiteer”?

Again, I could not resist and replied somewhat polemically:

Well, naturally the conclusion “if you work in car production” is wrong in many logical/dialectical ways. For me, everyone who takes more from the world than his due is an “unjustified affluence profiteer”. And I am afraid we all who write so wisely belong in that category. As to cars: I actually do believe that it is possible today to use your competence, creativity and intelligence for more important things than for building cars. After all, cars kill more than 1.3 million persons world-wide and, for example in Bavaria, the motorised individual traffic (cars) generates more carbon dioxide per capita than would be allowed even if you even wanted to preserve the current situation.

But I truly believe that the term “unjustified wealth“ as entered into the discussion by Sina is a very central term. So far, I never used it. It gave me pause.

I believe you should extend it to read “unjustified collective wealth”. And we should never forget that, basically, whatever we do is oriented towards the goals of “protecting our acquired possession” and “preserving habits that are often nonsense (and sometimes even detrimental)”.

If, however, we continue as before, a world that was once worth living in for me will probably be lost very few generations from now. And that is not an attractive idea in my book, because in some way or other, I see myself as part of an entity – and that also includes the dimension of time. Maybe we already lost our nice world …

(Translated by EG)

There is a constant flow of new legislation. From the EU, the Federal Government, the State. They have become a flood. Many of them do not seem to make sense at all. More often than not, you cannot see what effect exactly they are supposed to have or why they have been passed. Neither is it clear why you should actually abide by them.

Simultaneously, courts of law come up with sentences. For instance one week ago on safe harbor. This may well be a good idea in some way, yet there is no direct positive effect. Because it simply is not practicable.

And it has almost been forgotten already, regardless of the great ado that has been made about it not too long ago. Consequently, I am sure that, soon, nobody will be interested at all to hear what the “safe harbour judgement” was all about. And why should anybody? You want to bet?

One might start assuming that people in this country will take laws less and less seriously in the future, which would mean there is an end to our constitutional democracy. Which, indeed, might be a huge threat to our democracy.

I do not happen to share this fear. To be sure, as I perceive it, law and order are no longer taken as seriously as they used to be. But it seems to me that this is only true for all those many administrative regulations.

Let me call it the “extrinsic morals“ as given from the outside. And that is something that gets more and more absurd, which means you actually cannot really take it seriously.

To make up for it, it seems to me that the “intrinsic morals” develop more and more into something most people agree upon. It is about what you do and what you do not do, which I find rather appealing.

Said intrinsic morals come from inside a person, regardless of the nonsense the legislative and judicative conveyor belts of the EU, as well as its countries and states pour over us.

I do not wish to sound the warning bells that letting the “extrinsic morals” dwindle might threaten our constitutional democracy. After all, the “intrinsic morals” might actually be more important for survival than the “extrinsic morals”.

We saw quite frequently that countries with rule of justice toppled and became rules of injustice, yet they were all based on “justice”. Just like the Third Reich, too, made laws and installed courts of law that brutally executed the verdicts. Which means that this unholy system actually was based on law and order, except that the assumptions it was based on were truly something to give me pause.

(Translated by EG)