Klaus Hnilica
Friday October 26th, 2018

(Deutsch) Anzug oder Dirndl?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

hy are you here? What is your goal?

That is the question you will almost always hear if you attend a personality-promoting seminar.

And, once, I heard the following reply.

“Power, Money, Women“.

To me, that sounded honest. At least as far as men are concerned, it seems to be the normal motivator. So it does not come as a surprise that, in such seminars, I almost exclusively meet men. In fact, it is also a match for our #metoo world. When all is said and done, everything will be as it will be.

I also heard many other answers to the question. They sounded nice. Mostly, however, they sounded like lies to me. Let me relate the following story.


You need to know that, like many other managers and consultants, I attended quite a few seminars and training camps on “promotion/building of personality for leaders and managers” during my active career. Initially, when I started my professional career with Siemens, I was more the engineering type person and was totally opposed to such seminars. I never volunteered to attend.

Roland on his way from the Jena Akademie-Hotel to the stadium (Carl-Zeiss).

When I moved on to the Softlab GmbH, my attitude changed. When I was around thirty, I attended a TPM (Training Psychologische Management) seminar. It was mandatory if you wanted to “move on”.

I was very sceptical when I went there – and returned enthusiastic. From then on, I was always the first to volunteer when a seminar “beyond the technological boundaries” was advertised. This is also how I first met Rupert Lay, who was going to become very important in my life. The same is true for other mentors.

The times when I was a newbie were not the only times when I witnessed that the coaches first asked the participants about their expectations. “Why have you come?“, or something like it is typically the first question asked at a seminar.

Today, I use this question whenever I open a seminar session, because I believe it makes a lot of sense. You get to know the seminarists and you can hear what their interests and needs are. If you are the coach, you can modify your own expectations to fit reality if they were too lofty. The question will definitely motivate people to think and it can also be used well towards introducing the really important issues that move us and that the participants are supposed to discuss.

During one of my first seminars under a famous coach, I heard the following answers to this central question:

… I am full of imperfections and want to improve on some of them. …

… I have a number of talents that I would like to give myself a chance to develop …

… at long last, I want to make that decisive step in my career I have been waiting for for such a long time. …

… I want clarity in my life and bring structure to same. …

… I strive towards an independent and responsible occupation because in my current job I am dependent on a systemic concern, which makes me unhappy. …

When questioned more persistently by the coach, some of the participants described in great detail what a great person they are and what a super position they hold. And that they want to climb up the ladder a bit more. And that, now, they want to learn how one can become even better and more important.

Well, that annoyed me a little. Everything was rather surreal, artificial and synthetic. Before I started, a gentleman (of course) spoke. Even his outward appearance seemed to radiate success. He also seemed absolutely charismatic.

His introduction was quite short:

I want more success!

When the coach asked back what exactly his definition of success was, his reply came immediately:

Success? For him, that was more power, more money and more women – in no particular order.

Wow! That was it. To me, this statement sounded somehow a lot more honest than what the men before him had said. Now they all looked like hypocrites to me. Perhaps this hypocrisy had annoyed him just as much as it had annoyed me?

I was the last to introduce myself. Prudently, I decided to say that

… I had not really given the question any thought and wanted to see what the seminar was going to do for me …

This statement was not really honest either. Instead, it was a carefully made statement that caused quite a few condescending looks from other participants. I read some incomprehension in those looks. How can anybody attend such an expensive seminar without having a goal at all?

These looks came especially from the hypocrites. Well, it was no surprise, because at the time I was by far the youngest participant and the only one who wore jeans and a polo neck sweater. None of the exclusive twine that the nobility wore. But I had learned: it is all about power, money, sex. It became clear to me at the time. And this insight is certainly something worth thinking about. Not just because of #MeToo.

After all, what is power? As I see it, power develops if you have special personal characteristics or if you have a special position or wealth. In our society, it is probably best if you have all three of them:

  • Personal characteristics
    On the plus side, this might include your good looks, your well-modulated voice, your height, elegant and suitable clothes, grace and authenticity, a good education, a pleasing personality, good manners and natural authority. People with these characteristics will certainly find it easier to get a good position than others.
  • Position

    Important positions in the state or in important institutions will “give you power”. The power of the office will transfer itself to the person. System agents pretend that the power of the system they represent is their own power.
  • Wealth
    Wealth gives you power. Others want a share of your wealth and consequently subordinate themselves. Incidentally, it was on purpose that I wrote wealth, instead of property. Because nobody is interested in whether or not the imperium has stability. The only thing that matters is its splendour. So what our protagonist wanted was more power (i.e., personality, position and wealth). But he also wanted that funny stuff.  Which is synonymous for money. Which brings us back to power.

In our society, only one basic right is important: the preservation of your achievements. We also have a mantra of faith: “If you have money, then there is nothing you cannot buy”. That includes power. You only need enough of it. This is how money and power become synonyms.

But our protagonist also wanted sex. Because in his (or in our general) concept, you can assume that there is nothing you cannot get if you have enough power and money.  Including all women.

Perhaps our successful protagonist just saw it as a good joke. Just like they do when they sell realty. They have three central criteria:
Location, location, location.
And perhaps all he wanted to say was that power, money and sex, in our #MeToo world, are synonymous anyway?

I fear that this is what characterizes our society. It polarizes. Money makes power – and – power makes money. And if you have both, you have everything. This is how our society and our planet will collapse.

And what is our reaction? We get upset about sexism. Perhaps even rightly so. But it would be better if, just because of a little sexism, we would not totally forget the other catastrophe that ruins our world (money and power…).

Incidentally, if you work as a mentor, the question is also a good warming-up strategy. For instance, I often ask new mentées what they would wish to achieve as a result of our mentoring in the future. I often hear quite appealing replies.

At one time, a young man answered that it is his goal in life to fight extravagance. Because he detested “waste“. And that this was actually the reason why they selected me as his mentor! Because everybody knows that I, too, detest “waste“!

That is true. And it made my day. We started our work. And it turned out well!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday November 9th, 2017

Get Yourself a Beer…

Miriam was a minx!

Everybody knew it – so Hermann, too, knew it.

But, being the youngest, the farm was going to fall to him. It was the biggest farm in Erleinsbach, but it was rather run-down and indebted!

On Sundays, when everybody – except Hermann who stopped going there a long time ago – met in the surrounding pubs for their regulars, the state this farm was in was simply commented with “yes, Hermann does not have an easy life!” – if you were lucky. More often than not, these words were then accompanied by either a sleazy grin or embarrassed silence. There were even some who actually spat on the ground whenever the farm was mentioned.

Hermann’s brothers and sisters were only too happy that, after having been hesitant for many years, he had agreed to be the heir of the farm. None of them would have wanted to burden himself with it. His older brother Korbinian preferred working as a carpenter in the neighbouring village of Kopfing and Annegret had married into a respectable and profitable farm when she was very young. For farmer Leitner, Annegret was a stroke of luck: she might not be the most attractive and snugly person, in fact, she was perhaps even a little frog-eyed, but she was as industrious as a honey bee. Her mother-in-law herself said so with pride whenever she wanted to show off in front of the neighbouring farmers. Annegret could work like no other. No haystack was too heavy for her, no tractor too big, no manure spreader too smelly – and even when she was round with a baby inside, she milked all the cows and cleaned the stalls.

My old lady is a true ’working animal’, the red-cheeked farmer Leitner would often contentedly say to the regulars at the pub before toasting his friends around the table with a full stein of beer.

But Miriam – she was not a ’working animal’!

Regardless, Hermann married her! Actually, he married her even though she was no longer the freshest fruit on the market and came with a fatherless child. Said child, however, was well cared for in Grieskirchen by Miriam’s aunt. So it was not much of s surprise that, under these circumstances, it was not easy for Miriam to find someone to marry in the vicinity of her home place Natternbach, where everyone knew everyone. Hermann actually fit the bill quite well!

Luckily, Miriam only saw her offspring Paula at funerals and marriage ceremonies. That was more than enough! Because whenever she laid eyes on Paula, Miriam was disappointed and angry to notice that her daughter looked just as unattractive and worn-down as her father who, as always, was still working as a butcher in Wels: why had Paula not inherited at least a little bit from her mother?

Yes, she knew how you made yourself up to look sexy and how you turned men’s heads with a high bosom and a steep bottom. Every one of the farmers turned his head when she appeared. But Paula? Perhaps a blind man would turn if she called something friendly after him …

Hermann rather liked Miriam’s Paula!

He had occasionally seen her at family gatherings and he had also once in a while pinched her well-rounded bottom! It was all, of course, in a very friendly manner – which meant her only reply was a laugh. He also knew Paula’s less-than-elegant father Josef. And, as opposed to all the others, Hermann was truly proud of her mother Miriam!

Yes – as proud as a peacock!

He would never ever have dreamed that such a ’nice lady’ would want him for a husband: him, who did not know how to behave, never looked very attractive and never had enough money. What could he offer to a lady like her?
Well – a farm – and a lot of dirty work along with it. From morning to night!
Miriam came from a family of craftsmen!

Her father had been a roofer. Her mother had always been particular about there always being a good meal and two bottles of beer on the table when he came home after a hard day’s work. But still, she could not prevent his death, one morning when it rained and he fell from one of the steep church roofs. Cervical dislocation – and a multiple broken spine!

Subsequently, Miriam’s mother had had to feed herself and her daughter, who more and more grew into a beautiful, well-rounded thing, by cleaning and cooking for others. Small wonder that said Miriam swore to herself that she was absolutely going to marry a man who could offer her more than her clumsy father had offered to her mother. Or than this fat Josef who had given her Paula in a state of total alcohol stupor but could barely pay the alimonies for her.

And it was absolutely out of the question that she would one day clean after others as her mother now had to do all the year round. That was not for her. No, she would rather remain by herself and dry out slowly – as her mother had predicted!
Perhaps Miriam looked so attractive to Hermann because she neither looked like a farmer’s wife nor ever wanted to become one?

Hermann had always had a certain tendency towards wanting to feel superior to others. Even at school. Korbinian and Annegret had shown the same tendency and had often been ostracized by the other farmers.

Above all, Hermann admired Miriam’s satiny, light skin! Her face never showed the frost bite marks that shone when you danced and were so common for farmers’ wives. She knew how to dress and would not have looked out of place as a salesperson in Linz.

While he kept telling his siblings and other stupid folks that he certainly could not have cared less about this ’roofer’s daughter Miriam’, Hermann – regardless of some warnings – probably was less than alert when the decisive moment came: it came as a total surprise to everybody when, one day, and in the middle of harvest time at that, he stood in front of the altar with Miriam at his side.

From day one she made it clear to a not really surprised Hermann that there was no way she was going to play farmer’s wife and, perhaps, later even wipe his bottom.

Miriam had other plans and saw to it that she was immediately entered into the register for Hermann’s farm in order to, at long last, get the loan from the Grieskirchen bank she needed for fulfilling her life’s dream: opening a bar in Wels!

Her counsellor at the bank had, during very personal conversations, drawn a very rosy picture of the goldmine that was sitting here waiting for her if she was willing to approach the affair with him and the right power, provided she did not allow the always tired little Hermann to interfere.
The farm as a security made everything possible, the industrious gentleman from the bank assured her. And Miriam, outfitted in her nice Dirndl dresses, did her best to keep him in line!

However, the initial euphoria did not last long: to be sure, the Dirndl dresses were still looking pretty good, since she mostly worked only wearing her underwear or even less, but the bar dream had become pure fiction and she had received quite a few not too nice ’scars’. Thanks to her youth, however, said scars were still something one could camouflage if nicely dressed and wearing full war paint.

Besides, Miriam was not stupid. From her bank consultant, she had learned between all the cuddling, sweaty moaning and the occasional slab in the face how, even through heavy waters, you could find a safe haven for your nest-egg in various tax paradises.

And, soon after the strange bank guy, Dario, whom she had first met in the Linz ’Rosenstüberl’ showed her all the things she could do with her nest-egg in Southern Spain.

Since Hermann’s shabby farm had never brought the profit he had predicted, it was only fair that he now remained back having to deal with the debt!
When Dario gave her an ultimatum about delivering and eloping with him, she called to Hermann that, for her, time was definitely too precious to waste her best years with his kind.

Looking at how he, Hermann, ran his farm and made one mistake after the other, she was sure that, even in a hundred years, he was not going to make a success of this ’pigsty of a farm’ – those were the words she hissed at him as she stood in the front door wearing her red pantsuit. Meanwhile, Hermann was busy on the farm throwing the freshly produced dung in ever higher arcs onto the dung- heap – and, as always, he said nothing!

“Why don’t you throw yourself after the dung right into the dung-heap, Hermann? After all, that would be the right place for a loser like you”, she screeched hysterically before driving out of the farm in his old Mercedes. All that was now left on the farm were three pigs, two old cows, one sheep and some remaining straw that also already started getting mouldy; all other income had been sold immediately after the harvest in order to at least pay the most pressing parts of the debt to the bank.

Deep in his heart, Hermann actually shared Miriam’s analysis, although seeing her leave in such a shabby way cut right into his heart.
Without much thought, Hermann simply tried to continue as before after this disaster with Miriam: during the day, he moonlighted for some people he knew in the neighbouring villages as a mason, and in the evenings, he crawled through the shabby remainders of his farm with little enthusiasm and in an even worse mood.

Once in a while, at least his sister Annegret came for a visit. She did his laundry, cleaned his kitchen and, twice a year, cleaned the windows in his bedroom and the big living room. Without her, he would have drowned in his own dirt.

The only light at the end of the tunnel of this sad existence for Hermann was – Miriam’s Paula – who, for some strange reason had taken to him. Or maybe she simply wanted to make her stupid mother angry!

Fact was, Dear Paula, as he called her, still appeared on his front door in Grieskirchen every few months and stayed either a short while or a little longer, depending on how she liked it. And grumpy Hermann would always suddenly feel better: he even shaved, washed himself, wore a clean shirt and one of the two pairs of jeans he owned and drove to Natternbach with Dear Paula to go shopping. After all, she would always cook something delicious for him in the evening and afterwards sit with him over beer and egg liquor.

She also merrily told him about her work as a hairdresser, asked extensive questions about his ailments and watched whatever nonsense he wanted to see on TV.

And three times a year, she even persuaded him to have his hair cut by her – a procedure that always ended with terrible fuss and laughter, especially when, regardless of his most intense opposition, she relished in treating the abundance of hair in his ears and nose.

She also tamed the wilderness above his eyes! And as far as his sparse top hair was concerned, there were literally the most violent discussions and rounds of giggling about the appropriate length of every individual string of hair. And when, afterwards, his eyelids fell down from sheer exhaustion, she guided him into his smelly bedroom next to the big living room before taking her seat in her car and again making herself scarce …

They never talked about her mother – that was an unspoken, silent agreement that was strictly adhered to, no matter how much they had imbibed.
 
But then, after what felt like a hundred years – on a November evening – Miriam suddenly appeared in the big living room! She looked as bent as an old wardrobe and as dry as her already dead mother …

Hesitantly, she said:

“A good day to you, Hermann!“

The no longer slim Hermann – with a damaged hip and a hurting knee – lay on the sofa in front of the TV set in a strangely contorted way, glanced briefly at her, took a huge gulp from the beer bottle that sat within easy reach on the floor next to the sofa and kept looking exclusively at the TV screen…

“Do you no longer know me, Hermann?“

“Oh yes, I know you!“

“And you have nothing to say?“

“Naa…“!

“May I sit down …?“

“Take the stool near the oven.“

“Thank you, Hermann.“

“And help yourself to a beer!“

“I no longer drink beer, Hermann!“

“All of a sudden?“

“Aren’t you not going to ask why?“

“Well, I guess you will tell me!“

“I! – I – I – have cancer …!“

“Is that also my fault?“

“Naa – it is not why I am here …“

“Then why?“

“Because I do not know where to go?“

“Why?“

“Because I am ashamed – because of all I did!“

“Hark, hark …“!

“Well, you know, I am really ashamed, Hermann.“

“Before whom?“

“Before your siblings – and Paula – and all the others.“

“And not before me?“

“No, Hermann, not before you!“

“Aha.“

“Well, it is the truth …“

“Well, if that is how you feel?

“Yes, that is how I feel …“

“You do not look too well!

“I know, Hermann!“

“Are you hungry …?“

“No – I cannot eat normal food any more.“

“Where is the problem?“

“The intestines …!“

“Hm – I understand…“

“I no longer have any strength …“

“Me neither!“

“Stupid – with me, this is really true …“

“With me, too …“

“Are you going to send me away?“

“Naa – you can make up your bed in our bedroom, if that is what you want!“

“Thank you, Hermann“.

“I assume you know where to find everything?“

“Yes – Hermann…“

“I can help you if you want me to …?“

“Not necessary, go ahead and drink you beer …“

“Okay“…

When Miriam had made her half of the shared marital bed, she lay down in it, pushed the cover over her head and after this day never rose again.

And when, on Christmas Eve, she kept moaning and crying out loud with pain, Hermann patted her with his rough hands – until she became very still …

KH
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Tuesday January 31st, 2017

Heuchler, Lügner und Claqueure:

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

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.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
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.

Roland Dürre
Thursday January 7th, 2016

Doing Evil – Punish Evil?

#WEAPON TERRORISM

Barack Obama himself said it a short time ago: more than 30,000 persons die every year due to the use of firearms in the USA (in fact, the exact number is probably more than 31,000). That is more than ten times the number of fatal traffic victims in Germany each year. Obama also understands that both weapons privately and publicly owned are a huge threat to all.

Now that the end of his presidency nears, he wants to do something beneficial for all and improve the US weapons legislation a little. Regardless of the fact that the US constitution sets a clear standard. Consequently, everybody who wants to “banish” weapons in the USA quickly becomes an “enemy of the constitution”.

Colt Model 1873 Single Action, Werksgravur 1893 von Cuno Helfricht

Colt Model 1873 Single Action, engraving 1893 by Cuno Helfricht

Obama has too many enemies who object to all modifications of the right “to own and carry weapons” in the strongest possible terms. They are not only to be found among the ranks of the Republicans – who still follow the strange definition of freedom as initially established by their long-time chief philosopher Ayn Rand. Reading what this lady wrote, you will soon discover that she has never been a philosopher of any standing. In fact, she was more a “Polemoph”. Her texts, after all, are full of shallow polemics and easily refutable.

Another early mind thinking about American rights and conservative power is Wayne LaPierre. He is still alive. A short time ago, I heard parts of a speech by him in the Bavarian Radio. He said:

“The only thing that can stop an evil man with a weapon is a good man with a weapon“.

Here is a “Zeit”- article  on this sentence:
Less than a week after the Newtown massacre, Wayne LaPierre, who has been the voice of the NRA since 1991, stood before the camera. He accused the press and video game producers of being responsible for behaviour such as that seen in Adam Lanza. His speech culminated in the statement that schools, since they are weapon-free areas, basically invited these kinds of attacks. “The only thing that can stop an evil man with a weapon is a good man with a weapon”, LaPierre declared. He offered to have NRA volunteers patrol schools – of course fully armed.

(Note: the 20-year old Adam Lanza killed 26 persons during his attack on a Newton/Connecticut primary school in December 2012, among the victims were 20 children. At the time, it seemed like harsher weapons legislation might be an option. The NRA (National Rifle Association in Wikipedia), however, immediately showed its power and it looks like it is unbeatable since then.

And consequently, the discussion continues. And what is always part of it is
#EVIL and the #EVIL PERSONS

All is their fault and consequently they must be removed and punished. This is the only way to create an ideal world. That is how it sounds, but it is decidedly not as easy as that. To be sure, there are persons who do evil. And you can certainly punish them. But what exactly is good and evil? Do they really exist, the good and bad persons? Meaning the bad persons who come with their weapons and threaten the others? And the good persons who protect the others with their weapons.

And will the world be a better place if the others can protect themselves with weapons against the evil ones? How many persons die in the USA due to firearm use by the evil persons who actually wanted to act evilly because they are evil?

Jesus said: “If you are free of fault, then throw the first stone!” Do these good persons really exist? Isn’t it more like very few people actually want to do evil deeds? And is there anybody who in his or her life never was out of control and thus only the good luck of not having a weapon at hand saved him or her?

The victims of acts of violence have deserved our sympathy and help. But as far as the origin of this violence is concerned, it is not about punishing the evil persons. Instead, we try to better cope with the act and its consequences by bringing revenge to the culprits. You demand that they be hanged because you need to compensate all the misery they caused. More often than not, the society as a replacement commits an act of revenge, thus murdering collectively for greed and revenge.

In the USA, you do not only have the right to own weapons – in a number of states you also still have the death penalty. And to me, this seems to be a particularly unhealthy combination. After all, the death penalty is exactly what I talked about above: murder for revenge. It certainly cannot be a deterrent, neither can it have any educational effect.

Why not force the evil persons to work in camps? Unfortunately, however, I am not only opposed to the death penalty, but also to forced work or service. After all, I suffered under such a thing for 18 months of my life. …

So what to do? We probably should view the “culpableness of humans” in a more differentiated way. Just like brain research teaches it. Because humans are much more complex than has been taught to us so far. And it is basically not at all as easy as it sounds when it comes to responsibility and culpability.

And I continue to dream of a utopia of the “penalty-free society”. And now I will look at the fight of the US president against (weapon) terrorism (BARACK – NRA). However, it is not going to be an exciting match. I already know the result.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The Wikipedia picture (Revolver) is by Hmaag – own work, 2007.

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.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday October 4th, 2015

I am not a hero.

After my Angry article, there is the question:
So what is my contribution?

Die Krypta des Freisinger Doms

Crypt of the Freising Cathedral

For me, philosophy is something like the science of living. I think of Seneca. A long time ago, he said to his students:

Philosophy teaches you to act, not to talk.

Consequently, the angry person, too, should see if his actions speak the same language as his words. And I must admit that I am not satisfied with the outcome of my self-analysis.

To be sure, I try to leave the social norms and patterns I so criticize. And, where possible, I also try to initiate change. But is that enough?

Far too often, I realize how I am trapped in my bourgeoisie. My trainers, among others, were my parents and my teachers. Numbers of system agents tried to form me according to what they thought I should become and tell me where to go and what to do. Morals and an extremely capitalist consumption-oriented society already influence me massively on a daily basis.

Regardless, I hope I am one of those persons who basically to not consider our “trained lives” unavoidable. At least, I always tried to flee the reins of the aforementioned animal tamers. And already I feel better. But what I do is not enough. To be sure, I no longer go places by car. But then, that is something you could almost call egoism. After all, I am now suddenly a lot more mobile and free than I ever was before. And through this change and (allegedly) these restrictions, my life has become a better life. That certainly helps when it comes to thinking new thoughts.

Looking upon my own generation, it truly gives me pause to see how many of my companions never knew anything other than being trapped in their emotional jails. I know people who, in their entire lives, obediently believed all nonsense that was ever dished out to them. They actually relinquished their autonomy in small portions for the sake of being comfortable.

Others never once in their lives, when at a point of bifurcation in their lives, followed the motto “love it, change it or leave it“ . As a consequence, they were made to feel smaller and smaller. Regardless, today they think they are the most important thing in the universe, live their status and drown in their anxiety. The constant fear of losing what they own makes them inhuman. They seem to have forgotten that they, too, are just mortal beings.

I am fed up with following the nonsense of this society. In the coming years, I want to do more. So I was looking for models. I already found one: Carl Amery. I find his life and work impressive. I think he was a true hero.
Unfortunately, I am not a hero. But who knows, perhaps in the future…

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the picture from Wikipedia. It is the illustration of the article on Carl Amery (real name: Christian Anton Mayer), originally by Richard Huber.

Klaus Hnilica
Tuesday September 22nd, 2015

Is ‘Social Justice‘ just a Misunderstanding?

Yes – if we continue to hold onto what we have been considering the definition so far! /1/

According to this definition, everybody, strangely, thinks him- or herself socially just yet at the same time laments about the growing injustice in this world.

It seems that this discrepancy is insurmountable.

ApfelpflückerWe are simply too much in love with our unclear terminologies. In fact, we actually wallow in the concept that ‘social justice‘ has to be some kind of ‘moral, egg-laying wool-milk-sow‘, rather than just a minimum standard for human behaviour consisting just a few rules even evil persons have to stick by!

If, however, we accept this definition, we soon find out that ‘social justice‘ tends to have little in common with ‘romantic equality‘. Instead, it has a lot to do with not-so romantic ‘voluntariness‘. And that this is why politics in general have an inherent structural problem when it comes to generating ‘social justice‘, even if it very industriously tries to find and remove ‘legal loopholes‘. It is easy to show this in three steps. All you have to point out is:

   A)  the common principle of ‘exchange justice‘,

   B)  the principle of ‘equal treatment and equality of results‘ and

   C)  the particularly apparent ‘distribution justice‘.

Let us take a closer look at all three of them:

   A)  After all, we basically have a very special form of ‘exchange justice’ when, in the name of ‘social justice‘, people demand fair prices and fair incomes!

For instance when it comes to: here the aromatic Alp Butter, there the ridiculous one-euro-eighty; or here the super manuscript and there the low fee. If we were to demand ‘equality of values‘, then we would need the general ‘principle of exchange justice‘! But how to objectively determine this ‘equality of values‘ for every individual exchange process?

For instance: would one ounce of gold be too much for a bucket of water in the Sahara if it means the difference between life and death? And are 50 cents too much for two litres of milk if someone has a lactose incompatibility? Or what is the adequate fee for a manuscript which, later, will only be pushed underneath the one too short table leg?

Doesn’t this mean that the ‘evaluation‘ of an exchange object is by nature a very subjective thing and that this value has nothing to do with equality? Especially since said exchange only takes place because all the parties concerned see the object of exchange differently, which is why each considers his own deal profitable.

Naturally, this ‘exchange profit‘ is just as unprovable as the ‘exchange value‘; but it is also clear that any profit can only exist and be proved if the exchange has been voluntary! Which means that an exchange is always ‘socially just‘ if none of the parties concerned has been forced to accept it!

Of course, this voluntariness in an ‘exchange‘ does not guarantee that both parties can get what they hoped to achieve. Neither is it a protection against erroneous decisions, such as for instance the imprudent purchase of low-price milk regardless of lactose incompatibility. But this is not necessary, either. Because the evaluation of the ‘exchange profit‘ is subjective, which means that it cannot later be forced into a wrong equality measurement just because someone had erroneously and intuitively assumed that this ‘equality‘ in an ‘exchange profit‘ is closely related to ‘social justice‘!

Consequently, we can conclude that prices and incomes are always socially just when they can be accepted without one of the parties having been forced to accept!

    B)  Now let us discuss the allegedly socially just ‘equal treatment and equality of results‘!

Again, our equality mania brings us into a similar logical one-way road, as can be easily shown with a simple example: If, under the aspect of equality, you ask a retired lady, a sportsman and a six-year old boy to pluck apples from a four metre high apple tree with a ladder standing at its trunk, you will get considerably different results; the help you will have to give will, indeed, be rather diverse, before all three candidates will have plucked the same amount of apples – which means they have equal results.

Since, however, there are no two identical individuals on this earth, you will never get equal results if you treat them equally, and vice versa!

And regardless of this fact being absolutely obvious, we keep demanding equality along with social justice. But if equality were really socially just, then the state of affairs where all persons are poorly off would, according to justice theory, be the best that could happen, wouldn’t it?

Luckily, nobody believes this! But still we insist that the logical consequence cannot be to stop seeing equality as a manifestation of social justice.

    C)  The tendency towards equalization is particularly apparent when it comes to discussions about ‘fair distribution’!

To distribute something means to hand out from a supply. Fair distribution demands that this has to done following certain rules. However, the fairness is most obvious when the owner does the distributing him- or herself, because then it is his or her will alone that counts. To be sure, it might be reasonable to consider the expectations of third parties, but that is not demanded by social justice! Social justice is served by the protection of ownership rights.

But it gets truly difficult when you cannot clearly define ownership, as it is the case with all political systems because the spheres of interests of the distributors and the recipients will often be identical. Conflicts are unavoidable and the ‘just solution‘ of said conflicts are not just a theoretical challenge, but mostly no more than a noble goal!

Compared to this, private persons and enterprises have a rather easy life, don’t’ they? All they have to do is not cheat, not steal, not use violence and not break contracts – and already they are just. They need not abide by more rules than that!

When all is said and done, this consideration not only generates a theory of justice, but also a surprising solution for economic and social politics: why not move as many decisions as possible to the private sector – since this is where you have clear and, according to what has been stated above, ‘socially just‘ circumstances?

Well, I assume this will remain wishful thinking, because many will still refuse to abandon the inacceptable ‘equality saturated‘ definition of justice! And they will be even less willing to forego the potential increase in power derived from this ‘usurpatory definition of equality‘!

KH

/1/ Dagmar Schulze Heuling; „Was Gerechtigkeit nicht ist“; Nomos – Verlag Baden – Baden

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday August 6th, 2015

Revenge Makes You Strong!

img201 (2)-adjust-contrast-cut-swirlWhen, a short time ago, I wrote my brief essay on ’Only Forgiving Makes you Free’, I related how, if possible, we should always forgive, even if we have been hurt both inside and outside. In fact, I told you that, in our own interest, we should learn and practice said forgiveness. Yet I was quite aware that the opposing end of ’forgiveness’, namely ’revenge’ must exude enormous attraction. How else would it be possible that is has such a strong impact on human society?

However, I did not have a to-the-point formulation for the phenomenon!

Hence, it surprised me so much the more when, a few days ago, I found exactly the term I had been looking for. It was in the latest novel by Siri Hustvedts “The Glittering World“.

Siri Hustvedt lets her protagonist Harry say:

Revenge ideas will always have their origin in agonizing helplessness. “I am suffering” turns into “you must suffer”! And do not let us mince words: revenge will make you strong! It gives you focus and fire, and it suppresses misery, because it transfers the emotions to the outside. In misery, we dissolve. In revenge, we concentrate all our energy and turn it into one single weapon directed at one individual goal. No matter how destructive said weapon will be in the end, it serves a useful purpose for some time!

As I see it, Siri Hustvedt got it exactly right with this statement of hers about what is so attractive about revenge, which pulls at us like a suction. But, naturally, she also knows how destructive revenge will always be in the end. And unfortunately, the current news from the Arabian World tell us on a daily basis that cultures based on revenge and retaliation can never find peace .…

KH
(Translated by EG)