Klaus Hnilica
Thursday November 9th, 2017

(Deutsch) Hol’ dir ein Bier…

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

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)

Klaus Hnilica
Friday July 3rd, 2015

Only Forgiveness Will Make You Free

Of course, the ’moral bookkeeper’ (moralische Buchhalter) residing inside all of us will always weigh the evil against the good!

Not long ago, Klaus Grün brought him out of anonymity to the light of day in the IF Blog! And I am sure all of you will agree that he exists.

img198 Because we all have been suffering under him since earliest childhood: we can never forget a slight, an injury or a humiliation (see picture) we suffered, all of which he will without fail enter in our memories as ’debits ’.

With this kind of bookkeeping, we look for the balance on the ’credit’ side: consciously or subconsciously, we will take pains to enter all the nice things we experienced: acceptance by others, spontaneous friendliness we were offered and also the joy we find in helping others, etc. …
However, on the ’credit’ side, we will also take note of the ’very secret joy’ we find when we have been able to successfully revenge some evil or other we were subjected to. If, on top of this, we see the objects of our revenge suffer, this will add to our satisfaction …

The latest moment for our personal dilemma to start is when we plan our revenge, but basically, it starts earlier than this: all of a sudden, we will mentally be concerned in a destructive way with the one person who gave us emotional or physical pain (see picture). The person we hate and abhor!

Thinking of revenge torments us day and night. These ideas escalate, leaving no room for persons whom we love and who deserve our affection!
In other words: the very subject that hurt us gets additional power over us through our ’desire for revenge’, thus determining our behaviour in a way we never intended.

But that is exactly what we avoid if we forgive!

Because that is when we not only get rid of the hurtful humiliation, but also of the person who gave us the pain.

Mind you, I am not saying this is easy!

But as soon as we understand this mechanism, we can practice and will get better and better at quickly finding back to inner peace and serenity after every humiliation.

As a side effect, we get closer and closer to the goal of becoming an ’autonomous person’ who can determine by himself what he wants to do as often as possible!

We should, however, never forget that this autonomy will always remain rather limited and that, basically, it is borrowed in all individual instances. Because the ’animal’ inside us is powerful and hard to tame.…

KH
(Translated by EG)

PS:
The picture was taken by Waldtraud Schmalenberg. It shows the author as ‘Konrad Flesser’ in the scenic performance of ‘Das Schandmahl’

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 2nd, 2015

Entrepreneur’s Diary #110 – Manus Agere.

A short time ago, I had an experience that, again, showed me why I so dislike the terms “manager and managing”. Nor does it matter if they are combined with 2.0, 3.0 or 5.0. In fact, one of the reasons that made me me hesitant about ever using the term was that there are so many translations for “to manage” from English to German. Basically, you might well use it for “all and nothing”.

During the WebWeek, I attended an event by Techdivision in Munich that had been organized by my friend Sacha Storz (Sacha is not a typo ). The topic was 3.0 – as we all know, there is a lot of well-known, even famous, literature on the matter.

When we discussed it, Gerrit Mauch – whose contributions I very much appreciated – told us what the term “to manage” means to him. He said he thought that the original meaning of the word probably lies in the Latin:  “manus agere” (’take by the hand’). It was mostly used when horses were trained.

That would mean that, as time went by, horse schools turned into “managing”.

Following this train of thought, you have to conclude that it was the ancient Roman’s BGM to care for the physical health of their horses. After all, they were important and ever so precious production animals.

And seeing humans under this light is simply the wrong concept in my eyes. Some way or other, it does not fit in our times at all. At least the developed societies should not be based on this kind of concept of humanity. And we all want to be a developed society, don’t we …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!