Roland Dürre
Sunday September 16th, 2018

Hambacher Forest. Ethics. Primary. Secondary. Virtue

Dracula as a Metaphor.

Years ago, I liked writing about ethics. For me, it was a very simple topic. It was primarily about virtues and the question which virtues are primary and secondary virtues. Then this sort of ethics started to get boring.

Now, what happens around brown coal in the Hambacher Forest makes me more concerned. In fact, I am not just concerned, I am appalled.

And I believe it is about time that we again talk about primary and secondary virtues.

When I was a child, I was taught many virtues. Well, it was more than just teaching, I was literally trained in them. It started with the demand that I should always be nice. I was to be washed clean at all times and my (short) hair had to be combed nicely. When adults were in a conversation, children had to shut up. I was admonished to be obedient, nice and never recalcitrant. However, the worst sins were if you lied or – God forbid – steal. Respecting the property of others and telling the truth at all times were the highest virtues of all.

As I grew up, I started to have my own ideas. And I understood very early on that there were quite a few glitches to my education. And that, for example, the categorical demands that you must not lie and must not steal will not hold after a thorough ethical test.

Later, I studied the philosophers and I remember reading the letters exchanged between the older Kant and a younger French philosopher. Well, the Frenchman with his arguments caused quite some sweat on the forehead of the then so famous and well-liked Kant. Kant’s reaction was very irrational and, in my opinion, very emotional.

This is how I learned that categorically sticking by the Eighth Commandment will certainly cause a lot of damage and thus can only be a secondary virtue. In fact, in normal life there are many situations where ethical behaviour actually forces us to lie in order to prevent damage to ourselves or others.

I also saw very quickly that the Seventh Commandment is not much better. I do not even have to mention Robin Hood and the questionability of a society that is dominated by property. It will suffice the imagine a child that might die from hunger but could be saved by theft.
This is why the Hambacher Forst Activists are definitely not criminals, even if they are not necessarily heroes.

Because they act upon virtues that I consider primary virtues. They are autonomous and they study the situation. They live up to virtues that I consider primary virtues, such as civil courage and constructive disobedience. They even do it in a very responsible and peaceful way.

The only thing I could ethically hold against these people in their tree houses is that they cultivate a martyrdom and that their actions in favour of a “good cause“ will eventually have negative consequences for their own lives. Because it is an important – and for me also a primary – virtue that your self-esteem is high and that you do not ruin yourself. Especially not for others!
Because, basically, we all know that matters cannot continue as they are, just like we also know that, when all is said and done, we will all suffer under the destruction of the world.

As opposed to an omniscient minister, I do not know what is the “mother of all problems“. All I can say is that I believe our system practices a very questionable approach on how to treat humans and nature.

We have several problems. The source of these problems are probably weaknesses in our approach to poverty, education, climate protection and mobility. The reason why our social system has these problems is probably that values, priorities and power structures have changed in our country and its politics.

For instance, we know that a polarization into poor and rich parts of the population can have quite unpleasant consequences. We also know that our social welfare state tumbles towards a future full of crises. We also know that our mobility with big cars and the combustion motor has no future. We also know that stricter speed limits on motorways, other streets and also in the cities are more than necessary. We also know that subsidies granted to the motorized traffic in general and to the Diesel engines in particular are total nonsense.

To be honest, we also know that electricity-powered vehicles will not improve the situation at all. On the contrary, they will have an even worse environmental footprint, especially if the electricity they need is produced from brown coal.

Incidentally, this is not only true for brown coal, but also for higher-quality coal that is processed by overexploitation in Australia, then driven to the coast, then loaded onto huge container ships and thus brought to Hamburg. In Hamburg, the coal will be distributed to various means of transportation – and later it will be used up somewhere in Germany. Well, this is certainly not a solution.

Most of the electricity we consume world-wide is made from coal. This is still true today! Regardless of the fact that there is now a social consensus that says we must not produce electricity from coal for many well-known reasons. However, we cannot manage the exit because of “economic interests“. Yet we need this exit very soon if we want to replace all those combustion motors by electrical solutions.

The opposing party for the activists at the Hambacher Forest is an industrial sector. Or rather: it is a concern the domineering and driving factor of which was the shareholder value over many decades. And it used all the legally possible – and sometimes even borderline legal – means to achieve a sensational shareholder value. Few sectors were able to make their shareholders as rich as the EVUs over a long period of time. It all happened at the cost of our environment and – as with (not only) nuclear energy – at the cost of our country. And it was all achieved through legal procedures, thanks to great lobbyism and soft blackmail.

Now more and more people want to change this, and for good reasons, too. Because they understand that it has to end. And soon. I mean people who show civil courage and who put the virtue of constructive disobedience over obedience. Even though they know that, in the end, they will stand no chance against the omnipotence of the country and business. Which is why their actions are detrimental to their own lives.

In my book, these people are not criminals but people who live important primary virtues. The only thing I regret is that they do not have the slightest chance of success – and that they should actually be aware of this. But then, this has always been the problem with idealism and idealists. Which opens yet another, totally different discussion.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday September 2nd, 2018

(Deutsch) Es plappert der Spiegel am rauschenden Bach … (I)

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre

SIEMENS. #MyLife

Siemens technology as I experienced it during a wonderful trip to the Veragua-Rainforest and Puma Waterfall Research Centre in Costa Rica

In the early 1970ies, while studying in Munich, I ended up at Siemens AG. I was a working student at Kopp-Strasse. My office was there and our tests were done at the Feurich Building IT Laboratory. The Kopp-Strasse was beyond the “Hofmannstrasse” compound, the Feurich Building inside.
Siemens was a wonderful enterprise. Perhaps it is (was)  The German Enterprise.

Our motto was “building high technology for and with everything that is related to electricity”. There were more than 20 sectors, and every one of them did exceptional technological work. We complemented each other in a synergetic way. In addition, the entire enterprise was under excellent business leadership.

In the technological areas, there was an atmosphere of departure. The challenges were never big enough and the solutions were absolute works of genius.

In those days, the directors were very approachable. One of them described his view of his role as follows:

“Most of the more than 25 Siemens AG departments are doing economically very well. There are a few that need a little extra help. It is my job to make those strong again. I am not worried that there will be a day when I no longer have any work, because it is quite normal that another “strong” sector will need a little support at some time”.

To me, that sounded plausible. Such is life, also business life. There is no such thing as continuing top performance. Consequently, it is also quite normal that one sector or another will occasionally need some support.

I admired the economic strength and the exceptional business competence of the enterprise as a total unit. That was something that clearly distinguished us – Siemens – from the competition, such as AEG or Telefunken. As far as D was concerned, also from Nixdorf. And when occasionally some people lovingly and with irony called Siemens “a bank with an electronics sub-sector”, then this was not something I found so bad. It is quite a good idea for an enterprise to have “the funny stuff”.

Their mentality, at least as far as engineering areas were concerned, fascinated me. We worked in the same way as employees at google later told me they worked (during the good years). There were huge technological challenges, a high degree of self-responsibility and a faire error tolerance in case of failure. In addition, they had a clear reporting strategy without any restrictive processes and roles. Those were virtues that catapulted us to the front in technology. And we were (often more than) at eye-level with IBM and the other mostly US competition. The few European competitors had been left behind a long time ago, anyway.

In the late 1970ies, I was a tenured Siemens employee. In 1980, they also sent me to Neuperlach. And then I soon left the enterprise. Because the aforementioned virtues were getting lost.

They defined roles and introduced processes. Bureaucracy became the domineering factor and all decisions were made with a strong consideration of the shareholder value. A huge wave of paralysis was combined with irrational planning approaches, thus making it harder and harder, if not impossible, to work successfully. This is how a great technology went down the river.

After having founded my own enterprise, I did a lot of business with Siemens. Initially this was an excellent situation. Siemens was an honest customer and business partner. I can tell and already have told you many positive stories about it.

In the 1990ies, the climate started changing more and more for the providers, too. The providers came up with a nice German bonmot: “Partnerschaft ist, wenn der Partner schafft“. (If the partner does the work, they call it partnership). This is also something I could tell many stories about.
Then, the distance between me, and the same is true for InterFace, and Siemens grew. As the years went by, I followed the decline of the biggest German enterprise in the third millennium. Thus, the pain I, as an original Siemens person, felt became less and less and was finally relieved to some extent by a morbid joy of seeing a sick system collapse.

Now, in 2018, there are again exciting news from the one-time electronics concern. A new enterprise organisation is under way. They want to become „meaning oriented“. But what exactly does that mean?

Incidentally, all the stakeholders are to benefit – but above all, they mean the shareholders, then to some extent the customers, the people who work in the enterprise, the providers and the external social systems. It seems that Siemens did not learn a lot from what they saw in the last decades, because those decades show that this is not how it works.

The emotional distance between me and Siemens has grown. Today, I can look upon Siemens with more serenity than a few years ago. And I notice:

Again, the employees are verbally made the ”centre“. And there they are more in the way than anything else.

The first priority is given to the shareholder, i.e. the international capital. As I see it, Siemens wants to tread on a path that I already saw several other enterprises take.

You divide an enterprise into two (here: three) parts and take the new enterprises to the stock exchange. As soon as each of the enterprises alone has a higher stock exchange value than the old one ever had – the champagne corks can fly. This is especially true for the capital.

It is a totally different story what will become of the three successor concerns. However, it will have nothing to do with the old Siemens company.

Well, this is neither here nor there, because the times when they said “we produce everything that has something to do with electricity” are history. Which is also true for the other German enterprises that, with their more or less enthusiastic employees (and many guest workers) created the “economic miracle”.

RMD
(Translated by EG

Gastautor(en)
Friday July 20th, 2018

Article by a Young Guest: The Transatlantic Circus.

Today, I (Roland Dürre) would like to introduce Götz, the son of Detlev Six. In the past, Detlev contributed hugely to the IF Blog with his articles. Among the things he wrote was also the  Radio Philosophy. Let me remind you of former times: the radio philosophy (Radiophilosophie) consists of 80 – as I see it, a little underestimated – philosophical articles, all of which follow the motto: “success regardless of thinking“.

But now, let us give his son the spot light. His topic is:

The transatlantic circus:

One would imagine that it is a good thing if the presidents of the two biggest nuclear powers meet in order to reduce tensions, especially since it is not the first time that an American President officially meets a Russian President. However, as we all know, there are people who see this differently. One of these people is the “Zeit” columnist Matthias Naß, who finds Trump’s politics “scary”. In his opinion, he gets support from Stefan Kornelius, who is the boss of the foreign correspondents department at “Süddeutsche“ and who writes: “These days, democracy suffers its worst setback since the fascist 1930ies”. In other words, Trump meeting Putin reminds Kornelius of the rise of Adolf Hitler – and Naß even calls him a “special transatlantic person“ for saying this [1]. Well, boys, I would like to thank you for this chip pass. Incidentally, both of them – like many other journalists [2] – are members of the transatlantic political lobby “Atlantik Brücke”.
Basically, one could just find such a circus hilarious, but there are quite a few problems with this attitude: the positions of Naß and Kornelius are such that they are considered far from obscure clowns. They are important clowns. Besides, this one example, sadly, covers the complete mainstream range of opinions. Additionally, there are still many people who actually consider these kinds of comments journalism. So now let us look at the reasons the mainstream press gives for their demand that Trump should not talk with Putin.

The “Annexation” of the Crimea:

In the UN Charta, which is the so-called international law, the terms annexation and secession do not exist, i.e. these words are not defined. In said Charta, we find the “right of self-determination of all peoples” and the “territorial integrity of countries”. When they sent the green men to the Crimea in order to make the former possible, Russia violated the latter. So regardless of the fact that international law allows a referendum that decides secession, the majority of the experts argue that the vote cannot be in accordance with international law because it was initiated through a breach of international law. However, some experts argue in favour of a secession [3]. There is no doubt that the so-called annexation of the Crimean is not a fact but an opinion. On the other hand, there is no doubt at all that the United States annexed the Island of Guam [4].

War in the Eastern Ukraine:

The MSM is quite good at not mentioning that Janukovich was not overthrown by the people, but by sharp-shooters. They shot from buildings that, at the time, were controlled by the opposition [5]. After the citizens of the Eastern Ukraine, who did not accept the forced coup, had declared their independence, a new Ukrainian government sent the army to the eastern regions, calling the entire process “anti-terror operation“. This activity triggered the fights in the Donbass region and made it a popular holiday destination for Russian soldiers. To be sure, Russia makes this war possible by supporting ethnic Russians in their neighbouring country, but the conflict was definitely triggered by others.

The influence on the elections:

Between 1946 and 2000, the USA influenced 81 elections and Russia and the Soviet Union influenced 36 [6]. If now the USA get upset about an alleged election influence, then this is a little like a Mexican drug cartel calling the rocker crime rate in Europe un-ethical. Additionally, there is the fact that, to this day, there is no publicly available proof. Most of the material is based on what the secret service said – and I mean the same secret service that faked the proof of Iraq mass destruction weapons. And those allegations do not even claim that what the Russians did actually had an influence on the election results [7]. But what about Mueller’s accusations? Yes, it is possible that, at long last, they will find something that sticks, but as of now, the benefit of the doubt still seems appropriate. The accused are all Russian citizens and companies operating in Russia. Basically, it is not very likely that any of them will appear in front of a court, which means Mueller does not necessarily count on having to provide proof. Surprisingly, now one of the firms that were accused of being troll farms appeared at court and pleaded “not guilty”, wishing to see proof. The first reaction by Mueller was that he tried to delay the release of said proof [8]. Unfortunately, German media had not time to write about this.

This is basically how propaganda works. Once in a while, some piece of information is withheld, some connections are not mentioned. The process is called fragmenting and de-contextualization of information. It generates a distorted image onto which then an unnaturally simplified range of opinions is imposed. And said distorted image is then held to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is how you can lie without telling a lie and it all sounds very realistic, because the information fragments you presented are mostly true. However, the same is not true for the overall image. Currently, the press massively promotes Cold War. Any attempt at closer contact or de-escalation needs to be avoided. But it is important that you do not let yourself be brainwashed by this propaganda. There is a lot you can say against Trump, but his approach to Russia is a good approach.

[1] https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2018-07/donald-trump-nato-gipfel-usa-demokratie-5vor8
[2] http://spiegelkabinett-blog.blogspot.com/2013/03/journalisten-der-atlantikbrucke-in.html
[3] http://m.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/die-krim-und-das-voelkerrecht-kuehle-ironie-der-geschichte-12884464.html
[4] https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolonien_und_Protektorate_der_Vereinigten_Staaten
[5] https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/propaganda-statt-journalismus
[6] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_electoral_intervention
[7] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PSieUmpeDSw
[8] https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/04/mueller-russia-interference-election-case-delay-570627

So much for Götz Six.

My conclusion? Perhaps we should listen more carefully to what young persons have to say and also give them more responsibility in politics and in enterprises?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday July 8th, 2018

(Deutsch) Papa, Charlie hat gesagt …

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Monday April 9th, 2018

Double Agents

 

Double agent Dnalor in Warnemünde

Irony and Reality

Since I am an avid reader of John le Carré (Verräter wie wir) and Herbert Rosendorfer (Das Messingherz), I am, of course, very familiar with secret services and their methods.
Currently, there is another fantastic “use case” that I want to discuss with competence and analyse technologically. It is called Lapirks or something close.

Incidentally, the two books I mentioned are absolutely brilliant and worth reading. If I had to choose, I would probably put the „Messingherz“ silghtly before the other one. But here is my topic of today: the “double agent murder“!


Let us assume you are part of the secret service of an EU country and you want to do away with a double agent who is an extreme pain.

A double agent will have played two “employers” against each other for several years. He was paid well by both. Neither of the two employers can ever be quite sure if and when they were the employee’s priority. Perhaps both? This is also true for the employer who, at long last, will have him sitting as a(n) (inconvenient) louse in the pelt and has to pay his old age pension.

Consequently, being a double agent makes you some kind of champion in the secret service league, probably only topped by the very scarce three- or fourfold agent. On the other hand, it must be assumed that, first and foremost, a double agent is always an agent in his own interest. …

The employers of a double agent are in an uncomfortable situation. Because there is always the suspicion that, in reality, they were the ones that were cheated. But then, among secret services, “reality“  is not really important. What matters is “non-reality“!

Of course, if you kill someone, you will not like admitting to the deed. Not even if he was a double agent. In such a case, nothing is more natural than pointing towards the second employer.

For the double agent murder, you have two options: the single or the double indirection. The more intelligent but also the more costly way is doubtless the double indirection. In a nutshell, this is how it works:

Initially, you first let the – feign – suspicion point slightly towards yourself.  And then you are totally relaxed while proving that you actually cannot have been the murderer. Obviously, the other employer of the murdered (or rather: executed?) person must have done it.

Naturally, in neither of the two cases you use one of your own agents to kill the double agent. Usually, a friendly secret service will do it. Together with said friendly secret service, you will leave traces of evidence (that must be easy to prove wrong) that point towards your organization. And you also leave traces of evidence (that must be rock-solid) that show that the other employer was the murderer.

Using well prepared evidence, you show that you definitely cannot have done it! However, the other employer wants to make you look guilty! How outrageous! And here you are: you have the simple conclusion that only the other employer can have been the one. After all, he is evil incarnated, which is easy to prove, because, as everybody knows, you are a saint.

This scenario (initially feigning that you yourself are under suspicion and then finding out that the other one must have been it) can actually be quite successful. Especially if you perform with virtuosity and patience. And it can easily happen that the other employer will eventually look quite stupid.

However, this scenario is more for intelligent people. And in the Lapirks case, the only party that might perhaps have used this method are the Russians.

If the English were the culprits, then they used the simple indirection – which is common among secret service agents. To be sure, mostly it will not succeed because it is so clumsy. But this is irrelevant, because in the secret service world, nothing ever succeeds. Only the consequences of their activities are often quite atrocious.

The often used method of the simple indirection (which, of course, le Carré does not use in his demanding novels) works as follows:

You (as a secret service) ask a really good friend from the former Warshaw Pact for his support (this is really just an example!). He could, for instance, belong to the secret service from the former East Block countries you are now allied with. That would be someone who switched sides and has know-how and material about the environment of the second employer of the double agent who needs to be out of the way. Using “quasi Russian” methods, he puts the double agent out of action for a small favour. He likes doing this, because he (no longer) likes the Russians and enjoys giving them a hard time.

It is absolutely normal and not a problem if the double agent survives because he has not done a good job. More likely than not, the entire affair is about something totally different. That is the advanced secret service alphabet.

You will then immediately inform your political “superiors” that the Russians have, again, as is typical for them, done something very evil. Naturally, the term “superior” is nonsense, because if you are secret service, you do what you like. Forget about parliamentary control mechanisms…

In the case of a double agent, it is always easy to find a motive. In this case, the murder is meant as a warning to other double agents. Well, it sounds a little artificial, but then what is not artificial when we are talking secret services?

Your government will gladly believe you, because, after many embarrassing activities, they want to demonstrate strength. In fact, they do not want to know who was the culprit. After all, even they themselves (their secret service) might have been the ones. As I said: what government trusts its own secret service? And you really do not want to know something as unappetizing as this, do you?

Consequently, the best thing a government can do is be offensive and accuse the other side. The more massive and resolute you are about accusing the other party, the less anybody will doubt your word.

Of course, you will have to remove all witnesses. In our case a consternated cat. Since the secret service has a weak spot for cats, said cat will be killed for “humane reasons“. And, of course, you will have to follow the usual procedure, like burn all documents and delete all data.

Nor can you provide any tickets. After all, you cannot jeopardize your sources (other double agents). They, too, might get killed. Incidentally, this is an extremely stupid argument. It opens all the options.


So much for my satirical comment.

It could have been totally different. Especially if we are talking double agents. Perhaps a third party cheated on both the Brits and the Russians. It might have been some Mafia or the Americans. Or an individual criminal? Just because he needed revenge for something. Or whatever. Many scenarios are imaginable and the ”truth“ will probably never surface. Only one thing seems obvious: the “official” version as published by the British secret service is the least likely one.

And, again, I ask myself why we have secret services at all. And if these per-se uncontrollable police-like military units that are permitted to work beyond the constitutional state are perhaps a rather dangerous instrument in a constitutional democracy where the government is democratically legitimated.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday March 10th, 2018

You Know: He Might Actually be Right, Our Mister Trump.

Two facts are beyond dispute:

1) The EU imposes higher import taxes than the US

and

2) the US import more from the EU than they export into the EU

(source: Zeit)

Roland in Southern Georgia, where, for an entire century, wales and seals were killed just because it was profitable – which is also some kind of globalization.

Well, this suggests that the “partner” with lower import taxes is “the stupid one“, because he is the one who gets to import more than he can export. Basically, that sounds logical.

Let us look at the numbers and first take cars as an example.
The USA impose 2.5 % import taxes on cars. The EU imposes an import tax of 10 % on cars that transport passengers (cars, pick-up trucks if the loading area is smaller than half of the axis distance). This means that the EU imposes four times as much import tax as the USA.
Additionally, German car producers and their customers are also massively state subsidized (business car privilege, Diesel cars, research funds and prizes, no speed limit and no tolls, …).

The situation for motor bikes is similar:
The USA charges 2.4% for the import, the EU charges  8 % for motor bikes with a cubic capacity up to 250 ccm and 6 % for motor bikes with more than 250 ccm. In other words: the EU charges more than 3/2.5 times as much as the USA.

In general, it can be said that the current import tax rates for the two partners USA and EU are relatively low . Depending on which source you take, you can read:

“For the EU, we are talking an average of around 3 per cent of the product value, for the US, we have a little less than 2.5 per cent.“
(Cited from and source: Handelsblatt)

“According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the import tax of all US products in 2016 were at an average of 3.5 per cent. On the other hand, EU products had a rate of 5.2 per cent, and China even one of 9.9 per cent.“
(Cited from and source Spiegel)

So both sources say that the EU import taxes are, on average, considerably higher than those imposed by the USA (according to Handelsblatt by 25 %, according to Spiegel almost 50 %. For more information about import taxes, click here).

If you consider the twenty leading import and export countries for steel in 2010 (source: Wikipedia), you will notice that many countries exported around the same amount as they imported.

For Germany, this meant an export of 25,352 and an import of 22,733 (thousand tons) in 2010. For many other countries, such as Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Austria, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, … the export/import balance is similar.

Countries like China, Japan, Russia, that, for instance, exported twice as much as they imported, or at least considerably more than they imported. On the other hand, the USA imported twice as much as they exported – and the tendency increases.

But let us now assume the countries would first use their own steel and only export what they do not need, or else import what they cannot produce.

What a gigantic savings potential would lie in such a behaviour, along with all the avoided extravagance and environmental damage? Because overcoming the time-space threshold generally costs so much more than the allegedly so cheap transport.

In the late-capitalist world order, these ideas are unpopular and inconvenient. The conservative economic science of the 19th and 20th centuries, too, will simply tell you such assumptions are nonsense.
Because, according to the old theories, free trade is beneficial for all parties concerned and basically the requirement for global wealth. But what will “global wealth” be worth for me if the planet is spoiled in the process? Is such a thing as “global wealth” possible at all in reality?

In late capitalism, globalisation basically always was exclusively oriented towards taking advantage of the world-wide differences in wealth in order to maximize profit. It is always about making use of cheap labour. External costs, such as the destruction of nature, will be ignored – and this has been practiced for a long time. The fact that overcoming the time-space threshold costs considerably more than just the transport is “forgotten”.

In my eyes, the much-praised globalization becomes more and more suspect. I do not know how Mr. Trump feels about it. He is probably the last person who has the environment on his agenda. But perhaps protective taxes are exactly what the world (the environment) needs today.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
They say that a “trade war” is now threatening. I find it rather sad that the term “war” is used in this context. I believe we would find it quite easy to live with the consequences of a world full of tax mechanisms. The same is true for border control mechanisms. The consequences and the atrocities of all kinds associated with a true war, however, would mean a totally different dimension of misery.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 15th, 2017

The Future of the Planet

Today, I will not write about electric bikes or sex, but about politics.

The Jamaican coat of arms

Jamaica

Currently, many people develop a sudden interest in the land of Bob Marley. It is about Jamaica, which, naturally, is only a silly word-play. It is all about the “Coalition Discussions“ (Koalitionsverhandlungen) in Berlin. We call them Jamaica because the coat of arms of this country is identical with the colours of the parties concerned (black, yellow and green).

I must admit that I had been hopeful for the Green Party to be the positive factor in these discussions.

But what is the Green Party doing?

They went to Berlin with demands that were probably justified but it is clear that these demands cannot be successfully pushed through during negotiations (which has already been proved). The first of these demands was that the combustion motor be abolished in the year 2030 (1) and the second was that all coal-based power plants be closed by the same year (2). Especially (1) sounds more than utopian. Besides, we do not need general goals but actual measures.

Electricity must replace coal, not use it up!

I will not comment on (2). After all, it is evident that the only way we can and must end the “dark” era when fossil energy was burned using electricity. Yet replacing coal by electricity cannot mean that half of the electricity world-wide is produced with coal. This must (and will soon) become a thing of the past. However, I find (1) a lot more exciting.

Driving an automobile is out!

Everybody must realize that an “individual mobility” based on electricity cannot and will not be the same as many of us now use the car. Just like “autonomous cars”, too, will not be driven in the same way as MEN and WOMEN drive them now.

2030 will soon be here!

In only 12 years, it will have arrived – that is as many years as the life-span of a car used to be. In that respect, what the Green Party demanded would have been rather easy to realize.

Prepare for the exit!

One of the factors is to quickly establish a speed limit – if necessary, why not step-by-step so that people can get used to it – but with a clear end even before 2020 at a maximum of 30 km/h in closed built-up areas, 70 km/h on secondary streets and 100 km/h on motorways. And, also step-by-step, a truly relevant and drastic increase in taxes on fossil fuel (including kerosene for planes). And if then the gigantic subsidies on “business cars” (at least the huge practice of abuse) were finally restricted, then the entire scenario would make sense!

Slim end efficient!

That would be a slim and efficient solution and it would raise hopes for a “soft landing”. It would also make quite a few stupid ideas, such as road charges, obsolete. And the Green Party, perhaps for good reasons, does not wish to be unpopular. Mind you, I personally believe that being unpopular brings you more votes than it costs you.

Investing in the future

And the money you get from all these projects must not be spent for building even more new motorway crossings on two levels with up to ten lanes, which today apparently, as a consequence of the motorway expansion having to happen on ever more lanes, has become a necessity. Instead, we should invest these moneys in a public transport system and, of course, in the “energy change” – which basically only means the abolition of nuclear and coal-based electricity production. As I see it, we are actually already quite well under way in this respect.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday October 12th, 2017

Failed Emancipation

Carl and Gerlinde (Instalment #54)

“Waiter – please bring a double cognac as fast as possible …!“,  Carl cried out excitedly while he was literally gulping air …

“Under way”, groaned the waiter while hurrying along his table. Thick drops of perspiration were building on his broad forehead.

“Whatever is the matter with you, Carl? Is it really necessary that you start filling up on cognac this early in the morning, when morning has hardly broken?”, Gerlinde irritably asked while taking a small sip of her freshly pressed orange juice with a worried expression on her face.

“Fear thee not, Gerlinde, I only need something really stiff to digest the news I am just reading in the paper here!“

“So – what sort of news is it?“ Gerlinde asked with raised eyebrows.

“Just imagine, the king of Saudi-Arabia and his very ambitions sun Mohamed bin Salam actually now, in the 21st century, want to allow women to drive cars!“

“How come?“

“Well – starting on June 2018 – women in Saudi-Arabia will be permitted behind the wheel of a car even without the consent of their husbands. Isn’t that absolutely maniac?“.

“Great! But as I know these brothers, there will certainly be some foul exhortation idea behind the deal… “

“Perhaps – but before you judge them too quickly, my dear, maybe we should remember that in Germany, too, the husband had the exclusive right to say what his wife and children should do until 1958.“

“Hm – great! But at least the women did not have to wear veils, did they“?

“No, they did not have to do that – but even if men allowed their wives to work, they were the ones who decided what happened with the incomes!“

“Super – that is what pimps still do for their sidewalk birds, isn’t it? “.

“Correct. The world is still as it should be in this patriarchal milieu!“

“It seems to me that you really need more cognac, Carl! If you are under the influence of alcohol, you definitely do not talk quite as much nonsense …“

“Yes, but only because I mostly go to sleep immediately! But where is this incompetent waiter now with my medicine?“

“Perhaps the waitress is quicker”, said Gerlinde. She jumped up and set a not-bad-looking young waitress onto the path of the dreamy waiter.

“And besides, if their husbands had not consented”, Carl, who obviously now knew no peace, continued, “women were not allowed to open their own bank accounts until 1962. How does that strike you?“

“There you see, my dear Carl, that is exactly why I absolutely do not wish to marry. I certainly would not want that to happen to me!“

“However, my dearest Gerlinde, this precaution is not necessary, because ever since 1969, every married woman in Germany is fully contractually capable.“

“Wow – that means everything really went at breath-taking speed with respect to the emancipation of the females – I am sure the CSU was the absolute pacemaker …“

“You mocker”, Carl smirked. He was still waiting for his cognac and getting more and more impatient …

“You are really poorly off with your cognac, Carl! In the meantime, would you like to take a sip of my orange juice? …“

“Excuse me! Has the day come when we men can no longer even drink our own cognac ?…“

“Carl, I will soon break out in tears“!

“Yes, please do – because otherwise I will have to do it”, Carl moaned.

“But there is truly no reason for you to do that, my dear Carl – with the exception that your cognac does not arrive, you men have no reason at all to lament, do you?“

“Oh – oh – and what about the ’Female Federal Chancellor Forever’; she is not only Honecker’s Late Revenge but also the Revenge of all Women Against Men for suffered wrongs!“

“As always, you are exaggerating, Carl!“

“I am not exaggerating at all, because the ’Female Federal Chancellor Forever’ would even be elected by all the women and elderly persons if she were ’a mounted specimen’  …“

“You know, instead of talking such nonsense, you probably had better get your own house in order “!

“Why is that..?“

“Why don’t you look at all the ’male specimens’ – for example the wonderful Herrn Schulz – or the kissing Herrn Junker – or the divine Mr. Trump – along with the grinning Kim Jong Un – or the eternal Bavarian drooling Herrn Seehofer… or – or – or … compared to those honourable gentlemen, even a ’preserved specimen of the Female Chancellor’ looks like an improvement to me …“

“Well, unfortunately, and as an exception to the rule – and very reluctantly – I have to agree with you, dear Gerlinde: the guild of men currently active is really a unique example for the word pitiful!“

“There you see, Carl …“! – when Gerlinde said this she had enough tact to suppress all display of triumph!

“But still, God has mercy on us men, Gerlinde: because at long last, my very dearly craved cognac is arriving!“

In fact, the friendly waitress suddenly came scuffling from nowhere and placed a huge brandy balloon – into which Carl might actually have jumped directly – in front of him under a thousand apologies and manoeuvres for the endless waiting time. And before Gerlinde could look around properly, his head actually already hung in the balloon up to his neck…

This was the only possible explanation for the fact that Carl, immediately after the cute waitress had vanished as picturesquely as a gazelle, could come up with the dry statement that, regardless of all currently felt superiority of the females, nobody could seriously doubt that even this lovely waitress was still moving on a pair of ’waiting upper legs’  …so why would we need a superiority complex? When all was said and done, women were, like in all times, basically just ’a piece cut out of man’, weren’t they?

KH
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Friday October 6th, 2017

Catalonia

My Dream of EUROPE

La senyera – The Catalonian Flag.

Currently, everybody talks about Catalonia. So I will also add my “five cent”:

I would be quite glad if Catalonia were to secede from Spain. It would not do any harm to Europe, either. On the contrary.

And Catalonia would not be able to escape the EURO, either. Consequently, we would also have to permit them to remain in the EU and ignore a possible veto from Spain if Catalonia applies for EU membership. After all, they already were members, which means that it is not a new membership.

Maybe the remainder of Spain wants to continue with the monarchy as established by Franco and apply for leaving the EU? However, I would not recommend it to them. They definitely should refrain from re-erecting Franco monuments and leave fascism well alone.

We might need a few additional stars – just like we need more of them in the skies?

But this is not about Catalonia. For me, it is all about a vision for Europe that would probably contribute a little towards solving a few of the current problems.

What we need is a EUROPE that is a close-knit federation of regions (i.e. regional countries or states). These regions should have more or less the same size and thus be able to cooperate at eye-level. My assumption is: the smaller the states, the more of them we have and the closer they are connected, the better!

To be sure, to make it a success, a few requirements that are hard to meet would need to be fulfilled:

  1. A federation of European regions would have to serve the people – and not the entrepreneurs, concerns and speculators.    
For me, that is a central requirement. Consequently, free markets at any price, the mindless abolition of borders do not have priority. Limitless growth, maximum consumption for all and unlimited riches cannot be the ultimate goal of a new “federation of values Europe”.  Just like a misinterpreted freedom without duties is not a value.
  2. Europe cannot be allowed to become an end in itself.    
Europe must not aim at becoming a superpower and have an internationally leading role, perhaps even be some kind of new world police. Because that is not what we need and besides, a Europe that develops sustainably will have an important role worldwide with huge influence anyway, even without nuclear weapons and carriers.
  3. Solidarity is not something that is achieved through subsidies.    
Solidarity between regions and humans cannot be achieved by handing out cheques. In particular, it cannot be achieved exclusively by handing out cheques. The subsidies for farming in the old EU are a good example. They destroyed exactly what they (perhaps) wanted to preserve.
  4. The national states must go.    
That is true for all of them, especially the big ones like Germany, France, Italy, Spain … (and also Great Britain, which, as of now, is still part of it). Because we no longer need all this nationally dominated lamenting – we could actually leave it, for instance, to soccer.

For me, the points 1 and 4 are the most important.

Ad 1.)  What is so bad about a county protecting its local markets and characteristics in a reasonable way? What is so bad about more control if crime increases? As I see it, you need some kind of border control when you have reached a certain dimension. And if that is so, then I prefer a systematic and controlled way of doing it, rather than  the haphazard way we see today.
In a living and responsibly functioning Europe, there can be no room for lobbyism and the currently existing oligarchy of interest groups they call parties.
This may sound unimaginable, because you need to re-define democracy and probably you will also need a more direct democracy. But we are entitled to some utopian ideas!
Because we have the right (and the obligation) to preserve the European cultures in all their diversity and to also preserve a heterogeneous Europe. This must be explicitly desired in a Europe of regions. It must be discussed together and supported by ample means. Otherwise, Europe will never really materialize.
And it must happen in the interest of all people – except the speculators and some super rich individuals or super powerful systems. Especially if they are de-personalized and have become independent.

Ad 4.)  
How nice would it be to have a Europe of smallish regions. The reasons why it would be nice are mostly rational. Basically, small and self-organised systems always work better than big ones, especially if those big ones are also controlled and administered externally. Flat hierarchies make a realistic form of subsidiarity easier. Politically spoken, we would only have two, rather than – as today – three hierarchical levels in the “upper echelons”.
In this model, the EU would be the top level and the international presence of all regions. It is controlled by the council of the regions, all of which can have their own autonomous structures. The nationally infected level in between, for instance Berlin, Paris, Rome – or, in this case, Madrid – would be gone for good.
You would also no longer need a veto right for individual states (no matter if we are talking a few 100,000 people or 80 million). It would be replaced by a qualified majority in the council of regions.
Whenever a region falters or behaves totally irrational, which is something that can always happen, it would be easier to heal than today. Just remember how impossible it is to influence a country like Poland. In a system at eye-level, it would also be easier and more direct to practice solidarity than it can be done with the current EU sprinkling system.
In other words, the EU would have to consist of “states” none of which can be bigger than, for example, Bavaria. But perhaps even Bavaria is too big to be just one EU region? Even here, a reasonable division is quite feasible, and thus at least a good solution would be possible.
So we have to divide the national states. It would be easy for the FR of Germany, because we already have a rather reasonable county structure. You could just take it (and perhaps improve it as suggested in the last paragraph). I would leave small states like Bremen or Hamburg. If currently Estonia qualifies for EU membership, why should not the two proud German Hanseatic Cities be a region each – just like Estonia would be a region?

If we wish to heal EUROPE, then we may and must definitely have and strive towards these kinds of utopian ideas! Otherwise it will never become true! And then comes the big hangover!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Here is a positive idea about the so detrimental shared currency:    
I basically believe that the best solution would be to have different currencies according to the “maturity/state” of a region (I will call them EURO1, EURO2 and EUROn). But that is a very complicated topic. I would rather not discuss it here.
However, here is a positive idea if you have only one EURO: It is quite possible that one EURO for all regions– regardless of many disadvantages – could also have a huge advantage. One EURO for all of them would be something like the iron ring that holds them all together. And thus it makes it impossible to exit and helps when it comes to overcoming future regional crises. But then, that would again need another utopia to become reality – a currency policy of the EZB that differs from the one currently witnessed under “Super-Mario“ Draghi.