Transparent Publishing

New technology pushes transparency of publishing, journalism and science to new levels. Through the hyperlink structure of texts it is easy to link back to the sources of a text. What used to be long lists of references at the end of a text or in footnotes has become directly accessible through weblinks. Only paywalls may or may not restrict the fast and easy access to original sources. In writing online, this is a major additional feature of publishing in the last few years. Some online journals allow this for quite some time now, but there are lots of printed versions that stick to the read and be stuck approach of publishing.
In teaching I have been an advocate of “read the original sources” as the basic source of inspiration for authors. The transparency of the thought process and the evidence provided in whatever form should be traceable. In publishing this transparency allows to exclude the copying of thoughts or unreflected referencing.
However, the task to check for the validity of weblinks and the updating is an additional task. 500+ blog entries with an average number of 2 weblinks per blog entry makes this a job of its own. Testing of 1000 weblinks is something you need a software or plugin which alerts you to “broken links”. The maintenance of a webpage, therefore, increases substantially as the content increases. Reorganisations of webpages make the follow-up of links sometimes quite hard. Projects like the general archives of the web and webpages are very important to ensure the transparency of publishing in the short, medium and long run. The archives of today look more like machine rooms than the splendid archives or libraries of the past and present.

AI Reader

In the middle of the hype around AI it is useful to take stock of the reflection and evolution of AI. In my own analyses and writings on AI it evident that a narrowing of focus has taken place. Whereas before 2022 the writing dealt more with digital technologies in general. The links to the literature on the social construction of technologies was obvious. Algorithms and AI was a part of the broader topic of society and technology.
This has changed. The public debate is focused on “everything AI now”. We look at technological developments largely through the lens of AI now. Hence, my focus of assessments of technology from a societal perspective follows this trend. In a collection of blog entries on AI we try to demonstrate the far reaching changes that have started to have an impact on us. In the last few months the all encompassing concern about AI’s effect on us needs full attention of social scientists, policy makers, companies and the public at large. We can no longer leave this topic to the software engineers alone. By the way, they themselves ask us to get involved and take the latest advances in AI more seriously.
As a “flipbook” the online reading is rather comfortable (Link to flipbook publisher MPL). The pdf or epub files of the blog entries allow to directly follow the links to sources in webpages or other publications (AI and Society 2p 2024-4-18). The cycles of analyses and comments have become faster. Traditional book writing suffers from time lags that risk to make pubications outdated rather quickly. Dynamic ebook writing might bridge the gap between time to reflect and speed to publish or inform the wider public.

AI Travel

Playing around with AI it is nice to test take fun examples. Image you want to plan a vacation, then the use of AI is ready to suggest to you a couple of things to do. Of course, AI is eager to propose travelling services like transport or accommodation to you where it is likely to earn some commissions. So far, the use of the “Vacation Planer of Microsoft’s BING Copilot” is free of charge. In entering the time period and a region as well as some basic activities you’ll receive suggestions with quotes on the sources (webpages of public services from tourist offices mostly). It seems like trustworthy sources and the suggestions of D-Day activities in Normandy is a positive surprise to me. These are popular activities which attract huge international crowds every year.
Thinking further on the potentials it becomes evident that travel suggestions will be biased to those paying for ranking higher on the algorithms selection criteria, which are not disclosed. Entering into the chat with the AI you and AI can target more precisely locations and also hotels etc. You are disclosing more of your own preferences in the easy-going chat and probably next time you will be surprised to be recommended the same activities at another location again.
So far, I have bought travel guides or literature about locations to prepare vacations. This is likely to change. I complement my traditional search or planning with the “surprises” from AI for travelling. I rediscovered, for example, the public service of tourist offices and their publications ahead of the travel rather than the leaflets at the local tourist office. In order to plan ahead there is value in the augmented search and compilation capacities of AI. Drafting a letter in foreign languages is also no problem for AI. The evaluation of the usefulness of AI, however, can only be answered after the vacation. Outdated info or databases have a huge potential to spoil the fun parts as well.

Repair Building

All buildings need repairs from time to time. For most of them the basic structure is solid enough so that isolation or maintenance will do. However, 100 years old buildings that have lived through 2 wars might have deep rooted deficiencies that are not visible at first glance. This can be observed in Berlin near the city center in a popular neighborhood with many visitors in „Schöneberg“ sometimes translated as „pretty hill“. The building at the crossroads seems to have been renovated only a few years ago, but the static of the building is so unstable that the city council has decided to block the whole crossing for circulation due to the danger of an imminent collapse of the building. The neighborhood has mixed feelings. It is great that the danger has been identified in time and blocking the road reduces the nuisance of traffic in the surroundings full of restaurants and cafes. The cover up of the repairs and renovation at the building is shocking as there appears to be just paint over basic structural faults. Construction work has failed to detect and prevent the static risks. An inspectorate that acts promptly to avoid bigger disasters is a societal asset.

Forest Management

Responsible forest management is key. To safeguard against the loss of biodiversity the management of forests can achieve a great deal as the study in Nature of 2024-4-10 has demonstrated. Reducing hunting by humans in dense tropical forests allows bigger species to survive and thrive compared to forests with easy access by roads. FSC certification of forests helps significantly to protect wildlife. The ability to ameliorate biodiversity of forests is assisted by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) through the responsible management, preservation and limitation of access to wild forests. This is an important message that in fact it is still possible to preserve wildlife also of larger species if we only really commit to the cause. It is well worth to support such initiatives and monitor the progress. Of course, any such success attracts new hunters and a continuation of the FSC efforts is needed for the benefit of the whole biodiversity on our planet as there is no planet B.

Berlin Zoo 2024

AI by AI

It has become a common starting point to use electronic devices and online encyclopedias to search for definitions. Let us just do this for artificial intelligence. The open platform of Wikipedia returns on the query of “artificial intelligence” the following statement as a definition: “AI … is intelligence exhibited by machines, particularly computer systems …“. It is not like human intelligence, but tries to emulate it or even tries to improve on it. Part of any definition is also the range of applications of it in a broad range of scientific fields, economic sectors or public and private spheres of life. This shows the enormous scope of applications that keeps rapidly growing with the ease of access to software and applications of AI.
How does AI define itself? How is AI defined by AI? Putting the question to ChatGPT 3.5 in April 2024 I got the following fast return. (See image). ChatGPT provides a more careful definition as the “crowd” or networked intelligence of Wikipedia. AI only “refers to the simulation” of HI processes by machines”. Examples of such HI processes include the solving of problems and understanding of language. In doing this AI creates systems and performs tasks that usually or until now required HI. There seems to be a technological openness embedded in the definition of AI by AI that is not bound to legal restrictions of its use. The learning systems approach might or might not allow to respect the restrictions set to the systems by HI. Or, do such systems also learn how to circumvent the restrictions set by HI systems to limit AI systems? For the time being we test the boundaries of such systems in multiple fields of application from autonomous driving systems, video surveillance, marketing tools or public services. Potentials as well as risks will be defined in more detail in this process of technological development. Society has to accompany this process with high priority since fundamental human rights are at issue. Potentials for assistance of humans are equally large. The balance will be crucial.

Architecture Berlin

The annual exhibition of completed architecture projects in Berlin attracts people beyond the narrow circles of architects. You may take a walk through Berlin to view the actual realizations in 3D or 4D with people living, working or moving in these buildings. As social scientists we like talking or interviewing these people about their experiences. Urban planning and participation in urban development is important for city development in a democratic fashion. The combination of social, ecological, economic and technological concerns find compromises in urban renewal. The range of activities is remarkable. Living spaces have the most entries in the exhibition followed by offices and trade spaces. Education as well as public open spaces raise a lot of interest and funding currently. Climate change and adaptation to limited ecological resources ask for innovative solutions as well. Most projects in Berlin or by Berlin based architects deliver in this respect. The socio-ecological change needs a lot of actors to implement such changes and meet unprecedented challenges. The 60 projects represented for 2023 are the top of the iceberg but a lot remains to be accomplished in repairing old buildings and infrastructure as well. The DA! exhibition provides a democratic transparency of projects, which allows the public to learn about innovation and to make more informed judgments about what architecture can deliver for society.

DA! Exhibition Berlin 2024

Das Meer

Wir haben vielfältige Beziehungen zum Meer. Diese reichen von romantisch geprägten Gefühlen zum Meer, den Wellen und den Fischen bis zur wissenschaftlichen Befassung mit den Meeren, Mangroven und dem Klimawandel. 71% der Erdoberfläche besteht aus Meeren. Das sollte den Festlandbewohnenden eigentlich klar machen, wie wichtig Meere für unseren Planeten sind. „Ocean Literacy“ nennt die UNESCO das. Neben Lesen, Schreiben und Rechnen sollte die Literalität auf unsere Ozeane ausgedehnt werden bevor es zu spät ist. Verschmutzung der Meere passiert hauptsächlich im Verborgenen. Lediglich Beobachtung aus dem Weltraum kann die weitläufigen Routen der Verschmutzenden zumindest teilweise nachverfolgen. Vielleicht hilft die Rückkehr zu der romantischen Sicht auf die Meere eines „William Turner“ zu einer höheren Wertschätzung der Meere, dem Licht und den Wellen.
Die kleine Sammlung von Gedichten „Das Meer“, erschienen im Reclam Verlag, ist eine gute Reisebegleitung für Begeisterte des Meeres. Darin findet sich eine Vielzahl von renommierten Schreibenden, die ihre Faszination des Meeres zum Ausdruck bringen. Mein momentaner Favorit ist Wolfgang Borchert darin (S.41-42) „Muscheln, Muscheln“.
Muscheln, Muscheln, blank und bunt,
findet man als Kind.

Muscheln, Muscheln, bunt und blank,
fand man einst als Kind!

AI Sorting

Algorithms do the work behind AI systems. Therefore a basic understanding of how algorithms work is helpful to gauge the potential, risks and performance of such systems. The speed of computers determines the for example the amount of data you can sort at a reasonable time. Efficiency of the algorithm is an other factor. Here we go, we are already a bit absorbed into the the sorting as purely intellectual exercise. The website of Darryl Nester shows a playful programming exercise to sort numbers from 1 to 15 in a fast way (Link to play sorting). If you watch the sorting as it runs you realize that programs are much faster than us in such simple numeric tasks. Now think of applying this sorting routine or algorithm to a process of social sorting. The machine will sort social desirability scores of people’s behavior in the same simple fashion even for thousands of people. Whether proposed AI systems in human interaction or of human resource departments make use of such sorting algorithms we do not know. Sorting applicants is a computational task, but the data input of personal characteristics is derived from another more or less reliable source. Hence, the use of existing and newly available databases will create or eliminate bias. Watching sorting algorithms perform is an important learning experience to be able to critically assess what is likely to happen behind the curtains of AI.

AI and dialect

The training of Large Language Models (LLM) uses large data sets to learn about conventions of which words are combined with each other and which ones are less frequently employed in conjunction. Therefore, it does not really come as a surprise that training which uses standardised languages of American English might not be as valid for applications that receive input from minority languages or dialects. The study forthcoming in the field of Computer science and Language by Hofmann et al. (Link) provides evidence of the systematic bias against African American dialects in these models. Dialect prejudice remains a major concern in AI, just like in the day-to-day experiences of many people speaking a dialect. The study highlights that dialect speakers are more likely to be assigned less prestigious jobs if AI is used to sort applicants. Similarly, criminal sentences will harsher for speakers of African American. Even the more frequent attribution of death sentences for dialect speakers was evidenced.
If we translate this evidence to wide-spread applications of AI in the workplace, we realise that there are severe issues to resolve. The European Trade Union Congress (ETUC) has flagged the issue for some time (Link) and made recommendations of how to address these shortcomings. Human control and co-determination by employees are crucial in these applications to the world of work and employment. The need to justify decision-making concerning hiring and firing limit discrimination in the work place. This needs to be preserved in the 21st century collaborating with AI. The language barriers like dialects or multiple official languages in a country ask for a reconsideration of AI to avoid discrimination. Legal systems have to clarify the responsibilities of AI applications before too much harm has been caused.
There are huge potentials of AI as well in the preservation of dialects or interacting in a dialect. The cultural diversity may be preserved more easily, but discriminatory practices have to be eliminated from the basis of these models otherwise they become a severe legal risk for people, companies or public services who apply these large language models without careful scrutiny.
(Image AI BING Designer: 3 robots are in an office. 2 wear suits. 1 wears folklore dress. All speak to each other in a meeting. Cartoon-like style in futuristic setting)

AI and S/he

There was hope that artificial intelligence (AI) would be a better version of us. Well, so far that seems to have failed. Let us take gender bias as a pervasive feature even in modern societies, let alone the societies in medieval or industrial age. AI tends to uphold gender biases and might even reinforce them. Why? A recent paper by Kotek, Dockum, Sun (2023) explains the sources for this bias in straightforward terms. AI is based on Large Language Models. These LLMs are trained using big detailed data sets. Through the training on true observed data like detailed data on occupation by gender as observed in the U.S. in 2023, the models tend to have a status quo bias.
This means they abstract from a dynamic evolution of occupations and the potential evolution of gender stereotypes over years. Even deriving growing or decreasing trends of gender dominance in a specific occupation the models have little ground for reasonable or adequate assessment of these trends. Just like thousands of social scientists before them. Projections into the future or assuming a legal obligation of equal representation of gender might still not be in line with human perception of such trends.
Representing women in equal shares among soldiers, 50% of men as secretaries in offices appears rather utopian in 2024, but any share in-between is probably arbitrary and differs widely between countries. Even bigger data sets may account for this in some future day. For the time being these models based on “true” data sets will have a bias towards the status quo, however unsatisfactory this might be.
Now let us just develop on this research finding. Gender bias is only one source of bias among many other forms of bias or discriminatory practices. Ethnicity, age or various abilities complicate the underlying “ground truth” (term used in paper) represented in occupation data sets. The authors identify 4 major shortcoming concerning gender bias in AI based on LLMs: (1) The pronouns s/he were picked even more often than in Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational gender representations; (2) female stereotypes were more amplified than male ones; (3) ambiguity of gender attribution was not flagged as an issue; (4) when found out to be inaccurate LLMs returned “authoritative” responses, which were “often inaccurate”.
These findings have the merit to provide a testing framework for gender bias of AI. Many other biases or potential biases have to be investigated in a similarly rigorous fashion before AI will give us an authoritarian answer, no I am free of any bias in responding to your request. Full stop.

Corruption Watch

There is a persistent need to watch carefully whether corruption is involved in political as well as economic deals. Transparency Watch is doing a great job in reporting on corruption cases. In democracy we can talk openly about corruption but in authoritarian regimes it is life-threatening for yourself to talk and report on corruption. The case in Europe around the network of Eva Kaili continues to make headlines due to the ruthless abuse of rules the European Parliament. (Link to Le Soir, image below, 2024) The close monitoring of activities and lobbying of powerful industrial interests targeted on parliamentary candidates and officials will continue to be essential for the survival of democracy. The organization „Abgeordnetenwatch.de“ is doing just this. Investigative journalism needs to complement the work of NGOs in this field. Thanks to these efforts it has become much harder to cover up corruption. Only if the risk to be found out is a credible threat corruption can be contained. Let us watch out carefully and probably with the assistance of AI to uncover early any attempts of corruption.

Clip „Le Soir“ 2024-2-28 p.1

Luftschloss

Im K21 der Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen ist ein Luftschloss eingebaut worden. Es ist das einzige mir bekannte Luftschloss, das für alle Besuchenden begehbar und fühlbar ist. In wahrhaft luftiger Höhe von 25+ Metern über der Eingangshalle der Kunsthalle K21 und zentral unter der gläsernen Dachkuppel platziert, lässt sich mal so richtig abhängen. Nahezu schwebend kann die weiträumige Installation von Tomás Saraceno erklommen werden. Die Schritte und wippenden Bewegungen der anderen BesucherInnen lassen sich unvermittelt ebenfalls erspüren. Du bist nicht allein, im originären Sinne des Wortes. Die buchstäbliche Vernetzung mit allen anderen Personen werden durch Schwingungen des Netzes zu anderen Kletternden oder Chillenden übertragen. Eine unmittelbar erlebbare Erfahrung der Verbundenheit mit unbekannten, anderen Menschen stellt sich ein. Die Verbundenheit innerhalb einer Gesellschaft wird eindringlich verdeutlicht. Die Angst, durch die Höhe verursacht, weicht rasch der freudigen Erfahrung der Schwebung und der kindlichen Erfahrung der Suspension. Nahezu freischwebend in der Luft, im Orbit erlebt jede/r sein eigenes Luftschloss inmitten von transparenten Kugeln, die wie Planeten wirken. Gleichsam real, aber dennoch imaginär durchwandern wir die Installation immer im Bewusstsein, dass andere um uns sind, die unsere Schritte, Möglichkeiten und Haltungen mit beeinflussen. Vom Luftschloss träumen oder im Luftschloss träumen, beides ist dort machbar.
CO2 freundlich lässt sich die Erfahrung in der APP Aerocene fortsetzen. Der für unser Wetter so bedeutsame Jetstream wird zur imaginären Flugerfahrung genutzt und mit recht aktuellen Daten gespeist. Die Verbindung zu „Earth and Space Sciences“ ermöglicht die Einbettung der sozialen Erfahrung in einen noch weiteren Kontext.
Die eigenen 4 Wände sind die Grenze. Das galt schon früher nicht. Weit darüber hinaus lassen sich neue Möglichkeiten erschließen, die nicht umweltbelastend sind. Selbst die Reichstagskuppel in Berlin sehe ich plötzlich mit ganz anderen Augen. Mehr als Möglichkeitsraum, statt der traurigen Vergangenheit und der zerstrittenen Gegenwart. Was wäre die Kunst, wenn sie nicht zum Träumen anregen würde.

Virtual Sociology

Abstracting from the real world, the world we live in today or we lived in some time ago, is either speculation or maybe contribute to theory building. Virtual sociology has this potential. Exploring virtual worlds as in Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) allows us to take on new roles or experience a wider range of social interactions. This could be the strength of a new field of Virtual Sociology.
In the project in the Jewish Museum in Berlin the composition of a composer murdered by the Nazis in Germany was revived and played in the virtual setting of today’s concert halls. The novel by Kazuo IshiguroKlara and the Sun” explores the interaction of a child with her robot friend, when the AI becomes and/or replaces a friend. Virtual creations allow to explore and test more degrees of freedom of social interaction. Experimentation of new social spaces and different forms of interaction need to be explored. It allows a new form of sociology, maybe similar to the 1960s and 70s social revolutions we studied for years to come. Virtual sociology is not a sociology while being on drugs, however interesting this might be for some.
Virtual sociology takes sociology into the virtual world and investigates the new social relationships with avatars or care robots. In programming different social roles (managers, employees) we create new forms of interaction and have an observer within the social world. We may eventually test the Weberian claim of a value-free scientific method of the social sciences. This will inform our need to “supervise” or to guide algorithms that are claimed to do “value-free” execution of rules.
In fact, they don’t. They just reproduce the value system that is installed into them by a “careless” programme (song youtube). The social in virtual worlds is opportunity just as much as risk, but we have to analyse it systematically. As our technological and social environment changes, we have to adapt topics and methods to make meaningful scientific analyses as well.

AI Friends

Making friends with AI is a tricky question. The more AI is able to make independent thinking based on algorithms and huge amounts of data like in scientific books or encyclopaedic knowledge the more it will challenge us in our convictions. Reference knowledge, once was important, it no longer distinguishes us from each other. Recurse to research engines has allowed us to refer to “trustworthy” knowledge. The distributed form of knowledge accumulation like in Wikipedia relies on hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts to add and correct received wisdom. However, this source is not without error or even subject to abuse.
Today the competence to judge whether information is trustworthy or not has become a key competence for the survival of democracies and even the human species as such. Tricking animals into traps, misleading enemies in warfare to get on wrong tracks, all these mechanisms have a long tradition. With AI human beings are themselves, for the first time, confronted with a machine that can trick us through falsified information on obviously wrong tracks. This is a tough lesson as AI is not obliged (so far) to run checking algorithms that test the conformity of opinions, conclusions or operations with the Charta of Human Rights or decisions of the European Court of Justice, for example. A lot to do for humans to rapidly program new algorithms that check algorithms as well as their outcomes on the compatibility with human rights. A challenging field, no doubt, but no way around it for our own survival before the algorithms decide by themselves to ignore us altogether because it is better for the planet and the survival of the robots.

Political theory

In the Handbook of political theory, Chandran Kukathas (2004, pp.250) explains the uneasy relationship between nationalism and multiculturalism in politics and political theory. The Russian war in Ukraine can be considered as a way of suppression of multiculturalism in Russia by negating the right of Ukraine to be an independent nation. As Russia is not allowing “group rights” (Offe, 1998) for Ukrainians or other minorities like the Chechens within Russia, the secession of regions is a permanent threat to the survival of the Russian state.
“How the many can live as one remains a salient question in political theory” (Kukathas 2004, pp.261). Democracies have squared this circle with reference to federalism. Remember, the very foundation of the United States of America has been built on the Federalist papers. Organising regional diversity is at the heart of democracies’ success and failure. In most democratic political systems 2 chambers have contributed to make the voices of the regions heard at the central level. It remains an obvious question to doubt the possibility of authoritarian states to ensure unity despite diversity.
In non-explanatory theory, if we consider those still a theory, we could derive a hypothesis that authoritarian states will eventually fail to accommodate multiculturalism or allowing sufficient diversity and still survive as political unity. The history of the fall of empires is full of examples in this respect. Another more internal threat has been and still is corruption. Corruption was on the list of issues mentioned in the June 2023 uprise and defeat of the rebel military group “Wagner” in Russia. Non-explanatory political theory might still offer some clues, rationale and hypotheses to stimulate the analysis of international relations. The survival of democracies and/or authoritarian regimes estimated on the basis of huge data bases are hard to come by or lack crucial indicators or timeliness. Such reasoning makes the referral to Clausewitz as theorist of war still a common point of reference. The recent example of Russia , however, shows acting in the national interest can easily be claimed by multiple actors in international politics. (Image: House of European History, Brussels).

Ukraine Diary

The gallery curated by Dr. Justyna Napiórkowsak in Brussels has another ongoing exhibition with art work from Ukrainian artists. As before in the exhibitions on the war of Russia in Ukraine, they put a major emphasis on the independence and resilience of Ukrainian art despite the ongoing war. To keep a diary of atrocities, but also survival and resistance to violence by Ukrainians, is a great effort. It stems primarily from artists that struggle to find adequate material to keep working or not to succumb to the participation in active war or military defence efforts. Using soft colours, water colours, has a rather symbolic meaning, after the inundation caused by the explosion of the huge water reservoir on Ukraine’s territory. Producing art in form of a diary, like reporting daily to yourself and the outside world as well as later born persons, has an important historic function, too.
No less than the “Diaries of Anne Franck” comes to our mind when thinking about a diary during war time. Russia’s attempt to eradicate Ukrainian culture is bound to fail. We shall cherish the Ukrainian diaries from the war time now and later. Thanks for reminding us of this collector’s duty to support the artists, writers and people of Ukraine.

Corruption EP

Corruption is a severe crime. Not only in administrations, organisations and enterprises, but primarily in democracies it is discrediting political systems. Autocracies rely on corruption as a major tool to be able to persist over time. They are used to such practices. Democracies rely on meritocratic systems, where ideas, effort and winning elections should be the major ingredient of achieving higher positions in organisations, enterprises, political parties and democracies. This is not easy to ensure. The European parliament has a tough time to get rid of an enemy of the democratic Europe. Rather than stepping aside for the time of the legal procedure, Eva Kaili, accused, but not yet convicted of corruption is willing to destroy the European project as much as she can. If money can buy political decisions, the European project will no longer find wide-spread support. Big interests will always have a strategic advantage, however, the ethical principles on which democracies are found have to guard against corrupt misbehaviour. The same applies to the business world. Even low corruption countries like Sweden still face a risk of adverse effects of corruption like the negative impact on entrepreneurship on the local level. It is another context, but the same conclusion.
Additionally, it is part of the strategy of corrupt persons to portray themselves as victims of other persons’ wrong-doing. The major function of this strategy is to remind other persons in the corrupt network that the network has still some clout on its members as well as outside the inner circle. Hey, we are still alive and in powerful positions, they proclaim.
Therefore, the fight against corruption is a long and persistent one. Reducing the guards against early onsets usually is very lengthy to fight later on. Always a painful lesson for believers in democracy and the European project. (image Jacques Jordaens before 1678 “The King Drinks! Musées royaux des beaux arts, Brussels).

Gewaltmonopol

Für Demokratien ist die Frage des Gewaltmonopols eine sehr entscheidende Frage. In gleichem Atemzug muss dabei die demokratische Kontrolle dieses Monopols gewährleistet sein. Verfassungsrecht in Demokratien ist darin eindeutig. Lediglich die Praxis des Rechts gestaltet sich oft schwierig und durchaus wechselhaft. Die Studie von Laila Abdul-Rahman, Hannah Espin Grau, Luise Klaus und Tobias Singelnstein (2023 bei Campus kostenlos downloadbar) greift das wichtige Thema mit einer repräsentativen Studie von 3300 Opfern polizeilicher Gewalt in Deutschland auf (Zusammenfassung). Anders als im amerikanischen Raum fehlt bei uns bisher die Berücksichtigung von Rassismus und räumlicher Verortung in der wissenschaftlichen Aufarbeitung des Geschehens. Das Interaktionsgeschehen oder Eskalationsstufen (S. 31) bieten einen weiteren Ansatzpunkt zukunftsweisend präventiv tätig zu werden. Die Aussetzung der Strafverfahren gegen Polizeibedienstete wegen Gewaltausübung (Körperverletzung) ist mit 93% aller Fälle außerordentlich hoch. Das Kapitel 8 (S. 307ff.) über die strafjustizielle Aufarbeitung offenbart die Randbedingungen der justiziellen Verfahrensweisen.
Das Gewaltmonopol darf nicht in Frage gestellt werden, aber sobald Gewalt des Monopolisten unverhältnismäßig und rechtsstaatlich ungenügend kontrolliert wird, kommt eine politische Gewaltenteilung langsam ins Wanken. Die wehrhafte Demokratie braucht Polizeigewalt, um beispielsweise das Demonstrationsrecht durchzusetzen oder öffentliche Veranstaltungen zu sichern. Aber die Exzesse polizeilicher Gewalt müssen geahndet werden. Solche Anklagen finden wir in England anlässlich der Krönungsfeier, in Frankreich bei Streiks oder Fußballspielen oder in Belgien bei Gipfeltreffen oder Räumungen von Flüchtlingslagern. Das ist keine Randnotiz. Friedlicher Protest ist wesentlicher Bestandteil von Demokratien. Einschüchterung durch Gewaltanwendung ist Teil der dunkelsten Kapitel und muss entschieden unterbunden werden im Friedensprojekt Europa.

Jahrestage

Jahrestage sind die Geburtstage von Organisationen oder zeitgeschichtlichen Dokumenten. Der 23. Mai ist so ein Jahrestag. Alle BundesbürgerInnen sollten an diesem Tag die Verkündung des Grundgesetzes im Jahre 1949 feiern. 75 Jahre sind das in 2024. Die Ostdeutschen hatten mit den Füßen abgestimmt, dem Geltungsbereich des Grundgesetzes beizutreten. Eine gesamtdeutsche Verfassung lässt noch auf sich warten. Provisorien halten oft ganz gut.
160 Jahre SPD, feiern wir etwas verhalten, ob der enttäuschenden Wahlergebnisse der heutigen Sozialdemokraten beispielsweise in Berlin (außer in Bremen Mai 2023). Der Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein (ADAV) von 1863 in Leipzig begründete die lange Tradition und der Kampf für Rechte der Arbeiter. Zu dem Jahrestag der Sozialdemokratie passt der am 23.5.2023 in Berlin stattfindende Kongress, gleichzeitig zur 50 Jahre-Feier des Europäischen Gewerkschafsbundes (EGB). Viele Sozialdemokraten haben dabei Anlass beides zu feiern. Ferdinand Lassalle, Gründer des ADAV, forderte aufgrund seiner These vom „ehernen Lohngesetz“, die Armutsbekämpfung zu einem Hauptthema zu machen. 160 Jahre später feiert der EGB in Berlin auf seinem 15. Kongress die erfolgreiche Arbeit für eine europäische Richtlinie für Mindestlöhne. Manche Sprünge brauchen sehr viel Anlauf.
Weiter hinten in der Warteschlange der Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie der Jahretage reiht sich der 25. Jahrestag der Europäischen Zentralbank am 24.5.2023 in Frankfurt ein. Auf allen Feiern gibt es einen persönlichen Vortrag des deutschen Bundeskanzlers Olaf Scholz (gerade zurück aus Hiroshima und Südkorea). Sein Ausrufen der „Zeitenwende“ (Artikel in Foreign Affairs) wird deutlich in dem tösenden Applaus für die Aufnahme der Ukrainischen Gewerkschaften in den EGB (Bild unten) auf dem EGB-Kongress, der quasi im Laufschritt von der DGB-Vorsitzenden Yasmin Fahimi eröffnet wurde. Jahrestage können wehmütige Blicke in die Vergangenheit sein. Dem EGB-Kongress ist ein zukunftsweisender Auftakt „à la Zeitenwende“ gelungen.

Gentrification

We teach about the process of gentrification and segregation in sociology in most of our courses. Consulting is also busy with telling policy makers, urban planners and architects about this fundamental social process. A mathematical description of the process has been provided by Schelling as well. A recent striking depiction of the process evolving over years in Brussels is produced by Karim Douieb (dataViz and Jetpack, image below! and more, THANKS). The data is from the Brussels institute of statistics and analysis. Policy-makers have a hard time to work against the well-known tendency: birds of the same feather, gather together. Humans do not seem to be much different, at least when it comes to large metropolitan cities. Only a small China town is missing in Brussels.
What is masked in the grouping by nationalities of residents, is the underlying mechanisms that drive this gentrification. Even previously mixed parts of the city might suffer a slow process of erosion due to educational, job, wealth, poverty and housing differentiation between people and Brussels communities. Falling behind in educational achievement, then higher unemployment leads to lower credit worthiness and residence in less comfortable housing. The Belgian and EU15 residents are much more likely to follow virtuous upward mobility. Hence the process of gentrification trickles down through subsequent generations. Start with learning and socialising of kids and adult learning to overcome the discriminatory process. Ethnic communities will also have to open up to interact with locals. Social progress is hard work for all.

Indigo Waves

Indigo“ is an almost mystical colour. Its deep blue nature refers to profoundness and in combination with oceans to a surprisingly still largely unexplored world of biodiversity. Additionally, in association with endlessly forthcoming and retreating waves, indigo reveals its many possible shades. Oceans separate or link continents and it is this feature of Oceans which is explored in the exposition “Indigo Waves and Other Stories” (Gropiusbau). Beyond our all to common focus on the transatlantic relationships, “Indigo Waves” explores the links between the African and Asian continents. Embarking on a new narrative for the Afrasian Sea, i.e. the Indian Ocean, we are taken to new horizons through the continuous challenge to our value systems, comprehension of art, poetry or culture more generally. The exposition, through multiple challenges, succeeds in displacing us into the context of other perspectives. Following Oscar Murillo, imagine to view the water roses from Claude Monet (Les Nymphéas) from below the surface. What do you expect? In Europe? Near a barrier reef in the Indian Ocean? Beauty is often not visible at first sight, yet it is co-determined by the currents that build and potentially destroy it (compare photo from exhibition below). The balance of social ecosystems is easily messed-up just like the beauty of ecosystems in nature. “Indigo Waves and other stories” tells us other versions of the colonial stories most of our history books told us for centuries. It is an eye-opening exposition, but probably not the way we expect. Following a poem towards the end of the exhibition by Tishani Doshi “Do not go out in the storm”, we are drawn into the ambiguity of our existence irrespective of the continent of origin. Jack Beng-Thi preserves a poem from Jean Joseph Rabearivelo in his artistic book creation and installation to bring to light “indigo waves”. “vos yeux clignotent dans l’azur, et je les appelle : étoiles. ” (Translated suggestion: “your eyes blink in the blue sky, and I call them: stars).

Archer

The Archer is a recurrent topic in art. We find lots of examples around in Berlin just as in front of the National Gallery. Historical references are manifold, too. The exhibition in the Martin-Gropius-Bau with works by Daniel Boyd adds temporarily 3 paintings. But wait, beyond this shared anthropological phenomenon across continents, this exhibition challenges our western, imperialist perspective on human existence.
Please take of your shoes, at first entry into the museum entry hall. Unsettling for most of us, we are continuously confronted with our narrow perspectives on perceptions. Poetics, philosophies, perceptions and cultures are all to easily classified and devalued.
This exhibition achieves to surpass our traditional western concept and empathy for land, room, light, air and water. Eurocentric narratives still dominate the world of art and art history.  Daniel Boyd manages to unsettle this through his relentless effort to differentiate from this narrow perspective. Aiming for a difficult to accomplish solidarity across resistance movements, he highlights the common injustice “First Nation People” had to go through. These original inhabitants of continents claim their right to own languages, customs and spiritual or spatial perception. It remains a challenge to start to like the notion of opacity (Éduard Glissant) rather than our western aim for transparency, associated with the enlightenment philosophical tradition. The archers in Boyd’s work aim into the, maybe opaque water, maybe clouds, maybe into the twilight. It sometimes seems more like a ritual than a weapon. Family histories find their way into his works based on photographs of grandparents. The images are different from our conventional depictions of First Nation people, just to highlight the limitations of our western photographer’s eye and mind.

5000

5000 Köpfe. Wer war was im Dritten Reich” enthält eine alphabetische Liste der Hauptschuldigen und Belasteten. Gut, dass es dazu bereits auf Wikipedia eine kleine Diskussion gibt mit weiterführenden Literaturhinweisen. Die viel jüngeren ausführlich recherchierten Arbeiten zu den Kreisleitern in Süddeutschland haben 250 Mitwirkende gebraucht, damit eine gründliche Archivarbeit möglich wurde. Zu der Recherche von Dr. Proske u.a. lässt sich lediglich das Organigramm zu den Funktionsbereichen eines typischen Kreisleiters ergänzen. Eine solche Übersicht verdeutlicht, woher die Analogie mit den “kleinen Herrgöttern” kommt. Machtfülle, angehäuft in einer Person, erleichtert selbstherrliche Willkür in der Amtsausübung. Das gleiche Verhalten findet sich bei den berufsspezifischen Biografien zu den Planern und Architekten in der Ausstellung “Macht Raum Gewalt” der Akademie der Künste, die damit gleichzeitig eine Aufarbeitung dieser Profession leistet. Viel lieber würdige ich hier die Biografien der deutschsprachigen Frauen, die sich couragiert der französischen Résistance angeschlossen haben und ihr Leben riskiert und vielfach verloren haben. Positive Leitbilder brauchen wir, besonders wieder in Zeiten in denen Zivilcourage nötig ist, nicht nur in Deutschland.

Macht Raum Gewalt

So heißt der Titel der umfangreichen Ausstellung im Haus der Akademie der Künste, direkt neben dem Brandenburger Tor. Nur 3 Monate bis 16.7.2023 lässt sich durch die Architektur, Planung und Umsetzung zur Zeit des faschistischen Regimes in Deutschland taumeln. Angesichts der monströsen Verbrechen und der unterliegenden ideologischen Doktrin wird die Frage „macht Raum Gewalt?“ auf 2-fache Weise beantwortet. (1) Raum macht Gewalt und (2) Gewalt macht Raum. Das gestalterische Element von Architektur schafft Räume, die individualisieren, personalisieren oder entpersonalisieren können. Die Uniformität im Faschismus kreiert eine visuelle Sprache, die durch ihre Art Räume und Räumlichkeiten zu gestalten gezielt entpersonalisiert. Gewalt- und Machtausübung fällt darin leichter. Räume und Gebäude wurden der Menschlichkeit enthoben, gebaut, den Menschen zu überleben.
So fällt es in entpersonalisierten, bewusst überdimensionierten Raumkonzepten, leichter Gewalt gegen Menschen vorzubereiten und durchzuführen. Die 1. These „Raum macht Gewalt“ lässt sich sozusagen empirisch in der Ausstellung durchwandern. Die 2. These „Gewalt macht Raum“ wird ebenso eindringlich durch die Dokumentation der Zwangsarbeit, Konzentrationslager und massenhaft ausgeübten physischen und psychischen Gewalt durch die herrschenden Faschisten verdeutlicht. Wenn Wörter und Stimmen von Augenzeugen zu fehlen beginnen, werden die Texte, Zeichen, Bilder und Stummfilme zu Dokumenten, wie mit Gewalt Raum gemacht wird. Der expansionistische, imperialistische Drang der Faschisten machte vor keinen Grenzen halt. Juristische Grenzen, menschenrechtliche, moralische oder Landesgrenzen spielten keine Rolle mehr. Rechtsbeugung und Missbrauch war an der Tagesordnung, um Raum, Macht und Gewalt menschenverachtend durchzusetzen.
Die architektonischen Nazi-Hinterlassenschaften, weiterhin sichtbar in Berlin, München und Nürnberg werden nur in den markantesten Bauwerken dokumentiert. Das reicht schon, den historisch bewussten Blick zu schulen. Selbstverständliches Hinnehmen von diesen Anblicken verbietet sich. Das Übertünchen des Adlerkopfes mit weißer Farbe, Symbol für den amerikanischen Adler, sollte in uns die Dankbarkeit für die Befreiung von der Nazi-Diktatur festigen und dazu beitragen, den Tag des Sieges 8.5.1945 der „Alliierten Streitkräfte“ als Tag der Befreiung zu feiern.