Plastic wasted

The amount of plastic that is wasted exceeds our imagination. Even in the most distant islands we find remaining pieces of plastic from our careless consumption. The European Directive 2019/904 has set the limit on detached bottle tops to July 2024. The industry waited until the last few months to implement the old directive. Great that there is hope to find less detached plastic in oceans across the world in some years at least. The behavioral change to move beyond plastics everywhere in our nutrition delivery system is long overdue. We shall get used to bring our own bottles for a refill or other devices to reduce plastic waste further. The change begins with thinking about the topic and finding suitable reusable packaging solutions for yourself. Children learn in art projects about the importance and creativity potential to reuse otherwise wasted materials. Reduce and re-use can be turned into an own competence. Competence in sustainability has been neglected for decades in school curricula, despite its importance for our own health and survival. (Image James Ensor exhibition and competition KBR, Brussels 2024-7)

Digital Estonia

The progress of Estonia in going digital is quite advanced. The electronic identity card which allows data to be linked to health data and accounts or banking gives an impression of how far-reaching digitalization may go. Great steps have been taken to guide the population on the way to move towards the digital (only) world. Learning and coaching of a huge amount need to take place so that people do not abandon or get lost on the path towards “everything digital”. For the so-called digital natives, who have grown up with the sound of their smartphone at the bedside all the time, this move feels “natural”. Some experienced or silver workers got on track, if they were accompanied in suitable forms. The 65+ population might find it harder to adapt to the permanent use of digital devices for not only getting around in your city, but also to do your tax declaration, pay your dues and vote in elections.
Digitalization is not a goal in itself. It has advantages to reach communities in remote places or islands, but it might alienate older persons that have no other person around to assist them in the digital only world. An easy way to get some social science data to inform the debate is to refer to Eurostat and the surveys with information about the “overall life satisfaction” of people (EU-SILC). Checking for some major countries of the EU and neighbours of Estonia with less digitalization the differences are rather small. In terms of overall life satisfaction (16+ years old) Estonia has been catching up to the EU-average mainly between 2013 and 2021. Since then, stagnation at the EU-average is what the data tell. A quick testing of the hypothesis that the older persons (65+) might not see the past evolution as rosy is reflected in the EU-data as well. Good pensions seem to drive the “happiness” of older persons in the EU more than good digitalization. Eventually the two features of a society will have to go hand in hand to improve life satisfaction to higher levels. (Image: Data Eurostat EU-SILC Life satisfaction 65+, selected countries 2013-2023, retrieved on 2024-4-23, comparison with table all ages here, Data source)

AI and languages

A big potential of AI is in the field of languages. Translations have been an expert domain and a pain for pupils at school. In professional settings translations are an expensive extra service for some or a good source of revenue. AI has shifted the translation game to a new level. In terms of speed of translating large amounts of written text AI is hard to beat. In terms of quality the battle of translaters against AI is still on. For chess players the battle against AI has been lost some years ago already. It remains an open question whether translators can still outperform AI or just adapt to using the technology themselves to improve both speed and quality of translations. The European Union with its many languages and commitment to cultural diversity can serve even more language communities with documents in their own language than before at marginally higher costs. A panel on the 9th day of translations at the „foire du livre de Bruxelles” 2024 expressed their reservations with regard to the use of AI in translation of political text or speech. Misunderstanding and misinterpretation will be the rule rather than the exception with potentially harmful consequences. Checking the correctness of translations is a permanent challenge for translators and can be very time consuming. There is room for an AI-assisted translation, but similar to other fields of application of AI, relying exclusively on AI bears high risks as well. We should not underestimate the creative part of translators to do full justice to a text or speech. 2024 Translation

Gas Reduction

Gas consumption in the EU has been reduced by about 20% since the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine. This is a considerable accomplishment and has been sustained for 2 years now. The major element in this has been the reduction of gas consumption in industry, but also households have successfully managed to reduce heating of rooms and water with gas.
Diversification of provision with sizable increases in the provision by the U.S.A is another element in the beginning of a trajectory of gas reduction in Europe. Germany as a major consumer of this type of energy supply is also making strides in shifting consumption. This is my short summary of the report by in 2024-1. All electric devices like heat pumps could speed up the gas reduction further according to the policy recommendation by IEEFA in 2024-2 reducing costs of living and CO2 emissions further.
Data from Eurostat allow to compare monthly data across Member States. The overall trend is a market decrease with differential patterns of refilling supply capacities. Big countries in the EU made and continue to make a real difference compared to previous years (see table below). The comparison of December and January figures across years reflect the months with high sensitivity of the public for heat and cold. Further reductions of gas consumption is feasible due to the mild winter months of 23/24 which allow to reduce heating costs for many households and offices. Good news for the planet and hopefully a move in the right direction to shift away from heating with gas.

Wage indexation

Currently inflation increases rapidly in many countries. Yes, Argentine. The Euro-zone and EEA have mastered the peak of inflation due to shifting away from Russian dependency and cheap prices for energy and dealt with carry-on effects related to high energy inputs. The annual rate of inflation calculated for January 2024 has returned in the Euro-area to 2.8 % close to the European Central Bank target of 2% (compare figure below).  Inflation puts wages under pressure, because household with little savings have a very hard time to cope with sudden price increases. For society as a whole, inflation raises many questions of differential impact of inflation on different parts of society. Savings become devalued, but debt might become easier to be repaid in so-called real terms.
Wage earners suffer in terms of lower purchasing power unless in subsequent wage negotiations pay rises can be achieved. This then depends of negotiation power of groups or sectors of the economy. Trade unions have to enter into tough negotiations and conflicts to even regain the same status quo previously achieved in wage negotiations. A series of conflicts and economic readjustments by more or less powerful sectors or representation comes into play.
All this is happening in a year of a series of national and regional elections as well as the European Parliament election in June. Political turbulance and the rise of extremists might be a result of a lack of taking into account the needs of lower wage groups who are likely to feel the full blast of the high inflation previously still today. Wage indexation as in Belgium, which fixes wages to the rise in inflation previously takes out most of the explosive power of a sudden rise in inflation at the risk of an upward wage-price spiral. The recent inflation figures for Belgium, however, show that this is not the case. An overshooting has been followed by an undershooting of the Euro-zone inflation. The political disturbance and risk of redistribution to more powerful groups in society can be limited through general wage indexation or indexation of for example just minimum wages.
The Russian caused spike in inflation has been successfully mastered in the EU. The political economy of redistribution through inflation will remain an important element unless wage indexation is used in more countries to escape populists’ and extremists’ voices. (Image Eurostat data and ESTATEC app)


The Republic of Georgia is honored with a wide ranging program in Brussels in the series of countries presented as part of the”Europalia” events and exhibitions. The exhibition at Bozar in the center of Brussels has a focus on the years between 1900-1936. It is astonishing to look at the creative examples of adaptations from western modern art with cubism and expressionist resemblance. Many artists had travelled to western parts of Europe or trained at well-known art schools there. Own adaptations to paintings, theatre and cinema yielded a unique style of Georgian modernism before Stalinism put an end to independent artists and their creative work.

During the short spells of political independence Georgia managed to re-establish each time a remarkable will to its own culture. Unity with artistic pluralism is a core value of the European unity and union as well. We are many and happy to have a chance with Georgian people to celebrate their artistic past and future.

catalog of exhibition Brussels 2023

Taxing Europe

From time to time it is helpful to compare basic tax rates, for example value added tax, across the EU to understand the different economic and social policy approaches. The range of VAT from Hungary 27% to Luxembourg 17% is astonishing and it does not really feel like we are together in a common market. Okay, the illiberal, authoritarian state of Hungary is taxing the most, a clear message to visitors from another European country that this authoritarian state is relying on tax on consumption of its own people and visitors to foot the bill of state expenditure.
It is also interesting to realise that some countries with lower VAT rates have disproportionate public debates about supposed tax burdens. Tax levels are a political choice and much depends on redistributive appropriate use of tax receipts to the benefit of all or specifically those most in need. The potential for redistribution to parents, children, pensions, the poor or green investments also relies to some extent on the overall budget. The most surprising thing is the absence of a debate about tax rates, the size of the tax base and the ample exemptions or reduced rates. Of course, most of us complain about income taxes, but we all agree that it is nice to see that someone is taking care of the abundant autumn leaves or lighting of streets in the darker seasons. Even Adam Smith wrote in favour of the “night-watch state” that assures sufficient security levels. Taxing Europe to ensure that this role of the state can be taken seriously is still a common denominator across Europe.
Image: own presentation based on EU-data from 2022 LINK.

Nations Fail

Ever since Adam Smith wrote on the “Wealth of Nations” the topic concerns social scientists. The discourse around the wealth of nations has become even more fundamental these days. Beyond wealth calculated in economic terms we are convinced to add well-being of the population as well as the state of the environment into the accounting procedures like national accounts. But wait a second. Similar to the term wealth we have to widen our perspective in what is considered to be a nation. Shifting borders through wars (Russia aggression on Ukraine) or separatist tendencies of regions, (re-)unification of Germany or Korea (eventually) show that the nation is a concept in flux. Considering migrants from former colonies still as having residential rights in the colonising country shows, there is more to nations than a one size fits all nation concept.
Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson had published the book on “Why nations fail. The origins of power, prosperity and poverty” already in 2012. On the 3rd of October Germany celebrates its re-unification only because the Russian dominated German Democratic Republic (and the other Eastern European satellite states under Russian control) can be considered as a failed state. These Russian dominated states crushed private initiatives and build corrupt systems where party allegiance and hierarchical structures were overemphasised. Following Acemoglu and Robinson (chapter 10) the lack of diffusion of prosperity is likely to be the root cause. Even similar to the French revolution, which brought about tough measures of redistribution, the external threats to the post-revolution France demanded subscription of masses into armies to defend the young republic against aristocratic rulers in the surroundings. If monarchy in France is a failed state, the post-revolution France survives due to high identification with the republican idea. The Soviet dominated Ukraine is a failed state, but the Ukraine of today resists due to its willingness to defend its own republican ideals. To get virtuous circles of development started, inclusiveness across the board is necessary. Leave nobody behind, seems to be a shortcut summary. It is much easier said than done. Loosing younger generations in the sense that they no longer subscribe or feel part of an inclusive wealth of the nation is a highly dangerous path. Failed states have a history in failed inclusive social and economic practices. Democracies are at risks just as much as authoritarian nations. However, democracies have better institutional settings to address the lack of inclusion and in multiple ways.
When I celebrate the 3rd of October in the Federal Republic of Germany I celebrate (1) the accomplished failure of the GDR, its undemocratically elected elites, corrupt institutions and the failure of the thousands of willing collaborators of the Russia-backed regime; (2) the peaceful resistance movement, (3) the relatively short-lived humanitarian focus of the Russian leadership at the time to not send in the tanks and (4) the willingness of the FRG to support 20 million new citizens for many years to come (5) the allies of the FRG to accept the potential security threat of a strengthened Federal Republic of Germany, which might entail a shift in the balance of power in Europe.
And yet, even in 2023 we pose questions on what is the concept of failure, when authoritarian regime can still survive for sooo long and some still accomplish extensions. We keep questioning the sense of the term “nation” in modern times and across the globe. Too many wars are still fought in the name of a “nation” even if only a handful of military-supported leaders and single autocrats try to impose wars in the name of some rather vague or plainly mistaken claim of nationhood.
On the 3rd of October we celebrate that “nations can fail” opening a path into a more prosperous and inclusive society. Some nations fail, just because they were no nation in the first place. The GDR was such an artefact of international compromise as part of the overall “balance of power” and the Cold War. The result of this process gives so much hope to other divided nations (Korea) or nations under authoritarian oppressive rule.


New scientific evidence on corruption and stereotypes about corruption reveals surprising behavioural responses. Social psychologist classified corruption as a behavioural trait of a person. The new evidence of a study that includes country-specific stereotypes into a corruption experiment shows there are always two sides to consider: the corrupted as well as the corrupting person. Both hold stereotypes about the likelihood another person (from a specific country background) is likely to accept a bribe.
Using a widely accepted index from Transparency International on corruption in countries the experiment uses real payouts to test the probability that a person from country X is trying to bribe a person from country Y. Rather than a personal trait, the study finds that many persons become “conditionally corrupt”. This describes the behaviour to offer a bribe to a person occurs more often if you believe the probability that the person accepts corruption is high. Dorrough, Köbis et al. (Link publication) is cited in “nautilus” explaining this by, quote, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Additionally, the stereotypes on corruption prevalence leads people to act more on what they believe is common practice rather than what is the basic legal or ethical standard.
From behavioural ethics we know the urge of people to find justifications for their unethical behaviour to themselves or to others. This is called “justified ethicality”.
Following this rationale, it will be easier to accept a bribe, if the person originates from a high reputation of corruption. In order to correct for such bias due to stereotypes it is important to pursue corruption vigorously and, just as important, communicate a lot about this behavioural change so that stereotypes begin to change in the mindsets of other persons as well. There are many ways to Rome and some turn out to be quite long.

Calendar Time

We all use calendars to organize our time almost unconsciously. This is helpful to organize and synchronize our time together. Working time, family and individual time tend to use the same time structure to facilitate community. Work arrangements depend a lot on a common method to structure time. The work-life balance hinges a lot on synchronization of calendars and joint time slots. Towards the end of the annual vacation period in Europe the annualized change of calendars is still common practice despite most people going digital. Annual overviews allow to allocate and potentially synchronize calendars for major events or periods (next break, period devoted to learning, family planning etc.). A cleavage that differentiated Europe in the analogous times was that some countries like Germany use(d) chronological calendars running from 1st of January until 31st of December and counting calendar weeks (1-52). Many other countries have long ago moved on to “functionalist” calendars running based on the school year from 1st of September to 31st of August each year. Different planning horizons appear to be the obvious outcome. Whereas the former might focus on the planning of the end of the calendar year 2023, the latter functionalist calendars begin to structure the new year-long period 2023-24 including the next summer break towards the end of the next schooling year.
In France you start end of August 2023 to plan ahead until end of August 2024. This comprises the Olympic games in Paris 2024. Don’t worry, most tickets are sold out already and attributed through lotteries. When people in Germany start to buy calendars for 2024 and organize a printed calendar, this occurs traditionally around Christmas time and New Year’s celebrations.
Specific professions follow their own calendar time. Academic years or accounting years may well differ from the other annualised organisation of time through calendars. Of course, religions have established their own calendars just as migrating birds or French revolutionaries in the 18th century. Meteorological calendars or sensor-based structuring of annual sequences of seasons like in trees, plants or insects add to the impression of the existence of multiple clocks.
A de-synchronisation of these multiple calendars increases the need to coordinate societies within or society and the economy, religion or ecology. I liked my printed calendars over the years. Now I shall print different versions for different countries and functions. I still wonder, if my life got easier or more complex. Probably, it has only become easier to organise complexity and diversity. Clock 6 video


The UN strategic development goals (SDGs) list after the eradication of hunger as number 2 no hunger by the year 2030. Following the report of FAO, the UN 🇺🇳 organization in charge of nutrition in a larger sense, the world is moving further away from reaching this goal in the 4 last years. The Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted supply chains and caused higher prices for basic ingredients. The poorest countries were most vulnerable to such price increases when even in the rich world government deficits were rising sharply. Before sufficient relief arrived Russia’s war in Ukraine destroyed crops, interrupted again supply chains from Ukraine to many of the poorest nations. Energy prices are a substantial part in the production of fertilizers for agricultural products. Same story Russia disrupted the whole supply chains for food production at affordable prices for the poorest parts of the world. Additionally, Indian food production was lower due to the drought, Pakistan had extreme flooding. Both countries are important export nations for feeding the world. Continuing climate change is likely to put global food production under additional pressure. Price rises will hit the poorest again and again. Feeding animals with crops that could otherwise alleviate hunger in other parts of the world puts the rich world’s consumption patterns also into the spotlight. Fighting global hunger is largely a question of how wealthy nations deal with nutrition. The struggle to fight obesity and hunger under the joint concern of malnutrition unites all parts of the world. Time to act together on both topics.


Crises, yes crises, we have seen a few in recent years. After the first financial crisis, 2009, the COVID-19 crisis and now the energy crisis, , they all have cost us respectively 1.6%, 2.5% and lately a whopping  7.8% of GDP loss according to Tom Krebs (Uni Mannheim and FNE) in his assessment of lessons from these crises. Also Philip Lane (ECB) showed the lower GDP growth rates due to the crises.
We lost out on the wealth of our nations and face mounting difficulties for the distribution of this wealth. As firms cashed in on profit margins lately, workers risk even more to fall behind significantly. At the same time, it is high time to prepare for the next winter season now, to ensure the same risks as the dependency on energy resources from outside Europe, especially Russia, can be maintained. The conference of the Forum New Economy from the 8th of May 2023 discussed several ways forward to learn our lessons from these crises. Strategic independence needs to be properly defined for Europe as a whole, not just in each individual state. Implementation has to be rapid as well. Geopolitical challenges will not wait for us to finish discussions. Germany and minister Robert Habeck has received some acclaim from the economists for a fast and rather successful reaction to safe us from an energy crisis last winter. Massive increases in renewables (+20% solar energy) has helped a lot to ensure sufficent energy supply when France suffered heavy reductions from its nuclear energy power plants. “Let the sun shine … in”, I would sing. However, we have to think even further ahead build our resilience based on improved energy efficiency and may rethink the risks and vulnerabilities of our economic model of production and consumption. Diversifying imports from Russia with imports from other countries and other (green) forms energy is part of the solution. A heavy reliance on China as buyer of our products is good for trade balance, but some sectors (automotive) are nowadays critically dependent on selling in China. Some of our partners are very anxious about this new dependency on Asia for our economic growth model (see figure below from conference). Market based economies suffer more openly from huge economic swings than more secret-based autocratic economies. Our state agencies have to keep that in mind and state intervention seems to become more likely options in future as we have already witnessed in the past crises. We had to rely on running higher state deficits to cover the losses incurred from the crises. The EU, the larger Europe in combination with the transatlantic and pacific alliances has a lot of resources to address these strategic interdependencies. Being prepared, in strategic thinking and potential implementation procedures is a major part of building capacities that ensure resilience and strategic independence. As in a game of chess, you have to think ahead a couple of steps to frighten off some potentially dangerous moves of other players.
In terms of a planetary concern we still have to address the major climate crisis and the last 3 crises have largely contributed to reduce the resources we have available to address climate change. Smart crisis management succeded to ask for emission reductions in return for subsidies from firms and private households. This might be the “best practice examples” worthy to learn from. There are still huge evaluation tasks for analysts of these crises.

U for Union

Union, understanding, undo, unknown, uncertainty, universe, urbanization, use, u-turn. All those u-words spark imagination. Additionally, the short forms of u as abbreviation for you, ur = your, youth and smartphone typing are creating for us abbreviations to communicate even faster and shorter via social media. Union is my favourite of this list for several reasons: (1) Marital union, passionate topic not only for family sociologists, (2) trade unions, as collective form to organize solidarity in and across societies, (3) European Union, the formidable tool to create, conserve and ensure peaceful developments in Europe. We have to prolong this list with the union jack, the united states, the united nations and …, please continue the list.
For me, in union I see a whole film running, a process proceeding, or persons uniting. Unionization, just like two persons deciding to pass more time together, has some magic in it. Match making is the modern term for it. No Union without reunion,  dissolving a union might be part of the process as well, as painful it can turn out to be. Most of the times we grow throughout the process. Forming a union, in all senses of the word and of all sorts of forms, is a kind of teleological urge of us as a species. We share this with many animals but have also developed strategies and weapons to force others into union. Unfortunately, no u-word without its potential to be used in the sense of abuse. Unite to defend the union of fans of unions. (Evolution of Union of Tweets own Video 12-2022). IMG_4611

C for Corruption

After the association of C with crises of corona, climate, consumption and the church we have to come back to one of the original links: corruption. Beyond the work of describing and analysing corruption from the time of the Roman empire to the Americas of today (Link) by Thomas Strunck, the re-reading of Niccoló Machiavelli is recommended by a number of scholars (in latin here). Also, in Asia the work and writings of Niccoló have been rediscovered (Link). “non creando in veritá le cuose nove”. It needs “una ferma experienza”. As people don’t just believe in the truth of new reasons, a firm experience of them is needed. New princes cannot just pray, they have to install a new vision or belief with force (p.25) by literally forcing persons (forzare) or “fare … credere par forza” stated in Chapter 6 of THE PRINCE. If we just complement the term force by force of persuasion, or money as surrogate for both, the writing of Niccoló speaks directly to corruption in our times.  History does not repeat itself. However, the history of ideas still teaches “some dogs old tricks” until they are found out by investigative journalism and an independent judiciary, which both did not exit at Niccoló’s time. (inspired by Chaudhuri, S. & Chakravarty, P. (2022) Machiavelli Then and Now: History, Politics, Literature. Cambridge University Press.)

State of the Union

The times they are a changing”. Currently, we witness that democracies are at multiple risks. One existential threat is, of course, war of external origin. Democracies have been perceived as often to slow to mobilize military forces sufficient to resist “Blitzkrieg”. What Nazi-Germany applied successful at the beginning took a long time and millions of dead persons to rectify. Similarly, the threat to Ukraine’s independence and liberal aspirations are threatened by Russian imperialism. The other existential threat is that of “the enemy within”. This is the conclusion by Canova (2011, p.213) when he writes on “democracy’s disappearing duties”. Whereas he has primarily in mind, that citizens need to participate more actively in the duties to democracy’s survival. These are “the duty to become informed and to vote, as well as rights and duties related to civic and/or military duties. The discussion, whether we need an army of the many or an army of specialists has shifted largely in favour of the need for specialists, simply think of cyber or drone war technology. However, the threat of the enemies from within becomes clear if we remember terrorist attacks targeted at democracies practice of free movement, free speech or art. Another centuries-old threat has come to our attention again. Corruption. The slow-motion erosion of democracies is hard to fight against as it operates not with visible tanks and weapons, but with clandestine and psychological ways of slow corrosion of organisations and institutions. Combatting corruption is even more tricky in cross-country settings like the European Union. Reference to cultural practices and exclusive or inner circles as cultural exceptionalism make it hard to introduce non-discriminatory monitoring and controlling mechanisms in democracies. Only a well-equipped security, police and judicial system can stem the risk to democracies from corruption and organized crime. It is not only a matter of state responsibility, but our democracies rely on an alert public to stand up continually for our basic values. Just singing the national and European anthem is not enough, fighting corruption is laboursome and cumbersome, particularly as corrupt circles do not refrain from using brute force and weapons (Reichsbürger, Mafia, etc.). Addressing inner and outer enemies at the same time remains high on the agenda for the surviving and thriving of democracies. The foundation ideas of the European Union were constructed by Monnet and Schuman on a sustainable democracy.  Let’s not endanger this through a sluggish response on corruption.
inspired by Canova, T.A. 2011: Democracy’s disappearing duties. In: Democratic Citizenship and War. Peled, V. et al. (eds.) pp. 199-216.


There is an extensive literature on corruption in the social sciences. However, the evil practice continues to ruin personal lifes, institutions and countries. Psychologists put corrupt persons in the psychopath life trajectory (Link) or explain corruption as result of the triad of personality traits for persons scoring high on not only psychopathy, but also on narcissism as well as  Machiavellianism (Link).  Some important lessons derive from a fast reading of the scientific literature. (1) Corruption develops over a period of time. The creed for ever more power seems a strong driving force. (2) Some personality traits are more likely to deteriorate into corruptive behavior and (3) institutions need to monitor carefully leadership practices and guard against abuses of power already at small instances like threatening with violence or dismissal. (4) Countries can do a lot to limit corruption through adequate legal systems, most notably through a truely independent judiciary as well as the need of investigative journalism to accompany potentially illicit behavior. All this comes at a cost, but without it democracies are at high risk. The European Union has to strengthen its defences in this respect to remain a credible institution, just as much as a great number of Member States. Not only the World Bank or OECD need to be monitoring countries, but we all need to be better equiped to read the early signs of corruption.  Whistle blowing and the protection of these persons is part of an effective anti-corruption system. Early signs of “nepotism” and “favoring of friends” in the workplace are easy to identify, but taking measures against it, needs firm committment on the part of advisory boards, colleagues at work or other interested parties like stakeholders or investors in case of private firms (wirecard) . (Link to NZZ).


Angela Merkel gehört nun endgültig zur Geschichte. Zuerst die Ausstellung von Merkel-Porträts von 1919-2021 der Fotografin Herlinde Koelbl im DHM mit Katalog erschienen bei Taschen, kürzlich das Interview des Spiegelredakteurs und die Quintessenz daraus in LeMonde vom 29.11.22, zusammengenommen eine kleine Bilanz der Amtszeiten.  Die Porträts (1) in Draufsicht 2/3 des Bildes durch das Gesicht ausgefüllt und (2) stehend mit Händen zur Raute geformt, zeigen das Altern durch die Last der Ämter. Ist die Raute anfangs noch mit Druck und weit abgesreizten Fingern zu sehen, wird die Geste im Laufe der Amtszeit lust- und kraftlos. Der Gestaltungswille noch als Umweltministerin hat sich durch Getrieben-sein später abgenutzt. Das Bild 13 der Pressemappe zeigt die Kanzlerin 2020 mit Maske und nur noch 2 Fingern jeder Hand, die sich berühren. Aus der Versuch der Quadratur des Kreises in Amts-, Partei- und Koalitionsgeschäften. Auch das Bild auf S. 243 des Katalogs von 2021 spiegelt eher eine gequälte Kanzerlin statt eine streitbare Verfechterin ihres Amtes wider. In Rückschau erscheint es wohl doch zu lange gewesen sein für den Menschen Merkel. Der Verweis auf das freiwille Ausscheiden aus den Ämtern ist nur die halbe Wahrheit. Im Spiegel Interview (ab Minute 12!) berichtet Frau Merkel von 2 Dingen, die sie sich jetzt vorgenommen hat: mehr bewegen und mehr lesen. Das trifft es auf den Kopf.
Mehr bewegen, eben gerade in der Politik hätten sich Millionen von Deutschen gewünscht, dass sie mehr bewegt auf wichtigen Themen- und Politikfeldern. Überall da zum Beispiel, wo wir nun wissen, wir hinken hinterher: Klimaschutz, digitale und öffentliche Infrastruktur, Verteidigungssysteme, Bekämpfung von Ungleichheit, Steuergerechtigkeit, nachhaltigen Verkehr in Städten und auf dem Land, um nur einige zu nennen.
Mehr lesen, offenbart, das Hören auf Einflüsterer hatte einen hohen Stellenwert, scheinbar mehr, als das Erarbeiten einer eigenen Position durch Aktenstudium. Die Regierungskunst der Kanzlerin bestand hauptsächlich im geschickten Moderieren der unterschiedlichen Positionen innerhalb der Koalitionspartner, insbesondere auch mit der CSU. Im Rückblick heute kommen mir die 16 Regierungsjahre als Zeit der verpassten Chancen vor, aber die Bescheidenheit im Amt hat Deutschland gut gestanden. Das hat Olaf Scholz bei ihr abgeguckt, nur, ihr Nachfolger ist zu beherztem Handeln im Amt gezwungen. Das blieb Angela Merkel weitgehend erspart. Jetzt ist Bewegung gefragt, Aufholbewegung zunächst. Stillstand überwinden, Planungsverfahren verkürzen damit erneuerbare Energien sprießen.

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In unseren hektischen Zeiten, kommt so ein Aufruf immer passend. Statt Reisen kann ja auch online erkundet werden. Alles bildet, heute multimedial versteht sich. Dennoch lässt es sich wunderbar statt im stillen, heute kalten, Kämmerlein in öffentlichen Bibliotheken stöbern oder recherchieren. Die Bibliothèque nationale de France hat dazu eine alte gute Stube renoviert und richtig herausgeputzt. Die Kathedralen der Moderne in Stockholm, Brüssel mal flämisch, mal frankophon setzen auch bereits auf Zugänglichkeit für alle. Das Konzept war bereits in Paris in den aufgestellten Büchern, der Bibliothekstürme der BnF präsent. Begehbare Bücher samt Garten, Ausstellungen und Treffpunkten ziehen viele Besuchenden an. Mit dem historischen Standort Richelieu im Zentrum von Paris nahe Chatelet ist eine neue Dimension entstanden. Ob es gelingen wird, Touristen zu Lesenden und zu Lernenden weiter zu entwickeln, bleibt eine wichtige Frage für das Überleben unserer Kulturen und Demokratien. Neben der zur Schaustellung von Büchern gibt es auch Zugang zu neuen Medien und ein Set für virtuelle Realitäten zu Ausstellungen moderner Künstler seit dem Impressionismus. Die Verknüpfung von Kunst-, Geistes- und Architekturgeschichte mit aktuellem Design (neue Designerstühle) ist gelungen, Probesitzen eingeschlossen. So erschließen sich neue Traumwelten und harte Realitäten in einem Zug.


Die Betrachtung von Krieg und Kriegsverbrechen im weiteren Kontext als Anwendung von kollektiver Gewalt erlaubt das Einbeziehen eines breiteren Spektrums an sozialwissenschaftlichen Theorien. Auf Putins Nachttisch liegt direkt neben dem Buch von Machiavelli Il Principe, das Buch mit dem Titel Dell’arte della guerra. Ein Satz daraus besagt, lass keine Chance verstreichen, die fast keine Kosten hat (Jakobsen S. 24). Also rein in die Ukraine bevor das Land und Leute zu stark werden. Tor Jakobsen (Hrsg.) hat das in dem Band zu Krieg, Theorien und Forschung gut herausgearbeitet. Die Einleitung listet die Gründe für Krieg. Den Soziologen interessiert besonders die Erwähnung von gesellschaftlichen Strukturen, auf Russland bezogen würde das den Einfluss von Militär auf und Status innerhalb von Gesellschaften einschließen. Besteuerung für die Unabhängigkeit der USA sowie die Bedeutung von grenzüberschreitendem Handel gehören zu diesen Themen. Neben diesen liberalen Thesen für oder zur Vermeidung von Krieg existieren die sogenannten radikalen Argumente, wie Ungleichheit, ausländische Investitionen und Imperialismus, die zu erhöhten Risiken für Krieg führen (S. xii.). Tilly 2003 The politics of collective violence erweist sich als wichtige Lektüre. Kreieren einer Identität zusammen mit political entrepreneurship schaffen gemeinsam Voraussetzungen für kollektive Gewalt. S. 25. Im Konflikt der Ukraine spielen ethnische, sprachliche und kulturelle Ursachen ebenfalls eine Rolle. Auch lässt sich die ökonomische Erklärung von Krieg mit Zugewinn- und Verlustkategorien errechnen für alle beteiligten und sogar scheinbar unbeteiligte Parteien. Kosten-Nutzen-Analyse lässt grüßen mit all ihren Unwägbarkeiten und potenziellen oder faktischen Fehleinschätzungen. Für den derzeitigen Krieg in Europa lässt sich die deprived actor Theorie auf das russische Militär beziehen während die ukrainische Strategie versucht dem rational actor Modell folgt. So stehen sich neben den Heeren auch Theorien gegenüber. Mir gefielen die Sandkastenspiele bei denen nicht wirklich geschossen wurde am besten. Vielleicht ist ja doch noch was in dem Spruch: Putin will wieder Krieg, aber keiner geht mehr hin.

Über Clausewitz2

Hugh Smith von der „School of Humanities and Social Science” der Australischen Akademie der Streitkräfte überschreibt sein letztes Kapitel im Buch „On Clausewitz“ von 2005 „Farewell to Clausewitz?“. Das Fragezeichen signalisiert die Zweifel, ob Clausewitz nicht weiterhin für uns auch am anderen Ende der Welt eine wichtige Lektüre bleibt. Mit der Verfügbarkeit von Atomwaffen dachten einige Strategen, Abschreckung durch Nuklearwaffen würde neuerliche Kriege als Fortsetzung von Politik verbieten, aber Smith (2005, S.244) argumentiert, die Bedeutung von Clausewitz ist sogar größer geworden, denn die Notwendigkeit zu verstehen, wie Krieg und Politik miteinander verbunden sind, ist größer denn je. Michael Howard wird sogar mit dem Ausspruch zitiert: „We are all Clausewitzians now“ (S.257). Neben einer Ableitung von für das Militär notwendigen Qualifikationserfordernissen (S.264) erinnert er an die Überzeugung von Clausewitz, dass Staaten zum Mittel des Krieges greifen werden, „if the prize is worth it“ (S.266). Clausewitz war in den Worten von Hugh Smith (2005, S.271) hilfreich: „Modern war, used cautiously and carefully as an instrument of policy, avoids the worst though it does not promote the best”. Aus einer historischen und philosophischen Perspektive heraus, unter Berücksichtigung der „analyse clausewitzienne“, schreibt Hugh Smith: „No paradigm of war is right or wrong. It is a matter of how humanity collectively chooses to interpret war. Clausewitz offered a powerful interpretation of war based on the state and its capacity for rational pursuit of national interests that became the dominant- though not undisputed – paradigm for understanding war in Europe… “.

Gallie (1978) bleibt eine wichtige Referenz zum Thema Krieg und Frieden. Anders als Tolstoi hat sein Buch den Titel Philosophers of Peace and War“. Die von ihm gestellte Frage lautet: Wie sollten gute Außenbeziehungen eines Staates aussehen? (S. 141). Die Liste der zu konsultierenden Autoren reicht von Kant, Clausewitz, Marx, Engels bis zu Tolstoi. Abschließend stellt Gallie sich und wir uns die Frage, wann ist der Einsatz von Gewalt gerechtfertigt? Damit erweitert sich das Spektrum der Fragen allerdings erheblich.

Das Werk von Carl von Clausewitz hat eine beträchtliche Zahl von Analysten auf allen Kontinenten hervorgebracht. Mit dem neuerlichen Krieg in Europa in der Ukraine hat sich die 200-jährige Wirkungsgeschichte (Durieux, 2008, S.21) nochmals verlängert. Wichtig ist die Auseinandersetzung mit Clausewitz im deutsch-französischen Verhältnis, denn nur so können wir die Bedeutung des Politischen betonen und alles daransetzen, dass es zu keiner Austragung von Konflikten mit militärischen Mitteln mehr kommt.  Anders ist es mit der Rezeption von Clausewitz in Russland. Jacobs (1969) hat sich intensiv mit dem russischen Militärstrategen Frunze befasst, der mit einer Grabrede von Stalin gewürdigt wurde. Allein diese Tatsache lässt uns schon zusammenzucken. Der Name Frunze ist in der Militärstrategie verbunden mit dem Begriff der „proletarischen Militärdoktrin“. Der Kommentar von Jacobs zu dieser Strategie ist ernüchternd. Bei der proletarischen Militärdoktrin handelt es sich vornehmlich um eine ritualisierte, im Gegensatz zu einer realistischen Militärdoktrin. In einer solchen vereinigten Militärdoktrin werden Staatsziele, militärische Konzepte, lokale Besonderheiten and „skills“, zusammengeführt und übertragen auf militärische Belange. Frunze wird zitiert mit: „‘unified military doctrine‘ is the aggregate of military attainments and military bases, of practical methods and national skills which the country considers best for a given historical moment and which permeate the military system of the state from top to bottom. Aus dieser Langzeitsicht erklärt sich dann eventuell der “ritualisierte” Nazivergleich von Putin mit Bezug auf die Ukraine als der ewige Feind des Bolschewismus sowie die lokale Verbundenheit mit Teilen der Ukraine als ureigener Teil der größeren, russischen Heimat. Es stehen sich dementsprechend in der Ukraine eine ritualisierte Militärdoktrin einer auf Realpolitik basierenden Militärstrategie gegenüber. Was bleibt? Diplomatie als realistisches und strategisches Ritual bleibt der Ausweg aus der Krise. Krim-Sekt mit Putin? Geschmacklos ja, aber wenn es dem Frieden dient, vielleicht doch nötig?
Hintergrundliteratur: CARLES JOVANÍ GIL S.203-222. in “Pulling together or pulling apart? Perspectives on Nationhood, Identity, and Belonging in Europe” by Belenguer and Brady (eds.) 2020.

Über Clausewitz1

„Sur Clausewitz“ von Raymond Aron (1987) eröffnet die Perspektive auf das Gedankengebäude, Gedankenexperimente, Paradigmen und Theorien des Krieges. Aron beginnt seinen Vortrag 1980 in Berlin mit dem bekannten, markanten Satz von Clausewitz: Der Krieg ist die Fortsetzung von Politik mit anderen Mitteln (S.14). Gescheiterte Diplomatie führt dann zur Steigerung der Gewalttätigkeiten. Wichtig ist seine Sicht auf Clausewitz als „théoricien de la guérilla, de l’insurrection populaire“ S.19. Der Begriff der Volksbewaffnung“, den Aron zitiert, haben wir erneut in der Bewaffnung von Personen in der Ukraine beobachten können. Aron hebt in seiner „analyse clausewitzienne“ hervor, dass es nach Clausewitz im Krieg nicht um Siegen geht, sondern um das Erreichen von bestimmten Zielen (S. 33). Siege sind Teil einer Taktik, nicht aber von strategischen Zielen. Das verdeutlicht die rationale Sicht auf Ergebnisse, Einsätze, Verluste und die Zeiten, vor, während sowie nach dem Krieg. Diese rationale Sicht auf Krieg ist erschreckend nüchtern, da Menschenleben nicht emotional in das Kalkül eingehen. Vergangene Kriege werden zur Konstruktion der Theorie verwendet und spätere Autoren wie Raymond Aron verwenden die Theorie zur Subsumierung und Erklärung der verwendeten Strategien späterer Kriege. Eine der überraschend anmutenden Folgerungen von Clausewitz ist beispielsweise die Überlegenheit der Verteidigung gegenüber einem Angriffskrieg. Dieser besteht darin, sich nach anfänglichem Rückzug die Orte der Kämpfe „wählen“ zu können. Zusammengenommen mit der Bewaffnung der Bevölkerung lässt sich im Krieg in der Ukraine, die Möglichkeiten der Verteidigung umreißen. Ein überraschendes Hinauszögern des Krieges ist vielleicht ein kleiner Sieg, es geht aber um die Erreichung von übergeordneten Zielen auf beiden Seiten. Was diese Ziele sind, bleibt zunächst verborgen und ist mehr im Politischen als im Militärischen zu suchen. Russische Innenpolitik, Machterhalt der Militäreliten auf der einen Seite, westliche Anbindung und Unterstützung auf Seiten der Ukraine. So könnte eine „realpolitische Analyse Clausewitzienne“ aussehen. Nüchtern, wie auf einem Schachbrett, eventuell versteckten Regeln folgend, die mit symbolischen Aktionen taktiert, oft die wirklichen Ziele verbergend. Auszug aus Le Monde vom 18.3.2022 ergänzt die Analyse.


Der letzte europäische Monat der Cybersicherheit hat wohl kaum zu einer nennenswerten Verbesserung der Situation der Cybersicherheit geführt. Beispielsweise der Tankstellenzulieferer mit Öl, die Oiltanking aus HH, hat einen Cyberangriff nicht abwehren können. So wird die wahrscheinliche RansomWareAttacke wohl erst nach Zahlung in Cryptowährung wieder zu vollen Funktionalität zurückkehren können. Scheinbar können zwischenzeitlich die Preise nicht geändert werden und es sind keine Kartenzahlungen möglich. Zusätzlich waren belgische Häfen betroffen. Der internationale “safer internet day” zeigt ebenfalls wenig Wirkung. Wer wichtige Passwörter heute geändert? Eben.
Eurostat hat passgenau zumTag die Statistik zur Verwendung der Internetbrowser und deren Sicherheitseinstellungen veröffentlicht. (s.u.). Auch die sehr offene Volkswirtschaft Deutschland hat da noch einiges zu tun, besonders bei der Verwendung von spezifischer Software. Die wissenschaftliche online Zeitschrift “Frontiers in Psychology” hat eine kleine Studie mit 333 Studierenden veröffentlicht bei der das Konzept “Techno-Stress” angesprochen wird. Also die großen Konzerne der Internetgiganten (GAFAM) verursachen bei fehlendem Datenschutz (DSGVO) bei Nutzenden erheblichen “Techno-Stress”. Zoom-meetings und Ransomwareattacken etc. haben sicherlich das Stresslevel nochmals erhöht, gerade für diejenigen, die selten TechnoMusik hören.
Passwortmanager erlauben es, komplizierte Passwörter zu vergeben und zu verwenden. Machen müssen wir das selbst, die Geschäftsmodelle der Internetgiganten basieren auf unserer Trägheit und Unwissenheit. Damit lässt sich richtig viel Geld verdienen.

Sozial-liberale Ökologie

Anregung zum Denken über Solidarität. In „Le Monde“ vom 8.10.21 (S.31) Patrick Vieu beschreibt treffend die Notwendigkeit für den Sozialismus und die Sozialdemokratie, einige Grundüberzeugungen zu hinterfragen. Dabei verträgt sich der Humanismus nicht unmittelbar mit einem ökologischen Grundgedanken. Ökologische Basis ist der Respekt der Natur und der Biodiversität, die mit dem verteilungspolitischen Grundgedanken des Sozialismus nicht unmittelbar kompatibel ist. Die Verantwortung gegenüber der Natur berücksichtigt insbesondere den Erhalt der Lebensgrundlagen für nachkommende Generationen und damit ein Hintenanstellen der Ausbeutung der derzeitig möglichen und zugänglichen Ressourcen. Zukünftige Generationen haben ein Anrecht auf gleiche Chancen, Biodiversität zur Verfügung zu haben. Dieser Gedanke schließt Implikationen für die Gestaltung des Rentensystems mit ein. Landverbrauch, Versiegelung von Flächen für Wohnungsbau lediglich aus sozialem Fortschrittsglauben alleine ist nicht verträglich, weil nicht nachhaltig, auf mittelfristige Sicht. Herausforderungen für eine sozial-ökologische liberale Koalition in Deutschland sind daher in den unterschiedlichen Ausgangspunkten des politischen und philosophischen Grundverständnisses angelegt. Die Balance von Freiheit und Solidarität muss bereits zwischen Sozialdemokraten und Ökologen neu gefunden werden, das liberale Element gestärkt durch freie Demokraten in einer möglichen Regierungskoalition intensiviert das Spannungsverhältnis. Eine Modernisierung der sozialdemokratischen Grundgedanken kann dadurch gelingen und die Sozialdemokratie auf einen sozial-ökologischen Weg leiten. Umgekehrt kann Ökologie und Liberalismus vom ureigenen Verständnis und Leitmotiv des Sozialismus dem Wert der Solidarität, gedacht über die menschliche Spezies hinaus, Werte in die Koalition einbringen, die uns im 21.-ten Jahrhundert mit seinem krisenbehaftetem Anfang noch viele Dienste erweisen wird.

Échange franco-allemand sur l’avenir de l’Europe

Geisterrad 2021

In einem informativen Zeitungsartikel (Tagesspiegel 20.3.2021 S. 9) sind Jörn Hasselmann und Stefan Jacobs einem tödlichen Fahrradunfall in Berlin nahe dem alten Flughafen Tempelhof nachgegangen. Die schwierige Aufklärung des Sachverhalts lässt die Emotionen Angehöriger der verstorbenen Person fast völlig außer Acht. Zu schnell geht der Verkehrsalltag weiter und Opfer geraten in Vergessenheit.
Beispielhaft führt Lara Keilbart (4.6.2021 ebenfalls Tagesspiegel) vor, wie Emotionalität sich mit Sachlichkeit paaren kann: “Wir sind wütend und traurig“.
Der ADFC (existiert seit 1979) versucht Gleichgültigkeit mit seiner Anteilnahme und Mahnwache (seit 2016) mittels sogenannter weißer Geisterräder entgegen zu wirken. Zwischen 2010 und 2018 starben 20.000 Radfahrende in Europa. Noch schlimmer ist die Bilanz bei Fußgänger:innen 51.000 Verkehrstote in 2020. Das macht sehr viele betroffene Personen und Angehörige. Zusätzlich noch traumatisierte  Unfallverursachende. Leider habe ich bisher nur zu stark zusammengefasste Statistiken zu dem Anteil der Verursacher, Altersgruppen, Alkohol– oder Drogenbeteiligung etc.  unter den Verursachenden gefunden. Da brauchen wir mehr Aufklärung.  In jedem einzelnen tragischen Fall (445 Radfahrende † in D in 2019) wird dadurch kein Leben mehr gerettet, aber die Prävention von jedem weiteren Fall darf nicht an einem gleichgültigen Achselzucken stehenbleiben. Auch 50 Jahre nach einem solchen vermeidbarem Schicksalsschlag berührt mich jede neue Mahnwache. Dank an die Journalist:innen, unablässig weiter darüber zu berichten (Daten vom Statistischen Bundesamt zu Verkehrsunfällen M/F hier). Bitte immer wieder neu darüber berichten, bis unsere Städte und Gemeinden für “ZuFußGehende“und Fahrradfahrende sicher werden. “Die höchste Unfallgefährdung für ältere Fußgänger (65+) bestand in Berlin mit 59, Hamburg 52 … verunglückten Personen je 100.000 Einwohner. Der Vergleichswert für Deutschland insgesamt lag bei 38”. (Zitat Statistisches Bundesamt Unfälle von Senioren im Straßenverkehr 2019 S.6) Dabei sind null Verkehrstote in Großstädten erreichbar. Oslo und Helsinki sind Beispiele (Nachricht DLF 20.4.2021).

Tagesspiegel 20.3.2021 S. 9, Foto von ©Jörn Hasselmann
Quelle: Statistisches Bundesamt (Link)