Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Newsletter Nov - Dec 2014


No parking in Athens for homeless - Sina Oct. 2014                                    @hf



About the Future of Europe under Commission President Juncker

Hardly have the controversies surrounding the various appointments to the different Commissions by Juncker subsided, a new buzz word swirls around in Brussels: 'tax evasion'. When taking a closer look at this entire affair, there comes to mind first of all one German word for all of this, namely 'Schlamassel'. According to Wikipedia etmylogical findings state that it stems from Yiddish שלימזל (shlimazl, “bad luck, misfortune”), from שלים (shlim, “bad”) (compare German schlimm) + מזל (mazl, “luck”). In short, it has all the making of being so over complicated that no one seems to know a way out of this mess. No wonder then when a clow asked at the opening of a youth festival in Tübingen 2011, the mayor Palmer of the Green party whether he can still find his way in politics being a 'Schlamassel'? His answer was a secretive smile, followed by a long silence. In short, the appointment of Juncker to the post of President of the European Commission is but a prelimenary peak of a complete entanglement in European affairs. It may well reach the point that the original supporters of Juncker to have him as President of the European Commission cannot but otherwise continue to support him even they will do it now only grudgingly. 'Tax evasion' entails according to reports by investigative journalists that over 340 companies evaded taxes by opening their offices in Luxembourg. All this happened while Juncker was not only Prime Minister, but often at the same time Minister of Finance. Of interest is, therefore, how he seeks to get out of this 'Schlamassel'. Amazing is that he can dispute being responsible for this mess. For he stated in front of the press that the tax authorities of Luxembourg acted independently, that is 'without his knowledge'. The argument of not knowing something happening despite being a big an issue as that one, and despite having been for many years prime minister of Luxembourg is not only unbelievable naive. It is a claim of innocence even when proof of 'irresponsibility'. But this is not all for Juncker is not alone in this claim of not knowing what is going on in reality. For instance, German authorities did seek tax evaders not only in Switzerland. There has been articulated a lot of criticism at the practices in Luxembourg long before that. Consequently information about deals going on in Luxembourg was no secret. Even there circulated openly advertisements enticing someone with lots of money or companies to seek a safe haven in that small Dutchy. It was a lucrative business so that no wonder that the per capita income in Luxembourg is one of the highest in Europe. No wonder, one could add, but that is not sufficient to answer why a well kept secret known to everyone can still let Juncker get away with his claim that this practice of 'tax evasion' had been the secret of the tax authorities alone? Rather than being puzzled why he can continue stay being President of the European Commission which supposed to clamp down on these kinds of tax evasions, some attention should be paid to three factors which play a role in power as entanglement. First of all, Juncker had to resign as Prime Minister because he kept secret his personal dealing with the Secret Services in Luxembourg. Even the parliament of Luxembourg was apparently not informed. Given such a track record, the more serious question is how could he have ever been proposed to head the European Commission? An answer may be that the representatives of the Member States who do the bargaining about power followed their own logic of entanglement. That version can go in the direction of what member states prefer ever since they experienced what a strong President of the European Commission like Delors could mean for their own political game, and so the weaker Juncker is, the easier he can be coerced into following their political direction, never mind whether or not this damages the reputation of the office of President of the European Commission. Of course, reliance is reassured that Juncker is the best man since he has proven often enough that he can truly make sure that a secret remains a secret. The latter counts as one of the highest qualifications for such a post. Secondly, Juncker excused the affairs in Luxembourg as being merely the outcome of an unclear language so that national laws allow a deviation from the EU norm of no 'tax evasion'. This argument goes in the direction of making a difference between what is 'legal' and what is 'morally' wrong due to different national interpretations of European directives (laws) making possible such deviations from the norm. His position is supported by the fact that there is also the Starbucks affair in Netherlands and the various companies in Ireland with identical tax privileges. All what this argumentation gains is to ignore 'the spirit of the law' as it opens the door to all kinds of excuses for tax evasion. Certainly it is know that compliance to the strictest code is never complete but one should be reminded how Greece was reprimanded for tax evasions to justify the severe crack down of an austerity policy which has made the tax payers cover the resulting deficit in the state budget, and not those who have abused the system 'legally'. Consequently the choice of Juncker as President amounts in reality to a kind of Pyrrhus victory of the member states, insofar as they wish to maximise their own ways of dealing things despite being under one European roof, so to speak. Hence the point of contention that some EU member states undermine the rule of fair competition which supposed to prevail in a single market is relativized. It softens at the very least the sharper edge of compliance since national exemptions are allowed to happen, but it leaves the European Commission in an even weaker position. With the moral legitimacy of EU institutions already at a very low point ever since the EU Constitutional Treaty was not ratified in 2005, this new 'Schlamassel' will definitely not make up for this loss of moral legitimacy. On the contrary, it diminishes even more so the status of the decision making powers of Europe already held in low esteem. Hence the third position of Juncker is the most interesting, equally dangerous one. He claims now that he is President of the Commission to be willing to fight tax evasion across the board. This may well reflect a new way to gain power in Europe. First you do everything against European law, and then you claim to be its best keeper. Some would agree, given the cases of criminals who became investigative policemen. Since this reminds very much of how Dostoevsky described the Inquisator and his way to attain power, some serious questions have to be formulated. How power can be amassed in Europe so that the gap between the rich and the poor increases, and this contrary to the goal of the EU to attain social and economic cohesion? Another question relates to the law of proportionately. What happens if power is so much abused, that the extent to which damage is inflicted upon democratic values needed to be upheld if the European institutions are to function exceeds by far any possible reform Juncker has promised when taking the helm, then what? Clearly in the eyes of the general public the damage is considerable for this tax evasion scandal reveals much more than just moral evasiveness.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 16.11.2014


European Capitals of Culture

Current ECoCs

Riga 2014

"Culture is that undeniable and irresistible force, which is able to direct changes into a positive stream, turning fear into a challenge and a venturous joy, and uncertainty – into trust in the creative spirit." - key slogan of Riga for that decisive year.

For official information: http://riga2014.org/en/

Umeå 2014

Official website: http://www.umea2014.se/inenglish

Umea will also host the next conference of the University Network come October 2014.

Europe connected through the arts and cultures

When thinking about how Europe is connected through culture, it became a practical question as to what contributions European Capitals of Culture have made so far to bringing about a 'cultural synthesis' capable of energizing artists to do outstanding works of art. To trace possible links and follow-ups between past, present and future ECoCs, there has been started a research project to examine the various linkages within given and still better to be formulate categories of the arts. See archive of European Capitals of Culture 



Future ECoCs

Pilsen 2015  and Mons 2015

San Sebastian 2016 and Wroclaw 2016

Aarhus 2017 and Paphos 2017

For 2018 in Malta


2018 Valletta

and in Holland, Leeuwarden 2018

Italy and Bulgaria for 2019

In Italy, there were 21 cities competing for the title for 2019. Five, including Ravenna, made it on the short list. Out of this list, the decision has been for Matera 2019,  and therefore the city will join the previous Italian cities which were European Capitals of Culture: Florenz 1986, Bologna 2000 and Genoa 2004.

Likewise one city in Bulgaria shall receive the designation of the ECoC title.

For 2020 Ireland and Croatia are fore seen

Greece and Rumania for 2021

Cities which have declared their candidancy are besides Pireaeus, Syros, Nafplion, Kalamata.

In October Ioannina declared as well its candidancy.

Learning out of previous experiences - what is deemed to be a success story?

How candidate cities learn out of previous experiences made by other ECoC cities, this can be studied onhand of what these cities identify as factors which have contributed to making this project into a success stories. Largely the cultural impact is described in non cultural terms, see





Daniel reading poem 'Dad' by Philip Meersman

On 7th of September, there took place for the second time in Marsaxlook a Poetry evening, this time to the theme of 'In Search for Peace'. Coming in the wake of a debate amongst poets about the word 'genocide' used by the World Poetry Movement when make a political statement about what was happening in Gaza, it was a poetic to what was happening in Eastern Ukraine with war being brought "home, into our houses" (Boudewijn Payens). Clearly the poets expressed their thoughts and doubts if they could change such a world constantly at war. It turned out that most crucial was no poet wanted to become a clown in a world in which the word 'peace' seems to have no substantial meaning. Changes are brought about by beliefing in the abilities of poets and artists to make a substantial difference when contributing to a serious peace effort. Humanity has not only become tired of war,  but more so the moods have darkened to a point which goes far beyond resignation. There is the failure of Libya, while in Egypt a new form of dictatorship has manifested itself again despite the Arab spring. And then there is the threat by the Islamic State fighters who believe they can behead people, if they do not go conform to their dicatorship of belief. In the wake of all of this, it makes no longer sense to speak about 'nomads' when there are so many refugees. There are many voices which were heard that evening since every poet was read by someone from the audience, so that a kind of match making between poet and reader came about.



Schriften aus der Zeit in Heidelberg (1972-75) und Berlin (1977-87) / philosophical writings out of the period in Heidelberg (1972-75) and Berlin (1977-87)

Philosophische Grundlagen (Heidelberg 1972 - 75)
There is a need to return to earlier writings, that is when studying classical philosophy in Heidelberg, and proposing to the professors at Heidelberg Seminar for Philosophy a dissertation topic with following theme:

Die Innere Reflexion des sozialen Seienden / The Inner Reflections of the social being

It did not come about, and therefore the journey continued in Berlin for the PhD there.

Slowly catching up but to do so time bridges to the past have to be crossed, and that can prove to be quite a shaky undertaking. For once nostalgia overtakes one, the balance seems to be nearly lost. Naturally this pertains to the writers and philosophers of the 20th century who had to journey through two world wars, or even some of them ended their journies like Walter Benjamin about whom Martin Jay gave a lecture in Athens 1992. He returned to Greece in 2006 when attending a conference in Iraklion / Crete with also Noam Chomsky present, and who had just before that been in Lebanon, that is before the Israeli war against mainly Hezebollah broke out, and which gave later on the motive for the Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth mural in Tripoli, Lebanon with the telling title: "Enough! We want to live."

A most crucial topic has always been around 1985-87 but already before the topic Ernst Bloch addressed with 'slave language', and which Gerhard Zwerenz would say made the philosopher more than just anxious as he had been a victim himself thereof while still teaching philosophy in Leipzig, that is under the regime of the former East Germany. That effort to come to terms with a past still present was recently observed when Germany celebrated its 'Day of Unity', but the debate still raged on as to what was the former East German state.

Ernst Bloch und die Sklavensprache (Berlin 1985)/ Slave language (Cornell U. 1987)


Conferences 2014 / 2015

September 4 - 5 International Conference on Cultural Relations in the Mediterranean in Valletta, Malta organized by V18 with Valletta the European Capital of Culture in 2018

September 9 - 12 "Museums and Politics" in St. Petersburg: http://www.museodata.com/noticias/convocatorias/2416-call-for-papers-museums-and-politics.html

September 9 - 12 takes place first in Hildesheim, and then continues Sept. 12 - 13 in Berlin, the 8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research http://iccpr2014.de/welcome/

Oct 9 - 10 in Newcastle CULTURE ACTION EUROPE is organizing a conference to go
Beyond the Obvious: from producing things to nurturing social capital
What's next? Museum conference


Publications by POIEIN KAI PRATTEIN 
Catalogue "Imperishable Water", 2012 with Haroula Hadjinicilou, Anna Arvanitaki, Hatto Fischer (ed.), Athens ISBN 978-618-80160-0-2
Hatto Fischer: The poem 'Destiny still flows' by Katerina Anghelaki Rooke - this concerns a discussion of the poem which inspired the action on Rhodes last year
"Nation and Identity" by Kreisau-Initiative, with introduction by Hatto Fischer is crucial for answering the question whether or not Patriotism is an alternative to Nationalism. Youth met first in Kreisau, Poland and were inspired by this example set by the Kreisau Circle which went into resistance against Hitler on the basis of a non discriminatory approach for the day after Hitler fell.
Article by Anna Arvanitaki and Haroula Hadjinicolaou, "Action on Rhodes" in Journal "Nissides" (small islands). Rhodos, Vol. 9, 2012

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