Der Mensch ist gut

Der Mensch ist gut! Da gibt es nichts zu lachen!
In Lesebüchern schmeckt das wie Kompott.
Der Mensch ist gut! Da kann man gar nichts machen.
Er hat das, wie man hört, vom lieben Gott.

Einschränkungshalber spricht man zwar von Kriegen.
Wohl weil der letzte Krieg erst neulich war…
Doch: Ließ man denn die Krüppel draußen liegen?
Die Witwen kriegten sogar Honorar!

Der Mensch ist gut! Wenn er noch besser wäre,
wär er zu gut für die bescheidne Welt.
Auch die Moral hat ihr Gesetz der Schwere:
Der schlechte Kerl kommt hoch – der Gute fällt.

Das ist so, wie es ist, geschickt gemacht.
Gott will es so. Not lehrt bekanntlich beten.
Er hat sich das nicht übel ausgedacht
und läßt uns um des Himmels willen treten.

Der Mensch ist gut. Und darum geht´s ihm schlecht.
Denn wenn´s ihm besser ginge, wär er böse.
Drum betet: Herr Direktor, quäl uns recht!
Gott will es so. Und sein System hat Größe.

Drum seid so gut: und seid so schlecht, wie´s geht!
Drückt Löhne! Zelebriert die Leipziger Messe!
Der Himmel hat für sowas immer Interesse. –
Der Mensch bleibt gut, weil er den Kram versteht.

— Erich Kästner


The Intimacies of Four Continents

Social relations in the colonized Americas, Asia, and Africa were the condition of possibility for Western liberalism to think the universality of human freedom, however much freedoms for slaves, colonized, and indigenous peoples were precisely exempted by that philosophy. Modern history and social science pronounce the universality of liberal categories of development yet omit the global relations on which they depended. Indeed, it is the pronounced asymmetry of the colonial divisions of humanity that is the signature feature of liberal modes of distinction that privilege particular subjects and societies as rational, civilized, and human, and treat others as the laboring, replaceable, or disposable contexts that constitute that humanity. What some have represented as a linear temporal progression from colonial abjection to liberal freedom actually elides what might be more properly conceived as a spatial dynamic, in which forms of both liberal subject and society in the imperial center are possible only in relation to laboring lives in the colonized geographies or “zones of exception” with which they coexist, however disavowed.

 — Lisa Lowe

KM 21


Ein Rabe saß auf einem Meilenstein
und rief Ka-em-zwei-ein, Ka-em-zwei-ein…

Der Werhund lief vorbei, im Maul ein Bein,
Der Rabe rief Ka-em-zwei-ein, zwei-ein.

Vorüber zottelte das Zapfenschwein,
der Rabe rief und rief Ka-em-zwei-ein.

»Er ist besessen!« – kam man überein.
»Man führe ihn hinweg von diesem Stein!«

Zwei Hasen brachten ihn zum Kräuterdachs.
Sein Hirn war ganz verstört und weich wie Wachs.

Noch sterbend rief er (denn er starb dort) sein
Ka-em-zwei-ein, Ka-em-Ka-em-zwei-ein …

Christian Morgenstern (1871 – 1914)

How Fortunate the Man with None

You saw sagacious Solomon
You know what came of him,
To him complexities seemed plain.
He cursed the hour that gave birth to him
And saw that everything was vain.
How great and wise was Solomon.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s wisdom that had brought him to this state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You saw courageous Caesar next
You know what he became.
They deified him in his life
Then had him murdered just the same.
And as they raised the fatal knife
How loud he cried: you too my son!
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s courage that had brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You heard of honest Socrates
The man who never lied:
They weren’t so grateful as you’d think
Instead the rulers fixed to have him tried
And handed him the poisoned drink.
How honest was the people’s noble son.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s honesty that brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

Here you can see respectable folk
Keeping to God’s own laws.
So far he hasn’t taken heed.
You who sit safe and warm indoors
Help to relieve our bitter need.
How virtuously we had begun.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s fear of god that brought us to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

— Bertold Brecht (from “Mother Courage”)

Freedom Evolves

I just finished reading Daniel Dennett‘s Freedom evolves. I was most curious about the last part, where he went into topics such as the development of ethics and morale, but was also fascinated by the beginning chapters, where he nicely illustrates how determinism does not imply inevitability.

However, I was quite a bit uneasy about the middle part, where he discusses at length various objections voiced to his views. The vocabulary of the arguments is rather reductionistic in nature, and the whole debate reminds me of the pre-heliocentric description of planetary motion in terms of epicycles; Choosing a ‘wrong’ perspective can obfuscate what is being analysed.