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This blog is aiming to discuss various views on actual societal, political, cultural or economic developments. The opinions expressed in the articles are entirely of the authors and reflect in no way the opinions of the ABS, which is the reason we kindly invite everybody to comment and discuss. To ensure that our UK-based and native speaking members have the opportunity to participate in the discussions as well, the blog is published in English language.

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Mission Impossible for Politics?

Is there a way to succeed for politicians in times of crisis?

by Jochen Ressel

“Politik ist die Kunst des Möglichen” said the German statesman Otto von Bismarck once – a quote which can be translated only in a humbling way: „Politics is the art of the possible.” But is there anything possible at all for politics in times of crisis, as we experience them right now? Is there any way for politicians to succeed on a broad scale, or only from the perspective of a few, sharing the same opinion?

The Docile Kingdom

What the concept of Social Class and the British System of Plebiscitary Democracy have to do with the present Covid-19 Crisis in the UK.

By Wolfgang Geissler 

You may be forgiven to wonder whether it is the similar hairstyle that is the reason for the catastrophic handling of the Covid-19 crisis on either sides of the Atlantic. Donald Trump’s deliberately slightly greyed out coiffed hair, to make him look more statesmanlike and the untidy uncombed but still blonde mop on top of Boris Johnson’s head, recently shortened to make him also look more statesmanlike. But you already know it’s what in the head that counts, not what’s on top of it.

Rethink Democracy

Is the democratic concept out of date or how can it be made attractive again?

by Jochen Ressel

It’s election time again! But imagine, that only 2 out of 3 persons are taking part in the decision process. The rest is neglecting the chance to participate. From the 67,3 % of participants of the democratic process, only 43,6% vote for a guy who is promising the implementation of a specific program, which means for everybody who had some sort of mathematical education, that 56,3% voted against it.

The Royal Prerogative and the Prorogation of Parliament

Who yields the real power in the United Kingdom today?

by Wolfgang Geissler
 

Let’s start with the tantalising introduction to something called “The Royal Prerogative”. The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity attached to the British monarch or “sovereign”, recognised in the United Kingdom. Prerogative powers were formerly exercised by the monarch acting on his or her own initiative.

Gendering:

A curable disease or societal necessity?

by Jochen Ressel

There is hardly any problem in the English language with it: The differentiation between female and male addressing is minimal. Not so in German. To guarantee gender equality, most of the text writers carefully observe that the concept of women to be treated with the same attention as men is not being infringed. The effects are manifold, but let me address only a few of them to invite you for discussion.

The Road to Brexit

Somewhere over the Rainbow, the heady mix of Incompetence and Disillusionment with Parliament will make it possible that Pigs will fly in Neverland

by Wolfgang Geissler

Hand on heart, who still remembers Gisela Stuart?

On that morning, Friday, 6 April 2018 at the venerable “Presseclub Concordia” I felt I was in the wrong movie. Perhaps “The Wizard of Oz” may more accurately describe my emotion with a young Judy Garland singing her dreamy song of “Somewhere over the rainbow” where “dreams that you dream of, dreams really do come true” which I associated with today’s lecture, “The Road to Brexit”, so very eloquently if not terribly convincingly presented by the German born Labour Party politician and former Chair of “Vote Leave” and now Chair of its successor organisation, “Change Britain”, Gisela Stuart.

What is truth?

Media competence and why Pilatus' question is highly relevant today

by Jochen Ressel

He is accused and questioned by the executive representative of the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilatus: “What have you done?” It’s Jesus from Nazareth giving his answer, bringing up his role as the guardian of truth, to which Pilatus replies ironically, probably a bit desperate: “What is truth?”

And the question is still valid 2020 anno domini, almost 2,000 years after Pilatus raised it. There are thousands of articles, posts, tweets and comments we are coming across every single day, which are mostly aiming to create opinion and indicating what we are forced to perceive as the truth. Though the question for each of us is an everydays challenge: What is the truth?

It’s obvious that the “truth” is probably not what is really true, but what got the most “likes” or “shares”. Complex logarithms selecting what is offered to us as the truth. More than ever we need to find our own ways how to create our own conviction of what is true and wrong.

From my point of view, there is no question, that we need to educate ourselves in the field of Media competence. Although we will never understand all the logarithms, some knowledge would help us to know, how our newsfeeds are filled with preselected content and which sources are relivable enough to falsify or verify the offered content.

Secondly, it’s my strong believe that a holistic understanding of geography, history and religion is key to find information which come close to truth. Hardly anything happens on our globe, which has no context to happenings of the past, of their religious backgrounds and the geographic changes of countries and movements of nations and ethnic groups. If we know about the links between these fields, we might be able to judge a headline to be true or false in the same second as it comes across, because of its historical, geographical or religious context.
One challenge still remains for ages: History is written by the winners. I haven’t found a path for me personally, how to judge the official historiography without the opportunity to hear the voices of victims and disadvantaged of historical processes.

How do you address the question “What is truth?” Which sources do you choose to find out, if you are misled by mass media manipulation? Your comments and views are highly appreciated.
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Jochen Ressel is a Board Member of the Austro-British Society The opinions expressed in this article are entirely his and reflect in no way the opinions of the ABS. He worked several years for a UK company and for its HQ in London.

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