The Gaze Upon Us
There is a lot of shame west of the Oder in these weeks of war. None of the heads of state and government, according to an editorialist in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, will return from the G7 summit in Brussels „without a feeling of shame“ in view of the gap between what Ukraine expected and what they could or wanted to deliver. The novelist Antje Rávik Strubel is so ashamed of her country Germany that she has declared her intention to get off it right away (whatever the platform she seeks to exit upon may look like specifically). And how wouldn’t we all: Mariupol is massacred, and all we seem to care about are petrol prices and our economy. The shame is bottomless.
Shame is not the same as bad conscience. Shame is external. One is shamed by other people. No isolated individual feels shame, neither does an individual that is totally absorbed in a group: the rabble that keeps hounding that poor „Drachenlord“ character who faced trial in Nuremberg lately feels no shame because none of them identifies as an individual actor (which seems to be exactly the point of the whole game). Shame requires an image of oneself. A distinction what to display and what not. It is about exposing oneself, and being exposed. It is about being seen.
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The shaming gaze has a distinct direction nowadays: from the East to the West. It lies upon us above all, on us Germans, and what it exposes is our cowardice, hypocrisy and weakness, how corrupt and quietist and egoistic our desire for neutrality, our insistence on good business in all directions and our supposedly so liberal and peace-loving value relativism were and are. That is what we have been exposed as, and God knows not for the first time. Much of this is itself a result of shame, foremost about our Nazi past and present, which we have become accustomed to making more bearable over the past 70 years with all that relativistic autocrat-coddling and lucrative fence-sitting which we now have to be so ashamed for.
Shame is also not the same as guilt. Shame is a feeling which can but not necessarily has to be followed by the conclusion of being morally indebted. A drunk wife-beater may feel terribly ashamed after sobering up again – so ashamed that he will get plastered right away again to make the pain go away. Shame is less about doing than about being. Wrongdoing can be atoned for, a debt can be paid. Shame cannot. It humiliates and belittles. What my actions and omissions reveal about me changes only when I change myself – or my values. Shame rarely changes anything for the better. Nor anyone.
The Ukrainians‘ incriminating gaze upon us and our parliament and our government is certainly hard to bear. But that is our problem, and we are in no position to whine about it. What we have contributed all those years, and still do, to fattening Putin and increasing his power, what we have failed to contribute, and still do, to provide Ukraine with what it needs to defend itself – that did not happen because we are shamefaced little creatures. This happened because we chose so.
We still do. We block an EU energy embargo against Russia because we find it too expensive. It’s perfectly true, it would be terrible, no doubt about that. It’s terrible to lose one’s job or one’s stocks in an otherwise perfectly healthy company that is going bankrupt because energy prices have increased tenfold. It’s awful to sit in a village in the countryside and not be able to afford a tankful of petrol. But could we do it? Of course we could. There is a war, after all, and if it helps to shorten it, we could and we should do it, and if we don’t, that’s because we don’t want to. That is our choice and our fault, and we will have to pay for it, once again, for a long time to come, and the least we can do now is to admit that to ourselves and to Ukraine.
The week on Verfassungsblog
Could the EU accept Ukraine as a member? Of course it could, if it chose so. DIMITRY VLADIMIROVICH KOCHENOV shows that in any case there are no legal obstacles to rapid EU accession and argues for making Russia pay for the necessary investments in Ukraine.
Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are ongoing, but in many parts not taken seriously enough, which MICHAEL MEYER-RESENDE considers a big mistake.
Die Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin sucht zum nächstmöglichen Zeitpunkt bis zum 30.04.2024 befristet,
eine/n wissenschaftliche/n Mitarbeiter/in (m/w/d)
mit rechtswissenschaftlichem Schwerpunkt für das FÖPS Berlin
(Entgeltgruppe 13 TV-L Berliner Hochschulen)
mit 65 % der regelmäßigen wöchentlichen Arbeitszeit
Die Stelle ist Teil des Forschungsprojekts „FAKE-ID – Videoanalyse mit Hilfe künstlicher Intelligenz zur Detektion von falschen und manipulierten Identitäten“ und steht unter der Projektleitung von Prof. Dr. Hartmut Aden und Prof.in Dr. Sabrina Schönrock.
Mehr Informationen finden Sie hier. Bewerbungsfrist ist der 25.04.2022.
VIKTOR SZEP finds the transatlantic sanctions regime against Russia impressive. In Poland, the PiS government wants to amend the constitution in order to be able to seize oligarchs‘ assets without a court order, which ELIZA RUTYNOWSKA finds questionable. HANS PETER LEHOFER examines the scope and limits of the EU sanctions against Russia Today and Sputnik, which go far beyond a mere broadcasting ban.
Russia, for its part, is reacting with retaliatory measures against investors from „unfriendly“ countries. JURE ZRILIČ believes we could be facing a new wave of investment arbitration.
The targeted issuance of Russian passports to citizens of other states has long been part of Russia’s foreign policy arsenal. ELIA BESCOTTI, FABIAN BURKHARDT, MARYNA RABINOVYCH and CINDY WITTKE explain how this policy is still applied today in the post-Soviet space and with what consequences.
The Council of Europe finally expelled Russia on 16 March. This decision could make the threat of exclusion more credible for other member states, explains ESRA DEMIR-GÜRSEL.
What is the legal status of foreigners who join Ukraine’s volunteer cyber militia? DAN JERKER B. SVANTESSON examines this question, which could also be relevant to future conflicts.
Canada is offering temporary residency to an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees. The programme may seem generous, but it is not, argue RALUCA BEJAN and CATHERINE BRYAN. The refugees are treated primarily as workers and not as humanitarian subjects.
In Germany, Friedrich Merz, head of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, wants to make his party’s approval of the 100 billion special fund for the Bundeswehr dependent on the coalition voting unanimously in favour of it. This sounds like a clever move at first, but according to MICHAEL KOSS, it is rather unconvincing in terms of democratic theory.
Stellenausschreibung – Drei W3-ProfessorInnen (m/w/d)
Die BSP Business and Law School GmbH – Hochschule für Management und Recht sucht zum 01.04.2023 bzw. zum 01.10.2023 für den Staatsexamensstudiengang Rechtswissenschaft (Standort Berlin) insgesamt drei W3-ProfessorInnen (m/w/d) aus den folgenden Bereichen: Öffentliches Recht, insb. Verwaltungsrecht und Recht der Digitalisierung; Bürgerliches Recht und Arbeitsrecht; Legal Tech und Zivilrecht. Bewerbungsschluss 21.04.2022.
Nähere Informationen hier.
The traffic light coalition has set its sights on the long overdue replacement of state payments to churches. CHRISTIAN WALTER and KATHRIN TREMML argue against full compensation.
The Federal Supreme Court ruled last week that there should be no judicial claims for damages for those affected by COVID-related closures. Rightly so, thinks ANNA LINTZ, because that would be for the legislature to decide.
Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court has blocked the messaging service provider Telegram for a few days for refusing to cooperate with Brazilian authorities. The legally not uncontroversial decision must be seen in the larger context, argues ULISSES LEVY SILVÉRIO DOS REIS, because Jair Bolsonaro wants to be re-elected in 2022.
REBEKKAH MARKEY-TOWLER compares climate law to a „living tree“ that keeps growing new branches. She comments on the latest Sharma decision in Australia and explains why the outcome, while a setback, is not the end for climate litigation in Australia.
Climate litigation in the Global South is the focus of our latest blog debate, opened this week by MAXIM BÖNNEMANN, MEIKE KRAKAU and ANNA-JULIA SAIGER, with contributions from AGUNG WARDANA, OLIVER FUO, TATENDA L. WANGUI and CATHRIN ZENGERLING, THALIA VIVEROS-UEHARA, SATHIABAMA. S and VEDAVALLI. S, EKLAVYA VASUDEV, MANUELA NIEHAUS, LORENZO GRADONI and MARTINA MANTOVANI, CARLOTTA GAROFALO and ELISABETH DONGER.
In parallel, the debate on security strategy continues with contributions by THOMAS KLEINLEIN, ARNOLD WALLRAFF, JELENA VON ACHENBACH, HELENE BUBROWSKI, REUT YAEL PAZ, CHRISTIAN MARXSEN and KLAUS NAUMANN.
And finally, in the context of our symposium on party congresses, the last contribution by JOACHIM WIELAND appeared this week.
As you can see: again a huge lot of stuff to process this week. We have been busy. Please contribute to the upkeep of Verfassungsblog! Here you will find different options depending on your budget. Thank you very much!
All the best and see you next week
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