Gero Jenner is a German-Austrian author and publicist whose publications cover science (philosophy, economics, linguistics) and literature. Jenner studied philosophy, indology and sinology in Hamburg, later in Munich, Paris and Rome. Right at the start of his studies, he was admitted to the prestigious „Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes“ (German Academic Scholarship Foundation). After being awarded a PH.D for his thesis on Indian (Sanskrit) Poetics, Jenner followed courses of sociology in Munich and London – these too supported by the fore-mentioned Foundation. He then worked for the École Française d ‚Extrême Orient in Kyoto, Japan (Hobogirin), was coordinator for South Asia Research at the University of Heidelberg, then Lecturer in German Culture and Language at Tohoku University Sendai, Japan, and later Assistant at the department of Indology at Freie Universität Berlin. He interrupted his work on a habilitation thesis focussed on Patanjalis Yogasutram, producing instead a linguistic work for habilitation. This was rejected by the Commission „for formal reasons“. Thereafter Jenner left Berlin (1982) and moved to Austria, Puch near Graz. Since 1979 he is married to the sculptress Anna Jenner and works as a freelance writer. More
…1.1 Science and Religion
…1.2 Religion versus Mysticism
…1.3 The Problem of Freedom in Religion and Science
…1.4 On Peace
2. Economics and Politics
……….2.1 Theory of Trade
……….2.2 Theory of Taxation
……….2.3 Theory of Money
……….2.4 Dangers of Globalization
3. Linguistic Theory
……….3.1 General Grammar
4. Tales and Novels
……5.1 from proponents of unconditional Basic Income
……5.2 from proponents of 100%-Money
……5.3 from advocates of Data Protection
……5.4 blaming Jenner for his ambiguous political stance
From Jenner’s point of view, philosophy represents much more than just an academic discipline – today, preferably reduced to the two fields of analytic and historical philosophy. For him, philosophy is an attitude of mind, which consists, above all, of questioning what is supposed to be self-evident. In this sense, probing into the nature of science was always foremost in his mind, precisely because scientific truths are regarded to be beyond questioning. What relation do the laws of nature have to the laws ceated by man as these become manifest in culture, and, especially, in religions? Works.
……1.1 Science and Religion
According to Jenner, this question had been dealt with at the end of the nineteenth century by intellectual giants, such as Wilhelm Dilthey, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, or William James, with a depth of thought and breadth of empirical survey never again reached since that time. The discussion has nevertheless not yet been completed, as proved by the barnstorming but misleading book by Richard Dawkins „The God Delusion“. Jenner ’s book “Doubt and Dogma – a Philosophy of Freedom in Nature and Man” (German original: „Die Macht der Träume und die Ohnmacht der Vernunft – eine Philosophie der Freiheit“, Metropolis-Verlag) endeavors to explain two different types of truth: the truth of religion and the truth of science (Content+theses).
Religions establish values and create communities (the elementary meaning of Latin „religio“ is binding) – a function the sciences are unable to exert. Contrary to popular religion, Mysticism tries to free itself from all anthropomorphic delusions. In this respect it resembles science. It is not surprising that its language – as its most knowledgeable expert Rudolf Otto emphasizes – is a universal one, encountered in most different cultures all over the world. In his yet unpublished book „Der Dawkinswahn oder die Antwort der Mystik“ (“The Dawkins Delusion or the Answer of Mysticism“) Jenner tries to penetrate into the depths and varieties of mystical thought.
……1.3 The Problem of Freedom in Religion and Science
Freedom of the will and the actions based on it constitutes a central problem for Jenner. All the more so as it is strictly denied in modern neurology. The brain is said to be a device functioning according to natural laws, so that every effect must be lawfully attributed to a cause. Freedom of will exists – but merely as a subjective illusion not based on objective fact. Jenner holds this belief in a world dominated exclusively by laws of nature to be “metaphysical” in the sense given to it by Karl Popper: such statements are not amenable to falsification. The belief has in fact already been relativized by quantum physics. In his book “Doubt and Dogma – a Philosophy of Freedom in Nature and Man” Jenner elucidates its historical roots and why he thinks its justification to be fundamentally wrong (Content+Theses). The parallelism between the denial of freedom in religion as well as in science appears to him quite remarkable. While at first glance, the respective motivations seem to be thoroughly at odds, on closer inspection they turn out to be quite similar. That is, as Jenner puts it, because both science and theology tend to occur in two quite distinct variants , namely „critical theology“ versus „power theology“ on the one hand, and „critical science“ versus “power science” on the other. Whether Jenner has succeeded in convincing religious or natural science determinists with his „four proofs for freedom in man and nature“, will have to be seen.
……1.4 On Peace
Immanuel Kant’s famous work „Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch“ inspired Jenner to write „Technology, Terror and the Future World State“. As he himself declares, he would rather not have written the book, the image of human beings that results from his studies providing few sympathetic features. According to the great English historian Ian Morris „History is made by lazy, greedy, frightened people.“ Jenner arrives at a similar conclusion, emphasizing, however, the role of technology and global competition for the sake of greater economic and military power. Jenner is nevertheless convinced that the future may not be hopeless. The idea of a world government, which still seems fantastic to many people today, has prominent advocates. Like the historian Arnold Toynbee, the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the natural scientist Albert Einstein – and last but not least like Immanuel Kant, who all propagated this idea in different ways, he believes this outcome to be the only recipe against final self-destruction. More
Sociological studies and a three-year stay in Japan were decisive factors for Jenner’s intensive dealings with problems of economic and monetary theory. Among other things, he sees an acute threat to the stability of society in the shift of wealth from achievement to automatic increase with no base at all in personal endeavor and merit (i.e. through interest, dividends, speculation in resources etc.). Society thus splits into a majority getting progressively less for real work and a minority getting progressively more of the pie – for no work at all. Jenner has described the underlying process as a „ponzi scheme“ (Pyramidenspiel) that regularly culminates in economic and social collapse. While he sees a significant advance in the globalization of knowledge, he is a keen critic of the globalization of those financial and commodity flows that will make any distortions and breakdowns at certain points of the Earth a threat to the whole planet.
Jenner’s work in the field of economic analysis was honored by two experts, Prof. Bert Rürup and Prof. Gerhard Scherhorn, both temporary members of the prestigious German Council of Economic Experts.
……….2.1 Theory of Trade
According to Prof. Gerhard Scherhorn, Jenner has coined the concept of „cut-throat trade” (Verdrängungshandel)“, by means of which low-cost suppliers undermine the productive base of the old industrialized societies (they do so, however, in the interest of home-based large-scale companies). In “Die Arbeitslose Gesellschaft„, S. Fischer (Jobless Society) Jenner provides a theoretical explanation for why technological advances, even if largely destroying traditional work and occupations, tended to create a multiple of what they demolished. That is because automation steadily reduced the price of products, thus increasing general purchasing power, which in its turn enhanced the demand for new products and the corresponding professions. It is due to neoliberalism, that this process has now (largely) come to a standstill as profits generated by automation are mainly flowing into investors‘ pockets (instead of increasing the purchasing power of the population). In times of globalization, these profits are then pumped into countries where taxation is lowest, environmental requirements are nil or insignificant and labor is cheapest. Machines and automation no longer create work by making its products cheaper but destroy it in our societies (especially in the US) while shifting it to the East (especially to China).
……….2.2 Theory of Taxation
Jenner has designed a radically simplified tax system that removes all burden from performance – that is, from what the individual gives to society. Instead, it is exclusively concerned with consumption, i.e. with what individuals take away from their fellows. Work in all forms thus remains unburdened by taxation. All nonwage labor costs are abolished (New Fiscalism).
Jenner’s model of exclusively taxing consumption combines the demand for social justice with ecological concerns. New Fiscalism is most effectively implemented in a cashless money system, which has been technically possible since the end of the last century.
……….2.3 Theory of Money
Contrary to 100%- money theorists, who attribute to business banks the ability to create money out of nothing and thus to override the monopoly of Central Banks, Jenner holds the viewpoint of orthodox money theory (which denies such wrong doing of business banks) to be fundamentally correct. Together with Silvio Gesell and Helmut Creutz he does, however, blame interest for being a powerful instrument of enrichment not related to any personal achievement. It is an instrument which favors the inherent tendency of what he calls “parasitic capitalism” to divide societies into a plutocratic minority and a majority exploited by it. However, apart from interest the redistribution of economic wealth from bottom to top relies on dividends and speculation as well (See “The Economic Manifesto”)
……….2.4 Dangers of Globalization
While Jenner sees a major advancement in the globalization of knowledge, he is a keen critic of globalized financial and commodity flows, which make arbitrary distortions and breakdowns at certain points of the Earth a threat to the entire globe (like great depressions, world financial crises etc.). In the wake of Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, Arnold Toynbee, and Immanuel Kant, Jenner believes that the establishment of a future world government offers mankind its only chance of survival, now threatened by its murderous technical-economic as well as military competition with and against itself. Only world government may suppress the evil consequences of globalization.
In his textbooks on general linguistics, Jenner favors a generative approach similar to that of Noam Chomsky, but fundamentally different in so far as it is based on a strict dichotomy of meaning and form. According to Jenner, true generative grammar must rely on universal concepts, which allow the diversity of human languages to be analyzed analytically and generated synthetically making use of identical basic elements. Works
……….3.1 General Grammar
A general grammar is meant to expose, on the one hand, the basic semantic building blocks and structures that the neurological apparatus of man (his brain) uses in the conceptual apprehension of reality. On the other hand, it describes the basic building blocks and structures used by the human sound organ in order to convert semantic content into acoustic waves thus imparting a material substance to immaterial semantic contents – a process needed to make them fit for inter-human communication. The actual semantic analysis of reality is potentially as infinite as its concrete phonetic realizations (that is as infinite as all the languages invented up to the present day plus all languages still to come). The basic building blocks and structures are, however, finite and indeed very limited, so that the number of possible linguistic types is rather restricted. Works
Reason serves as an instrument of orientation in ordinary life. Unfortunately, reality itself rarely behaves according to its prescriptions, so people may sometimes feel an urgent need to recover from its excessive use. This need is at the base of Jenner’s narratives, where the world lacks rationality to such a degree that some readers may feel disturbed. But that’s exactly the effect Jenner wants to produce in his tales and novels. He leaves the world as it is: Charmingly irrational, intriguingly absurd, and often quite evil. Works
Jenner was sharply criticized for his decisive rejection of unconditional basic income, especially, as he did not mince his words with regard to its chief proponent Mr. Götz Werner. Jenner considers it the basic task of a democratic state to protect the weak against the strong. In todays competitive economies, a certain percentage of people will inevitably end up as the losers of progress. Our societies would be unsustainable in the long run without an adequate system of social security. Unconditional basic income, would, however, transform its beneficiaries into rentiers at the expense of the working majority. In other words, the parasitic principle of unearned income, already largely practiced by the upper class, would be transferred to society as a whole. All citizens would insist on their rights but detach themselves from all social obligations. It is bad enough, as Jenner says, that giving and taking, on which all social cohesion rests, is sabotaged by the upper stratum – the introduction of unconditional income would lead to its complete elimination.
The favorite argument proposed by the advocates of unconditional income is that future societies will be facing the prospect of joblessness since technical progress is likely to do away with all remaining work. Therefore, no other solution is possible except distributing income even without work. According to Jenner, this is not just a specious, it is a manifestly wrong argument (which, for that matter, does not become right if upeld by clever men like Richard David Precht). See above 2.1 Trading theory.
Those who google „Gero Jenner“ will find in third and fourth positions entries of a critical nature, one of which (Bernd Senf) accuses the author of „hurling dirt on him“ while another detects an increased „sensitivity“ (Norbert Häring). My article on 100% money is meant to provide an answer.
Jenner attracted fierce criticism for his endorsement of generalized cashless payment, though the proposition is positively assessed by other economic theorists as well, and has been tentatively implemented in several states. Such criticism is based on legitimate concerns. It is feared that the abolition of cash may give Orwellian Powers of surveillance to an omnipotent state. Jenner considers the concern unfounded: to him the disruption of social justice under present conditions represents a much greater danger. Democratic society may effectively protect itself against surveillance (New Fiscalism).
Jenner was always unhappy with undiscerning categorizations according to right or left. He welcomed that essays of his were adopted by „scharflinks“ (a decidedly leftist platform) as well as by the liberal-conservative Internet Forum “Tichys Einblick” (Tichys Insight). While, in all his writings on political economics, he denounces enrichment without work and performance as the basis of what he calls “parasitic capitalism”, he considers capitalist market economy itself an historic achievement since it is the only one capable of mobilizing the political and economic initiative of all its citizens – provided it really does so by guaranteeing equal opportunities. This was the leftist project of 18. Century enlightenment which combated the privileges of king, nobility, and clergy, and laid the foundation of economic and political democracy. Karl Marx took up the moral impetus: More than any one else he vigorously condemned the terrible grievances of industrialization’s social abuses. But, according to Jenner, in his theoretical writings, Marx turned out to be a lost son of enlightenment. Instead of wisely limiting the privileges of property, he threw the baby out with the bath water as he wanted to remove all relevant property (the means of production). In this way, Marx has wrought havoc on a worldwide scale (see “Wohlstand und Armut” (Prosperity and Poverty) and „Why Nations Fail„). Jenner’s quite precise reservations thus concern the therapy Marx offered to the world, not his analysis.
Jenner’s remarks on Unconditional Income as well as his attitude towards to the refugee question are interpreted by his critics as right-wing tendencies – a criticism Jenner holds to be rather naïve. To him the sources of spiritual inspiration are Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Alexis de Tocqueville, Hannah Arendt, that is, thinkers who are distinguished by their empathic view on the variety of human thought and cultural manifestations. Jenner himself has dealt specifically with Indian, Japanese and Chinese cultures. From these studies he derived the basic insight that the diversity of cultures relies on boundaries as a prerequisite. In borderless confrontations, only three types of reaction are possible: either what is foreign is forcibly suppressed, or one sacrifices one’s own traditions or both are amalgated into a new synthesis. The third alternative may, in the long term, result in a revival and renewal – in the short term, however, all three developmental alternatives tend to be accompanied by expulsions and sometimes by extreme violence. Politics that does more than just crave for populist applause should therefore always have these dangers in mind. In this sense, Jenner was from the start against a light-hearted refugee policy.
Politik und Sozialökonomie
- Japan – eine untergehende Sonne? Peter Lang, 1997
- Die arbeitslose Gesellschaft. S. Fischer, 1997
- Das Ende des Kapitalismus – Triumph oder Kollaps eines Wirtschaftssystems? Fischer, 1999
- (Chinese version:) 資本主義的未来. Social Sciences Dokumentation Publishing House, 2004
- Energiewende – So sichern wir Deutschlands Zukunft. Propyläen, 2006
- Das Pyramidenspiel. Signum, 2008
- Wohlstand und Armut – eine allgemeine Theorie über Eigentum, Geld, Güter und Staat. Metropolis, 2010
- Von der Krise ins Chaos. Signum, 2012
- EuroKalypse Now? Es gibt einen Weg aus der Krise! Metropolis, 2012
- TechnoKrieg global – oder Frieden mit Mensch und Natur? unveröffentlicht, 2014
- Das Ökonomische Manifest – fünf Fundamentalreformen, um den Niedergang von Wirtschaft und Demokratie aufzuhalten. Monsenstein und Vannerdat, 2015
Sprache und Linguistik
- Die poetischen Figuren der Inder von Bhamaha bis Mammata. Schriftenreihe des Europakollegs, Ludwig Appel, 1968
- The Place of Japanese in General Linguistics. erschienen in den Berichten der Toyogakkai, 1974
- Grammatica Nova. Peter Lang, 1981
- Prolegomena zur Generellen Grammatik. Peter Lang, 1991
- Principles of Language. Peter Lang, 1993
- Principles of Language. teilweise überarbeitet
- Max Weber’s Essays on the Sociology of Religion. erschienen in den Berichten der Rechtswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Tokio, 1974
- Wider den Stachel – Gespräche zur Zeit- und Kulturkritik. Peter Lang, 1985, C.H. Beck im Internet
- Das Gottesproblem. Peter Lang, 2004
- Der Dawkinswahn oder die Antwort der Mystik. unveröffentlicht, 2008
- Die Macht der Träume und die Ohnmacht der Vernunft – eine Philosophie der Freiheit. Metropolis, 2013
- Die Messingstadt und andere Erzählungen. Leykam, 1989
Unter dem Pseudonym Till Angersbrecht mehrere Romane phantastischer Art:
- Die Weltenretter
- Ego – oder das Unglück, ein Mann auf dem Mars zu sein
- Schatten der Schuld
- Die Botschaft, die ihr nicht hören wollt
- Die Leiden des schwarzen Peters
- Ökopolitisches Portal
- Literatur von und über Gero Jenner im Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek
- Gero Jenner: TechnoKrieg global – oder Frieden mit Mensch und Natur?
- Gero Jenner: Principles of Language.
- Gero Jenner: Der Dawkinswahn oder die Antwort der Mystik.