2017: Vision for less Efficiency but more Resilience

Vision for less Efficiency but more Resilience

Artikel in Rotary Magazin, Hamburg, August 2017:

Brexit, Trump’s electoral victory and populist inducement point to a growing sense of anti-establishment coupled with reluctance and fear of over-reliance – all signs of a deep upheaval. Was Kurt Tucholsky right when he said: “the people often think wrong, but always feel right”?

At least the second part of this sentence is correct; because with efficiency and resilience there is a conceptual pair that has fallen out of balance and can well explain the emergence of this feeling: efficiency – that is, the pursuit of an “ever better” relationship between input and output – combines materialism with linear rationality. Thinking and has become the comprehensive guiding principle of Western society; Resilience, on the other hand, expresses lasting robust resilience and above all requires holistic thinking. In short, we will starve to death without efficiency, and without resilience, we’ll soon hit the wall. Sustainability is best served (according to resilience researcher Bernard Litaer), when resilience is greater than efficiency – which is clearly not the case today.


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2009: Fighting Globoliath

Fighting Globoliath

  Publication by Fourth World Review, a Transition Journal, London, No 151 Nov/Dec 2009

Over fifty years sjnce Kohr’s Breakdown of Nations was first published, former Austrian Ambassador Michael Breisky hails his theory of scale as being more relevant than ever.

David’s fight against Goliath is a wonderful story every century loves to reenact. For me, the 20th century’s fight was between David Leopold Kohr and Globoliath, crown-prince of the Philistine empire of Globalisation. The fight began in the mid-1950s, when David Leopold, the Austrian born philosopher, wrote his „Breakdown of Nations“. Using this book like a slingshot, he hurled three simple ideas against Globoliath:

  1. One: At any time, every man and every woman is good for a big surprise (and not to speak of children!).
  2. Two: The complexity of things increases with the square of their size.
  3. Three: Man’s capacity to understand complexity is limited. If complexity rises beyond this limit, surprises are likely to get nasty and nastier.


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2006: The Need for Ethics in the Insurance Industry

„The Secular Sourcere entering the Age of Reformation“

Speech by Michael Breisky at the Conference of Industrial Insurance Brokers, April 2006, Pottstown, PA

Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is a great honor and pleasure for me to address this distinguished gathering on the issue of ethics – no one among my childhood pals or peers in school and career would have believed I could ever catch anybody’s attention on this subject. I have, therefore, proved that it is never too late to become familiar with ethics.

It is a difficult subject. My brother-in-law brought it to the point when he told me about a seven-year-old asking his father about the essence of ethics. The father, who was an antiques-dealer in London’s Portobello Road, answered like this: Imagine a sweet old lady, obviously not too well off, approaching our stand and paying ten pounds for a teapot. As you want to pocket the money, you notice that a second ten-pounds bill is sticking to the ten-pounds bill she had given to you. Now the question of ethics arises: Will you share this lucky ten pounds with your partner? As you will see, ethics in the insurance business runs a lot like this. (more…)

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2003: Transatlantic Separation or Common Strategy

Transatlantic Separation or Common Strategy

Speech at Union Club, Philadelphia, PA, September 2003, by Ambassador Michael Breisky, Austrian Consul General in New York

Ladies and Gentlemen!
I consider it a great honour to address this distinguished audience in Philadelphia, a city breathing not only business but also history, a matter so close to the heart of Europeans; they are well aware that was here where our Transatlantic values were put on paper for the first time. I thank my friend and collegue Harry Schaub for introducing me so kindly to you.

As the theme of my address suggests, the question of Transatlantic separation has come up again. Let me come without further ado to the heart of the matter and answer this question once and for all by a quote from the 42nd US-President when he remarked – in a different context, I admit: “It’s the economy, darling”. And economy says simply: you cannot separate. Just think of it: All of Japan’s investment in the US is less than the EU’s investment in the state of Texas alone, and Texas is for the EU by no means a special target-state. US investment in Europe is equally pre-eminent by volume and importance. So the transatlantic community can be compared to Siamese twins with only one heart – the economy. It is true, even Siamese twins squabble between themselves sometimes and in some rare cases may even think of combining surgical separation with organ-transplant – Transatlantic twins should know, however, that in foreseeable future no other heart on earth will be big enough to keep them alive. (more…)

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2002: „The Transatlantic Yin Yang“

Translation of an Op-Ed in „Die Presse“; Vienna, published 30 September, 2002

Today many people see the partnership between the United States and Europe at its end. While in the United States the opinion prevails that the European Union is contributing nothing but empty words to the fight against terrorism, the Europeans on the other hand feel that the United States are acting purely unilaterally and do not appreciate Europe’s manifold achievements and contributions.

By chance my dictionary opens at “Yin Yang”, the ancient concept in Chinese philosophy of dark and light. Yang signifies male attributes as well as heavenly characteristics and the quality of strength, while Yin on the other hand lays claim to female attributes, earthly characteristics and the quality of flexibility.

“Both principles complement each other and function as interdependent principles”, the dictionary says. If we add to Yang the enterprising spirit and polarization, but differentiation to Yin, we should be able to understand this political enigma! (more…)

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