You can imagine that my work does not leave much room for other activities. My life beyond research is all about my family, my wife and my five children, aged between 4 and 24 years. My wife has a full time job as a university administrator and is active in many civil society engagements, in particular Japanese Kendo, and local sports clubs in which our kids are engaged. So, we share responsibilities in managing our household. My task is the kitchen: I love cooking, and I take care of our own vegetable garden. Actually, I violate economic rationality in my everyday life: We rarely rely on services and the division of labour, I prepare and preserve food and vegetables, and I bake our bread and bun. I love doing this, but there is also a philosophical reason: I think that we human beings need to stay connected with nature, and we should always feel the experience that we are dependent on nature. If you battle against weeds in an organic vegetable garden, you certainly get that feeling (which can be rather stressful, with a tight daily schedule otherwise).
I am a bookish type and shun social networking events. Unfortunately, I could never realize again what I thought is a task of a human being when I was at high school: Develop yourself into a sort of Renaissance person, fully unfolding your human potential. At that time, I also did a lot of sports (track and field) and music (classical guitar, composing a lot of stuff by myself). What is left of this is just a love for music (with rare opportunities to enjoy), and the attempt at keeping my health vigorous by regular exercises and running, but mostly struggling in keeping my own commitments. Recently, after 35 years of rest, I started again playing the classical guitar, after my brother redicovered a tape with my own compsitions as a 17-year old. I felt immensely frustrated about what had been lost.
I joined two political parties in the past decade, only to leave again after a while. I do not see that the 'new liberalism' that I promote is represented in any of the existing parties in Germany. First, I joined the German liberal party FDP when Germany was governed by a 'grand coalition'. I thought that grand coalitions are dangerous for democracy, so I wanted to support the opposition forces. Yet, later I learned that the FDP was much to cosy with business interests. I think that a 'new liberalism' needs to revive and strenghten the liberal tradition of criticising the alliance between political power and business power in modern societies. Later, I joined the newly established party AfD. Before its founding, this party combined sound economics (well, the founding person is an academic economist) with a very outspoken criticism of the so-called 'Euro rescue' which effectively amounts to the expropriation of small savers and ordinary people via the low interest rate policies that only serves the interests of the financial sector. However, very soon I turned away in dismay, because this party has adopted positions in public policies that clash with fundamental liberal values, such as rejecting cosmopolitanism in being hostile to immigration, or denying the diversity of values and lifestyles in modern societies in promoting so-called 'conservative' family models, disclaiming simple facts such as the ongoing gender discrimination even in advanced societies such as Germany. I think that a 'new liberalism' vigorously defends individual liberty against any kind of power structures in society, political, economic, or cultural. That means, it lies aslant to existing political delineations, especially in Germany, and actually implies that particular positions of different parties come together, without, however, implying that their entire programs can combine. After all, the original AfD critique of the 'rescue policy' was only matched with the position of the left party, with all other mainstream parties applauding. Yet, in all other respects you cannot imagine a starker contrast betwen those two parties. At the same time, the Green Party cooperates with the conservative CDU, in some regional contexts, thus revealing a shared sociological root in the middle classes (well, former revolutionaries turned affluent). The liberal party FDP has been in decline, with no other political movement exactly claiming their previous ground. The results of the recent German elections manifest that messy political landscape, with an AfD introducing Neo-Nazi elements in the Bundestag, and a coalition of CDU, Greens and Liberals in the making. Evidently, there is a need for redefining political agendas in the 21st century. My research does not leave much time to engage myself in working out political recipes in practice. I just hope that my ideas will find readers who can do that.