|Politik und Gesellschaft
International Politics and Society 4/2000
Options for the consolidation of Kosovo
The only permanently viable option for the entire region of south-eastern Europe, i.e. the consolidation of modern political nations on the basis of the participation of all citizens and not on the basis of ethnic homogeneity, is still a long way off. In view of renewed expulsions even following the war in Kosovo, and in view of the dissatisfaction of the Kosovars with the international presence and the continuing bad economic situation, people are increasingly asking whether the high political costs of the NATO involvement can be justified. It is possible to identify five options with rising degrees of autonomy or sovereignty for the final status of Kosovo: continuation as a part of Yugoslavia and Serbia; substantial autonomy in the Yugoslav federation; substantial autonomy as an international protectorate sui generis; ethnic division between Serbs and Albanians, possibly followed by the integration of the separate units into Albania and Serbia; independence, possibly followed by integration into Albania. Since it is unlikely at present that the implementation of any one of these options will be legitimised by the Kosovar population, the UN mission to Kosovo should keep the options open. Here, the only possible basis for continued international involvement is the principle of peaceful coexistence of the various ethnic groups. Ultimately, however, the Kosovo problem cannot be solved from outside: it needs to be solved by the Kosovars themselves. Initially, the international protectorate must be continued. It could be presented as „trial independence“ if all Kosovars were granted the right to live in Kosovo. But no linkage should be made with a final decision on status. The prospect of an independent Kosovo should only be raised on condition that the borders of the neighbouring states remain in place and the human rights of all Kosovars, irrespective of their ethnic identity, are upheld. Until there is an acceptable solution for everyone involved, the financial basis for the international presence should be provided by the UN and NATO.
Democratisation After Communism:
Progress, Problems, Promotion
During the post-communist transition process in Central and Eastern Europe democratisation was carried furthest in those countries that were socio-economically most developed, that were ethnically relatively homogeneous, and that had already had democratic experience in the pre-communist past. While the less developed countries tended to have rather rigid patrimonial communist regimes and less radical reforms during transition, the more advanced ones had more reformist communist regimes and changed both their polities and economies more thoroughly. Compared to the dismal standards of the region, the countries that established relatively well functioning democracies did also rather well economically. However, discontent with the new system has remained relatively strong. It led to highly volatile election results and corresponding changes in government without endangering though the stability of the democratic systems as such. Many other, mostly less successful countries, can still hardly be called real democracies at all. Promoting growth and prosperity should be a core element of any strategy to promote democracy. However, a democracy needs a supportive civil society and political culture that can be strengthened by international co-operation.
Intersecting trajectories: Republicanism in the U.S. and France
Republicanism in both France and the United States rejects a concept of liberal democracy whose procedural justice may safeguard individual liberties, but at the same time disguises competitive commercial relations and renders political inclusion and participation difficult. In order to make political inclusion possible, French republicanism advocates a state welfare policy, whilst its American counterpart aims to shape the political commonweal in such a way that social inclusion becomes possible. The differences between American and French republicanism derive from the different courses taken by and the different intentions of the American and French Revolutions: in France, the republican tradition arose as a Jacobin reaction to the egoistic individualism unleashed by the destruction of the old order; in America, republicanism responded to the transformation of what was originally a participatory into a merely formal democracy in which laws ruled, not people. Both versions of republicanism contain an „activist“ element: they regard themselves as practical criticism of the given social interrelations, but they find it difficult to put a name to the subject of their political action. The transfer of sovereignty from the monarch to the people creates the insoluble problem of how a community of particular interests can form a collective will to act. If republicanism is not to fall victim to the illusion of a popular will, it needs to aspire to a politics beyond the „politics of will“. The alternative is a „politics of judgement“, which differs from the politics of will primarily in the way it handles social „anomie“. Just as, in Kant’s critique of reason, beauty cannot be explained by scientific laws, anomie in modern societies is defined by the fact that it is not encompassed by any law. But this does not mean it disappears from political communication – just as beauty may not be capable of scientific proof, but is accessible to aesthetic communication. The more differentiated an institutional order, the smaller the danger that one institution will raise itself to be the embodiment of the „popular will“ (checks and balances), and the greater the likelihood that initially „anomic“ particular phenomena will find an institutional „hearing“ and thereby lose their anomic nature. A republican democracy in this sense is dynamic, pluralist and always open to innovations. It can absorb experiences both from below (e.g. trade unions) and from above (e.g. European Union) the traditionally accepted political institutions.
Designing reality as a product:
„The shift in values“ in the Western world
More than virtually any other diagnosis of society over the last 20 years, the „shift in values“ has enjoyed an international career and has stimulated debate both inside and outside the social sciences in numerous Western industrial countries. The diagnoses of society produced by contemporaries with degrees in the social sciences largely coincide with those made by contemporaries without such a qualification. They translate the generalised perceptions of the layperson into social science categories and intensify them. They describe the state of society, but they do not explain it and do not provide any basis for prognoses. The broad range of sociological diagnoses reflects the state of society: society is insecure and desires an orientation which confirms existing perceptions and prejudices, but is not interested in a genuine understanding which corresponds to the complexity of reality. The sociological talk of a shift in values – it is not a theory in the true sense – is a fine example of this type of social diagnosis. Typically, literature on the shift in values uses relatively simple stereotypical distinctions. One of the most popular of these is the distinction between materialistic and post-materialistic values. However, a precise look at the empirical evidence shows that such categories are arbitrary and of no value for a genuine understanding. The long-running success enjoyed by „shift in value“ theories in the Western world derives from the fact that they meet the public’s need for interpretation and endowment with meaning. This type of success in terms of public reception is driven by factors which ultimately belong in the field of marketing. To a large extent, social science is oriented towards these criteria and is thus neglecting the real criteria of academic quality.
Helmut Reisen/Marcelo Soto
Why foreign capital is good for post-crisis Asia
Today, following the financial crisis of 1997/98, most of the East Asian developing countries have already returned to high domestic savings rates which suffice to finance an extremely rapid accumulation of capital. Similarly, the earning of the foreign exchange needed to import capital goods and raw materials is not a problem for these high-export countries. Pushing ahead with economic development on the basis of domestic savings is commonly regarded as a strategy superior to the use of foreign savings. This is particularly true in the wake of the financial crisis, which made the risks related to capital inflows from abroad abundantly clear. Nevertheless, the countries of East Asia would be better advised to rely more on foreign savings instead of doing all they can to keep domestic savings both at a high level and in the country. In the long term, the latter approach means that the savings are invested more and more inefficiently. In order to prevent a reduction in efficiency across the economy, structural reforms are needed, which will initially result in a decline in domestic savings, even if they also create the conditions for continued high growth in the future. These structural reforms include the recapitalisation of the banking sector after the financial crisis (at the expense of public-sector savings) and a greater opening of the import markets (at the expense of private savings). The influx of foreign capital can offset the decline in domestic savings and maintain the rate of capital accumulation. Foreign capital per se enhances economic efficiency. Amongst other things, it helps to deepen the capital market, making investment cheaper and facilitating necessary restructuring in the corporate sector. Access to international capital markets also protects against the risk of country-specific shocks and helps to support the level of consumption in times of economic crisis. All these advantages need to be weighed up against the danger of massive short-term capital withdrawal, as in the financial crisis of 1997/98. This danger is lowest in the case of foreign direct investment and long-term bank loans – albeit in the latter case only when the domestic banks are sufficiently capitalised. The theoretical considerations regarding the advantages and disadvantages of capital inflows from abroad in comparison with domestic savings are reinforced by recent empirical evidence from the 1986-97 period.
Green card for Indian programmers:
a challenge to development policy
In the debate on a German „green card“ for foreign computer specialists, the focus has been on the advantages for the host country. Surprisingly quickly, the debate has paved the way for a rational immigration policy oriented to Germany’s own interests. There has been hardly any serious discussion of the effect on the countries of origin of the loss of these highly skilled specialists. In terms of development policy, however, this question is of considerable significance. After all, if the international migration of software specialists and other highly qualified people from the developing countries is also advantageous for the countries providing the people, it might be right to encourage it even more in order to accelerate the economic development and technological modernisation of these countries. If the reverse is true, i.e. that the detrimental effects on the countries of origin predominate, then development co-operation could at least help to offset this, by providing more support for education and training, for example. India has managed – certainly more than most of the other developing countries – to partially reverse the original brain drain and to encourage a significant number of Indian software specialists, who are enjoying particular success in the United States, to return or at least to invest their savings in the domestic software industry. This has built the foundations for one of the country’s most dynamic export industries. The boom in Indian software output would have been virtually impossible without the experience and contacts of the Indian software developers who had moved to the United States and without their – state-supported – willingness to invest in India. The Indian example shows that the international migration of skilled workers between developing and industrial countries does not have to be a zero-sum game in which only the countries attracting the workers gain, whilst those countries providing them lose. Instead, if the correct incentives and supporting policies promote the exchange of personnel in both directions, both sides can benefit. And then, development co-operation could still help to shape structures by promoting co-operation between German software users and software firms from developing countries, so that the software specialists located there would have greater opportunities to engage in the export business from where they live.
Haggling over formulas to save the climate
On POALI, PAMs and QUELROs
The Kyoto Protocol on the climate is largely unfinished. The negotiations leading to the Protocol showed very clearly the emerging tripolar structure of world climate policy. In practice, the negotiations were dominated by the United States, which led the countries participating in the climate conference into an unprecedented large-scale experiment in the use of flexible mechanisms. The participants refrained from international co-ordination of measures to lessen the burden on the atmosphere. Instead, they negotiated targets for the reduction of harmful emissions (primarily, but not only, CO2). The commitments negotiated (which apply in principle to all industrial countries), i.e. that emissions of gases harmful to the climate should be cut by five per cent (from the 1990 level) by 2008-12, can be achieved in a wide variety of ways. This is also an aspect of the general flexibilisation achieved by the United States in Kyoto. At present, however, the negotiated objective of reduced emissions does not yet serve as an instruction for countries to take specific action. That requires a large number of implementing regulations, and these are to be stipulated at the conference in The Hague in November 2000. That conference should also agree on sanctions for the non-fulfilment of commitments. Otherwise, the entire climate protocol (so far, only half a protocol) will be nothing more than a paper tiger. The strategy pursued by the US delegation in Kyoto, i.e. to aim only at flexible abstract wordings, is the result of the political resistance at home which would probably have blocked any further-reaching agreement. With its flexibility strategy, the US delegation has at least left the door open for further progress on climate policy. In comparison with the Americans, the Europeans had no strategic concept to work from in Kyoto.
© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | net edition malte.michel| 11/2000