About this edition
Francis Fukuyama’s controversial dictum that the end of history
has arrived already looks a little outdated, after the first
“post-historical” decade. True, the twin concept of democracy
cum private market economy has won the more than hundred years’
battle for global dominance against its socialist adversary.
But the victorious concept is meeting strong resistance in the
shaping of the emerging global society. And this may well be
the dominant theme in the new chapter of world history that
has been opened after the defeat of bureaucratic socialism.
The new adversary of the grand Western design for societal and
global order are not the protagonists of an alternative order
but the dynamics of “disorder” or, more precisely, of social
of regression was the central topic of the 2/2003 edition of
Politics and Society. And it is to be expected
that it will remain a “master topic” for a long time to come:
the struggle for global “civility” against the dynamics of regression.
The terrorist threat, quickly declared the challenge of the
21st century after September 11, 2001, is one symptom of global “disorder” or destabilization.
In his contribution to this edition, Michael Dauderstädt tries to get into focus the entire syndrome that
threatens the “western islands of prosperity”, discussing also
the policy options for dealing with the threat.
societal regression and its destabilizing consequences soon
leads to that crucial phenomenon to which a more optimistic
world view once applied the notion of economic backwardness
or underdevelopment. Where the accumulation – and permanent
replacement – of productive capital is blocked, and where catching
up with the western prosperity benchmark is foreclosed, rent-seeking
and the struggle for economic survival will become the dominating
factors to organize society. The contribution by Stephan
Hensell shows – taking
the case of Macedonia – how the violence-prone syndrome of the
clientelistic rent economy interacts with identity politics.
(On how the conflicts over distribution generated by stagnating
rent economies acquire an ethnic dimension see also the various
Africa articles in our 2/2003 edition.)
or, in less value-charged terms, global stability in the interest
of western security, faces a twin challenge: releasing the problem
countries from the trap of their internal structures of stagnation
and preventing more countries from getting caught up in it.
A gigantic world-wide machinery of aid to developing countries
has been occupied for decades with doing just this – by and
large, with scant success. In his contribution, Klaus Eßer advocates radical consequences: restrict foreign aid to
those countries where the societal preconditions for developing
a modern competitive economy exist, and hope that the new “Southern”
poles of growth eventually extend their own dynamic to their
surrounding regions. Another condition for success, good governance,
is also to be promoted primarily in those countries where the
underlying socio-economic structure supports it, not where it
is blatantly absent. If we relate it to the problem of global
reasoning implies that the world’s future crucially depends
on what happens with those countries which have the potential
to become new “tiger states” but which are also facing the specter
of societal regression. South Africa, which ten years ago overcame
its particular historical deadlock, is one of these countries
– and its success or failure acts as a signal for all of Sub-Saharan
Africa. Siegmar Schmidt’s account of what has happened
in post-Apartheid South Africa confirms hopes as well as fears.
that result from societal regression in (large ?) parts of the
world tend to assign second-line importance to the classical
geopolitical focus of world politics. But they also fill it
with new content. Not that the mutual distrust and the competition
for scarce resources and opportunities among rival states, emphasized
by the “realistic” school of international relations theory,
are a thing of the past. The contributions by Uwe Krüger on the “poker game” over Caspian oil and by Kassian Stroh on the conflict over the
water of the Nile deal with this dimension of international
politics. However, the – functioning – states of the world have
increasing reason to worry about the dangers that arise out
of the dynamics of societal regression. And if there is no affordable
way of eliminating these dynamics and achieving genuine stability
to the crucial aspect of costs) it is all the more important
to control the consequences of instability. And it is important
to find allies who take part in that controlling. This new imperative
unites “powers” who are otherwise inclined to consider each
other as rivals. As the contribution by Peter W. Schulze points out, Russia’s reappearance
in the first league of world politics is to be understood within
this context. That the common interest in stability does not
keep the “powers” from purposefully destabilizing when that
promises advantages vis-à-vis their geopolitical rivals becomes
repeatedly obvious in Uwe Krüger’s contribution.
the Middle East conflict is among those at the top of the list
when it comes to the issue of global stabilization. But it is
first of all a conflict sui generis and an example of the fascinating
“unassailable” logic of collective irrationality. Reiner
Bernstein’s analysis of the latest attempt at promoting
Middle East peace brings this once more to the fore.
With this editorial, the managing editor of INTERNATIONAL POLITICS
AND SOCIETY says, after ten, not all that “post-historical”,
years, good-bye to the readers. The journal will maintain its
conceptual line, but will undoubtedly display a different “handwriting”
in one or another respect.