Politik und Gesellschaft Online
International Politics and Society 2/1998
About this issue

One of the topics which run through the volumes of this journal like a recurring theme is the fear that the denationalization of economic life may be to the lasting detriment of labour. In our 4/1996 issue, Wolfgang Streeck spoke of the "de-civilizing of capitalism”, and Ethan Kapstein wrote in the 2/1997 number of the "Race to the Bottom”. In the same issue, Fritz Scharpf proposed a strategy to counter this danger. Others, such as Werner Kamppeter (3/1995), Arne Heise (1/1996) and Grahame Thompson (2/1997), put the case for remaining calm. This issue continues the discussion, with contributions by the trade unionist Hans-Jürgen Urban and Osnabrück University's Professor of European Studies Klaus Busch, reflecting on how society´s weakened lines of defence against the market can be redrawn or at least reinforced at a European level.

The second main topic in this issue is the currency crisis in East Asia, which has threatened the immediate stability of the existing world economic order less than it has shaken widespread economic convictions. On the one hand we see the sudden death of a model, and the suspicion that the East Asian economic miracle - to go by the figures, one of the most impressive in modern economic history - may have been standing on feet of clay all along and that the "Tiger" Economies´ much vaunted policies of pragmatic market orientation have finally shown themselves to be unsound. On the other hand there is growing doubt as to whether, under present conditions, limitless freedom of capital will really serve to increase worldwide prosperity (see the articles by Reimut Jochimsen and Wolfgang Filc in our last two issues). Former Bundesbank governor Claus Köhler offers a view of the crisis which contradicts in critical aspects the interpretation which has been presented over and over by the mass media. The "debate” as to what should be done which follows presents greatly differing recommendations for action, directed partly at the international financial system and partly at the economic policies of the countries of East Asia. Here again, it becomes clear that the reforms urged on all sides largely bypass the actual core of the crisis.

Western Asia, a region of the world which currently excites the geopolitical imagination possibly more than any other, is the third main topic of this issue. Matthes Buhbe discusses the difficult relationship between the Turkish national state, situated in Asia but looking predominantly towards Europe, and the process of European unification, and raises the question of Turkey's alternative geopolitical options. Conrad Schetter presents a synopsis of the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan, in which socio-cultural and ethnic internal conflicts combine with the geopolitical strategies of their neighbours and the major powers.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition bb&ola&juliag | März 1999