Интервью профессора Райнера Хериберта Айсфельда

17 ноября 2008

Интервью профессора Райнера Хериберта Айсфельда

Райнер Хериберт АйсфельдПрофессор Университета Оснабрюк (Германия) доктор Райнер Хериберт Айсфельд читает курс лекций для профессорско-преподавательского состава и студентов Факультета политологии по теме «Плюралистические демократии под давлением: точка зрения немецкой политической науки».

How will You characterize the state of the European political science?
There are plenty of signs of the most serious economic crisis. What political consequences will it have?

1. With the institutionalization of political science across the continent’s central and Eastern regions during the 1990s, total academic staff engaged in the discipline, according to rough estimates, approximately doubled in Europe. The European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), established in 1970 and easily the discipline’s most important European association in terms of promoting cross-national cooperation, acquired new institutional members from countries such as Albania and Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic and, not least, Russia. The European Confederation of Political Science Associations (ECPSA), founded in late 2007 to promote the discipline’s common interests in teaching, research and funding, consists at present of 19 member organizations, ranging from the Russian to the British, from the Finnish to the French, from the Hungarian to the German, from the Slovenian to the Spanish Political Science Association. Regional and inter-regional cooperation is flourishing, numerous networks of political scientists are emerging across the continent.

In recent years, national political systems, comparative politics, European studies and international relations have constituted the main research focus of the largely empirically oriented “mainstream” into which the discourse of central and Eastern Europe’s nascent political science has been merging. Considerable advances have been made in these fields and in research techniques. However, no systematic reflection of the “state of the art” occurred after the transition from communist regimes. Will European political science also be able to address the enormously significant issues of economic globalization, of regional and global migration, of not just combating terrorism, but promoting the reduction of its underlying grievances and causes? At present, few political scientists concern themselves with examining the political behavior of business and the structural connections between business and state (political economy). In a situation of increasing ethno-cultural pluralization, more analyses are needed which, by blending political, cultural, religious, and economic aspects, seek to advance dialogue and conciliation (politics of recognition) - rather than acquiescing in, or forcibly suppressing, cultural “tribalization” and the ensuing socio-political cleavages. Finally, the discipline needs to offer well-reasoned concepts against adopting anti-terrorist policies which threaten fundamental democratic values – concepts which pay heed to the need for social justice, for civic participation, for the satisfaction of basic needs. These are the pressing regional and global concerns which European political science now needs to confront.

2. To understand some of the deeper causes of the present financial and the impending economic crisis, we need to realize that the ongoing process of financial and economic globalization has definitely not happened without political intervention. Quite the contrary, it   is precisely pro-market state intervention which has been on the increase. With regard to both public services, including welfare benefits, and to regulation, governments have ever more determinedly been restricting their performance. Under the impact of an increasingly hegemonic neo-liberal discourse, administrations led by social democratic parties joined their liberal-conservative counterparts in opting for privatization and deregulatory policies. Governmental and market players alike have rivaled each other with recipes for organizing a "slimmed down" state bent on cutting expenditure and supervision.

The trend needs to be reversed. Capitalist economies, including financial institutions, require tough regulation. To be effective, such supervision must be internationally coordinated and endowed with robust powers to enforce strict standards.

But, again, the political problems go deeper. If globalization has acted as a constraint on redistributive and regulatory policies, the downsizing of social security budgets and the reduction of resources available for allocation by representatives to constituents have weakened the legitimacy of democratic states. Due to the influence of multinational investors and of foreign competitive pressures, both the power and the accountability of democratic legislatures and administrations have been reduced. The net result has been a weakening of citizen loyalty and of grassroots commitment to democratic processes.

After, in 1929, the collapse of Wall Street had generated the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal did not restore, for the United States, prosperity in peacetime. But it did succeed (besides alleviating the suffering of millions of unemployed) in establishing organized labor and organized agriculture as political players alongside business in bargaining for political benefits. Capitalism, it appeared, might be reformed, democracy broadened.

Again, we may be at a critical juncture. By legislating New Dealish measures, democratically elected representatives need to demonstrate that business has not acquired veto power in economic and social policy-making. If they should fail, people might react against democracy.

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