Paul Seabright gave a fascinating and typically wide ranging talk “On Lying, Risk Taking and the Euro” for our second annual Princeton University Press
in Europe lecture on 18th April. The talk, which is open to the public, honours our European Advisory Board. In the lecture, Seabright argued that many of the factors which led to the Euro crisis were in plain sight from its launch. The challenge is that in many different ways we are hard wired not to notice. We tend for example to like to tell a morality tale with good guys and bad guys; we tend not to notice slow creeping crises; and we succumb to the very human desire not to rock the boat. Drawing on a wealth of economic data and the insights of neuroscience and behavioural economics, Seabright’s analysis is both compelling – and chilling.
Paul Seabright gave a fascinating and typically wide ranging talk “On Lying, Risk Taking and the Euro” for our second annual Princeton University Press
As voters went to the polls for the French presidential elections, Richard Kuisel, author of The French Way: How France Embraced and Rejected American Values and Power shared his thoughts with Election 101 on the distinct differences between election season in the US and the one in France. Read on for an interesting study in contrasts between two political cultures including treatments of key issues like the market and capitalism, immigration, as well as a marked difference in the amount of interest in candidates’ private lives and religious faith.
Mitt Romney speaks French! For some voters, this French connection is a handicap. A look at the concurrent presidential elections in the U.S. and France reveals some striking parallels, telling differences, and intriguing connections.
In both campaigns the principal issue is the incumbent president. For many renewing mandates is the question that outweighs all other considerations. In France large majorities say they oppose reelection. Presidents Obama and Sarkozy have provoked determined opponents, some of whom would go to great length to limit them to one term. The far right of the Republican Party, despite reservations about Mitt Romney, would hold their nose and vote for him in order to oust Barack Obama. Similarly, in France, the far Left, who are not enamored of the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, seem willing to endorse him if need be to block Nicolas Sarkozy. For many voters in both countries these elections are referenda on the inhabitants of the White House and the Elysée Palace and much of the energy originates in oppositional politics. In both countries legislative elections (which in France follow in June) may not ratify the presidential vote and may thus bring divided governments.
Critics in both electorates are also motivated by a perception of national decline and blame this downward momentum on their presidents. Voters worry about a loss of international status, domestic cohesion, a sense of common purpose, and even national identity. They ask “Are our best days behind us?” This is an old Gallic anxiety that dates back to the Fall of France in 1940, if not earlier. For Americans this is a newer concern. The way to return the U.S to greatness according to the Tea Party movement is to remove President Obama and revive the spirit of our Founding Fathers. Sarkozy speaks of restoring traditional values like work and responsibility and his slogan is “The Strong France.” For the Left in France the solution is to send Sarkozy into retirement and revive social democracy and civic solidarity.
Both presidential campaigns have focused on domestic rather than foreign affairs. Candidates debate unemployment, budget deficits, and strategies for economic revival rather than international affairs. In the U.S. even though we are engaged in a seemingly endless war, Afghanistan is not a major issue. The war is less and less popular but the end game is depressing rather than controversial. The principal international problem is how far the U.S. should go to block Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Otherwise the question is how to create jobs, reduce government debt, and remedy health care. Among the French attention is on unemployment, the cost of living, job security, and law and order. And worry about immigration is keener in France than in the U.S. Foreign affairs are peripheral except for Europe and there debate centers on the EU’s new fiscal compact and the union’s openness to immigration. None of these concerns, however, compete with the agenda set by the current economic and financial crises.
What is perhaps more illuminating than similarities are transatlantic differences starting with religion. In France’s secular political culture the religious convictions of presidential candidates are irrelevant and the French are dismayed at how American politicians parade their religiosity or question the beliefs of their rivals, for example, the Mormon faith of Romney. Claiming “I am a better Christian than you” seems to enhance a candidate’s political profile here but not in France. If one’s faith is not an issue in France, however, treatment of the Muslim community is controversial.
Private lives, like religious faith, occupy the American electorate but not the French. In the U.S. presidential candidates parade their wives and children, their records as parents, and their marital fidelity as certificates of electability. And they undermine rivals by raising questions about such matters, e.g. Gingrich’s divorces. Not so in France where politics do not intrude on privacy. That François Hollande sired four children outside of marriage is not a handicap. Sarkozy, however, has crossed this boundary with his high-profile divorce and remarriage to a former model while occupying the Elysée. And he has made his temperament and life style a minor issue, but this is atypical of Gallic politics and a faint echo of how Americans conduct elections.
Money also distinguishes the American electoral process. Some ask whether or not the spending of Super PACS and the media have fundamentally distorted this election. No such problem exists in the current French campaign.
All candidates in the American campaign praise the market and capitalism. Not so in France where both Sarkozy and Hollande denounce market fundamentalism and the far Left presents an openly anti-capitalist stance. Unlike the U.S. virtually all French candidates also agree on raising taxes, especially on the wealthy, avoid discussing spending cuts, and indict the financial sector for the crisis.
Are there any connections between the two elections? A perceived “French connection” is a handicap in the U.S. Thus the Super Pac of Gingrich (who himself knows French) has belittled Romney for speaking French and Santorum has claimed (falsely) that France has not sided with America for the last 20 years. And labeling any Democratic initiative as the “European (French) way” is now a familiar Republican indictment. In France Obama remains popular and anti-Americanism is out of bounds except for latent reservations about Sarkozy. In 2007 the latter had campaigned openly as a friend of the American way, the first presidential candidate in French history to do so, but he has retreated from this stance and America, including France’s reintegration into NATO in 2009, is not a serious issue.
Mercifully all this will be over by May 6 in France while Americans will have to struggle on until November.
Richard F. Kuisel holds a joint appointment at the BMW Center for German and European Studies and in the History Department at Georgetown University. His books include Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization
David Scheffer author of ‘All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals’ was in London this week and spoke at Chatham House. An audio recording of his talk is now available on their website. His trip coincided with the conviction on Wednesday 14th March of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo in what was the first verdict delivered by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (please scroll down to 0824 for the clip) he was interviewed about this and the relationship of the United States to the court.
David Scheffer, author of the recently published ‘All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals’ will be touring Europe from 12 – 24 March, speaking in London, The Hague, Berlin, Cologne, Vienna, Budapest, Sarajevo and Brussels. While in London he will be talking at the Society for Oriental and African Studies on 12th March and at Chatham House on 13 March. Both these events are free and open to the public so please follow the links if you would like to sign up. For more detailed information on any of the other events in Europe please contact Caroline Priday firstname.lastname@example.org or @crpriday
FACT: “On the eve of the First World War, Krupp had been by far the largest German company, with assets of 599.5 million marks in 1912, although it was only one-fifth the size of the largest American corporation, the giant U.S. Steel, and half the size of the largest British firm, the thread and textile maker J. & P. Coats. Its owner, Bertha Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, was listed as being, with assets of 283 million marks, the wealthiest person in Germany.”
Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm
by Harold James
The history of Krupp is the history of modern Germany. No company symbolized the best and worst of that history more than the famous steel and arms maker. In this book, Harold James tells the story of the Krupp family and its industrial empire between the early nineteenth century and the present, and analyzes its transition from a family business to one owned by a nonprofit foundation.
Krupp founded a small steel mill in 1811, which established the basis for one of the largest and most important companies in the world by the end of the century. Famously loyal to its highly paid workers, it rejected an exclusive focus on profit, but the company also played a central role in the armament of Nazi Germany and the firm’s head was convicted as a war criminal at Nuremberg. Yet after the war Krupp managed to rebuild itself and become a symbol of Germany once again—this time open, economically successful, and socially responsible.
Books on Krupp tend to either denounce it as a diabolical enterprise or celebrate its technical ingenuity. In contrast, James presents a balanced account, showing that the owners felt ambivalent about the company’s military connection even while becoming more and more entangled in Germany’s aggressive politics during the imperial era and the Third Reich.
By placing the story of Krupp and its owners in a wide context, James also provides new insights into the political, social, and economic history of modern Germany.
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9680.pdf
This week’s book giveaway is The Paradox of Love by Pascal Bruckner, translated by Steven Rendall and with an afterword by Richard Golsan.
The sexual revolution is justly celebrated for the freedoms it brought—birth control, the decriminalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce, greater equality between the sexes, women’s massive entry into the workforce, and more tolerance of homosexuality. But as Pascal Bruckner, one of France’s leading writers, argues in this lively and provocative reflection on the contradictions of modern love, our new freedoms have also brought new burdens and rules—without, however, wiping out the old rules, emotions, desires, and arrangements: the couple, marriage, jealousy, the demand for fidelity, the war between constancy and inconstancy. It is no wonder that love, sex, and relationships today are so confusing, so difficult, and so paradoxical.
Drawing on history, politics, psychology, literature, pop culture, and current events, this book—a best seller in France—exposes and dissects these paradoxes. With his customary brilliance and wit, Bruckner traces the roots of sexual liberation back to the Enlightenment in order to explain love’s supreme paradox, epitomized by the 1960s oxymoron of “free love”: the tension between freedom, which separates, and love, which attaches. Ashamed that our sex lives fail to live up to such liberated ideals, we have traded neuroses of repression for neuroses of inadequacy, and we overcompensate: “Our parents lied about their morality,” Bruckner writes, but “we lie about our immorality.”
Mixing irony and optimism, Bruckner argues that, when it comes to love, we should side neither with the revolutionaries nor the reactionaries. Rather, taking love and ourselves as we are, we should realize that love makes no progress and that its messiness, surprises, and paradoxes are not merely the sources of its pain—but also of its pleasure and glory.
“Pascal Bruckner is one of the most original, and least academic, of the new French philosophers. He has a mordant wit, a feeling for the pregnant sentence, and his dissection of the myths of romantic love—too elegantly done to be called a ‘deconstruction’—is ideal reading for lovers of paradox, and even for those still in love with love’s paradox.”—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon and The Table Comes First
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9679.pdf
The random draw for this book with be Friday 2/10 at 3 pm EST. Be sure to like us on Facebook if you haven’t already to be entered to win!
Today marks the anniversary of the Chinese warlord Koxinga’s victory over the Dutch during the Sino-Dutch War–China’s first war with Europe. Emory University has put together this fun book trailer for Tonio Andrade and his new book Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West, which shows how Koxinga outfoxed the Dutch at every turn to capture Taiwan:
Happy Year of the Dragon!
FACT: “As part of his strenuous life, Theodore Roosevelt wrote a four-volume history of the American West, three biographies, and twenty-nine other volumes, plus some 150,000 letters. Winston Churchill would author forty books. A biographer calculated that in the early twenty-first century Churchill’s words still in print numbered over eight million.”
In the spring of 1945, as the Allied victory in Europe was approaching, the shape of the postwar world hinged on the personal politics and flawed personalities of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances captures this moment and shows how FDR crafted a winning coalition by overcoming the different habits, upbringings, sympathies, and past experiences of the three leaders. In particular, Roosevelt trained his famous charm on Stalin, lavishing respect on him, salving his insecurities, and rendering him more amenable to compromise on some matters.
Yet, even as he pursued a lasting peace, FDR was alienating his own intimate circle of advisers and becoming dangerously isolated. After his death, postwar cooperation depended on Harry Truman, who, with very different sensibilities, heeded the embittered “Soviet experts” his predecessor had kept distant. A Grand Alliance was painstakingly built and carelessly lost. The Cold War was by no means inevitable.
This landmark study brings to light key overlooked documents, such as the Yalta diary of Roosevelt’s daughter Anna; the intimate letters of Roosevelt’s de facto chief of staff, Missy LeHand; and the wiretap transcripts of estranged adviser Harry Hopkins. With a gripping narrative and subtle analysis, Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances lays out a new approach to foreign relations history. Frank Costigliola highlights the interplay between national political interests and more contingent factors, such as the personalities of leaders and the culturally conditioned emotions forming their perceptions and driving their actions. Foreign relations flowed from personal politics—a lesson pertinent to historians, diplomats, and citizens alike.
“This book offers a provocative psychological thesis on leadership and diplomacy that contributes to understanding the origins of the Cold War. It will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in the transition of the Allies from World War II to the Cold War. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Costigliola pulls back the veil on the personal lives of the major figures of World War II. With great verve and captivating anecdotes, he shows how personal politics helped forge and disrupt international alliances. Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances combines innovative research, provocative interpretations, and page-turning prose, providing a fresh take on how gender, emotion, class, and culture shaped the high politics of World War II and the Cold War.”—Emily S. Rosenberg, University of California, Irvine
We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9524.pdf
In Europe, the increasing presence of Islam has often provoked concerns about a threat to security and liberal democracy. Jonathan Laurence’s The Emancipation of Europe’s Muslims challenges these ideas and shows how the transformation of a new generation into European Muslims has consisted of a complex mix of achievements and tensions. The book recently received a terrific review in The Economist. Jonathan was kind enough to answer a few questions about his unique look at European Islam, the debates surrounding it, and the connection to the Arab awakening:
Q: Anders Breivik was recently declared insane by the court. His act of violence is widely condemned, but aren’t his anti-multiculturalist views fairly widespread?
For Breivik, the year is 1683 and an Islamic empire is storming the Gates of Vienna. Some of the views in his Internet-age manifesto are popular, although what he did in Oslo and Utoya is of course condemned. An Italian politician from a party in government spoke approvingly of the Norwegian’s belief that Europe had “given up on its cultural identity without a fight.” In December, a poll showed 76% of the French public thinks Islam is “progressing too much.” So the vocal concern over Islam’s growth and Muslims’ integration is no longer the exclusive domain of the far right. It has become ritual for heads of government to declare the failure of multiculturalism, a catchall description increasingly taken to mean the arrival of Muslims in Europe. Breivik may be legally insane, but he is not alone in thinking that Europe is at a turning point vis-à-vis its growing Islamic minorities.
Q: What does this mean for integration policy in European countries, and how have Muslim groups reacted? Is this what the Minaret and Burka bans were about?
On the one hand, the focus on religious fundamentalism led to several well known bans on Islamic symbols in public spaces, from headwear to architectural design. It also provoked acrimonious debate about whether Islam “belongs” and if its associated practices –in all their diversity—can be reconciled with national identity. On the other hand, history tells us this is fairly standard treatment for a new minority entering the crucible of the nation state and joining the general citizenry. Increasingly, however, Muslim communities perceive the sum total of public debate as something akin to religious persecution or a kulturkampf against Islam. It’s not just the religious conservatives or the pious, but Muslims as a “group” who increasingly feel stigmatized. Last month, community eminences in France, Germany (and the US) independently cited the Nazi era and the gradual marginalization of German Jews to describe the political environment. It is not the most encouraging sign, obviously, if the main icebreaker between Muslims and non-Muslims is whether it’s 1683 or the mid-1930s outside.
Q: How did it come to this point, and is this a dead end? Or are there trends in other directions?
The competing narratives of victimization –and self-affirmation—are not new. But Muslims and non-Muslims do seem to be talking past one another at a moment when they need to be in constructive conversation. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize the degree of cooperation that already exists between community leaders and European governments. A recent stunt to name Europe’s “tallest minaret” (35 meters) after Nicolas Sarkozy is not as ironic as it first appears. In many ways, European Islam has flourished in the past decade. When Sarkozy was interior minister in 2002–4, he helped forge the still-running French Council for the Muslim Religion and started a trend among his European colleagues to guarantee equal religious rights to Muslims. “State-mosque” relations have advanced by leaps and bounds. A thousand Islamic prayer spaces have opened in France in the last ten years. One hundred and thirty schools in Germany’s most populous state (North Rhine Westphalia) now offer Islamic instruction alongside existing religious classes, and the first class of German Muslim theologians began their doctoral program this fall. The list goes on. European governments and Muslim organizations have gotten to know one another better, and community leaders have been brought into a context that encourages their continued adaptation to life as a minority in Europe.
Q: You argue in the book that it’s not 1683 or 1938, but that European countries are at a crucial “nation-building” moment in between. What does your book have to say about the Arab awakening?
The book shows how Europeans responded to the same questions now confronting North African governments: how to balance religious freedom and the democratic rule of law? Can Islamist movements behave “moderately and democratically”? The first generation of European Islamists fled political persecution at home, and some of the religious tension in European countries is rooted in their old political battles. Perhaps the “settling” of Islam’s status in their countries of origin will engender a new dynamic and allow integration to proceed in Europe. On the other hand, European Muslims have made their home in Europe and are not as personally involved in 2011’s events as could be assumed. Nonetheless, the image of Muslim masses protesting peacefully and organizing themselves democratically could contribute in the long run to a continuing “normalization” of how Islamic populations and societies are perceived in Western democracies.
Jonathan Laurence is associate professor of political science at Boston College.
FACT: “By 1636 the Cortes de Castilla had established the first tobacco monopoly, ‘the precious jewel’ among Spanish taxes copied in many European polities thereafter. Thanks to it, a Real Cedula exclaimed in 1684, ‘there is no monarch in the world who derives a comparable treasure.’ Cocoa and chocolate were taxed in many towns, too. In the northern regions discussions about he inclusion of maize in the tithe payments promptly emerged in the early seventeenth century. New World commodities became an almost instant success with consumers and tax collectors alike.”
Spain’s development from a premodern society into a modern unified nation-state with an integrated economy was painfully slow and varied widely by region. Economic historians have long argued that high internal transportation costs limited domestic market integration, while at the same time the Castilian capital city of Madrid drew resources from surrounding Spanish regions as it pursued its quest for centralization. According to this view, powerful Madrid thwarted trade over large geographic distances by destroying an integrated network of manufacturing towns in the Spanish interior.
Challenging this long-held view, Regina Grafe argues that decentralization, not a strong and powerful Madrid, is to blame for Spain’s slow march to modernity. Through a groundbreaking analysis of the market for bacalao—dried and salted codfish that was a transatlantic commodity and staple food during this period—Grafe shows how peripheral historic territories and powerful interior towns obstructed Spain’s economic development through jurisdictional obstacles to trade, which exacerbated already high transport costs. She reveals how the early phases of globalization made these regions much more externally focused, and how coastal elites that were engaged in trade outside Spain sought to sustain their positions of power in relation to Madrid.
Distant Tyranny offers a needed reassessment of the haphazard and regionally diverse process of state formation and market integration in early modern Spain, showing how local and regional agency paradoxically led to legitimate governance but economic backwardness.
Distant Tyranny provides an illuminating discussion of the territorial division of political authority in Spain and market integration there, with an innovative focus on the market in cod. This book is a wonderful contribution to European political and economic history and to the emerging field of global history.”—Avner Greif, Stanford University
We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9625.pdf
Along with “quit smoking” or “lose weight,” “save more” is consistently one of the most popular new year’s resolutions. But that’s easier said than done, especially when millions of Americans still lack access to a basic bank account.
Sheldon Garon, Princeton professor and author of Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves, argues that there are ways to change that. In addition to the new reforms and protections recommended by the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the U.S. Postal Service could provide services similar to the postal banks still popular in countries with high personal savings rates–such as Belgium, France, and Germany. In the process, the USPS might also “save” itself from its well-publicized financial woes.
Professor Garon recently talked with Kiyoshi Okonogi of the Asahi Shimbun about postal savings and other possible solutions–read the full Q&A here. (See also Reid Cramer’s post at the New America Foundation’s The Ladder blog, Felix Salmon’s article at Reuters, and Tim Fernholtz’s post at GOOD.)
Gregory Mills of the Urban Institute‘s MetroTrends blog wrote up a post earlier this week about the importance of making it easier for would-be small savers to access basic financial services. He goes on to argue that the U.S. could seriously benefit from “modern-day, higher-tech equivalents” of school or postal savings banks.
Want to add your two cents to the discussion? Prof. Garon will be speaking with Marty Moss Coane on WHYY’s “Radio Times” this coming Tuesday, January 3rd–call in with your questions!
The ideas in David Marquand’s book ‘The End of the West: The
Once and Future Europe’ were the subject of a panel event at the British Academy on 29 November.
In front of a capacity audience David and his fellow panellists Rt Hon
Professor Shirley Williams and Professors Paulo Pombeni and Christopher Hill
addressed a range of issues, from how Europe should respond to the
changing global balance of power, to the growing demands for recognition by the
ethnic communities within its borders and the legitimacy deficit of its
politicians. There were also a variety of suggestions as to how the
current crisis in the Eurozone might be resolved. To hear this event in
full follow the link below.