transnational integration and national disintegration

Tue, 14 Jan 1997 11:33:09 +0100 (MET)

Message from Arno Tausch, Dep. of Pol. Science,
Innsbruck University, Austria/Labour Attache, Austr. Emb. Warsaw

I'd like to circulate the synthesis of a recent manuscript which I would like to
submit for international publication soon, based on a 123 nations study of world
development from 1980 onwards as well as on a re-analysis of Goldstein's data
series. The synthesis reads as follows, and I'd like to receive comments from
you all over the world:

Transnational Integration and National Disintegration - A Synthesis

Europe faces three very important decisions about the future: east-ward
expansion of the European Union, European monetary union, and the structural
internal reform of the Union. Faced with these decisions, an intellectual battle
rages across the continent between euro-sceptics and integrationists, between
federalists and nationalists, between centralists and regionalists. World
systems research and development research provides radical, fascinating and
novel answers to these old controversies.

A quarter of a century ago, a Chilean economist, Osvaldo Sunkel, proposed in an
article the idea, that transnational integration and national disintegration go
hand in hand, as the process of globalization goes on and deepens, thus
threatening the stability of transnational projects of integration, like the
European Union and NAFTA. This question writing, in the framework of
contemporary research methodology, is the starting point of this book.

What is the evidence of cross-national quantitative research?

(i) The process of globalisation did not level-off the differences in wealth and
well-being between the different regions of the world, especially between Europe
and the Mediterranean southern periphery of Europe. Far from granting a real
free trade regime, Europe has petrified existing patterns of the division of
labour between the centres and the peripheries. Poverty, unemployment,
homelessness and other negative social phenomena become more and more relevant,
not just for periphery and semi-periphery countries, but for the former centres
in Europe themselves. We are evidencing a peripherization of the European
landmass, while the countries of the Western Pacific and the Eastern Indian
Ocean are the future centres of world capitalist development.

(ii) Europe is characterized by the very mix of conditions, which, on a
world-wide scale, block against rapid economic growth. Too little national
savings, priviledged home-markets for idle and saturated european transnational
corporations and the European continental powerful banks, migration instead of
innovation, excessive government consumption, political distribution coalitions
- also regarding gender conflict lines - which try to get via political means
what they cannot achieve on the world markets anymore, the continued practicing
of traditional patterns of national defense, based on conscription, are
precisely the mix that explains 44.2% of stagnation from 1980 world-wide,
without resorting to capital investments and other intra-economic explanations
of growth. What would be the answer against this process what in the Dutch
languages has been so aptly termed as Verluderung?
A slim, socially just state, which enhances savings, deterrs distribution
coalitions, subjects the European transnationals to the discipline of the
market, instead of pouring down the sink billions of ECUs in terms of subvention
money, ending up more often than not in the pockets of the shadow economists of
our times, would be among the pre-requisites of a real reform of the European
Union member states and an adequate answer to the question about the place of
Europe in the world. 15 of the most important 19 development dimensions in the
world system are being negatively determined nowadays by MNC penetration. The
capitalist world economy is in addition characterized by strong 20 year cycles
(Kuznets cycles) and 50-60 year longer waves (Kondratieff waves), which again
are shown to be relevant in this work on the basis of new calculations, based on
Joshua Goldstein’s previous research. They, and not so much grand designs of
conference diplomacy, will determine the future place of Europe in the world
economy. Precisely, because the Union is presently a protective club shielding
away market influences from European transnationals, banks, and distribution
coalitionists, Europe’s upswing is belated, and the Maastricht-induced
stagflation threatening to coincide with the next major Kuznets cycle trough, to
be expected in 2002 or 2003, will make our stagnation even worse. Political
stability, under such circumstances, in the Mediterranean and in other countries
becomes a question mark. European foreign policy, taken ablind by the fall of
the Berlin Wall in 1989, overlooks the intrinsic conflict structure of the world
economy, that is shaped like a ‘W’ and that threatens future intensified
conflicts on the borderlines of world instability.

(iii) Subventions, mass migration and distribution coalitions mean structural
conservation and environmental decay at the same time. Since environmental
strain cycles coincide with world economic swings, it is to be expected that any
real future European recovery will increase the environmental problems on the
European continent, still increased by the transport-intensity of EU-development
patterns, connected with the subvention system. Physical mobility of labour is
the key de-facto concept of the past policies of the Commission in Brussels,
while information mobility is being hindered by local and national telephone
monopolies, and the absence of privatisation in transport, especially roads.

(iv) The eastward expansion of the Union will have to face up to the dilemmas of
modernization in the environment of past rapid urbanisation (what world system
scholars have termed the urban bias in world development), little efficient
state-directed mass communication and belated demographic transitions in much of
the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, if not the former Warsaw Pact in
general. Modernization and structural adjustment in the post-1989 set-up is
bound to fail in the east if it is not accompanied by a massive real inflow of
foreign resources. The semi-democratization in much of the region, that set in
after 1989, from the viewpoint of political stability is much more dangerous
than the full olf dictatorship or full democracy. Money laundering and
fluctuations in the terms of trade are additional important determinants of the
growth prospects of the reform countries.

(v) Modernization, globalization, and east-ward expansion of the Union might
increase existing cleavages in the countries of the East, if they are not
accompanied by a deep structural change in favour of the up to now
underpriviledged sectors and strata. Many of the lessons of neoclassical
economists about Southeast-Asia can be repeated here in an East European
context. The discrimantion against exports by import substitution strategies,
effective currency overvaluations, priviledges and wage inflexibility in the
monopolistic sectors, and finally and overarching all these phenomena, a
conspicuous contempt of urban elites against the countryside and a deep urban
bias of development have created a structure, where the political and social
divisions between the different parts of countries have increased. It is shown
in this study with regional multivariate analyses from Polish election data 1993
and 1995, that electoral results are heavily determined by these regional and
world economic aspects, while other theories fail to capture the dynamics of
socio-political cleavages in the new democracies of the East.

(vi) Euro-sclerosis at the heart of the Union of presently 15 nations is a
reality. Take any indicator of economic illness in the relatively stable Western
democracies today - unemployment, lack of economic growth, insufficient human
development: it will be neatly determined by just three variables:
- age of democracy within world politically guaranteed boundaries
- size of the state sector, like central government expendutures per GDP
- years of membership in the European Union

Instead of causing stable long-term economic growth, the Union rather causes
what might be termed ‘the Belgium syndrome’. Relatively young democracies, like
Poland or the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovenia, will still benefit for a few
years from the positive effects of early membership; but the positive initial
effects will disappear with the workings of the really existing Union in the
long run.

So, what then is the prescription? The upgrading of the European Parliament (no
taxation without representation), a more slender and socially just state in the
member countries, free trade, again and again, and also more decisive efforts in
human capital formation (in the framework of privatisation of Universities and
other institutions of higher learning) would be a proper step in the right
direction. Else, eastward expansion will dismally fail, made all the worse by
the negative effects of Maastricht austerity.

Arno Tausch