surprising outcome, I argue that efficiency is not absolute, but rather context-specific and socially constructed. What appeared from the American business perspective as a rather inefficient German retail market was in fact quite efficient from the viewpoint
Culture, Institutions, and the Limits of Globalization
The Benefits and Burdens of History
Marx called France the political nation par excellence, as contrasted to economic England and philosophical Germany. But Marx arrived at his mature theory only after a stern critique of a “merely political” view of revolution. And some of his most important insights are developed in analyses of the failures of revolution in France. While Marx’s observation is insightful, the theoretical conclusions he drew from it are problematic. The monarchy in France was not absolute because it was all-powerful or arbitrary; its power came from the means by which it dominated all spheres of life, transforming an administrative and territorial entity into a political nation. In the wake of the Revolution, the republican tradition became equally absolute; it came to define what the French mean by the political (a concept whose use differs from what “Anglo-Saxons” define as politics).
That old cliche Wechselbad der Emotionen aptly describes how Christian Democrats have felt since Germany’s September 1998 federal election. First came a crushing defeat, their worst showing in decades, and the end of sixteen years in power under Helmut Kohl, “chancellor of unity.” Two of Kohl’s proteges, newly chosen federal party and Bundestag caucus chair, Wolfgang Schäuble, and his handpicked general secretary, Angela Merkel, then helped the CDU to an unexpectedly rapid recovery: during 1999, the party gained ground in every Land-level election and an absolute majority of the vote in several contests. But even before their champagne went flat, party leaders found themselves mired in postwar Germany’s worst political finance scandal, triggered by revelations about Kohl’s penchant for long sustaining a personal slush-fund with large, unreported private contributions, and even by charges of bribery.
In 2008 the first state-level CDU-Green coalition was formed in Hamburg. Drawing on the literature on party goals (vote-, office-, policy, internal cohesion- and democracy-seeking), this article examines the GAL's decisions to join and to end the coalition. It examines the trade-offs between party goals as they evolved in different phases of “schwarz-grün,” with particular reference to the Greens' education reform agenda. While policy- and vote-seeking complemented each other during the election campaign, vote-, office- and party unity-seeking conflicted with each other in the Greens' decision to enter a coalition with the CDU. Later, policy- and democracy-seeking conflicted with each other when a referendum organized by a citizens' initiative defeated the Greens' education reform, a defeat that contributed significantly to the premature end of the CDU-Green coalition. New elections led to defeats for vote-, office-, and policy-seeking when the SPD achieved an absolute majority.
The Power of Aesthetics in Women’s Cookbooks of the Belle Époque
Throughout much of the nineteenth century, men enjoyed hegemony in the French culinary arts, an entitlement enshrined in the books they wrote about cooking and gastronomy. The Belle Époque brought the first challenge to this absolute authority with the publication and popularization of cookbooks written for women, by women. Through the close reading of a selected corpus from the period, this article considers the implications of this shift in authorship. Women cookbook writers infused aesthetic discourse and principles into both the content and style of their texts. While male chefs had also drawn parallels between the culinary arts and the fine arts in order to augment their professional status, female authors evoked this relationship in as well as on di?erent terms. I argue that women cookbook writers engaged with aesthetic theory in a way that legitimized the labor of the private sphere and contested normative ideas about the inferiority of the feminine.
The Cultura Project
Globalization requires the ability to work and interact with people of many different nationalities and cultures. Such interaction further involves the ability to communicate more effectively across these different cultures, whatever one’s field or discipline. This implies the absolute necessity for all of us to understand the languages, values and attitudes of other cultures so that misunderstandings and misconceptions are reduced. The events of September 11 greatly increased the public’s awareness of this issue. As a professor of linguistics wrote in the New York Times shortly thereafter, we need to “understand the words of our enemies—not to mention those of our friends.”1 The Cultura project seeks precisely to develop in-depth understanding of a foreign culture, by first looking at specific words that will provide access to the heart and core of another culture.
Irwin M. Wall
The French elections of 2012 resulted in an unprecedented and overwhelming victory by France's Socialist Party, which gained control of the presidency and an absolute majority in the National Assembly to go with the party's existing domination of most of France's regions and municipalities. But the Socialist Party remains a minority party in the French electoral body politic, its victory the result of a skewered two-ballot electoral system. The Socialist government, moreover, remains hampered in its action by its obligations toward the European Union and its participation in the zone of countries using the Euro as it attempts to deal with France's economic crisis. As a consequence of both of these phenomena the government may also be sitting atop a profound political crisis characterized by the alienation of a good part of the electorate from the political system.
Robert R. Palmer exemplified the best that historians have to offer. He wrote with conviction, empathy, and at times passion, yet he always managed to maintain balance and portray both the good and the bad in the people and events he brought to life for his readers. Because he wrote with conviction, he also wrote with exceptional clarity. He never displayed the impulse to hide behind highfalutin language, contorted prose, or excessively specialized topics. He believed that democracy was an absolute good, that it had its origins in European history, and that its rise provided one of, or even perhaps the principal theme of all of modern history. As a consequence, he never lost his sympathy for the French revolutionaries of 1789–1794, however terrible their actions, however much they fell short of living up to their ideals.
In this open issue of German Politics and Society we are pleased to present
a number of contributions that address major aspects of current
debates in Germany. In our lead article, Helga Haftendorn sheds
light on the critical foreign policy triangle of Bonn, Paris, and Washington.
Always essential to the well being of each of these three
countries during the postwar period (indeed, an absolute cornerstone
to the flourishing of liberal democracies of the West), this triangular
relationship is about to experience major shifts in the years to
come. With the French openly challenging the Americans on all
fronts of public life—political, strategic, economic, cultural, even
moral—diplomacy will certainly become a good deal more complicated
for the new German government, as it tries to walk this
increasingly strained tightrope between Washington and Paris.
Anna J. Wesselink, Wiebe E. Bijker, Huib J. de Vriend, and Maarten S. Krol
This article shows how Dutch technological culture has historically dealt with and developed around vulnerability with respect to flooding and indicates recent developments in attitude towards the flood threat. The flooding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina temporarily made the Dutch public worry about the flood defense infrastructure in the Netherlands, exemplified by the Delta Works. Could this happen in the Netherlands? After the flooding disaster of 1953, a system of large dams was built to offer safety from flooding with—in theory at least—protection levels that are much higher than in New Orleans. In the public's perception the protection offered is absolute. In practice not all flood defense structures are as secure as they are supposed to be, but their upgrading takes time and money. Katrina has served as a reminder of what is at stake: Can the Dutch afford to take another 10 years to restore the protection level of their flood defenses? Calls for pride in clever engineering are the latest in a continuing debate on the best way to continue life below sea level.