Posted On: Oct. 30, 2017
Each question required 3 to 4 Lines. 1. How did German nationalism come before the state itself was formed? Who were the Junkers, and what role did they play in this? The history of Germany is complex and dynamic in nature. It is a unique country whose inhabitants have left a tremendous impact on the world as a whole. The countless power struggles, significant events, big ideas all contributed to defining the country as unique. The nineteenth century saw Germans resisting Napoleon, formed two German confederations, experienced bloody revolution and ultimately became a unified country in the year 1871. The job of creating the German nation-state was tough and it required a strong belief in a German people who hailed from separate countries and different cultural backgrounds. It was nationalism that helped in creating this identity. The carriers of nationalistic ideas were academic, particularly historians. The all believed in the study of German history. Junkers were associated with a destructive German militarism right from World War I. in the aftermath of 1945, they played a central role. They created a political alliance, as a result of which Junkers absorbed both militaristic and antidemocratic ethos. It entered into German history and found its expression under Hitler’s rule. He used Junkers militarism to meet his own ends, which included breaking the estate power of the Junkers. 2. What were some of the factors or characteristics of German state-making that you think led to both World Wars? Many historians are of the view that both world wars should be really considered as a single conflict with a long truce in the middle. Germans were keen to expand to locate resources (coal, mineral etc.) that were in very short supply in the country, or rather non- existing. Germany knocked out Russia and gained access to Eastern Europe and then deployed its people to the West. Under the regime of Hitler, a terror was leashed out due to his belief that his race was pure and all others are treated as inferior and thus has no reason to be alive or exist in this world. 3. Germany developed what the book calls a “social market economy” in the post-war era. What is this, what role does the state play, and how is it different from other countries’ systems? The “Social Market Economy” is historically proven economic and social model that provided Germany with economic stability after the Second World War. It also brought the country many years of stability and prosperity and helped it to successfully handle the economic consequences of Germany’s partition. The strong characteristic of this model is particularly demonstrated in times of crisis. The German economy has also proved itself to be remarkably robust when faced with the European sovereign debt crisis. 4. What challenges does this economic system now face? Why do you think the EU was so popularly supported in Germany from the beginning? The financial crisis and the social market economy have been the subject of much debate with arguments for and against the popular model. The German economic system and its popular social market economy together with the financial and economic policies of the Federal Government are now facing huge challenges. These are predominantly the result of an unusually deep recession, in which the global economy found itself during the spring of 2009 and from which it is gradually recovering. The scale of the current crisis is due to the simultaneous occurrence of several factors: The financial crisis, an economic downturn and an international structural crisis in certain markets (e.g. the automotive industry and suppliers, who have to reduce surplus capacities) – three economic phenomena which feed off each other. 5. Germany’s political system was also rebuilt after the war with the aim of checking centralized state power, within and between the branches. What are some of the checks and balances built into it that carry out this function? The separation of powers is a model for the governance of a state, or who controls the state. Under this model state is divided into branches, each with separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with the powers associated with the other branches. This typical division of branches is termed as legislature, executive and judiciary. This form helped in providing checks and balances to contain centralized state power. 6. How do Germany’s political parties reflect the growing diversity of its population? German politics has been moving more to the right in part due to this change—do you think this trend will continue? Why or why not? Politics is the process to organize how we live together in a society. In a democracy, every citizen can participate in this process – by freely acceding information about political issues, by openly expressing the own opinion on public affairs, by formulating expectations, proposals or requirements without fear of repression, by voting in elections, by engaging in civil society organizations or political parties, or by standing up as a candidate in democratic elections. In this way, democracy is the “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, in the famous words of Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States of America from 1861-65. With the influx of foreign workers, who were brought in Germany to work in mines and factories, the population has become heterogeneous in nature. The contribution of these workers cannot be denied. This trend would continue in future as well because the movement of people from one country to another country cannot be stopped. 7. Why was the EU established originally? How has its identity changed over the decades? The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among 28 member states. It was built through a series of binding treaties, and at present the Union is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II to promote peace and economic prosperity in Europe. Its founders hoped that by creating specified areas in which member states agreed to share sovereignty—initially in coal and steel production, economics and trade, and nuclear energy—it would promote interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. Since the 1950s, this European integration project has expanded to encompass other economic sectors; a customs union; a single market in which goods, people, and capital move freely; a common trade policy; a common agricultural policy; many aspects of social and environmental policy; and a common currency (the euro) that is used by 19 member states. 8. What are some of the important stages in the development of the EU’s economic development? The European Union (EU) is in top position in terms of global trade. The special feature of this trade practice is its openness and transparency. This, in turn has converted EU as the biggest player on the global trading scene. It is for this reason, more and more people are willing to do business with in this region. The unique position of EU has been achieved due to its members acting together with one voice on the global stage and not as 28 separate trade strategies. With easy availability of modern transport and communications, it now much easier to produce, buy and sell goods around the world. It gives European companies of every size the potential to trade outside Europe. The EU has an interesting institutional system—what are the major institutions? Which ones seem to have the most power to you? EU has a unique institutional set-up in which the broad priorities of the EU are set by the European Council, which brings together national and EU – level leaders. Over here, directly elected MEPs represent European citizens in the European Parliament and the interests of the EU as a whole are promoted by the European Commission, whose members are appointed by national governments. These governments defend their own country's national interests in the Council of the European Union. There are 3 main institutions involved in EU legislation: 1. the European Parliament, which represents the EU’s citizens and is directly elected by them; 2. The Council of the European Union, which represents the governments of the individual member countries. The Presidency of the Council is shared by the member states on a rotating basis. 3. The European Commission, which represents the interests of the Union as a whole. Together, these three institutions produce through the "Ordinary Legislative Procedure" (ex "co-decision") the policies and laws that apply throughout the EU. In principle, the Commission proposes new laws, and the Parliament and Council adopt them. The Commission and the member countries then implement them, and the Commission ensures that the laws are properly applied and implemented. 9. What are some of the most important policy choices made by the EU discussed by the authors? For several years, EU has got a tag of being a huge bureaucracy that is not concerned with daily lives and problems of its citizens. However EU deals with issues that are critical for all Europeans. The most visible and concrete expression of the European project is the introduction of Euro notes and coins. These have been in circulation since January 1, 2002 and have been accepted quite successfully. The single currency creates a sentiment of involvement among citizens by giving them a visible, concrete example of the European project at work. An added benefit is a stable economic climate which encourages trade and growth, as well increased competitiveness for EU products and service. Another priority of the EU is in the area of freedom, security and justice, which has been given added weight in the European Constitution. This guarantees Europeans a unique area of freedom, security and justice. Quite often, the authority of police services and courts is limited to their national territory while crime and terrorism do not stop at a country’s borders. 10. Thinking about where the power lies in the EU, and the problems of cooperation between member states, is the EU democratic? Can it survive the current Eurozone crisis? Should it survive, do you think? Several critics of European integration feel that the EU is not democratic and has what is popularly known as “democratic deficit”. These critics are of the view that citizens do not participate in the European decision-making process and therefore term is undemocratic and causes rift between the citizens from European Institutions. What they do not realize is that the alienation of citizens from politics is not confined to EU, but is a typical characteristic of all representative democracies, where a great majority of citizens abstain from national elections. However, European citizens already have the same influence on the shaping of European law as they have on the shaping of national law. Thus they indirectly influence it through a choice of the political parties, which make up the national governments and which therefore are involved in all European decisions adopted by its council of ministers. The citizens also have a say in the election of the members of the European Parliament, which happens to be the most important participation in the legislative process. Eurozone definitely faces serious economic and financial problems. The EU is in the midst of multiple overlapping and mutually reinforcing crises. The first and foremost is the fiscal crisis, which has taken its biggest toll in Greece but there are indications that it may spread in the southern part of eurozone and Ireland. The other one is the crisis of competitiveness. This is evident in the large current account deficits along the periphery of the eurozone. It is still larger between eurozone countries. The third is a banking crisis, which first unfolded in Ireland and has become particularly acute in Spain. Yet for all the turmoil, fears of countries' repeatedly defaulting on their debts or the total collapse of the euro are vastly overblown. The eurozone countries have demonstrated that they can and will resolve each successive stage of the crisis by cooperating and sharing decision-making powers. They have created a host of new continent-wide institutions, built a substantial financial firewall to prevent debt problems from spreading, and are now well on their way to creating a banking union and a partial fiscal union. 11. What elements of German and other western state-building were borrowed by Japan? Why did democracy, developed relatively early in Japan, fail to take root there before WWII? The occupations of Germany and Japan were huge operations, both in terms of financial aid and the numbers of American military that was involved. While the terms nation-building or reconstruction may not fully capture the scope of such operations, they do come as close as possible to the full range of activities and objectives involved. As they were such huge operations, there are many elements of nation-building to be considered. The three most important areas are political, economic, and educational reconstruction. This is not to say that other important areas of reconstruction such as humanitarian aid, the legal and justice system, or the press and radio are not important, on the contrary, they were vital areas of the reconstruction that was to guarantee the overall success of the nation-building exercises, Japan learnt to be self – sufficient in terms of innovation and learning new technology. Some of the reasons for slow growth of democracy are; lower level of education, poverty, scarcity of resources, social inequality 13. What role has the state played in Japan’s economic development? What external factors helped make it into one of the richest countries in the world? Although Japan's economic development is primarily the product of private entrepreneurship, the government has directly contributed to the nation's prosperity. Its actions have helped initiate new industries, cushion the effects of economic depression, create a sound economic infrastructure, and protect the living standards of the citizenry. Indeed, so pervasive has government influence in the economy seemed that many foreign observers have popularized the term "Japan Inc." to describe its alliance of business and government interests. Whether Japan in the mid-1990s actually fit this picture seems questionable, but there is little doubt that government agencies continue to influence the economy through a variety of policies. Support of western powers to development of economy in Japan helped it in becoming the richest countries in the world. 14. Discuss the close relationship between private businesses and the one that developed between business and labor. How have economic changes at home and abroad impacted these relationships? After World War II and especially in the 1950s and 1960s, the Japanese government devised a complicated system of policies to promote industrial development, and it cooperated closely for this purpose with private firms. The objective of industrial policy was to shift resources to specific industries in order to gain international competitive advantage for Japan. These policies and methods were used primarily to increase the productivity of inputs and to influence, directly or indirectly, industrial investment. 15. How is the modern Japanese state organized? Which system have we looked at (so far) is it most similar to, do you think? The Constitution of Japan defines the emperor to be "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He performs ceremonial duties and holds no real power, not even emergency reserve powers. Political power is held mainly by the Prime Minister and other elected members of the Diet. The Imperial Throne is succeeded by a member of the Imperial House of Japan as designated by the law. The British system appears to be the most similar to the one in Japan. 16. What role has clientelism played in political, economic, and social life in Japan? How and why did the tight grip Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (one of the biggest users of the clientelist system) had on power loosen in recent years? The Liberal Democratic Party’s largely uninterrupted dominance of Japanese politics must be ascribed to processes which transverse electoral systems and periods of economic vigor. This essay proposes that clientelistic behavior within the Japanese political system best explains the LDP’s dominance of Japanese politics. Clientelism, an exchange of benefit for voter support evolved from structural factors in the Japanese political system and was harnessed by the LDP to maximize its tenure. 17. What are some of the social divisions we see in Japan? Do you think the current challenges faced by the country (political, economic, and social) will alter its rather distinct cultural makeup? From the western point of view, the Japanese were seen as law-abiding people, fond of drink, concerned with divination and ritual purity, familiar with agriculture (including wet-rice cultivation), expert at fishing and weaving, and living in a society where social differences were expressed through the use of tattooing or other bodily markings. However, the current scenario has changed the country due to political, economic and social changes. The influence of western culture has made the Japanese adapt to western habits. This has led to a conflict between the traditionalist and modern young generations.