Economic Development, Social Order, and World Politics: With Special Emphasis on War, Freedom, the Rise and Decline of the West, and the Future of East Asia

By Erich Weede | Go to book overview

PREFACE:

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

The roots of this book are to be found in the intellectual history of its author. Even before I had finished school and entered university (in the late 1950s) I had a keen interest in world politics—from the vantage point of an adolescent in a vanquished and divided nation, living less than a hundred miles west of the Iron Curtain. At that time I was skeptical of Adenauer's policy of cooperation with the Western powers, of the possibility of maintaining peace and gaining reunification through this policy. My mood was nationalist ; my views could be called Realist—of course, at the modest level of theoretical sophistication to be expected from a teenager. In those days I regarded German North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership as a mistake, nuclear deterrence as an invitation to failure, and German reunification made impossible as much because of Adenauer and the West as because of the Soviet Union.

Given these interests, it would have been natural for me to study political science with a focus on international politics. I decided not to do so because I felt some suspicion about the methodology of German political science in the 1960s. It was largely historical and descriptive or normative. In place of systematic theory there existed a gap that was only partly covered by some teaching of the history of ideas. But almost none of the political scientists in West Germany in those days were interested in testable and general theory. Even nowadays I regard the core of the discipline in Germany, i.e., testable theory, as neglected and largely empty.

This statement should not be misunderstood. In my view, testable theory is not necessarily characterized by the use of mathematical formulae, and tests do not only refer to statistical analysis. For example, I think that Jones's contributions (1981; 1988) to economic history, or Hayek's studies (1960; 1973-1976-1979; 1988) of a free society and polity, or Waltz's structural Realism (1979) are much more important steps on the road to testable theory, although they avoid mathematics and statistics, than almost all formal

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