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logo 1ESTONIAN NATIONAL ASSOCIATION (EstCoR)

Hardo Aasmäe

Presented at the Conference of the National Associations of the CoR 25.02.2005
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This discourse will not deal with contemporary problems of globalization and integration and their perspectives for coming decades. We would rather try to understand the essence of those processes in even longer perspective. As we know until now there are only two limitless phenomena – mercy of God and human stupidity. But as God does not exist, then there is only the second phenomenon, and this is in the hands of men. Decreasing human stupidity is, in turn, in the hands of intelligent men.

Globalization is not a new phenomenon in the world history. Globalization has carried the mankind forward probably since its formation. In connection with that I’ll remind you of some essential inventions.

Introduction of fire was important in two aspects: it enabled to pasteurize foodstuffs several thousand years before Louis Pasteur obtained a patent on the method. That reduced considerably falling ill with various infectious diseases. At the same time the use of fire enabled to live in colder climate. The cultivation of plants and the spread of their growing experience are also of decisive importance. This is also true about smelting metals. Or inventing a barn-dwelling – farmhouse including a barn. That invention probably belongs to the Fenno-Ugric people. That type of a farmhouse enabled grain growing in considerably northward regions where there was enough sun and rain in summer but the crops did not dry naturally. Today the same principle is practiced in grain growing industry all over the world. The number of significant inventions is much bigger, but their list is not important here. What is very important is the speed and range of spreading the innovations. That was surprisingly fast and overwhelming when considering the possibilities of the era. Those cultures that did not go along with innovations probably perished.

Consequently, globalization is not a new phenomenon. Globalization nowadays differs from the previous only by its speed and energetic power.

The same applies to integration. Again, that is not a unique phenomenon. The merger and dissipation of states has taken place in the history earlier. The cases have been both violent and peaceful. Talking about Europe we can say that in this continent three major integration can be observed during the last 2000 years.

At first, the Ancient Rome, the inland sea of what was the Mediterranean Sea. Today there is no acceptable perspective to achieve the same kind of a result. After the collapse of Ancient Rome the Holy Roman Empire accentuated in Europe for couple of hundred years. The state reached from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Inside and outside the state, the Catholic Church had rather great and integrative influence for Europe. During the Early Middle Ages literacy and high culture in Western and Central Europe spread via Catholic Church. The Holy Chair was often the grantor of rights and mediator in interstate relations. The next unique integral system was the Hanseatic League. It relied on the business interests of municipal towns. From Estonia Tallinn, Tartu, Viljandi and Pärnu belonged to the League. Due to resistance of Tallinn, the city of Narva could not join the League, but as Narva kept guard over its eastern border, the city possessed the Hanseatic seal of customs.

In the case of the European Union we can conditionally speak about the fourth integration. It has its historic peculiarities like all the previous ones.

Therefore we can conclude that globalization is like force majeure in history that acts firmly. But integration appears cyclically. The periods of integration alternate with the periods of dissipation. It is important to be constantly conscious about the real reasons of genesis of integration, because this helps to keep those processes vital. In the opposite case it might be as in poor marriage, where people growing older forget why they once got together, and live with each other only by inertia. And, of course, there is always nagging, spoiling each others lives and degenerating in evolution.

The separate theme is integration and democracy. In European culture they are considered to be inseparable. But things with democracy in the world are not the best.

For example, if we consider stably democratic only these states where democracy has applied without brake since 1946, only 17–18 per cent of the mankind live in the conditions of stable democracy. Under this condition only 12 states from 25 belonging to the European Union can be considered democratic, including Germany. But the question remains whether the rise of the Fifth Republic in France was democratic event or not. If we could correct statistics and take as a criterion the year 1950, then we can add India, but still it is only 30 per cent. Democracy in the world tends to be marginal phenomenon, despite the fact that democratic states have the majority of world economic power. At the same time in stable communist regimes live about the same number of people. Therefore let me be academically skeptical in this question. In the worst case 50–60 years old system can only be the application and experience of one or two generations. While being young they fought for democracy, while being old already they are at power in order to keep their ideals of youth alive. Every political system is put to the test during the crises. That is why the condition for survival of democracy is avoiding crises. At present we observe victory of democracy in the world and we have to be happy. Non-democratic environment is a threat to democracy.

Regrettably it cannot be taken for granted that democracy is fit for everybody, everywhere and in every situation. It is uncomfortable to recognize that democracy is primarily patrimony of wealthy societies. The fight for democracy in the world has not always ended with victory. At moment this system does not have economically equal competitors. But in the course of time China and Russia together may develop into a rival. For warning has to be said that in one part of the world people believed into the triumph of communism for 70 years. Europe and a part of Africa fall off from them, but that is only a quarter of all people who were experimented. Communist and non-democratic ideas have not disappeared and are vital in the world. Finally it is not clear whether all societies need democracy at all. However, democracy is the means for organizing fair life, not an end in itself.

aasmäe 1992The separate question is integration-tolerance of different cultures and societies. We know that in nature different biocoenosis sustain ecological factors differently. Some of them endure strain well, some of them are very fragile. Under too much stress they are destroyed. The same can be seen in human associations. Some very interesting people and cultures may die out if they are not protected from strong outside influence. From our point of view it is important that integral social systems obtain their evolution capacity (synergy) mainly from making use of possibilities that arises from diversity and their advancement. Unifying, vulgarizing and equalizing in everything and everywhere inevitably leads to decline. This is one of the main reasons why the Soviet Union ended up with collapse under all of our eyes.

In connection with that, rather delicate issue is the possible conflicts that associate with surpassing sustainability of different cultures. This has not been dealt with very much and I cannot firmly claim if the following is directly or indirectly related to that. Namely, the question is about ethnic cleansing. We have to admit that ethnic cleansing has been used incredibly often in Europe during the 20th century for solving or causing political problems. That list is unbelievably long in spite of common disapproval. And now, a short overview.

1. Ottoman Empire in 1915. Armenians disappear from the state. 1.5 million people are killed within month and a half.
2. The beginning of 1920ies after several Greek-Turkish wars. The Creeks of Asia Minor are sent to Greece, Turks living in Greece – to Turkey. The forced resettlement concerns about two millions people.
3. Nazi Germany and its allies in 1933 up to 1945. Millions of people were killed, primarily Slavs, Jews and Gypsies.
4. Estonia and Latvia in 1939–40. According to the secret treaty of Molotov and Ribbentrop all ethnic Germans (Baltic Germans) are sent to Germany.
5. Finland in 1940. After the Soviet-Finnish war about 400 000 Finns have to leave their home that remained on the territory united with the Soviet Union.
6. Estonia in 1939–40. Inhabitants leave Pakri Island and city of Paldiski. Those territories are occupied by the Red Army. Inhabitants can return only since 1991.
7. The Soviet Union in 1941. 2.1 million Volga Germans are deported to Kazakhstan.
8. The Soviet Union in 1944. Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingushetians, Cherkezs, Balkarians, Kalmykians and Karachays – deportation concerns millions of people. About half of them are executed or perish.
9. Estonia, 1944. Coastal Swedes leave before the Soviet troops march in.
10. Estonia 1944–55. Native inhabitants have to leave Narva and the territory of future city of Sillamäe. The region is closed for them because the first Soviet nuclear bombs are made from the Estonian raw material. The local population is replaced with Russians.
11. 1945–46. Germans leave the Soviet Union, Poland and Czech Republic – 6.6 millions.
12. Cyprus, 1974. After the Turkish attack Greeks and Turks change their place of residence (ab. 200 000 people).
13. The Soviet Union, 1989–90. About 400 000 Armenians leave Azerbaijan after Sumgait pogrom. 250 000 Azeris escape from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
14. The Soviet Union, 1990. Mesheti Turks were deported from the Central Asian states when Georgia did not let them back. Last year they went to the USA.
15. Ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia and Abkhazia at the beginning of 1990ies. Resettlement concerned millions of people.

To get the whole picture it would be necessary to add forced migration to Europe that was connected with the fall of colonial systems. This has also made millions of people to move from place to place, mainly to France, Portugal and Russia.

This picture is so impressive for such a short period, this simply cannot be a chance. If that is not somehow connected with sustainability of different cultures in integration process, the phenomenon needs to be thoroughly investigated. All that cannot be explained with stupid or human-hating political decisions. Political decisions are often the consequences, not the reasons.

Reasons for xenophobia have to be investigated thoroughly, too. Nowadays it is often treated as a phenomenon caused by lower emotions, illiteracy and racism. But these manifestations can tell us that the culture is going to reach the limits where the society is exhausting its ability to go on with the integration in the same speed or tolerate influence of foreign cultures. Maybe this is the sign to slow down and search for global solutions. Propaganda and attempts to re-form the people won’t help.

The indispensable precondition for integration is availability of highly developed nuclear states. There have to be economic regions to center around and integrate with. There has to be sufficient diversity and willingness to help to development the integral periphery. This enables to balance the system and through the growth of purchasing power the system as a whole starts to amplify economically. Periphery does not mean backwardness and poverty but rather division of labor in the whole integral system. Perspective of mutual integration of poor and undeveloped states is rather poor. The absence of highly developed nucleus generates the situation where there arises the so-called dilemma of sorgo and peanut growers. They both can specialize in their production. But this could turn out to be nonsense if transportation needed for trade is more expensive than growing both crops on the spot. In principle, this effect can influence international division of labor more generally, if the transportation prices start to grow considerably in comparison with present prices.
For successful integration the compatibility of societies and cultures is necessary. The Estonian word ‘lõimuma’ (‘to warp’) is quite exact in this sense. Warping is possible if your warp fills in your partner’s empty place and the other way round. This makes the fabric stronger and everyone maintains also its pattern. In the opposite case everyone has got the same warps and everything turns out to be meaningless.

The compatibility of cultures is far more serious than thought. In European integration sometimes we behave like in the Soviet Union. An anecdote was told then: we say Lenin but we mean the Communist Party. We say Communist Party but mean Lenin.

aasmäe 1970So we live – we say one thing but mean the other. Sometimes it seems to be like that in the European Union. If we talk about extending, common values and ideals, we, in fact, mean economic benefit and access to markets. When we talk about economy and harmonizing the economic level, some people regard it as humanitarian aid operation. Please excuse me treating the problem like an anecdote.

Even the Roman emperors tried to solve the problem of compatibility of cultures, when their state reached from Jordan to Gibraltar and Sahara desert to Scotland. To understand the seriousness of the issue, let’s take for example the tangle of Middle East. Theoretically a very good union of states can be organized there: Israel’s industrial and scientific potential could be joined with multicultural and multi-confessional Lebanon, where there are old banking traditions and good relations with Arab oil states. The eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and Arab oil states with Egypt will make a powerful result. But who believes in this reality today? Or let’s take the treaty of eternal friendship between the Soviet Union and China that lasted for seven years.

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