In a new Project Syndicate article, Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier urged Germany to create a national security council. For decades, Germany has received criticism for low defense spending, fence-sitting and free-riding, Anheier wrote. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz proclaimed a dramatic policy reorientation that would make Germany one of the top military spenders and arms exporters. However, the success of this policy change will depend on German leadership, and Anheier proposed establishing a German national security council. “Long proposed but never realized, an NSC could advance a coherent defense, security and foreign policy strategy,” he wrote. “Located close to the chancellery, it would act as a central policy coordinator, helping to overcome the fragmentation that often characterizes federal ministries’ responses to crises.” According to Anheier, a security council would be key to helping Germany align its economic and security policy with the European Union’s common defense strategy.
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier authored a Project Syndicate article about the first 100 days of Germany’s three-party coalition government. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Ampelkoalition (“traffic light coalition”), which comprises the Social Democrats, the Free Democrats and the Greens, is Germany’s first three-party government since the 1950s. “To make it work, each party has had to bend on sacred principles and adopt policy positions that previously would have seemed unthinkable,” Anheier wrote. “For a country that prefers consensual, deliberative decision-making and no-surprises, many of the recent, sudden policy shifts have been profound and will alter Germany’s domestic and foreign-policy trajectory for decades to come.” Anheier warned that radical policy changes could backfire, especially when they lack clear public consent, and that the three parties must remain united. “If uncertain times demand novel policies and political flexibility, the Ampelkoalition has so far shown itself to be up to the challenge,” he concluded.
A Project Syndicate commentary authored by Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier took stock of the diplomatic and economic pressures on Germany as it considers its role in defusing the Ukraine crisis. As Russian troops amass on Ukraine’s border and as NATO nations issue warnings, Germany’s response has been tempered by a commitment to pacifism driven by historical guilt as well as the nation’s reliance on imported — mostly Russian — natural gas. Germany must confront the risks inherent in its dependence on Russian energy and examine the sustainability of its business relations with Moscow, Anheier wrote. “It must let both Russia and its NATO allies know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that while it is no champion of hard power, it is willing to bear the high cost of countering aggression against Ukraine,” he concluded.
Global Perspectives, a transdisciplinary online journal edited by Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier, was named best new journal for 2021 by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. The council, made up of academic journal editors across all disciplines, praised the breadth and depth of the journal and its innovative structure. “The journal’s commitment to a new practice of the disciplines in the social sciences, one that refuses to replicate some of the old power structures of a century ago, is borne out in the innovative structure of an emerging scholars forum, where postdocs and assistant professors both contribute and participate in peer review of others,” the group said. “With an impressively diverse editorial board, and a healthy number of section editors, each with their own advisory board, this journal’s structure seems to offer a balance of breadth and depth worthy of the name.” Published by the University of California Press, Global Perspectives seeks to advance social science research and debates in a globalizing world. Anheier, who is also a senior professor of sociology and past president of the Hertie School in Berlin, said the award is “further encouragement to the novel approach of the journal to focus on high-quality academic contributions that do not fit into conventional disciplinary and national boundaries. Being recognized as such and so prominently by our peers in scholarly publishing is indeed a great honor.” The award was announced Jan. 8 at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, the U.S. professional association for scholars of language and literature.
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier wrote a Project Syndicate book review examining Germany’s undercurrent of anxiety as a new coalition government takes power. “German political life so far has been spared from the ravages of Brexit-style magical thinking or American-style polarization,” Anheier wrote. But as the 16-year tenure of Chancellor Angela Merkl comes to an end, “there is an abiding sense of unease in German society — a suspicion that things are changing, and not for the better.” Anheier summarized four recent books that address the crises of collective and individual identity that are part of the contemporary German experience; each book offers a starkly different conclusion. Anheier noted that, like many wealthy Western countries, Germany seems to be caught in a constant state of disquietude, despite all it has going for it. He concluded, “The post-Merkel era is as likely to bring disruption as it is to preserve continuity with the recent past.”
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier authored an article in Project Syndicate about Germany’s new ruling coalition. After eight weeks of negotiations, a national-level three-party alliance has been established for the first time since the 1950s, with Social Democrat Olaf Scholz succeeding Angela Merkel as chancellor. Leaders of the center-left Social Democrats, the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats collaborated to produce the coalition agreement “Dare to Make More Progress,” which outlines lofty goals for Germany, including modernization of the social security system and strengthening support for social welfare programs. Scholz’s government will also aim to increase renewable energy, invest in public transportation, expand public housing and overhaul Germany’s immigration framework. “Germany’s new ruling coalition has advanced a much-needed vision for the country, but whether it can realize it will depend largely on the coalition committee’s political skill,” Anheier wrote. “If the coalition fails, Germany will risk reverting to its old habit of doing too little too late.”
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier spoke about the intersection of economic prosperity and social cohesion in an episode of the “55 Voices for Democracy” video series. “Most of us favor a cohesive society, broad participation in the political process, and a prosperous, interconnected economy,” Anheier said, but he asked whether these wishes are compatible. He discussed the Dahrendorf Quandary created by sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf, who argued that a growing and integrating world economy would eventually create “perverse choices” for liberal democracies. Later, Harvard economist Dani Rodrik argued that democracy, national sovereignty and economic integration are fundamentally incompatible. To test these theories, Anheier looked at data from 34 countries with upper-middle-income to high-income market economies over 25 years and found that the countries’ performance did not confirm the claims of Dahrendorf and Rodrik. Anheier concluded that globalization can be managed and the negative consequences of open markets can be offset by forward-looking policies in order to reduce economic inequalities.
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier authored an article in Project Syndicate about the upcoming election year in Germany. The country is preparing for a “super election year,” which will include federal elections for the Bundestag, regional elections in six states and a vote for leadership of the Christian Democratic Union. “Because German voters tend to prefer a cautious leader with a steady hand, Merkel fit her country’s collective psyche like a bespoke glove,” Anheier said, highlighting the successes of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 15 years as party leader. Immigration, the economy, public administration and the COVID-19 pandemic will all be important issues in the upcoming elections. He noted that while Germany’s mainstream political parties have shied away from open debate of contentious issues, German voters will no longer be able to “sit back and place their trust in Merkel to navigate the shoals of the twenty-first century.”
The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has received a $3 million gift from the Berggruen Institute to produce and disseminate the Los Angeles-based think tank’s Berggruen Governance Index, which evaluates countries based on their quality of political and administrative governance.
With the capacity of democratic governance being tested around the world, the index seeks to deepen public understanding of the relationship between democracy, government competence and the provision of public goods.
“The Luskin School is thrilled to partner with the Berggruen Institute on this incredibly important and timely work,” said Dean Gary Segura. “In a period where governments the world over struggle to cope with global crises, including the current pandemic, the effectiveness, transparency and capacity of states to care for the needs of their people is of critical importance. With this gift, the Luskin School can help advance our understanding of what makes government effective.”
For policymakers and policy analysts, the index will serve as a much-needed tool for grasping how governance relates to social and economic progress in various political contexts. A better understanding of these relationships, say UCLA Luskin researchers, is particularly relevant as liberal democracies face increasing threats from autocratic rivals.
“We are excited to deepen our relationships at UCLA through this partnership with the Luskin School,” said Dawn Nakagawa, executive vice president of the Berggruen Institute. “This important collaboration will lead to new insights about how to enhance government capacity in ways that lead to better quality-of-life outcomes.”
“The Berggruen Institute gift allows us to continue exploring the relationship between the quality of democracy and the quality of life — a crucial issue in today’s world.”
— Helmut Anheier
Led by Helmut Anheier, an adjunct professor of social welfare, the team based at UCLA Luskin will curate, advance and disseminate the Berggruen Governance Index over a five-year period, helping to increase awareness of the index’s findings among policymakers, analysts and the general public through various events and media formats.
“The Berggruen Institute gift allows us to continue exploring the relationship between the quality of democracy and the quality of life — a crucial issue in today’s world,” Anheier said. “Governance is about how effectively we address public problems. The index is designed to reveal how different countries are managing in this regard.”
Anheier, who is also a professor of sociology at the Hertie School in Berlin, where the index originated, noted that other governance indices do not focus on the process of governance that is central to the Berggruen Governance Index, which looks closely at how the delivery of public goods contributes to the quality of life of citizens.
The 2019 Berggruen Governance Index analyzed 25 different aspects of the performance of 38 countries over a 14-year period, tracking national differences in three crucial areas of governance: quality of democracy, quality of government and quality of life.
The Berggruen Institute was founded in 2010 by investor and philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen, and editor Nathan Gardels.
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier co-authored a Project Syndicate opinion piece arguing that social media and other digital channels have changed the way conspiracy theories are consumed and distributed — and that the only way to counter them is to use the same technologies. The far-right QAnon and other groups espousing conspiratorial thinking use social media to disseminate unfiltered ideas at no cost, wrote Anheier and Andrea Roemmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Disinformation has “always been part of the warp and woof of politics,” they wrote, but “rarely have political debates been so unmoored from widely accepted truths as they are today.” This has led to violent and extremist actions and undermined confidence in experts and institutions, they wrote. To combat the threat, they call for a professional, nonpartisan, nongovernmental “conspiracy monitor” empowered to scour sites and social media feeds, identify dangerous messages and initiate action to block content.