Karl W. DeutschDie Schweiz als ein paradigmatischer Fall politischer Integration

2.26 Karl W. Deutsch, Die Schweiz als ein paradigmatischer Fall politischer Integration, Bern, 1976, p. 8-64, geringfügig überarbeitete Abschrift der Tonbandaufzeichnung von Daniel Frei des von Karl Deutsch in deutscher Sprache in der Schweiz gehaltenen Vortrages

[Switzerland as a paradigmatic case of political integration]

a) Background

The text at hand is a published transcript of a lecture of Karl W. Deutsch presented in Switzerland in German. The actual text has not been formally published. The text is the translation by the political scientist Daniel Frey, who published the text in Switzerland in 1976. Daniel Frey was a pioneer of political science in the German-speaking part of Switzerland; he was trained among others at the University of Michigan and held the first chair for political science at the University of Zurich. Unfortunately he died young. The text is in line with the purpose of the Anthology not to lose sight of the longstanding and special relationship between the United States and Switzerland in legal and political matters. It is a striking example of a subcategory of American political scientists and lawyers who have time and again been interested in Swiss law and legal culture as a source of inspiration for their own work. The text describes the Swiss model of federalism as a paradigmatic example of political integration. Other examples of American legal or social scientists are; Max Reinstein, in a comparative and quantitative analysis of the substantive family laws on the border in the canton of Ticino of Switzerland and Italy on divorce; and the field studies of the Nobel Prize-in-economy-winning political scientist Elinor Ostrom on the Commons as “long enduring, self-organized, and self-governed organisations of communal tenure in high mountain villages in the canton of Valais”.

Karl Wolfgang Deutsch (1912-1992) was a towering figure in international social, legal and political science in the post-World War II era. Because of his Czech nationality and anti-german attitude he did not graduate in law from the german University at Prague. He instead joined its Czech counterpart, the Charles University, where he obtained a law degree in international and canon law and in political sciences in 1938. He did not return from a trip to the United States and obtained a scholarship to carry out advanced studies at Harvard University, where he received a second PhD in political science in 1951. During World War II he worked for the Office of Strategic Services and participated as a graduate student in the San Francisco conference that resulted in the creation of the United Nations in 1945. In his academic career, Deutsch was a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and Harvard University until his death in 1992.

Karl Deutsch has a special affinity to Switzerland for various reasons and became a critical “friend of Switzerland”. He was on the board of prestigious foundations and obtained honorary doctorates from seven universities in the United States, Germany as well as Switzerland. He was an avid student and knowledgeable expert on the history, function and sources of political integration in Switzerland.

b) Summary

Karl W. Deutsch assesses the situation of the political integration in Switzerland, based upon his important scientific work in the areas of integration and nationalism, political cybernetics and conflicts in his research. Deutsch at times was particularly legitimated to deal with the issues, since he worked for years, originally together with the historian Hermann Weiermann, on a major work on Switzerland – which to our knowledge has never been finished. The text is one of the texts in the Anthology written among others on Swiss law and legal culture by a non-Swiss author.
In the introduction, he focuses on the Swiss political integration by using four basic concepts of the theory of integration.

In the main part of the text, Deutsch deals with the “special case Switzerland”, the so-called – nowadays criticised – “Sonderfall der Schweiz” (special case Switzerland). The basic question to be asked is why the process of integration in Switzerland happened and why such a singular process with the effect that a particularly constant and particularly close integration amongst the people, who strongly adhered to their languages and to the regional and other singularities to such a large extent, exists. The process has happened over a long period of time with minimal common apparatuses of government, without common police, without common courts and with a minimum of institutions and a minimum of binding and enforceable laws. The Swiss Confederation for a long time did not have a special and separate authority from those of the Cantons.

The major headings of the arguments of Deutsch to answer the question are geography, the special nature of the peasants and population, the traffic overpasses and the money economy, the ownership of weapons, the heritage of the communal movement, the lack of suppression of the peasants, the technique of federalism, a political culture of mitigation and courage, a stagnation and the existence of oligarchies from 1555 to 1770, the formation of capital as a prerequisite for the industrial revolution and a mitigation of social contrasts.

As a critical friend of Switzerland, Deutsch – in 1976 – addresses the challenges of the 20th and the 21st century for Switzerland. He is particularly critical in arguing that a policy of accommodation conflicts with a policy of innovation, in which Switzerland has been the champion for a long time. With regard to the aspect of innovation, he seems to favour a multiparty system. He had the courage to draw the attention to the fact that many scientists and famous Swiss writers more intensively focus their attention not on what has to be done, but on what has not been done. He raises the question of whether Switzerland is not at a watershed between a conservative paralysis and a creative new development. He argues that the leading American universities for competitive reasons for instance have the capacity to integrate 20-50% of the age groups of young people in their educational system. The same holds true for research and innovation in order to overcome the scarcity of natural resources of a country like Switzerland. Karl Deutsch points to a specific competitive pressure in the area of the competiveness of key industries. A country that is unable to change without losing its essential identity may be in danger in future instability and even lose its existence. The solution of the problem, according to Karl Deutsch, lies in accommodating change while maintaining essential parts of the identity.

c) Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here:

© Prof. Jens Drolshammer, office@drolshammer.com,  www.drolshammer.net

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