EVOLUTIONARY PARADIGMS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
Proceedings of Workshop Held on May 13-14, 1994at the Seattle Batelle Research Center, Co-organized by George Modelski and Kazim ierz Poznanski. Sponsored by the Jackson School International Studies Program and the Department of Political Science.
SEATTLE: UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 1994
One: Communist and Post-Communist World,
by Corina Herron;
Two: Elements of Evolutionary Economics,
by Daniel Whiteneck;
Three: Evolutionary World Politics;
by Andrew Bosworth;
Four: Long-term Patterns,
by David Allen;
Five: Uses and Limits of Evolutionary Analogy,
by Mikhail Alexseev.
University of Washington
EVOLUTIONARY PARADIGMS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
1. Thematic focus
Evolutionary thought in the social sciences has a well-grounded intellectual tradition, in sociology (e.g. Spencer, Parsons), in archaeology (Childe), philosophy and politics (Popper, Bagehot), and in economics (von Mises, Schumpeter, von Hayek).
We distinguish two main cugh the evolutionary paradigm offers an interesting new set of explanatory options, and a valuable complement on all the points of the debate.
The world has recently been experiencing accelerated social change, as in the e nd of cold war competition and the non-violent collapse of communism as a global ideology; world-wide advances in industrialization, as in China, and the rapid onset of the Information Age. In such conditions, the evolutionary paradigm is being increasin gly appreciated as a helpful alternative.
The recent decline in the appeal of radical, revolutionary prescriptions for social change in favor of reformist, gradualist approaches is yet another reason for paying increasing attention to evolutionary models as a normative point of reference.
Other cases in point are the current debate between the proponents and opponents of a radical (shock therapy) approach to the transition from a state-planned economy to a market-based system in the post-S oviet bloc, the latter advocating a strategy of gradualism (Kornai, Murrell, Poznanski).
Worth noting, too, are the efforts to explain the surprisingly swift collapse of cummunism after1989 by reference to evolutionary conceptions (Jowitt, Poznans ki) (surprising to those working within the static, and state-centered totalitarian model).
Yet another new avenue in evolutionary thinking is the recent revival of interest in long-term patterns of social change, broad-gauged, as in the evolution of the world system, and emphasizing generational and cultural factors as motors of transformation (Modelski).
2. Workshop structure(p>The purpose of the workshop is to attempt an inventory of recent trends and the state of the evolutionary paradigm in the social sciences, as well as to identify promising questions and issues for future work, possibly leading to a thematic conference later on.
One focus of the workshop is the issue of the collapse of communism (i.e. the retreat of "real" socialism) as a "tectonic" (basic structural) change in the world system, as well as the related question of the on-going post-communist transition to a market-based economy.
Another focal point is provided by recent upheava ls in the condition of world order, centered on the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Do evolutionary paradigms for world politics offer an effective tool for coming to grasp with these changes?
Thirdly, focus is placed on recent efforts to bring history, and geography (time and space) to economic and political analysis, as a response to the apparent significance of such factors and the need to understand the continuity of change. A review of the concept of stages in the evolution of the world ec onomy and of the place of terms such as feudalism, capitalism, and socialism within it, and the exploration of alternative perspectives built upon evolutionary models, might also be helpful.
In sum, we are asking: what might be the principal char acteristics of the evolutionary paradigm in the social sciences, and under what condition, and in answer to which questions, is it particularly applicable? Does the dissolution of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union in 1989-1991 constitute a paradigmati c exemplar of evolutionary process, both in its economic and the political dimensions, and on the European, and global scales?
David Barash, UW, Department of Psychology,Seattle, WA
Daniel Chirot, Jackson School of International Studies, UW, DR-05, Seattle, WA 98195
Peter Corning, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, 560 Waverley Street, Suite 202, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Robert Gilpin, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Bendheim Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
Steven Hanson, UW, Department of Political Science,DO-30, Seattle, WA 98195
Geoffrey Hodgson, University of Cambridge, Judge Institute of Management Studies, Mill Lane, Cam bridge CB2 1RX, United Kingdom
Andrew Janos, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Political Science, Berkeley, CA 94720
Kenneth Jowitt, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Political Science, Berkeley, CA 94720
Stev en Krasner, Stanford University, Department of Political Science, Stanford, CA 994305-2044
Joel Migdal,UW, Jackson School of International Studies, DR-05, Seattle, WA 98195
George Modelski, UW, Department of Political Science,DO-30, Seattle, WA 98 195
Barry Naughton, University of California, San Diego,School of International Relations and Pacific Studies,La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University, Department of Political Science, 420 W. 118th St,New York, NY 10027
K azimierz Poznanski, UW, Jackson School of International Studies, DR-05, Seattle, WA 98195
William R. Thompson, Indiana University, Department of Political Science, Bloomington, IN 47405
Janice Thomson, UW, Department of Political Science, DO-30, Seattle, WA 98195
Ulrich Witt, University of Freiburg, Institute for the Study of Economic Evolution, D-79085 Freiburg, Germany
Marie Anchordoguy, UW, Jackson School of International Studies
Christop her Jones, UW, Jackson School of International Studies
Steven Majeski, UW, Political Science
Kitt Taylor, Bellevue Community College, Economics
Kozo Yamamura, UW, Jackson School of International Studies
Abderrahman Ayoub, UW, Fulbright Sch olar in Residence
David Allen, UW, Geography
Corina Herron,Daniel J. Whiteneck,Andrew Bosworth,Mikhail Alexeev,Philip Shekelton, and Eugenio Trejo, UW, Political Science
Greg Linden, UW, Computer Science
Tatsuu Tanaka, and Laurie Blom, UW, Jackson School of International Studies
Jawed Zouari, UW, History
Michael Jacobson,UW, Jackson School of International Studies
Ron Deibert, University of British Columbia, Institute of International Relations
Delia Rosenblatt, UW, Geograp hy
Scott Cameron, UW, Economics
Glen Furnas, UW, History
Ken Shadlen. UW, Jackson School of International Studies
Ashley Charles Parrish UW, Political Science
Phil Auerswald, UW, Economics
Richard Sherman, UW, Political Science
SESSION ONE: COMMUNIST AND POST-COMMUNIST WORLD
Kazimierz Poznanski: Much has recently happened in the communist world that was not supposed to happen accord ing to our established theoretical paradigms. The decline and dissolution of the USSR and the Chinese transition to capitalism under communist leadership are monuments to changes in the world system that remain unexplained by conventional approaches. Th ese events point up the weaknesses of our understanding of international relations and the need to devise new paradigms.
Kenneth Jowitt: The evolutionary analogy is a more fruitful framework within which to discuss the direction and decline of Soviet politics and the 'Leninist extinction' than the conventional developmentalist, or 'transition to democracy', paradigm. The Leninist extinction ushered in a world which was increasingly formless, boundless and fragmented, a genesis-like world, but not a void. This would have great impact on the identity of the Western and other worlds, as well as the post-communist regimes. The evolutionary analogy sensitizes us to the relative openness of the system to novel, if not entirely welcome, develop ments in the former Soviet Empire.
Parsons defines an evolutionary perspective as one which applies a directional notion of change and a scheme of stages through which a system progresses:
I. The elemental stage of fragmentation, or early gen esis.
II. The origination stage of institutional definition.
III. The developmental stage of the expansion of those dominant institutions.
IV. The terminal stage of disintegration.
The weak polities of the former Soviet Union can be described by the terminal and elemental stages. It is essential to understand how and why the Soviet Union disintegrated in order to interpret the emergence and current political configurations of these states. Arnold Toynbee states that, in the case o f disintegration, the responses to challenges have failed. When each encounter ends not in victory but in defeat, the unanswered challenge is bound to present itself again and again until it receives some tardy and imperfect answer or brings about the de struction of the society. Instead of new challenges, the system repeatedly faces the same challenges. That is precisely what happened in every communist regime, including those like China and Cuba which are on an inertial glide to extinction.
The crucial question is how and why the Soviet Union disintegrated. From the time of Khrushchev, there was one central political challenge, that of political equality, or the unresolvable conflict between the status of the cadre and the potential role of th e citizen which Soviet and Soviet-replica regimes were simply unable to deal with. No post-Stalinist leader was willing politically or able strategically to go back to the party's revolutionary origins. They had become corrupt, and the result was politi cal disintegration.
But this was disintegration of a particular sort. The Soviet empire, unlike the Nazi empire, ended with a 'big whimper' and not with a 'big crunch'. This had positive consequences, for the world was spared nuclear war. Howev er, the Nazi 'big crunch' allowed for a much swifter and more radical transformation of West Germany into a democratic capitalist country. The legacy of the Soviet Union makes the creation of democracy and new institutions much more difficult.
Th e disintegration of the former Soviet Empire can be seen as a form of peaceful decolonization. Active resistance to the Soviets was limited. The peacefully decolonized states, because of the absence of these resistance organizations, are politically ane mic and institutionally robust. (Poland is the only post-Soviet state with an institution, that of Solidarity, which grew within and at the expense of the empire and was present and politically salient at its collapse.) The result of this anemic challen ge to Soviet power and the lazy response of the empire to this challenge was the breakdown of the Soviet Empire.
The legacy of the Soviet Empire, which, by 1989, was more corrupt than evil, is an extraordinary display of social, political, economi c, military and psychological fragmentation. Developmental change in this area must respond to this. The terminal stage of the Soviet Empire has been followed by this period of fragmentation, or an 'elemental' stage of evolution, which is characterized by very loosely-bounded social clots, in part constructed from fragments of the previous polity and in part from new elements.
Disintegration does not give rise to an era within which one can construct new institutions from whole cloth. This chal lenges Donna Karen's evolutionary paradigm which asserts that matter is produced from a vacuum. Neither in the physical nor political worlds does something come from nothing. Something new is always the result of the transformation of something preexist ing.
The nation-state, in ideal terms, is a trinity, a partially conflictual and complementary set of state, civic and ethnic orientations and organizations. In the former Soviet Union, there is a polytheistic fragmentation of state, civic and et hnic forces. These forces are not complementary but internally fragmented and inconsistent and confront one another in antagonistically juxtaposed ways. Fragmentation is the overwhelming characteristic. Lenin's legacy is one which combines a normativel y-unregulated urban amoral egoism with a disorientation of the rural masses.
The environment in these countries is not a blank slate on which democracy is to be written, but a fragmentary mass of weakly-bounded social practices, conventions and so cial practices as well as amorphous clots of entrepreneurial, political military and criminal action. 'Transition to democracy writers' in social science are analogous to the creationists in biological science: they see the peaceful disintegration of th e Soviet Empire as not having left a fragmented, inertial legacy, but a highly malleable environment which, sooner rather than later, will produce capitalist democracy.
What are absent, with the exception of Poland, are stable identifying institut ions. An institution is defined as a bounded, authoritative, persistent and partisan pattern of leadership, membership, material and ideal interests, strategy and thos. The former Soviet Empire today is located in the elemental stage of evolution, in wh ich the building of institutions is the developmental task. The question is, how does one get successful institution-building in an environment of fragmentation? The prerequisites for the establishing of institutional organizations are cores, charisma, contrast, competence and combat. The Normans may serve a an exemplar of this process. They established themselves in a bounded physical locale in which their practices, their interests and their identities were densely related. They invented a conseque ntial novel kinship practice: ties of Viking kinship served as the basis of their identity-formation and defined them as a nation, as Normans, 'bounding' them from France. It juxtaposed Norman and French interests and identities and created a combat rel ationship, which may be seen as parallel to the process of natural selection.
Decisive combat creates fewer enemies, an increase in resources, and a growing conviction that one group was, subjectively, better than the other. The drawing of bounda ries is essential to institutional formation. The creation of institutions, at its core, emphasizes partisanship and combat. Success in combat must be decisive. Soviets had no such process of natural selection. Instead of combat, conflict was characte rized by fewer not more resources, shifting alliances not fewer alliances.
As Richard Dawson states, there is no need to postulate 'design' in evolution or natural selection. There is no sense in which social evolution as a plausible theory of hi storical development can be treated as a set of random inputs. Conscious purpose tends to direct and connect human action. Purposeful, successful combat proves the superiority of institutions to both members and non-members. Once a core group succeeds in creating a contrasting competence and a conviction based on successful combat, we are likely to see a very rapid period of dominant expansion, namely the developmental stage succeeding the origination stage.
This does not describe the countries of the former Soviet Empire, which are currently located at an elemental stage of fragmentation. A major development is now occurring in these states, that of the political success of former, or 'recovering', communists. This success does not signify r egression but adaptation on the individual rather than the institutional level. The task now is stabilization. However, real change may yet require a charismatic force to transform existing conventions into authoritative institutions. In evolutionary t erms, charisma may be conceived of as a 'single-step chance event', such as the big bang or perhaps the origin of life. Analysts must look for a recasting of identity, a redefinition of boundaries.
Evolution is not necessarily progressive. The f ormer Soviet Union could conceivably remain unstable, weak and indecisive, neither democracy not dictatorship. Evolutionary change does not have to be in the direction of democracy. Democracy was a strange European mutation and should not be seen as the inevitable evolutionary endpoint for the former Soviet Union. Developments in the former Soviet Union will also depend upon future political developments in Western Europe. Leninist extinction has not only disintegrated the East, but has disoriented th e party systems of the West and disintegrated the boundaries of the Third World.
Barry Naughton: Evolutionary theory can be applied to the case of the Chinese shift from a socialist toward a market economy. The use of evolution in this c ase will be to describe gradual, incremental change, as contrasted with revolutionary or abrupt change. Feedback for Chinese policy-makers was different from that for their Soviet counterparts (if indeed any such thing existed). Chinese policy-makers we re driven to maintain both investment in key sectors and urban living standards, and to produce moderate growth. Subject to this, they were to introduce as many market mechanisms as possible. Policy-makers were able to retreat when policies threatened t he basic imperatives of investment and growth. This is contrasted with the model of change in Eastern Europe, where the introduction of the market economy was rapid and social and the economic ramifications of this were largely uncontrolled. Also crucia l in China but not in Eastern Europe was that failed reforms were not critical or crippling. Chinese policy-makers could avoid complete disaster, which allowed them to navigate around certain shoals, if sometimes only by retreat. The result of this is t hat, in the end, the transition process can take place while maintaining a certain stability.
The model of the evolutionary paradigm to be used here describes enterprises as the individuals in a given population and the economic area as the enviro nment to which they must adapt. The determining factors under this paradigm become the adaptability and robustness of the enterprises. The central question is, Why is China not doing worse? Why is Eastern Europe not doing better? The Chinese case will be treated, for heuristic purposes, as a success, and that of Eastern Europe as a failure.
Let us examine this model on two levels. The first addresses the adaptability of enterprises: what have we learned from Eastern Europe? The institutions of the Soviet economy were more fragile than initially thought, and were a key to economic collapse. A very large number of the organizations and institutions of Soviet communism simply collapsed, ceasing to function. The key unanticipated fact is that there seems to be no floor to the process of deterioration. There are many reasons to think that communist enterprises would be very poor at adapting. The flaw of state-owner enterprises is not merely their lack of efficiency, but more importantly, the ir lack of robustness. Given an interdependent economy, it is important that enterprises are able to perform their basic function. This question is logically prior to that of efficiency.
The first reason to expect state-owned enterprises to be p oor adapters is enforced organizational uniformity. This may be seen, in evolutionary terms, as a complete absence of genetic diversity. This sort of population might be expected to suffer high mortality when there is a dramatic change in the environmen t, such as the introduction of market capitalism. Chinese enterprises were far more 'genetically diverse' on the eve of reform that their East European counterparts. State ownership was less dominant, the number of collective rural enterprises had been reduced and the management of state enterprises was more widely dispersed and decentralized. There was more genetic diversity and potential flexibility to respond to a change in the environment.
A second reason to expect poor adaptation was that enterprises in communist countries were subject to a network of overlapping controls (accounting, finance) which were designed to control such things as corruption and opportunistic behavior. A reduction in the redundant control environment might be exp ected to lead to the risk of opportunistic and corrupt behavior.
Finally, in examining this model, we need to determine what the act of adaptation in this case might mean. An enterprise in a market economy may be seen as a vertical, 'value-added' chain of functions: sourcing, procurement, production, marketing, etc. A socialist enterprise is a production unit connected with a set of social services and political control functions. It is a sort of horizontal function bar, which overlaps only pa rtially with the vertical, value-added chain. The socialist enterprise, in order to make the transition to a market economy, must not only increase its efficiency, but must change its very function. It must restructure itself. This task may be very dif ficult and costly and create a great deal of conflict.
In China, restructuring and function-redefinition was carried out prior to a slow, gradual transition to a market economy. There was an attempt to create potentially market-responsive units p rior to the transition to the market economy. The enterprises ability to adapt was increased prior to the alternation of the environment. In the rural areas, there was a rapid and dramatic change in the unit of production, while most of the marketing a rrangements continued to be state-dominated and predictable. This produced a relatively easy transition to price-driven, market production. In the industrial sphere, there was an attempt to improve and tighten managerial incentives so that managers woul d have a steadily intensifying interest in restructuring their firms. More simultaneously than in the rural case, this restructuring was accompanied by a slow and gradual shift to the abolition of planning and the establishment of a broadly-based market economy.
In Eastern Europe, in contrast, the transition to a market economy was rapid and largely without prior restructuring and improvement of the adaptability of the firms themselves. Rapid privatization and a near-instant introduction of mark et forces led to a situation wherein weak organizations with extremely limited adaptation ability faced dramatic changes in the economic environment to which they are not well-placed to respond. The result was a range of responses on the part of firms: A very few restructured, many did nothing, and others expended their energies lobbying for state subsidies.
In addition to the question of adaptability of the enterprise an an individual, there is also the symmetrical question of the nature of th e environment to which it is to adapt. There are certain kinds of environmental stresses in the economic environment, which correlate to John Williamson's reasons for market failure. The first is information failures, where there do not exist institutio ns to spread information about prices and relative scarcity. The second is opportunism. When the possibility of opportunism increases, so does the possibility of market failures. The third, which we might add to Williamson's list, is the decreased abil ity on the part of the government to selectively intervene.
All three of these are likely to be more intense problems during the early stages of transition than they are later, after the transition is complete. Enterprises need to make a transiti on from a (perhaps artificially) low-stress environment to the temporary period wherein the stress on market transactions is very high to the period of completed transition wherein the stresses gradually decrease. This demonstrates a short-run crisis of adaptation, and explains why we see such a marked difference between the East European and Chinese cases. Under the Chinese strategy, existing organizations can be expected to adapt better to changes in the environment, and the stress of the environment is reduced to some extent by a governmental approach that is more gradualist.
Andrew Janos: The first part of the paper deals with the paradigm of evolution, with evolution defined as something which is cumulative and driven by a logic in a particular direction. This is to be distinguished from life-cycle and other cyclical applications of the theory. Part One also addresses the productivist paradigm, which is familiar to us in the works of Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer and Adam Smith and others, and which was subsequently metamorphosed into the theory of modernization. Part Two describes particular cases in which this theory is not, strictly speaking, applicable. Part Three asks whether this paradigm has some explanatory power regarding the history of the last three hundred years and whether it would continue to be applicable in the future. The first part remains incomplete, but the second and third parts are available. Today, I will address my remarks to Part Two.
The questi on of inequality has preoccupied humanity and the social science for a great many centuries. The study of international income inequalities is more recent, and dates back to the Russian Marxists. The notion of international income inequalities was only barely preserved by modernization theorists, and was revived in the 1970's by world-system and global economy theorists. These theorists recognized that international income inequalities were a key variable in international conflict and in international politics. Technical innovation, economic scarcity and abundance may be the most important factors in understanding the history of the last 300 years.
International economic inequalities are important for three reasons: Firstly, they correlate, o r have correlated, very closely with military power since the sixteenth century. Secondly, they have cultural ramifications. Technological superiority can lead to psychological feeling of superiority within a given culture. Thirdly, they have a strateg ic dimension, which is the focus of this paper.
A review of the literature reveals a dominant strategy to deal with these realities: development. The theory states that one should invest in the means of production in order to maximize per capita income in order to trade with others, and adjust one's culture and institutions so that productivity is maximized. Thus, one theoretically should become a well-situated, wealthy state. This developmentalist approach remains unsatisfying.
It is possible to marshal resources in two ways: they may be invested in the means of production, or they may be invested in the means of destruction. Resources may be gained through external appropriation as well as by producing it oneself. States may just ify themselves by either strategy. Military societies are characterized by cycles of mobilization and warfare: resources gained by successful warfare allow the state to wage war again.
International socialism sought to reconstruct the entire wor ld. In the Soviet Union, there was a dramatic change in this movement under Stalin: tactics were changed from Lenin's insurrectionism to a new emphasis on the Soviet state, and a synthesis between etatism and the revolutionary ideal. There was successi ve change in the system under Brezhnev, which was the routinization of revolutionary reconstruction. Gorbachev moved away from the military strategy to international cooperation.
It is not evident that there is an evolutionary logic to this proce ss. It was the nuclear age and the acceptance by leaders of the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction which brought an end to the mobilization/warfare-cycle strategy. The crisis of the Soviet Union came about in the mid-seventies when they had accumu lated an enormous military, armament expenditures became an increasingly weighty burden and the economic situation of the people continued to deteriorate, producing political pressures.
In closing, the test of international economic distribution i s not determined by military means. Germany and Japan, for instance, are doing well after losing major wars. Secondly, the evolutionary analogy is imperfect. The world has entered the age of the decoupling of economic and military power. We are enteri ng a new age when relatively poor countries can maintain significant military power. Herein lies perhaps the most significant clue to the new instabilities which we may face in the future.
Daniel Chirot: Spencer predicted the triumph of i ndustrial society over military because it is more efficient, allowing free exchange and greater specialization. The three speakers argued that modern industrial society is more efficient than military. Democratic capitalism is also more prosperous and better at war. So why doesn't every state adopt these institutions? Why have we not reached the 'end of history'?
The answer is that the 'losers' of the competition have rebelled against these evolutionary patterns. This revolt has played a lar ge role. In the late nineteenth century, peasants, artisans, and some aristocrats were such 'losers'. Uprooted intellectuals were also losers, or at least 'imagined losers'. It was this group which spawned and promoted anti-capitalist and -liberal ideo logies. Losers can and do organize reactions against the evolutionary success of democracy. There are new losers in the current era: The East, the underdeveloped countries and the literary intelligentsias of the West. The reaction of people to social evolution is important and also greatly under-emphasized.
The ensuing discussion centered on the following topics:
* The definition and existence of analogs in the social sciences to genetic structures and systematic processes of adaptati on.
* The question of whether and how the use of an evolutionary approach led to new insights and understanding of the topics at hand and if it is a useful tool.
* The possibility of an endpoint to the evolutionary process. An endpoint to evolution emerges from the capitalist model (of adjoining regions.) The evolutionary goal is clear: societies wish to be normal. None is striving to establish new militarism.
* The conception and definition of evolution to be used. Several pr
oposals were put forward:
As directional, positive change, not just disintegration.
As either Darwinian or Spencerian.
As a theory which includes selection and a 'tree of life', which is composed of stages, spans and lineage, and has as its purpose the explanation of this 'tree'. In this conception, there is no sharp distinction between Darwinian and other models of evolution.
As a theoretical process of survival and reproduction. Behavior is directed by this. To the extent that this basic problem exists in the social world, the evolutionary paradigm can be useful.
As either orthogenetic or Darwinian: Orthogenetic, wherein directionality has its origins in causal forces. This may include a typology of stages, such as in H erbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons or Robert Nisbet. Darwinian evolution is the result of descent with modification, which is in turn the product of the functional requirement of living in a changing, unstable system. This latter paradigm em phasizes adaptation and how it changes. The market economy may be more closely parallel to a Darwinian model of evolution, while a command economy may be parallel to the orthogenetic.
* The need to specify the unit of analysis, and the possibility th at evolutionary theory may be applicable only to certain questions and cases.
* The question as to whether the failure of the Soviet system could be considered as an instance of 'selection'. The Soviet system was a combat system. When this purpose w as removed, entropy set in. Ideological failure was preceded by economic corruption and failure. It was unable to adapt in any venue. It had no rationale for being.
In reply, Andrew Janos maintained that technology is the cumulative abili ty of man to control the natural environment. Marx stated that object-man relations bear on man-man relations. In this way, societal change is in part driven by technological change. The future holds the growing ability to control the natural environme nt.
However, this notion should not be projected onto states and systems. One should look at the whole system, both core and periphery, and the proposition that evolution is not necessarily equal to progress. Durkheim states that what is good fo r the individual can be bad for society as a whole. Spencer, in his discussion of survival and selection, concentrates on the survival of the unit, not its civility.
Barry Naughton: It is necessary to make the distinction between heuristi c and specific, small-scale explanatory frameworks. This second level of theorizing may be very profitable and is the focus of this analysis. There is a current lack of other plausible theoretical alternatives at this level. This analysis has been Darw inian in the sense that the units are not purposely evolving. Though this is a possibility, it is not included in this analysis. In applying this theory, the scarcity of organization innovation should not be underemphasized.
Kenneth Jowitt: Evolution is used in this analysis only as an analogy, though it may also have value as a theory. Social and biological evolution are not identical, however. The processes of mutation and selection are related. The revolutionary analogy may be most valuable where it begins to break down: this is the point which may yield the greatest insight. Metaphors can be powerful.
SESSION TWO: ELEMENTS OF EVOLUTIONARY ECONOMICS
In introducing the session George Modelski pointed o ut that both economics in political science experienced Schumpeterian shocks in recent years. The unforeseen collapse of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe revealed weaknesses in the study of international relations, large-scale unemployment and structural change in the world economy have posed new questions for the economists. The challenge to evolutionary theorists is to provide adequate explanations for these phenomena.
According to Ulrich Witt evolutionary theories in economics privilege disequilibrating change as the crucial issue. This is in contrast to the classical macro- and micro-models' emphasis on stability and equilibrium in the marketplace. Evolutionary models seek to explain the forces that drive change and t o identify the regularities and course of change. To accomplish this, economists can apply biological theories to economic and social behavior. Biology can serve as a mediating language, much as mechanical physics played a role in the past.
The forces of economic change can be divided into endogenous and exogenous factors. Endogenous factors, those created by economic actors themselves, include: 1) the creation of new ideas, 2) the recombination of old ideas into new patterns of action, 3) the learning capabilities of actors, and 4) the diffusion of new ideas and issues for action. Exogenous factors impacting on economic change include natural forces, and political or social revolutions.
The first three areas of inquiry call for much further research to determine why, how and under what conditions new ideas arise. Are these in the realm of psychology and can they be anticipated or predicted by evolutionary theorists in economics? The study of the diffusion of new ideas and issues ra ises the importance of selection criteria and mechanisms. Predicting which ideas and issues are diffused and selected is influenced by the time, energy, and resources required for the process to be successful. This leads to the study of the role of inst itutions as the agents of collective action in the implementation of new ideas.
Economics, borrowing from the sciences of biology and linguistics, needs to broaden its focus from individual decision making to the collective actions of groups, org anizations and states. At that level, the study of regular patterns of change is possible. Transition hypotheses about the rise of new issues regarding economic processes require a larger scope and a longer time frame than is possible through the indivi dual models of dominant economic paradigms.
Kazimierz Poznanski led off by stating his aim is to redefine the field of political economy, now identified with three major paradigms (= world views), i.e. Marxist, statist (= mercantilist) and liberal. All of them have a certain bias, as for instance, preference toward strong rationalism leaving little (or no) room for risk/chance. They also work with the assumption that the world, however defined, is fundamentally conflictual (so that cooper ation is sporadic). Moreover, their analysis is basically static, i.e. concerned with the establishment and maintenance of equilibrium.
All the above assumptions are rejected in what might be called "evolutionary political economy" (or at least r elaxed to the point of making a meaningful difference). Some elements of this approach could be found in the works of conservative philosophy (Burke, de Tocqueville, Popper), as well as those of evolutionary economists (Mises, Schumpeter, Hayek). Howeve r, to fully develop a coherent paradigm, one that could compete with the existing, or well-recognized ones, one has to go far beyond what this literature has to offer. If one had to define the evolutionary paradigm then the best way of doing it would be to call this paradigm a theory of cooperation (resulting from recognizing the limits of individualism instead of the exercise of hegemony). In some brief-coinage-fashion Marxism could be defined as a theory of revolution; mercantilism as a theory of war; while liberalism would be best described as a theory of competition (where "order" comes out of conflict in an unintentional, unlearned way).
The evolutionary paradigm shares most with the liberal paradigm, particularly because of its assumption of the centrality of the individual actor (though defined not as a rational agent faced with full information and exclusively focused on economic gain but rather as one operating with imperfect information). As such, actors are designing--in a spontaneou s way--institutions to reduce uncertainty characteristic of any type of action, never purely economic or purely political (in contrast with liberal view, where institutions do not matter and politics and economics are separate).
Evolutionary think ing--as in the case of Schumpeter or Hayek--was aimed not only at making liberal theory more "realistic" about reality but also even more, to protect this doctrine from collectivist ideas offered by Marxism and mercantilism (-statism). The famous debate on "socialist planning" between Mises/Hayek and Lange, in the 1930's, is a best example of this edge of the evolutionary approach (and a source of important insights into the question of workable, feasible, sound systems (that is, orders)).
It is not only that there is room in the intellectual 'matrix' for another major paradigm but this paradigm--evolutionary one--seems to be particularly well suited to dealing with fundamental questions which are either answered in a non-satisfactory way by the existing well-recognized paradigms, or simply are missed (since they are not recognized as important, or offering high intellectual pay-offs, items within any of these paradigms).
Decay of a major social system (rather than progress) is one of tho se frequently omitted questions, which are perfectly legitimate--deliverable--within the evolutionary paradigm. If one takes the recent collapse of the communist alternative to the liberal system, it appears that the evolutionary approach offers not only an alternative view on what happened, but in many ways, sounds far more plausible than what has been offered, so far, by either Marxist, or mercantilist, or liberal analysts.
The Marxist paradigm could hardly give a good account of that collapse, since it happened without any revolutionary turmoil (and a class conflict). The mercantilist approach does not work any better, since in the case of the Soviet Union there was not fundamental adverse shift in the balance of power to cause that collapse. The problem with the liberal approach is that the Soviet-type system did rather well in terms of static allocation (and efficiency) (though not in dynamic terms, which however are the focus of the evolutionary school).
Of all the insights that t he evolutionary approach brings to the debate on communist decay, one of the greatest importance is the recognition that societies operate according to how their individual elements--agents--operate. It is at this level where one should look for reasons behind the collapse and, according to the evolutionary school, it would be the 'natural' desire of individuals for "privacy" (property, freedom), which fractured, eventually, the system, with all members (including the privileged party) contributing (with the need for reflecting primary concern for individual security/survival).
Richard Nelson began by quoting the economist Alfred Marshall to the effect that economics was as much a matter of biology as it was of mechanics. That mechanics ex plained equilibrium, but there was more to economics than stability. A biological conception of economics concentrates on where and how economic structures arise and the selection processes, and competition, that determine the survival and expansion of e conomic structures. On a more general level, the use of evolutionary models in the social sciences poses questions about the process of innovation, the selection structures, and the retention/maintenance of selections. The works of Donald Campbell and T homas Kuhn may be cited to support the idea of a new paradigm around evolutionary thought.
Campbell and Kuhn hold that scientific study takes place in fields that are evolving due to changing knowledge and ambiguous information. Communities of sc ience workers constantly reassess where they are through the testing of new hypotheses, a selection process for the innovation and diffusion of new ideas. These communities often use a falsifiability test (a Popperian standard) to select out hypotheses. These are then diffused through interactions between members of the community, and maintained by inclusion in the taught materials that are passed on to another generation of scholars.
In the realm of technology, an evolutionary process is at wo rk in the continual search for solutions to technological problems. Many people may be working simultaneously on solutions without knowing exactly what will work or what will be accepted in the economic realm. The process moves from problems to inventio n to selection to retention based on the performance of the invention. One of the possible selection mechanisms is the marketplace with its emphasis on costs and efficiency in which techologies will be picked up in the system.
Some law and econo mics scholars have used evolutionary models to explain the changing nature of the law and the survivability of legal practices. Legal structures which are efficient promote bargaining between parties and are accepted by the community, while those that ar e inefficient repeatedly find their way into courts of law. Through the courts, inefficient legal structures evolve into efficient ones through the choices and decisions of juries and judges based on rational choice and economic efficiency.
J anice Thomson stated that the presentations gave strong arguments for evolutionary theories based on understandings that economics is a human enterprise (not a mechanical creation), that as such it is acceptable to draw upon biological (not physical) mode ls, and that economics is susceptible to human learning and adaptation. Interest in evolutionary models was increasing at the moment of the seeming triumph of capitalist democracy because the traditional neoclassical model did so little to explain the co llapse of communism and the transition to democracy.
Problems facing evolutionary theories include: 1) a lack of parsimony, 2) a lack of predictive power, 3) questions about explanatory ability, and 4) the applicability of conventionally accepted methods of testing its hypotheses.
Added to these general concerns were specific problems related to the use of evolutionary models in economics and political economy. The level of analysis of evolutionary models could be a problem because all t hree presenters offered different formulae. Were groups, institutions, firms, families, or entrepreneurs the actors, or would the actor change with the question being asked? What were 'groups' in evolutionary models? Were they leading sectors, societie s, ethnic groups, nations, or some aggregations mentioned in the previous question. What were the models' dependent variables? Could innovations in general be the variable? Would they be studied separately; as in technological, political, ideological, or knowledge-based innovations? Survival of the innovations were also a problem. Did it mean that these innovations were somehow better for society? Defining survival required a time frame and an agreed upon meaning of the term as it related to diversi ty and uniformity. Evolutionary theorists also had to account for how innovations were winnowed out in this process (in particular, where 'power' fit into the model). In this vein, it is the motor of change that is in question. Who or what is driving t he change and how is power measured in an evolutionary structure are important questions for evolutionary theorists to answer.
In discussion that followed it was argued that evolutionary models defined power as the capacity to control informatio n and knowledge, as well as the capacity to generate innovations. In such models the capacity to transmit knowledge over time could be an indicator of power in the system. With regard to the specific question of power, it was the political scientists wh o seemed to be leading the economists on this question. Work on world leadership and power in the long cycles of world politics offered good examples of defining power and measuring its impact on change in evolutionary models. The economists agreed that further work along these lines in economics could lead to greater specification of their models.
Another question was the ability of evolutionary theories to supplant neoclassical theories of political economy. It was remarked that neoclassical theories have, in the past, failed to account for changes in markets and money, and the rise and fall of firms. They have also failed to adequately explain the collective actions of groups and states and societies over time. These are the very questions which evolutionary theories seek to answer by looking at how information develops and diffuses in social settings. It was noted that a comparison of the two paradigms was difficult because of these differences in scope. Evolutionary theorists were inte rested in explaining; the survival of different forms of capitalism in different social settings, the revolution of workers in a worker's state, or the role of institutions in political, economic, military, or social change.
The matter of selectio n and retention mechanisms was also a key area of contention among discussion participants. Selection mechanisms could result in either stasis or change in evolution. Change could come, not just from innovations or mutations, but also from the merger of old patterns of action or belief to form new ones or the transposition of old patterns to new social settings. The idea of 'survival of the fittest' was deemed to be a characterization of 19th century evolutionary ideas that were inconsistent with curre nt evolutionary paradigms. To avoid the tautology in that statement, it was argued that current theories view selection and retention as processes that involve problems of cognition by individuals and groups, problems of agreeing on the verbal articulati ons of issues, solutions, and diffusion, as well as problems of explaining non-linear transformations in technology or ideology.
SESSION THREE: EVOLUTIONARY WORLD POLITICS
Robert Gilpin opened by stating that with his pape r, a foray into evolutionary theory, he "started out skeptical and ended up skeptical". Nevertheless, with some caution Gilpin argued that there might be useful applications of evolutionary theory to international relations, especially in order to cope w ith issues of economic dynamism and interdependence, the rapid expansion of international trade, and the importance of technological innovation and competitiveness. Evolutionary theory might be useful to analyze the "fitness" of competing national system s, which for Gilpin remain the most salient units of analysis despite recent arguments advanced by Paul Krugman, among others, that it is corporations, rather than nations, that compete. Thus an evolutionary approach could be applied to the "successful" cases of the United States and Japan: is one or the other "superior?" Will the two systems converge or will they always be different? Such an approach might focus on the social purpose of economic activity, the role of the state, and private business p ractices.
The United States more closely approximates the "neoclassical model." Indeed, it is often held to this ideological standard. The purpose of economic activity is to benefit consumers and to maximize the creation of wealth within a sy stem of "managerial capitalism." In addition, the state is characterized by a division of authority, by a fragmentation of power and responsibility, and by opposition between private and public sectors, and private business practices reflect this adversa rial relationship between the sectors. Japan, by contrast, more closely approximates a case of "collective capitalism," although it does not adhere to any particular ideology: it is characterized by an economic and political strategy to compete with the West; it is producer-, rather than consumer-driven; the state guides the evolution of economic structures and delegates many public functions to alliances; and the corporate economy is dominated by large industrial groupings (keiretsu), which reduce the transaction costs of business.
It is very difficult to declare one or the other economy more "fit." Both national economies, he argued, despite a current upturn in the United States, suffer from major "mistakes" made in the 1980's. National eco nomic systems which can experience their own periods of growth and decline retain their salience, and they remain vital units of analysis.
George Modelski began by setting out the basic properties and characteristics that make up an evoluti onary paradigm. These characteristics might not be testable, but the propositions derived from them are, and thus the approach represents a fruitful area of scientific inquiry. The literature of the evolutionary paradigm for world politics is distinguis hed by two main divisions: philosophy of history, with its broad discussions and its attempt to give meaning to life of man on earth, and by selectionism, or neo-Darwinism, with its own trail of controversy and more narrow applications.
Basically, the object of studying is not "the" evolutionary process, but one of a set. There are four types of evolution: physical, biological, social and cultural, which can be ranked along a time axis according to the duration of their processes, with physical and biological evolution proceeding along a much broader time span than social and cultural. Our concerns are with the latter, more narrow processes, (though the combination of social and cultural evolution remains to be done in an adequate manner). In particular, the need to focus attention upon political evolution (a component of social evolution) in order to address two main problems: the rise and fall of world powers in a process of "long cycles" of about a century duration, and institutional chang e in world politics, which has a period of about 500 years--two problems meshed together at the level of world organization. In recent years the problem of rise and fall of great powers, been linked with the study of "hegemony" has been quasi-delegitimiz ed, as "hegemony" is often thought to be a relic of the past, but the process that underlies it still exists and continues to move larger institutional processes, perhaps to move the nation-state system to another form of organization.
To address both the rise and fall of world powers and institutional change, evolutionary theories arguably offer the better explanations. The speaker explained that he was not born an evolutionist but became one because evolutionary theory offered the best account for the rise and fall of world powers, and for the meshing of that process with larger institutional change. Such a theory rested upon four basic points, the first being that the global political system is the basic unit of analysis and that one cannot t alk of national evolution "except by reference to the overall global system," which might be composed of "policies" emerging from the stuff of which they are made: "knowledge about behavior at the global level" (an area of inquiry overlapping with cybern etics and its focus on information and knowledge).
Second, the global political system is a "complex" system in that it is capable of learning, of innovation, and of making transitions--and that these are, in essence, the conditions for complexity . World politics as a learning system is a concept much superior to those, currently fashionable, of anarchy. But by what processes does the world political system learn and make transitions? An interesting question, which leads intourrents of evolutio nary thought in the social sciences: one that emphasizes the biological roots of social behaviour, and another that relies upon the use of "evolutionary analogy" for modeling social processes and structures, and emphasizes those features of society and c ulture that distinguish them from biological systems. Our own inclination is toward the second of these currents.
Within the "evolutionary analogy", in turn, two approaches have been emerging: historical-structural approaches th the next point.< /p>
Third, world politics is characterized by successive manifestations of evolutionary mechanisms. Long cycles, for examples, exhibit regular phases, with four phases in each 100-year cycle. These phases are represented by an ACME sequence of agend a-setting (innovation and variety generation), coalition-building (cooperation and synergistic effects), macro-decision (selection), and execution (reinforcement, maintenance and memory, where the results of a learning process are "digested"). Of these, macro-decisions, which to date has taken the form of a global war, has provided the "selection mechanism" that has determined the rise of global leaders. These are the four basic evolutionary mechanisms, and they give structure to world politics over the last 1,000 years.
Fourth, (an argument that underlies the forthcoming book co-authored with William Thompson) there are in fact links among evolutionary processes of politics and economy, or a "synchronization" of two processes of structural chan ge, one political, the other economic. Just as world politics has been marked by a regular succession of global leaders in cycles of approximately 100 years, so too has the world economy been marked by a "succession of leading sectors" of approximately 5 5 years in duration. Modelski presented a table depicting this "co-evolution" of global politics, economics and community for the time period 930 to 2100, a meshing together of evolutionary processes.
As statements of a paradigm they may not as s uch be testable, but predictions derived from the paradigm certainly are, such as the hypothesis that global political evolution should be synchronized with the evolution of the global economy. While this is not necessarily the last word on the subject, there is a good deal of empirical evidence to link the two processes.
Steven Krasner immediately expressed his skepticism over the validity and fruitfulness of evolutionary theory--and that "today hasn't made me any less skeptical." His sk epticism was reinforced by his own experience with the theory--notably with punctuated equilibrium theory, which he unsuccessfully tried to engage. A distinction needs to be drawn between Darwinism, on the one hand, and "punctuated equilibrium" theories, on the other, that differ from Darwinism. In punctuated equilibrium theory, there are path dependencies; small changes could produce large outcomes; change is episodic; chance matters a lot, and outcomes are not necessarily optimal. In short, "in punct uated equilibrium theory history matters, and in Darwinian theory history doesn't matter that much." Punctuated equilibrium theory, Krasner added, rests upon a fixed genetic stock, or a fixed set of institutions at a given point, and adaptations are chan ges of environment and past choices, which suggests that past institutional changes constrain options. Darwinian theory, by contrast, rests upon a less fixed genetic stock; there are constant mutations followed by selection, and the analytic thrust is th e mechanism of selection, which in fact makes it interesting.
For both, endogenous variables are in operation, but the theories do not attempt to explain them. With either approach one must either specify the set of institutions that act as const raints or specify mechanisms of selection--two kinds of analytical arguments that need to be made, which, he said, is "unfair': "show us an empirical case that this approach explains in a compelling way?" To this Modelski asked: "Is not the rise and fa ll of world powers compelling?" "No," Krasner quickly responded, "not compelling, there are other arguments that could be made, and people could challenge your empirical data...A story must be compelling, but an analytical argument is a diffe rent case... I'm very attracted by your long cycles argument, but it's not something that is going to grab people by the lapels and say, 'you're right.'"
An application of evolutionary theory in the case of telecommunications regimes that tried to use a punctuated equilibrium model showed that the institution got stuck by past choices that constrained their options. "It turned out to be completely wrong," and it fit a power and interest argument. In a related fashion the Peace of Westphalia, whi ch many cite as a major institutional change, a portal from medieval to modern worlds, provides no example of an institutional structure in transition. True, it gave German provinces the right to sign treaties, but this right was virtually abrogated by o ther provisions of the treaty, which was basically about succession rights anyway--a "hokey argument," and the example is not unique. It is one example among many that institutions in the international environment are too weak to be constrained: get a c hange in the power and interest, and the institutions change, because they don't matter much. Punctuated equilibrium theory might work, however, at the level of domestic politics where choices made at an earlier point in time constrain the ability to ada pt to new conditions. Domestic politics is far more "bounded" than international politics.
As for Darwinian arguments, the task is to demonstrate what selection mechanisms are. While it isn't supposed to be predictive, it is supposed to tell why something happened after the fact. The theory needs clearer specifications of selection mechanisms; otherwise, everything is consistent with everything else, and nothing could possibly be inconsistent with the theory.
George Modelski, at this point, interjected to agree that the Treaty of Westphalia had been misidentified as a turning point. However, he disagreed that international institutions are not constrained, and that Krasner defined them too narrowly, omitting the role of world po wers. Furthermore, war has been recognized as a selection mechanism for 150 years, it is a clear social selection mechanism. To this, Krasner replied humorously, "I got carried away."
In his commentary, Peter Corning emphasized that evol utionary theory should retain an emphasis on that which remains the organizing principle of all human societies: biological survival and reproduction--the basis of the Darwinian model. In addition, natural selection is not just a mechanism, but refers t o all factors of the relationships between the organism, or society, on the one hand and the environment on the other. There is no "selection mechanism" as such, he emphasized. The functional factors of the relationship, he added, are cause, "effects ar e causes," so the mechanisms of the evolutionary change are the immediate consequences of variation in the organism/environment relationship. Mutations are just one of many ways the relationship can change. Among the sources of change, behavioral innova tion is important at all levels of evolution, and is a kind of "pacemaker" in evolutionary change. "Immediate reinforcement" is the effective instrumentality of selection.
Complexity is a clear evolutionary trend, and to the questions, "why compl exity?" and "why aggregation through symbiosis or differentiation into larger, more complex wholes?" the answer is that, in the evolutionary scheme of things, combinations are "prodigious generators of novelty and variety": the material that makes evolut ion possible. There is, in other words, a "bio-economics of synergy," and it has "functional consequences." These kinds of processes are "extravagantly favored" by evolution, and it is seen at every level of evolution from bacteria to human organization .
The panel should consider turning conventional wisdom upside down by raising the possibility that cooperation and competition are not entirely distinct paradigms and that cooperative strategies are, in effect, ways of competing: competition via cooperation. Thus, as evolutionary paradigm includes both cooperation and competition in equal proportions.
A politics that rests upon "social cybernetics" is advantageous in that, functionally oriented, it is focused on goal-setting, dec ision-making, communications, control and feedback, which are, in fact, cybernetic processes are found at every level of human life. "Bacterial colonies have cybernetic processes, coping behaviors, with novel responses to novel situations." Hence, we ar e looking at variations of a "common evolutionary theme" found throughout the hierarchy of life. In sum, this brings us back to the notion that human societies are about survival and reproduction. In order to understand causation in political action, it is important to start at the bottom of a hierarchy of interaction and to include geo-physical and environmental factors.
As for comments directed at the panelists, Corning told Steven Krasner that he misunderstood Darwinism and the modern synthes is "in so many different respects that it would take some time to disentangle them...," and he urged him to go "back to the drawing board." In regards to George Modelski's arguments, Corning asked if it were legitimate to treat world politics as a single species other than as an ecosystem, and he wondered if cognitive evolution should be the variable of choice and if we should be interested instead in functional outcomes. In addition, in the evolutionary sequence, perhaps "reinforcement" might come befo re "selection", instead of the other way around. More generally, a biological or functionalist approach to complexity is preferable. On the subject of periodicities, cycles and oscillations, there is need for caution in regard to inappropriate analogies . On a trans-generational process of change "there is no periodicity." The molecular clock refers to mutation rates, not to how selection responds to mutations, which may be not at all. All theories of regular change are variations on an orthogenetic m odel, the essence of which is a determination of an internal or endogenous mechanism that enables one to predict the outcome. By contrast, Darwin's theory assumes that future is always contingent and that past trends are not evidence of an internal dynam ic. Evolutionary theory is and should be marked by a varied approach, and to close, he offered the quote: "We are not free to stop influencing evolution, we are only free to close our eyes to what we are doing."
The animated discussion tha t followed hinged on what the Darwinian paradigm did and did not mean; whether or not evolutionary theory can lead to testable hypotheses; and whether or not evolutionary theory in social science should be grounded in that of natural science.
SE SSION FOUR: LONG-TERM PATTERNS
Geoffrey Hodgson proposed that the use of biological evolutionary theory as a metaphor for social processes can prove fruitful in trying to understand long-term economic change. In keeping with evolution ary metaphor, institutions should be the object of selection. This is because institutions exhibit a degree of self-reinforcement, which is important to their continued existence.
This analysis centers around the notion of "disruptions," which ar e transformations in the system (like national unification, occupation by a foreign power, or revolution) that in turn change the component institutions of the system. Some institutions may thrive as a result; others may become "extinct." The new regime will be relatively stable, until the next disruption changes the institutional environment once again. Such a chain of events is a good example of the use of the punctuated equilibrium metaphor.
Another important analytical tool to explain econo mic development is path dependency. This is the idea that current decisions constrain future opportunities. Path dependence causes older industrial innovators to eventually lose ground to more recently-industrialized competitors because of the nature of institutional differences between them: newer players will be less fettered by the weight of past decisions than older ones.
Democracy is the third explanatory factor. The plurality of institutions that democracy usually brings allows for more positive innovation and adaptation to changing conditions. This is in opposition to other social scientists, such as Olson, who hold that democracy is not the optimal way to organize society, precisely because of the excessive number of institutions that it gives rise to.
To test the relationship between the above ideas and productivity growth in major economies, productivity growth may be regressed on a number of variables that operationalize disruption, path dependency and democracy. The resul ting equation explains roughly 60% of the variance in the dependent variable, and most of the terms are significant to the .01 level. This equation may be used to forecast that the locus of economic growth will, in the near future, shift back to Europe, and not to Japan, as is commonly thought.
These findings should not be seen as giving credence to the "shock therapy" policies now in vogue in Eastern Europe. First, creativity is most compatible with an environment that is more stable than the o ne found in areas where shock therapy has been practice. Second, disruptions should not be seen as selection mechanisms, but learning mechanisms. Shock therapy, as it is practiced, is not conducive to institutional learning.
William Thompson< B> undertook two basic tasks. The first was to present the main arguments from a book soon to be published, co-authored with George Modelski. The second was to argue for a better understanding of the co-evolution of the world's systematic subsystems, su ch as culture, economics, and politics.
The thrust of the project is to study the global political system as a whole by the combination of the notion of paired Kondratieff waves (K-waves), which are taken to be clusters of economic innovation, wit h long cycles of global leadership. Together, they can be used to explain changes in the global system from about 930 AD to 1973 AD. The rationale for this relationship is simple. Political activities are sensitive to economic change, so a relationship between the two sets of processes should be visible.
There are two testable hypotheses that relate to the timing of K-waves and long cycles. More specifically, the first hypothesis holds that the first K-wave occurs before a global war (the mac rodecision phase of a long cycle), and relates to the rise of the major contenders to leadership in the global system. The second K-wave occurs after the global war, and is associated with the new position of the victorious global leader.
Statist ical series used in testing these hypotheses go back to the 1300's, with records of Venetian and Genoan galley movements, and include other sorts of economic activity to the present. Also in the data set is a surrogate for world leadership--namely an ind ex of sea power concentration among global powers since 1494. Data on China is harder to come by; some empirical but little quantitative data is available.
Using this data set, confirmation was found for the timing of the K-waves in relation to l ong cycles. Seapower concentration also reached the 50% threshold only between two K-waves. Lastly, it was observed that innovation in the world system has been highly concentrated geographically over the last 200 years, especially during the periods of the long cycle marked by global leadership.
Thompson listed the implications implicit in his approach to the study of politics and history:
1) History does matter in social science, but what exactly is important in history depends on the point of view of the researcher. For example, to those who follow long cycles and leaving sectors, the Industrial Revolution was just one event in a series of similar events.
2) Long-term processes require different methods than short-term processes.
3 ) Long cycles offer a way to study the interactions between politics and economics that are reciprocal, rather than asymmetric.
4) The processes that have been active in the global system have not been constant in their form over the whole one thousan d year period. For example, the role of global war as a macrodecision mechanism did not develop until the end of the 15th century.
5) The model presented speaks to transitions in economics and politics, not static conditions.
6) To fully utilize the model, an interdisciplinary approach is needed, as well as a more informed treatment of history by social scientists.
Arguments are strong for an approach to evolutionary thinking that more fully develops the idea of co-evolution. The world s ystem may be seen as divided into different subsystems, like politics, economics, and culture. Each subsystem has its own evolutionary path, which it follows concurrently with other subsystems. It is important to understand how change in one subsystem e ffects the others.
Joel Migdal brought up points relating to the methodology employed by both Hodgson and Thompson. He approved of Hodgson's ideas concerning disruptions, but the concept needed more explanation as to why they perform the f unctions that Hodgson attributes to them. An anthropomorphic treatment of institutions in this framework needs to be arrived at because it leaves unexplained how the behavior, culture and cognitive processes of individual actors bear on institutional cha nge.
Some of Thompson's methods and findings might also be questioned. Problems could arise if Thompson were relying on data collected by states, which are usually biased. Also hard to explain is the fact that the cycles mentioned were so simila r over the course of 1000 years. hard to explain. The origins of the system also need more explanation--how was the old system displaced by the current one, and how do the selection mechanisms change? Lastly, as stated, the opportunity for human agency is really absent in Thompsons's formulation, since it relies on broad contexts and large explanations.
Geoffrey Hodgson addressed the anthropomorphism issue by saying that purpose does not have to be attributed to people, alone. Broad-brush approaches to issues such as the development of the world economy are also important.
William Thompson defended the use of state data by saying that the bias in the data was towards the winners in political competition, which was, for the p urpose of his argument, acceptable. He also said that human agency is hard to incorporate in this type of analysis because of its scope and unit of analysis (the global politico-economic system). The continuity of the model resulted more from its exposi tion than to real attributes of the system. The narrative was actually subject to great discontinuities. In terms of the beginnings of the system, China was chosen because of its large urban population and its maritime orientation, which only became app arent during the early 900's.
The major aspects of the group discussion were elaborations by Thompson as to why his approach was evolutionary, as well as his ideas of what one gains by using evolutionary framework of analysis. According to Thomps on, his approach was evolutionary because it dealt with changes in a system and sketched out selection mechanisms, like war and technological innovation. He said that the value of an evolution-based approach was that it lends itself to interdisciplinary research. he also mentioned, however, that there was no need to adopt biological conceptions of evolution in total; that social scientists needed to use what they thought was appropriate to their research concerns.
SESSION FIVE: THE USES AND LIMITS OF EVOLUTIONARY ANALOGY
According to David P. Barash, evolutionary biology may be applied most usefully in social sciences if employed far more aggressively than the participants of the conference ventured. Social scientists mi ght move a step forward, beyond looking for evolutionary analogies for human behavior, and consider an evolutionary-based understanding of the biological factors that underpin such behavior. At this point we have no way of knowing what benefits this appr oach may yield, but it did appear intriguing.
In evolutionary biology, while analogies are sometimes used to enlighten theory, scientists were noted to favor homologies; i.e., similarities based on common phyletic descent. Homologies, therefore, are regarded as "more real, more honest, and thus, more legitimate." One of the difficulties of transplanting the concept of homology from evolutionary biology to social sciences, however, is that human institutions are interconnected and often extremely difficult to separate from one another. Nonetheless, it might be possible to consider the democratic traditions of the United States and Western Europe as homologous, derived from pre-existing patterns found in Montesquieu and Locke. Conversely, fascis t dictatorships of Germany and France prior to World War II were analogous, but not homologous, being derived independently from very different traditions.
Under certain circumstances evolutionary analogies may be more fruitful in social sciences than homologies. Unconstrained by phyletic factors, they can enable scholars to focus on similarities that are attributable to the shared responses of living things to selective pressures operating in the real world. In that sense, to be analogous means to reveal similar responses to similar selective pressures. Therefore, analogies can be seen as "testimonies to the vital, ongoing process of natural selection."
Applying the evolutionary paradigm in social sciences could generate profound insig hts if scholars focus on the causal mechanism behind evolutionary change. Evolution in human societies may not necessarily follow the logic of natural selection via differential reproduction, as in biology. But if it does, scholars should consider that natural selection: (a) is not altogether removed from rational actor models, since organisms in the world of nature tend to maximize fitness. (b) is path-dependent; (c) does not necessarily imply perfection as the end result. It was pointed out that c ultural evolution, in particular, could be more accurately described as Lamarckian. Social theory could also borrow, perhaps, from a recent discovery of "selection-promoted" mutation, suggesting that the external environment actively impacts the genetic environment of an organism, predisposing toward various adaptive mutations. For instance, looking at the end of the white rule in South Africa, it might be reasonable to assume that apartheid, itself, did something to evoke the kind of responses that eme rged, ranging from pro-apartheid supporters to the ANC. Social scientists also need to be aware that even in the world of nature, change can be caused by factors other than natural selection and still be an example of organic evolution.
Students of social evolution who are trying to glean insights from biologists might take note that, whereas evolutionary change takes place on many different levels simultaneously, it operates most powerfully and influentially at the smallest identifiable level--t hat of individual gene. The further one goes out in concentric circles from the genes--to the chromosome, the individual, the ecosystem--the effectiveness of natural selection as an agent of evolutionary change diminishes.
What could the actual u nits of evolutionary change be, at the level of international politics? A gene? A human being? Human institutions? The world system? A catalog of possible units and levels of analysis that would establish correspondences between social sciences and b iology does not exist and, in the end, it might or might not be useful. Social scientists could, nevertheless, take into account two things: (a) in evolutionary biology, it is populations that evolve, rather than single organisms, via differential repro duction of their component parts; (b) few organisms go extinct in the short run, although many organisms go extinct in the medium and long run. The latter could imply that, whereas human institutions sometimes may go extinct as well, they seem more like ly to ebb and flow, rather than to be replaced, radically by other units. This could provide a major insight into the "collapse of communism." Instead of taking the collapse of the Soviet Union as a given, social scientists could regard this change as a transmutation into something else and focus on similarities it may have with its predecessor, "not the least of which include tens of millions of the same people."
If borrowing from biology, social scientists could regard evolution of human soc iety as proceeding via either phyletic gradualism or punctuated equilibrium. It might be interesting, perhaps, to recast world history, looking for whether one model or the other more accurately explains events as we understand them to have occurred.
Stephen E. Hanson: when discussing the potential adoption of an evolutionary paradigm in social sciences, one might start by asking: What, exactly, is the value of having a paradigm for a given scientific community? The speaker agreed with Thomas Kuhn's notion that paradigms are nice things to have, since shared paradigms allow for such things as a common vocabulary, a common set of tools for testing or measuring results, a shared vision of what the scientific enterprise is leading toward, and also a good feeling of being involved in the same project. Conversely, the absence of a shared paradigm creates constantly warring camps where nobody quite knows what reality is, because nobody shares a common definition of the subject of analysis. p>
Talking about the evolutionary paradigm in social sciences should be understood as a choice about what a shared identity of social scientists is, and whether the concept of evolution provides a potential avenue for creating a type of scientific com munity that would be productive.
The following subjects could constitute a common point of departure for the evolutionary paradigm:
1. The idea of path dependency is particularly interesting from the evolutionary perspective, becau se most alternative paradigms in social science are teleological or look at some overarching historical frames which would make the influence of path-dependency much less important. If one believes that all societies are heading toward global capitalism o r communism or to modern society or whatever the end point suggested by a given paradigm, then path dependency would be uneconomical and will be washed out in the overall progress toward the end result.
2. Emergence of complexity out of simplic ity. Scholars within the evolutionary paradigm could focus on the creation of institutions or patterned practices of human beings in territories where they previously did not have them. The further question is, what is the causal mechanism giving ris e to those formation? Other paradigms, such as, for instance, Marxism or modernization theory, tend to take complexity for granted and do not bother to explain it.
3. The mechanism of extinction could be studied in greater depth, since it relates both to the question of the rise and fall of great powers and also to the question of why particular attempts to create human organization may fail very quickly. The evolutionary paradigm is a good avenue of exploring both the losers and winners, while other paradigms in social sciences tended to concentrate almost exclusively on the winners.,/p>
4. Evolution as a multi-disciplinary umbrella needs to be viewed with guarded skepticism, partly because of the problems facing the four majo r research traditions which utilize evolutionary approaches in social sciences.
The first tradition tends to use evolution as a metaphor. While such a use may be fruitful for creating insight which might otherwise not be arrived at, the creation of metaphors is not sufficient to provide cohesion for a new paradigm in the Kuhnian sense. Metaphors, alone, never unite a scientific community and even if a group of scholars is brought together by a metaphor, such a group would quickly dissolve along the lines of pre-existing paradigms which the participants brought into the community.
Within the second tradition, a Spencerian approach to evolution is applied. In the long run, however, the Spencerian view of evolution lost out to Darwin's, bec ause it was mostly based on the functionalist logic in explaining the emergence of complex forms of organization and thus paid little attention to explaining the causal mechanism of complexity. In the Spencerian vision of evolution, a lack of mechanism t o generate variation is a major weakness.
The third tradition, which to the speaker's surprise was not addressed at length at the conference, was "strictly Darwinism" or the "sociobiological approach" that views human behavior as a product of gene tic behavior. Behavioral outcomes stem from genetic combination and mutation. Nevertheless, this approach, too, ultimately gravitates toward functionalism, since it has failed so far to muster specific evidence of how this genetic mechanism produces com plex organization, i.e. what kind of genes produce liberal capitalist behavior, etc. It is doubtful that such genes would be discovered. Thus, without a causal mechanism, sociobiology tends to resort to Spencerian functionalism.
Fourthly, "analo gical Darwinian approach" has a potential to evolve into a paradigm within the social sciences. The idea here is to go beyond evolutionary metaphors and establish actual social analogies for gene, genotype, reproduction, selection, etc. The identificati on of such analogies between biological and social processes could help illuminate the causal mechanism of path-dependency, complexity emerging out of chaos, and the extinction of unsuccessful experiments. However, the definition of a "social gene" tends to be so broad as to include almost everything, "from catchy phrases and songs to modes of cooking to types of political activity." Hallpike's criticism may be cited here: if the same logic is applied to physics, all of it should be redefined in terms of one basic unit, "the thing."
The analogical Darwinian approach is the most promising of the four approaches discussed earlier and has some potential to work as an evolutionary paradigm in social sciences, if three conditions are met:
1. Scholars must define units that generate variation on which selection acts. Those units must be defined in rigorous terms so that they could be used by different analysts and would allow them to reach the same conclusion about the unit. Without rea ching a consensus on the unit of analysis, the approach would turn, once again, metaphorical. Moreover, this unit of selection should be seen as having some coherence over time.
2. The approach should concentrate on the losers, as well as the wi nners. The empirical samples have to include losers, otherwise it would be hard to achieve a successful evolutionary explanation of why the winners won.
3. A distinction should be made between evolution of states in an external environment and t he internal, teleological evolution. Internal developments of states could be difficult to analyze in evolutionary terms, since selection mechanism, extinction and other evolutionary concepts do not necessarily have anything to do with how the organism i tself develops before it reaches its end point. One could study the rise and fall of the Soviet Union as a social organism in a Darwinian manner, but if one wants to study the internal evolution of the Soviet Union from Lenin to Gorbachev, they might fin d selection mechanisms irrelevant. A study of how economies and states are formed in such a way as to generate power takes a different set of analytical tools, only partially related to evolutionary concepts.
Ulrich Witt: We also have evo lutionary economics, for example, which is not a metaphor, not Spencerism, not a Darwinian analogy, but an alternative paradigm in economics which is defined by its interest in and emphasis on change. it strives to explain why a current system produces c hange. it is also based on the acknowledgment that one's knowledge is always limited and fallible. Those two assumptions are totally different from the neoclassical paradigm. The emphasis is on the procedure by which knowledge develops. In part it is bound to institutions, in part to technology, in part to cultural rules. This is certainly making a paradigm for research and a fruitful approach to economic history.
Richard Nelson: Having reflected on the discussions at the conference, it seems that what we mean by the evolutionary theory involves two things: firstly, a set of regular laws that describe and constrain what is going on; and secondly, stochastic elements that matter. There is a narrow concept of theories within this bag of things which picks up from Darwin, i.e. the variation of populations, some mechanism of systematic selection and retention, and path-dependency. It would be nice for somebody in the social sciences to develop that type of argument formally, at least w ithin a limited area. Here, David Barash's idea might be followed that, perhaps, we might not want to limit what we call evolutionary theories of social science. We really might want to include within the body of the evolutionary theory, theories of the evolution of entities as they change over time as a result of systematic forces and random forces. One of the things that is quite impressive, if you look at various mathematical theories of learning, is that it is the entity that is learning and there is change over time in the distribution of responses of that entity to particular circumstances in the environment. If that is the case, we in social sciences can talk about the body of law that is evolving or the structure of a city as evolving. The i nfluence of the original layout of streets on Manhattan today is very apparent, for example.
To address Steve Hanson's point about the definition of evolutionary theory, it could be defined too narrowly or too broadly, but a social scientist who w ishes to engage with the evolutionary theory should be conversant with how it is used in the natural sciences. If we have that, then we have a chance for mutual learning. To respond to Steve Krasner's point, if we take the work of Douglas North in the 1 970's and 80's, he coined the metaphor that, "evolution optimizes" and was the first social scientist who got the Nobel Prize. But if you look at Douglas North of 1990-91, he has learned a lot from a variety of studies, including those on path dependency . So, Pangloss is no longer walking by the side of Douglass North. There are a lot of potential advantages in having a different group of people to explore evolutionary models in social sciences, provided we don't define them too broadly or too narrowly .
Steven Krasner: There seem to be two very distinct ways of cutting at this whole problem. One is a very Darwinian type of argument which focuses on some mechanism of natural selection. The other set is comprised of path-dependent argume nts which looked quite different. The path-dependent story seems a very different story from the Darwinian story. The noat center on patterns of long-range change, (for instance, on the rise and decline of world powers), and political economy approaches that propose a general evolutionary worldview that might also be relevant for specific times and places.
We regard these two approaches as mutually complementary, the first primarily privileging diachronic and the second, synchronic analysis, bu t each also open to insights and evidence from the other.Interest in applying the evolutionary paradigm is at this time strong in economics, mainly in response to striking "gaps" in mainstream approaches (e.g. Nelson and co-evolution; complexity and path dependence as in David and Krugman; institutional change, North, Weingast). In political science, Robert Axelrod's computer simulations of the evolution of cooperation have attracted wide attention.
In the "wars of paradigms" of the pas t two decades, the neo-classical, statist (mercantilist), and the marxist approaches typically took the center stage, even tho cies will arise. The path-dependent argument is that you start with some kind of path, not necessarily an optimal path, and observe that small initial changes are reinforced. So, if you have an inefficient state, it is not that some kind of alternative will be generated by differential reproduction.
David Barash: Some species, like elephants, might not be easily adaptive, but some other species are quickly adaptive, like aerial plankton. In theory, one could generate a series of paths th at would have an end point in aerial plankton, but it does not happen that way. I think a lot of possible routes have not been engaged in because history has led in other routes.
Richard Nelson: We may be talking about the same kind of st ory, but different ways of looking at it. For example, the current configuration of moles has developed in a very path-dependent way. It is not clear that if God were designing a critter to fit into that current niche where the mole is found, it will lo ok exactly like the mole. On the other hand, you could put moles in an environment and then suddenly increase smoke content in the region and make the background much grayer. What you are going to discover is that the population of moles is much greater than before. So, you have this adaptivness which looks like economics, and on the other hand you have path-dependent moles, or institutions, etc.