Dans un long article de la Havard Business Review, Charles Handy s'appuie sur Tocqueville pour éclairer le futur du capitalisme américain. Il procède d'abord à quelques rappels. Tocqueville a bien vu l'une des raisons de la réussite américaine et de sa permanence. Les Américains, notamment les Puritains, sont venus dans un pays vierge pour construire une société nouvelle. Ils avaient, et gardent, confiance en eux-mêmes. La plupart sont convaincus qu'aujourd'hui est meilleur qu'hier et ...
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Ten years after the end of the Cold War, Pierre Bonnaure remarks, Bill Clinton decided to revive the notion of an anti-missile defence system for the United States, because he is anxious to reassure public opinion about the possible threats from "rogue states". Admittedly, as his term comes to an end, the American President has just put off a decision until later, but the question remains open.
Bringing up to date the strategy of nuclear deterrence and reviewing the various treaties that lay down the rules of the game carries the risk of destabilising the parties concerned, whether nor not they signed the treaties, as well as of having unwanted side-effects: abuse of power, strengthening nuclear weapons programmes, revival of the arms race, challenging traditional alliances and the role of NATO, not to mention potential nuclear catastrophe.
To create a new system of protection and deterrence to shelter just the United States, or perhaps its allies as well, means once again putting into question the policies on defence and on nuclear non-proliferation, with the risk of driving Russia to adopt a rigid stance and to undermine the fragile balance of global security.
How can we stop the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction? That is the weighty question that Bill Clinton is leaving for his successor to answer.
L'examen des tendances à l'oeuvre dans la " seconde moitié " du XXe siècle montre comment l'idéal nord-américain de la famille, la famille nucléaire, est aujourd'hui en transition. Alors qu'il reste un modèle de référence dans l'imaginaire (relayé par la publicité, le cinéma, la littérature...), la réalité est tout autre. Le travail des femmes, leur désir d'indépendance, les conditions assouplies du divorce, la désaffection des jeunes couples pour le mariage et la reconnaissance des couples ...
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This is a time of "new growth", thanks to the IT (information technology) and the widespread confidence, indeed conviction, that we are at the beginning of a new Kondratiev upturn, launched into a new era of stable prosperity.
Michel Godet, sceptical as always of generally accepted ideas, warns us to be cautious. True, Europe is currently enjoying a new growth spurt, which furthermore has created new jobs. But this phenomenon, here in Europe as in the United States, has little to do with the IT.
The impact of the IT obviously should not be overlooked, since they have undoubtedly helped in the development of a new economy, in particular by stimulating competition and therefore lower prices. Yet the new growth should not be overestimated on the basis of the Nasdac and the stock market bubble which will ultimately burst.
In any case, Godet argues, convinced that human beings are the only real source of wealth and that the future depends on what they want, the growth cycle theories (especially that of Kondratiev) are illusory. The new growth cannot continue without generating adverse side-effects and consequently in Europe, with its ageing population, weak and fluctuating demand.
At the end of 1999 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, responsible for US employment statistics) published a series of projections for employment in the United States between now and 2008. Charles du Granrut presents some of the main findings here, showing that, even if the rate of growth slows down, the present situation of virtually full employment is likely to continue.
According to the BLS, the American economy has been "tertiarized" and the trends noted since 1976 will probably be maintained in the coming decade. However, as Charles du Granrut stresses, "the image of an American economy based largely on services is too simplistic": for one thing, the growth of many services is closely linked to manufacturing; for another, the growth of services is strongly tied to demand and the arrangements made to satisfy that demand.
Lastly, the nature of employment in the United States is also changing: the level of skills and qualifications required are in general rising, which does nothing to reduce inequalities (according to the BLS, the highest rates of growth are in the best-paid but also in the less well-paid jobs).
In the United States, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has regularly carried out surveys of changing social behaviour and values since 1972. These data are the basis for the main trends presented here, relating to changes in attitudes to the family and family values: cohabiting, marriage, divorce, fertility, bringing up children, and employment for parents...
Several major trends emerge from this overview, such as the decline of marriage and the increase in divorce, the increase in births outside marriage and in the numbers of one-parent families, the growth in numbers of women working and the relative decline in neighbourly relationships. However, some of the sharply rising trends, such as in divorce rates, are starting to slow down. Furthermore, the international comparisons presented here seem to show that, while there is no longer a single model for the family, the United States' example cannot be taken as typical of what may happen in future.
Because of its environmental, political and economic implications, global warming has become the subject of an unprecedented process of international negotiations, even though its causes and its consequences remain controversial. This has led to the drafting of a protocol under which several countries have made commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 2008-2012. One of these is the United States, despite considerable resistance in some quarters to implementing these cuts.
Eugene Skolnikoff examines here the principal factors hindering the adoption of the necessary policies. He picks out six main ones:
- the continuing uncertainty of scientists as to the precise impact of human activities on the climate. These doubts have been cleverly exploited by people whose political and economic motives are quite different;
- the structure of the American government and the way it operates. The government is paralysed by its own contradictions, and is under pressure from lobbies that tend to judge the quality of the scientific arguments according to their own political or ideological biases. In addition, the government has difficulties in balancing the short, medium and longer term;
- the doubts still surrounding the evaluation of the long-term impact of the greenhouse effect, the economic costs that it may generate and, more generally, the costs and benefits of the measures that might be adopted in response to it;
- the international institutional context, the special commitments made by the countries that signed the Kyoto agreement. These commitments are perceived as "limiting American sovereignty" without any reciprocal commitments on the part of the developing countries;
- the role of the media and public opinion, which relish controversies and doom-laden issues and which, as long as there is no major event to bring everyone together, continue to foment confusion;
- political infighting, and the fact that the greenhouse effect has become an issue dividing Democrats and Republicans.
This article is a good illustration of the vagaries of decision-making by the authorities on matters where the scientists disagree. Eugene Skolnikoff shows clearly the obstacles to implementing policies that would allow the United States to fulfil its commitments with regard to climate change; the uncertainty that this causes then undermines international negotiations over a matter of "good governance".
En 2000, l'agence fédérale EPA a lancé un groupe de réflexion prospective comprenant des cadres dirigeants de l'Agence et animé par l'Institute for Alternative Futures. L'objectif était d'élaborer des scénarios environnementaux à l'horizon 2020. Ces scénarios se positionnent sur deux axes, celui de la croissance économique et celui de la cohésion sociale : le premier va d'une croissance faible ou négative à une forte croissance, le second d'une société fragmentée et individualiste à ...
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Cet ouvrage offre une bonne rétrospective de l'histoire des États-Unis, insistant, comme le titre l'indique, sur ses forces et ses faiblesses, ses succès et ses erreurs au cours du XXe siècle. Puis, une fois le passé retracé et décrypté, l'auteur nous propose six scénarios possibles pour les États-Unis à l'horizon 2025. Le premier, « Stabilité unipolaire », est une extrapolation de la situation présente : les États-Unis, superpuissance incontestée, n'abusent pas de leur pouvoir tandis que, de son ...
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Directeur de recherche au CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), professeur à l'université Paris IV et à l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris, Cynthia Ghorra-Gobin entend ici analyser l'impact de la mondialisation à l'échelon local, en prenant l'exemple des États-Unis. Cet ouvrage clair et pédagogique (on y trouvera notamment un glossaire et une bibliographie actualisée) s'appuie sur des entretiens menés par l'auteur et sur des travaux principalement américains, et se propose pour ...
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Professeur à l'université d'Harvard, Theda Skocpol signe ici un ouvrage rappelant à la mémoire des gouvernants américains l'existence d'une classe moyenne modeste, éternelle oubliée de la politique sociale. Car si les dirigeants américains ont pris soin depuis plusieurs années de prendre des mesures sociales pour les plus pauvres, les plus jeunes, les plus vieux ou les plus malades, ils ont omis de s'intéresser à cette classe oubliée et aux travailleurs faiblement rémunérés, souligne l'auteur ...
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Pour les auteurs du rapport, le caractère générique des technologies de l'information et de la communication, et la réorganisation des modes de production qu'elles engendrent portent clairement en germe une nouvelle révolution industrielle. Le rapport dissipe d'abord le paradoxe de Solow, déclarant en 1987 que l'on voyait les ordinateurs partout, sauf dans les statistiques. On constate maintenant qu'aux États-Unis la montée en puissance des technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) va de ...
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When one keeps close track of futures studies produced in America, as we do constantly at futuribles, one cannot help but be struck by the proliferation of studies that try to draw up lists
of varying length, enumerating the trends of all kinds that will (or might) have a major impact on society and lifestyles in the 21st century. These often take the form of a simple inventory of trends and megatrends that the authors either identify in the United States today or expect as a result of recent developments, especially in science and technology. The lists are extremely diverse and usually lack any rigorous analysis.
Michel Drancourt reviews here one such study by two American political scientists who, not content with the usual catalogue, have tried to analyse which factors are most likely to affect the political life of the United States in the future.
They have identified five "realities" that they think will shape American political life in the 21st century, from the emergence of the information society to the ethnic mix of the population.
The United States, like European countries, faces a rapid aging of its population, particularly after 2010 when the baby boomers (1946-1964) reach the age of 65. The aging process will be all the more pronounced because of increase life expectancy.
As in Europe, this phenomenon has aroused concerns for the future of pensions. Basic U.S. pensions (Federal Old Age Pension, Federal Social Assistance for the Disabled, and Welfare for Elderly Indigents - Social Security Insurance), are based upon the principle of redistribution. These are supplemented, for a more restricted number of individuals, by company pensions and by individual retirement saving plans.
Following a re-examination of demographic trends in the United States, Daniel Béland, describes the organization of its pension system and the impact that the foreseeable aging could have. Finally, he reviews the reforms contemplated as a consequence and the polemics employed by the proponents and the adversaries of redistribution.
On a beaucoup parlé de la durée du travail des Américains mais moins de quelles heures ou jours en particulier ils travaillent. Pourtant, il devient de plus en plus évident que les États-Unis s'orientent vers une économie du 24 heures sur 24, 7 jours sur 7, une tendance fort susceptible de se confirmer au siècle prochain (et dans d'autres pays). Les deux cinquièmes des employés américains travaillent en majorité le soir ou la nuit, en équipes tournantes, ou ...
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Economist Friedrich List (1789-1846) was contemporaneous with the birth of railways, German uncertainties before Bismarck, and the rise of the United States.
He dreamed of a unified or " common " market within the German market, based on the new possibilities of transportation and protection from external competition (the Zollverein). This would permit new enterprises some time to grow strong enough to face foreign ones.
He was often described as a national-protectionist, a thesis accepted by Emmanuel Todd, who introduces this republication of List by Gallimard. In reality, he was a liberal, although a realistic one. Before facing the outside world, the basics have to be reinforced.
List lived in several countries, where he tried to influence decision makers. He wrote everywhere in the language of his host country. " Free trade is profitable to individuals and the States ". However, during the development phase, protectionism is vital. Regardless of the brilliance of his analyses, List was unsuccessful in efforts to influence the course of enterprises which he helped to launch in the States and later in Germany.
He found his most stiking illustrations in the United States, which he visited to observe the construction of railways. His "National System of Political Economy", written in 1841, was very much studied in the United States. Conceived and written primarily in Paris, it sheds light on the current European debate. We provide three excerpts in this issue. One is on the necessity of strengthening industries before facing cosmopolitan competition. Another is a plea for confederation of peoples in order to secure a perpetual peace. It took Europe a hundred years of suicidal war before it would seriously listen to a message that the world at large is still not ready to accept, despite the United Nations. In the third excerpt, List identified the rational behind the success of America, which was already visible in his times.
On the basis of the book by Edouard J. Blakely and Marie Gail Snyder Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States, Gilbert Lazar describes the rise of the phenomenon of "gated communities". They are developing in the United States (20,000 according to the authors) in response to positive common interests and a desire to escape from urban problems (diversity of races, social classes, incomes, age and general sensations of insecurity...)
A succint typology of gated cities is presented along with a tentative explanation of a phenomenon which has started to appear in Europe. It seems to be initiated by people who want to get away and join forces around their income, age or the search for security. They organize and finance common services among themselves which traditionally belong to the public domain, extending even to private militia. What might be the consequences of this development? Gilbert Lazar concludes that Edouard Blakely and Marie Snyder have not probed this question deeply enough, for it challenges our way of thinking not only about urban development but also about social and political issues generally.
The Rise of the Information Age: The American Model, Michel Catinat
Although new information and communication technologies have been developing for a while, Michel Catinat argues that the rise of the post-industrial society has been especially striking through the nineties. This decade has seen the birth of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) programs initiated by the Clinton administration to stimulate development of the information society. These have re-established American hegemony in building the infrastructure and in the use of the new technology.
Catinat describes the policies followed by the United States since 1993, examines its goals and methods, evaluates its successes and failures, and concludes with its lessons for Europe. The NII policies, which have ramified with remarkable extent and diversity, are based on three instruments: 1) an important effort in financing and enhancement of research (multi-disciplinary consortia which link research institutes with industry); 2) the informatisation of government administrative functions; and 3) the adaptation of the regulatory and legislative framework to make it more conformable to administration via numeric data (entailing some negative effects on the protection of private life).
This internal activity has been extended to the international level (the "Global Information Infrastructure) by promoting the information society via international negotiations which came out to benefit primarily American interests.
Having analyzed the successes and the failures of this ambitious policy, Catinat reviews what Europe could learn: the first lesson is the utility of having a long term vision to guide action.
Then, to implement the vision, a set of determined and cohesive policies. These exist in Europe, but are more effective in the United States because of greater participation by private actors in the marketplace and a more developed attitude toward risk-taking.
Catinat also underscores the risk that the promoters of this technology post to the legislative and regulatory processes. This is already apparent in the United States and could portend an unwillingness of dominant American interests to submit to the kinds of international protocols which Catinat believes to be indispensable.
The American Model, Comments on "Why the American Century?"
Henri Mendras gives here a brief analysis of the last book by Olivier Kunz: Why the American Century? which, he thinks, explains remarkably well why the United States is such a power.
He applies himself to define the specifics of the American model: the rise of the middle class, the priority given to collective action, the "social evangelism", and eventually, the creation of a happy synergy between research, industry and concern for the common good which, for example, pushes industry barons to become mecenes and philanthropists.
Le rapport de Dominique Bureau est une synthèse des enjeux des négociations agricoles à venir à la fin 1999 au sein de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC). Dans un premier temps, il rappelle la situation des principaux protagonistes, Europe et États-Unis et les compromis adoptés à l'issue du cycle de l'Uruguay Round. Plusieurs thèmes de débat sont importants : la définition de règles communes en matière de protection de la santé publique ou de l'environnement, la réduction ...
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Chaque fois que l'économie dominante connaît une longue période de croissance, certains économistes sont tentés d'affirmer que l'on est entré dans une nouvelle ère. D'où les multiples articles sur la « nouvelle économie ». Sommes-nous sortis de la logique des cycles ? Anton Brender et Florence Pisani cherchent à en avoir le cœur net. Dans cet ouvrage, ils se demandent si les promesses de l'économie américaine sont le fruit d'une profonde transformation ou le produit d'une ...
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