History and Politics Dialogue with Adam Tooze

The first event in the series "History and Politics Dialogue" was a digital round table discussion with the British economic historian Adam Tooze. Against the background of the Corona crisis, Tooze took a look at postponed decisions, dangers for world trade and Europe's position in the world.

For the first event in the series "History and Politics Dialogue", more than 20 experts from academia, diplomacy, politics, think tanks and the media came together on 29 April for a digital background discussion with the British economic historian Adam Tooze from New York's Columbia University. The aim of this new format of Körber-Stiftung is to deepen the dialogue between historians and political decision-makers.

The Corona Pandemic formed the background to the input by Adam Tooze, whose books "Crashed" (2018) and "Deluge" (2014) firmly established him as today's eminent historian of  the financial crisis of 2008 and on the reorganisation and disintegration of the global economy in the interwar period. Starting out from the defining issues of the months before the Corona crisis, Tooze's lecture traced the epochal fault lines that were exposed by the unprecedented shock. Thus, in future historical retrospect, the current state of emergency would mask the ambitious agenda of "a year 2020 that did not happen".

As illustrative examples, Tooze referred to the postponed United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, to the US-Chinese trade conflict, which has temporarily fallen out of focus. The economic historian also mentioned the permanent and grave problem of growing global inequality, which, while being exacerbated by the crisis, is currently receiving less political attention than it merits. Tooze warned that the development of the crisis should be observed especially in the economically fragile neighbouring countries of Turkey and Algeria, as the development there could have a direct influence on Europe due to close relations and young populations.

In his historical input statement, Tooze put a special focus on the interruption of world trade, unprecedented in recent history in terms of its economic scale, its global impact and its social consequences. At the same time, Tooze warned of the possible consequences of a debt and financial crisis and how these could aggravate existing ruptures within the European Union if courageous political solutions were not sought. Migration and mobility policy implications of the pandemic were touched upon both in terms of its impact on the free movement of people and goods within the Union and in terms of dealing with an intensified refugee problem.

The political and economic response capacity of the EU, the US and China and the long-term geopolitical consequences of the Corona crisis were also discussed with international experts and political representatives. In Tooze's view, Europe's position in the world remains highly dependent on the political decisions that are taken in Berlin: As a result, the question of which leading position Germany is striving for in Europe has again gained greater importance. This was met by an observation brought forward by participants, adding that Germany's EU Council Presidency in the second half of the year would prove all the more important.