ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

Land - Who Cares?

Classical production theory knows three so called “production factors”: labor, capital, and land. One needs a certain amount of each of these factors in order to set up a production of whatever good. Then, in the 20th century, it became common to not count land as a separate production factor anymore. Today, we usually speak about labor and capital, with the understanding that some of the capital is the land on which the production facilities are built.

On the surface, this looks just like a pure change in terminology. Yet in fact it reflects an underlying economic development which could be called the “marginalization of land”. Let me explain.

Thomas Malthus’ famous theory predicted that famines and mass starvation were inevitable in the face of exponentially growing populations and constant food production due to the fixed supply of land . Up to 1798, when his theory was published, this analysis was roughly correct. Investigations into demographic history show that during ancient and medieval times famines occurred in regular intervals. The industrial revolution, which started in England in the middle of the 18th century, put an end to this. Food supply (i.e. land) was no restriction for population growth anymore, and consequently the population soared. Since 250 years, the productivity gains in the agricultural sector are always higher than needed for sustaining the (increased) population, making famines a thing of the past in the developed world. For prosperity and power of a country, the amount of land it possesses has become more or less insignificant.

In modern economies, in which agriculture usually accounts for less than 5% of the GDP, land is virtually never a limiting constraint for higher living standards. Energy, human capital, technological knowhow, a stable business environment -all these factors and many others are crucial for modern production, but land isn’t. There is always enough land available to erect a production plant or a service facility.

Surprisingly, in geopolitical thinking, the marginalization of land hasn’t occurred. In fact, most countries are fighting for land as if it was still as important today as it was in agricultural times. An example is China’s occupation of the Tibet and the Uyghur regions. What does China earn from dominating these provinces besides internal unrest, terrorism, and being a cruel oppressor in the eyes of history? Note that the moral repugnance of such occupations is not my main point here. I am rather asking the question of rationality. Why does China want to control a poor and underdeveloped region like Tibet?

Similarly, there is Turkey. Why are the Turks keeping their grip on the Kurdish East Anatolia? Why are rational politicians, elected by rational populations, concerned about the possession of dusty, unpleasant plains, in which retarded villagers and nomads stick to primitive traditions and rites?

Alleged raw material resources, sometimes claimed to be the true reason behind pre-modern strives for land, are in fact no explanation. Firstly, the fixation on land can be similarly observed in cases where raw materials play no substantial role (like in the two examples mentioned above). Secondly, possession of raw materials has usually done no good for the country which harbored these resources. The absence of significant amounts of raw materials is at least no growth restriction (see the examples of Japan and many Western European countries).

Geopolitical thinking needs to abandon the “doctrine of land”. In almost all disputes between countries, land is completely useless for the well-being of the involved countries. If land was important, why is the living standard not highest in Russia, which is the largest country on earth? Why is there no immigration pressure from Holland – which has a high population density – to Russia? In fact, the migration pressure goes in the other direction.

Why do I raise this topic in a Caucasus blog? Well, when I recently dared to mention to a Georgian friend that Georgia should consider to just let go of certain regions and make no fuss about it, this friend almost killed me. I was taught that these regions belonged to Georgia “since time immemorial” and that letting them go would be a betrayal of the Georgian people. Facing those arguments, there was no point in mentioning that ongoing secession conflicts drive away tourists and that they spoil investor climate. Likewise, it was useless to point at the military expenditures which directly reduce the Georgian living standard.

The same could be said about a certain regional conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Some countries have understood that land is just irrelevant. As a result of the Second World War, Germany lost about 30% of its land. Whenever there is an economic crisis in Russia, there are voices which call for selling the Kӧnigsberg (Kaliningrad) to Germany. This will not happen for two reasons. Russian nationalists are (like all nationalists) staunch adherents of the doctrine of land, and they would never allow to give Kӧnigsberg back to Germany. Yet even more important, there is no doubt that Germany does not want to take Kӧnigsberg back, even if it was for free. The Kaliningrad region has severe social and economic problems, and its integration into Germany would make the country just much poorer. For modern people, this counts more than the fact that Kaliningrad was a German city since its foundation in 1255 and remained so until 1945 (“times immemorial”).

Western Europeans have simply understood that it is far better to control a small but rich country than a poor but large one. This may have decisively contributed to the absence of war in Western Europe within the last 65 years.

For Armenians, Azeris, and Georgians, there is a lesson to learn from Western Europe.

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Guest - Yasya on Thursday, 15 December 2011 05:11

Florian, I do not quite agree that land is less important for countries with more developed technologies and less reliance on natural resources (i.e. the developed industrialized cohort).

Land is so much more than "just" agriculture. It is access to trade and transportation networks, strategic geographic location for companies to access new markets, and yes - possibility to extract and develop on preferential terms oil, gas, mineral resources - either current or future potential of the land.

The difference between Russia and Western Europe is that they have different ways of pursuing their geopolitical interests. It is true that Russia is way less subtle about the issue of "gathering lands". But Western European countries do very much keep their eyes on the ball of their geopolitical interest and influence.

It may just be that if Georgia had been located somewhere in the neighborhood of Kaliningrad, and not, for example, in the heart of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa oil transportation routes (the only routes for Caspian oil to European markets that do not involve Russia or Iran), neither of us (in all likelihood) would be writing this blog from Tbilisi right now...

Florian, I do not quite agree that land is less important for countries with more developed technologies and less reliance on natural resources (i.e. the developed industrialized cohort). Land is so much more than "just" agriculture. It is access to trade and transportation networks, strategic geographic location for companies to access new markets, and yes - possibility to extract and develop on preferential terms oil, gas, mineral resources - either current or future potential of the land. The difference between Russia and Western Europe is that they have different ways of pursuing their geopolitical interests. It is true that Russia is way less subtle about the issue of "gathering lands". But Western European countries do very much keep their eyes on the ball of their geopolitical interest and influence. It may just be that if Georgia had been located somewhere in the neighborhood of Kaliningrad, and not, for example, in the heart of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Supsa oil transportation routes (the only routes for Caspian oil to European markets that do not involve Russia or Iran), neither of us (in all likelihood) would be writing this blog from Tbilisi right now...
Guest - Florian on Sunday, 18 December 2011 14:17

Dear Yasya,

It is of course true that land is not TOTALLY irrelevant for economic development. My thesis was exaggerated and wouldn't have made it to a scientific journal.

However, look at the actual land conflicts we have all over the world: from an economic perspective, the participating countries would almost always be better off by just doing without the disputed areas and concentrating on their economic developments instead.

Regarding your example, it is nice for Georgia to have this pipeline, but in the end, Georgia's economic fate will note raise or fall with this pipeline. Furthermore, those economic gains connected to land possession are usually windfall profits (see the recent article by Michael called "good news for some, bad news for others"), whose impact on economic development is highly ambivalent.

Dear Yasya, It is of course true that land is not TOTALLY irrelevant for economic development. My thesis was exaggerated and wouldn't have made it to a scientific journal. However, look at the actual land conflicts we have all over the world: from an economic perspective, the participating countries would almost always be better off by just doing without the disputed areas and concentrating on their economic developments instead. Regarding your example, it is nice for Georgia to have this pipeline, but in the end, Georgia's economic fate will note raise or fall with this pipeline. Furthermore, those economic gains connected to land possession are usually windfall profits (see the recent article by Michael called "good news for some, bad news for others"), whose impact on economic development is highly ambivalent.
Guest - Salome on Thursday, 15 December 2011 22:55

yes, Western Europeans are smarter to invite countries in their Union as a member rather than actually conquering them,

quote from one of my German friend: why we should pay for Greeks, they have some islands to sell to us :)

yes, Western Europeans are smarter to invite countries in their Union as a member rather than actually conquering them, quote from one of my German friend: why we should pay for Greeks, they have some islands to sell to us :)
Guest - Florian on Sunday, 18 December 2011 14:21

A funny idea, but I do not think that these kind of considerations are behind the European integration. In Europe, nobody wants to rule anymore about other Europeans. If a German wants to make holiday on a Greek island, he or she can do so very easily. There is no need for getting the island under German control. In my opinion there is no doubt that land possession has drastically lost importance in the European Union.

A funny idea, but I do not think that these kind of considerations are behind the European integration. In Europe, nobody wants to rule anymore about other Europeans. If a German wants to make holiday on a Greek island, he or she can do so very easily. There is no need for getting the island under German control. In my opinion there is no doubt that land possession has drastically lost importance in the European Union.
Guest - Michael on Monday, 19 December 2011 01:38

Maybe rule is too strong a word, but I doubt that the ideal of a happy together European Community is that important for most member or would-be member countries. A marriage of convenience rather, with conflicts over land simmering under the surface, from Gibraltar to Cyprus. Ok, I might exaggerate but then, I am very much a Eurosceptic...

Maybe rule is too strong a word, but I doubt that the ideal of a happy together European Community is that important for most member or would-be member countries. A marriage of convenience rather, with conflicts over land simmering under the surface, from Gibraltar to Cyprus. Ok, I might exaggerate but then, I am very much a Eurosceptic...
Guest - moonshine on Friday, 16 December 2011 06:46

What is really becoming less and less relevant is not land but nation states (that cling to land). Land is still quite important for reasons indicated in Yasya's post and its price will continue to go up as global population increases. However, states that claim exclusive rights to land bring less and less value in a smaller and increasingly interdependent world.

Nowadays states are too small to protect their citizens from financial crises and natural calamities. States used to be able to plunder neighbors and in this way bring value to their monarchs and citizens, but not any more. Not being able to produce any value, many failing states are kept alive by massive military and financial assistance from IFIs and other states.

Some states are still able to bring value to (at least some of) their citizens by providing exclusive rights to natural resources on their land (a rent). Thus, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will continue to exist as independent states as long as they can bribe their citizens into obedience AND as long as other nations are willing to respect their exclusive rights and privileges to oil and gas resources, and tolerate their pricing policies.

It is however trivial to see that as the costs of communication and transportation go down state borders impose an increasing cost on mankind. They are effectively nothing but artificial barriers on the mobility of people, goods, ideas, capital, etc.

Europeans were among the first to appreciate the value of open borders and reap the benefits of economic integration. By eliminating physical borders and allowing free mobility of labor, Europe has also removed the question of land from the agenda of all European nations. If people can freely move across borders, the question of land translates into a question of where people want to pay their (now sort of “local”) taxes and in what language environment they want their kids to be raised.

While not (yet) solving the Konigsberg problem, the elimination of borders allows any interested German family to move back to Silesia. So far, however, people have been moving in the other direction...

Current EU efforts to further tighten fiscal integration within the union perfectly fit the inevitable historical trend towards greater global integration, which will eventually (maybe not in our lifetime) render nation states an extinct prehistorical species...

What is really becoming less and less relevant is not land but nation states (that cling to land). Land is still quite important for reasons indicated in Yasya's post and its price will continue to go up as global population increases. However, states that claim exclusive rights to land bring less and less value in a smaller and increasingly interdependent world. Nowadays states are too small to protect their citizens from financial crises and natural calamities. States used to be able to plunder neighbors and in this way bring value to their monarchs and citizens, but not any more. Not being able to produce any value, many failing states are kept alive by massive military and financial assistance from IFIs and other states. Some states are still able to bring value to (at least some of) their citizens by providing exclusive rights to natural resources on their land (a rent). Thus, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will continue to exist as independent states as long as they can bribe their citizens into obedience AND as long as other nations are willing to respect their exclusive rights and privileges to oil and gas resources, and tolerate their pricing policies. It is however trivial to see that as the costs of communication and transportation go down state borders impose an increasing cost on mankind. They are effectively nothing but artificial barriers on the mobility of people, goods, ideas, capital, etc. Europeans were among the first to appreciate the value of open borders and reap the benefits of economic integration. By eliminating physical borders and allowing free mobility of labor, Europe has also removed the question of land from the agenda of all European nations. If people can freely move across borders, the question of land translates into a question of where people want to pay their (now sort of “local”) taxes and in what language environment they want their kids to be raised. While not (yet) solving the Konigsberg problem, the elimination of borders allows any interested German family to move back to Silesia. So far, however, people have been moving in the other direction... Current EU efforts to further tighten fiscal integration within the union perfectly fit the inevitable historical trend towards greater global integration, which will eventually (maybe not in our lifetime) render nation states an extinct prehistorical species...
Guest - Florian on Sunday, 18 December 2011 15:14

Hi Moonshine,

Your thoughts come very close to my own view on this subject. As soon as one agrees that nation states which cling to land are losing importance (for whatever reason), one will come to very similar conclusions as I do.

I think that the most important reason why nation states which strive for land are losing importance is a decline of the economic relevance of land. Nevertheless, it is absolutely true that other factors also contribute to this process. You mention a great example. If anyone can settle and do business everywhere without even having to show a passport, as it is in Europe now, then there is no additional benefit from actually ruling over land.

I also agree with what you say about Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia. However, these countries are really exceptional in as far as the value of their land is concerned. Their land has such an extreme value that they can base their complete economy on that one activity of exploiting their land. In the many land conflicts we see all over the place, there is no land which has such immense value.

Yet even in the cases of Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia, it is not at all clear whether in the long run these countries will benefit from their oil resources. They are now desperately trying to diversify their economies, building hotels like the Burj Al Arab and founding airlines like Emirates and Etihad. At the moment this all looks very magnificent, but we must not forget that it is fueled by oil money, and these businesses are far from being economically self-sustained. If these countries really have to RELY on their new activities, I would not be surprised if things turned out badly. For example, I do not see any human capital among the genuine citizens of the oil countries. Even at the top level, new companies like those mentioned are run by foreigners. If you are living from selling oil for generations, you unlearn the crucial skills of economic success, the most important of which are working hard and accumulating human capital. As soon as the oil money is away, let us see whether these countries can sustain just 50% of their current living standards.

I am convinced that a wise government should take those countries as a model which became rich without having natural resources, i.e. without relying on land possession.

Hi Moonshine, Your thoughts come very close to my own view on this subject. As soon as one agrees that nation states which cling to land are losing importance (for whatever reason), one will come to very similar conclusions as I do. I think that the most important reason why nation states which strive for land are losing importance is a decline of the economic relevance of land. Nevertheless, it is absolutely true that other factors also contribute to this process. You mention a great example. If anyone can settle and do business everywhere without even having to show a passport, as it is in Europe now, then there is no additional benefit from actually ruling over land. I also agree with what you say about Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia. However, these countries are really exceptional in as far as the value of their land is concerned. Their land has such an extreme value that they can base their complete economy on that one activity of exploiting their land. In the many land conflicts we see all over the place, there is no land which has such immense value. Yet even in the cases of Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia, it is not at all clear whether in the long run these countries will benefit from their oil resources. They are now desperately trying to diversify their economies, building hotels like the Burj Al Arab and founding airlines like Emirates and Etihad. At the moment this all looks very magnificent, but we must not forget that it is fueled by oil money, and these businesses are far from being economically self-sustained. If these countries really have to RELY on their new activities, I would not be surprised if things turned out badly. For example, I do not see any human capital among the genuine citizens of the oil countries. Even at the top level, new companies like those mentioned are run by foreigners. If you are living from selling oil for generations, you unlearn the crucial skills of economic success, the most important of which are working hard and accumulating human capital. As soon as the oil money is away, let us see whether these countries can sustain just 50% of their current living standards. I am convinced that a wise government should take those countries as a model which became rich without having natural resources, i.e. without relying on land possession.
Guest - i.j. on Sunday, 18 December 2011 03:17

Who cares? I care..! You look at the land from the economic perspective, just like people in the West often see house as an asset (remember the subprime crises, prices goes up faster than interest rate on mortgages?). So, if you look at from this point of view, yes who cares... But in this region, people look at house in a different way, it is home, and everyone wants to have a home. It is also about a attitude toward nation and ethnicity, in the West, you were kind of forced to forget what the Ethnicity and Blood means as "blood and soil" was affiliated with Nazies. This is why West was easy on attracting many foreigners hoping to enjoy boarder less multicultural society ending up having significant number of passport holders who treat your men as weak and incapable of doing anything and your woman as prostitutes, making France, Britain and Germany at least on the levels of the leaders of the country accept that multiculturalism failed, now West wants our countries to forget about things as Ethnicity and Kinship? I do not know well the other countries, but listen to this, in Armenian the "family name" is "Azganun" and the word "ethnicity" is "Azg", if you did not get it, let me say, direct translation of "Azganun" is "name of Ethnicity", meaning, from ancient times up to know, Ethnicity and family were synonymous at least for Armenians (by the way, strictly saying Armenian is Armenian not because he/she is born in Armenia, speaks Armenian or belongs to the Armenian church, it is because he/she has Hayk as an ancestor, which is true at least for significant part of Georgians too, story of Kartlos is a nice one). And at least for them Land is not economic factor (Mountainous Karabakh, which is mountainous by the way:-) is not the land of any significant economic interest), it is a house for the family, so I would suggest, in the Economic blog, speak about Economics and do not touch things which are correlated with ethnicity and history. I can say now for sure, None of the conflicts in the region is conflict over the land as a factor of production, it is a bitter struggle for a Home, and by the way, the matter is more complicated also because of idiot policies implemented by the European, Russian and Eastern countries in the past and today.
So let us speak about Economics and Economies, leave aside the Geopolitics, Anthropology and Psychology!

Who cares? I care..! You look at the land from the economic perspective, just like people in the West often see house as an asset (remember the subprime crises, prices goes up faster than interest rate on mortgages?). So, if you look at from this point of view, yes who cares... But in this region, people look at house in a different way, it is home, and everyone wants to have a home. It is also about a attitude toward nation and ethnicity, in the West, you were kind of forced to forget what the Ethnicity and Blood means as "blood and soil" was affiliated with Nazies. This is why West was easy on attracting many foreigners hoping to enjoy boarder less multicultural society ending up having significant number of passport holders who treat your men as weak and incapable of doing anything and your woman as prostitutes, making France, Britain and Germany at least on the levels of the leaders of the country accept that multiculturalism failed, now West wants our countries to forget about things as Ethnicity and Kinship? I do not know well the other countries, but listen to this, in Armenian the "family name" is "Azganun" and the word "ethnicity" is "Azg", if you did not get it, let me say, direct translation of "Azganun" is "name of Ethnicity", meaning, from ancient times up to know, Ethnicity and family were synonymous at least for Armenians (by the way, strictly saying Armenian is Armenian not because he/she is born in Armenia, speaks Armenian or belongs to the Armenian church, it is because he/she has Hayk as an ancestor, which is true at least for significant part of Georgians too, story of Kartlos is a nice one). And at least for them Land is not economic factor (Mountainous Karabakh, which is mountainous by the way:-) is not the land of any significant economic interest), it is a house for the family, so I would suggest, in the Economic blog, speak about Economics and do not touch things which are correlated with ethnicity and history. I can say now for sure, None of the conflicts in the region is conflict over the land as a factor of production, it is a bitter struggle for a Home, and by the way, the matter is more complicated also because of idiot policies implemented by the European, Russian and Eastern countries in the past and today. So let us speak about Economics and Economies, leave aside the Geopolitics, Anthropology and Psychology!
Guest - Florian on Sunday, 18 December 2011 15:48

Hi i.j.,

You refer to the emotional aspect of land possession. Of course, there is this emotional aspect, which usually overrides economic considerations. The problem with the emotional attachment to land is that usually BOTH conflicting sides have it. So in the Kosovo War both the Serbians said "Kosovo or death" AND the Albanians said "Kosovo or death". The most likely outcome of such emotions attached to land are bloody conflicts which go on for generations. Often, these conflicts can only be concluded by "ethnic cleansings" and expulsions, and even then, the conflicts can break up again later. In the end, there are thousands of victims, a deep-felt hatred for the other side, and zero prospects for economic development. So if you speak in favor of the emotional attachment to land, what else do you have to offer than such horrible scenarios?

Furthermore, being emotionally attached to a certain land does not mean that one needs to be emotionally attached to the fact that a particular country GOVERNS that land. As Moonshine correctly mentioned: A German who spent his or her childhood in Kaliningrad may be emotionally attached to that place. However, with open borders, this person can now move to Kaliningrad and buy a house there. Why should it be important for this person whether Russia or Germany governs the Kaliningrad area? In the end, the government which rules over a piece of land just assumes a legal and administrative role which at least for me does not have any emotional dimension.

I would roughly agree with what you say about the failed experiment of European multicultural societies. But this is the result of a failed immigration policy, and I do not see any connection between immigration policy and the issue we discuss here.

Finally, on the one hand you seem to be offended by the fact that I look at land and land conflicts from a purely economic perspective. On the other hand, you say that I should not speak about land in an economics blog, because is not related to economics. You are obviously contradicting yourself. Either land and land conflicts have an economic dimension. Then it makes sense to discuss them in an economics blog. If they don't, well, then how is it possible that I can look at the issue from a purely economic perspective?

Of course, land and land conflicts ARE related to economics. If there weren't these land conflicts in the South Caucasus, the gross national products of the South Caucasus countries would be two times or three times of what they are now. So why not discuss it in an economics blog? Because you feel offended? I do not see any justification for feeling offended because I express the opinion that from an ECONOMIC perspective, it might be wiser to not further pursue land conflicts.

Hi i.j., You refer to the emotional aspect of land possession. Of course, there is this emotional aspect, which usually overrides economic considerations. The problem with the emotional attachment to land is that usually BOTH conflicting sides have it. So in the Kosovo War both the Serbians said "Kosovo or death" AND the Albanians said "Kosovo or death". The most likely outcome of such emotions attached to land are bloody conflicts which go on for generations. Often, these conflicts can only be concluded by "ethnic cleansings" and expulsions, and even then, the conflicts can break up again later. In the end, there are thousands of victims, a deep-felt hatred for the other side, and zero prospects for economic development. So if you speak in favor of the emotional attachment to land, what else do you have to offer than such horrible scenarios? Furthermore, being emotionally attached to a certain land does not mean that one needs to be emotionally attached to the fact that a particular country GOVERNS that land. As Moonshine correctly mentioned: A German who spent his or her childhood in Kaliningrad may be emotionally attached to that place. However, with open borders, this person can now move to Kaliningrad and buy a house there. Why should it be important for this person whether Russia or Germany governs the Kaliningrad area? In the end, the government which rules over a piece of land just assumes a legal and administrative role which at least for me does not have any emotional dimension. I would roughly agree with what you say about the failed experiment of European multicultural societies. But this is the result of a failed immigration policy, and I do not see any connection between immigration policy and the issue we discuss here. Finally, on the one hand you seem to be offended by the fact that I look at land and land conflicts from a purely economic perspective. On the other hand, you say that I should not speak about land in an economics blog, because is not related to economics. You are obviously contradicting yourself. Either land and land conflicts have an economic dimension. Then it makes sense to discuss them in an economics blog. If they don't, well, then how is it possible that I can look at the issue from a purely economic perspective? Of course, land and land conflicts ARE related to economics. If there weren't these land conflicts in the South Caucasus, the gross national products of the South Caucasus countries would be two times or three times of what they are now. So why not discuss it in an economics blog? Because you feel offended? I do not see any justification for feeling offended because I express the opinion that from an ECONOMIC perspective, it might be wiser to not further pursue land conflicts.
Guest - i.j. on Monday, 19 December 2011 07:02

yes, but now you again speak about GDP, while people here except GDP gets some utility from having Home and having an identity attached to that Home, otherwise say the same Armenians would convert say to Islam, became part of Muslim world, get dissolved in the millions of Muslim believers, instead they could convert, forget who they were and not pay the tax for being Armenians (see that in Ottoman empire Armenian meant also religion :-)), would not face constant harassment which eventually turned into a Genocide. See, Armenians as well as Georgians and I guess also Azerbaijanis are not a classical "rational utility maximizers" and possibly that is why certain things would seem to you to be irrational, yet, the problems we face are the cost of being humans and not robots and being diverse instead of being the same.
land may be economic reason when Germany and France were arguing over the rich coal mines (possibly somewhere in Elsaß), yet as I stated above, none of the conflicts in THIS region are the results of economic profit maximization which you hint may lead to "prisoners' dilemma" type outcome and that is why we need to cooperate.
P.S. German who lives in Königsberg, does not have it as a Home, maximum he/she rents it. It is much different than having own HOME, where you are absolute master and nobody can dictate to you and your family (nation) what to do:-)

yes, but now you again speak about GDP, while people here except GDP gets some utility from having Home and having an identity attached to that Home, otherwise say the same Armenians would convert say to Islam, became part of Muslim world, get dissolved in the millions of Muslim believers, instead they could convert, forget who they were and not pay the tax for being Armenians (see that in Ottoman empire Armenian meant also religion :-)), would not face constant harassment which eventually turned into a Genocide. See, Armenians as well as Georgians and I guess also Azerbaijanis are not a classical "rational utility maximizers" and possibly that is why certain things would seem to you to be irrational, yet, the problems we face are the cost of being humans and not robots and being diverse instead of being the same. land may be economic reason when Germany and France were arguing over the rich coal mines (possibly somewhere in Elsaß), yet as I stated above, none of the conflicts in THIS region are the results of economic profit maximization which you hint may lead to "prisoners' dilemma" type outcome and that is why we need to cooperate. P.S. German who lives in Königsberg, does not have it as a Home, maximum he/she rents it. It is much different than having own HOME, where you are absolute master and nobody can dictate to you and your family (nation) what to do:-)
Guest - Florian on Monday, 19 December 2011 20:07

Well, you describe the situation as it is. I do not disagree with your description of the situation. Emotions play a huge role in these conflicts. That's why they are so difficult to solve, go on for generations, are often very bloody etc. The fact that emotions are prevalent does not meant that they are normatively desirable though.

I think in many concrete land conflicts it might be good advice to suppress emotions in order to gain other advantages. I mean, in the end we are all the time suppressing emotions. That's no big deal! When you feel an aggression against somebody in everyday life, for example in car traffic, as a civilized person you usually do not knock that person down, though emotionally you feel a strong desire to do so. In that situation, there are many rational reasons to suppress your anger, for example you do not want the situation to escalate. After you have knocked down the guy who violated your rights in a car traffic situation, he might pull out a knife from his jacket and you might regret your previous aggression.

Similarly, in many real world land conflicts, the final payoff would be better if the opponents would suppress nationalistic emotions in order to move forward in other areas.

Well, you describe the situation as it is. I do not disagree with your description of the situation. Emotions play a huge role in these conflicts. That's why they are so difficult to solve, go on for generations, are often very bloody etc. The fact that emotions are prevalent does not meant that they are normatively desirable though. I think in many concrete land conflicts it might be good advice to suppress emotions in order to gain other advantages. I mean, in the end we are all the time suppressing emotions. That's no big deal! When you feel an aggression against somebody in everyday life, for example in car traffic, as a civilized person you usually do not knock that person down, though emotionally you feel a strong desire to do so. In that situation, there are many rational reasons to suppress your anger, for example you do not want the situation to escalate. After you have knocked down the guy who violated your rights in a car traffic situation, he might pull out a knife from his jacket and you might regret your previous aggression. Similarly, in many real world land conflicts, the final payoff would be better if the opponents would suppress nationalistic emotions in order to move forward in other areas.
Guest - i.j. on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 23:21

:-) By the way, a German who lives in Königsberg, most probably would like to have a responsible regional administration, a Parliament members elected from his/her region who will represent his/her needs on Federal level, would like to have responsible teachers in school, most probably would like his/her children to study in German. And how he /she is going to have it in Russia!?:-D We saw what kind of elections were there and what kind of ruling system is in that country, so do you think there is no difference whether the Königsberg is under a German control or Russian control?!
The whole idea is that at your Home you want to be FREE and live according to your OWN rules.
By the way, though the studying in German can seem to be minor question, never the less it was exactly the problem with languages in Abkhazia, Ossetia and Nagorno Karabak which fueled the conflict. On Armenian side I can say that when Armenians demanded more school in predominantly Armenian populated Karabakh, they were told by Baku authorities : "go to your Armenia and study there in Armenian", and they followed their advice, with slight difference-they went to Armenia by with their own land......
In 80s Georgia was a forerunner of the sovereignty movement also because of the attempts of Soviet ventral authority to repress Georgian language.
See, for example in Quebec, this year, in May (or something around it) in the Federal elections the separatist party got only 4 places, Quebec second time voted for staying in Canada? Why? Because majority of Quebecers do not feel a danger to their language and culture, their identity is not disturbed, is protected iby the law and French is taught as compulsory in all the other Provinces. So Quebecers in fact on elections were sure, they are in their Home and the question was simply should this Home be a part of a big apartment block named Canada, or it should be separate house. Based on ECONOMIC motives they decided to be in the apartment bloc named Canada. This is what I say, I do not reject that war can be caused by desire to have land as production factor, but I say here conflicts are based on identity issues. President Saakashvili once said an important thing, he said "we will develop a dn turn into true, prosperous democracy so the Abkhazians and Ossetians would like to live with us and not with Russians". But for this, Georgian lari needs to have inscription in both Abkhazian and Ossetian, Georgian children are supposed to study in their schools Abkhazian and Ossetian. Unfortunately in both Azerbaijan and Georgia the authority sees "broad autonomy" and federalism in the light of Russia and maximum offers what is given to Chechnya or say Adigeya in Russia, none of them thinks about other, more civilized models of Federal set up like those of Quebec. And until people who are in the conflicts realize that their identity is not endangered and they are masters in their Homes the economic motives for cooperation will not work.

:-) By the way, a German who lives in Königsberg, most probably would like to have a responsible regional administration, a Parliament members elected from his/her region who will represent his/her needs on Federal level, would like to have responsible teachers in school, most probably would like his/her children to study in German. And how he /she is going to have it in Russia!?:-D We saw what kind of elections were there and what kind of ruling system is in that country, so do you think there is no difference whether the Königsberg is under a German control or Russian control?! The whole idea is that at your Home you want to be FREE and live according to your OWN rules. By the way, though the studying in German can seem to be minor question, never the less it was exactly the problem with languages in Abkhazia, Ossetia and Nagorno Karabak which fueled the conflict. On Armenian side I can say that when Armenians demanded more school in predominantly Armenian populated Karabakh, they were told by Baku authorities : "go to your Armenia and study there in Armenian", and they followed their advice, with slight difference-they went to Armenia by with their own land...... In 80s Georgia was a forerunner of the sovereignty movement also because of the attempts of Soviet ventral authority to repress Georgian language. See, for example in Quebec, this year, in May (or something around it) in the Federal elections the separatist party got only 4 places, Quebec second time voted for staying in Canada? Why? Because majority of Quebecers do not feel a danger to their language and culture, their identity is not disturbed, is protected iby the law and French is taught as compulsory in all the other Provinces. So Quebecers in fact on elections were sure, they are in their Home and the question was simply should this Home be a part of a big apartment block named Canada, or it should be separate house. Based on ECONOMIC motives they decided to be in the apartment bloc named Canada. This is what I say, I do not reject that war can be caused by desire to have land as production factor, but I say here conflicts are based on identity issues. President Saakashvili once said an important thing, he said "we will develop a dn turn into true, prosperous democracy so the Abkhazians and Ossetians would like to live with us and not with Russians". But for this, Georgian lari needs to have inscription in both Abkhazian and Ossetian, Georgian children are supposed to study in their schools Abkhazian and Ossetian. Unfortunately in both Azerbaijan and Georgia the authority sees "broad autonomy" and federalism in the light of Russia and maximum offers what is given to Chechnya or say Adigeya in Russia, none of them thinks about other, more civilized models of Federal set up like those of Quebec. And until people who are in the conflicts realize that their identity is not endangered and they are masters in their Homes the economic motives for cooperation will not work.
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Thursday, 21 November 2019

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