16. Family Swiss families are not radically different from their counterparts in the United States or Europe, affirming the truism that "all happy families are alike." They are, however, slightly more stable and close. The laws of the state, likewise, are somewhat more pro-family, or family based, than in most other highly developed countries. There is, moreover, a somewhat greater modesty in manners and dress, and in statutes governing such matters as decency in the mass media. Policies like those of social welfare treat the family, rather than the individual, as the fundamental unit of society, and thus, reinforce family structure. Switzerland has divorce, child abuse and neglect, deadbeat dads, and many of the other ills seen in the West. It has them, though, with marginally less frequency. And it responds differently, legally and socially, when these maladies appear. The net result, for an American, is a feeling that one is somehow visiting with a group of American families from the 1950s who have been transplanted into modern Western society. It is not an artificial, time-warp sort of feeling, and the culture does not in any way feel restrictive. On the contrary, the time appears to be the present, but the family structure somewhat transplanted. The modesty of the Swiss, if you will, is modest - a quiet preference for stable, family-based life and a disciplined and responsible commitment to it. One probably hears appeals to "family values" and the like far less in Switzerland than in the United States, or even much of Europe. One of the first social impressions likely to strike someone visiting Switzerland, second only perhaps to their facility with languages, is that of the large number of couples still married to their original spouse. My own sample in visiting was admittedly biased, at first, toward meetings with affluent professionals. It felt unusual, nevertheless, to meet one high-income man after another who was with his wife of twenty, thirty, and even forty years. Of course, this impression built up only cumulatively, until after many weeks it struck me that very few divorces seemed to take place. A little resolution formed, made both to test my own powers of observation and to keep such observations fresh from any sociological preconceptions, to make sure not to look at any statistics about Swiss family life. Similar, but even more subtle, was the impression formed by meeting young people in large numbers whose parents were still together. Time after time, these youngsters did not describe, for example, plans to spend the week before Christmas with their fathers and the week after with their mothers, and the like. Mothers and fathers most commonly lived in the same place, or so it seemed. After a time, a social relaxation takes place in Switzerland. There are not quite as many dual locations to keep track of; there are fewer Doreen Smiths no longer married to Jasper Smith, and vice-versa; in Switzerland, one worries just a little bit less that the Hendersons will disagree about what restaurant to go to, or whether their daughter should study architecture. Swiss couples exhibit a natural ease, a fitting-togetherness one encounters in America and Europe as well, but perhaps not as often. When Mr. and Mrs. Fred Isler entertained me and a friend, for example, it became clear just how seamlessly their two lives intertwined. Mr. Isler was going over a kind of bar chart of his various charitable and community service activities over the years, telling little vignettes about each bar or answering my questions - "yes, being a civilian in the appeals court, I would be involved in several cases a month. We shared the workload depending on the types of cases and who was particularly busy at a certain time." Now and then, however, Isler would be uncertain about who had attended a particular event, or what had been the resolution of a particular event or activity. At such times, Mrs. Isler would sometimes interject with words such as, "I think this was even three years," rather than two. Mr. Isler, on the other hand, frequently used the word "we" to describe a particular activity or commitment - even if nominally it had been "his" position. In an unobtrusive, unpretentious way, they seemed to agree that such tasks had been joint. In fact, of course, they had. "I went to the meetings," Isler said of the town council (or some similar task), for instance. "But when we got into a real disagreement, I would bring everyone here, and she always knew how to smooth it over." Similarly, when Dr. Paul Jolies, the former Swiss State Secretary and Chairman of Nestlé, would review his decisions and involvements in government, he would rely on Mrs. Jolies to fill in blanks - and at times, correct him - regarding important events or details. It is natural for many couples to settle into a routine of mutual skepticism. Such raillery between the Jolleses, however, seemed largely to consist of her insisting that his actions had been much more wise or incisive than he would admit - and his countering that it was Mrs. Jolies who had encouraged him to do this or that. When some of Switzerland's differences with the United States and Europe in recent years came up for discussion, for example, Dr. Jolies was inclined to sympathize with Swiss officials. He said they had made mistakes, but that some of these were a heritage from years of neglect by other governments. Mrs. Jolies agreed but added a simpler explanation, which was, "They don't listen to you or people like you. In fact," she added, looking at me, "they don't even really ask for his advice or opinion at all." Dr. Jolies smiled, "which means they also don't get hers - a real mistake." It is difficult, of course, to paint a portrait of this ordinary family life that works without seeming wide-eyed and, indeed, a bit sappy. The fact is, though, that the Swiss have retained a degree of family solidarity that many would envy, whether or not it has an element of Ozzie and Harriet. Indeed, an honest search of my memory of interviews with more than 500 Swiss brings to mind only a few divorced men or women. Of course, many of these conversations were too short to be likely to have obtained such information. And undoubtedly, some of these people were divorced, some even remarried. It is perhaps revealing, though, that even in cases where there have been divorces, the subject is less apt to come up among the Swiss. There is just a little more of the melancholy that used to attend the matter, socially, still present among the Swiss. In addition, the relative reserve of the Swiss generally explains much. In the United States and Europe, one sometimes encounters the corporate giant who rides a bicycle to work, or flies coach even on long trips.(1) In Switzerland, such behavior, if not the mathematical norm, is certainly frequent. The chairman of ABB for many years rode a bicycle to work through the streets of Baden. François Loeb, head of one of the largest retail chains in Switzerland, drives a two-seat car, apparently spun off from the Yugo and achieving something like 70 miles per gallon of gasoline in the city. It is difficult enough to imagine a Swiss living in the imperial manner of some American or British corporate chieftans. To picture a Swiss executive bouncing between several wives, or dating young women twenty to forty years his junior, is difficult. It must happen in Switzerland, but it happens infrequently, and when it does, it is less the object of snickering admiration or newspaper headlines than of quiet embarrassment. The Swiss man is close to family without being a house husband or highly sensitive child coddler. Swiss men with young children seemed less familiar with their day-to-day affairs than their mothers. But when the children reach age ten or older, the fathers become more highly engaged in their schooling and later, their professional life or family life. In conversations about women, Swiss men are less coarse than is the Western norm, and far less coarse than the American norm. There is less of an obsession with sex in normal conversation - whether there is less interest in sex, is impossible to say, but certainly it is less obvious. The statistics, it turns out, do more or less bear out the impressionistic picture of the Swiss as enjoying a closeness of family life rare in developed societies, as Table 16.1 suggests. Table 16-1 The Families of Nations (selected comparative statistics) Divorces per 100 marriages Percent of families with one parent Divorces per 1000 population Married (%of population over 16 years) Germany 39 18 n.a. 55 United States 48 24 4.5 53 Switzerland 29 14 4.3 62 Source: U.S. Census Bureau; René Levy, The Social Structure of Switzerland, Helvetica; Swiss Statistical Abstract, and author's calculations based on data. --- In addition to all the factors mentioned above, Swiss family law probably plays a role in the relatively high rate of family stability. Divorce laws, of course, vary by the canton, but as a general matter the advance of no-fault divorce has not been as great as in many Western countries. Even in such cantons as Geneva and Vaud, requirements are higher than the P.O.-box divorce systems of some U.S. states. And in the Waldsättte, or the central Forest Cantons with large numbers of orthodox Catholics, rules are more demanding substantively and procedures more rigorous. As well, the social implications of divorce are more serious than in America. Swiss attitudes and laws, and the familiar character of most communities, make it very difficult for fathers to default on supporting their children both financially and emotionally, and for mothers to neglect a child who needs attention, support, or discipline. There are thus somewhat firmer supports for marriage and less of a "ticket to freedom" from marital breakup than in many developed countries. Children in Switzerland are neither as revered as in Germany, treated as informally as in America, nor shunted aside as in England, Spain, or France. The Swiss take their children seriously and systematically. There is less emphasis than in the United States on early formal instruction, but perhaps more parent-to-child discipline and self- responsibility taught. An American four or five years of age is more likely to read than a Swiss child of that age, or to make a precocious comment, but is also more likely to wander off into the house and scribble all over one of the walls with a pen or waddle out into a busy parking lot where drivers are maneuvering aggressively for a choice spot or a fast exit. >From figures on women in the workplace, and my own anecdotal observations, a larger share of Swiss children aged zero through five are taken care of by their own mothers the bulk of the day, and a smaller proportion sent to day care or pre-school so their mothers can work part or full time, or manage the rest of the children. Although this could not be verified directly from international statistics, it seems supported by estimates of the number of Swiss mothers in the labor force - about one-third of mothers with children at home, and perhaps a fifth or less of mothers with children younger than age six, work outside the home. The same conclusion would also seem to be supported by the complaint of many Swiss that young children do not receive enough formal schooling. From the performance of its economy, the Swiss do not appear to have suffered significantly from this. And there may be benefits in the greater socialization and feelings of greater security of Swiss youngsters. Sheer geography may even lend a hand to Swiss marriages. Americans with a large number of children often bemoan the great distances that extended families find between parents and grandparents, brothers, and other relatives. Of course, there is little to stop individual Swiss families from living 2,000 miles apart, but if they do so, they will find their relatives in Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, or even Western Russia. Since emigration is a large step, the vast majority of persons in any country, barring dire circumstances, are bound to remain in the country of their birth. For the Swiss, remaining in the country means living no more than a few hours from any other relatives still in Switzerland. Even relatives who move to Germany or France, two of the most common destinations, are relatively close compared to the distances that often separate members of an extended family in the United States. As in other countries, the Swiss encounter some problems with their children in the adolescent years. Swiss suicide rates, in fact, are among the highest in the world. Surely one factor in these is the absence of some Swiss fathers in the more sexually divided work roles of dad at the office, mom at home. Others attribute these rates to mere density of population (a la Japan), particularly when one factors in the consideration that two-thirds of the Swiss nation is nearly uninhabitable mountains. Still another factor, according to some Swiss, is the high pressure placed on Swiss youth in the teenage years and early twenties to perform in school and other areas of life. Among all Swiss, the fact of a seeming permanent affluence has led to a search for meaning. As the suicide rates indicated, not all are successful in finding it. Religion has withered, particularly among Protestants and among Catholics outside the highly Orthodox churches of Schwyz and the surrounding cantons. Even much religious life is quasi-secular. Church services in the major cities, and even to some extent the more fervent countryside, are not highly sacramental or theological. The religion of many Swiss has become almost the civic, Godless religion of Rousseau, though this trend is not as advanced as in France, Italy, or the United States. A more happy picture, for the Swiss, emerges when one considers other social indices of adolescent adjustment. Perhaps the turmoil that seems evident in teen suicides, for example, is driven largely by accidental factors. Rates of violent crimes, which are normally committed by persons under thirty, are low. Teen pregnancy, abortion both by juveniles and as an overall rate, and similar unhappy statistics are relatively low, as Table 16.2 shows. Public laws on abortion are characteristically Swiss - federalist and nuanced. A national law prohibits certain kinds of abortion restrictions and guards a right to abortion - but the latter does not cover all cases, and the former allows for exceptions for cases involving the mental or physical health of the mother. In some cantons, these rules are interpreted quite liberally so that there is little practical restriction on abortion at all. In others, especially the Central and Eastern Waldstätte, women must visit a doctor, confer with a cantonal or community health official, and so on - a series of three, four, or more steps. According to a 1996 article in the Swiss Medical Bulletin,(2) rates Table 16.2 Teen Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion Rates Adolescent abortion rate Adolescent pregnancy rate Adolescent birth rate Canada 15.5 45.4 24.2 France 12.4 51.2 10.0 Finland 10.0 52.9 9.8 Germany 7.6 23.0 12.5 Ireland 5.9 21.9 15.0 Israel 14.2 35.3 18.0 Japan 13.8 61.9 3.9 Sweden 18.7 69.6 7.7 United States 22.9 83.6 54.4 Switzerland 8.4 21.1 5.7 Notes: "Abortion rate" is legal abortions per 1,000 residents aged 15- 19. "Pregnancy rate" equals pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15-19. "Birth rate" equals births per 1,000 women aged 15-19. Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute, from country data. Swiss data on adolescent pregnancy calculated by author from Swiss data. --- of abortion varied by a factor of three and more from canton to canton. Some of this disparity, of course, may reflect women seeking out abortion services in the cantons where laws are more relaxed, but of course this is frowned on, and often entails a lack of health insurance coverage. Few people in Switzerland are entirely happy with this cluttered situation, especially those who crave a clear-cut decision either to allow or to abolish abortion. The degree of unhappiness, however, is much less than in many Western countries where one side or the other has achieved a winner-take-all victory. Abortion rights advocates have achieved no national decision - but can take solace that there is some liberty to obtain an abortion for most Swiss women, especially in the major cities. Opponents enjoy less than total ban, but neither have they had to endure, in the manner of the U.S., a sweeping decision by judicial elites to wipe out the action of democratic legislatures. Federalism allows Swiss families to seek out a community where the existing laws on abortion and other social matters comport with their sense of propriety and morality, while letting other cantons and cells establish the order that seems best to them. Where there is lobbying, it is by its nature decentralized, focused in two dozen cantonal parliaments and in thousands of communities overseeing the implementation of local standards by doctors and other professionals. Periodic initiatives and referenda, at the national and cantonal levels, have the effect of giving voters a feeling of fine motor control, and the voters have generally opted to make compromises in the middle of the abortion debate, preferring not to enact the program of either the committed restrictionists nor the advocates of abortion rights. Whereas in other countries vast campaigns must be launched merely to achieve a vote on public financing, or third-trimester restrictions, before the appropriate congressional committee, in the Swiss system there is always access. This access - the fact of its availability, even if it is not always used - has a soothing impact on the nerves of both the passionate advocates of both sides of the spectrum and of voters in between. The net result is, perhaps, a messy compromise, but one that works for the Swiss. Ironically, given their reticence toward controversy, the Swiss feel that the abortion question is a sensitive one and the controversy hot. This may so be in Swiss terms, but one has the impression that the abortion question and like issues are in fact less agitated in Switzerland than in most Western countries, and far less so than in countries with significant ethnic and religious differences underlying the disputes. Women at Work Some Swiss women felt, until recently, stranded "not in the 1950s but in the nineteenth century," as a Swiss feminist leader proclaimed in 1981. Pay for the same work by similarly qualified women runs about a quarter to a third less than for the same work done by a man, according to sociologist René Levy, although like most such statistics, these measurements appear not to account for the greater likelihood that a woman's career will be interrupted by children. Women occupy almost no CEO or COO positions among the top one-hundred Swiss corporations. The highest-ranking woman among major Swiss companies appears to be one of eighty division vice presidents at Nestlé, who oversees the company's operations in Poland. Swiss executives are so sensitive about the topic that when a high- ranking Nestlé official was told his company has been praised by some as encouraging a more rapid rise by female executives, he preferred not to discuss the matter.(3) "This is an area where all Swiss companies, including ours, would like to do more, and need to do more, " he said. What is true at the top is less true, but somewhat, throughout the work force. Swiss women make up about 44 percent of the work force; in the United States, 47 percent. On this macroeconomic level, the picture for working women in Switzerland is not radically better or worse than in most Western countries. Salaries in the banking, service, and professional sectors are 30 percent higher for men than women, with a lower gap among Swiss age thirty-nine or younger. This is similar to U.S. and European levels. In government service, average salaries are within 20 percent for men and women as a whole, and for men and women under forty the gap is less than 10 percent. All these figures suggest a work equation in which there are differences of opportunity, some of which can be explained by home care and other social choices made by women and men, some of which cannot. If we start from 1940 as a base year, women's wages have been outpacing men's in Switzerland ever since. In absolute terms, this only means they have been catching up. The years of the most dramatic improvement were from 1960 to 1980, when general economic growth and the decline of large families encouraged women to seek work outside the home in greater numbers. In the 1990s, the rate of closure slowed, partly due to an influx of foreign women (more likely to raise children at home), partly due to the economic slowdown. Swiss women do not appear to feel marginalized, and the vast majority do not consider themselves the object of any systematic or conscious antifeminine bias by employers. "Many women prefer to work part time, or be away from work for some period to be with their families," comments Beatrice Gyssler, who works with a Swiss investment firm in Zürich. To that extent, some women are choosing to forego some earnings and professional opportunities in order to care for their children and be in the home more. Surveys indicate that for most Swiss married women who continue to work, the decisive reason is the belief that the husband's earnings alone are insufficient. The flip side is that many women, given the choice, would prefer to remain part of one- earner families. Even after the bumpy recession of 1990-96 Figure 16.1 Swiss Women's Wages, 1940-2000 Women (approx.), Men (approx.) 1940 - 100, 100 1950 - 135, 115 1960 - 160, 140 1970 - 220, 190 1980 - 275, 240 1990 - 305, 260 2000 - 315, 270 --- Switzerland's economy still generates sufficient high-paying jobs for men to permit many families to prosper with only one worker outside the home. In Swiss families with one or more children under the age of fifteen, there are 700,000 fathers working outside the home, and 450,000 mothers. (This figure includes foreign-born residents.) In Swiss families with no children under the age of fifteen, there are 1.4 million fathers working outside the home, and 1.2 million mothers - a much closer ratio. "The more the husband earns, the less likely the wife is to go out to work," as René Levy, a sociologist at the University of Lausanne, writes. "Many Swiss women prefer a role in the home over work, and if they must work, they prefer the maximum role in the home," observes Esther Girsberger, former editor of the Zürich daily Tages Anzeiger. "The statistics on women's pay and employment overstate the problem if you look at them expecting a statistical equality. Women's expectations and their preferences differ from that of Swiss men." Girsberger is an example of a field that has proven a natural entry point for women, journalism. Women are also making rapid strides in such professions as the law, computer software and service functions, and politics, to name just a few. Small business has proven to be a natural venue for women in Switzerland as it has in a number of other developed countries. Home- based and small businesses often offer flexibility in hours that is highly valuable to women with children. In 1970, less than 20 percent of self-employed Swiss were women. In 1996,34 percent were. (This excludes farm wives and family workers.) This figure compares favorably to the absolute levels of small-business ownership by women in other Western countries - 39 percent in the United States, 30 percent in Britain, and less than 30 percent in Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Finland - and is growing at a faster rate. To be sure, some of these businesses are of marginal profitability, and have difficulty obtaining capital for expansion if they desire it. But they offer another alternative for women who want some income, and some activities outside the home, but may not have the time for uninterrupted employment in a traditional 9-to-5 pattern. For many, of course, the role of Swiss women was symbolized by the country's decision, in 1971, to allow women to vote - a right previously not recognized. The long delay was not quite as backward as it might have sounded. Women were neither that militant about the right to vote, nor had men (the only voters allowed to act on previous proposals, of course) been firmly opposed. The proposal, needing a supermajority of voters and cantons, however, had always fared poorly in a few of the central cantons - some for substantive reasons, some because they feared that cantonal and community Landsgemeinde, literally overfilled by too many people, would become unworkable if the voting population suddenly doubled. Women mostly wanted the vote, understandably, not merely because they might occasionally make the difference in a specific decision on policy, but because they wanted to be heard and to have the institutional respect granted them in all the other democracies. Ironically, although gaining the vote at a much later date, Swiss women have made great advances in elective politics in Switzerland. Well-educated and articulate, and experienced in thinking about issues as are all Swiss, the Swiss woman brings much to the profession of politics. Given the nature of Swiss government, however, politics is still something of a part-time profession. The cantonal legislatures and even federal parliament are paid little, have no dedicated staff, and are in session less than ten weeks a year. "There is a good fit between the Swiss militia system," meaning citizen government, "and the immense talent offered by Swiss women," as the late investor and publisher David dePury observed. Indeed, the Swiss have a higher percentage of women in their parliament, more than 20 percent of the combined chambers, than the United States or most European countries. (In the lower house of the federal parliament, more than 23 percent are women, and of the combined membership of the cantonal parliaments, more then 25 percent. ) Switzerland has now had one woman president, and following the election of another woman to the federal council in 1998, will have two more terms by women presidents by 2010, under the country's rotating presidency. Swiss families feel the same strains as families throughout the West, tugged between economic forces outside and the job of raising children inside. It cannot be said that the Swiss have invented any unique answers to these modern tensions, but their institutions have coped with them in interesting and different ways. The Swiss family has proven flexible and, in some ways - such as the rapid movement of women into positions in the country's citizen-government - innovative. Notes There is a German joke about Swiss frugality that the Swiss enjoy telling, which goes: "Why did the Swiss executive fly third class? Because there was no fourth class." M. Dondénaz, et al., "Interruptions de grossese en Suisse 1991-1994," Bulletin demedicins suisses, 1996, vol. 77, pp. 308-14. Asked for the names of prominent women chief executive officers of Swiss corporations, editor Markus Gisler of CASH, the Zürich-based financial weekly, said, "There really aren't any. I think Nestlé has a woman running its Poland division, and possibly one or two others. They are known as one of the companies where women have been encouraged." Gisler's staff helped me track down several other female executives, mostly at much smaller companies 17. Army Switzerland's army cannot be fully understood except in combination with Swiss neutrality, and Swiss neutrality likewise cannot be understood in isolation from the Swiss army. Even as the country prepares to enact significant changes in the size and structure of the army in the early twenty-first century, it remains a uniquely universalist institution, and a force for social integration. Whatever adjustments are made to it in the coming years, the Swiss army is likely to remain such a force for the foreseeable future. Unlike most other neutrals throughout history Swiss forces, while small, have been tenacious fighters and even, for several centuries, one of the most powerful armies in the world. Twice in two thousand years have the ferocious peasant Helvetii of the Alpine redoubt been defeated and occupied. The first time was by Julius Caesar, who, in 58 B.C., stopped the Helvetii when they tried to migrate en masse to what is now Western France. Caesar carefully co-opted the beaten adversary into the Roman security system, the Helvetii guarding the Rhine against Germanic invasions and enjoying a measure of self-rule in their internal affairs in exchange. Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1796-97, consciously imitating Caesar, conquered upper Italy for France and wanted to assure himself of the Swiss alpine passes. The Swiss resisted in 1798, but not as strenuously as could be expected. Part of this was due to initial sympathy to the values of the French Revolution. Part was due to the fear of confiscation on the part of Swiss elites - dividing a society whose poorer members mainly wanted to resist. The French left and returned twice, but continued to enjoy predominant influence in Switzerland until 1813. Napoleon, like many French emperors before him, found the soldiers of Switzerland to be a formidable addition to his armies. "The best troops - those in whom you can have the most confidence," Napoleon advised one of his generals, "are the Swiss." In this he mirrored the assessment of Machiavelli, who considered them, "the new Romans." Unlike the other nations of great bravery, meanwhile - such small but tenacious powers such as Israel, Britain, Mongolia, Vietnam, or Afghanistan - the Swiss have been able to maintain a policy of honest neutrality, and a state of peace and freedom from external invasion, for centuries. The Swiss felt tempted to engage themselves in the conflicts swirling around them more than once. In 1914, there was significant popular sentiment for Germany. More than one Swiss official had to be removed for actions contrary to neutrality. Nevertheless, the country has maintained a strict neutrality for nearly five centuries, all the while remaining sufficiently armed to scare away all but a handful of attempts at invasion. Its toughness gives Swiss neutrality teeth. Meanwhile Swiss neutrality and equality temper and discipline the toughness to be ready to die, but only for defense of the country. "The Swiss have not fought a war for nearly five hundred years," John McPhee writes, "and are determined to know how so as not to."(1) Today, Switzerland is no longer one of the most feared military establishments in the world. Yet it is not inconsiderable. Some 2,000 or 3,000 airstrips dot the country like Band-Aids, ready to help repel enemy air power and conduct Swiss defensive operations. Mountains, caves, hills, and forest cellars the size of a Home Depot Store are loaded with ammunition, explosives, food, trucks, and other military equipment. People's barns, garages, and even tool sheds are available for use for storage, hiding troop movements, housing troops overnight - and are all mapped out and accounted for in elaborate mobilization plans. Bridges and other transportation chokepoints are mined to be blown up at a moment's notice. While the Northern strip of Switzerland - a lowland of gently rolling hills and dense population - is highly vulnerable to assault, the Southern "redoubt" would be an attacker's nightmare. "You could defend the Gotthard highway with ten men," a Swiss officer estimates. At the battle of Morgarten, the fourteenth-century Swiss triumphed shortly after the signing of the Bundesbrief. Austrian knights trapped in a narrow pass were attacked by peasants rolling logs, boulders, and other falling objects. There was a sensation, according to one later perhaps mythologized report, that "the rocks themselves" were rising up to take arms against the attacker. "Thorn and rose, there is scarcely a scene in Switzerland that would not sell a calendar, and - valley after valley, mountain after mountain - there is scarcely a scene in Switzerland that is not ready to erupt in fire to repel an invasive war," McPhee writes. The real story of Switzerland's military bite, however, lies not in hardware, but people. With a population of only six million, the Swiss can place 400,000 trained, armed, highly skilled troops in the field within forty-eight hours. On any given day, considering this, the Swiss might have the third or fourth-largest fighting force in the world. There is only one way, of course, for such a small country to man a force of this size. Every male Swiss from the age of twenty until approximately age forty-two is a soldier. The enlisted men serve a total of 300 days over that twenty-year period; officers, sometimes more than 1,000, continuing on to age fifty-two. Women are allowed to join, and do, though not in combat roles, but they are not obligated to do so. Men and women are paid by their regular employer while they are on training, and the employer is reimbursed by the government - though only for 70 percent, not 100 percent, of the lost time. Given the number of hours put in informally by the Swiss on army matters, especially by officers, this amounts to a significant subsidy of the military by the private sector. Some companies are happy about this, some acquiesce, some grumble. After an initial "basic training" course of some 120 days, the Swiss soldier will drill approximately fifteen days a year, and probably commit some hours every month to filling out paperwork, keeping his equipment in repair, practicing his shooting. The Swiss must pass a shooting test every year, and take remedial practice if they fail the test. Gun clubs and shops dot the city of Bern the way used bookstores dot a college campus in the United States. More than 500,000 assault rifles are kept at home by Swiss men, in part so that their sons can get used to having a gun around. One cannot but notice, even in peacetime, the signs of a nation the whole population of which is involved in active defense. On a Friday afternoon you see the young men in their early twenties boarding trains in Bern, Zürich, or Luzern in military uniform. Businessmen in a coffee shop in Geneva pull out their small military service book to make notations or do paperwork on their lunch break. Walking down a country road you hear regular gun bursts in the distance - too many for a hunter - and know that someone is practicing. On a porch is an old man, probably by now limited to one of the auxiliary services, cleaning a pair of army boots. The Swiss not only enjoy widespread volunteer involvement in the army; they rely to an unusual degree on individual citizens to take personal responsibility for their own perfection in military technique. Simulator rooms, which help infantry and artillery forces practice in battle, are open for training during off-duty hours and are used heavily, according to an officer with the army's skeletal full-time staff. Rifle training, of course, is everywhere. On a Saturday, touring a 600-year-old castle ruin on the heights above Baden, my solitude was broken by the sound of a gentle but high- pitched hiss coming down the road. All of a sudden, three young men in camouflage fatigues and white helmets - hiss, zip, hissss - whizzed by me, guns on their shoulder. It appeared to me at the time as if they were on their way to a training session somewhere, perhaps a bit late. But a few hours later the same three young men were at the Banhof, enjoying a bratwurst and bottles of beer at stand-up tables. One of them struck up a conversation with me, during which he explained that the men were not on their way to on-duty training, nor even taking part in a formal training session itself. They were practicing reconnaissance runs and moving about while keeping in electronic contact over the hills, crags, and electronic interference of Baden - on their own time. The Swiss, it turns out, use not only mountains and barns in their defense, but until recently common passenger bicycles. "The bicycle is fast, quiet, cheap, and flexible," a staff officer later told me with a ninja-master-like tone. "We use anything that contributes to the defense of the country." The man or woman at work is always a citizen - and the citizen does not leave his private skills and ideals at the door, but brings them with him to the collective enterprise of managing and defending the state. There is, in short, a great trust in people. This trust tells much about Swiss assumptions regarding people and the society. It is a sign, surely, of one of the most developed and capable societies in the world. Universal service thus works on many levels. It generates numbers. If a comparable number of U.S. citizens were members of our army or naval reserve, America would have some twenty-five million men at arms. It also establishes a presence in society. The fact of citizens doing their duty, universally, is too ubiquitous to be unseen. Military activity is legitimized, and linked into practically every home and family in the country. The people's consciousness is raised of the sacrifices that are being made for the national safety. There are even certain practical benefits to promoting an informed citizenry, and one with a strong immediate interest in sound management of the military. Nearly every male voter is also a military man - and, with a full-time military establishment of only about 1,000 officials or less, nearly every military man earns his living in the civilian economy. No doubt this is one reason there have been relatively few of the military scandals in Switzerland, either as to over-priced procurement items, what weapons to purchase, or other matters. The militia system is egalitarian in imposing its burden. There are a few ways to get an exemption from military service, but only a few, and none is advanced by social standing. Absolute mental or physical inability will get you out. Policemen can sometimes earn a waiver since they might be needed in two places at once. A 1977 ballot initiative sought to allow men to fill their service obligation outside the armed forces - cleaning parks, teaching reading, and so on. It was rejected by more than 60 percent of the voters. A decade later, a smaller proposed exception passed, but is still socially frowned upon. Importantly, all Swiss men start off as privates. The son or daughter of a Swiss president, member of parliament, or captain of industry is a grunt. The earliest promotion to officer generally takes place after several years of service. Thus there is no separate officer class as in most countries, even the democracies. Most of these officers (roughly 98 percent or more) are part-time or "reservist" soldiers with regular employment. A small, full-time force of less than 1,000 staff constitutes Switzerland's entire professional military. There is, to be sure, a tendency for military and professional advancement to correlate - but both are based on merit. Generally, many of those who are advancing in their career often thrive in their military service, and vice-versa. "The colonel and the barrister, the banker and the captain, the major and the businessman are one," McPhee writes. And while there are many cases of parallel advancement, there are others of social criss-crossing - of nonprofessionals in daily life advancing in the military, or of high-ranking business executives continuing to serve as privates or sergeants. "There are at least two bank presidents who march with the rank and file. An army captain has told me that he once leaped to his feet because the soldier serving him food was an executive vice-president of the company he worked for in Basel. To be high in business and low in the army is less unusual than the reverse." Perhaps the most important impact of the militia is the way it integrates the military and the society as a whole. In most developed societies there is alienation between the people and the military class, one of the reasons the American Founding Fathers, rightly, feared such a class. The citizen-based force of the Swiss, by contrast, is practical and efficient in military terms, and wholesome for the society. Can there be any higher function of the state than the preservation and protection of the state and the people from external violence? As in other walks of Swiss political life - making laws, altering the constitution, defending the nation - we see supreme acts of sovereignty being carried out, for the most part, by ordinary citizens. In perhaps every fourth or fifth meeting with a Swiss of any length, army contacts and experiences are likely to come up. Christian Kuoni, the president of one of the largest privately owned manufacturing companies in Switzerland, Jakob Muller, asks about my meetings later in the day. One is with Carlo Schmid, an attorney, Landamann of Canton Appenzell, and a member of the federal senate. "Carlo Schmid?" he asks. "We drilled in the army together for years." And Kuoni whips out his little service book, proceeding to tick through some of his assignments with various other corporate officers, workers from his own factory and others, journalists, a union leader from Geneva, the fellow who runs the local post office. As he ticks along, it strikes me that the Swiss have their confessional and other differences, but there is one church they all attend: the army. There is, of course, no even remotely comparable experience in the United States and most of Europe. The Swiss Army slashes across all walks of life, institutions, interest groups, and people and brings every citizen of the state - or rather, every male citizen, but through them, involves a majority of the women as well - together for an act of regular communion. It is important to note that early in the twenty-first century the Swiss began a reduction in the size and universality of their military service. This reduction, of about one-third, was hard to argue against in terms of the relative military peace in Europe, but the change will have social impacts. The reduction especially of the principle of broad, almost universal service, will change the psychology and role of army service. Switzerland's rate of military service will still far exceed that of nearly any other country in the world with the exception of Israel. For this reason, the Swiss Army, albeit smaller, will continue to play a significant social and economic role in the country. As the Swiss army makes Swiss neutrality muscular, so Swiss neutrality gives the army - and the society - both a strong moral raison d'etre in foreign affairs and, to a degree, an ethos not only for the nation as a whole but for the individual. Swiss neutrality's roots are as deep as the oath on the Rütli, but the decisive event in its development came with the Swiss defeat of 1515 at the hands of the French army at Marignano. "I have conquered those whom only Caesar managed to conquer before me," boasted King Francois I. Actually, he had not conquered the Swiss; he had defeated them in battle. The impact, however, was still great. Switzerland was a poor country, and, indeed, still only a country in the most generous sense of the term - a loose confederation of thirteen cantons, linked by a small, impermanent court that floated from one capital city to another every year like Gulliver's island of Laputa. They decided, quite prudently, that this was no core from which to build a vast empire through military conquest. Nicholaus von der Flue, the respected friar and political-religious activist, added powerful moral arguments to these practical ones, and the policy took root. For centuries, of course, neutrality as a policy of the confederation was really something of a statement of impotence by that rather thin body of government. The cantons aligned themselves with competing princes all over Europe - usually renting the services of their highly sought armies or units of them as mercenaries. For hundreds of years, as one military historian has written, arms of this sort were "Switzerland's leading export." This practice indeed helped enrich the region, while at the same time maintaining what De Gaulle called "the edge of the sword" - and thus, while Switzerland was neutral, the Swiss were fighting all the time: hard, sharp. This practice, however, led to its own absurdities. It helped keep Switzerland divided and even encouraged foreign meddling, since it was well known that for the right price most cantons could be swayed to shift alliances. It also led to the repeated comedy - a sad comedy at that - of Swiss troops from different cantons facing one another in battle. With grim logic, the Swiss fought bravely in such struggles, killing many of themselves. On the more glorious side of the ledger, Swiss soldiers participated in (and played a key role) in some of the most important battles of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. The French kings saw the Swiss in action and hired them to guard the royal person. While many French guards deserted during the seizure of Louis and Antoinette during the Revolution, the Swiss fought to the death, and were thereby honored and respected even by the revolutionaries for performing an honest duty so bravely. Centuries before, the Popes, having seen the Swiss bodyguards in action, decided to retain their own units for protection of the Vatican. The brave Swiss guards of canton Fribourg remained in this service at the dawn of the twenty-first century. As a practical benefit most foreign powers, even the great empires, while they certainly looked to the cantons for troops, generally thought of any occupation or absorption of Switzerland as a high-cost enterprise with few likely benefits. Thus the policy of neutrality, while viewed with an understandable skepticism by some modern-day critics, grew and evolved over time into something solid. Franz Muheim, a typically Swiss Swiss - former industry leader, military officer, senator, author, intellectual - explains some of the deep roots and wide branches of that broad concept, Swiss neutrality. "There is a basic point of view that you could call Swiss," he tells me in English - his third or fourth language - at the Hotel Metropol in Luzern, over a pleasant luncheon. "It is not predetermined by the mountains and the geography, but certainly, these make it very natural. "The Swiss, you see, are not so much a mountain people, as a valley people - separated by mountains. Farmers, small manufacturers, gate keepers. The land makes it not inevitable, but certainly very easy, for small, independent communities to form. "If one of these communities even wanted to conquer and enslave one of their neighbors, it would not be an easy task," he continued. A picture of Jean-Jacques Rousseau flashed into my mind, with his classic commentary on the impossibility of slavery in the state of nature, from the essay on the origins of inequality to the Academy at Dijon. "Of course, you could not do it, nor did the Swiss ever want to do it. "The Swiss wants primarily to be left alone by the next village, and to cooperate with his friends and neighbors while retaining a certain autonomy and independence even within this intimate cell. He does not want to be involved in fights against or between his neighbors, both because he knows how hard it is to intervene usefully, and because he recognizes the limited ability his small village would have to influence matters anyway." "This way of thinking applies from the individual Swiss of those villages, hundreds of years ago, up to the state - and today, as well, from the state down to and through the individual." Neutrality, thus, is a state of mind and personal philosophy, a broadened version of that very wise beginning of the doctor's Hippocratic Oath: "First do no harm." It is policy, but it is more than that. Likewise the Swiss military-industrial complex is an arm of the government - but not just an arm of the government. It is, like many Swiss institutions, inextricably linked with the society - achieving something akin to the Maoist dictum that the guerrilla must be as a fish is to the sea. "You must understand," as Swiss Divisionnaire Adrien Tschumy, told the journalist McPhee, "there is no difference between the Swiss people and the Swiss Army." Note 1. La Place de la Concorde Suisse, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1984. McPhee's book is a quiet classic for Americans, but among the Swiss, it is almost at the level of a cult. McPhee, a New Yorker editor, drilled with several Swiss units and described his conversations and experience in some detail. It is a bragging point among the Swiss not merely to have been mentioned in the book, or to have had some contact with McPhee, but to know someone who has. "I once drilled with someone who had previously drilled in that unit, though he was not there at the time McPhee was," a Swiss businessman, who heads a Fortune 500 company, told me proudly. 18. Switzerland Accused Hans Bär was not ready for my question. It was not on the list of topics faxed before our talk and, in fact, wasn't even in my mind until we were about half-way through. He wasn't angry about it - to my relief. But he was surprised. It surprised me, too; my voice seemed to come from someone else. "How do you feel about Switzerland and the Holocaust?" Simple words, but that last one evokes strong emotions. Hans Bär, the head of an old and respected investment bank in Zürich, didn't know me except as a writer interested in Switzerland. It would have been understandable if he were taken aback, even offended. At the same time, even before Bär answered, it felt right. The question of the Nazi reign of terror and the country's response to it is one that troubles the Swiss deeply. And the international grilling of Switzerland in the late 1990s was a blow to the national pride and a cause of deep hurt. Here was a man who felt all these emotions strongly and personally - an informed man of some sensitivity. The question had to be asked. "I feel..." Bär said, and paused. He seemed to be thinking about his feelings on this, improbable as it sounds, for the first time. "I feel very proud and very ashamed of my country. I am a Swiss, and a Jew. I am both." "Switzerland made mistakes - was guilty of horrible political stupidity after the war. There should have been an active effort to recompense the owners and the descendants of the dormant accounts." (Bär is speaking of accounts opened by foreign Jews in Swiss banks before the war, but which lapsed afterward. In some cases, the account holders died. In others, they simply forgot the accounts, or allowed them to sit fallow. In some cases, money was paid out.) "At the same time, Switzerland resisted the Nazis for years when she was completely surrounded." Indeed, even before the war, Switzerland was the first country to launch a significant armament program to defend against the Nazi threat. "It is even more complicated than this, because, for example, there were elements of anti-Semitism here, too. They were not nearly as strong as in Germany or elsewhere. But there was some. We would see banners in Zürich occasionally, read newspaper articles, hear threats. " Bär's natural conflictedness was well captured when his preparatory school in the United States, the Horace Mann School, asked him to accept an award in 1998.(1) Bär was flattered. He would have liked to receive the honor. "But I could not accept an award in the United States, while my country was being treated as it was by the U.S. government and in the U.S. press - and in the very circles of people whom I would be receiving this award from. I told them, as a Swiss, I could not accept." A year passed. The U.S. government, while not explicitly apologizing for its allegation that Swiss actions had "helped prolong" World War II, issued a second report qualifying some of the more extreme claims of the first one. Vice President Gore appeared in Davos, Switzerland, to tell the Swiss President, Mrs. Dreifuss, that his government hoped the controversy would wind down and planned no further actions designed to bring pressure or opprobrium on the Swiss. The school offered the award again. Bär accepted, using his speech as an opportunity to put the Swiss record in context - and encourage his American audience to consider our own sins of omission in the Nazi Holocaust and other such events, before lecturing others. The crisis seemed to be defusing itself, the wounds starting to heal. "There is little doubt in my mind," Bär told the Horace Mann School, "that the declared end of the very serious bickering between the United States and Switzerland over its role during and after the Second World War, as it was solemnly declared in Davos only a couple of weeks ago, really marks the end of that episode." Even if so, however, some painful historical questions remain - not only for the Swiss but for other countries that, unlike Switzerland, have not begun to come to terms with their wartime and postwar banking transactions. Furthermore, it was far from clear, as Bär commented a year later, that the Davos "ceasefire" represented anything more than a temporary lull by some U.S. officials in a long and inexplicable vendetta against the Swiss. For the Swiss democracy, regardless of U.S. attitudes, there are institutional questions raised by the Holocaust issue. These events raise questions that the Swiss will have to address. The future is bound to bring moral-political issues of this type, issues over the Swiss banking system and issues that arise out of Swiss neutrality - a policy that is always vulnerable to misinterpretation and, at times, abuses. How will Switzerland handle them? "The controversy," as the Swiss refer to it, was latent in the practices of Swiss banks going back to the early postwar years, and, indeed, to before the war itself. During the war and in the years afterward, some 50,000 to 100,000 accounts fell dormant, or were closed. It is doubtful that a majority of these belonged to Holocaust victims or other Jews. In fact, according to studies of the Swiss accounts, it is all but certain that a third or less were. It is equally certain, however, that some finite percentage of these accounts did belong to Jews. According to the Swiss Bankers Association, nearly 20,000 persons have registered claims for dormant accounts. (Many of these, of course, are duplicate claims from relatives of the same prospective account holder.) The Volcker Committee, headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, studied the matter of dormant accounts and other unclaimed assets in Swiss banks deposited by victims of the Nazis. It concluded, in an interim report, that when interest and inflation over the years are added to the initial principal, perhaps $1 billion to $2 billion in such assets exist. This committee was established by the Swiss Bankers Association in cooperation with the World Jewish Relief Organization and the World Jewish Congress. These matters remained closed and generally uncontroversial for several decades due to two factors. One was the renowned sacredness of Swiss banking privacy. This policy has always been somewhat misunderstood. For instance, the provisions provide no shield against domestic or international criminal prosecutions. Nevertheless, the policy did make it hard for relatives, journalists, and others both from obtaining specific account information and from compiling a broad profile of the scope and magnitude of the accounts. Often such accounts were opened under fictitious names, or using passwords or numeric codes. If the person who opened the account died, relatives might have no idea where the money was. Relatives coming back after the war, or even decades later, lacking the needed account information might ask the Swiss banks for help, but the banks declined to give out the needed information. The reputation of Swiss secrecy discouraged many from even trying. The second factor was a certain smugness, or at the least indifference, on the part of Swiss bankers and politicians when inquiries and appeals were made. In the case of some business and political elites, in fact, more than indifference was involved. The Swiss people, in plain terms, were sometimes lied to about the activities of the government and the banks. Individual requests for access to dormant accounts by Holocaust victims were treated no worse than if they involved an account in no way linked to a Holocaust victim, but they were treated no better. Group appeals (from Jewish organizations, corporations, or governments) were politely referred to the banks. This policy might be defensible from a narrow legal standpoint, but it took little account of the special circumstances of this group of people. To keep these matters in perspective, of course, Americans and Europeans outside Switzerland must remember the indifference of some of their own financial and political institutions before, during, and after the war. Researchers have argued that Deutsche Bank, Ford Motor Company, Allianz, and General Motors all benefited from unsavory relations with the Nazi regime before or after the war. "New York State," as Bär points out, "was the beneficiary of most of the Holocaust funds transferred to the U.S. under your escheatment laws - and never returned a penny." What was underneath the surface became a heated debate when a group representing the families of Holocaust victims filed a class action suit against a number of Swiss banks in 1996. The suit called for the return of what the plaintiffs said was some $20 billion owed in principal and interest to the survivors and their families. The case was ultimately settled for about $1.5 billion, more than the amount estimated by the Volcker Commission as due on dormant accounts to Holocaust victims, and much less than the original suit. As the press, foreign governments, and others began to comment on the specific situation with the accounts, however, they catalyzed a discussion of several broader issues, including: - gold and other transactions by the Swiss National Bank with the Germans; - the broader Swiss economic relationship with Germany and the other Axis powers; - Swiss military efforts to resist potential Nazi aggression; and - the meaning, benefits, and (if any) harms of Swiss neutrality policy. That the Swiss carried out large gold transactions with Nazi Germany can not be denied, and never was. As a neutral nation, Switzerland naturally kept up some economic and political relations with her largest trading power. A secret British report late in the war concluded that Swiss neutrality had been highly beneficial to the allies, as did such American officials as William Clayton, Dean Acheson, and John Foster Dulles. As well, as a practical matter, Switzerland was physically surrounded for much of the war by Axis troops. Dependent on other countries for energy and food imports, Switzerland built machinery and other exports for trade, and carried out that trade in the international medium of exchange at the time: gold. Given the volume of gold being transacted by the German central bank, it is impossible to believe that the Swiss did not purchase some amount of gold from Holocaust victims including but not limited to the particular purchases identified in recent investigations that the Swiss either conducted themselves, or cooperated with. In all, the Swiss purchased some 1.5 billion Swiss francs worth of gold from the German central bank from 1938 until 1945, most of it concentrated in the peak war years of 1941 through 1943. The supposition that the Swiss traded significantly in the gold stolen and in some cases physically removed from Jewish victims, however, is highly doubtful. Once the issue of gold transactions became a serious issue and the Swiss were aroused to act - too late, but not too little - the Swiss attacked the problem. The Confederation appointed a commission to consider the gold transactions and other issues of policy during the war. Working from shattered records and moldy microfilms spread from Missouri to Moscow, the commission managed to locate at least three specific bars of gold that clearly originated in a shipment from SS Captain Bruno Melmer. "Specifically," the commission reported, "these were bars from the seventh Melmer shipment" to the German Reichsbank on 27 November 1942, "bearing the numbers 36903, 36904, and 36905 and having a total weight of 37.5411 kfg. They were sent by the Reichsbank to the SNB [Swiss National Bank] in Bern on 5 January 1943." As well, "gold bars with the numbers 36783 and 36784," as well as "numbers 36902 and 36907," were "delivered to the Prussian Mint on 25 February 1943." These four bars were in turn resmelted and sold to the Swiss and to German commercial banks. There is a distinction between gold stolen from Jews when they were rounded up, and gold literally taken from their bodies in the Nazi death camps. That the latter was taking place was not known until the final days of the war. The former phenomenon - the theft of gold from people as they were rounded up for what were presumed to be horrible work camps, but not genocide - was understood by the Swiss from their own intelligence reports and indeed press accounts from Germany, Italy, and elsewhere. "For those who want to know," an article in the Neve Zürcher Zeitung on August 16, 1942, argued, "there can be no more illusions concerning the real situation of gold trade with Germany." The article went on to detail the looting of gold from foreign central banks and from individuals. "It is known that assets held by private individuals were also confiscated in the occupied territories," the director of the Swiss National Bank's legal department commented on December 2, 1943. "For example, from deported Jews or from persons affected by sanctions, etc." Nevertheless, Switzerland was not the only country to receive gold the Nazis stole from Holocaust victims, or looted from foreign central banks. From 1935 to 1945, some $20 billion flowed out of Europe to the United States. Much of it, albeit indirectly, was Nazi gold. Swiss purchases of gold from Germany, Italy, and Japan ($319 million) were barely half that from the allies ($688 million), most of it coming from the United States ($518 million). The U.S. was also the leading purchaser of gold from the Swiss, at $165 million, numbers which imply there was some victim gold involved. The Swiss encirclement was exacerbated by the American economic embargo of the Axis powers, which was a de facto quarantine on all of Western Europe. In December, 1941, Washington froze Swiss assets in the United States, including substantial gold reserves. The ironic result was to drive Switzerland, needing gold reserves to conduct trade and defend its currency, into the arms of Germany, a needy supplier of gold and the one country that could unilaterally engage in actual transfers of the metal. Figure 18.1 shows the pattern of Swiss gold purchases from Germany, spiking in the first quarter of 1942, and returning to normal after the third quarter of 1944, when the allies opened a small transit corridor to Switzerland through France. Figure 18.1 Swiss National Bank Gold Purchases from German Reichsbank, Expressed as a Three-Quarter Moving Average Millions of Swiss Francs (approx.) 1940.25 - 05 1940.50 - 10 1940.75 - 00 1941.00 - 13 1941.25 - 15 1941.50 - 23 1941.75 - 08 (Dec. 1941: U.S. freezes Swiss gold assets) 1942.00 - 40 1942.25 - 80 1942.50 - 110 1942.75 - 95 1943.00 - 83 1943.25 - 93 1943.50 - 90 1943.75 - 84 1944.00 - 80 1944.25 - 82 1944.50 - 60 (Aug. 1944: Allies open Swiss corridor) 1944.75 - 40 1945.00 - 20 1945.25 - 15 1945.50 - 13 1945.75 - 00 Source: Alexis de Tocqueville Institution from data supplied by SNB, the Swiss Task Force on World War II, and the German Bundesbank. --- Especially painful to the Swiss is the accusation that their country was "neutral for Hitler." The accusation takes various forms. Some argue that the Swiss, by selling specific equipment and armaments to the Germans, or trading with them at all, were aiding the German war effort. (The Swiss, despite their position, traded nearly as much with the allies and smuggled out precision instruments vital to the allied effort in the critical air war.) Others suggest that merely by trading with Germany in any extensive way, the Swiss must have been helping the Nazis, and therefore, are culpable. An official U.S. document, the first Eisenstadt report, argues that Swiss actions even helped "prolong the war." Still others convict the Swiss of a kind of cultural affinity. "They're basically German," as a staff aide who contributed to the Eisenstadt report commented. "You have to keep that in mind." (Report author Stuart Eisenstadt later said he regretted some of the report's conclusions, but critics noted that this retraction took place only after Eisenstadt allegedly went on the payroll of a major Swiss bank.) These notions of an insufficient disdain for Hitler, and a kind of tacit, cultural self-Anschluss, are highly insidious - nearly impossible to combat. Once motives are impugned, much objective evidence becomes meaningless, even usable against itself. Any wartime action that advanced Switzerland's own interests, no matter how legitimately, can be added to the tally as another sign of shrewd Swiss venality. Selling paper clips to the Germans? There they go again, providing valuable supplies. Selling paper clips to the Americans? The Swiss are always out to make a profit at our expense. At various points in the war, both the allies and the Germans were furious with the Swiss for what they perceived as a tilt toward the other. America, in a much stronger position to chart its own course than Switzerland, continued a substantial trade with Germany even after the attack on France. We justified our policy as part of a needed effort to rebuild American production capacity for armaments. Later, in order to expedite the war against Nazism, the U.S. formed an alliance with Stalinist Russia. Finally, the Swiss have no tradition of self-apologetics, and their system is designed against it. America has had great power for a century now, and, accordingly, attracted a long stream of insults and denunciations. The U.S. is inured to being assaulted as corrupt, aggressive, or insensitive. It has calluses for these attacks, and experience at wooing and battering world opinion against them. Switzerland, a small nation that has not threatened its neighbors militarily for centuries, has not often been engaged in defending itself from this kind of attack. The Swiss have faced and repelled armies. The international press, Western politicians, and university researchers are a different matter, and to the Swiss, in some ways more threatening. For the Swiss, World War II, as an economic phenomenon, began a few weeks after the German leadership appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor in January, 1933. In the Swiss tradition, the political leaders in Bern, and newspaper readers around the country, had read Hitler's statements before and after coming to power. Unlike most in the West, the Swiss took them seriously. "Our people will never allow itself to be brought into line according to the German pattern," Federal Councilor Rudolf Minger, head of the military department, declared in March, 1933, justifying his proposal for increased Swiss defense preparedness. That October, as Hitler announced Germany's intention to withdraw from the League of Nations, Minger drew up a plan to increase Swiss military spending by 15 million francs in 1934, a 20 percent increase, as part of a four-year addition of 100 million francs - a near doubling of Swiss defense spending by 1938. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung, in an October 12 editorial, approved, adding that the country not only needed such armaments, but a vigorous "spiritual defense" as well - a term that became a Swiss rallying cry. On December 10, The New York Times published an article alleging that Germany had drawn up plans for the invasion of France through Switzerland. The account may have been spurious, but the Swiss could not assume that it was. On December 14, the federal council approved more than 80 million francs in additional defense spending. Among the items was the start of construction of a vast series of hidden mountain fortifications and guns. This fortress Switzerland program became a $15 billion project in today's dollars - not much less than what Ronald Reagan and the United States spent on his Star Wars defense program during his entire term in office. At the same time, the Swiss decided to build a new museum to house the Bundesbrief and other documents of national independence - exemplifying the Swiss political and sentimental separation from Austria and Germany, or what one writer later called "pan-this and pan-that." This is where Swiss policy toward Germany stood in 1933, before Hitler had spent a full year in office. The war measures continued and expanded through Hitler's abrogation of the Versaille treaty (August, 1935), occupation of the Rhineland (March, 1936), absorption of Austria (March, 1938), the Kristallnacht assault on Jews (November, 1938), the annexation of Czechoslovakia (1939), and the invasion of Poland (April, 1940), Denmark and Norway (April, 1940), and France (May, 1941 ). In the spring of 1934, Nazi textbook writers drew maps of showing Switzerland as part of a conceived "Greater Germany" based on language and ethnic lines. "Quite naturally, we count you Swiss as offshoots of the German nation," Nazi historian Ewald Banse, author of one of the textbooks, commented. Swiss newspapers and officials attacked his conception. Theodore Fischer, the leader of Switzerland's tiny pro-German faction, promised the country would be liberated from its status as a "vassal state of France under Jewish control." Federal Councillor Jean Marie Musy, the Swiss finance minister, spoke for most of the country when he promised that Switzerland would "remain a democracy or cease to be Switzerland." The "racial ideal," he said, "can never be the basis of Swiss nationality." Defense Minister Minger echoed: "Events abroad have reawoken Switzerland's ancient defiance and the feelings for justice and liberty have been renewed." In the following twelve months the Swiss banned the wearing of uniforms by political parties; expanded the period for basic military training by twenty days; increased the defense budget by more than 30 percent; enacted additional protections for the press against German threats and complaints; expelled German agents who were trolling through Zürich and Basel hoping to identify private bank transfers made by Jews; and rejected an initiative, supported by the small national socialist group, calling for greater centralized economic planning such as enacted in Germany, Italy, and the United States. The Swiss people signaled their support for these measures whenever tested. In some ways they were more anti-German than their leaders. In 1935, the Communist Party and others challenged the near doubling of defense expenditures in a national vote - a "facultative" referendum. They lost, 54 percent to 46 percent. This was the height of the Great Depression in Switzerland. It was the only significant facultative referendum between 1929 and 1946 that passed. And it was the only one between 1916and 1946 that passed while calling for significant government expenditures. >From 1933 to 1937, land cultivation in Switzerland doubled. While there were government incentive programs, a large portion of the increase was the result of appeals to the Swiss people to increase the country's food supply voluntarily. On the eve of the war, the government asked for volunteers for extra military home defense units. The council hoped to find 20,000 to 30,000 able boys and old men who could shuttle ammunition to key points, aid in communications, and perform similar duties. Within three months, more than 200,000 had volunteered. Popular war preparations accelerated in the spring of 1938, as Hitler swallowed Austria. This made Switzerland, as The New York Times noted, "a democratic peninsula in a politically autocratic and economically autarchic league." A few days later, the Socialist Party of Basel, the city with the closest ties to Germany, collected signatures for an initiative to criminalize membership in the Nazi Party. The initiative achieved the highest number of signatures ever seen in the city. The national parliament, meanwhile, had also approved a significant revision of the penal code. Among other things, it allowed persons charged with treason and other collaboration with the enemy - including civilians - to be tried by military courts. This change was challenged in a facultative referendum, but the new law was approved in July, 1938, with 54 percent support. In December, 1940, the leading Nazi group was banned and its leaders arrested. In the United States, by contrast, Nazi groups, though small, were still active. America completed its second consecutive year of more than $100 million in trade with the Nazis as Henry Luce and others tried (with little initial success) to rally popular support for aid to Britain and other Nazi foes. The Swiss, of course, faced a much greater threat than the Americans did in the 1930s, and indeed throughout the war; they had more reason to prepare for the Nazis. Figure 18.2 compares Swiss military expenditures with those of other European countries in dollars per capita for 1937. These figures understate the relative Swiss resistance to Nazism, because of the popular nature of the Swiss Army, which incorporated 400,000 members, expanding to more than 750,000 during an actual attack. The former figure meant that Switzerland, in 1938, had approximately 10 percent of the population under arms. Only Finland (8 percent) and Belgium (8 percent) compare favorably and even these are significantly below the lower Swiss figure. The Netherlands (5 percent), Norway (4 percent), Denmark (4 percent), and France (3 percent) were even lower. The Swiss looked not only to physical measures, but also to psychological and even metaphysical ones as well. In 1937, Federal Councillor Philipp Etter published a book entitled Geistige Landesverteidung - roughly, Spiritual Defense. The book was a Swiss best seller and reportedly was distributed Table 18.1 Meeting the Nazi Threat Military Spending per Capita, 1935 Finland 24.9 Switzerland 22.6 Belgium 19.7 Norway 17.9 The Netherlands 16.5 Denmark 14.3 Austria 11.9 (in 1935 Swiss francs) Source: Alexis de Tocqueville Institution research memorandum, 1999, from national data and population figures. --- widely in Czechoslovakia, Austria, and other soon-to-be "possessions of the German Reich," as Hitler termed them. 'The German people will never forget the attitude of the Swiss during this war," growled the Frankfurter Zeitung on December 2, 1940. "A nation of 80,000,000, while fighting for bare existence, finds itself almost uninterruptedly attacked, insulted, and slandered by the newspapers of a minuscule country whose government claims to be neutral." The pages above place a lot of emphasis on Swiss actions prior to the German Blitzkrieg of France in the spring of 1940 and in the immediate months that followed. There's a good reason. We learn a lot about Swiss hopes and intentions during the period when Nazism was reaching its zenith. This was the time when Denmark, Belgium, and Austria were either giving up without a fight, or fighting but offering only a few days or weeks (France) of resistance. On June 14, a Friday in 1940, Paris fell. The Swiss, neutral to the teeth, were already aggressively engaged in the defense of their national territory against "all potential aggressors" - i.e., Hitler. American entry into the war was still more than 500 days away, awaiting Pearl Harbor and the gratuitous German declaration of war hours later. The following Monday, June 17, General Henri Guisan - elected to head the Swiss war effort shortly after the German invasion of Poland - called together the Swiss general staff to discuss preparations for the defense of Switzerland against a possible occupation by the Nazis. Late in June, as the German-French truce became effective, German Captain Otto Wilhelm von Menges submitted a plan for an attack on Switzerland to the German general staff. On July 25, Guisan and the Swiss general staff gathered in Luzern to boat down the lake to the banks of the Rütli, where they renewed the sacred oath of their ancestors from 1291 and the Bundesbrief. Author Stephen Halbrook paints the scene: On a beautiful day, Guisan faced the senior officers of the army standing in a semicircle on the Rütli Meadow, facing the lake. Canton Uri's flag of the Battalion 87 flew above. Addressing the measures taken "for the resistance in the reduit," Guisan ordered "resistance to all aggression." He continued: "Here, soldiers of 1940, we will inspire ourselves with the lessons and spirit of the past to envisage resolution of the present and future of the country, to hear the mysterious call that pervades this meadow." Swiss elite troops had already been on active duty for almost a year - they were called up on August 25, 1939. "The country has one tenth of its population under arms; more than any other in the world," William Shirer diarized. "They're ready to defend their way of life." Switzerland's orders for organization of "the entire army for resistance" promised the Germans that Switzerland as a nation would never capitulate - even if its government did. The order was posted all over the country both to reassure the people and to warn the Germans. In the event of attack, it said, the Swiss would be notified "through poster, radio, courier, town crier, storm bells, and the dropping of leaflets from airplanes." The response would not be limited to formal military groups acting as official units. "All soldiers and those with them are to attack with ruthlessness parachutists, airborne infantry, and saboteurs. Where no officers and noncommissioned officers are present, each soldier acts under exertion of all powers of his own initiative." Bearing in mind the case of other countries which had been intimidated into surrendering because of the capitulation of the national leadership, the order continued: If by radio, leaflets, or other media any information is transmitted doubting the will of the Federal Council or of the Army High Command to resist an attacker, this information must be regarded as lies of enemy propaganda. Our country will resist the aggression with all means in its power and to the bitter end. In effect, the government was committing itself and the people to what Etter had called "total spiritual warfare." They deprived themselves of the ability to surrender even if they later wanted too: Swiss army units and citizens were under orders to ignore reports of such a decision and continue fighting. All this makes it easy to understand the Swiss frustration at accusations that their country was in complicity with the Nazis during World War II. In fact, the Swiss people put up stiffer resistance, against greater odds, to the Germans than those of any other country. As Walter Lippmann, responding to an article in a U.S. magazine implying Switzerland was "occupied" by the Germans, wrote in January, 1943: The Swiss nation is entirely surrounded by Axis armies, beyond reach of any help from the democracies.... Switzerland, which cannot live without trading with the surrounding Axis countries, still is an independent democracy.... That is the remarkable thing about Switzerland. The real news is not that her factories make munitions for Germany but that the Swiss have an army which stands guard against invasion, that their frontiers are defended, that their free institutions continue to exist, and that there has been no Swiss Quisling, and no Swiss Laval. The Swiss remained true to themselves even in the darkest days of 1940 and 1941, when it seemed that nothing but the valor of the British and the blind faith of free men elsewhere stood between Hitler and the creation of a totalitarian new order in Europe. Surely, if ever the honor of a people was put to the test, the honor of the Swiss was tested and proved then and there... .They have demonstrated that the traditions of freedom can be stronger than the ties of race and of language and economic interest. "Switzerland stands today as an island in a Nazi ocean," The New York Times echoed in a January 28 editorial. Referring to German publications that continually described Switzerland as a country harboring, and dominated by, Jews, the Times added, "perhaps the Swiss didn't mind being called a 'medley of criminals, particularly Jews.' To be called a criminal by a Nazi is to receive a high compliment. To be called a Jew by a Nazi is to be classed with those who have suffered martyrdom for freedom's sake." Over the nine years of Swiss vulnerability, the Germans developed more than a dozen attack plans for Switzerland which were discussed at the highest military levels. These included deliberations by Hitler himself in 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945. Except for a respite in 1941-42 while the German army was occupied with the assault on Russia - which ended as the Nazi retreat from Russia raised interest in grabbing Switzerland as a final redoubt - the Swiss were under near-constant peril. "We woke up every morning and looked over the Rhein," a Jewish woman who lived in Basel comments, "and wondered whether the Germans would be invading that day." The woman, who asked that her name be withheld, said that her family attempted several times to emigrate to the United States. This was not because they were ill-treated in Switzerland - she lives near Davos where her husband is in a nursing home - but because they knew that if the Nazis did invade, they would be primary targets. They were, however, turned down, as were most appeals for asylum by European Jews to the U.S. State Department. Why didn't the Germans actually seize Switzerland? The answer does not lie in any especially beneficial economic relationship. Swiss supplies of machinery to the Germans never totaled more than 3 percent of industrial production for a month, and averaged less than 2 percent over the war. Invasion would not have jeopardized much of this total because the Germans could seize most of the factories in the flat, Northern strip of the country that is most easily occupied. The answer lies in German estimates that concluded that it would take anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 men to subdue the country, followed by a smaller but still substantial occupation presence. Had they done this as well, the Germans were assured, the Swiss would destroy the tunnel and bridges through the Alps, depriving the Nazis of the most direct connection to their Italian allies. Such a move, in combination with German occupation of the Northern plain, would also have effectively destroyed the Swiss economy. It would have meant death for many Swiss and internees (including Jews) who lived there; the rest would have been, like other occupied populations, Nazi hostages. But the Swiss repeatedly assured the Germans that they would take this step and they mined key transportation points so as to be able to carry that threat out almost the instant Nazi troops crossed the frontier. A retired Swiss official who was part of the economic planning team during the war told me that in regular meetings the Germans repeatedly threatened both occupation and personal violence against the Swiss officials who were standing up to the German demands. "We were never belligerent back," he said, "but we did calmly and repeatedly refer them to our government's policies for dealing with those eventualities, which were published and repeated often to make sure they understood that our government and our people intended to carry them out." In the context of all the country's actions, the Swiss threat to commit suicide - but pull Germany down as they went; a reciprocating Mosada - apparently struck the Germans as credible. "The Swiss are just the people," as The New York Times observed, "if pushed a mite too far, who would prefer to starve or die fighting rather than give in. Because they are that kind of people, they may not have to prove it in action." Hitler seemed to sense this determination in the Swiss, and, as a result, had a loathing for them as a nation that rivaled his hatred of Winston Churchill as an individual and the Jews as a people. At a war-planning conference with Mussolini in 1940, Hitler and the Italian dictator discussed what Hitler saw as the need to occupy Switzerland, to put an end to its "insolent defiance" of the New Europe and "collaboration with and harboring of the Jews." Later that year, Hitler learned of the delivery of precision engineering products from Switzerland to England, and flew into a tantrum. He immediately ordered his generals to draw up fresh invasion plans and described Bern - accurately - as the "center of international spying against Germany." Again in 1941, Hitler and the Italian dictator traded insulting characterizations of Switzerland, discussing the matter for more than half an hour. "The Führer characterized Switzerland as the most despicable and wretched people," recalled an aide who attended the meeting - the Swiss were, he later said, a "bastard" nation because of the intermingling of German blood with those of inferior races. "They frankly opposed the Reich," Hitler said, "hoping that by parting from the common destiny of the German people, they would be better off." Discussing his plans for the post-war economic order, Hitler said: "As for the Swiss, we can use them, at the best, as hotel-keepers." The Swiss press was a constant irritant to Hitler. It was not just what it said about him, but the very fact of its freedom. In July of 1942, Hitler encountered Swiss press reports about the military strength of Soviet Russia. "Not only in England and America," Hitler groaned, but in Switzerland, "the population believes in Jewish claptrap." The Jews, he told an aide, must have special influence with the Swiss, because they cared about little other than grain prices, cows, and clocks. That August, impatient with the estimates of his generals that the Germans would need perhaps 500,000 men to subdue Switzerland - many times the relative troop strength used to conquer France - the Führer launched into another tirade about the Swiss. "A state like Switzerland," Hitler told his staff, "which is nothing but a pimple on the face of Europe, cannot be allowed to continue." The wording is revealing: The Swiss state, for Hitler, must not be suffered even to continue. To the Reich, Switzerland's existence was an offense. It was no accident that Hitler linked the Jews with the Swiss in many of his eruptions. Although many Jewish refugees were turned away at the Swiss border, thousands, particularly children and families with children, were accepted. (More by far than were welcomed by any other country in per capita terms.) The resulting Swiss ratio of rejection to acceptance was not nearly high enough to please the Führer. "The Jew must get out of Europe," he exploded at a meeting a few days after the infamous Wannsee Conference, where the plan to annihilate the Jews was drawn into a grisly blueprint. "Out of Switzerland and out of Sweden, they must be driven out." Like the Finns and the Poles, the Swiss had the special honor of confronting both the German and Russian dictators, and exciting their special contempt. At the Yalta conference in 1944, Stalin proposed the invasion and occupation of Switzerland - ostensibly to foreclose the German option of using it to stage a final defense. The allies refused, and that night, in a conversation with Molotov, Stalin denounced the Swiss as a "contemptible little nation of bankers and farmers," and somewhere, Lenin, Bismarck, and Metternich smiled in agreement. Several months later, Churchill commented on the discussion in a memorandum to his foreign secretary: I put this down for the record. Of all the neutrals, Switzerland has the greatest right to distinction. She has been the sole international force linking the hideously surrendered nations and ourselves. What does it matter whether she has been able to give us the commercial advantages we desire or has given too many to the Germans, to keep herself alive? Swiss today, particularly those who remember the war, are proud of Hitler's special disdain. They are, accordingly, hurt and angry at accusations that their country was complicit in any way with the Nazi regime. For all the superficial similarities of race and language, one can argue that there is not a country in the world that less resembles Nazi Germany than Switzerland. It is impossible to evaluate Switzerland's total moral position, if you will, in World War II without mentioning the country's positive contribution to the escape of thousands of Jews and other refugees from the Nazis. Figure 18.3 compares the per capita number of refugees accepted by the Swiss to those taken in by the United States, Great Britain, and France. These figures understate the contribution the Swiss made to the protection of Jews and other refugees from Hitler's destruction, as the country was economically isolated for most of the period. The relative sacrifice made by the Swiss to care for several hundred thousand total refugees, interned prisoners, and others was even larger than the graphic suggests. Statistics, moreover, omit the human face of Switzerland's humanitarian mission. One such flesh-and-blood contribution was made by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Lutz. Carl Lutz was born in 1895 in Appenzell, the second youngest of ten children. He emigrated to the United States at age eighteen to work in a factory in Granite City, Illinois, not far from East St. Louis. For most of the 1920s he worked in assorted Swiss diplomatic offices in the U.S. Eventually, the Swiss Foreign Office appointed Lutz as a consular official in Jaffa, Palestine, where he served from 1935 to 1939, an eyewitness to the Arab-Jewish conflicts. While there, he also helped some 2,500 Jewish emigrants from Germany to escape deportation by the British as illegal aliens. >From 1942 to 1944, Lutz worked closely with the Jewish Agency of Palestine, headed by Moshe Krausz, to document and transport an estimated 10,000 Jewish children and young adults to (what would soon become) Israel. Some were orphans, others had parents who had been deported. Most had been smuggled to Hungary from other countries (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Table 18.2 Havens from the Holocast Jewish Refugees from Germany Accepted per 1 Million Persons in Country's 1930 Population 1933-38 1933-45 United States 650 900 Great Britain 1,400 1,600 Sweden 550 1,500 France 850 1,100 Holland 1,000 n.a Denmark 750 850 Belgium 1,700 1,900 Switzerland 2,200 8,100 Source: Alexis de Tocqueville Institution from figures from the UN. High Commission on Refugees, Yad Vashem, and the Statistical Yearbook of the National Immigration and Naturalization Service. --- even Germany itself) by Chalutzim, Jewish pioneers. To evade the authorities, Lutz used British-approved Palestine Certificates, which he countersigned and supplemented with Swiss Schutzbriefe, protective "letters of transit." In March of 1944, the Nazis, who had dominated the country but refrained from blatant interference, occupied all of Hungary, imposing a hand-picked government. On March 21, the Nazi regent closed the borders to all further emigration. This blocked some 8,000 Jews who should have been free to leave. Lutz demanded their immediate, unconditional release. But soon the problem was much greater than a matter of 8,000 emigrants waiting to leave. Though Lutz did not yet know it, SS Chief Adolf Eichmann, aided by the puppet government, had already made plans to deport all 762,000 Jews in Hungary to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The situation grew even more acute in October when the Arrow-Cross Party, the most extreme of the pro-German factions, came to power. The Nazis, feeling the circle closing around them, decided to slaughter as many Jews as they could through low- technology methods: the infamous death march of November 1944, when more than 70,000 Jews were scourged towards the Austrian border. Working against the Nazis and the clock, Lutz and his wife used every legal method they could think of to bring Jews under his protection. They used many illegal methods as well. When the Germans promised to respect the protection of the 8,000 visas he had issued, but only provided he issue no more, Lutz agreed in order to gain time. In the meantime he continued to print visas, perhaps 30,000 or 40,000 - but always numbering them between 1 and 8,000, so that if individuals were stopped and produced their papers, it might appear there had been no duplication of visas. "This idea," the Encyclopedia of the Houlocaust reports, "served as a model for various types of protective letters issued by other neutral countries and by the International Red Cross." When the Germans caught on to this device, Lutz transferred his mission's emigration department to the now-famous Glass House on Vadasz Street, placing the building under his diplomatic immunity. He assembled several dozen leaders of the Jewish Community to act as liaisons, and collected thousands of photographs and signatures in a few days. Lutz then issued a series of "collective passports," covering some 40,000 persons in chunks of 1,000 and more apiece. Again the Nazis eventually penetrated the legal ruse, but it took time, and with the help of some of the Hungarians, Lutz had stalled the game out still further. The Lutzes formed a circle of sympathetic diplomats from the other neutrals, such as papal nuncio Angelo Rotta, to build a network of safe houses throughout the city where Jews could be placed under his protection. He bought apartment buildings with help from sympathetic officials in the government and transferred several thousand Jews to them. When Eichmann and the SS demanded that the Jews of Budapest be concentrated in one spot to facilitate deportation, Lutz persuaded Hungarian officials to provide him with more than seventy protective houses within the ghetto, in the Szent-Istvan area of Budapest. This bought precious weeks for the more than 30,000 Schutzbrief holders that Lutz placed there. Lutz also acted as a mentor to other diplomats, such as Raoul Wallenberg of Sweden, recruiting them to the cause and sharing his methods. By the end of the war these men and women formed a wide network. At times, the task was truly grim. Several times in the fall of 1944 and winter of 1945, Lutz and his wife were hauled out late at night to the Obuda brickyard. On those occasions, the Nazis would line up Jews holding authentic and forged Schutzbriefe with identical numbers, demanding that Lutz decide which documents were legitimate and which were not. If he did not so indicate, the SS guards were under orders to simply deport all the assembled Jews. In effect, Lutz was being asked to determine which people should live and which were sentenced to death. After one such session, Lutz feared he was near a breakdown, and his wife asked if they should consider leaving the country. The next day, there was an attempt on Lutz's life, one of several apparent efforts by the SS officers on hand. Like the border guards and Swiss families who regularly allowed Jews across the Swiss border, Lutz did not have the support of his government - nor of the British and American governments he represented. More than one exchange between Bern and London indicates that the two states contemplated recalling Lutz - London because it did not want so many Jews sent to Palestine, Bern because it worried Lutz's methods would compromise Swiss neutrality. Lutz worked to make sure Western governments and eventually Western publics understood what was at stake. When two prisoners escaped from Auschwitz and related the grisly reality of what was taking place there, he immediately dispatched an urgent report to his superiors in Bern and London. When these official channels failed to act, he scurried copies of key documents to a friend who had taken an assignment as a representative of El Salvador. The news of Auschwitz broke in the Swiss press and soon produced an outcry in Paris, London, and New York. Lutz, of course, was risking his job and his life with each such maneuver. The reward came in the frantic spring of 1945, as Russian troops closed in and the Nazis moved to slaughter as many Jews as possible before having to retreat. As the Soviet artillery neared, Lutz and his wife had to take cover in an isolated part of the city and were trapped for some weeks, out of contact with the world and unable to determine whether their efforts had even succeeded. Not long before the actual surrender of Germany, Lutz himself was liberated from his cellar in Pest. The letters, the safe houses, the bribes, and the leaks had saved, by a conservative calculation, some 62,000 lives. It measures the magnitude of the Holocaust to consider that this total was less than 1 percent of the number put to death by Hitler's Germany. On the other hand, this was the work of one Swiss citizen. Though Lutz was in a position to render aid on a large scale, there were many Swiss who helped save others from the Hitler death camps one victim at a time. Official Swiss policy was to turn away all would-be entrants without passports, Jewish (whose passports carried a stigmatizing "J") and otherwise. But the feelings of the Swiss people were considerably more liberal, and families, sometimes whole communities, were willing to defy their own government. Leopold Koss, now a doctor in New York City, was a beneficiary of this quiet heroism as he sought to escape the German occupation of France in 1942: On August 24 or 25, 1942 - I no longer remember the exact date - I crossed the French-Swiss border illegally on foot....The odds of being arrested in France as a Polish Jew and former soldier, and sent to a German concentration camp, were extremely high. On the way to my destination, I heard that although the official policies of the Swiss government were against acceptance of refugees and that many (including some friends of mine) were returned to France or into the hands of the Gestapo, there was a recent swell of public opinion to open the border. In fact, a woman on the train, perhaps guessing my destination, handed me an article in the Journal de Geneve, published some days before, openly exhorting the government to open the borders to the victims of Nazi persecution. Apparently similar articles appeared in August 1942 in the German-speaking press, notably the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. I entered Switzerland without difficulty and was soon several kilometers inland, not having been molested by anyone. Rather exhausted, hungry and thirsty, I voluntarily entered the barracks of a military unit... I was fed and offered a cot. The soldiers, simple Swiss citizens, couldn't have been nicer. The next day... I was interrogated by a police officer who promptly informed me that I was to be sent back to France as an illegal alien. However, he consented to listen to my story, told through tears, and offered to inquire of the authorities in Bern what should be done with me. I discovered shortly thereafter that there was a group of at least 30 men in the same predicament.... We were all treated with great consideration by the police and the guards. A few days later we were apparently accepted and sent to a camp for political refugees - Belchasse. I spent several months in Belchasse, followed by several months in a labor camp in Aesch-bei-Birmensdorf, near Zürich. It was hardly luxury - but it was safe. I only wish my parents and my sister, who stayed in Poland, could have been with me. They all perished. In September 1943, I was allowed to resume my studies of medicine in Bern. During the three and a half years that I spent at the University of Bern, I never had to pay any tuition.... The federal police, to whom I had to report on a weekly and then a monthly basis, were increasingly friendly.... In fact, as I was leaving Switzerland for the United States in 1947 to start a new life, they addressed their last communications to me with the title, "doctor," better than the previous "refugee." Dr. Koss remains grateful to the Swiss - and takes issue with the "dreary image" of wartime Switzerland presented by some Western governments and press reports. "There was another wartime Switzerland, " he says - one "very remote" from the portrait of "greed and collusion with the Nazis" that some present. Indeed, Koss writes: The Swiss have not only saved my life and that of many thousands of other refugees, but also gave me an outstanding education that has allowed me to forge a successful scientific career in the United States. I am now 76 years old and eternally grateful to the Swiss people for what they have done for me. The question is not whether Switzerland or countries such as Britain and the U.S. did enough to stop the Holocaust. None did. The question, rather, is whether any countries did more to liberate Jews and other potential victims of the Nazi death camps, or began a firm (and unwavering) resistance to Hitler earlier than the Swiss. If there are any, they are few. Note 1. Like many Jews, Bär's family left Europe in 1941 because of the threat from Nazi Germany. Whole companies - Julius Bär, Credit Suisse, Nestlé, and others - moved their headquarters overseas. Most went to the U.S., some to Latin America. 19 Diversity "In Switzerland, minorities are not tolerated. They are favored." A. Togni As the country eases into social peace and unity, it is easy to forget that, for most of its life, Switzerland was gripped by Europe's grudges. Alexis de Tocqueville summed up the Swiss situation in 1835 as follows: One people, composed of several races, speaking several languages; with several religious beliefs, various dissident sects, two churches both equally established and privileged; all religious questions turning into political ones, and all political questions turning quickly into religious ones - in short, two societies, one very old and the other very young, joined in marriage in spite of the age difference. That is a fair sketch of Switzerland. Even today, Switzerland suffers from natural divisions any one of which would severely strain national solidarity in most countries. The Swiss have three major languages, each of which is the home language to a powerful nation and culture on the Swiss frontier. Those national cultures along the Swiss border - in many cases less separated by natural boundaries from their affinity group than the three major Swiss language populations are from one another - have been an entropic magnet, always urging the country apart. "Nature has hindered movement and exchange within the country," as American sociologist Carol Schmid observes, "more than with the neighboring countries of the same language group."(1) Ethnic Italians, Germans, French, Jews, and Arabs - groups that haven't been able to get along anywhere else for centuries - swirl together within a work force more than one-fifth foreign born. The country has long been home to two of the sternest Protestant sects in the world, the followers of Calvin and Zwingli, and to a highly orthodox Roman Catholic population in the Forest Cantons. For hundreds of years these sects have held sway in various cantons and communities not merely as the religion of preference, but as state-sponsored churches. Scholars and historians comparing Switzerland to such multilingual nations as Belgium, Canada, India, Nigeria, and South Africa are intrigued at the degree to which the Swiss have managed to form a bona fide nation. It is tempting to call the result a melting pot. Yet this would not be accurate. The Swiss system is held together by something, but it does not homogenize its members. In the United States, ethnic groups tend - when not burdened by perverse incentives - to learn English, adopt American customs, and thus, gradually, become one people in many practices. The Swiss blend together on some customs, but tend to retain their mother tongue. They learn to cooperate with others who speak a different language, and, to an extent seen in few other countries, tend to learn one or more tongues outside their first. Visiting Switzerland today, one remarks at the smoothness with which the Swiss handle their three-way language barrier. At first you notice it everywhere. And then, after a while, you hardly notice it at all. Riding from Bern to Geneva, the train crosses over an invisible cantonal border - and the conductor shifts effortlessly from German to French. The P.A. announcements continue to be in both languages, but now French is first, and is spoken by the same voice with a nearly perfect accent. In a court room, one of the more formal and tense of situations, the participants deal in their language of choice - with a translator if necessary, though it seldom is if the languages are German, French, Italian, or even English. In some cases, a listener simply followed along in his second or third language where possible, then asked for a translation if needed. What struck me in several different courts was the matter-of-fact way in which language was simply dealt with. In some ways, there seemed an advantage in the occasional pause for translation. The hiatuses cut against any buildup of emotion of the type one often sees even in an American traffic court. It never caused, in my experience, significant friction. In general, as one might expect, in dealings with the government poly-lingualism is visible and its costs seem high. In almost any settings where government documents are on display, one will see four or five stacks of everything - always German and French, and frequently in Italian, English, or Romansch. Even small public buildings or services often seem to have a second or third official around who appears to be there in large part to communicate with the occasional Italian, English, or Romansch speaker. Restaurant menus are normally printed in the language of the district, though in the larger and more cosmopolitan cities there are invariably French or German subtexts; occasionally Italian and English ones as well. In German-speaking Switzerland, even in relatively remote parts of Schwyz, Uri, Glarus, or Appenzell, my informal survey found that more than 90 percent of the people could hold a basic conversation outside of German - either in French or English. An American asking for directions in Switzerland would, in many regions, have less difficulty than if he or she were to visit a convenience store or a gas station in the U.S. These statistics far exceed the levels one obtains from more formal surveys, but the problem with the formal studies is that they seek a higher level of competence than my informal test. The level at which a Swiss calls himself or another Swiss competent in a language is higher than the level at which a taxicab driver or office security guard might be able to communicate, with a few added hand signs or occasional German word, with another. Language, for the Swiss, is the object of a whole invisible superstructure of conventions and assumptions and social devices. When a group of three Swiss, already conversing in German, is joined by a Swiss they know to be much more comfortable in French - and if they do not know at first, the Swiss are adept at finding out, so well-tuned is their ear - then the existing line of conversation will shift into French. On the other hand, an Italian-speaking Swiss, joining a larger group, will resist being spoken to in Italian - feeling that surely some of those present will not be comfortable in that language. He will attempt to steer the conversation back to German - or the whole group will ease into French, which as the second language of choice for both German-speaking and Italian-speaking Swiss, is a handy unit of exchange. In this way, everyone in the room is making some slight adjustment, but no one feels patronized or patronizing. Interestingly, even "German-speaking" Swiss do not speak true German - but rather one of more than a dozen highly particularized local dialects. "High German," as is used in Germany and Austria more broadly, is virtually always used in Swiss written documents, even unimportant ones. This sets off a whole further set of practices and distinctions. One important effect of these dialects is to make all German Swiss into quasi-minorities. As German speakers they add up to a majority, but no dialect is anything more than a tiny minority. The dialects also reinforce a certain Swiss pride in separation from Germany and Austria. If one wants to insult a German-speaking Swiss on a number of levels, one need only tell him that his German sounds like the German spoken in Bonn or Berlin. The Swiss linguistic codes are subtle, unwritten, seldom even articulated. Probably for this reason they even vary occasionally from one Swiss to another.(2) But they exist - and are part of a whole ethos of adaptivity and businesslike consideration that is the essence of Swiss culture and society. In almost any social setting where a group of Swiss who didn't know me (or my origins) came into contact with me, they made a tangible effort to determine as quickly as possible what my primary language was, and to use it. Generally this took place within thirty seconds - though my later practice of speaking French in German-speaking cantons, and German in the French-speaking ones often achieved a delay of up to several minutes before my Americanism was ferreted out. Watching the Swiss in these situations is like watching a beautiful waltz or minuet danced by a couple emphasizing grace and simplicity, not flair. There are few excesses, no gaudy shows, only an easy agility. In America, the non-English speaker is met with a kind of benign arrogance - the lovable but ugly American at home, who will raise his voice and say to the Japanese tourist very slowly "It's next to the World Trade Center." Germans now exert at least a friendly helpless cultural smile, "nein, kann kein Englisch," in situations where in Switzerland, there would be a prompt turn to a colleague and a resolution. In France, there is an active contempt; even the Frenchman who can speak English will often abstain from doing so, as if exacting some petty revenge. Even in Belgium (Flemish and French) or Canada (French and English) the determination of one party or another to assert his linguistic heritage sometimes makes one feel he is in a battle zone. The quiet dance of the tongues is one of the most endearing elements of Swiss society, and this facility for dancing, developed in one sphere, contributes to balance and grace in a host of others. How have the Swiss achieved this facility at languages - and more broadly, a national facility, almost an article of patriotism, for listening and adapting to other languages, practices, and cultures? The answer is a mixture of history, special factors, deliberate policy, and predictable (but not necessarily intended) aspects of policy - a tapestry of causes and effects. And yet, behind the picture, or abstracting from it, are strong unifying themes, such as the Willensnation concept of a people determined to be a people, adhering by free choice to a credo of democratic ideals. We can divide the causes of Switzerland's adaptation to diversity into three general groups. The first group consists of historical factors and accidents: some of them purely random - true "accidents" - and others a mixture of luck and institutions. The second group consists of deliberate acts of policy, such as intensive instruction in second and even third languages in Swiss schools. The third group is composed of deliberate policies or institutions that do not have assimilation as their primary aim, but which nevertheless contribute to it. In this group are a whole range of Swiss institutions from the army to the people's strong patriotism and its basis in a set of shared ideals. Facts, Tendencies, and Happy Accidents Perhaps the most important fact about Switzerland's various groups is that there are a number of them, and they tend to criss-cross and overlap. There's a sufficient diversity of different societal groupings (race, language, religion) and of different levels of government and other institutions so that most Swiss are in some important minority and some majority groups - particularly if one considers more than one unit of society. Meanwhile the highly fluid, nonpartisan, multiparty structure of Swiss politics brings these groups into regular coalitions and cooperative enterprises. Much as Madison counted on a multiplicity of special interests to act as a check on one another in The Federalist, so Swiss society defuses some of the rigid rivalries that have formed in other countries divided into groups. Religion and language cross-cuts offer one good illustration. In Switzerland as a whole, Roman Catholics are a minority in the population and a minority in the population of most cantons, albeit a growing one. And, of course, the majority of Swiss people and of cantons are primarily German-speaking. Yet there are many German- speaking Catholics in Switzerland, as well as French-speaking Protestants. Anyone who belongs to one of these groups is in one national minority already. The picture gets more subtle and interesting when we look at the cantonal level. A German-speaking Swiss Catholic who now lives in the Ticino, the Southern, Italian-speaking portion of the country, is in a national majority as to language and a cantonal majority as to religion, but is in a cantonal minority as to language and a national minority as to religion. A French Protestant in Geneva is in the cantonal minority but the national majority in his religion; but his is in the cantonal majority and national minority as to his primary language. "It is one of the fortunate accidents of Swiss history," Carol Schmid writes, "that the linguistic and religious boundaries do not coincide. Language conflict was moderated, since both religions had their adherents in every language area." The Swiss have learned to respect one another's rights as minorities - and, at the same time, the right of local majorities to run schools, churches, and other institutions by the language and faith of their heritage. These dynamics become more powerful, not less, when we broaden our scope and look at other group characteristics and interests. Sociologist Jurg Steiner writes: "There is usually a cross-cutting rather than a cumulative separation between political parties, economic interest groups, voluntary associations, and newspapers." Zürich, for instance, is considered a center of German culture, wealth, and Protestantism. Yet it ranks behind French Geneva and Catholic Zug in per capita income. In economic matters, the French cantons have tended to vote for social democratic programs - higher spending, higher taxes, greater federal powers. On cultural matters, however, the French Swiss emphasize federalism and autonomy. Several French cantons (Geneva, Vaud, and Neuchatel) are among the most affluent in Switzerland, though shaken by 1990s fiscal crisis and tax incentives. "The disparities are far greater within each linguistic group than between them," Schmid notes. The populations of the Italian-speaking cantons, being a distinct minority nationally (about 5 percent of citizens and 9 percent of the resident population), naturally view with reserve any proposal that might empower Bern, or erode local identity and autonomy. The federal government has proved a friend in some instances, however - for example, in sponsoring language programs in the Ticino and the Grisons, to preserve the Italian language and culture as well as Romansch. Though less than 1 percent of Swiss nationally speak Romansch, it is the primary language of almost one-fifth of the people in Grisons canton. Hence the Italian Swiss have some suspicion of the federal government, but also a certain affinity for it. Yet these myriad divisions could simply balkanize the Swiss further. Furthermore, some of these same criss-crosses are present today in multilingual societies that do not enjoy Switzerland's harmony. So there must be added explanations and factors that explain why the system does not simply fly apart - some kind of binding that, while allowing freedom of movement, holds the parts together as well. A history and ethic of inclusion. Switzerland's tradition of accepting immigrants, small border states, and relying on foreign trade for much of its commerce has fostered a spirit of inclusion among the people and their institutions. The history is as old as 1291 and the effort of the Forest Cantons to form relationships with the powerful cities and peoples of Bern and Zürich, or accept Protestant and Jewish emigrés from Germany and France, and as recent as the repeated Swiss votes against efforts to set tight limits on immigration, and for promoting Romansch as an official language of Switzerland. Foreign threats. For many nations, foreign threats become a spur to ethnic rivalry - since many nations are based on, or have strong elements of ethnicity. For the Swiss, a multiethnic nation, foreign threats have generally functioned the other way around. It was ethnic or cultural nationalism and exclusionism that threatened from the outside. For the Swiss, unity against these threats meant unity, in part, in support of their own diversity. This phenomenon has deep roots, but is also a product of recent experience. If not for the alliance with border areas, Switzerland would have been swallowed up by Austria, Italy, or Germany in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, or by the French in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - as they were, briefly, by France in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, of course, the threat from Germany led to a rallying against "Germanism" in Swiss culture and politics, symbolized by the building of the Bundesbrief Museum in 1935. It is revealing that the one foreign invasion of Switzerland that succeeded in 1,000 years, the French occupation of the late eighteenth and early nine-teenth centuries, was at the front of a powerful ideology - and a universalist, inclusionary ideology at that. By contrast, in 1914, when Swiss leaders wanted to rally the people against the Kaiser's Germany, the federal council issued a declaration rallying the people to Swiss values. Among them was "the ideal of our country as a cultural community and a political ideal above the diver sity of race and language." Switzerland's French-speaking general in World War II insisted, "we are a people and culture of inclusion," in calling for a military "and philosophical" resistance to Nazism. - Elite leadership, and popular acceptance of it. Swiss elites have long held a more or less self-consciously liberal view, in the European sense, on the matter of dealing with diversity. This holds on questions from trade and immigration to their own children's education. It is a common practice, for example, among German-speaking Swiss to send their children abroad for a year or two to improve their French or (popular in recent years) English. Many German-speaking Swiss attend a university, or take a first job, in the French-speaking region. Arend Lijphart, the sociologist who first coined the term "Consociational democracy," goes so far as to say that this leadership is the key to effective acceptance of diversity. This may go a bit too far. At best, it ignores the critical question of why Swiss elites have been able to achieve such a positive sum outlook, while those in many other countries seem to feel they have more to gain by engaging in divisive, winner-take-all politics. The Swiss open door, moreover, was not always laid out by elites first. During World War II, for instance, it was the Swiss people who allowed thousands of Jewish children (and in some cases their parents) over the border and into their homes. In so doing they went against government policy and, in fact, suffered occasional arrests by the border police. Nevertheless it is true that Swiss leaders have adopted a generally liberal attitude, and have a proud record of leadership on such questions. Once again, the unusual degree of harmony between people and elites in Switzerland, the mutual respect unusual even in democratic societies, makes it very difficult to say who is leading whom. Deliberate Policies The most visible and most important means by which the Swiss deliberately encourage pluralistic harmony is through the schools. Instruction in a second national language is mandatory, and in a third and even fourth language is now the common practice, especially given the popularity and importance of English. In a 1973 survey of Swiss twenty years of age or older, two-thirds had a working knowledge of at least one other official language. Sixty- five percent of German-speaking Swiss had a working knowledge of French, and 52 percent of French-speaking Swiss were capable in German. Today the figures are higher in each category, and as well, there are large numbers of Swiss who are capable in English: More than 60 percent according to official data, and more than 70 percent in my experience, which probably accepts a lower level of English as constituting some capability. Dozens of Swiss told me they were "not very good in English, but willing to use English" - and then proceeded to converse with high fluency. This formal training is buttressed by Swiss arts, newspapers, and other teachers from the school of life and culture. Most Swiss movie theaters carry French movies with German subtitles and German movies with French subtitles. Italian films and Italian subtitling is not ubiquitous, but normally applies to 5 or 10 percent of the offerings in any major German city, and more in the French zones. The result is an easy way for students or adults to polish one language or another. Newspaper stands, television, and other mass media offer a similar range of cross-translated materials, now supplemented by the Internet. Much of this activity would take place without government assistance; some would not. The government aid, as much as adding sheer resources, gives a stamp of approval and makes a statement that this is valuable activity. The combined message of this policy and the private activities is that serious Swiss citizens should be able to communicate in two languages or more. An important concept that contributes to Swiss harmony is the principle of territoriality. Under this principle, the language of instruction for schools, the first language of discourse for public facilities and government agencies, and so on are all set by the canton or the community. Furthermore, this language, as set, is not to be challenged. Hence if in a particular district, the number of French-speaking Swiss was to change from 47 percent to 53 percent, this would not imply a change in the official language structure. It would remain German. This feature of medium-term immutability is not written down; it is a tacit arrangement, a modus vivendi. It is, however, no less powerful for being understood rather than explicit. It is, in fact, likely that if a much larger shift were to occur in the language of usage, it might, like other elements of Swiss politics, eventually be adjusted. The formula by which seats on the executive council were allocated for fifty years, for instance, appeared on the verge of change after the 1999 Swiss elections. One thing the principle would definitely rule out, however, in its subtle way, would be any sort of agitation of the question; such arrangements, once reached, tend to remain in place until circumstances have long since rendered them clearly obsolete. And by then, they are so clearly obsolete that the thing is changed with minimal fanfare or excitement. The great Swiss jurist Walter Burckhardt describes the subtle way in which this practice can fairly be called a policy, and yet, is not a matter of statute or regulation: It is now a tacitly recognized principle that each locality should be able to retain its traditional language... and that linguistic boundaries once settled should not be shifted, neither to the detriment of the majority nor of minorities. It is trust in this tacit agreement that provides a foundation for peaceful relations.... Adherence to this rule, as well as respect of each group for the individuality of the others, is an obligation of Swiss loyalty. It is no less sacred because it is not laid down in law; it is one of the foundations of the state itself. This implicit understanding, avoiding the persistent churning and reopening of certain arrangements, is critical to making the principle of territoriality work to defuse conflicts - rather than set off new ones. If a society were to merely emulate Swiss federalism as a negative concept - letting states and localities select their own language, but allowing this to change on a regular basis - it is easy to see that the result could be the very opposite of the social peace enjoyed by the Swiss. Shifting populations would render temporary majorities tenuous, and there would be constant battles in districts with evenly balanced minority populations. It was this dynamic, in part, that rendered the Kansas-Nebraska Act so odious to Abraham Lincoln and the American Republicans in the 1850s, as against the Missouri Compromise setting out accepted slave and free territories. Efforts at mere federalism, especially with unit rule and spoils systems, can provoke new conflicts rather than solving them. This is an illustration of the dangers of adapting Swiss institutions or lessons piecemeal into different situations. Swiss federalism takes place in a cultural and social context. Of course, this is an argument for care in adapting them - not for ignoring these precious lessons merely because they are not an exact, test-tube match for situations elsewhere. He who ignores history, because it contains slight variations from his own situation, is condemned to repeat it, with slight variations. The Swiss do not give minority languages, institutions, and cultures their due. They strive to give them a little more than their due. Swiss majority groups do not demand what they have coming. They demand a little less, and take comfort in their secure position as a majority. This approach by both minority and majority groupings is another policy or tendency - or an element of many policies - that helps explain much of Switzerland's ability to thrive on diversity. The Swiss do this in both political situations such as the policies mentioned for language, and in social ones, such as the gentle race to find a person's first language and put him at ease by using it. "No effort whatsoever is made by the Swiss Germans, who are in the overwhelming majority numerically, to assert any linguistic dominance, " writes Kurt Mayer. "There are no linguistic minorities, either in a legal or in an informal sense." Carol Schmid has an excellent term for this, suggesting that Swiss linguistic and religious majorities often "do not act like majorities. " Or, one might say, they act as confident majorities - majorities that are not threatened by the rights of minorities, and gladly allow them to flourish. When asked what foreign country they would most like to live in, French-speaking Swiss, not surprisingly, named France first (45 percent), followed by Holland (22 percent), and Austria (10 percent). Interestingly, though, German-speaking Swiss also listed France first (30 percent), followed in this case by Austria (23 percent), and Holland (17 percent). Perhaps Schmid's most interesting and certainly original evidence of this comes from her survey, mentioned previously, in which she asked members of the three major language groups to estimate what share of the Swiss population belongs to each group. For example, she asked German-speaking Swiss to estimate how many Swiss speak German as their primary language, how many speak Italian, and how many speak French. Then she repeated this procedure with speakers of French. By large majorities, both French and German-speaking Swiss overestimated how many Swiss speak one of the minority languages (French or Italian), and members of both groups underestimated how many Swiss speak German. In most other multilingual societies, the exact opposite phenomenon is seen. Estimates of minority population and culture tend to understate the presence of the minority, and overstate the majority. The minority groups feel aggrieved, besieged, and hence their presence as smaller than it really is. The majority feels a certain arrogance, overestimating its own strength. The Swiss have escaped both tyranny of the majority and tyranny of the minority, with both the minority and the majority acting as if they were on a rough par. The Swiss are similarly tolerant of religion, even in their government institutions, in a way the United States, Canada, and much of Europe are not. Diversity of religion includes individual rights to worship in the church of a citizen's choice, and freedom from having religious views or practices imposed. But diversity also includes a respect for religious displays and practices by official policies. Religion and atheism, worship and nonworship, are on an equal playing field. In their classic History of Civilization, Will and Ariel Durant ascribe much of the violence of the French Revolution to the preceding repression of the ancient regime. By cracking down on dissent so severely for so long, they argue, the French kings created a cauldron of deep resentments. Once it boiled over, it did so with vengeance. It may be that modern post-religious cultures are emulating the same error (though only to a slight degree, to be sure) in their treatment of the remaining religious elements of society. Clamped down on until they feel little room to breathe, regarded contemptuously by elite culture and official institutions, the religious of the United States, for example, have begun a highly politicized counter-revolution in the form of the Christian Right. This minority feels, at any right, that it must fight an aggressive war for survival and recognition. The Swiss have avoided these errors. Thus - probably not by accident - while the Swiss have a substantial number of orthodox Catholics and socially conservative Protestants, these groups do not feel under siege the way such groups do in the United States, Canada, parts of Europe, and much of Latin America. The toleration of community standards and religious practices, while shielding the right of the individual to abstain from them, has left both the religious and nonreligious comfortable that their status is respected and secure. The relative lack of involvement of the courts - the least democratic of institutions even in Switzerland, though not nearly so remote as in most democracies - has helped as well. Swiss religious policies, since the constitution of 1848, have for the most part been worked out through institutions such as the referendum, and to some extent the different legislatures, that are highly democratic. Thus not only the substantive solution, but the procedure, for finding workable agreements about religion, have been populist and participatory in nature. The bottom-up nature of this elaborate patchwork of compromises, worked out over many years, makes it difficult to picture its direct transfer to other societies - perhaps even dangerous, as in the example of federalism's two-edged sword. But the basic spirit - of real tolerance (indeed, embracing) of all sorts of persons and ideas, including the politically incorrect - may hold deep lessons for other Western countries, not to mention universities, corporations, unions, churches, and other institutions. Indirect Policies and Impacts Tolerance, federalism, live and let live - all these concepts, while laudable, impart a negative or at best minimalist sense of how the Swiss deal with diversity. These connote a kind of grudging social armistice, in which warring factions, while they cannot agree, can at least "agree to disagree" to go their own way and leave one another alone. In fact, the Swiss have achieved this minimalist respect for individuality and separate communities. But they have achieved more than this. The key to Swiss "tolerance" of diversity is that the Swiss, in fact, embrace diversity. More than that, they embrace (and take pride in) the ability of their democracy, and their ability as people, to have worked out such a highly functional social contract amidst such divisions. It is not merely that the Swiss have decided to accept such cleavages. Rather, they have a real, substantive unity behind certain principles, such as civil freedom and political equality. In this sense, the Swiss appear, more than any other country, to have an actual "body politic," an organic cooperation of the social parts. It is not that the liver merely "tolerates" the heart, or the lungs "obey" the brain. The organs cooperate. Common ideals are the most important fact in Switzerland's collaboration of the parts. None of these was invented as a conscious effort to manage diversity, nor would they work very well if they were. But whenever we tug very hard on one of the policies or principles, such as federalism, that seems a partial explanation of Swiss comity, we find these deeper dynamics of unity and idealism at work behind them. The lesson for other societies may be that an appreciation of diversity is a thing best captured not by chasing around after it in a mad search, but instead by building unity and a shared body of principles. Happy diversity, like personal happiness, may be something that is best attained indirectly. One of the most important factors identified by Ms. Schmid in her study of Swiss diversity is the way its highly accessible democracy encourages crisscrossing political coalitions and cooperation. Significantly, because of the number of decisions reached by direct democracy at the federal, cantonal, and community levels, much of this criss-crossing is popular in nature - people reaching agreement and working with people across different religious, linguistic, and other "divides." "There is a recurrent tendency," as Schmid notes, "for French Switzerland to join forces with the Catholic forces of German Switzerland in opposing measures they feel to be either too centralizing or threatening to local autonomy." Swiss politics on the European Union, to take a highly current example, have brought together coalitions of greens, religious groups concerned with local autonomy, and others in opposition to early efforts at Swiss membership. The same issue has promoted combinations of business interests and blue collar workers in parts of French - and German - speaking Switzerland in favor of a more aggressive effort at integration. Swiss voting on issues of diversity itself have produced unifying cross-alliances. When the Jura, a Catholic region of what was then Bern canton, wished to form its own separate canton, Swiss voters of all different religious and language groupings voted overwhelmingly for the constitutional amendment necessary to create the new state. 'Thus, although the referendum process is not a device for minority recognition as such," Schmid concludes, "its operation has enabled the religious and linguistic minorities to combine for structural reasons. " Schmid's emphasis on direct democracy as a key sociological device is impressive because she does not appear to be seeking that conclusion. Rather one feels part of an unexpected and intriguing discovery. The Swiss army, like the referendum, is a great civic melting pot. It brings together all male youths from the age of eighteen onward - and continues the process, for most of them, for thirty years. Included in this are the conventions by which officers address individual soldiers in their primary language, whenever practicable, and other policies directly having to do with the treatment of diversity. In his study of America, Tocqueville was impressed by the effect that juries had as a kind of "training ground" for citizenship. Yet jury service is a rare event for Americans, something most of us will experience once or twice, for a few days, in our life. The Swiss army, as we have seen, permeates social, business, and political relationships in a populist way - not through money or interlinking interests or conflicts but through people, cooperating in a national enterprise. The importance of the Swiss army - both as a practical experience, and in the institutional message it sends to all citizens as equals and necessary contributors - cannot be overestimated. Indeed, when we consider the activity generated by these Swiss institutions, the phrase "cross-cutting cleavages," a favorite of sociologists, emerges as too static, as insufficiently vital, to convey what is going on. An improvement on such phrases might be "cross-pollination," or "criss-crossing association-building." Swiss diversity is not sterile, but active. Over and above these operational impacts of institutions like the referendum and the militia system is something still more profound - a real national consciousness based on shared principles. One such concept is the principle of a nation based on principle - rather than ethnicity or language or economic interest alone - in and of itself. This is the Swiss idea of Willensnation. In some ways, it is difficult for other countries to even understand let alone emulate this concept. America is an exception because it, too, is a Willensnation, a nation of ideals whose ancestors, as Bill Murray once put it, "were kicked out of all the best countries in Europe." Upon reflection, however, it is not clear why the presence of a certain ethnic affinity in countries like Germany, Russia, or France, would not allow for national pride and identity based on a shared vision of good. And these are nations no longer rent by fatal internal divisions anyway. Countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, and India will have no basis in national unity unless they can forge pride in their accomplishments and principles - there is no ethnic, religious, or even linguistic unity to start from. While a Swiss or American-style act of national and individual wills is obviously not in the prospect for them in the short term, it is what they must strive for. Another important factor is Swiss neutrality. This includes not only neutrality as a foreign affairs policy, but as a kind of national- personal ethos of the Swiss - the act of self-abnegation and renunciation of vast schemes or imprudent efforts. What Switzerland has decided is a prudent realization of its limited influence as a nation, most Swiss have internalized as a matter of their individual philosophy. Their motto is the song of Psalm 119, "Yahweh, my heart knows no lofty ambitions; my eyes do not look too high." Konrad Falke provided an insightful description of this national- personal philosophy in his work, Das demokratische Ideal und wiser nationale Erziehung: It makes a tremendous difference whether man has been brought up to the thought: "You belong to a great power which one day must fight for world supremacy," or whether he must always say to himself: "If it should come finally to fighting, we can hope for nothing better than to keep what we already have." This is the influence of the politics of a people upon its ethical attitude, and in the latter is influenced by the former. In this mutual action and reaction, the character of a people is formed. It is these and other deeply shared beliefs and experiences that enable many Swiss to credibly say, as Corriere Del Ticino editor Giancarlo Dillena insists, "We are not a multi-cultural country. A respect for these differences, and an appreciation of a country where they can coexist - this is part of one, national Swiss culture. A pride in our democracy, our direct democracy, and a deep love for it - these are traits of nearly all Swiss." This certainly appears to be the case on the basis of survey data and other broad surveys of national attitudes. When asked an open-ended question about their reasons for being proud to be Swiss, most named some element of the political system, such as direct democracy. This answer, provided by nearly 60 percent of Swiss, was larger than any other two answers, and almost as large as the next three most frequent answers combined. It is evidence, summarized in Figure 19.1, that the Swiss have a deeply shared ethos - and an optimism about "politics" perhaps unmatched in the world. Yes, as Schmid concludes, "there are a number of accidental and human factors" that have enabled the Swiss to thrive on diversity. But to a large extent, "the so-called 'fortunate accidents' have often been more attributable to public policy." Figure 19.1 Reasons for Pride in Being Swiss French Swiss (approx.), German Swiss (approx.) a. Political system 35%, 63% b. Landscape 18%, 23% c. Socioeconomic 10%, 12% d. Quality of life 15%, 12% e. Swiss qualities 12%, 7% f. Diversity 2%, 2% g. Foreign relations 6%, 3% h. Other 4%, 5% i. Not especially proud 21%, 6% --- Whatever the causes, Switzerland has managed to make diversity into a strength - arguably a major source of Switzerland's greatness. Business is only one example, but a prominent one. The Swiss facility with different languages has made them a natural power in the emerging world of global business. In an age with a premium on information, the Swiss are expert listeners. Meanwhile, as science locates new wonders, but in different languages, the Swiss are quick to assimilate its lessons - and to generate their own innovations as well. This is seen by the country's highly disproportionate share of Nobel science prizes and international patents. Swiss investment bankers enjoy an edge not only because of the country's privacy, but because they are able to make people from many different cultures and countries feel comfortable that their needs are being heard, and will be met. Swiss manufacturers of products from chocolates to major engineering projects are able to reach markets no monolingual Frenchman, German, or American can. These countries may, indeed are likely, to eventually close the gap with the Swiss in terms of formal language instruction. But they may never be able to capture the full advantage enjoyed by a Swiss who lives his entire life, and most of every day, in a multi-lingual environment. Ironically, perhaps - since they already have to deal with four official languages - the Swiss leaped past much of Europe in becoming a nation skilled in English, the new version of Latin as the language of international business, politics, and culture. Some years ago when a merger was announced involving Union Bank of Switzerland (which joined with Swiss Bank Corporation), many Swiss employees of the bank were informed in a press release and employee memorandum that was, revealingly, written in English. Statistics suggest perhaps 50 percent of Swiss are capable in English. In my experience, the number of Swiss that had a workable competency was somewhere closer to 70 percent - 80 percent or more in the cities and in service industries there, and still between 40 percent and 60 percent even in relatively remote (and sparsely populated) areas. As the Internet and other tools of global communication yield greater physical efficiencies, the remaining costs of dealing across languages and borders, even if declining in absolute terms, will be an even higher percentage of the remaining costs of transaction in the world. There will be even more of a premium on being able to communicate - to listen and talk, literally to "share" - over and above those remaining barriers. Far more important than the Swiss facility with language as such, with words and symbols, is the ethic behind it. Ultimately, what the Swiss emphasis on crossing various language and other barriers teaches is a certain view of the person who is speaking the language. Swiss respect for religion is not a respect for a building, but the people inside it. Notes >From Schmid's important study of Swiss social relations, Conflict and Consensus in Switzerland, University of California Press, 1981. For instance, my Swiss friends are somewhat divided on the question of whether it is advisable for an American to address a letter to a person of some stature in business or the government in German or English. (Particularly, let us say, some one not acquainted to the American, who may speak English but may not.) The majority opinion holds for English, because any awkwardness in the German will make the exercise seem strained, and as well, as one Swiss put it, "it is insulting to the person to act as if they can't speak English." But a significant minority leans toward German, especially in light of my argument that "a Swiss would write a letter to me in English, normally, and this is merely the reciprocal or symmetrical courtesy." 20. The End of History and the Next Citizen "The people can never willfully betray their own interests; but they may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the people." - The Federalist, No. 63 There is little point in studying Swiss democracy unless there is something distinctive about it - and not only distinctive, but importantly distinctive. If this is a bad assumption, then Switzerland is worth thinking about only for the specialist. The historian interested in quaintness, in a land of cheese and chocolates, will find it diverting but not terribly urgent. The economist who would like to emulate the country's material economic success may find a survey of its institutions of use. What is more, as an age of global communications and national integration sets in, we might expect even these points of distinction to gradually decline, not sharpen, in significance. In that case, to paraphrase author Francis Fukiyama, then not only is the world-historical evolution over, but it ends in Sweden or Chile. A few economic variables may alter, but the political structure and the guiding spirit of the system are identical and unchanged. Either in the "nanny state" feared by Alexis de Tocuqeville or the new libertarian world announced in the pompous commercials of the high- tech Internet and cellular communications companies, it is the end of history. There is, of course, a very different possibility. It may be that Swiss democracy, while resembling European and American democracy in many features, and most of its superficial ones, is so divergent in a few vital particulars that it offers a meaningful alternative to the parliamentary democracies of Europe and much of Asia, and the presidential democracies of the United States and most of the Americas. Certainly it tends in a different direction. This is made clear if one merely mentions the possibility of greater use of direct democracy in the United States or Europe. Immediately, from most elites anyway, one encounters a mildly hostile reaction. Interestingly, though, the reasons raised against direct democracy nearly all could be used, and in earlier times were used, to argue against the American Revolution; to argue it could not be extended elsewhere; to deny the vote to blacks, women, and other groups deemed insufficiently educated, or otherwise "not ready" as a cultural or traditional matter for democracy. If so, it is indeed an irony that just at the moment that nearly all proclaim the historical triumph of democracy, it becomes clear that we may not even know what we mean when we say, "democracy has triumphed. "(1) And it may make a difference to know which type of democracy has won. First, it may matter because the types of democracy may have important differences. Second, it may even affect the survivability of "democracy" to know which version of it will cover the globe in fifty or one-hundred years. Will it be the highly populist, accessible, citizen's democracy of the Swiss; the relatively elitist, difficult- to-access system of Britain, Japan, or Germany; or some amalgam or mix, such as the American system? The latter, by both design and accident, stands somewhat in between - closer, perhaps, in assumption and present location to the European elitist democracies, but on a gradual path of movement toward a more Swiss version over much of its history. Is there an important difference between Swiss democracy and the others? If we consider the discussion of democracy among Western and developing-country elites, we certainly would come to this conclusion. Among U.S. and European elites, for example, there is little interest in political reforms that would increase popular leverage over government. While many reforms are under discussion, they tend to be elitist in nature. Some favor term limits, some favor spending limits, some favor greater power to local and state governments or to private economic interests - but none places much emphasis on increasing popular access and elite accountability to the whole people. Instead, the stress is on different arrangements of power within the existing array of elite institutions. This is not to say none of those reforms would be beneficial, and surely some of them would be bad - but as a matter of fact, none of them even focuses much on popular leverage. As Tocqueville noted, many "democratic" episodes and reform periods are merely "weapons" used to defend the old regime. When a group of elites does discuss the Swiss system of initiative and referendum, it is generally with nervous contempt - such a system would not be desirable other than under the highly specific conditions of Switzerland, and certainly, the people in the country under discussion "may not be ready for it yet." This applies even to the leadership class of such highly developed countries as the United States and Europe. Their proposals are always couched in terms of "the people," as are most appeals in a democracy, representative or direct. But any direct means of empowering the people to run the government is considered unimportant, even contemptible. The only type of popular empowerment that holds much interest is that which is achieved indirectly, by placing greater control on some other elite group. Thus a system already choking with indirection and elite maneuverings is to be reformed through indirection and maneuvering. The thing one seldom hears Western leaders of either the right or left say, however, is that establishing a more populist or citizen's democracy would not matter. For all the proclamations that the Internet, the fax machine, or some other gizmo will change the nature of democracy, few of the evangelists ever suggest using these new devices to permit greater voter input directly on policy. When they do, there is a hopeful silence, and a preference to talk about other things. This becomes all the more striking if we consider the popular frustration with democracy common in many of the democracies today - just as democracy seemingly is at its historical and material zenith. In the United States, Britain, and Germany, public opinion surveys show widespread dissatisfaction with the political system. In recent U.S. elections, for instance, leading members of both parties have attacked the system as corrupted by money - William Clinton in his 1992 campaign against the "greed" of the Reagan-Bush years, the Republicans in their efforts to impeach Clinton over various sexual and financial scandals, and such recent presidential candidates as John McCain and Bill Bradley in their efforts to place limits on "soft money" donations. The votes McCain and Bradley received are dismissed by some because these challengers were not able to secure their party's nomination. But the strength of their campaigns, particularly the previously little-known Senator McCain, speaks to the powerful urge for change felt by many Americans. In focus groups and surveys, people express a rage at the system's immobility, feelings that democracy (in America and Europe) is unresponsive to their concerns and frustrations. These findings are highly important to a discussion of representative democracy as against direct forms. They suggest an impatience with the filtering devices and indirection meant, in some sense deliberately, to temper popular opinion. Elite opinion shares some of this analysis, though leading press, business, and political figures are naturally more sanguine about a system that they have the money or clout to access. In February of 2000, The Wall Street Journal even ran an article extolling pork-barrel politics as a key part of the democratic system - confusing that which is necessary evil with that which is good, of course, but in a revealing way that pushes the logic of representative democracy to its logical conclusion. In a prescient article in The Economist at the dawn of the new democratic discussion, Brian Beedham predicted this rise of, and rage at, the lobbyist - at least for the representative or indirect democracies. With the end of the Cold War, he wrote (1993): The old central question that is asked at election-time - which of these two noncompatible systems of politics and economics do you prefer, and how does your preference bear upon the decisions that must now be taken? - has disappeared. What is left of the agenda of politics is, by comparison, pretty humdrum. It deals for the most part with relatively minor differences of opinion over economic management, relatively small altercations over the amount and direction of public spending, and so on.... The new politics is full of dull detail. It is therefore ideal ground for that freebooter of the modern political world - the lobbyist. The two most dramatic things that have happened to the developed world since the end of the second world war - its huge increase in wealth, and its explosion of information technology - have had as big an effect on politics as they have had on everything else. The lobbyists, the people who want to influence governments and parliaments on behalf of special interests, now command more money than they ever did before. They also have at their disposal a new armoury of persuasion in the computer, the fax machine, and the rest of it. In the new agenda of politics, where so much depends upon decisions of detail, the power of the lobbyist can produce striking results. It will at times be, literally, corrupting. But even when it is not as bad as that it will make representative democracy seem increasingly inadequate. The voter, already irritated at having so little control over his representatives between elections, will be even angrier when he discovers how much influence the special-interest propagandists are now able to wield over those representatives. An interloper, it will seem, has inserted himself into the democratic process. The result is not hard to guess. The voter is liable to conclude that direct democracy, in which decisions are taken by the whole people, is better than representative democracy, because the many are harder to diddle - to bribe - than the few.(2) This is not to suggest that there is no such thing as the lobbyist, the demagogue, or the corrupt politician in Switzerland. They do appear, however, to be somewhat less of a factor, and when they are, their presence, surrounded as they are by a system of greater popular access and more popular checks, gives less offense. Most important, the shape of lobbying and electioneering takes a different tone and shape, and it focuses on different objects, than in representative democracy. In Switzerland, by contrast, people asked an open-ended question about what makes them proud about their country were more likely to give an answer having to do with their political system than were the next several answers combined.(3) This is a rough reversal of the increasingly cynical view of politics today - and even the system - in the United States and Europe. Comparing the salient features of the Swiss system to that of other, more indirect democracies, we see some clear differences. Indeed, Swiss democracy appears to be more different from any other democracy, than all the others differ among themselves. The distinction may be even more sharp than when Tocqueville observed the Swiss system in the 1830s and 1840s, or Bryce in the early 1920s. If democracies were a lot of used automobiles, we would not find the Swiss model differing only in having a different color from most, or a somewhat distinctive tail-fin or external appearance. The very means of locomotion and direction - the engine and the steering apparatus, and one might even say, the animating spirit - are different. This difference is masked by the fact that all democracies have voting, judges, some form of representation, and some degree of popular access, of course. Even so, the differences are quite stark, as becomes clear if we consider the process by which certain critical and certain typical decisions are made by the different democratic types - and whether such decisions can be made by the people, must be made by the people, or cannot be made by the people at all except through some intermediating elite. These differences are reviewed in Table 20.1. There are, perforce, generalizations made, but in its broad strokes, the figure presents an accurate review of some of the key distinctions. "Who commits acts of sovereignty," as Tocqueville noted in analyzing the Swiss political scene in a report to the French parliament, "is sovereign." Tocqueville based his report on two visits to Switzerland, the first in 1836, the second in 1847 and early 1848 - just before the unexpectedly rapid conclusion of a federal constitution whose basic provisions have now governed the Swiss for more than 150 years. Tocqueville was nervous about the prospects for Swiss democracy, or for a nation of Switzerland, because the national government made so few acts of sovereignty. As we have observed earlier, Switzerland had federalism, at this point in time, in great measure, but little in the way of a unifying central government. Tocqueville worried, as did many Swiss, that absent some such strong central government - which the Swiss feared - the confederation could not hold together. Tocqueville's principle, however, applies not only to different divisions of government or different elite bodies but to the division of sovereign acts between the people and their representatives - between direct and indirect democracy. Indeed, had he lived much longer, Tocqueville would have seen both the formation of a more coherent Swiss government, and the extension of a principle that was to give the central government greater sphere for "acts of sovereignty" - national referendum and initiative. In effect, for this highly decentralized country, initiative and referendum may have been a key legitimizing device which made action by the central and even to some extent the cantonal governments a palatable thing - as any future encroachments could be checked by the people. Applying Tocqueville's observation to this realm of popular versus elite action, of government by citizens versus government of citizens, we see that the people of Switzerland are sovereign in a way the people of France, Japan, Russia, Germany, and the United States are not. This is not to say that the ultimate answerability of elected officials to the people, in periodic elections over many issues, is not important. Nor does it mean that the people of Swit- Table 20.1 Sovereign Acts in Direct and Representative Democracies Act of sovereignty Swiss "direct democracy" U.S.-European "representative democracy" Pass a law People may have direct vote People have no direct role Challenge a law passed by parliament or congress People can do directly (referendum) People cannot do directly; a law can be challenged only through their representatives Pass a treaty Requires popular vote No role for popular vote at all unless government desires it as a special measure Alter the constitution People can do directly with no elite support (initiative) and must approve for any change to be made Some elite must initiate (Congress or convention) and a direct popular vote plays no role (ratification is by 3/4 of state legislatures) Choose chief executive People vote only through parliament People vote directly (in some countries) or more directly (in the U.S. ) Send criminal to jail People through a randomly selected jury People through a randomly selected jury Confer citizenship Popular (communal or cantonal) vote Decision of magistrate (usually unelected) Declare federal law unconstitutional Arguably impossible; in practice happens only when constitution is altered - which requires a popular vote Can be done by unelected court (U.S., Germany, France, other) --- zerland exercise pure democratic rule: They don't, and instead rely on a number of representative institutions to make certain decisions and carry on certain acts. But these are not the only considerations. Surely to understand a governmental system one must ask such questions as, "Who actually has the final yes or no? Who sets the initial choices that are on the agenda? Who does these things directly, by an act of their own will? And who, while they may influence the sovereign, must act indirectly, by influencing his or her superior?" It is in the way we answer these sorts of questions that Swiss democracy seems importantly different from its Western counterparts. These distinctions become even clearer when we consider the one awful and difficult question, "Where is the bottom line? Who ultimately acts as sovereign?" This is, perforce, not a question that can be answered by recourse to mathematical formulae. Political power is often used without being visible - as when a threatened veto of a bill by the president makes it unnecessary for him to issue a veto at all; or when an idea is known to be so popular that it must be passed even if there is no direct consultation of the people on the question; or when a congressional committee kills a bill not by voting it down, but by deciding not to have a vote. Beyond the elusiveness of political acts, we have the general correspondence in form between so much of Swiss democracy and the other democracies. All vote, all have some manner of representation. All have a division of power between three or four branches of government, and all have some distinction between executive, legislative, judicial branches, as well as some sort of civil service that is not subject to change by election. Even so, one can make the case that the fundamental, animating spirit of Swiss direct democracy is the people, the citizen - in a way that U.S. democracy, and more so European democracy, do not experience. Table 20.2 compares the character of popular consultation in direct democracy (Switzerland) with that in representative democracies (a composite sketch of the United States and major European democracies plus Japan). While one might cavil about the particulars, there is little avoiding the conclusion that Swiss democracy places greater trust in popular rule, and the other democracies, substantially less so. The consultation with the public is more frequent in Switzerland. It is much broader as to its scope, particularly in covering policy decisions. Yet on any given item, it is likely to admit of a much more particular intervention by the people. In the communes and some of the cantons, citizens may literally vote on whether to allow a new bridge, hire this schoolteacher, outlaw (or allow) gay marriages - and so on. When an American or European votes, he more or less accepts a train of a hundred or a thousand votes that her or his representative promises to cast - and that assumes that the promise is kept, and covers only the issues that can be known, and forced to discussion, in the election. When the Swiss votes, he Table 20.2 How "The People" Are Heard - Direct versus Representative Democracy Type of popular consultation Swiss "direct democracy" U.S.-European "representative democracy" Federal or state (cantonal) elections - frequency 3-4 times a year in a typical canton - and more frequent "feedback" through referenda 1 time a year or less, on average - no other formal, systematic feedback Direct votes on policy - approve or defeat acts of elites Frequent: 2-3 times a year for national or cantonal policies Infrequent; less than once a year; only in certain states; and none on federal policy. Given the above, the nature of most campaigns for office or legislation, and of campaign spending is... An ongoing, continuous effort to persuade voters - low key, and much of it coming through the press. Nearly all focused on the public, and on the public as an end in itself. Substantial fear of lost credibility or seeming shrillness, since any temporary victory in elite institutions can be overturned, and long-term losses of credibility with the public may cause immediate losses. Short, concentrated bursts of highly emotional attempts to get the public's attention for a key vote - electing a president or representative - the results of which will then be permanent for 2,4, or 6 years. Much focus on elites, much on public - but that focused on the public is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. The game is to sway legislators by raising their fear of the public. Initiate legislation Citizen can do so directly (initiative) or through his representatives Citizen can only do so through his elected officials How does a citizen's vote make itself felt on the national laws? In large clumps, by voting on representatives, but also in small, focused decisions on dozens of policy questions (through referendum) Only in large clumps-citizen can only make his voice felt by voting for officials who have taken dozens or hundreds of positions. Official blocking a piece of legislation can be circumvented by... Initiative, referendum, and the influence that the threat of these works on all elected officials. Only by throwing the official out in a multi-issue election several years hence, or swaying a vast number of elites (such as two-thirds of the Senate) to act. Lawmaking body or committee that can avoid a vote on a subject has killed it? No - see above. Yes, in the overwhelming majority of cases. Given the above, lobbyist who spends a fortune influencing a bill through Congress and the White House, or preventing it, has won - his money is well spent. His money may be well spent, but may not be. Especially if the measure is significantly contrary to the public interest, he now faces having all his work overturned in a referendum challenge. The lobbyist has spent his or her money well. The new law is law (or not law), assuming it is not overturned by another elite body, such as a federal court. The public has no direct recourse - angry citizens must try to make enough noise to convince lawmakers to overturn the decision. --- accepts a large degree of judgment from his representative - but he also knows that many of that representative's decisions will be referred back to him for deliberation. And that his word, unlike that given to a pollster or congressional surveyor, has the potential to become the solemn law of the country. The Swiss citizen even knows that if his representatives and the other representatives are ignoring a particular issue that is highly important to him - campaign finance reform, education vouchers, guaranteed health insurance, and others - he can force a national vote on the issue by collecting 100,000 signatures for a national initiative. >From the nature of how the citizen is dealt with flows the very different orientation of the two systems. In direct or populist democracy, most persuasion is directed at the people, and such persuasion is an end in itself - it goes to the bottom line sovereign2 of the regime. In indirect or representative democracy there is more of an emphasis on reaching elites by arguing that the people want this or that - and when there is an effort at popular persuasion, which to be sure is common, the people are an ends, not a means; they are the way you put pressure on the Congress or the president or the bureaucracy to act.(4) The maxim of indirect or representative democracy is, "Write your congressman." The maxim of direct or populist democracy is, "vote yes (or no)." The tool with which a citizen makes his voice felt in a representative democracy are the sledge-hammer and the megaphone. Lacking the means to commit acts of sovereignty himself or herself, the U.S. or European voter needs implements that can get others who have the power to act to do so. The tools of direct democracy are more in character with a scalpel - certainly not a perfectly sharp one, nor held by a perfect surgeon, in Switzerland. But it is possible for the citizen to cut right into government and remove this, or adjust that, organ. Representative democracy is a noisy affair, because so much of the game involves even getting the attention of some elite, or forcing that elite to take action. It is a game in which other elites (big business, lobbyists, the press) seem to wield the only clout. Direct democracy is more quiet, and more characterized by appeals to reason. Anyone who doubts this need only witness a Swiss parliamentary or federal council election, read the campaign materials and press coverage of various referenda, or even simply compare the amounts spent on campaigns and public affairs persuasion and what it is spent on.(5) In representative democracy, there is a greater temptation to blame the government, big business, foreigners, the media, or some other group for our problems. Swiss direct democracy has some of that temptation, but it is less - because the ultimate authority of the people is less ambiguous than in indirect systems. And with authority comes responsibility. In representative democracy, there are constant appeals for the citizen to "pitch in" - in Switzerland, citizens appeal to themselves to pitch in, because citizens by and large run the local and cantonal and even federal government. It is difficult to improve on Beedham's analysis, which has the added value of having been an early report on the new democratic debate: In much of the world, democracy is still stuck at a half-way house, as it were, in which the final word is delegated to the chosen few.... It has long been pointed out that to hold an election every few years is not only a highly imprecise way of expressing the voter's wishes (because on these rare election days he has to consider a large number of issues, and his chosen "representative" will in fact not represent him on several of them) but is also notably loose-waisted (because the voter has little control over his representative between elections) The end of the battle between communism and pluralism will make representative democracy look more unsatisfactory than ever... Deciding things by vote of the whole people is not, to be sure, a flawless process. The voter in a referendum will find some of the questions put to him dismayingly abstruse (but then so do many members of parliament). He will be rather bored by a lot of the issues of postideological politics (but then he can leave them for parliament to deal with, if he is not interested enough to call for a referendum). He will be subjected, via television, to a propaganda barrage from the rich, high tech special-interest lobbies (but he is in one way less vulnerable to the lobbyists' pressure than members of parliament are, because lobbyists cannot bribe the whole adult population). On the other hand, direct democracy has two great advantages. First, it leaves no ambiguity about the answer to the question: What did the people want? The decisions of parliament are ambiguous because nobody can be sure, on any given issue, whether a parliamentary majority really does represent the wishes of a majority of the people. When the whole people does the deciding, the answer is there for all to see. Second, direct democracy sharpens the ordinary sense of political responsibility. When one has to make up his own mind on a wide variety of specific issues - the Swiss tackled 66 federal questions by general vote in the 1980s, hundreds of cantonal ones and an unknown number (nobody added them up) of local-community matters - he learns to take politics seriously. Since the voter is the foundation-stone of any sort of democracy, representative or direct, anything that raises his level of political efficiency is profoundly to be desired. Other factors in the new age make the case for democracy - and therefore, for direct democracy, its more pure application - even stronger, Beedham notes. One that he does not detail is the rise of the Internet and many other improvements in telecommunications. Of course, the same observations might have been made about the rise of printed books in the fifteenth century, newspapers and journals in the eighteenth century, telegraphs in the nineteenth century, and radio and television in the twentieth. At the least, however, the growth of global telecommunications further strengthens the case that voters are equipped to take on more and more tasks. Of course, in representative democracy, the ruling class retains more means of obscuring issues, delaying votes, and producing ambiguous results than does direct democracy. That is why the hosannahs proclaimed by some are so shallow - because without systemic change, these increases in communications technology may ultimately be frustrated. There were telephones, TV sets, and fax machines in Russia too, as there are personal computers in Communist China today. The important change came when Russia's leaders allowed the system to become more tolerant of and responsive to the potential of these tools. So too, as Beedham does note, the backgrounds of voters around the world - educational, economic, and other - are becoming more amenable to an extension of democracy. "A hundred years ago fewer than 2 percent of Americans aged between 18 and 24 went to university; now more than a quarter do. The share of the British population that stayed in education beyond the age of 15 rose sevenfold between 1921 and 1992; in western Germany, between 1955 (when the country was still recovering from Hitler's war) and today, the increase was almost double that." Rising income in the world, and especially among the voters, has made education and general knowledge outside of formal classroom still further. "We are all middle class now," Beedham quotes a Western official - "Not quite; but we are surely headed that way." Indeed, he notes ironically, "the democracies must therefore apply to themselves the argument they used to direct against the communists. As the old differences of education and social condition blur, it will be increasingly hard to go on persuading people that most of them are fit only to put a tick on a ballot paper every few years, and that the handful of men and women they thereby send to parliament must be left to make all the other decisions." What is likely to come in the implicit competition between direct and indirect democracy over the next fifty years? And, what should we hope will come - in short, which system appears to be better? In answering both these questions, the analyst is hampered by the fact that so far, only the Swiss, as Tocqueville put it, have taken democracy "to such an extent" of populism. Nevertheless, it is not too early - especially given 1,000 years of Swiss history, and 200 years of American evolution in the direction of direct democracy - to make some meaningful speculations. Of the likely direction of political evolution, it is nearly impossible to say where the experiment is likely to begin. But we can say with high confidence that experimentation with direct democracy is extremely likely - almost certain. There are nearly 150 democracies in the world today. The vast majority, if not all, face a curiously urgent pressure to reform either for experiential reasons (the recent democracies Russia and the Eastern Bloc, and much of Latin America), spiritual ones (America and Europe), practical political ones (Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and all the way out to China in the still-authoritarian Asian world), or material ones (Africa, India, Latin America). We may think, in fact, in terms of those regional-political groups, as we analyze the likely course of democracy - toward elitism, populism, or a muddled middle of relatively unchanging stasis (in political terms). Western Europe, soon to be All-of-Europe, is closest to Swiss democracy in its politics and its material conditions, not to mention geography and language and common experience. It is, therefore, an obvious candidate for evolution towards the Swiss system. Europe has the least to fear from its affluent, well-informed citizens from allowing them a greater role in political decision making, and the flimsiest excuse for not doing so. As well, it has an obvious interest in both the negative side of federalism (letting communities go their own way where possible) and the positive side (finding political instruments of unity such as European referendum and initiative - as the Swiss did in the nineteenth century). These pressures will be focused further by the process of European integration. While the pressure from the rest of Europe on the Swiss to conform to its elitist system is obvious, indeed blatant, there is an equal and obvious pressure imposed from Switzerland on the European Union and its components. This pressure is not an instrument of Swiss policy at all; indeed, the Swiss fear to mention it. But much as Hong Kong represents an enclave within China that must either be crushed or emulated, so the Swiss populist system is within Europe. In this sense, it is remarkable how little has changed over 1,000 years. While much discussion focuses on whether Switzerland should and will join the European Union, there is the equally important question of whether the European Union will join Switzerland. It may be that the latter will be extremely helpful to the former - even essential. It does not follow, however, that Europe will be the easiest system to reform, or the first to do so. The very fact that Western systems are so close to a populist, democratic breakthrough in popular access sets off powerful forces of resistance among those who like democracy the way it is - comparatively inaccessible, vis-à-vis the Swiss direct method. This does not imply any kind of conspiracy. In fact, it would be impossible for the far Left, far Right, and (most important) "extreme centrist" forces to work together to resist direct democracy - they disagree about too much. Rather, as any student of history knows, it is inertia and conventional wisdom that form the most powerful cabal. Or, to paraphrase a character from one of C.S. Lewis's novels, "Sometimes the most difficult heresy to combat is one very close to the truth." Furthermore, while Europe is the closest to a populist democratic system in terms of the sophistication and development of its people, it simultaneously faces the least pressure to reform. Seldom in human affairs are revolutions made by those who need only move a bit to reach the new revolutionary principle. They are usually made by those who feel they may be about to fall over a cliff - and will grasp at any expedient to stay in power. Does anyone believe, for instance, that the Soviet Union was closer to democracy than China was in the late 1980s? My own analysis of this matter, in The Democratic Imperative, was that China was much closer to Western-style freedom up until Tienanmen Square - and, in fact, Tienanmen Square proves how close China was. Yet the country has now lapsed back into a more profound authoritarianism, while Russia, for all its economic clumsiness, has passed through many of the hard choices and difficult transitions of trusting in the people. The greatest likelihood of some European emulation of the Swiss system is that it will come about through necessity in some Eastern Bloc country, a Russia or Poland. The next most likely dynamic would be a European Union adoption of federalism and Euro-nationalism - a European-wide referendum, limited by subject, but used as a unifying device in the formation of the new European Nation. The Swiss themselves are often unimaginative about this matter - they see their own helplessness in material terms, but often fail to understand the power of an idea, however small its application. Thus one Swiss author, considering the evolution of Europe, writes that "in the long run, Europe and Switzerland must merge into one system." Indeed they must - or, since nothing is inevitable in human affairs, they are likely to - but on whose terms? Whether Europe joins the Swiss, or the Swiss join Europe; whether China emulates Hong Kong, or Hong Kong is swallowed by China - these are open questions. They will be settled, like all human history, by a combination of forces, brilliant personalities, and chance. My own best guess is that there will be a European union, and it will be closer to the Swiss system in principle. If my ideas can be proven right or wrong by the record of prediction, this is one test for those ideas to stand on. By a similar logic, the United States is even closer to Switzerland - and yet, by the same token, some greater evolutionary distance away at the same time. There are two reasons, however, to suspect that the U. S., even closer to the Swiss democracy, may yet move toward it with even greater haste. There are many forces which argue against this. One of them is the two dominant political parties. Only occasionally does a populist Republican, a Reagan, Kemp, or Roosevelt, break through the tone-deaf ethos of GOP elitism. For the most part, this is the party of "Bush, Eisenhower, and the golf course," as one foresighted author wrote in 1989. The Democratic Party, though still mired in the economics of class warfare, has evolved significantly, and may offer a better road to consultative democracy than the Republicans. It is perhaps significant that the first proposal to extend Internet technologies to new institutional applications - the digital democracy proposal of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. - came out of the Democratic Party. A third possible avenue for the concepts of direct democracy is for some complete outsider to work under a banner of political reform. This might be a third party, though recent U.S. third parties, while speaking in populist rhetoric, have in fact had little to say about political reform from a popular access perspective. More likely, it would come from a complete outsider - a businessman, journalist, or independent state politician who has a deep faith not in centrism, in placing himself in the middle of Left and Right elites, but in populism, the wisdom of the people. It is hard to picture any of these three major parties making a major issue of direct democracy. But the latent interest in political reform among the American people is so strong that it would only take one leader. Against all this, moreover, are some strong reasons to suspect that the United States will be the next great theater of advancement for direct democracy - if not the next, the next major and pivotal theater. America enjoys a strong tradition of political entrepreneurship and experimentation. A developed, "European" society, America was nevertheless the first country to emulate the Swiss experiment with referendum - though only at the state level, a critical exception. In the late nineteenth century, America added direct election of Senators. In the twentieth century came voting rights for women and blacks. America, to a degree Europe outside of Switzerland is not, is a nation of immigrants, a cauldron of new people and new ideas. Small- business startups and entrepreneurship are traditionally higher per capita. America, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, remains animated by the philosophy, "make it new." Perhaps most important, in the last fifty years, is the U.S. system of presidential and party primaries. Lacking in the parliamentary systems in Europe, the U.S. enjoys an ease of access at the front end not seen in most of Europe. This access is only for persons, not for ideas, but anyway, it matters. It is difficult to imagine people like Jesse Ventura, Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Jesse Jackson - and especially, a Ronald Reagan - becoming major players in the European political scene. Rob Reiner (California anti-smoking initiative), Richard Gann (Proposition 13), or Polly Williams (Milwaukee voucher policy) are possible only in America - or Switzerland. Europe is very comfortable with the idea of combining the rhetoric of popular access with an elitist system of government. America has some of that tradition, but also a vast experience at punching through to provide an even higher level of popular access. It seems likely to me that the United States will beat Europe to the application of direct democracy at the national level, though this is only a likelihood. In some ways, Europe has already taken a first step, with the peoples of a number of European republics voting on EU membership itself. But popular consultation at the discretion of elites extends the new principle little, if at all. Hitler and Stalin, Pinochet and Marcos - all held plebiscites when it suited them. The test of a new application of direct democracy will be its automaticity, the extent to which it takes place not at the caprice of leaders, but of the people. Developing countries - from Russia, a developed society but highly underdeveloped economy, to countries like Nigeria and Brazil and India - stand far away from Swiss development and a Swiss political economy. But might they be more willing to take a stab at implementing some of its lessons for popular government? Some argue - perhaps wrongly - that the gulf is too great for such countries for a leap-frog to direct democracy to be either plausible or desirable. It is true that the distance between developing-country society is great. At the same time, such societies have less to lose and more to gain by jumping beyond the tired permutations of representative democracy and engaging in the greater risks but greater possibilities of populism. Is the fundamental difference between Indian democracy and American a difference in the quality of citizens? Perhaps. But the far greater difference seems to be in the level of institutional and systemic development than in the capacity of the people. The same is true of Bolivia, Brazil, China, Russia, Nigeria, or Uganda. This is not to say that the evolution, if it takes place first in the less affluent countries, should or will necessarily take the same shape, or move at the same pace, as it could in the United States or Europe. The racial, ethnic, and economic divisions of developing society, for one thing, are such that a higher degree of federalism might be needed - while, of course, so is a unifying device such as the democratic quasi-sacrament of national referendum. It might make sense for direct democracy, under such circumstances, to be adopted incrementally. Beedham, for example, recommends that some countries start with large, national matters, and small, particular ones, while leaving the bulk of questions in the middle up to more conventional, representative bodies for the time being. This is a sensible general recommendation, and may have even greater urgency for the developing world. It resembles, in fact, the road traveled by Switzerland in the second half of the nineteenth century. Even for leaders dominated by the desire for mere material success, the logic of political experimentation is compelling. All nations are competing within the realm of "economic" policy to produce the best system - with the result that the field is crowded. Most nations are competing to produce directly the most competitive educational, corporate, and other institutions, with little chance for any country, let alone one poor in resources, to stand out. A country that tried to develop a somewhat superior political system, by contrast, would stand out. It would find, in all probability, that with superior political decision making would come better policies for the economy, education, foreign affairs, and other matters. Is this, in fact, not the road traveled by the United States and Switzerland over the last 200 years? Did not Japan leap into the industrial age most decisively in the mid-twentieth century, when alone among the Asian despotisms it adopted a significant degree of democracy? The developing world thus competes closely with the United States as another likely arena for experimentation. Because the risks and benefits are higher, so is the likelihood of a misstep or even a crash. Possibly the idea of direct democracy will even suffer setbacks in the developing world, by being tried in imprudent ways, or adopted half-heartedly or in the wrong fields of activity. Even so there is a compelling case for it: Developing country invention in the political sphere is a vacuum, which politics abhors. Which system is better? The question is difficult to answer in a present time frame, except as a matter of expressing one's arbitrary preference. We may speculate endlessly about whether the people, or a group they choose, is more trustworthy. Yet we need not confine ourselves to the present time frame, for in discussing democracy, especially Swiss democracy, we have 700 years or more of history for material - and we can look many years ahead in making our forecast. It is sometimes easier to look across centuries, than across a generation. Indeed, much of the discussion above has neglected what may be the most important element of discussion of all - time. The most important impact of direct democracy in Switzerland is its influence upon the citizen. There are, as we have mentioned, other contributing causes. And there is causality in the other direction: The high quality of Swiss citizens - their interest and involvement in public affairs, their studious receptivity to information, their civic pride and community ethos - helps make populist democracy possible. This latter phenomenon, however, is well known, in Switzerland and the West. The idea of a people being "ready" for democracy, being grown up enough to stand on a par with their elites, is familiar and accepted. Even the radical antitheses have some widespread acceptance. This was captured famously by the journalist William F. Buckley, in his witty declaration that he would rather be ruled by 200 persons chosen at random from the Boston telephone directory, than by the faculty of Harvard University. What is poorly understood - or anyway, not accepted and indeed vigorously denied by the collective subconsciousness of the Western elite - is the extent to which democratic institutions help develop the citizen. And, that the more democratic the institutions, the more rapid and complete the development of the electorate. The most important impact of Swiss democracy among the Swiss has involved the development of the Swiss people over time. Even in the short run, Swiss have a greater incentive to follow political issues and to think seriously about them - they may well be voting on them in a few months. Over the longer run, a synergism of development sets in. The Swiss, with greater opportunity to make law, become skilled at making law much as, in the theory of representative democracy, members of Congress become skilled at legislative craftsmanship. The difference is that this phenomenon is spread over a whole society - government "by the people" in the broadest sense. Swiss politicians, journalists, and business leaders all, in turn, adjust their behavior accordingly. More focus is placed on informing, and listening to, the people, than in any other democracy. As a result, and following long experience with popular sovereignty, the leaders and the led, the elites and the people, have a greater mutual respect and less alienation than in any other regime. Imagine if every American were to serve on a jury three or four times a year. Is there any doubt that the people would be closer to the legal system, and the legal system more responsive to the people, were this the case? The mere proximity, the culture of greater interaction, would produce such effects. If added to this the citizens enjoyed greater leverage over the implementation of police policies, or the development of law, the effect would be multifold. It is no different with the frequent exercise of sovereignty by the Swiss, over hundreds of years. Indeed, it is ironic that in an age that so exults expertise, experience, and knowledge, so little attention is paid to a people that have more years of democratic history than any other. It seems strange that amidst all the hosannahs of a "global information age," there is so little thinking about global principles, and so little information about the world's most important and revealing democratic experiment. At the center, radical in idea yet conservative in operation, is Switzerland. It is quiet and unassuming, but highly revealing. In some ways, it is the anti-America, but in this the two are naturally complementary. America is great in space, and has extended the democratic idea, as Lincoln and Thomas Paine hoped, across the world. But Switzerland is great in time, and has extended the democratic idea internally to an extent seen nowhere else. "Empires such as the Swiss," as the advisor to King Louis once put it with unintended irony, "extend their empire by the bad example of their liberty." It is possible to imagine our now-democratic world, like a latter-day global Athens, lapsing into despotism. This is actually far more possible than most present-day millenarians - who only a decade ago were assuring us, "you can't change the Soviet system" - can imagine. It is possible too to imagine an end of history, an everlasting stasis in democracy as it is without further meaningful change. It is possible even to picture an Aquarian end to political and economic problems altogether. Yet none of these is the most likely. Instead, a long but hopefully happy struggle, striving toward ever-more-perfect freedom, if never quite arriving - in a word, history - looms. A world of ideas and facts, labor and thought, good and - yes - evil, which none of the materialists, Marxist nor Libertarian, have abolished. It is to this, real world of mankind that Switzerland has so much to offer. In this world, it may well be, as Victor Hugo cryptically insisted: "Switzerland will have the last word in history." Notes 1. All this is quite aside from the fact that the dialectical materialists of the Right and Left are wrong altogether. History never ends, there are no completely new ideas under the sun, and what appears at one point or another in history to be the "final verdict" on behalf of good or evil is never more than a turn of the wheel from a different order. Whether we are considering the end of war proclaimed in the late nineteenth century, the end of material want in the mid-twentieth century, or the "abolition of borders" and a "world without money" by Internet companies and technology executives in the early twenty-first century, the stubborn resiliency of human nature remains. That history tends to favor the most just polity is clear, as the author argues in The Democratic Imperative, especially Chap. 3, "Ideopolitique." Between tendency and inevitability, however, is a wide and important gulf. Brian Beedham, "A better way to vote: Why letting the people themselves take the decisions is the logical next step for the West," The Economist, 11 September 1993. Beedham is an associate editor of The Economist and was its foreign editor from 1964 to 1989. See Carol L. Schmid's interesting survey, Conflict and Consensus in Switzerland, University of California Press, 1981. In the paragraphs that follow we are speaking mainly about the spirit of direct democracy and of its acts insofar as they are different. Switzerland has a parliament and president too, and there is lobbying and grass-roots lobbying aimed at the parliament. But in those cases Switzerland, which itself is a mixed system, is acting as a representative democracy. Because it frequently acts as a direct democracy, however, the resulting "spirit of the laws," the animating logic of political activity, may be very different. In the combined national parliamentary elections of 1999, according to an academic estimate cited by Aargauer Zeitung editor Peter Frey, the Swiss spent a total of 100 million Swiss francs. Bibliography Allen, C. J. Switzerland's Amazing Railways. London, 1965. Almond, Gabriel A., and Verba, Sidney. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1965. Altermatt, Claude. Interview with the author, May 2000. 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