You need a gun

Review of two books by Perry Anderson

London Review of Books, Vol. 39, No. 24, December 2017, pp. 25-26

What is the relationship between coercion and consent? Under what circumstances does power turn into authority, brute force into legitimate leadership? Can coercion work without consent? Can consent be secured without coercion? Does political power depend on voluntary agreement and values shared in common, or does it grow out of the barrel of a gun? When ideas rule, how is that rule maintained? Can associations of equals – built on common interests, ideas and identities – endure, or must they degenerate into empires kept together by force? Such questions go to the foundations of political theory and practice. There is no better way to explore them than by tracing the complex career of the concept of hegemony, from the Greeks to today’s ‘international relations’. That is the task undertaken by Perry Anderson in The H-Word and The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci. (Continue on lrb.co.uk – Paywall)

Playing Catch Up

Review of three recent books on Germany

London Review of Books, Vol. 39, No. 9, May 2017, pp. 26-28

How could Germany of all countries have become a paragon, politically stable and economically successful, of democratic capitalism in the 1970s – ‘Modell Deutschland’ – and later, in the 2000s, Europe’s uncontested economic and political superpower? Any explanation must have recourse to a Braudelian longue durée, in which destruction can be progress – utter devastation turned into a lasting blessing – because capitalist progress is destruction, of a more or less creative sort. In 1945 unconditional surrender forced Germany, or what was left of its western part, into what Perry Anderson has called a ‘second round of capitalist transformation’ of the sort no other European country has ever had to undergo. Germany’s bout was a violent – sharp and short – push forward into social and economic ‘modernity’, driving it for ever from the halfway house of Weimar, in a painful dismantling of structures of political domination and social solidarity, feudal fetters which had held back the country’s capitalist progress and which, in locally different manifestations, continue to block capitalist rationalisation in many other European countries. (Continue on lrb.co.uk)

Sonderweg aus der Solidarität

Besprechung von: Johannes Becker / Clemens Fuest: Der Odysseuskomplex. Ein pragmatischer Vorschlag zur Lösung der Eurokrise. Hanser Verlag, München 2017

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27. März 2017, S. 13.

Was tun, wenn man stecken geblieben ist – wenn es weder vorwärtsgeht noch zurück? Johannes Becker, Direktor am Institut für Finanzwissenschaft der Universität Münster, und Clemens Fuest, Präsident des Münchner Ifo-Instituts, versuchen es seitwärts. Die Währungsunion ist ein Desaster, aber die politische Union, die das heilen könnte, wird es nicht geben, und eine Rückkehr zu nationalen Währungen darf man nicht wollen. Der „pragmatische Vorschlag“: mehr nationale Autonomie durch weniger internationale Abhängigkeit; mehr nationale Demokratie bei mehr nationaler Verantwortung; weniger Politik und mehr Technokratie auf europäischer, dafür weniger Technokratie und mehr Politik auf nationaler Ebene. (Weiterlesen auf süddeutsche.de)