Imaging Europe: Beaucratic Narratives and Ideological Dreams

The Frisby Memorial Lectures, University of Glasgow, September 19, 2017

The European Union is not Europe. Europe is a two thousand year old civilizational landscape housing a multitude of different but related societies. The European Union is a political construct dating from the 1950s that has in its short lifetime undergone continuous deep transformation. Like earlier political constructs in Europe, it seeks legitimacy by encouraging stories about itself that connect it to Europe as a continent and its supposed historical purpose, cultural identity, and moral unity. European cultural and historical narratives deployed to legitimate the European Union as a political project are the latest in a long line of earlier stories of Europe, each linked to the political and economic objectives and power relations of the day. Like other ideologies, they are dropped and replaced depending on what political opportunities allow or require; they tell us more about Europe’s politics than about Europe. Identification with Europe as a civilization does not require identification with the European Union as a political construction. Depending on the changing condition of the latter it may in fact be incompatible with it.

Video

Macron, el hombre

Saltamos.net, 10 de mayo del 2017

La elección de Emmanuel Macron es otro síntoma más de la crisis del sistema de Estados democrático-capitalista, similar a acontecimientos como Trump, el Brexit o el declive de la Eurozona. En Francia, al igual que en cualquier otro lugar, el sistema de partidos de posguerra, dominado por el centro izquierda y el centro derecha, se ha roto en añicos. Esto ha hecho posible el auge de un artista del buen rollo, un hombre de confianza de los altos mandatarios de la sociedad francesa –que simboliza juventud, optimismo y la promesa de un futuro brillante y hermoso–, un hombre procedente de la banca de inversión, que viene directamente catapultado desde los departamentos de relaciones públicas del sector financiero. (Continue)

English version [PDF]

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)

Die Wiederkehr der Verdrängten als Anfang vom Ende des neoliberalen Kapitalismus

In: Heinrich Geiselberger (Hrsg.): Die große Regression – Eine internationale Debatte über die geistige Situation der Zeit. Suhrkamp, Berlin 2017, S. 253-274.

„Der Weg in die Zukunft, in eine neue Expansion, wie sie jedem Kapital Herzensanliegen ist, führte nach draußen: in die noch erfreulich unregierte Welt einer grenzenlosen globalen Ökonomie, in der Märkte nicht mehr in Staaten, sondern Staaten in Märkte eingeschlossen sind.“

Mehr Informationen
For more information


English translation:

The Return of the Repressed

New Left Review, Vol. 104, March-April 2017, pp. 5-18.

Read the full article here