Heller, Schmitt and the Euro

European Law Journal, Vol. 21, No. 3, May 2015, Special Section: Hermann Heller’s Authoritarian Liberalism, pp. 285-383, here: 361-370

Abstract: Heller understood that Schmitt’s ‘authoritarian state’ was in fact the liberal state in its pure form, weak in relation to the capitalist economy but strong in fending off democratic interventions in its operation. Had he lived, Heller would not have been surprised by the close affinities between Schmittian economic authoritarianism and postwar German ordoliberalism, as mediated by a figure like Alexander Rüstow. Neoliberalism as today we know it drew heavily on ordoliberal doctrine, in particular through Friedrich von Hayek who managed to merge it with Austrian economics into a powerful ideological force to replace Keynesianism after the 1970s. Today the European Union, especially in its incorporation as monetary union, closely follows the liberal-authoritarian template as devised by Schmitt and others in the final years of the Weimar Republic. The paper shows this with reference to the five European-level institutions that today govern the European free market while protecting it from democratic interference: the Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the European Court of Justice and the European Central Bank.

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Comment on Francesco Boldizzoni, „On History and Policy: Time in the Age of Neoliberalism“

Forum Debate on The Uses of History, Journal of the Philosophy of History, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2015, pp. 1-50, here pp. 33-40

The paper by Francesco Boldizzoni has appeared as MPIfG Discussion Paper 13/6. To be downloaded here.

Abstract: It is not only economics that needs to regain a sense of history but also much of social science. Like economists social scientists need to liberate themselves from a Newtonian clockwork view of the world, and from a view of social reality as an emanation and arbitrary illustration of universal laws governing social life in general. Social science needs a renewed awareness of its origins in a systematic theory of historical social development and evolution, of endogenous social dynamics, and of directionality of social and institutional change, especially in contemporary capitalism, free from historical teleology and economic determinism.

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The Rise of the European Consolidation State

Discussion Paper 15/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, February 2015

Abstract: The rise of the consolidation state follows the displacement of the classical tax state, or Steuerstaat, by what I have called the debt state, a process that began in the 1980s in all rich capitalist democracies. Consolidation is the contemporary response to the “fiscal crisis of the state” envisaged as early as the late 1960s, when postwar growth had come to an end. Both the long-term increase in public debt and the current global attempts to bring it under control were intertwined with the “financialization” of advanced capitalism and its complex functions and dysfunctions. The ongoing shift towards a consolidation state involves a deep rebuilding of the political institutions of postwar democratic capitalism and its international order. This is the case in particular in Europe where consolidation coincides with an unprecedented increase in the scale of political rule under European Monetary Union and with the transformation of the latter into an asymmetric fiscal stabilization regime. The paper focuses on the developing structure of the new consolidation regime and its consequences for the relationship between capitalism and democracy.

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Comment on Wolfgang Merkel, „Is capitalism compatible with democracy?“

Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, Vol. 9 (2015), No. 1-2, 49-60

There is good news and bad news — and as sometimes, good news inside the bad. The bad news is that the crisis of Western-liberal democracy has apparently grown to a point where it can no longer be ignored by mainstream political science — while the good news is that it is now actually being noticed there. What is more, it is beginning to make its leading representatives to leave behind institutionalism pure and simple and move forward (or in fact back?) to a political economy perspective on democracy that deserves its name. Democracy and capitalism is now the subject, if not of choice then of necessity. Gone are the good times, or so it seems, when Glasperlen issues as harmless and comfortable as first-past-the-post vs. proportional representation, Westminster vs. veto point, consociational vs. majoritarian democracy, parliamentary vs. presidential rule, unitary vs. federal government, monocameralism vs. bicameralism etc. could rule supreme in the discipline’s official journals. Back to the basics! — so I read the message of Merkel’s remarkable essay (Merkel 2014) in which he challenges nothing less than the foundational assumption of postwar political science that capitalism and democracy are birds of a feather: that just as capitalism needs as well as supports democracy, democracy needs as well as supports capitalism, the two flocking together in ever-lasting pre-established harmony. (…)

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Moral Categories in the Financial Crisis

With Marion Fourcade, Philippe Steiner and Cornelia Woll. In: Socio-Economic Review, Vol. 11 (2013), No. 3, 601-627. Also as Discussion Paper 13/1, Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies, June 2013

Abstract: Karl Marx observed long ago that all economic struggles invite moral struggles, or masquerade as such. The reverse may be true as well: deep moral-political conflicts may be waged through the manipulation of economic resources. Using the recent financial and Eurozone crises as empirical backgrounds, the four papers gathered here propose four different perspectives on the play of moral judgments in the economy, and call for broader and more systematic scholarly engagement with this issue. Focusing on executive compensation, bank bailouts, and the sovereign debt crisis, the symposium builds on a roundtable discussion held at the opening of the Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies (MaxPo) in Paris on November 29, 2012.

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