Europe is dead; long live, etc.

Etienne Balibar:

[I]s this the beginning of the end for the EU, a construction that started 50 years ago on the basis of an age-old utopia, but now proves unable to fulfil its promises? The answer, unfortunately, is yes: sooner or later, this will be inevitable, and possibly not without some violent turmoil. Unless it finds the capacity to start again on radically new bases, Europe is a dead political project.

But the breaking of the EU would inevitably abandon its peoples to the hazards of globalisation to an even greater degree. Conversely, a new foundation of Europe does not guarantee any success, but at least it gives her a chance of gaining some geopolitical leverage. With one condition, however: that all the challenges involved in the idea of an original form of post-national federation are seriously and courageously met. These involve setting up a common public authority, which is neither a state nor a simple “governance” of politicians and experts; securing genuine equality among the nations, thus fighting against reactionary nationalisms; and above all reviving democracy in the European space, thus resisting the current processes of “de-democratisation” or “statism without a State”, produced by neoliberalism.

This is probably the worst part of a very painful article. It’s hard to see how Balibar could be any more out of touch with the Greek protests. While the rioters have done an admirable job of apportioning blame to all possible fronts — Euro and U.S. capital, banks, Eurocrats, the Greek state, Greek capital — and fighting against each of them without resorting to any reterritorializing calls for Europe to be true to its principles, Balibar takes exactly the opposite course: he sees the economic crisis as an opportunity to refound the European project on the usual grounds –postnationalism, democracy, the public. But of course these are just market-tested slogans, the coded ways of saying what Balibar also says explicitly: a neo-sovereign protection of European forms of life, increasing Europe’s geopolitical standing (calling Europe by a feminine pronoun is especially nice), the institution of a European public. As far as I can tell, his claim that the euro can be the basis for a “genuine equality” and an alleviation of nationalisms is not a joke, so apparently he believes that money can now operate without stratifications and segmentations.

Balibar’s article could have been written by a Brussels politician, or by a banker.


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