Monday, November 28, 2011

Habermas on the death of the EU

Georg Diez reports for Spiegel Online on Habermas, the Last European: A Philosopher's Mission to Save the EU 11/25/2011:

Enough already! Europe is his project. It is the project of his generation.

Jürgen Habermas, 82, wants to get the word out. He's sitting on stage at the Goethe Institute in Paris. Next to him sits a good-natured professor who asks six or seven questions in just under two hours -- answers that take fewer than 15 minutes are not Habermas' style. ...

And then he's really angry again: "I condemn the political parties. Our politicians have long been incapable of aspiring to anything whatsoever other than being re-elected. They have no political substance whatsoever, no convictions."
Habermas is Germany's leading public philosopher and the best-known living representative of the "Frankfurt School" of critical theory. He has also been passionately pro-European, i.e., in favor of the European Union. He is upset about the current state of affairs, which promises to wreck the whole thing in a matter of weeks, or even days.

Habermas harshes on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her junior partner in the destruction of European unity, French President Nicolas Sarkozy:

[Habermas quote:] "On July 22, 2011, (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel and (French President) Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to a vague compromise -- which is certainly open to interpretation -- between German economic liberalism and French etatism," he writes. "All signs indicate that they would both like to transform the executive federalism enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty into an intergovernmental supremacy of the European Council that runs contrary to the spirit of the agreement."

Habermas refers to the system that Merkel and Sarkozy have established during the crisis as a "post-democracy." The European Parliament barely has any influence. The European Commission has "an odd, suspended position," without really being responsible for what it does. Most importantly, however, he points to the European Council, which was given a central role in the Lisbon Treaty -- one that Habermas views as an "anomaly." He sees the Council as a "governmental body that engages in politics without being authorized to do so."

He sees a Europe in which states are driven by the markets, in which the EU exerts massive influence on the formation of new governments in Italy and Greece, and in which what he so passionately defends and loves about Europe has been simply turned on its head.
Diez' article gives us a good sketch of Habermas' reputation and how his position on the EU fits into Habermas' outlook.

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