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15.06.2021 Event "Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe", London School of Economics and Political Science, Speaker i.a. Prof. Hailbronner

Celebrating the launch of a new book by Dr Michael Wilkinson

This book recounts the transformation of Europe from the interwar era until the euro crisis, using the tools of constitutional analysis and critical theory. Interwar liberalism, rocked by mass politics and social inequality, actively turns to authoritarianism in an attempt to suppress democracy, with disastrous consequences in Weimar and beyond. After the Second World War, economic liberalism is restored through a passive authoritarianism: inter-state sovereignty is restrained, state-society relations are depoliticised, and social relations transformed. In this process, European integration is substituted for internationalism, technocracy for democracy, and economic liberty for political freedom and class struggle. This transformation takes time to unfold and it presents continuities as well as discontinuities. It is deepened by the neoliberalism of the Maastricht era and the creation of Economic and Monetary Union, and yet counter-movements also emerge: the return of the German question, constitutional challenges to European integration, and anti-systemic political parties. Struggles over sovereignty, democracy, and political freedom resurface, but are then more actively repressed through the authoritarian liberalism of the euro crisis phase. This leads now to an impasse. Although anti-systemic politics have returned, they remain uneasily within the EU. If the postwar order of authoritarian liberalism has reached its limits, there is yet to be any definitive rupture.


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