This chapter links individual remembrance to the paradigm of collective memory and shows how history played into postwar European politics. Since the end of the Second World War, the remembered past has increasingly been recognised as an important source of stability allowing individuals and communities to integrate new experiences into existing understandings of the past. Although these narrative frameworks help maintain individual and group identities, the chapter develops a critical theory of memory as a resource for rethinking the foundations of political life in the aftermath of historical ruptures. Building on the work of the Frankfurt School, it argues that the experience of total war between 1914 and 1945 created a rupture in European understandings of its past. Despite its many traumatic consequences, this caesura gave political leaders the freedom to rethink the foundations of political order and provided them with the cognitive, motivational, and justificatory resources to reimagine the future.
This chapter sums up the argument, reflecting on the importance of collective memory in the origins and development of the European Union. It also explains fears of a return of fascism by reflecting on the loss of the generations that experienced and had personal memories of the rupture of 1945. The book concludes by reflecting on the continued usefulness and applicability of the Frankfurt School’s approach to critical social research in a period of increasing globalisation, which has been accompanied by a concordant decline of the nation-state. It argues that critical theory – and political theory more generally – is an important resource for analysing the problems of international capitalism and the crisis of the Eurozone, just as it was for understanding the political and economic pathologies of the interwar years.
Eurosclerosis (1959– 84) and the second phase of integration (1985– 2003)
Peter J. Verovšek
The first phase of European integration was followed by a period of institutional stagnation lasting through the 1970s. This chapter argues that this Eurosclerosis was the result of a counter-narrative brought to the fore by Charles de Gaulle, who sought to return the state to the centre of political and economic power in Europe. The expansion of Europe beyond its Franco-German core reinforced the Gaullist challenge by forcing Europe to confront new understandings of the past. This was reinforced by the accession of the United Kingdom, whose differing, more triumphalist memories of the war meant that the British took a fundamentally different view of the European project from the start. However, by the mid-1980s a new group of leaders reacted against this challenge to what the chapter refers to as the classic narrative by building on their own childhood memories of the Second World War. Commission President Jacques Delors, French President François Mitterrand, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl set the second phase of integration in motion with a series of initiatives that once again combined the economic logic of prosperity with the moral logic of cooperation across borders.
The Eurozone crisis, Brexit, and possible disintegration
Peter J. Verovšek
Just as the founding of the first European Communities in the 1950s produced a backlash in the 1960s and 1970s, the second phase of integration has also met with resistance. Recent challenges to the classic narrative have taken a number of forms: the desire of the new member-states from East-Central Europe for recognition of their suffering under communism, the growing economic problems brought about by the Eurozone crisis, and the threat of disintegration posed by Brexit. In the case of European expansion, continental institutions and existing member-states were again confronted by conflicting understandings of the European past. In particular, the states of the east have challenged the central place of the Holocaust and the image of Auschwitz in the classic narrative of integration. The combined monetary, banking, and sovereign debt crisis brought on by the Great Recession of 2008 merely reinforced these cleavages. This was followed by the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016 and is further threatened by the rise of populism and the spectre of additional votes to leave the EU. These proximate challenges have been compounded by rise to power of the first generation of European leaders with no personal memories of Europe’s age of total war.
The dangers posed to political institutions following the passing of the individuals that toiled in their foundation reveals the important generational dynamics involved in the (re)founding of political communities. This chapter reflects on these dynamics by moving away from the context of European unification and taking a comparative perspective on the problems new polities experience with the loss of the generation of the founding. By drawing on accounts of memory and rupture in the history of the United States, it compares the current problems of Europe to the divisions America experienced in the period leading up to the Civil War. This brings the book into conversation with the broader debates on constitutional moments and the founding of political communities. It thus reflects further on how the dynamics of rupture, innovation, and generational change play out in the development of all political communities.
The emerging supranational union of nation-states in Europe is one of the most important and theoretically stimulating political innovations of the twentieth century. The book argues that shared memories of war and suffering have been crucial to the development of the Union. The introduction outlines how the passage of time has undermined these cognitive, motivational, and justificatory foundations, as the generations that can directly remember Europe’s bloody history have passed from public life. It also introduces the Frankfurt School of critical theory as an engaged form of social research that proceeds in two operational stages: a crisis diagnosis followed by reflections on paths for future emancipation. Individual memories play a key role in this process by providing the theorist with the distance and the resources needed to diagnose problems in the present and envisage possible solutions.
The development of the European Union as a community-based project of integration with decision-making powers outside the constitutional architecture of the nation-state is the most significant innovation in twentieth-century political organisation. It raises fundamental questions about our understanding of the state, sovereignty, citizenship, democracy, and the relationship between political power and economic forces. Despite its achievements, events at the start of the twenty-first century – including the political, economic, and financial crisis of the Eurozone, as well as Brexit and the rise of populism – pose an existential threat to the EU. Memory and the future of Europe addresses the crisis of the EU by treating integration as a response to the rupture created by the continent’s experience of total war. It traces Europe’s existing pathologies to the project’s loss of its moral foundations rooted in collective memories of total war. As the generations with personal memories of the two world wars pass away, economic gain has become the EU’s sole raison d’être. If it is to survive its future challenges, the EU will have to create a new historical imaginary that relies not only on the lessons of the past, but also builds on Europe’s ability to protect its citizens by serving as a counterweight against the forces of globalisation. By framing its argument through the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, Memory and the future of Europe will attract readers interested in political and social philosophy, collective memory studies, European studies, international relations, and contemporary politics.
Extending the reach of Baylean (and Forstian) toleration
Chandran Kukathas, in his response to the volume’s lead essay, focuses on
Forst’s use of Bayle. He argues that Forst underestimates the power of
Bayle’s challenge and the radical nature of its implications for our
understanding of political order. Kukathas begins with an account of Bayle’s
theory of toleration, drawing attention to its distinctiveness and reviewing
the main objections that have been raised against it. He then turns to
Forst’s account, showing how Forst has sought to incorporate Bayle’s thought
into a deeper understanding of toleration. In the next section, he considers
Forst’s theory of toleration more critically, arguing that he has not
embraced Bayle to the extent necessary for the incorporation to be of any
great consequence. The root of the problem lies with the subordination of
toleration to justice; here Kukathas offers reasons for thinking that
toleration is not a virtue of justice but supplies the foundations for
justice. He then suggests that this requires thinking about justice in a
very different way, one which gives it a much more modest place in our
thinking about political order generally. Kukathas concludes with some wider
reflections on where this leaves Rainer Forst’s conception of justice as the
right to justification.
In her response to Rainer Forst’s lead essay, Melissa S. Williams
interrogates Forst’s account of morality through an empirical and historical
analysis of the actions by which human agents establish moral and just
relations between themselves. She challenges the idea that all moral
practices of reciprocal respect can be reduced to practices of
justification. ‘Prefigurative’ practices such as those employed by Gandhi
and various Indigenous movements entail a turning away from a politics of
justification and critique addressed to the dominating agent, and a turning
towards those whose solidarity one seeks in constructing and enacting an
alternative ethical form of life based on relationships of egalitarian
reciprocity. Such approaches begin from the understanding that practices of
reason, and especially social practices of reason-giving and
reason-demanding, and of recognising others as rational subjects, are never
innocent of power relations. Forst may respond that his theory acknowledges
the role of power in constituting the subjects who are capable of
recognising one another as equal agents of justification, but this leaves
unanswered the question of what agents are doing when they interrupt
discursive practices of justification by substituting non-discursive
performances of egalitarian respect within cooperative relationship.
Daniel Weinstock frames his response to Rainer Forst within debates over
ideal and non-ideal political theory. If any political concept reflects
non-ideal political circumstances, he argues, it is toleration, since it
emerges from a context in which people not only disagree about how their
common lives should be organised, but are willing to coerce others into
seeing things their way. Turning to Forst’s work, Weinstock provides a brief
account of the overall argument, highlighting the main structural elements
of the view Forst defends. He then identifies a puzzling feature in that
account, one that facilitates the conflation of non-ideal and ideal
toleration. In the third and fourth sections of the chapter, Weinstock
describes two families of reasons that might underpin a non-ideal conception
of toleration, one that is more attuned than Forst’s is to self-restraint as
a constitutive ingredient of the structural account of toleration. The first
of these families of reasons is consequentialist in nature, while the second
emphasises the fallibilism of the kind of human judgement that is central to
Forst’s own way of thinking about toleration. Finally, Weinstock offers some
reasons for thinking that these two conceptions of toleration ought to be
considered distinct, rather than, as Forst thinks, examples of the non-ideal
kind drawing its normative justification from its approximation of the ideal