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Rupture and integration in the wake of total war

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.

Eurosclerosis (1959– 84) and the second phase of integration (1985– 2003)
Peter J. Verovšek

A bellicose past entangled all European nations in bloody conflicts. They drew a conclusion from that military and spiritual mobilisation … the imperative of developing new, supranational forms of cooperation after the Second World War. Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2003) The classic narrative of integration In the previous chapter I showed how Monnet, Schuman, and Adenauer drew on the resources of collective memory they had obtained as a result of the narrative break of 1945 to imagine, motivate, and

in Memory and the future of Europe
The Eurozone crisis, Brexit, and possible disintegration
Peter J. Verovšek

The revenge of memory has been slow … If the problem in Western Europe has been a shortage of memory, in the continent’s other half … there is too much memory. Tony Judt, ‘The Past is Another Country’ (1992) Questioning the classic narrative Transnationally shared collective memories of war and suffering – framed in terms of the rupture of 1945, which allowed for a re-evaluation of existing narratives and the creation of new ways of linking past and future to the present – have played an important role in ‘imagining Europe’ ever since it was first

in Memory and the future of Europe
Peter J. Verovšek

The dreams of the future move in the temporal dimension of past life, fed by memory … out of which all wishes and hopes are deduced. Reinhart Koselleck, Terror and Dream (2004) Critical theory and collective memory 1 Over the course of the second half of the twentieth century, collective memory has become a central concept in the humanities and the social sciences. 2 Its surge in scholarly importance coincides with a number of broader social movements, most notably the student revolts of 1968, when the first generation that came of age in the

in Memory and the future of Europe
Peter J. Verovšek

European integration in the first two chapters of Part I showed how the leaders of Europe built on the cognitive, motivational, and justificatory resources of collective memory to create a European political community over the course of the second half of the twentieth century. In the previous chapter I then traced how the project has started to sputter with the passing of the generations that had experienced the rupture of 1945 first-hand. Since the turn of the millennium these new leaders have found it difficult to resolve the interlocking economic and political

in Memory and the future of Europe
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What is it, and why should we study it?
Stephen Hobden

, States and World Orders’ has almost legendary status in International Relations theory, with one quote – ‘theory is always for someone and for some purpose’ (Cox, 1981 : 128, emphasis in original) – being ingrained in the memories of generations of students of Critical International Relations. The article contains a very succinct summary of what Cox considered to be Critical Theory. Rather than comparing Critical Theory to traditional theory as Horkheimer had done, Cox distinguished it from what he called ‘problem-solving theory’. While there are considerable

in Critical theory and international relations
Stephen Hobden

there, questions of accuracy arise. To what extent are these records reliable? If memories, can they be trusted? When we draw on history books, we become more distanced from events. Why has the historian chosen this bit of information rather than another? What is their motivation for telling this story, in this way, drawing on these pieces of information? Also, when we discuss these events with students, we are adding another layer of separation. At a more abstract level, why are particular events deemed to be more important or significant than others, and who gets to

in Critical theory and international relations
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Avoiding the ‘big hole with a lot of dead people in it’
Stephen Hobden

– with the stress on ‘slightly’. In the essay ‘Progress’ he points towards the emergence of a collective at the species level (Adorno, 1998c : 144). However, he also had a concern about the possibilities of collective action, which always, for Adorno, raised memories of Nazi Germany and Stalinism. Important in considering action was the responsibility of the individual to consider their situation. Also, significantly, in a world where there was a danger of ‘actionism’ – the perhaps understandable desire to ‘do something’ when confronted with a deeply unjust world, but

in Critical theory and international relations
Abstract only
Peter J. Verovšek

We hope vaguely, we dread precisely. Paul Valéry, On European Civilisation and the European Mind (1922) Europe in crisis In the aftermath of the Second World War, ‘never again’ was more than just a slogan; it was an imperative for political change. During the postwar era (1945–89) collective memories of Europe’s ‘age of total war’ (1914–45) served as the foundation for a broad movement that sought to move the ‘savage continent’ away from the state-centric nationalism that had led to two world wars towards a new, community-based political order

in Memory and the future of Europe
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A plea for politics at the European level
Peter J. Verovšek

, community-based institution with decision-making powers outside the constitutional infrastructure of its member-states would not have occurred without the transnationally shared, collective memories of Europe’s age of total war (1914–45), which forced Europeans across the continent to re-evaluate the previously dominant historical narratives of nationalism after 1945. The critical theory of memory I developed in chapter 1 provided the philosophical basis for my argument by detailing how broad historical ruptures that shatter existing understandings of the past allow

in Memory and the future of Europe