Social and cultural modernity beyond the nation-state

From its conception to the referenda of 2005 where it met its end, German philosopher Jürgen Habermas wrote in support of the European Constitution. This book is the first in-depth account of his project. Emphasis is placed on the conception of the European Union (EU) that informed his political prescriptions. This study engages with Habermas's thought as a totality, though attention is focussed on themes such as communicative rationality that began to surface in the 1970s. The first part of the book considers the unfolding of 'social modernity' at the level of the EU. Among the subjects covered are Habermas's concept of juridification, the latter's affinities with integration theories such as neofunctionalism and the application of Habermas's democratic theory to the EU. The second part addresses 'cultural modernity' in Europe - 'Europessimism' is argued to be a subset of the broader cultural pessimism that has assailed the project of modernity in recent decades with renewed intensity in the wake of 9/11. The final section looks at the conceptual landscape of the Constitutional Convention. The groundbreaking work of E. O. Eriksen, E. F. Fossum and others provides the most developed Habermasian account of the EU to date. Juridification is put forward as a metatheory of social modernity, and existing approaches from the corpus of European integration theory are drawn. Recent political theory confronts scholars of European integration with difficult questions. The social democrats who were interviewed had the opposite combination of opinions.

Social and cultural modernity beyond the nation-state

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has written extensively on the European Union. This is the only in-depth account of his project. Published now in a second edition to coincide with the celebration of his ninetieth birthday, a new preface considers Habermas’s writings on the eurozone and refugee crises, populism and Brexit, and the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

Placing an emphasis on the conception of the EU that informs Habermas’s political prescriptions, the book is divided into two main parts. The first considers the unfolding of 'social modernity' at the level of the EU. Among the subjects covered are Habermas's concept of juridification, the latter's affinities with integration theories such as neofunctionalism, and the application of Habermas's democratic theory to the EU. The second part addresses 'cultural modernity' in Europe – 'Europessimism' is argued to be a subset of the broader cultural pessimism that assailed the project of modernity in the late twentieth century, and with renewed intensity in the years since 9/11.

Interdisciplinary in approach, this book engages with European/EU studies, critical theory, political theory, international relations, intellectual history, comparative literature, and philosophy. Concise and clearly written, it will be of interest to students, scholars and professionals with an interest in these disciplines, as well as to a broader readership concerned with the future of Europe

Abstract only
Modernity, welfare state and Eutopia

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book engages with Jürgen Habermas's thought as a totality, though attention is focussed on themes such as communicative rationality that began to surface in the 1970s. Motifs of social and cultural modernity recur in Habermas's journalism. In the case of social modernity, suggestions of 'juridification', the legal consolidation of successive stages of social evolution, surfaced repeatedly in relation to both the nation-state and European Union (EU). In terms of cultural modernity, a recurrent feature of Habermas's journalism has been the critique of neoconservatism. The book utilizes concepts derived from the accounts of social and cultural modernity to analyse empirical data collected against the background of the Constitutional Convention.

in Habermas and European integration

This chapter addresses two features of Jürgen Habermas's oeuvre. The first feature is the influence that the concept of juridification has had on Habermas's journalistic writings. The second feature of Habermas's work examined is the continuity within his journalism of the reflective welfare state project. Historical events and Habermas's scholarly writings provide a background context for the journalism survey. The survey is divided into two parts. The first examines the critical and cautious attitude toward European integration exhibited by Habermas from the early 1960s. The increasingly positive attitude he has shown since the early 1990s is then considered. A remark in 'Political experience and the renewal of Marxist theory', first published in 1979, encapsulated Habermas's early scepticism toward the European project. Even after the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by Irish voters in 2008, Habermas continued to campaign for the legitimation of Europe's constitutional order.

in Habermas and European integration
Abstract only

This chapter considers Jürgen Habermas's account of social evolution. It describes primitive and traditional stages of development, and the subsequent onset of juridification. Juridification can be thought of as a metatheory of social modernity, a statement of its ontological assumptions. The chapter looks at the concepts of 'system' and 'lifeworld' central to Habermas's thought. He conceives the thought of European Union (EU) as an intensification of juridification, than as a qualitative shift from law to an alternative mechanism of social evolution, such as information technology. It extrapolates the concept of juridification to the level of the EU and identifies attributes specific to EU juridification. The chapter delineates successive historical trajectories of continental juridification. These are categorised in terms of the 'neo-Latin' ideal types developed by Schmitter, rather than Westphalian or imperial models drawn from elsewhere; in Schimtter's terminology, post-Maastricht juridification is found to correspond with the trajectory of condominio era.

in Habermas and European integration
Abstract only

The European Union (EU) can be thought of as an outcome of juridification. Yet the concept must be adapted if it is to support more than metatheoretical reflection on the integration process. This chapter outlines Jürgen Habermas's survey of action and systems theories. Though critical of functionalism, he has drawn inspiration from the systems theoretic approaches of Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann. The chapter examines the early and late works of both Parsons and Luhmann. Drawing on the writings of R. Geyer, and Thomas Christiansen, K.E. Jørgensen and A. Wiener, it states the criteria for the positioning of European integration theories along the 'constructivist continuum'. The chapter assesses analyses of Social Europe in relation to the constructivist continuum. Integrative dynamics are the relationships a given theory posits between the European, national and subnational levels.

in Habermas and European integration
Abstract only

Conceptions of democracy can be discerned in Jürgen Habermas's writings on Europe. In an article on the Constitution written before 9/11, the sluice gate model of Between Facts and Norms (BFN) was suggested. Habermas's favourable account of the mass protests in Europe against military intervention in Iraq recalled the siege model of The Theory of Communicative Action (TCA), with civil society exerting an influence on the state from outside. One outcome of lifeworld colonisation identified by Habermas is the 'withdrawal of legitimation' from the state. It is widely cited as a consequence of the European Union's 'democratic deficit', evident in the widespread decline of the 'permissive consensus', a perception of European integration as an innocuously technical, rather than political, endeavour. Other signs of lifeworld colonisation/the democratic deficit can be discerned in the spheres of personal and cultural life.

in Habermas and European integration
Abstract only

This chapter commences the reconstruction of cultural modernity at the level of the European Union (EU). It covers Jürgen Habermas's account of the mythical and religio-metaphysical worldviews antecedent to modernity. It considers a range of intellectual positions inimical to modernity. These provide the basis for the examination of neoconservative and neo-Nietzschean tendencies. Following Max Weber, Habermas focuses on the conditions furnished by Christianity for the emergence of modernity in the West. The intersection between the Judeo-Christian and Hellenic traditions, exemplified by T. Aquinas's Summa theologiae, is described as a 'remarkable' occurrence, for these were the 'two worldviews with the structurally greatest potential for rationalisation'. For Weber, it was the curtailment of rationalisation in the realm of ethics, rather than outright disenchantment, that facilitated social modernity.

in Habermas and European integration
Abstract only

This chapter considers the spectrum of neoconservative orientations. It also considers the eras of 'ungovernability thesis' and the 'war on terror'. While neoconservatives have espoused liberal nationalism and productivism, Jürgen Habermas has called for further rationalisation. In a commentary on his work, Habermas described Daniel Bell as the 'most brilliant' of first generation American neoconservatives. Bell argued that the crisis tendencies exhibited by developed societies from the 1960s onward were the offspring of the decentred subjectivity of aesthetic modernity. The result was 'ungovernability', the condition of the Keynesian state apparatus being overloaded by the demands of an egoistic public. Against the backdrop of the 'war on terror', the George Bush administration's response to 9/11, Habermas would undertake a second critique of American neoconservatism.

in Habermas and European integration

In this chapter, European novels and other relevant texts are looked at, both as descriptions and embodiments of the zeitgeist - in them are discerned 'cartographies of disenchantment', vying accounts of the causes, consequences and agents of rationalisation. The reductionism of John Gray's approach is evident from his conflation of the Enlightenment's heirs with religious fundamentalists, all of whom are understood to be utopians, and hence quintessentially 'modern'. Traits identifiable with the three continua are listed under the following headings: 'Counter-Enlightenment', 'Cynical Enlightenment' and 'Conservative Enlightenment'. The chapter disputes Gray's conclusions, finding them a useful foil for Jürgen Habermas's more sophisticated account. Antimodernism was discussed by Habermas in the early 1980s. The chapter concludes with a diagrammatic representation of tendencies and configurations critical of modernity.

in Habermas and European integration