Friday, August 26, 2011

Habermas on Europe and the "New German Question"

Addressing a panel hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (Berlin, April 6 2011), Jürgen Habermas criticized political elites for shirking their responsibility of delivering Europe to its citizens, instead relying on opportunism that threatens to "sink 50 years of European history". The panel discussion with Jürgen Habermas, Joschka Fischer, Henrik Enderlein and Christian Calliess on "Europe and the re-discovery of the German nation-state" is now available in English at "Eurozine":

Europe and the "New German Question" [pdf]

The text was originally published in German in "Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik" (May 2011). See my previous post here.

Habermas: "Are we now seeing a new version of the same German question that led to the founding of the EU? I don't think so. Back then politicians had the Second World War and the mass crimes on their shoulders and were thinking in terms of the categories of the nineteenth century. The aim of stopping a colossus once again waging power politics at the heart of Europe by incorporating it was an important motive. I don't see a similar situation today. For some years now the Federal German Republic has been making an increasingly amorphous impression and seems to me to be characterized rather by the way it does not pursue any "power political" interests in the classical sense. The governments of this economically successful republic make themselves beholden to the twin imperatives that more or less every state must follow these days, namely trimming the economy to the interests of competitiveness, while making certain social concessions, so that output legitimacy forestalls any difficulties that might hinder domestic re-election. In this sense Germany is relatively weak, as far as its will to shape political structures is concerned. But accompanying this weakness I see a growing sense of national self-centredness; and consequently there arises the potential for disruption at the heart of Europe, which, under the present government, is for the first time seriously obstructing the unification of Europe."

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