Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Amartya Sen Considers the Europe Question

Sen adds his voice to the worries about the pressures on European democracy:

If democracy has been one of the strong commitments with which Europe emerged in the 1940s, an understanding of the necessity of social security and the avoidance of intense social deprivation was surely another. Even if savage cuts in the foundations of the European systems of social justice had been financially inescapable (I do not believe that they were), there was still a need to persuade people that this is indeed the case, rather than trying to carry out such cuts by fiat. The disdain for the public could hardly have been more transparent in many of the chosen ways of European policy-making.


Meshplate said...

hear, hear. very well put. a comment that dovetails well with those of habermas' cited by pleynel.

Louis said...

This kind of disdain for the public is the birth defect of integrated European institutions. European integration was and is an elite project on a continent where the great majority's symbolic, economic, political, cultural horizon is still the nation-state. Legitimizing the common institutions with a modicum of democracy would mean going beyond that block. This is not going to happen, because public opinions vote regularly against increasing the democratic powers of European institutions, while complaining about a lack of democracy.

This is the basic political conundrum of EU politics, now as ever. With bad luck, it will prove the EU's undoing and will bring us back to the states and their national trinkets. If the EU does not find a way to organize itself democratically, such a development is sadly probable.