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Re: [Habermas] The *French* Dialectic of Enlightenment

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  • Tommy Beavitt
    ... Although a committed pro-european, I have some sympathy with the points you raise here. It is tempting to compare the European constitutional project with
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 2, 2005
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      On 30 May 2005, at 10:45, matthew_piscioneri wrote:

      > I consider the French rejection of the proposed EU Constitution was a
      > rejection of the underlying logic of identity that problematizes
      > globalization, in general. Far better to have an independent voice of
      > France and an independent voice of Germany etc., rather than the
      > homogenized, unilateral *voice of Europe*.

      Although a committed pro-european, I have some sympathy with the points
      you raise here. It is tempting to compare the European constitutional
      project with that of the USA in the sense that it is essentially a
      federation of (nation) states with shared common goals and principles.

      But the American constitution was written in the context of a
      successful armed rebellion against a colonial power. What the
      signatories to that constitution had in common was a rejection of that
      colonial power; a rejection that was essentially the result of an
      emancipatory movement.

      The European constitutional project on the other hand cannot so easily
      be framed in such emancipatory terms. If the French and German
      political classes had their way, it would tend to be framed in terms of
      a rejection of American global supremacy, the positing of an
      alternative axis of world power that could argue in favour of the
      social democratic model that has been so relatively successful in a
      large part of post-war Europe.

      But the constitution that was rejected by the citizens of France and
      Holland in the last week was no such thing. From the perspective of
      those citizens it was precisely a dilution of that social-democratic
      model, watered down by the "Anglo-Saxon" model of market-led reforms,
      competition, free movement of labour and capital. Not a solidification
      of social relations; on the contrary, a threat to individual, community
      and national identity.

      > Individual and even individual voices are what inspire Habermas's
      > communicative sense of freedom - as always grounded before their
      > lifeworld context of the Enlightenment, and the struggles to retain a
      > sense of transparency and democracy amidst the ever-threatening
      > reduction of the many voices into the oppressive monotony of the
      > monological.

      The gradual integration of individual nation states into the European
      super-state has been achieved entirely by the ruling classes and to
      that extent it has been a necessary rationalisation of the commonality
      of those politicians' positions. Harmonising and integrating banking,
      commerce, taxation even foreign policy, is bound to be a function of
      the communication between the politicians of different states in
      peacetime. But this is not something that can or should be expected to
      be of interest to ordinary citizens. Why should they be made to feel
      anxious about such developments? All they want is a clearly defined
      political and economic context within which to adapt and survive; a
      context that doesn't change to rapidly so as to make a mockery of
      previous adaptations.

      Previously, communications between European ruling classes have tended
      to alternate between periods of war-war and jaw-jaw, but in either case
      it was always a stitch up. Why should it be any different now?

      I don't think there is any longer appetite for such anxiety-producing
      referenda on the constitutional makeup of a future Europe. In my
      opinion it was a mistake to think that the French, Dutch or even less
      the British, would ever lend their blessing to such an enterprise. It
      would be tantamount to giving one's unlimited blessing to the
      self-aggrandisement of bureaucracy, which has never been something that
      electorates have greeted enthusiastically. Far better, as in the votes
      given to political representatives in national elections, to be asked
      to choose between the lesser of two evils.

      Another aspect to all of this which has been less widely commented on
      is the tendency for politicians of all flavours to blame particular
      unpopular situations on their (largely unelected) European masters.
      Well, it's a no brainer, isn't it? Why take the blame for the
      consequences of bureaucratic meddling oneself when the gnomes in
      Brussels are doing such a wonderful job? I think that the European
      project as conducted by the political classes has been largely a
      risk-free means of displacing the sources of consternation to a
      conveniently "high up" echelon who don't pay for it with their jobs.
      So, in that sense, the recent results are a punishment for taking this
      attitude.

      But, paradoxically, I don't think that the no vote signals the death
      knell for the European project which has always, at heart, been
      primarily a means for ensuring continuing peacetime prosperity among
      and between European nation states. To that extent it has been
      remarkably successful and I don't think that there is any appetite
      among either the left or all but the hard right for a return to the
      previous situation. Jaw-jaw, as a stitch-up scenario, is and always
      will be better for the electorate than war-war, and they are not so
      stupid as to not realise this fact.

      So let the leaders continue with this peace-time stitch up, let them
      harmonise banking, commerce and foreign policy. Just don't ask us to
      give them the applause and congratulation they so obviously crave.

      We need to retain our critical faculties...

      Tommy
    • Daniel Dunne, Holisto
      Interesting points, but I am hearing a lot of emotive language about bureaucracy and superstates. Just how big an administration do you think the EU has? Are
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 2, 2005
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        Interesting points, but I am hearing a lot of emotive language about
        bureaucracy and superstates. Just how big an administration do you think the
        EU has? Are members of the European Parliament bureaucrats?
        People may feel threatened, but how rational is that sense of threat?

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Tommy Beavitt" <tommy@...>
        To: <habermas@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2005 3:48 PM
        Subject: Re: [Habermas] The *French* Dialectic of Enlightenment


        >
        > On 30 May 2005, at 10:45, matthew_piscioneri wrote:
        >
        >> I consider the French rejection of the proposed EU Constitution was a
        >> rejection of the underlying logic of identity that problematizes
        >> globalization, in general. Far better to have an independent voice of
        >> France and an independent voice of Germany etc., rather than the
        >> homogenized, unilateral *voice of Europe*.
        >
        > Although a committed pro-european, I have some sympathy with the points
        > you raise here. It is tempting to compare the European constitutional
        > project with that of the USA in the sense that it is essentially a
        > federation of (nation) states with shared common goals and principles.
        >
        > But the American constitution was written in the context of a
        > successful armed rebellion against a colonial power. What the
        > signatories to that constitution had in common was a rejection of that
        > colonial power; a rejection that was essentially the result of an
        > emancipatory movement.
        >
        > The European constitutional project on the other hand cannot so easily
        > be framed in such emancipatory terms. If the French and German
        > political classes had their way, it would tend to be framed in terms of
        > a rejection of American global supremacy, the positing of an
        > alternative axis of world power that could argue in favour of the
        > social democratic model that has been so relatively successful in a
        > large part of post-war Europe.
        >
        > But the constitution that was rejected by the citizens of France and
        > Holland in the last week was no such thing. From the perspective of
        > those citizens it was precisely a dilution of that social-democratic
        > model, watered down by the "Anglo-Saxon" model of market-led reforms,
        > competition, free movement of labour and capital. Not a solidification
        > of social relations; on the contrary, a threat to individual, community
        > and national identity.
        >
        >> Individual and even individual voices are what inspire Habermas's
        >> communicative sense of freedom - as always grounded before their
        >> lifeworld context of the Enlightenment, and the struggles to retain a
        >> sense of transparency and democracy amidst the ever-threatening
        >> reduction of the many voices into the oppressive monotony of the
        >> monological.
        >
        > The gradual integration of individual nation states into the European
        > super-state has been achieved entirely by the ruling classes and to
        > that extent it has been a necessary rationalisation of the commonality
        > of those politicians' positions. Harmonising and integrating banking,
        > commerce, taxation even foreign policy, is bound to be a function of
        > the communication between the politicians of different states in
        > peacetime. But this is not something that can or should be expected to
        > be of interest to ordinary citizens. Why should they be made to feel
        > anxious about such developments? All they want is a clearly defined
        > political and economic context within which to adapt and survive; a
        > context that doesn't change to rapidly so as to make a mockery of
        > previous adaptations.
        >
        > Previously, communications between European ruling classes have tended
        > to alternate between periods of war-war and jaw-jaw, but in either case
        > it was always a stitch up. Why should it be any different now?
        >
        > I don't think there is any longer appetite for such anxiety-producing
        > referenda on the constitutional makeup of a future Europe. In my
        > opinion it was a mistake to think that the French, Dutch or even less
        > the British, would ever lend their blessing to such an enterprise. It
        > would be tantamount to giving one's unlimited blessing to the
        > self-aggrandisement of bureaucracy, which has never been something that
        > electorates have greeted enthusiastically. Far better, as in the votes
        > given to political representatives in national elections, to be asked
        > to choose between the lesser of two evils.
        >
        > Another aspect to all of this which has been less widely commented on
        > is the tendency for politicians of all flavours to blame particular
        > unpopular situations on their (largely unelected) European masters.
        > Well, it's a no brainer, isn't it? Why take the blame for the
        > consequences of bureaucratic meddling oneself when the gnomes in
        > Brussels are doing such a wonderful job? I think that the European
        > project as conducted by the political classes has been largely a
        > risk-free means of displacing the sources of consternation to a
        > conveniently "high up" echelon who don't pay for it with their jobs.
        > So, in that sense, the recent results are a punishment for taking this
        > attitude.
        >
        > But, paradoxically, I don't think that the no vote signals the death
        > knell for the European project which has always, at heart, been
        > primarily a means for ensuring continuing peacetime prosperity among
        > and between European nation states. To that extent it has been
        > remarkably successful and I don't think that there is any appetite
        > among either the left or all but the hard right for a return to the
        > previous situation. Jaw-jaw, as a stitch-up scenario, is and always
        > will be better for the electorate than war-war, and they are not so
        > stupid as to not realise this fact.
        >
        > So let the leaders continue with this peace-time stitch up, let them
        > harmonise banking, commerce and foreign policy. Just don't ask us to
        > give them the applause and congratulation they so obviously crave.
        >
        > We need to retain our critical faculties...
        >
        > Tommy
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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