German political scientist Ulrike Guérot published her new essay “Der neue Bürgerkrieg“(the new civil war) on 4th of May 2017. Our columnist has read it.
von Simon Clemens
Ulrike Guérot in her last book “Warum Europa eine Republik werden muss” promoted a post-national European Republic based on regional level. However, the monetary union needs to be completed, extending it to fiscal and social policies. Her most recent publication is now available.
The political situation in Europe
Guérot starts her new publication with a, surely subjective, description of the current political situation in Europe. The contemporary clash of ideologies is pan-European, exceeding usual left wing/right wing distinctions. The cleavages of societies emerge between cosmopolitans/Europeans and nationalists, globalization-winners and losers – European spirit and national demons. These conflicts, already prominent in the time of Stefan Zweig’s acting against the First World War, are taking place across borders of nations and age.
Theoretically Guérot describes these cleavages as a civil war, of course not having in mind conflicts similar to those in Syria or Ukraine. Her main concern is cause limination of this civil war pleading for a peaceful solution. Furthermore, according to Guérot, there is a pro-European majority, spread over all European countries. Euro crises and refugee ‘crisis‘ caused negative effects on social developments, having social and ideological dimensions. A fiscal union (European Banking Union with a community of liability) would be crucial to combat the euro crisis effectively. The rising number of right-wing populists correlates with having a common currency with a lack of democracy which may be seen as the revenge of a neglected milieu?
The German ideology (no monetization of public debt, monetary stability and export surplus) appears to be particularly harmful while German politicians do not recognize that Germany benefits from the Euro (actually from Euro crisis, too). Following Guérot, the solution would be a European Democracy – a European Republic. European Democracy would emerge, starting with a social union (European unemployment insurance), strengthening a new European identity based on some kind of l welfare patriotism.
“one person, one vote”
A European “Hambacher Fest” (a German national democratic festival) is in demand, initiating something similar to the German 1848 revolution (so-called ”Vormärz”), fighting small-state mentality and reaction. However, the key has always been the right to vote in a general, direct, equal, secret and free ballot : “one person, one vote” can be constitutive for Europe today. The promise of equality is catharsis – a proposal for political reconciliation. Like in her first book, she stresses the role of a European Republic to implement a fiscal union and basic social security; the main priorities when combating the social crisis. It requires a Europe based on a regional level – a federation of regional entities without national body/level. Guérot recommends a European bicameralism; namely, one chamber representing European citizens by population, the other representing regions. Clearly, the importance of the regional level rises (e.g. in Catalonia, Scotland etc.). National states enhance radical and populist forces on the basis of putting them in competition (social and economic) with each other. A unified Europe is the solution. It is namely electoral equality combined with tax equality and same social rights that unifies one currency and one market as one democracy.
Politics tops Nation?
The new book outlines a vision of an innovative Europe; however, it is not only a shortened version of “Warum Europa eine Repulik werden muss” (Why Europe needs to be a Republic). Nevertheless, the European Republic is still the main attempt at a solution. Guérot , however, does not extract the complete conception. It is indeed still unclear to what extent a majority of Europeans share the vision of a unified Europe of that kind. Furthermore, one may ask how “one person, one vote” involves minority protection?
Countries with large populations (e.g. Germany) influence polls in a hegemonic way; disagreeing with this objection, Guérot replies that it is “Politics tops Nation” in the end, emphasizing that citizens of one country do not vote all in the same way. However, public discourse is still based on the national level. For instance, Yanis Varoufakis still has a really bad reputation in German media. As prominent German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, I think that we need at first a European public/civil society. A unified public discourse is the condition of possibility of Guérot`s Theory. In particular, having in view the European public discourses in the field of science, culture, soccer etc., Guérot is more optimistic. Like her first book “Warum Europa eine Republik werden muss”, her new essay contains an adequate analysis of the current social development in Europe, arguing against backward-looking policies of a “Europe of nations”, presenting a forward-looking vision of international understanding . “The European Republic is under Construction”!
- Guérot, Ulrike: „Der neue Bürgerkrieg - Das offene Europa und seine Feinde“ Ullstein. 91 Seiten. 8,00 Euro - Guérot, Ulrike: „Warum Europa eine Republik werden muss – Eine politische Utopie“ J.H.W. Dietz. 300 Seiten. 18 Euro