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The European Destitution, or, The Miseries of Reformism in One Country

The CEU Campus
Friday, January 22, 2016, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

The European Destitution

Almost a quarter of century after the Maastricht Treaty, the progressive hopes that many (if by no means all) liberal and radical intelligentsia across the continent had put in the European construction as a space for a politics of human rights and new modalities of citizenship and social rights lies in tatters - identified with the domination of a regressive, depoliticising and anti-democratic conception of governance, in which the commands of finance always trump social needs, and in which popular sovereignty is hollowed out beyond recognition. It is also a context in which social dissent has in many locales taken increasingly xenophobic, and even fascistic forms. This talk seeks to interpret the return and mutation of a language of national sovereignty in the current European scene, especially in relation to the radical-reformist political formations at work in Southern Europe (especially Syriza and Podemos). It will do so by exploring the theoretical parameters of recent debates about exit from the Euro, in the writings of Frédéric Lordon, Wolfgang Streeck and others, placing them in the context of the writings on Europe by the likes Étienne Balibar, Perry Anderson and Toni Negri. Can we move beyond the paralysing antinomy between "reformism in one country" and a European political space structured around the absence or repression of emancipatory alternatives?

Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism (2010) and Cartographies of the Absolute (2015). He is an editor of the journal historical materialism: research in critical marxist theory.