A common policy without capabilities and will to implement it: a fair a characterization of ESDP?

This article argues that the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) fails to provide the EU necessary capabilities that would allow it to stand up to the challenges of the 21st century. In doing so, it suggests that this failure can be explained when considered on a two-level scale. First, the EU member states lack the will to build a truly common security and defence policy, which translates into their inability to create a coherent institutional structure with a (qualified) majority vote as the decision-making principle. Second, it is primarily this ‘first level failure’ that leads to a series of second level failures: the lack of necessary military capabilities, which are here especially conceptualised as a limited amount of rationalisation of the EU military forces with the accompanying factor of high, but ultimately duplicate military spending.

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Is European Economic Prosperity Dependent on Mass Immigration?

The purpose of this article is to overview the issues and arguments surrounding the question of mass immigration to Europe. Its analysis is conceptually and in the use of available data focused on the last decade of immigration to what is now the European Union of 27 member states. In doing so, it takes a critical stand on those arguments suggesting that Europe, for various reasons related to the economic growth, needs large-scale immigration in order to preserve its wealth and way of life to the future. Our analysis shows that when taken in the overall perspective, that is, when the immigration of low- and high-skilled workers is calculated together with public expenses with which the issue of immigration is connected and with tax gains that immigrants bring, the net economic gain is very low or none. However, although not being the focus of our present text, the underlying theme of this work is also to suggest that immigration needs to be consider also from other then economic terms and the results of our analysis cannot be taken as sole factor for providing political decisions on immigration to European countries.

In approaching our topic, we first make an overview of immigration trends to Europe. This overview provides both empirical and theoretical background information required for our subsequent evaluation of the arguments of official EU bodies and commentators, who claim that mass immigration is economically beneficial, and indeed necessary, for Europe.

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Althusius’s Societal Federalism: A model for the EU?

Johannes Althusius

Many supporters of the European integration strongly believe in a kind of federalism that would be closer to European citizens, more transparent, and more representative of Europe’s plurality of communities than is the case under the current form of the European Union. The problem obviously arises in the moment when it is necessary to pin down these abstract proposals to a more concrete federal model that would embody them. This article will try to show that when approaching this task, we can gain much if we explore the very roots of the federalist thought as they are found in the work of an early modern political thinker Johannes Althusius. As we will discover below, Althusius’s federalism presents a ‘bottom-up’, dynamic, participatory, consensual, and solidarist alternative to that static federal model, which is popular in our modern times.

Let us first briefly start with the life of Johannes Althusius (1557-1638) himself. Besides being a jurist and prolific Calvinist political thinker, Althusius was engaged in active politics of the city of Emden. As a syndic of that city, he had become the main instigator of the arrest of the city’s provincial lord, count of Eastern Frisia, by Emden’s city councillors that transpired on 7 December 1618. Althusius vigorously defended the councillors’ decision as a ‘legitimate act of self-defence and resistance’ against the provincial lord’s infringements on the city’s rights, considering it an ultimate resolve ‘warranted under every natural and secular law’.[1] As will become apparent with the discussion of his work, the right of resistance to tyranny of a government that does not respect the rule of law is a key part of his federal thought.[2] His most famous work Politica Methodice Digesta (Politics Methodically Digested, first published in 1603), which will be taken here as the main source of Althusius’s federal thought, in a similar vein justifies the right of the Dutch provinces to secede from the crown lands of the Spanish ruler.

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The Czech Nation and Its Past and Present Identity

Prague CastleThe purpose of this short work is to give the reader a brief exposure to the issues that are at stake in the problematic of correctly understanding and using the past by the modern nation-state. It approaches this subject by examining the case of the Czech Republic, as one of the nation-states of the post-Soviet ‘new Europe,’ by comparing its contemporary idea of the “Czechness” to the self-understanding of the Czech people in the period before the emergence of nationalist movements in Europe (up to the late 18th century). In doing so it is argued that the modern concept of homogeneous nation to which the contemporary Czechs subscribe is, notwithstanding the belief of the Czechs to the contrary, exactly that – a modern ‘invention’ that cannot stand up to a more closer historical scrutiny.

More precisely, the purpose here is not to proceed in the steps of Ernest Gellner or Benedict Anderson by alleging that the 19th and 20th century ‘awakeners’ of the Czech nation are guilty of a deliberate attempt to construct a new historical entity,[1] but to show that the critical understanding of the past is always to some extent limited by the (tacit) understanding, traditions and problems of the present. It will be therefore claimed that the 19th century group of Czech thinkers, who in the so-called period of National Revival set as their task to avert the progressing germanisation of the Czech crown lands, were trapped in what Martin Heidegger called ‘metaphysics of subjectivity,’[2] as they believed that the Czech identity they were defending was an atemporal and ahistorical entity. In other words, this nationalist movement was implicitly positivist in its assumptions about historical objectivity, in a similar way as the Marxist historiography of the French Annales school in the 20th century.[3] The nation was for them adopted as the unit of analysing the past. The historicity and timeliness of the concept of nation was denied, and the whole history was reinterpreted according to its prism, without acknowledging that in the past the Czech identity might had been perceived differently. This essay thus both briefly overviews how the modern concept of the Czech national identity and then counterpoises it to an older, more territorial and political, and less ethnic understanding of the “Czechness.” By making such comparison it thus also shows the limits to the efforts to critically perceive history through the (narrow) scope of nation and nation-state.

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The Idea of Europe in the work of Denis de Rougemont and the French non-conformists

Denis de Rougemont was a main thinker of the so-called non-conformistes des années trente, a movement of young intellectuals that appeared in France at the beginning of the turbulentcover 1930s, in opposition to both the individualism of liberalism and the collectivism of the Soviet Russia. [1] The main bulk of their work was published between 1930-34 and was concentrated around three separate currents:

  • The founders and members of L’Ordre nouveau. An intellectual movement established by the Russian migrant Alexandre Marc (born in 1904 in Odessa as Aleksander Markovitch Lipiansky), its goal was to prepare the conditions for a ‘spiritual rebirth’ of the European culture. Its effort was concentrated on going beyond such dualistic divisions as nationalism-internationalism and capitalism-communism. Its inspirations came, among other sources, from the Christian existentialism of Kierkegaard, the federalism of Proudhon, the great critique of Modernity Nietzsche, or from the historicism of Péguy. The thinkers who were a part of L’Ordre nouveau also included Robert Aron, Arnaud Dandieu, Daniel-Rops, Jean Jardin and finally Denis de Rougemont.
  • The Catholic revue L’Esprit of Emmanuel Mounier, founded in 1932. From the beginning it evolved in tight collaboration with L’Ordre nouveau. In reaction to the events of the Second World War it radically shifted to the political left , in order to slowly move back to more moderate positions of the ‘New Left’, under which it still publishes to this date.
  • Young thinkers of Jeune Droite, who were mostly dissidents of the French reactionary and monarchistic right Açtion française. These thinkers included Jean de Fabrègues, Jean-Pierre Maxence and Thierry Maulnier.

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Cosmopolitan Democracy and Its Failure in Providing a Political Identity

x55862The political theory in the 1980s was marked by the ‘struggle’ between communitarians and liberals. This debate was waged in the name of local social embededdness in the first case and in the name of certain universal moral standards applicable to all human beings equally in the case of the latter (1). Cosmopolitanism, as one of the strands of liberal thought, also possibly falls under the communitarian attack. However, this essay does not focus on the evaluation of normative claims made by these two opposing sides, but rather questions cosmopolitan democracy in its capability to create a viable political system. The nationality will be considered here as one of the possible political identities that a political community can take, not as the one which is somehow required for a properly functioning society. The argument which we will try to defend here will be that cosmopolitan democracy is not able to provide a political identity to its citizens because of its aspiration towards the universal political membership. The greatest problem with cosmopolitanism comes precisely from this failure to realize that the practice of politics is necessarily contradictory to political all-inclusiveness. Or in other words, we will argue that the political membership encompassing all ‘humanity’ cannot provide the political identity for a political community of any form, whether the community is democratic or not. This criticism will be based on the definition of politics which we will try to promote here and which claims that one of the fundamental dimensions of the political is having an enemy. Since the cosmopolitan democrats claim to provide the political membership to everyone, they deny the possibility of having a political enemy and hence also rhetorically deny their political nature. We will try to show that what is the result of cosmopolitans’ effort is not the universal political inclusion, but merely the inability to admit that some persons are again in fact excluded.

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O Canada!

This is an old signoff of the Canadian CBC TV – an excellent example from which we should inspire in how to promote the unity of the European Union in the future!