Translated by Ciaran Cronin.
In the midst of the current crisis that is threatening to derail the historical project of European unification, Jürgen Habermas has been one of the most perceptive critics of the ineffectual and evasive responses to the global financial crisis, especially by the German political class. This extended essay on the constitution for Europe represents Habermas’s constructive engagement with the European project at a time when the crisis of the eurozone is threatening the very existence of the European Union. There is a growing realization that the European treaty needs to be revised in order to deal with the structural defects of monetary union, but a clear perspective for the future is missing. Drawing on his analysis of European unification as a process in which international treaties have progressively taken on features of a democratic constitution, Habermas explains why the current proposals to transform the system of European governance into one of executive federalism is a mistake. His central argument is that the European project must realize its democratic potential by evolving from an international into a cosmopolitan community. The opening essay on the role played by the concept of human dignity in the genealogy of human rights in the modern era throws further important light on the philosophical foundations of Habermas’s theory of how democratic political institutions can be extended beyond the level of nation-states.
Now that the question of Europe and its future is once again at the centre of public debate, this important intervention by one of the greatest thinkers of our time will be of interest to a wide readership.
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Jürgen Habermas is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt and one of the most influential social and political thinkers in the world today.Review:
"One of Europe's most prominent intellectuals, a social political theorist of the highest standing. In pinpointing the lack of democratic participation, he builds a case that Europe's leaders will sooner or later have to answer."
"A trailblazer of an emerging debate in international political theory."
"A vital injection into the public debate on the future of the EU since it brings our attention to a central political dimension of this project, which seems to have been lost. It is also a thought-provoking contribution to several debates in political theory."
European Political Science
"The Crisis' demand for a politicised and democratised Europe is a welcome tonic to an event currently marked by its lack of vision."
"We should rejoice that a philosopher like Habermas is not giving up, but calling the European elite to order. He sees an opportunity in the crisis. 'With a little backbone the crisis of the single currency can bring about what some once hoped for from a common European foreign policy, namely a cross-border awareness of a shared European destiny.'"
"One of the most famous living philosophers."
"There is something refreshingly honest about Jurgen Habermas's take on the European Union."
"For at least a generation Jurgen Habermas's work has made a significant impact on a variety of important debates in philosophy and the social sciences."
"No-one articulates the 'European' ideal with greater intellectual clarity, philosophical acumen and humanist fervour than Jürgen Habermas."
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