Review Essay: The New Old World. Perry Anderson. Verso 2010.

The European Union lies at the horizon of our politics. Like the sky’s limit it seems a distant prospect. Yet a major part of what we see of government is shaped by decisions in the Halls and Chambers of Brussels. How then can we grasp their workings? The New Old World begins with the observation that the EU has an “institutional framework of famous complexity, overarching the nations that compose it that sets this world off from any other” The Union is marked, moreover, by the “intractable sovereignty and diversity of the nation-states” that make it up. To write about this, Perry Anderson observes, is difficult. The difference between the national and supranational planes makes it hard to hold them together “within a single focus”. A causal reader might immediately shrink from reading further; fearing no doubt that the author is also talking about the tangled nature of his own book. They would be wrong to do so. Anderson, a leftist intellectual’s intellectual, is not about to get lost. If the pages of The New Old World are “makeshift” and made up of “discontinuous” efforts, it is full of critical political and theoretical insight about the European Union, and its member states. Readers of the London Review of Books and New Left Review will be familiar with many of these essays. But placed together, re-edited, and concluded with up-to-date Prognoses they repay re-reading as a whole. Few British commentators (Timothy Garton Ash being one, though from a standpoint close to power) have managed to link the national and the pan-European in such a stimulating way. Reviewers have praised Anderson’s ‘breath’, his ‘magisterial’ grasp of a vast range of material. He is one of the small number of people capable of describing this “impossible object”, and its successive historical, cultural, ideological, national and Continental levels. He does so from the vantage point of the left – a left however that is never clearly defined. (Page xi) The New Old World aims to “inspire curiosity about the life and thought of other nations”. That is, largely, through an account of ‘high’ national cultures, intellectual reviews, and the ‘quality’ arts of France, Italy and Germany, although, just outside the European marches, Turkey gets a broader ideological look, centred on Kemalism and Islam. There is little evidence of materialist cultural studies, that is, the attempt to make links between the elite-national and the ‘popular’. In a similar vein Perry Anderson’s famously erudite style – peppered with untranslated phrases from many European languages – staunchly resists Orwell’s recommendation in Politics and the English Language to always use “Everyday English” and short words. But it is none the worse for making readers consult a dictionary or Google.

The EU in the Frame.
Anderson is not a disengaged observer. He states of the founders of the Union, “my admiration for its original architects remains undiminished. Their enterprise had no historical precedent, and its grandeur continues to haunt what it has since become.”(Page xv) That it is “the last great worldhistorical achievement of the bourgeoisie…”(Page 78) Is this esteem a sign that Anderson has inherited a certain ‘Trotskyist’ vision of the progressive nature of Continental political and economic integration, a step forward on the way of uniting the international labour? This idea is mentioned but not explicitly endorsed (an elliptical feature of all Anderson’s writings). The foreword looking potentials – bluntly the possibilities the EU offers to the left – of long-term unification, are overshadowed at present. It has undergone a “strange declension”. To give us a flavour of the hopes it once offered Anderson cites Tom Nairn’s The Left Against Europe (1972), which argued for European integration as a theatre of popular expression. Anderson’s colleague, the

for the moment. and consul. A hostile appraisal may discover the basis for an eventual revival of the progressive side of the project. Scottish nationalism. The EU has played an active part in continuing the “deregulation of financial markets and the privatisation of industries and services. If they have “missed that bus” (Page 211) many other European parties of the moderate left did not. the people have not acted. made above all in America (Wall Street. pursued from the top down. If its existing framework is solidifying around a structure far from favourable to any kind of left this may not last. has gradually withered. Europe. and the Union has become a stage dominated by the right. Its performance since the crisis of the neo-liberal regime has so far been worse than that of America. Where can we look for advances now? The stalwart of New Left Review does not explore Nairn’s lovingly nurtured option. abet aggression by Israel.” Gowan clearly hoped it could. There is practically nothing about the United Kingdom. impeding the flow of change in the left’s direction.late Peter Gowan.” At the very least this would involve preserving what Commissioner Jacques Delors called the Europe’s “unique systems of social solidarity” even if it meant.” (1) This has not happened.”(Page xii – xiii) This is a contestable judgement. to the USA. Far from being Europe that tames markets. As Anderson subsequently observes. Its ‘social’ dimension. ethnic cleansing in Cyprus. is said to define the EU. is because its “history since the fall of Thatcher has been of little moment. the Pentagon and the White House). believing. erosion of individual state-led economic policies) as the result of deliberate decisions. with many others who took this stand.” that started with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan. If it outside the Euro-Zone. with doubtless some happy mischief. with ambition to be a ‘sub-imperial’ help-met. The .. been more than a simple cheerleader of American overseas interventions. or better. described globalisation (unimpeded capital flows. build a social alternative. Anderson asserts. that the presence or absence of political will was a principal determiner. “bringing capital on board. and New Labour has certainly bolstered the Eastern European ‘left’s’ adoption of free-market policies. and its implication in the cogs-and-wheels of the post social-democratic ‘market state’ – very much part of the history of neo-liberalism. dare one mention. in his latest view. “wistfully. a space where one might. But this depended on a political agency with power in the EU. just might. the UK has occupied a leading role in driving Europe towards “deregulation and privatisation”. The reason. claimed to counterbalance the market. the social democrats have bent to the will of capital. he mentions. an “effective European social democratic challenge to the globalisation drift.”(Page 540) The consensus that has led to this. The French Socialists have looked. It is ‘adrift’. So. The issue is. settled. Anderson is as radical a critic of the actually existing Union as a member of the Common Market Safeguards Committee. The EU. and popular reactions to it more conservative. The importance of Labour’s Third Way lay not in its vacuous theory. the EU now has a wider span of income inequality than the UD and harsher inter-ethnic relations. is marked by “contempt for elementary principles of democracy” (Page 540) The elites of the Council and Commission and their subordinates have constructed an “oligarchic structure” ruled by select cliques. within the EU. Socially. the current “metamorphosis” of capitalism dominates it. Its rulers “collude with negationism in Turkey. if furtively” at Blair. is hardening. This indicates a sclerosis of its political arteries. the EU to muster “political will to re-subordinate money-dealing capital to public policy goals. the Continent as a whole (including the SNP) is in thrall to the market. It has also. from dissimilar premises (above all he appears to regret the ebbing of the dynamic towards some kind of truly unified Continental state form). Perpetual institutional movement. Far from being consigned to the hinterland. and subserve the occupation of Afghanistan. This turn is deeply entrenched. He asked (1999) if it were possible for a larger inter-state unit. Britain is in the van of the current wave of pressure for those who have the common currency to adopt Budget austerity – before it reaches the urgent condition that has swept Greece and threatens Spain and elsewhere. From the nuanced criticisms of the earlier contributions (begun in 1995) to his most recent (2009) his outrage swells.. but the party’s 13 years of power. One thing is seriously awry (and remarked upon by nearly all reviewers). nevertheless.

more difficult. Such a narrative stands in contrast to the “self-congratulatory myths” underlying the principled ideals behind the formation of the EU. there is little doubt that the size of Margaret Thatcher’s symbolical handbag heavily shaped the course of the EU during the 1980s. But the denser political account of deeds more than thought matters. As a measure of its breath in the course of the book one passes from the hysterically anti-European Bernard Connolly. It is actors. process called ‘globalisation’. Some see it as a “cosmopolitan” force that destroys national sovereignty in the interests of a vague. for example.” This extends its influence inside the working class (Page 131). The French equally wanted to tie Germany down. were not determined by a capitalist Deus ex machina. Anderson mentions that there may be (following the neo-Marxist Amsterdam School and the sadly now no longer with us. If Monnet had lofty principles they way federalism got put into practice was the result of less noble motives. and made the emergence of a common European public. most. If the historical importance of the length of Cleopatra’s nose is open to question. the European bourgeoisie aimed to create a bulwark against the Soviet Union. Surveying a vast amount of material. So. Bernie Moss) a social base with causal power. political biography. the gushing prose of Mark Leonard who admires Europe plc. hollowed out integration. One of Anderson’s analytical strengths is never to drop this from his mind. certainly. That is political show business’s first rule. il n’y a pas de lois. slots into the picture. but as figures with a degree of choice. It may thus be said to be a heavily implicated in the processes that have shifted politics rightward. while Germany wanted to return to the rank of an established power. to consideration on Jürgen Habermas’s call for Europe to become a “unitary international actor”. What is the European Union? It would be easy for anyone on the left to consider the present European Union as the tool of the continent’s bourgeoisie.” It has been a central contributor to the international Banking Crisis. In this way the importance of what . The importance of Pension and Investment Funds for a wide swathe of the population is one of the central features of the age. In the New Old World’s first part then we see the principal performers in the process of integration – in ever-greater density as the tale unfolds up to Maastricht. who play out events and circumstances. informed by the values of the left. Its founders wished to prevent further nationalist wars. and Bonn’s advocacy of the “convergence criteria” leading up to Monetary Union. and the demands of the Continent’s radical left. but menacing. The portrait that emerges is of an enterprise in political voluntarism one stage above the pressures of directly economic and social interests. and the course of these negotiations. The EU’s history often owes something to Vautrin’s formula. 1834). This traces the origin of the Union in the post-war efforts of national states to preserve and expand their power after the disasters of the conflict. “a new rentier bloc with an over-riding interest in hard money. however. and the arrival of Chirac and Shröder – operating not as puppets of disembodied powers.United Kingdom is the theatre for a common pattern of depoliticising that has “led to “ethnoreligious tensions” displacing “class antagonisms. From the “hopes and fears of bankers and economists” to the “political desire of the French government to fold the newly enlarged German state into a tighter European structure” – sapping the power of the Bundesbank over the Continent – a series of relatively autonomous levels of decision-making was in operation. and certainly for an ageing Europe bows to their influence. Encouraged by the United States. Italy’s role preparing the way for the Maastricht Treaty. economic and sociological studies. political pamphlets to philosophical reflections. il n’y que des circonstances” (Le Père Goriot. hostile to any ‘containment’ of Western capitalism. il n’y a que des événements. Jean Monnet. Balzac. a force that emerged from the defeat of Nazism with some strength. he manages to draw out the role of choice within constraint. the “Father of Europe” an “international adventurer” who had a “federalist vision of a supranational Europe” and thought up much of the detail of the European Economic Community. “Il n’y a pas de principles. Anderson begins by a much more weighted approach. from historical.

it makes it possible to carry out an aim without succumbing to the pressure of an electorate. This apparent surrender of individual wishes to a greater aim – being ‘bound’ to the decisions of the Union. is precisely the point. But by the new millennium things had progressed.Nicos Poulantzas called the European ‘interior bourgeoisie’ has faded before the growing internationalisation of capital. “to confound Engels’ view of history that the product of many separate wills is something that no-one willed: and to ensure instead that some part of what each player wants is met. to creation of the Euro-Zone. was prepared to argue explicitly for the restoration of full national sovereignty. is not hard to explain. deeper integration proceeded apace.” (Page 510). If the electorates are determined to express incorrect views (as they have in various referenda) they are obliged to return to the ballot box until they get them ‘right’.” (2) Every step towards greater integration since the French-German Steel and Coal Community of 1951. in order to resist the temptation of the Sirens. Anderson believed (2007) that “inter-governmentalism” and “federalism” have both weakened “without creating a supranational sovereignty. that has not meant that the European peoples display much interest in reforming rather than opposing the institutions. Ulysses is said to have willingly bound himself to a mast. it’s them. “National leaderships lose credibility when major policies issue from bureaucratic transactions in Brussels. notably the Commission but equally the Central Bank – also offers the agreeable possibility of being able to blame this body for anything that goes wrong.”(Page 23).” (3) It equally offers a solution to the problem of weakness of the will. Many of these policy areas had become entangled in the administrative machinery. But while Capital-in-General dominates it does not rule (take actual decisions): its underlying influence in the Union is a last instance whose hour only comes in the lonely studies of those retrospectively analysing the process. Milward later concluded that the non-democratic nature of the way the Common Currency was to be managed – beyond any national control – was a “deliberate choice of the national governments. freed from popular control. What this means is that just those issues that voters do indeed usually feel strongest about jobs taxes and social services – fall squarely under the guillotines of the Bank and the Commission. as Richard Griffiths has put it. A direct mechanism determining the development of the EU must be found amongst its nation state members. military and foreign policies. It can be understood in terms of rational choice theory. “It’s not us. In effect it operates with the objective. From a customs union with a weak executive. The transfer of responsibility takes place in order both to achieve greater collective power (as Milward would argue) and to pin responsibility onto a seemingly independent body. This paradox at the heart of the Union. without Union institutions themselves gaining transparency or authority. Although Bernie Moss. ‘”quasi” and “pseudo” and that nation-states could determine their own fiscal. it’s up to the mysterious legalistic bureaucracy to do the rest.”(Page 129)? In 1995 he could rightly note that that the apparatus was cumbersome. while his crewmates had their ears filled with wax. As cited by Anderson. the 1957 Treaty of Rome. “determination of macro-economic policy at the highest level has shifted upwards from national capitals to Frankfurt and Brussels.” Viewed in this light what of Anderson’s observation that. Anderson draws on Alan Milward’s work Milward argued that the Common Market brought economic security through a single regulated market but that “whenever the Community member-states had to implement their surrenders of sovereignty they produced an arrangement which left almost all political power with the nation-state. and gives the national electorate an easy target to stick blame for poor results on. To pass central decisions – Treaties – EU governments make themselves voluntarily deaf to the ‘wrong’ opinions of the voters. once responsibility has been handed over. The regime sets down the basic outline. One wonders if the leftist currents that adopt this stand have much of an idea of an alternative either.”(Page 64) A fact. like the French ‘Lambertists’.” (Page 77) The . That is. that states (which are built on a monopoly of power) appear to voluntarily surrender some of their decision-making abilities to a third party. he notes later. took place within this framework. This process of “transactions”. social.

a “formidable array of market and institutional interests”. The Market State. Philip Bobbit suggests that there is a shift from ‘nation state’ that provides for people’s well-being. competitiveness. a “spontaneous” economic order (catallaxy). But sovereignty in a looser sense. both by deconstructing the Welfare state and reconstructing it to – against Bobbit’s claims – direct people’s lives. defence. or the internal forces of the EU. if sometimes nakedly dominated by those states with the biggest stake in the operation. has in effect been the complement to the advance of privatisation – that is a set of agencies whose task is to ensure that firms do not abuse monopoly power as the state once did or generate an excess of externalities. What is emerging is. and initiating endless ‘crack-downs’ on the lame and halt. shifting away from the provision of welfare or stabilisation of the business-cycle towards a more indirectly regulative role. The upshot. without a doubt. as subsequently on the continent. solutions to any economic problem or market failure (‘we must have more regulation”) this approach – overtly designed to replace social ownership – stands exposed as key element in the origins of the present crisis. “the growth of regulation here. (today’s ‘least eligibility’ criteria).”(Page 540) Behind this then is not just a freely surrendered power. This structure and a climate in which only varieties of market friendly liberalism flourish is not achieved spontaneously. Some on the left consider that the ‘nation’ should be the locus for a fight-back.” tries to maximise total wealth. and outsources many of its functions which “bypass representation institutions like legislature and collective bodies like unions” One can doubt whether a rising tide of wealth ever raises all human craft. but is part of the economic regime of accumulation and the organisation of governance. and to enforce against the wishes of governments that appear unwilling to recognise its needs. at paltry rates of pay. The EU’s own doctrinal base dovetails into the process. “the demolition of barriers to free trade and the estoppage of popular interference with the market. despite this claim. This is a framework that requires very conscious intervention. Institutionally. is that by 2009 something more akin to the free-market paradigm of Hayek. but the presence of the agents of global deregulation. injected with new rigorism of converts to liberal principles from the East” enforces undermining union power in the name of competition (even the German system of mitbestimmung). who are outside the Euro Zone. (4) There is little to stand in the way of the market-state. a “wider variegation of human rights” within such societies. of leading or hegemonic power. Stability. is a highly coercive organism. in gentler forms. That is. to uphold. Or. But such a strategy risks (if one follows Anderson’s analysis) exacerbating the “ethno-religious tensions” that have displaced class conflict.” as well as the “gutting of what was once their parliamentary expression of the associated social-democracies of the continent” has left little countervailing power. and regulation have eclipsed social solidarity in many other European countries. to the ‘market state’ that offers security but sees its “role as enabling and assisting rather than directing its citizens’ interaction with choice. Anderson affirms. Indivisible and Overwhelming. Rooted in their operation the call for regulation is not an alternative to the market but its adjunct. The “latest decisions of the European Court. the British market-state offers a worthy successor to the Poor Laws and the Workhouse. and duplicitous. by the friends of the market. By forcing Workfare on the unemployed. which is increasingly herding its recalcitrant populations onto the market. the balance of functions performed by the modern state alters.”(Page 108) One of the laziest. This encourages. the content of fiscal and state expenditure policies of even those. We have here something of the flavour . Anderson could perhaps have more thoroughly explored the nature of the object. the “steady weakening of labour movements. As this pattern spread. has undoubtedly migrated towards the Union’s decisionmaking bodies. It does not simply set down market rules. As the fate of the Greek State faced with its Budget deficit indicates. like the UK.organs of the EU are certainly not One.

should be aware of their reliance on rhetoric (in the formal classical sense). Conscious that it truly is hard. to put his finger on some very sore spots. As founders of what has become the Union the first three offer an opportunity to offer observations about the link between their post-War development and their interaction with its growth. The essay on France is informed by deep familiarity. ‘veilli’) as well as amusing slang and the transient Anglicisms that give such pleasure to the French. Greek and Latinate vocabulary (frequently found in le Petit Robert as ‘rare’ ‘littéraire’. resembling the serious work undertaken in Anglophone journals such as the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books – or the Guardian’s Saturday Review. Even a polyglot like Anderson must strain to grasp Turkey’s singular civilization and history. The task of describing the domestic life of more than one culturally aligned group of. To indicate a crucial difference: few would quote the Guardian as journal of reference in the way Le Monde still is. dull. The discourse of such figures is heavily marked by the gamut of rhetorical figures they employ. Today the previous mechanisms of social self-protection are reduced by the once ‘social’ Union in order to construct the market utopia. It is the occasion for an analysis of Europe’s limits and relations beyond its present boundaries. and the candidate for membership. but in fact this section is probably one of the best critical accounts accessible to non-specialists. but despite its “intractability” he manages. conformist and parochial”. to get ‘into’ the latest mood in Paris. Paris lacks anything. frequently. Most significantly “Rhetoric is . from anyone writing about French intellectuals. One supposes that some pages on the legend of the post-War left Bank. can be entirely “shrill. was “opened and kept open by an enormous increase in continuous. or individual. European nation states defies most commentators. Anyone who has read these writings. In a similar fashion the threnody on the passing of the gilded years of French (high) culture offers a mixed bag of insights. the glories of its later Maîtres-à-penseurs. a much more recent member state. Germany. And if Anderson cites le Monde Diplomatique the better to contrast it with le Monde he does not flag up the underlying analytical closeness of their journalists: the ‘topo’ a method of swiftly and rigorously presenting an investigation that has its only parallel in the British media in the pages of the Financial Times. one would have been more than hesitant about remarking on the pillar of French intellectual life. Even during Colambani’s reign this continued at the heart of Le Monde. a “travesty” of its past. And if one thinks this is a kind of leftist automatic reflex it suffices to look at the recent history of British industrial disputes to see to extent to which law imposes its heavy tariff on trade unions who ‘interfere’ with the market – that is exercise their own freedom to strike. denouncing the mutual back-slapping in the Parisian media – though Hamon and Rotman’s Les Intellocrates (1981) made the same points sixteen years earlier. It is hard to fathom as well how a newspaper that employs such as vast erudite French. centrally organised and controlled interventionism”. Le Monde. Even so. is much exaggerated. he rightly states. is a case study in its faults. he wrote. from Sartre to (at present) Alain Badiou as well as the just mentioned “grotesque”. (5) Nations. But it seems clear that Anderson’s claim that Le Monde went to wrack and ruin under the Colambani. Italy. France. and a description of Bernard Henri-Lévy as a “crass booby” are demanded by the interested public. 1997). Turkey. Cyprus. The New Old Europe offers elegant essays on a far wider than average selection of countries. La face cachée du Monde (I admit I have only flipped through it in a bookshop) may well reveal sordid interference by commercial and political forces. from the Core Outwards. Anderson declares that it is hard it is for “any foreigner” to write about the country. Cyprus. His describes French bookreviewing as largely puffery. The door-stopper account of le Monde’s travails. If British readers cared as much (which they obviously do not) they would say gentler but equally dismissive things about the fatuous Liberal Democrat supporting Guardian. The birth of capitalism. such as it is. Anderson mentions Serge Halmi’s pamphlet (Les nouveau chiens de guarde. This is visible very quickly.of Karl Polyani’s Great Transformation (1944). Anderson’s wry good sense manages to fight its way through.

For a moment it seemed as this would lead to a new convergence with ancient themes of the French Right – the ‘integral nationalism’ of Charles Maurras which celebrated “la terre et ses morts” (the Soil and its Dead) over ‘abstract liberalism’. Some intellectual anti-totalitarians.designed to cast a spell. Amélie. often reflected the turnabouts of the French governing class in the decades of “mondialialisation” – from the Right to the social democratic left – and the long-drawn out crisis of Official Communism. if transparently spoken with the voice of sometimes grating authority. Whether . but he goes too far in dismissing one contemporary novelist and essayist with an international readership.” (Page 168) That. They greeted with enthusiasm the assault on Afghanistan and. with its wild attacks on all respectable moderate ideals resembled the 1930s ‘anarchism of the Right’. developed from a critique of anti-colonialism and the South’s sordid dictatorships.”(P 169) This fourre-tout bundled together Houellebecq. partly the result of the dilemmas of the Republic faced with demands for multiculturalist ‘difference’ (a value whose emptiness Anderson latter dissects) and the fashion for vitriolic criticisms of what was once known as ‘political correctness’..” – in brief that representative system practiced under the 5th republic. The intelligentsia’s changing political role. (6) But it was indeed the issue of human rights that broke this assemblage up. employs some arguments about Islam that The New Old World makes its own. Their common feature? Hostility to “ledroits-de-hommisme” (human rights). nevertheless important for mapping the political field – dominated as it is by intellectuals (in Gramsci’s’ wide sense). a justification for a “droit à l’ingérence” (humanitarian intervention). to a greater extent. Guy Debord. and the histrionic Livre Noir de Communisme. In this area Anderson is a steady guide. Anderson claims. and democracy. that is the Parti Communist Français’ decline and marginalisation. François Furet’s ascendancy. apparently by “authoritarian integrism. marked. It was torn between “its political loyalty to America and its emotional attachments to France. hostility to human rights and contempt for multi-culturalism. then. and activists in NGOs. altermondialistes from Le Monde Diplomatique. Maurice Dantec. Iraq. This was a path trodden by a similar cohort across Europe. Le Rappel à l’ordre (2002) against the “nouveaux réactionnaires”. the “Coalition” that occupies Iraq. That is the contradictions that arose amongst those whom De Gaulle called the “belles âmes” (sensitive souls). when its supporters found that French republicanism was not American liberalism. as already observed. all have wider cultural echoes. he would not stoop to consider Les Visiteurs. open to a level of debate in the domain of the ‘sensus communis’. Others. Interestingly Houellebecq. . It extended to intemperate backing for militarily imposed ‘democracy’ on any non-Western régime they disliked. His focus on high cultural politics is. Or. Anderson. The author of Les Particules élémentaires not only is the chronicler of the disillusion with certain soixand-huitard ideals. has faded behind a historiology more concerned with bric-à-brac than overarching politics. including a group of Anderson’s former colleagues assembled behind the Euston Manifesto. Alain Badiou (a New Left Review star). and more names than one could possibly have read and absorbed. even Kant admitted. but also a source of far more perceptive (if flawed) commentary about the Islamic faith – far from the banalities of his alleged confrère Martin Amis. The hegemonic unity from the 1970s to the mid-1990s of the ‘anti-totalitarian’ liberal French left – which longed for a ‘normalisation’ of the land and excreted Communism at the very moment when its totalitarianism was waning – and its subsequent break-up form a significant narrative in The New Old World. At most he deigns to mention (unfavourably) the featherweight (and charming) hit-film. as we shall see.” (Page 143) This one sentence explains better than more than many a hundred pages of dutiful study of modern French thought (including the slap-dash Lévy’s). Cultural judgments are. crystallising a consensus around a dual loathing of Communism and Jacobinism. nonetheless were aloof or actively hostile to the ‘allies’ and. in its “version prosaïque. The sticking point came. neo-conservatives. has little time for popular culture. Michel Houellebecq. and a cult easily arises among those who fall under it. a residual loathing of the consumer society. Daniel Linderberg wrote a widely read tract.

which republicanism? An abundant range exists. Using a similar wider – not to say elastic – concept of what constitutes democracy Keane manages to find its germs in Mesopotamian ‘assemblies’. are well within the boundaries of convention. Rosanvallon ends up however. Enforcing Islamic ‘morals’ on all and sundry – particularly by imposing standards of female “modesty” – created its own toll of misery. but central banks. through sour corruption and vicious repression. the conventional left republicanism of Régis Debray. Few on the left would have much time for the author of Le Moment Guizot (a half-apology for the enemy of the 1848 revolution) but his more recent writings. Republicanism is another ideological hot-point. The American model provided no answers. What remains of the anti-totalitarian current? Anderson gives some credit to the political philosopher and activist (an initiator of the ‘centre-left’ Fondation Saint-Simon and media ‘intellectocrat’ in his spare-time) Pierre Rosanvallon. Yet the Front Islamique de Salvation (FIS) kept growing. A decade of the “sale guerre” carried out by the Algerian military. the FLN. street processions or auditing commissions. The issue here has become. Determined not to let a democratic vote end democracy – or rather. as Anderson suggests. . dramatised in the film Bab-El-Oued City (1994). “The bewildering array of surrogates brigaded to this end borders on the comic: not only constitutional courts. His concepts. But the Prophet’s followers began their campaign by bringing in their Weltanschauung into daily Algerian life. (2009). (an ally in Kabul but not in Baghdad) or to some degree of genuine liberal internationalism. Fearing the worst. critical of the 5th Republic. corporatism and ‘Jacobin’ centralism. The process of Islamicisation. with a conception of democracy that exists not just in elections. anyone with a Maghrébin background was all too aware of the results of Islamist terror and the violence of Le Pouvoir – the Algiers State. but wherever people meet to talk and make decisions. leaving the field open for the industrial-scale murderers of the GIA. from conservative ‘sovereigntist’ ideologies of national independence. the Algerian middle class and secular nationalists of all backgrounds mobilised. from the ‘Picquet’ tendency to the Marxist republicanism of the sorely missed Ben Saïd. They repressed the aggressive political Islamists of the FIS. Exiles from all sides fled to France and the rest of Europe. The anti-totalitarian front was shattered by some reminders of what colonialism really was. Faced with the dispute about wearing religious head-gear in state schools the whole political landscape was transformed. many failed to travel down that particular route. rating agencies and ‘political conversions’ of which we are solemnly told there are fifteen million every day in Britain. or through representative state chambers. run by the inheritors of the liberation movement. the revived ‘pure’ republicanism of Chevènement (shorn of leftist phrase-mongering).souls attached to Gaullist prudence. Anthony Giddens. circa 3000 BC. as much on the socialist and ‘gauche de la gauche’ as amongst the republican right. Anderson observes. In the late 1980s Islamists had capitalised on swelling impatience with a corrupt and repressive state.” ”(Page 207) Rosanvallon true counterpart in Britain is not. or the various left republicans. Not surprisingly not only traditional ‘ultra’ secularists feared a repeat amongst the North African communities in the Hexagone. its ‘éradicateurs’ and ‘patriots’ finished in a blood-bath – lightly fictionalised in the novels of Yasmina Khadra (Mohammed Moulessehoul). such as le Peuple introuvable (1998) is an interesting empirically informed critique of classical French ideas of popular sovereignty. shown by Chirac. Faced with this prospect the classical republican norms of a “citizen nation” and laïcité (secularism) were reasserted. a typical Deuxième Gauche defence of social pluralism against totalitarianism. traditional Gaullism. raised more problems than it solved. equally end their own power – the military annulled elections in 1991. Memories of where Cold War liberalism finished up during the Vietnam War are still warm in France. No quarter was given to multi-culturalism (though Sarkozy has tried a dose of community subsidy to create a ‘French’ Islam). but can be seen in John Keane’s The Life and Death of Democracy. The recent history of Algeria (ignored both by Anderson and more widely by the Anglophone left) was constantly present in people’s minds.

Anderson in short. dislodged the Gaullist Cabinet of Alain Jupée and brought the Socialist Lionel Jospin in as a ‘co-habiting’ Prime Minister with a weakened centre-right President Jacques Chirac. But the rest of his analysis is pure intellectualism (and distainfully distant as well). of some of the most important debates about the French left. prudently noting that its maximalist refusal of any form of electoral agreement with the Socialists is a gamble. but it’s a feature of their principles not the absence of them. and consider important. It is self-evidently the case that its top level stems from the highly educated. even the French Communists were never formally tied to the CGT) and the absence of solid social base in manual labourers. Anderson then wades into clashes he shows few signs of grasping. that “What seems clear is that dual voltage of France’s deep political culture. the odds were against them. in the North and other historic ‘federations’ that stem from the SFIO originate in the earliest forms of organised proletarian socialism (France’s original section of the Second International). France reached one of its historically lowest points during the Presidential Elections of 2002 when the far-right le Pen pushed the Parti Socialiste Candidate.This leads to the second narrative. he claims without clear roots. remain democratic socialists in the same mould as the Labour Party left. It has no definite working class base. in perpetual factional flux. and the majority of its activists are university gradutatesl. But liberal economic politics subsequently overwhelmed him. His dismisses the PS as Vauntrin incarnate. This. Members of the New Left Review Editorial Board at the time. it has some anchorage amongst public sector employees. Anderson unhappily shows no real interest in the life and personalities of the Parti Socialiste (PS). accompanied by much renewed left-wing ideological ferment. White-collar workers and professionals dominate many social democratic parties. He prefers to dwell on the creation of the Nouveau parti anti-capitaliste (NPA). “Many” French socialists now hope for a synthesis between their (post class struggle) ecological and social democratic commitments. Anderson failed (2009) to pick up on the ferment that led to this rupture (2009). As it turned out. of the High and Low politics of the 5th Republic. long shunned. If this essay has dwelt at length on France (believe me I could write much much more) a major reason is because I agree with. A tidal wave of left-union mass strikes and street demonstrations in 1995. is. through participation in union ‘Days of Action’ against (most recently) Sarkozy’s Retirement ‘reforms’. Lionel Jospin (after his record as less than stalwart social democrat) out of the running for the second round and returned Chirac to power with 82% of the vote. Unlike them the Front won seats. and politically. Aubry and Royal” (Page 211) Aubry is anything but a mediocrity: she is a tough-as-old boots European social democrat who has reduced Royal to regal provincial marginality. spoke of the possibility that Jospin might be a genuine man of the left. Some. Culturally. Others after years battling as its left-wing (the Gauche Socialiste) have resigned to form a new party – the Parti de Gauche modelled on the German Die Linke. if they accepted the dropping of the remaining Marxisante elements in their Party programme a few years ago. Despite an absence of institutional trade union bonds (internationally a minority phenomenon outside ‘labour’ parties. this has some meaning. Despite a mere 2% of the population belonging to political parties and 78% union membership the French switch rapidly into active citizens at crucial moments. This is not wholly the case. without “principles or identity already marked by ‘social liberalism’. allied to the Parti Communiste Français and the Picquet Tendency of the NPA in the electoral Front de Gauche overtook the NPA in the 2009 European and the 2010 regional elections.”(Ibid) is qualified only by the vagueness of that “many”. I recall. If the PS is certainly marked by a technocratic and Normalien leadership and a less-than-horny handed cadre it is the site. with its . does not get the PS. The PG. Applied to a few individuals. such as the IMF’s Dominique StrausKahn. portraying the Party as “Currently riven between two equally tarnished mediocrities. for a direct route to social liberalism. Anderson’s concluding comment in this section. The claim that “many of its leaders now hope to skip the awkward staging-post of social democracy. the PS is clearly part of the labour movement. Ideologically it is strongly connected to the various teaching unions. This has certainly been of moment. by any measure the largest party of the French left.

at last. however. Cyprus and Turkey are lands with a different significance. as in Saudi Arabia. is that religion was never detached from the nation instead an unspoken definition if it. Less clear is which of these poles a deepening economic crisis will favour. Europe’s core. In Italy The New Old World charts a distressingly tale of the collapse of the left in all its forms. leaving a durable imprint on the masses themselves. merits the term only in its Latin root sense. creating ‘directorates’ that took over the ownership of all mosques. Unfortunately one aspect of its politics. and Fini’s ‘post-Fascists’. After the former colonial power. is a topic of even greater delicacy. however.” (Page 339) Its independent critical left has been marginalised (with help from its own leadership). one secular for the elite. For if at village levels secularism failed to take. It was this. and its injustices have never been addressed. while making their inferiority plain. or with governance by ostensibly pious Monarchies.characteristically sudden switches from conformity to insurgency and back again. is particularly doleful. or whether it might – as respectable opinion would wish – bring to an end. where it may help exacerbate the Parti Socialiste’s worst sides. Despite the existence of relatively strong non-religious constituencies. In the case of the Armenians even that forbearance worse thin in the first decades of the last century.” (Ibid) This is true to an even greater extent in many other lands. and men and women. Kemalism did not so much separate religion from the state as subordinate it to the state. to endure the existence of different faiths and nations. “Nowhere else has such an imposing heritage been so completely squandered. turning the faith into a branch of the bureaucracy. It may even be a factor in the British Conservative Party recent toying with the practice. the introduction of ‘open primaries’ to select leading electoral candidates – opening the way for further media power and diluting political clarity – has been exported to France. appointment of imams. and beyond. is not yet over. the country has sown. based on fundamental unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Cyprus and Turkey present for Anderson a major failure of the European Union. Turkish history. as Bernie Moss used to argue. Silvio Berlusconi. there is some hope for the future – though doubtless there are critics more familiar with the ground who would contest this. as often noted. from the Ottoman Empire. torture and extrajudicial killing is hard to eliminate and repression of the Kurds and violence against the heterodox . The New Old World manages quickly to lay the mythology of Ottoman religious and ethnic tolerance to rest. With the ex-Social Democratic Left and the former Communists in Die Linke. minorities (such as the Alevis) who support a state independent of religion out of well-justified fear of persecution. who dissolved into the ‘Democratic Party’. As for Turkish secularism. The abject failure of the ex-Communists. and one relies on his heartfelt condemnation of the Turkish occupation of the North. That is. A much more profound reason. Anderson heads them under a new ‘Eastern Question’. at. in alliance with ultraregionalist Lega Nord. on the Iranian model. This is in part because. The Italian left remains a festering wound. nationalism sank deep popular roots. this is another golden legend. the European Union is complicit with the ethnic cleansing that created this bleeding sore. It thus retains its significance. The contrast is purely with explicit theocracies. An Empire at permanent War. So do Germany and Italy – both covered incisively in following chapters.”(P 417) How can these co-exist?” Two registers. their alternation. the UK. In North Africa the only secularism on official offer is the practice of the military and a leading-party ruling the country – while the Constitution proclaims Islam their guide. administration of pious foundations – in effect. that it remains an important laboratory for politics. The division of Cyprus is explained in detail. a couple of decades of lost opportunities and the rise of Il Calvaire.”(Page 213) From the 1995 revolt against Juppé to the ‘Non’ vote in 2006 against the European Constitutional Treaty. and secular lobbies the state is not free of Islam. Discrete pressure in favour of human rights has not been pushed far enough to confront the underlying difficulties of Ankara’s system of governance. again with the media and less than active public much in mind. the other “crypto-religious and accessible to the masses. “Turkish secularism has never been truly secular. The Armenian genocide is still not recognised. that allowed Kemanlism to become more than just a cult of the elites.

if the term is not worn-out by use. representative. though the ‘eventual’ if far from the ‘actual’. and internationalism. under the title of the European ‘democratic deficit’. common. acknowledging the Armenian genocide is a “remote” prospect. giving rights to the Kurds. (Page 543) So. combining libertarian freedoms. It looked forward to a socialist revolution within a federalist Europe. he notes. it’s not been its opponents but the financial system itself. but cannot draw out much in the way of present policy from these ideas. of the leading civilised countries at least. for the Kurd and Alevis. Yet. There is much on such thinking. continue. They are set on liberal economies. In the Communist manifesto (1848) Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto (1848) talked of “Untied action. This would. liberalism of the centre and the right. a federalism based on “both citizenship and civil society. through the actions of a revolutionary party. they have not yet had the force to shake the European oligarchy or make them worry overmuch for their bank accounts. produced The Manifesto of Ventotene (1941). More probable is that Turkey will eventually be integrated. apparently. on the British template. opposed the Common Market and European integration on the grounds of its own ‘internationalism’. framework. Uncertain Conclusions. on display. This “vast free range for the factors of production” has been challenged from outside the Established governments. In Greece demonstrations and strikes have recently reached near-insurrectionary levels. Are there solutions? A call for “active citizenship” around a new constitutional. ” as “one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat”. and much of the centre-left are in full agreement with the Union’s existing structural direction. out of realism – recognising its demographic and economic weight. Similar differences of opinion. rather than left. Typically the left has been divided on Europe since the end of the 19 th century. One imagines that Anderson has sifted through all these debates many times. and has been in Paris countless times. that there is no realistic possibility in the immediate future that we can alter the general course of EU policies. the existence of trans-European power without a corresponding intra-European sovereign people. and Parliaments. which has done the greatest damage to its own prestige. Siedentop’s Democracy in Europe (2002) sets out a recurring set of difficulties. They can be summarised.‘Muslims’. He sheds light. from time to time the masses erupt. centring on the claims of wider internationalism against those who consider that one cannot co-operate with distant peoples if one cannot work with neighbours. appear to be gathering strength. for the Turkish poor. of chance of employment and elements of welfare. Sarkozy. of some rights for minorities. and Ernesto Rossi. particularly in the 1960s. and the model is having an impact even on countries that retain a national Republican polity.”(Page 471) But evacuating Cyprus. So far indeed. During the Second World War Alteiro Spinelli. of the publican and private spheres” was needed. let alone percolated into the workings of the Commission. the EU resents hope of some release from the cults and repressions of Kemal and the Koran. “offer the best hope of remedying the . Trotsky’s supported “a capitalist United States of Europe as potentially a step forward that could help to create a united European working class”. the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end”. the Alevis. Rosa Luxemburg opposed “international solidarity” to “European solidarity”. “For the Turkish Left politically marginal but culturally central. “The neo-liberal system generates reactions it cannot always control” wistfully – hopefully? – remarks Anderson. for the very good reason that the left that carries on these traditions has. Market states. then. The New Old World indicates. Less clear was their claim that “as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes. and the streets are filled with lilting cortèges of demonstrators But when such confrontations have been translated into the ballot box. That is. In the Second International before the Great War Kautsky backed a European federation The Bolsheviks in 1914 supported a republican United States of Europe – though Lenin soon criticised it. Yet the British left. initially based on the…Commonwealth. little in the way of hard alternative institutional thinking about the Union to offer.

was that the paradise promised by the Prophet already exists here. rates of pay. Religious observance. since this approach meant “a massive repression of the realities of the new immigration” with its “harsh trends” (page 530) Not only were there racism and exploitation of difference to promote the employers’ interests. an anti-racist equality within the equality and fraternity that social republicanism represents. with a degree of earnestness. the inner compulsions have gone. of a market state.weakness of a liberal social order. of all creeds. Islam is. Given that the problem is not a lack of participation but an absence of political and economic power for the majority of Europe’s people. “le problème des musulmans. They have all the appeal of accounts of the merits of different systems of Proportional Representation.” (the problem with Muslims. rather than as a call to battle against the surrounding societies.”(P 533) In any case a form of practical secularism – the business of making money and consumption – will eventually relegate it to the symbolic rather than the political sphere. decent ..” (7) The EU’s debt to the French state model. is. free from bien-pensant multiculturalism. but it is an “empty signifier”. down below. may be the spice of life. based on strengthening working conditions. he says. usually educated. Such is its place within the “protective shield” of Islam that multiculturalism – by celebrating such ‘difference’ actively reinforces it. Caudwell points “to the long and sanguinary record of hostility between the worlds of Christianity and Islam. Anderson. to pieces of bleeding flesh he is calmed down by this reflection. said he.”(Page 542) Anderson is not shy of declaring that in these circumstances “diversity could never e a value of the same kind as liberty. c’est que le paradis promis par le prophète existait déjà ici-bas. and hostile to racism in any shape or form.”(P 533 – 4) Religion is a likely to be a “supplement “ to consumerism. as Poland or Iran show. The outward signs of faith can be preserved. even paraded as any number of ostensibly devout millionaires. Anderson dallies too long over the problems that robust secularism creates. It is notably the foundation of “multiculturalism” – “variety without antagonism” (page 529) A wan hope. and he nation state. me dit-il. testify. but characteristically. Islamism. Between 15 and 18 million Moslems live here. More urgent are The New Old World’s observations on the present social condition of the would-be European public. “functions as the protective shield of uprooted and vulnerable communities. naturally a major issue in defining the nature of European ‘diversity’.” (Page 527) Variety. but nobody had plans for dealing with “permanent immigrant populations”. a call to establish a ‘total’ religious transnational state (the Caliphate) and it is dominated by fractions of various national mercantile and state bourgeoisies. “Consumption is a more powerful force than any confession. Not difference but equality is a more credible left leitmotif. Anderson discusses variants on the theme of constitutional and democratic reform.” And that “le système capitaliste serait le plus fort. “In the absence of any collective vision of the structures of power that hold all those without capital in their grip. This would imply a transEuropean internationalism. Its importance in Europe may lie in its ability to attract disaffected. “ a central agency able to impose its will quickly” was a barrier to European state formation. equality or fraternity.” (the capitalist system will be the stronger). these limited reforms are thin gruel. a threat to democratic values of the most basic kind. offers a wider analysis through a response to Christopher Caudwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (2009). and the resentment at Imperialist domination of the Middle East. beleaguered minorities on the margins of social existence become the focus of every kind of projection and resentment. fostered by a pious bourgeoisie in the countries of origin of Muslim immigrants. if one accepts the account given here of recent Algerian history. This. For Anderson he misses the official “racist hostility and humiliation” of Muslims and non-whites. (8) Islamism is more than the cry of an oppressed European minority. Full with hatred after Islamicists have blown his companion. As indeed Michel Houlebecq puts into the mouth of one of his characters in Platforme (2001) talking to his central figure. is surely a better solution than the lingering intellectual bankruptcy of those indulgent towards religious ‘difference’. young people. it is a global mouvance which deserves the term ‘reactionary’ in the strictest sense: it is a ‘reaction’ against all forms of modernity. let alone of how to replace them.” (Pages 532 – 3). and other European tourists.

The worst variant here is the demand for ‘independent’ sovereignty – when the whole grain of modern global force goes against this. by whom. It is to break the original mechanism: not merely making the Parliament more powerful. But it remains unlikely that time and contradiction have come to a halt. old and new (Germany. But in the meantime all he can say is. in his Watch-Tower with a well-furnished library. a bridge to – perhaps – more ambitious gaols of socialisation. Portugal). Anderson would reject this. The radical left interact with these parties and individuals. and other (often nebulous) plans to nourish a vibrant continent-wide wide civil society. it is not in an exclusion zone Attempts to form political organisations to their left.” (Page 547) In the meantime Anderson is holed up. even if they are far from making up more than a minority. et vous le verrez. This will not resolved by taking up this or that scheme to ‘democratise’ it: the vast majority of proposed reforms are vehicles for citizens as individuals. Anderson never shows more than a gestural interest in setting out this difficulty. on resisting tyranny La Boétie stated. mais seulement de ne plus le soutenir. to work with the remains of Official Communism. Many on the socialist and Marxist left are part of these bodies. Je ne vous demande pas de le pousser. Anderson has failed (as we saw in France) to observe the conflicts that emerge in these spheres.housing. how can the market state be transformed. Other independent left parties are mixtures of the two strategies. Regrettably his interest is focused on the EU’s structures. but creating a genuine republican social unity that depends on real not ‘state’ citizens and certainly not on whatever ‘markets’ decide. a social republic in Europe. with the tolerant scepticism of a modern Montaigne. Both political currents have deep institutional legacies. Some on the left (Anderson discuss Italian Operaismo) rejected parties as such. for the moment eclipsed. committed to the opinion that political action within the institutions can make a difference to its structure. The New Old Europe suggests the futility of these views: hovering between glacial dislike and an appreciation of the human efforts of at least some of the European Union’s founders. afresh. The problem is not only how to bring its institutions into line with a European public’s constituent parts through mechanisms such as referendums. for all the present pessimism. France. and how. de l’ébranler. O fat. There is a certain threshold of credibly to be passed. Sweden. can this be achieved. is profoundly implicated in the arts of working within possibilities. Politics. The issue is. a ‘first-step’ towards a social Europe. He cites Étienne de La Boétie’s (1530 – 63) Discours de la servitude voluntaire – as if the EU is indeed voluntary servitude. but they too have had some impact (more recently in Holland. there is little sign of either. A prospect so utterly at variance with all the existing frontiers of politics that it appears barely political at all – at least in the sense of not existing within the sphere of the possible. Spain. That is impossiblism. if not reducible to it. and are bound up with the practice of government. not for political agents. et vous voilà libres. and how can economic liberalism be fought back. he is. in Today’s Europe. a prolonged economic recession might reignite the engines of political conflict and ideological division that gave the continent its impetus in the past. “In due course. and. or if. Others consider ways of changing the world without taking political power. strengthening the European Parliament. Today their successors (and some of their former leaders) talk of a ‘multitude’ in struggle that acts beyond all established governmental circuits and the existing bodies of the labour movement. not on partypolitical ones. Italy). “Soyez résolus à ne plus servir. A prime example of this is that the left has spent the European left has spent two decades trying to figure out how to halt the drift of social-democracy to a support of the market-state. The problem that The New Old World leaves is the kind of agency could bring together those determined to bring the European Union onto a progressive course. That is. tel un grand colosse dont on a . in sum. the kind of politics in the line of Jean Jaurès. Speaking further into this classic. have not been notably successful. Relying on a degree of generalisation about the ‘reformist’ left that hides the complexity and potential that exists there. Unless it can present a plausible alternative agenda the left will remain trapped in the contrary of ‘possiblism’.

Page 445. See: A Brief History of Neoliberalism. 2002. Polity Press. “market-state terrorism”. http://www. He similarly makes it dependent on this kind of coercive disposition of common property and a dragooned labour force. Page 88.pdf Review Article Anderson . then you will behold him. 9. Editions Mille et Une Nuits. Page 358. The Global Gamble Washington’s Faustian Bid for World Dominance. Enquête sur les nouveaux réactionnaires. 6. Allen Lane 2000 One contrast this with a call from the radical French left for a “New Constituent Assembly’ to set a new Constitutional arrangement out. 1994. 4. . Peter Gowan. Platforme. that exploits globalisation through its own “outsourcing and incentivism”. David Harvey. 2. The Great Transformation. Octagon Books. like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away. Mémoires des luttes. 8. 5. Routledge. 1975. and you are at once freed. just think and you can be free. fondre sous son poids et se romper” “Resolve to serve no more. Larry Siedentop. In Orchestrating Europe. George Ross. Discours de la servitude voluntaire. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over. 1995. Michel Houellebecq Flammarion 2001. Bobbit’s main concern of course is that the new phase has as its shadow. Utopie Critique. Pages 134 – 137. Oxford University Press. Karl Polyani. Democracy in Europe. Verso 1999 Jacques Delors and European Integration. Page 140.net/LaBoetie/servitude. The European Rescue of the Nation-State. Page 14. Page 45. Edited. but simply that you support him no longer. Terror and Consent. David held is perhaps the best-known modern Marxist who like Polyani calls the market project “utopian”. 3. Page 213.brisé la base. 7. 1994. 1. fall of his own weight and break into pieces? ” So that it. See: En finir avec l’euro libéralisme. Keith Middlemas. Verso 2010. Fontana Press.forget-me. Allen Lane 2008. Daniel Lindenberg. Seuil. 2008. Le Rappel à l’ordre. Philip Bobbit. David Harvey. 2005 A Companion to Marx’s Capital.