Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe

ISBN : 9780198854753

Michael Wilkinson
336 ページ
153 x 234 mm
Oxford Constitutional Theory

This title recounts the transformation of Europe from the post-war era until the Euro-crisis, using the tools of constitutional analysis and critical theory. The central claim is twofold: Europe has been gradually reconstituted in a manner that combines political authoritarianism with economic liberalism and that this order is now in a critical condition. Authoritarian liberalism is constructed supranationally, through a taming of inter-state relations in the project of European integration; at the domestic level, through the depoliticization of state-society relations; and socially, through the emergence of a new constitutional imaginary based on liberal individualism. In the language of constitutional theory, this transformation can be captured by the substitution of supranationalism for internationalism, technocracy for democracy, and economic for political freedom. Sovereignty is restrained, democracy curtailed, and class struggle repressed. This constitutional trajectory takes time to unfold and develop and it presents continuities and discontinuities. On the one hand, authoritarian liberalism is deepened by the neoliberalism of the Maastricht era and the creation of Economic and Monetary Union. On the other hand, counter-movements then also begin to emerge, geopolitically, in the return of the German question, domestically, in the challenges to the EU presented by constitutional courts, and informally, in the rise of anti-systemic political parties and movements. Sovereignty, democracy, and political freedom resurface, but are then more actively suppressed through the harsher authoritarian liberalism of the Euro-crisis phase. This leads now to an impasse. Anti-systemic politics return but remain uneasily within the EU, suggesting authoritarian liberalism has reached its limits if just about managing to maintain constitutional order. As yet, there has been no definitive rupture, with the possible exception of Brexit.


Part I - Interwar: A Pre-History of Authoritarian Liberalism
1 Authoritarian Liberalism in Late Weimar
2 Beyond Weimar: The Long Crisis of Liberalism, the Political Economy of the Interwar Conjuncture and the Foundations of Neo-Liberalism
Part II - Postwar Europe: The Reconstitution of Inter-State, State-Society, and Social Relations
3 Restraining State Sovereignty: Imagining a 'European Germany'
4 De-Democratization of the Political Constitution
5 The Economic Constitution: Ordoliberalism, Neo-liberalism, and the De-Radicalization of Political Opposition
Part III - The Road from Maastricht to Lisbon: Constitutional Movements and Counter-Movements
6 Restraining State Sovereignty or the Return of the German Question?
7 The Post-Sovereign Constitution or the Return of Sovereignty?
8 The Material Constitution: There is No Alternative...Or is There?
Part IV - Euro-crisis: The Unfinished Conjuncture
9 Authoritarian Liberalism Writ Large: The Spectre of a 'German Europe'
10 The New Constitutionalism and its Discontents
11 The Material Constitution in Crisis: Telos, Nomos, and Demos


Michael A Wilkinson is Associate Professor of Law at LSE. He has held visiting professorships at Cornell University, Paris II, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Keio. He teaches and researches in the areas of legal theory, constitutional theory and European integration. His recent publications include Questioning the Foundations of Public Law (Hart, 2018), Constitutionalism Beyond Liberalism (CUP, 2017), 'Beyond the Post-Sovereign State? On the Past, Present and Future of Constitutional Pluralism' (2019) Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, and 'The Material Constitution' (2018) Modern Law Review. His work has been translated into Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Turkish.