Can the EU survive the death of liberalism? By Professor Larry Siedentop for Unherd

The enclosed article by Professor Larry Siedentop provides a fascinating insight into the current strains running through Europe’s political institutions, the fundamental challenges they now face and the need for continued vigilance on this side of the Channel to events unfolding in mainland Europe even as the UK leaves the European Union.

“How will the European Union develop after Britain’s exit? It is a question seldom asked, yet one of huge importance for our future. Indeed, it is an updated version of the question which has shaped British foreign policy since the reign of William III — how to foster a balance of power on the continent and avoid the UK facing a continent dominated by a single, overweening power.

For many on the continent “Building Europe” is still a stirring appeal, but it is also dangerously ambiguous, avoiding the fundamental question – the difficult, yet crucial question — of the ultimate legal structure of the new creation, its constitutional character.”

Professor Siedentop goes on to chart the evolution of classical 18th century Western liberalism founded on individual liberty and constitutional freedoms to its 21st century neo-liberal descendant with its emphasis on pan-European institutions and market economics.

“Neoliberalism, with its utilitarian underpinning, does not merely draw attention away from the importance of constitutions. It also draws attention away from the national identities and cultures reflected in those constitutions. In that way, unintentionally, it has contributed to what is by far the most striking development in public opinion across the European continent in recent years: the resurgence of a kind of nationalism, a nationalism which is not aggressive but defensive. It is a defence of inherited identities.”

This is a fascinating and wide-ranging article which deserves to be read by any student of history and politics and is included in our Education section for that very reason.

We enclose a copy below and a link to the original article beneath it.

Article for Unherd by Larry Siedentop -
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Professor Larry Siedentop

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