As Europe is provincialized: a reply to Etienne Balibar

-- Another Europe --Yes, Étienne Balibar is right: we need “immediately, to contemplate a restructuring of the Union for the purpose of building another Europe”. We should be grateful to him both for the emphasis on “immediate” and for the emphasis on “restructuring”. There is a (HUGE) need to act now in Europe, this action cannot take for granted the existence of political forces that need to be mobilized, social coalitions capable of supporting such a mobilization, intellectual energies to be activated, the institutional channels and frameworks to be addressed. What is needed on each of these levels is founding campaign, capable of transforming the existing forces and institutions, creating new ones, channeling social struggles and a “indignation” towards “purpose of building another Europe”, one capable of producing new political languages and cultural imaginaries. A founding or constituent campaign, as I say: which is not same thing as a campaign for “constituent assembly” in Europe, for which all conditions are so far absent. What I have in mind is a decade-long project, capable of radically reinventing at the same time the European space, its place in a tumultuously changing world, its institutions, and its citizenship on the basis of a new conjunction of freedom and equality. Should I add that such a reinvention must at the same time include a reinvention of the left in Europe? If the left has a future in this part of the world, I am convinced that this future needs to be constructed on the continental scale. We should be aware of global dimension of challenges which currently confront us here in Europe. We can be sure shattering of old spatial hierarchies and the emergence of new geographies of capitalist development and accumulation figure prominently among tendencies underlying the global economic crisis. New regionalisms and new patterns of multilateralism are taking shape in many parts of the world, a kind of “continental drift” (to use the geological image employed by Russell Banks in his famous 1985 novel of the same title) is redrawing the world. Within these processes, Europe is becoming more and more provincialized, although not necessarily in sense suggested by Dipesh Chakrabarty in his important book of 2000. This is not a bad thing in itself. Quite the opposite: but to glean the political opportunities inherent in this provincialization of Europe we need political action and government on continental scale. We need a political Europe. Without this we can only look forward to some islands of wealth and richness within a sea of poverty and destitution, something we are already starting to experience in the south of our continent. Moreover it is only on such a continental scale it is possible to imagine construction of a favourable force relationship with financial capital, whose predominance within contemporary capitalism is at the root of the crisis in political mediation (in democracy, if you prefer to put this way) that is so apparent in Europe nowadays. This is not the place to fully explore implications of this kind of “geopolitical” gaze on the European question (which must for instance lead to discussion of a new basis for relations between Europe and the US). But it is important to keep in mind the relevance of the topics briefly evoked here for any critical investigation of current European predicament. In remainder of this short response, however, I want to focus on something else. Speaking of a founding campaign means taking into account the necessity of a rupture, in order to pave the way to “another Europe” (…..)

Link: http://www.opendemocracy.net/sandro-mezzadra/as-europe-is-provincialized-reply-to-etienne-balibar

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