Earlier this month, EUC hosted the event Reintroducing Politics: Transnational Intervention on the European and Global Level. Academics from EUC, EUR and other Dutch universities and EUC students and alumni were among those in attendance. The event consisted of two keynote speeches by distinguished political philosophers, with an extensive Q&A-session after each session. EUC’s dr. Julien Kloeg organized the event together with the Erasmus Institute for Public Knowledge and was responsible for moderating during the event itself. In addition, EUC provided generous financial support to make the event possible in the first place. The event followed on Julien’s PhD defense which took place at the end of February (his dissertation is available online). The two keynote speakers had also been part of his doctoral committee. The two keynote speakers were prof. dr. Etienne Balibar, currently affiliated with Université de Paris-Ouest as well as Kingston University in London, and prof. dr. Hauke Brunkhorst, who is emeritus professor at the Institute of Sociology at the Europa-Universität Flensburg.
The first speaker was professor Balibar, who is well-known for his critical analysis of the nation-state, his reinterpretation of Spinoza’s political philosophy, and in recent years his work on European politics. Professor Balibar opened his talk with the assurance that he was not speaking as an expert, but rather as a European citizen among other European citizens. He deftly demonstrated a number of problems with the current constellation of nation states wishing to fend for themselves on the one hand, and an overbearing European structure without the active involvement of citizens on the other hand.
The overall atmosphere during this afternoon of hard-hitting political philosophy was very positive and relaxed. Professor Brunkhorst was offered the opportunity to respond first, and simply applauded saying that he agreed with everything that had been said. The questions from the attendees of the event addressed topics ranging from the status of migrants in the context of professor Balibar’s emphasis on citizenship to the potential role of French President Emmanuel Macron in contesting and perhaps assuming European leadership. The conversations continued to flow well into the coffee break.
Professor Brunkhorst then assumed the role of speaker himself, and proceeded to weave a historical narrative based on the way political reformism has shifted from progressive to regressive. The breaking point in this overall development was the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15th, 2008, putting politics firmly back on the agenda. In order to make good on the promise of our ‘objectively revolutionary situation’, our task is now to avoid further catastrophe. Professor Brunkhorst outlined several political proposals that would be needed to move towards a transnationalist mode of democracy.
Professor Brunkhorst has written seminal texts on solidarity, critical theory, and the political position of Europe, and all of these engagements shone through in the way he answered the audience’s questions. These again covered a wide range, involving for instance the apparent success of Nordic welfare states in combining capitalism and democracy and the importance of green growth to the project of solidarity.
Thanks to the speakers and those who attended and participated in the Q&A, Reintroducing Politics: Transnational Intervention on the European and Global Level was a great success.