End of blogging, not of thinking nor writing

Posted by Protesilaos Stavrou on 10/07/13

This blog came in response to a need, not a desire: to express myself in ways that differed from whatever form I was expected to conform with. I was already studying the European Union so there certainly existed at least some rudimentary interest in it. However it was not this which provided the impetus to my euro-blogging. It rather was the economic crisis; an experience that had a profound material and personal effect on me. (more…)

A new chapter added to the crisis in Cyprus

Posted by Protesilaos Stavrou on 30/06/13
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The latest in the concatenation of disjointed actions characterizing the Cyprus bailout programme, is what appears to be a reprofiling of the sovereign debt, realized through a “volunary” bond exchange, under domestic law, worth €1 billion, with the material effect of extending maturities while holding coupon rates constant. The press release of the Ministry of Finance reads thus: (more…)

A few comments on Greece’s present predicament

Posted by Protesilaos Stavrou on 27/06/13
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In recent days, two events have placed the political system of Greece under a certain degree of duress: (1) the disbanding of ERT, the national broadcasting corporation, and (2) the withdrawal of the Democratic Left party, DEMAR, from the governing coalition.

I shall not, for the sake of avoiding to replicate the words of others, seek to penetrate the hermeneutic veneer covering the arid controversies over the events as these unfold, nor shall I attempt to speculate on either the reasons or the ramifications of DEMAR’s withdrawal from government. Instead of writing on such superficialities, as important as they might be, I will venture to pit exegetic stress on some aspects of Greece’s political crisis, which I believe it to be at an advanced stage of preparation and which I perceive as invigorating itself from a number of sources ranging from the present economic conditions, to the historical-cultural imaginary of self-ness the domestic state had meticulously cultivated and valorized as its effective ideology. (more…)

Europe beyond and without federalism

Ideology and political orientation are inseparably attached to the historical-cultural context that engendered and sustained them. To valorize the methods and objectives of a given system of values, as the ultimate telos of a political power impulse, is to bestow upon subjective ideas a supracontextual patina and to proceed with treating them as either self-evident truths of a functional-technical sort or as moral-legal axioms that justify ex ante specific courses of action or series of thoughts. All ideologies are potentially subject to the tendency of producing a concrete schema out of their complex of perceptions, convictions and logical concatenations; and, as a matter of historical fact, all ideologies can inwardly degenerate from their (self-) reformative/propositional form to their (self-) reactionary/conservative other, in the sense that what may enter the theatre of the historical-political as a struggle for the realization of the possibility to think otherwise, ends up morphing into a robust doctrine or of a set of sectarian shibboleths that determine an arbitrary terminus to thinking and doubting. (more…)

Greek bailout: what did the IMF really recognize as problematic?

Posted by Protesilaos Stavrou on 09/06/13
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On June 5, 2013, the IMF published an ex post evaluation of the macroeconomic adjustment programme for Greece. Not few were those who ventured to interpret parts of the content of this report as yet another mea culpa from the side of the international organization and from there proceed to criticize the other two EU institutions participating in the “troika” mechanism, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, for their unwillingness to publish anything that could qualify as genuinely self-critical. On the face of it, the argument seems plausible enough, given that the IMF does indeed enumerate certain issues it failed to accurately account for. In macroeconomic terms and with the privilege of hindsight, the IMF recognizes that it misjudged the extent of the contraction that resulted from the fiscal shock, in that it was assuming private sector activity to offset public spending cuts. Similar story for the level of the fiscal multipliers and for the presumption of the health of the domestic banking system. Yet as critical as such misrecognitions may have been, the exercise of evaluating a broader economic context of the past with new data can fall into the trap of becoming an error of historical projection and while this may have benign effects in changing methodologies and mentalities, it might as well provide just another basis for epistemologically questionable approaches to new phenomena, in the use of context-specific data to elucidate chimerical exact rules. (more…)

The German Constitutional Court and the inherent contradictions of the OMT

On June 11 and 12, 2013 the German Constitutional Court will be considering the legal foundations of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) of the European Central Bank (the Bruegel blog has an informative press review on the subject). This case is of great interest for a number of reasons which stretch beyond the confines of the realm of European political economy, into areas of constitutional law and institutional order or, more bluntly, to what effectively amounts to an incessant power struggle between the various strata of authority within the EU architecture, mainly manifested in the usually self-defeating tension between the supranational and the national levels. The decision of the German Constitutional Court on this very issue might well be of historical importance in setting a clear precedent on the delineation of competences between the Court of Justice of the EU and the national constitutional courts, tacitly though clearly removing some of the competence uncertainty that prevails over certain legal-political aspects of the present state of affairs and reducing the speculative scope of reactionary politics or, conversely, of reinforcing the skepticism over the supremacy of European law in those cases where conceptual lacunae may exist or made to exist. (more…)

Inflation in Germany is not an automatic remedy for the periphery’s economic woes

While having already addressed the argument which asserts a mechanical alleviation of the economic duress in the eurozone’s periphery by virtue of spontaneous or instigated rising inflation in the core, Germany in particular, I continue to feel an inclination to restate my position on the matter, after having been stimulated or inspired to proceed thus by a discussion I held with a friend earlier this day, which reminded me of the assemblage of questionable assumptions still prevalent in certain political or intellectual circles, concerning ideas on the most optimal response to the eurocrisis. (more…)

Critique on the ex cathedra pronouncement of Barroso that there is no eurocrisis

José Manuel Barroso img

The present author finds it pertinent to express the feeling of amazement that is always born in him following an exposition to the Olympian pronouncements of the European Commission’s President, Mr. José Manuel Barroso; amazement not in the sense of a positive impression, but rather as a profound bewilderment blended with an uneasiness that stems from the fact that evident truths of the empirical order of things have become the subjects of a meticulous exercise in obfuscation, whose function is to mislead and misinform and whose end is to place the ideocentric foundations for the top-down policies to come. After having abused and distorted the term “federation” and its derivatives, inwardly transforming it from a firm political position against nation states to an intergovernmental, confederalist conception where the nation state lies “at the heart” of the whole venture, Mr. Barroso has now taken it upon himself to deny the systemic aspects of the localized economic crises witnessed across the Euro Area, in propounding the well-known conservative postulate of certain powers of the establishment, that “there is no such thing as a eurocrisis”. The present critique shall be forwarded against the remarks included in Mr. Barroso’s speech at the State of the Union conference in Florence on May 9, 2013. On the issue of the eurocrisis qua trapping of some leftist’s or “populist’s” imaginary, Mr. Barroso spoke thus: (more…)

The meta ta politika of Europe

Fellow citizen Ralf Grahn (@RalfGrahn) recently suggested that European bloggers should consider producing an article under the twitter hashtag #MyEurope, in light of the commemoration of Europe Day, on the 9th of May. The idea is to invite the authors to publicize their perhaps idealized conception of Europe, of its politics in their broader sense, so as to participate in—and enrich the—public debate on the present and the future of the European Union (or of the Euro Area) and, most importantly, to provide a renewed impetus to the eurologosphere, the aggregation of all European blogs or “eurologs”, to the (re-)consideration and (re-)examination of the immediate issues at hand as well as the prospects for the years ahead. (more…)

Footnotes on Jürgen Habermas lecture in Leuven about the European crisis

Habermas img

On April 26 2013, I had the great honor to attend a lecture on Democracy, Solidarity, and the European Crisis by one of the foremost thinkers of our age, Professor Jürgen Habermas. The event, which can now be watched online, took place at the premises of a very important center of knowledge in Belgium, if not worldwide, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and was introduced by the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy.

The purpose of the present blog post is not to put forward a eulogy to Habermas, nor to engage in a hermeneutical exercise of the meaning underlying his pronouncements, but only to isolate some of the key remarks in his speech and use them as an impetus for propounding my own thoughts on the subjects concerned.

Without willing to dwell on introductory remarks, I shall proceed with the present post that is divided into thematic sections that are based on quotes excerpted from the transcript of Habermas’ lecture. Please note that this is a very long piece of text, containing a number of ideas I have on a range of issues and, as such, I would recommend that you consider each section as an article in its own capacity, even though all of them are constituent parts of the same architecture of thought and should be treated as such (I allowed each section to have its own permanent link which you can copy, bookmark or share separately). Parts I, II and III are closely related to actual European politics, whereas IV falls under the realm of political theory, most probably in the Aristotelean sense of the term “political”.

Contents:
I. “Postponing democracy is a rather dangerous move”
II. The politics of the Eurocore
III. Germany in the context of an asymmetric Europe
IV. Of the organic democracy and its tension with the heteronomy of the existing nation-state
(more…)

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