Shock News: EU is a largely technocratic regulatory body!

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Marx & Philosophy Review of Books | Review of Anderson’s The New Old World

In 2000 when he was relaunching the New Left Review Perry Anderson claimed “For the first time since the Reformation there are no longer any significant oppositions – that is, systematic rival outlooks – within the thought-world of the West: and scarcely any on a world-scale.” This was the new world order, as proclaimed by Anderson, and the left has not been able to provide an alternative. This was at a time when financial capitalism was riding high and one of the supposedly foremost left critics of the system was saying “well, game over”, just before the system itself creaked a little and blew up momentarily in the form of the bubble bursting. That, of course, was a pre-cursor.  A symptom of the disease. But Anderson’s book on Europe, New Old World is a very interesting and impressive piece of work which provides plenty to think about, as this review indicates. But given the political economic underpinning of the EU, the book is rather weak in its appreciation of what the EU is for (as opposed to the view among those on the British and Irish left who dream about what they want it to be for). However, this comment from the review by Alex Marshall I thought got to the nub of a certain issue:

“The conundrum remains over both how the union should be interpreted, and where its future truly lies. The fundamental weakness of the union, as Anderson repeatedly underlines, remains its lack of a real democratic mandate – a weakness dismissed by supporters of the union as largely a technocratic regulatory body, who argue that advanced democracies inevitably seek to shield overarching regulative and administrative functions from populist demagogues. Andrew Moravcsik and Giandomenico Majone each in their own way praise the master-stroke of the European Union as being ‘just a regulative body writ large’ (109). Anderson himself however has admirably little time for such views, noting that there is a strong political agenda behind this supposed steady glide path towards becoming an allegedly non-political regulatory body – neoliberalism as a whole aspires in fact to supplant redistribution as a social principle with regulation.”

This concept of the EU as a largely technocratic regulatory body can be seen writ large at the moment.

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email: