Collapsing Constructions: Reflections on British Exit

“Now that the EU has failed as a great state in waiting, being unable to protect the interest that little people have in the political control of capitalist advance, the future may well belong to small-scale, flexible, relatively homogeneous, responsible action and freely negotiated cooperation, in political units that seek and fill niches. The smaller nation states of Europe today could give a foretaste of this, whether in the EU or not: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, countries in which collective goods, collective identities, and collectively formed will are more concrete, perceptible and achievable than in a European superstate (and which will all continue, except the Netherlands, to have their own currency for a long time to come).”


by Wolgang Streeck, via VersoVerso

This essay was first published in Die Zeit on 30 June. Translated by David Fernbach.

We shall have to wait and see whether German “Europeans” will learn anything from the outcome of the British referendum. There is not much hope of this. In their first reactions, they claimed that the land of Shakespeare and Adam Smith, Newton and Hobbes, Händel and Marx had never really belonged to Europe — unlike ourselves of course. It is obvious here to anyone not caught up in the German fog that similar votes would have had similar results in a whole series of countries: Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, Hungary and Italy, not to mention France. The European Union as we know it, the institutional framework of “European integration” as Germans imagined it, is experiencing its Götterdämmerung. And anyone who does not believe this risks being buried by its collapsing…

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