Book Panel on Michael A Wilkinson’s, Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe (OUP 2021)
This book recounts the transformation of Europe from the interwar era until the euro crisis, using the tools of constitutional analysis and critical theory. Interwar liberalism, rocked by mass politics and social inequality, actively turns to authoritarianism in an attempt to suppress democracy, with disastrous consequences in Weimar and beyond. After the Second World War, economic liberalism is restored through a passive authoritarianism: inter-state sovereignty is restrained, state-society relations are depoliticised, and class struggle subdued. This transformation takes time to unfold and it presents continuities as well as discontinuities. It is deepened by the neoliberalism of the Maastricht era and yet counter-movements then also emerge. These are more actively repressed through the authoritarian liberalism of the euro crisis phase, leading now to an impasse. If the postwar order of authoritarian liberalism has reached its limits, there is yet to be a definitive rupture.