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Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Political Economy of Eurozone Crisis Management

Magnus Ryner

It is a silver-lining that Eurozone crisis management has engendered a substantial body of heterodox policy-prescriptions for the EU. These have considerable merit in that they offer constructive and substantive imaginaries for 'another Europe'. This paper identifies the democratic institutional designs that these prescriptions imply and considers the plausibility of mobilising the agency required to construct these designs. It is argued that the debate between heterodox supranationalists (e.g. The Euromemorandum Group and Varoufakis DiEM 25) and heterodox intergovernmentalists (such as the 'Plan B' associated with Flassbeck and Lapavitsas) is mutually limiting. First, it reproduces the one-dimensional conception of mainstream integration theory between 'optimists' and 'pessimists' (Ryner, 2012; Ryner & Cafruny, 2017), which understates the problems associated with the constitution of a Europe-wide alter-agency as well as with an alternative German regional hegemonic project or national exit strategies. Second, the arguments are based (albeit in different ways) on Mandel's (1967) oversimplified orthodox Marxist conception of European economic structure as simply being driven by capitalist amalgamation. The more sombre reading of this paper draws on Poulantzas (1974) conception of 'interiorisation' and argues that the European economy is entangled in a complex transatlantic structure that is both beyond Europe's (including Germany's) control and difficult to exit without prohibitive costs, despite reduced capacities for European governance structures to mediate this structure with legitimation imperatives. The result is a creeping authoritarianism, as indicated by the increased use of what Franz Neumann (1937) called 'general clauses' (Generalklausulen) in the New Economic Governance (see also Oberndorfer, 2015; Menendez, 2015).

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