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The End of History and the Last European

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Wilkinson, M. A. (2024). The End of History and the Last European. Talk presented at MPIfG Lecture. Köln. 2024-04-24.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000F-3E79-5
In his talk, Michael A. Wilkinson reflects on postwar Europe from the perspective of the long durée of European constitutional history and the interwar breakdown of liberal democracy. He suggests that far from “revolutionary,” as it has been characterized, postwar European constitutionalism is better understood as elitist and even counter-revolutionary in trajectory. He outlines three material features of this counter-revolutionary path: semi-sovereign nation states in the core of Europe, a depoliticization of state–society relations, and the abandonment of class politics. This he accounts for as a form of “passive authoritarian liberalism,” consolidated by the project of European integration, the dominance of ordo and neoliberalism, and the empty signifier of “Europe,” to which much of the left and so-called critical theory remained bound. This settlement starts to come unstuck in the 1990s, signaling, contrary to an influential narrative, less “the end of history” than “the end of the end of history.”