Pabst, A. and Scazzieri, R. (2019). Virtue, Production and the Politics of Commerce: Genovesi’s ‘Civil Economy’ Revisited. History of Political Economy [Online] 51:703-730. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-7685197.
Antonio Genovesi’s economic-political treatise on civil economy was a major contribution to debates in the mid- and late eighteenth century on the nature of political economy. At that time, Genovesi’s book was extensively translated and discussed across continental Europe and Latin America, where it was read as a foundational text of political economy like Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the analysis of the mutual implication between the economic and the political order of society by revisiting Genovesi’s theory of civil economy defined by him as ‘the political science of the economy and commerce’. First, the paper retraces Genovesi’s conception of civil economy as a branch of political science and the role of virtue in ordering the polity according to ‘the nature of the world’. Second, it explores Genovesi’s theory of production as an inquiry into the complementarity conditions productive activities should meet for a well-functioning polity to persist over time. Third, our argument emphasises the importance of Genovesi’s analysis of production structures for his theory of internal and foreign trade. In this connection, the paper investigates Genovesi’s idea that the maintenance of a country’s ‘trading fund’ should be the fundamental objective for its internal and external trade policies. These policies, according to Genovesi, should be consistent with the context of the body politic under consideration and the economy’s proportionality requirements for any specific stage of development.
Pabst, A. (2019). ‘Obligations written in the heart’: The primacy of association and the renewal of political theology. Journal of International Relations and Development [Online] 22:300-326. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-018-0131-7.
Notions of anarchy and an artificial state-centric system underpin much of modern political and IR theory. However, the primacy of cultural association over anarchy and artifice has once again come to the fore, notably in constructivist and ‘culturalist’ approaches. The paper argues that these approaches make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the international but rest on a secular ontology that brackets religion and transcendent notions of morality and justice out of the equation. By contrast, the work of Edmund Burke offers an alternative conception of the international. Contrary to constructivism, Burke considers association not as socially constructed but as reflecting a natural order governed by customs and traditions. Such an order gives rise to ‘commonwealths of culture’ governed by a transcendent morality that for Burke is God-given. Contrary to ‘culturalist’ approaches, Burke conceptualises identity not in essentialist terms but rather as an organically evolving reality that is shaped by both ideas and material forces – notions of common humanity and universal standards of justice, which are mediated through history and embodied in particular practices. For Burke, the international requires ‘obligations written in the heart’, which are more fundamental than the formal standards of ‘papers and seals’.
Pabst, A. (2019). Brexit, Trump et les « gilets jaunes » : révolte contre le libéralisme et politique du paradoxe. Revue Politique et Parlementaire [Online] 121:127-137. Available at: http://www.revuepolitique.fr/brexit-trump-et-les-gilets-jaunes-revolte-contre-le-liberalisme-et-politique-du-paradoxe/.
Le mouvement des « gilets jaunes » s’inscrit dans une politique du paradoxe qui dépasse les clivages binaires. Du paysan et petit commerçant historiquement de droite à l’ouvrier, le fonctionnaire et l’employé historiquement de gauche, ce mouvement est le symbole d’une révolte populaire contre le moment de vérité macronien, qui a jeté une lumière crue sur la fusion du libéralisme sociétal de gauche et du libéralisme économique de droite. Il ne s’agit pas d’une insurrection des «pauvres» contre les «riches» mais bien plus largement d’une rébellion des classes moyennes et ouvrières qui sont fragilisées économiquement et culturellement. L’ensemble des couches sociales dites modestes se sent ignoré et humilié. Elle sent aussi confusément que l’autorité est à reconquérir par les gens simples. Le gilet jaune, paradoxalement impératif issu de la technocratie, est devenu le moyen des invisibles de se rendre visible dans la nuit… Ces catégories majoritaires ont du mal à boucler leurs fins de mois et leurs modes de vie sont méconnus, voire méprisés, par la classe politico-médiatique, principalement concentrées dans les villes mondialisées.
Pabst, A. (2018). Political Economy of Virtue: Civil economy, happiness and public trust in the thought of Antonio Genovesi. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought [Online] 25:582-604. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09672567.2018.1487462.
Amid the growing literature in English on the work of the Neapolitan political economist Antonio Genovesi (1713-1769), this paper focuses on his conception of civil economy (economia civile) as a theory of government. By contrast with existing interpretations, the argument is that for Genovesi virtue is a significant ordering device of the polity: virtue mediates between passions and reason, and the human capacity for virtue helps individuals better to realise their different talents. This, in turn, means that virtue is central to the division of labour and the right proportions between different activities, including the balance between consumption and trade.
Pabst, A. (2018). ‘War of position’: liberal interregnum and the emergent ideologies. Telos [Online] 183:169-201. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3817/0618183169.
What are the leading forces and ideas that are shaping our age? In the West, a decade of financial disruption, austerity, and stagnant wages has produced a popular rejection of market fundamentalism that prevailed for over forty years. Mass immigration and multiculturalism have contributed to rapid changes in both family and community life that leave many people feeling dispossessed or even humiliated. Unresponsive government is exacerbating people’s sense of powerlessness and anger. The revolt against the status quo is fuelling a political insurgency against the establishment that replaces the old opposition of left versus right with a similarly simplistic dichotomy pitting the people against the elites. We are witnessing the failure of dualistic thinking and this will not be resolved by substituting one binary for another.
Our contemporary conjuncture is such a period of interregnum and a war of position between the hitherto hegemonic ideology of liberalism and its populist rivals. The popular revolt against liberalism, which is driving the political insurgency across the West, highlights the collapse of the authority of the professional political class dominated by liberals.
In what follows I shall argue that the emergent ideologies which are vying for hegemony are hyper-liberalism, nationalist traditionalism, and tech utopianism. All of them are variously anti-humanist, to which one can oppose updated versions of one-nation conservatism and ethical socialism. Before setting out the unfolding ‘war of position,’ I will first explore the new anti-humanism that underpins the main ideological movements.
Pabst, A. (2018). Fellowship of Love: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and the renewal of the Labor tradition. Telos [Online] 182:139-160. Available at: http://journal.telospress.com/content/2018/182/139.full.pdf+html.
In his other speeches and writings, King invokes some of America’s best traditions to articulate a vision of national renewal that has universal significance precisely because it emerges from a particular place with people bound together by a shared purpose: Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy […] We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline […] Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force […] many of our white brothers […] have come to realize that their destiny is tied with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
King’s dream is not the abstract utopia imagined by Lennon but instead a reality that is already actualized (albeit partially and imperfectly) in history – the particular history of the United States and the universal history of humankind’s fall and redemption:
You [King’s black brothers] have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive […] I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal […] With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
At a time of deepening division within and across nations, King’s prophetic words and his leadership are a rich reservoir for rethinking and renewing politics. His clarion call that ‘[i]n these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth’ has even greater resonance today when truth is either determined by absolute technocratic diktat or denied by post-truth relativism.
Pabst, A. (2017). Postliberalism: The New Centre Ground of British Politics. The Political Quarterly [Online] 88. Available at: http://www.politicalquarterly.org.uk.
Brexit and support for anti-establishment insurgencies suggest that British politics is moving away from the old left-right opposition towards a new divide between the defenders and detractors of progressive liberalism. As the essay suggests, progressive liberalism differs significantly from both classical and new liberalism. It fuses free-market economics with social egalitarianism and identity politics. Both the hard left and the radical right reject this combination and want to undo a number of liberal achievements.
British politics is also moving in a post-liberal direction. In the economy, post-liberalism signals a shift from rampant market capitalism to economic justice and reciprocity. In society, it signals a shift from individualism and egalitarianism to social solidarity and fraternal relations. And politically, it signals a shift from the minority politics of vested interests and group identity to a majority politics based on a balance of interests, shared identity and the embedding of state and market in the intermediary institutions of civil society.
This essay argues that post-liberalism is redefining Britain’s political centre-ground in an age where neither progressive liberalism nor reactionary anti-liberalism commands majority support. First, it charts the ascendancy of progressive liberalism over the past quarter-century. Second, it contrasts anti-liberal reactions with post-liberal alternatives before exploring why earlier iterations of post-liberalism failed to gain traction with the political mainstream. Third, it provides a discussion and critique of Theresa May’s post-liberal conservatism, notably the tension between free-market globalisation and free trade on the one hand, and the support for national industry and the indigenous working class, on the other hand.
Pabst, A. (2017). Fall and Redemption: the Romantic alternative to liberal pessimism. Telos [Online] 178:33-53. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/0317178033.
From Machiavelli via Hobbes, Locke and Grotius to J.S. Mill and John Rawls, the liberal (and republican) tradition pivots about the primacy of the individual over all forms of human association and allied to this primacy is the replacing of notions of substan¬tive goodness or truth with the ultimate foundation of society upon subjective rights secured by the power of the central state. Those rights are grounded in the human will and the artifice of the social contract that has supplanted older ideas of covenantal relationships governed by a logic of reciprocity or gift-exchange. Liberalism is therefore inherently atomistic and oscillates between the isolated individual and some collective unity either objectively compounded or artificially supposed – ‘Leviathan’ was both. By positing an asocial ‘state of nature’, liberal contractualism purports to invent the artificial order of politics.
By contrast, Romanticism – in the works of Novalis, Schlegel, Carlyle, Coleridge, de Biran and Bulgakov – develops develop in novel ways the ancient and Christian idea that human beings as social, political creatures have a natural desire for objective, substantive values by which to orientate their lives and give them that coherent shape which alone engenders a sense of real fulfilment. This teleological space cannot be equated with the impersonal, absolute sovereignty of national states and transnational markets but requires interpersonal relations within a mediated polity that has a transcendent outlook.
So whereas liberalism merely regulates the evil and violence which it views as primary (and which therefore it perpetuates and even reinforces), Romanticism offers a vision of partial redemption in this life just because the Fall and original sin never fully destroyed the fundamentally peaceful, ontological ordering of the world. Rather, as fallen creatures equally capable of vice and virtue, human beings can discover their own particular purpose and place in society that is ordered to the good of the whole cosmos ultimately rooted in God’s creative action. By practising virtue, we can be redeemed in this life up to a point and we can begin to redeem the promise of an original harmony.
Pabst, A. and Scazzieri, R. (2016). The Political Economy of Constitution. Œconomia [Online] 6:337-362. Available at: http://oeconomia.revues.org/2433.
The distinction between constitution, as the set of fundamental normative premises ensuring the cohesion of any given polity, and contract, as the formal covenant agreed upon by the relevant stakeholders in that polity, is central to political economy. This paper outlines a conceptual framework for the political economy of constitution based on the above distinction. Our argument is that constitution in the material sense, that is, as a relatively stable configuration of interests prior to formal arrangements, determines the way in which formal rules and procedures operate within a specific historical context. The paper develops the constitutionalist tradition towards a ‘constitutional heuristic’ that helps to detect feasible organisations of political-economic interests in society. Stratified social systems are rooted in multi-layered connectivity and provide a structure for organising partially overlapping interests beyond purely contractual covenants. This conception of constitution has far-reaching implications for economic policy because it charts a course beyond the dichotomy between consensus and conflict. The political economy of constitution focuses on the multiple interdependencies within the social domain, which give rise to substantive arrangements among stakeholders. This approach enables the identification of policy domains, thresholds and measures congruent with the material constitution of any given society.
Pabst, A. (2016). Trump’s Triumph: The Failure of Clinton’s Progressive Politics and the Demise of Liberal World Order. Telos [Online] 177:192-197. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/1216177192.
Trump’s election represents primarily the failure of Clinton’s brand of progressive politics. Her courting of Wall St, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood celebrities alienated the forgotten men and women (the one memorable phrase in Trump’s victory speech) of America’s industrial working class. Whereas Obama carried places such as Wyoming River Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania and Youngstown in Ohio, Clinton’s neglect of the Democrats’ working-class base came back to haunt her as the industrial ghost-towns across Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa went with Trump. It was not simply white men but also a majority of white women – those without college degrees – as well as about 30 per cent of Latinos and around 8 per cent of African-American voters who together with the Republican core support ensured Trump’s triumph.
The reservoir of resentment that the Trump movement has tapped into is closely correlated with the contempt in which the leadership of the Democratic Party holds working-class people. In the former heartlands along the Rust Belt and in the south, Clinton and her clique on the Democratic National Committee are viewed as arrogant, snobbish, uncaring about ‘ordinary people’ and mostly serving the interests of their friends at Google and Goldman. There was a palpable sense that the Clinton campaign did not care about the party’s traditional base it took for granted. Her ideology betrayed the very people it purported to represent. Clinton’s liberalism of the ‘professional class’ is empty, and this void is now occupied by Trump’s insurgency.
Pabst, A. (2016). Brexit, Post-liberalism and the Politics of Paradox. Telos [Online] 2016:189-201. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/0916176189.
Brexit is part of a tectonic shift in Western politics. An alliance of socialists and conservatives rejected the status quo of remote bureaucracy, mass immigration, and multiculturalism in favor of more self-government and the protection of settled ways of life. A similar realignment is underway in Western countries where the establishment is threatened either by old nationalist parties or by new, insurgent movements that are often far-right on questions of identity and social cohesion and far-left on welfare and the economy – such as Front National in France or Trump in the U.S.A.
This paradoxical convergence marks a reordering of politics that cannot be mapped according to the old categories of left versus right because they are part of the same liberal logic that is now in question. Indeed, from the 1990s onwards both the center-left and the center-right tended to fuse economic with social liberalism, notably financial and trade liberalization coupled with equality legislation in support of abstract ideals such as diversity and inclusivity. In neither case did mainstream parties consider how the privileging of minority interests might affect the rest of the economy or the majority of society.
Amid the backlash against the effects of globalization such as economic injustice and the impact of mass migration on communities, the centrist consensus is breaking. While many reactions are illiberal and even anti-liberal, there are also signs that the debate is shifting in a direction that can be described as ‘post-liberal’ – committed to greater economic egalitarianism and an updated version of social (small ‘c’) conservatism.
Pabst, A. (2016). Is Liberal Democracy Sliding into ’Democratic Despotism’?. The Political Quarterly [Online] 87:91-95. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-923X.12209.
Post-democracy and cognate concepts suggest that the postwar period of democratisation has given way to a concentration of power in the hands of small groups that are unrepresentative and unaccountable, as exemplified by the rise of multinational corporations and their influence on democratic politics. This article goes further to argue that this does not fully capture the triple threat facing liberal democracy: first, the rise of a new oligarchy that strengthens executive power at the expense of parliament and people; second, the resurgence of populism and demagogy linked to a backlash against technocratic rule and procedural politics; third, the emergence of anarchy associated with the atomisation of society and a weakening of social ties and civic bonds. In consequence, liberal democracy risks sliding into a form of ‘democratic despotism’ that maintains the illusion of free choice while instilling a sense of ‘voluntary servitude’ as conceptualised by Tocqueville.
Pabst, A. and Milbank, J. (2015). The meta-crisis of secular capitalism. International Review of Economics [Online] 62:197-212. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12232-015-0239-7.
The current global economic crisis concerns the way in which contemporary capitalism has turned to financialisation as a double cure for both a falling rate of profit and a deficiency of demand. Although this turning is by no means unprecedented, policies of financialisation have depressed demand (in part as a result of the long-term stagnation of average wages) while at the same time not proving adequate to restore profits and growth. This paper argues that the current crisis is less the ‘normal’ one that has to do with a constitutive need to balance growth of abstract wealth with demand for concrete commodities. Rather, it marks a meta-crisis of capitalism that is to do with the difficulties of sustaining abstract growth as such. This meta-crisis is the tendency at once to abstract from the real economy of productive activities and to reduce everything to its bare materiality. By contrast with a market economy that binds material value to symbolic meaning, a capitalist economy tends to separate matter from symbol and reduce materiality to calculable numbers representing ‘wealth’. Such a conception of wealth rests on the aggregation of abstract numbers that cuts out all the relational goods and the ‘commons’ on which shared prosperity depends.
Pabst, A. (2015). ’A habitual disposition to the good’: on reason, virtue and realism. Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought [Online] 5:261-279. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23269995.2015.1013385.
Amidst the crisis of instrumental reason, a number of contemporary political philosophers including Jürgen Habermas have sought to rescue the project of a reasonable humanism from the twin threats of religious fundamentalism and secular naturalism. In his recent work, Habermas defends a post-metaphysical politics that aims to protect rationality against encroachment while also accommodating religious faith within the public sphere. This paper contends that Habermas’ post-metaphysical project fails to provide a robust alternative either to the double challenge of secular naturalism and religious fundamentalism or to the ruthless instrumentalism that underpins capitalism. By contrast with Habermas and also with the ‘new realism’ of contemporary political philosophers such as Raymond Geuss or Bernard Williams, realism in the tradition of Plato and Aristotle can defend reason against instrumental rationality and blind belief by integrating it with habit, feeling and even faith. Such metaphysical–political realism can help develop a politics of virtue that goes beyond communitarian thinking by emphasising plural modes of association (not merely ‘community’), substantive ties of sympathy and the importance of pursuing goodness and mutual flourishing.
Pabst, A. (2014). After the Scottish No: The Crisis of Liberal Democracy and the Case for "Mixed Government". Telos [Online] 169:8-27. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/1214169008.
Pabst, A. (2014). Commonwealth and Covenant: The West in a neo-medieval era of international relations. Telos [Online] 168:107-131. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/0914168107.
Pabst, A. and Milbank, J. (2014). The Anglican Polity and the Politics of the Common Good. Crucible: the Christian journal of social ethics:7-15.
If Britain has become more secularised over the past century or so, it has to do with two distinct yet complementary developments: first, the expansion of both state and market in hitherto autonomous, more mutually governed areas (including education, health, welfare, the family, etc.). Second, the retreat of the Church from its traditional involvement in these social, charitable, education and cultural activities. Taken together, they help explain why the economy has been progressively disembedded from society and interpersonal relationships have been subsumed under either bureaucratic processes or commercial transactions (or indeed both at once).
Crucially, state and market have increasingly converged and even colluded at the expense of civil society, i.e. the ‘complex space’ of intermediary institutions such as free hospitals, friendly societies, manufacturing and trading guilds or universities whose autonomy is upheld by the Church. The global ‘market-state’ has subordinated the sanctity of life, land and labour to abstract values and standards, reducing the dignity of the person to ‘bare individuality’ and the shared quest for the common good to the individual pursuit of either utility or happiness.
Linked to the advance of secularism is the twin triumph of social-cultural and economic-political liberalism since the 1960s, which has coincided with the de-christianisation of Britain. Decades of liberalisation have certainly provided greater opportunities for many and afforded some protection against the worst transgressions upon the liberty of some by the liberty of others, especially given the growing disagreement about substantive notions of justice and the good life.
However, socio-economic liberalism has also eroded the social bonds and civic ties on which vibrant democracies and market economies ultimately depend for trust and cooperation. Paradoxically, the two liberalisms have engendered a society that is simultaneous more interdependent and more atomised – tied to global finance that undermines the real economy and further fragments the United Kingdom. Following the global crash in 2008, we are left with a broken economy and a broken society.
Five years later, British politics has returned to the old orthodoxies, notably the secular liberalism of both left and right and the collusive convergence of state and market at the expense of civil society. Among the few exceptions are ideas and movements such as ‘Red Tory’ and ‘Blue Labour’ that have challenged the secular liberal consensus. Such paradoxical combinations are characteristic of the new post-liberal politics, which seeks to combine greater economic justice with an emphasis on interpersonal relationships, supportive of family loyalty without wanting to decree in what a ‘real’ family should consist.
But as both Red Tory and Blue Labour struggle to gain traction with the mainstream of the Conservative and the Labour party or indeed with the public at large, the role of the Church in shaping a politics of the common good is increasingly coming to the fore. Catholic Social Thought has provided much inspiration to the post-liberal thinking of Blue Labour in particular, both in terms of rejecting the false opposition between state collectivisation and market commodification and in relation to concrete policy alternatives such as the ‘living wage’, caps on usurious interest rates, proper workers’ representation in firms, a vocational economy as well as robust regional banks constrained to lend within specific sectors and counties or cities, as Maurice Glasman has advocated.
As the established Church with its unique parochial system, the Church of England is exceptionally well positioned to offer courageous leadership and translate perennial principles into transformative practices. Far from being a mere ‘super-NGO’ or the poster-institution and moral conscience of civil society, the Church of England is a polity in her own right that co-constitutes together with Parliament the shared public realm under the aegis of the monarchy. In this manner, the established Church has a particular duty to promote a sense of individual virtue and public honour on which a society governed by reciprocity or gift-exchange depends. The Church of England is indispensable to a new politics of the common good beyond the liberalism of both left and right that underpins the global ‘market-state’.
Pabst, A. (2013). Athens, Rome and Jerusalem - A Reply to Luciano Pellicani. Telos [Online] 162:164-176. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/0313162164.
According to Luciano Pellicani, the US culture wars are grounded in a perpetual struggle between the enlightening forces of reason and democracy, on the one hand, and the dark forces of faith and theocracy, on the other hand. Accordingly, he claims that the Puritans sought to establish a medieval collectivist theocracy, not a modern market democracy, and that the US ‘culture war’ between enlightened secular liberalism and reactionary religious conservatism ultimately rests on the perpetual battle between Athenian reason and the faith of Jerusalem.
In this essay I contest Pellicani’s assertion that faith is diametrically opposed to reason and that America needs to abandon its Christian legacy in favor of Enlightenment secularism. My argument is that the modern separation of belief from rationality underpins both the secular rationalism and fanatical fideism which confront each other in the United States and across the West today.
The only genuine alternative to these two extremes is not an attempt to repair the wreck that is the Enlightenment project but rather a proper synthesis of faith and reason that distinguishes political from religious authority without divorcing religion from politics. It is true that mainstream Protestantism in the USA is characterized by a vague ‘civil religion’ that is post-Christian, neo-pagan and Gnostic in outlook. But it is equally the case that the rapprochement of Evangelicals and Catholics around shared notions of the common good has the potential to transform the American polity, economy and society in the direction of a more Christian settlement.
Pabst, A. (2012). The secularism of post-secularity: religion, realism and the revival of grand theory in IR. Review of International Studies [Online] 38:995-1017. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ S0260210512000447.
How to theorise religion in International Relations (IR)? Does the concept of post-secularity advance the debate on religion beyond the ‘return of religion’ and the crisis of secular reason? This article argues that the post-secular remains trapped in the logic of secularism. First, a new account is provided of the ‘secularist bias’ that characterises mainstream IR theory: (a) defining religion in either essentialist or epiphenomenal terms; (b) positing a series of ‘antagonistic binary opposites’ such as the secular versus the religious; (c) de-sacralising and re-sacralising the public square.
The article then analyses post-secularity, showing that it subordinates faith under secular reason and sacralises the ‘other’ by elevating difference into the sole transcendental term. Theorists of the post-secular such as Jürgen Habermas or William Connolly also equate secular modernity with metaphysical universalism, which they seek to replace with post-metaphysical pluralism.
In contrast, the alternative that this article outlines is an international theory that develops the Christian realism of the English School in the direction of a metaphysical-political realism. Such a realism binds together reason with faith and envisions a ‘corporate’ association of peoples and nations beyond the secularist settlement of Westphalia that is centred on national states and transnational markets. By linking immanent values to transcendent principles, this approach can rethink religion in international affairs and help revive grand theory in IR.
Pabst, A. (2012). The Politics of Paradox: Metaphysics beyond ’Political Ontology’. Telos [Online] 161:99-119. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3817/1212161099.
Since the onset of the Enlightenment much of modern thought has celebrated the end of metaphysics and the death of God. The project of ‘political ontology’, which combines post-metaphysical with post-theistic thinking, underpins the scientific rationalism that pervades contemporary philosophy and politics. Faced with the secular slide into skepticism, relativism and nihilism, this essay argues that the only genuine alternative to ‘political ontology’ is a metaphysical politics of paradox.
Philosophically, modernity and post-modernity invented and intensified the onto-theological science of transcendental ontology that can be traced to Scotus, Ockham, Machiavelli and Suárez. They bequeathed three currents – possibilism, transcendentalism and absolutism – that flow through figures such as Descartes, Wolff and Clauberg to Kant, Hegel and Comte.
Politically, all the modern binary opposites such as state versus market or left versus right are grounded in a logic of dualism – the aporia between unalterable nature (the originally violent ‘state of nature’) and human artifice (the social contract). This logic reduces real relations among people or between humanity and the natural world to nominal connections that take the form of constitutional-legal rights or economic-contractual ties. Such nominal connections undermine the social bonds of reciprocity and mutuality and the intermediary institutions of civil society upon which vibrant democracies and market economies depend.
By contrast, the alternative logic of paradox eschews the dualistic categories in favor of a ‘radical center’ – the metaphysical-political realm of real relations and the common good in which all can share through diverse forms of association that hold society together.
Pabst, A. and Scazzieri, R. (2012). The Political Economy of Civil Society. Constitutional Political Economy [Online] 23:337-356. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10602-012-9127-2.
The dichotomy between intended and unintended outcomes of individual and collective action is central to political economy. It concerns the relationship of markets and states and their link to the constitution of society. As such, this dichotomy points to the patterns of connectivity that provide the social embedding of markets and states. The present paper argues that civil society is best understood as the principal locus of connectivity in which markets and states operate. Civil society so configured is neither separate from the body politic and commercial society nor subordinate to them but instead constitutes the primary objective structure of the social domain. It embeds the causal arrangements that determine the crisscrossing of both intended and unintended outcomes in specific contexts.
Within the social domain, dispositions of the means-end type interact with non-instrumental dispositions. One important implication is that civil society is compatible with a range of different political economies and specific socio-economic arrangements. Based on a typology of three distinct paradigms of civil society, we argue that the proximity paradigm is conducive to the discovery of political economies that foster greater openness and specificity compared with the political and the economic paradigm.
This paper suggests that the theory of civil society in general and the proximity paradigm in particular are indispensable heuristic tools to identity the unrealized capacities inherent in any given social configuration. A proximity heuristic is applied to the discussion of credit arrangements and policy. We conclude that a hierarchy of policy principles is necessary to preserve both the primacy of social connectivity over means-end relationships and also the need for context-specific arrangements and policy options.
Pabst, A. (2019). Story of Our Country: Labor’s Vision for Australia. [Online]. Brisbane: Connor Court Publishing. Available at: https://www.connorcourtpublishing.com.au/Story-of-Our-Country-Labor’s-vision-for-Australia--Adrian-Pabst_p_294.html.
Paul Keating once remarked, “We at least in the Labor Party know that we are part of a big story, which is also the story of our country”.
Story of Our Country unpacks that big story and Labor’s place in Australia’s narrative. It explains why the ALP’s purpose and character make it unique among centre-left parties in America, Britain, and Europe.
Central to Labor’s purpose is its promise to offer people a “share in those things that make life worth living” – the common good.
Labor’s vision of the good life is anchored in the everyday experience of working people. This gives Labor its distinctive strength – a paradoxical character that is at once progressive and conservative.
Adrian Pabst argues that to gain and retain power, Labor needs to build coalitions between its traditional working-class base and middle-class voters. Labor can achieve this by deploying its distinctive strength to tackle the most critical issues facing Australia: inequality, precarious jobs, the care crisis, climate change, and emerging foreign powers.
Pabst, A. (2019). The Demons of Liberal Democracy. [Online]. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Available at: https://www.wiley.com/en-gb/The+Demons+of+Liberal+Democracy-p-9781509528455.
Liberals blame the global retreat of liberal democracy on globalisation and authoritarian leaders. Only liberalism, so they assume, can defend democratic rule against multinationals or populists at home and abroad. In this provocative book, Adrian Pabst contends that liberal democracy is illiberal and undemocratic – intolerant about the values of ordinary people while concentrating power and wealth in the hands of unaccountable elites. Under the influence of contemporary liberalism, democracy is sliding into oligarchy, demagogy and anarchy. Liberals, far from defending open markets and free speech, promote monopolies like the new tech giants that undermine competition and democratic debate. Liberal individualism has eroded the social bonds and civic duties on which democracy depends for trust and cooperation. To banish liberal democracy’s demons, Pabst proposes radical ideas for economic democracy, a politics of persuasion and a better balance of personal freedom with social solidarity. This book’s defence of democratic politics against both liberals and populists will speak to all readers trying to understand our age of upheaval.
Pabst, A. (2018). Liberal World Order and Its Critics: Civilisational States and Cultural Commonwealths. [Online]. London, UK: Routledge. Available at: https://www.crcpress.com/Liberal-World-Order-and-Its-Critics-Civilisational-States-and-Cultural/Pabst/p/book/9780367029937.
Liberals blame the retreat of the liberal world order on populists at home and authoritarian leaders abroad. Only liberalism, so they claim, can defend the rules-based international system against demagogy, corruption and nationalism. This provocative book contends that the liberal world order is illiberal and undemocratic – intolerant about the cultural values of ordinary people in the West and elsewhere while concentrating power in the hands of unaccountable Western elites and Western-dominated institutions.
Under the influence of contemporary liberalism, the international system is fuelling economic injustice, social fragmentation and a worldwide ‘culture war’ between globalists and nativists. Liberals, far from defending rules, have broken international law and imposed their version of market fundamentalism and democracy promotion by military means. Liberal ‘civilisation’ has fuelled resentment across the world by imposing a narrow worldview that pits cultures against one another. To avoid a descent into a violent culture clash, this book proposes radical ideas for international order that take the form of cultural commonwealths – social bonds and cross-border cultural ties on which international trust and cooperation depend. The book’s defence of an older order against both liberals and nationalists will speak to all readers trying to understand our age of anger.
Pabst, A. and Milbank, J. (2018). La Politique De La Vertu: Post-libéralisme Et Avenir Humain. [Online]. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer. Available at: https://www.editionsddb.fr/livre/fiche/la-politique-de-la-vertu-9782220092539.
Dans notre époque troublée, un sentiment de colère et d'abandon se répand parmi de nombreux citoyens qui se sentent humiliés, incapables de mener la vie qu'ils espèrent et impuissants à agir sur les forces impersonnelles qui les dominent. Ces forces sont le capitalisme effréné, l'étatisme, la mondialisation marchande et l'idéologie libérale qui les sous-tend. La gauche et la droite ont convergé autour d'un libéralisme socioculturel et d'un libéralisme économique. Ces libéralismes ne sont que deux moitiés d'un même credo ultra-moderne qui oscille entre l'individualisme du marché et le collectivisme d'État.
Dans ce livre, John Milbank et Adrian Pabst proposent, comme alternative au libéralisme totalisant, une politique de la vertu que l'Occident a héritée de la synthèse chrétienne du logos gréco-romain avec la foi biblique. Inspirée par le sens de réciprocité fraternelle, une telle politique vise à promouvoir la justice économique, la solidarité sociale, l'appartenance culturelle et l'internationalisme personnaliste. L'Europe ne pourra se maintenir et influencer le cours du monde que si elle renouvelle son héritage antique et chrétien, et parvient à inculquer la pratique de la vertu dans la recherche du bien commun.
Milbank, J. and Pabst, A. (2016). The Politics of Virtue: Post-Liberalism and the Human Future. [Online]. London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield. Available at: http://www.rowmaninternational.com/books/the-politics-of-virtue.
Contemporary politics is dominated by a liberal creed that champions ‘negative liberty’ and individual happiness. This creed undergirds positions on both the right and the left – free-market capitalism, state bureaucracy and individualism in social life. The triumph of liberalism has had the effect of subordinating human association and the common good to narrow self-interest and short-term utility. By contrast, post-liberalism promotes individual fulfilment and mutual flourishing based on shared goals that have more substantive content than the formal abstractions of liberal law and contract, and yet are also adaptable to different cultural and local traditions. The book apply this analysis to the economy, politics, culture, and international affairs. In each case, having diagnosed the crisis of liberalism, it proposes post-liberal alternatives, notably new concepts and fresh policy ideas. The book demonstrates that, amid the current crisis, post-liberalism is a programme that could define a new politics of virtue and the common good.
Pabst, A. (2018). Political Economy of Civil Society. In: Cardinale, I. and Scazzieri, R. eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Political Economy. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 289-331. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-44254-3_10.
This chapter explores the role of civil society in relation to the economy and the polity by focusing on three distinct yet related dimensions: (1) the conceptual history of civil society in relation to political economy; (2) the theory underpinning a political economy of civil society; (3) the implications of a political economy of civil society for policy-making. The main argument is that there is a fundamental difference between ancient and medieval conceptions, which emphasise natural sociability, and modern accounts that accentuate a violent ‘state of nature’. As a result, civil society either reflects the fundamental embeddedness of economic and political processes in social relations or is an artificial construct. The chapter develops a typology of four modern models, provides a theory of the political economy of civil society and outlines a series of policy ideas.
Pabst, A. (2017). Political Economy and the Constitution of Europe’s Polity: Pathways for the common currency beyond ordo-liberal and neo-functionalist models. In: Cardinale, I., Coffman, D. and Scazzieri, R. eds. The Political Economy of the Eurozone. Cambridge University Press, pp. 183-215. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316403730.009.
The Eurozone crisis has been variously described in financial or in fiscal terms, caused either by an over-leveraged banking system or by unsustainable budget deficits and national debt – or indeed both at once. But perhaps with the exception of Greece, neither holds true for individual euro-members or for the common currency area as a whole. The combined banking and sovereign debt crisis is symptomatic of a more fundamental set of structural problems such as trade imbalances, productivity differentials and the disconnection between financial flows and investment in productive activities that require a systemic analysis. By contrast with much of modern economics and political science that rest on rational choice and methodological individualism, this chapter seeks to develop an alternative political economy that can conceptualise the constitution of Europe’s polity – the complex economic, political and social space in which the Eurozone is inscribed.
From this political economy perspective, I argue that the euro-area is characterised by the primacy of harmonisation over mutualisation – a legacy of the neo-functional model of integration and the ordo-liberal model of coordination, which privilege joint procedures and common rules rather than the sharing of risks, rewards and resources. Mutualisation – the search for cooperative arrangements based on a balance of interests – offers an as yet unrealised potential to transform the Eurozone in line with the constitution of Europe’s polity. The chapter charts a path beyond the current debate that portrays the European Monetary Union (EMU) either as a misconceived experiment which should be abandoned in favour of national currencies (e.g. Pissarides 2013; Flassbeck and Lapavitsas 2015a and 2015b), or as a project beset by design failures which require centralisation (e.g. Marsh 2013; Sinn 2014), or as an arrangement which can work better with a different policy mix (e.g. Sandbu 2015).
My chapter runs as follows. First of all, the current crisis of the Eurozone can only be understood as part of a particular economic, political and social domain in which EMU is embedded. The domain in question is not limited to a set of institutions and rules within which markets, states and individuals interact (Buchanan 1990) but extends to political and social structures that embed both cooperation and conflict at – as well as across – different levels (Ornaghi 1990; Pabst and Scazzieri 2012). As an analytical framework, the approach to the political economy of constitution followed in this essay explores the multi-level dependencies that characterise economic integration within and between national states and transnational markets (Pabst 2014; Pabst and Scazzieri 2016; cf. Polanyi 2001).
Second, ordo-liberalism shares with the proposed ‘political economy of constitution’ the idea that the economic field is not self-standing but rather part of the overarching social field, which encompasses society and the state. However, ordo-liberal thinkers view the social domain as grounded in the constitutional-legal order that subordinates social ties to state laws and market contract. By bracketing social relationships out of the picture, the effect of ordo-liberal policies – creating the ‘framework conditions’ (Rahmenbedingungen) for perfect competition – is to disembed the economy from society and to re-embed political and social ties in predominantly contractual relations, which ignores the Eurozone’s structural problems.
Third, the dominant logic of European integration since the 1957 Rome Treaties has been neo-functionalism, which posits spill-over effects from economic interdependence to political unity (e.g. Haas 1961; Sandholtz and Stone Sweet 1997). Analogous to the concept of path dependency, neo-functionalism explains why European integration has privileged monetary integration over both a fiscal and a political union. Coupled with the influence of ordo-liberalism, this has constrained EMU crisis management and official proposals for reform.
Fourth, the European polity within which EMU is inscribed is neither a federal super-state nor a free-trade area but rather a political system sui generis (e.g. Hix 2005; Zielonka 2006 and 2008). This system consists in hybrid institutions, overlapping jurisdictions, multiple membership, polycentric authority and multi-level governance. As a unique polity, Europe contains a certain set of opportunities and constraints for political and economic cooperation. These opportunities and constrains provide the resources for a different exit from the Eurozone crisis and they can embed EMU in the political and social relations which provide the trust and cooperation on which a viable common currency depends.
Section 2 provides a brief outline of the wider causes of the Eurozone crisis. Section 3 develops a political economy of constitution as an analytical architecture to describe and explain the wider domain in which the Eurozone is inscribed. Section 4 examines ordo-liberal principles and policy prescriptions that underpin the creation of EMU and the Eurozone crisis management/resolution since early 2010. Section 5 provides an account of the (neo-)functional logic that has shaped the process of integration and the building of the European polity. Section 6 suggests a number of alternative pathways for the Eurozone. The final section provides some concluding reflections.
Pabst, A. (2016). International Relations and the ’Modern’ Middle Ages: Rival Theological Theorisations of International Order. In: Bain, W. ed. Medieval Foundations of International Relations. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/9781138795792.
The thesis that the secular system of modern international relations has medieval, religious roots is not new. Various accounts have documented how the Protestant Reformation and its late medieval antecedents represented a ‘revolution in ideas’ that broke away from the hierarchical arrangement of fragmented feudal polities, which was apparently characteristic of the Middle Ages, to the egalitarian society of sovereign states, which is seemingly synonymous with modernity. Linked to this is the standard story in International Relations that views the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Discovery of the New World as a radical rupture, which replaced the ‘Dark Ages’ with a new era of enlightenment progress. Such a supercessionist structuring of historical narrative reinforces the secularist bias that has dominated the discipline since the late 1950s and 1960s. As a result of the secularisation of international relations, the role of religion in international affairs has not so much been neglected and overlooked, as misrepresented and under-theorised.
Most contemporary international relations scholarship lacks an account of both the historical influence and the contemporary relevance of rival theological approaches in relation to the modern international order. Recent scholarship in political thought and in the history of ideas has highlighted some of the profound continuities between the medieval and the modern period. Building on these and other accounts, this essay explores the role of theological concepts in the genesis of modern international relations. The focus is on the contrast between the Franciscan legacy and the Dominican heritage. My argument is that the modern states system and transnational markets rest on late medieval ideas, notably Franciscan conceptions of inalienable individual rights, centrally vested sovereign power, and a natural state of anarchy that requires an artificial social contract. Against secular hegemony, which, paradoxically, can be traced to late medieval Franciscan theology, I contend that the Dominican tradition offers conceptual resources to chart an alternative modernity.
To suggest that we live in the (late) modern age assumes a particular meaning to modernity. But the modern project was never monolithic in the West, or elsewhere. On the contrary, from a global historical perspective, there was no single modernity but rather multiple and even rival modernities that were variously more secular or more religious. Moreover, ‘we have never been modern’, as the French philosopher Bruno Latour has argued. For modernity rests on an irresolvable aporia between the notion of human artifice (the social contract) and unalterable nature (the violent ‘state of nature’). Crucially, there are no absolute breaks in history that inaugurate new eras which supersede preceding traditions and ideas, including the notion that Westphalia ushered in modern international affairs. If this is so, then perhaps it is also true that (late or post-)modernity is best described as the ‘modern’ Middle Ages — the intensification and extension of certain late medieval ideas rather than a wholly new phase of history. In turn, this helps explain why the shape of contemporary international relations really is neo-medieval but in ways that have not been conceptualised by theorists of international relations.
The first section examines the historicist narrative of International Relations and traces it back to both Protestant and Catholic theology. The second section shows how the modern notion of secular imperium as an autonomous, neutral space on which the idea of the sovereign state rests, was invented and instituted by late medieval Franciscan theology, in particular the work of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. The third section argues that the conception of subjective, individual rights guaranteed by the sovereign state, independently of the Church, is similarly rooted in the nominalist theology of the Franciscans. This conception of rights can be contrasted with the notion of objective right (ius), and thus reciprocal rights and associative links between national states as contemplated by the (metaphysical) realist theology of Dominicans such as Thomas Aquinas. The fourth section focuses on the Franciscan invention of modern markets, based on sundering the immanent order of nature from the transcendent order of the supernatural Good in God, and on separating gift from contract. The conclusion suggests that the conceptual resources of the Dominican tradition can transform Franciscan modernity in the direction of a neomedieval international order wherein human beings are seen as naturally ‘social animals’ (not self-proprietors of subjective rights) and both states and markets help to promote the pursuit of the common good.
Pabst, A. (2016). Market-State or Commonwealth? Europe’s Christian heritage and the future of the European polity. In: Chaplin, J. and Wilton, G. eds. God and the EU. London: Routledge, pp. 109-128.
The euro crisis is changing the foundations and finalities of the European Union. Amidst the combined banking and sovereign debt crisis, eurozone members have begun to put in place a banking and a fiscal union that will increasingly fuse centralised state power with an increasingly interdependent single market. In their current configuration, the single market and single currency undermine the principles of solidarity (providing mutual assistance to the most needy among Europe’s peoples and nations) and subsidiarity (self-government at the most appropriate level in accordance with the dignity of the person and human flourishing). Connected with this priority of the economic over the social is a tendency to subordinate interpersonal relationships to the central state and the global market that converge at the expense of intermediary institutions such as professional associations, trade unions, universities, free hospitals, friendly societies, artisanal producers, manufacturing and trading guilds, and religious communities. Thus the European integration and enlargement processes are part of a wider logic of disembedding the economy from society and re-embedding social relations in economic transactions, as Karl Polanyi showed.
This chapter argues that the European project blends bureaucratic collectivisation with commercial commodification that Catholic Social Teaching and cognate traditions in Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy reject as false alternatives. The European ‘market-state’ undermines Europe’s shared cultural identity and hollows out the universal values derived from the Christian synthesis of ancient with biblical virtues on which vibrant democracies and market economies depend. The chapter also argues the, to some, surprising thesis that Europe’s Christian heritage is a source of both social solidarity and religious pluralism that offers key resources to shape the future of the European polity across the wider Europe and the whole world.
Section 1 traces the rise of Europe’s secular ‘market-states’. Section 2 analyses the EU’s contemporary crisis, which is not primarily about the ‘democratic deficit’ but rather a lack of legitimacy. Section 3 describes the emerging shape of Europe in terms of a multispeed EU and a multipolar polity, in particular the centrifugal forces that deepen divisions between (1) the euro-area core and periphery; (2) Eurozone members (and candidates) and the rest of the EU; (3) the Union and other European powers (e.g. Russia, Ukraine and Turkey), as well as North African and Near Eastern countries which are part of the wider European orbit. Section 4 contrasts the EU’s evolution towards a ‘market-state’ with a civic commonwealth: whereas the former transfers powers to the centre under the guise of a federal model that is supposed to provide a lock on centralisation, the latter is a voluntary association of nations and peoples with a shared social imaginary that can command popular assent and address the legitimacy crisis. Section 5 suggests that the EU remains a vestigially Christian polity whose roots go back to Christianity’s fusion of Greco-Roman thought with biblical revelation, in particular the blending of philosophy, law and virtue ethics with the revealed logos and the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. This unique legacy has shaped a common culture that can help re-embed states and markets in the interpersonal relations of civil society and integrate other faiths communities in a shared public realm.
Pabst, A. (2015). Why Labour lost and how it can win again. In: Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, p. xix-xxxvi. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/bluelabour.
Pabst, A. (2015). Prosperity and Justice for All: Why solidarity and fraternity are key to an efficient, ethical economy. In: Curzio, A. Q. and Marseguerra, G. eds. Solidarity As a “Social Value” – Paradigms for a Good Society. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, pp. 125-159.
Faced with the ‘economy of exclusion’ that brackets fraternity out of the picture, the only genuine alternative is to bind higher purposes such as individual virtue and public honour to institutions and practices that can provide prosperity and flourishing for the many. In this essay, I argue that solidarity is key to an economy that is both more ethical and more productive. Both solidarity and fraternity rest on the idea of social reciprocity: for example, balancing individual rights with mutual obligations; brokering collaboration out of conflicts of interest by appealing to the common good that serves both personal interest and social benefit. In this manner, fraternity and solidarity can foster the interpersonal trust and cooperation on which a vibrant economy and flourishing society depend.
The prevailing system is based upon a double impersonalism of commercial contract between strangers, and individual entitlement in relation to the bureaucratic machine. By making social reciprocity the ultimate principle that governs both the economic and the political realm, solidarity can avoid the two extremes characterising contemporary capitalism: contract without gift, plus the unilateral and poisoned gift from nowhere that is rationalised state welfare. The alternative, which this essay defends, seeks to fuse contract with gift. In theory and practice, binding contract to gift means mutualising the market, pluralising the state and re-embedding both in the relations that constitute society. Far from being utopian, solidarity so defined is indispensable to an economy that promotes greater innovation, higher productivity and more stable growth, which in turn can sustain rising employment and superior pay.
Section one explores how the meaning of solidarity and fraternity has evolved since the French Revolution elevated ‘fraternity’ alongside ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’ into a foundational value of modern politics. Section two focuses on Catholic social teaching and the ways in which it renews and extends the ancient and Christian tradition of ‘solidarism’. Section three turns to the application of solidarity to the market, while section four examines how it can transform the state. Both sections 3 and 4 try to combine concepts with novel policy ideas. The conclusion briefly summarises my argument and the key policy recommendations.
Pabst, A. (2015). Introduction: Blue Labour and the Politics of the Common Good. In: Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 1-10. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/bluelabour.
Pabst, A. (2015). ’Civil Economy’: Blue Labour’s alternative to capitalism. In: Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 97-119. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/bluelabour.
Pabst, A. (2015). Conclusion: Blue Labour - Principles, Policy Ideas and Prospects. In: Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 253-263. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/bluelabour.
Pabst, A. (2014). Constitutionnalisme et gouvernement mixte : le christianisme face aux dérives de la démocratie libérale. In: Poirier, P. ed. Démocratie(s), Liberté(s) Et Religion(s). Paris: Parole Et Silence, pp. 75-96.
Depuis l’Antiquité greco-romaine, la démocratie a été souvent considérée comme le régime politique le plus juste parce qu’elle conjugue l’égalité devant la loi avec la liberté de conscience et d’expression. Grâce à ce double principe les citoyens participent à la gouvernance de la cité et, en tant que gouvernés, ils ont la possibilité de critiquer les gouvernants. En revanche, la participation civique et la critique permettent au système démocratique de fonctionner et de s’améliorer en corrigeant ses propres dérives, notamment la tendance de dégénérer en oligarchie, en démagogie, en anarchie ou en tyrannie en raison de l’indifférence à la vérité et au bien transcendant.
La démocratie libérale contemporaine n’est plus en mesure d’offrir une synthèse de l’égalité et de la liberté. Le libéralisme politique subordonne la participation à la représentation, ce qui renforce le pouvoir des gouvernants aux dépens des gouvernés et limite la possibilité de critique. Le libéralisme socio-culturel des années 60 et le libéralisme économique des années 80 promeuvent la liberté sans mesure et l’égalité niveleuse. Par conséquent, la double révolution libérale (voire libertine) conduit à une quadruple dérive démocratique : une convergence peut-être sans précédent entre (a) le pouvoir de la ploutocratie (dérive oligarchique), (b) le despotisme de l’opinion de masse (dérive démagogique), (c) la logique de conflits entre individus et nations (dérive anarchique) et (d) la dictature du relativisme (dérive tyrannique).
Dans cette perspective il faut reconnaître que la démocratie libérale contemporaine est en train de se transformer en post-démocratie illibérale. Étant donné que les principes pérennes de liberté, d’égalité et de justice nous proviennent de l’Antiquité et du christianisme, le libéralisme ne détient aucun monopole que ce soit sur les principes de libéralité, y compris l’idée de souveraineté populaire et le droit des nations à l’auto-détermination. Par contre, la tradition chrétienne dispose de ressources indispensables à une analyse critique du libéralisme et à une vision alternative en rupture avec la logique séculière qui régit le relativisme éthique et l’absolutisme économique au cœur de la démocratie libérale.
Pabst, A. (2013). The Pan-European Commonwealth: the heritage of Byzantium and the future of Europe beyond the EU. In: Gromyko, A. ed. Wider Europe in the Global World: New Challenges – New Solutions. Moscow: Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, pp. 29-50.
The Byzantine Empire is commonly associated with political absolutism, economic feudalism, and a State Church that simultaneously sacralised power and secularised religion. This, coupled with influence of Islam and oriental cultures, appears to explain how Europe’s East has been backward and reactionary, lacking Western virtues such as the distinction of religion from political authority, constitutionalism, the rule of law, a vibrant market economy and civil society – a free space between the people and the ruler. That is why Byzantium is synonymous with decadence, repression, and the arcane arrangements of an opaque bureaucracy. As such, the Byzantine legacy is thought to be singularly responsible for Eastern authoritarianism and autocracy that contrasts sharply with Western freedom and democracy. In modern times, so this narrative goes, the East was caught in the constricting shackles of imperial and clerical domination, while the West became the harbinger of Enlightenment emancipation.
This essay contends that Byzantium is key to understanding the history of pan-Europe and to chart an alternative European project for the future. Far from being simply a decadent empire whose demise heralded the rise of progressive sovereign nation-states, I shall argue that the Byzantine Commonwealth preserved the heritage of Antiquity and represented an association of nations and peoples around a shared polity, culture, and faith. This legacy offers as yet unrealised resources to build a pan-European community that the post-Cold War project of liberal market democracy purported to provide but failed to deliver.
Section 1 links the neglect of the Byzantine legacy to the myth of secular Europe and contends that the rise to power of secularism was neither necessary nor normative but instead historically contingent and arbitrary. Section 2 seeks briefly to re-tell the history of Europe in a manner that restores Byzantium to its rightful place, with a particular emphasis on the some of the religious and political aspects of the Byzantine settlement and on ways in which it shaped the countries that emerged from the Eastern empire. Section 3 argues that Europe remains a vestigially Christian polity and that Byzantium is key to this unique heritage. Section 4 turns to the contemporary situation and suggests that the model of the commonwealth – a voluntary association of nations and peoples – offers a better future than either a centralised super-state under the guise of modern federalism or a loose network of sovereign states which merely trade with one another.
Pabst, A. (2013). People who want to change things must keep pushing for change: Manuel F. Montes in conversation with Adrian Pabst. In: Dutkiewicz, P. and Sakwa, R. eds. 22 Ideas to Fix the World: Conversations With the World’s Foremost Thinkers. New York City: Social Sciences Research Council and New York University Press, pp. 305-325. Available at: http://nyupress.org/books/book-details.aspx?bookId=12169#.UrL1ZBy2-cA.
Manuel Montes brings a wealth of academic knowledge and a long list of credentials at various international and intergovernmental organizations to bear on the current economic crisis in his discussion with Adrian Pabst. He argues that the Asian Crisis of 1997 was in many ways a “dress rehearsal” for the current one, and was barely confined to the developing world. In the case of both crises, he suggests, the problem was both a massive deferral on matters political and economic to the financial sector and the foisting of excessively large loans on creditors by rapacious financiers. The current model has led de facto to the public sector bearing the costs for private sector missteps and the risks of investment being socialized while, paradoxically, the financial sector remains central to economic recovery.
He concedes, however, that change will be difficult to enact and that we should avoid seeking easy answers in old economic models; he suggests provocatively that the talk of the so-called “Asian model” is overblown and we should not necessarily look to Asia, despite its successes, for lessons. Montes advocates more stringent regulation of the financial sector that would not so much curtail the total of its activities as decrease the emphasis on financial products while aligning finance with real economic productivity and addressing social concerns.
Pabst, A. (2013). Fraternity. In: Bruni, L. and Zamagni, S. eds. Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise. Edward Elgar, pp. 153-162. Available at: http://www.e-elgar.co.uk/bookentry_main.lasso?id=14159.
The word ‘fraternity’ derives from the Latin word ‘frater’ or brother. Broadly speaking, ‘fraternity’ refers to some group or association that is constituted by a sense of brotherhood, governed by the ties of friendship and bound together by the mutual aid among its members. In contrast with solidarity which is impersonal and refers to an abstract community based on identity, fraternity is inter-personal and emphasises the diversity between equals based on differentiation (Bruni and Zamagni 2004). As such, it depends on the principle of reciprocity linked to mutual obligations. Fraternity so configured is like an ‘artificial family’ that differentiates itself from other social or civic arrangements on account of a distinct ethos that is binding upon its members (Le Bras 1940–41; Michaud-Quantin 1970; Black 2003).
Far from being confined to the fellowship of small groups, fraternities are part of a wider set of reciprocal relationships in the realm of civil society that are marked by a shared sense of mutual assistance (Bruni and Sugden 2008). Fraternity – as a communal intentionality and also as set of institutions and practices – can embed the economic and the political in the social. Thus, the practice of fraternity can give rise to a genuine commonwealth whose bonds of reciprocity are not based on blood ties or professional links (e.g. Le Roy Ladurie 1982).
Linked to this the Christian idea of a universal body of believers and of charity for all in need, an idea that translates into parishes and guilds organised as ‘confraternities’. In short, the idea and reality of a fraternity blends the civic with the religious, a fusion wherein the secular is not a separate, discrete space that is synonymous with the fallen world of ‘pure nature’, sinfulness, evil and violence. Much rather, the saeculum is a temporality that for catholic orthodox Christianity is ultimately structured by the liturgical cycle of praise and thanksgiving: it mediates the supernatural Good in God, offering intimations of peace and human perfectibility first fully revealed in the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
By contrast, the dominant traditions of modernity instituted the secular as the primary locus of society that restricts the remit of the sacred and redefines religion in terms of abstract belief to which people give asset based on their private consciousness – rather than the communal practice of a shared, embodied faith. As such, the notion of fraternity has roots in Greco-Roman Antiquity whose models of association were transformed by patristic and medieval Christianity that sought to overcome the opposition between the secular and the religious on which much of modernity rests.
Pabst, A. (2013). Liberalism. In: Bruni, L. and Zamagni, S. eds. Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise. London: Edward Elgar, pp. 217-226. Available at: http://www.e-elgar.co.uk/bookentry_main.lasso?id=14159.
Until the global economic crisis struck in 2008, liberalism was the dominant ideology of our time and undoubtedly the most influential political philosophy of the last 300 years or so. Its origins, evolution and meaning are deeply contested by liberal and non-liberal thinkers alike. Many contemporary historians and political philosophers claim that liberal thought first emerged in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century and evolved into a distinct philosophical tradition during the Age of Enlightenment (e.g. Mesnard 1969; Kelly 2005, Paul et al 2007). Thus, key liberal figures such as John Locke (1632–1704), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) opposed what they viewed as the unholy alliance between the Church, absolutist monarchs and the feudal capitalism of the landed gentry. They defended alternative ideas such as freedom of religion, tolerance, constitutional rule, individual property and free trade.
These antecedents were important, but – so the dominant narrative goes – liberalism’s evolution as an ideology and political movement only took off following the impact of the American and the French Revolution. Thereafter the liberal tradition was instrumental in the ‘three waves of democratization’ (Huntington 1991). The first wave saw liberal governments triumph in much of Europe and the Americas in the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. The second wave after 1945 rolled back some of the authoritarian regimes of the interwar period and also coincided with de-colonisation, while the third wave after 1974 overthrew the military dictatorships of Southern Europe and Latin America and later the Communist regimes of the eastern bloc. Based on the fundamental principles of liberty and the equal rights of all, most advocates of liberalism defend political freedom, economic opportunity, social emancipation and equality before the law (e.g. Gray 1995, 2004).
However, recent genealogical accounts suggest that the roots of liberalism go back to the late Middle Ages and the early modern age (Manent 1987; Dupré 1993). As a variety of theologians, philosophers and political theorists have argued (e.g. Milbank 1990; de Muralt 2002; Coleman 1999), notions such as individual subjective rights, popular sovereignty and national autonomy can be traced to shifts within theology, politics and law that were pioneered by key figures like John Duns Scotus (c1265/66–1308), William of Ockham (c1248/49–1349) and Francisco Suárez (1548–1617). Thus, core liberal principles are unintelligible without reference to late medieval and modern theological debates and ecclesial-political transformations. Similarly, modern categories such as the rule of the ‘one’ or the ‘many’ (associated with the political ‘right’ and ‘left’ since the French Revolution) and ideas like individual self-determination or the general will ultimately rest on nominalist and voluntarist theories that originated in the late Middle Ages (Pabst, 2010a). Even the values of liberality (e.g. fair detention and trial, presumption of innocence, habeas corpus, etc.) that liberalism purports to uphold were in reality the product of infusing Roman and Germanic law with Christian notions of justice and charity that liberals took over but did not invent (Milbank 2006). As such, the liberal claim to universal validity seems to be a secularised version of religious claims to universal truth.
These two rival accounts of the origins and meaning of liberalism show just how contested the liberal tradition is. This chapter discusses both liberal and non-liberal perspectives on liberalism. It begins by suggesting that there is no single essence that defines all visions of liberalism. Rather, one can identify four ‘family resemblances’ that characterise seemingly incompatible variants of liberal thinking. The second section outlines the main ideas of key early modern liberal thinkers, including Locke, Rousseau, Kant and J.S. Mill. The third section turns to alternative genealogies that trace the roots to the late Middle Ages and highlight profound continuities between Scotus, Ockham, Suárez, Machiavelli and Hobbes and contemporary liberal thinking (e.g. John Rawls). The final section explores recent debates, notably on social and economic liberalism as well as the much disputed notion of neo-liberalism.