Beyond Defeat and Austerity. Disrupting (the Critical Political Economy of) Neoliberal Europe.

David J. Bailey, Mònica Clua-Losada, Nikolai Huke, Olatz Ribera-Almandoz

Ripe Series in Global Political Economy, 2017.

Keywords: political economy, social movements, austerity, European Union, disruption 

Over the past two decades critical political economy (CPE) scholars have made significant advances to our understanding of European Integration. However, much of the critical discussion of the European political economy and the Eurozone crisis has focused upon a sense that solidaristic achievements built up during the post-war period are being continuously unravelled. Whilst there are many reasons to lament the trajectory of change within Europe’s political economy, there are also important developments, trends and processes which have acted to obstruct, hinder and present alternatives to this perceived trajectory of declining social solidarity. These alternatives have tended to be obscured from view, in part as a result of the conceptual approaches adopted within the literature. 

Drawing from examples across the EU, this book presents an alternative narrative and explanation for the development of Europe’s political economy and crisis, emphasising the agency of what are typically considered subordinate (and passive) actors. Our central argument, therefore, is that the European crisis is characterized by three interrelated developments: First, an intensification of disciplinary or authoritarian neoliberalism that seeks to further reduce fiscal capacity of EU member states, combined with hardening of the European ensemble of state apparatuses due to new forms of authoritarian crisis constitutionalism. Second, a trend towards disembedding the market that forms part of a move towards the construction of ‘descent societies’ characterized by increased social polarization and everyday vulnerability. Third, a flaring up of community organizing, process in which new pragmatically prefigurative subjectivities and spaces of presentist democracy are constituted and which have witnessed non-standard forms of conflict, civil disobedience and self-enforcement of social rights. By highlighting patterns of resistance, disobedience and disruption, this book makes a significant contribution to a literature that has otherwise been more concerned to understand patterns of heightened domination, exploitation, inequality and neoliberal consolidation.