Postwar Europe is partly reconstituted by a fear of democratic freedom, and a desire for political and economic stability. Constitutional relations are transformed over time through a mixture of political authoritarianism and economic liberalism. This takes place in a combination of domestic and supranational developments. The transformation also has a utopian dimension, and outlining its utopianism can help identify its ideological character. It is captured by such related terms as ‘postpolitics’, ‘post-nationalism’, ‘post-sovereignty’ and ‘the ‘end of history’. These terms all point to the way in which authoritarian liberalism is maintained not only – and perhaps not even predominantly – through coercion and consent but also in the grey area in between, namely through practices and beliefs that suggest politics can be transcended and the medium of law reign supreme. We may call this the new German ideology. It becomes a dominant trope in the European constitutional imagination. Although it is unsettled after Maastricht and enters a critical phase through the financial crisis, the new German ideology remains relatively resilient. It benefits from the support of a critical theory that has lost its moorings, and a political system that is able to incorporate aspects of authoritarian populism, even as the centre ground appears increasingly fragile.

You can download the working paper at the SSRN.