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New Left Review I/191, January-February 1992

George Ross

Confronting the New Europe

The Maastricht Summit of December 1991 displayed a European Community poised to assume a central role in the first decades of the twenty-first century. There is, nonetheless, great uncertainty about the deeper logic of the process of Europeanization that is upon us. What kinds of new economic regulation are emerging? What structures of democratic and civic control, if any, will hold elites accountable in what is now an opaque and obscure institutional system? Most importantly, what does all this mean for progressive forces? Europe stands at a genuine crossroads. Older, nation-state-based strategies for accumulation and redistribution, whose logics formed so many of the characteristic oppositional outlooks of the modern Left, have exhausted themselves. The new Europe represents an attempt at formulating new strategies with significant supranational dimensions. It has thus far been constructed, out of the materials of capitalist crisis, by gifted politicians. The mass Left has not only been largely absent from, but hitherto also befuddled by, the process. What follows is intended to help define the nature of our problem.

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