“How Germany Reconquered Europe: The Euro and Its Discontents” – Feb. 2014 Harper’s Magazine

Occasionally I buy the news stand copy of a magazine. The Atlantic, The Walrus, The New Yorker, and a few other magazines come to mind.

The Harper’s Magazine for February 2014 has a number of articles of interest, not available for free on the Internet. Given that my attention was captured by a front-cover title and accompanying illustration – “How Germany Reconquered Europe: The Euro and Its Discontents” – I bought this issue.

The issue would also be available at public libraries. It may (I don’t know) be available online at academic and public library websites.

What is available online, from the article, is a list of contributors to a panel discussion organized by Harper’s Magazine. on the topic of the euro, held in Washington, D.C., and published on the basis of what I assume is an edited transcript of the discussion.

What is also available online  are the opening two paragraphs (I’ve changed the em dashes to en dashes; I prefer a non-standard usage, in this regard) from the article:

  • Since the financial collapse of 2008, Americans of all political persuasions have been frustrated both by the tepid recovery and by the political dysfunction that seems to get in the way every time the economy looks ready to turn itself around. But there’s another region where recovery has been even weaker and political dysfunction arguably even worse. Europe has faced its first major economic crisis since its post-Cold War integration and its subsequent adoption of a common currency. The continent – long admired by American liberals as the home of a more just social order – has embraced fiscal austerity to a far greater degree than has the United States, with drastic budget cuts for poorer member nations such as Greece and Portugal.
  • For observers in the United States, Europe’s struggles raise many questions. Can a united Europe survive – and should it? Does European integration represent the transcendence of the continent’s bloody twentieth century, or its continuation by other means? Has a project begun in a spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity turned authoritarian, hierarchical, and antagonistic? If the union is as bad as its critics claim, why does it remain so popular in many member nations? And how will the future of Europe affect that of the United States?

[End of excerpt]

The opening paragraphs, like the title, function as blurbs.

The contributors are James K. Galbraith, Ulrike Guérot, John Gray, Christiane Lemke, Jeff Madrick, and Emmanuel Todd.

Galbraith is the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin.

Guérot is Associate for Germany at the Open Society Initiative for Europe.

Gray is Emeritus Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.

Lemke is Max Weber Chair in German and European Studies at New York University.

Todd is a historian, social anthropologist, and political scientist at the National Institute of Demographic Studies, Paris.

Madrick, who served as moderator, is a Harper’s columnist.

 “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

The article presents a valuable discussion, which has the elements of a conversation, a movie script, and a stage play. It’s well worth reading. Reading the passages, I’m reminded of Alice Munro’s approach to the reading of a short story by another author:

One can, as she describes it, proceed with the task as a person would approach a visit to a house, spending time in one room after the other, looking around, and observing how the house shapes the observer’s view from each of the windows.

As I’ve also noted with regard to another recent post, the text reminds me that history is always accessed in the here and now – in the present moment – and that the present moment – and what we do or don’t do, right now – is what matters. One can add, as is noted in a blurb for Canadians and their Pasts (2013), that William Faulkner is quoted as saying: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”


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