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What is to be learned from the chaotic downfall of the Weimar Republic and the erosion of European liberal statehood in the interwar period vis-a-vis the ongoing Europeancrisis? This book analyses and explains the recurrent emergence of crises in European societies. It asks how previous crises can inform our understanding of the present crisis. The particular perspective advanced is that these crises not only are economic and social crises, but must also be understood as crises of public power, order and authority. In other words, it argues that substantial challenges to the functional and normative setup of democracy and the rule of law were central to the emergence and the unfolding of these crises.

The book draws on and adds to the rich ’crises literature’ developed within the critical theory tradition to outline a conceptual framework for understanding what societal crises are. The central idea is that societal crises represent a discrepancy between the unfolding of social processes and the institutional frameworks that have been established to normatively stabilize such processes. The crises at issue emerged in periods characterized by strong social, economic and technological transformations as well as situations of political upheaval. As such, the crises represented moments where the existing functional and normative grid of society, as embodied in notions of public order and authority, were severely challenged and in many instances undermined. Seen in this perspective, the book reconstructs how crises unfolded, how they were experienced, and what kind of responses the specific crises in question provoked.
Acknowledgements / List of Abbreviations / Introduction: European Crises of Public Power: From Weimar until Today, Poul F. Kjaer & Niklas Olsen / PART I: Semantics, Notions and Narratives of Societal Crisis / 1. What Time Frame Makes Sense for Thinking about Crises?, David Runciman / 2. The Stakes of Crises, Janet Roitman / PART II: Weimar and the Interwar Period: Ideologies of Anti-Modernism and Liberalism / 3.The Crisis of Modernity – Modernity as Crisis: Towards a Typology of Crisis Discourses in Interwar East Central Europe and Beyond, Balázs Trencsényi / 4. European Legitimacy Crises – Weimar and Today: Rational and Theocratic Authority in the Schmitt-Strauss Exchange, John P. McCormick / 5.Crisis and the Consumer: Re-constructions of Liberalism in Twentieth Century Political Thought, Niklas Olsen / PART III: The Causes of Crises: From Corporatism to Governance / 6. The Constitutionalisation of Labour Law and the Crisis of National Democracy, Chris Thornhill / 7. Conflict and the Crisis in Labour Law: From Weimar to Austerity, Ruth Dukes / 8. From the Crisis of Corporatism to the Crisis of Governance, Poul F. Kjaer / PART IV: The Euro and the Crisis of Law and Democracy / 9. What is Left of the European Economic Constitution II? From Pyrrhic Victory to Cannae Defeat, Christian Joerges / 10. Reflections on Europe’s “Rule of Law Crises”, Jan-Werner Müller / 11. Democracy under Seige: The Decay of Constitutionalisation and the Crisis of Public Law and Public Opinion, Hauke Brunkhorst / PART V: The Consequences of Crises and the Future of Europe / 12. Crises and Extra-Legality: From Above and from Below, William E. Scheuerman / 13. “We could Go down the Road of Lebanon”: Crisis Thinking on the Anti-Muslim Far Right, Mikkel Thorup / 14. Conclusion and Perspectives: The Re-constitution of Europe, Poul F. Kjaer & Niklas Olsen / Index / Notes on Contributors
Europe today is not Weimar, but Weimar is not as far away as we might believe, is one of several memorable conclusions in this impressive volume which sheds historical light on today’s European crisis. Kjaer and Olsen have gathered and guided an outstanding team which provides deep and new insights on a phenomenon which accompanies modernity since early on.
Bo Stråth, Professor Emeritus in Nordic, European and World History, University of Helsinki
An important new set of contributions that brings historical and critical depth to the understanding of the current polymorphous yet interlocked European crises. The combination of descriptive and normative approaches, drawn from a variety of disciplinary fields (law, sociology, history and critical theory), provides a unique outlook on the structural problems and contradictions that make up Europe’s overall crisis of public power. A must-read for future studies of the European drama.
Antoine Vauchez, CNRS Research Professor, Université Paris 1-Sorbonne
Poul F. Kjaer is Professor of Business and Politics at Copenhagen Business School.

Niklas Olsen is Associate Professor of History at the SAXO-Institute, University of Copenhagen.