Solidarity after Machiavelli

Katznelson_220wIra Katznelson interviewed at Eurozine:

Agnieszka Rosner: Let me start with a kind of thought experiment. If Niccolò Machiavelli came to Europe today, what advice would he give to the European Union?

Ira Katznelson: What a wonderful question. The challenge for the prince, the authorities, begins even before the EU's current problems concerning social integration, the refugee crisis, minorities and so on. Firstly, Machiavelli would probably be shocked to witness that almost all of Europe belongs today to organizations, whether to the EU itself or to NATO, organizations that in principle take popular sovereignty as the basis of authority and of legitimacy. The democratic revolution that obsessed de Tocqueville is, in fact, taken for granted. There is no Ancien Régime. There is no Prince. There is no sovereignty that can fail to recognize the limits on governments, limits that stem from their chance to rule being only provisional, not because of weapons or war or revolution but because of the simple, accepted mechanism of going into a booth, selecting a name on a piece of paper, counting the votes and then, tomorrow, you are no longer the prince.

So first, when you ask what Machiavelli would advise, he would probably take some time, though since he was a genius, he would probably figure it out: what kind of rule this is, what kind of rulers these are. But he would have been surprised in a different dimension. He would have been surprised to discover that these provisional, apparently weak, rulers were ruling institutions with capacities he never could have imagined. Not only do they have control over physical force and a quality of potential violence that could never have been imagined previously, whether from the air or otherwise, but they represent states that are much larger territorially than those of his princes, and that have three characteristics that did not exist during his lifetime.

more here.