Dissemination on Borders
At the end of the project’s Multilateral Research Group Initiative and Constraint in the Mapping of European Evolving Borders was an activity of dissemination. After this activity, I will focus on several questions which are behind every discussion on the question of borders, including relevant European policy.
First of all, the introduction of the issue of European borders involves answering the question of why political Europe exists. What is the context in which this issue is placed and what is at stake in connection with developments over time? In what direction are things expected to develop, given current realities, and what are the fundamental causes that determine their rationale.
A firstgeneral observation we should noteis that the dissemination programheld in the last few days to fourneighbouring countries, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Moldova, was very well received. It also gave rise to a very interesting dialogue from many points of view. This stipulates that theEuropean policy of good neighbourhoodattracts the attention of countries with which it borders. I would say that this interest is fuelled by the attractiveness of political Europe, which is reinforced bythe funding of programs associatedwith cross-border relations, which focus particularly on the former socialist countries.
I would also add that political Europe is a vehicle of new ideas and, indeed, the driving force behind new realities and opportunities for the countries of the Old Continent.
On the other hand, there is an awareness that as European integration, political Europe and, furthermore, European policies including that of cross-border cooperation, is going through an experimental phase, it faces old and new problems. This suggests, indeed, that the world is changing, despite the fact that knowledge of the nature and the directions of the changes are lacking. I really believe that it is a matter of first priority to determine the nature of the changes that have shaken the world in recent decades, and continue to occur at a dramatic pace nowadays. Signs of these changes are, among others, the collapse of the socialist regimes, as well as of classical liberalism, challenging the principle of unequivocal political sovereignty of the State, so-called globalisation, world-shaking changes in the field of communications and the current crisis. These events are an organic part of a cosmosystemically ordered process that suggests that humanity today is leaving behind the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and entering a new era, an extremely interesting one. The previous phase can be characterised as the foundation to the transition of the anthropocentric cosmosystem, from the small to the large scale. I am referring to the process of the (re-)formation of societies in freedom, from the historical background of the society of the city to the nation state, which resulted in the creation of conditions for overcoming the despotic cosmosystem, primarily in the area of the European continent and then in the whole world.
The new period opens the way to consolidation of the anthropocentric cosmosystem around the planet and heralds the creation of conditions for the transition of the world of the vanguard to the next phase, characterised by the expansion of freedom to the socio-economic and political domain, and further, the transition to representation and democracy.
Indeed, before the 1980s the sine qua non of the modern world was the sovereign political State. Sovereign vis-à-vis other States but also in relation to society. The world, being structured in statocentric terms -as a sum total of states- approached life in the state society as a unique and definite choice. The State appeared as the only protagonist of the cosmosystem and, at the same time, the sole owner of the political system. Citizens’ society was seen through the prism of the people, i.e. as a concept that did not involve the element of political category. The people as a concept thus appeared to forfeit the political dimension potentially entailed in the status of citizen, already won by its members, the so-called “civil society.” In other words, in groups that stood outside the citizens’ society and functioned as intermediaries, mediating interests at the level of political power. Citizens’ society itself -the body of citizens formed as a political category- is completely absent, does not even enter the political contemplative function of modernity.
It is precisely this schema of society, which corresponds to a proto-anthropocentric phase, that has come into question, in an almost clear way, since the 1980s. It is, more specifically, about the collapse of systems of transition -socialist and liberal- founded on sovereign political statocentrism. Henceforth, the modern world has found itself facing an unprecedented phenomenon: fundamental parameters of the anthropocentric cosmosystem, particularly the economy and communications, are acquiring exceptional autonomy from the realm of the State, so as to cross in a horizontal way their territory and expand around the planet. They are essentially asserting a role as political partner, both in a transnational context and within States. It does not challenge statocentrism, as some claim, but the demand of political power to retain political sovereignty for itself, the monopolisation of the political system. You might say, indeed, that this challenge is not focused on the principle of political sovereignty of the State, but only on its monopolistic exercise by the political class. The pursuit of its autonomy from the political power of the State and of freedom of movement at the level of the overall cosmosystem, therefore combines with the demand to become a privileged partner of the State and to steer the purpose of its policy in its own interest. This ownership of the State and essentially of its purpose anticipates being achieved by means of force and not the typical occupation of the politeia by its members. It does not demand the oligarchic reconstruction of the politeia, since it is actually oligarchic, with the character of an eligible monarchy, but a radical change in its policies, as seen in its balance of power. So, precisely because this development heralds the transition to another cosmosystemic phase, what comes first is the change in balance of power. A change that is bound to have momentous consequences, since it involves overturning the balance between the social, the political and the economic arena, at the expense of citizens’ society. Because, as noted above, the sovereignty of the State- and literally the embodiment of the political system by it- as it is opposed to other States and to society, combined with the change in the balance of power, constitutes a political weakness of citizens’ society. This weakness is consistent with a qualitative change with respect to the western economy. The aspect of the economy that dominates things is no longer productive -given that it has been transferred to countries of the former Third World- but the financial and commercial economy, known by the name of the market. The “market economy” emerges, indeed, as a rival to its cosmosystemic expansion, collectivity based on identity and not the State itself, precisely because this collectivity may be the beginning of a new project for the reconstruction of the political demand of citizens’ society. In this respect, developments in the arena of the economy and of communications entail consequences which promise to have an important impact on the approach to and significance of borders.
Citizens’ society, and in this context, labour forces, attempted at first to deal with the phenomenon with actions of the “anti-globalisation” type, which basically indicated the “globalisation” of their own non-institutional political action. They organised for this purpose “mass” events in various cities, such as Genoa or Porto Alegre, in order to argue their opposition to the complete dominance of market forces. They thus demonstrated that it was impossible for them to grasp the content of developments, and therefore their action was registered in the same thinking as that of their political operation within the State. They did not realise, specifically, that if they ultimately failed to prevail in the environment of the context of the State, it was a given from the start that they were doomed to fail also at the inter-state level. Their devolution confessed simply that the forces referring to society continue to remain trapped in the past, when fundamental parameters have already been established in the future. That in this context, the question was not to maintain the sovereignty of the State over the politeia and, essentially, the closed nature of borders. Because the maturation of economic and communications factors demanded that the corresponding forces become autonomous from the care of the State and, hence, see borders as an obstacle to their operation. The forces of the economy and of communications henceforth saw in the pre-political state the opponent, in their ambition to develop a cross-border/inter-state dynamic that would allow them to claim a partner’s role in inter-state relations, and also the change in purpose of states’ policies.
The forces of the economy have not seen negatively this strategy of the forces of the “civil society,” given that it fed precisely into the weakness in their equilibrium of power, leaving the field open to their own sovereignty. This explains why, in the name of “democracy,” they virtually encouraged these initiatives. Ultimately, the rhetoric about halting “globalisation” was unrealistic because it was equated with stopping cosmosystemic evolution, while the counter-argument of the ‘globalisation’ of civil society and, in particular, of labour and social movements, greatly facilitated the deconstruction of collectivity based on identity and of social cohesion. Therefore, it was sufficient for them that they came together with the opponent on the question of assimilation of the politically sovereign State with democracy and, hence, with no change in political foundations. In other words, the stakes for market forces were focused on not changing the relationship between society and politics, to the extent that it alone is heralded as capable of changing its hegemony. The entrapment of society in the political project constructed by the Enlightenment, on the basis of the transition from despotism to anthropocentrism, not only did not prevent “globalisation,” but it became the vehicle for the establishment of politics and, obviously, the economic dominance of the market. Because this project, based on individual freedom and socio-political rights, excluded society from the political system, i.e. it allocated the monopoly of political operations to the possessors of political power of the State. This political project assumes that citizens’ society does not participate in the political system as a partner, but as a subject/citizen of the State that possesses the politeia.
So, the balance established between society and the owners of the economy during the transition from despotism to anthropocentrism were accountable for the non-institutional relationships between the forces of ownership and the forces of labour, with the political class that possessed the State/system as arbitrator. Therefore, as the citizens’ society was consolidating its anthropocentric position (from the standpoint of freedom, social and political experience, institutional importance, etc.) and its negotiating capability in socio-political relations, it proved more effective. We must repeat, however, that this benefit to citizens’ society presupposed the dependence of the balance of power on the explicit reference of its agents in the realm of the State.
We retain, therefore, the fundamental distinction between the political sovereignty that dates back to the environment of the State where the agents of socio-economic life develop and act, and the political sovereignty which equates the political system with the State. One provides the geographical context in which the balance of power operates. The other determines the political agent that possesses the political authority and the level at which political relationships are formed. Upon completion of the anthropocentric transition of the West and its entrance into the next phase of cosmosystemic development, some of the fundamental anthropocentric parameters, the political system that the State embodies, it was inevitable that it would succumb to the new balance of power, which gives an overwhelming advantage to the forces of the so-called market. In other words, the overturning of the balance of power was made possible precisely because the political system remains captive in the realities that were relevant in the period of transition from despotism to anthropocentrism. The new force, in this case the markets, found fertile ground in which to take advantage of the power that it derives from its cosmosystemic development, against a society that is treated as a private citizen, whose collectivity, that is, and, hence, the agent of the State, possesses it without even representative sign. The members of this society are approached in the light of the private citizen, who as a citizen amounts to a subject of the State. So, the strength of the citizens’ society varies according to its position in the State. Because as collectivity which is fully embodied by the political mediator (the party, etc.), it is linked by the balance of power in terms of influences at the top or behind the scenes. On the contrary, as a political collectivity, it ascribes a power proportional to its participation in the decision-making process. In this case, the private citizen whose collective will is assigned to mediators, changes into a component factor of the politeia.
This imbalance which encases the political system and, hence, society in the past, while at the same time its parameters have moved into the future, is the cause of the dramatic rupture in the relationship between the social, the political (in this case the State) and the market. From this development, the ethnos –as collectivity based on identity- is not threatened, nor is the State as a social domain -as the political composition of society- nor obviously is the statocentric structure of the cosmosystem that forms the borders. In any event, the above parameters will change content and roles. However, the monopolistic hold of the political system by the State is threatened, i.e. the balance of power that is crystallised at the level of the State. The gradual entry of citizens’ society into the politeia does not correspond only to the natural order of the evolutionary process of the anthropocentric cosmosystem. It is the only way to halt the breached logic of the balance of power and, consequently, to ensure social cohesion in terms of the prosperity of society. In this respect, the concept of cross-border communication and, on the whole, mobility (of labor, citizens in general, and, of course, the monetary economy) at the level of the cosmosystem, cease to be perceived as basically the exclusive business of the domain of the State. It is increasingly linked with the politeia and the distinction between those who participate in it and “others.” These “others” are henceforth proponents of the cosmosystemic dynamic (of the markets, economic migration, etc.), who cross the border and participate in the economic process. Transnational and, by extension, cross-border cooperation, the synergies dictated by the cosmosystemic development of the parameters of the economy and communication, will be led to a new meeting with citizens’ society, the result of which will be judged, at every moment, based on the relationship between market policy (set by society’s institutional participation in this) and the economic market. In simpler terms, the stakes of the balance between society and the market will be judged within the State domain, according to the politeia of the State, and not at the level of the overall cosmosystem. Therefore, at this stage, the question is not the transition to the ecumene and, hence, to a cosmostate/cosmopolis, but the representative and basically democratic transformation of the politeia of the State.
In this precisely lies the distinction between inter-state (cross-border) cooperation established by the European Union with third countries, and that concerning the relationships between partners. In the second case, it is a cosmopoliteian and, more precisely, sympoliteian, meeting of member states. In the first case, the European Union seeks to promote a partnership that goes beyond the statocentric logic of the early period, introducing elements that pertain to the new conditions of the so-called “globalisation.” However, since the European model appears to ignore the political components of the new era and, indeed, to insist on a political project that harks back to the age of the Enlightenment, the institutionalisation of the logic of the markets can only happen at the expense of its societies. Similarly, in its relationships with third countries and, consequently, cross-border cooperation, political Europe promotes policies that are dictated by an internal balance of power. I cite as examples immigration policy, interregional relations, commercial trade, etc.
These few remarks indicate precisely the direction of evolution. Obviously, once it is established that the period that the world is going through today constitutes a phase of transcending the era of anthropocentric construction within the State, the choice of paradigm by political Europe is inconsistent with developments. Not simply because the institutionalisation of the purpose of the markets as the purpose of the European Union is in opposition to the overall interest of its societies. But because this option comes into conflict with the dynamic of the evolution of the anthropocentric cosmosystem of our age. Therefore, it cannot get the consensus of societies in the medium-term, nor can it have a long life. On the other hand, the transfer of EU policies by the markets to societies cannot be accomplished by closing borders or with the political system of the corresponding era of transition from despotism to (proto-)anthropocentrism. The change in the balance of power necessitates the harmonisation of the overall anthropocentric construction in the new phase, starting with the political system. As to the content of this harmonisation, it can only refer to the recognition of societies of a regime within the State which will take them into the future, therefore reflecting their already-achieved anthropocentric maturity. This precise issue raises the question of the change of the political system: from pre-representational and literally oligarchic as it is today, to a representative and basically democratic one.
In any event, what is happening in Europe reflects the developments. The start of a dynamic leading to the transition to a new phase of the anthropocentric cosmosystem, giving the medium-term advantage to the forces of the oligarchy of the markets, but in the long run, it heralds the reconstruction of the politeia on the basis of a broader institutional environment of freedom of citizens’ society, which will also include the socio-economic and political domain. In this sense, despite the significant progress that political Europe has made at the level of polysemy of identity, it still reveals more and more its limitations. Limitations associated primarily with the fact that it refuses to be completed as a state entity, remaining a sympoliteian political system without a state. Limitations that are also consistent with its confinement in a political system that dislikes even the legitimising presence of society. That is the reason why, while political Europe appears to be advanced on the question of cross-border cooperation and polysemy of identity –since it is consistent with the interests of the markets- it denies the participation of the peripheral regions in the political system. The peripheral regions have a quasi-non-existent regime at the level of the central politeia, which belongs exclusively to the central powers of the member states.
To better understand what is behind this ambiguity of political Europe, we point out its unequivocal bond with the strict oligarchic targeting of the markets, we will cite two interesting examples: Identity is the core which the formation of the political project is based on and, hence, the concept of borders. However, collectivity based on identity is connected today with freedom only at the individual level (hence individual freedom) and overall (national freedom). Modernity ignores the polysemy of identity of societies because it believes that acknowledging it comprises a threat to the cohesion of state entities. In this context, the purpose of the State overrides freedom, i.e. any will of a collective entity to manage its own house by itself. For a long time, the unified State felt threatened by the polysemy of identity of the nation. This means that the challenge brought by the new era of cosmosystemic development to the fundamental parameters of the anthropocentric acquis is not focused on the nation, as it attempts to appear, but on the State, and, indeed, not the State as a political expression of the social, but the status of the proto-anthropocentric State to embody entirely, i.e. to monopolise, the political system. In this new context, the stakes of reconstructing the State on the basis of the polysemy of identity of the nation, however, radically alters its content, its functions, as it introduces a new parameter of freedom, unknown to the world view in the age of transition. Which will be associated with the central issue of freedom, which goes back to the relationship between society and politics, which has yet to be approached in the light of the institutional participation of citizens’ society in the politeia. It is precisely these two dimensions of freedom, and the systems that they form, that are unknown in the modernity of transition, transcends the internal character of the State, but does not negate statocentrism, or the concept of borders. But they are the core of the question of the transition to the future of all aspects of the anthropocentric cosmosystem. Nevertheless, modernity still focuses on intra-systemic pursuits, avoiding even touching on the question of the transition to the future, politics and, by extension, society, as if evolution stopped in the 18th century. The principle of unified thought and ideology and, obviously, the unique economic and political system, constitutes the conservative background of the forces that rule in our time. This principle has already led to the transformation of the European Union from a system of synergies to another, necessitated by the almost unequivocal logic of German, in this case, hegemony. Or to a cross-border management policy that broadly directs the argument of the distinction between the centre and the periphery.
In light of these considerations, we arrive at a number of conclusions on the developments taking place in our time which directly relate to the subject of the dissemination that we have already completed.
First, entry into the era characterised by the re-contemplation of the State and, in this context, the identities and the political system that form the content of borders, is inevitable. Even if, in the transitional phase, market forces win, I would say overwhelmingly, in the domain of the balance of power, the transition from the unequivocal political approach to identity to the political polysemy of identity will reposition the question of the unity of the State and the position of the collective in the politeia on other bases.
Second, this question of collectivity based on identity directly introduces a new approach to the relationship between the nation and the State, leading from the nation of the State to the nation of society. This definition of a nation as the conscience of society -and not as the construction of the State- indicates its constitutional relevance to citizens’ society. Henceforth, society is credited with its responsibility, i.e. with the political authority to decide what is and what is not national. In this context, the future heralds not only a new relationship between society and politics, leading to representation and beyond to democracy, but also a perception, in this case, of borders, linked directly to the convergence on a common identity of groups and not to the geography of the State itself. In this light, the security of nations, social cohesion, the unity of the politeia /State no longer passes through the political sovereignty of the State, but through the breadth of political institutionalisation of citizens’ society. Because in the final analysis, the new era assumes the overturning of the balance of power imposed by the non-conformity between the parameters (especially the economy and communications) which went to the future and the politeia, which keeps a tight hold on society in the conditions of the era of transition from despotism in anthropocentrism.
Finally, I conclude that the expression of satisfaction with the program’s success is not personal. It is shared by all the members of the group, given that it has led to the development of a fruitful discussion which goes beyond the limits of the ordinary. The projection of our discussion to subjects that justify the events happening nowadays was accompanied by a very particular, and interesting, reception given to us by the universities in the countries we visited. Our aim, to contemplate in the light of the future, leads us to transcend the argument of the superiority of the European model and to stand in pragmatic terms before political Europe and its policies. It truly represents a pioneering development, as well as an exceptionally conservative approach to the dynamics that the future heralds.
This dialogue presupposes, if nothing else, that we free ourselves of our certainties, i.e. the perceptions of the past that predominate nowadays, and that feed into the conservative shift to relationships of hegemony seen in political Europe.
Ioan HORGA and Ariane LANDUYT (Éds),
COMMUNICATING THE EU POLICIES BEYOND THE BORDERS
Proposals for Constructive Neighbour Relations and the New EU’s External Communication Strategy, Oradea University Press, 2013
- Διατηρείται το δικαίωμα αναδημοσιεύσης του παρόντος άρθρου σε οποιοδήποτε μέσο, με απαραίτητη προϋπόθεση να αναγράφεται η παρούσα ιστοσελίδα και ο συγγραφέας ως πηγή. -