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JSPES, Vol. 44, No. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2019)
pp. 203-221

Authoritarian Liberalism and the European Union   

Maxim Popov
North Caucasus Federal University, Russia

The author conducts a comparative analysis of liberalism with special reference to ongoing developments in the European Union (EU) and the move toward authoritarian liberalism. In doing The article surveys conceptual models of ordoliberalism (otherwise known in the U.S. as neoliberalism), J.-W. Mueller’s “restrained democracy”, J. Habermas’ “legitimation crisis”, C. Crouch’s “post-democracy”, and C. Macpherson’s “participatory democracy”. The basic analytical concept is the idea of authoritarian economic liberalism, first proposed by H. Heller and K. Polanyi. The author conceptualizes authoritarian liberalism as the practice of dedemocratization and restrained democracy, which has resulted in the regionalization of radical protest against the present supranational regime of political integration in contemporary Europe. Authoritarian liberalism restricts traditional forms of representative democracy, contributing to the rise of populism, political radicalism and political extremism. The authoritarian restriction of representative democracy can lead not only to the strengthening of market capitalism, but also to the revival of reactionary forms of “new nationalism” and illiberalism. Today, the EU’s regime has transformed from a nominally rule-based structure supported by market discipline into a “discretionary order” reinforced by bureaucratic power. Contemporary Europe is developing a “neocolonial paradigm” in regard to relations between the core and the periphery — between creditor countries and debtor countries.