James Heartfield on the EU and the end of politics (31 March)

Leeds Salon would like to invite you to the following event:

The European Union and the End of Politics

Monday 31 March 2014
Millennium Room, Carriageworks Theatre
6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30pm

In the run-up to May’s European elections, journalist and author James Heartfield discusses The European Union and the End of Politics

Europe is in crisis, but the European Union seems to go from strength to strength. While some see it as positive that the Eurozone crisis has “strengthened the original case for Europe – as a means of keeping the peace”, especially with the rise of far-right parties, others argue it further exposes the “democratic deficit” at the heart of the European Project. So far, the budget crisis has not only ended up with the “eurocrats” grabbing new powers to dictate terms to countries that default on their debts, but also resulted in the elected government of Greece and Italy being replaced with EU officials in what has been termed a “soft coup”.

The growing power of the EU is often interpreted by its critics as due to simply the rise of a powerful EU elite in Brussels bent on a federal Europe and colonising national political life.  However, according to James Heartfield, the forward march of the European Union has been widely misunderstood. Rather than the EU being driven by grand visions of a “United States of Europe”, it is driven more by the decline in political participation within the leading European nation states themselves.

Without political contestation national parliaments have become empty shells. Where once elites drew authority from their own people, today they draw authority from the European Union, and other international summits. And as national sovereignty is hollowed out, technocratic administration from Brussels have filled the void; allowing Europe’s political elite to conduct increasing areas of policy free from democratic accountability. But is the European project inherently anti-democratic? Or are objections to the EU mainly driven by prejudice, and the very nationalism it was founded to overcome? And what is the alternative: is it possible to be anti-EU but pro-European?


James Heartfield is a writer, journalist and lecturer living in north London. He is the author of numerous books including The ‘Death of the Subject’ Explained (2006), andUnpatriotic History of the Second World War (2012). and is also a director of the development think-tank, Audacity.


Simon Lightfoot is Senior Lecturer in European Politics, University of Leeds. He is co-author of Teaching Politics and International Relations (2012), and author ofEuropeanising Social Democracy: The Rise of the Party of European Socialists (2009).

Jim Buller is Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of York. He has written widely on the European Union and politics, and is author of the chapter ‘Britain and the European Union’ in The Oxford Handbook of British Politics (2009).

For fuller biographies and readings, visit the website here.

Admission: £5 waged/£3 unwaged to pay on the door. Please reserve your place by e-mailing us at contact@leedssalon.org.uk

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