Mario Draghi’s proposal to create a European Treasury Ministry is the first step (after the euro) towards genuine European integration and another renunciation of national prerogatives. It confirms what sociologists have been saying for some time: in a globalised world, national sovereignty is ineffective and obsolete. But it also represents an attempt to restore power to politics.
The proposal made by Mario Draghi and taken up by the Presidents of the German and French central banks, Jens Weidmann and François Villeroy de Galhau, to constitute a single super-minister of a Eurozone Treasury is now under welcome debate. It is the first step towards real unification and at the same time a painful renunciation of another national prerogative.
These prerogatives are abating more and more rapidly, both because of the widespread practice of devolution, and because of the crisis of the nation state with the end of the post-Westphalian model, for which the principle cuius regio, eius religio prevailed from the XVII century.
What is presented as a potential tool for preventing upheavals in an economy that has spiralled out of control is more than that: it is a movement of enormous historical and cultural significance. In the first place, it confirms what sociologists have been reiterating for some time: national sovereignty no longer has any reason to exist in the globalised world. And, most importantly, there are no local solutions for global problems.
Faced with the evidence of the separation of power and politics, the proposal for a European treasury ministry looks like an urgent attempt to bring back power to politics without, however, considering that power does not need politics, while politics is useless without power. In fact, economic power no longer needs politics, especially since it might broke away from any national ties, which played a role in curbing its aggression.
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The balance between power and politics rested on the presence of a sovereign state that could impose its laws on its own territory. The weakening of the state and the opening of borders – which does not only mean cultural exchange, immigration or freedom of travel – make it impossible to maintain this balance. They thwart any attempt to control an economy that operates transnationally while heavily impacting at local level.
The initial response to this epochal rift, to this great divide between global and local, as well as to the weakening of state prerogatives, is the rising importance of cities, places of coexistence in which to recreate a sense of community and exercise people-oriented control.
The return to the city, to the Polis, is a sign of a deep need for security, to rediscover points of reference and social identity, which can only be cultivated in a limited environment.
But, in the meantime, the local has changed; it has expanded beyond traditional boundaries, like the community that has expanded into spaces that were unthinkable before now, thanks to the ease of communications. The concept of today’s community extends tens of kilometres, going well beyond the neighbourhood; it encompasses distant suburbs reachable by high-speed trains and connected to the centre by highways or surface metros.
The Polis is set to become the community space that man can dominate, substituting the idea of the nation with himself, and this explains the increasing importance that mayors now have worldwide, as reference points of a community that needs to self-manage.
If relinquishing national sovereignty is the first step towards finding a global solution to problems that are no longer of a local nature, it shows that nation-states have exhausted their historical role and are aware of their inability to manage politics effectively. However, transferring responsibilities from the national to the European level is only a moment of transition towards a social entity that should act as a substitute for a state that does not yet exist.
The present European Union, for that matter, is nothing other than an embryo still in the phase of development, managed by self-referenced officials, and sufficiently isolated from the rest of the community, deprived as they are of democratic representation. They communicate with the pro-tempore representatives of nation-states but have no direct relationship with the population.
The absence of society – the “end of societies”, as Alain Touraine suggests in his book with apocalyptic undertones (La fin des Sociétés, 2014) – is the opposite of the communities re-created in the Polis. Here, in the community, a personal, direct relationship is sought in an effort to re-establish a condition of democracy.
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The current existential modality – gradual depletion of national sovereignty and the progressive delegation of functions to the European Union – reveals the existence of a Gramscian type of “interregnum”, between the end of the State and the establishment of a new formation, which cannot but be fundamentally democratic. For this reason, as in any interregnum, the previous laws and the new ones that still have to be written are no longer of any value. It seems clear that the new world moving forward will see the need for coexistence between community and society, a vital compromise binding together the demands of the local, close to single individual, and those (demands) of a more distant global society, with which it is necessary nay vital to build a relationship.