The situation in Europe is bleak, whether or not we acknowledge it from the armchair of culture. Years of austerity economics — policies that resemble our own — have led to widespread disenfranchisement, xenophobic fanaticism, and the current crisis in Greece, all of which shine a light on the cracks in European culture. Still, the recent election in Greece of Syriza — a left-wing, anti-austerity party — has forced Europe’s hand. Will the response be an acceleration of austerity politics (as usual) or serious political change?
Either way, it may be too late for the eurozone. “The euro is fragile, it’s like building a castle of cards, if you take out the Greek card the others will collapse,” said Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. On the right, infamous soothsayer Alan Greenspan predicts a Greek exit from the European Union, which, he argues, will cause a “much bigger break-up.” In much the same way that the collapse of American banks precipitated the crisis in Europe, the collapse or fragmentation of the eurozone could change our lives dramatically. So, will Europe collapse? Here are ten books that examine (and, in some cases, underlie) the debate.
Crisis in the Eurozone, Costas Lapavitsas
A professor at the University of London, and now an MP for Syriza, Lapavitsas argues that Europe can no longer maintain its “socialism for the wealthy.” Instead he argues for labor-conscious reforms and civil engagement. This book could become famous for laying the groundwork for a Greek exit.
Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, Mark Blyth
This book takes a historical look at austerity policies, tracing the rise of the Nazi and Japanese military establishments to the implementation of austerity platforms at the end of the Great Depression.
Against the Troika: Crisis and Austerity in the Eurozone, Heiner Flassbeck and Costas Lapavitsas
Another from Lapavitsas: this brand new book delivers a strategic plan for exit from the eurozone, not only for Greece, but also for other relatively impoverished European states. It is pitched resolutely against the the policies of the troika: the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB).
On Populist Reason, Ernesto Laclau
The work of Ernesto Laclau, who died last year, provides the philosophical foundation for Syriza’s political platform in Greece. This book takes a hard look at populism, which is often used to justify rampant xenophobia, in Europe as elsewhere. Laclau turns populism inside out, and argues for its potential and rootedness in failed representation.
Integrating Gender: Women, Law and Politics in the European Union, Catherine Hoskyns
A rare work that applies feminist critique and theory to international relations, Integrating Gender is a landmark study on these themes for Europe. It’s the first, and one of the only, books to look at the political, legal and social history of the European Union through the lens of feminism.
What Does Europe Want?: The Union and Its Discontents, Slavoj Žižek, Srecko Horvat
In this book, Slovenian joker-maestro Slavoj Žižek and Srecko Horvat — Oliver Stone’s favorite philosopher — argue that the truest crisis in Europe comprises the rise of right-wing, xenophobic fascism, including Greece’s Golden Dawn, a Nazi-esque party with significant political membership.
The Euro Crisis and Its Aftermath, Jean Pisani-Ferry
In this deep and comprehensive book, France’s Commissioner for General Policy Planning looks at the roots of the crisis in the eurozone and looks for possible ways out.
Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, Wolfgang Streeck
This devastating and eye-opening book argues that democracy and capitalism are strange, now incompatible bedfellows. It also stresses that democratic capitalism in Europe, as we understand it, is living on bought time.
The Crisis of the European Union: A Response, Jurgen Habermas
The name “Jurgen Habermas” arose several times in the recent debates around Charlie Hebdo and calls for a new enlightenment. Here the German sociologist takes a look at the European constitution and argues against those who seek a federalist Europe broken up into regions or states.
The Battle for Europe: How an Elite Hijacked a Continent and How we Can Take it Back, Thomas Fazi
Here writer and activist Thomas Fazi argues that austerity politics is not merely the result of bad policymaking, but it’s instead a function of the long-term attempt to destroy social welfare across Europe.