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From the End of History to the End of Democracy

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When the Cold War was at a supposed end and the West was in a triumphant mood, the American philosopher Francis Fukuyama penned the book The End of History and the Last Man (1992). As such, a book carrying such an hyperbolic title should have been met with derision but was instead celebrated across the world. Fukuyama’s thesis was couched on “a belief that, after the fall of communism, free-market liberal democracy had won out and would become the world’s final form of human government”, as articulated by the journalist Ishaan Tharoor.1 The book starts out as follows: “[t]he distant origins of the present volume lie in an article entitled ‘The End of History?’ which I wrote for the journal The National Interest in the summer of 1989. In it, I argued that a remarkable consensus concerning the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a system of government had emerged throughout the world over the past few years, as it conquered rival ideologies like hereditary monarchy, fascism, and most recently communism. More than that, however, I argued that liberal democracy may constitute the ‘end point of mankind’s ideological evolution’ and the ‘final form of human government,’ and as such constituted the ‘end of history.’ That is, while earlier forms of government were characterised by grave defects and irrationalities that led to their eventual collapse, liberal democracy was arguably free from such fundamental internal contradictions. This was not to say that today’s stable democracies, like the United States, France, or Switzerland, were not without injustice or serious social problems. But these problems were ones of incomplete implementation of the twin principles of liberty and equality on which modern democracy is founded, rather than of flaws in the principles themselves. While some present-day countries might fail to achieve stable liberal democracy, and others might lapse back into other, more primitive forms of rule like theocracy or military dictatorship, the ideal of liberal democracy could not be improved on”.2

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Fukuyama’s words are literally bathing in a pool of hybris and American Optimism and Exceptionalism . . . a philosophy book acting like a cheerleader for the ‘Greatest Nation on Earth’. The social scientist Selcen Öner wrote a critique of the book, analysing the thesis and its ramifications, starting off by stating that “[t]he victory of the West and Western idea is evident firstly with the collapse of systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. [Fukuyama] states that, in the past decade, there have been important changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries (Russia, China) and reform movements have begun in both. Also it can be seen in the spread of consumerist Western culture. As a result of these indications, he reaches to his main idea: ‘What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War or the passing of a particular period of post-war history; that is the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.’ But as we see from the beginning, [Fukuyama] states his arguments without a strong basis [in fact-based reality] and with a lack of evidence. After expressing his main argument, he makes some references to Marx, Hegel and Kojeve. He says that his main concept ‘the end of history’, is not an original concept. This concept was firstly used by Hegel. According to Hegel, history is a dialectical process, with a beginning, a middle and an end. On the other hand, Marx, believes that, the direction of historical development was a purposeful one and would come to an end with the achievement of a communist Utopia that would finally resolve all prior contradiction”.3

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Öner concludes that Fukuyama “tried to make a long-term civilizational analysis, but with only analysing short-term indicators. So he [should have rather used] the term ‘civilizational transformation’, instead of ‘end of history’. The era which was tried to be analyzed and defined by Fukuyama was only one of the turning points in the world history. As we can see . . . history is within an ongoing transformation process which needs further analysis. Consequently we can say that, Fukuyama wanted to give a name to the situation after the collapse of [C]ommunism. He [coined] the [phrase] ‘the end of history’, with one-dimensional, ethno-centric perspective. He was too quick to claim such an assertive thesis. Probably he did this to legitimize and formulate the theoretical framework of the New World Order. Because to create a new world order, the old one must have an end. To legitimize US’s leader role, he uses Hegel. Because he also ends history with the victory of one state. To show US’s ever lasting victory, he had to create a very optimistic perspective. His main contribution is, after his article [and subsequent book]’s [publication] there has been an acceleration in critiques about the post cold war world”.4

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And now, the philosophical cheerleader of American Optimism and Exceptionalism has apparently had a brush with reality, as he told Ishaan Tharoor during a telephone interview that “[t]wenty five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward,” adding insightfully, “[a]nd I think they clearly can”.5 In the next instance, Fukuyama turns to the current U.S. President, Donald J. Trump (aka the Drumpf),6 stating apparently in a somewhat dejected voice: “I have honestly never encountered anyone in political life who[m] I thought had a less suitable personality to be president . . . Trump is so thin-skinned and insecure that he takes any kind of criticism or attack personally and then hits back“.7 Taking developments in Europe and beyond into consideration, Fukuyama muses philosophically that “We don’t know how it’s all going to play out“.8 It now seems that the the philosophical cheerleader of American Optimism and Exceptionalism has now become resigned that his earlier predictive utterings turned out to be fallacious . . . in fact, in his famous book published more than two decades ago now, Fukuyama did say that “this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again”.9

European Right-Wing Parties Hold Conference In Koblenz

1 Ishaan Tharoor, “The man who declared the ‘end of history’ fears for democracy’s future” Washington Post (09 Feb 2017). https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/09/the-man-who-declared-the-end-of-history-fears-for-democracys-future/?utm_term=.dd78f5d1fa73.

Francis Fukuyama, “By Way of an Introduction” The End of History and the Last Man. https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/fukuyama.htm.

3 Selcen Öner , “A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF FUKUYAMA’S THESIS “THE END OF HISTORY?” Istanbul Journal of Sociological Studies, 27 (2003). www.journals.istanbul.edu.tr/iusoskon/article/download/1023005867/1023005391.

4 Selcen Öner , “A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF FUKUYAMA’S THESIS “THE END OF HISTORY?” .

5 Ishaan Tharoor, “The man who declared the ‘end of history’ fears for democracy’s future”.

6 “Make Donald Drumpf Again, #2” The Erimtan Angle (08 March 2016). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/make-donald-drumpf-again-2/.

7 Ishaan Tharoor, “The man who declared the ‘end of history’ fears for democracy’s future”.

Ishaan Tharoor, “The man who declared the ‘end of history’ fears for democracy’s future”.

9 Ishaan Tharoor, “The man who declared the ‘end of history’ fears for democracy’s future”.

#Brexit = #NoMoreUK =#FUK

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With regard to the recently held referendum in Great Britain, the highly respected and truly inimitable authority that is the roving reporter Pepe Escobar writes on his Facebook wall that “THE WRITING ON [the] FUK’s WALL . . . Those two-bit Game of Thrones/House of Cards Tory clowns STILL can’t see the writing on [the] FUK (Former United Kingdom)’s wall. Brussels hardball is here to stay. NO single market access without freedom of movement, respecting the competence of the European Court of Justice and a “contribution” to the EU budget almost equivalent to what the UK pays today. [The]FUK (Former United Kingdom) gets a status equivalent to Norway, Iceland and [Lichtenstein]. And a trade deal similar to what the EU has with Singapore, Japan and Canada. That’s it. Those Tory clowns simply had no clue Brussels would definitely use Brexit as an example to prevent a domino effect, showing to assorted Europhobes that leaving IS painful. The governor of the Bank of England apparently got the picture: ‘economic post-traumatic stress disorder’. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI) says [the] FUK’s economy will contract 6% by 2020. Investment (China included) will decline 8%. Unemployment will RISE. And public debt will reach 100% of FUK’s output. Eastern and Northern Europe are trying hard to soften the ball for [the] FUK. But who gives a damn what Estonia’s president thinks about it all? Even [the] FUK supporters agree there should be no special favors – because that would be a Godsend to Frexisters and Nexiters. But as I said before, everyone is irretrievably pissed, pissed off, pissed beyond belief with the English – and not necessarily the Brits (everyone loves Scotland). Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister and not exactly the brightest bulb in the room, at least nailed it; England has collapsed ‘politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically’. He should add ‘footballistically’as well. Someone should propose Gareth Bale for PM”[1]

  brexit_leave_7006194783_4ea0b7Is there anything else left to add, I wonder. And, as it turns out, the equally incomparable Nafeez Ahmed did, even before the ballots were cast and fully counted: “Nigel Farage has jumped off an economic cliff screaming ‘Independence Day!!!’, and he’s taking us all down with him. While Brexit will almost certainly usher in a new wave of austerity and impoverishment, it’s far from clear that Remain would avoid it. Wherever you stand on the outcome of Britain’s EU referendum, hard economic reality is going to bite – and it’s going to bite hard. The #VoteRemain camp made a point of highlighting the numerous warnings from economists that a UK exit from the EU would trigger an economic crisis. The #VoteLeave camp insisted that this was a doom-mongering lie. It wasn’t. Last night, over Twitter, I predicted that the Leave campaign would win by a narrow majority – but that the victory would grow hollow very quickly as its immediate economic impact kicked in [:] ‘So here’s a #brexit scenario: 1. #VoteLeave wins by slim majority 2. #VoteLeave victory create crisis in Cameron’s leadership. 11:26 PM – 23 Jun 2016’.[2]  Dr Ahmed then adds the following: “So far, my little forecast has turned out to be uncannily prescient. The pound is in free-fall, so far hitting a thirty-year low. Stocks have slumped, and look to decline further. Banks are shifting their money, and their jobs. David Cameron has resigned, virtually in tears, a fitting end perhaps to a shambolic premiership. But he also put off invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which would formally begin the EU exit process. I’ve said that by next week, escalating economic turbulence and the inadequacy of contingency measures to keep it in check will dramatically shift the euphoric mood to one of increasing foreboding about the economic slowdown”.[3]

The Canary

And finally, Dr Ahmed opines that’ll be “just the beginning folks. Over the next few weeks, we’ll watch as a pound in free-fall drives up inflation, and squeezes the spending power of the average consumer. Who’s that going to hit hardest? The lower middle and working classes, of course. The impact will hit the profits of businesses, big and small, and squeeze wages too. As the UK’s GDP growth – already tepid – freezes over, this will in turn have global impacts: the Eurozone, particularly the northern countries like Denmark and Finland, will be drawn into the downwards spiral; so will parts of southern Europe, already teetering on the precipice. And China, which is seeing its economy hit the brakes, will suffer when the European slowdown triggered by Brexit reduces demand for Chinese exports. It’s the global transmission of these shocks, and their capacity to mutually intensify, that will push the UK off the edge, taking large swathes of the global economy with it. The government will have little choice in this context except to try mitigating the deepening economic crisis – but this simply won’t be possible within the current model of neoliberal capitalism, without repairing the damage done to the UK-EU trade relationship. In the words of The Economist: ‘A lot depends on the kind of trade deal Britain can negotiate with the EU and how quickly. If Britain gets a quick deal with no big reductions in its access to the single market, the grimmer scenarios for the world economy may not come to pass. But markets do not seem to be counting on it.’ And that’s the crux of it. In coming weeks, the mess inside the government that is Cameron’s rather pathetic legacy will be grappling with how to keep the promise of exiting the EU, while staving off the protracted financial collapse that would inevitably follow”.[4]

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[1] Pepe Escobat @Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377?fref=nf.

[2] Nafeez Ahmed, “Brexit is about to usher in Third World Britain” The Canary (24 June 2016). http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/24/brexit-usher-third-world-britain/.

[3] Nafeez Ahmed, “Brexit is about to usher in Third World Britain”.

[4] Nafeez Ahmed, “Brexit is about to usher in Third World Britain”.

#Brexit = #NoMoreUK

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This is another morning after the night before . . . Cameron is gone, having washed his hands and said his goodbyes . . . and here is an opinion worth sharing: an unknown member of the public calling him/herself Teebs wrote on the Guardian webpage that “If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost. Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron. With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership. How? Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor. And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legislation to be torn up and rewritten … the list grew and grew. The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction. The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50? Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders? Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-manoeuvred and check-mated. If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over – Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession … broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act. The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice. When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was “never”. When Michael Gove went on and on about “informal negotiations” … why? why not the formal ones straight away? … he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take. All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign”.[1]

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So, it’s all over now and the UK appears set to leave the EU and will in all likelihood collapse in the next instance, with Scotland, Ulster, and Gibraltar opting to stay in the Union . . .

The EU is nothing but a political fig leaf for the powers that run the show known as Post-Democracy, but at the same time, the Brexit will very likely turn the UK (or rather, England) into Europe’s sole and single island third world nation . . .

Nigel (with or without plans) and Boris and his Johnson will now have to lay in the beds they have made for themselves . . .

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#Brexit = #NoMoreUK

[1] Narjas Zatat, “People are really, really hoping this theory about David Cameron and Brexit is true” The Independent (s,d,). http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/people-are-really-really-hoping-this-theory-about-david-cameron-and-brexit-is-true–bJhqBql0VZ.

WikiLeaks: Operation Sophia

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On the WikiLeaks website the following announcement can be read: “Today, [Wednesday, ] 17 February 2016, WikiLeaks is releasing the classified report about the first six month of Operation SOPHIA, the EU military intervention against ‘refugee boats’ in Libya and the Mediterranean”.[i] And next, explaining that “[t]he report, dated 29 January 2016, is written by the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino of the Italian Navy, for the European Union Military Committee and the Political and Security Committee of the EU. It gives refugee flow statistics and outlines the performed and planned operation phases (1, 2A, 2B and 3), the corresponding activities of the joint EU forces operating in the Mediterranean and the future strategies for the operation. One of the main elements within the report is the planned, but still pending transition from Phase 2A (operating in High Seas) to Phase 2B (operating in Libyan Territorial Waters) due to the volatile government situation in Libya, where the building of a ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) is still under way. The report presses the responsible EU bodies to help speed up the process of forming a ‘reliable’ government in Libya that in return is expected to ‘invite’ EU forces to operate within their Territorial Waters (Phase 2B) and later even give permission to extend the EU military operations onshore (phase 3). In the last month there have been half a dozen high level meetings between EU and US officials (including with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome) as it is claimed by the US military that up to 5,000 Islamic State fighters have taken control over parts of the Libyan coast. Serious pressure has been placed on Libya’s major power groupings to speed up the completion of the GNA and ‘invite’ Western forces. A GNA invitation was expected in January. Libyan press has reported that US, UK and French special forces have already arrived (there is no public admission by the Western countries). Within Europe, Italy and the UK have been the driving forces behind the military intervention”.[2]

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In the report, Admiral Credendino declares that “[i]rregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea is continuing at a significant rate, with over 929,000 migrants arriving in Europe this year. However, since September [2015] we have seen two significant changes in the flow. Firstly there has been a reduction in the proportion of migrants using the central Mediterranean route as opposed to the eastern route. Prior to the start of the operation there was an even split between the people using the central route and the eastern route, whereas now 16% migrants use the central route, with almost 83% of migrants using the eastern route. Secondly, since September, for the first time in 3 years, we have seen a 9% reduction in the migrant flow using the central route. This is an encouraging decrease in the flow and should continue to be driven down through EUNAVFOR MED’s continued efforts. In October [2015], we successfully transitioned to phase 2A (High Seas), therefore for the first time having an effect on the smuggler and traffickers’ business model. For the autumn surge I had 16 assets (ships and air assets) under my command which were used to successfully provide a higher degree of deterrence against the smuggler and traffickers’ activities in international waters. Since the start of the operation, our actions have contributed to the arrest of 46 suspected smugglers and the disposal of 67 boats. Due to the effectiveness of phase 2A (High Seas), smugglers can no longer operate with impunity in international waters. They have to stay within Libyan Territorial Waters, as they otherwise would be apprehended by EUNAVFOR Med operation SOPHIA assets. My outreach activities have successfully contributed to an improved understanding and acceptance of the operation within the International Community. Since the start of the mission, I have met with very senior representatives from 6 different countries, 9 different EU organisations, 14 different international organisations, including the United Nations, the International Organisation for Migration, the ICRC and both the African Union and Arab League. During this reporting period I have consolidated my relationships with key interlocutors and I have seen a demonstrable improvement in their view of the operation. Moving forward, from a military perspective, I am ready to move to phase 2B in Libyan Territorial Waters, but there are a number of political and legal challenges that must be addressed before I can recommend such a transition. These include the legal finish in terms of our powers to apprehend suspected smugglers in Territorial Waters and who will prosecute any suspected smugglers detained there. We will also need to cooperate with and deconflict our activities with those of any other international missions that might operate within Libya once a Government of National Accord has been established. Critical to our exit strategy is a capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard who can protect their own borders and therefore prevent irregular migration taking place from their shores. Indeed, through the capability and capacity building of the Libyan Navy and Coastguard we will be able to give the Libyan authorities something in exchange for their cooperation in tackling the irregular migration issue. This collaboration could represent one of the elements of the EU comprehensive approach to help secure their invitation to operate inside their territory during Phase 2 activities. Moreover, training together during phase 2 could also be a key enabler to build confidence and facilitate the conduct of Phase 3 operations jointly with the Libyan authorities. Also, to avoid coordination problems within the AOO and prevent the risk of incidents, it is highly desirable that one single mission should be assigned the training task of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard. In my view, EUNAVFOR MED could have an important role to play in this domain. This would of course, should the Member States agree to it, imply an amendment to the OPLAN. In conclusion, while still much needs to be done to disrupt the smugglers’ business model, EUNAVFOR MED has nonetheless achieved significant results in its first 6 months of its life. In this respect the main message to the International Community is that the EU is capable of launching a military operation in record time, displaying a strong resolve and remarkable unity of intent, as demonstrated by the 22 Member States participating in the operation “.[3]

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Rather than offering a lasting solution to the current migrant crisis, the EU’s reaction called Operation Sophia primarily appears to be an exercise in containment, aimed at the ruthless individuals and gangs who have built up a viable “business model” to exploit desperate people fleeing either war and/or economic deprivation and ruin. The EU is now apparently cooperating closely with the U.S. in order to stem the flow yet unwilling to put a stop to the basically imperialist military and economic policies at the very root of the problem.

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In fact, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union constituted by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg released a press statement last year, which explained the rationale behind the whole operation: “[t]he EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law. The Political and Security Committee also agreed that EU NAVFOR Med should be renamed “Sophia” after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother on 22 August 2015 off the coast of Libya. The new name of the operation will be formally adopted by the Council at the earliest opportunity. The decision by the Political and Security Committee to launch the first step of phase 2 of the operation follows an assessment by the Council on 14 September that the conditions to move to this stage have been met. The Operation Commander Rear Admiral Credendino has judged the transition possible as member states provided the assets needed for this more active phase in the force generation conference of 16 September 2015 . . . The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution”.[4]

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[1] “EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″ WikiLeaks (17 Feb 2016). https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/.

[2] EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″.

[3] “Executive Summary. EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015” WikiLeaks release: (17 Feb 2016), pp. 3-4. https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/EEAS/EEAS-2016-126.pdf.

[4] “EUNAVFOR Med – EU agrees to start the active phase of the operation against human smugglers and to rename it ‘Operation Sophia'” Presidency of the Council of the European Union (28 September 2015). http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/09/29-eunavfor-med/index.html..

The Limits of Democracy

‘Jan Blommaert, Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at Tilburg University and Visiting Professor in the PhD program in Applied Linguistics at Hellenic American University, met the Greek public again οn February 27th 2015, with a talk entitled “The Limits to Democracy”. The lecture was organized by the Hellenic American College Linguistics Department in cooperation with Hellenic American University (Manchester, NH, USA). Prof. Blommaert has provided the following abstract of his talk: This lecture will examine a discursive template that has emerged in the context of austerity politics all over the EU: that of “limited democracy”. In this template, democratic procedures and principles are suggested to be subject – inferior – to concerns of a higher order, and two such concerns stand out. One, the economic conjuncture which needs to be turned around by means of more market-less government strategies, in which the democratic system is asked to withdraw from large sets of previously entrenched decision-making powers. Two, and as a corollary of the first one, security: threats to “political stability” are presented as danger for democracy and have to be met with new forms of informal justice and radical policing, jeopardizing (or undercutting) established civil liberties in a democratic society. The “limits to democracy” framework has spawned new social and political movements in the EU – Syriza, Podemos and several others – for whom the “crisis” is less an economic issue than a crisis of the fundamentals of the democratic system’.