The Counterfactual Imagination of Populist Euroscepticism
Euroscepticism is on the rise across Europe, as populists from both the left and right hold up their retrograde visions of gloriously assertive and blissfully self-reliant nation states.
The installation of a populist and eurosceptic government in Italy in recent weeks, after months of political wrangling, is just the latest episode of this saga.
But the patriotic visions of the future imagined by populists rest on the implausible assumption that other states will continue to honour their international responsibilities, even as they renege on theirs. The dilemmas and necessities of international cooperation cannot simply and conveniently be set aside.
In this sense, populism is parasitic upon the very liberal, rule-based international order which it so energetically contests. It is rising at a moment when neoliberal centrism, the orthodoxy of the prevailing order, has run out of steam. To secure a more legitimate and cooperative global order that is sustainable, liberals need to be bold – and imagine a real alternative.