“We Drown Our Sorrows In Consumption”
The European: Do you still see the nation state as the locus of these institutional experiments?
Unger: Despite the idea that the nation state is passe, it remains the main focus of innovation and power in the world. The problem with European society is they have not created institutions that internalize the impulse to change. With the way things are organized, transformation continues to depend on crisis. Throughout the 20th century the only way they have been able to change is by slaughtering one another. When they’re at peace they go to sleep and drown their sorrows in consumption, in a depressive materialism. Sleepy democracies in which no one wants to sacrifice anything, no one believes very much in anything except for extremists on the left and the right. This is a disaster. The centrist technocrats, the cold calculators, all like Europe. Everyone who is young, restless, and rebellious is opposed to the European project. The power to shape the forms of economic and social life is increasingly centralized in the bureaucratic apparatus and the definition of social entitlements and endowments is delegated to the local national authorities. It ought to be exactly the opposite. The primary responsibility of the union is to ensure the capability and endowments of its citizens so that they can raise a storm of experimentation and try things differently and try this and try that.
Read the entire interview with The European here.