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The New Old World
 
 

The New Old World [Kindle Edition]

Perry Anderson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

A hugely ambitious and panoramic political book, of a sort rarely attempted in our era of quick leader biographies and reheated histories of the second world war. --Andy Beckett, Guardian

A masterly historical survey of the European project, coupled with a critique of its current failings, is just what the EU needs. --Economist

A powerful and lucid intelligence. Eric Hobsbawm, New Statesman The New Old World brings home the complex internal political terrains of the main European countries, and stands as a richly detailed, learned, readable and lucid discussion. --Kerry Brown, International Affairs

Product Description

A magisterial analysis of Europe's development since the end of the Cold War.

The New Old World looks at the history of the European Union, the core continental countries within it, and the issue of its further expansion into Asia. It opens with a consideration of the origins and outcomes of European integration since the Second World War, and how today's EU has been theorized across a range of contemporary disciplines. It then moves to more detailed accounts of political and cultural developments in the three principal states of the original Common Market—France, Germany and Italy. A third section explores the interrelated histories of Cyprus and Turkey that pose a leading geopolitical challenge to the Community. The book ends by tracing ideas of European unity from the Enlightenment to the present, and their bearing on the future of the Union. The New Old World offers a critical portrait of a continent now increasingly hailed as a moral and political example to the world at large.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1172 KB
  • Print Length: 568 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 184467312X
  • Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (1 Aug 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G2DO2BW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #597,037 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depth of Knowledge Married to Breadth of Vision 19 July 2010
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a collection of essays with the European Union as its common theme. Many of them have already appeared in the London Review of Books (LRB), and it was there that I first experienced the insight of this incredibly well-read and perceptive author. An excellent review in the Guardian convinced me that it was worth purchasing, despite already having kept some of the LRB essays. In his foreword, he sets out the reasons for writing the essays and for the omissions in the subjects and countries covered. He notes that, "Although composed over a decade ... I have reworked them relatively little, preferring to let them stand as testimonies of the time, as well as reflections on it."

If one had to focus on a single theme to encapsulate the varied strands brought out in this collection of essays, then I think the author does this in the foreword when he says, "However unprecedented it may be historically, the EU is unquestionably a polity ... Yet in the life of the states that belong to it, politics ... continues to be overwhelmingly internal." The book's cover symbolically features a rendition of `Narcissus Contemplating His Reflection'.

The book's ten chapters are arranged in four parts: the first looks at the European Union itself; the second at its core players - France, Germany, Italy; the third at the complexities of a modern-day Eastern Question (Cyprus & Turkey); and the last at an up-to-date review of past and future visions. Anderson does not wear his leftwing political beliefs too overtly on his sleeve in this book. In fact, I think he displays admirable objectivity on many occasions, but sometimes he cannot help himself, for instance describing New Labour as "the tawdriest regime in post-war British history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book reveals an author, professor of History at UCLA, with powerful and incisive intellect, erudite, who conducted meticulous research to generate it;apparently the author is multilingual for invariably in his footnotes cites the sources in their original language be it French, German or Italian while he intersperses the text with phrases in the preceding languages plus Latin;the book is multifaceted in that the evolution of the Union and individual countries are viewed and treated from a historical, political, economic, social and cultural perspective;particularly gratifying is the professional integrity and courage of the author as evidenced by his presentation of inconvenient truths and stark realities about the Union with clarity and directness instead of resorting to evasions and euphemisms;finally the picture that emerges for the Union is bleak rather than rosy in that among other there is a glaring democratic deficit in its supranational institutions e.g the Commission, in that the EU in its whole evolutionary process was the product of political elites rather than its people while disregard or even contempt of the popular opinion is evidenced among other in the referenda for the constitution.

The book is composed of successive essays, the first looks at the past and present of the Union, as it was conceived by its founders, and modified by their successors. The second part moves to the national level. It looks at the three principal countries of the original six that signed the Treaty of Rome:France, Germany and Italy. The third looks at Cyprus and Turkey, extreme opposites of size:Cyprus with less than a million, Turkey with over seventy million. The relationship between the two poses the most explosive immediate item on the agenda of EU enlargement.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating study of the EU, but too academic 4 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
Perry Anderson, Professor of History and Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, has produced a brilliant study of the EU, the organisation which poses the greatest threat to us in Britain today. He displays, as usual, his peerless acuity and huge range of reference.

This book includes superb surveys of France, Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Turkey, but not of Britain. Anderson explains grandly, "I do not regret the omission of Britain, whose history since the fall of Thatcher has been of little moment." (It was not a `fall' - we pushed her out.) He refers to `England' three pages later, then to Britain again, then to the UK, a slippage whose uncharacteristic uncertainty betrays his disdain for its object.

He shows that the EU had no democratic foundations. Jean Monnet, the `father of Europe', was an international financier, never elected to anything. Now the EU `more and more openly flouts the popular will'.

Anderson rightly cites last year's fall in EU election turnout, to 43 per cent, as evidence that the EU `wants even a modicum of popular credibility'. Yet he inconsistently writes of US elections that high abstention rates are `the surest sign of popular contentment with society as it is'.

Anderson observes sensibly of Le Pen's Front National, "Immigration is a minority phenomenon, virtually by definition, as war between the classes was not. In consequence, xenophobic responses to it, however ugly, have little power of political multiplication.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant study of the EU, but over-academic 4 May 2010
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Perry Anderson, Professor of History and Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, has produced a brilliant study of the EU, the organisation which poses the greatest threat to us in Britain today. He displays, as usual, his peerless acuity and huge range of reference.

This book includes superb surveys of France, Germany, Italy, Cyprus and Turkey, but not of Britain. Anderson explains grandly, "I do not regret the omission of Britain, whose history since the fall of Thatcher has been of little moment." (It was not a `fall' - we pushed her out.) He refers to `England' three pages later, then to Britain again, then to the UK, a slippage whose uncharacteristic uncertainty betrays his disdain for its object.

He shows that the EU had no democratic foundations. Jean Monnet, the `father of Europe', was an international financier, never elected to anything. Now the EU `more and more openly flouts the popular will'.

Anderson rightly cites last year's fall in EU election turnout, to 43 per cent, as evidence that the EU `wants even a modicum of popular credibility'. Yet he inconsistently writes of US elections that high abstention rates are `the surest sign of popular contentment with society as it is'.

Anderson observes sensibly of Le Pen's Front National, "Immigration is a minority phenomenon, virtually by definition, as war between the classes was not. In consequence, xenophobic responses to it, however ugly, have little power of political multiplication. Aron, who had witnessed the rise of Nazism in Germany and knew what he was talking about, understood this from the start, criticizing panicky over-estimations of the Front, In effect, from the mid-eighties onwards its electoral scores oscillated within a fixed range, never dropping much below a national average of 10 per cent and never rising above 15 per cent." There is no need to obsess about the far tinier BNP.

On the EU's economic policies, he quotes EU-enthusiast Andrew Moravcsik: "the EU is overwhelmingly about the promotion of free markets. Its primary interest group support comes from multinational firms, not least US ones." And, "The EU is basically about business." Its Constitution makes a `highly competitive' market `free of distortions' a legal obligation, wrecking a `social Europe'.

Inside monetary union, "The historic commitments ... to full employment and social services ... cease to have any further institutional purchase." Growth suffers too. Before the euro started in 1999, growth was 2.4 per cent a year, after, 2.1 per cent. Non-euro EU members grew faster than euro members. Eurozone income per head rose more slowly than in the previous decade, while productivity growth halved.

Anderson points out that British governments always sought a wider EU, wanting to use the `vast reserve armies of cheap labour in the East, exerting downward pressure on wage costs in the West'. He shows the EU's embrace of capitalism, its contempt for democracy and its failure to create either a European society or a common culture.

He ends the book with the feeblest of forecasts - "But it remains unlikely that time and contradiction have come to a halt." He is brilliant at tracing intellectuals' responses to problems, but not at engaging with the problems or proposing solutions.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The End of (Intellectual) History 22 Jan 2011
By BrightContralto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read Perry Anderson's book shortly before Tony Judt's Postwar, and so naturally held each up to the light cast by the other. While Judt's survey largely resists interrogating the intellectual penumbrae of the social developments he meticulously records (except in the epilogue), Anderson makes these very much his subject.

Anderson's is a useful approach to understanding the orgins of the European Union, which is broadly accepted as an idea imposed from 'above.' His chapter on France, where public intellectuals never went out of fashion, was a pleasure to read. His approach is less successful at explaining the political and economic history of Germany and Central and Eastern Europe - on these subjects Anderson's Marxist/anti-British outlook seems to intrude overly. That said, his account of Cyprus is compelling.

In addition to the sometimes intrusive and tiresome Marxist angle, the almost complete lack of reference to women in Anderson's book is bizarre. Sartre, for example, has seven references in the index; de Beauvoir one (a name-check). Judt similarly gives short shrift to the women's movement. Both writers dismiss female politicians with personal or sexual put-downs not bestowed upon their male counterparts.

Other than this failure to explore the contribution of half the population to the intellectual and social development of Europe since the second world war, the two books together offer a good introduction to the period. Judt's book is the more comprehensive but Anderson has a more entertaining style when he's in his element.
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will the Real Europe Please Stand Up 24 May 2010
By Mark Warren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book was for me a disappointment - but may not be for you. That Anderson does not include the UK and accuses the EU of being too slavish to American dictates (the American policy with Israel being one) was spot on. But his political views (historians have political views too) are too close to those of that other Americanized Brit Christopher Hitchens for my liking. Being an Americanized lefty is not like being a European lefty. There is a massive difference.

I was born in the UK but have lived the past 27 years in Germany; seeing the fall of the wall (at first hand), and following the daily ups and downs of German politics, having my German grammar corrected by my son, laughing at German humor, yes the Germans have comedians and can be funny, Anderson's chapter on Germany reads like an academic disconnect. One of the problems with academics is that they can intellectualize the life out of a subject. Sure: the book is chocker-block with philosophers and thinkers who have contributed to European thinking, Habermas is quoted on almost every page in the Germany chapter, but one has to wonder whether Anderson gets the compassion side of the EU, born from the terrible destruction of the Second World War, this seems to be missing. And criticizing him on his own ground, I would say that, although he quotes many philosophers he fails to mention like so many Anglo-American thinkers, the important intellectual contribution postwar continental existentialism has made in forming the EU. Unfortunately existentialism is something that Anglo-Saxon thinkers have a hard time dealing with.

But what really did it for me is when Anderson celebrates Germanys new found military power he writes warmly of Germany: "dispatching its armed forces to the Balkans, to Afghanistan and to Congo, not in any selfish pursuit of its own interests, but for the common good, to protect others." So being a good naïve minion of Pax Americana is "...for the common good"? No, sorry: NATO is (now) nothing more than a tool for the American Empire. This is the difference between a European lefty and an American lefty.

As an afterthought the recent attack on the euro by George Soros and his thugs is further proof of the resentment some in America have towards Europe, in this particular case, the euro. This economic warfare is to ease the pressure on the dollar and pound which means it is not motivated by pure greed but has a political agenda. For Soros the mere existence of the euro (which he hates) is an insult to his manhood. Anderson's leaving out America and its power, is for me a further weakness of the book as it is how America views Europe that will influence Europe's future development. As I write, Europe for the first time in its history, is circling the wagons against American and British speculators.

But for the academically inclined, or "thinking" American, who wants to be informed, the book is worth every penny (sorry cent) and I would recommend it because it provides a lot of historical, intellectual and cultural information about Europe, almost too much. For many Americans, Europe (never mind the EU), is a closed book, the equivalent of the dark side of the Moon, or even seen as something created by dark evil forces or the Devil himself to destroy America and its God given mission. This book will help dispel that myth.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must to Understand EU - US relationships 5 Jan 2013
By marcosparco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Perry Anderson has once again lived up to his very high standards in this book, a collection of essays with some added chapters and conclusions. Both as a history of the idea of "Europe" and to follow the many institutional and 'political' paths that have led to the (extremely sorry, sub-imperial dependency status from the US, and neo-colonial regional, NATO, thug...) current state of the EU, this is an indispensable book. It is one fundamental piece in understanding the evolving world of "globalization" and how the dynamics between emerging powers and old imperial (aspiring to global domination and suppression of most remnants of 'formal' democracy) ones is taking shape in the present.
A number of chapters deal with the 'major' powers within the EU, France, Germany and Italy, including some of their recent cultural trends. The latter is of course an immense and extremely complex set of fields, so Anderson' selections are necessarily limiited and will surely provoke debate. However in this reader's opinion he has captured the essential trends in each, while individual judgments of merit are of course very subjective.
The chapters on Cyprus and Turkey are superb (especially the one one Cyprus), and really give one insight into the enormous chasm between the unaccountable EU's elite institutions and its "civilized" rhetoric, and the hypocritical and brutal policies and realities it supports globally and in would-be member states in reality. The limitless NATO aggressions around the globe, starting with the former Yugoslavia, in violation of its supposedly 'defensive' (and above all limited to the North Atlantic!!), as a neo-colonial sub-imperial aide-de-camp thug for the US's aims at the (Nazi ideal of) world-domination are only the most blatant components of these chasms. Reading the sorts of genocide and suppression of rights of all forms engaged in by Turkey (and British, Greek and Turkey proxies) in Cyprus, makes for a sobering reading of what the EU actually stands for behind the facade...
Far from an "association of democracies" it has become a primary unaccountable instrument for the subjugation of the peoples of Europe, leaving an empty 'parliamentary shell' where in actual fact the individual citizens of the member states have virtually no powers of participation, direction, recall, or recourse against the increasingly opaque, secretive, unelected, and above all unaccountable powers in Brussels.
A must read for those who aspire to engage in a committed, active, and above all truly democratic global citizenship.
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