From the Nation to the People of a Potential New Historical Bloc: Rethinking Popular Sovereignty through Gramsci


During the past decades traditional notions of sovereignty have been challenged in Europe. First, we have the erosion of sovereignty induced by the process of European Integration. Secondly, the new waves of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe and the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies of ‘Fortress Europe’ and ‘closed borders’ along with the intensification of racism and islamophobia, both as ideological climate but also as official state policy, have opened up the debate regarding the relation between sovereignty and ethnicity. On the one hand, any attempt towards a rupture with the embedded and constitutionalised neoliberalism of the EU in order to initiate processes of social transformation and emancipation, should necessarily take the form of a reclaiming of popular sovereignty and democratic control over crucial aspects of economic and social policy. On the other hand, we must deal with the association of sovereignty with nationalism, racism and colonialism, tragically exemplified in the way the Far Right links the question of sovereignty to its own authoritarian racist agenda. To deal with these challenges I take a critical position to both neo-Kantian conceptions of cosmopolitan rights and ‘neo-republican’ defences of the nation-state and the people as common history and shared values. In contrast I suggest that we rethink the people in a ‘post-nationalist’ and de-colonial way as the emerging community of all the persons that work, struggle and hope on a particular territory, as the reflection of the emergence of a potential historical bloc

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