Most of the essays in this book cover the period of European history that Perry Anderson describes as the ‘neo-liberal ascendancy’ – roughly the past thirty years. The writing is lively but the essays on particular countries are stronger than those on the EU itself. Perhaps surprisingly for someone who writes in the Marxist tradition, Anderson, who teaches history at UCLA, takes much more interest in Europe’s intellectual history than in its economy. Indeed, there are many more pages on Merkur, a German journal of ideas, than on the euro.
Anderson analyses some of the EU’s weaknesses, such as its lack of legitimacy and the absence of democratic participation in its institutions, but has little to say on how to remedy either problem. And he ignores some of the other factors contributing to the mess the EU is