English Abstract - Title: “Unity & incongruence – an analysis of political selfdescriptions in post World War One France and Denmark: The dynamics of League of Nations normativity and political concepts of unity, sovereignty and democracy” At a very general level the academic theme or problem from which the main problem of this thesis springs and to which it pretends to contribute is about as old as the European state system itself, meaning that it dates back to the 16th and 17th century when modern states arose both as material entities and as problems of the human mind. This problem is the problem of the relationship between (1) the ‘inside’ power monopoly of the state and (2) the ’outside’ question of how to generate a frame of interstate norms to regulate the clashes and struggles between statepowers. This problem has been dealt with in various ways both inside international law itself and in the political and philosophical debate and literature, from the codification of state sovereignty as a power principle overruling religious authority and confessional strife in the Westphalian law of states to the more speculative ideas of association or federation of states in order to secure lasting peace and prosperity launched by for instance Abbé de St. Pierre in 1713 and Immanuel Kant in 1795. Compared to the general headlines of this old political and intellectual discussion, this thesis more specifically deals with the question of the impact of democratisation (in a broad sense of the term) of national politics during the late 19th century. More precisely, what is aimed at in the empirical analysis is the period following the end of the First World War (1918-22), a period in which the ambition of creating an instance of supranational political and juridical regulatory norms (i.e. The League of Nations) intertwines with the ambiguous dynamics of democratic politics – as an ideal connected to the Wilsonian internationalist agenda and as a more prosaic mechanism to produce political legitimacy at the national level. The intersection of Wilsonian internationalism and democratic dynamics at the national level makes of the period following the armistice in 1918 an excellent laboratory concerning the issue of the reflection on and reception of international or supranational norms inside the framework of national politics. The practical questions of national border determination, arms reduction and not least the formation of the League of Nations force upon the national arenas to perform reflections on the relationship between their own status as sovereign political entities and the contingencies of their connectedness with the political world on the ‘outside’, i.e. the international system. Denmark and France were selected as the national polities to submit to further scrutiny along these lines - a choice made mostly on the basis of the supposed differences between the two polities as for, firstly, the respective positons in post-war international politics (roughly: small neutral state ↔ imperial great power and victorious war state) and, secondly, the internal political culture and historical selfunderstanding (roughly: evolutionary stability and consensus ↔ revolutionary ruptures and conflictuality). On this thematic and empirical basis the research problem guiding the analyses can be stated as a threefold question: 1. How is ’political unity’ constructed in the political discourse in the polities of Denmark and France in the period following the end of the First World War? 2. In what ways are contructions of national political unity (selvfortolkning ≈ selfinterpretations) coupled with constructions of the political surroundings (omverdensfortolkning ≈ interpretations of the surrounding world)? 329 3. To which extent are national constellations of self and surroundings congruent with the existence of an international system of political and juridical norms and institutions? These questions are addressed from an interdisciplinary theoretical-analytical perspective drawing upon concepts and insights from both the systems theory of German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, upon theories on historical consciousness and on the role of history and memory in the creation and reproduction of political communities (f.x Reinhart Koselleck and J. G. A. Pocock) and upon classical political theories on the foundations of political community, sovereignty and democracy (Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and Carl Schmitt). The analytical framework developed from this theoretical raw material points to a temporal as well as a spatial dimension of the unity question. The former deals with the role of past/present/future-connections in national discourse, particularly borrowing from the insights of history politics of Pocock; whereas the latter adresses the connectedness between selfinterpretations and interpretations of the surrounding world, drawing upon the Luhmanian distinction between the functional differentiation of the political system (as a worldwide communication system by definition) and the internal segmentary differentiation of this system into territorially delimited political entities (≈ nation states) – a distinction that points to an ongoing struggle or paradox that has to do with the systemic ”boundness” of the concepts with which political entities describe their segmentary ”unboundness” (sovereignty, independence, autonomy, selfdetermination). Thus, the question of how national entities handle this paradox in political discourse stands at the heart of the analytical matter. In terms of methodology, the analysis is focused on the debates taking place at the location pinpointed by Claude Lefort as the true locus of democracy: the by definition ’empty’ space of the rostrum in parliament. This is the place in which different political projects or currents mutually compete to temporarily fill out the empty political space and thereby ensure the symbolic reproduction of the political community – a symbolic reproduction hitherto (i.e in the pre-democratic political order) linked intimately with the space of the crown and the body of the king. Following this insight the analysis is aimed at parliamentary debates on issues of foreign policy or, more broadly, subjects relating to the international political order and the role within it of the community in question, i.e Denmark and France, in a period starting at the armistice in autumn 1918 and delimited at the other end by different political events of autumn 1922 in the two countries (the French political build–up to the Ruhr intervention, finally taking place in 1923, and the passing of a bill on the national defence in 1922 as the end point in the Danish case). The French case. The application of the analytical framework on the French parliamentary debate can be summed up in three points: 1. At the outset of the immediate after war period the political climate is dominated by the antagonism of two apparently irreconcilable discourses on ’France in the world’, based on equally opposite narratives of both French history in general (pro and contra the Revolution of 1789) and the meaning and direction of the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of La grande guerre in particular. These two discourse are named ”wilsonism” and ”revanchism” and in broad terms they represent the opposition between an offensive-universalist (connected to the republican civilising mission) and conservative-particularist (connected to the enmity towards Germany) vision of the role of France in world history and world politics. 2. However, in the period from 1918 to 1922 two differents syntheses combining elements of both wilsonism and revanchism emerge (in sequence) at the heart of the political debate. The socalled ”Versailles-synthesis” dominates the centre of French politics from the armistice to early 1920 (the American non-signature becoming gradually more evident) maintaning the offensiveuniversalist scheme but in a rather sophisticated manner integrating the idea of antagonism between France and Germany into a universalistic interpretation of the peace settlement (explicitly 330 including the League of Nations). From the turn of 1920 and onward, however, there is a remarkable shift to the right in the dominant political discourse. The discourse emerging after this turn is named the ”Ruhr-synthesis” due to its eventual practical-political direction, and this new synthetic blend draws more distinctly on the essentialist antogonism between France and Germany as well as it abandons the larger scope of universalist emancipation as an intimate part of French historical destiny. But, after all, it maintains the idea of universalism as a specifically French vocation only in a more defensive version linked to the French struggle (against Germany) as the bullwork of European civilisation against tyranny and backwardness. 3. Despite the sequential shifts summed up in the notions of the ”Versailles” and ”Ruhr”- syntheses several common traits can be identified in order to outline a common conceptual or discoursive political field inside which the tension between the Versailles-interpretation and the Ruhr-interpretation of ”France in the world” can be situated. To sum up, this field has three poles representing three general features of the mainstream of French political discourse 1918-22. These are (1) universalism, (2) democratic sovereignty and (3) decisionist unity. The first point refering to the transformed but continued presence of a universalist legitimation of French policies, the last point refers to the equally everpresent relationship of antagonism between Germany and France and the unity-producing (in the Schmittian sense of the term, hence ’decisionist’) potential of this relationship. In between, there is the notion of ’democratic sovereignty’ which is of a more complex nature. The very term ’sovereignty’ is widely contested as it is linked to the experiences of total war through the notion of pre-war ’absolute sovereignty’. However, the analysis of the political speeches reveals that the Rousseauian exclusive figure ”the rule of the people by the people” (in this case: The people of the French nation) to a large extent is present as a scheme into which developments, events and decisions must be fitted – and that goes, too, for events, developments and institutions that according to the norms of international law logically lie beyond the sovereign political range of any one nation state. This reveals a paradox of democratic selfdetermination as the national people in order to maintain the idea of ruling itself wihout any ’outside’ interference apparently tends to descibe itself as a sort of ’world sovereign’. In the French case universalism becomes the media by which this paradox is handled: The French people can decide of political affairs beyond the confines of the national political space by reference to a certain universalistic heritage and a ’special role’ in world history emanating from this heritage. The Danish case. Not very surprisingly, the Danish post-World War One debate takes place in a somewhat different political climate, Denmark not being officially involved in the war and thus not playing any important role in the peace making process and, not least, Danish politicians not having to rationalise and justifie the same immense sacrifices as was the case for French politicians. At first glance the Danish attitude towards the peace settlement and the international system established around the League of Nations seems to reflect a relative consensus across the Danish political spectrum on a strategy of a ’double approach’ to the League of Nations, celebrating on the one hand the glorious perspectives of a new world order while simultaniously making sure that the obligations imposed by the League do not come across Danish vital interests, i.e. jeopardising the credibility of declared Danish non-enmity towards Germany. However, when the League of Nations issue is analysed in connection with two other top agenda political issues – namely the questions of (1) reunification with the northern parts of the Slesvig duchy lost to Bismarcks Prussia in 1864 along with the Duchy of Holsten and (2) the question of the reorganisation of Danish military after the (by Danish standards) massive mobilisation during the war years – a rather intense conflict linked to both security politics and the politics of identity and history appears before the analytical eye. This conflict is analysed as a conflict between two antagonist discourses, ”neutralism” and ”defencism” representing different constellations of what is called selvfortolkning and omverdensfortolkning (cf. above) or of ”Denmark in the World”. Neutralism and defencism represent the 331 poles of a field of tension that is quite stable throughout the four years in question and, thus, the Danish case differs from the French case by the absence of a sharp shift in the political climate during the period – which is quite remarkable considering the changes in the international political climate in the same period. As indicated by the term itself neutralism is caracterised by its tight attachment to the notion of neutrality in a ’strictly equal’ (strengt ligelig) sense of the term. This term reflects an understanding of Denmark as a state abstaining both from formal alliances with other states and, of more substantial political importance, from articulating any offensive political claims whatsoever (including the case of Southern Jutland) as well as from a military with more than symbolic defence capacities - as both political claims and military defence capacity are viewed at potentially ’dangerous’ to the credibility of the neutral position and, hence, to the very survival of the Danish state as an independant entity. This understanding of Denmark in international politics is supported by an interpretation of Danish military history as a history of fatal military self-overrating and subsequential territorial and human losses. Interestingly, neutralism supports its powerless vision of the Danish political status with an idea of national community coherence based on the introvertness (inderlighed) of individual national belonging, thus disconnecting the existence and the reproduction of national community from both political will formation and from any type of military heroic rhetoric. As indicated by the term defencism, on the other hand, establishes an intimate relationship between national political and military will and both the survival and the moral-spiritual integrity of the national entity. This position on identity politics goes hand in hand with a less strict interpretation of both the political constraints and the obligations connected to neutrality, meaning that the League of Nations system and the political situation abroad is interpreted in a way that is compatible with the existence of a Danish military defence and with the articulation of Danish political will and interests. In terms of history politics defencism supports its emphasis on defence capacity by an interpretation of the historical key moment, the Danish defeat to Prussia and Autria in 1864, linking the fact of military resistance, however disastrous at the time, with the possibility of national reunification i 1920. 1864 is seen as the proof of Danish will to make sacrifices for its territorial integrity, the proof of its ‘will to live’ (vilje til livet) wihtout which the Danish claim to the northern parts of Slesvig would have had no resonance among the great powers. Interestingly, defencism manages to perform a ’decisionist’ manouvre of creating political unity without jeopardising the formal status of neutrality by the explicit articulation of a national hereditary enemy. By refering to concepts of ’cause’ (sag) and ’challenge’ (opgave) as the instances towards which Danish political will should be united (Souhtern Jutland and national defence), defencism avoids the depiction of an enemy (Germany) while producing the performative effects of enmity in national political discourse. Despite the specificties of the Danish post-war discourses it is possible to identify a sort of common conceptual frame of neutralism and defencism. This frame adds up to three points, as in the French case, but with certain peculiarities specific to the Danish context: (1) outside pressure (omverdenspres) (2) democratic sovereignty and (3) neutrality. Neutrality, as we have seen, is a dominant framing concept in the debate as a whole, though with different interpretations of the ’strictness’ of the doctrine and its commensurability with military defence capacities and the articulation of political ’causes’ for Denmark. The outside pressure refers to the presence of the norms and power relationships of the international system as factors to be counted with and adapted to in the Danish politics. The concept of ’democratic sovereignty’ refers, once again, to a discoursive mechanism of a more sophisticated nature. Despite the neutralist tendency, on the one hand, to see the unfolding of Danish political will incertain matters as a source of ’danger’, neutralism does in fact reproduce a figure in which Danish will ultimately becomes the source of the future or the destiny of the Danish community. This trick is linked to the possibility of linking the policy of strict neutrality with the perspective of a general transformation of the international system along the lines of an ’international rule of law’ (rettens herredømme). Moreover, the neutralist trick explains the striking continuity in the neutralist vision of League of Nations po332 tential, despite the crisis caused to the League by the American non-participation in particular: The League is the bearer of a transformed future for the world as a whole without which neutralism would fail to meet a basic standard of democratic politics: The link between the popular will and the destiny of the people. In the case of defencism the notion of will plays a more obvious and distinct role, only in this case a more direct link between the Danish will articulation and the Danish destiny is articulated. Comparison and conclusion. At the level of comparison between France and Denmark two conclusions can be made on the basis of the analyses: First, there can be identified ’one and a half’ common concepts or mechanisms in the definition and reproduction of political unity at the national level, namely the presented mechanism of ‘democratic sovereignty’ or the capacity to interpret international developments in such way that they are brought to fit into the Rousseauian scheme of ‘the rule of the people by the people’. This mechanism is present in all four (two by two) analysed discourses. Second, the images of the international juridical-political system produced in this process of democratic reappropriation in the two national contexts differ in such a substantial way that there is, geometrically speaking, very little congruence between the League of Nations system represented in the Danish context and the one represented in the French context. This suggests that the pinpointed mechanism proper to democratic sovereignty systematically produces incongruence and, thus, disfavours the formation of stable international common interpretations of norms, rights and obligations. Finally, as a perspective connecting the findings and insights of the analysis to the broad academic debate from which it originally sprang, the established tension between democratic politics and international norms forms the basis of a critique of the certain cosmopolitan trends in the post cold war political and intellectual debate. More specifically, a critical light is directed at the historical reading of the relationship between democracy (republicanism) and nationalism that supports the theory of postnational democracy of the German philosopher celebrity Jürgen Habermas, a reading characteristic of a certain Kantian strain of thought, that occupied an important position in the 1990ies in international politics in general and in the debate on European integration in particular – but which, in 2007, seems to suffer from a certain negligence inherent to its historical reading of modern democracy, its dynamics and its foundations.
|Status||Udgivet - apr. 2007|