Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe: Introduction

31 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2021

See all articles by Michael A. Wilkinson

Michael A. Wilkinson

London School of Economics - Law School

Date Written: September 2021


This book recounts the transformation of Europe from the interwar era until the euro crisis, using the tools of constitutional analysis and critical theory. Interwar liberalism, rocked by mass politics and social inequality, actively turns to authoritarianism in an attempt to suppress democracy, with disastrous consequences in Weimar and beyond. After the Second World War, economic liberalism is restored through a passive authoritarianism: inter-state sovereignty is restrained, state-society relations are depoliticised, and class struggle subdued. This transformation takes time to unfold and it presents continuities as well as discontinuities. It is deepened by the neoliberalism of the Maastricht era and yet counter-movements then also emerge, which are more actively repressed through the authoritarian liberalism of the euro crisis phase. This leads now to an impasse. If the postwar order of authoritarian liberalism has reached its limits, as suggested by the emergence of an authoritarian populism, there is yet to be any definitive rupture.

Keywords: Authoritarian liberalism, European integration, transformation of Europe, euro-crisis, neoliberalism, authoritarian populism

Suggested Citation

Wilkinson, Michael A., Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe: Introduction (September 2021). University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 260, 2021, Available at SSRN:

Michael A. Wilkinson (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

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