Europe Anti-Power: Ressentiment and Exceptionalism in EU Debate, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Europe Anti-Power

Ressentiment and Exceptionalism in EU Debate, 1st Edition

By Michael Loriaux


180 pages

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Hardback: 9781138659681
pub: 2016-06-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315620053
pub: 2016-06-10
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The EU seeks to define a role for itself in power politics while remaining firm in its rejection of power politics. In order to make power compatible with the European project, EU debate has appended a number of progressive adjectives to the word "power," adjectives like "civilian" and "normative," among others. This book asks what is power, such that it can be modified, tamed, and modulated by adjectives, yet remain "powerful"?

Loriaux passes EU debate on power through the mill of phenomenological and post-phenomenological analysis, juxtaposing it against writings by Machiavelli, Agamben, Thucydides, Nietzsche, Patocka, and Levinas. The book locates power in "power/play," the theatrical, staged representation of threat that generates aesthetic effect and undecidability. Power/play endows the word "power" with perlocutionary force, which the adjectives of EU "qualified" power actually enhance rather than moderate. Loriaux argues that EU discourse on power therefore risks inviting EU "exceptionalism," or risks lapsing into an expression of EU ressentiment, rather than advancing a new, progressive understanding of "power." If European Union is to remain steadfast in its opposition to power politics, it must represent itself as "anti-power."

This book will be of interest to those who work in the area of EU foreign policy, as well as to those who have a more general theoretical interest in the concept of power.


'The project of European integration has often been portrayed as an attempt to escape from the destructive power politics that haunted the European continent for so long, both in relations among European states as well as in Europe’s external relations. Michael Loriaux’s superb Europe Anti-Power reconfigures the debate on Europe and power. His highly original readings of the works of Machiavelli, Agamben, Thucydides and others on the meaning of power underpin his bold claim: the European Union should (re)constitute itself as "anti-power." This book is a must read not only for everyone with an interest in European politics, but also for scholars and students concerned with power in IR and Political Science.' - Stefan Borg, Swedish Institute for International Affairs and Stockholm University, Sweden

'Are we duped by the necessity of power? Lauriaux's deconstruction of conventional readings of EU power and his plea for a conception of Europe as anti-power are a provocative and overdue challenge to the debate about the EU's role in global politics.' - Thomas Diez, University of Tuebingen, Germany

Table of Contents

  1. EU Power and its Adjectives
  2. Power/Play
  3. The Viral Trace
  4. Innovation
  5. Power/Play’s Transformation Into Form
  6. In Knowing Anticipation
  7. The Sound of Power
  8. EU Exceptionalism, EU Resentment
  9. The Tinkerer, Destroyer of Worlds
  10. Europe Anti-Power

About the Author

Michael Loriaux is Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, USA. His teaching and research areas are International Relations, the European Union and Critical Theory. He is the author of European Union and the Deconstruction of the Rhineland Frontier (2008).

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins ( and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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