This post is part of our symposium on Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism. Read the rest of the symposium here.
Quinn Slobodian –
About a year before Globalists was published, I presented in Mattias Kumm’s colloquium on Global Constitutionalism at the WZB Social Science Center. It seemed like an ordinary talk until the end when the first question came from someone who introduced himself as an international lawyer from Spain. “What are the normative implications of your talk?” he asked. I was stunned. It took me a moment to figure out why.
I’d never been asked that question before.
Historians ask about sources, they ask you to push your story forward or back—or forward and back—or wonder about unheard voices and unseen actors, or dynamics of power, or subtleties of translation and evolving meaning, about temporality and meta-narratives and space and agency and disciplinary placement and categories of analysis, but very rarely—if ever—do they ask about normative implications.
A couple of years and miles from Berlin, I’ve come to expect and even demand the question. There are, after all, always normative implications to our work. Why not talk about them openly?
The LPE blog has been generous enough to gather pieces from seven legal scholars about my book. Few shy from the question of their Spanish colleague.
All are critics of the settlement I call alternately neoliberal globalism or ordoglobalism that coalesced in its present form in the 1990s around institutions like international investment law, European competition law, and international treaty organizations like the WTO and NAFTA.
The blog authors’ interventions cluster around questions of description and prescription. I will argue that the former supply the grounds for the latter.
What we see tells us what to do. I will conclude by suggesting what we are still missing.