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“We Must Be Opportunistic In The Pursuit of Justice”

December 20, 2011

Interview with Thomas Pogge in The European:

Thomas Pogge has taken Rawls’ Theory of Justice to a global level. He sat down with Sören Musyal and Martin Eiermann to talk about European solidarity, the democratic paradox and the line between academia and activism.

The European: You live in the US. What is your take on the European debate about financial support for Greece?
Pogge: There is tension between the interest of the nation-states to prop up their own economies and the desire to further the European idea. One thing seems clear: A policy of radical self-interests harms the collective. If small concessions happen routinely, the collective becomes rational. But the problem is that we begin to anticipate these concessions – and that pushes the collective towards irrationality.

The European: How would you define solidarity?
Pogge: Within Europe, the goal is to reduce income inequalities among states. And on an individual level, solidarity is the attempt to act in such a way as to overcome the worst inequalities in Europe or the world.

The European: Much faith is put into the idea of a European identity. Can something like the EU function without a grand narrative like that?
Pogge: It has always been the vision of Europe to overcome the monopoly that nationalism and patriotism held over our identities, and to offer another identity option at a higher level. It would be dystopian if people in Europe began to think of themselves only as Europeans and hunkered down in defense against anything outside the borders of the EU. Global inequalities would only grow. [More]

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