End of History

MPI für Gesellschaftsforschung

Mi. 24.04.2024

MPIfG lecture: The end of history and the last European

In his talk, Michael A. Wilkinson reflects on postwar Europe from the perspective of the long durée of European constitutional history and the interwar breakdown of liberal democracy.

He suggests that far from “revolutionary,” as it has been characterized, postwar European constitutionalism is better understood as elitist and even counter-revolutionary in trajectory.

He outlines three material features of this counter-revolutionary path: semi-sovereign nation states in the core of Europe, a depoliticization of state–society relations, and the abandonment of class politics.

This he accounts for as a form of “passive authoritarian liberalism,” consolidated by the project of European integration, the dominance of ordo and neoliberalism, and the empty signifier of “Europe,” to which much of the left and so-called critical theory remained bound.

This settlement starts to come unstuck in the 1990s, signaling, contrary to an influential narrative, less “the end of history” than “the end of the end of history.”


Michael A. Wilkinson is Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He works in the areas of constitutional theory, European integration, and legal, political, and social theory.

His monograph Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe (OUP, 2021) has been extensively reviewed and was selected as one of the “key books of the year on the future of Europe” by The Review of Democracy. He recently co-edited a collection on a new approach to the study of constitutional law, The Cambridge Handbook on the Material Constitution (CUP, 2023).

He has held visiting professorships at Cornell, Paris II, the National University of Singapore, and Keio University, Tokyo, and his work has been translated into Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Suggested preparatory reading
Michael A. Wilkinson, Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe (OUP, 2021)

MPIfG lectures

The MPIfG Lectures, most of which are held in English, are open to internal and external experts. They currently only take place in person; virtual participation is not possible.


16:00 – 17:30 Uhr

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Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, Paulstraße 3, 50676 Köln


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Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung


Michael A. Wilkinson, London School of Economics and Political Science