Demultilateralisation: A cognitive psychological perspective

Published date01 September 2019
AuthorJohann Justus Vasel,Anne Aaken
Date01 September 2019
Demultilateralisation: A cognitive psychological
Anne van Aaken |Johann Justus Vasel*
This contribution seeks to illuminate the looming phenomenon of demultilateralisation and the
return of and to the nation state, i.e. closure. Whereas many reasons for opening and closure have
been discussed by Habermas in his eminent essay, we aim at providing an additional dimension, tak-
ing a psychological point of view and analysing this proclivity from a behaviourally informed perspec-
tive. Following a short recapitulation of the evolution towards postnationalism, we briefly sketch the
current phenomenon of demultilateralisation and renationalisation. We then contribute to the cur-
rent debate by providing cognitive psychological insights drawing on wellresearched biases that
offer the greatest potential to explain the current outbreak of closing tendencies, namely prospect
theory, including the endowment effect, framing, the availability bias and socalled hawkish biases.
This may add an explanatory dimension to why nationalistic politics have become again the beguiling
sanctuary of the people. We attempt to define scope conditions of closure.
Jürgen Habermas's eminent essay The Postnational Constellationis emblematic for his feisty engagement as a
public intellectual as well as a committed European, but also displays his visionary power and remarkable skills of early
diagnostics. Before many others, he understood that globalisation is not a given and that familial bonds, religious
communities, urban municipalities, empires, or states can all open and close themselves in relation to their
Currently, it may be reasonably argued that we are experiencing a time of reclosure, but it is a
different form of closure than Habermas conceived and envisaged two decades ago. Habermas's contribution
correctly analysed that [u]nder the changed conditions of the postnational constellation, the nationstate is not going
------------------------------------------------------- -- --- -- -- --- -- --- -- -- --- -- --- -- -- --- -- --- -- -- ---
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial License, which permits use,
distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
© 2019 The Authors. European Law Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
*Anne van Aaken is Alexander von Humboldt Professor for Law and Economics, Legal Theory, Public International Law and European Law, and Director,
Institute of Law and Economics, University of Hamburg. Johann Justus Vasel is Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute. Anne van Aaken
gratefully acknowledges funding from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
J. Habermas, The Postnational Constellation: Political Essays (MIT Press, 2001), 82.
Received: 4 September 2019 Accepted: 7 September 2019
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12337
Eur Law J. 2019;25:487493. 487

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT