Claims, aspirations, and hopes for Europe as a postnational constellation are often based on the assumption that the European sociality, as it emerges from its public discourses, is more or less committed to a normative promise of global justice. This faith in Europe lacks no critical edge. Jürgen Habermas, for instance, promotes a sustained critique of current European mentalities that aims to unravel Europe's normative potential. In critical dialogue with Habermas's most recent ideas on this subject, the article argues that, to be meaningful, the European promise requires something other than a mere postnationalization. It requires a heightened understanding of global justice and a critical relation with past and present liabilities that is more reforming of European consciousness. Borrowing from aesthetic idioms, the article terms this different outlook an “anamorphic gaze.” Its relevance is illustrated through examples of challenges typically overlooked in the European public sphere because they do not satisfy the easily digestible affective and political criteria of a “crisis” narrative.

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