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Vincent Gengnagel & Katharina Zimmermann: The European Green Deal as a Moonshot – Caring for a Climate-Neutral Yet Prospering Continent?. [Abstract]

In this paper, we argue that the European Green Deal (EGD) represents a focal point for the fate of the European Union: Will the EGD highlight the EU’s critical flaws and stir social conflict, or will it revitalize the European project with a “new green spirit,” renewing the legitimacy of European market economy? Taking the EU Commission’s claim that the EGD should become “Europe’s man-on-the-moon-moment” at its word, we discuss the parallels and differences between the US 1960’s space mission and the European “green mission.” By analyzing cultural infrastructures of the two monumental governmental projects, the article unpacks three underlying themes that the moonshot metaphor alludes to regarding the EGD’s societal legitimacy: 1) the contextualization of the Green Deal as a hegemonic ambition in a new “race” for the leading development of a green growth economy; 2) the evocation of capitalistic welfare that is imagined as a European Dream, just like the moon landing was closely related to and revitalized imaginaries of an American manifest destiny; and 3) the attempt to de-antagonize EGD-critical social forces. Speaking “truth to power,” social protest can become a source of legitimacy itself for liberal governmentality, like antagonists of the US space race were – in the eye of the public – converted into believers of the American Dream.

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