Jonathan Holslag On world order and disorder

De Kracht van het Paradijs: Hoe Europa Kan Overleven in de Aziatische Eeuw

Ranked n°2 in the top-10 non-fiction of 2014 of Het Financieele Dadblad

This was definitely my most demanding project thus far, not only because of the volume of this book, but because of its scope and the challenge to turn many different aspects into a fascinating story: Europe’s internal problems, its position in a turbulent international order, and constructive solutions for defending the prosperity and security of the next generations of Europeans. The book draws from over ten years of observations, accidental meetings, conversations, and travels.

The Dutch version came out in March 2014 and in about two months time the first 10,000 copies were distributed. It figured eight weeks in the non-fiction top-ten. Given the overwhelming feedback, the book must have reached my main objective, that was, to address a broad leadership and to energize the public debate with new ideas. The first reviews were enthusiastic:

“An outstanding book,” said former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene.

“Bold and elegant, visionary and graceful,” wrote Robert D. Kaplan about the English-written manuscript.

“Refreshing, courageous, humorous, inquisitive, and sparkling with new ideas,” said the Volkskrant.

“An important book,”asserted Matthijs van Nieuwkerk prime time in De Wereld Draait Door.

“An incisive analysis,” concluded the Financieele Dagblad.KP-DWDD

“A gem,” said Paul Witteman in his leading current affairs programme Buitenhof.

“Lively and always informative,” Elsevier.

“Impressive. A treatise that stands like a rock,” deemed Het Parool.KP-Ztalk

“A new Machiavelli!” proclaimed Jan Vanduppen.

“Razor sharp and crystal clear,” wrote Vrij Nederland.

“A razor sharp and realistic analysis of a visionary political scientist,” wrote Yvan vanden Berghe in Internationale Spectator.


The Euro Crisis was a warm-up, the book argues. The summits of drama and suspense in Brussels have drawn the attention away from much more intimidating economic, social, and political problems. Moreover, a weakened Europe risks to degrade into a playground for the major powers, rather than to become able to play a role in the new great power politics itself. But these menaces, it claims, should not prompt Europe to dismantle its unique achievements. It must become more ambitious to make its society resilient, competitive – and pleasant.

The Power of Paradise is the first book that analyses the crisis of Europe in all its aspects and also comes up with solutions. It is a dazzling analysis that reveals how the conflicts at the European level are the consequence of major electoral changes in the member states, how these changes are the result of the erosion of the welfare state, and how that in turn can be explained by a creeping loss of economic power.

But The Power of Paradise also looks at Europe from the outside. It takes the reader on an intriguing journey through the new frontlines of geopolitics, the discrete gatherings of internal organizations, the sweltering slums of Northern Africa, and so forth. By also looking at Europe from the outside, this book provides a gripping perspective on its internal challenges.

This is a highly readable and energetically written work. Most of all, it explains the reader what can be done and how each of Europe’s citizens can contribute. They should not choose between power and paradise, it concludes, but to harness the power to build paradise.


Part I. Indolent decline 1. The case for paradise 2. The four lives of the European Union 3. This time is different 4. Exit the welfare state 5. Bring on the cheese slicers 6. The sinking scale 7. Indolent decline
Part II. The world is fragmented 8. The perception cascade9. Economic power politics 10. Raw materials 11. Power politics by different means 12. The return of the gunboat 13. Europe’s gunpowder moment 14. Geopolitics 15. The arc of disquiet 16. The swing states 17. The wedge of hardship 18. The world is fragmented
Part III. Building paradise 19. The necessity of hard power20. Player or playground21. A humane economy 22. Humanism


15 May: Interview in Vrij Nederland.

05 May: Review by Biogate.

15 April: Café Europa, VPRO Radio 1.

04 April: Review in Mo*.

03 April: Long review in Het Parool.

31 March: Nice review by Jan Vanduppen.

31 March: Comments in De Dagelijkse Standaard.

28 March: Two pages of interview in Het Nederlandsche Dagblad.

20 March: Debate with Guy Verhofstadt in Ghent with a review in Zaman Vandaag.

17 March: Review by Trendslator.Schermafbeelding 2014-11-08 om 15.26.40

15 March: Interview on Klara.

15 March: Review in Liberales.

12 March: Long interview in Humo.

01 March: Long review in Het Financieele Dagblad.

28 February: Interview in NRC Next.

27 February: Book presentation in Amsterdam.

24 February: Long interview in Metro.

23 February: Debate in Buitenhof.

22 February: Interview in Trouw.

21 February: Debate with Luuk van Middelaer at Mind the Book.

20 February: Interviews in De Standaard, De Vrije Markt en on Radio 1.

19 February: Page-large background interview in De Morgen.

18 February: Comment in the Parool.

17 February: Three essays with comments by political leaders in De Morgen.

18 February: Prepublication in Knack.

17 February: Page-large interview in de Tijd.

16 February: Long interview with Veronique Goossens on Kanaal-Z.

16 February: A first short announcement in Knack.

15 February: Front page story in NRC Handelsblad.