Wednesday, September 05, 2007

There's a piece at Front Page magazine today that I would call "anti-European"; it makes the same very general and superficial claims about Europe that Euro anti-Americans make about the States. Check out some of these pearls:

Perhaps the best way to distinguish between the American and European systems is to take note of their different perceptions of the future. Americans by and large are optimistic about the future, and believe that their children and grandchildren will have a better future. The Europeans on the other hand have a fatalistic/hedonistic view of the future that might be summed up, as “Live for today because tomorrow we’ll all be dead.”

Come on. That's way too general. I know a lot of Americans who are not at all optimistic, and a lot of Europeans who are neither fatalists or hedonists. I've said before, and so have a lot of other people, that Americans tend to be more interested in opportunity and Europeans tend to be more interested in security, but the key word there is "tend". Americans and Europeans are both Westerners, and we are much more alike than we are different--especially when we compare ourselves to really un-Western places like, say, Cambodia, Afghanistan, or Burundi.

When facing the Soviet threat during the Cold War, the Europeans cavalierly said “Better be Red than Dead.” Today it appears that many Europeans are resigning themselves to be, “Rather Green (Islamic) than Dead.” It is a self-fulfilling wish since the Europeans are not having enough children and grandchildren to insure their future replacement.

Come on. History proves that most Europeans did not believe it would be better to be Red than dead, since the Western alliance hung together from 1945 to the suicide of the Soviet Union in 1991. Look at West Germany: the whole reason that country existed was that they didn't want to be Communists or dominated by Moscow. The Communists got healthy shares of the vote in France and Italy, but nowhere else. The peace and anti-nuclear movement was big in the '70s and '80s, sure, but they never had anything like a majority anywhere, and there were a lot of those people in the United States as well. Those folks now control the Democratic party, one of America's two main political groups.

And, of course, no Europeans want to live under Islamic law. If faced by an actual Iranian or Hezbollah or Libyan military invasion, they would of course fight. They haven't done too well fighting against the Islamist terrorist threat so far, but England and France and Germany have simply been around too long to become anything radically different from what they always have been. Their language, laws, traditions, and culture are not so easily replaced.

Today’s Europe is faced with a double-crisis. The welfare system is going broke, and its moral and legal order is falling apart. At the same time, the Continent is going through a terminal case of demographic decline.

Catastrophism. Pure and simple. None of these things are going to happen anytime soon.

After almost a century of reign by the welfare state, Europeans have grown totally dependent on the state, and lost their ability to take their destiny in their own hands. The nation states of Europe are simultaneously being undermined by the European Union.

Totally exaggerated. Most Europeans are somewhat more in favor of a larger welfare state than most Americans, but the two systems are much more similar than different. The EU nations have given up some of their sovereignty to the Union, but nowhere near all of it; hell, the EU is run by its member states. The biggest argument they're having is how much power each member should have in the decision-making process after the huge expansion.

If the EU were so terrible, why would everyone but Norway and Switzerland want to join it? If I were British I wouldn't want Europeization to go very much farther than it has, but Britain doesn't have to go any farther down the road if it doesn't want to. They are insisting that they will keep their own currency and central bank, and that they will not give up their military forces. And as for Spain, it's a hell of a lot better now than it was before it joined. The EU has spent gazillions of euros subsiding us down here; we were Europe's largest recipient state until the recent expansion.

One thing the EU has done very well (along with NATO) is to prevent those damn Europeans from starting any more of those crazy wars they used to keep having that spilled over into the rest of the world. Germany hasn't invaded anybody for more than sixty years; during the 70-year period between 1870 and 1940 they invaded France three times.

While individual conservative leaders including France’s Nicolas Sarkosy (sic)and Germany’s Angela Markel (sic) are seeking changes in the welfare system to boost employment and economic growth, the European public is still addicted to the existing system. Sarkosy and Merkel seek to reform the welfare state in order to save it, rather than eliminate it altogether.

a) If one wishes to seem informed about a subject, one should look up the spelling of the surnames of the important persons involved, rather than blowing it off and getting them both wrong b) "addicted to" is a bit strong c) What's this "eliminate the welfare state altogether" crap? We've got a welfare state going in the United States, in case you hadn't noticed. We spend more than a trillion dollars a year at the federal level on Social Security, Medicare, and income security. And no one but the hard-hearted wants to stop pensions and health care for the retired and disabled, or to leave the poorest among us to suffer hunger and cold. The question is not whether government money should be spent on social welfare, but rather how and how much. The Europeans tend to think that more money ought to be spent on such things than the Americans do, but nobody serious in either place wants to go back to the bad old days of mass poverty, disease, and ignorance.

While Americans proclaimed, “In God We Trust,” the Europeans have gradually abandoned the belief in the Judeo-Christian God and the moral direction it provided. They largely agreed with German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) who wrote that, “God is Dead.” In Auschwitz, the Europeans did away with the Judeo-Christian God altogether. And since then they have increasingly relied on the state to direct their lives. The state has become the source of order, legitimacy, and authority. And the state has since 1957 evolved into a super-state known as the European Union.

How totally superficial and stereotypical. Millions of Europeans are practicing Christians and Jews, and it is completely unfair to blame Auschwitz on anyone but Nazi Germany. And as for the state as the source of order, legitimacy, and authority, well, yeah. How is that different from the US? Do we get order, legitimacy, and authority from the Elks Club, the PTA, or the high school forensics team?

That's enough of that. Read the whole article; I'm sure you'll come up with a few objections of your own.

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