ANTI-AMERICANISM AND THE SHORTCOMINGS OF EUROPE
CONQUEST: OUR COMMON HERITAGE
From the book "The European Dream" by Jeremy Rifkin
"The American dream is becoming ever more elusive. Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, squeezed for time, and unsure about their prospects for a better life. One third of all Americans say they no longer even believe in the American Dream.
While the American dream is languishing, says bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin, a new EUROPEAN DREAM is beginning to capture the attention and imagination of the world. Twenty five nations, representing 455 million people, have joined together to create a United States of Europe.
The European Union's $10.5 trillion GDP now eclipses that of the United States, making it the largest economy in the world. The EU is already the world's leading exporter and largest internal trading market. Moreover, much of Europe enjoys a longer life span and greater literacy, and has less poverty and crime, less blight and sprawl, longer vacations, and shorter commutes to work than we do in the United States. When one considers what makes a people great and what constitutes a better way of life, observes Rifkin, Europe now surpasses America.
More important, Europe has become a giant laboratory for rethinking humanity's future. In many respects, the European Dream is the mirror opposite of the American Dream. While the American Dream emphasizes unrestrained economic growth, personal wealth, and the pursuit of individual self interest, the European Dream focuses more on sustainable development, quality of life, and the nurturing of community.
Americans live and die by the work ethic and the dictates of efficiency. Europeans place more of a premium on leisure and even idleness. America has always seen itself as a great melting pot. Europeans, instead, prefer to preserve their rich multicultural diversity.
We believe in maintaining an unrivaled military presence in the world. Europeans, by contrast, emphasize cooperation and consensus over go-it-alone approaches to foreign policy.
All of this does not suggest that Europe has suddenly become a utopia. Its problems, Rifkin cautions, are complex and its weaknesses are glaringly transparent. And, of course, Europeans' high mindedness is often riddled with hypocrisy. The point, however, is not whether Europeans are living up to the dream they have for themselves. We have never fully lived up to the American Dream. Rather, what's crucial, notes Rifkin, is that Europe is articulating a bold new vision for the future of humanity that differs, in many of its most fundamental aspects, from America's.
Two hundred years ago, America's founders created a new dream for humanity that transformed the world. Today, suggests Rifkin, a new generation of Europeans is creating a radical new dream-one better suited to meet the challenges of a globalizing world in the 21st century."
From the book "American Mania" by Peter C. Whybrow M.D.
Material wealth and the abundant choice available in contemporary U.S. society are unique in human experience. Never before in the history of our species have so many enjoyed so much. This extraordinary accomplishment has brought America to the leading edge of an unusual human experiment.
For the majority of Americans the nations dramatic increase in material wealth has not been translated into a subjective sense of well-being. Americans are experiencing a discomfort for which they have little explanation. In our demand driven, debt-saturated culture many families find themselves to pressured to enjoy, even to notice their affluence. Time is chronically in short supply and the " free moments" that once balanced a busy life have all but disappeared. Unwittingly, in
our relentless pursuit of happiness we have overshot the target and spawned a manic society with an insatiable appetite for more.
America's dream of a utopian social order - fueled from the beginning by the twin beliefs that material success equals personal satisfaction. There is a delicate balance between individual desire and social responsibility, this is the bedrock of a healthy society and it is increasingly threatened. In America the central message is that each of us is free to write our own story. A polyglot nation of prodigious energy we are held together by dreams of material progress. 78% of Americans still believe that anyone in America can become rich and live the good life. All it takes is desire, hard work, a little luck, and the right timing. But now, for millions of Americans, the magic of the dream is tarnished. Something is not right and an alien sense of discomfort grips the dreamer.
Despite the excitement and promise that heralded globalization, American business seems frenzied and fickle. Many Fortune 500 companies, once considered havens of lifetime employment, have transformed themselves into profit-driven workaholic cults. The time and money required to sustain this affluent lifestyle, however, have plunged the nation into an orgy of debt.
For the majority of American families, debt has become a burden of staggering proportions. By 1997 the combined indebtedness of the nations households had reached an unparalleled 89% of total household income. Debt climbed from 95% of disposable income to 124% in 2000. The average rate of personal saving fell to zero over the same period and in 2001 was minus 6%...not seen since the great depression. The American dream is now heavily mortgaged. The cumulative personal debt in the U.S. in 2002 was equal to the gross national product of Great Britain and Russia combined.
Although technical innovation has flourished, so has social inequality. Particularly evident is that the rich have grown richer. Since the 1970s the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been widening and is now greater than any other industrialized nation. Thus,
at the centuries turn the richest 1% of the population - the 2.7 million Americans who were the most affluent - had as many after tax dollars to spend each year as did the bottom 100 million citizens combined.
ANTI-AMERICANISM AND THE SHORTCOMINGS OF EUROPE.
From the book by Claire Berlinski:
“Menace in Europe” (Why the continents crisis is America’s too)
“The fall of ideologies now casts a deadly shadow over every ideal” writes the French Philosopher Chantal Delsol, a proffessor at the University of Marne-la-Vallee and a shrewd observor of Modern Europe. Utopian ideologies, she remarks, were in their capacity to awe and inspire like cathedrals, and Europe has watched the collapse of one cathedral after another. Modern Europeans have come to condemn zeal and faith in all their forms, theist or atheist, in preference for bureaucracy, weak solutions of moral relativism, and quiet despair.
Delsol is not unsympathetic to this ideological uncertainty and lack of moral self-confidence: Rigid orthodoxy, after all, did give rise to both the Inquisition and the Holocaust , she reflects, or at least were associated with both. Europe, in other words, has lost its mojo for good reason. Lacking any sense of purpose, Delsol observes, and fearful of taking a stand-about anything, even the essentials of self preservation-Europeans instead enshroud themselves in technological and physical comfort, leading mediocre lives, avoiding risk at all cost, and mouthing vapid, unexamined cliches.
Throughout Europe, crude anti-Americanism now substitutes for serious attempts to construct farsighted foreign policy. European bookstores are full of titles such as American Totalitarianism; No Thanks, Uncle Sam; A Strange Dictatorship; and Who is killing France? (The answer to the last question is, of course, the United States. Given the hectic imperial schedule the U.S. has apparently adopted, it is odd that the author believes killing the French would be high on our priority list.)
The French journalist Thierry Meyssan has argued that no airplane crashed into the Pentagon on September 11; instead, he proposes, the American secret services and America’s military-industrial complex invented the story to prime their sheeplike countrymen for a war of imperial conquest against Afghanistan and Iraq. The level of anti-American hysteria in France is such that his book, The Horrifying Fraud was a galloping bestseller. Shortly before the beginning of the Iraq War, a poll showed that 30 percent of Frenchmen hoped the United States would be defeated by Saddam Hussein. It is one thing to oppose the war in Iraq on strategic grounds or out of heartfelt dopey pacifism; it is another to hope for the triumph of a genocidal maniac who transformed his own country - and it’s neighbors - into an abattoir. Who in his right mind hopes for the victory of a dictator who fed his opponents into industrial shredders and shoveled uncountable numbers of his compatriots into mass graves?
The popular Belgian musician Raymond van het Groenewoud recently wrote a hit song titled “Down with America” The lyrics are easily remembered: “ Down with America! Down with the jerks from America. Down with America” In Britain, newspaper headlines have proclaimed the United States to be the “world’s leading rogue state” and “ an unrepentant outlaw” In a comparison widely echoed by German entertainers, writers, playwrights, and talk show hosts, Germany’s former justice minister, Herta Daubler-Gmelin, suggested an equivalence between President Bush and Hitler - this from a cabinet- level official, not some adolescent protester, an educated woman who should be fully conversant with the history of Nazism, the rape of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, Holland, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. She has heard of the Holocaust, I’m sure. She must be aware that some 52 million people perished in the Second World War.
France and Germany, having long luxuriated under the American defense umbrella, appear now at long last to have converged upon a foreign policy principle: systematically undermining diplomatic and military initiatives emerging from the United States. France and Germany were not content merely to voice their own objection to our diplomatic and military policies in Iraq; they obstructed both, aggressively lobbying African nations to vote against us in the United Nations and, blackmailing Turkey with the threat of exclusion from the European Union should it permit the U.S. to stage operations from it’s bases. France was the principle beneficiary and investor in Saddam Hussein’s regime and remains the cheif lender to Iran, Cuba, Somalia, Sudan, and nearly every other kleptocratic state the U.S. seeks to economically isolate. Wherever French lending institutions hesitate, German ones pick up the slack; their banks are the biggest lenders to North Korea, Syria, and Libya.
I am hardly the first person to observe that were it not for American soldiers and taxpayers, Russian tanks would long ago have rolled straight to the Atlantic. Indeed, one rarely hears discussed in Europe the threat now posed by Russia’s descent into neo-imperial authoritarianism, but this is not because no such threat exists; it is because we may be counted on to nullify it. The U.S. still stations 26,000 combat personnel and 34,000 military support and administrative personnel on 294 military installations in Europe. It has cost us many billions of dollars to maintain these bases since the end of the Second World War. This is money that we have not spent on social welfare programs in America - nor has it been returned to those who earned it - and it is money that Europe has spent on it’s own social welfare programs.
BUT EUROPE SHOULD INTEREST US FOR ANOTHER REASON:
We share it’s problems. America is Europe’s cultural, political, intellectual, and social progeny. Many of the problems now confronting Europe are also present, in lesser but growing form, in America. Hysterical anti-Americanism, for example, is widespread in America itself. It is not only Europeans who have compared the American president to Hitler. Many Americans are besotted with Europe. They look to contemporary European political culture and it’s social institutions for inspiration; they admire Europe’s welfare states and believe American social welfare programs should be modeled on them. Paul Krugman, for example, has urged us in the pages of the New York Times to “ learn from” the French and their admirable family values, which he believes to be nurtured by the shorter French workweek. France’s government regulations, he writes, “actually allow people to make a desirable trade-off - to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family - the kind of deal an individual would find hard to negotiate.”
Has Paul Krugman ever set foot on French soil? One wonders. For one thing, the most important family value is to have a family in the first place, and it is a notorious source of concern to French economists that French rates of marriage and reproduction have for years been drastically lower than those in America. Second, there’s no evidence at all that the French are spending that leisure time with their families, even when they have them.
There are many Americans who, like Krugman, suspect that Europeans and their leaders are, as they style themselves, more sophisticated, worldly, and politically mature than Americans and their leaders. They believe Europe’s antipathy toward America is a proportionate and rational response to America’s failings. I encourgage them to feel uneasy in these sentiments.
(On a sidenote, the American
Revolution was financed by France, who bankrolled the operation with $5
million, collateralized by tobacco).
CONQUEST: OUR COMMON HERITAGE
Conquest began in Europe and has been carried on by the U.S.
The one- two knockout punch of world conquest by Europe and America. America being Europe’s progeny and in this case, a good example of the Son becoming more successful than the Father.
(From the book “Rogue States” by Noam Chomsky)
Probably the main factors in the European conquest were, perhaps, a slight edge in military technology, but primarily, I think, a kind of culture of savagery - "the all destructive fury of European warfare" The peculiar savagery of European warfare may reflect the bloody history of Europe itself. For hundreds of years, in the leading centers of Western civilization - France and Germany - the highest and most noble vocation and duty was to slaughter one another. That exalted mission came to an end in 1945, but only because the science of war that European civilization had crafted reached such a grotesque level that the next episode would be the last, leaving no legacy of war, at least for anyone to record in chronicles or art.
The legacy of world conquest itself is clear enough. To mention just the most obvious illustration, the only parts of the world that have developed outside of Europe are the parts that escaped it’s clutches: The United States, which joined the enterprise itself after it was liberated from England, and Japan. It’s worth noting that Japan, though a very brutal imperial power, happened to treat it’s colonies differently than Europe and the U.S. It did not rob and destroy them. They didn’t end up being Bangladesh or Haiti. Rather, it developed them at about the same rate as the imperial power itself.
From the book: “ Year 501, the conquest continues” Noam Chomsky
October 11, 1992 brings to an end the 500th year of the Old World Order, sometimes called the Columbian era of world history, or the Vasco da Gama era, depending on which adventurers bent on plunder got there first. Or “ the 500 year Reich” to borrow the title of a commemorative volume that compares the methods and ideology of the Nazis with those of the European invaders who subjugated most of the world. The major theme of this Old World Order was a confrontation between the conquerers and the conquered on a global scale. It has taken various forms, and been given different names: imperialism, neocolonialism, the North - South conflict, core versus periphery, G-7 (the 7 leading state capitalist industrial societies) and their satellites versus the rest. Or, more simply, Europe’s conquest of the world.
By the term “ Europe” we include the European-settled colonies, one of which (The U.S.) now leads the crusade; Adam Smith, in 1776 wrote:
The discovery of America certainly made a most essential contribution to the “ state of Europe” opening up a new and inexhaustible market that led to vast expansion of “ productive powers” and “ real revenue and wealth” In theory, the “ new set of exchanges...should naturally have proved as advantageous to the new, as it certainly did to the old continent.” That was not to be, however.
The savage injustice of the Europeans rendered an event, which ought to have been beneficial to all, ruinous and destructive to several of those countries,” Smith wrote, revealing himself to be an early practioner of the crime of “political correctness” to borrow some rhetoric of contemporary cultural management. “ To the natives...both of the East and West Indies,” Smith continued, “ all the commercial benefits, which can have resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned.” With “ the superiority of force” the Europeans commanded, “ they were enabled to commit with impunity every sort of injustice in those remote countries.” Smith does not mention the indigenous inhabitants of North America: “There were but two nations in America, in any respect superior to savages (Peru, Mexico), and these were destroyed almost as soon as discovered. The rest were mere savages” - a convenient idea for the British conquerers, hence one that was to persist, even in scholarship, until the cultural awakening of the 1960’s finally opened many eyes.
The conquest of the New World set off two vast demographic catastrophes, unparalled in history: the virtual destruction of the indigenous population of the Western hemispere, and the devastation of Africa as the slave trade rapidly expanded to serve the needs of the conquerers, and the continent itself was subjugated. Much of Asia too suffered “ dreadful misfortunes.” While modalities have changed, the fundamental themes of the conquest retain their vitality and resilience, and will continue to do so until the reality and causes of the “savage injustice” are honestly addressed.
The Europeans may have come to trade, but they stayed to conquer: "trade cannot be maintained without war, nor war without trade" European domination of the world relied critically upon the constant use of force. It was thanks to their military superiority , rather than to any social, moral or natural advantage, that the white peoples of the world managed to create and control, however briefly, the first global hegemony in History. The temporal qualification is open to question.