Having had some time to kill in Charles de Gaulle airport recently, where the international editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal were full of dire articles to the effect that World War III — the war of the social-welfare state against fiscal reality — has already been fought, and lost, in Europe, I wonder when the lagging-indicator social democrats of America are going to “get it.”
Right now, in the lands they’ve always held up as a shining example to the benighted U.S. of A., the eurocrats are fighting a desperate rear-guard action against what increasingly seems like an inevitability: The euro’s collapse. And, with it, the delusions of generations of dreamers who thought “scientific socialism,” the progressive direction of society from on high, would lead to the development of a highly evolved homo europithecus and actually erase not only centuries-old national boundaries and currencies but sharply divergent cultures as well. There would be no Greeks, no Irish, no Portuguese or Germans or Italians; only the new race of Euroids who would patronize us with their appreciated, deracinated money and condescending smiles as we struggled in the mire of Anglo-style “laissez-faire.” Ah, the good life! For so long, to the American left’s despair, it seemed to be the one thing Europe couldn’t export to us.
But now the good life has turned … well, not quite so good. It’s not hard to imagine a few likely elements of the near future as the dream unravels: a return to dog-eat-dog national currencies, some stronger and some weaker but all being manipulated for maximum advantage in a sauve qui peut race to the bottom; the uber-state, Germany, once again taking control via economic hegemony, with resentments festering in lands where some can still recall actual German rule under the jackboot and swastika; national bankruptcies (Greece has already gone belly-up, although the “international community” has politely agreed not to notice for the moment) making further bond sales prohibitively expensive and thus shutting down the social-welfare gravy trains that have become woven into the fabric of European life and the Euroid psyche; Paris, that capital of faded “gloire,” having to ask Berlin, hat in hand, for help in staving off catastrophe (might that prompt Angela Merkel to do a little jig outside a railroad car?); etc.
Too gloomy? The bankruptcies have begun (Ireland, too, has effectively gone belly up; there’s no way such a tiny economy will ever pay off such gigantic debts), and so have the social-services cutbacks and the riots. The euro has held so far, but the papering over of cracks won’t work if the scale of bailouts increases dramatically (the drain of Spain would likely cause fatal pain). What was considered “unthinkable” just last year — the common currency’s collapse — is now being thought by many. In fact, George Soros may well be calculating how to make another billion or two by dragging down the battered euro when the moment is just right.
Given that the handwriting is on the wall, how can the American left keep trying to march us steadily toward the same doom? Don’t they understand that the “free lunch” policies championed by the Obamas and Pelosis mirror the ones that are now shaking the foundations of Euroworld? Who do they think will bail out Europe once the true dimensions of the problem can no longer be ignored? (It won’t be their buddy Soros, that’s for sure.) And if Europe can’t help itself, who do they think will bail us out when the not-too-distant day of reckoning comes — the day when the boomers’ retirement intersects with out-of-control debt and deficits, state and city defaults, a lower credit rating for Uncle Sam and a sluggish, Obamized economy? China? Russia? Socialist hero Cuba?
Our domestic lefties have been pushing for decades to turn us into the type of society that is now crumbling before our eyes in Europe. It would be too much to hope that these self-congratulating pseudo-sophisticates might convert to realism, but can we ask them to at least open their eyes and see that the war is over and that they’re on the losing side?