The Misadventures of the New Old Europe

Back on July 4th of 2010, I wrote:

It occurred to me recently that for a guy who evidently really, really seems to dislike the British quite a bit, the America that President Obama wants to build looks a lot like pre-Thatcher England, circa 1977 or so: shoddily built cars from a quasi-government manufacturer (British Leyland then, GM today), an endless welfare state, mammoth unemployment, a neutered military, an exhausted and culturally bifurcated society, etc.

Or as the Blog Professor writes today, “On this 4th of July, I am asking myself why liberals celebrate independence from the British at all since they now want to be just like them.” [Link no longer functional — Ed]

Which is an odd paradox for the president to be in: he certainly seems to loathe America, loathes England, and yet is forced to govern the former country as he attempts to mold it into the second.


I was wrong; it’s worse: Barack Obama doesn’t want to fundamentally transform America into the exhausted Labour Party-controlled England of the pre-Thatcher era, but into the even more dissipated EU of today. And when it comes to this particular warped vision of the socialist-in-chief, he’s succeeding all-too-brilliantly, Matthew Continetti writes in “The New Old Europe” at the Washington Free Beacon:

One cannot look at the images of protests in Murrietta, California, where demonstrators waving Gadsden Flags stopped school buses carrying the sons and daughters of Guatemala and Honduras to shelters, without recalling the vitriolic debates over busing in the 1970s, without thinking of the anti-immigration marches in Western and Southern Europe today. One cannot look at the images of the children themselves, sleeping in detention, looking vacantly in the distance, lured to this country under false pretenses, desperate for food and shelter and attachment and hope, without remembering the Spanish detention camps in the Canary Islands, or the Italian “Identification and Expulsion Center” in Rome. This isn’t An American Tail. This is Children of Men.

The questions of sovereignty, compassion, and relocation, of the economic and social costs of mass immigration of displaced peoples, of the most basic understanding of what a nation is, what borders are for, what distinguishes a citizen from an alien: Such questions have dominated European politics, and are coming to dominate American politics as well. They have also coarsened European politics, made it more antagonistic. They have set the advocates of the European Union, and of the immigrants, against nationalist publics. Elite condescension is met with public antipathy, even extremism. The casualties? No biggies: just trust, cohesion, and fellow feeling—the very ingredients for a healthy, successful country.

Doesn’t matter whether you are talking about the European Union or the executive branch under Barack Obama: a complex, technocratic, arbitrary, arrogant regulatory state that fails in its most basic tasks, even as it grows in size and scope, causes a populist, nationalist, conservative reaction. Where that leads is anyone’s guess. Who predicted David Brat’s victory? Who would have thought that the president wouldn’t visit the huddled masses at the border, but would fundraise in a castle? Americans are entering political territory they have never traveled before. And strange days are ahead for the new old Europe.


Read the whole thing.


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