How odd that the caricatures of Americans as grasping workaholics who sacrifice the good life in an illusory search for material wealth more likely fit the materialist European, who predicates his existence on a guaranteed job, pension, apartment, and more or less same existence as everyone around him-at the repression of notions of religion, or national aspirations, or dreams of seeking to be different, and, yes, more successful than others.
The very notion that the government in the United States would emulate Europe, hoping to nationalize or regulate as much as possible, to be overseen by a professional technocratic class on top, aided by legions of government clerks, is also frightening. How odd to see Europeans aspire to inherit an elegant villa, or a stately ancestral estate, appreciate the beauty of past individual genius or the fruits of ancient overweening ambition, and yet in the here and now ensure that few such expressions of individualism are any more likely. I understand the logic, and perhaps the necessity of, the state-subsidized box-like apartment complex, and the hundreds who are jammed into it with access to good water, sewer, and power hookups, but there is no beauty, no mark of the individual to be found there.
Human Nature Trumps All Else
The natural human response to forced multiculturalism, socialism, and equality of result is cynicism. One senses that in Europe the public persona is a mere veneer. Privately most scheme to avoid taxes, to moonlight, to barter-if they are not among the government elite with high-paying, hyper-perked tenures at a ministry-while avoiding the legions of new unassimilated Muslims from North Africa, and especially the Americanized troika of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage. Let us avoid such institutionalized cynicism in the US.
Not Obamaized yet
Like most skeptics of the new Obama frontier, I'd simply trust in the ancient wisdom that one cannot get something for nothing-so creating $9 trillion in new debt either ruins the currency or burdens those not born to pay for it. One cannot tax a productive class into oblivion and not kill the proverbial goose. One cannot mandate equality by result without extreme coercion and endemic cynicism. The experimentation and utopian tinkering by a paternalistic overseeing class, Ivy-League trained but without experience in private enterprise or the underbelly of American life, can never prove successful. These are age-old truths that transcend Obama, but apparently must be rediscovered to our great pain each new generation.
Capitalists, farmers, eccentrics, and individualists created the American Constitution; clerks, bureaucrats, ministers, and appointees wrote the Constitution of the European Union. Are we then surprised at the comparative results?
More on European perceptions on the next posting—and the beauty and majesty of ancient Italy and Greece.
Article printed from Works and Days: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson
URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/euroamericans