President 50/50

Our Philosopher Organizer

The most successful practitioner of community organizing looks around for what he thinks is a problem, chastises both sides and allots absolutely equal blame, gives exalted moral lectures about compromise and understanding, and then waltzes away well paid, praised for his moderation, but having accomplished nothing.

So I wasn’t too surprised to learn that President Obama decided to tackle European-American relations—something that has a pedigree going back to our Revolution, and has been analyzed by the likes of Tocqueville and Henry James to contemporary essayists such as Bruce Bawer, Joseph Joffe, Robert Kagan, and Bruce Thornton. But then who needs to read them, when you have the power of ‘hope and change’?

Had Mr. Obama done his homework, he would have learned that our transatlantic “differences” transcend communication problems, and, yes, even Barack Obama's charisma. 

An Old Sore

Europe—given its Western heritage, its own intellectual roots (reflected in the French Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the canonization of 1848, Marx’s natural landscape, postcolonial guilt, the lingering shame of appeasement and collaboration, postmodern anti-Western philosophy), the legacy of the bloody twentieth century, the conditions of the Cold War, and the American defensive shield—has devolved into a largely secular, if not atheistic society.

That it is now shrinking, facing endemic childlessness, can neither assimilate nor deport Islamic immigrants, becoming increasingly protectionist, and is unarmed and pacifist is all logical rather than aberrant. How we still maintain such friendly relations with our now distant European cousins, given our (prior) capitalism, Christianity, fertility, assimilation practices, classlessness, enormous military power, and international profile is the real mystery. One thing that Europe most definitely does not want is for President Obama to turn the United States into a socialist, protectionist, disarmed, pacifist—Europe II—a clone of itself that won’t protect it, provide an open market for its goods,  or stimulate the world economy.

Sorta Capitalist

While capitalism survives there, it does so by the more successful buying insider influence, relying on hereditary wealth and inherited privilege, avoiding as many laws as possible, and praising publicly socialism as you privately get it around it in the real world—sorta like the New York Times  lauding Obama’s bailout of GM while it threatens to shut down the Boston Globe unless the print unions shave off millions in wage concessions, or the city officials of Detroit serially alleging racism while they loot what little is left of the city solely for friends and family.

To visit Italy or Greece is to be impressed by the sheer human ingenuity of small entrepreneurs who deal mostly in cash, avoid taxes, arrange barter, skirt regulations (half their restaurants would be shut down for safety violations in the states), hire either family or workers off the books without proper papers, and generally try to have some sort of government job that requires no work but income in down times.