Marquette Warrior: Europe’s Corrupt Elites

Monday, September 26, 2005

Europe’s Corrupt Elites

From The American Enterprise: an article about anti-Americanism in Europe.
Asked which countries are the biggest threat to world peace, Europeans name the U.S as often as North Korea and Iran (each are picked by 53 percent). Countries characterized by Euros as less menacing than the U.S. include Syria, Iraq, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Libya. As one American living in Britain, Anglican minister Dwight Longenecker, summarizes: “Our cultural ancestors have become unrecognizable, even hostile, to us.”

Unlike some forms of bigotry, anti-Americanism is most virulent among Europe’s elites. Everyday Germans and Brits and Italians tend to be more appreciative of American culture, economic achievement, and government than their political lords. But ordinary Europeans have relatively little influence on the direction of their societies. The thing about European governance most striking to American eyes today is its comparatively undemocratic nature. In much of the continent, elections mean little, unaccountable bureaucracies and elites commandeer the most important decisions, the same people hang onto power endlessly, and policies that would not survive the test of popular opinion are simply instituted by administrative fiat. To cite just one example, direct election of mayors has been blocked in many localities, with national authorities insisting on appointing local leaders themselves.

Because of this unrepresentative politics, lots of ideas supported by a majority of the European public--like the death penalty--have no chance of becoming law. The tradition of a peasantry ruled by its “betters” endures in numerous ways. Many of these habits are actually being deepened by the European Union, where decision making is dominated by unrecallable mandarins serving appointments in Brussels, who regularly ram through laws that could never pass by popular referendum.
Poor economic performance in Europe is part of the problem:
Some considerable part of today’s European hostility toward the U.S. is born of frustration over their own failures, and jealousy of American success. This is especially clear in the realm of economics, where Europe has been drooping for two decades now. Europe’s economic malaise is producing many bad social effects quite apart from increased resentment toward the U.S.
Unfortunately, a combination of ideological stubbornness and blind anti-Americanism makes many Europeans resist the economic modernizations they desperately need. It’s as if, updating the old slogan, they’d rather be economically dead than red (if we use red in the Election 2000 sense to symbolize Reagan-Bush-style economics). The French have long caricatured the American economy as a free-market jungle, where fatcats prey and the weak perish. Recently, leftists in other European countries have adopted the French stereotype and sought to distance themselves from what they call “Anglo Saxon capitalism.”

The irony is that for all their insistence on portraying the U.S. as a land of fired workers, poverty, and economic insecurity, it is now Europe where unemployment is twice as high and four times as deep, where immigrants and the young have far fewer openings, where the ladder of upward mobility has fallen to pieces. In terms of spending power, homeownership, educational opportunities, and so forth, even relatively low income Americans are now demonstrably better off than typical Europeans. . . .
And yet Europe is held out as some sort of moral example by left-leaning Americans.


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