The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Friday, May 12, 2006

Bennett in 2004

In December 2004, James C. Bennett released "Dreaming Europe in a Wide-Awake World", reviewing several strands of thought about Europe's role in the world, and its eventual fate. This essay is by necessity very general, but has several valuable segments.

His critique of Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream is particularly pungent:

Thus, Rifkin's is a two-level critique of America contrasted with virtuous Europe. First, he asserts that Europe is surpassing America on the conventional criteria of prosperity. But he then adds that where economic success is absent in Europe, that's okay too, because progress is bad for you anyway.

Rifkin, therefore, requires critiquing on both levels... The case for the coming European triumph over America is quickly refuted. Gersemann, himself a German financial journalist, convincingly refutes all of the prevailing Euro-legends about America, from the supposedly collapsing middle class to medical care to income inequality. He likewise documents the growing structural and demographic crisis of a Europe that has created more unfunded obligations than it can fulfill--while producing too few children to pay the bills their parents are racking up.

Immigration, which is now hoped to be able to fill the demographic gap, remains problematic. It is exactly the postmodernist multicultural narrative so praised by Rifkin that has created an unassimilated immigrant underclass. This underclass is a poor candidate for stepping up to the greater taxes needed to fund the lavish pensions now coming due. Young, mostly Muslim families struggling under ever-increasing payroll taxes will hear calls from ethnic-based politicians to repudiate the checks that old rich white Europeans had written to themselves....

At this point one must turn to the underlying level of Rifkin's critique, that of the entire complex of ideas of autonomous individuals with enforceable constitutional rights. In essence, Rifkin is saying "Okay, perhaps United Europe will after all be poor and strife-ridden. But at least you will lose your freedom and individualism in the bargain."

He then turns to praise of Timothy "Pierre Menard" Garton Ash:
His attempt at explaining the actions of the United States since September 11, 2001 from the American point of view for the benefit of Europeans is fascinating to read. If it had been written by any literate American other than a convinced internationalist, it would seem like an unremarkable statement of reality. In fact, it represents a stupendous feat of imaginative reconstruction on Ash's part...

Most importantly, later Mr. Bennett sketches the dynamics which could drive the emergence of "Eurabia":
At present, the costs of being in the [Anglosphere-Japan] coalition would probably include making major and painful structural adjustments to their economies. Domestic European electorates might therefore be tempted by the alternative of a Euro-Islamic alliance, in which Middle Eastern oil states would prop up unreformed European economies in return for international support, high-tech weaponry and open access to Europe for Islamic economic migrants. The growing "Eurabian" bloc of Islamic voters would thus combine with anti-reform pensioners to veto any other political alignment, driving politics in the direction of the Euro-Islamic solution.

Thus, in this brief overview, Mr. Bennett provides a valuable summary of what is now being decided.

[Hat tip: Joe Katzman.]