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Should the US be like Europe

Updated on October 14, 2009

Symbols of Different Cultures

Europe - the Hub of Great Civilizations

As a source of Great Civilizations starting with the Greek and most recently with the German, time and again, the Europeans for the last 2500 years have lead the world in Art, Philosophy, Poetry, Physics, Chemistry, Music, Mathematics and just about any area of human endeavor. But their history is also tainted with war, genocide, racism, and slavery to name some of their problems. So should the US be more like Europe?

Consider this:

They produced some of the most notorious leaders in history. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Lenin. These were men that started wars not only among their enemies, but also among their fellow countrymen.

The Europeans produced some of the greatest reigns of terror known to man. The Reign of Terror (aptly named) in France in the 1790's, the Spanish Inquisition in the late 1500's, the Italian Inquisition in the 1600's, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in the early 1900's, the Jewish genocide in the 1930's and 1940's.

The Europeans brought slavery to the new world, and even introduced the special brand in Africa in the territory then known as the Belgian Congo.

They have had many wars. Most recently they started World War I and World War II in the 20th Century. But going back over 2000 years, they had wars that lasted decades (the 30 years war) and centuries, (the 100 years war).

They produced some of the most radical and controversial philosophies of government. There was Nazism, Communism, and Fascism. Each one of these theories gave the dictator great power, and found new ways to subvert any semblance of political consensus or democracy. Even when the theory was supposed to embolden the people, it was quickly dominated by a Machiavellian prince.

The European Legacy

As civilizations go, there is no doubt that they have been creative and have dominated the course of world history for 2500 years. As such they created their own culture which makes them charming to outsiders but also aggravating. Because the culture is a product of their long diverse history, they are tied down. What makes them what they are today is the product of years, millennia even. But Europeans believe that their egalitarian tendencies now supercede their history. One author, Jeremy Rifkin even writes in his book, "The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream." that the American model of self aggrandizement is stuck in the past.

The American Experience

The first thing to note about the American experience is that it is a cut from the past. One may have heard over and over again that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom, to start a new way of life. That is true. In America, the immigrants were not bound to the historical legacy that locked them in. The immigrants were emboldened. They could make their own way of life. The cut was created not just because of the new continent, but by the Atlantic Ocean. There was separation, culturally and physically.

The American Experience is unique but if you compare leaders to leaders, consensus to ideology, party to party; Americans will prefer American ways of doing things. Which leader would Americans prefer: Washington or Lenin, Eisenhower or Stalin? Which political party would Americans prefer the Republican or the Nazi? Which economic ideology would Americans prefer Capitalism or Communism?

The American Vs European Economic Experience

One of the big differences between the two continents is in economics.Mauro Gullen of the Wharton School of Business identifies several issues with the European economy. One is welfare reform. It does not appear to affect the economies of countries, pointing out that the Scandanavian countries have booming economies without changing their welfare system. But business expert Mauro Guillen says that "countries like Britain, Portugal, Italy and especially Spain have been rapidly restructuring their economies on the more efficient U.S. business model and have generated higher growth rates than their European counterparts."

But other writers point out that government spending, when it is too big doesn't help the economy. According to Walter Williams in Capitalism Magazine, (November,2006), "Government spending exceeds 50 percent of the GDP in France and Sweden and more than 45 percent in Germany and Italy , compared to U.S. federal, state and local spending of just under 36 percent." Growth in the US economy was twice as fast as the European in the last decade."

The American Social Experiment

America has long been considered an experiment. A social, cultural, and political experiment. The Constitution, a very unique political document forces consensus in order to get legislation to be passed. Built in limits to the leadership exist, and the leaders comply with the term limits. Enlightened political thinking has not been the strongest part of the experiment, rather it has been reactionary. For example, once slavery was outlawed, Americans in the form of Jim Crow laws found a way to keep Blacks separate and segregated.

Yet the gene of progressivism has been in the American political genome since the beginning. Sometimes it is dormant, but at other times it is dominant; it has expressed itself very forcefully. The question then begs to offer, what is to be gained by America striving to be more like Europe?

As Victor Davis, Professor of History at the Hoover Institute, writes in the Free Republic, "The more Europe professes to be egalitarian, the more cynical and conniving the people have become—almost as if the human craving for one’s own property and to make one one’s destiny cannot be denied by the state, but by needs will be channeled into what the state mandates as anti-social for most, but quietly a perk for a few."

Their social experiments have not produced an enlightened society, their history is marked with strife of every kind. Their revolutions have not made their countries better.


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    • profile image

      ayub 6 years ago





    • GGarza profile image

      GGarza 8 years ago

      Humanity's evolution occured while in the throes of mediocrity. If anything, it has been trying to rise above it.

      That is why there have been great cultures, even while surrounded by mediocrity.

      I'll be there were people living at the same time while Beethoven was alive that did not hear any of his symphonies or sonata's or even knew who he was. Even if they were in the same city or town that he lived in.

    • loua profile image

      loua 8 years ago from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet

      Do you really think, at the end of the day the mediocrity of the status quo you propose benefits humanity's evolution?

      The material satisfaction you speak of

      is in rather limited supply even here in the US, so that is not a resulting benefit of current condition which is the cumulative effect of past practice...

      My vision is a total picture where the world is a single organism, so I can not discount any part for the sake of the other; that would require applying the concept of usury, the old divide and conquer routine, its counterproductive for the world's survival as I see it...

    • GGarza profile image

      GGarza 8 years ago


      I'm not sure that our governments have no idea about what actually needs to be done to steer the ship...After all most government can guide their countries, some better than others.

      To what extent is the US the leading edge? If it can provide security, and material satisfaction, that would be saying a lot.

      If you don't like that response, just think. If you offered any country the opportunity to be materially successful and secure vs the opportunity to be poor and insecure, what do you think they would take?

      I'm not saying that the meaning of life would be suddenly apparent, but most people would rather have a roof over their head, a full belly, and knowledge that they can walk outside of their door without worrying about whether they will be killed or not.

      As for your hub, make a series of the ideas part 1, part 2 etc. Also keep your paragraphs short.

    • loua profile image

      loua 8 years ago from Elsewhere, visiting Earth ~ the segregated community planet

      Your premise that the US is the leading edge is apparent but to what extent?

      To my assessment, it is just another form of usury albeit a lesser one on some level but still a subjugation of desire emotion and will for a more complete autonomy.

      The envelop of rights, equality and equity is small in comparison with what is just…Your praise for our half baked system compared to the Europe’s many attempts at baking half baked systems is a futile debate. . Here is why: The world is a rock-ship in space that has no one at the helm…this is the critical question. These, so called, governments have no idea as to what actually needs doing to steer the ship containing the human race…

      I liked the piece, interesting and provocative stuff…

      Oh yea, thanks again for the advise on the hub, I will bust up the ideas; but I need to link them, you have any suggestions?