In a lengthy interview in the Daily Caller, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg picks up many of the themes in his terrific new book, Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future. Here’s an excerpt:
Daily Caller: In what ways do you think the U.S. has become like Europe?
Samuel Gregg: If you think about the criteria I just identified, it’s obvious that parts of America — states like California, Illinois, and New York — have more-or-less become European. Likewise, the fact that most federal government expenditures are overwhelmingly on welfare programs replicates the situation prevailing throughout Western Europe. Then there is the unwillingness on the part of many Americans to accept that we cannot go on this way. It is one thing to have problems. But it’s quite another to refuse to acknowledge them.
Daily Caller: What’s so bad about becoming like Europe? It’s not that bad of a place. It’s not like becoming like North Korea, right?
Samuel Gregg: I lived and studied in Europe for several years. So I can report that there is much to like! But even leaving aside many European nations’ apparent willingness to settle for long-term economic stagnation, I would argue that it’s becoming harder and harder to be a free person in Europe. By that, I don’t mean a re-emergence of the type of socialist regimes that controlled half of Europe for 50 years. Rather I have in mind two things.
The first is a near-obsession on the part of most European politicians (including many “conservatives”, British Prime Minister Cameron being Exhibit A) with equality in the sense of trying to eliminate difference, including just and natural distinctions. Most European governments have “Ministers for Equality” or “Equality Commissions,” many of which are staffed by people who seem intent upon gutting European civilization in the name of whatever happens to be the latest politically-correct fashion. The second major problem is the acceleration throughout Western Europe of a phenomenon which Alexis de Tocqueville made famous in “Democracy in America”: soft despotism. Millions of Europeans seem content to give up so much of their liberty to the political class, just so long as the state gives them perpetual economic security.
Read “California, Illinois and New York have ‘have more-or-less become European” by Samuel Gregg in the Daily Caller.