Friday, June 20, 2008

VDH on Europe

Victor Davis Hanson recently visited Europe and blogged about some of his thoughts on he continent:

We rightfully give the European Union credit for stopping the historic bloodletting for two generations. But two qualifiers. First, it was birthed because of the American-led destruction of fascism; and preserved only by the American-led resistance to the Red Army.

Second, the price for peace has been a sort of Lotus-eater society of long lunches, obsession with fashion and “nice things”, and secular worship of the god Leisure. In their abhorrence at the old catalysts of strife — nationalism, patriotism, religion — the Europeans have failed to see that national defense, religious belief, and pride in culture need not lead to endless war, but in fact to a healthy society that is content not to expect heaven on earth.

[. . .]

I try to come over here 2-3 times a year and am always struck by the Al-Gore-type lectures back home to Americans about how far we are behind on the Internet, public Wifi, etc. Two observations. Buying Internet here is about 3 times the cost as in the US. And in every hotel I’ve been at yet, there has been some sort of disruption of service or complete failure. At almost any hotel in the U.S., it takes about 3 minutes to log-in for 24-hour service at about $10; here the same time runs about $25 and is far less reliable.

The high tax, big government, secular, pacifist, and enforced egalitarianism of Europe — which seems the Obaman model — is something we should be very wary of emulating.

[. . .]

Today the French here are striking over threats to raise the retirement age back up to 62, and to reconsider the 35-hour work week. Lost in the discussion is any notion that there is not a “they” out there to shake more money from — only themselves. Europe, for all its socialism and egalitarianism, seems a sort of lottery society, in which each union, each age cohort, each E.U. collective recipient, in a game of musical chairs, tries to outwit the other — the pie finite, its pieces endlessly re-sliced.

I have admiration for the European Union’s unmistakable achievement in avoiding war for half a century, and its widespread prosperity — but it has come at a price. Given what Barack Obama has said about raising taxes, funding new entitlements, yielding to international consensus abroad, and seeing Americans in terms of various racial, class, and tribal constituencies, all with justified grievances, I think his notion of our future is what we see in European today — even as the Europeans grow increasingly restless about unions, high taxes, and their impotence in the world abroad. Apparently even two-hour lunches, no children, no church, no military, good food and the disco can get boring.

[. . .]

I went to a beautiful Catholic blessing of the harvest service at the historic cathedral at Rouen. Some observations: the service was quite moving — the Latin mass, the singing, and the tolling of the bells at the end. But there was a touch of sadness as well. There were not more than 5-6 under 60 in the crowd of well over a thousand (maybe a noontime Weekday explains the absence of the young?). In Rouen itself and its environs one sees not very many, if any, new homes; few are pregnant; couples with children are rare, and usually with only one child. Middle-Eastern families are pretty common, always with several offspring. One does not have to be a demographer or an alarmist to see that in 40 years such historic services might well be rare — and a great deal of what had always been the West, in the cultural sense, could be lost.

There is more so you should go and read the rest.