It has always been fashionable among certain strata of the American bourgeoisie to pretend to be European. Five or six years ago, perhaps that made sense, in a way. In the early- to mid-2000s, the mantra of Euro-Triumphalism ran supreme, as it seemed that capitalism’s New Jerusalem had departed from stagnant post-9/11 America in order to proceed in its victory march across the Atlantic back to the Old World. Such is the not-so-hidden message of historian Tony Judt’s bestselling 2005 book Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, which the New York Times named as one of the ten best books of the year. The consistent mediocrity of the historian is always sight to behold, but the propensity of the bourgeoisie to eat its own vomit reached truly a canine magnitude with Postwar. The much-celebrated “American Century”, so it seemed to Prof. Judt, was destined to give way to a new European Century, fueled by prosperous welfare states and a common currency (and Muslim labor-power to bind it all together, a detail that Judt, like so many others, chose to overlook). What could be more promising, both for Europeans themselves, and for their jealous admirers in the western hemisphere?
But that was 2005! Now, it’s 2012. It’s amazing how quickly things can change in a few short years.
American society tends to produce a purely aesthetic American culture, in that the presentation of things is what really counts. Form comes before substance. This is why, for example, Americans take so much pride in their electoral system. They insist that each individual should and must vote, even though everybody knows damn well that it makes no difference, and that it is in fact Capital itself that rules, not the elected official. This is also the reason why Tim Tebow can make the most basic of math errors in his personal slogan, and yet receive no criticism. According to Tebow, God Bless + Go Broncos = GB2, when, quite obviously, the correct equation would be: God Bless + Go Broncos = 2GB. The difference between a coefficient and an exponent becomes a secondary concern, because a superscript number 2 at the end of the expression looks cooler than a regular number 2 at its beginning, and that’s what really matters. Only the unfortunate souls who have to teach math to the children of Tebow’s fans are left to clean up the mess.
The love for Europe, therefore, of the American bourgeois essentially boils down to little more than a love for tight pants and fashionable handbags, that is, for the external appearance of whatever it is they happen to consider “European”. However, it is true that this love also extends to a love for the West European welfare state. And yet the American bourgeois can only appreciate the European welfare state in its most superficial external semblance, with no understanding whatsoever of the unique historical circumstances in post-WWII Western Europe that forced Capital to concede healthcare and public education to the citizenry of these NATO allies.
The American bourgeois also fails to fully comprehend the fact that the European welfare state is going away, and that, as we speak, it is gasping its dying breaths in many countries.
As Hungary moves full speed ahead toward an open return to fascism and Marine Le Pen is suddenly being taken seriously in France, we have to wonder how Prof. Tony Judt and his countless North American sympathizers could have been so terribly stupid only seven short years ago. I remember the year 2005 quite well. Indeed, we now live in a completely different world. Thankfully, naive Euro-Triumphalism has come to an end. Unfortunately, it seems that the price Europeans might now have to pay for the crime of their undeserved hubris is a reprise of the petty chauvinisms that they so arrogantly claimed to have long since overcome. This could also mean that those same segments of the American bourgeoisie who, a few years ago, adopted tight pants and strong coffee might now think it’s cool to dress up in paramilitary outfits.
Time will tell how this all plays out. Hopefully the government in Beijing has picked somebody competent to keep track of it all.