The Immaculate Victim
Sad, Neat Little Piles of Garbage

Europe's "One-Idea" States

Bruce Bawer, an openly gay American who moved from the U.S. to Europe several years ago, has surveyed European politics and found it wanting:

A few years back, after a prolonged immersion in American Protestant fundamentalism (I was writing a book), I moved from the U.S. to Western Europe, ready to bask in an open, secular, liberal culture. Instead I discovered that European social democracy, too, was a kind of fundamentalism, rigid and doctrinaire, yielding what Swedish writer Johan Norberg calls "one-idea states"—nations where an echo chamber of insular elites calls the shots, where monochrome media daily reiterate statist mantras and shut out contrarian views, and where teachers and professors systematically misrepresent the U.S. (millions of Europeans believe that free public schools, unemployment insurance, and pensions are unknown in America). The more I saw of the European elites' chronic distrust of the public, and the public's habitual deference to those elites, the fonder I grew of the nasty, ridiculous rough-and-tumble of American democracy, in which every voice is heard—even if, as a result, the U.S. gets capital punishment and Europe gets gay marriage.

So begins Bawer's review of Power and the Idealists, Paul Berman's book about the political transformation of "Red Danny" Cohn-Bendit, Joschka Fischer, and Bernard Kouchner from "from radical leftism to liberal antitotalitarianism," in Berman's words.

I'm too jet-lagged to note my differences with Bawer here, but I promise I'll get around to it when I'm feeling more chipper.  For now, read it and see what you think.


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Regarding the reported belief that Americans do not receive unemployment insurance, I hereby state for the record that I am receiving such right now. I do not know how it is administered in any other country, but here it is run on the heartless "safety net not a hammock" principle. What I receive is proportional to past earnings, and will end proportionally to how long I last worked. I am required to actively seek employment, and am not permitted to limit myself to the narrow field (with only half a dozen prospects) in which I have been working. Seems reasonable to me.

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