“The same factors that are destroying Europe are at work in the United States, but their downfall can once again be our opportunity to arise.”
From the Atlantic to the former Soviet empire’s borders, from North Cape to the Mediterranean, the past half-century’s political order is ending. The outward signs are unmistakable. The U.S. establishment views them as problems manageable by redoubled U.S. efforts to preserve something like the status quo.
But the Old Europe of the past half-century was unsustainable, and its problems transcend day-to-day political choices, much less foreign policy. Its ruling class, adrift on events, lacks a civilizational anchor. At best, American statesmanship can lessen the consequences to ourselves of Europe’s decay—above all, by not imitating it. The former Soviet empire’s European domains, whose people long for a long-lost Europe, are in a different category.
Dramatic events divert our attention from the roots that make Old Europe’s problems intractable. In short, countries such as France, Germany, Italy, even Great Britain, that we had imagined to be fixtures of nature, are ceasing to command allegiance for collective action of the peoples who live within their borders. For practical purposes, they are ceasing to exist………..
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Invite Yearning Europeans Here
But Europe’s socio-political implosion is significant for America’s own internal well-being. Millions of Europeans now find themselves in an environment that precludes their talents’ development and that no longer satisfies their moral needs. More and more, especially the young and talented, seek to move.
Millions of Europeans now find themselves in an environment that precludes their talents’ development and that no longer satisfies their moral needs.
Between 1620 and 1965, tens of millions of such Europeans made the United States of America what it is. With apology to Emma Lazarus, these (though often poor) were not “tired,” much less “wretched refuse.” Rather, they were the Old World’s live wires, the ones most eager to work, to learn, and to embrace what it meant to become Americans. Now, as Old Europe deteriorates, the number of European would-be Americans is sure to multiply. They represent a bounty of talent, of allegiance and refreshment of America’s cultural roots such as we have not enjoyed for a half-century.
Whether we take advantage of it depends on how well we understand what Europe is doing to itself, and on how serious we are about not inflicting the same fate on ourselves. In recent years, Americans have begun to realize that, in fact, our own ruling class tries as best it can to follow the same socio-economic course as does Old Europe’s. Limited by America’s circumstances, our ruling class also has sought out the same kinds of migrants that now threaten to swamp Europe while reducing the number of traditional European immigrants to near zero.
Welcoming the refugees from Old Europe’s implosion would mean recognizing that the reason they want to leave is that the Euro-American ruling class’s idea of the good life—private as well as public—is dysfunctional. It would mean that the American people are determined to hold fast to the peculiarly American ways by which we have thrived since the nation’s founding.