Excerpt: On paper, the Netherlands ought to be a chaotic cesspit of permissive hedonism. The Dutch are far more liberal in their values than Americans are, in general. Yet the Netherlands is a pleasant, orderly country. The Dutch people, for better or for worse, have internalized a sense of order (residual Calvinism?) that allows them to live rather bourgeois lives, despite the fact that they are far more secular and liberal than your average American. Why is that? In the Netherlands, the monarchy is vastly wealthier than the British royal family (the Dutch royals are majority shareholders in Royal Dutch Shell), but they are incomparably more modest in their public profile. That’s the Dutch way. My favorite example, one I’ve mentioned in this space before, is the time a couple of decades ago when a Dutch friend asked me why America didn’t have sensible drug laws like the Netherlands. I told him that I didn’t think permissive drug laws would work in America as in Holland for the same reason that you never see an all-you-can-eat buffet in the Netherlands, but they’re standard in the US. As a people, we Americans are pretty bad at controlling our consumption. Of course today, American states are busy liberalizing marijuana laws, so I guess we’ll see if I was right.
Here are a few of the comments from the Rod Dreher article that I found most interesting:
Ask Zippy: Texans have much more in common with Californians than Germans do with Greeks and Albanians are a lot further away from Germans than Greeks. Europe is separate countries with very different histories. Spain had the Reconquista, Greece and Albania had Ottoman rule, France had Napoleon and German occupation, mercantile militaristic Germany was created by Bismark et al and flattened by WWII. This is one reason why the Euro is doomed, their economies function differently because they are different cultures. Big advantages of the USA are a large unified resource rich country with a shared language and similar values.
Tach 1: Demography is destiny, in other words — especially in a mass immigration scenario, causing limited assimilation. I would say that America still has a lot of British assumptions in its DNA, especially with regard to free enterprise and a stronger distrust of centralized government.
Charles: Being an American Midwesterner I can’t think of anyone around me who would think that anything in Europe is worthy of emulation except for the occasional beer. Cosmopolites are just weird and never to be taken seriously. I remember having the great satisfaction of responding to some poor fool who unfavorably compared some American practice to that of Norway. I just asked, “How big is Norway?” European states are just glorified back yards. We have an actual country.
Ask Zippy: The other version of American exceptionalism, it’s so different to other places it has nothing to learn from them. You maybe right, but the Germans and French have high quality universal healthcare for half the fraction of GDP that is spent in the USA to achieve, on average, lower quality results.
Izzy: I work in VC in NYC. I’m around plenty of elites. The elites certainly don’t look up to Europe as a model. High earning classes make far more money in the US than they do in Europe. I’ve traveled extensively in France and Switzerland and been to London as well as Iceland and Germany. CEOs can’t make the kind of money that is normal here in Switzerland. The populous protests when executives have packages that are too rich. Elites in the US have far more power than they do in Western Europe to determine the economic distribution. The idea that most of those elites are looking to be more like Europe is belied by the facts. Bloomberg is jumping in the Democratic race *precisely* because he doesn’t want America to look like Germany economically.
EdnaHilda: My experience living in Europe as a child and traveling frequently as an adult is that in general the toilets are cleaner there. Considering the conditions of many of the ladies’ rooms I’ve seen in the US, it’s money well spent.
Hunicart: Anglo-American ethos is more barbarian than parts of Continental Europe. The reason is that England was resisting Roman influence. Roman spirit is more sophisticated, it is built around common good, pointing to what is communal and objective, whereas Anglo-liberalism is a barbarian projection of individual will. As the old maxim associated with Roman law said: the will of the prince becomes the law. England resisted that. Duns Scotus, William Ockham, John Wycliffe – those are all English/Scottish brutes who rebelled against spirit of Roman civilization. The values of Anglo-liberalism: emancipation, social mobility, progress – those are all values of people who resisted influence of civilization and what is communal, those are Viking values. The reason why England and America became so successful was because of capitalism, but at what cost? At the cost of the exhaustion of society, destructive labour and pollution of environment.