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Catfish and Cod
Monday, May 17, 2004
The origins of European timidity.
(Link path: USS Clueless)

Steven Den Beste is an unrepentant patriot. I have no problem with that (except when taken too far without thought, a problem I don't perceive in Den Beste). The problem is that he doesn't seem to perceive exactly why Europeans fear and detest his patriotism.

You see, Europeans fear and detest American patriotism because they fundamentally believe that America is just like Europe.

Now wait a second. I know that sounds paradoxical; Europeans and Americans currently make a habit of pointing out how different the two continents are. But they also believe in a uniting principle.

Den Beste doesn't worry about the United States' ability to have a self-consistent and non-self-defeating strategy. Andreas the Swede does not have that same confidence in his country. And, in general, European nations do not have that confidence. Why? In a word, history. More generally, the combination of decolonization and imperial downfall, the disaster of World War II, and the imposition of external powers on Europe throughout the Cold War, taught the European peoples that they were incapable of designing a successful national ideology or policy in isolation.

This proposition is true only to varying degrees in each European country. It is the least true in Great Britain and France, where empire lingered longest and independent action lasted longest. It is the most true in small powers such as Belgium and weak powers such as Spain, where national weakness have lasted for decades or centuries. But it is a general sense shared across Europe, and it is one of the main drivers of the European integration project.

Europeans believe that by uniting in the European Union, a successful common defense and security policy can be born without recourse to a national ideology or policy. An international policy would, in the minds of Europeans, avoid the pitfalls of nationalism and racial superiority, and the associated fascism and imperialism.

Europeans (and associated activists in America controlled by European memes, a population Den Beste identifies as p-idealists) see in America their own past: patriotism, superiority, and Machiavellian or Clausewitzian imperialism. They fundamentally believe that we are taking the same path that their nations took last century, and it will result in a national catastrophe at home and disastrous interventions abroad.

Europeans believee that we are fundamentally no different from their own nations. The only difference, they believe, is that we are a century or so behind them in our social development. Eventually, they believe, we will accept their philosophy (possibly because we experience the same tragedies they have), and we will act and think just like they do now.

The fallacy, of course, is that America really is different from a European nation. We are empiricists and a nation of immigrants; our nation is bound together by ideology and not any form of geographic, cultural, or genetic affiliation, and it has always been so.

But Europeans don't see that. They assume that America's culture and system of government has the same flaws that theirs has, and that their solution (the triumph of internationalism over nationalism) applies to us just as much as it does to them.

Den Beste:
'the unspoken text of it was, "If 'they' hate you, doesn't it mean you should hate yourself?" No, it does not.'

No, it doesn't, if you believe that your country is capable of judging its own self-interest better than the rest of the world. Europeans don't believe that about themselves (and can you blame them?). They also don't believe it about us, and the solution that they have devised to replace nationalism requires that they loudly inform us of their belief at every possible opportunity.

I don't agree with them, but I understand it, and I don't get angry when I hear it. They're not my enemy. They're just wrong.

UPDATE: Wait! There's more!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andreas responds!!