Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Europe vs. America?

There is a growing literature on both sides of the Atlantic on whether the European model is superior to the American one. Tony Judt, in the New York Review of Books, reviews three of these books in an open and engaging way. His main conclusion is that Europe is indeed providing a framework that better grasps the future of the world. This would be the case because Europe is trying to build bonds between human beings beyond the national boundaries, which characterised the updated National model. His review is worth reading because it doesn't caricature the strenghts and the weaknesses on both sides. He takes them seriously and balance them in a very elegant way.

Even if I do think that Europe offers an interesting model, I nevertheless disagree with his main point. The reason is that I do not agree with the main question to start with. I do not think it is meaningful to ask whether a model is superior to another. There is no right answer in this case, nor should there be any. The way I see Atlantic relationships is different. There should be competition between the two models; the two can coexist, and must cooperate. European identity, if it will ever emerge such a thing, will be shaped in relation to American Identity.
The two models should compete in order to give a choice to those who want to emigrate and still do not know where their future will be better. Hopefully, China and India will soon join this competition so that the range of choices we have will be consequently augmented.

Beyond competition in order to trigger improvement, America and Europe have common duties towards the rest of the world. It is not sufficient to create 'regional paradises' which attract the poor of all the other countries. We have to help construing a future of their own for poor countries. We have this responsibility, and as long as we fail to meet this responsibility, we cannot accept the practice of banning people at our borders without a proper justification.

America, from the European perspective, is a friend. Maybe it is even more than that, it is part of our family, a sister. We accept it with all its strengths and weaknesses. We want America to improve because we love it, and we hope that America, too, wants Europe to grow healthy and strong, and become a serious competitor in the common struggle to improve the well-being of all human beings.

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