• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • American Delusionalism?

    Like an eager kid who desperately wants to be included in his cooler older brother’s activities, America looks to the European Union for cues on sophisticated governance. But what happens when that cooler older brother is middle-aged, unemployed, and still living in your parents’ basement? This is America’s dilemma. Will America learn from Europe’s mistakes? Or, will America continue to be enamored with the European Union, despite its failed policies and unsound philosophical grounding?

    Practical problems of governance abound in the EU. Great Britain, Germany, Spain, France all agree: multiculturalism has failed completely. French President Nicolas Sarkozy admits, “We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him.” Look no further than Greece for proof that the cradle-to-grave welfare state is financially unsustainable. Unemployment benefits, pensions, child-care subsidies, free university education, generous paid vacation and holiday leave, and government-provided health care—these programs cost money and require a robust economy to support the social-welfare safety net. As Europe’s population grows older and grayer, demands for more entitlements continue to increase. An ever-expanding welfare state needs the pitter-patter of little feet to fund it in the future. With the current declining fertility rates, by 2050 the European Union economies will have a mere two workers for every retiree.

    Practical failures aside, Bruce Thornton argues that the European Union’s philosophical grounding is diametrically opposed to America’s principles. The EU model assumes the perfectibility of mankind—that “a universal, essentially rational human nature is progressing away from the irrational superstitions and traditions such as religion that in the past defined and disordered human life and society.” Social, political, and economic institutions facilitate mankind’s perfection, by creating peace, equality, and justice and enabling human happiness. And who will staff these institutions charged with perfecting mankind? Technical elites who know the best way to live will craft policies and allocate rights accordingly. Thus, the perfection of mankind results in centralized, top-down style governance.

    To embrace the European Union’s premises about human nature, the purpose of government, and the status of rights, America must shed its own. America’s way of life is premised on a permanent human nature—not one progressing towards perfection. It is a mix of base and lofty. Throughout the Federalist, Publius recognizes mankind’s “destructive passions and selfish interests.” But, this does not mean that men ungovernable. With the aid of institutional arrangements, a vigilant and manly spirit, and virtue, men are capable of self-government. The purpose of government is not to create “rights” to various welfare programs:  limited government is necessary to secure natural rights. A self-governing people rejects administrative elites’ advances on their liberty. Its citizens refuse to become “a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”

    It is time to abandon our delusions about the European model.  Whereas Publius once warned us “to teach that assuming brother moderation,” our task today is to avoid following him down the same path of economic sclerosis, unaffordable entitlements, impending demographic collapse, and failed multiculturalism.

    Do you have New Common Sense? Sign up today!

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to American Delusionalism?

    1. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Obama does not believe "men are capable of self-government". He does believe government must create "rights" through welfare programs. We should understand that this is Obama ideological mind-set. This socialist/communist

      way of thinking was instilled in him from berth. All of his young life, from childhood through his collage years and Rev. Wright's church, he sought-out mentors that were of a leftist ilk. This is why Obama does not govern as this article supports. His ideology is based on what Europeans have learned does not work, yet he is determined that he will "transfrom" America into it.

    2. GenEarly says:

      2011 = 1775 ? Evil must be Confronted and Exposed and Called what it is. Any attempt to overturn or ignore the Constitution by Executive Order is Evil. If Congress and Conservative "Leaders" fail to check this Despot Obama, it will only get worse, and the consequences more extreme. Speaking out Loudly on All Fronts including Congress is the more "moderate" action.

    3. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Religion is the very source of civilization. Civilization goes straight to Hell without it! We own everything to Religion, including those stupid Academics who probably forgot the original Universities were created to study God! Progressives have this entirely unsupported idea that Religion is superstitious nonsense when the fact is Religion is the product of geniuses and enlighted people over thousands of years! I am afraid the Liberal Arts Education is too shallow, too pathetic to appreciate what good Religion is and has been to our civilization.

      Now, thanks to a hundred years of Progressive interference, we have our civilization going to Hell and you can take the numbers. The less Religion your People have the worse the crime rate, divorce rate, poverty rate, and Intelligence Quotient! The only thing wrong with Religion is the Progressives own dismal view of it, they cannot understand what it is really about. Too stupid to get it, God is a Real Thing! I've said atheism is Political Suicide because Americans get their Citizen Sovereignty from God! If you think Religion is superstitious? Just look at the blind faith of the Progressives, they believe in Communism even after it has proved time and again to be the cause of Mass Murder and has never EVER worked! That is blind faith so profound! The atheists are the only ones qualified to be Progressives, they are blind to unreadable quantities of report about the existence of God and Spirit!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×