?Europe? has not had a good press in recent years, coming under criticism for things as diverse as its moribund economy, its lack of military might, its squabbling governments or even the return of anti-semitism.
And though sometimes such criticisms have been ill-informed, out-of-proportion or just wrong, there?s no denying that some of them have rather hit the spot. Furthermore many of the critics compare the continent with that dynamic republic over the Atlantic ? and don?t find in Europe?s favour.
Thus it?s somewhat of a surprise to read a book review in yesterday?s Financial Times of a book that claims Europe, not America, is likely to be the role model for nation states in the 21st century. It?s even more surprising to learn that it?s written by an American academic.
The book is ?The European Dream: How Europe?s vision of the future is quietly eclipsing the American dream? and the academic is Jeremy Rifkin, the president of the ?Foundation on Economist Trends?.
The FT review (which sadly is behind their subscriber wall) says that Rifkin?s thesis is as follows:
“While the American Spirit is tiring and languishing in the past a new European Dream is being born.” A dream which “emphasises community relationships over individual autonomy, cultural diversity over assimilation, quality of life over the accumulation of wealth, sustainable development over unlimited material growth, deep play over unrelenting toil, and universal human rights”.
In other words the usual things – a better welfare state, shorter working hours, more community institutions etc. Rifkin also seems to believe that such a model is more attractive to other countries than the American model, or at least what the perception of the latter is.
I haven?t read the book so can?t comment further, but from the review it looks like it will make interesting reading.