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A Declaration of Interdependence: Why America Should Join the World Hardcover – May, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Anyone who harbors misgivings about the current course of America would do well to read Hutton's new book. -- John Judis
The clearest, most competent and most diversely interesting economic comment in the language. -- John Kenneth Galbraith
You're sure to be provoked and enlightened by this bold view from the other side of the Atlantic. -- Robert B. Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor
About the Author
Will Hutton is chief executive of the United Kingdom's Work Foundation and columnist for the Observer in London, where he was formerly editor-in-chief.
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"The great Euro-thinker. . .compares the American and French Revolutions, and decides the latter was better because instead of the radical individualism of the 13 colonies the French promoted ''a new social contract.''" In other words, the Founding Fathers got it completely assbackwards! First at pains to demonstrate his love of American pop culture, Hutton then gets both his facts and political philosophy completely wrong - thus raising Steyne's triumphant cackles.
First, consider theory.
"[I]t's the [Europeans] willingness to subordinate individual liberty to what Hutton calls `the primacy of society' that has blighted the continent for over a century: Statism -- or `the primacy of society' -- is what fascism, Nazism, communism and now European Union all have in common." Statism, no matter how benign, subordinates the individual to some alleged collective `good.' But American's believe in individual destinies - not any vague societal one.
Why the difference? In the Lockean world of America, people and social relations precede the state. Only by delegating rights to a central authority do individuals gain for themselves what they otherwise would do on their own. But this is no blank check. Rather, inalienable rights belong to each and every one of us, as human beings. This is the ultimate protection against overreaching state power.
Next, consider the many facts.
First, certain US states have practiced democracy for almost 300 years, not Germany or France. The latter have fallen to fascism, Nazism, and communism. Only with US help did Europe regain its way, finding a relatively benign statism instead. Will Hutton should work from the former to the latter, not the reverse, if he is to play fair with the weight of historical evidence.
Secondly, Hutton mistakes the "social safety net" Euro-socialism has constructed for itself with progress. Euro-soc is sclerotic and burdened with cultural inferiority and material backwardness that, by European's own entrepreneurial reckoning, might take a hundred years to catch up to US levels.
The claim that the Euro `social model' of society and politics is superior underwent a decisive drubbing in 2004's "Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality," by German business journalist Olaf Gersemann. Using a thorough systematic analysis of the statistical data, he finds that these arguments - often the same deployed by Hutton - are either outright false or seriously overestimated. Hutton argues that Americans pay a huge price for their economic system in income inequality and other social problems, like two working parents because of indebtedness. In fact, very few families find two parents working out of necessity.
Inequality of income is wildly overestimated in the US for several reasons: Most wealthier parents work long hours by choice, yet relatively few of the poor do; "income" figures neglect ubiquitous transfer payments for the poor; and many millions of recent immigrants, typically bottom-rung poor from Mexico, exaggerate income inequality. But when quality of material life is calculated, such as the poor owning cars, air conditioning, homes, and living space, it's much better to be poor in the US than Europe. 60 percent of all the world's immigration is to the US, which remains a beacon for opportunity.
The greater market freedoms in America create a more flexible, adaptable, and prosperous system than the declining welfare states of Europe. The US leads in opportunity, economic growth, quality of life, R & D, cultural exports, and higher educational quality and opportunity, leaving Europe far behind except when it comes to access to basic health care.
Upon the sound defeat of the new EU constitution in France, The New York Times reported on reaction in Bobigny, a working-class suburb of Paris, with 18 percent unemployment and a large ethnic Arab and African population, where 72 percent of the voters there said `no.' The suburb's Communist mayor, Mr. Biringer said: "We are already in a Europe of unemployment and regression."
Recent research conducted by political scientist Paul Gottfried revealed a salient changed ideological reality. Before the Fall of Communism, leftist ideas and politics flowed from Europe to the US. But after the Fall, this process was reversed. Thus, New Labour and Prime Minister Blair in Britain achieved its present success through imitating Clinton and the DLC. Others like Germany's Chancellor Schroeder and French leftists have only gained power in the absence of coherent alternatives from the right, not by dint of political seriousness.
The endemic problem for the left today is its inability to cease navel gazing, projecting distracting animosities, and do the hard work of actually rethinking its political identity and program. Facile won't do, nor will perfunctory or mediocre. But like Michael Moore, that's all we ever get. (Sigh.) Will Hutton's opus is similarly wide of the mark.
Hutton outlines the social and political effects of the modern conservatism, and things aren't looking too good in America from the European standpoint. The social safety net is being dismantled as everything remotely "public" is inaccurately condemned as socialist big government; while economically, long-term prosperity and innovation are disappearing under the rush for short-term profits and pressure from Wall Street to follow unproven "efficient market" ideologies. Hutton also includes interesting examinations of how the European system, based on far greater amounts of social goodwill and assistance than the US, has plenty of its own strengths that can benefit both Europe and the US in the long run. Europe's strengths should not be swamped by political and economic pressure from America to adopt the current conservatism
The only problems with this book are Hutton's rather repetitive and verbose writing, especially his habit of rattling off long lists of social and economic problems that give the impression that he is trying to boost his own nation's image. Hutton's proposed solutions to the dire long-term problems being engendered by unyielding conservatism are solid, but they are long-term only and he offers no answers for how political transitions can be made realistically. But this book is still an excellent example of how an outside observer can point out problems and weaknesses in the American system that we are unlikely to admit to ourselves, and a solid compendium of liberal theory. [~doomsdayer520~]
Hutton should have been born 80 years ago, in Germany. Or 50 years ago in the Soviet Union. He would have loved it.
what 'they' want to do TO us, not for us
and that we should be greatful for. Who
is this guy Hutton to suggest that our
great Constitution is outdated and needs
to be scrapped? A paid lackee for the
Rockefellers, I think the way his lousy
book reads. Hey Hutton, YOU GO BACK TO
Europe if it's sich a Utopia, you Socialist!