Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future

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Another year in the books...

For example, when British author George Orwell published The Road to Wigan Pier in , he was describing an old problem: the class structure and its immemorial effect on workers in Britain. But when American authors such as Edmund Wilson and John Steinbeck wrote about the shut-down assembly lines in Detroit or the exodus of the Okies Oklahomans displaced by the Dust Bowl to California, they were describing something new: the near-total breakdown of a previously affluent economy.

This is why they, unlike their foreign counterparts, did not even begin to think about the approach of war or the dangers of totalitarianism until the end of the s.

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But no matter how insular Americans were through much of the decade, the world arrived on their shores in the s. At the moment that Americans were worrying about their economy, European intellectuals , scientists, scholars, artists, and filmmakers were literally running for their lives.

Where a lot of them ran to was the United States. The most important event in the history of European culture in the s was this massive hemorrhage of talent. No one was more responsible for transforming the cultural balance of power between Europe and the United States than Hitler.


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From the moment he assumed power in Germany in , his book burnings, his firing of Jewish scholars in German universities, his assault on modern art , and his conquest of Europe at the end of the decade forced the most illustrious members of the European intelligentsia to flee, many of them first to France, then to the United States. And among those who found a home in and helped to change Hollywood were Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder —not to mention the Hungarian director Michael Curtiz , whose legendary Casablanca was in part a tribute to European refugee actors, from Peter Lorre to Ingrid Bergman.

Most were average Europeans, but throughout the s Congress chose not to liberalize the immigration laws to allow for more than the minimum quota of arrivals. As a result of the massive intellectual and artistic emigration, by the end of the s New York City and Hollywood had replaced Paris and Vienna as the home of Western culture—just as Washington, D.

To comprehend the America that became a postwar superpower, culturally as well as politically, it is necessary to understand how the United States responded to and emerged from its own singular experiences of the Great Depression in the s. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Great Depression. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents.

Inside Economy of Poland

Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Economic history Timing and severity Causes of the decline Stock market crash Banking panics and monetary contraction The gold standard International lending and trade Sources of recovery Economic impact Culture and society in the Great Depression Global concerns Political movements and social change New forms of cultural expression The documentary impulse Federal arts programs Theatre Fiction Popular culture Portrayals of hope.

Load Previous Page. Now for the good news. Starting with macroeconomics, an easing of fiscal policy is now being seriously debated in almost every European country, within the incoming European Commission, and at the European Central Bank.

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The European Union: Ongoing Challenges and Future Prospects

While opposition to any significant fiscal expansion remains strong in Germany, the largest eurozone economy, resistance there is likely to crumble under the combined pressure of weak economic growth, fears of populist parties, demands for green investment, and increasingly pointed criticism from the European Commission and the ECB.

And even if Germany sticks to fiscal retrenchment for another year or two, the rest of Europe will move toward lower taxes and higher public spending for a reason that is not widely recognized: the interaction between monetary and fiscal policy. Lower interest payments will give these governments more budgetary space to cut taxes or increase public spending. This is especially true for Italy, whose interest costs currently exceed 3.

With the political and macroeconomic climate improving, Europe should be able to overcome the structural handicap of excessive exports and avoid recession. Germany may be less fortunate, because it cannot be cured of its export addiction until it abandons its misguided budget consolidation. Until then, Germany will be stuck in its unfamiliar new role as the laggard of Europe.

For the rest of the world, however, this may not matter. What matters for the global economy is whether Europe as a whole enjoys a strong recovery.


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  • The chances of that are considerably better now than they were a few months ago. It appears that you have not yet updated your first and last name. If you would like to update your name, please do so here. Please note that we moderate comments to ensure the conversation remains topically relevant. We appreciate well-informed comments and welcome your criticism and insight. Please be civil and avoid name-calling and ad hominem remarks. Your name. Your email. Friend's name. Friend's email. First Name. Last Name. Phone number. Do they want to live in a set of economic expectations and arrangements that routinely prioritizes economic security over economic liberty; in which the state annually consumes close to 50 percent of gross domestic product; where the ultimate economic resource i.

    Or do Americans want to embrace the opposite? German media tend to portray Republicans and specifically the so-called Tea Party faction as fanatics upholding absurd political tenets and rejecting the health care reform of President Obama for unfathomable reasons. So what would be so bad about that, European will wonder, being quite convinced of the superiority of their system of value and beliefs. In a detailed and erudite analysis of past and present, the author showcases the issues that Europe is up against. The extremely high youth unemployment in the countries of Southern Europe, for example, is one of the results of a highly regulated labour market and the influence of the labour organisers in these countries who represent those who already hold down jobs — at the expense of young people looking for work pp.

    Of course, sovereign debt is an issue in the United States, too, and rather than being attributable to high military spending alone, it is also caused by the runaway costs of the US welfare state. German readers of the book will rub their eyes in disbelief, but the author cogently elaborates how dramatic the rise in social spending has been in the United States over the past few decades — even if many Europeans have failed to take note because they continue to see the USA as the country of unbridled capitalism, something it has long ceased to be.

    Zitelmanns book reviews » Warning Call against the Europeanisation of the United States

    In , as much as More than 67 million Americans receive welfare benefits today p. Conversely, It is one of the books reviewed right here on on www. Public debt remains a much greater issue in Europe than it is in the United States, though, and there as two obvious reasons for it: For one thing, the public debt in Europe ties in with the tremendous demographic problem that the author discusses at great length.

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