March 12, 2007


Is Europe again succumbing to the totalitarian impulse? James Lewis at The American Thinker says the tools to oppose it are to be found in their own liberal enlightenment, if they recognize it. In the meantime, France and Germany appear consumed by anti-Americanism as a defense mechanism. Do read it all.

Irrational scapegoating is always the sign of political pathology. It doesn't matter who is playing the goat. Scapegoating is the premier social distress signal, the SOS of the soul. Anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Anglo-Saxonism are today's scapegoating passions on the European continent. But it could equally well be French anti-Prussianism of the 19th century, anti-Black demagogy in the American South during the Jim Crow years, or contemporary rage against democratic conservatives from the Left all over the world. Scapegoating is a confession of secret fear and envy. Totalitarian fantasies are designed to allay those feelings.

The solution to totalitarianism is well-known. It has been known since the European enlightenment, or perhaps since ancient Athens: It includes such standards as genuine tolerance for debate, a willingness to compete economically in open markets, a reliance on free speech and respect for the individual - because when you respect individuals there is no problem of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Goethe, Voltaire, Kant, Montaigne, Erasmus, Spinoza, Aquinas, Jefferson, Chesterton and a hundred others -- the entire enlightened ethical tradition of Western civilization -- stands ready to be used. Europe only needs to look to its own strengths to defeat today's "totalitarian temptations."

Posted by dan at March 12, 2007 9:38 PM