Europe, R.I.P.

by Arthur Herman

Europe is dying, right along with socialism and Obama-ism. The election results yesterday prove that Europe’s voters don’t know they’re committing suicide — or don’t care. The only pertinent question is what will take Europe’s place once its political union, and its worthless currency, both wind up on the ash heap of history.

Three times in the last century America had to step in to save Europe from itself — in World War One, World War Two, and the Cold War. Now we’ll have to do it again, as Europeans stumble dazed and broke from the rubble created by their EU bureaucrats, politicians, and unions. But this time it won’t be American soldiers, or arms, or even a nuclear umbrella that comes to Europe’s rescue. It’ll be American ideas and policies based on free markets, economic growth, and individual freedom.

In one sense, Europeans have no place left to go. They tried fascism and Communism; those proved deadly flops. That left state socialism’s “mixed economy.” The European Union was created in 1992 at the end of the Cold War — a victory, we note, of America’s making, not Europe’s — as a monument to socialism’s ideal of large centralized planned economies and societies. It’s the same ideal Obama and his liberal friends have worshiped for a generation — with only slightly less disastrous results here.

#more#But in spite of Obama’s mountain of debt, reckless government spending, and punitive regulation, America is coming back. We’re the last major capitalist, pro-growth economy on earth, with an energy sector built on shale oil and gas, a reviving advanced manufacturing base, and a wireless and high-tech innovation industry second to none. All it will take is a pro-business president to turn the 21st century into the next American century — and to show how free markets and the private sector can turn around even the most shattered economies.

Post-Katrina New Orleans is becoming a burgeoning high-tech Bayou Valley; gas fracking rigs spring up from the desolate Rust Belt landscape of central Pennsylvania. This will be the new model for a post-EU Europe.

Who knows. Maybe at the end of all this, Europeans will discover their own culture buried under two centuries of socialist and Marxist garbage: the Europe of Adam Smith and Tocqueville, of von Mises and Hayek, of Aristotle and Aquinas. Maybe they’ll realize their birthright as the original home of liberty and freedom, at long last.

— Arthur Herman’s new book, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War Two, comes out from Random House on May 8.

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