American liberals have long identified Europe as a sort of left-wing utopia. More so than the United States, European countries have experimented with various forms of socialism, but these implementations were largely in small, homogenous countries – the only environment where socialism has ever “worked.” As Christopher Caldwell has pointed out:
Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaeser, the Harvard economists, have shown that roughly half of Americans’ antipathy towards European-style socialism can be accounted for by the ethnic diversity of the United States. This view is given support by the recent work of Robert Putnam, the sociologist, who finds that people living under conditions of diversity “hunker down”. They trust their neighbours less – even neighbours of their own kind. They are less philanthropic, less social and less inclined to pay taxes.
Thus, when liberals look at Europe close up, past the thin veneer of socialist programs, their enthusiasm wanes. Matthew Yglesias, having just returned from Europe, today writes:
And I think there’s also often a kind of image of Europe as a place where more of the progressive agenda has been achieved than in the USA. But I think that you’ll find if you look at Europe through the eyes of the liberal agenda that while the German left has certainly been more successful than the American left at securing universal health care, it’s been much less successful at promoting a tolerant, integrated, multicultural society. And allowing for the errors implicit in making any kind of sweeping generalization, I’d say that’s pretty generally the case across Europe. This Swiss People’s Party campaign poster would, I think, make Jesse Helms blush. And I’m not even sure which of the Northern League posters from Italy is the most egregious.
Europeans have deeper blood and soil roots than most Americans. They have real nations, in the sense of the Latin natio, implying link by blood. I predict that in the near future we shall witness more promising right-wing movements in Europe than in the U.S. And it’s going to be real shocker for American liberals.