Old Wine in New Bottles21 Dec 2002
I sent the following (edited for context) to Steven Den Beste in response to latest posting yesterday on elitist Europeans, a theory I don't think flies very far in the real world.
For someone who thinks that Europe doesn't matter, he sure spends a lot of time grousing about Europe. Maybe the problem is as much an American inferiority complex as it is a Euopean superiority complex.
There is no such thing as EU foreign policy, and there won't be for decades, if ever. The EU does things that are either the lowest common denominator of the member states or that don't matter at all. (I'll let the reader decide which category applies to EU foreign policy.) In the end, as happened once again last week in Copenhagen, the EU does what is decided by the French President and the German Chancellor behind closed doors.
I don't think that theories of elitism apply to the bit of Europe I'm most familiar with. Whatever ideas of aristrocracy survived German unification under Bismarck were lost when the Kaiser abdicated, and utterly destroyed in World War II and 10 years of living in rubble. Blood and upbringing do not matter in modern Germany. Only money.
German political leaders tend to have rather humble backgrounds. Kohl and Stoiber both came from families of low-level civil servents, Merkel was East German physics professor, Fischer was a rock-throwing radical, and Schröder grew up with a single mother in poverty. They came into power not because of who their parents were, or where they studied, but because they very early became involved in (or founded) political parties.
I do agree with Steven on one point. The Europeans who emigrated to America were fundamentally different than those who stayed. But don't think anyone is going to get very far with elitism as a theory of why Europeans are who they are.