James Bennett has a chilling piece on how the anti-American sentiment sweeping Europe is reminiscent of the old fascism of the 1940’s.
Integral to the fascist message were the hatred of individualism and free markets and hostility to the Anglo-American culture that they saw (accurately enough) as the source of those values in the modern world. They hated the popular culture that they saw as eroding respect for the traditional forms of European cultural authority. Of course, they despised the Jews as agents of modernism among them, but that current was muted in post-war Europe, since the fascists had successfully achieved their agenda of destroying the Jewish communities as significant economic and cultural forces on the European continent.
Above all, fascists everywhere enshrined the role of the state as the focus of national life and the source of meaning and value. This separates fascism from other movements of political violence and racial caste conflict (like the Klan, for example) and unites it with the superficially liberal but state-exhalting European nationalist movements of the 19th century of which fascist movements are ultimately mutated descendents. This value also unites fascism with the purposive and directive state of European bureaucrats today.
Particularly, they resented the loss of political power by Europe to America, and sought to revive the integrated European economy they had achieved from 1940 to 1944 in order to recreate a European counterweight.
While Europe is nowhere near as militaristic as it was throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the rhetoric of Europe Ascendent then and now is largely the same. Certainly Eurocrats like Dominique de Villepin and Romano Prodi are hardly analogues to Hitler or Mussolini, but they could well be the ones who make it easier for a future dictator to once again plunge Europe into war.
My issue with the European Union is not necessarily that it is trying to compete with the United States. Free-market competition is perfectly fine. What I see is an institution that has few checks and balances, is unaccountable to the people it attempts to rule, and is ignoring a serious growth of truly dangerous groups operating in its borders. Coupled with the political use of rising anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiment across the continent, there is some reason to be concerned about the future of Europe. The EU was designed to be a benign political and economic union of Europe – a goal that is perhaps optimistic but hardly dangerous. However, the system that is being created may prove to later have concentrated too much power in the hands of too few. While it may seem outlandish to say that at some point the EU may devolve into fascism, the troubling confluence of radicalist politics and concentrated power make such a horrible descent all the more possible.
UPDATE: Steven Den Beste has a insightful but chilling look into how a decaying France may be pulling a fast one on the Europeans. I’m not totally convinced that Den Beste has found evidence of some grand conspiracy, but I do generally think that many of the EUrocrats are using the EU and EU expansion as a way of buttressing their creaking and ossified welfare states for a while before their inevitable collapse. What is truly frightening is that France, a country I do profess to have some admiration for, has fallen that far. As much as I dislike the Chirac Administration and the French political elite in general, to see France heading in the direction it is gives me absolutely no joy whatsoever.