Why America and Europe Need Each Other

Individually, the US and Europe comprise only about 5-10% of the world’s population. China and India are civilization-states – Each one of them encompasses a full 5th of the world’s population. To remain relevant in the 21st century and beyond, as incomes around the world converge and the average Chinese and Indian reaches a level of human capital equal to that of a Westerner, the United States and Europe must unite. A Union, federation, alliance, whatever, between the US, EU, and their satellites (e.g. Canada, Norway) will be necessary.

Beyond the pure population/economic argument, there is an ideological dimension in which the US and Europe need each other. Each one represents one extreme of the Western mind and what is great about Western civilization. In Europe, we see the emphasis on multiculturalism, on institution-building, on legalism, on rational and pacific conduct, with high emphasis on arts, science, and civil society. However, the downside of this European outlook is a complacency, an unmoved pacifism, a relinquishing of ability to make a difference in the world, a resignation to the way things are – “adventure has disappeared from the European psyche”.1

In  America, we see idealism, indomitable spirit, optimism, and innovation, belief in the power of humanity to overcome obstacles, and a belief in the goodness of man. We see the double-edged crusading spirit, which, while plenty dangerous, also brings the desire to slay the dragons of the world, to right wrongs, to remake the world in a better image. This trait also entails a certain muscularity or militarism, which, for all its ills, is necessary to make the world what it must be. Someone must fight for justice, for liberty, for human rights, for there are many people in the world who benefit, and many more who lose, when no one does.

Europe and America are reflections of one another – in one dimension identical; in another dimension, opposites. They check each others’ excesses. They remind each other of what can be, of paths not taken, yet close enough that they can yet be followed.

1. Bruno Maçães, “Bruno Maçães on the Spirit of Adventure,” interview with Tyler Cowen, Conversations with Tyler, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, September 26, 2018, 14:57

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