Peaceful Europe

Certainly they are not; in my family, my grandmothers are living witnesses of the French brutality; that was history. Chomsky explained clearly the current arrangement among major Western powers.


If you look over a longer historical sweep, Europe was the most savage and brutal region of the world for centuries. Establishing the nation-state system in Europe was a program of mass murder and destruction. In the 17th century, probably 40% of the population of Germany was wiped out by war. In the course of this savagery and brutality, Europe created a culture of savagery and a technology of savagery that enabled it to conquer the world. For example, Britain is a little island off the coast of Europe, but it dominated the world. And the rest of Europe didn’t exactly have nice policies. A small country like Belgium was able to kill probably 10 million people in the Congo.

This, of course, was associated with racist arrogance of the most extreme kind. And it finally culminated in two world wars. Since the Second World War, Europe has been at peace, not because Europeans became pacifists, but because there was a realization that the next time they played the traditional game of slaughtering each other they would wipe out the world. They’ve created such a culture of savagery and technology of destruction that that game is over.

The Second World War was also a sharp shift of global power. The United States had been the most powerful economy in the world for a long time, far stronger than Europe, but it was not a major player in world affairs. It dominated the Western hemisphere and there were forays into the Pacific, but it was second to England and even France.

The Second World War changed all that. The United States profited enormously from the war, and the rest of the world was seriously harmed and destroyed. The war ended the Depression, and industrial production practically quadrupled. The United States ended the war possessing literally half the wealth of the world and with incomparable security and military force, and planners knew it. They planned for global domination in which the exercise of sovereignty by other countries would not be tolerated. The plans were developed and implemented. In Europe, at the end of the war, there was a wave of radical democracy, anti-fascism, the resistance, workers’ control – some of which was quite significant — and the first task of the United States and Britain, the conquerors, was to crush it. So in country after country, Japan as well, the first task of the liberators, so-called, was to crush the resistance to fascism and restore the traditional order. Maybe not under the same name, but often under the same leaders. It was a battle that didn’t happen overnight. For example, Italy was probably the main target of CIA subversion, at least into the 1970s when the record runs dry, to try to prevent Italian democracy, because this would have meant a big role for the labor movement, which couldn’t be tolerated. It gradually sank in: European elites had to accept a position in which the United States would take over their traditional role of running the world by savagery and barbarism, and they would accept part of the gains that would come to the United States from global domination.

It’s not that the radical democrats lost entirely in Europe – they did gain a measure of social democracy. In fact, Europeans live better that Americans in many respects: they’re healthier, they’re taller, they have more leisure. The United States, especially since the 1970s, has about the highest number of work hours in the industrial world, about the lowest wages, the worst benefits, and the worst health outcomes. Even if we just look at height: when an American goes to Europe, the first thing that strikes you is how tall everybody is, and it’s literally true. So Europe has had many gains from its subordinate position – let the United States take the lead in destroying, massacring, and so on – and a kind of complacency has set in. There’s almost a sigh of relief: after centuries of savagery and barbarism, we’ll relax and follow somebody else, let them do it, and we’ll just enjoy the benefits from that.

The political classes, the business classes, and so on, don’t have any objection to this. What you call Americanization is really the spread of business control. The business classes are quite happy. They’re closely integrated. There is some conflict, but they are really closely integrated with the United States.

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