Europe's landscape is changing -- dramatically in its Eastern half, which is groping toward capitalism, and less spectacularly in the Western part, which is on the road to a single market. The following notes on recent transformations suggest that the two trends are not unconnected.
Big if Not Beautiful. The announcement on July 30 of the long-heralded takeover of International Computers, Britain's champion in this field, by Fujitsu, the big Japanese specialist, creted quite a stir in Europe. It was a reminder that in several fields European corporations cannot compete with the giants of the international marketplace. But Fujitsu's move was taken as a challenge not to Europe's big producers of mainframe computers -- the German Siemens, the French Groupe Bull and the Italian Olivetti -- but to I.B.M., the American giant.
There is no complaint about the invasion of American capital for the simple reason that for some time now money has been flowing across the Atlantic in the opposite direction. The only novelty, according to a recently published study, is that in the past few years Freench companies, particularly state-owned ones, were the leaders in this trans-Atlantic transfer of capital. While new, this development should not be surprising. In the earlier phase of the Industrial Revolution business concentration had proceeded much further in Britain and Germany. It is now the turn of French, and also Italian, corporations to catch up, and the state is helping them to reach the size needed for international competition.
We are approaching the final state of capitalist concentration on the international scale, with giants swallowing giants. The tales about capitalism with companies on a human scale were just tales. Small may be beautiful but our god, Mammon, is on the side of the big batallions. …