Magazine article Tikkun

The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream

Magazine article Tikkun

The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream

Article excerpt

Capsule Reviews

The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, by Jeremy Rifkin. Penguin, 2004.

Quality of life. Deep play. Sustainability. These ideas are the opposite of "bigger, faster, more," and represent a mode of life and work posited by critic Jeremy Rifkin in The European Dream. Rifkin argues that in our increasingly global world, the American Dream that dominated the twentieth century is becoming outdated. In this "dream," Americans equate success with individual achievement and accumulation of wealth, and our nation-state's government is structured accordingly to protect property rights, autonomy, and our specific idea of freedom. Europe already practices a more humane version of capitalism that recognizes that market forces may be unfair, and so need to be balanced toward the common good. And after the formation of the EU, individual nations have ceded some power in exchange for a forward-reaching vision of an economy that will fully serve and support the populace. Europeans "work to live" and Americans "live to work," and this is deeply rooted in our collective values (secular vs. religious, cosmopolitan vs. patriotic, interdependent vs. independent). And it is evident that despite shorter work weeks, mandated vacation and maternity leave, and more flexible scheduling, European productivity is rising while America is experiencing a decline.

Rifkin avoids any glorification of Europe, which would be as stereotypically American as our Euro-bashing, and does not denigrate the American worldview either. …

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