Regardless of which northern European countries that apologists cherry pick to praise the successful combination of interventionist government, social protection and reformed market principles, the fact that external protections, such as American military protection and protected markets, have propped up these countries and shielded them from certain economic realities, reveals a flaw in the greater European experiment which has been offered as an alternative to America's focus on profit and economic prosperity as the route to better living. Europe has maintained a cultural superiority which advertises a greater concern for social security, public funded culture, quality of life and intellectual pursuits over the race for riches. In many respects, the imagined "free market" of America has always been a red herring, as America has followed European practices of social security and a State managed economy, although America has allowed much greater zones of economic freedom.
For much of Europe, cultural superiority pertains to a small percentage of European elites. As a whole, there's just as much superficial pursuit of personal pleasures, attraction to commerical fashions and enjoyment of mind-numbing entertainment in Europe as there is in America. The nickle and dime snobbery, though, misses a much greater danger threatening western values which transcends some of our more superficial interests.
The leaders of the European Union are beginning to wake up to the expensive forms of social protection provided by different governments within the union, the lack of economic strength revealed in the recession, and, as America shows signs of Super-Power fatigue and dissolution of power, the individual European states necessarily realize the inability of the EU to protect Europe and the vulnerability of individual European States to deal with global threats, especially radical Islam.
In many respects, Europe feels the same pressure to free-up its markets and transition State power to the private sector, thus freeing up revenue to address national security issues. As Germany and France move economically closer to Russia, security concerns for eastern European countries with good memories become even greater, but expectations of American protection may not be well placed as we bog down deeper in Middle East concerns. Whether America does it or not, we've got many reasons to expect Europe to provide its own national security going foward. We simply can't afford to be the World Police. Once we get out of Iraq and Aghanistan, I doubt there will be much of an appetite for international military operations. Europe and America will do better in an equal partnership of shared values rather than a relationship of resentment regarding our military protection.
There's also pressure in Europe among individual States to regain identity. Whereas, before, the trend toward a New World Order was broadly, although cautiously, supported, now that the reality of this Order approaches and European countries have had a taste of the EU, there will likely be resistance in Europe as countries re-assert their unique identities.
Both Europe and America are at risk as Enlightenment values are threatened by new forms of tyranny and Theocracy. Classical liberal values almost dissapeared from Europe, and in America they've been slowly marginalized for decades. Intellectual emptiness has allowed the Western world to slide into a relativist apathy regarding the old battle of Domination and Freedom. Classical liberal values have been reduced to a meaningless pep-rally cry for "democracy" as recent events from "Cairo to Madison" have awakened at least a sense of purpose greater than maintaining a failed status quo of government/corporate enmeshment, and this loss of understanding of classical liberal principles allows a muddled-headed push for what is basically mob-rule. Democracy means nothing if Constitutional restrictions and supremacy of rule of law are not maintained.
Western, classical liberal values are in danger of being forgotten, and this puts whole nations and regions at risk of mob domination in the name of "democracy". The problem is that mobs never actually rule as democracy suggests -- Majority Rule means that people will be dominated by a few who "represent" the Majority. The individual and the individual's rights are being pushed aside as a coalition of loud and emotional groups fight for power. Intellectuals have a track record of failing to stand when they should stand, but if there has ever been time for those with the historical knowledge and communication skills to put things in perspective to stand and be heard, it's now.
It's one thing to become passionate about causes, but certain principles of liberty and justice and individual rights are best expressed with calm reason, or else the most impassioned and strong will get their way, and what they demand will likely be something far removed from liberty, justice and individual rights. Europe and America are at a crossroads in Western history -- either we can defend our values, or we can expect to obey other values of which liberty and individual rights have never much mattered.