Europe a Political Paradox

While the U.S. has been bogged down in Iraq, and its policies attacked from all sides, Europe is going through its own identity crisis. Long thought of as socially more tolerant than the U.S., Europe is also a bastion of statist and anti-individual thought. There is a notable split between the older nations of Western Europe, and the new, formerly communist ones.

A recent survey noted some positive attitudes, such as the "Dutch (82%) followed by the Swedes and the Danes (71% and 69%) strongly in favour of allowing gay marriages," and negative ones, "while only 12 percent of Latvians and equally small percentages of Poles (17%) and Greeks (15%) said they back the idea."

"Large numbers of Cypriots (81%), Maltese (70%) and Italians (63%) say that religion takes up a "too important" role in society," while "at the other end of the scale, only 20 percent of Estonians and Bulgarians believe so."

On personal freedom, the news is dismal:

When confronted with the almost philosophical dilemma of equality versus individual freedom, important majorities of Portuguese (80%), Hungarians (74%) and Italians – as well as an average of around two thirds of EU citizens as a whole – favour the idea that "we need more equality and justice even if this means less freedom for the individual." [emphasis added]

Nordic and Dutch people however showed less appetite for this trade-off, with around one half rejecting the idea of giving away freedoms.

Hasn’t Europe figured out yet that when you take away freedom in favor of "justice" or "security" that you get neither? I guess the Dutch and Scandanavians seem to be the smartest of the bunch.

There’s something weird going on when inequality bugs people so much. None of us are genetically equal, but somehow people think that by evening out the financial and social opportunities, justice is served. It goes something like this, from grade school: If we all can’t have the same toy, then we should break all the toys. Or if I can’t have it, no one can. Or from the Rush song The Trees:

So the Maples formed a union, and demanded equal rights.
The Oaks are just too greedy, we will make them give us light.
Now there’s no more Oak oppression, for they passed a noble law:
And the trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw!

Equally schizophrenic was the result on the question of the hard-fought EU constitution which was shot down a year ago by the Dutch and French. Both groups in this survey said they would now support it. So now we can also add "fickle" to the long list of bad attributes of democracy.

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