The topic of this article was inspired by a recent survey, carried out in several Western European countries, with the purpose of ascertaining the public’s expectations regarding the respective countries’ (and Europe’s) economic prospects for the first half of the 21st century. The questions were focused upon two chief issues: (1) Europe’s economic future within the context of contemporary global transformations; (2) the viability of the European economic systems. Concerning the former issue, one of the questions read: “Are you optimistic, pessimistic or neutral about the future of your country’s economy?” The French, Spaniards, Italians and even residents of the United States were rather skeptical at this point, the only optimistic being the Germans. To the question: “Do you think the European economy can compete effectively against other rising economies in Asia, such as China and India?”, distrust was even higher; over two thirds of the French interviewees gave a negative response. In the other countries, the skeptics’ share was lower but still higher than of those who answered affirmatively.
If the above-mentioned answers could have, to a certain extent, been intuited, the questions regarding the latter issue yielded less predictable results. The subjects were asked to express a double option: between the capitalist economic system and other types of systems, on the one hand; between the European system of capitalism (admitting there is such a thing) and the American one, on the other hand. To the question: “Do you think a free-market, capitalist economy is the best economic system or not?” , the majority of the interviewees (48 percent of the Germans, 49 percent of the Spaniards …etc.) gave affirmative answers, whereas regarding the type of capitalism they wished, most of the questioned European citizens rejected the United States’ economic system.
Why is Europe pro-capitalist? It is most likely because its prosperity owes much more to capitalism that to any other economic system. Of no less importance is the fact that all of the practical experiments of socialism have wound up in complete failure so far. In spite of that, the ideological dispute between capitalism and socialism has known a remarkable revival lately, a number of reputed scholars trying to demonstrate that both systems possess viable elements that is worth transmitting to the future.
Why is Europe anti-American? Answering this question is a bit more difficult. In the following pages, I’ll try to find some possible explanations.