Friday, October 28, 2011

United States of Europe?


Planet Money has a story about how Germans feel obliged to bail-out Greece because of guilt over World War II. For me, the story is simpler than that, it is because at least some class of Europeans now identify as European before they identify as German or French or Spanish. You can see it in the film Auberge Espagnole (nominally about a bunch of pan-European kids living in a hostel together in Barcelona, but actually about the dream of European unity as seen by the seemless integration of these young people), you can see it in the graduate schools and research centers, where at least in economics, the lingua franca in the most prestigious european research universities is English, and seminars and research groups are organized along research lines rather than national lines. Finally you see it in a few surprising conversations I've had with Europeans recently from various countries that sounded something like:

European: It's impressive how in the US, New Yorkers are happy to spend money helping flood victims in South Carolina.
Me: Really? You think Parisians wouldn't want to help flood victims in Marseille?
European: Well sure, but people in Berlin would not.
Me: ???

It was surprising how for these Europeans (perhaps the academic-y types), the analogy between New York and South Carolina was Berlin and Marseille.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it's odd that you use an example where Germans are spending money to help Greece and another example where Germans hypothetically wouldn't spend money to help people in Marseille, yet somehow you use both as arguments for your point.

HoBs said...

oh, the germans were very reluctant though to help greece. and many people say they still haven't helped greece enough.

you could also say the germans in this case have a selfish interst in helping greece because if greece defaults that could lead to the same kind of financial crisis that led to the recession for the past 3 years.