Friday, February 15, 2008

Europe's Philosophy of Failure

Government schools in France and Germany are training the next generation to fear and despise a group of their own citizens.

This group is accused of blood sucking greed, violence, and an attack on the existing national order.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? All that's missing is an anti-Semitic slur. However, in this case, the villains are not the Jews. The villains are business owners, corporate executives, and entrepreneurs. In short, anyone that doesn't have a government job.

In a truly excellent article in Foreign Policy, Stefan Theil, Newsweek's European economics editor reports on his research of American, French, and German textbooks. His conclusion: Europe is sowing the seeds of its own economic distress.

Consistently and across the board, French and German students are told that capitalism is savage, unhealthy and immoral. A French text goes so far as to use the ultimate French condemnation. It calls capitalism "American." The same French text warns students that globalization kills people.

German textbooks teach students that the internet dehumanizes people. German students are also taught India and China are big successes because they have powerful governments running the show, and that free markets made Sub-Saharan Africa the mess it is today.

The list of offenses goes on and on. Private companies destroy jobs; government policy creates them. Employers exploit their employees; government protects them. Capitalism creates market chaos. Governments establish order. Profit is a zero-sum game.

Of course, this is all hogwash. But there is a new generation rising in Europe that has heard nothing but hogwash.

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