The World We're In by Will Hutton If you're American, you probably haven't heard of this book. "The
World We're In," by British author Will Hutton, is aimed at Britons
with the goal of convincing them to join the European Union as full
members. As such, it pits positive "European" democracy and capitalism
against the less positive "American" versions. (Specifically, Hutton
is attacking conservative American ideology, but in the end, this
doesn't matter so much; see below). I'll give the book a "+", but for
rather complicated reasons.
This book is a classic example of taking two gray objects, then
painting one black and one white. Lily-pure Europeembodies compassion,
growth without exploitation, and a clear long-term vision for an
enlightened society. Vulgar (conservative) America represents
unbalanced greed, questionable morals, and zeal for short-term profit
at the expense of mature planning. (Can we get any more stereotyped?)
Hutton notes in a few places that America has its merits and the EU
"has yet to achieve its full potential", but why sweat the details of
these two gray objects? One is clearly black, and the other white.
Britain is heading down the wrong path, and Hutton aims to sound the
alarm so that it can get back on track.
If you can get past the rhetoric and unabashed European haughtiness,
Hutton does make some interesting and worthwhile points. His analysis
of American capitalism is a different view than you will get in the
Wall Street Journal or even the New York Times. His biting criticism
of America's recent tendency toward unilateralism and our companies'
relentless focus on shareholder value should not be dismissed. He is
correct that America has been taken over by conservatives in the past
30 years, and we have suffered mightily for it. And because of our
global arrogance, other parts of the world are suffering too.
That's the black part of America. The white part of Europe is its more
balanced perspective in both politics and economics. Its companies
compete effectively in the world market, and yet European workers have
relatively sane working hours, plus 4 weeks' vacation to boot. Europe
of late has adopted a much more cooperative stance on the world stage
than America, acting multilaterally and generally taking a more
compassionate and accomodating view. In an interconnected world, the
European attitude is surely more productive. No argument there, and
Americans would do well to think about this soberly.
The black parts of Europe get only passing mention. Hutton
acknowledges that unemployment is something of a problem. This is an
understatment-- what kind of situation can make a country (France)
declare that working more than 35 hours a week is illegal? Also