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Thursday, August 04, 2005

The difference between the US and Europe?

John Rosenthal has an excellent review of Jeremy Rabkin's "Law Without Nations?" which I recommend to you.
Underscoring why this approach to current transatlantic disputes might be of particular interest, he writes: “it is ultimately the Constitution that makes the United States a nation”. This phrase – which will, I think, seem more or less self-evident to Americans – nonetheless gives cause to pause, since precisely in its self-evidence it highlights the chasm separating the essentially political conception of nationhood underlying the American order from the “völkisch” or ethnic conception that has been and remains fundamental in Germany and is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout Europe.
"Ein vol, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer" (one people, one empire, one leader) makes some sense in the context of an ethnic based society but not much in the context of the American non-ethnic, political approach...

One of the difficulties for Americans to come to grips with in dealing with ethnic or tribal based cultures is how fixed they are in their own systems, whereas Americans tend to be exceptionally flexible.

But it also brought home to me, again, how important it is that our armed forces swear to defend the Constittution of the United States and not some "volk" or tribe. Nor do we swear allegience to some tribal leader...thank goodness.

I leave it to you to decide which system requires more sophisticated thinking...

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