This paper began life as a response to a conference paper, not even semi-published, by Alasdair MacIntyre, entitled, “How to be a European:  Questions for Tariq Ramadan.”[2] I have attempted to answer MacIntyre’s question, what is Europe (or a European)? in my own way, though I hope my method is broadly at least in accord with his.  The paper is not an interpretation of MacIntyre, though it is an attempt to understand and further his theoretical and practical project.

            Europe has long been closely associated with the Christian tradition in the public mind.[3]   Yet the Christian religion arose in the Middle East, and its center now shifting from Europe to the Global South.[4]   And the contemporary understanding of what it is to be a European is more likely to be secularist, consumerist, and plutocratic than Christian.  This essay is an attempt at combined conceptual analysis and cultural criticism provoked by these observations.  I do not here denigrate Europe and praise America, nor do I criticize the European social democratic project, which I believe that the Eurocrats are undermining.

I.  Introduction

            Europe is a contested concept embodied in a tract of territory; one European commentator on this paper has called it poster concept without determinate meaning outside political sloganeering).   Geographically, Europe (in contrast to Western, which is not really a geographical expression) designates what might best be described as a quasi-continent though one whose boundaries are unclear.  Still, New Zealand, however important European ideas might be to its formation, is not a European country. 

The word Europe also designates an idea, though an extraordinarily elusive one.[5]    Like other contested concepts, for example law, marriage, liberalism, and person, and, as I have recently learned rural, its sense, reference, and evaluative force depend on who uses it and why.   The continent of Europe shares a common history of bloody war, fueled in part by religious and ideological controversy.   One phenomenological investigation of the concept of Europe concludes that “as Tashidi Ogawa has suggestively remarked, what Europe … demands of itself is nothing less than the de-Europeanization of European life and thought.”[6]   This sort of cosmopolitanism, in its own way very European, may be admirable in philosophy, but provides no foundation for co-operation among Europeans or for the persistence of a European society from generation to generation.  Europe’s leaders have rejected Christian cosmopolitanism as a basis for unity, and the rise of the Postmodernist movement means that the Enlightenment cannot be taken for granted, either. [7]       

II. Europe vs. America

For Americans, Europe stands for two sharply contrasting things.  On the one hand, it represents a richer, thicker set of beliefs and practices from which Americans who find our way of life thin can draw spiritual sustenance.  On the other hand it represents what one polemicist calls “a shorter workweek, early retirement, Internet pornography, state-funded abortion, afternoon adultery, the whole dolce vita lifestyle constantly held up as a reproach to us money-grubbing, overreligious Americans.”[8] 

One motive at work in the literature of European decadence was to discredit German and French opposition to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.   The argument that contemporary Europe is decadent it has been made from perspectives ranging from religious conservatism to gay advocacy (for a survey, see J 10-17), however, and thus cannot be dismissed as an artifact of international politics (like the notorious ‘freedom fries’).  Probably the most neutral statement of the difference is that Americans and Europeans differ in their estimate of the value of the use of military force – in part for the uncomplicated reason that Americans have more force to deploy.[9]  This sometimes means the illusion that it is possible to ‘rid the world of evil’ by establishing unchallenged American dominance.[10]  Skepticism or hostility toward international law and the United Nations is a natural corollary of such attitudes.

Nonetheless, all cultural clichés contain a mixture of truth and error, and the contrast between decadent Europe and virile America is no exception.  Decadence is primarily a condition of a society or culture, and only secondly a condition of a writer or other individual.     A group is decadent if it is unable or unwilling to reproduce itself biologically or culturally.  One dimension of decadence is failure to reproduce; another is the ineffectiveness of a group’s official beliefs and consequently its inability or unwillingness to transmit the way of life that embodies them to the next generation.   A celibate order is not necessarily decadent, but such groups avoid decadence by placing themselves within a breeding community, which admires their view of life and from which they may hope to recruit new members.   One dimension of decadence is a condition of moral sensibility, in which reason and emotion fail to co-operate effectively in the guidance of and evaluation of conduct.   

In a thoroughly decadent society, even the memory of the orthodoxies which gave structure to life has departed.    Moral judgment degenerates into a legalism that leaves no room for prudent adaptation to circumstances, a situational emotivism that allows free rein to whatever feeling that may be dominant at a given moment; and  the use of bureaucratic idioms, such as significant other or lifestyle, designed to circumvent questions of value.

America is as decadent as Europe.  The attacks of September 11, 2001 sparked a nauseating episode of dishonest self-congratulation in America, during which only extremists like Jerry Falwell, Ward Churchill, or Stanley Hauerwas (who “disdain[s] all natural loyalties”)[11] could suggest that America’s misfortunes were even partly America’s own fault.    In a time of national trauma and mourning, when an earlier generation of leaders, both American and European would have proclaimed a day of fast and humiliation,[12]  the younger Bush, joined by former President Clinton, called for “continued participation and confidence in the American economy”– in other words shopping. [13]  Internet pornography is as much an American as a European phenomenon.  Our abortion rate is roughly twice that of the Netherlands (J 68).  We are up to our gills in credit card and other consumer debt.[14]  There are disturbing reports that our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan assert American power abroad only with the help of heavy medications.[15]  If the measure of decadence is the collapse of communal structures and the transformation of society into a dust of individuals, some writers argue Europe is far less decadent that America.[16]    As for intellectual decadence, it is hard to top the American Richard Rorty.[17]

Contemporary American politics confirms MacIntyre’s claims concerning de facto emotivism of our moral and political discourse.[18] Bush-bashing was prolonged until the day of his successor’s inauguration.[19]  No sooner was President Obama inaugurated than the campaign for his impeachment began: the gist of the charges is Obama’s “unabated malevolence towards this country” — by which is meant Republican or “red state” America.[20]  On a broader front, America is currently experiencing what the New York Times has called a wave of anti-incumbency sentiment.[21]  The polarization of American politics, which invites people to regard their opponents as not just as mistaken but also as wicked, now extends beyond morally fraught issues such as abortion and torture.[22]  

A further contrast between Europe and America concerns our attitudes toward authority. As Jenkins (J 86) reminds us, European elites are more homogeneous, and therefore more capable of controlling grassroots dissent, than American.   In America, as Jane Pauley has put it, “the Left and the Right have changed costumes.”[23]   A group called the Tea Party Express evokes America’s revolutionary past and our invocation of resentment of taxes a way of raising questions about legitimacy (not to mention considerable moral zeal) to discredit government (its slogan is Just Vote Them Out!)[24]  It has a military wing called “Oath Keepers,” which announces its readiness to disobey orders they interpret as commands to take part in a coup d’etat.[25]   Its adherents are scornfully called ‘teabaggers’ — an expression that has a nasty sexual connotation.  

The behavior of politicians of both parties has done much to feed the distrust of government such groups exploit. Senator (now Vice-President) Joseph Biden used charges of sexual impropriety against Justice Clarence Thomas, little reckoning that a President of his own party would be guilty of far worse improprieties than those charged against Thomas.    Moreover, private malefactors get much of their power from the state.  Poletown in Detroit was destroyed with the help of the sovereign power of eminent domain, for the benefit of General Motors.[26]    

America is now divided into two different countries, neither of which is comfortable sharing national boundaries with the other.  There is much in MacIntyre’s thought to ground sympathy for the Tea Party movement, since he finds the claims of expertise that underlie the contemporary Democratic Party program of New Deal Restorationism highly questionable.[27]  For example, the recent health care act was unintelligible to ‘plain persons,’ who relied on the testimony of experts to tell them whether it was benign or sinister.  

A narrative of decline and fall requires a base-line of relative health, from which decline can be measured.  Walter Laqueur’s base-line is the Europe of thirty years ago, i.e., the late Seventies, but even he recalls a childhood in part spent under Nazi rule.[28]   But if Europe since the disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire was ever healthy,  its time of health was before the First World War, when it was overwhelmingly Christian, and even its secular representatives such as Marx sought to pursue the ends of, usually Protestant, Christianity by other means. 

Contemporary Europeans are absentee Christians, to use MacIntyre’s suggestive phrase.  The Irish joke, “Are you a Protestant or a Catholic atheist?” retains its point.  Still, this absenteeism reached the point where cathedrals and art galleries have to provide elementary accounts of Christian doctrine of the sort needed by a visiting Buddhist (J 37). The prevailing relativism of European culture renders it mute before the assertiveness of a tradition that insists that the Qu’ran is without qualification the word of God, whether in confrontation or dialogue.     To take a point from Catholic writer Russell Hittinger, the Netherlands, which is in the forefront of the euthanasia movement, can hardly counter Muslim vigilantism by insisting on the sanctity of innocent human life or the state’s monopoly on the use of lethal force.[29]   And Marxist writer Terry Eagleton has observed, “If the British or American way of life were to take on board the critique of materialism, hedonism, and individualism made by devout Muslims, Western civilization would most certainly be altered, for the good.”[30]  In short, the resurgence of militant Islam represents the repressed bad conscience of the West, and in particular Europe.

Kelvin Knight has described MacIntyre’s current political stance as a politics of resistance; the phrase Aristotelian revolutionary is due to Knight, but has been approved by MacIntyre  [31]  MacIntyre’s program and strategy are far from clear, but their thrust is very much in the American mold.  Many a revolution has been launched in defense of traditional ways of life; a contemporary possibility is the protection of human, cultural, and natural environments against the deification of the market, [32]  the proponents of growth at any cost, the claim of technology to replace religion as he source of our definition of reality, the revolt of the elites against the claims of common humanity, and the marketing of “alternative life styles.” He is therefore in the same camp as Wendell Berry,[33] Christopher Lasch,[34] and Neil Postman [35]   – culture critics who, though in some sense conservative, do not spare the shibboleths of contemporary capitalism.    

We Americans could use less taste for political patricide, and Europeans a greater degree of insubordination.   I notice, however, that in a recent survey only 0,2% of Lithuanians[36] viewed the government in power with unqualified approval, and that 34,700 emigrants left Lithuania to live in other countries in 2009, 50% more than in 2008.[37]  Though hyper-inflation has been overcome, the official unemployment rate in Lithuania is now 15%.[38]  The birth rate is below the replacement level.  [39]Such facts do not seem to have the political implications that they would have in America.

In any event, one implication of MacIntyre’s politics is that the American attitudes toward authority that underlie movements like the Tea Party should be regarded as an occasion for education rather than as objects of contempt.  Any American revolution will have to be an American revolution (and the same point holds for England, France, or Germany):  the project of using immigration to turn America in to Latin America is absurd on a number of grounds. Perhaps they can learn to focus less on the moral failings of politicians, and more on the suspect role of the corporate and technocratic elite.  But Aristotelian revolutionaries, as much as any other need to face the problem of the state –how can we muster its capacity for good without, at the same time letting loose its at least equally immense capacities for evil?

III. The European Union.

            It is now time to examine the project of European integration, which some expect will issue in a Europe that is one nation, in the sense that the United States or even or Lithuania is one nation.   Reponses to this prospect have ranged from paranoia[40]  to gush.   An example of gush is Jeremy Rifkin:  “We Americans used to say that the American dream was worth dying for.  The new European dream is worth living for.” [41]  Democratic advocates of “another Europe” represent yet another point of view,[42]  as do those critics who see not only the European Union (EU), but the whole of European civilization, as committing “slow-motion suicide.” [43]   

Among the theories crafted by political scientists, to understand and guide the course of European integration, the most important is neo-functionalism.  The key neo-functionalist concept is spillover (of integration in one area to integration in another).  Co-operation on one front leads to co-operation on others.  As the political scientist from whom I have taken this idea reminds us, however, “’spillover’ assumes the continued commitment of the member states to the undertaking” – at least until integration has proceeded so far that the nation-states of Europe cease to be independent actors. [44]    There are two grounds for skepticism about this project, one derived from Hobbes, the other from Rousseau. 

A. Hobbes

EU law claims to be supreme.  But the EU relies on national police and armed forces for its enforcement, [45]  and national courts have accepted its claims only conditionally.[46]    What, an American observer inevitably asks, if a situation emerges in which the EU attempts to impose upon its constituent members policies offensive to the majority or to the elite within some country?  

A second issue concerns voting in EU Council.  Decisions may be taken either by unanimous vote (abstentions do not block a decision), or by qualified, i.e. weighted, majority vote (QMV) – in other words by votes proportioned to power.  “Nonetheless, there is an underlying ‘culture of consensus’ in the council, which ensures that the council hardly ever acts by QMV even when it is allowed to by the provisions of the Treaty.”[47].    But the concept of consensus represents a prudential decision that some party is weak enough to ignore, without the frank recognition of this decision implied by a majority vote.  Moreover, the possibility that a state may be outvoted cannot be glossed over; as one advocate of another Europe puts it, “QMV means that laws which are opposed by a sovereign state’s government and may be abhorrent to its people can be imposed on them.  There may be defenses of this, but practicality will not do” (McG 33). 

A broader issue is the difficulty of understanding how EU institutions are supposed to work, even at the level of a high-school civics course. The large literature attempting to explain these institutions still leaves them somewhat vague in my mind and I suspect that of many others.[48]   One implication of the murkiness of EU institutions is that grassroots constituencies are at a severe disadvantage against elite lobbies, since they cannot figure out where to apply pressure.  Another is that, if a confrontation should occur between the EU and one of its constituent states, the ‘European’ party will have a hard time rallying its forces.  It is difficult to imagine a European Abraham Lincoln.

B.  Rousseau

Nation-states are bound together, not only by the acceptance of a common authority, but also by spontaneous solidarity. Hence a second route to Euroscepticism takes its marching orders from Rousseau rather than Hobbes. The general will is not one of the clearest concepts in political thought — understandings of it range from strong democracy to the fascism – but it does seem that not everything in politics can be a matter of bargaining or voting.

Patrick Buchanan has put the question in disturbing terms:          “No transnational institution can elicit the love and loyalty of a country…. Men have died in the millions for Poland, France, England and Germany.  Who would walk though fire for the European Union?[49]”  We need only to add that the communities now capable of eliciting spontaneous loyalty may now be not traditional nation-states, entities smaller than, larger than, or overlapping, such states.  Catalonia may turn out to be more important than Spain, Cornwall than the United Kingdom.

It is still possible that the idea of Europe could move men and women to make sacrifices on its behalf, and in this way support a Europe-wide general will.   At present, the most important issue is that of solidarity:  in times of economic crisis, are relatively fortunate states prepared to make sacrifices for their weaker brethren?  For some countries, having been dragged into “Neoliberal” capitalism, have found it a weaker reed than its apologists promised.    As the New York Times has recently explained, 

The traditional concept of “solidarity” is being undermined by protectionist pressures in some member countries and the rigors of maintaining a common currency, the euro, for a region that has diverse economic needs. Particularly acute economic problems in some newer members that once were part of the Soviet bloc have only made matters worse. [50]

Economic pressure can only aggravate cultural and religious conflicts, and the broader social tensions with which it is inextricably entwined (see J 168ff for how this happens in Europe.).    

            The Rousseau-inspired critique of the EU proceeds on two further tracks:  that of democracy and that of sovereignty.

1.  Democracy

 The collapse of Communism was a great victory for democracy; the movement toward a united Europe is its greatest recent defeat.  As Stephen McGiffen has observed, and as recent economic developments have made clear, 

Probably the biggest single act of subversion of democracy committed in the name of the European Union … has been the establishment of the single currency, the euro… The Maastricht Treaty’s convergence criteria for admission to the single currency and the rules for participation … oblig[e] member states … to follow … a particular idea of fiscal prudence.  These rules are impervious to electoral change and imposed by an unelected board of central bankers, one of the narrowest ruling elites in recent history. (McG 185) 

More broadly speaking, “Until the dying days of the Soviet system … democracy was defined in large part as a political system which allowed people to choose between competing economic systems”(McG 183).   And the EU denies its members that freedom.

As the New York Times recently explained,     

The 16 nations that use the euro … must submit to the monetary leadership of the European Central Bank. That keeps some members hardest hit by the economic downturn, like Ireland, Spain, Italy and Greece, from unilaterally taking radical steps to stimulate their economies.[51].

The heart of the matter is that the EU is a plutocratic institution, one in which what the interests of bankers is predominant, in derogation of both democracy and the power of other elites. Nor is the rule of bankers benign, except by comparison to Soviet and Nazi rule or ethnic cleansing on the Balkan model.   In Lithuania, for example, Neoliberal economic policies implied inflation of more that 1,000 %, and the loss of tens of thousands of industrial jobs,[52] leaving the losers without either income or savings.  

Yet even a plutocracy requires a shared understanding of what it is about, and the EU is by common consent deficient in what is nowadays called “the vision thing.”    But democratic advocates of another Europe have also failed to come to grip with cultural issues any better than their plutocratic adversaries.  McGiffen writes:

In order to defend what is left of democracy, to create a genuine internationalism, and identify real alternatives, we must first leave our flags at home, forget about whose picture is on the money, and make a bonfire of all those national myths which we were force-fed as children (McG 187).

But the idea of a united Europe requires active belief, not merely acquiescence out of powerlessness or a craving for material luxuries. The lack of such belief among voters is reflected in low voter turn-outs for the European Parliament and the growth of fringe parties.[53]   Democratic societies, even more than oligarchic ones, need to beget and educate a new generation and to socialize them to accept their political norms.     But immigrants cannot be asked to assimilate into a society that proclaims only its ironic detachment from its heritage, while many people of native European stock find the official ideals of secular Europe unacceptable. 

The stock EU response to cultural issues emphasizes the right to religious freedom.

While the constitutional system has to be neutral in matters of religion or Weltanschauung, it must be explicit as regards the values of human dignity and the respect for human rights. Those principles have the character of so-called “meta-values” (or meta-norms), values which are the condition for the enjoyment of the basic individual rights and freedoms by every citizen according to his/her specific convictions and value system, including religious confession.[54] 

But not all worldviews support these ‘meta-values,’[55] and adherents of those that do will each interpret and apply them in their own way, as they address issues in sexual morality, bioethics, economic policy, and the boundaries of religious freedom.

In terms of the philosophy of Habermas, philosophical morality  rests on conventional morality, and there are practical issues, perhaps many such that cannot be resolved in terms of philosophical morality alone.  As Habermas puts it, “The possibility cannot be excluded that abortion is a problem that cannot be handled from a moral point of view at all.”[56]  And, as Thomas McCarthy suggests, “what Habermas says about abortion [might] hold for a great number of issues that democratic legislatures typically have to deal with in multicultural societies.”[57]  “Morality” here means philosophical morality of the broadly Kantian sort advocated by Habermas and the early Rawls (not every possible philosophical morality), in contrast the mores of particular societies, which are unsurprisingly different in the Baltic countries than in, say, the Netherlands.  The local cultures the Eurocrats have agreed to respect are not limited to such things as traditional songs, dances, and recipes.[58]

Finally, the bland ‘Euro-discourse’ to which EU representatives are inclined feeds paranoia.  For, in a world where customary patterns of expectation have broken down, we fear one another deeply.  People we know may a source of trouble, be we know what to expect of them.  The culturally alien are unpredictable and therefore scary, and vague humanistic pieties make fears more intense,

2 Sovereignty

The idea of sovereignty is a transposed theological concept;[59] it has sometimes been described as “organized hypocrisy.”[60]    Both the idea and its institutional realization have a complex history, in which both religious and secular ideas have had a crucial role, though they never float freely of human beings and their interests.[61]   

The ‘Westphalian’ idea of sovereignty is Protestant in logic and inspiration.  As Daniel Philpott observes, “all along, the [Catholic] Church has condemned the absolutely sovereign state as an idolatrous claimant to godlike status, an affront to the moral order and to natural law, whose authority lies ultimately far beyond the borders of the state.”[62]   Jacques Maritain for example rejects the idea of sovereignty, in part on the ground that its underlying theological analogy is defective.[63] 

Yet it would be wrong to dismiss sovereignty as irrelevant. . There are social entities that act as units and in which local resistance or external intervention is commonly perceived as illegitimate.   So long as nationalism remains an influence in our world, it is not possible to dismiss the idea of sovereignty, and the corresponding resentment of ‘outside’ intervention or ‘inside’ resistance, as an element in our political life.   That the accountability of supposedly sovereign entities is relatively informal does not mean that it is unreal, but it does make a significant political difference. 



The project of European integration is fundamentally flawed.   The Eurocrats political arrangements model the kind of marriage where the husband leaves his wife for no better reason than when the wife becomes ill, or simply grows older, the husband finds a younger woman more attractive. 

The Eurocrats are banking, to a dangerous degree, both on continued prosperity and on their ability to control cultural conflict.  The revival of nationalism in a nasty form (which need not correspond to existing state boundaries), and the resulting collapse of European integration in blood, is one possible outcome.   But, in view of the poor predictive record of the social sciences, it would be absurd for a philosopher to move into the breach.   Whatever their faults may be, Europeans know in their guts that war not only kills, but also has devastating social and spiritual effects.[64]   

A standard answer to the question of the sources of lost confidence, though one that merely pushes the question back a step, is the loss or weakening of religious faith.  As Jenkins has observed, “Death and resurrection are not just fundamental doctrines of Christianity; they represent a historical model of the religion’s structure and development” (J 289).    The revival and decline of old religions, as well the formation of new religions, provide a clear case of the X-factors in politics that disrupt our attempts to predict the human future.    Yet the invention of new religions could not help the EU project.  Even the renewal of old religions seems more likely to foster fragmentation than union.[65]   Founding a Christian revival on hostility to Islam[66] would be to support forms of secularism that propose to destroy Christianity as well.[67]  

V.  On the Fragility of Institutions

Nonetheless, the fragility of a set of institutions may be a source of its stability. For political actors  may restrain themselves out of fear of collapse, at least until the issues moving them do otherwise become too pressing.

The theorists of the social construction of reality[68]  – or, less polemically, the construction of social reality[69]– remind us, in the words of Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, that “all societies are constructions in the face of chaos.”  In the present world, for example, human rights are established by loudly asserting them, and getting others to accept them by whatever means.[70]     Though human nature sets limits on such constructions, [71] social forms are undetermined by observable human nature, while normative and metaphysical accounts of human nature vary widely.  The upshot is the recognition of the dependence of all our institutions on what unbelievers call fortune and believers call Providence. [72] 

Philip E. Devine

Providence College


[1] Delivered at the meeting of the International Society for Macintyrean Enquiry, Vilnius, Lithuania, July-August, 2010.

[2] Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, December 1, 2007. 

[3] See Philip Jenkins’ balanced discussion, God’s Continent (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2007), cited as J.  For a contemporary statement of this idea, see Benedict XVI, Papal Address at University of Regensburg, “Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization” (September 12, 2006).  Posted at Accessed June 2, 2009.

[4] See Jenkins, The Next Christendom (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2002)…

[5] See Roldophe Gasché, Europe or the Infinite Task (Stanford, CA:  Stanford University Press, 2009).

[6] Gasché, Europe, p. 33; the reference is to Ogawa, “Eurozentrismus, Eurozentrik und Ent-Europäisierung,” in Grund and Grenze des Bewusstseins (Würzburg: Kőnighausen, & Neumann, 2001), p. 129.

[7] For a provocative account of the issues, see Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1993).

[8] Bruce Thornton, Decline and Fall:  Europe’s Slow Motion Suicide (New York:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Encounter, 2007), p.135.

[9] See Robert Kegan, Of Paradise and Power (New York:  Vintage, 2004).

[10]  For a selection of expressions of this theme, see George W. Bush, We Will Prevail, National Review edition (New York:  Continuum, 2003).  Daniel Frum and Richard Perle Riding the World of Evil (New York:  Random House, 2003) spell out what such policies mean in practice.

[11] For Hauerwas’ response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, see his Hannah’s Child (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2010), pp. 264-272 (quotation, p. 268).

[12] Queen Victoria proclaimed a day of humiliation in response of the outbreak of the Indian “Mutiny” of 1857.   Andrew Ward, Our Bodies are Scattered (New York:   Holt, 1996), p.524.

[13] Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “Mourning Has Broken,” Washington Monthly, October 2003.   Posted at http://www/ Accessed March 25, 2008 (quoting an address of September 20, 2001).   On Clinton’s participation in this campaign, see Paul Krugman, Robin Wells, and Anthony Myatt, Macroeconomics (New York:  Worth Publications, 2006), p. 269.  I am indebted to James Devine of Loyola Marymount University for these references

[14] The total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is made up of credit card debt) was $852.6 billion, as of March 2010.  As of the same date, the total U.S. consumer debt was $2.45 trillion. Ben Woolsey and Matt Schulz, “Credit Card Statistics, Industry facts, Debt statistics,” Accessed May 27, 2010.

[15] Kelly Vlahos, “G.I. Drugged,” American Conservative, March 21, 2010.

[16] See Mary Ann Glendon, Abortion and Divorce in Western Law (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1987).

[17]  The remarks on torture in Rorty, Consequences of Pragmatism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), p. xlii, have grown darker since he wrote them.

[18] See MacIntyre, After Virtue, revised edition (Notre Dame:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), chap. 3, excerpted in Kelvin Knight, ed., The MacIntyre Reader (Notre Dame:  University of Notre Dame Press, 1998), pp.73-75.

[19]  See “Sock and Awe” ( accessed December 18, 2008).  I am indebted to Robert J. Rafalko for this reference.

[20]See, accessed May 27, 2010.  For the campaign to impeach Bush, see Jan Frel, “Could Bush Be Prosecuted for War Crimes?” AlterNet, July 10, 2006.

[21] May 19, 2010. 

[22] For detailed discussion of contemporary American political polarization, see Alan I. Abramowitz, The Disappearing Center (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2010).

[23] At the 1995 Providence College Commencement.

[24] See  Accessed December 30, 2009.  Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro, “Tea Party more popular than Dems, GOP,” Posted December 16, 2009, accessed December 30, 2009

[25]  Accessed March 6, 2010.  See Justine Shamrock, “Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason,” Mother Jones, March/April 2010. 

[26] Glendon, Rights Talk (New York:  Free Press), pp. 29-30.  For the approval of such measures by the Supreme Court, see Kelo v. New London (2005).

[27] See MacInytre, “Social Science Methodology as the Ideology of Bureaucratic

Authority,” reprinted from Maria J. Falco, Through the Looking Glass (University Press of America, 1979), in Knight, Reader, pp. 105-108. 

[28] Walter Laqueur, The Last Days of Europe (New York:  Thomas Dunne/ St. Martin’s 2007), pp. 1, vii.

[29] See Hittinger, The First Grace (Wilmington, DE:  ISI, 2003), chaps. 6 and 8.  I am indebted to my colleague Andrew Peach, now a student at the University of Virginia Law School, for calling my attention to these chapters.

[30] Eagleton, “Culture and Barbarism,” Commonweal 136, no. 6 (March 27, 2009):  11-12.  Eagleton elaborates his argument in Reason, Faith, and Revolution (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2009).

[31] Knight, Reader, pp. 23-24.

[32] On the theology of the market see Harvey Cox, “The Market as God,” Atlantic Monthly (March 1999), reprinted in John Wilson, ed., The Best Christian Writing, 2000 (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), pp. 79-91. 

[33] Berry counters the urban tendency to forget the rural poor in his “The Prejudice against Country People,” The Progressive 66, no. 4 (April 2002):  21-24.  Jeffrey Stout commends Berry to the attention of those influenced by MacIntyre in Democracy and Tradition (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2004).

[34] See Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (New York: Norton, 1979).  Like MacIntyre, Lasch rejects the Communitarian label; see The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (New York: Norton, 1995), chap. 5.

[35] See Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York:  Penguin, 1986) and Technopoly (New York:  Vintage, 1993). 

[36] Since space limitations forbid me to consider every European country, I examine only Lithuania in detail.

[37]  Lit News, July 23–August 11, 2010, p. 2.

[38] CiA information as of February 19, 2010.  Posted at http://www.indexmundi/Lithuania/unemployment-rate.html.  Accessed August 7, 2010. 

[39] According to official sources, the number of children born alive to the average woman is now 1.55 %, well below replacement levels.

[40] Christopher Story, The European Union Collective (London:  Edward Harle, Ltd.., 2002) sees the EU as a vehicle for both German and Russian imperialism.

[41] Rifkin, The European Dream (New York: Tarcher/ Penguin, 2004), p.  385.

[42] Gugliemo Carchedi, For another Europe (London:  Verso, 2001); Stephen McGiffen, The European Union:  A Critical Guide, new edition (London:  Pluto Press, 2005) (cited as McG).

[43] See, for example, Thornton, Decline; and Laqueur, Last Days.

[44] See especially Leon N. Lindberg, “Political Integration:  Definitions and Hypotheses,” in Brent F. Nelsen and Alexander Stubb, eds., The European Union, 3rd edition (Boulder, CO:  Lynne Reinner, 2003), chap. 17; quotation, p. 160.

[45] Simon Hix, The Political System of the European Union (New York:  St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 108-110.

[46] Ibid., pp. 116-17.

[47] Ibid., p. 73.

[48] See, in addition to the works already cited, Neill Nugent, The Government and Politics of the European Union, 5th edition (Durham NC:  Duke University Press,  2003).

[49]Buchanan, “The EU at 50:  Can it Survive Midlife Crisis?” Investor’s Business Daily, April 2, 2007.  Posted at, quoted in Ray Taras, Europe:  Old and New (Lanham:  Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), pp.76-77.

[50]Steven Erlanger, “Growing Economic Crisis Threatens the Idea of One Europe,” New York Times, March 1, 2009.

[51] Ibid.

[52] According to the official publication Lithuania:  An Outline (Vilnius:  Arketa, 2001), pp. 138-39.  On the NeoLiberal libido dominandi all over the world, see Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (New York: Picador, 2007).

[53] Constant Brand, “Anger, Disappointment Sour EU parliament Vote” (Associated Press, 2009).  Posted at Accessed May 30, 2009.

[54] Hans Kőchler, “The European Constitution and the Imperatives of Transnational Democracy,” Singapore Year Book of International Law (2005): 1-15.  Posted at  Accessed December 5, 2008

[55] For a vigorous rejection of the idea of human dignity, see John Gray, Straw Dogs. (London:  Granta, 2003).  Alan Soble, Pornography, Sex, and Feminism (Amherst, NY:  Prometheus Books, 2002), defends pornography on the ground that it debunks claims to human dignity.

[56]Habermas, “Citizenship and National Identity,” Praxis International 12 (1992):  11.  

[57] McCarthy, “Legitimacy and Diversity,” in Andrew Arato, eds., Habermas on Law and Democracy (Berkeley, Calif.:  University of California Press, 1998), p. 126.

[58] Murray Forsyth observes:  “The steps taken by the Maastricht Treaty to reassure  some kind of brake on the  expanding powers of the Community’s institutions – namely the express declaration of the principle of subsidiarity, and the various provisions stating that the Union and the Community must respect the identity and cultural diversity of the member states – are indications of a growing anxiety, but  such principles of  and intent seem feeble indeed when compared with the differentiation of powers typical of an authentic federal constitution.”   “The Political Theory of Federalism,” in Nelsen and Stubb, eds., European Union, p. 212.

[59] See Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).  Among classic theorists, Jean Bodin, De la république (1583) makes the theological connections most explicitly.

[60] See Stephen D. Krazner, Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

[61] See Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2001), especially chap. 7 on “The Power of Protestant Propositions.”

[62]  Ibid., p. 262.

[63]  Maritain, Man and the State (Chicago:  Phoenix Books, 1951), chap. 2.

[64] See Tony Judt, Postwar (New York:  Penguin, 2005), especially the Epilogue.   . 

[65]  For an attempt to make sense of the confusing historical data, see Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard University Press, 2007).

[66] As Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes (New York:  HarperCollins, 2007) perhaps proposes. 

[67] See Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 2006), especially chap. 9; and Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation (New York:  Knopf, 2006).

[68] Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Garden City, NY:  Doubleday & Co., 1966), quotation, p. 96.  See also Nelson Goodman, Ways of Worldmaking (Indianapolis:  Hackett, 1978); and Ian Hacking, The Social Construction of What? (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).

[69] See John R. Searle, The Construction of Social Reality (New York:  Free Press, 1995) and The Making of the Social World (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2010). A valuable secondary study of Searle is Joshua Rust, John Searle and the Construction of Social Reality (London:  Continuum, 2006).  The expression construction of social reality does not carry with it the suggestion that we are unmasking something questionable or conspiratorial.  No one doubts that money gets its value from convention.

[70] For an example of this sort of approach in practice, see Alison Jaggar’s contributions to Michael Tooley et al., Abortion:  Three Perspectives (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2009).

[71] As Berger and Luckmann concede, Social Construction, p. 167.

[72] This essay has benefited from discussions with Josef Velazquez of Stonehill College, James Hanink of Loyola Marymount University, and the participants in the meetings of the American Maritain Society, held in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division (New York, December 2009),  and of the International
Society for Macintyrean Enquiry (Vilnius, July-August 2010).

One Response to “Europe”

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