Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Mind

The End of Europe as We Know It?

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticDecember 22, 2010 8:25 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

gnxp's Razib Khan links to this article about Greek protests and comments:

placeholder

Wow. Every news story makes me wonder if it’s the end of Europe as we know it.

It may be, but not because of the riots.

Riots are as Greek as olive and feta pie (look at 2008), while France has a proud tradition of civil disobedience. The UK also has a good history of protest, although in recent years we've refrained from violence. So the student protests were a shock, although the level of bloodshed was nowhere near that seen in say Greece: rocks were thrown, but no petrol bombs. The police beat some people, and dragged a guy out of his wheelchair for no apparant reason, but there were no water cannons or teargas.

If anything, the level of disorder in Europe has been remarkably low. Compared to some of the reasons why people rioted in Europe during the 20th century, the current austerity measures are far more serious. If this was happening 20 years ago, we would have seen governments brought down by strikes and disorder by now. That hasn't happened because the European left isn't what it used to be.

Europeans (outside Germany and Scandinavia whose economies are strong as always) are basically being faced with a future structured on centre-right lines, after spending the past 60 years building nice centre-left welfare states. And it's not their fault, it's "the bankers", or at least that's what everyone believes. Europeans are angry and you can see why. But not angry enough to stop it.

So in a sense this is the end: the end of Europe as the land of tax-and-spend (which has never been a dirty phrase over here). At the moment the model is tax-and-don't-spend, which is obviously unpopular. But when the budgets are balanced again, in say 5 years, governments may find it easier to just cut taxes rather than trying to rebuild the welfare and social programs they dismantled.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In