The collapse of Europe's 'social market' dream
It took less than a fortnight of rioting in France, and now in several other countries of what Donald Rumsfeld has called "Old Europe," to lay bare the preposterousness of this prospect. Even before Islamists took to the streets of Paris' suburbs, the EU was a house of cards waiting to be toppled or burned down.... On the socioeconomic front, Europeans of all political persuasions have long shared a belief in the virtues of the "social market economy." By this, they meant a modified capitalist system, characterized by considerable state intervention and the fabled "social safety net." It was an arrangement intended to guarantee economic growth and prosperity, on the basis of harmonious labor relations, social cohesion and economic solidarity between the classes. Today, however, the European project is in shambles. Somewhere along the way, its social market model lost steam and became counterproductive to economic growth...Just as all 'Third Way' 'social market models' will do once they shackle the capitalist goose from which their redistributed wealth is produced. And the 'social market model' with it's 'social safety net' is counterproductive to human growth as well as economic growth, as the burning cars in European streets suggest: the living conditions gifted the people of Europe by their governments (which is what welfare is) -- and allowed to the people who have come to Europe for a better life -- is often appalling, and de-humanising. The 'safety net' has become a hammock, and then a prison in which they're entangled without hope of escape. It seems by all the evidence that the great achievement of European welfarism has been to create an enormous underclass with a seething combination of entitlement and alienation -- at once a poverty of will and of wealth -- and the goverment planned-and-provided suburbs in which the European welfare state houses them has played a part in destroying their humanity. "I would argue," says 'Corbusier' at the Architecture + Morality blog,
that the French underclass has actually more harmful social pathologies than those in the U.S. This is in part contributed by what the French like to call “l’exclusion” , which most often means the denial of immigrants to participate in the economic life of France... Housing projects built in America during the periods of “urban renewal” during the sixties and seventies are small in scope and number compared to similar housing developments, or “cités”, built in France since World War II. As the projects are being demolished here, the French government continues to build more of these cités throughout the country to shelter the continuing influx of immigrants...Oh to be young and poor and living in a government housing project in a stagnant, over-regulated economy. No wonder the European dream is fading as the reality of the 'social market economy' becomes clearer.
The architectural environment of the cités only facilitate criminality through their density, common spaces such as hallways and courtyards, and the utter lack of privacy in favor of shared resources. Thus, the burning of pre-schools, of local stores that service the housing blocks, and the transportation infrastructure within the French cités is being torched at this moment. Dalrymple scapegoats my namesake, Le Corbusier, for the inhumane design of these housing districts... [Accurately, in my opinion - Ed. Our blogger friend 'Corbusier' disagrees however.]
Still I agree with Dalrymple, however, that isolated dense socialist housing blocks are counterproductive in producing civil communities. Cabrini Green in Chicago has a national reputation of how a socialist housing block can become hell on earth. Now imagine thousands of Cabrini Greens dotted throughout France, and you can come to understand how fragile the shiny glass of French beauty can be shattered.