Courtesy Reuters

Europe Revisited

THE 1947 visitor finds Europe abstracted and preoccupied. The Frenchman has always been rather aloof from foreigners, the Englishman complacent towards them, and the German, splitting his back as easily as his personality, ready to lick their boots when he cannot order them around. Today such varying symptoms are transcended by one state which is universal -- complete absorption in the problem of how to live. Every minute is dedicated to scrounging enough food, clothing and fuel to carry through the next 24 hours. Little energy is left for noticing what foreign nations think and say or for complicated reasoning and farsighted planning to please them and suit their requirements, even if they are benefactors and masters of the atom. When you are as worried as Europe is about the bare essentials of existence, you are not much interested in ideas. As for the atom bomb, it is comprehended in Europe even less than in America.

Europeans can satisfy the simplest need today only by efforts out of all proportion, not to its importance, which may literally be vital, but to the former abundance which made gratification so cheap and easy. Whatever is not impossible is difficult. Even where the machine of modern civilization has not been destroyed it lacks repairs or fuel or raw materials or accustomed outlets or trained workers or expert management to such an extent that its current production is only a fraction of what its beneficiaries used to take for granted. There is too little of almost everything -- too few trains, trams, busses and automobiles to transport people to work on time, let alone to take them on holidays; too little flour to make bread without adulterants, and even so not enough bread to provide energies for hard labor; too little paper for newspapers to report more than a fraction of the world's news; too little seed for planting and too little fertilizer to nourish it; too few houses to live in, and not enough glass to

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