Courtesy Reuters

The Real Divisions of Europe

All Gaul is divided into three parts. Curiously enough, American intellectuals resort to the celebrated quotation from Caesar more often than do their French counterparts. Similarly, the divisions in Europe and in their own homelands are no doubt felt less keenly by the citizens of the Old World than by those of the New. Americans are used to vast expanses without frontiers. It shocks them to see that there still persist in Europe the antiquated particularisms which their grandfathers left behind in favor of the comforts of the melting pot.

A good deal might be said about just how much melting has taken place in that pot up to now. American minorities are reaffirming their separate identities at the very time when, more and more, one can see coming true in Europe Upton Sinclair's famous prophecy: "Thanks to the movies, the world is becoming unified-that is, becoming Americanized." Skyscrapers, supermarkets, and even Intercontinental hotels have appeared beyond the Iron Curtain; nothing is less personalized than the cities of concrete and glass that are rising from one end of the Continent to the other, so much alike that when you arrive in the evening after a long journey you no longer know whether you are in France, Germany, Holland or Sweden. Movie houses show the same films; radios broadcast the same programs; everywhere advertisements cover the walls with the same brands of soap, of brassieres or of cars; skirt lengths obey the same norms from San Francisco to Ankara; and "sex shops," which originated in Copenhagen and New York, are opening simultaneously in Paris and Munich.

Never-even in the way in which its nonconformists make themselves conspicuous-has Europe seemed so bent on similarity. It is as if free societies naturally aspired, by a typically American trait, toward that collective identity which the subjects of totalitarian régimes would somehow like to escape because a conscious effort is made to impose it on them.

But similarity of habits and behavior can be accompanied

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