Courtesy Reuters

Can Europe Use American Methods?

FRANCE, which is a country, cannot be compared with the United States, which is both a country and a continent. The only fair comparison is between Europe and North America--two continents, with two conceptions of production, two different structures corresponding to two different atmospheres and civilizations. Perhaps it should be added that we are also considering two different ages: on the one side youth, on the other maturity, eventually old age. By thus underlining the most striking contrasts between them we are enabled, perhaps, to understand them better. This is the spirit in which any useful discourse on the relations between France and the United States-- between the Old World and the New--must be conducted. It is the best way, moreover, to serve Western unity. I always feel that I understand the United States while I am there. But back in Europe I know that I understand it no longer, and I therefore try to be prudent in my judgment. I sometimes wish that Americans who talk about the Old World and its problems would feel the same scruples.

II

First let us look at American industrial production. I must confess that in this field my admiration for the United States is almost unbounded.

We can distinguish two principal periods in the industrial revolution. The nineteenth century, the European period, was based on the machine. It was adapted to European conditions and to the specific and diversified structure of Europe. The twentieth century, the American period, was based on standardization, mass production, scientific organization of labor. It profited from the conditions existing on a new continent which permitted the development of a specifically American structure. Though the initial inspiration in both cases was identical--the machine--the scale of the American application made it the equivalent of a new creation. Where one would have expected a simple difference in degree there turned out to be a difference in nature. When we set ourselves to learn from the United States, therefore, let us keep

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