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World Review
 april 2005

Democratic War, Repressive Peace:
On Anti-Americanism

Russell A. Berman

     Enmity typically implies a dramatic scene, a face-off of opponents, cast in modes of confrontation. Accusation, recrimination, and attack unfold on a stage of doubled adversariality. It is doubled because the carrier of enmity projects hostility on to the other, presuming that the opponent maintains a symmetrical counterview: mutually acknowledged derision. Whether we understand this opposition as an existentialized conflict between foes or as an equally dramatic consensus-formation in a public sphere pursuing comity, is of course not irrelevant: permanent war or perpetual peace. Nonetheless, the two alternatives and the gradations between them share a prior assumption, i.e., the substantiality of the opposition, the suggestion that a real, existence-defining conflict of interests underlies the hostile dialectic, whether the interests are imagined or real, psychic or economic. Enmity is the expression of conflict between opponents.
     Yet the projection of hostility, the insinuation that the opponent is driven by the same enmity that the subject knows, may itself really be the first hostile act: inventing the other as the enemy and therefore, necessarily , ascribing to the other the sentiments which are, in fact, above all one’s own: I hate you so you must hate me. Yet if such imputed hostility were in fact only a fiction projected outwards (and not an objectification of prior conflict), then the model of doubled adversariality would turn out to be an ideological delusion. In this case, an alternative account is required. Instead of proposing enmity as constituting a sort of subjective corollary to an objective interest conflict, let us consider a model of enmity as the outcome of solely endogenous processes, all on one side of the conflict. Primary anger turns into anger at the world and only then finds its target. This hostility should be judged not as a response to what the opponent may have done, since the opponent is only a belated discovery, but as an expression of an internal economy that requires the invention of a threat, a Feindbild, the fictive danger required to sustain a troubled identity. The enemy, in this sense, is just a scapegoat, but a scapegoat with guns. The discourse of enmity, the sharply contoured external-oriented narrative of hostility, turns out to be primarily internally driven (even if it makes reference to real-world features of the chosen opponent). Enmity, therefore, is not about the enemy, but about the self. That animus, which reveals itself through accusation of the other, gives expression to an anterior desire.
     The argument here is not a claim regarding al enmity. Tragedy and conflict exist and lead to struggle. Still there is a version of hostility that is driven primarily by an internal logic: an instinctual need to find an opponent. To pursue this hypothesis requires the analytic willingness to separate this hostile desire—the libidinal investment in enmity, Feindlust, whether on the individual or collective level-- from what is only a retrospectively or secondarily determined object of cathexis. In this context, hatred becomes a free-floating instinct, and the choice of its target largely contingent, no matter how restrained by the character of existing historical material. The ritual denunciation of the opponent serves a purpose closer to home and has little to do with the opponent’s real existence, about which it is preferable to remain ignorant. Hence an ongoing process of reality loss. The drama of enmity is false drama, as we can explore with regard to the case of current European anti-Americanism.
     The case of anti-Americanism.
     To say that this is not a genuinely dramatic scene means that it is not primarily about how it takes two to tango. Anti-americanism is not a case of a mirror-image hostility. There is to be sure some diffuse blowback, moments of anti-European hostility in the United States, but this is hardly on the scale of European anti-Americanism. The silly case of “freedom fries” is about as exciting as it gets: there are no anti-European demonstrations, no burnings of French or German flags, no angry mobs with pitchforks and tractors in front of Louis Vuitton boutiques or BMW dealerships. “Anti-europeanism” is not a comparable twin but only an anemic afterthought to the European spectacles. Europe is hardly a matter of regular concern for the American public, while the United States, in contrast, represents an object of constant obsession for the anti-American mind: an omnipresent and omnipotent opponent. The asymmetry is evident in the imbalanced structure of trans-atlantic name-calling. Vedrine on the “simplistic” character of American foreign policy or Daubler-Gmelin’s blunder equating Bush and Hitler generate irritation and curiosity in America that quickly become yesterday’s news; but Rumsfeld’s comment on old and new Europe elicited outrage and vitriol, as evidenced in a prominent forum in the FAZ. A raw nerve had been touched, and European intellectuals showed themselves eager to be provoked by an American Secretary of Defense. Facing that real enemy, the non-European, old grudges melt away and Derrida and Habermas could march shoulder to shoulder. Where criticisms of Rumsfeld or American defense policy might have been called for, the heavy hitters of the European spirit replied with global cultural denunciation and the phantasmagorical imagery that characterize the anti-American mentality.
     Anti-americanism is not a reasoned response to American policies; it is the hysterical surplus. That difference is evidenced by the constant recycling of anti-American tropes that have a history that long antedate current policy. The traditional European response to the New World and the United States has, for centuries, involved themes of savagery, violence, and excess power, as well as the anxieties generated by capitalism and democracy. All this has been amply documented by Dan Diner, Philippe Roger, Susanne Zantop and others. These images recur in the current discourse with stereotypical regularity. Yet if the animus predates the policy, then the policy is not the cause, and the animus is prepolitical. Moreover the obsessive mentality encompasses countries with quite different experiences of the United States: Germany against the background of an occupation that was never perceived as a liberation (and certainly elicited no street celebrations), and France with the history of liberation but no occupation. Two different menus leave the same taste in the mouth, as if the flavor had a life of its own.
     Yet this separation of the affect of enmity from hypothetically objective causes—today’s policy, past conflicts—pertains as well to its perception of the present, a nearly hermetic imperviousness to events. Reality disappears. Hence the predisposition to disbelieve any reports of American success in the war, to denounce pro-American Iraqis, to exclude any information that does not fit into a narrowly constructed myth: “nothing can shake it in its inner certitude, because it is imprisoned in its safe world—because it is incapable of experiencing anything,” –thus the young Lukacs on abstract idealism 1. In this vein one has to count the willingness of the conformist European media to treat the Iraqi Information Minister as a plausible source, until the very end, while at the same time directing an unrelenting skepticism toward any signs of emancipatory celebration. Because the anti-Saddam Iraqis disappoint the anti-Americans they simply cannot exist. Yet this is the same reality denial that characterized another episode, the response to the September 11 attacks: the grotesque suggestions of hidden conspiracies, or a merely media spectacle, or—perhaps most common—the notion that it was not that bad after all. For Peter Sloterdijk, it was a “barely noticeable, minor incident. For the progressive taz, “as unfortunate as the death of seven thousand people in New York may have been”—the number dates the statement to the initial aftermath when the mythological universal sympathy with the United States is believed to have held sway—“in light of what else is going on in the world, it is really just a bagatelle”—eine Lapallie 2. Reality that does nto conform to the conformist opinion cannot exist. Uncomfortable facts and uncomfortable opinions are equally disallowed. The sort of debate that has raged through the American public and press is just absent in much of Europe of the European outlets in the United States, as any said encounter with DW News has shown.
     My point here is not to document the litany of obnoxious statements by European intellectuals—eternal life is too short for that—but to identify a feature of the discourse: a willingness to deny reality: the Iraqis are not celebrating, Al-Qaeda did not attack the Twin Towers, the infidels are not in Baghdad. For the issue for anti-Americanism is not facts, to which one might respond critically, but an obsession, an endogenously generated animus.
     Given this disassocation from reality, images take over, propagandistic targets of enmity, Feindbilder. Case in point: the anti-American journalism of Arundhati Roy, to be sure, not the typical European intellectual, although she has become preferred side show trotted out regularly by the European press, from the Manchester Guardian (which gets the originals) to the Frankfurter Allgemeine (stuck with the translations). This prominence gives her writings a symptomatic significance: a discourse of antipathy, strings of stereotypical denunciations, devoid of reasoned argument, and sprinkled with targets of hatred. It is a rhetoric that relies on personification to focus the reader’s hatred. In one essay, she arbitrarily conjures up an otherwise unidentified “marrowy American panelist,” and in another she point out with disgust at an equally anonymous figure “who rolls his R’s in his North American way.”3 Neither of these figures play any other role. Are they real or invented? We never know, but Roy deploys these gratuitious fictions as objects of disdain, as if physiognomy and accent (rather than policy) were the true affront. This criminalization of the body is akin to racism, a stance expressed clearly in her frank definition of nuclear destruction as “the very heart of whiteness.”4 Opposition to the Indian nuclear strategy is a possible political position; her decision to racialize her politics sheds light on her larger views. Moreover this world view is confirmed in her novel—her one novel which was the ticket to celebrity status—where all mixed race relations fail: a manifesto against miscegenation as a sort of sexual anti-imperialism. Grotesquely the only defense against the outside enemy is the ultimate endogamy, incest, and the outer world remains a site of perpetual danger.
     Here however the concern is less Roy’s more elaborate ideology than the way she is celebrated in the anti-American press. Thus the opening of her essay on “Mesopotamia,” of April 2, 2003 in the Guardian (and later in FAZ) conjures up the “adolescent American soldiers [who] scrawl colorful messages in childish handwritings” onto missiles, and she dwells with a sort of lascivious interest on one Private she saw in a CNN interview who “stuck his teenage tongue all the way down to the end of his chin.” Her point is hardly sympathy with these “teenagers” who find themselves in war—a plausible anti-war stance, concern with young people pulled into battlefield danger—but contempt for the infantile Americans, for Americans as infantile, and their teenage behavior: this, she suggests, she is the face of the enemy. What she subsequently musters as pseudo-argument in the course of her diatribe is only secondary to the imagistic vilification of the opponent, classical propaganda, couched in a rhetoric tailored for a European audience: Americans are unmannered and have poor penmanship.
     Of course it’s not the penmanship that’s at stake, but the symptomatic standing of this journalism for the character of anti-Americanism. A critique of Iraq policy is surely possible, but there is a surplus here. It is not the policy, but the poor manners. It is not the war that is the offense, it’s the Americans themselves, who are the real provocation. Opposition to the war in Iraq is, ultimately, interchangeable with opposition to other aspects of American foreign policy. Opposition to the war does not lead to anti-Americanism. Rather anti-Americanism elicits opposition to the war. Iraq is really just one more item on a party platform. If pushed, the anti-Americans might concede that Saddam, the Taliban, and Milosevic were not particularly laudable (although we should not underestimate the degree of specifically pro-Saddam sympathy, especially in France), but they only became issues because of that American foreign policy. Or to parse this even more closely: it is not what Americans do—since, in the end, most would be hard put to defend Milosevic et . al—but the fact that it is Americans who act: that it is not Europeans. It is not European pacifism, i.e., a principled opposition to violence, but European passivity that recoils at American action, and therefore the particular terrain becomes irrelevant. For anti-American discourse,the world—Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans—is always only pretext, an emptied space, a blank sheet on which it tries to scrawl its own childish message: childish because incapable of political action.
     What provokes the anti-American is American activism: not the role America plays in the world but that it is in the world at all. Whatever the American action, the anti-Ameican denounces it, but particularly when the action is couched in a policy of defending the freedom to act, which in turn implies a set of democratic values. The absence of freedom in particular locales—Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans—is typically of concern only for tiny non-governmental organizations, not for the mass-movement public, except when the United States intervenes. There were no mass demonstrations in Paris, Berlin, or Barcelona against Milosevic, the Taliban, or Saddam ever. There were no demonstrations for regime change, ever. The mass movement only emerges when the authoritarian regime is challenged. Before the war, Iraq was noticed only because of the sanctions policy—an evil attribute to the United States—and never because of the character of the regime. In the context of the war, however, the anti-American movement finds itself objectively, and frequently enough, explicitly on the side of dictator, whom it had failed to criticize earlier, and it is therefore all the more scandalized by the American invocation of democracy. The historical record shows that mass demonstrations in Western Europe in the twentieth century generally involve direct or indirect support for authoritarian leaders and oppose the United States.
     This is a political problem indeed for the anti-American movement that pretends to be progressive but keeps waking up in bed with dictators. It shows a willingness if not to celebrate, then at least to tolerate authoritarian regimes, no matter how brutal, in order to refrain from any association with capitalism, no matter how democratic. Any statism seems better than freedom, if freedom means a free-market. Even after Communism, the Communist taboos hold sway and its irreparably damaged political culture. The moral hypocrisy of the movement is trapped in that classic scenario of political blackmail which defined the limits of criticism in the century of totalitarianism. The traumatic scene of the Hitler-Stalin pact continues to cast a long shadow on the possibility of political protest, still promoting its formula: tolerance for an authoritarian peace, opposing the democratic war.
     I want to look at two passages in the Arbeisjournal where Brecht works his way out of this Stalinist anti-war stance, the toleration for repressive peace, and comes to advocate the democratic war, as he redraws the map of enmity. Despite standard leftist starting points, he is ultimately able to countenance war, national identity, and patriotism, since it involves the patriotism of a democracy, and war against fascism. To do so however implies a transition from an endogenous rejectionism, the self-absorbed world-denial of abstract idealism to a heroic engagement in the drama of struggle.
     In Scandinavian exile from Hitler’s Germany, Brecht faced a Europe collapsing. “france fell at the maginot line, that underground 5-storey hotel, what an embodiment of parasitical French capital investment” (28.06.40) 5. After the French capitulation, would England fight? Brecht has his doubts—and all this still in the context of the official left’s opposition to war—and his own inclinations to oppose both militarism and nationalism. He began his writing career as a schoolboy during the First World War with an attack on Horace’s dulce et decorum est, and he was after all himself the author of the fiercly anti-war “Legend of the Dead Soldier.” A German who had lived through the Wilhelmine catastrophe of the Great War was hardly a likely candidate to endorse the mission of the English army. Yet despite the Stalinist tilt against the western democracies through the pact with Hitler, Brecht began to explore the potential for British participation in a potential democratic war. These explorations involve two key points where war and literature overlap.
     Throughout his oeuvre, the Anglo-American world carries negative associations of capitalism and crime, from the London of The Threepenny Opera to the Chicago of Arturo Ui, and of course the elegiac Hollywood of the exile years. The same terms of disparagement continue in contemporary anti-Americanism, so Brecht’s coming to grips with England can be taken as an alternative resolution of some of the same problems. Of course, Brecht personally felt some affinity with a brutality that he would associate with England, but this predisposition stood increasingly under the ideological censor of standard anti-militarism. Trying to come to grips with England, he enters an enemy zone, but he is able to overcome this resistance, at least partially. Reading Macaulay on Addison he encounters the liberal revolutionary England of a burgeoning public sphere in which literature takes on a prominent role. (quote Mac 112), in contrast to the “servile literature of France” (115), the deep dependence of intellectual life on the power of the court. Brecht concludes that English literature is strong because of “because a national life existed and the bourgeoisie came to power at an early stage” (69)—in contrast to German backwardness—yet he glosses the evaluation immediately with an expression of despair: “what criteria!” At odds with his past, he has to reconcile his admiration for the achievement of English culture with an initial distaste for its precondition: liberal capitalism. For it is precisely that political-economy that supports a culture that promotes technological progress and an empirical, i.e., ultimately materialist epistemology. Moreover he draws these aspects out of the critical debate on Addison’s poem “Campaign,” which celebrated Marlborough’s defeat of the French and Bavarians at the Battle of Blenheim, especially the use of metaphor which Johnson cited to demonstrate the advantage of the particular over the general. This concreteness of thought is tied to a model of heroic individualism. Addison’s praise poem of the military success is therefore simultaneously a celebration of British liberty over continental servitude; “ […]with native freedom brave/The meanest Briton scorns the highest slave.” l German literature, in contrast remains for Brecht hopelessly idealistic and underdeveloepd, fundamentally unable to compete with the cultural revolution unleashed by the liberalizing dynamism of England.
     Yet Brecht remains hesitant: freedom and capitalism, nationhood and military strength are tough medicine for a Central European to swallow. However, the Macaulay entry of February 24, 1940 still preceded the fall of France. The German threat soon loomed larger, and by August we find him struggling again with his own resistance. He has “skimmed” (90) Arnold’s edition of Wordsworth—his underlining the brevity of his reading betrays an embarrassment: with Arnold? With Wordsworth?—but pushes immediately to a conclusion that it is dangerous “to lay down the law,” which, in this context means, to condemn this literature as “petty bourgeois:” the judgement he would have been predisposed tor reserve for Wordsworth’s “She was a phantom of delight”. As Robert Kaufman has shown, Brecht is working out his own autonomy aesthetics here; but he is also working out a politics, a willingness to accept the progressive character of a democratic capitalist culture personified by the British citizen-soldier in wartime: “the individual petty bourgeois currently patroling the fields of england equpped with a shotgun and a molotov cocktail (‘as used against tanks in the spanish civil war’, so a general assured us on the wireless).” It is not a mythic proletarian revolutionary but the really existing citizen of a capitalist bourgeois society that carries the emblem of the anti-fascist fight. But if this democratic culture has a claim on a poetry that can “conjure up situations more worthy of the human race”, as Brecht remarks, he has effectively retracted his youthful attack on Horace: it is, after all, proper to fight and poetry can provide sweet comfort.
     Brecht glosses the poem at hand, Wordsworth’s “Phantom of Delight.” He appears to distance himself from the standing of the apparition, stating that art today should do more than the Wordsworthian “haunt, startle, and way lay.” As Brecht proceeds to develop an alternative poetics, he in effect follows the movement of the poem, as the apparition becomes preface to the real, and the real becomes affiliated with freedom: “Her household motions, light and free,/And steps of virgin liberty.” Tracing the movement of the ideal apparition of the material embodiment of lived life, Wordsworth’s poem seems even to trump Brecht’s materialism, beating him at Brecht’s own game, unless one reads Brecht’s meditation on the urgency of poetry for the soldier in the field as a commentary on the poem’s telos. It was “virgin-liberty” that had fought in Catalonia and, he hopes, will rally to defend England. Making freedom real is the beautiful.
     Brecht’s engagement with English literature has multiple components; autonomy aesthetics, individualism, the mercantile ethos of capitalism, and the heroic ethos of war. Facing the danger posed by the authoritarian state on the continent, Brecht turns to the alternative: the parliamentary England that challenged Bourbon domination of the continent around 1700 and the Napoleonic imperialism of 1800. Would it withstand Festung Europa? He analyzes the culture that could support the democratic wars—the poetry of Addison and Wordsworth—and comes to admire it, even if he would never make it fully his own. Nonetheless for the moment at least he could overcome his illiberal predispositions and express esteem for the democratic petty bourgeoisie, hoping that British capitalism would be able to live up to its legacy and act against fascism. His admiration for the soldier in the field, radiant with the aura of Wordsworth and the legitimacy of anti-fascism is the counterpoint to Roy’s disdain for the democratic soldier, with childish scrawl and bad manners. The passages show Brecht working toward a rapprochement with the liberal institutions of England and the emancipatory character of bourgeois life: for this same substance, shifted to the United States, the anti-american only has contempt.
     I began with the assertion that there is a variant of enmity that has an endogenous character. Elsewhere genuine conflicts of interest fuel the animosity between opponents, but in this case, the enemy is a retroactive construction, necessary for the constitution of the subject, with a prior predisposition to hostility. Anti-americanism was the prime example and the primary proof its multiple disassociations from reality. Brecht provides the model of transgression: the Central European, marked by all the illiberal values (that, in latter day form, still characterize the European mass movement,) who nonetheless comes to a rapprochement with the enemy; the son of Augsburg who accepts Marlborough’s victory at Blenheim and all that that implies-- parliamentary ascendancy, commercial culture, military prowess as a progressive force, and, ultimately, autonomy aesthetics. It is this English, and later Anglo-American culture, that is the target of the anti-American mentality.
     The two theses seem to be mutually incompatible. The model of an animus driven by an internal economy and therefore characterized by a loss of external reality; would seem to exclude the thesis of a real-world distinction between the cultures of the Atlantic and the continent, between commercial parliamentarianism, on the one hand, and regulatory regimes of state authority, on the other. If there is indeed a conflict between these two orders—with social, cultural, and political implications--then it is less obvious that the animus is an expression of an independent instinct. So we face again the alternative between models of enmity as dramatic or endogenous.
     Anti-americanism presents itself as a response to specific American policies, in which case it would fit the dramatic model: policy conflict and its subjective aftershocks. Yet this self-presentation in fact only invokes American policy as pretext. Too many features of anti-Americanism as a rhetoric and a cultural phenomenon call the dramatic explanation into question. At best it dwindles into a matter of lyric drama, so much fantasy and fairytale. In this sense, it is telling that anti-Americanism succumbs repeatedly to its own tales of Arabian nights: the warning that American policy will ignite the “Arab street” with unforeseeable consequences. Yet this fiction has proven itself always a projection, a European desire staged as fantasy in against an Orientalist backdrop. The issue is not the “Arab street” but the streets of Paris and Berlin, and particular their necessity to imagine themselves in exotic settings. Far from toppling sates in Jordan or Pakistan, the street demonstrations have only strengthened regimes in France and Germany; indeed these have in effect been large pro-government rallies. The animosity toward the United States can be projected onto the rest of the world because, ultimately, the world has been emptied of meaning. The appeal to the Arab street involves no empathy with the Arab world; on the contrary, that street is colonized and instrumentalized to carry out a European agenda rather than to address an American policy.
     That anti-Americanism has little to do with specific American policy—i.e., that it is endogenous and, ultimately, prepolitical—is further evidenced by the inconsistences in the local form it takes in different venues. If the point were a reasoned opposition to a specific policy, then one would expect the same argument to be made in different European countries. Instead, the mentality involves considerable local variation. In Germany, one finds the plethora of metaphors designed to exculpate the German past: Bush as Hitler, the bombing of Baghdad as the bombing of Dresden, the attack on the WTC as the burning of the Reichstag. These displacements in fact tell us little about the United States, but they indicate a disturbed relationship to the German past and a desire to resolve it through an expression of animosity. These metaphors make little sense elsewhere. In France, in contrast, a much more pronounced anti-Semitism contributes tot he movement culture, including physical violence, in ways (for various reasons) less likely in other European countries. In addition, the French imperative to position itself against the United States has to do with its own history and its fantasies about a lost world-power standing (the same power, after all, that Marlborough defeated at Blenheim).
     Yet none of this has as much to do with American policies and much more to do with European identity. Beyond the fantasies or the caricatures, we should look at the various components of real anti-Americanism its political categories to understand how it plays a role in the endogenous formation of Europe. Yet at the same time, and beyond local national variations, this Europe that is coming into shape precisely under the ideological umbrella of anti-Americanism, does indeed represent an alternative and is, objectively, in a fundamental and exogenous conflict with the United States. There is a drama, so to speak, but one which the anti-Americans barely perceives. The anti-American mass movement that opposes the United States understands itself as a progressive force in history and points an accusatory finger, therefore, incessantly to the pacts-with-the devil that the United States made in the context of the Cold War. (Its prepolitical moralism precludes its facing the complexities of a lesser-than-two-evils situation.) However, the Soviet Empire is gone, the Cold War is over, and the United States has shifted aggressively to a foreign policy of liberalization, a fundamental challenge to authoritarian regimes, and, in a deep historical sense, a return to the principles that underlay the Addison whom Brecht could appreciate. It is that liberalization that emergent Europe resists: no regime change, ever.
     Anti-americanism has emerged as an ideology available to form a post-national European identity. In that sense, it is endogenous: not a response to an outside threat but an aspect in the process of European political cultural transformation. Europe has no ideal content of its own; its failure to show leadership in the Balkans in the early nineties—1992 was to have been the year of Europe—robbed it of the opportunity to define itself plausibly in terms of human rights or democracy. It therefore has to define itself negatively, against outsiders, through the deployment of Feindbilder. In place of the nationalist anti-immigration mood of the nineties, anti-Americanism permits a generalized hostility to the nation of immigrants: xenophobia without nationalism.
     The price of entry into Europe is the gradual renunciation of national substance; this is a painful process, even in Germany, the country most eager to shed any remaining national legacy. This price includes a suppression of intra-European enmities. Moreover, it implies the adoption of a narrative that treats conflict, particularly armed conflict, as reprehensible: hence, peace at all costs, peace at any price, even repressive peace, and a prohibition on regime change, which was the common denominator between the governments and the European street. These are not opportunistic positions but the necessary consequence of the suppression of nationhood. In addition an irreversible transfer of authority to supranational organizations takes place, with the consequence of a deeply felt democracy deficit: more and more of life is regulated by powers beyond electoral control or even public transparency. Schmitt identified this process by which the power of democracies shifts increasingly into the arcane realm of closed committees and bureaucratic decision. It burgeons into a generalized post-national and post-democratic regime of multilateralism: government less by election and more by regulation. Its international form culminates in the United Nations (regarded by Europeans, strangely, as carrying some moral authority), domestically it implies the bureaucratic social state and the regulated economy, impervious to reform.
     Anti-americanism, as the endogenous ideology formation necessary for European unification, does however in the end confront an alternative and enter into conflict with it. That is the substance of the opposition between multilateralism and unilateralism. Let us leave aside the polemical points to be scored regarding the German unilateral opting out of an Iraq campaign, regardless of any potential UN decision; similarly we should bracket the substance of the French role in the UN, and its abuse of the international organization. The point is that the two principles point far beyond the technicalities of international relations and indicate two fundamentally distinct cultural predispositions. Multilateralism is, by definition, an infringement on individual prerogative and implies a deferral of responsibility into a regime of committees, as Arendt would have it, a responsibility of no one. It has consequences in terms of domestic policy as well as international relations: the overcoming of egoism. The association of the United States with unilateralism, in contrast, involves a different notion of liberty, outside the state and outside the suprastate. The European vitriol directed at the United States allows Europeans to enter the European community. It is however simultaneously—and dramatically—an expression of a hostility to independence, individual and national, while on a deeper level a distorted expression of the pain of having had to surrender local purviews to a supranational bureaucracy. Forced to renounce their particular pasts and their national instincts, Europeans condemn as archaic American nationhood, looking at it all the same with wistful jealousy. The enmity directed at the United States is an externalization of the pain of loss and a protest against the unfairness: why should the Americans be able to have identity, if the Europeans have had to surrender theirs. Mass demonstrations---much more a European form than an American—are the appropriate ritual for identity loss, in which grief over one’s fate is transformed into rage against another’s fortune.
     A different and better Europe, that lived up to the best of its past and pursued its aspirations, might tell a different story about itself. After all, it was once liberty that led the people, even in Paris. Instead, today, anti-Americanism serves as a pathological social psychology, based on a collectivistic transnational identity formation and providing an an anti-reformist ideology for European unification. European anti-Americanism is the primary substance for the otherwise primarily bureaucratic process of European unification. This was quite clear in Schroeder’s election campaign: opposing American policy in Iraq was part and parcel of opposing amerikanische Verhaeltnisse, meaning economic reform and deregulation. It remains to be seen with Schroeder in Germany or the Chirac-Raffarin team in France will be able to cash in their anti-American popularity in order to pass unpopular economic reform. The more likely outcome is a modified version of the social status quo. Better indolence than independence.
     Here we can begin to see the alternative models of the post-cold war world that replace the myth of the Atlantic community of values. During the missiles debate of the mid-eighties, Castoriadis criticized the peace movement’s willingness to sacrifice all values for peace. Not all qualities of life should be sacrificed in order to maintain peace. The terrain is not much different today. A European predisposition to accept the status quo and to do nothing rather than to take risks, no matter how dire the situation, contrasts with an American predisposition to assert independence and insist on individual responsibility to act. It is however, ultimately, not the American actions, but the European incapacity to act that provokes the anti-American rage.
1) Georg Lukacs, The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-philosopchial Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1971), 99.
2) Cited in Henryk M. Broder, Kein Krieg, Nirgends: Die Deutschen und der Terror (Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2002), 9-10 Cited in Henryk M. Broder, Kein Krieg, Nirgends: Die Deutschen und der Terror (Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2002), 123.
3) Arundhati Roy, Power Politics(Cambridge: South End Press, 2001), 41, 36.
4) Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living (New York: Modern Library, 1999), 101
5) Bertolt Brecht, Journals 1934-1955 (New York: Routledge, 1996), 71.

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