The New Crass

In short, the United States will never be Europe. It was born as a commercial republic. It’s addicted to the pace of commercial enterprise. After periodic pauses, the country inevitably returns to its elemental nature. — David Brooks

I think this is right, and my remarks in Sunday’s Globe should be read accordingly:

Though some in the United States fear the adoption of “European-style socialism,” Americans who think seriously about the future of our foreign policy should understand how the two halves of the West are in fact most likely to grow less similar.

The deep cultures of Europe and the US point in very different directions, both economic and political, because the matchup, there and here, between psychological longing and environmental reality have created such different sets of problems and opportunities. The kind of chastened — and, yes, collectivist — austerity that we’ve seen follow bad times in Europe just isn’t likely to take shape in America.

This is so for good and for ill, of course. So Brooks is correct to point out that “the financial world is abashed” as “members of the educated class explore and enjoy the humiliation of the capitalist vulgarians.” But a prime result of this downward turn is the further rise of vulgarian capitalism — the aspirational slumming behind what today I call the Scumbag Millionaire economy.