No survey can capture the breadth and depth of the anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years. From ultraconservative Bavarian grandmothers to thirty-year-old socialist activists in Greece, from globalization opponents to corporate executives — Europeans are joining in an ever louder chorus of disdain for America. For the first time, anti-Americanism has become a European lingua franca.
In this sweeping and provocative look at the history of European aversion to America, Andrei Markovits argues that understanding the ubiquity of anti-Americanism since September 11, 2001, requires an appreciation of such sentiments among European elites going back at least to July 4, 1776.
While George W. Bush’s policies have catapulted anti-Americanism into overdrive, particularly in Western Europe, Markovits argues that this loathing has long been driven not by what America does, but by what it is. Focusing on seven Western European countries big and small, he shows how antipathies toward things American embrace aspects of everyday life — such as sports, language, work, education, media, health, and law — that remain far from the purview of the Bush administration’s policies. Aggravating Europeans’ antipathies toward America is their alleged helplessness in the face of an Americanization that they view as inexorably befalling them.
More troubling, Markovits argues, is that this anti-Americanism has cultivated a new strain of anti-Semitism. Above all, he shows that while Europeans are far apart in terms of their everyday lives and shared experiences, their not being American provides them with a powerful common identity — one that elites have already begun to harness in their quest to construct a unified Europe to rival America.