Europe, now liberated from the Cold War, is seeking to reconstitute
itself, and in doing so fulfill the lofty integrationist expectations
of the early post-World War II era on a fully continental basis.
Despite minority undertones of skepticism both here and in Europe,
the prevailing expectation is that a new and better Europe is taking
shape, one that will be united, prosperous, stable, and democratic.
But such expectations mirror hopes, not reality. Europe as a whole is
far more likely to face a period of acute economic stagnation, the
undermining rather than the expansion of democracy, and serious
Conventional economic analysis and a few select sociological
observations suffice to account for most of Europe's coming
trouble--of these more below. But it may be, too, that what would
otherwise be merely trouble will turn into a full-blown crisis for a
reason that has so far received little attention: that Europe is
destined to bear the initial brunt of a revolutionary change in the
human condition. Such a bold assertion naturally invites skepticism
if not outright rejection. Nonetheless, humanity may well be standing
on the edge of a fundamental reversal of the human condition: the
elevation of work into a privilege and the denigration of leisure
into the burden of idleness.