The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream

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Overview

The American Dream is in decline. Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and squeezed for time. But there is an alternative: the European Dream-a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life. Europe's lifestyle is not only desirable, argues Jeremy Rifkin, but may be crucial to sustaining prosperity in the new era.

With the dawn of the European Union, Europe has become an economic superpower in its own right-its GDP now surpasses that of the United ...

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Overview

The American Dream is in decline. Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and squeezed for time. But there is an alternative: the European Dream-a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life. Europe's lifestyle is not only desirable, argues Jeremy Rifkin, but may be crucial to sustaining prosperity in the new era.

With the dawn of the European Union, Europe has become an economic superpower in its own right-its GDP now surpasses that of the United States. Europe has achieved newfound dominance not by single-mindedly driving up stock prices, expanding working hours, and pressing every household into a double- wage-earner conundrum. Instead, the New Europe relies on market networks that place cooperation above competition; promotes a new sense of citizenship that extols the well-being of the whole person and the community rather than the dominant individual; and recognizes the necessity of deep play and leisure to create a better, more productive, and healthier workforce.

From the medieval era to modernity, Rifkin delves deeply into the history of Europe, and eventually America, to show how the continent has succeeded in slowly and steadily developing a more adaptive, sensible way of working and living. In The European Dream, Rifkin posits a dawning truth that only the most jingoistic can ignore: Europe's flexible, communitarian model of society, business, and citizenship is better suited to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Indeed, the European Dream may come to define the new century as the American Dream defined the century now past.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Why are so few Americans paying attention to the dramatic changes taking place across the Atlantic, Rifkin (The End of Work) asks in his provocative and well-argued manifesto for the new European Union. Famously, Americans "live to work" while Europeans "work to live," and Rifkin demonstrates statistically and anecdotally that Europe's humane approach to capitalism makes for a healthier, better-educated populace. The U.S. lags behind in its unimaginative approach to working hours, productivity and technology, Rifkin claims, while Europe is leading the way into a new era while competing well in terms of productivity. Rifkin traces the cultural roots of what he says is America's lack of vision to its emphasis on individual autonomy and the accumulation of wealth; Europe's dream is more rooted in connectedness and quality of life. Americans may be risk takers, but Rifkin is more admiring of risk-sensitive European realism, as well as its secularism and social democracy. Exploring the history behind the two continents' wildly differing sensibilities, Rifkin examines the myth of the U.S. as "land of opportunity" and the two continents' contrasting attitudes to foreign policy, peace keeping and foreign aid. Rifkin's claims are not new, but he writes with striking clarity, combining the insights of contemporary sociologists and economists with up-to-the minute data and powerfully apt journalistic observations. While he may appear to idealize Europe's new direction, Rifkin's comparative study is scrupulously thorough and informative, and his rigor will please all readers interested in the future of world affairs. Agent, Jim Stein. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
The new European dream celebrated by Rifkin "emphasizes community relationships over individual autonomy, cultural diversity over assimilation, quality of life over the accumulation of wealth, sustainable development over unlimited material growth, deep play over unrelenting toil, universal human rights and the rights of nature over property rights, and global cooperation over the unilateral exercise of power." Insofar as this book is a response to Robert Kagan's somewhat cartoonish view of Europe (as Venus, to the United States' Mars), it both celebrates the virtues that Kagan dismisses and aims to refute the proudly Martian view of the United States that Kagan holds. Kaganites will find much here that they will once again deem absurd: Rifkin is concerned with individual quality of life, not political and military power. He also overlooks glaring differences among European nations. Nevertheless, it will be a pity if American overconfidence leads them to ignore this valiant attempt to show that the American way of organizing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not necessarily the best (even if some of Rifkin's musings on "the third stage of human consciousness" are a bit windy). Rifkin is no starry-eyed idealist-he questions the "thickness" of the European dream and the persistence of European cynicism-and he has studied Europe seriously and with an open mind. His book deserves to be read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745634241
  • Publisher: Polity Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Pages: 400

Meet the Author

One of the most popular social thinkers of our time, Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of The European Dream, The Hydrogen Economy, The Age of Access, The Biotech Century, and The End of Work. A fellow at the Wharton School's Executive Education Program, he is president of The Foundation on Economic Trends in Bethesda, MD.

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Table of Contents

The European Dream Introduction

New Lessons from the Old World
1. The Slow Death of the American Dream
2. The New Land of Opportunity
3. THe Quiet Economic Miracle

The Making of the Modern Age
4. Space, Time, and Modernity
5. Creating the Individual
6. Inventing the Ideolgy of Property
7. Forging Capitalist Markets and Nation-States

The Coming Global Era
8. Network Commerce in a GLobalized Economy
9. The "United States" of Europe
10. Government Without a Center
11. Romancing the Civil Society
12. The Immigrant Dilemma
13. unity in Diversity
14. Waging Peace
15. A Second Enlightenment
16. Universalizing the European Dream

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2004

    a European comment

    As European, a very proud one, I can only agree to Mr. Rifkin's analytical view of my continent. I have been living in the US for 5 years now, and it still struck how little you folks enjoy life. We have one life only, and you spend the msot of it, running, working, exercesing, and with fake ideal of eternal beauty whereas we might not look superpowerful as you, but we do like to live I strongly recommend this book to people who want to open their eyes to a reality beyond their borders there is a whole world beyond your boundaries and Mr. Rifkin's book will show you

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2006

    Disappointing

    This book really struck me as rather simplistic and more of the same old America-bashing that has become popular in recent years. Very short on facts and heavy on opinion. I would hope for and expect more for my money.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2005

    European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream

    GOOD BOOK! Read why Americans live to work and Europeans work to live.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2005

    European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream

    So you think the USA is still a super power? Open your eyes America and read this outstanding book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    American or European Dream,

    As Euopean Union member countries prepare to vote on a European constitution it was interesting to read this book. Is the American way of life and the American dream outdated? sterile? arthritic? Has it been or should it be replaced by the European Dream? Used to thinking of Europe as being at least two trains late, the anglo-saxon schools of thought see Europe as bogged down in their past and sometimes overlook that they have managed to have their cake and eat it too... while the US American Dream has lost its' momentum. Rifkin, an American social activist, oultines the 'dream', gives an historical overview of the EU's development and explores how all that has come about in a study that highlights the creation of a (subterranean at times) European vision that goes beyond borders and in his point of view is better suited to the current wave of globalization. And in some ways he is no doubt correct. He underlines the very fundamental differences which exist between the two cultures and their perspectives on issues such as the environment, social policy, ... yet Rifkin sometimes fails to point out that this European vision has been more politically and economically inspired than driven by the people for the people - no doubt due to his own personal convictions on such matters. I wish he had further developed the counter-argument to the idealistic perception of the EU's future that he rapidly outlined in teh books' final pages. Nonetheless he makes a persuasive argument, and one that should not be ignored simply because of who he is or represents. Truth be told, in my opinion, no doubt the correct balance is somewhere between the two.

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    Posted December 24, 2009

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    Posted December 6, 2010

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