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It is amazing to see Americans describe the generation conflict in the transatlantic relationship as a constellation in which they themselves assume the role of the grownup, and therefore all the wrongs of Europe could be explained from childish behavior on our side in one form or another. After all, Europe is the West of the Old World, and the New World still understands itself primarily as our offspring rather than that of other cultures, so one would expect this offspring to criticize the failures of their forefathers in the legacy of their fathers. Yet what actually occurs is a mind-boggling swap of roles in which we suddenly turn into children and our cultural offspring switches into the role of our parents. Which, oddly enough, leaves us behind as sort of regressed grannies, or precocious children, just as you like. Maybe that is why this nice hemisphere from Indonesia to Spain is called the Old World.

The one thing that remains consistent however throughout this strange inversion of roles is that the emigrants believed in economic self-sufficiency because without that conviction they would not have left. They were leaving the civilization squeezed into the Northatlantic peninsulas of the Eurasian-African landmass for a neolithic vacuum of power, in which a functioning state could only be established by means of a functioning economy. Of course everybody who had muckraker expectations to the state to replace the social security of the pre-capitalist serfdom system with the supply of a basic income (Soziale Gerechtigkeit) would consider such a sink-or-swim promise as risky as the ocean journey that would be the entrance to it. Each achievement has its price, and for America to emerge it required Europe to get on without these who had the risk-tolerance skills that now are so implicitly demanded from us.

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