Arguably the Post-Marxist Left in Europe has borrowed heavily from American political culture. Contrary to the opinion that ideological fevers only move across the Atlantic in a westerly direction, the opposite may be closer to the truth.
American books are more likely to sell in Europe than vice versa; and European televisions and theaters feature made-in-America products nonstop.
After World War II, it was the United States that reconstructed German “civic culture”; it was not Europeans who conquered Americans and undertook a civilizing mission here. Nor are Americans as likely to go to Europe to study, because of linguistic laziness but also because of financial opportunities, as Europeans are likely to come to the United States.
It is both anachronistic and naive to insist that Europeans cannot import their political values from here, particularly given the traumatic breaks in European life caused by the devastating wars of the last century.
But European leftists have not become ersatz Americans without a certain perceptible ambivalence. In an Oedipal fashion, they have lashed out at the culture and society they imitate.
Thus the European Left looks for issues that can help distinguish it from the transatlantic giant; and the farther leftward on the European spectrum one looks, the more venomous the voices become.
Americans are accused of soiling the environment, dumping commodities on Third World countries to inhibit their economic growth, and siding with Israelis, depicted as Western colonialists, against ThirdWorld Palestinians.
What makes these confrontations so acrimonious is their evidence of cultural dependence, that is to say, the European Left has become parasitic on American fashions.
It does not any longer export anything of cultural significance to the New World, save for postmodernist literary criticism, which is an acquired taste among Ivy League English departments and their provincial satellites.
In a real sense, the European Left has never recovered from the fall of the Soviet empire.
-Paul Edward Gottfried
The Strange Death of Marxism