Leisure May Be the Death of Europe
Time to Kill
In his article, Time to Kill - Europe and the Politics of Leisure, Steven Muller examines the efforts of Europe to reconstitute itself in the aftermath of the Cold War. By analyzing such factors as economics, politics, social functions, labor and unemployment, the author concludes that, in contrast to the prevailing sense of optimism, Western Europe is in fact facing a period of, "acute economic stagnation, the undermining rather than the expansion of democracy, and serious social upheaval" (Muller, 26). The primary cause of this crisis, according to Muller, is Europe's inability to rapidly or effectively deal with revolutionary changes in the human condition, which will result in a decreasing number of individuals enjoying the privilege of employment, and an increasing amount of leisure and idleness. I agree with the author that, unlike the other technologically advanced nations such as the United States and Japan, the existing conditions within Western Europe will contribute to, rather than guard against, impending economic, political, and social crisis.
Muller's assertion that within the most technologically advanced nations, a reversal is taking place between the social...
Termed 'smart machines', electronic technology and virtual intelligence are indeed performing more of the production and service tasks that society requires, and which used to be provided by human labor. The introduction of labor policies such as job sharing, shorter working hours, and increased holiday entitlements may initially stem the tide of mass unemployment but, as Muller correctly asserts, the rate of unemployment in most European nations has already begun to climb. The reason that this situation will prove damaging to Western Europe, and not America or Japan, lies in the economic policies of European governments, and in particular their welfare systems. In European Union countries, the costs of honoring their welfare promises to an increasing number of unemployed will be an enormous increase in public expenditure. It also places those governments into a 'catch 22' situation, whereby historical and political tradition make it extremely difficult, and electorally dangerous, to cut the present welfare benefits, so, in order to raise the additional revenues, they require to stimulate either public or private sector economic growth. To assist economic growth in the public sector places additional pressure and expense upon the already strained government budget, yet by favoring private sector growth they risk furthering the development of technological advances, and causing an unwanted increase in unemployment. The only viable solution to this crisis is to make cuts to the present levels of welfare: a policy that would be viewed by Europeans as being against their traditions of social justice and democracy, and which could potentially lead to outrage and social unrest.
Although the United States, and other technologically advanced nations outwith Europe, do not suffer from this historical bondage to an…
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