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5 The US strategy and the Alternatives for Europe

5.1 The American decline
5.2 A strategy of 'Techological Star Wars'
5.3. The contradictions of the US strategy
5.4. The alternatives for Europe

The decline of the US economy and the technological strategies to revive US leadership are two major elements in the changing US - European relations in the 1980s. The long-term weakening of the US economy and the faster growth of Europe and Japan have eroded the traditional basis of the post-war US power. A new US strategy has emerged in the 1980s, searching for a revived leadership and containing the increasing political autonomy of Europe. While such a strategy includes wide-ranging political, military and economic aspects, a major role in the long-term reorganization of the relations between the US and Europe is played by the development of new technologies and their applications in the economy as well as in the military.

The analysis in the previous chapters of the economic processes and the technological strategies has shown that the long-time advantage enjoyed by the US in the post-war period has come to an end. Europe and Japan have concluded the 'catching up' of American economic and technological leadership, and their is an increasing convergence of the advanced capitalist countries. What has changed much less, however, is the international political order, with US power being revived in the 1980 by a spiralling arms race and by an assertive policy even towards its own allies. A key element of the US government strategy in the 1980s has been the attempt to shape the direction of technological development in a way that could set the ground for the economic competition with Europe and allow the US to use its position of political and military prominence within the Atlantic alliance.

How economic processes, the US technological strategy and political factors come together in shaping the future of US - European relations is the object of this chapter, leading to a review of possible alternatives for the future of Europe.

5.1 The American decline

The relative decline of the US economy is well documented. Growth, production, productivity, trade, all indicate a serious worsening of the relative position of the US vis-à-vis Europe and Japan. The US shares of world industrial production and world trade have constantly decreased and even the US domestic market has been flooded by imports.

In spite of all the promises of economic renewal, after two terms of the neo-conservative policies of the Reagan administration, the US has slower rates of growth than Europe and Japan, no increase of productivity, a current account deficit in the balance of payments close to $150 billion and a currency that lost most of the overvaluation of the early 1980s. US government policies were not only unable to solve these problems, but they have aggravated the contraditions. The enormous public expenditure, largely devoted to expanding the military budget ($1,500 billion were spent on the military between 1981 and 1986) has stimulated a short-term cycle of growth, fuelled also by the growth of private, high-income consumption. The greater demand has not contributed to an increase in investment, productive capacity and competitiveness; on the contrary, the US economic base has been further eroded by the strategies of decentralization and offshore production of US multinational corporations. Without greater domestic economic activity, the US government expenditure has left permanent large deficits, around $200 billion a year, a $1,500 billion federal debt and a growing need to borrow from abroad, that has made the US one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world.

The decline of the US economy has been parallel to the erosion of its technological leadership. Civilian R&D expenditure as a share of GNP has been for years lower than in West Germany and Japan. Among the patents registered in the US, the American share continues to decline; the international trade of high-technology products has shown, for the first time in 1986, a deficit close to $3 billion, in key products such as machine tools, telecommunications, semiconductors and robots.

Economic strength and technological leadership, the two pillars of the US post-war power are breaking down. Together, they had defined a regime of accumulation that was exported all over the world, from the forms of the labour process to the modes of consumption. The US leadership had also provided the necessary cohesion to a rapidly growing world economy, along the coordinates of open markets and monetary stability. In such a hegemonic system, the collapse of the US economic and technological leadership really marks the end of an order for the world economy and the international system.

This nature of the US decline rarely emerges in the current discussion, but the debate among US economists has been surprisingly unanimous in acknowledging the structural problems of the US economy. From the neo-conservatives of the Republican Party to the neo-liberals of the Democratic Party, from the business press to trade-unions views and to left critics, the range of studies that have pointed out the worsening performance of the US economy and its loss of economic and techonological leadership is very wide and almost unanimous.

The views differ on the economic causes and the social consequences of this process, and on the policy prescriptions. The road charted by neo-conservatives and followed by the Reagan administration has left the domestic and the international economy to the operation of those market mechanisms that had led to the crisis in the first place. The US has increasingly dissociated itself from the global responsibilities of managing the world economy, increasing tensions and international instability; it has pursued unilaterally its strategy for restoring leadership, exerting political and, if required, military pressure upon allies and adversaries alike.

In these processes, the growth of US military power has been crucial, making possible, in the short term, the pursuit of contradictory objectives. The growth of military spending has expanded demand and concentrated resources in a sector where the US government has a well-tested ability and legitimation to intervene in the economy. In the military sector the US has the largest 'comparative advantage' over Europe and Japan. The arms build-up provides also the new means - new armaments - for asserting US power in the international arena, creating the bases for the US interventionism in the years of the new 'Cold War'.

While the growth of the military economy in the 1980s has restored US military power, it has also deepened the domestic contradictions. With 7 per cent of GDP devoted to military expenditure; 25 per cent of the federal budget spent on defence; 6.5 million people employed by the Defense Department, the armed forces and military industries; 37,000 firms prime contractors for the Defense Department, the US military economy is a bloc of enormous size, with its own mechanism of operation. Its growth has made more serious the diversion of resources from the rest of the economy and has increased the power of the military.

Equally serious has been the impact of the growing military orientation of innovative activities. One-third of US scientists and 70 per cent of federal R&D expenditure are devoted to military projects. The direction of such research has become increasingly exotic and distant from possible civilian applications, due to the requirements of ever more sophisticated performances and the disregard to cost considerations. The result has been a reduced pace of innovation in the US economy, while the technological competition from Europe and Japan has been increasing.

Together with the growth of the military economy, other processes have contributed to the US economic decline. They included the growing internationalization of the economy and the strategies of US multinational corporations that have eroded the US industrial base; the growth of financial and speculative activities in increasingly unstable financial markets; the growing polarization of society and the redistribution of income and wealth to the rich. Facing these deep structural problems of a declining economy, the main response of the US government in the 1980s has been a focus on a strategy to restore its international leadership.

5.2 A strategy of 'Techological Star Wars'

For a country that had built its international power on its technological leadership, the simplest way of restoring its ailing hegemony could only be the search for a new technological 'fix', a new jump ahead of its competitors, recreating a 'gap' in technology, industrial capacity, productivity, markets and consumption with the other advanced capitalist countries.

However, the convergence among the advanced economies and the continuing American decline have made such a solution impossible. The current technological advantages of the US in some areas fall short of resulting in a generalized 'gap'. Europe and Japan have not only completed the 'catch up' but they have successfully developed their specialization in various areas. The technological frontier is now more articulated and fragmented than ever before, with different countries at the leading edge in various technologies and their applications.

With increasing specialization, international flows of technology have increased and the strategies of multinational corporations have gone in the same direction. In these conditions no technological 'revolution' can give back the US a generalized technological leadership; the conditions for a return to the immediate post-war situation are simply not there.

In this context, a national technological strategy cannot be presented as a bid for an overall leadership across the board of sectors and industries. Rather, it should aim to set the national economy in the best possible position in the international division of labour, considering the present strengths and resources of the country, selecting those areas and sectors where the advantage for the national economy is greater.

In the case of the US in the 1980s, this has meant focusing on the areas where it already had the greatest comparative advantage on Europe and Japan, and where it could make the greatest political use of its technological advantage. Within the wide range of the new technologies - microelectronics, computers, telecommunications, optics, space, materials, biotechnology - the US government policy has focused its efforts on 'strategic' areas, defined in terms of their importance for 'national security' and military applications. In fact, military technology is the area where the US has the greatest specialization, in areas (such as nuclear weapons) where often the other countries are barely present. Furthermore, in this field the US has developed a set of institutions with a long tradition of funding and directing technological change. It has also the ability to 'use' the outcome of such innovations - new weapons and military strategies - to enhance its power in international relations.

The Strategic Defense Initiative is exemplary of this combination of technological, economic, military and economic factors. Star Wars renews the faith in technology, in American technology, and in its ability to solve complex political problems, such as the nuclear threat. Launching a major 'initiative' in this field promises to revive US technological leadership, immediately defines a new direction for technical change and a new ground for economic competition among the more advanced countries. It also increases the military and political power of the US both in the East-West confrontation and in Western relations. For a country in economic decline, with its hegemony eroded, this strategy appeared as a perfect solution.

Various other 'initiatives' and policies have complemented the Star Wars strategy. Direct intervention in the semiconductor industry; deregulation and pressures to reorganize the international telecommunications system; imposition of strict controls over international flows of technology - these are the cases, reviewed in the previous chapter, offering evidence of a strong technological strategy of the US. They all share the use of technology as a weapon in international relations and the attempt to use US power to direct technical change, with the aim of achieving a new US leadership. This evidence supports the interpretative hypothesis formulated in Chapter 2; the result is what could be defined as a strategy of 'Technological Star Wars'.

Within the US, this strategy has been part of the rapid expansion of the military economy and of defence-oriented research. 'Star Wars' technology brings to the extreme the divergence between military and civilian innovation that has contributed to the deterioration of the US technological performance. But more important than the actual technological outcomes - that are likely to result in another generation of incredibly expensive and probably unreliable 'baroque' weapons orbiting in space - is the impact that such a strategy has already had on the direction of research and on international relations.

Such a strategy unfolded during a new 'Cold War', when the 'value' of military power within the Western alliance had suddenly increased; it inflated the 'value' of military technology exactly when the US was losing ground with Europe and Japan in civilian technology. This has led to a deepening contradiction, as the greater reliance of the US on military power accelerated the erosion of its economic strength.

As dangerous as it is for international peace and the stability of the world economy, the US strategy has been successful, to some extent, in recovering in political terms what the US had lost on the economic ground.

In the case of semiconductors the US, facing the crisis of its domestic producers and increasing imports, has managed to stop the internationalization of the industry and the Japanese penetration of the US market. To achieve these results, the US has taken unprecedented steps, starting a 'trade war' with Japan and preparing a major joint effort of government (in fact the Defense Department) and industry to create the manufacturing capacity for the next generation of chips.

In the case of US controls over technology transfers, the political success of the US strategy is unquestionable, as not only the NATO allies but also the neutral countries of Europe have accepted the US-imposed restrictions on the sale of advanced technology to the countries of the Soviet bloc. Such a strategy, however, resulted in a serious economic burden both for the US and for international trade.

In the case of SDI, the major US allies have accepted, after some initial resistance, the US offer to join the research programme. This shapes the direction of research in high technology in the other advanced countries, and allows the US to control some of the results, imposing secrecy and restricting their applications. This other US political success, with long-range implications for East-West and US - European relations, is likely to be paid with a major distortion of technological progress.

In all these cases, Europe and Japan have been prepared to bow to US political pressure, 'surrendering' to the 'Technological Star Wars'. They are accepting as the ground for competition the areas where they are weakest. A significant US breakthrough in the frontier of military space technology is likely to seriously pressure Europe and Japan to concentrate their limited resources in similar areas, therefore reducing their ability to expand their specialization in the technologies where they can be more successful.

These characteristics of the 'Technological Star Wars' strategy also suggest that the current race for high military technology is unlikely to contribute to a new 'long wave' of growth of the world economy, with the US leading a new cycle of worldwide accumulation and rebuilding its hegemony on an economic basis. Both the technological and the institutional factors that have been associated in the past with the emergence of a new 'long wave' now seem missing. The 'strategic technologies' on which the US policy is focusing are unlikely to have a similar role to the one played at the beginning of this century by the mechanical, chemical and energy technologies associated with the rise of the US economy with its 'Fordist' regime of accumulation.

The strategy of 'Technological Star Wars,' therefore, does not appear as a sound basis for restoring technological advance and economic growth and reversing the US decline. But, in order to succeed, such a strategy does not need to achieve a renewed, sustained expansion of the world economy; it is enough that Europe and Japan accept the combination of political and technological pressure to follow the US on the ground of military-oriented research, of an increasing military economy and of a 'Star Wars' type of technology. This is the competition that Europe and Japan are most likely to lose, giving the US leadership a new lease of life.

5.3. The contradictions of the US strategy

The 'Technological Star Wars' strategy has its economic and social basis in the forces that continue to emphasize the US international hegemonic role. While in the past decades such a social bloc was able to integrate a large spectrum of US society, from multinational corporations and the 'military-industrial complex' to labour, with a domestic hegemony that paralleled the one in the international arena, the current attempt to revive it has shown deep divisions within this social bloc.

The US military economy, a major element of this strategy, is largely isolated from the world economy and international competition. The firms dominating military production are much less internationalized than those operating in commercial markets. In the 1980s this difference has increased further. While US firms were losing competitiveness and the US multinationals increased their production abroad, the military industries expanded with the growing defence contracts and increased their domestic orientation.

US technology policies have emphasized this contradiction, chosing to concentrate the efforts on military innovation and neglecting the needs of civilian industry. SDI, again, is the more extreme example. The largest research programme ever funded by a Western government is largely directed towards the traditional suppliers of the Defense Department. The US 'military-industrial complex' is provided with a new opportunity to grow and innovate in military production. But the growing divergence among these two sectors is also reducing the possibilities of civilian applications of the military technologies now being developed, that are likely to emphasize even more the criteria and sophistication of military production.

This contradiction, however, remains confined within the borders of the US. All US firms, in particular multinational corporations, will benefit from a renewed US international leadership recreating the conditions that made possible in the post-war period the world expansion of US capital. In the current crisis of US hegemony, these international conditions may, however, be established by other means, for instance by a new international agreement on the coordinated management of the world economy among the more advanced countries, as some sectors of the neo-liberal establishment have been proposing.

An international order where the US is no longer the undisputed leader leaves no major means to exert US power other than economic strength. Hence the growing discussion in the US on the need to restructure the US economy, restoring its competitiveness and ability to match other countries' performance. In this perspective, the strategy for reviving US manufacturing and competitiveness, that inspires much of the neo-liberal thinking and the debate within the Democratic Party, is directly opposed to the strategy of 'Technological Star Wars' that has characterized the Reagan administration. A growing polarization of interests may result within the US between the domestic 'military-industrial complex' and the more internationalized part of the economy; this divide is likely to affect the political debate and the lines of the 1988 presidential election.

In a critical position, at the intersection among these two sectors, there are the large US high-technology firms. Both US military contracts and international markets are for them possible directions of growth, and they are in the position to decide where to direct their own innovative resources. Again, the case of SDI shows that the major US high-technology firms, from IBM to AT&T. have avoided major commitments, and the bulk of SDI contracts has gone to companies that are already major military producers.

Many US high-technology firms have also suffered from the US policy of restricting international technology transfers, and many industry associations have voiced their criticism of the government's strategy. This, however, does not mean that US civilian-oriented transnational corporations are opposed to the US strategy; in spite of the economic and technological shortcomings of the 'Technological Star Wars', they are supposed to benefit from its political consequences, reasserting US leadership around the world.

A second major set of contradictions of the 'Technological Star Wars' strategy can be found at the international level, in the growing confrontation with Europe and Japan. For Western Europe, the US strategy means technological and political subordination. The success of the US project will result in a reduction of the European capacity to innovate and pursue its own model of development. For Europe, it means following the US road towards an increasingly militarized economy and technology. One of the consequences we are already seeing is that the powerful possibilities of new technologies are increasingly constrained by the political context of the US strategy; they are locked into the existing power relations that prevent the full application of technological advances.

Only a continuing confrontation along East - West lines - and in the future increasingly along the North-South divide - can create the conditions of international tension that make the US strategy possible and, so far, successful in forcing the other countries to follow. The evident dangers of such a course for the international order and peace need not be discussed here.

The international contradictions of the US 'Technological Star Wars' will therefore become more serious as the development and control of new technologies have been transformed by the US strategy into an area of confrontation between the two sides of the Atlantic, and the two sides of the Pacific. The present structure of international relations is now a fetter for the possibilities of technological development. Confronting this strategy and its contradictions, Europe is facing a number of alternatives, in its relations with the US, in its domestic social and political processes and in the direction of its future development.

5.4. The alternatives for Europe

Facing the US strategy, Europe is far from responding with a common voice and with a coherent strategy. The different reactions of European governments, firms, and societies have shown deep divisions both on the immediate responses and in the longer-term perspectives.

Just as America, the European position is characterized by a paradox. Its economy is by now too strong to let Europe fall behind the United States, with a new technological 'gap'. But Europe is too weak to challenge the US political leadership. Rather, it is Japan that is emerging now with the most powerful challenge to US economic and technological power.

The divisions and uncertainty within Europe have so far prevented the translation of its economic strength into political power, forcing a new international order and rewriting the rules of transatlantic relations. However, the US strategy itself is making more explicit the contradiction of a Europe that keeps improving its economic performance and, at the same time, is increasingly subordinated to US policies. A restructuring of Atlantic relations, both political and military is therefore inevitable, including a reconsideration of NATO and its strategy in the new East - West context. The problem is not if this restructuring will happen, but how.

Economic and political processes may combine in many different ways in drawing a picture of the future of Europe. The forces and strategies that have emerged in Europe in the 1980s have presented different alternatives, views of the future, political projects and possible scenarios that parallel those developing in the US.

In conclusion, four different perspectives and alternative projects for the European future are now outlined, in a necessarily schematic way. The aim is not a forecasting exercise but an attempt to identify the major directions and the possible outcomes of the economic processes, technological strategies and political relations that have, in the 1980s, characterized US-European relations.

The American Way

The first possibility to be considered is the success of the US strategy of 'Technological Star Wars'. Europe will become increasingly similar to the US in terms of economic structure, technological choices and political profile. With US governments still determined to restore their leadership, the American hegemony would be restored in an Atlantic alliance reorganized for the Star Wars era. The scenario of international relations outlined by this project would include, besides the development and deployment of SDI, a continuing nuclear arms race, aggressive military strategies, intervention in the Third World and the use of technological strategies as a weapon in international relations, with the European supporters of this project actively participating in the US strategy.

In political terms, Europe would experience a reduction of its political autonomy, of its ability to identify and pursue independently its own interests. In the economy, European and American firms would become increasingly integrated, as a result of the common processes of internationalization. Greater links will develop in the activities of production and research and development; many European innovative activities would be controlled by the US, and integrated in US technology, with its growing military orientation. Europe would indeed take the road of the US of military-oriented technical change; Britain, for that matter, can already be considered as an example. This means that Europe will cease to represent a challenge to US leadership. The American economic decline would be reversed, at least relatively to Europe, while Japan may still ascend to the position of a major power.

The roots and the strength that such a project has in Europe should not be underestimated. In fact, the American alliance has served as a key source of legitimation for a large part of the European ruling class. Wide sectors of the conservative and Christian-democratic political forces in various European countries have a culture and a view of Atlantic relations that, for reasons of political opportunity and ideology, are consistent with this solution. In fact, in the early 1980s, there were governments of this kind - which have associated themselves with the US strategy of a new 'Cold War' and 'Technological Star Wars' - in Britain, West Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The success of the US strategy can offer something to the European multinational corporations, that are expanding their ties with American companies, sharing with them also a crucial interest for open markets and free capital flows. A growing internationalization of the economy is a likely outcome also for Europe, with its possible domestic consequences of industrial decline and social polarization, if Europe follows the 'American way.'

Europe Great Power

The strengths of the domestic technological and economic base in some European countries, and the political determination to make use of it, have led to the vision of a 'European Great Power' with an increasingly assertive world role. Such a view has deep historical and ideological roots, in the latent European nationalisms and in the French 'Gaullist' tradition. Grown under the US leadership, such a Europe would try to become a superpower in its own right, relying on the German economic strength and on French (and possibly British) nuclear weapons.

The economic and political forces that may rely on such a project are strong, with a different spectrum in each country. In the economic strategy, mercantilist traditions and habits of control and protection of national markets converge with the technological policy of selecting and protecting 'national champions' in each industrial sector. Support for this strategy may come from both the European multinational corporations and the emerging European-wide 'military industrial complex' that has been created by the growth of joint military productions.

In this perspective, the US 'Technological Star Wars' strategy would be rejected only partially. It would fail as an attempt to restore US leadership over Europe, but it would succeed in setting the ground for the competition between the declining US power and the emerging European power. Without fully supporting SDI, Europe may join in some research, playing with the idea of its own strategic defence system, with a parallel expansion of its conventional defence. Such an outcome is also consistent with a new US government that maintains the East - West confrontation, while being aware of the limits of US power.

While the economic competition between the US and Europe would develop on a more equal basis, the key confrontation for asserting European autonomy would be on the political and military ground. Here the dangers of increasing instability should not be disregarded.

However, a European project that choses to compete with the US on the ground of the 'Technological Star Wars' in terms of military technology and power would face the only aspect of US policy where its power, rather than declining, has increased in the 1980s. The issue of technology is a clear example. If the European response to the US strategy is to concentrate their innovative resources in similar programmes to develop new military technologies, resources will be diverted from those very industries that have led to the rapid growth and specialization of European economies. Following this road, Europe risks losing the very economic basis of its claims to a 'superpower' status, and most likely will also lose its challenge to US power. The project of a 'European Great Power' seems destined to remain a dream, but it may still lead to new nationalist surges and to halting domestic changes in various European countries.

Growth and autonomy

An effective rejection of the US 'Technological Star Wars' strategy may lead to a strategy that, after economic stagnation and the new 'Cold War,' returns to pursue growth and détente. The roots of such a project are in the policies and the success in the 1970s of a wide range of social-democratic, moderate and left forces in Europe, that are still working in this perspective. The conditions for its emergence are a defeat, first of all in the United States, of the unilateralist strategy of neo-conservative forces, opening new opportunities for co-operation in a jointly managed world economy, rewriting the rules of international economic relations in the age of the American decline.

With a new phase of growth, Europe could address the persistent problem of unemployment, while a revitalized welfare state would provide the framework for a new social accord among governments, trade unions and industries on the way to favour a new cycle of growth and redistribute its benefits. At the core of such a possibility there is the capacity of European economies to expand their innovative capacities, specialization and international competitiveness. A large part of European economic forces could sustain such a strategy for the growth of international markets in a climate of stability. The problems to be controlled in this perspective are mainly the process of internationalization and the growth of the military sector, that are likely to erode the domestic economic base and innovative capacity.

The type of technological development that is necessary in this context is the rapid diffusion of original applications of new technologies in various industries, in ways that are not limited to 'labour-saving' in production. This is a road that represents an effective rejection of the 'Technological Star Wars' model, not only in its political project but also in its technological ground. A Europe that is able to show continuing growth of the economy and productivity, with high wages and welfare state, and rapid technological change in civilian areas, not only could increase its share in the world economy, but it would also assert its own autonomous model in the international order marked by the American decline.

At the international level, such a European strategy requires a renegotiation with the US of the rules of the international economic order, with a reduction of the role of the dollar and US economic power. In political terms, a new détente in East - West relations, that may well fit with the strategy of the new Soviet leadership, would allow Europe to play a major role for disarmament and détente. In a parallel way, a more progressive role could also be played by Europe in the North-South issue, addressing the problems of co-operation and development.

Even if this would fall short of bringing about radical transformations in the bloc system that divides Europe and in the economic structures, such a road would substantially reduce the risks of confrontation and instability in both political and economic relations. The American political and military assertiveness would be contained, contributing in turn to the development of new policies, of neo-liberal inspiration, also within the US.

The constraints posed by Atlantic relations, however, are likely to remain a major problem, as the US can still use its political and military power in ways that this European strategy could hardly challenge. Another problem of this strategy is the growing controversy over the notion of growth, criticized for its social and environmental costs and disputed also as a solution for the unemployment problem. Nevertheless, a new domestic consensus and international order could still be developed around the goals of 'growth and autonomy.'

A Rainbow Europe

A more radical departure, over a longer time period, from the present US - European relations would require a major restructuring of political and economic relations. The division of Europe in two opposing military blocs; the North-South divide; the economic structures and social relations, are the key issues that Europe would have to address in an original way after a rejection of the US strategy to restore its leadership.

The basic principle of this project would be the reassessment of priorities, both at the domestic and international level. The halt to the escalation of military production would be immediate, converting it to civilian uses. Co-operation would replace confrontation; a de-alignment process would develop; the international system would be shaped less by power and more by dialogue. Human rights, equal rights, political pluralism would be put on centre stage. Redistribution would replace growth as the main concern, quality would prevail over quantity in the search for new forms of organization of production that meet human needs in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

The economic base of such a development would be an economy that combines international interdependency and domestic needs, careful in the use of human and natural resources, able to liberate energies and innovative capacities. The necessary technologies for such a strategy are small scale and decentralized, they emphasize the existing know-how of people, are designed to enhance and not reduce human control. These different criteria do not imply a return to pre-industrial systems of production and they can make use of innovative applications of new technologies. The development of microelectronics, computers and telecommunications may well offer a social infrastructure that allows the economy to move in this direction.

The deep changes required in such a perspective do not make it an utopian dream. Even if this strategy is not in the programmes of European governments or in the investment plans of multinational corporations, it is not without strengths. In the years of the biggest US efforts to restore its hegemony, facing the acquiescence of European governments, the European civil society has responded with the growth of one of the strongest social movement of recent history, for peace and disarmament and against the bloc division of Europe. In the midst of the new 'Cold War' it has challenged the roots of the arms race and militarism.

Close to them, the ecology movement has continued to explain why development should not mean the indiscriminate pursuit of growth, destroying the environment and using nuclear power, even after the Chernobyl disaster. Areas of the labour movement have shown an increasing awareness of the new quality of the future challenges posed by social processes and technological change.

This range of forces, with many others that have shaken society and politics, have already introduced some changes in the political structure of Europe, in its culture and social relations; in various issues they have effectively influenced political forces and governments. This process will continue to grow in the future, changing the very terms of the debate, pushing toward a different technological and economic base and a new quality in international relations. In a 'Rainbow Europe' the colours of the new social movements could emerge, in parallel to the very similar processes developing in the US, where the 'Rainbow' has in fact become one of the symbols of the forces working in this direction.

If not inside the houses of power, certainly within society, the issues raised by these new social movements will be the questions Europe will have to answer, on its project for the future in the age of American decline.

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