The American and European dreams are, at their core, about two diametrically opposed ideas of freedom and security. Americans hold a negative definition of what it means to be free and, thus, secure. For us, freedom has long been associated with autonomy. If one is autonomous, he or she is not dependent on others or vulnerable to circumstances outside his or her control. To be autonomous, one needs to be propertied. The more wealth one amasses, the more independent on is in the world. One is free by becoming self-reliant and an island unto oneself. With wealth comes exclusivity, and with exclusivity comes security.
The European Dream, however, is based on a different set of assumptions about what constitutes freedom and security. For Europeans, freedom is not found in autonomy but in embeddedness. To be free is to have access to a myriad of interdependent relationships with others. The more communities one has access to, the more options and choices one has for living a full and meaningful life. With relationships comes inclusivity, and with inclusivity comes security.
The European Dream by Jeremy Rifkin, Penguin 2005