The European charge against America 

US abundance, it is suggested,

has been bought at the expense of depth of character and culture.

The assumption, writes Dalrymple,

is that Europeans have forgone American prosperity voluntarily, for the sake of their souls, rather than because they have not the wit to produce it for ourselves. Those who fall behind materially almost always console themselves about the superiority of their inner lives.

Dalrymple himself is

not much of a materialist: I do not believe that the consumption of ever more goods constitutes the best that life has to offer. Yet I cannot disguise from myself that few people resist this as the main aim of life, at least when it is possible for them, and I myself am disinclined to make efforts except for money.

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