Cultural Imperialism: Negative changes to the modern world
Today's world is changing rapidly. New processes and developments take place and implement in the world. Those transformations deserve explanation, because of their often contradictory essence. Globalization is one of those that contain important implications both in the economic and political field, and its terms require special attention. Along its doctrine the issue of cultural imperialism is also revealed. However, because of the dynamics of those two it can be accepted that cultural imperialism is the one that created the term "globalization .
Along the positive aspects that cultural imperialism contains, it is challenged by much criticism, greater part of it based upon the positive side: that likewise the homogenous aspiration of the globalization cultural imperialism promotes unification, removal of cultural and physical barriers, shared culture, etc.
Nowadays information is of those things that from periphery of has moved to the center and now holds the position of being the most important issue, by which modern world is described “ Information age. Manufacturing is not the most important by far, replaced by service orientated jobs. Thus a shift from physical to mental work is created. For countries that are still developing or emerging this presents a very complicated problem. They have to deal not only with the changes they are undergoing that have resulted from shifts from one system to another but moreover they have to adapt to a set of completely new conditions.This Essay is Approved by Our Editor Essays Related to Cultural Imperialism
Globalization and ImperialismGlobalization and Imperialism
I want to begin my essay from the general definitions of globalization and imperialism.
Globalization is a process of world economic, political and cultural integration, main descriptions of which is dissemination of capitalism all over the world, world division of labor, migration in the scales of all of planet; money, human and production resources, standardization of legislation, economical and technological processes, and rapprochement of cultures of different countries.
Imperialism is a policy of creation of scale colonial and economic empires, expansionism, and fight of the state for world hegemony.
Nowadays many people say about the “imperialistic” policy of the USA, but America is no longer annexing foreign territories. In place of the imperialism the globalization comes at the beginning of millennium. This question is not new for our society and it can’t be unnoticed. In my essay I try to find the similarity between imperialism and globalization after analysis of "The World is Flat" by Thomas L.Friedman and "Debate about Imperialism".
The first similarity, to my mind, is the interlacing of cultures. Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, said about it in his speech. He affirmed that the foreigners are able to engulf the USA and its civilization.
The cultural globalization is characterized by rapprochement of business and consumer culture between different countries in the world, wide use of English for international intercourse, growth of the use of the Internet for the receipt of information and communication, distribution all over the world of the American films, TV-programs and software, and growth of international tourism. Thus, globalization in a culture is closely related to Americanization, so, for example, network of McDonald’s restaurants of fast-food and one of famous sandwiches Big Mac has already became the universal symbols of society cultural globalization.
In "The World is Flat" Thomas Friedman presents so called “Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention” and the “supply chain”. Thomas Friedman says: “The Dell Theory stipulates: No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell’s, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain.”
In his book “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” Friedman says that two nations with a McDonald's franchise were never at war with one another. It was so called the Golden Arches theory. In his next book "The World is Flat" he has perfected this idea by saying that the people don’t want to have better standard as McDonald’s franchise symbolized, and the developing nations are afraid to loose the trust of international companies, which are able to include them into the world supply chain.
So, the second common and the main thing, which unites globalization and imperialism, is a trade. In "The World is Flat" trade is a base of almost all relationships in the world. The name of the book is a metaphor for understanding the world as flat or level within the limits of commerce and competition, where all participants have the equal rights. The author thinks that that world is a “flat”, in a sense that globalization levels the competitive fields between industrial and developing countries. The flattening is a result of convergence of personal computer with fiber-optic micro cable with the rise of work flow software. (Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia)
Albert Beveridge in his speech “The March of the Flag” mentioned the trade as a on of the key component of the successful policy: “For the conflicts of the future are to be conflicts of trade-struggles for markets-commercial wars for existence. And the golden rule of peace is impregnability of position and invincibility of preparedness.” But this idea differs from the Friedman’s idea of equality.
The third similarity is the connection of commerce with war and power. This idea becomes clear from the Albert J.Beveridge’s speech “In Support of an American Empire“, when he suggested the scheme of interrelation the USA with other countries in the trade relationships. He said: “Most future wars will be conflicts for commerce”.
Thomas L.Friedman in his book warns that Dell theory does not guarantee that the country will not go to war, but the governments of these countries certainly understand that they will incur losses in case of war.
Analyzing the conception of “globalization” and “imperialism” we shouldn’t forget about the differences of epochs. At the beginning of the 20-th century people didn’t have Internet and cell systems, they knew nothing about free trade and support chain. America has ceased to be an aggressive country, but she continues to spread new technologies and conceptions of developing. America influences on the world, but the world also influences on she.
1. Albert Beveridge .The March of the Flag. 16 Sept. 2000. 4 Febr. 2004. < http://www.historytools.org/sources/beveridge.html >
2. Bass, Warren. The Great Leveling. 3 Apr. 2005. < http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17314-2005Mar31.html>
3. Beveridge, Albert J. In Support of an American Empire. Record, 56 Cong. I Sess. pp. 704-712.
4. Gompers, Samuel. Imperialism - Its Dangers and Wrongs.
5. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The World is Flat. 5 Apr. 2007. 1 may 2008. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_is_Flat>
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Globalisation refers to the increasing connections between countries that have come with the growth of international travel and cross border shipping, and increases in communications, such as through the Internet. This has led to an increase in world trade and the flow of investments between countries. It has also made it more likely that conditions in one country will affect conditions in other countries, and has led to a more international culture in such areas as music, movies and fashion.
"I define globalisation as the freedom of our corporations to invest where and when we want, to produce what we want, to buy and sell where we want, and to keep all the restrictions through labour law or other political regulations as slight as possible."
- Percy Barnevik, Vice President of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum
This is a common public perception of globalisation: a meaningless term acting as a disguise for greedy multinational corporations, a means for the spread of cultural imperialism. A close examination of globalisation and cultural imperialist theory demonstrates flaws in that theory, suggesting that the cultural dominance imposed as a side-effect (or direct result) of globalisation is not as severe as alarmists would have us believe.
John Tomlinson suggests that when looking at globalisation one should "look beyond the self evidence of global cultural goods.” (1987: 180) What he means by this is that even though Western media (particularly American media) is ubiquitous throughout the modern world, one cannot automatically jump to the conclusion that a supposedly "weaker” culture would willingly accept American culture and ideology over what had existed beforehand. This is a counter-argument to the traditional cultural imperialist theory that assumes that "peripheral” cultures submissively conform to the "dominant” culture. (Tomlinson 1997: 180) Tomlinson argues that cultures do not necessarily.Related Essays:
Looking Into Globalisation. (2000, January 01). In DirectEssays.com. Retrieved 15:26, July 24, 2016, from http://www.directessays.com/viewpaper/89828.html
Direct Essays. "Looking Into Globalisation." DirectEssays.com. DirectEssays.com, (January 01, 2000). Web. 24 Jul. 2016.
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Globalization of Marketing
“Our age is driven by the Republic of Technology
So here we are. It's 2001. The cold war has ended. There are technological advances every day. The world is connected by the Internet. Previously sheltered countries are now able to see what is going on in the rest of the world. And the rest of the world can see what is going on in those countries. Ideas are bounced around as if in a pin ball machine. People in India, Pakistan, Israel, Germany, etc.� know what movie stars and
Nowadays one of the most commonly used terms is globalization. But what does globalization mean? Does it mean dissappearing borders, a common trade unit, no tax in trade abroad, political.
fashions are popular in America, Great Britain, France, and Japan. However, they get more than just movies and fashions. They hear about issue debates, political struggles, agricultural problems, national budget deficits, and changes of power in government. Almost every aspect of life in almost every country is an open book. People in South Africa and other places where government is challenged have heard of or seen the way democracy works in other countries. Third world countries get aid from
Global Warming: What Does Our Future Hold? During the course of the twentieth century, many environmental scientists have become increasingly confident that the average global temperature has elevated. Although.
super power nations. But they also end up getting a large dose of someone else's nationalism. This trend has been termed globalization and is generally considered a good thing. People can imagine a future without poverty and violence where almost everyone is happy and those who are not can do something about it without starting a war. The world is still far away from this utopian goal, but we are getting there slowly. I believe that one of the
Global Warming Mission Plan a. Analysis of the Problem 1. History of the Problem Some scientist's have been concerned since 1896 about what might happen if there were 5.5.
manifestations of globalization is the sense of a global society. The idea that the Internet presents a free marketplace of ideas is prevalent and makes a good example for what I wish to explain. Someone (person A) lives in Canada. Person A has a great idea for a business. He emails a friend of his in the United States, person B. Person B likes person A's idea and they become partners. Through the Internet, they are contacted by potential
Life is Changing Global warming is the most urgent environmental problem the world is facing. Few, if any, trends are more important to our future than climate change caused by.
investors in Denmark, Japan, Thailand, and South America. Person A and person B use the Internet to send a business proposal to the potential investors. The potential inverters like the proposal and agree to meet persons A and B in person to draw up a contract for shareholding rights and operations costs. Thus the free market place of ideas represented by the Internet has once again allowed people from around the world to connect and create a partnership. This
Life is Changing Global warming is the most urgent environmental problem the world is facing. Few, if any, trends are more important to our future than climate change caused by.
happens every day on a larger scale in our globalized world. Small countries form alliances with larger ones that are thousands of miles away. For example, after WWII, Japan agreed to let the U.S. take over its naval operations. So now Japan is a technological country and America's navy protects it. Also in this exchange, Americans are exposed to Japanese culture and the Japanese are exposed to American culture. This exposure happens all over the world every day. Some
You say potato, I say patato Hi, how may I help you? asked the cashier. I ll take a slice of plain and a water, please. Replied Jen.
people are concerned that this exposure to a different culture will greatly affect or even alter the culture of another country. Others see globalization as a simple melding of the local and the global aspects of life in every country. In the world today, global society and local society seem to have overlapping boundaries, making the lines between them blurry. Is the blurring of these boundaries a problem? This is the question we must answer in order to grow
In our book globalization refers to the shift toward a more integrated and interdependent world economy. Globalization has two main components, first is the globalization of markets, and second.
in our new global society. Those who see globalization as an intrusive process, believe that globalization is a manifestation of cultural imperialism. Dezalay (1990) said that, "Globalization is for the most part an Americaization" (p.281). People like Dezalay believe that globalization is in fact Europeanization or Americanization, and that it threatens to overwhelm or completely bury the cultural norms and values of other countries. Chuang (Communication and Global Society) said, "The Americanization of a global culture via technology and
In earlier times you had many different nations that did things their own way and did not communicate among on another. This is because they were not very technologically advanced.
mass media might lead to political hegemony, cultural imperialism, and intellectual colonization, and consequently diminish local identity" (p.19). A good example of cultural imperialism is the 18th and 19th century idea of the British regarding their worldwide territories. When the British colonized America and India, they believed they were superior to the native Indians in both places because the Indians did not speak the King's English and had strange habits and customs. Instead of trying to find a happy medium
THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE SIDES OF GLOBALIZATION INTRODUCTION Globalization is a word we are hearing more often these days. Thomas L. Friedman, author of The Lexus and the Olive.
for coexistence, the British tries to force the natives to bend to theirs laws and abandon their religions and cultural values. Specifically in the case of America, the British treated their own people with disdain. This as well as other things brought about the American Revolution. It is interesting to note that once Americans gained their freedom, they continues the trend of oppression by persecuting, in a variety of ways, the American Indians, Africans, Orientals, and immigrants of
Joe Shines Freshman Seminar 10/01/99 Encounters: The Origins of Globalism The first section of “The Global Citizen” gives us a basic premise on which to.
various other nationalities who came looking for a fair, free land. Although the U.S. is now considered a melting pot of humanity, some people say that this trend continues today, within the country's boundaries as well as outside
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Published: 23, March 2015
If colonialism is/was seen as the conquest of the west over the rest of the world, now, some say, the old colonial era is dead. Colonial areas are now free and independent countries. Yet, on the ruins of the traditional colonial empire has emerged a new, subtler, and perhaps more influential kind of imperialism. If we account for the most high-ranking alteration or shift that has taken place all over the world after the decline of the old western empires, we would say that the dramatic development of the past half-century has been the sturdy progress of globalization. There is no doubt that globalization is one of the most challenging expansion in the world history where the industrial nations retain substantial weight in what is referred to as the developing areas. Fred Dallmays writes:
In a new Copernican revolution. the Eurocentric world view of the past-colonialism-has been replaced or at least challenged by the rise of a global arena in which non-western cultures and societies are increasingly active participants in shaping the future of the world. (Beyond Orientalsism, ix)
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Much as colonialism, globalization as new form of imperialism allows the powerful nations to operate any where around the globe without any limits.
Traditional imperialism has involved the direct political control of one nation over another area, thus enabling the colonial authority to run all aspects of the domestic life of the protectorate. Globalization, which is seen as the other face of the same coin- imperialism, is more difficult to describe and hence to analyse. Nowadays, every one may have his own definition for the term "globalization"; however, most critics define it as the impact of advanced nations on developing areas at all levels: economic, cultural, educational, etc. Globalization as new form of imperialism differs from traditional means of dominance in the sense that it does not involve direct political control, leaving substantial leeway to the developing nations. It is similar, nevertheless, in some aspects of dominance by the advanced nation over the developing one. We can safely say that globalization is a planned policy of advanced nations to maintain their influence in developing countries. It is simply a continuity and repetition, in Foucault's phrase, of all discursive practices so as to keep the native throughout his life subordinate and submissive to the civilized nations. Within this view, Fred Dallmay asserts that
Europe or the west has attended to approach other cultures from a superior intellectual and political vantage, that is, from the perspective of a master spectator able to construct a model of the other best suited to purposes of domination and domestication. (Beyond Orientalism, xv)
From this, we can say that the concept of absolute freedom that underlies the rational for globalization is the same notion used to justify slavery and the practices of colonial expansion. It is equally based on the belief that the strong should be free to exercise his strength without moral or legal limitations that protect the weak. In this sense, globalization does not stand for equality, end of struggles or freedom, but represents the ongoing confrontation between the powerful and the weak, between the civilized and the inferior, between "I" and the "other". Simon During argues:
[G]lobalization represents not so much the end of ethnic and colonialist struggles as a force through which these struggles are continually re-articulated and replace, and through which the transitivity of like colonizer-colonized, central-global are continually proved. ("Postcolonialism and Globalization", 46)
It is clearly apparent that globalization and colonialism are seen as birds of the some feather and, thus, flock together. The era of globalization is another period in which imperialism is rejuvenated and recuperate its strength. It is true that the colonial era is going to be echoed and remembered in the era of globalization.
Globalization is a negative influence, just as colonialism itself had many negative effects in several areas; it has accentuated larger the gap between the advanced and non-advanced countries. In its theory, globalization is meant to promote the relationship between the first world and the third world and makes it equal. In practice, however, it has rather served to deprive the poor of his properties and deepen his poverty and starvation. Its goal to eradicate the great divide between the East/Other and the West is no more than a pretext to express or make the poor nations open their doors to the free-market. Globalization has become a threat to the poor rather an opportunity for global action to abolish poverty and create a world based on solidarity and peace. H.G. Gadamer writes:
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The human solidarity that I envisage is not a global uniformity but a unity in diversity. We must learn to appropriate and tolerate pluralities, multiplicities cultural differences. The hegemony or unchangeable power of a single nation-as we now have with just one singe superpower- is dangerous for humanity, it would go against human freedom[â€¦] Unity and diversity, and not uniformity or hegemony-that is the heritage of Europe. such unity in diversity has to be extended to the whole world-to include Japan-China-India and also Muslim cultures. Every culture, every people has something distinctive to offer for the solidarity and welfare of humanity.
(Beyond Orientalism, xii)
If Gadamer theorizes for solidarity and welfare of humanity, the west perhaps did not understand what is meant by the word humanity and, thus, they worked to keep welfare just for the white man. It is no surprise that the relations between advanced industrial nations and developing countries in many aspects are unequal. What is more is that the influence of the advanced industrial nations has continued beyond the period of traditional colonialism and is one of the basic facts of economic, political and social life of the developing world.
Now, if we consider the relationship between globalization and post-colonial studies, we find that it is extremely complicated. Globalization remains a term used primarily to describe contemporary western experience. It is a concept that has now been used to describe almost every aspect of contemporary life, from the complicated contemporary capitalism, to the rise of organizations and corporations, to the threat posed by the global culture to the local cultures and traditions, to the communication revolution introduced by new technologies. In this sense, it is claimed that globalization has made it possible to imagine the world as a single "villagized world", or as a global space linked by a wide array of technological, economic, social and cultural forces. Theorists claim that "we were living at home, but now we live every where". If globalization stands for the intensification of cultural, economic and political dominance and exploitation, post-colonial studies focus on the experiences and practices of non-western countries, especially as they relate to the western economic and cultural imperialism. In "Post-Colonialism and Globalization", Simon During states that
In affirming a dialectical relation between post-
colonialism and globalization, it becomes more
too difficult either to claim intellectual radicall-
ness and subversion while preparing the way
for a happy globalization, as reconciliatory post-
colonialist do, or to make claims for the strict
autonomy and continuity of identities rooted in
pre-colonial parts as some indigenous groups do.
Yet, there is a sense in which these concepts occupy roughly the same conceptual ground. The fact that post-colonial theorists address issues and themes raised by globalization seems to stem from the challenge that it poses to the broad theoretical framework of post-colonial studies. The characteristic concerns of post-colonial studies have been defined in relation to the complicated legacies of 19th an 20th centuries imperialism and colonialism. Globalization, however, has its roots in the European projects of imperialism; it names a set of contemporary transformations that have directly undermined some of the animating concepts of postcolonial studies, such as place, identity, the nation, and the very modes of resistance associated with these concepts. Globalization, thus, follows the same steps of colonialism though in a more sophisticated way. Along with other critics, Simon During defines "globalization in terms of speed, communication technologies and so on radically underestimate globalization's capacity not so much to preserve but to rekindle colonial struggles."("Post-Colonialism and Globalization, 36).
Regardless of all criticism, globalization will remain a profound and ongoing process occurring in every economic, political and cultural aspects of current world. The world as one place is becoming smaller and smaller due to globalization which attempts to control and standardize the world. Upon this, one can wonder to what degree does globalization intensify the convergence of local cultures and societies? Nowadays, many people wonder if globalization will have an end or not. In fact, one cannot be optimistic about an immediate end to globalization in any sphere, and perhaps in the third world. The invasion of globalization into the third world seems like a resurgence or revival of the white man's invasion during the colonial era. Accordingly, postcolonial societies seem to recognize globalization as much as the white man's culture. Hence, living in a place occupied by both side (I and Other) is to live, as Homi Bhabha writes:
This Essay is a Student's Work
Cultural imperialism in the late 20th century
China and the World
U.S cultural imperialism has two major goals, one economic and the other political: to capture markets for its cultural commodities and to establish hegemony by shaping popular consciousness. The export of entertainment is one of the most important sources of capital accumulation and global profits displacing manufacturing exports. In the political sphere, cultural imperialism plays a major role in dissociating people from their cultural roots and traditions of solidarity, replacing them with media created needs which change with every publicity campaign. The political effect in to alienate people from traditional class and community bonds, atomizing and separating individuals from each other.
Cultural imperialism emphasizes the segmentation of the working class: stable workers are encouraged to dissociate themselves from temporary workers, who in turn separate themselves from the unemployed, who are further segmented among themselves within the 'underground economy'. Cultural imperialism encourage working people to think of themselves as part of a hierarchy emphasizing minute differences in life style, in race and gander, with those below them rather than the vast inequalities that separate them from those above.
The principle target of cultural imperialism is the political and economic exploitation of youth. Imperial entertainment and advertisement target young people who are most vulnerable to U.S. commercial propaganda. The message is simple and direct: 'modernity' in associated with consuming U.S. media products. Youth represent a major market for U.S. cultural export and they are most susceptible to the consumerist-individualist propaganda. The mass media manipulates adolescent rebelliousness by appropriating the language of the left and channeling discontent into consumer extravagances.
Cultural imperialism focuses on youth not only as a market but also for political reasons: to undercut a political threat in which personal rebellion could become political revolt against economic as well as cultural forms of control.
Over the past decade progressive movements confront a paradox: while the great majority of the people in the Third World experience deteriorating living standards, growing social and personal insecurity and decay in public services (while affluent minorities prosper as never before) the subjective response to these conditions has been sporadic revolts, sustained, but local activities and large scale protests of short duration. In a word, there is a profound gap between the growing inequalities and socio-economic conditions on the one hand and the weaknesses of revolutionary or radical subjective responses. The maturing 'objective conditions' in the Third World have not been accompanied by the growth of subjective forces capable of transforming the state or society. It is clear that there is no 'automatic- relationship between socio-economic regression and socio-political transformation. Cultural intervention (in the broadest sense including ideology, consciousness, social action) is the crucial link converting objective conditions into conscious political intervention. Paradoxically, imperial policy-makers seem to have understood the importance of cultural dimensions of political practice far better than their adversaries.
Cultural Domination and Global Exploitation
Imperialism cannot be understood merely as an economic-military system of control and exploitation. Cultural domination is an integral dimension to any sustained system of global exploitation.
In relation to the Third World, cultural imperialism can be defined as the systematic penetration and domination of the cultural life of the popular classes by the ruling class of the West in order to reorder the values, behavior, institutions and identity of the oppressed peoples to conform with the interests of the imperial classes. Cultural imperialism has taken both 'traditional' and modern forms. In past centuries, the Church, educational system, and public authorities played a major role in inculcating native peoples with ideas of submission and loyalty in the name of divine or absolutist principles. While these 'traditional' mechanisms of cultural imperialism still operate, new modern instrumentalities rooted in contemporary institutions have become increasingly central to imperial domination. The mass media, publicity, advertisement and secular entertainers and intellectuals play a major role today. In the contemporary world, Hollywood, CNN and Disneyland are more influential than the Vatican, the Bible or the public relations rhetoric of political figures. Cultural penetration is closely linked to politico-military domination and economic exploitation. U.S. military interventions in support of the genocidal regimes in Central America which protect its economic interests are accompanied by intense cultural penetration. U.S. financed evangelicals invade Indian villages to inculcate messages of submission among the peasant-Indian victims. International conferences are sponsored for domesticated intellectuals to discuss 'democracy and market'. Escapist television programs sow illusions from "another world". Cultural penetration is the extension of counter-insurgency warfare by non-military means.
New Features of Cultural Colonialism
Contemporary cultural colonialism [CCC] is distinct from past practices in several senses:
(1) It is oriented toward capturing mass audiences, not just converting elites.
(2) The mass media, particularly television, invade the household and function from the 'inside' and 'below' as well as from 'outside' and above.
(3) CCC is global in scope and homogenizing in its impact: the pretense of universalism serves to mystify the symbols, goals and interests of the imperial power.
(4) The mass media as instruments of cultural imperialism today are 'private' only in the formal sense: the absence of formal state ties provides a legitimate cover for the private media projecting imperial state interests as 'news' or 'entertainment'.
(5) Under contemporary imperialism, political interests are projected through non-imperial subjects. -News reports' focus on the personal biographies of mercenary peasant-soldiers in Central America and smiling working class U.S. blacks in the Gulf War.
(6) Because of the increasing gap between the promise of peace and prosperity under unregulated capital and the reality of increasing misery and violence, the mass media have narrowed even further the possibilities of alternative perspectives in their programs. Total cultural control is the counterpart of the total separation between the brutality of real-existing capitalism and the illusory promises of the free market.
(7) To paralyze collective responses, cultural colonialism seeks to destroy national identities or empty them of substantive socio-economic content. To rupture the solidarity of communities, cultural imperialism promotes the cult of 'modernity' as conformity with external symbols. In the name of 'individuality', social bonds are attacked and personalities are reshaped according to the dictates of media messages. While imperial arms disarticulate civil society, and banks pillage the economy, the imperial media provide individuals with escapist identities.
Cultural imperialism provides devastating demonological caricatures of revolutionary adversaries, while encouraging collective amnesia of the massive violence of pro-Western countries. The Western mass media never remind their audience of the murder by anti-communist pro-U.S. regimes of 100,000 Indiana in Guatemala, 75,000 working people in El Salvador, 50,000 victims in Nicaragua. The mass media, cover up the great disasters resulting from the introduction of the market in Eastern Europe and the ex-U.S.S.R. leaving hundreds of millions Impoverished.
Mass Media: Propaganda and Capital Accumulation
The mass media is one of the principal sources of wealth and power for U.S. capital as it extends its communication networks throughout the world. An increasing percentage of the richest North Americans derive their wealth from the mass media. Among the 400 wealthiest Americans the percentage deriving their wealth from the mass media increased from 9.5 percent in 1982 to 18 percent in 1989. Today almost one out of five of the richest North Americans derive their wealth from the mass media. Cultural capitalism has displaced manufacturing as a source of wealth and influence in the U.S.
The mass media have become an integral part of the U.S. system of global political and social control, as well as a major source of super profits. As the levels of exploitation, inequality and poverty increase in the Third World, Western controlled mass communications operate to convert a critical public into a passive mass. Western media celebrities and mass entertainment have become important ingredients in deflecting potential political unrest. The Reagan presidency highlighted the centrality of media manipulation through highly visible but politically reactionary entertainers, a phenomena which has spread to Latin American and Asia.
There is a direct relation between the increase in the number of television sets in Latin America, the decline of income and the decrease in mass struggle. In Latin America between 1980,and 1990, the number of television sets per inhabitant increased 40 percent. while the real average income declined 40 percent, and a host of neo-liberal political candidates heavily dependent on television images won the presidency.
The increasing penetration of the mass media among the poor, the growing investments and profits by U.S. corporations in the sale of cultural commodities and the saturation of mass audiences with messages that provide the poor with vicarious experiences of individual consumption and adventure defines the current challenge of cultural colonialism.
U.S. media messages are alienating to Third World people in a double sense. They create illusions of 'international' and 'cross class' bonds. Through television images a false intimacy and an imaginary link is established between the successful subjects of the media and the impoverished spectators in the 'barrios'. These linkages provide a channel through which the discourse of individual solutions for private problems is propagated. The message is clear. The victims are blamed for their own poverty, success depends on individual efforts. Major TV satellites, U.S. and European mass media outlets in Latin America avoid any critique of the politico-economic origins and consequences of the new cultural imperialism that has temporarily disoriented and immobilized millions of impoverished Latin Americans. Imperialism and the Politics of Language Cultural imperialism has developed a dual strategy to counter the Left and establishing hegemony. On the one hand, it seeks to corrupt the political language of the left; on the other it acts to desensitize the general public to the atrocities committed by Western powers. During the 1980's the western mass media systematically appropriated basic ideas of the left, emptied them of their original content and refilled them with a reactionary message. For example, the mass media described politicians intent in restoring capitalism and stimulating inequalities as "reformers" or "revolutionaries", while their opponents were labeled "conservatives". Cultural imperialism sought to promote ideological confusion and political disorientation by reversing the meaning of political language. Many progressive individuals became disoriented by this ideological manipulation. As a result, they were vulnerable to the claims of imperial ideologues who argue that the terms "Right" and "Left" lacked any meaning, that the distinctions have lost significance, that ideologies no longer have meaning. By corrupting the language of the Left and distorting the content of the Left and Right, cultural imperialists hope to undermine the political appeals and political practices of the anti-imperialist movements.
The second strategy of cultural imperialism was to de-sensitize the public; to make mass murder by the Western states routine, acceptable activities. Mass bombings in Iraq were presented in the form of video games. By trivializing crimes against humanity, the public is desensitized from its traditional belief that human suffering is wrong. By emphasizing the modernity of new techniques of warfare, the mass media glorify existing elite power - the techno-warfare of the West. Cultural imperialism today includes "news" reports in which the weapons of mass destruction are presented with human attributes while the victims in the Third World are faceless "aggressors- terrorists".
Global cultural manipulation is sustained by the corruption of the language of politics. In Eastern Europe, speculators and mafioso seizing land, enterprises and wealth are described as "reformers". Contrabandists are described as "innovating entrepreneurs". In the West the concentration of absolute power to hire and fire in the hands of management and the increased vulnerability and insecurity of labor is called "labor flexibility". In the Third World the selling of national public enterprise to giant multi-national monopolies is described as "breaking-up monopolies". "Reconversion" is the euphemism for reversion to 19th century condition of labor stripped of all social benefits. "Restructuring" is the return to specialization in raw materials or the transfer of income from production to speculation. "Deregulation" is the shift in power to regulate the economy from the national welfare state to the international banking, multi-national power elite. "Structural adjustments" in Latin America mean transferring resources to investors and lowering payments to labor. The concepts of the left (reform, agrarian reform, structural changes) were originally oriented toward redistributing income. These concepts have been coopted and turned into symbols for reconcentrating wealth, income and power into the hands of Western elites. And of course all the private cultural institutions of imperialism amplify and propagate this Orwellian disinformation. Contemporary cultural imperialism has debased the language of liberation, converting it into symbols of reaction.
Cultural Terrorism: The Tyranny of Liberalism
Just as western state terrorism attempts to destroy social movements, revolutionary governments and disarticulate civil society, economic terrorism as practiced by the IMF and private bank consortia, destroy local industries, erode public ownership and savages wage and salaried household. Cultural terrorism is responsible for the physical displacement of local cultural activities and artists. Cultural terrorism by preying on the psychological weaknesses and deep anxieties of vulnerable Third World peoples, particularly their sense of being "backward", "traditional" and oppressed, projects new images of "mobility" and "free expression", destroying old bonds to family and community, while fastening new chains of arbitrary authority linked to corporate power and commercial markets. The attacks on traditional restraints and obligations is a mechanism by which the capitalist market and state becomes the ultimate center of exclusive power. Cultural imperialism in the name of "self expression" tyrannizes Third World people fearful of being labeled "traditional", seducing and manipulating them by the phoney images of classless "modernity". Cultural imperialism questions all pre-existing relations that are obstacles to the one and only sacred modern deity: the market. Third World peoples are entertained, coerced, titillated to be modern', to submit to the demands of capitalist market to discard comfortable, traditional, loose fitting clothes for ill fitting unsuitable tight blue jeans.
Cultural imperialism functions best through colonized intermediaries, cultural collaborators. The prototype imperial collaborators are the upwardly mobile Third World professionals who imitate the style of their patrons. These collaborators are servile to the West and arrogant to their people, prototypical authoritarian personalities. Backed by the banks and multinationals, they wield immense power through the state and local mass media. Imitative of the West, they are rigid in their conformity to the rules of unequal competition, opening their country and peoples to savage exploitation in the name of free trade. Among the prominent cultural collaborators are the institutional intellectuals who deny class domination and imperial class warfare behind the jargon of objective social science. They fetischize the market as the absolute arbiter of good and evil. Behind the rhetoric of 'regional cooperation", the conformist intellectuals attack working class and national institutions which constrain capital movements -- their supporters isolated and marginalized. Today throughout the Third World, Western funded Third World intellectuals have embraced the ideology of concertacion (class collaboration). The notion of interdependence has replaced imperialism. And the unregulated world market is presented as the only alternative for development. The irony is that today as never before the "market" has been least favorable to the Third World. Never have the U.S. Europe and Japan been so aggressive in exploiting the Third World. The cultural alienation of the institutional intellectuals from the global realities is a byproduct of the ascendancy of Western cultural imperialism. For those critical intellectuals who refuse to join the celebration of the market, who are outside of the official conference circuits, the challenge is to once again return to the class and anti-imperialist struggle.
North Americanization and the Myth of an International Culture
One of the great deceptions of our times is the notion of 'internationalization' of ideas, markets and movements. It has become fashionable to evoke terms like "globalization" or "internationalization" to justify attacks on any or all forms of solidarity, community, and/or social values. Under the guise of "internationalism", Europe and the U.S. have become dominant exporters of cultural forms most conducive to depoliticizing and trivializing everyday existence. The images of individual mobility, the "self-make person", the emphasis on "self-centered existence" (mass produced and distributed by the U.S. mass media industry) now have become major instruments in dominating the Third World.
Neo-liberalism continues to thrive not because it solves problems, but because it serves the interest of the wealthy and powerful and resonates among some sectors of the impoverished self- employed who crowd the streets of the Third World. The North Americanization of Third World cultures takes place with the blessing and support of the national ruling classes because it contributes to stabilize their rule. The new cultural norms -- the private over the public, the individual over social, the sensational and violent over everyday struggles and social realities -- all contribute to inculcating precisely the egocentric values that undermine collective action. The culture of images, of transitory experiences, of sexual conquest, works against reflection, commitment and shared feelings of affection and solidarity. The North Americanization of culture means focusing popular attention on celebrities, personalities and private gossip -- not on social depth, economic substance and the human condition. Cultural imperialism distracts from power relation and erodes collective forms of social action.
The media culture that glorifies the 'provisional' reflects the rootlessnese of U.S. capitalism -- its power to hire and fire, to move capital without regard for communities. The myth of "freedom of mobility" reflects the incapacity of people to establish and consolidate community roots in the face of the shifting demands of capital. North American culture glorifies transient, impersonal relations as "freedom" when in fact these conditions reflect the anomie and bureaucratic subordination of a mass of individuals to the power of corporate capital. North Americanization involves a wholesale assault on traditions of solidarity in the name of modernity, attacks on class loyalties in the name of individualism, the debasement of democracy through massive media campaigns focusing on personalities.
The new cultural tyranny is rooted in the omnipresent repetitive singular discourse of the market, of a homogenized culture of consumption, of a debased electoral system. The new media tyranny stands alongside the hierarchical state and economic institutions that reach from the board roams of the international banks to the villages in the Andes. The secret of the success of North American cultural penetration of the Third World is its capacity to fashion fantasies to escape from misery, that the very system of economic and military domination generates. The essential ingredients of the new cultural imperialism is the fusion of commercialism-sexuality-conservatism each presented as idealized expressions of private needs, of individual selfrealization. To some Third World people immersed in everyday dead end jobs, struggles for everyday survival, in the midst of squalor and degradation, the fantasies of North American media, like the evangelist, portray "something better", a hope in a future better life -- or at least the vicarious pleasure of watching others enjoying it.
Impact of Cultural Imperialism
If we want to understand the absence of revolutionary transformation, despite the maturing of revolutionary conditions, we must reconsider the profound psychological impact of state violence, political terror and the deep penetration of cultural/ideological values propagated by the imperial countries and internalized by the oppressed peoples. The state violence of the 1970's and early 1980's created long term, large scale psychic damage -- fear of radical initiatives, distrust of collectivities, a sense of impotence before established authorities -- even as the same authorities are hated. Terror turned "people inward" toward private domains.
Subsequently, neo-liberal policies, a form of "economic terrorism", resulted in the closing of factories, the abolition of legal protection of labor, the growth of temporary work, the multiplication of low paid individual enterprises. These policies further fragmented working class and urban communities. In this context of fragmentation, distrust and privatization, the cultural message of imperialism found fertile fields to exploit vulnerable peoples' sensibilities, encouraging and deepening personal alienation, selfcentered pursuits and individual competition over ever scarce resources.
Cultural imperialism and the values it promotes has played a major role in preventing exploited individuals from responding collectively to their deteriorating conditions. The symbols, images and ideologies that have spread to the Third World are major obstacles to the conversion of class exploitation and growing immiseration into class conscious bases for collective action. The great victory of imperialism is not only the material profits, but its conquest of the inner space of consciousness of the oppressed directly through the mass media and indirectly through the capture (or surrender) of its intellectual and political class. Insofar as a revival of mass revolutionary politics is possible, it must begin with open warfare not only with the conditions of exploitation but with culture that subjects its victims.
Limits of Cultural Imperialism
Against the pressures of cultural colonialism is the reality principle: the personal experience of misery and exploitation imposed by Western multinational banks, the police/military repression enforced by U.S. supplied arms. Everyday realities which the escapist media can never change. Within the consciousness of the Third World peoples there is a constant struggle between the demon of individual escape (cultivated by the mass media) and the intuitive knowledge that collective action and responsibility is the only practical response. In times of ascending social mobilizations, the virtue of solidarity takes precedence; in times of defeat and decline, the demons of individual rapacity are given license.
There are absolute limits in the capacity of cultural imperialism to distract and mystify people beyond which popular rejection sets in. The TV "table of plenty" contrasts with the experience of the empty kitchen; the amorous escapades of media personalities crash against a houseful of crawling, crying hungry children. In the street confrontations, Coca Cola becomes a molotov cocktail. The promise of affluence becomes an affront to those who are perpetually denied. Prolonged impoverishment and widespread decay erode the glamour and appeal of the fantasies of the mass media.
The false promises of cultural imperialism become the objects of bitter jokes relegated to another time and place.
The appeals of cultural imperialism are limited by the enduring ties of collectivities -- local and regional -- which have their own values and practices. Where class, racial, gender and ethnic bonds endure and practices of collective action are strong, the influence of the mass media are limited or rejected.
To the extent that preexisting cultures and traditions exist, they form a "closed circle" which integrates social and cultural practices that look inward and downward, not upward and outward. In many communities there is a clear rejection of the "modernist" developmental- individualist discourse associated with the supremacy of the market. The historical roots for sustained solidarity and anti-imperial movements are found in cohesive ethnic and occupational communities; mining towns, fishing and forestry villages, industrial concentrations in urban centers. Where work, community and class converge with collective cultural traditions and practices, cultural imperialism retreats.
The effectiveness of cultural imperialism does not depend merely on its technical skills of manipulation, but on the capacity for the state to brutalize and atomize the populace, to deprive it of its hopes and collective faith in egalitarian societies.
Cultural liberation involves not merely "empowering" individuals or classes, but is dependent on the development of a socio-political force capable of confronting the state terror that precedes cultural conquest. Cultural autonomy depends on social power and social power is perceived by the ruling classes as a threat to economic and state power. Just as cultural struggle is rooted in values of autonomy, community and solidarity which are necessary to create the consciousness for social transformations, political and military power is necessary to sustain the cultural bases for class and national identities.
Most important, the Left must recreate a faith and vision of a new society built around spiritual as well as material values: values of beauty and not only work. Solidary linked to generosity and dignity. Where modes of production are subordinated to efforts to strengthen and deepen longstanding personal bonds and friendship.
Socialism must recognize the longings to be alone to be intimate as well as to be social and collective. Above all, the new vision must inspire people because it resonates with their desire not only to be free from domination but free to create a meaningful personal life informed by affective non-instrumental relations that transcend everyday work even as it inspires people to continue to struggle. Cultural imperialism thrives as much on novelty, transitory relations and personal manipulation, but never on a vision of authentic, intimate ties based on personal honesty, gender equality and social solidarity.
Personal images mask mass state killings, just as technocratic rhetoric rationalize weapons of mass destruction ('intelligent bombs'). Cultural imperialism in the era of 'democracy' must falsify reality in the imperial country to justify aggression -- by converting victims into aggressors and aggressors into victims.
Hence in Panama the U.S. imperial state and mass media projected Panama as a drug threat to young people in the U.S. as it dropped bombs on working class communities in Panama.
The experiences of El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980's is illustrative.
Nicaraqua's Sandinista government in the 1980's and Chile under Allende in the 1970's are emblematic.
The case of Uruguay and Argentina in the 1970's and 1980's under the military regimes.