Globalization and Culture

Essay by supersaadiUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2009

download word file, 35 pages 4.3

We live in a moment popularly understood as "the global triumph of the United States and its way of life" (Hobsbawm 1998: 1). Henry Kissinger goes so far as to say that "globalization is really another name for the dominant role of the United States" (1999). The Wall Street Journal trumpets this loudly: "the US enters the 21st century in a position of unrivaled dominance that surpasses anything it experienced in the 20th….America's free-market ideology is now the world's ideology; and the nation's Internet and biotechnology businesses are pioneering the technologies of tomorrow" (Murray 1999). For all the misery internal to that country (in 2000, even as 74 percent of college students expected to become millionaires, 44 million people had no medical cover), the US has international influence beyond the reach of other régimes. Consider a mundane expectation of sovereignty - that the modern state make its own stamps, featuring national images.

Today, 70 countries mostly in the Third World, have their stamps produced by the New York-based Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation. The dominant images are recycled icons from US popular culture (Mingo 1997). This US cultural imperialism is often understood as the apex of a wider phenomenon - globalization - that sees North American corporations wiping out the state system and obliterating the cultures of the world.

If that is so, it is the outcome of what is known as the "Washington Consensus." Dominant since the late 1970s, the "Consensus" favors open trade, comparative advantage, deregulation of financial markets, and low inflation. It has, of course, presided over slower worldwide growth and greater worldwide inequality than any time since the Depression, with job security and real wages down and working hours up in the industrialized market economies (IMECS). At the same time, the world's richest 20 percent...