America and the West: Is Resistance Futile?

The virulent spread of Global Capitalism has been legitimized, sanctioned and enthusiastically encouraged by supranational actors such as the WTO, IMF, the World Bank and other entities. In fact, if actors don’t get in on it, they’re perceived as being a little loopty, out of touch, crazy not to play ball.    McChesney posits that “the rise of the global commercial media system is closely linked to the rise of a significantly more integrated neoliberal global capitalist economic system.”  No kidding. It’s almost criminally naive to think that the playing field is level. Countries that are resistant to opening their borders and industries to Western capitalism and culture unchecked, (chockfull as they are  with the interests of powerful multinationals and their stockholders) learn a hard lesson. America, being the major funder of the UN and a heavy hitter donor of countless other entities,  is not above taken their marbles if not granted the run of the sand box. Let us in, or no development aid for you and your little country. No, I’m not picking on them. China too, and Germany in their own way. But this  unchecked power also has tremendous implications and consequences (outside of economics) to a country’s sovereignty and certainly influence power, politics, lifestyle and culture.  McChesney is right: the machinery of the global commercial media is on the rise and states are losing power like, often enabled and upheld by their own court systems.  US media conglomerates with their maps to the world treasures are relentless in their pursuit of green and a larger market share. Latin America, Southeast Asia and to a lesser extent, the Caribbean, present a tremendous, can’t miss opportunity to expand into new markets.   

Culture can be a very insidious and effective tool. Now, with the proliferation of vast networks of communication technology and the growing awareness of borderless interconnection, we are permitted intimate peeks into the backyards of others.  There is the perception that American culture and lifestyle is “cool” “desired”, and that is signifies acceptance on some level makes it anathema to some government hoping to preserve some modicum of individuality and nationalistic pride. But, isn’t it a little like having an interloper within the gates? Dare I say, it’s more than a little disingenuous, (if not hypocritical to manipulate the world’s economic bodies into opening the borders of developing nations all in the name of globalization and fair trade, while these nations have no entry into our own. Don’t underestimate “culture coolness” because truly it is a powerful that can be to sell a nation many things, including the unsuitability of a government or philosophy. Remember, for instance, the Cold War and America’s unprecedented reach to win the hearts and minds of its prospective ideological converts? That went beyond politics and military initiatives, with economic and culture tools playing a significant role in the selling of American democratic ideals.

 I want to believe (begone pesky cynicism!) that as McChesney says, “the wild card in the global media deck are the people of the world.” In fact, they are. Thing is, voice of the people as represented by protestors at WTO or civil society at G8 and WSIS have been effectively silenced or rendered near powerless in the name of big business.  Remember the NWICO debates? We the people are not passive but the will to stand up against the rising global media tide and as Public Enemy proclaimed, “Fight the powers that be”  has become weakened.

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About inteltakeover

This blog is written and maintained by of a group of graduate students in the International Communication program at American University's School of International Service.
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One Response to America and the West: Is Resistance Futile?

  1. qiongxie says:

    I have to agree it is a very complicated issue no matter towards the global media or other globalization issues. First, we have to say, for developing countries, to open their doors open, does not mean they will reap the fruits of globalization. Second, if countries open their doors, it does not mean they share the same rights as the major actors, namely the developed countries such as US, UK and France and so on. The global media system has allows the cultural goods flow across the borders. But who are the biggest winners for that? We consumers are not passive, we are active and we can choose whatever we want to be entertained. But if the major global communication companies, they do business in their way in order to compete with other media companies. They might conglomerate vertically, buying different companies and then merging them into the whole business structures, then they sell or frame whatever they think are important for us. What could we consumer do? Passively accept it, or fight against it? If fight, how we should fight? By boycott?

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