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De-Americanizing The World

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Turk.    268

By Noam Chomsky 05 November 2013 09:54 Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge. Noam Chomsky's most recent book is Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. Interviews with David Barsamian.
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During the latest episode of the Washington farce that has astonished a bemused world, a Chinese commentator wrote that if the United States cannot be a responsible member of the world system, perhaps the world should become "de-Americanized" ? and separate itself from the rogue state that is the reigning military power but is losing credibility in other domains.

The Washington debacle's immediate source was the sharp shift to the right among the political class. In the past, the U.S. has sometimes been described sardonically ? but not inaccurately ? as a one-party state: the business party, with two factions called Democrats and Republicans.

That is no longer true. The U.S. is still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction: moderate Republicans, now called New Democrats (as the U.S. Congressional coalition styles itself).

There is still a Republican organization, but it long ago abandoned any pretense of being a normal parliamentary party. Conservative commentator Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute describes today's Republicans as "a radical insurgency ? ideologically extreme, scornful of facts and compromise, dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition": a serious danger to the society.

The party is in lock-step service to the very rich and the corporate sector. Since votes cannot be obtained on that platform, the party has been compelled to mobilize sectors of the society that are extremist by world standards. Crazy is the new norm among Tea Party members and a host of others beyond the mainstream.

The Republican establishment and its business sponsors had expected to use them as a battering ram in the neoliberal assault against the population ? to privatize, to deregulate and to limit government, while retaining those parts that serve wealth and power, like the military.

The Republican establishment has had some success, but now finds that it can no longer control its base, much to its dismay. The impact on American society thus becomes even more severe. A case in point: the virulent reaction against the Affordable Care Act and the near-shutdown of the government.

The Chinese commentator's observation is not entirely novel. In 1999, political analyst Samuel P. Huntington warned that for much of the world, the U.S. is "becoming the rogue superpower," seen as "the single greatest external threat to their societies."

A few months into the Bush term, Robert Jervis, president of the American Political Science Association, warned that "In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States." Both Huntington and Jervis warned that such a course is unwise. The consequences for the U.S. could be harmful.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, the leading establishment journal, David Kaye reviews one aspect of Washington's departure from the world: rejection of multilateral treaties "as if it were sport."

He explains that some treaties are rejected outright, as when the U.S. Senate "voted against the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012 and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999."

Others are dismissed by inaction, including "such subjects as labor, economic and cultural rights, endangered species, pollution, armed conflict, peacekeeping, nuclear weapons, the law of the sea, and discrimination against women."

Rejection of international obligations "has grown so entrenched," Kaye writes, "that foreign governments no longer expect Washington's ratification or its full participation in the institutions treaties create. The world is moving on; laws get made elsewhere, with limited (if any) American involvement."

While not new, the practice has indeed become more entrenched in recent years, along with quiet acceptance at home of the doctrine that the U.S. has every right to act as a rogue state.

To take a typical example, a few weeks ago U.S. special operations forces snatched a suspect, Abu Anas al-Libi, from the streets of the Libyan capital Tripoli, bringing him to a naval vessel for interrogation without counsel or rights. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed the press that the actions are legal because they comply with American law, eliciting no particular comment.

Principles are valid only if they are universal. Reactions would be a bit different, needless to say, if Cuban special forces kidnapped the prominent terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, bringing him to Cuba for interrogation and trial in accordance with Cuban law.

Whatever the world may think, U.S. actions are legitimate because we say so. The principle was enunciated by the eminent statesman Dean Acheson in 1962, when he instructed the American Society of International Law that no legal issue arises when the United States responds to a challenge to its "power, position, and prestige."

.......
Becoming a treaty-worthy nation thus conferred multiple advantages: foreign recognition, and the freedom to act at home without interference. Hegemonic power offers the opportunity to become a rogue state, freely defying international law and norms, while facing increased resistance abroad and contributing to its own decline through self-inflicted wounds.
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DocM    12,660

Chomsky is a cunning linguist, but he should have stayed out of politics.

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bradsday    101

Chomsky is a cunning linguist, but he should have stayed out of politics.

 

So, he is a cunning linguist, but not a master debater.

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SpeedyTheSnail    853

So, he is a cunning linguist, but not a master debater.

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+T3X4S    4,332

Hey... thats funny because it sounds like cunnilingus & masturbater - so when you read it , you think of dirty words....hehe

Oh, I just thought of them again 


/s

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Pam14160    303

A great piece, albeit we are allowed our thoughts whether they be right or wrong as is in this case (Wrong).  However, one thing is true things change, and at the present time China is looking to take over the position the United States presently holds.

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Charisma    2,388

I guess it doesn't really have anything to do with what the article talks about directly, but I do wish other parts of the world would de-Americanise. Everywhere you go, the 25+ folks talk about how things used to be and how much more like America things have gotten. It's usually not a good thing. It would be great if we could connect globally the way we do--the world is smaller now than ever--without each place losing its own cultural identity and the things that make it unique.

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bradsday    101

Hey... thats funny because it sounds like cunnilingus & masturbater - so when you read it , you think of dirty words....hehe

 

Actually, it's a play on a bit from the movie [classic] Austin Powers - Goldmember.  But yeah, it is kind of hilarious.

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Nefarious Trigger    6,808

Actually, it's a play on a bit from the movie [classic] Austin Powers - Goldmember.  But yeah, it is kind of hilarious.

 

I think you may find that these puns go back much further than that.

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+T3X4S    4,332

Actually, it's a play on a bit from the movie [classic] Austin Powers - Goldmember.  But yeah, it is kind of hilarious.

Actually its a lot older than that -

You did see me "/s" afterwards ??   I was kidding around stating the obvious.

Regardless, I dont think Austin Powers - Goldmember is considered a classic  LOL - unless you consider Twilight movies are great cinematic masterpieces

Just messin with ya -

Damn I didnt see Nik beat me to it

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+FloatingFatMan    13,185

I guess it doesn't really have anything to do with what the article talks about directly, but I do wish other parts of the world would de-Americanise. Everywhere you go, the 25+ folks talk about how things used to be and how much more like America things have gotten. It's usually not a good thing. It would be great if we could connect globally the way we do--the world is smaller now than ever--without each place losing its own cultural identity and the things that make it unique.

 

^ This.  I have nothing really against American culture, but I don't really want to emulate it thanks.. We have our own culture...

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PGHammer    207

^ This.  I have nothing really against American culture, but I don't really want to emulate it thanks.. We have our own culture...

That is why they call it "culture wars" - while it's not fault with bullets and bombs, the effects are far more devastating.  Culture is most often the greatest source - if not the only source - of national pride left for all too many nations; however, citizens - anywhere - tend to emulate what THEY see as a successful nation (or national culture); much to the horror of nationalists everywhere, the most-often seen most-successful culture is the polyglot "mongrel" culture of the United States, and precisely because it IS a polyglot "mongrel" culture - and works darn well anyway despite that.

 

What American culture is (unlike what is seen as "culture" anywhere else on the planet) is not based on ethnicity or tribal factors - it is as polyglot as the nation itself.  It is an outright slap in the face to those that normally define what "culture" is - not to mention nationists and bigots everywhere.  As much as those same groups want to argue the point, there IS that rather poignant adage "nothing succeeds like success", and the track record of the United States speaks for itself.  And despite that we DO have government bodies that actually have the JOB of promoting American culture, the best job promoting it are by US-based businesses AND US citizens - most of which either spend a great deal of their own MONEY doing it (in the case of the businesses), or do it "on their own dime" - going against the grain every which way.

 

Unlike Australia (which was the "dumping ground" for the UK in particular after they surrendered to the US), the United States was the dumping ground for most of Europe - not just the UK; only the Portuguese had no colonies in any part of what became the 49 continental states (among the 17th/18th century major colonial empires).  Notice I did NOT leave out Russia - Alaska was purchased by the United States from the Russians.

 

It's not merely snatching success from the jaws of certain failure, but whacking failure upside the noggin with a Clue-By-Four - repeatedly.

 

The United States of America - the cultural success that is supposed to be impossible.  (Chew on THAT for a bit.)

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+FloatingFatMan    13,185

^ Yeah... Looking at the state of the US at the moment, I wouldn't necessarily be screaming about its cultural success... :p

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+J. X. Maxwell    2,125

The article states the obvious.

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PGHammer    207

^ Yeah... Looking at the state of the US at the moment, I wouldn't necessarily be screaming about its cultural success... :p

Who's screaming?  The United States isn't - it's primarily those that (for their own reasons) want the place the United States has.  I'm not saying they don't have their rights to complain - that IS, after all why it is referred to as culture WAR; I'm simply pointing out that - even with/despite the protestations of fellow Americans - a vast majority of NON-Americans would rather BE Americans - even over the nations of their birth or current residence.

 

And, on that note, let the culture wars continue.

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sanctified    1,219

Not bad article and Chomsky might be the last great post-estructuralist, but that it's said here is. essentially, a copy of Foucault's thoughts, specially those found in 'Discipline and Punishment', but with the contemporary United States as a twist.

 

We need to understand something vital: Culture wars is not only a ?harmless? exercise on conquering another's country legacy but a method of paradoxical disciplining. The more people think like ?and imitate?  the US the more their culture infiltrates the status quo and becomes easier to manipulate the general public towards an US centric agenda.

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PGHammer    207

Not bad article and Chomsky might be the last great post-estructuralist, but that it's said here is. essentially, a copy of Foucault's thoughts, specially those found in 'Discipline and Punishment', but with the contemporary United States as a twist.

 

We need to understand something vital: Culture wars is not only a ?harmless? exercise on conquering another's country legacy but a method of paradoxical disciplining. The more people think like ?and imitate?  the US the more their culture infiltrates the status quo and becomes easier to manipulate the general public towards an US centric agenda.

 

Not bad article and Chomsky might be the last great post-estructuralist, but that it's said here is. essentially, a copy of Foucault's thoughts, specially those found in 'Discipline and Punishment', but with the contemporary United States as a twist.

 

We need to understand something vital: Culture wars is not only a ?harmless? exercise on conquering another's country legacy but a method of paradoxical disciplining. The more people think like ?and imitate?  the US the more their culture infiltrates the status quo and becomes easier to manipulate the general public towards an US centric agenda.

sanctified, that is the basis for ALL cultural warfare - the United States didn't start it, as the idea is, in fact, far older than the United States.  (It's also why I have no issue with the attempts at other nations to counter the success OF the United States in this part of the geopolitical battlefield - it's expected.)

 

The point I am making is what do you think the United States actually SPENDS in terms of both cultural warfare and countering other nations' cultural warfare attempts?  You would be surprised how little the government actually spend on cultural warfare - and that includes VOA - most of the success in terms of culture warfare costs the American taxpayer not a single tax dollar.  We know it, and worse, for them, our adversaries, cultural and otherwise, know it.  (Naturally, they resent us all the more for it.

 

We - that is, the United States - doesn't really try all that hard. (Our adversaries - cultural and otherwise - know that too.)

 

That is likely the most galling aspect of cultural warfare in real terms - the adversaries of the United States KNOW we don't try hard at all, let alone very hard - and we're winning anyway.  (In their shoes, I'd resent the heck out of that, too.)

 

Countering that is easy enough - look at what the United States is doing right as a culture - and duplicate it.  (Just as our failures as a culture are well-documented, so have our successes as a culture been; is duplicating those successes that hard?)

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