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Thursday, February 23, 2006

America’s Taking Over the World?

While I lived in South Korea I made friends with many English speaking Koreans. I spoke to them a great deal about Korean society, history, and views and attitudes. One thing that was of particular interest to me was how they perceived America and why. Here is what I was told.

Many Koreans viewed America as an overly powerful nation with an attitude problem. They were of the opinion that their country was just as great as the US, and that the US did not recognize it. In my opinion, Korea is actually greater than the US in some ways, and lesser than the US in other ways. I will not go into why I say that here because that is not the topic of this post.

What this is about was the way they said the US was taking over the world, and their justification for saying it. This will surprise most liberals, but it has nothing at all to do with our military.

They said the US was conquering the world through commerce.

They outlined for me how every country in the world relied on either American imports (like food in particular) or on American money through their own exports. In this way the entire world is heavily reliant on the US for it’s prosperity, making the US a nation that is resented because it is indispensable.

They spoke about how English is becoming the international language of trade and commerce. Any business that wants to do business on a global scale MUST have English speaking executives or interpreters. It doesn’t matter which country they do business with, if they have English capability they can communicate with any other global business, and many smaller local ones due to the necessity of knowing at least some rudimentary English in order to accommodate tourists.

The US is also exporting a portion of its culture through Hollywood. Our movies go everywhere in the world, and they bring with them Hollywood’s ideas of what the US should be. People worldwide watch this stuff and get the impression that that is how the US is, and more than a few people start emulating it. The same goes for our music, but to a lesser degree since local tastes in music vary more widely than the taste in movies seems to. Actually, there was a lot of truly excellent music in Korea from around the globe that I wish we got here in the US. A lot was much better than the repetitious fare we are being fed by the record companies today.

As they received an ever increasing amount of American influence, their valued traditions began to erode. For example, many Koreans in particular HATE the fact that some of their women are adopting American sexual attitudes. They want their women to be sexually pure before they marry them, and many men have an attitude of no woman who has sex before marriage is fit to marry. It is one reason why a Korean woman who has a relationship with an American man is almost relegated to the status of untouchable. It is assumed that the American man would not have stuck with her at all if he wasn’t having sex with her. There are stories of Korean women committing suicide after their American refused to marry her and left the country because she was counting on him to marry her because no Korean ever would after her relationship with him. And there are further stories of women being disowned by their families for getting involved with an American. All over sex.

So it would seem we are exporting Hollywood culture all around the world, much to the chagrin of many people in many nations who blame it for what they perceive as negative changes in their society. It seems they resent needing to learn English to do business because most Americans are “too proud” to learn the languages of our business partners around the world. And the world is uncomfortably dependent of doing business with the US just to survive.

So, in a way, I can see how many people might perceive the US as taking over the world through culture and commerce. And I definitely see why many Koreans, at least, resent the US for it.

27 Comments:

  • Fair enough but what about the Korean men adopting the 'Hollywood male' role of sleeping with women who aren't their wives? That's just as bad as American culture being used as a scapegoat for the Koreans being misogynistic like most cultures in this fine world of ours.

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 10:08 AM  

  • Actually, in Korea the restrictions on male sexual behavior are slightly different than they are for women. Not to say that adultery was ever sactioned, but it was fairly common practice for a man to "practice" sex with a prostitute before getting married.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 12:09 PM  

  • "This will surprise most liberals, but it has nothing at all to do with our military....[but] commerce"

    Not the progressives of which I'm a part - it's why Free Trade Agreements concern us.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 2:48 PM  

  • So Korea is another one of those double-standard slutty men / virgin women countries where prostitution is frowned upon in public but the men love thsem whores? Nice. I love a bit of sexism.
    Do they have gays there? :-)

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 3:12 PM  

  • DP76,

    Homosexuality is frowned upon in Korea, but has a rather long history in Japan where Samurai regularly took thier closest male frinds as lovers, and the wives of Samurai were usualy political, loveless, and meant to produce children. Traditionally, the Kabuki theater was also a place where homosexual men could go to have sex with teenage boys.

    Note how widespread acceptance of homosexuality and the acceptance of homosexual child prostitution went hand in hand in Japanese culture.

    Dan T,

    The difference between your social circle and the Korean point of view is that they do not see free trade as a form of enslavement the way you do. They see it as way to expand their own global influence and become more prosperous and powerful in the process. There is just a level of resentment about the way the US seems to be reaping the greatest power, though not neccessarily the greatest economic benfit of such agreements. But many people also see such globalization as a way to marginalize the greatest world powers by making the world economy so integrated that they too become indispensible.

    The narrow "America is enslaving the world through unfair trade agreements" view that you have is not neccesarily shared by the people you claim to be speaking for.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 6:31 PM  

  • Great post, Daniel-san. Nice little bit of perspective from outside our sphere of thought.

    Of course, it goes hand in hand with Bastiat's teachings which I am going to go into detail about soon.

    Shameless plug I know, but I'm a capitalist. What do you expect?

    By Blogger Nightcrawler, at 9:10 PM  

  • Dan T: "Note how widespread acceptance of homosexuality and the acceptance of homosexual child prostitution went hand in hand in Japanese culture."

    Oooh you bitch! :-)

    Man, you just don't get it, do you?

    I was kidding when I asked that question as it's your favourite subject.

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 1:48 AM  

  • Too many Dan's here.

    Dan project76 - you just offered a quote from Daniel and attributed it to me. Wrong Dan, but I'm sure you know that and it was just a typo.

    Daniel L said:
    "[the] view that you have is not neccesarily shared by the people you claim to be speaking for."

    It is shared by a good number of people around the world. Global polls put a majority of folk fearing the US - or at least Bush - and this is for a variety of reasons, I'd suggest including our economic policy.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 3:10 AM  

  • Dan T,

    It is not economic policy that has some eople saying they fear the US/President Bush. It is the fact that we toppled 2 governemts military in the last 4 years and our President has made it clear that we are prpared to do so again. Get your facts straight.

    DP76,

    Hey, you opened it up, so I just figure I may as well toss in one of the things I look at when I speakout agianst legitimizing homosexuality and where I draw some of my connections from when I talk about probable results if legalized homosexual marriage and from.

    For what it's worth, I know you were teasing me. I just couldn't resist. ;)

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 10:03 AM  

  • Making English the lingua franca of business the world over is a good idea, in my opinion. It leads to transparency, which serves the issues of all involved.

    As a pretend Samurai, I notice that you're referring to the ancient practice of shudo, The Way of Young Men. Such practice was held in very high esteem, as the samurai believed sexual relations with women would make them weak. The practice was abandoned due to the influx of Western Christian values into Japan in the 19th century. The rise of tobiko prostitutes arose hundreds of years after shudo, due to increased affluence in the merchant class. The two aren't really related, unless you're filtering the concept through some sort of religious fundamentalist moral opinion about homosexuality.

    You're not, are you?

    By Blogger Samurai Sam, at 10:32 AM  

  • Dan'l said:
    "It is not economic policy that has some people saying they fear the US/President Bush."

    I thought the point of your post is your recognition that folk outside the US resent us. I'm saying you're right, but for mulitple reasons.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 11:32 AM  

  • Dan T said (emphasis mine):
    Global polls put a majority of folk fearing the US - or at least Bush - and this is for a variety of reasons, I'd suggest including our economic policy.

    And Daniel L replies:
    It is not economic policy that has some eople saying they fear the US/President Bush. It is the fact that we toppled 2 governemts military in the last 4 years and our President has made it clear that we are prpared to do so again. Get your facts straight.

    Daniel -
    Is everything always centered around one reason? In your particular world view, can multiple reasons be the cause of an event or mind set?
    You have got to stop simplifying everything. I have seen this over and over with you these past few days, and it is definitely a habit you aren't even trying to shake. It's nice to live in a world where everything is that black and white, but it is not honest. Now say you're sorry.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:41 AM  

  • Dan T -
    Not fair to post something as I am and make it look like I am just repeating what you said. Now you apologize.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 AM  

  • Sorry. You can field the next one.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 12:49 PM  

  • People always have a love/hate relationship with others perceived to be more successful. Much of the prosperity and freedom of So Korea is due to the US. I guess they like some things about us, and dislike other things. Seems pretty normal to me.

    I am not sure that US culture is trying to conquer the globe as much as it is driven by success and growth both in economic and spiritual terms. Who ever leads in an era greatly influences the rest of the world in economics, language and culture. Past leaders; Greece, Rome, China, Islam, Great Britain. The US has not been a nation seeking subjugation of others. Just a nation seeking partners in its quest to keep moving forward.

    As a language, English is very adaptable to new ideas and readily creates new words. Other languages are not always so adaptable.

    By Blogger Rick's Corner, at 7:32 PM  

  • Rick said:
    "People always have a love/hate relationship with others perceived to be more successful."

    Rick, I'm sure you're a decent guy and you make some fine points at times. But, do you have any idea how patronizing and condescending the above answer sounds?

    "They hate us because we're successful and they're jealous" is too often the answer of those who are not interested in the other side and who, therefore, decide upon an answer that makes sense to them regardless of what the Others say.

    I agree with you, though, that we have no designs or plans to conquer the world militarily or economically. BUT many of us want to make sure we keep our way of life and our pre-eminent position regardless of the consequences or costs to others and that often has the same results as world domination.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 8:29 PM  

  • Dan T and Anonomys,

    I ignored the economic and cultural aspect ofanyone fearing George Bush because what I have written about all happened during the Clinton Administration. Geiorge Bush didn;t become President until just a few months before I left Korea. Yes, the attitudes and Views I am speaking of were during a liberal Democrat's time in the oval office. Hence the narrow answer regarding Dan T's assertion about President Bush.

    I wasn't going to rub anyone's face in that, but since you just demanded it I figured you might as well get what you asked for.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 11:55 PM  

  • Considering that Koreans make Arabs look like feminists, I really couldn't care less what they think.

    By Anonymous rightwingprof, at 5:55 AM  

  • Prof,

    What? That wasn't my experience in Korea with Korean men and women. Women in Korea can drive, work outside the home, own proberty and businesses, go to college and graduate school without restrictions on ther education or future vocation, and so-on.

    Granted there are cultural norms they are expected to follow. They DO play a subservient role in the home. Men and women, traditionally, do not dance together. But the men I hung out with were also very respectful to women, everyone realy, and were also very gentle. Women in Korea enjoy a far more elevated status than women do in Arab nations.

    What causes you to say that women are treated worse in Korea than they are in Arab nations?

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 10:06 AM  

  • DL said:
    "I wasn't going to rub anyone's face in that, but since you just demanded it I figured you might as well get what you asked for."

    I don't think that contravenes what I've said - that the world has a growing distaste and distrust for the US for multiple reasons. We have a huge problem in Bush, to be sure. But it is not limited to Bush. Clinton was the one who pushed NAFTA, for instance.

    So, yes, if you're saying that the world often dislikes us for many reasons - not all related to Bush - I agree.

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 12:47 PM  

  • Sorry for putting you as a quote for some silly nonsense. Damn Dans everywhere!

    Dan T said "Global polls put a majority of folk fearing the US - or at least Bush - and this is for a variety of reasons, I'd suggest including our economic policy." I would have to agree: As one of those foreigners may I state that one of the main reasons a lot of people don't exactly like America is for its foreign policy. Its absolutely shameful President is also prtty high on that list too.

    By Blogger DanProject76, at 3:42 PM  

  • Their attitudes -- and the fact that in South Korea, women who fight back against rapists are imprisoned.

    I have no respect for either Korea.

    By Anonymous rightwingprof, at 6:49 AM  

  • Hi Daniel! I'm staying out of the controversy here. I simply don't like to argue. Suffice it to say I agree with your post and believe it to be very thoughtfully done. I also believe that Rick is right and that people do have a love/hate relationship with those they percieve to be more successful. It's part of the human condition.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 3:15 PM  

  • Professor,

    In Muslim nations women who are raped are killed as adulteresses whether they fough back or not. Oh, and the man who raped her is considered to be blameless.

    Neither one is right. But I tend to find condemning the innocent to death while excusing the scumbag is a bit less lady friendly than the Korean standard.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 11:53 PM  

  • Dear Professor,

    You have a very good point. This is something that I also agree on. We commercialize other nations with our enormous power as executives and as an imperialistic nation. If it doesent stop our whole world will be just like the U.S. Is this the reality that we want?

    By Blogger Dougie, at 2:03 PM  

  • The world needs to be united!
    One spoken word,
    We should make everyone dependant on everyone else,
    To get rid of war.

    Extremist are the only thing standing in our way.
    The word may want to teach us a lesson, but if they resort to force,
    Then wo be to the world when the F-18 goes on the assembly line.
    Peace, Trade, Communication of Culture and travel.
    We need to explore space united!
    No one in the United States wants to go to war with Korea or any other country if it can be avoided, but an attack will result in war. We don't roll the dice for territory. We roll them for idea's! As long as there are dictators there will always be the chance of war. How can people be against the right to choose how they live?

    By Blogger mAT, at 12:25 AM  

  • vry good stuff i am english and i like the idea of america and my language taking over , ya we win world domination with democracy

    By Blogger dunemoonbeam3, at 12:49 PM  

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