Sunday, November 23, 2008

The King is dead - Long live the King

I've always been very fascinated by the American dream. Not the dream itself, but the way it was marketed and spread to every corner of the world. Just the fact that I, not being an English native speaker, find it not only useful, but also natural to write this post in English clearly shows who won the Cold War. Another noteworthy fact is that I used the word "market", a slightly more positive word than it's counter part used to describe similiar Russian culture export during the same period, this so-called "propaganda", even though it basically was the same act. The winner takes it all, ey?

So, where does China fit in all this? Well, as recent history shows, being a world super-power is not only about economic and military power, but also about the ability to promote values. This is why I've always been very hostile to the idea that the 21st century is going to be Chinese, as an increasing amount of people seem to believe. To me, the idea that China is going go global with it's culture, as the Americans did with the American Dream, is all very absurd. Chinese culture seems to be way too introvert for that to happen, not only at present, but historically. They don't seem to have the ambition or motivation to export their culture to the extent that the Americans did, and still are doing. Most people in the western world seems to feel that the American dream is passé, but the fact still remains: Although the admiration of America in post-World War 2 Europe probably was stronger than it is today, my generation has a life much more like that of the American dream, than those who grew up 30, 40 years ago. It's not until now that we are actually living the dream.

Dream of a white collar life

But maybe I've been to egocentric, only viewing the world as the U.S., Europe and some Asian countries. What if the Chinese and the Africans get along and decide to leave us out of the equation? Africa has every right to be skeptical towards us Europeans; throughout history we've caused them nothing but harm and China could be seen as a more suitable companion. Check out this article in the Seattle Times, entitled The American Dream Now Made in China, for more on the subject.

André Holthe, November 2008

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