May, 2003, Volume 10 Nr.
9, Issue 117
Homogenizing the Global Cultural Paradigm
by Jozef Hand-Boniakowski
Sgt. Michael Sprague of While
Sulphur Springs, WV, a member of the invading U.S. forces in Iraq, was
quoted by the British reporter, James Meek, as saying,
I've been all the way
through this desert from Basra to here and I ain't seen one shopping
mall or fast food restaurant. These people got nothing. Even in a little
town like ours of twenty five hundred people you got a McDonald's at one
end and a Hardees at the other.
Power possessed through the
barrel of high tech weaponry often reveals the folly of analysis blinded
by the paradigms of the powerful, especially since the powerful and the
powerless are working people indigenous to their respective societies.
In the Sgt. Sprague scenario, the powerful may spend more on lunch at
McDonald's and Hardees than the powerless live on for a month.
Pitying the powerless and poor for lacking access to U.S. acultural
icons, such as Ronald McDonald and the Smiling Yellow Star, misses
the significance of power's presence on the banks of the Tigris and
Euphrates. But, that is precisely the point -- bringing U.S.
capitalism and consumption to a heretofore non-market, to yet another
global corner pre-emptively made pliant for profit.
Steven Gowans, in the February
22, 2001 edition of Media Monitors, in an article entitled, "A
McDonald's in Every Foreign Port Worth This?" writes,
...New York Times columnist
Thomas Friedman wrote that: "For globalization to work, America
can't be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is...The
hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist --
McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of
the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon
Valley's technologies is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine
Gowans' article was written
almost 7 months before 9-11, just after the terrorist attack on the USS
Cole at a time when Madeline Albright was quoted as saying, "We think
it's worth it" to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi
children as a result of sanctions. Gowans wonders whether the
"blowback" deaths of the USS Cole sailors was worth it. He
To people like Albright, perhaps. To
the dead sailors themselves, and their families, no. After all,
what did they, themselves, get from their country's global hegemony
beyond, say, a McDonalds in every foreign port?
And today, after 9-11, after the war on
Afghanistan, the war on Iraq, the soon to be wars on Syria, Iran, Libya,
North Korea, et al, what price do the working class people pay for
installing access to a quarter-pounder and Coke, or Monster Burger and
Raspberry Nestea, in Kabul, Baghdad, Damascus, Tripoli or Pyongyang?
Sgt. Sprague may just be slightly ahead
of his time. Perhaps, he knows something the rest of the world is
just beginning to understand. U.S. commercialism has no boundaries
and no co-optation is off the boards. If it can be sold through
marketing, even through lies as the Iraq war was, then so be it. The
homogenization of the global cultural paradigm is well underway. It
is the blueprint for world acultural domination, that is, the subservience
of indigenous art, music, song, food, and most important, thought, to
transnational corporate control. So, we see,
... Pepsi and McDonalds (or at least some
of their franchise holders in Arab countries)...donating a share of
profits to provide medical aid for Palestinians.
In both cases the motive was perfectly
clear: to protect their businesses by dissociating themselves from
American policy towards Israel. Many people were delighted and marketing
experts praised this as a brilliant example of enlightened
self-interest. Nobody seems to have condemned the move as an
exploitation of other people's misfortune for cynical commercial reasons
(which would be another way of looking at it). The Guardian, "Saddam's
Happy Family", Jan 19, 2003.
Sgt. Sprague need not worry much longer.
I suspect the corporate boardroom is planning planting a Ronald franchise
or two in Baghdad shortly. And, as a consequence of bombs and
burgers, there will be more blowback, more pre-emptive strikes, more
blowback, more pre-emptive strikes pre-empting pre-emption. etc.
McDonald's Workers Resistance (UK) puts it this way,
The attacks in America cannot be
understood without reference to decades of US military and political
imperialism, which in turn cannot be divorced from the economic
imperialism epitomized by McDonalds. McDonalds do not share much with
Islamic fundamentalists, but they have one thing in common- both share
an intolerance towards other cultures and a disregard for diversity,
both seek to impose their version of the world on others. If you look
deep enough then it is apparent that the homogenized totality
represented by McDonalds is the result of generations of violence and
continues to be sustained by force.
The sad part of Sgt. Sprague's lament
equating poverty with lack of McDonald's and Hardees is that it is
enigmatic of the corporate culture indoctrination of the self. This
self image is a personally adopted as brought to us by Clear
Channel, FOX, NBC (G.E.), CBS (Viacom), ABC (Disney), CNN
(AOL-Time-Warner). It is, through the intoxicating power of war and
conquest, a projected global paradigm masquerading as liberation. If
only the road from Basra to Baghdad were lined with the likes of McDonalds
and Hardees, perhaps, then we could sleep comfortably knowing that Iraqis
have arrived in the promised land.
The citizens, rather the consumers, of the
United States, having been told what freedom is, accept the dropping of
tens of thousands of pounds of ordnance and bombs on a major city as
acceptable. As Sheila McCarthy (Catholic Worker, "The Veneer of
Normalcy", May 2003) states, doing so, makes "sense of the
glorification of military power" if we accept the assumptions that
"the lifestyle of the American people is worth killing for" and
that "the United States has a divine right and destiny to police the
world." Inherent in these assumptions is the religious belief
that everyone in the world shares our world view. If they don't
sooner or later, the war that doesn't end in our lifetime will bring a
McDonalds and Hardees to your neighborhood whether you like it or not.
McCarthy's "veneer of normalcy" goes further.
It was possible for Adolf Eichmann to
carry out his duties because he accepted certain assumptions, the most
important of which being that the Nazi government was a legitimate
institution to which a good German must be loyal. Once this
authority is accepted, anything it decrees is permitted and quickly
We, the U.S. consumer, with a
manifold propensity for consuming the homogenized, easily accepted the
bogus claims of Secretary Powell speaking before the United Nations.
We accepted our governments declarations of huge stockpiles of Iraqi WMDs
even though, now that we control Iraq, we cannot find them. We
accepted making Iraq children quadriplegics for the greater good as
defined by the same people that lie to us daily. We are sheep.
We are Good Americans.
writing on a conversation with Satan:
"Oh, it's true. I know your race. It is
made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by
majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the
handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right,
sometimes wrong; but no matter, the crowd follows it. The vast majority
of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and
shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and
pitiless minority they don't dare to assert themselves. Think of it! One
kind-hearted creature spies upon another, and sees to it that he loyally
helps in iniquities which revolt both of them. Speaking as an expert, I
know that ninety-nine out of a hundred of your race were strongly
against the killing of witches when that foolishness was first agitated
by a handful of pious lunatics in the long ago. And I know that even
to-day, after ages of transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one
person in twenty puts any real heart into the harrying of a witch. And
yet apparently everybody hates witches and wants them killed. Some day a
handful will rise up on the other side and make the most noise --
perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a determined front
will do it -- and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him, and
witch-hunting will come to a sudden end.
aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in
your race -- the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire,
for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye.
These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always
oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be
and remain slaves of minorities. There was never a country where the
majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these
I did not like to hear our
race called sheep, and said I did not think they were.
"Still, it is true,
lamb," said Satan. "Look at you in war -- what mutton you are,
and how ridiculous!"
"In war? How?"
"There has never been a
just one, never an honorable one -- on the part of the instigator of the
war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in
so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful -- as usual
-- will shout for the war. The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously --
object -- at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its
sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say,
earnestly and indignantly, 'It is unjust and dishonorable, and
there is no necessity for it.' Then the handful will shout louder.
A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war
with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded;
but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and
presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity.
Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from
the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in
their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers -- as
earlier -- but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation -- pulpit
and all -- will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob
any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths
will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting
the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad
of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them,
and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and
by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the
better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque
History of War, Never a Just War, (Chapter
Now, in the 21st century: We
the sheeple, in order to form a more perfect corporate Union, establish
global capitalism, insure international profit, provide for the complete
exploitation of indigenous natural resources, promote the Welfare of the
rich, and secure the Blessings of the Free Market to the wealthy and their
inherited offspring, do ordain and establish the hegemonist constitution
and policy of United States of America.
2003 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD