Thursday, October 02, 2008

America's undeniable advantage

David Seaton's News Links
A Spanish friend of ours that runs a very important NGO has just come back from Beijing, where she hadn't visited since 1995. In those days, as she tells it, Beijing was millions of identically dressed people on bicycles and deep fried grasshopper stands on every corner. Today, she says that Beijing makes the isle of Manhattan look like Trenton New Jersey. What has been done in a little over ten years is breathtaking.

I think by now it's obvious that someday China is going to surpass the United States. There are too many of them, they work too hard, they are too smart and there are too many of them... I already said that.

Still, the USA has one advantage that will probably keep it afloat much longer than it deserves. The secret is in the photo above, taken in a KFC in Beijing.

What is that secret?

People like to pretend they are Americans.

China is without any question one of the world's greatest cultures with massive contributions to humanity's treasures in thought, word and deed over thousands of years. However, no matter how much you admire and love their culture, unless you are of 100% Han Chinese descent, it is impossible to imagine yourself being Chinese. Statistically, of course, there is a fairly good chance that you are Chinese already, but if you aren't, there is no way in the world you can become Chinese. You are either Chinese or you aren't.

But, thanks to America's amazing ability to mythify even its most banal idiosyncrasies, millions upon millions of humans all over the world imagine themselves to be Americans several hours a week and have been doing so since the invention of moving pictures. This is usually known as America's "colonization of the world's subconscious".

You don't even have to speak English to participate. Films are dubbed. I remember, when learning the language, that I soon got used to hearing John Wayne speaking Spanish on the screen, but I collapsed in laughter the first time I heard him speak Italian. John Wayne? Italiano? ¡No, hombre, no!

The Chinese man in the picture, happy in his cowboy hat, is our Pyramid of Giza, our Great Wall. DS

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