American Imperialism

Cenk UygurCenk Uygur said something on The Young Turk about America that is a common sentiment, especially liberals: people all over the world love our culture and if only we just lived up to our ideals, everyone would love America. I used to believe this. But it is total bullshit. On the show, this is demonstrated by Syrian soldiers dancing to an Usher song.

The problem is that Syrian soldiers dancing to an Usher song and Afghanistani peasants being bombed by US drones is all part of American imperialism. In general, we don’t occupy countries like the British Empire. Instead, we install or otherwise empower foreign governments that allow American imports. (Think: Opium Wars.)

In general, people like the art that they are familiar with. Under normal circumstances, Syrians would like Syrian artists. America is very good at creating least common denominator art. But they are far better at marketing that art. And in a very real way, that marketing comes from the barrel of a gun.

So it is not a matter of other cultures really wanting to love America if it weren’t for our aggressive and immoral foreign policy. These cultures love and hate us for exactly the same reasons. If we stopped bombing them (which we should do) they would mostly go back to being indifferent towards us. And that is how it ought to be.


Here is the clip from the show:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “American Imperialism

  1. Cricket, I understand, is big in India. Baseball, of course, is huge in Japan (before I die, I want to see a Japanese baseball game; I understand fans create songs for each player.) And football/soccer, which took its modern form in England, is big everywhere but in America.

    I suppose if the Brits had mass-produced, easily consumed music and movies back in the day, those would be popular in former colonies as well (our music/movies have always been big in our occupied territories — who invented karaoke, for pete’s sakes?)

    Colonized territories, I imagine, like to show they can play the sports of their conquerors even better than the conquerors can. Pop culture is almost always aimed at the poor (that’s how it becomes "pop" instead of "high" culture, after all), so few songs or films won’t be on the side of the little guy struggling against big odds. Easy stuff to relate to!

  2. @JMF – I like to think of America as the world’s charming but oafish brother-in-law. Unfortunately, more and more I think of America as Patrick Bateman. We certainly are charming; if it weren’t for that psychopath stuff, we’d be great!

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