Recently, someone in academia (no point in revealing the exact location) was criticizing the West for destroying the Middle Eastern as well as other cultures. Academically, this instructor was teaching the students all of the “evils” of the West and how the Middle Eastern cultures were suffering and being erased. The model the instructor was using was imperialism. The imperialists overtook the foreign lands and exploited their resources and their citizens, making the lands colonies. The colonies surrendered their wealth to the imperialists who got fat and enjoyed the bounty of the land. The indigenous people of the colonies worked hard to make the lives of the imperialists easy and prosperous, as their cultures were subsumed in the culture of their overlords. The great thing about academics is that if one theory works, it can probably explain other events, and if that theory fits your personal ideology and position, all the better.
Imperialists considered themselves monarchs who achieved their positions via merit, when in fact their rewards were simply fate, being born to certain people in certain places. While luck is described as where preparation meets opportunity, for many of the imperialists preparation was simply being born in the right family, and the opportunity was people that you could lord over because you held greater power. The idea that there was meritocracy to the administration of the colonies is a cruel joke. The idea that the best and the brightest led the colonies is disproven by the foolish management of them, and anyone who was the best and brightest would never have justified, under any framework of reasoning, the atrocious treatment of the indigenous people. That’s my view of history, and certainly not held exclusively by myself alone, it seems to be a consensus.
So now, according to the colonialist/imperialist interpretation, the global market is imposing the cultures and attitudes of the West upon the Middle Eastern as well as other countries, according to the instructor. The evil and biased Western values have little regard for the any values other than their own, according to the theory of Western Globalization, which must concur with and mainly follow the narrative of the imperialism theory. First, we enslaved you and took whatever you had that was valuable, your labor at slave wages and all valuable commodities. Now, the West is destroying your culture with hamburgers, pizza, donuts, coffee, nice shoes and denim pants, not to mention cell phones and computers.
The exploitation is no longer the British East India Tea Company, it’s Apple, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Pizza Hut. The evil Western values that are corrupting the Third World are Corporate America and predatory capitalism, whose evil conspiracy is to lure the naïve citizens into their ideology and get them to abandon the values of their culture and adopt the ideologies of the imperialists. Now, there’s some thinking for you. How did we package the new imperialism? Were the new values hidden in all of those tasty treats and those convenient communication devices that doubled as computers? Perhaps there is some devilish chemical we put in all of those double lattes that is motivating them to abandon their traditional cultural values.
The largely internecine conflicts in the Middle East, presently in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen (with undertones far beyond those states) are forcing citizens out of that region of the world, with the total emigrating population larger that the population of Spain, over 25 million and counting. Could it be that they are leaving a culture that justified the poor treatment (and by poor treatment we mean beheading, stoning, torture, enslavement) of their fellow citizens? The people fleeing these troubled lands seem to be from a culture of intolerance and greed, as well as complete disregard for their fellow countrymen. While one could shoehorn the Western imperialist ideologies into some sort of culprit for this malicious treatment of their fellow citizens, anyone making that case would encounter some very difficult answers to provide, which they more than likely could not answer at all. The Western values of individual rights and freedoms have not been adopted, and from the looks of things, won’t be anytime soon. The Western values of the state being responsible for the health and welfare of all of its citizens is, again, a value not adopted.
One of the unpleasant questions I am asking is if other countries where these refugees are attempting to settle really want people who think killing and torturing those of your own country with whom you disagree should be a policy; and, if they can’t get along in their country, who is to say that they won’t start the same thing wherever they go? We understand the oppression these refugees have endured, that is not in question. The question is could there be a more salient reason for these people being thrown out, or oppressed until they choose to leave. The case could be made that the refugees have family and religious ties much deeper than those of the state, which would cause one to question their loyalty to any state, would it not? If your state has chosen to torture and treat you as if you weren’t even a citizen of that state (minorities too numerous to mention here, but Untouchables, Uyghurs, et. al.) leaving is certainly an option. Leaving before they kill you us not as much an option as a necessity.
While the West has its share of discrimination and mistreatment, the mistreatment of some of the refugees in the Middle East is atrocious in the extreme. This is not the culture that the West is exporting. Even the colonial culture realized that killing people was a waste of resources, but I am in no way denying that the imperial powers murdered people, nor am I condoning it. It is just that comparing the imperial behavior to present globalization behavior is like comparing apples to warheads, and insisting that globalization, which has raised the standard of living in so many countries as repackaged imperialism is academically irresponsible and teaching a theory that your average well-educated Political Science senior could destroy in less than four pages.
Many of the Middle Eastern ideologies seem to be of the opinion that the superpowers are using the corrupt leaders of their region as pawns, and to a certain extent they are correct, but the dictators and unelected leaders who are being played for chumps by the Western superpowers are getting something out of it. The age-old question prevails: “What’s in it for me?” Corrupt leaders have existed ever since there were leaders, and corruption which lines the pockets of corrupt leaders is by no means a new idea. Harry Truman said it best: “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.” The bottom line seems to be that from the perspective of some of the modern theorists, (and I use that term ever so lightly, because they are more ideologists than theorists) the Western values have corrupted the Middle East and other places and caused them to behave in some of these more atrocious ways.
These ideologists want to blame on the West the problems that they face, as if the West has been the source of corruption and assault on their culture. In terms of the Middle East, the factions are killing each other for violations that are hundreds if not a thousand years old, and they cannot let go. The internecine battles rage on, much of it unseen to West simply because it is of no interest to the West, and no intervention, military or otherwise, will end it. The internecine conflicts will end when the various factions give up the strategy of “the revenge of the cradle.”
But the global village theory of Marshall McLuhan, where the bias of the Western media has influenced the naïve minions has had the effect on what would be considered one-way: The Third World and the Middle East are adopting Western values, and some are being killed for doing so. After all, if they’re out to kill your culture, just kill them. Not a policy of the West, thank you very much. The West realized that religious wars never ended, a lesson the Middle East still has yet to learn. When you ask me about the “civil war” I ask which one you mean, as those who have read history know that civil wars aren’t exclusive to the U.S. by any means.
Certainly, the West has exploited other cultures; no doubt about it, that is history documented to the most miserable of detail. Now, the so-called imperialists are offering tasty food, fine-fitting clothing, great coffee and sugary donuts. I am just as sure that if you were to offer the opportunity to market a great product to the West, (in spite of certain greedy people willing to market and distribute your great product while they take all of your profits) you have that opportunity. Presently, the Third World offers only commodities such as sugar, coffee beans, heavy metals and crude oil, among other commodities in which West prefers to indulge. Consider some of the delicacies or common street food that would not make it in the West, like fried pigs heads (yes the whole head, from China) and partially incubated duck eggs (from the Philippines) and while we’re at it, how about some grilled guinea pig or surstromming, fermented fish so strong that it is only opened outdoors. Bollywood of India makes, on the average one-thousand more films that Hollywood makes in a single year. How come we’re not drowning in Bollywood films here in the Western world? Some of their lame attempts at marketing are humorous.
Anyone still naïve enough to fall for the idea that social media will help people create the “global village” (a term coined in the early 1960s, by the way) and bond everyone together is dreaming. Countries like China and Iran, neither of which could be described as terribly friendly with or interested in becoming another America, block social media as much as they can. I am not opposed to foreign cultures, we have great number of diverse cultures in the U.S., and the only restrictions we insist upon are the rights of all citizens that our Constitution demands. Some of the folks who have resettled here are insisting that they have the right to violate others’ rights because their culture or their religion demands it. The U.S. already had that fight, and if we are smart, we will not have it again, in the name of diversity, tolerance, or any other “generous” or “understanding” national gesture. The Americans who defend “cultural” discrimination of newer ethnic groups are the same people who bitterly criticized the cultural discrimination that existed in the U.S. in certain regions a century ago; and yet they are unable to recognize the violation of Constitutional rights practiced by the new immigrants. The United States has never accommodated those who wish to discard our Constitution because it disagrees with their culture, and Constitutional rights comprise and define our culture, period.
Our Western culture recognizes rights that Americans have fought and died for; insisting that the Western culture is one resembling the repression and slavery of the imperialists is a non-starter. Our attempts to assemble governments in other countries that resemble our own Constitutional government have been met with accusations of attempts to destroy the culture of those countries, mostly because those countries have cultural biases and mistreatments that some would prefer to retain. Adopting a constitution resembling the U.S. Constitution means abandoning the traditional cultural biases of these societies, therefore, they refuse to adopt a constitution that guarantees rights of all citizens. That is their choice, just don’t insist that we’re trying to destroy those biased and unfair cultures; they make imperialism look tame. The ideologists have chosen the worst aspects of imperialism, and are trying to keep the notion of imperialism alive, because it is a great rationalization to hate the U.S. and the West in general.