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Ð''Mcdonalds In Moscow And Coke In China Will Do More To Create A Global Culture Than Military Colonization Could Ever Do' Benjamin Barber.

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Ð''McDonalds in Moscow and Coke in China will do more to create a global culture than military colonization could ever do' Benjamin Barber.

While it is clear that a peaceful introduction to another culture through trade and commercial enterprise will always be better accepted than a military imposition of a foreign culture, it is not true to say that any culture will bend to another influence by an action as simple as eating a hamburger or drinking a soft drink. The increase in globalisation in the world has already begun a pattern of recognition and strengthening of cultural identity. The anti-globalisation movement is very vocal in criticising the western (or more specifically, American) of cultural imperialism, but studies provide evidence that the West is developing a respect and understanding of other civilisations in order to protect its economic standing in global politics. Differences among cultures are not easily resolved, as culture plays an intense role in the identification and functioning of various civilizations. Culture is a vital element of globalization because it is through cultural understanding and empathy that national relationships grow.

In 1884, Karl Marx wrote "In place

of the old local and national seclusion and self sufficiency we have

exchanges in every direction, leading to the universal interdependence

of nations". Globalization has become a widely recognised term in the new century, and has many important interpretations. Among the most significant are the following.

According to Robertson (1992) globalization suggests a single unified world where people are conscious of their responsibilities to the world as a whole, of sharing the planet with others (Gaia awareness) and of the consequences of our actions in the worldwide arena. Giddens (1990) interprets Globalism as Western modernity that has

extended globally; he describes a fourfold level of modernism that

consists of a system of nation states, global capitalist expansion,

global media and information networks, and a system of military

alliances, each of which now has global reach. Another widely accepted

theory of globalization is the fear that global media networks and capitalist consumerism are producing a homogeneous global culture. A "McWorld" according to Barber, 1992. This Western Cultural Imperialism accusation is

sometimes counterbalanced by arguments about increasing heterogeneity

and difference. Traditional Nationalists say that claims for globalization are excessive and that culture remains deeply national. From this view, cultural

imperialism is seen as overstating external structural forces and

undervaluing local and human agency and overstating change.

On a global level it is undeniable that the world is becoming a smaller place. We are all interdependent and it is not possible to regard any single nation as self-sufficient. Even the U.S relies on resources from other parts of the planet (such as oil) (Barber, 1992) Travel, internet, media and business interactions between people of different cultures are constantly increasing, with the flow of ideas and concepts matching the flow of goods and money. These interactions with other cultures increase the awareness of similarities and differences between the civilisations of the world and also the sense of individual culture in each nation or group (Huntington, 2002). In order to achieve a truly global culture, there would need to be communication, co-operation and understanding between different cultures or civilisations. This process of increasing interaction leads to civilisation-consciousness and often as a result of that, a "them versus us" attitude (Skidmore, 1988). When interacting with other civilizations, people tend to identify with their native culture as being in the right, and all other cultures as being enemies. This self-righteous stance is difficult to overcome when idealising a global culture (Sato 1997). It is easier to find compromise in the political arena than asking people to compromise what they see as part of their identity. As Skidmore stated in his article: "Culture, rather than ideology or national identity, will serve as the main litmus test for distinguishing friend from foe" (Skidmore, 1988) and "Interdependence may spark resistance and hatred when it takes the form of cultural penetration of one society by another representing incompatible beliefs and values." (Skidmore, 1988).

This resistance and hatred does nothing to serve the growth of a global economy and the major corporations moving into international markets are fully aware of this. McDonalds has a practice of franchising to local owners, thereby encouraging local employment and purchasing. They also change their menu to suit the local tastes. Japan sells seaweed burgers, India does not provide beef and some McDonalds in France sell rabbit (Watson, 2000). This strategy is not designed to increase "Americanism" but to increase sales. McDonalds as a corporation is successfully selling fast food through compromise and cultural understanding, not through cultural imperialism. It is also interesting to note that most media claims of cultural offence when McDonalds opens another store are overstated and come from the cultural elite, not the working class or poor, who are grateful for another low priced alternative. McDonalds has responded to the emerging customer bases in the moderised cultures which are developing all over the world. It has marketed itself and, instead of imposing a western culture, "it is difficult to see where the transnational ends and the local begins" (Watson, 2000, p.369)

This accusation of American Cultural Hegemony is now so widely played, that it is difficult for people to understand that this myth of a huge American Cultural take-over is a myth. If you look at the history of American culture from the 19th to the 21st centuries, you will see that America has been the recipient of more global cultural influences than any other nation on Earth (Pells, 2002) What passes for a global culture being forced on the rest of the world by one nation, is, in fact the incredibly successful marketing and repackaging of the diverse cultural influences America has received from the rest of the world in the first place. This so called global culture is really a conglomeration of the cultures which existed in the first place (Pells, 2002)

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