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22 Anthony Giddens

As the changes I have described in this lecture gather weight, they are creating something that has never existed before, a global cosmopolitan society. We are the first generation to live in this society, whose contours we can as yet only dimly sec. It is shaking up our existing ways of life, no matter where we happen to be. This is not-at least at the moment-a global order driven by collective human will. Instead, it is emerging in an anarchic, haphazard, fashion, carried along by a mixture of economic, technological and cultural imperatives.

It is not settled or secure, but fraught with anxieties, as well as scarred by deep divisions. Many of us feel in the grip of forces over which we have no control. Can we re-impose our will upon them? I believe we can. The powerlessness we experience is not a sign of personal failings, but reflects the incapacities of our insti­ tutions. We need to reconstruct those we have, or create new ones, in ways appropriate to the global age. We should and we can look to achieve greater control over our runaway world. We shan't be able to do so if we shirk the challenges, or pretend that all can go on as before. For globalization is not incidental to our lives today. It is a shift in our very life circumstances. It is the way we now live.

Questions for Discussion and Writing

1. Professor Giddens states that "Instantaneous electronic communication isn't a way in which news or information is conveyed more quickly. Its exis­

tence alters the very texture of our lives, rich and poor alike." Do you agree? How do you think your lives are different, for example, from those of your parents, who grew up in a different era? Which aspects of electronic com­ munication do you use every day?

2. Giddens claims that many of the most successful companies that benefit from globalization are based in the United States. Does this undercut a sense of global reach and turn it to Americanization? Could globalization simply be a cover for American influence and control?

3. What do you think about Giddens' idea that globalization leads to a growth of nationalism and a redefinition of a native cultural identity?

4. What is the world Trade Organization? Why are protests frequently held against what the WTO represents? Research websites and publications that support and dispute the aims of the WTO and explain the role and purpose of the organization for a general reader.

5. Find out what percentage of American households have a personal com­ puter. Compare this to countries in South America,Africa, and Asia. How does this access to technology affect the daily lives of world citizenry?

We Are All Americans 23

We Are AU Americans VICENTE VERDU

This article.., is taken from the newspaper EI Pals, published in Madrid, Spain, on April 27, 2002. Vicente Verdu was born in Elche, Spain, in 1942. He was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and is a member of the Nieman Foundation of Harv'ard University. For EI Pais he has been Opinion Editor and Cultural Editor. He has written books about the relationships between couples and about the rituals ofsoccer. He is a best-selling author in his home country. Verdu and his family lived in Haverford, Pennsylvania, from 1993 to 1995. In this article the author is responding to a school shooting in Efurt, Germany. An expelled pupil walked into his school carrying a pump-action shotgun and a pistol and killed 14 teachers, 2 girls, a policeman, and then himself The incident at Nanterre, France, referred to in this essay cost the lives of 8 people when a gunman opened fire at a local council meeting. Verdu argues that such actions are influenced by American culture but that there are many more things resulting from American society that should be seen as positive. He sees a time when national borders will be immaterial, because everyone in the world will be, for good or ill, American.

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Years ago, we believed that the Americanization of the world was due to cultural influence. Now we know that it is because of a gene. The final phase of capitalism, of which the United States is decidedly in charge, has ceased to be a system of mater­ ial production. It has become a civilization, and sooner or later all of us will be caught up in it, for better or worse.

The most recent massacre by a young man in a small city in Germany is a repeat of what happened in April, three years ago, in another small city, this one in Colorado, called Littleton. The shooting then also took place at a school, and in exactly the same way: The victims were students and teachers. And the attacker killed himself afterward.

The American model of lif~ repeats itself like a fractal in the many different aspects of everyday existence, be it community life, sex, art, or money. There is an international prototype, which coincides with the American model, to be found in painting, architecture, and even in cyberspace. So why shouldn't there

24 Vicente Verdu

be an international mass killing with its own "Made in America" label?

Until recently, the image of the serial killer who burst into a McDonald's, pulled out a machine gun, and shot down everyone eat­ ing their Big Macs was something distinctively American. But now this is a worldwide brand, and it can be found in 116 countries, with over 40,000 franchises in all. How could one not expect that in these identical settings, we would not find identical events, given that values, formations, and arms trafficking have become global?

American influence is not, in and of itself, harmful, despite what the French say. And after all, on March 27, the French themselves witnessed a similar massacre in Nanterre. American influence consists of a whole bundle of things, of varying degrees of goodness and toxicity. Thanks to the example of the United States, a large part of the world takes democracy as a natural value. Almost no nation for many years now has dared to declare itself anything except a democracy, and in doing that, subscribe to an entire list of human rights-regardless of whether or not it continues to violate them.

Equally, no one doubts the Puritan mandate for transparency, although it may exclude such murky incidents as Enron and others. The American way has become the global paradigm, and the world follows its example, follows its orders and those of its representatives at the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.

Thanks to the Americans, we have ecology, although the United States did not sign the Kyoto Accord, and thanks to the Americans we have hard-line feminism, militant gays, nontraditional couples, equity within couples, and acceptance of multiculturalism.

The United States is like a unit of currency that magnifies the role of the dollar, fast food, and English to encyclopedic dimensions. It has been costly to accept it, but it seems as if contemporary American life will continue to become our own, and will be adopted with increasingly shorter delay.

To give itself some local color, McDonald's in France serves salade ni~oise along with hamburgers; in Greece, it serves feta cheese; and in Singapore, it serves fried chicken. In Norway, McDonald's uses salmon instead of beef, and in India, they call the Big Mac a Maharaja Mac and make it out of lamb rather than beef in accordance with Hindu beliefs. But it is still McDonald's. And, as is well-known by now, since 1986 Big Mac has been the term used by The Economist to express the varying values of the world's currencies.

The World Gers in Touch with Its Inner American 25

Is this Americanization sufficiently appreciated? Probably not, because how can it be distinguished from globalization? And how can we distinguish it from ourselves? This article will be one of the last texts written to separate what is American from what is not. Soon, we will not be able to compare what happened at the school in Erfurt with previous events at American schools. We will all be part of the same institution, the same psychiatric hospital, the same dreams, and the same destiny.

Questions for Discussion and Writing

1. How do you think would your understanding of American culture might change if you lived in another country?

2. What kinds of things would you miss about America if you lived in another country? What different cultures would you like to experience and

The World Gets in Touch with 1ts 1nner American

G. PASCAL ZACHARY

G. Pascal Zachary was a senior journalist with the Wall Street Journal for 13 years before moving to Time Inc. s magazine Business 2.0. He also lectures at Stanford University. He has con­ tributed articles to The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The New Republic. This essay, written in 1999, looks ahead to the twenty-first century and examines whether the world will have a choice about whether or not to be Americanized. Zachary draws his examples from countries as different as Germany, France, Borneo, and Thailand.

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The woman sitting across from me in Bangkok's swank Dusit Thani hotel is one of Thailand's best and brightest. Educated in the U.S., she's a computer whiz at a prominent local company. She wears a basic business suit and impresses me with talk of "TCP/IP" and other Internet protocols. But