Anti-Americanism - a humanitarian imperative?
Anti-Americanism - a humanitarian imperative?
Alternating between "with us or against us", "bring 'em on" snarling or "why do they hate us?" whining, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney characterize Americanism at its most crass and banal. The suave barbarism of Condoleezza Rice, John Negroponte or Robert Zoellick offers a more insidious version, but one no less repugnant. Based on crude
Americanism affirms that the
Applying even rudimentary notions of Edward Said's concept of Orientalism helps render more clearly not just the obnoxious folly Americanism engenders but also its well-calculated political and economic consequences. Americanism still encourages people to view
Resistance leaders from Jose Marti and Augusto Sandino to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have consistently turned the caricatures on their heads. Ever diminishing differences between competing
A large part of the superiority Americanism assigns itself resides in what Said wrote about the Orient "The scientist, the scholar, the missionary, the trader or the soldier was in or thought about the Orient because he could be there or could think about it with very little resistance on the Orient's part." (1) Corporate globalization - dominated by US, European and Pacific multinationals and the politicians who front for them - is an effort to make permanent that ability to be wherever Americanism deems necessary with relatively little resistance. Americanism insists the
Cutting at the apparently seamless texture presented by would-be dominant versions of reality, like Americanism, exposes their discontinuities, their constructedness, and the fluidity of their production processes. Up against it, the understandable tendency, a kind of intellectual and moral fight-or-flight, is to veer between critical incisiveness and iconoclastic clearance towards a way out into open ground. The impulse tends both to challenge and to escape illegitimate authority's insincere or downright mendacious workings, the sadistic criminality of its military invasions and occupations and its persistently destructive hypocritical economic interventions.
A crucial contest with the delinquent authority appropriated by suffocating orthodoxies like Americanism is over the construction of events and memories and their representations. However diffuse the spoken, textual or visual record of events, these still seep across time and memory. Their presences and absences stain, color and mark what we are able to think and what we do in fact think, what we say or write, what images we produce, what music we make. In Christian scriptural studies, the 19th century theologian Franz Overbeck argued the historical role of apocryphal texts was to define the canon - marginality and heresy defining order.
Control of the various sieves and filters of information has always been as essential as military force in imposing political and economic control. Authorized versions and imprimaturs have never gone away. They include current attempts to harass dissenting academics include cases like those of Ward Churchill or Norman Finkelstein. Fierce distortion of the recovery from the local big business oligarchy by the
Just as egregious is the mass censorship by the corporate media of events in
The various elites obsessed with power, control, status and prestige that promote Americanism use these means and many more to transmit, protect and promote their excuses, rationalizations, self-justifications and prejudices. Corporate European and US media coverage of events in Iraq, Palestine, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Somalia, Haiti or Afghanistan shows clearly how in an unequal relation, the interpretations and versions of the less powerful are restricted, their expression intimidated, crushed. The constantly accumulating hoard of dominant interpretations of the historical record and their management create a vast, dense archive of intimidation deployed by powerful elites to face down critical questioning and skepticism.
With regard to Americanism, the latest battleground for Latin American autonomy is the resurgence of the role of the State following the failure of the neo-liberal model on its ostensibly argued terms, if not its encrypted purpose - the consolidation of power and concentration of wealth. Ideas about or discussion and analysis of Latin America are certainly greatly determined by the fact of its colonial and neo-colonial subordination to the
John Negroponte's recent visit to
But one has only to remember the "ham-and-eggs" diplomacy of Ambassador Dwight D. Morrow dealing with President Calles during the Cristero War in
toni solo is an activist based in
1. Introduction p7 "Orientalism" Edward Said Penguin 1995