Thursday, November 1, 2007

Globalization as War

Coke or Pepsi?

The war in Iraq gets the majority of war coverage in the media, and the people certainly aren’t in danger of being overeducated in what is going on over there. But there are other wars going on, much more quietly for the hearts, minds and money of people around the world.

Globalization is one word that can be used to describe this struggle between cultures and generations. It is a huge subject, much too daunting for one blog post, but while I am hesitant to tackle a responsible analysis of it, I can see its affects everywhere around me.

“We must ensure that the global market is embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect global social needs, and that all the world's people share the benefits of globalization.”
Kofi Annan

Here in Nicaragua, the signs of globalization are plenty. Aside from the standard fast food chains Burger King, Pizza Hut and MacDonald’s, we have Purina and Unilever industrial plants, Harley Motorcycle billboards and Pampers at the grocery store (in fact, all disposable diapers are called Pampers, kind of like Kleenex). Coca cola definitely has the larger presence, but Pepsi is in fighting form doing its best to attract a loyal following of younger drinkers.

For three pepsi bottle labels, we went to a concert in Managua where the Nicaraguan bands ranged from Nirvana-esque to Jewel-ish.

American movies are sold on several different street corners, and while the studios are making nothing from these pirated DVDs, due in part to the exposure of the lifestyle exemplified in movies, the expectation of consuming at the same level as Americans is becoming commonplace.

Nicaraguans learn how to buy in bulk at PriceSmart (and yes, you can get a hot dog or a slice of pizza there too).

This, of course, is impossible. And it’s not only because Nicaragua is one of the most impoverished nations in the world. But also because Americans consume one quarter of the world’s energy, while having only one twentieth of the world’s population. It is a physical impossibility for the world to come any where close to living as Americans traditionally do.

So what happens when the culture and values of one place are being replaced by another, without the hope of actual fulfillment? How do the importers make responsible decisions in these areas when they have next to no education? How do the exporters govern themselves responsibly when they don’t understand ramifications?

Yes, I really am going to just leave you with those questions. Because as part of the world, they are yours to answer. As for me, I'm still searching for my response.

1 comment:

nicapamela said...

more questions than answers, that's really all i have too.

but when one culture's values are imported into another with no hope of fulfillment, i think it's safe to say that something of the beauty of the host culture is killed in the process.

and in that sense, it is just like any other war. it's just that the death and destruction take less visible forms.

[sigh]