One of the great pleasures at this time of year is to read the discussion going on at The WELL: Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2008

This year it's taken on a decidedly distopian and apocalyptic feel. $100/barrel oil and $5/gallon gas seems to have woken something in the American talking heads. But I'm afraid I'm getting grumpy again about even intelligent American's inability to think about the rest of the world. Bruce has moved from Belgrade to Torino and his opening remarks are all about the growth of City states and the decline of the Nation state from a world view and yet the conversation keeps drifting back to what this or that means to the USA, what this or that will happen or did happen in the USA, What about the USA, the USA, USA, USA. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since it's happening on The Well out of SF in Kalifornia, USA.

There was a short piece on Mashable about changes in the way Bloggers are seen in the USA and I posted this.

I hate to pour cold water on this because it's mostly to be applauded. But consider this. The USA now makes it most unpleasant to be a foreign journalist who wants to visit the USA. There have been numerous examples of journalists being locked up, deported or worse because the border officials didn't like the look of them or because they tried to use a visitor Visa waiver for a tourism trip. What happens when we're all citizen journalists? Does that mean we all have to get a formal Visa and declare our informal journalist credentials?

This won't affect me because I plan never to visit the USA again. ;)

The next thing I know I'm being taken to task on my profile for that last throw away line as though the previous paragraph had happened to me. So I spewed forth another anti-USA rant. viz.

You're making assumptions. I haven't personally been through that experience. I have had the 3rd degree from Boston immigration and came through it, but that was about pushing the visa limits and asking to stay for 90 days. My reasons for never wanting to visit the USA again are personal and a reaction to what the USA now represents in the world, not about what I feel about individual Americans. In small numbers I've always found them charming with very few exceptions. Just as long as they weren't in any sort of official capacity. The other reason is that actually getting to the USA is now a horrible experience. About the only sane way to do it is to fly to Canada and then drive.

And finally, as a Brit, it's perfectly acceptable to just not like the USA very much. Mostly we hate the way you dominate our culture. We hate your over-bearing consumerism. We hate the way your brands dominate our high streets. We hate the way so many of you seem to have no conception of what the rest of the world is like. And then we hate the way Blair felt he had to support Bush. On the net, we hate the way Americans in an international forum say "In this country...". Us Geeks hate the way Silicon Valley VC seems to dominate the tech sphere. Need I go on?

Rush to judgement? Nah, it's 30 years since I first visited the USA. I've had plenty of time to form my opinion.

And there lies the problem. I like Americans in small numbers and when they're not wearing uniforms. But I really wish that collectively they would just shut up, go away and withdraw back to within their borders. In the classic French phrase "Yankee go home!".

Which brings up one more comment which I've mentioned before. Starbucks is everywhere worldwide and everywhere it's exactly the same. (Same goes for Coke, Disney and half a dozen other global, American brands). There's also a Chinese restaurant in every town in the world. They're all exactly different. American imperialism is largely cultural and corporate and regimented on a Roman Military, pyramid structured, command and control model. Chinese imperialism is anarchic, hive structured, and uses and and embrace and absorb model. So here's Tom Jennings on the effect of the China Olympics on the world and China itself.

They could get all rigid and freak out over transgressions as they've often done, but there's changes afoot, like all the small business deals in Africa etc show actual deep changes in approach, and there seems to be a desire to take substantial part in planetary business and culture.

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[ 06-Jan-08 8:56am ] [ ]