Why do conservatives refuse to acknowledge the economic colonialism inherent in the spread of American capital?
For years, the right wing spewed fire, brimstone and treatises on the damage caused by a kind of imperial Japanese investment in US markets and the dangers of a neo-empire-of-the-rising-sun which would suck wealth out of the US and into the pockets of wealthy Japanese tycoons who were (as they so cleverly pointed out) not Americans. One even heard murmurs of “damn Japs” here and there from these conservatives.
But all the while, and doubly or triply so today, American investment around the world — especially in so-called “emerging markets” — has been many times higher. While Japan is now in dire economic straits (and could potentially represent the PR disaster capitalism has deserved to suffer for many years) US investment around the world continues unabated. Compared to the degree to which we suck wealth from many emerging markets, Japan’s ’80s investment in the US markets was absolutely nothing, a petty pittance.
And yet when local populations spew fire, brimstone and treatises on US investment in their markets, we call them radicalized, miseducated, marginal, brainwashed and so on and so on.
Why are we so different from what we accused Japan of being?
1. Racism/ethnocentrism. Favorite American pastime.
1a. I think it’s also to do with the (still very central) US ethos of “manifest destiny,” which today has expanded to encompass the globe and all people on it and runs something like this: ‘We are a “Christian nation” and the only unshakeable, uncompromising political and economic representative of God in the world today. Therefore, God has in his mind’s eye given this world in its entirety to Americans and it is our duty to ensure that we fulfill this destiny and Americanize the Earth for God.’
Every American knows this attitude well and has grown up hearing it in schools, from politicians and on the street amongst pedestrians in various forms, perhaps reformulated or stated in a backhanded way, but always the same. It is the effective “national ethos” of the US and that presents something of a problem: what would happen if this conceit were to be damaged in any way? The day Americans become convinced that it is not a matter of sustainable destiny to maintain an Americanized globe, the US will fall entirely to pieces, having lost the mandate of its existence, throwing the “capitalist world” (now nearly the entire world — really just a collection of US economic colonies) into a complete state of collapse and creating devistation all around.
Perhaps most interestingly, this national ethos is not unlike the message Americans so dislike hearing from the extreme corners of other religious movements…