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Holding American imperialism at bay

Diatribes against American cultural imperialism would be more convincing if the victims tried, just a little, to resist it. Instead they swoon before it, much like the heroines in Mills & Boon romances used to melt with feigned reluctance before the forceful attentions of the dark and handsome stranger.

Take October 31, a date that until half a dozen years ago had zero traction in the South African cultural psyche. But this is Halloween — originally a European religious fast for the dead, predictably transmogrified by America into a feast for the consumer.  And as is increasingly the trend, the SA media was full of it, in every sense of the phrase.

The website southafrica.co.za, a self-proclaimed repository of that which defines our uniqueness, was tweeting ‘cool zombie games for Halloween’. Cape Town’s Labia cinema billed ‘Africa’s most exciting Haloween event’, with dress-up prizes and a zombie walk.

And Durban’s uShaka Marine World has a regular Haloween celebration sponsored by Coca-Cola — that ubiquitous epitome of Americanness — where ‘a frenzy of dressed up children and weird and wonderful costumes roam the grounds’. Pity the dolphins.

On the other hand, what could be more American than uShaka, with ersatz Zulu ethnicity in-spanned to front Miami-style dolphin displays? Those pretty dolphins probably blow in Southern drawls and truly look forward to their annual trick-or-treat extravaganza.

So-called ‘zombie walks’ unfortunately aren’t confined to the the Labia and uShaka. They are also the staple fare at what is still called the matric dance, but which now bares little resemblance to the high-hopes, low-octane affair of my own adolescence.

The matric ‘farewell’ was a rite of passage alright, but on a discount fare. For girls, it often meant a home-made frock acquired with an eye to being recycled into grown-up eveningwear. For boys, it was often the first long-trouser suit, with its appropriateness for future job interviews (browns and fawns) or funerals (greys and blacks) prominent among the purchase criteria.

Now the bling of the American high school ‘prom’ has taken root, with spoilt brats eagerly transformed into zombie consumers and the once-modest ‘farewell’ become an ostentatious display of parental wealth. A promenade it certainly is, with kids decked out in tuxedos and outrageously expensive designer dresses, and chauffeured in ‘elegant classic cars or modern machines for an entrance that nobody will forget’, as a hire car firm punts it in its advertising.

What is most depressing is that such conspicuous consumption is not limited to a few well-heeled schools. The latest trend of keeping up with the Ndlovus at the matric dance has become as much a financial drain on poor black families as is the more-established curse of the lavish funeral — but at least final internment has cultural and social importance, unlike a frivolous teen jol.

Nor does a thriving national culture provide any antidote. In the United Kingdom, which is slowly morphing into the 51st state of the US, Halloween was this year worth a third of a billion sterling to retailers, up from only £12m a decade ago.

So there should be no surprise that these inanities are thriving in SA. Consumerism reigns everywhere and part of the genius of doing business is creating markets where none existed before. Think of such contrived gift-giving occasions as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

But fake Americanised rituals around goblins, ghosties or prancing zombie brats be damned. Perfect contentment would be simply to preserve the SA system of English spelling — a licence, a centre, a concert programme — against marauding internet-borne US imperialists, as well as to curb the epidemic of pseudo-American accents increasingly heard among local ‘celebrities’.

Author

  • This Jaundiced Eye column appears in Weekend Argus, The Citizen, and Independent on Saturday. WSM is also a book reviewer for the Sunday Times and Business Day. Follow @TheJaundicedEye.

41 Comments

  1. David Brown David Brown 5 November 2011

    The concluding two parargraphs are bizarre. To attempt to develop identities on a national basis such as halloween- Celtic ceremony of origin always celebrated in Scotland and Ireland long before it got to the US. to object to local accents developing along American lines is silly. All sorts of things rub off the Afrikaans influence on SA English accents is everywhere and well ingrained in your own speech and African pronunciations ets etc. Which world are you lving in theres only one i know of . Anally retentive control freak bullshit. Oom Schalk word verengels. American accents are trained in some of the call centres in SA. Dutch is taught to Afrikaners at call centres to gain acess to Dutch markets.. Get communicatively flexible. What an archaic heap of social perception you pile up on your stoep. Nog n’suip brandwyn iemand. Learning modern subusrban pidgins and crossovers is good for a society which stuggles with identity thinking and fixity.

  2. La Quebecoise La Quebecoise 5 November 2011

    Yay. Bravo, author!!!! And a corollary to that; the day after Hallowe’en the Christmas decorations go up in the shops…sigh.

    Nkosi sikelel iAfrika

  3. Lockstock Lockstock 5 November 2011

    You don’t know the half of it William. There are professional ‘Halloween decorators’ here in The States who will carve pumpkins for you, drape spiders webs across your house, hang suitably eerie lanterns, dig in tomb-stones, strategically hide smoke machines and speakers for creepy music, as well as climb on these McMansion roofs to hang witches, spiders, ghouls and a rather large assortment of other plastic and cotton dummies for a few hours of entertainment. We’re not talking hundreds of dollars either, but thousands.

    And it’s all coming to a Sandtonite neighbourhood near you!

  4. Lockstock Lockstock 5 November 2011

    As a PS. My six year old son got into the ‘spirit’ of Halloween this year by mapping out the neighbourhood we live in, and drawing out his route (or stage of attack). He managed to ‘hit’ every house for treats, bar three (over a hundred and forty in all). When confronted by a man at one of the doors who responded to his question, ‘trick or treat’, the man decided to ask for a trick. My son replied, “I’m all about the treats, mister.”

    He learnt that you’ll only pick up the silver medal if you argue with a six year old.

  5. Sihle Sihle 5 November 2011

    Couldn’t have said it better!

  6. nzs nzs 6 November 2011

    1) ‘A license, a center, a concert program’ (I grimace everytime I see a youngster’s ability to perfect the American spelling. Often wonder, though, if this bias towards the English spelling is justified, given that, for an African that I am, British should look and sound synonymously with the American).

    2) “The epidemic of pseudo-American accents increasingly heard among local ‘celebrities’”. But then we somehow bring this on us ourselves: how many times have we allowed South Africa to be the dumping site for those American has-beens (singers, politicians) who want to revive their careers? ‘Go to South Africa, sing Mandela’s praises [take a photo with him if his gatekeepers happen to be in the right mood], ‘empathize’ with the poor and downtrodden, sing ‘Hallelujahs’, chant endless ‘Amens’, come back to America a cleansed artist – ready to ‘wow’ the American audiences again [’Twas a good homecoming, seeing Mandela and all, after all]’ seems to be the modus operandi. Even our hyperactive sports minister couldn’t be outdone by the Mandelas; no successful birthday party without inviting his American ‘family friends’ (Brandy and her brother – the latter being only known for that infamous sex tape with that social butterfly who drifts in and out of marriage in the same way many move through their daily sleep-wake pattern).
    Coming to think of it, how can I have the famous political butterfly (who moonlights as our minister of housing) in attendance in my own birthday party?

  7. Dave Harris Dave Harris 6 November 2011

    Your confusion lies in your lack of understanding of the simple difference between US economic imperialism (Walmart, Anglo American, Monsanto, Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, oil companies etc.) detested by much of the world, and popular US culture (Levis, American sitcoms, movies, basketball, Halloween, Apple products…) universally embraced by teens across the world. The same phenomenon underlies the world’s hatred of the Bush regime but their general liking of ordinary Americans on an individual level.

    Unlike the degenerate culture of class imposed by British Imperialism for centuries, the embracing of US pop culture with all its faults, by our teenagers fills the void created by their rejection of class based culture force fed via the old hegemony of Christianity and the media. Its certainly the lesser of two evils. Your nostalgic yearning for that old stiff-upper-lip culture however, is most revealing. In spite its flaws, the US still wrestles with the evils of white privilege in stark contrast to SA’s beneficiaries of centuries of apartheid, who continue to suffer from rare kind of “selective amnesia” in order to cling to apartheid’s spoils for as long as they can.

    Anyway, Mother’s, Father’s, Valentine’s…are all secular fun-filled celebrations of love and in spite of crass commercialism, still holds universal appeal across cultures. Halloween has always been opposed by religious conservatives and crusty curmudgeons so your criticism isn’t surprising.

  8. MLH MLH 6 November 2011

    A man after my own heart, I hope! When we came to SA from the UK in 1959, I’d never heard of Halloween and I’m not sure I really knew it existed until about 30 years ago. When our venerable government decided that Guy Fawkes and SA have nothing in common, I was aghast; surely that event held more weight than Halloween to the ANC, once ( and it sometimes seems still) caught in similar politics?
    What really gets me though, are the commercial values ascribed to Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas by residents who have no idea how insulting it is to people who actually subscribe to their religious value. Just as it was decided that Ascension Day is not an important holiday to those Christians who believe in the importance of Christ’s acsension. The changing of some holiday names also creates some little ire in my heart; especially since the majority of this population is said to be Christian!
    I give my once-a-week domestic worker and gardener their bonuses in January. The former has only been with me a few years and every year I sense her irritation; she would rather spend the money on Christmas frivolity than have the money for school fees, stationery and uniforms. My gardener (he of seven children) is perfectly happy with the arrangement; the bonus saves his soul after the family has cleaned him out over the ‘holiday season’.

  9. Nguni Nguni 6 November 2011

    Your blog prompted me to read up on the origins of Halloween, quite fascinating. It has returned to its pagan (celtic) roots which is probably a good thing. So many of these ancient feasts and rituals were ‘adopted’ by the church to make early Christianity more appealing to pagan Europe. So let’s leave God out of it, including the God of commerce..

  10. Balt Verhagen Balt Verhagen 6 November 2011

    ‘WHAT!!’ I exclaimed very audibly, and many a supermarket customer looked up at this suddenly loud madala. So probably would you have, William, had you been confronted by a “Special’ price tag: PUMPKIN R89. Then I realised what the date was, and that the hubbard squashes and white boerpampoene with which the traditional Jack-o-lanterns were displayed were ‘only’ R25-R35. A clever ploy to make the mortifying escalation of prices of basic pruduce in this country seem ‘not too bad’.

    William, yours is a wonderful thumbnail of so much that has changed, and gone patently wrong, in our South African society – as in much of the world. The seductive over-consumption that has its origins largely in the USA is at the root of the ongoing world financial crisis, where you employ as trade tender documents proving individuals’ indebtedness. Where of the 18 million indebted South Africans, 8 million already have committed their entire 2012 incomes to repaying their existing debts.

    An old friend in the Netherlands warned against this some 35 years ago: we are living way beyond our means. And Europe has been exporting this profligacy to newly acquired member states such as Greece, Portugal and Spain. What a contrast, you so aptly remind us of, with our white, middle-class post-WW2 existence. Frugality was built-in. Such luxuries as you thought you could afford you carefully paid for out of your savings.

  11. Balt Verhagen Balt Verhagen 6 November 2011

    Continuation

    William,having set yourself up as a defender of the English language, you will have to be doubly careful not to allow stones to be directed against your own glass house. A funeral is not about the internment of the deceased – there is a rather greater finality about the process. And stating that the matric dance… now bares little resemblance to (former times) I have to assume does not refer to the contemporary teenage female midriffs (or worse). And just a final little pebble about an insidious Americanism that most of us have fallen prey to: the use of ‘billion’ in referring to one thousand million. The correct English for this is a ‘milliard’. A billion in English, and traditionally in Europe, is a bi-million, or a million times a million, now referred as a ‘trillion’ in American parlance.

  12. Khalsa Singh Khalsa Singh 6 November 2011

    Well said William. Am glad Im not the only one sickened by the unashamed pandering to US culture. Lest we not start discussing “reality TV” and “celeb watching”which the world wide masses have lapped up.

  13. John Kennedy John Kennedy 6 November 2011

    Trust Dave Harris, the ‘universal tosser’, to praise the shoddiest aspect of US culture – Levis, American sitcoms, movies, basketball, Halloween, and no doubt Jerry Springer – whilst execrating the best – US business, financial, educational, technological, commercial and military superiority. Dave shows you why the Soviet Union was a losing nation with losing ideals still much revered by losers and parasites in strange corners of the globe.

  14. Lockstock Lockstock 6 November 2011

    In a response to the local race pimp Dave Harris.

    In Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations (American spelling), he noted that one of the marked differences between nations and cultures that are economically progressive in the modern world, and those that aren’t (in particular those in Africa), was that rising Far Eastern nations like Korea have kept their traditions and cultural practices whilst managing to embrace Western virtues that enable them to progress without falling completely for all the trappings. Africans – he noted – embraced all the trappings, but borrowed none of the practices that could afford sustainable economic progress. In other words, they succumbed to the frills without ever putting in the spade work, and forgot completely about their cultural heritage on the way.

    I suppose the lesson ultimately is that you choose which part of Americana you as a culture or nation wish to embrace. Stronger cultures seem to have no problem distinguishing between good and bad, while the weaker less functioning cultures don’t or can’t. Cellphones in Africa are as common as muck, but used far more as a recreational communication modem, over an extension of conducting business, as compared to Asia or America.

    South Africa’s recent discussions over being taught in mother tongues rather than English, while Chinese, Japanese and Korean students spend a great deal of energy and money in learning the world’s business language, is quite telling.

  15. Richard Becker Richard Becker 7 November 2011

    As a pumpkin farmer I love Halloween. May it grow from strength to strength. Besides which, what’s wrong with an excuse for a good party

  16. citoyen citoyen 7 November 2011

    Excellent article William. Couldn’t have said it better.

    I disagree with Dave Harris – who sees teen’s embrace of all things American as a splendidly good thing.

    He writes: “the embracing of US pop culture with all its faults, by our teenagers fills the void created by their rejection of class based culture force fed via the old hegemony of Christianity and the media.”

    Dave, have you noticed how our culture is swamped and drowned in American entertainment ‘product’?

    This ‘soft power’ of American hegemony is fed to us via the American stranglehold on the movie industry and the massive US corporate entertainment industry.

    From Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler, through to Disneyworld, CartoonNetwork and Sex in the City, from hamburgers and fries and cokes to the commodification of women and the saturation onour radio stations of American rap/hip-hop music, from the faux American accents adopted by our township kids to the mindless worship of the designer-clad wife of Obama when she visited our shores … the worship of America – a distant, first world, money-obsessed land – where the indigenous natives were genocided via smallpox blankets and land grabs – is unhealthy.

    Dave says” ” Its certainly the lesser of two evils.”

    Why must be always choose between two evils – as the Americans choose between two sides of the same coin every time they elect another corporate-funded millionaire to power?

    Africa can show the U.S. a thing or two.

  17. Lennon Lennon 7 November 2011

    This article made me smile.

    I loath the encroachment of British-American imperialism (pushed by the Federal Reserve and their Wall Street lackeys as well as the military-industrial complex).

    But I love my American and British science fiction / fantasy (George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, J. Robert King and Joe Dever); comedy (Bill Hicks, George Carlin; Eddie Murphy, Lenny Bruce, Eddie Izzard and Rowan Atkinson); technology (computers, telephones, radio, trains, electricity!) and advances in medicine, geology, paleontology, archaeology, astronomy, physics, biology etc.

    All of these things (and I’m sure I’ve omitted quite a bit) make it difficult to truely hate either Brits or the Americans or, at least, the average Brit or American (as someone else has pointed out).

  18. Lennon Lennon 7 November 2011

    PS: I don’t “celebrate” either Christmas or Halloween as I am neither Pagan nor Christian.

    The closest I get to “celebrating” either is lunch with the extended family on December 25th or a watching horror movie on October 31st.

    Easter is pretty much the same as Christmas for me. Most of my family are Christian and lunch is a tradition. Besides, who in their right mind would pass up a free meal?

    The only imported “holiday” (if one could call it that) which I do care for is November 5th – Guy Fawkes Day; but again, it only extends to watching the ever-depressing ‘1984’ or the epic ‘V for Vendetta’ and not popping firecrackers (my kitties wouldn’t appreciate that) nor burning an effigy of the late Mr Fawkes (the fire department wouldn’t appreciate that either).

  19. Arthas Arthas 7 November 2011

    Oh dear Harris. Ok, I’ll agree with you that Halloween etc is just good fun and people should not make a fuss. But:

    (1) Apple products ends up in your list of good American exports? Are you aware of just how much exploitation is involved in the making of those products (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/30/apple-chinese-factory-workers-suicides-)? Or Apple’s dirty tactics of filing lawsuits against competitors at every opportunity instead of competing?

    (2) Are you just incapable of not shoehorning in a shot at white South Africans, where it is completely irrelevant? Grow up.

  20. Paul Barrett Paul Barrett 7 November 2011

    @Balt Verhagen: You talk of glass houses, yet don’t realise how fragile is your own.

    You are incorrect on both the use and origins of the use of billion for one thousand million. It’s use is neither restricted to the US nor did it originate there. The UK has used it since 1974. Therefore billion is correct UK English for 1000 million, and not for 1 million million.

    Some (non-English speaking) countries still use billion for 1 million million.

    Ironically, milliard originally meant 1 million million, and was changed to mean 1000 million. The term milliard is long obsolete in UK English.

    Since speakers of UK English are mistaken on other details of the difference between UK and US English (e.g. the term soccer, which is of UK origin, is often thought to be of US origin, and several words with ‘ou’ in UK English and ‘o’ in US were originally only ‘o’ and were changed in UK English after invasion by the Normans – Webster’s US dictionary decided to return to the original spellings while UK English retained the French inspired modified versions,) it is not surprising that many of these myths persist.

    None of which is specific to this article, but it does indicate how easy it is for things to be assumed of US origin when in fact they are not. Rampant consumerism, for instance, is not a US import; it is prevalent in the UK and other countries also, and they did not take their cue from the US. It is of course easier to lay blame on the US than take…

  21. Cosmopolitan Cosmopolitan 7 November 2011

    Actually, the idea of “zombies” comes from Africa. The word “zombie” is derived from a Congolese word, nzumbe, which describes as a divine being. It’s a prominent concept in West African voodoo as well, which was transported during slavery to the Americas. So the fact that Americans now utilize an African concept in their own religious celebrations marks not some act of cultural imperialism foisted onto Africa, but just another transaction in the history of cultural sharing between Africa and America. The fact that the zombie has been re-exported back to Africa in a new guise (wearing Levi’s jeans) just means that America has now added its own unique touch to a concept originating in Africa. William, you shouldn’t shut your door to the zombies. You should be welcoming them home to Africa!

  22. Oh My Word Oh My Word 7 November 2011

    Hear Hear! and 94.7 please trash the american “sexy” accents from your selfpromo ad fillers and that ubiquitous idiot Seacrest from you shows…. nauseating to say the least.

  23. A1 A1 7 November 2011

    I think a sense of humour is maybe required here? Halloween,
    Like everyone is saying, is not American. Neither is consumerism, though it may have originated in The States. Pop culture is not about where something comes from. Elvis was popop culture, but so were mini skirts created by the American Mary Quant. So is wearing those embracing American Imperialism? Or sneakers? Or listening to Elvis? I say we have far more important things to worry about. Let the children have their dress-up fun and eat their candy, because you try explaining to a ten year old that they can’t have Halloween because of American Imperialism. See how well that goes down.

  24. Una Una 7 November 2011

    Forget about the pop culture which lacks substance. One wonders why South Africans imbibe such garbage. The most inhuman and lethal is the foreign policy of America which lacks creativity and only sees human suffering as the saviour to their economic woes. They have poisoned the global eco-political landscape. Infact more than 90% of the western world believe in these wild policies of sacrificing lives of hundreds and thousands of people in the developing world in order to get to oil or natural resources. This is “witchcraft” God forbid!!! Nxa!!

  25. Paul Barrett Paul Barrett 7 November 2011

    The last sentence of my post should have read:

    “It is of course easier to lay blame on the US than take personal responsibility.”

  26. Dave Harris Dave Harris 8 November 2011

    @Arthas
    Of course Apple’s outsourcing practices fuels these despicable business practices in China. My point however, is that they are not detested as a company and their products are universally embraced across the world.

    “shoehorning in a shot at white South Africans” ? The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

  27. Arthas Arthas 8 November 2011

    @Harris: “My point however, is that they are not detested as a company and their products are universally embraced across the world.”

    When, in fact, they should be detested as a company for their uncompetitive practices. e.g. filing lawsuits instead of competing.

    ““shoehorning in a shot at white South Africans” ? The truth hurts, doesn’t it?”

    And yet you continue to act a child. The topic had nothing to do with that. But it seems you are so racist, you can’t help yourself but take shots at a particular race group when it isn’t relevant to the topic at hand.

  28. Chris Cross Chris Cross 8 November 2011

    Today’s culture – to be uncultured.
    Today’s standards – knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  29. goolam.dawood goolam.dawood 9 November 2011

    I don’t want to be blasted for stating the obvious … but I think you’ll find these to be very WHITE and MIDDLE CLASS pre-occupations. The very fact that you’d use marketting gimmicks that target commercial holydays is proof of it. Noone else gives a crap. And informed people in particular consider these things abhorrent, or benign at best.

  30. citoyen citoyen 9 November 2011

    goolam – you are of course correct.

    “Halloween” “easter bunnies” “santa claus” “the tooth fairy” and other stuff that passes for Anglo-american culture is a rather white and middle-class pre-occupation.

    The poorest of the poor cannot afford all the Halloween trinkets, the chocolate treats, the expensive goodies for Christmas.

    It’s sad that the anglo-american ‘festivities’ all seem to involve so much commercialism, marketing, self-indulgence and white sugar – especially when their founding Christian philosopher Jesus was a man who decried materialism and the worship of Mammon, threw profiteering bankers out of public spaces and called for simple pleasures, like breaking a crust of bread with friends.

    There’s also an element of infantile fantasy about all these things, which feeds non-reality-based thinking rather than promoting rationality.

    You know, a big man with a beard (no, not God) conspires with a bunch of elves to send a glittering western commodity made by poor kids in China to every middle-class kid around the world – but not to the dirt poor kids in Diepsloot, Guguletu and Kwa Mashu..

  31. Lennon Lennon 9 November 2011

    @goolam.dawood: What would you say if Muslim, Hindu and Jewish holidays / holy days were commercialised to the extent that Christmas and Easter are?

    Personally I find both to be a waste of what would otherwise be productive days as I am not Christian. I don’t buy Easter “Eggs” nor do I buy Christmas presents for anyone and I don’t expect to receive either as it’s a waste of money. The only benefit to be derived is free lunch on both days with the extended family who are Christian.

    If holidays from other religions were commercialised, would adherrents to those religions not be offended at all? I can see a commercial idea for Ramadan: “Buy our special Ramadan Multi-Vitamins! They will keep you going!”

  32. Lennon Lennon 9 November 2011

    PS: Do you honestly expect us to believe that not a single black, Indian, coloured person (or anyone of any other ethnicity for that matter) doesn’t fall into the commercial BS that is now Christmas, Halloween or Easter?

  33. ConCision ConCision 9 November 2011

    HALLOWEEN or HULLO, WINNIE
    or
    REAL CHILDREN PLAYING AT BEHAVING LIKE MONSTERS or
    ADULT CHILDREN PLAYING – AND BEHAVING LIKE MONSTERS

    So much of our future is at stake
    When you can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake
    When all is measured by the money you make
    And, like the ANC, how much more you can fraudulently take

    Get rid of the bad, for goodness sake
    Or all will be stolen before you wake
    – And afterwards, you’ll be told to jump in the lake
    Be afraid! Government venality should make you quake

  34. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 10 November 2011

    Imperialism is the belief that your culture, race, class or religion is superior and should therefore be imposed on others. This certainly applies to America,especially post the Second World War, but it equally applies to Communist Russia, Communist China, and to the Arab League and the African Union.

    Which was supposed to be the reason for the United Nations, and the League of Nations before it.

  35. chantelle chantelle 10 November 2011

    Balt Velhagen Paul Barrett, thank you very much. I have long wondered how much a miljard (Afrikaans) is.

  36. Lennon Lennon 10 November 2011

    @Lyndall Beddy: League of Nations? HAHAHAHA!!! Those inept imbeciles might as well have invited HItler to start a war.

    The UN in its current form is defunct. The rules need to change. It’s not 1945, it’s 2011. Then again, it was defunct from the moment the Soviet Bloc and NATO were created.

  37. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 12 November 2011

    Lennon

    The League of Nations had no veto system and America was not a member.

    Which is why it was not resurrected after the second world war.

    If the Breton Woods agreement was about enforcing the “victors” of that war – why has America got a veto and not Britain or France in the United Nations?

  38. Lennon Lennon 14 November 2011

    Be that as it may, the League had fair warning about Hitler’s “Lebensraum” policies and even poor old Churchill was screaming that allowing him to continue would be disastrous. A small clue was the alarming rate at which Germany had re-armed itself (and with tech which was far ahead of any other nation barring, perhaps, the US) – a violation of the Treaty of Versailles. A lack of political will was all that Hitler had to face until he divvied Poland up with the Soviet Union. Then again, there are those who believe that the war was allowed to happen.

    As for American veto rights, that shouldn’t be too suprising since they ultimately contributed most of the muscle required to defeat the Axis and also pumped a fortune into rebuilding Europe. They were also responsible for ferrying supplies to Britain whilst remaining “neutral” to the European theatre of war.

    The USA was the true victor and not Europe or her former colonies. Apart from the former Soviet Union and China, no other countries have come close to having the military capabilities of the US and even these two countries haven’t been able to keep pace (although the Chines are currently working on an interceptor to rival the F-22 – something the Yanks aren’t too pleased about). The US also still maintains the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, yet expects anyone who isn’t on their list of “allies” to disarm. Why is that?

  39. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 15 November 2011

    Lennon

    You watch too many Hollywood movies – which are usually fiction not history.

    Americans have always had a “retreat to the laager” isolationist mentality. They very reluctantly, at a great cost, came in to both world wars at the very end , as mercanaries- when they thought their own security might be threatened by a victorious Germany. One of the reasons for the Second World War was Germany being bankrupted, partially by reparations supposed to be paid to France and Britain, which both needed to pay America.

    It is also why Americans went hysterical over 9/11 – their borders, which they have always strictly controlled while advocating open borders for every one else including Africa, proved penetrable by plane and by internal Jihad.

    They see things in black and white – no greys, and most of their history, as they believe it, is fantasy.

    And the reality of their military strength is that most of it has been paid for by China, their largest creditor.

    They have been living on credit and ever increasing national debt for decades. As a liquidator, I watched in fascination as their debt just kept rising.

    Now Obama is making loud noises about China’s currency – I predict America will go isolationist again.

  40. Lennon Lennon 16 November 2011

    Lyndall:

    I’m not saying that the Yanks were the be-all and end-all in WW2 – merely that they did a substantially larger amount of equipment and manpower thanks to (ironically) their isolationist policies.

    I know all-to-well that the American public was opposed to entering the war, even though Roosevelt wanted to help the Brits. Some have suggested that he knew the Japanese were coming and allowed the Pearl Harbour “incident” to take place as an excuse to climb in.

    Isolationist policies aside, it’s been a very long time since anyone directly challenged US sovereignty. I think that this has helped to fuel a perception in the US that they have almost always been safe from war as their troops have always been fighting elsewhere. It seems that an almost “utopian” life was shattered in a single moment.

    Where has that left them? Wide open to abuse from the government. The Patriot Act; Homeland Security (can you get any more NAZI?); the TSA; the new emergency broadcast system (which hijacks both TV and radio signals) and who knows what else.

    Between that and the credit blunders you’ve mentioned, it would seem that Rome is about to start burning.

  41. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 22 November 2011

    Lennon

    Society has to have a social structure and leaders, both in times of peace or war.

    The American Presidential system, now causing chaos in Egypt, merely replaced an aristocratic elite and royalty with a President and his advisors. This is a system of government which pre -dates the Greeks and the Romans, and is well analysed in the novel by Mary Steward “The King Must Die”. It is a totally inefficient system of government, as institutional knowledge is lost with every new president. It is now causing chaos in Egypt, where presidential elections will only be held a year after government elections.

    Africa should have adopted the prime minister system of the constitutional monarchies like Holland and Britain, which is much closer to most African cultures.

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