Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Rejection of the American way of life

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Should we reject the American way of life?

Background and context

With its rise to the position of “hyperpower,” the global reach of the United States of America has become beyond doubt. Everywhere you look, from global politics and trade to local entertainment, cuisine and lifestyle choices, the mark of the United States is evident. But as globalization has hastened the spread of the American way of life, with its particular eating habits, popular culture, lifestyle, system of government, and values, many have begun to question the “cultural imperialism” that has spread “the American way” across the globe. Since 2000 globalisation has been gathering pace, and the Bush administration has made spreading American values and democracy a specific foreign policy aim. This has led many to wonder whether or not the American way of life is the right model towards which the countries and cultures of the world ought to move. As increased communication between people across the globe hurries the evolution of cultures into a uniform whole, the question remains: should the American way of life be embraced as a grand template for the world’s globalizing cultures, or should it be rejected as a harmful and even dangerous influence?[1]

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Model principles: Does the American way of life lack the model principels that should be emulated?

[Add New]

Yes

America's way of life is only relevant to itself. America has refined its unique set of cultural institutions during its more than 200 years of nationhood. As the world’s oldest democratic republic, the United States has the advantage of having developed its culture along with its own history. Like all cultures, America’s culture is tailor-made. It addresses the particular needs - present and historic - of its home country. As such, the American way of life cannot be assumed to be transferable to other parts of the world, with different histories and realities. As experiences in Vietnam in the 1970s and Iraq in the 2000s demonstrate, attempts to spread the most basic constituent of the American way of life - democracy - often end in failure. If the desirable elements of the American way of life, such as democracy, are to be adopted by people in other parts of the world, the necessary foundation must be laid organically by the country’s own experience. That is, the country must become democratic not by adopting the American way of life, but rather by proceeding through national experiences of the sort that shifted America’s own political culture toward democracy in the late 1700s.[2]

[Add New]

No

The American way of life adopts strong moral principles that are worth following. The American way of life boasts an emphasis on hard work, self-sacrifice, equality, and democracy. Cultures converge toward this particular set of traits because they are uniquely desirable as a way of life. Convergence between cultures is a necessary consequence of an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. And if cultures are to converge, then the American way of life, with its admirable values and great institutions, is a strong option. In other words, when it comes to cultural evolution and diffusion, one could do a lot worse than to converge towards the American way of life.[3]

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Economics: Does adopting the American way of life have economic consequences?

[Add New]

Yes

Differences in ways of life between countries can have positive economic consequences. The economic theory of comparative advantage states that efficiency is maximized when those countries that can produce goods or services at the lowest cost do so. The entire concept of comparative advantage depends on major differences between countries and their respective ways of life. Convergence to the American way of life will mean the loss of some of the distinctive differences that are fundamental to maintaining countries’ comparative advantage in the supply of particular goods and services. For example, French culture is closely tied up with the idea of “terror” - the special qualities of the land in particular regions, and this contributes strongly to its production of speciality foods and drinks - many of which are major exports.[4]

[Add New]

No

Rejecting the American way of life denies the world’s people important economic advantages, especially in terms of mobility. The more similar countries’ cultures are, the more likely one is to be able to move between them, seeking economic opportunity and advantage. Many economists believe that mobility of labour (that is, the ability of workers to move across international frontiers) is an important ingredient of economic growth. As cultures move towards the American way of life, they will be better able to make easy the free movement of people to fill specific demand for their labour or skills, because many of the most difficult barriers to movement, in particular those that deal with adjustment to new cultural surroundings, would dissolve.[5]

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Unhealthy: Is the American way of life unhealthy?

[Add New]

Yes

The American way of life is unhealthy. Defined by a taste for salty and greasy fast foods, an overloaded work schedule, and a inactive lifestyle, the American way of life is one of the most important reasons that the American population is among the world’s most unhealthy, in terms of stress, fitness, and body weight. By soundly rejecting this unhealthy way of life in favour of more sensible and healthy routines, the world does a credit to its collective health and wellbeing.[6]

[Add New]

No

The American way of life may well be unhealthy, but it is also delicious. Americans are not the only people who flock to the purveyors of freeze-dried, deep-fried, sugary, salty, and greasy foods. The reason that so many indulge this way is that fast food, for all its faults, is tasty. If we are to accept the virtues of an individual’s choice, the American way of life must not be rejected.[7]

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Diplomatic feel: Does the American way of life encourage uncooperative, undiplomatic mentalities?

[Add New]

Yes

The American way of life is naturally un-diplomatic. Lacking trust in other countries and certain of its own rightness, the United States swings between isolationism and outbursts of violence, rather than consistently engaging with the rest of the world on equal terms. This arrogant impatience has historically made it a difficult ally and an intractable foe. The American way of life is marked by a strong belief in the superiority of American institutions and values, and an intolerance of alternatives. This intolerance is what has lead the United States to boldly accept the title of “world policeman,” much to the discomfort of other nations, while at the same time refusing to be bound by international agreements (e.g. on nuclear testing, climate change or the International Criminal Court). The American way of life should be rejected because the attitudes that define it make diplomacy difficult or impossible.[8]

[Add New]

No

Sparks only ever fly between countries when their foreign policies are at odds. These potentially dangerous foreign policy differences reflect deeper differences between the cultures of the countries concerned. As countries move toward the American way of life the differences that would otherwise increase the potential for foreign policy conflict will diminish. Values will become shared, institutions will become similar, and ideas will become consistent, leading to an increase in harmony between peoples and

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Culture: Is the American "culture" inferior to others internationally?

[Add New]

Yes

America’s culture is inferior to those of many other nations. In film, music, art, sport and many other aspects of life, the American way is childish and simplistic. Hollywood only makes movies which appeal to the lowest instincts of the mass audience, delivering violence, dazzling special effects and simplistic story lines. Popular music is loud, aggressive and unsophisticated. Sports are designed for showy spectacle and constant celebration of frequent scoring, rather than as a prolonged examination of skill and strategy. Even clothing is garish and utilitarian. Such a culture has nothing to offer the rest of the world.[9]

[Add New]

No

It is a mistake to see American culture as all of a piece. - there are many different aspects to US popular entertainment, including jazz, blues, indie film-making, experimental art, cutting-edge architecture, demanding literature, etc. Most Americans enjoy the diversity of cultural options available to them, and it is this, as well as the individual art forms, which the rest of the world can learn from. But at its best, all American culture is possessed of a democratic spirit and accessibility, which marks it out from the elitism of art, music, etc. in much of the rest of the world.[10]

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

International diversity: Would the adoption of the American way of life mean the decay of unique international cultures?

[Add New]

Yes

Any global adoption of the American way of life necessarily means the slow decay of individual national cultural identities. As these valuable and historically significant cultures vanish, the world will lose cultural diversity - such as in art, music, and literature - that has so enriched humanity’s history. In a world where the borders between states are becoming increasingly symbolic, the loss of diversity between countries will also mean a loss of choice for human beings with the desire to settle in a country that suits their tastes. As America’s culture becomes universal, Americans and others lose their ability to choose, even in the context of that great patriotic American slogan: “America: love it or leave it!”[11]

[Add New]

No

No culture in the world can survive in unchanging. In order to survive, the cultures of the world have always - and must always - adapted to new conditions and realities. As America’s global authority increasingly becomes a reality, cultures will begin to slowly move towards the American way of life not as a product of force, but rather as a natural consequence of increased contact with America’s dominant culture. Some cultural institutions will be lost, others will survive, and still others will become altered in reaction to it. Resisting the evolutionary impact of the American way of life would only serve to counteract an extremely important process in the histories of the world’s cultures.[12]

See also

External links

Books:

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.