May 12, 2008

Post-American World

Thanks to evil_FUX for posting this excellent article. Discuss here or in the forum. It's good to finally hear some good news or positive outlooks coming out of the media. God knows that we need some encouragement after 7 years of Bush and a tanking economy. Zakaria is right. We can all thrive. Billions of people leaving poverty is a good thing.

My favorite part of the article is the pro-American part:
More broadly, this is America's great—and potentially insurmountable—strength. It remains the most open, flexible society in the world, able to absorb other people, cultures, ideas, goods, and services. The country thrives on the hunger and energy of poor immigrants. Faced with the new technologies of foreign companies, or growing markets overseas, it adapts and adjusts. When you compare this dynamism with the closed and hierarchical nations that were once superpowers, you sense that the United States is different and may not fall into the trap of becoming rich, and fat, and lazy.

Though the system has its faults, Zakaria is right on about the openness. One of the hard issues that the U.S. faces less than other countries is the problem that Zakaria mentions--other societies are not as open. I know someone who lives in Thailand, for example, and he has told me stories of people pissing off the government officials or rich people and then just disappearing. When it happens, people don't ask questions. They pretend it never happened. People don't feel free to ask questions.

This lack of openness exists even in other fully industrialized countries. Look at the problems with the Japanese educational system. I have Japanese friends who were surprised to learn about Japan's war crimes only after they traveled to Australia. Because few people question the system in Japan, few people change the system. Moral and political questions will hopefully become more open in the future--as some mentioned in the "few children" post, openness to new ideas and people can save some of these countries (though, in some cases, not right away)--but for right now, it's the American advantage.

For Asian Americans involved with culture--as we are--this should also be an advantage. We can question colonialism and racism. We can question why things are the way they are. We don't have to take the world as it is. The capitalist systems and those who run it may balk at allowing our viewpoints in the mainstream media, but we have the freedom to share them. We can publish these views on the internet, and we can talk about our ideas with our friends and family. This is privilege. In this case, I think we should take advantage of it.

(Disclaimer: When I say that our viewpoints are not in the mainstream media, I only describe the system today. We're right, and if we organize efficiently, I don't think they can keep us out forever.)

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