Walking down the cobbled stone street or “rua” in Portuguese I look up at the stores that surround me, “Loja Americana” says the sign on one store, a few stores down I see the two yellow arcs forming the famous “M” of “McDonalds”, I hear the latest American Pop hits, I see signs for “batata fritas” and “cachorro quente.” I ask myself, “Where am I?” I believe I am in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, a city in Brazil and I am not in the United States. “Why do I find so many stores advertising American products?” When I ask, “Com licenca, onde esta loja com coisas brasileiras?” “Excuse me, where is a store with Brazilian things?” I receive the answer, “Voce nao e Brasileira? De onde voce e?” “You are not Brazilian? Where are you from?” I receive this response not only because of the slight accent that paints my Portuguese speech but also because Brazilians do not search for Brazilian things, they search for “coisas legais – produtos Americanos”, “cool things – American products”. I think to myself – why are American products highly desired in a country that has such a beautiful culture? Why do I have to be reminded of the United States everywhere I go, regardless if I am in Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, or Poland? Is Globalization actually Globalization, because I do not see products of all countries in other countries but I do see American products in all countries? Should the word Globalization be changed to Globamericanization?
When I think about American products I think of consumerism and economics in the form of supply and demand. Although many American products are of high quality most products match the quality of items in other countries. Brazil is a country with many things of high quality, sometimes not as high as the quality of American products yet not much worse, yet Brazilians do not look at their objects this way because they search for items that are American. To Brazilians, American products symbolize prestige because the United States itself is looked at as a wealthy country. I understand that American products may be exported to different countries throughout the world yet I do not understand why the products of other countries cannot be exported to other countries throughout the world. Why do only American products get exported to other countries? Could it be because the United States has a monopoly on consumerism? Does the import and conversion of raw resources into material goods and its export to other countries not the same as mercantilism? Would other countries be able to develop the same monopoly of export if they had the capital? These questions flood my mind as anger rises in me about the political inequality of this world. I believe other countries would be able to develop the same products the United States does if it had the resources to make this happen. However, other countries do not have the resources to do this. Does this mean the United States should use their resources to submit everyone to their monopoly and use their resources only to make the United States richer at the expense of these countries?
To me Globalization should be the spread of ideas and the availability of opportunities for everyone throughout the world. Yet, as I travel throughout the world I see that this is not occurring. What ideas are spreading are American ideas, what products are spreading are American products, and what culture is spreading is American culture. To me it is sad to see when traditional culture is replaced by American culture because traditional culture of other countries is rich in history unlike American culture. In Brazil I found the young population to enjoy American pop music while abandoning such music types as Pagode, Sartanejo, and Samba. When I asked a group of teenagers, “Porque voces gostam de escutar a musica americana?” “Why do you like to listen to American music?” I many times received the answer, “Musica Americana esta melhor.” “American music is better.” I continue questioning, “Mas porque melhor?” “But why better?” and I receive the answer, “Porque esta americana, tudo que e dos Estados Unidos e melhor.” “Because its American, everything that is from the United States is better.” This led me to another question that I regret not asking – Why do you believe something is better just because it is American? Why is Brazilian music to you not as good as American music when people in the United States listen to Brazilian music? Not only is there a change in entertainment but there is also a change in how people exercise. There is a greater move towards people going to the gym like Americans, abandoning such traditional forms of sports as Capoeira.
Capoeira is a mixture of mixed martial arts and dance dating back from the era of slavery in Brazil. When slaves arrived in Brazil they wanted to have a form of entertainment and they wanted to practice mixed martial arts yet their owners did not allow them to practice mixed martial arts. Therefore they disguised mixed martial arts in dance and formed an art form called capoeira. It is a beautiful art form yet as many other things it is being overshadowed by the American style of life.
As it can be seen I am unhappy with the dominating influence of the United States in other countries yet this does not mean I am against the United States. I am thankful for the United States and for it providing my family with another life yet as the world progresses other countries will get swallowed up and become marionettes of the United States if nothing is done. Such programs as Global Citizen Year are building healthier relations but what would help would be if the program could one day expand and give the ability for Brazilians, Ecuadorians, and Senegalese to be able to travel to other countries and study the culture and language as Americans did in Brazil, Ecuador, and Senegal.
People may disagree or agree with me but what is important is to acknowledge Friedrich Hayek, “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.” I believe wholeheartedly in the latter and therefore I will do what I can towards attempting to make people equal.