• WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    Sifting through the results of a Google search for "entertainment industrial complex" yielded a relatively old, but shocking, article about how governments around the world are trying to protect their unique, indigenous, local film, music, literature, etc.--"cultural protectionism"--but the media/entertainment industries in the U.S. are purposefully using things like the WTO to destroy cultural diversity.

    I am stunned, but I shouldn't be.

    As someone who has read and thought a lot about cultural anthropology, cultural diversity, globalization, ethnocentrism, etc., I already knew that the dominant political and economic powers have been trying for some time now to Westernize and homogenize the globe and have little respect for things like indigenous rights, sacred landmarks, tradition, etc. But to hear that they directly, spitefully aim to destroy policies specifically designed to protect local, indigenous artisans, literature, etc. is a shocking reality check about how global capitalism may be more evil than even I have ever imagined.

    A few sobering points from The Global Monoculture ‘Free Trade’ versus Culture and Democracy, especially the parts that I have bolded:

    "There are no clear estimates of the number of artisans in the world, although some crafts groups believe it is the largest employer outside agriculture..."

    "For many countries feeling the deadening and harmonizing impacts of economic globalization, protecting cultural diversity has become as important a fight as preserving biodiversity..."

    "There is a growing sentiment in many parts of the world that culture is not just another product like steel or computer parts. Through funding programs, content regulations and other public policies, countries have encouraged their own artists and cultures and tried to maintain some space for their own intellectual creations..."

    "Mass-produced products of popular culture are the biggest US export, according to the United Nations 1999 Human Development Report...."

    "A huge, well-organized coalition links the US entertainment, media and information technology sectors in a "common front" to oppose cultural protectionism..."

    "For many years, the US State Department has used a variety of trade remedies to strike down nation, state and local rules aimed at protecting indigenous cultures. In recent years, the battle has heated up as more countries adopt measures to support their own artists and cultural producers.

    While it is true that these fights have shaped up more over film and TV than the live performing arts, the pressure to cut back on government funding for any cultural sector that does not totally pay its own way is growing in all countries. The messages are loud and clear: "Get big or die," and "Get a corporate sponsor or fold..."

    "Current WTO trade law subjects culture to all the disciplines of the agreement. There have been seven complaints concerning culture lodged at the WTO since its inception. Of those resolved, all effectively limited the right of a state to protect its cultural industries..."

    "The most significant was a 1997 ruling in which the US successfully forced Canada to abandon protections for its magazine industry...Former US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky triumphantly declared that the decision would serve as a useful weapon against other countries’ attempts to protect their film, books and broadcasting industries..."
  • prothero
    401
    I don't know. As they say when you give people a choice you might not like what they do with it. We have lost diversity in the U.S. as well. Almost every city has the same chain franchise restaurants, Walmart, Sams, Costco, etc. Local retailers are being driven to bankruptcy by Ebay, Amazon, Google, Apple, etc. No one forces anyone to eat at these establishments or buy their products online. LIkewise no one forces citizens of other countries to prefer U.S. media and entertainment. Is it the role of government to limit the choice of their citizens in order to preserve cultural diversity?
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    Is it the role of government to limit the choice of their citizens...prothero

    Apparently it is.

    From the article:

    "Companies such as AOL Time-Warner and Disney have powerful friends on Capitol Hill and in the White House. They work closely with the government, which in turn has taken a very aggressive stand in protecting their interests..."
  • prothero
    401
    But you seem to implying these companies want to limit choice, as opposed to supplying willing consumers with their product. A global economy and interconnected world in theory gives people more choice but often everyone chooses the same products.
  • BC
    11.5k
    All true, and that's capitalism for you. You were expecting... something else?

    The author of your linked article is a member of a group specializing in indigenes. Right: Indigenous cultural forms are most likely doomed. They'll be gone before too long. We know this because we have seen this in our own culture, and in our own communities.

    Calico (printed cotton cloth) used to be an indigenous craft/industry in Calcutta. The British, bless their crass craft-crusthing capitalists, learned how to print cotton cloth and (eventually) swamped the local indian craft with machine-made goods. If they hadn't done that, bright cotton prints might be in the same category as Ugandan bark-cloth--a lovely, hammered bark product which locals make in small quantities.

    In the long run, the destruction of local craft (wherever it is located) could bite back. My favorite post-apolyptic fiction theme is people suddenly deprived of massive technology (like the electrical grid) having to figure out how to survive with technology dialed back to 1880. Mostly they have to rediscover old methods and techniques on the double, or they die much sooner, rather than later.
  • BC
    11.5k
    A related aspect of global capitalism is the immense concentration of production within fewer and fewer but larger and large corporations. Disney has become one of the behemoths. Disney owns ABC television (and associated cable, stations and radio operations); ESPN; Disney Parks and Resorts; Lucas Films; Marvel Entertainment

    Bertelsmann, a German company, owns Penguin, Random House, the world's largest publisher, plus lots of other print and publishing operations. Three companies, Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, and Harper Collins have just about half of the publishing market.

    The 30 biggest wreckers of indigenous culture are:

    Alphabet (aka Google), Disney, Comcast, 21st Century Fox, Facebook, Bertelsmann, Viacom, CBS, Baidu, News Corp, Advance Publications (Conde Nast), iHeartMedia (aka Clear Channel), Discovery Communications, Grupo Globo, Time Warner, Microsoft, Asahi Shimbun, China Central Television, Hearst, CDecaux (world's largest outdoor advertiser--bus shelters, etc.), Axel Springer, MediaSet, ITV, Fuji Media, Hubert Burda Meda, Gannett, ProSiebenSat.1, Yomiuro Shimbun, and in 30th place, Time, Inc.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    But you seem to implying these companies want to limit choice, as opposed to supplying willing consumers with their product...prothero

    Straw man.

    A global economy and interconnected world in theory gives people more choice but often everyone chooses the same products.prothero

    Red herring.
  • fishfry
    2.6k
    Chomsky has documented the machinery of the globalist agenda. What they're doing and how they do it. "Manufacturing consent."
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    You were expecting... something else?Bitter Crank

    The article is the first time that I have heard of capitalists directly disrespecting indigenous rights, sacred landmarks, tradition, etc.

    Before that article every threat to indigenous lands and cultures that I knew of was manifested through indirect means such as colonialism.

    Countries making laws specifically to protect local producers of art, film, literature, etc., and corporations using trade agreements to target those specific laws. Wow.
  • BC
    11.5k
    "A huge, well-organized coalition links the US entertainment, media and information technology sectors in a "common front" to oppose cultural protectionism..."WISDOMfromPO-MO

    The info and amusements businesses probably don't want to destroy indigenous cultures -- they probably wouldn't gain much if anything from doing that. What they do want to get rid of trade barriers of any kind. (Granted, the effect is the same.)

    And the info and amusements businesses don't have to do anything special to have a destructive effect. All they have to do is show up. What they sell will do the rest. (And what they sell is in many cases, a good thing in itself.)
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    Chomsky has documented the machinery of the globalist agenda. What they're doing and how they do it. "Manufacturing consent."fishfry

    I have been wanting to read Chomsky but have not had the chance to even scratch the surface.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    753
    The info and amusements businesses probably don't want to destroy indigenous cultures -- they probably wouldn't gain much if anything from doing that. What they do want to get rid of trade barriers of any kind. (Granted, the effect is the same.)

    And the info and amusements businesses don't have to do anything special to have a destructive effect. All they have to do is show up. What they sell will do the rest. (And what they sell is in many cases, a good thing in itself.)
    Bitter Crank

    One person in this thread has urged the reading of Chomsky.

    Until that reading happens the authorities for me on global capitalism are Global Problems and the Cultures of Capitalism, by Richard H. Robbins, and Grassroots Post-Modernism: Remaking the Soil of Cultures, by Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri-Prakash.

    Also, I have skimmed 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, by Jonathan Crary.

    Basically, the perspective I have formed can be summed up this way: For 500 years a system that requires perpetual economic growth and the commodification of more and more things has dominated the globe; nothing, including sleep, is safe from this system's insatiable need for expansion and commodification; and almost every malady that has afflicted the globe the past 500 years--mass starvation; pandemics such as the bubonic plague and, more recently, the spread of HIV; the destruction of ecosystems; terrorism; etc.--can be attributed to that system's need for perpetual growth and commodifying everything in its path.

    Uh, yeah, they don't want trade barriers.

    They don't want any barriers.

    But no matter how many stories we like to tell about the successes and benefits of global capitalism, and no matter how much we like to sugar-coat or downplay its abuses by saying things like "Corporations are simply making and selling what consumers want", its destructive legacy cannot be denied and people's resistance to it should be understandable to anybody with empathic abilities.
  • BC
    11.5k
    Chomsky is a very insightful writer, very persuasive. Kind of relentless in a way. There's a good film, "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992. It's a more interesting way to get a dose of Chomsky. Very well done. On the other hand, I don't think Chomsky will say anything that will really surprise you.
  • Saphsin
    388

    The best way to learn about Chomsky's work is to read in this order:

    1. Quick Look at Political Views of Chomsky from his Main Wikipedia page (cites from Sperlich's & McGilvray's books)

    2. Read the book Understanding Power, which is an accessible collection of interviews in which all the major claims are fully cited. You can download the annotated footnotes of the book online, because the footnotes are longer than the actual book itself.

    3. Read the book Chomsky's Challenge to American Power: A Guide for the Critical Reader by Anthony Greco, followed by a critical review of it by Stephen Shalom you can find online. (you can also find a response back from Greco, and a back and forth)

    4. A Current Affairs Article titled "Lessons From Chomsky" which you can find quickly through googling
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