Not since the Civil War had the continued existence of America as a concept been so threatened, but after both great wars, 9/11, a severe financial crisis in the new millennium plus scandals (Wiki-leaks plus Snowden’s whistleblowing) America’s reign is hanging by a thread. Nothing is forever and every ‘empire’ eventually falls. History is proof to that.
China is seizing the opportunity of weakened America and Europe and it is buying the whole world, and emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia or India are demanding a new kind or respect and fairer conditions as base for improved international relations, business or diplomatic-wise.
Young students prefer to study Chinese other than German or French as second languages today. So, what is it saying? The poles are shifting. English as language will keep on maintaining its leading position for some time because of the Internet, I would argue, but not because America or Britain are the centre of the world anymore. There will be people so desperate of leaving their utmost misery that they will want to ignore the fact that Europe or the US can hardly provide for their citizens anymore and could not take a chance on newcomers – so they will keep on trying anyway. Nevertheless, other people from emerging markets have been asking themselves if the ‘neighbours’ house’ is really better than his own…
Focusing a bit more on America, some of the dangers of losing its leading position in the world is the lack of credibility, financial and political (here also and mostly international relations), that they will have to deal with. ‘Why should I trust you’ will no longer be a question that does not need an answer. Perhaps for the first time (modern times) people are questioning the American Concept, the American Dream, and realizing that they want more than vague philosophies and airy answers. It is just like few people dared to question the quality of Mercedes-Benz cars until Audi began showing its claws. Mercedes as image was immaculate. Now, customers compare both cars in details before they decide. It is the same with America: its promising realm of happiness needs some ‘show and tell’ because the image is no longer immaculate.
Globalization has also played a part on the falling of the US Empire, at least culturally speaking. One does not have to be an expert to notice that in 1980s, for example, everything American ruled the Occident and even parts of the Orient. Madonna, Spielberg, Basquiat… Today, thanks to Internet, Pay-TV and cheap flights it became normal to watch French TV programs or Indian movies, listen to Brazilian music at clubs and/or visit Beijing for cultural exchange, other than just focus on what is coming from America or having to go to America to be trendy.
To conclude, the old American models for behaviour (prudery, responsibility, patriotism) have become out-dated among today’s youth when they feel freer than ever because of lose sexual behaviour, because (again) of the Internet, cheaper flight tickets and “couch-surfing” across the world, because of their improved self-image (close to narcissism), live-today-kind-of-approach and most importantly because the world has become a village and America is no longer the only place to go and to be.
The American Concept is no longer the only one people are listening to and counting on when the Dream has become global.
Luciana B. Veit