Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


'Democracy' doesn't come in a can

As I have been writing on these pages before, there is an argument that goes 'The US is perfect at selling cultural and consumer goods. This ability should be transferred to selling America'. This argument is especially in play towards the public in the Middle East, where a Gallup survey has shown that up to 66% percent of the population is against the US.

But the argument is flawed as I pointed out.

And now I have found some more excellent reasons at the bright people of the Rand Corporation. In the free downloadable paper Public Diplomacy. How to think about and improve it they list three reasons why the argument is flawed:

1. It conflates private goods with public goods. Marketing for the first evokes private feelings and everybody can try it out and judge for themselves. But public goods such as ?freedom?, ?liberty? etc. are construed together with other and it is not up to the individual to decide on alone.

?Realization of individual benefits from them depends on their collective adoption (consumption) by all.?

This is the difference between the consumer and the constituency. Private choices doesn?t impose on others, but public goods needs to be adopted by all.

2. Misunderstanding of American values is not the problem, it is rather the rejection of elements in the American values.

3. US policies have been, is and will be a major source of anti-Americanism. Especially the support for Israel.


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