USA: The Paradigm Of Modernity

Graphic by Sumit Kumar

Change is the only inevitable event that is constant in this world, and our world is changing rather rapidly these days than ever before. I know these commonplace cliches don’t amuse you anymore, but once I acquaint you with the context around which I made that statement, your eyeballs will dilate. But before I do that, I want you to quickly supply me with some precise answers to the following questions: Name an entrepreneur who inspires you to dream of Mars. A search engine with all the answers in the world? The safest phone in the world named after a fruit? And lastly, a popular magazine that lists the most affluent and influential people on earth?

Those are 5 of the most critical sectors I just pointed out to you. Try to manipulate, if you may, but all the answers to those questions will have America in them. The world is not just changing rapidly, but it is being changed at that pace on all fronts by one global force: The United States of America. From Macedonians to Persians to Mongols to Britishers, history is teeming with all sorts of conquerors and empires that expanded like dawn in their infancy and receded ultimately. But here is a force that has the potential to lead the world for millennia and does not believe in using the battered tactic of expansionism to establish its leadership. But then, how does it manage to control so many vast swathes of nations?

Post World War II and since its show of brutal might at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America hardly went to war with any country, sanguinary pursuits in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan being a few exceptions. So what favoured the USA that it reached this exalted position? Was it just nuclear power? Or the largest gold reserve in the late 1940s? I believe the US pulled it off by cementing its position as an influencer; by learning very early on that supremacy does not necessarily have to mean muscle-flexing and show of strength.

Take up any sector or discipline for analysis, and you will find an American having already aced in that field. Or if at all any news of a new scientific breakthrough reaches you, your first presumption is that it must have come from the USA. America thrives on this perception of yours and society about it. But that is not all. The USA has always delivered amazingly to keep your perception of it intact. And this two-pronged approach has so far guaranteed the dominance of the USA in every arena.

From decorating your childhood with Tom & Jerry to helping you make commendable presentations at college to aiding you in your daily business calculations by offering software programs like Microsoft Office, the USA has played a vital role in your life. Can you point out and tell me a more effective way towards achieving global dominance than this? In a literal sense, America has penetrated our societies and cultures and replaced our way of living with its revolutionary technology and ethos.

But the buck doesn’t just stop there. The influence of the USA is now bringing about far-reaching consequences these days on everything I see. Take, for example, what has happened to the English language itself; Even though it is the language of the Britishers, their accent and writing style now hardly find any acceptance among the masses these days. And I am already looking forward to the day when Merriam-Webster will bypass the Oxford dictionary and claim the spot of the de facto lexicon.

But this Americanisation of the English language didn’t happen overnight, and the dethroning actually began in the early and mid-90s with the introduction of Microsoft Office. First, they introduced it to the masses as a convenient way of writing, calculating and maintaining registries, and then, they allowed the magic of it to unfold. While other programs of the Microsoft Suite were largely benign towards the English language, the Word processor was not. And it aggressively started flagging the British variant of the spellings of the English language every time someone typed it, hence, initiating the process of educating masses on the Americanized version of the English language.

Reams and reams of articles can be prepared and published, highlighting how America influences modern society, but the crux would be to learn how it does that and extract insights from it. That would be the best way to counter the mushrooming of Americanization. My analysis might seem overly critical to some, but all I wish is the all-pervasive growth of all societies and the end of the hegemony of one state. America is undoubtedly the paradigm of modernity, but it can not be the gold standard dictating the rules of modern society. It is high time we engrained this in our minds as the line between modernization and Americanization continues to blur with each passing day.

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