Global Lifestyles and Cultural Nationalism

Today, thanks to a thriving world economy, global telecommunications, and expanding travel, exchange among Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim is happening at an unparalleled pace. In the urban centers of the developing world signs of the international youth culture are almost everywhere. So enthusiastically are we swapping food, music, and fashion that a new universal international lifestyle reigns in Osaka, Madrid, and Seattle.
It is consumer-driven: drinking cappuccino and Perrier; furnishing the apartment with IKEA; eating sushi; dressing in the United Colors of Benetton; listening to U.S. British rock while driving the Hyundai over to McDonald's.
"The world is becoming more and more cosmopolitan, and we are all influencing each other", says designer Paloma Picasso.
For the companies that sell these new international products, that understand the world as one single market, it is an economic bonanza.
"There are already groups of consumers in New York, Stockholm, and Milan who show more similarities than consumers in Manhattan and the Bronx in New York itself", says Leif Johansson, group vice-president of Electrolux's major appliances division. Electrolux's global territory is divided into a "triad" format-the United States, Europe, and Japan. Each new product is aimed at all three markets.
Among the world's forty best-known brands are Coke, IBM, Sony, Porsche, McDonald's, Honda, and Nestlé, according to a survey of 3,000 consumers in nine countries. These are "the world's first true world brands", says John Diefenbach, CEO of Landor Associates, which conducted the survey. Seventeen of the forty were U.S. companies; fourteen European; and nine Japanese.
For the consumer, increased options are stimulating and great fun.
But even as our lifestyles grow more similar, there are unmistakable signs of a powerful countertrend: a backlash against uniformity, a desire to assert the uniqueness of one's culture and language, a repudiation of foreign influence.
So concerned were Canadians about being culturally annexed by the United States that they came close to voting against the 1988 U.S.-Canadian free trade pact, an agreement very much to Canada's economic advantage.
Outbreaks of cultural nationalism are happening in every corner of the globe:
o After twenty years of educating its people in English to accommodate the world economy, Singapore has begun a "Speak Mandarin" campaign-an effort to rekindle "old values".
o The Welsh struggle through mostly nonviolent means to keep their language and literature alive.
o In northeastern Spain the Catalan language, forbidden during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, has been reinstalled as the official language.
o Quebecois penalize individuals for speaking English, forbid English street signs, and continue threatening to secede from Canada.
o Long part of the USSR, the Soviet republies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Ukraine, and Georgia, as well as Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, emphasize their ethnic identities and assert their independence from the Kremlin.
In China, ten years of remarkable openness to all things Western culminated in student protests for democracy that were met with a bloody government crackdown and a hard-liner backlash against what the government deemed the source of student unrest-outside influence.
One of the most visible form of cultural backlash, at least for Americans, is the transnational revival of Islam initiated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. The notorious Salman Rushdie affair was only the tip of the iceberg.
Though identified with Iran and Lebanon, Islamic fundamentalists are beginning to assert their cultural and religious identities in Egypt, Indonesia, and Turkey. Always it is a reaction against what is perceived to be an onslaught of Western influence.
But Turkey's case is particularly illustrative. Although only a small percentage of the nation's 52 million, predominantly Moslem people are fundamentalists, Turkey will, over the next decade, represent a textbook arena for the interplay between the trend toward a global lifestyle and the countertrend of cultural nationalism.
Turkey's rich contradictions symbolize its geographic position as the link between Europe and the Orient. Writes Washington Post foreign correspondent Edward Cody: "Imams in minarets look east toward Mecca while businessmen in office towers look west toward Brussels".
Prime Minister Turgut Ozal is a business-oriented technocrat and a devout Moslem. Even as Turkey petitions to join the Common Market, its young college women are enthusiastically wrapping their heads in Islamic scarves, which have been banned at public universities as part of an official discouraging of religious practices dating back to the 1920's, when Kemal Ataturk introduced secular reforms. Enrollment in Moslem schools has increased six times in fifteen years. Which will win out? The Islamic revival or the European Community? Or acreative combination?
This chapter seeks to explore these issues by exploring the evolving trend toward a common international lifestyle as well as the deeper countertrend of cultural and linguistic nationalism. These trends are not contradictory but deeply related.
The more homogeneous our lifestyles become, the more steadfastly we shall cling to deeper values-religion, language, art, and literature. As our outer worlds grow more similar, we will increasingly treasure the traditions that spring from within.
Trade, travel, and television lay the groundwork for the global lifestyle. The film and television media deliver the same images throughout the global village.
"They've seen American TV programs, and now they want to see UCLA and Santa Monica", according to Keiichi Tsujino of the Japan Travel Bureau in Tokyo.
They certainly have the yen to do it with. Nearly 3 million Japanese visited the United States in 1988, a record. Many were honeymooners.
Air travel opens the avenues of exchange. From New York you can fly to France as easily as to California. Fly the Concorde and you get to London as quickly as Houston. Full-page ads in The New York Times beguile Americans to shop at Harrods in London. Technology will collapse the Pacific, too. The next generation of airplane technology will produce a plane that flies from New York to Tokyo in just two hours.
The jet set has given way to an affluent, traveling middle class of honeymooners, grandmothers, families, students, business people of all nationalities. In the l990's the volume of travel will really accelerate. Across the United States, 23,000 scheduled flights a day carried 450 million passengers in 1989. But by the year 2000 there will be 750 million. Today 1 billion passengers fly the world's airways each year. By the year 2000 it will be 2 billion passengers, double the 1990 figure.
Every day 3 million people fly from one place on the planet to another.
World trade today is more than increased trade among 160 nations; it is a thriving, interdependent, single global economy. We used to trade in the basics: raw materials, foodstuffs, steel. Today we trade everything. There is an explosion in the buying and selling of financial instruments (stocks, bonds, currencies), an explosion in the buying and selling of what we wear, eat, listen to and watch-what makes up our lifestyles. In a "fax-it-to-me" world, it is as easy to do business with a supplier in Taipei as in Chicago.
Lifestyle images speed around the globe at the velocity of light, diffusing their contents everywhere. Since fashion can be faddish, speed is essential; if the information comes too late, you miss the fad. But clearly the message is getting through to places as disparate as Shanghai, Prague, and Buenos Aires, where hip young people follow the same code of international fashion (sometimes to the dismay of their elders).
Haute cuisine and haute couture notwithstanding, decisions about food, clothing, and entertainment involve no great commitment. They are delightfully superficial and fun. On this level people can afford to be open to all sorts of foreign influence. In what we wear and eat, we are blending, borrowing from each other, playing in each other's backyard:
o Americans annually import more than $3 billion worth of Italian clothing, jewelry, and shoes.
o Yuppies are an "in" group in big West German cities, even though most of the young, upwardly mobile professionals do not understand the meaning of the English term.
o Meanwhile, yummies-young, upwardly mobile Marxists-are emerging in the USSR and Eastern Europe, imitating the clothes and music tastes of yuppies.
o Christmas is celebrated in Japan, even though fewer than 1 percent of Japanese are Christian.
o Each day 200 varieties of cheese are flown to the United States from France.
Food, fashion, and music, the stuff of everyday life in Europe, the United States, and Japan, are taking on similar (some would say disturbingly similar) characteristics especially in cities.
In Times Square, in the Ginza, and on the ChampsÉlysées sushi bars, croissant shops, and McDonald's compete for the same expensive real estate.
The Culture of Cuisine
West Los Angeles is the home of Gurume, a Japaneserun restaurant whose specialty-Gurume chicken-is Oriental chopped chicken and green beans in an Italian marinara sauce, served over spaghetti, with Japanese cabbage salad, Texas toast, and Louisiana Tabasco sauce. It is a symbol óf what is happening to world lifestyle and cuisine.
We are tasting one another's cuisines with great gusto. Americans are exporting seafood delicacies to Japan, Tex-Mex is all the rage in Paris, and the United States is importing sushi bars as if they were Toyotas.
"Three years ago the world had never tasted soft-shells [crabs] and now we export to twenty-two countries", said Terrence Conway, owner of the John T. Handy Company, a Chesapeake Bay firm that in 1986 exported 270,000 pounds of crabs, mainly to Japan. (In 1988 the company was bought by a Japanese firm.)
Tex-Mex cuisine is prepared kosher in Israel, where former Houstonian Barry Ritman's Chili's restaurant comes complete with a Lone Star beer sign, armadillo art, and cactus garden.
"There just wasn't anyplace here to buy the tacos, chili, or chips I ate back in Texas", says Ritman, who satisfied his Southwest cravings while introducing Israelis to tacos, tortillas, and margaritas.
In 1985 San Antonio-based Papa Maya, one of a hand ful of Tex-Mex restaurants in Paris, received the city's Best Foreign Food award. Since then Tex-Mex has become Paris's hot new exotic cuisine. Chic young Parisians now fill the house at La Perla, Café Pacifico, and the Studio.
There were 19,364 Oriental restaurants in the United States in 1988, according to RE-COUNT, a service of the Restaurant Consulting Group, Inc., in Evanston, Illinois. Oriental restaurant growth outpaces all other restaurant categories, having increased 10 percent just in 1987 and 1988 while restaurants grew 4 percent overall, says RECOUNT.
In 1975 there were only about 300 sushi bars in the United States; by 1980 there were more than 1,500, reports Palate Pleasers, the first Japanese food magazine for Americans printed in the United States. Today there are thousands.
"At least five to ten new sushi bars open in New York City and Los Angeles every month", according to Susan Hirano of Palate Pleasers. And the sushi craze has broken out of the big city.
You can order sushi in American beef country: Des Moines, Iowa; Wichita, Kansas; and Omaha, Nebraska. The Japanese Steak House, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, boasts a floating sushi bar. The Kroger supermarket in Buckhead, Georgia, sells sushi. More adventurous Georgians order the octopus and eel.
If Americans are crazy about sushi, the Japanese have shown they have an all-American sweet tooth. Tokyo is overflowing with the latest American confectioneries: Häagen-Dazs, Famous Amos, Mrs. Field's, and David's Cookies stores. Even lesser-known outlets like Steve's and Hobson's ice-cream shops are open in Tokyo.
In the United States ethnic food is one of the hottest segments in the restaurant business. Eating out in Middle America used to mean steak and potatoes. Now it is Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Afghan, and Ethiopian. Between 1982 and 1986 overall restaurant traffic in the United States increased 10 percent, but Asian restaurants saw business grow 54 percent, Mexican restaurants 43 percent, and Italian restaurants 26 percent. In a one-block area of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., you can eat Ethiopian, Jamaican, Italian, Mexican, French, Salvadorean, Japanese, Chinese, Caribbean, Indian, or American.
A Big Mac by Any Other Name
While America tastes Thai and Afghan, its fast food dominates the international scene. The Golden Arches are recognized from Aruba to Istanbul to Munich, Buenos Aires, and Taipei. Whatever the country, you can order a Big Mac.
Oversaturated in U.S. markets, McDonald's is pursuing an aggressive global strategy. More than 10,500 restaurants operate in fifty countries, promising "the same quality food, quick service, clean surroundings, and eating-out value that customers in the United States have enjoyed for more than 30 years". More than 600 new restaurants opened in 1988, at least that many in 1989. Worldwide 1988 sales exceeded $16 billion, 29 percent from foreign operations.
o In Germany one can order Chicken McNuggets at nearly 300 McDonald's outlets. The U.K. has 289 outlets, France 84, and Canada 568.
o The Golden Arches have become a fixture in Belgrade and Budapest.
o Sao Paulo, Brazil, has 16 McDonald's.
Eastern Europe, where McDonald's is a big hit, and the Soviet Union, where the first McDonald's opened recently, are McDonald's biggest new markets.
In Beijing, within the sight of Mao's tomb, Kentucky Fried Chicken operates the world's largest fast-food restaurant.
Fast-Food Exports to Japan Are Booming
Although Congress worries about a U.S. trade deficit with Japan, it can be satisfied that Japan imports more food from the United States than from anywhere else.
The Japanese desire for fast food is extraordinary. Japan has more American food franchises than any country outside North America; between 1974 and 1984 alone the number increased from 265 to 1,490. Today Japan has a total of 7,366 U.S. franchise outlets. Most-72 percent-are restaurants, food, or convenience stores. Denny's, Mister Donuts, Dunkin' Donuts, and Wendy's all have become a part of the Japanese lifestyle.
"We sell the idea of good old America. Green pastures, fresh air, clean water", says Shin Ohkawara, president of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan, which has 800 outlets, the most outside the United States. The colonel's global empire operates more than 7,750 outlets in more than fifty-eight countries.
Domino's Pizza delivers on motorscooters in Tokyo. Delivery people in the red, white, and blue uniforms compete with rivals bearing sushi and smoked eel. Domino's guarantees pizza at your door within thirty minutes-not easy in central Tokyo-or you get a refund of 700 yen (about $5).
Japanese beverage tastes extend beyond tea and sake to wine and Coca-Cola. Japan imports 400 California wines, up from just 150 in 1986. Although wine bore a 30 percent tariff and 50 percent tax, imports increased 35 percent between 1987 and 1988. Coca-Cola is by far Japan's number one soft drink.
Japanese ordered $580 million worth of sushi from the largest Japanese food chain, Kozozushi Honbu's sushi shops, in 1986. But they spent more on hamburgers; McDonald's 590 outlets in Japan brought in $950 million that year and sales now exceed $1 billion. McDonald's only real competition is from the Daiei Group of Western-style restaurants with sales of only $780 million-but it has 2,000 shops.
The favorite foods of Japanese children are curry rice, hamburger, and spaghetti. If a Japanese family needs to pick something up on the way home, it can stop at one of more than 3,200 American franchised 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Japanese spend twenty-five cents of every food dollar eating out, says Kazutaka Kato of the Japan Food Service Industry Association. It is forty cents in the United States. "In the next ten years", he says, "as women continue to join the work force and disposable income climbs, we expect that figure to climb to forty cents here".
Culinary Imperialism?
Most Americans admire the entrepreneurial efforts of U.S. fast-food makers. But the health-conscious are bound to feel uneasy about the large-scale export of foods high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium when American themselves are trying to limit such foods or even eliminate them. That concern might seem paternalistic at first blush, but remember that it has been well documented that these foods are a major factor in heart disease. (It would be difficult to find someone to champion the activities of U.S. tobacco companies abroad.)
Yet how many governments complain about the unhealthiness of the U.S. fast-food invasion? The French may grumble about fast food, but in the land that invented paté, no one gripes about its fat content. In the Communist bloc and the Third World the cholesterol backlash is nonexistent. Food and cuisine might pose health risks, but do not threaten people's deeper cultural values.
An American (Restaurant) in Paris
Traditionally the best restaurants have been French, but the global lifestyle trend has even opened the French to the influence of other cuisines, especially American: chocolate chip cookies, corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake, and California wines (in small quantities). The French Association of American Studies sold out a recent quarterly review on American cuisine.
In Paris only French restaurants earn coveted Michelin stars (except for the popular Tan Dinh, which is Vietnamese). But American-style restaurants are setting new trends in cuisine, from barbecued spareribs to chicken sandwiches.
o Joe Allen near the Centre Pompidou serves traditional American spareribs and crab cakes, plays American music, and is decorated with American movie posters. Ketchup is de rigueur.
o Claude Benouaich and Thierry Monnassier introduced Paris to diners. Their Rival Coffee Shop comes complete with a counter, booths, and old Coca-Cola signs.
o The menu at Paris's Marshal's Bar & Grill, which Gourmet called "as American as peanut butter", lists steaks, burgers, chili, California pizza, and soft-shelled crabs.
o Randy & Jay's on the Left Bank serves barbecued spareribs with a side of coleslaw, and the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory offers Chicago deep-dish pizza.
"Everything about America is fashionable these days", says Elaine Bourbeillon of the the General Store, the first American food boutique in Paris, which sells peanut butter, cranberry juice, and buckwheat pancake mix and has trouble keeping up with demand.
The Great Food Exchange
Food nourishes body and soul, gently introduces another way of life, and suggests how to embellish our native cuisine: Japanese businessmen in Tokyo order California roll, a type of crab and avocado sushi invented in San Francisco, while American chefs top off a grilled salmon with a butter sauce laced with wasabi, that tingling Japanese condiment.
In the nonthreatening arena of cuisine we are attending an international bazaar of unprecedented abundance.
International Fashion
In a prospering global village, where ideas are instantaneously exchanged through travel and telecommunications, the sin of coveting thy neighboor's goods has become the multibillion-dollar international fashion business.
"Fashion is international", says designer Oscar de la Renta. "You don't recognize where a woman is from by the way she dresses".
American businessmen are switching to Italian suits, Italian youths dress entirely in blue denim, and fashionable Chinese young people wouldn't be caught dead in a Mao jacket.
"Now people travel so much, they get inspired by the same thing", says Laurie Mallet of WilliWear.
The international fashion media do their part to keep you up-to-date. The French magazine Elle publishes 16 international editions. After just two years the circulation of the American edition challenged venerableVogue, for decades the arbiter of taste. Elle is considering coming out with four new foreign editions: in Turkey, Hungary, Taiwan, and Thailand (Elle's appearance is probably as reliable an index of growing disposable income as a fancy economic study). CNN's Style program reports direct from the runways of New York, Tokyo, Milan, and Paris.
London's Harrods department store might as well be Bloomingdale's. British Airways awarded passengers flying from the United States to Britain Harrods gift certificates worth $500 and $1,000. At one point Harrods catalog went out to 145,000 American customers, who could phone in their orders toll-free, an international combination of direct marketing and telephone sales. Now the Harrods catalog, sent three times a year to U.K. charge customers, is available to overseas customers for a fee.
"The Time. The Date. The Place. The Sale. The Card. There is Only One Harrods. There is Only One Sale". Full-page ads in The New York Times advertised Harrods' annual January and July sales to Americans. The "card" is American Express.
If the tactics of genteel Harrods seem a bit aggressive consider this: More than 40 percent of its sales are to overseas customers-to every country in the world. Its products are equally international.
Harrods produce section stocks French peaches, Dutch radishes, English strawberries, California asparagus, Russian button mushrooms, and East African lemon grass. Harrods, which operates shops in West Germany and Japan, is owned by Egyptians.
In 1987 Paris-based Printemps became the first European department store to open a U.S. branch-in Denver, Colorado. "It is an international store, designed to balance French style and American spirit", said Frank Ball, president of the U.S. store. Printemps also operates in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Malaysia, and Turkey.
In sophisticated Milan, teenagers reject chic designers like Giorgio Armani in favor of Levi's 501 jeans, deck shoes, and the preppy look seen in American movies, on TV, and in advertising. Children of wealthy families, these new-wave teens are called Paninari, from panino, the word for sandwich, symbolizing the American ideal of life in the fast lane. U.S.-based The Limited has borrowed the name Paninari as a theme for its Eúropean-flair Forenza line.
On the other side of the world, in China, where no one had worn red since the Revolution, bright stylish clothes, including revolutionary red, sheer stockings, and blue jeans, appeared in the 1980's. Chinese women wore spaghetti-strap sundresses, stirrup pants, even miniskirts. French designer Pierre Cardin presents fashion shows to thousands in stadiums in China.
Will China's fling with fashion survive the conservative mood after Tiananmen Square? If it does, it will be without the assistance of one high-profile designer-Yves Saint Laurent.
Saint Laurent's partner, Pierre Berge, resigned in protest as official adviser to Beijing's China Garments Research and Design Center, which was to have connections to the world's fashion capitals and to train 100 to 200 design students each year. Instead Berge urged French firms to help the 2,800 Chinese students in France to find jobs. The Saint Laurent boutique on Paris's Rue de Tournon was transformed into a headquarters for students and others seeking democracy in China.
The king, of French fashion for three decades, Saint Laurent's hand is still extended to the rest of the socialist world. At the request of Raisa Gorbachev he exhibited his work in the Soviet Union in 1986.
Ralph Lauren, on the other hand, sells the all-American look at a store in Paris. And American designer Donna Karan is a sensation at Browns in London.
The International Rag Trade
In Tokyo, Des Moines, and Sao Paulo, the fashion conscious fifteen-year-old is likely to favor clothes from one of the big international fashion retailers, Benetton, Esprit, or Laura Ashley, clothiers to the youth culture, outfitters of the global lifestyle.
"The United Colors of Benetton" advertisements project the vision: The world is made up of different races and nationalities all linked by the same colorful clothes, which symbolize peaceful, happy coexistence.
United as in the United States, multinational as in the chain's home continent, Europe? and multiracial, Benetton's "All the Colors of the World" theme creates an international flavor no other retailer can match.
Since 1968 more than 4,500 Benetton stores have opened in seventy countries. At one point in its history a new Benetton franchise opened somewhere on the average of twice a day. There are now more than 650 stores in North America.
After intense growth, the company is retrenching amid disputes with franchisees who complain that the stores are too close together and that ordering goods is difficult. Seven Benetton shops closed in 1987. In December 1987 the company brought in a consultant to administer American operations autonomously.
Benetton is nonetheless the world's largest knitwear maker and the largest consumer of virgin wool. Sales have increased from $78 million in 1978 (mainly in Italy) to $1 billion in 1987, when profits hit $108 million. Outside Italy, the United States is Benetton's largest market, followed by Germany and France. A Moscow store opened in 1989.
A key factor in the company's success is its savvy use of high technology. Computers design clothes, ship products, and monitor consumer preference. Benetton employs more computer technicians than seamstresses.
The Esprit customer, says company literature, "is a young-minded woman who is fitness oriented, sporty, outgoing, happy and socially conscious. She has an easy confidence about herself and her sexuality, and enjoys 'the difference' between men and women. She's never a sex object and youth to her is an attitude, not an age".
With 125 stores in fifteen countries and boutiques within 100 department or specialty stores, and sales to thousands of other stores, Esprit is more than state of mind; it is one of the world's leading sportswear merchants. Esprit sold an estimated $1.2 billion worth of women's, men's, and children's apparel and accessories in 1988. Today there are 70 stores in the United States and 55 stores outside the United States, where two thirds of sales are generated.
"Esprit is an international company", says Doug Tomkins, cofounder of Esprit. "The head of graphics is Japanese; our photographer is Italian; our architects are Italian and French. We have German, Swedish, English, Dutch, and Chinese desiguers. When we all get together, it's like a little United Nations".
Esprit's corporate offices in San Francisco are located on a ten-acre compound where employees can take subsidized language classes, improve their tennis games, or lunch at subsidized prices at the Esprit Café.
Laura Ashley
Laura Ashley, Inc., exemplifies the English lifestyle. Wooden storefronts evoking Victorian London are filled with Laura Ashley dresses and fabrics in the mood of an English garden. Saleswomen, wearing the flower-print dresses they sell customers, also offer fabrics, children's clothing, sheets, and wallpaper. No wonder it is one of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's favorite examples of British enterprise.
In 1953 the late Welsh desiguer Laura Ashley began silk screening on tea towels, which her husband sold to local stores. Although the first shop did not open until 1968, by the early 1970s there were stores in Australia, Japan, and Canada. A U.S. shop opened in 1974; today there are 174 in North America. Worldwide there are 425 shops, and sales total about $400 million. There are factories in Wales, Holland, Ireland, and Kentucky.
British entrepreneur Terence Conran, founder of Habitat, sells sophisticated, contemporary, and affordable home furnishings in more than 100 stores worldwide. There are 57 in the U.K., scores across Europe. Habitat also operates in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States, where it is known as Conran's. The look is simple and functional, white walls and light woods. Conran's has 17 U.S. stores but hopes to expand to 200. For his success in retailing, Conran was knighted by the British government in 1983.
"Champagne dining on a beer budget" is what the Swedish retailer IKEA promises. It sells unassembled furniture for 30 percent less than the finished product would cost. IKEA operates eighty stores in nineteen countries from Western Europe to Saudi Arabia, the Canary Islands, Canada, and Australia. IKEA catalogs-more than 50 million worldwide-are published in twelve languages. Cartons come labeled in English, Danish, German, French, and Swedish. In 1988 sales totaled more than $2.6 billion; sales at three U.S. stores alone were $93 million. A store in Budapest is scheduled to open in 1990.
Most customers spend two to four hours shopping at IKEA, long enough to work up an appetite that can be satisfied at the Swedish restaurant in every IKEA store.
Global Pricing
Global merchandising has led to global pricing-through electronics. A few years ago a fashionable New Yorker could fly to Milan and shop the temples of haute couture along the Via Napoleone at prices that saved enough to cover the hotel and airfare. No longer. And it is not just because the dollar is lower.
Today prices are regulated electronically to protect all outlets from currency fluctuations that could hurt business. Chanel, for example, adjusts prices in shops around the world to take into account shifts in currency values. A Chanel suit or handbag costs more or less the same whether it is purchased on the Avenue Montaigne, at the boutique in Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel, or on Rodeo Drive.
Swedish, American, Italian, and British retailers-as well as upscale designers-operating internationally are increasing options for the vast majority in fashion, which, like food, represents a comfortable arena of exchange. But paradoxically, does the success of these businesses push the limits of homogenization? When the same shops are found in Honolulu, in Sao Paulo, and at the local mall, what happens to diversity, local color, and texture?
The emerging global lifestyle walks a thin line between greater options and greater homogenization, which decreases options.
Although Americans are still trying to increase exports, no one questions the enthusiasm with which they send TV shows, entertainment, music, and films to almost every country on the planet.
In 1982 French Cultural Affairs Minister Jack Lang gave a rousing speech about what he termed "U.S. cultural imperialism". Though he sometimes sounds remarkably like Lee Iacocca railing against Japanese auto importers, Minister Lang has a lot to be concerned about.
The French dominated the film scene in the 1950's and 1960's, but the United States does today. In 1986, 121 American films were released in France, compared with 158 French films. During the first three months of 1988 French films failed to capture 30 percent of the French movie market. American movies held more than a 50 percent share.
American films also seized 50 percent of the Italian, Dutch, and Danish markets, 60 percent of the German, and 80 percent of the British market. But the largest market for Hollywood movies outside the United States is Japan.
Music and Entertainment
In France cultural imports dominate radio stations and rock video shows. In January 1987, twenty of the top fifty hit singles in France were foreign records.
"Mass culture from the U.S.-from jazz to disco-has conquered the world. China is the last battleground, and we are putting up hardly any resistance", said Li Delun, the musicial director of the China Central Philharmonic Orchestra, long before China's hard-line government had second thoughts about all that "openness."
Like their Soviet counterparts, young Chinese love the jeans and rock music of Western society. Wham! was the first megagroup to play China in 1985. American and British rock music is the foundation of the international youth culture. Genesis, Billy Joel, and the Rolling Stones are stars worldwide.
It is not clear whether Western culture will disappear after the Chinese government's bloody crackdown against student protests. But before June 1989 there had been great latitude for cultural, if not political, self-expression:
o On Wednesday and Saturday evenings Chongwenmen Cultural Palace sponsored break dance time.
o In May 1988 nearly 300 youths participated in Beijing's first government-sponsored break dance competition.
o More than 1,000 senior citizens took part in Beijing's first Old Folks Disco contest in April 1988.
In Japan, meanwhile, lovers of American style demonstrate little restraint in their wild embrace of American cultural icons-from nightclubs to Disneyland.
In the early 1990's twenty-five rock and roll clubs called Studebaker's and outfitted with fixtures and furniture imported from the United States will open in Japan.
The first All-American Disneyland to open outside the States was, of course, in Japan. "We finally decided that we wanted it to look and feel like an experience in the States", says Toshio Kagami of Tokyo Disneyland, where many street signs are in English. "Now we consider that the biggest factor of our success". In the early hours of 1987, 130,000 Japanese braved near-freezing temperatures to ring in the New Year at Tokyo Disneyland. It was the single busiest day of the year. Minnie Mouse wore a kimono.
EuroDisneyland, the $2 billion fourth Magic Kingdom, opens at Marne-la-Vallée, just outside Paris, in 1992. Along with increasing tourist traffic, it will create 8,000 jobs.
"Do you have American style?" asked a recent cover of M magazine. Like Vanity Fair, Style, Taxi Passion, and Elle, M targets today's global jet-setter. European Travel & Life, Travel & Leisure, and Condé Nast's Traveler all compete for the sophisticated, international traveler-and those who would like to be.
For decades the International Herald Tribune was the ultimate global medium. Edited in Paris, from mostly American sources, it was printed and distributed around the world. Then came the Asian and European editions of the Wall Streel Journal. As early as 1986 U.S. News & World Report was printed in Chinese and Newsweek in Japanese.
Thanks to satellite transmissions, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, Die Zeit of Hamburg, China Daily, the Economist, Time, and Newsweek are published the same day on several continents. The Economist is read by people in 170 countries. Only one quarter of its readers are in Great Britain.
Furthermore, there has been a revolution in the distribution of print media; publications from a range of countries are much more widely available. At the Newsroom in Washington, D.C., you can buy magazines, newspapers, records, tapes, and books in 100 different languages.
"We have a very steady demand", said a Newsroom sales clerk. The store carries all the European standbys like Le Monde (France), and Corriere della Sera (Italy), but also more exotic fare like Al Ahram (Arabic), China Daily, Polityka (Poland), La Nación (Argentina), Pravda (Soviet Union), Die Welt (West Germany), and De Telegraaf (Holland). There is also African Business, West Africa, Nigerian News, and African Concord.
"The TV marketplace internationally... is a real growth area", says Sam Roberts, an executive director at CBS News. CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (from the night before) airs at 8:00 A.M. daily in Paris. The Japanese are watching Dan Rather, too, along with The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour and Nightline with Ted Koppel.
Seventy-five percent of all imported television programs come from the United States. Most are not the news.
o Dallas is seen in ninety-eight countries.
o In New Zealand 40 percent of television programming was American in 1986.
o The American shows Matlock and Spenser for Hire tied as the number one shows in South Africa in January 1989.
o Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck-their voices dubbed in Mandarin-are seen weekly in China.
o Australians are known to stay up until midnight to catch theToday show.
o Sesame Street was seen in eighty-four countries in 1989.
o La Roue de la Fortune, France's spin-off of the American Wheel of Fortune, is the hottest game show on French television. There are four other foreign spin-offs with more in the works, according to distributor King World.
Obviously the United States is an aggressive TV exporter, but it has little experience importing TV shows (except for a few from Britain). The United States has much to gain in the way of quality arts and cultural imports. That might help balance its cultural trade surplus.
Global television already exists potentially in Europe's multinational satellite television stations. But the stations, too, are subject to the pull of global lifestyle, the counter pull of cultural nationalism, and the nuances of language.
A single broadcaster beaming out programming can reach a huge international audience. But country by country, that audience may well prefer local programming. That is the lesson that British broadcasters have learned.
The first pan-European television news program, Britain's Independent Television News, aired on British-owned Super Channel beginning in 1987. It reached a potential audience of 20 million cable viewers in fourteen nations. The news was read in slightly slowed-down English, to accommodate millions of viewers with a working, though not native, knowledge of English.
Even that was apparently not enough. The Independent Television News went off the airways in November 1988. Super Channel lost $100 million in its first two years. Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television, which reached ten European countries, did not do much better. Most Europeans preferred national satellite stations with entertainment, dubbed in local slang.
Viewers worldwide apparently will be able to watch as many U.S. televísion programs as they can stand. But the day when one megabroadcaster will beam out the same homogenized programming worldwide will-mercifully-never come. The reason is cultural nationalism.
Many Polish citizens are better informed than their Soviet neighbors. Poles with satellite dishes can choose among twenty-one channels broadcast from North America and Western Europe, including the BBC World Service and U.S.-based CNN. CNN is available (mostly in hotels) in eighty-three countries.
Although they have left the USSR, 100,000 Soviet Jews in Israel have not abandoned Soviet TV. They watch the news via satellite.
The potential impact of television in the world's most populous countries is staggering.
"Latin America is the region of the world with the highest level of imported TV programs", says Rafael Roncagliolo, director of the Lima-based Center for Studies about Transnational Culture. "About 60 percent of the programs are imported, and 80 percent of those come from the United States".
Ocobamba, Peru, a tiny village of 400 people, had battery-powered television sets before running water, regular mail service, and even electricity. "Before phones, people in this part of the world want television", says Carlos Romera, director of Peru's National Institute for Research and Training in Telecommunications.
The Tuareg, the largest tribe of nomads in the Sahara, delayed their annual migration for ten days in 1983 in order to catch the last episode of Dallas.
In the relatively poor countries of China and India, where 40 percent of the world's population resides, people are bombarded with images from the developed West.
India has 400 million potential television viewers. There are approximately 100 million TV sets in China with an estimated audience of 600 million. As early as 1986 one out of every two homes, in Beijing and Shanghai, had a TV set, reports theWorld Press Review.
Yue-Sai Kan, a Chinese-American woman and producer of the world's most popular television series with a potential viewership of 500 million people, was the first foreigner the Chinese government allowed to design a TV series for China's millions of viewers. One World introduced China to other parts of the world-from New York City to Egypt's pyramids.
Whatever suspicions China has about Western influences in 1990, it is astonishing, in retrospect, to observe just how open China had been in the 1980's. MGM/UA Communications Company, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios distribute movies and television programs in China.
On Wednesday nights in Shanghai more than 70 percent of the television audience tunes in to watch Hunter, an American police show. "China is the last bastion", says Michael Jay Solomon of Lorimar Telepictures, which has a five-year agreement to provide all of Shanghai's non-Chinese television. "But it's scary because we're going to change the way these people think". Solomon's words came years before China's 1989 student uprisings.
The potential of global television, along with the massive export of American television shows, raises many questions we have never had to deal with before. Will global television lead to least-common-denominator programming and the homogenization of culture? Will it threaten the differences that make individual countries interesting? Will it facilitate the tendency for powerful countries like the United States to impose their values on Third World countries or, for that matter, on other developed nations?
Cultural Imperialism
Along with Disneyland and Sesame Street U.S. entertainment exports include violent films and television shows, appalling to well-intentioned Americans who find the same shows they criticize at home are sent abroad and taken to represent U.S. life.
"If we accept a cheeseburger culture, it's only gonna give us a stomachache", says Richard Pawelko, a filmmaker from Wales and critic of American mass culture. It may mean more than a bellyache.
When sophisticated people in developed countries feel technology has invaded their lives and that "everything is just moving too fast", is it any wonder that developing countries feel threatened by the intrusion of Western values and technology?
In Iran, where modernity is associated with the West and dubbed "Satanic", people threaten violence-in the name of religion-to fend off outside influence and express frustration.
"Cultural imperialism", writes columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, "infiltrates a country through radio and TV, through tourists and Peace Corpsmen; it walks into an ancient and tormented country such as Iran on the cat's feet of supposedly good-willed men from Sioux City, who are in reality 'Satan', bringing with them Big Macs and women's rights and relativistic and tolerant values".
Unlike cheeseburgers and jeans, the globalization of television is explosive and controversial because it conveys deeper values the way literature does. Entertainment, through the medium of language and images, crosses over the line of superficial exchange and enters the domain of values. It goes right to the ethos of a culture, addressing the fundamental spirit that informs its beliefs and practices. Language is the great link to the heart of a culture.
The most important factor accelerating the development of a single global lifestyle is the proliferation of the English language. Language is a great agent of homogenization; it is the frequency on which culture is transmitted. If English is gaining a lock on global language, the implications are clear: The cultures of English-speaking countries will dominate.
English is becoming the world's first truly universal language. It is the native language of some 400 million people in twelve countries. That is a lot fewer than the 800 million people or so who speak Mandarin Chinese. But another 400 million speak English as a second language. And several hundred million more have some knowledge of English, which has official or semiofficial status in some sixty countries. Although there may be as many people speaking the various dialects of Chinese as there are English speakers, English is certainly more widespread geographically, more genuinely than Chinese universal. And its usage is growing at an extraordinary pace.
Today there are about 1 billion English speakers in the world. By the year 2000 that figure is likely to exceed 1.5 billion.
The world's most taught language, English is not replacing other languages; it is supplementing them:
Global Lifestyles and Cultural Nationalism
o Two hundred and fifty million Chinese-more than the entire population of the United States-study English.
o In eighty-nine countries English is either a common second language or widely studied.
o In Hong Kong nine of every ten secondary school students study English.
o In France state-run secondary schools require students to study four years of English or German; most-at least 85 percent-choose English.
o In Japan secondary students are required to take six years of English before graduation.
Language study is compulsory for Soviet children; most study English. In Norway, Sweden, and Denmark English is compulsory. Within Europe, Holland has the highest concentration of English proficiency outside Britain. Since Portugal entered the European Community, the demand for English classes has replaced the demand for French.
"There is a universal hunger for English-language facility on the part of students, young professionals, educators, business people and government officials in most countries of the world", states Charles Wick, former director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) which promotes English courses at 200 cultural centers in 100 countries. More than 400,000 have attended USIA-sponsored English classes.
There are 1,300 English-language schools in Tokyo, and 100 new schools open a year. Berlitz offers both British and American English at 250 language schools in twentysix countries. Worldwide 80 to 90 percent of Berlitz students study English. Between 1983 and 1988 English enrollments increased 81 percent.
Media and Transportation
English prevails in transportation and the media. The travel and communication language of the international airwaves is English. Pilots and air traffic controllers speak English at all international airports. Maritime traffic uses flag and light signals, but "if vessels needed to communicate verbally, they would find a common language, which would probably be English", says the U.S. Coast Guard's Werner Siems.
Five of the largest broadcasters-CBS, NBC, ABC, the BBC, and the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)-reach a potential audience of about 300 million people through English broadcast. lt is also the language of satellite TV.
The Information Age
The language of the information age is English. Computers talk to each other in English.
More than 80 percent of all information stored in the more than 100 million computers around the world is in English.
Eighty-five percent of international telephone conversations are conducted in English, as are three fourths of the world's mail, telexes, and cables. Computer program instructions and the software itself are often supplied only in English.
German was once the language of science; today more than 80 percent of all scientific papers are published first in English. Over half the world's technical and scientific periodicals are in English, which is also the language of medicine, electronics, and space technology.
International Business
English is the language of international business.
When a Japanese businessman strikes a deal anywhere in Europe, the chances are overwhelming that the negotiations were conducted in English.
Manufactured goods indicate their country of origin in English: "Made in Germany", not Fabriziert in Deutschland. It is the language of choice in multinational corporations. Datsun and Nissan write international memorandums in English. As early as 1985, 80 percent of the Japanese Mitsui and Company's employees could speak, read, and write English. Toyota provides in-service English courses. English classes are held in Saudi Arabia for Aramco workers and on three continents for Chase Manhattan Bank staff.
The international language of Iveco, the Italian truck maker, is English. Philips, the Dutch electronics firm, conducts all board meetings in English. The French company Cap Gemini Sogeti SA, one of Europe's major software producers, made English its official language.
Even in France, which has little regard for any language but its own, a leading business school will now teach in English. Ecole des Hautes Études Commerciales now offers its classic two-year advanced business management course in English. It is the first time a major French school of higher education will teach in a foreign language.
When the operator answers the phone at the Paris headquarters of Alcatel, the second largest telecommunications network in the world, it is not in French but, "Alcatel, good morning". When the French yield on language, something compelling is happening.
English is replacing the dominant European languages of centuries past. English has replaced French as the language of diplomacy; it is the offlcial language of international aid organizations such as Oxfam and Save the Children as well as of UNESCO, NATO, and the UN.
Lingua Franca
English serves as a common tongue in countries where people speak many different languages. In India, nearly 200 different languages are spoken; only 30 percent speak the official language, Hindi. When Rajiv Gandhi addressed the nation after his mother's assassination, he spoke in English. The European Free Trade Association works only in English, even though it is a foreign tongue for all six member countries.
Official Language
English is the official or semiofficial language of twenty African countries, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and South Africa. Students are instructed in English at Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
English is the ecumenical language of the World Council of Churches, the official language of the Olympics and the Miss Universe competition.
Youth Culture
English is the language of international youth culture. Young people worldwide sing the lyrics of U2, Michael Jackson, and Madonna songs without fully understanding them. "Break dance", "rap music", "bodybuilding", "windsurfing", and "computer hacking" are invading the slang of West German youth.
Foreign-Language Study in
the United States
Will the emergence of English as a universal language be the coup de grace for foreign-language study in the Unitéd States? Apparently not. One third of U.S. public high school students-nearly 4 million-study modern foreign languages today the largest proportion in seventy years and a 21.3 percent increase over 1982. Impressive though this sounds, it does not include the growing numbers of language students in junior high or private secondary schools. Only one state, Arkansas, and the District of Columbia require a foreign language. Virginia has the nation's highest ratio; 44 percent of high school students study language.
U.S. enrollment at Berlitz increased an impressive 27 percent between 1986 and 1987. Private language schools earned more than $100 million in the United States in 1987. But languages can enrich colleges, too: New York University generates $1 million a year in foreign-language course revenue.
The languages students study are changing, too. Some 1500 secondary students in California studied Japanese during the 1988-1989 school year. In Hawaii more students study Japanese than any other foreign language.
The percentage of American college students studying Japanese increased 103.8 percent between 1980 and 1987, to a total of 23,454. Chinese-language study increased 48.6 percent to 16,891; Russian 41.6 percent to 33,961.
"I think the trend is overwhelming", says William F. Cipolla, director of New York University's language and translation department. "There's quite a shift from the traditional European languages to Asian languages".
While Spanish-language study increased only 8.4 percent, it still attracts the largest number of college students-11,293. In 1970 Spanish replaced French as the most widely taught foreign language in U.S. colleges and universities.
The Spread of English
The Japanese may restrict other imports, but there are no trade barriers to the importation of American language. English words are popular even if they do not quite make sense: T-shirts sprout slogans like "I feel Coca Cola". Japlish, the combination of English and Japanese, has resulted in many humorous billboards and shopping bags.
"It isn't important that the words mean anything; the important thing is that they sound good", according to Tim Mayfield, an American advertising executive.
English has infiltrated many languages. Franglais is the combination of English and French. Other results are Spanglish, Sovangliski (with Russian); and Hinglish (with Hindi).
Foreign diplomats in Washington, D.C., can take a course in colloquial American English at the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program. Where else would they learn "Let's do lunch", "networking", and "knee-jerk" among the 1,000 Americanisms taught?
"Soon the whole educated world will have English as a first or second tongue", predicts Richard Lewis of Linguarama. "The English language seems to be moving faster in Europe than anywhere else".
English is the inevitable future of Europe. It is displacing French and German as the most widely spoken language among Europeans. The reason is 1992, and the trend has only just begun.
One of the greatest appeals of English as the world language is that it is easy to speak badly.
"English is the international language", says Akira Nambara of the Bank of Japan. "Or, I should say, broken English".
But just as English becomes the universal language, there is a backlash against that same universality. People are insisting on keeping traditional languages and cultures alive.
From Alor Star in Malaysia, to Soweto in South Africa, to Xian in China, young people embrace tlíe products of Western culture. In Nairobi, Cairo, Buenos Aires, and Kathmandu, you can hear the sounds of American music on almost any street corner. But the mass export of Western culture-especially U.S. culture-and the spread of English as a universal language have not come without a countertrend of cultural backlash.
Against the backdrop of rock music, blue jeans, and American television, a new cultural and linguistic chau-vinism emerging:
o The English language can be found on the street signs of major thoroughfares in Tokyo but is prohibited in the French speaking province of Quebec in Canada, a country that is officially bilingual.
o The Catalan language, outlawed during Francisco Franco's regime, is in the midst of a rennaissance.
o In Wales parents who never learned Welsh themselves are sending their children to Welsh schools.
In the Third World the universality of English is coming under increased scrutiny. In the Philippines, Malaysia, and Sudan, English has been restricted in the schools. More than a dozen countries have tried to limit its use. Chances are they will have about as much luck as the Académie Francaise, which has consistently failed to protect the French language from an onslaught of foreign words, mostly English.
Nevertheless, language is the pathway to culture. If the inhabitants of a Third World country sense that an outside culture is gaining undue influence, they will feel their values are threatened and may respond with cultural nationalism, vigorously asserting their language and/or religion, just as they would counter a political or military invasion with renewed political nationalism.
The Case of Islam
Consider that prominent case of cultural nationalism, the revolutionary Islamic state of Iran, where the force inflaming cultural assertiveness is religion, not language. Millions of Shiite Moslem followers of the late Ayatollah Khomeini are reasserting traditional religious principles and repudiating all Western (especially American) influence as corrupting to the conservative rule of Islamic law.
For Iran, the West is synonymous with all that is modern and secular (technology included) and is therefore godless, even "Satanic". The United States and Iran have engaged in a battle of cultures that has sometimes turned tragically violent: the U.S. downing of an Iranian airliner in the Persian Gulf in summer 1988; the suspected involvement of Iran in the crash of a Pan Am flight in December 1988.
In the minds of many, however, the ultimate act of cultural backlash occurred on an appropriate battlefield-literature. Like other forms of religious fundamentalism, the Islamic movement embraces the primacy of Scripture, in this case, the Holy Koran, the word of Allah set down by Mohammed, his Prophet. When some blasphemous references to the Prophet appeared in The Satanic Verses, a work of fiction by Salman Rushdie, a Sunni Moslem living and working in the West, an outraged Ayatollah Khomeini urged his followers all around the world to execute the author.
The Western values of freedom of speech and the press clashed with the Islamic definition of respect. But the seeds of that clash had been germinating for at least a decade.
After fifteen years of agitating the "masses" from outside Iran (the latter part of his exile was spent near Paris), the ayatollah roused his countrymen to overthrow the pro-U.S. shah, who was exiled in January 1979. The highly Westernized shah, better known for his display of wealth than for his devotion to Islam, was replaced by his antithesis-an aging gray-bearded cleric, worshiped by hordes of zealous young students.
The revolution unleashed a wave of anti-American sentiment, culminating in the siege and capture of the U.S. Embassy the following November. Fifty-two Americans were held captive by Iranian revolutionaries for 444 days. They were released in 1981 during the beginning moments of the Reagan administration.
According to former hostage Moorhead Kennedy, senior officers in the U.S. State Department wondered how the issue of religion could have provoked the shah's overthrow and the embassy take-over. In the State Department's grand scheme of things, Kennedy concludes, "There is no wedge of the pie for religion. Therefore, it lacked significance... Nothing in its long experience prepared the foreign service for a trans-national religious movement of the kind led by the Ayatollah Khomeini".
We are only now beginning to understand the depth of cultural nationalism. But it is a challenge that will not be faced exclusively by developing countries.
Today's generation of Japanese young people, for example, are enthusiastic about traditional Japanese clothes, food, and culture. "The young are writing haiku poems", says London's Economist, "just as their grandparents (but not their parents) did".
The more we influence each other, the more we shall seek to maintain our traditions. Not with the violence of some Iranian revolutionaries but with a good bit of their zeal.
In the face of growing homogenization, we all shall seek to preserve our identities, be they religious, cultural, national, linguistic, or racial.
The Welsh, Quebecois, and Catalonians described here are other contemporary examples of ethnic and regional groups engaged in the struggle to preserve their cultural identities in an increasingly homogeneous world.
It is easy to forget that Europe's nation-states were made up of scores of ethnic groups-Flemish, Bavarian, Provencal, Andalusian, Catalonian, and Welsh, among them.
In Wales, where virtually everyone speaks English, the Welsh language, Cymric, as it is called in Welsh, is making a comeback after becoming nearly extinct. At the end of the l9th century, 80 percent spoke Welsh. By the 1930's the percentage had declined to 30 percent. By 1983 it was only 20 percent.
Since the l970's, however, there has been a widespread movement to revive the usage of Welsh:
o Adults learn Welsh in intensive courses called Modified Ulpans which meet five evenings a week.
o The Welsh Nursery School Play Group Movement teaches Welsh to children between the ages of two and a half and five.
o The nonpolitical Welsh League of Youth with 750 branches and more than 45,000 members encourages young people to learn the language.
Today there are Welsh radio stations and newspapers likeY Cymro andY Faner. A Welsh-only television channel was established in 1982.
"The more TV becomes a global medium, the greater the threat to minority languages", says Emlyn Davies, program controller for the Welsh-language station. "My son is thirteen years old. He loves the rock group Queen. As long as he discusses Queen in Welsh, I don't regard that as a threat to his culture".
Parents make great sacrifices to send children to Welsh schools, sometimes driving them twenty miles each way to attend. Nearly 400 primary schools (about 20 percent) use the Welsh language as the sole or main medium of instruction. About 1,000 schools teach it as a second language; only 343 schools teach no Welsh at all.
Half the population attends the Eisteddfod festival of Welsh ceremonies, music, and poetry contests held every August. "Most participants agree that it is only there that their identity as Welshmen is annually renewed", reports Bud Khleif in Language, Ethnicity, and Education in Wales.
Junior Eisteddfod, a miniature version of the festival for children, holds annual contests in music, poetry, singing, and drama. One year the winning student refused to be interviewed in English.
The Welsh revival shows how cultural and linguistic identity can be deeper than politics. Wales has not been independent for five centuries. It is a region of Great Britain, not a nation.
According to Jan Morris in The Matter of Wales, "Wales is a country, but not a state; it has a capital city, but not a Government; its own postage stamps, but not its own currency; a flag, but no embassies; an indigenous language, but no indigenous laws".
In a 1979 referendum 20 percent of the Welsh electorate voted to secede from the United Kingdom. As that vote indicates, Welsh nationalism is more cultural than political, and it is centered on the language.
In the Canadian province of Quebec, 85 percent of the 6.5 million inhabitants speak French. For decades there has been talk of Quebec separating from the rest of Canada. In 1976 the Quebec separatist movement achieved partial victory in being elected as Quebec's government responsible nevertheless to the federal government. Almost immediately after, Quebec passed Bill 101 obligating citizens to speak French at work and banning English commercial signs. "Language police" issued fines to violators. The law also requires that children attend French schools, unless one of their parents attended an English school in Quebec.
In 1980 a referendum to separate from Canada was defeated, 60 percent to 40 percent. Today Quebecois are still evaluating the economic costs of linguistic nationalism.
In the eight years following Quebec's language law, a quarter of a million people, including 14,000 senior corporate executives, and almost all from the English-speaking community, left the province. One of Quebec City's two English dailies has folded. The Sun Life Assurance Company was one of the first to pull its business out of Quebec and was frank about the reason: the language law. Banks and brokers moved to Toronto, and real estate prices slumped.
Quebec's linguistic nationalism is preserving the French-Canadian heritage: Investment from France has increased, and enrollment in French universities has soared from 20,000 before 1960 to 130,000 in 1988. But do the costs outweigh the benefits?
In 1987 the Quebec Court of Appeals declared the French signs mandated by Provincial Law 101 legal. In 1988, however, the Supreme Court of Canada reversed the lower court and ruled the law unconstitutional. Quebecois are scrambling to create a compromise solution that will please both the court and Quebec's French-speaking majority.
During 1987 seventeen businesses were fined for displaying signs in English and in violation of the Frenchonly Provincial Law 101:
o When a merchant hung a MERRY CHRISTMAS sign, he was told by the "language police" to change it to French or take it down.
o When two employees of a fast-food restaurant were overheard speaking English, the government sent undercover agents to investigate possible violation of the French-at-work law.
o A Montreal grocery store that posted advertisements in both English and French was fire-bombed.
In 1987 Quebec signed the Canadian Constitution, officially stating that it no longer sees itself separate from the rest of Canada. But at last word, the French-only Parti Quebecois is working to rebuild the separatist movement.
Castilian Spanish is Spain's official language. But not in Catalonia, an autonomous region of 6 million people, where Catalan has been proclaimed the official language and is in the midst of a major revival. Nearly 70 percent of the people speak Catalan, and 85 percent understand it. Catalan newspapers, magazines, books, and folk traditions outlawed during the reign of Francisco Franco are once again flourishing.
Language is the basic characteristic of Catalonia's personality and the personality of its people. For centuries, Catalonia and its capital, Barcelona, have been known as the economic heart of Spain, representing 20 to 25 percent of the Spanish economy.
Without my language I have no culture, and culture is the best weapon man has against oppression, says Joan Brossa, a Catalan poet. "Generalisimo Franco and his fascists knew this well. They tried to steal our language from us, but they failed. Now I think the worst moments for us have passed. It is Franco who is dead, and not Catalonia".
o The renaissance has been a great stimulus for newspapers such as Avui and magazines like El Mon and Serra d'Or.
o Publishers like Edicións 62, Editorial Empuries, and Editorial Laia are three of the seventy-five firms in the Guild of Catalan Language Editors. Edicións 62 is translating William Faulkner, Graham Greene, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Readers are eager for Catalan translations in science fiction and business, too.
o La Vanguardia, Barcelona's main daily, prints features in Catalan.
o There are twenty-one radio stations broadcasting in Catalan, as do three television stations at least several hours a day.
On Sundays at noon people spontaneously gather in front of the Barcelona Gothic Cathedral, and on Sunday evenings Catalans gather on the Plaza Sant Jaume, to participate in traditional dances.
Today's Catalan renaissance grows out of centuries of tradition. Catalans have been allied with Spain since the days of Christopher Columbus. But after losing their independence to Philip V in the 18th century, they sought greater autonomy, often with language as a unifying force. The literary Renaixensa of the 1850's and 1860's celebrated the language in poetry and festival, further encouraging linguistic nationalism.
Catalonia achieved political autonomy in 1932 before falling to Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Political and social institutions were abolished; language and culture, repressed.
In 1980, for the first time in forty-eight years, Catalans were free to elect representatives to their own governing body, the Generalitat.
"We accept, we agree that we are Spaniards, but we are Spaniards in a different form than the other Spaniards. We are Spaniards being Catalans", says Jordi Pujol, president of the Catalan government. "We want to remain Spaniards, but we also want our language, our culture, our traditional political institutions, and our reality as a different people to be accepted in Spain".
Catalonia today represents probably the best balance between individuality and nationality, the most positive model for maintaining individual identity while participating in the collective. An old Catalan proverb states, "A country that defends its language defends itself".
In Singapore, the city-state racing to be internationalized, there is increasing anxiety about Westernization. The loss of "core Asian values" and "preoccupation with self rather than community" among the younger generation have Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew worried. "That we can become a pseudo-Western society" he said in a recent speech, would be a disaster.
He created the Speak Mandarin campaign to reduce Westernization by discouraging the use of English. Every October since 1979 has been "Mandarin Month".
The Soviet Union
Nationalism is surging forward in the Soviet Union, the greatest multinational country the world has ever known. There are fifteen republics, 104 ethnic groups, and 100 languages-and thirteen time zones.
In the glasnost era a wave of nationalism is spreading across the huge Soviet nation:
o As early as 1986 Kazakhs rioted in Central Asia when a Russian replaced a local party boss.
o In 1987 some 800 Tatars demonstrated in Red Square over the loss of their Crimean homeland in the 1940's, when Stalin deported them to Central Asia.
o Two old Christian nations, Armenia and Georgia, have held numerous demonstrations.
o The old Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania-which were independent until 1940-have declared their independence and done just about everything except secede from the Soviet Union.
In the name of perestroika, the Baltic republics are invoking Gorbachev's reforms to assert their long suppressed nationalism. Early in 1989 the legislature of Estonia voted to make Estonian, a language related to Finnish, the official language, replacing Russian. In what sounds like a replay of the language wars of Quebec, Russians there would have to learn Estonian. The Estonian law is more liberal, though; signs on streets and in businesses could contain small Russian translations. Later in 1989 the Moldavian parliament declared Moldavian the official language. Moldavian is actually a dialect of Romanian written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Several other republics-Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan-are also considering laws to replace Russian with the local ethnic language.
Cultural nationalism runs deep. When it is challenged, or when there is a new opportunity for its expression, it will rise to the surface.