Philippe Legrain, chief economist of Britain in Europe (the campaign for Britain to adopt the euro), has a large article over at The Chronicle, argumenting that Cultural Globalization Is Not Americanization. Here are some interesting tidbits from the article:

…The beauty of globalization is that it can free people from the tyranny of geography. Just because someone was born in France does not mean they can only aspire to speak French, eat French food, read French books, visit museums in France, and so on. A Frenchman – or an American, for that matter – can take holidays in Spain or Florida, eat sushi or spaghetti for dinner, drink Coke or Chilean wine, watch a Hollywood blockbuster or an Almodóvar, listen to bhangra or rap, practice yoga or kickboxing, read Elle or The Economist, and have friends from around the world. That we are increasingly free to choose our cultural experiences enriches our lives immeasurably. We could not always enjoy the best the world has to offer.

…It is a myth that globalization involves the imposition of Americanized uniformity, rather than an explosion of cultural exchange. For a start, many archetypal “American” products are not as all-American as they seem. Levi Strauss, a German immigrant, invented jeans by combining denim cloth (or “serge de Nîmes,” because it was traditionally woven in the French town) with Genes, a style of trousers worn by Genoese sailors. So Levi’s jeans are in fact an American twist on a European hybrid.

…In some ways, America is an outlier, not a global leader. Most of the world has adopted the metric system born from the French Revolution; America persists with antiquated measurements inherited from its British-colonial past. Most developed countries have become intensely secular, but many Americans burn with fundamentalist fervor – like Muslims in the Middle East. Where else in the developed world could there be a serious debate about teaching kids Bible-inspired “creationism” instead of Darwinist evolution?

…The really profound cultural changes have little to do with Coca-Cola. Western ideas about liberalism and science are taking root almost everywhere, while Europe and North America are becoming multicultural societies through immigration, mainly from developing countries. Technology is reshaping culture: Just think of the Internet. Individual choice is fragmenting the imposed uniformity of national cultures. New hybrid cultures are emerging, and regional ones re-emerging. National identity is not disappearing, but the bonds of nationality are loosening.

…But if people now wear the bonds of nationality more loosely, is that such a bad thing? People may lament the passing of old ways. Indeed, many of the worries about globalization echo age-old fears about decline, a lost golden age, and so on. But by and large, people choose the new ways because they are more relevant to their current needs and offer new opportunities that the old ones did not…

Thanks to the Blogalization Conspiracy for the heads-up. Click on the preceding link to read more excerpts and commentary. For myself, as a German citizen living in Brazil, working over the Internet in a “Virtual Silicon Valley“, if I may call it that, globalization is a very welcome feature of the modern world. On the other hand, I have to accept that I’m ahead of my time here…