New features of cultural colonialism

Contemporary cultural colonialism (CCC) is distinct from past practices in several senses:

(1) It is oriented toward capturing mass audiences, not just converting elites.

(2) The mass media, particularly television, invade the household and function from the "inside" and "below" as well as from "outside" and above.

(3) CCC is global in scope and homogenising in its impact: the pretense of universalism serves to mystify the symbols, goals and interests of the imperial power.

(4) The mass media as instruments of cultural imperialism today are "private" only in the formal sense: the absence of formal state ties provides a legitimate cover for the private media projecting imperial state interests as "news" or "entertainment".

(5) Under contemporary imperialism, political interests are projected through non-imperial subjects. "News reports" focus on the personal biographies of mercenary peasant-soldiers in Central America and smilling working class US blacks in the Gulf War.

(6) Because of the increasing gap between the promise of peace and prosperity under unregulated capital and the reality of increasing misery and violence, the mass media have narrowed even further the possibilities of alternative perspective in their programmes. Total cultural control is the counterpart of the total separation between the brutality of real-existing capitalism and the illusory promises of the free market.

(7) To paralyse collective responses, cultural colonialism seeks to destroy national identities or empty them of substantive socio-economic content. To rupture the solidarity of communities, cultural imperialism promotes the cult of "modernity" as conformity with external symbols. In the name of "individuality", social bonds are attacked and personalities are reshaped according to the dictates of media messages. While imperial arms disarticulate civil society, and banks pillage the economy, the imperial media provide individuals with escapist identities.

Cultural imperialism provides devastating demonological caricatures of revolutionary adversaries, while encouraging collective amnesia of the massive violence of pro-Western mass media never remind their audience of the murder by anti-communist pro-US regimes of 100,000 Indians in Guatemala, 75,000 working people in El Salvador, 50,000 victims in Nicaragua. The mass media cover up the great disasters resulting from the introduction of the market in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR, leaving hundreds of millions impoverished.