Archive for October 27th, 2011

October 27, 2011

Cocacolonization

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Cocacolonization is a term that refers to globalization or cultural colonization. It is a portmanteau of the name of the multinational soft drink maker Coca-Cola and the word colonization. The term is used to imply either: the importation of Western (particularly American) goods; or, an invasion by Western and especially American cultural values that threatens local culture. While it is possible to use the term benignly, it has been used pejoratively to liken globalization to Westernization or Americanization.

In explaining the role of Coca-Cola as a universal influence of the ‘American way’ in the Cold War period, scholar Richard Kuisel states, ‘Perhaps no commercial product is more thoroughly identified with the United States… Coca Cola was fast becoming a universal drink.’ The dangers of cocacolonization were evoked after World War II by the French press, which regarded Coca-Cola as an American affront to the French culture. A typical cold war joke stated that, following the moon landing, the USSR leapfrogged the U.S. by painting the moon red, whilst the U.S. retaliated by going back and writing Coca-Cola in white on the red background. Seen as ‘too American’ for Communists, Pepsi was the main exported soft drink to Europe for much of the Cold War.

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October 27, 2011

Evil Empire

evil empire

The evil empire is a term which was used by the US president Ronald Reagan to describe the Soviet Empire in 1983, which consisted of the republics of the Soviet Union and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon). Members of this council were satellite states, which where formally independent, but were steered by the Soviet Union with military pressure, if they considered it as necessary. Reagan, took an aggressive, hard-line stance that favored matching and exceeding the Soviet Union’s strategic and global military capabilities, in calling for a rollback strategy that would, in his words, write the final pages of the history of the Soviet Union. The characterization demeaned the Soviet Union and angered Soviet leaders; it represented the rhetorical side of the escalation of the Cold War.

Reagan’s chief speechwriter at the time, Anthony R. Dolan, reportedly coined the phrase for Reagan’s use. Some sources incorrectly refer to a 1982 speech before the British House of Commons as the ‘Evil Empire’ speech, but while Reagan referred twice to totalitarianism in his London speech, the exact phrase ‘evil empire’ did not appear in any speech until later in his Presidency. Rather, the phrase ‘ash heap of history’ appeared in this speech, used by Reagan to predict what he saw as the inevitable failure and collapse of global communism. Ironically, this latter phrase was coined by Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky in 1917, using it against his opponents (the Mensheviks) and suggesting that communism was the future; the irony may not have been lost on Reagan’s speech writers.

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October 27, 2011

Megacorporation

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Tyrell corporation

Megacorporation is a term popularized by science fiction author William Gibson. It has become a term popularly used in cyberpunk literature, referring to a corporation that is a massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus exhibiting both a horizontal and a vertical monopoly). Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily-armed (often military-sized) private armies, hold ‘sovereign’ territory, and possibly even act as outright governments. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, taking the idea of ‘corporate culture’ to an extreme.

Such organizations are a staple of science fiction long predating cyberpunk, appearing in the works of writers such as Philip K. Dick (‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’), Thea von Harbou (‘Metropolis’), and Robert Heinlein (‘Citizen of the Galaxy’).

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