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"Cultural imperialism" and "cultural diplomacy"

СОДЕРЖАНИЕ: "Культурный империализм" и "культурная дипломатия".

"Cultural imperialism" and "cultural diplomacy"


Perhaps, “cultural imperialism” and “cultural diplomacy” are sufficiently young, but it concerns only word combinations. Mankind always tries to chose definitions to different phenomena, in particular in sphere of politics, in such way the words “ideology”, “myth”, “propaganda” have appeared.

Cultural imperialism and cultural diplomacy can be considered just as more or less aggressive method of propaganda activity.

The process of clearance of relationship between journalism and propaganda is as two instruments of cultural diplomacy and cultural imperialism.

What is the aim of cultural diplomacy and cultural imperialism: forming of political regimes, decision of some economical problems or something else? A large use of considering definitions makes doubts that the aim of spreading ideas can be contain in one word. Most probably it is a complex of aims. But what politics is more successful? “Whip” politics or “cake” politics?

New epoch, epoch of globalization, epoch of powerful mass media has opened new opportunities for propaganda. A man is grasped from TV every day; the material chosen by journalists has turned out in a stream of huge amount of information. “It is [TV] the crucial source of information about the outside world”. (Negrine op. Cit., ibid., p. 100). Naturally that if even journalists have no enough time for interpretation of the information, what hopes may be for average spectator to interpret this information correctly. “TV is a “heavily selected interpretation of events” (R. Hoggart “Bad news”. London, 1976, p.x.). In the stream of the information a spectator managed by own prejudices and moral brought from without is building from the information knots a picture of his own world. People received the opportunity to know so many things without learning anything. At the sense level a person understands that he is manipulated (probably because of that spectator’s appreciation of journalists are so low). From the other side the information containing burning topics of the day, sharply and easily for understanding given, wakes up in a person so powerful impulse which it’s very difficult not to be obeyed. As never before a man has become such unprotected against foreign influence, the question is what ideology will be more correct key for this or that country. From the other side despite that a man has learned to get over large distances for a short time, people have not became closer one another. It may be called “the theory of unknown people”. Unknown people are making clothes for us, selling foods, unknown people are defending us as a Police, unknown people are teaching our children, building our houses. When we are traveling by bus or by plane our lives are in the hands of unknown people. Why not to let these unknown people to take possessions of our minds (through TV and sound speakers)?

May be supposed that this space being free from critical interpretation in human consciousness offers the opportunity for enforcing of culture (in context of cultural imperialism). But aforementioned statement has reverse side as well. Since the borders between that as supposed is personal and private and that is not so, have no the same sense as were before, people have worked out the immunity against information aggressiveness.

The opportunity of comparison may have its influence; access to large amount of information let people to compare thrusting ideas with the reality. Thus the slogan “Dreamland is good because it is wonderful” is not working any more.

Before the World War II in world politics only 10 countries played essential part. After the War practically all countries began to play their parts in the world politics. Economical and political reasons have come to the situation when the ideology has become the well developed science. Cultural imperialism as well as cultural diplomacy have appeared in the result of development of ideology and propaganda. Differentiation of ideology, foundation of politics-ideological complexes, access of scientists to practical politics (J. Kennedy, T. Kissinger) and taking part of scientists in creation of ideological systems as well as organization of expert centers in this field - all these resulted in foundation of whole system of measures on foreign policy, particularly in cultural diplomacy.

A needful influence using rude methods of cultural imperialism can be hardly have an affect, countries at which the cultural imperialism can be aimed have too probable chance of maneuver. Cultural diplomacy and cultural imperialism as a part of ideological war became a strategic weapon using a subtle instruments of influence. Perhaps Chechen War became one of the failures of cultural imperialism. Here should be mentioned that religious factor has played an important part. It is one of the reason that confirms impossibility of rude influence can be applicable.

It may be supposed that a peace after the war in Chechen, long-drawn-out Israel - Palestine conflict and Desert fox, is in condition of sufficient fragile balance, that can be ground for conclusion that cultural imperialism isn’t applicable at all, since it would directed at a country playing an insignificant part in world politics, and would be identified in time and met by opposite measures, consequences might be tragic.

On the contrary cultural diplomacy is the war without victims. To avoid any impact of cultural diplomacy a country can only in case of the isolation from foreign world is available (Iraq, North Korea). Since that it is one of the sign of the totalitarian state, but it’s not excluded that the regime will aim its powerful ideological machine at its people. It’s all the same for the cultural imperialism but only within the limits of one state. If one of the purposes of cultural imperialism in foreign policy would be the spreading of a political regime, so in case of totalitarian country the aim of propaganda, creation of myths, ideology became in general the support of a regime. Too much energy must be spent for the support of information units.

Supposedly that cultural imperialism as well as cultural diplomacy is aimed by one country or a group of countries at other country. Sometimes instruments of political influence are aimed at population of the own state, for example at representatives of a large group of national minority. In this case the use of aggressive methods of cultural imperialism can not be acceptable, since in this way a serious national conflict can be provoked and the chain of ones has flushed within the territory of the former USSR in the beginning of 90-th years.

Real needs including economical reasons in regular spreading of the information have occurred. Needs in instrument of selecting of this information have came. In practice it could be realized together with the development of technique of printing of books in XV - XVI centuries, when in Europe the first periodical press appeared. Journalism became a special type of activity. Propaganda started its development earlier: the method of influence upon the opponent, social political instrument of classes. The “relationship between paper and reader was this being changed from the ideal one of a tutorial and intellectual nature, to one of a market character”. (A.J. Lee “The Origins of the Popular Press 1855 - 1914, London, 1976, p. 121).

Journalism may be non-connected with politics, but propaganda can not. As a powerful weapon propaganda always aspires to enlarge an application of its instrument: the word was added by a text in writing. (Pamphlets, leaflets of the time of the Peasant’s War in Germany, Pugachyov’s letters).

Journalism perhaps from the moment of its birth has grasped 3 functions. The first one is the selecting and lighting of the facts of every day life, the second function is the spreading of appraisals and minds and the third one is different shows.

The complication of relationship of such definitions as journalism and propaganda is determined by that the journalism is more special definition regarding to propaganda. The phenomenon of journalism has many senses. The periodical press has wider sphere of interests than propaganda. It includes every day informing about facts and actual events. In this respect propaganda is a part of periodical presswork. From the other side journalism is the complexity of technical means of circulation of information messages and materials of propaganda (newspapers, TV, radio) and at this way journalism is one of the instruments of propaganda machine. Propaganda has its own distinguishing features in application of means and weapons of its influence. In its arsenal there are placards, leaflets, photos, means of mass media. Journalism addresses only a large auditorium and its activity can be determined by system of means specially foreseen for circulation of its publications. Propaganda is an ever-lasting companion of the periodical press; therefore many journalists are propagandists as well. Even in the media there are many propaganda materials or materials related to propaganda, are beyond from periodical press. Newspapers are publishing official governmental messages; TV canals are carrying out direct translations from meetings. This propaganda can not be related to own creations of journalists, therefore for calling of the propaganda, which is professional work of journalists, can be used the term “Journalism propaganda”.

Periodical press has its an important mobilizing influence upon people and stimulates social activity as well. It seems that journalism is called as “literature made in a hurry” and in comparison with classical fiction literature it (journalism) must have less influence. A fiction literature uses more sharp, more bright and figurative word. But journalism, probably because of effect of participation, has the strongest “impulse” influence upon minds, directions and behavior of people. Perhaps one of the secrets of this influence is the unique combination of means, which are available for journalism. Reality of the fact which has been taken from the present day plus magnetic strength of an idea plus understandable word and representation. Disappearance of one of these three above-mentioned means destroys a complex of the modern journalism. For periodical press a conjunction of three components: energy, propaganda and publicity, - may be compulsory, since it’s the strong factor of influence upon a social consciousness.

Propaganda is closely bound with a science ideology. The ideology partly is the method of thinking which taken from without as well as propaganda serves for ideology can not contain such idealism definitions as truth, objectivity, impartiality. According to its character propaganda is tendentious but not objective.

Soviet theoretic scientists have been tried to prove Scientific features of propaganda through the term “ the true of an idea or a mind” recognizing by that the right of elite, making up socials myths and ideology, to operate with human consciousness.

Though propaganda always brings to a man a moral and directions ab extra. The question is at what degree a man can be operated and how many different ideologies are aimed at a man, has a person the opportunity of a choice in that - what illusion can be used?

It should be mentioned that mass media at the definite point must support political power as well as state structure. “So long as newspapers remain cure of political authority, they are beyond criticism; once they challenge that authority, they suffer the full force of its reaction” (R. Negrine “Politics and the Mass Media in Britain”. London. 1994. P. 47 - 48).

Is a hamburger the part of national politics? Who is more popular: Uncle Sam or Mickey Mouse? Can Michael Jackson, for example, to inculcate a love to American culture? These questions could be analyzed through the theory of creation of myths.

It’ s necessary to mention that creation of myths as well as ideology and propaganda comes sufficiently closely to determination of cultural diplomacy. If the following interpretation of creation of myths would available: as the process of constructing of the image system with the subject presented as essential for a person social reality, in this case the difference with the subject of cultural diplomacy is not so large. In case of making the question more simply and to determine the aim of a myth is to provide the opportunity of orientation, the difference with the purposes of cultural diplomacy becomes less. The problem is as usual since in context of political science (Ortega, Gasset) myth is bound closely with political elite which is working out political myths spreading upon all around. In myth there is not limits, but cultural diplomacy is aimed at determined real subject. In this case myths making up by cultural diplomacy are concerning the creation of myths as a part is related to whole object.

Returning to aforementioned it may be concluded that a numerous industry of amusements or “pop industry” can not bring all load of cultural diplomacy. Positive impressions of culture of a state must be formed in development. The word “ diplomacy” supposes not impulses but a process of thinking. The impulses are corresponding to mass industry and love for popular music is going away so quickly as a feeling of satiety after eating a hamburger.

Besides that since cultural diplomacy is leaning for the support of the elite and the influence must be extended to the most intelligent and educated population therefore the instruments must be delicate. For example the song of Elton John “Yellow Brick Road” never can inculcate the love to England but if the sound track would be provided by representation of the Big Ben, House of Parlament and other great creations of British architecture, an excellent result might be achieved.

Thus for the cultural diplomacy it would be more reasonable to sell the TV picture “Variety Fair” with damage than to earn much on a pop-star concert.

It can be supposed that if the pop-industry is always aimed at earning money, cultural diplomacy has to work with damage for itself and able to make money only in indirect way. In general the distinguishing feature of pop-industry is internationalism, for example, the Disneyland is available not only in the USA but the Freedom Stature can be seen only in the United States of America. Instruments of cultural diplomacy as well as cultural imperialism must be unique.

Why the rude methods of cultural imperialism have not been refused at all? Probably in this period these are more operative. In one of Eric Berne’s book the following example was described: when grasshoppers were offered to two groups of people and the first group was made to eat the insects up and the other group was just offered to test them. In result those people who were made to eat the insects, in general, called the taste qualities of grasshoppers as good. The other group which just tested of its own free will said negatively about its tastes.

Eric Berne explained this case by one of the quality of the human psychic: when something is imposed to a person our mind makes us to love it. In any case for a some time. The other reaction when this influence is finishing. In the time of “the cold war” many Western radio programs can be heard in the USSR, such as “The Voice of America”, “Radio Liberty”. After the disintegration of the USSR very tendentious “The Voice of America” became non-interesting and lost its audience.

By the way it did not enlarge the sympathy to the USA. It may be too simple illustration.

For example can be used a powerful agitation USSR’s influence upon the former members of East system and what it resulted in afterwards. All examples have one common feature: an action always turns by opposite action. Even an action of political pressure such as Soviet tanks in Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and Chechen, American B 52 over Vietnam and rackets Patriot over Baghdad. Regardless of that how many years or days mankind has come without wars, the methods of rude influence will be continued in future The question of effectiveness of these measures is opened.

In the time of running of Napoleon the newspapers of France started to describe this event beginning from the titles such as “ the Blood-thirsty Tyrant Got away from a Cage” and this events were finished in articles as “The Emperor is taking his throne”. This particularity of journalism has been available till present time.

However despite that which methods have been applied: mild or heavy, cultural politics must be understood by them for whom it has been carried on. Therefore it’s hardly to say about cultural imperialism, for example, provided by CNN in respect of Russia or China, or Japan. There an English speech can not been understood. In general, a large ethnic groups in respect of their language are very conservative, feeling itself in its consciousness as a part of a huge language group. In this connection one American saying is very interesting: a person who speaks one language is a citizen, a person streaking two languages is an immigrant, three languages is a vagrant. When it’s known before that the words won’t be understood a statement can be impressed by gestures (Khrushchov’s shoe in the session of UN) or by understandable images (Iraq tanks in Kuwait).

If the military conflicts would be left , since state and commence electronic mass media must lead determined policy, because on the contrary (TV is a “heavily selected interpretation of events” (R. Hoggart “Bad news”. London, 1976, p.x.)), and cultural imperialism is becoming more and more active. In case of considering a journalism as an important transmitter of state propaganda or ideology, in the most powerful and developed countries the chain: government - journalist - audience won’t be full because of principle of pluralism, equality of political factors and institutions. Besides that since the competition fights for audience the modern mass media lost their opportunity for strategic planning. For instance even the USA has worked at the image of its country shown the interrogation of the USA President. For the politics of the USA this fact is not positive. But the modern regulation of mass media played here their part. Perhaps, the commerce protects people from any kinds of imperialism. “International bodies and international competitive pressures are having an impact on the development of national structures of Broadcasting” (Negrine. Op.cit. p. 210).


As a summary of this work several general moments can be mentioned. At present time an opportunity of the manipulation with human consciousness, is especially real as never before since a spectator (listener) receives a huge amount of information which can not grasp it.

From the other side an opportunity of influence became weaker because of the increasing opportunity for comparison, the information became more assessable and the one of the particular feature of foreign policy became taking part of almost all countries of the world. Therefore a chance of the influence upon the more non-developed countries using the powerful methods of the cultural imperialism are minimized.

The opportunity of defend of oneself from the power influence has increased proportionally to increasing of the influence of the world community where all countries take essential part.

In this work the statements interpreting the conjunction between journalism and propaganda (weapon of any foreign and inside influence). However at present time journalists are being more interested in sensations, show and dynamics of programs. Therefore means of mass media which without doubt multi - level structures can exist for means received from advertise sale: thus they are less interested in social orders. In this situation commerce can protect an audience from ideological influence. Though “ for some observers the globalization of journalism carries with it the threat of cultural imperialism - the dissemination across the planet of a journalism dominated largely by North American (read CNN) values, agendas, and ideological assumptions”. (Brian McNair “News and Journalism in the UK”. London, 1994, p. 188.

Cultural diplomacy in contradistinction to pressure influence of cultural imperialism, probably must influence upon elite classes negatively. Since the educated people grasp rude propaganda methods at once and in many cases able to separate information from ideology and infotainment as well. Thus rude methods of industry will not work here.

For easier understanding it can be supposed that well done programm on Discovery Canal about, for example, American Air Forces of the World War II had more influence effect than the a direct translation of CNN about bombardment of Baghdad.

In conclusion it ‘s desirable to impress a hope that the rude methods has been finished at least in respect of actual participants of the world community.

Список литературы

Book A.J. Lee (1976) “The Origins of Popular Press. 1855 - 1914”, London, p. 121

Book R. Negrine (1994) “Politics and the Mass Media in Britain”, London, p. 47 – 48

Book R. Hoggart “Bad News”, (1976), London, p.x.

Book Brian McNair (1994) “News and Journalism in the UK”, London, p. 188

Book A. Briggs, (1979) “Governing the BBC”, London, p. 211

Book R. Friedman (1992) “American Law”, Moscow


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