Discussion » Ask a Foreigner » 美国文化政策&#

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:
    <p>1)The united states of America has no Cultural Policy ,neither public or private.....Unesco Round of Talks Monaco !969. 2) Its through culture (arts) that we express ourselves , its through culture (arts) that we find the inner vision to guide us as a nation....President Lydon Johnson</p> <p>Well, well...the question is ,has the lack of cultural policy been a factor in the decline of American soft power?</p>
  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    I am writing an academic paper on a related topic and I'm finding it hard to find clear cut conclusions . I'm currently using a trans-historical approach

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    Yeah its kinda related , I'm taking a cultural policy course this semester , at first we did a comparative analysis of cultural policies in china and us (extremely boring , comparing a totalitarian and a utilitarian society), then we attended an academic conference where the American Cultural policy came under heavy attack by Chinese academicians ,hence I was tasked to write a comprehensive paper detailing American cultural policy which doesn't exist. Personally I prefer working with economic models .. the math intrigues me , my favorite of all times are the economic growth models ... u know , diamond model etc...

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    cool.....Econometrics is a subject that I love and it cant cease to fascinate me. Micro and macro economics are also intriguing.........lets meet sometime talk economics , and drink beer

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    R u home yet? Know u must be really tired baby-girl! I'm still up , just watched Portugal vs Denmark ...ahead $1k on my bets ...lol Hey ,I guess I have a lot to learn from you , theres so much about Economics that I don't know. My bachelors and masters were in engineering , information/electronics and control(intelligent systems , neural networks ) respectively. I made a total switch over from engineering to economics just two years ago, so I got a lot to learn..like game theory(i did that last year , self-study), advanced macro-economics ...darn , the more I talk about this , the more excited I get ... Hey ,about the job thing , just hang in there , u r a tough girl and I know u can handle the pressure, the only plus side of u quitting ur job is we would have more time to discuss economics , better still we might partner-up and publish an SSCI paper

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    1) How does one measure soft power?

    Well thats an interesting question, soft power can't be measured directly per se , but we can measure its effect and its coverage. I think we can rightly say that the US soft power has been on the decline right after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq kicked off. If we should go down to basic definitions,I would say power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes we want,this can be done in three ways , coercion,inducements and attraction.Soft power is getting others to want the outcomes we want without coercion. Soft power rests on our ability to shape the preferences of others. The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture(where it is attractive to others), its political values(when it lives up to them at home and abroad) and its foreign policies(when they are seen as legitimate). Currently America lacks credibility ,and most American policies are either narrowly self-serving or arrogantly presented and this hinders soft power.

    2) You wrote (arts) after culture. Are you limiting soft power to culture, and culture to arts? What kind of arts are included? TV series? Marlboro cigarettes? Nike shoes? (All are certainly cultural artifacts.) It seems to me you're working with a lot of undefinable and unmeasureble concepts.

    Yes , soft power is pivoted on culture and cultue isn't necessarily limited to works of art .This odd word culture has earthly connotations , it comes from the latin word "colare" which implied tending and developng agriculture as part of subsistence. With the emergence of capitalisms division of labor, culture came to both embody instrumentalism and to abjure it, via the industrialization of farming and on the one hand and the cultivation of individual taste on the other hand . In keeping with this distinction, culture has been understood in two registers, the social sciences and humanities.So to me culture is both a product and a process.

    3) Can you say more about what the Chinese academics said about America not having a cultural policy? Does a country need a cultural policy? Or an official language? (US doesn't have one of those either.) Might you explore these questions in your research? When I think of the words "US cultural policy," my mind immediately goes to the domestic TV and film standards policies (my industry) like the MPAA, FCC and the abandoned Hayes Code. Will you explore internal policies, or focus more on international cultural agendas and mission statements

    Well I'm not at liberty to quote what was said but then It was all negative. Honestly the issue of a well articulated cultural policy has become a very sensitive issue back in the States. Why shouldn't we have a cultural policy? because we need to keep government involvement in culture to the barest minimum, but if we should continue in this line of though then we will discover that this goes against Public 89-208 which stipulates government involvement in the promotion of the arts(culture). Cultural policy is connected to all major issues of our society, economic stratification, race relations, international relations, technology, education and community development. US has no cultural policy and for much of our history our government has had an official policy of not having a cultural policy. This can viewed as a manifestation of how culture is embedded in other aspects of our life, and it may even at times protect culture that is vulnerable , but it prevents us , as a country from being able to have a conversation about the value of art and culture within our society.

  • Minger
    Minger wrote:


  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    @Minger ..呵呵, 此言差异,每个地方都有当地的文化, 目前考虑的不是文化的存在, 而是文化政策的存在与否, 你懂我意思吧。 美国文化是从国很多渠道传播的, 最为明显是从过好莱坞电影!

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    I feel like a voyeur after reading that.


    I think we can rightly say that the US soft power has been on the decline right after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq kicked off.

    For sure. What would be interesting would be to track the decline of US soft power in the time period spanning from September 10th 2001 to September 10th 2011, with causative key events (could call them "blunders" on behalf of the administration). I am convinced that historians of the future will use 911 as a historical milestone and perhaps one seen as even more significant than we currently do today, and especially in terms of cultural development.

    Are you limiting soft power to culture, and culture to arts? In keeping with this distinction, culture has been understood in two registers, the social sciences and humanities.

    This is an interesting discussion. The way I see it, as Jay said, one could break the "cultural forces" of a country into two subsets, but I think it is to note that each have contrasting birthplaces and purposes:

    Force 1, "Stalactite" culture from government downwards - Could sort of be referred to as the "social sciences"; includes official operational national practices as decided by a country's ruling administration (laws, their enforcement, politics, domestic and foreign policy, welfare, economic priority and other social structures).

    Force 2, "Stalegmite" culture from grassroots up - Could be sort of referred to as "humanitarian" - includes values attributed to things by society typically unconnected with official administrative decision making: fashion, vogue, style, art, music, tradition, language, superstition, ethnicity.

    Essentially, one set is based on national development and the other is individualist or small community based.

    culture is both a product and a process

    Cultural products are like a snapshots of the state of a "culture as an organic process". Culture by its very definition grows and changes. A cultural product such as a work of art is a tangible representation of a time and a place, and always has a context in which to be framed, but culture itself never stops changing/moving.

    I do not know enough about the subject of "official cultural policy" in the US, but it sounds interesting. I would say that I know what it used to be (regardless of US claims of "no official policy"), what it used to be is not so important now; the culture is certainly a different beast now to how I remember it growing up, the primary turning point here being, I believe, 911. I would speculate that this topic is hot right now because the US is coming around to questioning itself, "what exactly do we stand for collectively? we know what we used to but now are not sure..."

    Personally, I think this is because of two reasons. The first is that there is currently an oversupply of stalactite culture imposed by the government, which most people feel quite disconnected from. People will never feel as connected to the values of large corporations as they will those of a small community local to them. Simply put, stalactite culture in the US is corporate. The second is that there is such a sprawling multitude of subcultures in the USA; it is perhaps the country's most charming and positive aspect, however it weakens the nation as a whole just as much as it strengthens it. There are too many opposing viewpoints to ever get anything of any scale done with any speed.

    it prevents us, as a country from being able to have a conversation about the value of art and culture within our society.

    I think worth noting is that aside from in areas with minimal ethic, religious and social diversity, there will always be disagreements on the value that certain philosophical movements and cultural artifacts have to "society". Obviously, different subgroups will view different cultural capital as having different values; they can however perhaps agree that the perceived values of each group will differ and pertain mostly to the social set that each identifies most closely with.


    I was going to say this... sadly HW is the most vocally and visually recognizable source of "social values" in America today. Should actors and filmmakers be the cultural ambassadors of the USA?
    Remember that cultural artifacts need to be examined in their correct context to be any value to society other than entertainment.

    I think that most people do not view "art" with a critical eye (they do not have the education or experience to) and thus can not analyze what is exactly that is being said. This causes confusion, and in many cases I think the message is lost.

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    so to answer OP's question:

    has the lack of cultural policy been a factor in the decline of American soft power?

    I would say that it is not the lack of a cultural policy that has caused this decline, rather a disproportionately high level of visible stalactite culture and a smothering of grass roots humanities by recent administrations. The balance is out of whack ("whack" here referring to the previous american norm, say from the 50s to late 90s) and the people have lost their way, hearts torn between patriotically supporting the nation and government and the fact that this very government is slowly but surely taking from them what they held high, so dear, so crucial and so definitively american: liberty. Most importantly, this shift is blatent and visible to all global observers.

    We see the symptoms of this in everything, from foreign wars to increased domestic patrolling and a general slow erosion of individualism. The lack of official policy is not the cause, because the prsense of one would not change the result, not unless it changes the course of cultural development, but this is something that an edict alone can never do.

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)


    Hahahahaha ... calling DeMola ... calling Minger ... oh, hell, calling J Gu ...

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    Incidentally, I think the concepts of "goodwill" and "soft power" are basically very similar.

    The amount of goodwill a person has for one is roughly equal to the amount of soft power one has over a person. If no goodwill is fostered between parties, neither will have any soft power over the other.

    I really dislike the expression "soft power" however. I dont think it is a very accurate description of the phonomenon it attempts to describe.

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    @ Alex.....awesome stuff mate ...I'm already thinking of a different approach to my paper after reading ur response to my post , quite informative.

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    Soft power is attractive power ,but unfortunately many elements of the American soft power aint that attractive anymore. The concept of soft power can be replaced with SMART power, a combination of both hard and soft power. America's soft power is on the decline but Chinese soft power has covered two-thirds of the world. Africa has been bought over by China , in other words "Chinese good-will" has been spread all over Africa , It has penetrated places that western soft power couldn't. This should be of great concern to america!

  • A豆腐
    A豆腐 wrote:

    The lack of cultural policy, Is this a bad thing?

    On the other side, the cultural policies of the communist goverments reduce art to crude propaganda.

    The decline of American soft power

    There is a change of political discourse throughout the world. Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Tolerance and other Enlightenment values embodied in the US Constitution, are not ¨popular¨ in times of crisis, those values can inspire citizens to bring real changes. No goverment is going to buy such idiology in this moment.

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    @ Skaught Well I have read several publications by Joseph Nye and several other renowned researchers in this field. I have enough background knowledge on the topic , all I am looking for is a novel approach.

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    @Jay : 'preciate your compliment but no need to let my points drag you off topic!

    @Scott :

    If you (nor the OP) can't see the relevance of a hot chick eating an American hamburger

    You should gathering information from scholarly publications

    flagging of an extremely relevant example of American soft power

    That scholarly gif you submitted was about as "relevant" as any other gif loosely related in some way to american pop culture. It doesn't add any value to the discussion, nor does your whittering about there not being any "scholarly" writers contributing to the topic.

    third-rate internet slut forum blowhards.

    it is no secret how jealous you are of me these days for usurping your forum status, scott. try not to cry too much about it in public because then all those people that think you're a pathetic runt of a human will be convinced of it.

    Frédéric Martel

    The only thing I see Martel doing here is identifying that americans have the art of marketing down to a fine level (this includes marketing and "re-branding" their culture into something that gasp it may not actually be). Is america REALLY the land of equal opportunity? Is it REALLY wholley democratic? Are all the women REALLY tall blond beautiful and bosomed? The americans are good at internal social diplomacy and have learned to be all inclusive when it comes to the naming of heroes and villains. They have astutely noted that everyone likes sex and food and sunshine, and they cram everything they sell chock full of it. However...just because people like to consume this produce does not mean that it always garners them "soft power". An example of this is McDonalds. Everyone loves the food but also loves to hate the company. No one is under any illusion that McDonalds is good food or healthy food. They still eat it, they still give their money to the company - but they still dislike it intensely. McDonalds has little good will from the public, or soft power over them, they do however represent a large part of pop culture. "Pop culture" and "soft power" are not the same thing, scott.

    back @ Jay -

    Reurning to my point about the two different sources of culture, one being essentially 'false' (imposed by authority, downwards moving) and the other essentially 'real' (arrived at through inspiration by individuals, upwards moving); consider 'the corporation'.

    A large corporation has its "corporate culture", while employees (in various groups) have their own "employee culture" which is separate from the "official line" of the company (even if corps sometimes try to cunningly re-brand their corporate culture as the same as their employee culture - we know better). Real "employee culture" may even be counter culture! ;) In this situation we have two cultural sources contributing to the overall culture and the resulting circumstances. I think that the example of a corporation can be scaled up to a country, of course with many extra layers and complications, but I guess you know what Im talking about.

    back @Scott

    (Jay:) Skaught Well I have read several publications by Joseph Nye and several other renowned researchers in this field.

    Scott...time for you to (t)roll on.

  • Simen Wangberg

    McDonalds has convinced billions of people the world over to buy their products, despite being almost universally reviled. Sounds pretty powerful to me.

    I don't think the U.S. has ever implemented a broad cultural policy, domestic or otherwise, in the way that China has. I don't think it has ever needed to. The U.S. "brand" precedes itself, at least in Asian countries.

    For all the so-called xenophobia that's supposedly going around China, they sure do love using white faces in advertisements and stamping their food products with "American-style blahblahblah" (beer, sausage, butter, whatever).

    U.S. soft power may very well be declining in Europe or other developed regions, but as far as I know, it still retains a stranglehold over most other places. It really depends on what aspect of soft power you're talking about, as 卫三 said.

    I think it's been long enough since 9/11 that whatever damage might've been done to international relations at that point has largely been forgotten. Unless you live in the Middle East, naturally. I just feel like it's taken for granted now - I don't remember the last time I heard a developed country give the U.S. shit about the Iraq invasion. China only does it when the U.S. picks on China first, like when they exchanged human rights reports a couple weeks ago.


  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    McDonalds has convinced billions of people the world over to buy their products

    correct, but this has nothing to do with "soft power".

  • Simen Wangberg

    Why not? I wouldn't say McDonalds creates the most favorable image of the U.S. food industry (or the country in general), but I think the company's success abroad represents a non-forcible means of influencing a foreign culture. Is that not soft power in a nutshell? I want to research the history of hamburgers in China now, if such a thing can be done.

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:


    The way i see it, soft power indicates influence outside of the realms of the context of the source. eg. American soft power stemming from the global wholesale of the American dream is not the power to make people want to live the american dream, it is the power to change the way people actually live and behave in order to achieve that dream. The two are connected, but not the same. Kind of like Scooter's blunder above where he mistakes pop culture for soft power. Pop culture makes up a large portion of what gives the USA soft power, but they are not the same thing.

  • 叮噹叔叔 (令狐叮噹)


    (continued) .. versus China, where the government gets money from the entertainment community :)

  • Dominik
    Dominik wrote:

    sorry for track hi-jacking jay

    "As the economy boomed from this application of Consumerist ideology, the elitists transferred the bulk of their efforts into sociology --more specifically, advertising. Some examples of how Consumerist Ideologists manufactured American Culture:"

    Fucking great posts Tom. This is what it's all about.

    Especially after the 2nd world war, a small but significant fragment of this idealogy swept over to Europe, infecting it and thus Americanized it right there.

    That is why people from Europe and North American basically share so many idealogies...try applying the same logic in a country that has basically unscathed by consumerism and western people are in total denial(its basically impossible to find). i heard that since some inuit tribes developed to the point of having international tv, and its the reason that the suicide rate ski rocketed because the youth can't leave that place and enjoy modern"consumer society".

    And just to tip my hat to that I present Tyler Durden's wisdom:

    "Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else."

    Tyler Durden's 8 rules of Innovation.

    Rule 1:“No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”

    Rule 2:“No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”

    Rule 3:“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”

    Rule 4:“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

    Rule 5:“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

    Rule 6:“People do it everyday, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage you have, to just run with it.”

    Rule 7:“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”

    Rule 8:“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

    Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club is just an amazing,amazing, but also very dangerous novel. Love it.

    The movie is awesome as well, albeit a bit stripped off its contents.

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    @ Tom Cruise

    Nice points.

    Please clarify for me, what exactly do you mean by

    the hazy ideal of the New World Order


    (I.e. what is the new world order and what are its hazy ideals?)

  • Jay
    Jay wrote:

    There is distaste for connecting culture and the state, paraphrasing, government and culture (arts) should be kept separate. America is a utilitarian country and this goes to explain why cultural policy is de-centralized unlike cultural policies in totalitarian nations such as China, where the government has the only and final say when it comes to matters of culture 。 The emphatic denial of the existence of cultural policies in America by the government doesn't mean cultural policies dont exist. Cultural polices are viewed as public policies in America , cultural polices are more implicit than explicit and hence they are largely invisible. The government chooses to play a lackluster role in cultural production and issues so that when the " "shit hits the fan" because of some stupid policy , then it will have plausible deniability. i must also state that the governments limited role in issues of culture is in adherence with the First Amendment and Public Law 89-209 which gave birth to the NEA and NEH

  • Dominik
    Dominik wrote:

    well i quoted it because it was more of an outcry of an angry generation of americans that somehow think, crushing the system would lead to a better world. tounge in cheek if you will.

    Chuck Palahniuk's novel is an ode of love to anarchy in its most purest form, i personally dont think that it is a system that holds many merits BUT i say this...it its the ultimate form of freedom, in the very broad sense of freedom. Palahniuk's biography is also a very interesting read and makes you understand a bit where he is actually coming from with his idealogy.

    i read marx as well, i am German so it was part of my upbringing to read anything as a crtique to nationalsocialsm aka faschism.marx's idea was and still is utopian and in my mind a failure. i agree with his sentiment but honestly, knowing people, its easy to see why it cannot work. People WANT, no they CRAVE to dominate each other.

    It's in our DNA, It's our survival instinct, its the animal inside of us, a relic from the hunter and gathering days.

    until humanity learns to truly evolve as a species all our political systems, or governing bodies, will be based on some form of oppression. this where we truly have to change.

    no more zealous preachers, jealousy, greed and we could achieve truly magnificant things.

  • Alex ^∞
    Alex ^∞ wrote:

    we can at least assume that A) it is a virtuous exercise in sociology and B) it is Materialist .

    So not a neo technocratic based feudalism then? Not the perpetual enslavement of and purposeful creation of a kind of sub-human underclass?

    I think that the points Dom made point to the idea that humans in general, especially the ones who aspire to rule over and control others, are incapable of benign leadership by their very nature.

    Sorry, but I cant imagine a new world order based the magnanimity of the ruling elite. Changes are made by those in power in order to garner more power, (no other reason, really) which is actually why conservatism should be the true ideal of the proletariat (it serves them better); but they unfortunately always get conned by socialists, who are in truth simply trying to consolidate and snatch power. History repeating itself ad infinitum.

  • Dominik
    Dominik wrote:

    like i said...with our current mindset and our predominal instincts, our thought processing and our biological set up i think people are incapable of governing each without fucking each other over.

    people are great, some of us advanced humanity in alot of ways and we made amazing progress in the last 200 years or so.

    bare in mind that most of these advances are of technological nature and our humanitarian efforts are STILL in their baby shoes.

    People try, they do but again, our political system does not allow for a peaceful co existance, it does not work that way. it has a completely different motivation. I also dont think that humanity strives for that to be honest.which is sad.

    its about being efficent. if you cant cut it you get left behind. itsd abofut wealth, you got it you rule, you dont, you die.

    in some ways or another thats almost a blessing, even a poor slob in some western country still has a decent living compared to someone who comes from a 3 world country like china for example(what an outrage to say i know, seriously though, check out villages AROUND BJ and you see the reality). there will be always winners and losers.

    again, some really alien culture could change us, make us better but until then humanity will have to deal with the same bullshit over and over again. its going to kill us eventually.

    best example is free, renewable energy. the ultimate key for peace and prosperity...why dont we have it? because greedy corporations took certain steps to either postpone or prevent advancements. no profit margin in free energy.

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