Back to the 80s? Globalization and economically-driven jingoism
October 19, 2007
The latest ‘Chinese toothpaste’ panic and the way ‘China’ is constructed in the American public discourse reminded me of another episodes of economically driven or perhaps, economically reflected jingoism, that of the 1980s American car industry (see, for example, here and here). There are many similarities between what we are experiencing now with regard to ‘Chinese Import’ in general and between the ‘Japan is going to overtake Detroit’ of the 1980s. A quick look at both cases shows that transformation process took place whereby products, production methods, wholesale and retail practice were reduced into a national character. Hence, those were not Toyota or Nissan who were threatening the dominance of GM or Ford in the American auto market. Instead, those Japanese’ were gaining dominance over ‘an American industry’. Of course, the social and, indeed, societal processes that unfolded were much too complex for a blog post. Nevertheless, the fact that we see again, 20 years after that wave of jingoism, the emergence of another one should raise some question marks about the omnipotent power that we tend to assign to global economic factors. After all, if globalization in general and ‘the global economy’ in particular have gained dominance, why does the question of where exactly the cars or the toothpaste come from make headlines?