Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I'll have a double Coke and Quantum on the rocks...

Addictions are a funny thing. I’m not talking about class A type addictions. Or even fags or booze but the little things we are all addicted to in one way or another. I rambled on about vinyl addictions elsewhere in this blog but the addiction I’m most ashamed of (but I’m not really) comes, for me, in a clear plastic bottle with a red label, often with a tan-ish swirl across it. Yep, I’m addicted to Coca bloody Cola and my particular passion is that nasty vanilla stuff they came out with a couple of years back…the diet version. Do I feel guilty? Nah, I gave that up years ago and just succumbed to the pleasure of the fizz. I can’t stand the normal, non diet stuff…too sweet and it doesn’t have the same chemical buzz, and other soft drinks are shite…...

So there I am in the local Caltex last week, buying a fix and some idiot comes up to me and says something along the lines of “why are you buying that shit, why are you supporting those American arseholes? Don’t support American companies…..think about it” and walks out.

Aside from the fact that John (I don’t know his name but John will clearly do) was clearly a prize twat, the fact that he was buying petrol from a CAL(ifornian Standard Oil) TEX(as Standard Oil) station, and driving a FORD and wearing LEVIS had escaped him.

But his outburst speaks to a larger issue: the generational alienation of much of the world from the United States. This wasn’t what this post was supposed to be about (that was cola but things drift off on tangents and have their own life I guess)

So, yeah, to the alienation. We are surrounded by all things American, and the twentieth century was, without any question, the American century (I wonder when the rest of the two continents get to reclaim the word “American” from the USA), and much of it was / is good, or great. I don’t need to break that down, its in front of us and in our heads and a part of the essence of being on the planet in 2005, and the previous fifty years. Anywhere on the planet for that matter.

And throughout my life, despite the disastrous US foreign policy blunders, the evil done in the name of the USA, we lived with the belief that we were shocked and dismayed by these things because they were committed by the good guys. I mean we expect nasty vicious and unacceptable behaviour from dictatorships. We were appalled by Tiananmen Square but such things are expected in a dictatorship (even an alleged dictatorship of the proletariat) .

But there is a quantum change in the air and you can feel it and see it anywhere on planet Earth you go outside the United States of America.

God, I don’t want to be accused of being “anti-American” (damn that is one stupid phrase, and the use of it implies the accuser is a complete moron) but there is some sort of collective responsibility in a democracy surely and the weight of the burden of the crimes committed in the name of the USA, the murder and mayhem in the middle east which exists as a result of those crimes and deceit, must reflect on the nation as a whole. That the world is worse as a result of the events and practices of the USA in the past few years is indisputable to anyone with the gift of rational thought. And the likes of Robert Fisk must feel some sort of sad satisfaction to be proved so right)

But the quantum change is the movement of the non-American political middle ground, the safe centre, to which the overwhelming mass of the populace inevitably sits, to a position which would probably sit on the far left of the American political spectrum. A whole generation and, I guess, the generation that will follow them is growing up believing that the US are no longer the good guys, for the first time in my life.

Support for US foreign policy in 2005 is pretty much perceived by the mainstream as that of a hard right nutter. People look at a person supporting the US invasion of Iraq as some sort of ill-informed fool. My parents, long standing members of the NZ National Party (Dad was part of Muldoon’s re-election committee) express disgust at US policy as do all their aged, very very conservative friends. My wife’s grandfather, a decorated WW2 bomber pilot, politically on the far right, is the same. Am I overstating things? I really don’t think I am.

I’m really not trying to make a political point here, just stating something which I think has become glaringly obvious in recent times, and something I don’t think the powers that be, who are are so cravenly power hungry as the leaders of all empires in decline are, have even an inkling of in DC. .


Anonymous said...

thinking of coke (not that the post is really about cola at all...) one thing i never got (apart from paul deans crazy adiction to diet coke, the ever increasing pile of empty plastic bottles....)is freakin' caffiene free diet coke. what is the point of that?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?

j said...

Your thoughts are well expressed--here in a city surrounded on 3 sides by the U.S. of A, though with our own moat of ocean to help keep them at bay, we are inundated with all things american in our radio, television, and of course the ever present stream of tourists whose money is always welcome, even if their political ideas are seen as sadly simplistic at best, and frightenly dangerous to the more globally concerned...

Ultimately, one can't completely free oneself of U.S. products, culture or influence anywhere on the planet anymore, I fear, so we have to pick our battles--Coke though, isn't one I'll be taking on any time soon...


Peter McLennan said...

you know they're going after Iran next, aye simon? Theres a good interview with Seymour Hersh over here, about his New Yorker article on the Pentagon operatives scoping targets in Iran. Hersh borke the Abu Grahib abuse story.

Peter McLennan said...

i was watching Starship Troopers last night with the directors commentary - Paul Verhoven talks about shooting the film against the backdrop of the first gulf war - sees it (the film) as a depiction of fasicism. The film seemed surprisingly current - i was expecting something that was pure action but its quite subversive.

Simon said...

yep, as I said its end of empire stuff
whole lot of stuff here Peter:
Bush and his cabal are slowly committing national suicide. They've already lost in Iraq and Iran will be cataclysmic
Robin Wright had a good piece in the WaPo (I think) about the end of the modern era, late last year.

Peter McLennan said...

thanks for that - heres a followup interview with Seymour Hersh about his latest new Yorker piece.