Culture as a Weapon

Whenever the word culture is mentioned, people think they enter a different world where everything is pure and noble.

Unfortunately, this is only an important mistake. When talking about cultural international relations, one thinks of international collaboration, cultural interchanges, technical aid for the development of different cultures, etc. Many people think like that, among them those who, due to their jobs, work in the field of culture —the intellectual—, very often even being sincere. However, it is not difficult to see —if one is willing to do so— that international cultural exchanges are ruled by the same laws which govern the other ways of international relations. In other words: the purpose of cultural policies is the imposition of the culture of the so called big countries upon the rest of the countries and make the governments of those little countries ease that imposition.

The leader country's culture is forced by means of huge resources and resorts, but all of them are the result of political decisions carefully taken. And it is by no means the result of a natural process of the peoples coming closer together, of technical process, of the world getting smaller nor any other similar bagatelle.

The culture of the dominant country is imposed through school curricula carefully planned, importing radio and TV programs, importing books and through school exchanges carefully promoted (dubious expression which just disguises the sending of citizens from the ruled country to visit the ruling one. It should be enough to look up the statistics about this in our country or community to arrive to your own conclusions (the University and City Council have just signed agreements with the British Council).

But why so much effort to export culture? In the first place, because there are large economic advantages: films, books, magazines and similar products are produced at the main capitals and from there they are exported into all the world. In this way the producing companies are stronger and stronger and the importing countries are more and more unable to develop their own cultural industry. The UN's yearbook and UNESCO's statistics can be read to have immediately clear who produces culture and who buys it at international level. If we study the statistics about translation among the different languages, we will soon see who pays whom copy rights and who is the ruling country.

There are other kinds of advantages, more sophisticated, but also more powerful. It is the exportation of a more favourable image of themselves abroad, to achieve a concord among the dominated countries so that they support and favour the other aspects of imperialism. The ruling country, by exporting their culture, create the progressive image of itself abroad, the image of avant-garde country, and create admiration in the receiving countries, or at least they create envy. All this influences, slowly, these receiving countries, which finally end up accepting the dominant values at the leading country, and thus they try to adapt to them.

It is easy to understand that, in this mental stage, the dominated countries tend to rebel less and less against other kinds of imperialism, like the military, economic...

All this is very worrying, because the decision to adopt values, customs, habits, outlandish clothing, is not due to a free decision by the citizens from the small countries, but it is just a forced decision. Somebody in an imperial city decided that all young people in country A are benefited with the study of English or Russian, and if they are also able, they will even convince the youngsters that they themselves decide to learn the profiting language, which is essential for their lives.

From all this it can be concluded: that the present cultural exchanges are nothing but one-way streams from the big countries towards the small ones; that it is outrageous that our politicians, university people and intellectuals cooperate with the empires against our language and culture; and that ceding ground in the province of international communications can be done only by fools, because of the infinite and varied problems which are brought against us. José Luis Pérez Óvilo

José Luis Pérez Óvilo

Esperanto Spain