"Empires, Visible and Invisible" by Jedidiah Purdy is an interesting and thought provoking discourse on how the world views Americanism. Simply put, it argues the viewpoint that the vast majority of the International community, save Americans of course, views us as an "empire" and why that is.
The essay is organized into three main parts. The first section is largely summary in nature and sets the stage for the latter discussion. To open the essay, the author paints the image of nineteenth century Imperial Britain, whose vast geographic wealth literally spanned the globe. By contrast, America virtually has no geographic extension beyond its North American borders, nor has it ever. Yet, as the author remarks, "no people has ever been so ubiquitous and powerful." It is indeed an interesting paradox.
Following this introduction, the Purdy acknowledges that America's empire is not of a physical nature, but more certainly, a cultural one. He notes that teenagers in Russia riot over blue jeans and Middle Eastern businessmen discuss the NBA. Later, the author argues, "English has become the Latin of the modern world" û it is a necessary second language if one intends to compete in this Americanized society.
The author then poses the main question that he spends the remainder of the essay attempting to answer: "Not whether America is an imperial power, but why we appear that way to so many people, and not to ourselves."
The balance of the first section is spent discussing what exactly it means to been imperialist or an empire, using the obvious comparisons of Rome, the Soviet Union, China and Britain. It is also here that the author establishes the backbone of "Americanism," which is: a democratic government, a free market economy, and the English language. The main point here is that the world is gravitating toward American ideals of their own volition and free will. Clearly, "the American way" must be superior or ...