I want to make a connection between a book, The Making of Global Capitalism, I reviewed in this week's books section...
And a new Ethiopian restaurant, Wonder Coffee and Sports Bar, I reviewed in this week's chow section.
Here is the connection: In The Making of Global Capitalism, the Canadian authors (Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin—the first is a professor of political science and the second is an economist), convincingly argue that globalization is essentially Americanization. To understand their reasoning, you have to first understand this: There is no such thing as a pure capitalism, a capitalism as a kind of Platonic form. There are instead multiple capitalisms, each marked by the culture through which it is expressed—Singaporean capitalism, German capitalism, Brazilian capitalism, and so on. The kind of capitalism that went global during the second half of the 20th century was US capitalism. Not only that, this capitalism was made global not by capitalists or multinational corporations but by the US government. Only a powerful state has the kind of muscle needed to build, support, and reproduce an economic order on a global scale.
And how does this connect with the Wonder Coffee and Sports Bar? A passage from my review:
A part of the menu offers Ethiopian dishes. The other part offers plain American meals... Now here is where things get wonderfully weird: The Ethiopian dishes are in the Wonder Special Ethiopian section of the menu, and the American meals are in the Wonder Special International section. When you eat a hamburger down the street, it is not international—but when you eat it in Wonder, it is. America, not Ethiopia, is international in Wonder.Wonder, however, is correct to categorize American plates (even in America) as international—it is the food/language/culture of global capitalism. A cheeseburger, no matter where it is served, is international; injera bread, no matter where it is served, is local.