Volume 38, 2008
Philosophy of History
Globalization as/or Americanization?
1. In this paper have done what Niklas Luhmann always recommended us to do: I have drawn a distinction – or to be more precise, I have some distinctions. I have done so because I think, and you all know, that in the ongoing debates on so-called “globalization” there is not enough of distinction, and no distinction at all very often. And that is particularly unsatisfactory if the critique, or even the rejection, of globalization is at stake. 2. The first of my distinctions is between Europeanization (in Heidegger’s sense) and Americanization, as this term is meant usually today. These two concepts, and the processes they refer to, seem to be quite similar in so far as what is meant that a particular part of mankind at a given period of history has succeeded in becoming a hegemonic power on a global scale – economically, politically (and militarily) and/or culturally. One could think, and Heidegger himself really does, that those two processes have also in common that they are historically contingent: Nothing of this sort could have happened as well; other powers could have, and have indeed, played a similar role at other times; it could have come out completely different etc. etc. In my view, though, there should be made a distinction here because the world-wide success-story of modern science and technology has to be accounted for by causes and dynamics which are not only gradually, but qualitatively different from what we need to explain the globalization of, let’s say, American blue jeans, or T‐Shirts etc. 3. This brings me to the distinction between globalization and Americanization, which are identified nowadays very often, and that particularly so in order to attack and reject globalization as being nothing but Americanization. At this point, then, it seems to me necessary to draw distinction between (a) globalization as such – regarded to be a factual, complex and heterogeneous process that has to be analyzed in all its aspects by econonomists, sociologists etc and (b) universalization.