ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

Donald Trump vs. Cultural Imperialism

“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone…” ~ Donald Trump, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017.

Yet this disavowal of cultural imperialism, in what may well be a first for a presidential inaugural address, is met with rejection and protest by certain quarters, including it seems most US anthropologists. Trump is up against a legacy that taught Americans that their prime directive was to go around the world, take people under their arm, and teach them how to suck eggs. One would think such an attitude violated the basic premises of anthropologists’ desire to understand, and not condemn, and least of all act as agents of cultural change in their own right–unfortunately, this is being revealed to be merely the sales propaganda of US anthropology. Everyone should instead be “on the same page,” in the terms of liberal universalism which, ironically, has been the ideological basis of the global fascism upheld by the outgoing elites: the fascism that demanded the uniformity and conformity of all who were subjected to the dictates from the all-knowing centre that pretended to know what was best for you. If this is the start of the collapse of that “New World Order” that George H.W. Bush invoked, then there should be much to celebrate.