The Dangers Of American Capitalist Imperialism

Puerto Natales, Patagonia Region, Chile
Friday, February 22, 2019

 

The Dangers Of American Capitalist Imperialism

If freaked out following open heart surgery, I heartily recommend, pun intended, a quick run away to Patagonia, Chile.

It facilitates recovery.

It hastens the return of the normal denial of death.

However, if you do so, prepare yourself for a painful encounter with the darkness of American capitalist imperialism.

To my shock and horror, the national terminal at the Santiago airport—meaning the terminal operates only flights within the country of Chile—has only two options for food and drink:

Starbucks and McDonalds.

Are you kidding me?

Here I am, on my first visit to Chile ever, sporting my brand new “pericardial tissue aortic valve” from Edwards Life Sciences, and I might as well be in Las Vegas. While transferring from the flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas, in the Patagonia region of the country, I encountered ONLY these two hideous dining options.

I felt nauseated.

I felt angered.

I felt sad.

Why did it matter?

Because it means that people from various nations traveling through Santiago or, worse, Chileans traveling to different locations within their own country, can only purchase food and drink from major American food outlets.

Starbucks, which started in Seattle, provides a wide variety of ridiculously-long-and-lamely-named coffee drinks and some sandwiches.

McDonalds, as we all know, poisons its customers through selling fat-filled beef slathered with high caloric sauce layered between high carbohydrate buns.

These corporations are famous for exploiting their American employees.

Starbucks, for example, brags of helping their employees pay for college, but only through paying them well below a living wage. McDonalds does the same, I believe, but it’s all part of their marketing campaign, a way of selling the American public on their alleged good works.

God only knows how much they manipulate, use, abuse, or otherwise exploit their Chilean employees.

In any event, these firm’s profits, or most of them anyway, end up back in the hands of American-one-percenters.

I watched many Chilean employees working diligently, seemingly pleased with their jobs.

I watched many Chilean travelers, waiting patiently, consuming these clearly American food products.

How can this be happening?

Lacking formal training in political science, I can think of only two reasons:

  1. American capitalism has overtaken the Chilean version, allowing companies like Starbucks and McDonalds to dominate the Chilean food and drink market, or;
  2. Running parallel to this phenomenon, the Chilean government lacks the power to ensure that local restaurants have primary operational rights in its one major airport.

The nausea, annoyance, and sense of loss lingered way beyond my four-hour layover.

Here is where the situation becomes psychoanalytically relevant.

Even if we travel far away from the USA, must we still be denied the feeling of being, well, away?

Globalization is inevitable, and multi-national corporations are here to stay.

But must they replace local culture entirely?

No.

Either these American corporations should respect the cultures of other countries, or the governments of these other nations should bolster the power of their local companies.

It is truly shameful to fly south nearly four hours from Los Angeles to Houston, and then nearly nine hours further south to Santiago, Chile, only to wait in a national airport (meaning Chilean, of course) and the only option for food being of the American variety.

Punta Arenas, a town another four hours south (by air) of Santiago, has NO McDonalds or Starbucks, thank God. There, you can sample such classic Chilean delicacies as Pastel de Choclo, Empanadas, Cazuela, or Asado.

Meanwhile, it’s just WRONG to have to travel so far to escape the extreme, international reach of major American food corporations.

They erase the uniqueness of other nations’ cultures and cuisine.

They funnel the surplus value of these other country’s workers back to the US, harming the economies of these countries.

 

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Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP

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