February 4, 2011

Soft Power or Hegemony?

According to Joseph S. Nye Jr.,"A country's soft power rests on its resources of culture, values, and policies." However, I think soft power draws its strength more from hard power than from culture, values, and policies. The economic and military power of a country or nation makes its culture and values more attractive to the people of other countries.
It is a paradox that people of colonized countries have been inspired more by the culture and values of the colonials. Culture and values of the vanquished lose their vitality or their attraction in the face of those of conquerers. People of the former British colonies are still inspired by the culture and values of England than any other.
For the people of India and Pakistan English is still language of the noble, and cricket is game of the Lords; for them white skin and blue eyes are standards of beauty. Immigration to England, for them, is a dream come true. Englishmen subjugated them, robbed them of freedom and resources, treated them like sub-human, still, people of the colonies extol the British for their values, culture and high sense of honesty and justice.
Same is the case with people who have been colonized by other imperial powers. I think this is because people enter into a love-hate relationship with their masters: they hate the colonial powers for defeating their culture, but also admire them for their sophistication and power.
This is so because Gramsci's "hegemony" and Hegel's "false consciousness" go hand -in-hand with hard power of the empire. The powerful project their way of seeing the world and the weaker take them as common sense and natural. The weaker develop a false consciousness of being equal to the high by adopting their 'high' culture and values.

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