End of the American Century

American Influence. Declining.

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

12 October 2017

End of the American Century

I was thinking about a book, written by a friend of mine entitled The End of the American Century. The author is Steve Schlossstein (yes indeed 3 Ss), a world-renowned expert on all things Asian.

Steve published his influential works way back in 1989. It prompts me to revisit the idea with a new twist. 28 years of past time.

Are we threatened by the rise Asia’s Little Tigers as Steve postulated? I’m not so sure.

Remember that Steve wrote the tome before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War(s). Steve saw our importance and influence declining after the dominance of the 20th century. I fear he may have been right.

Not a redistribution of economic clout

Steve would never have imagined the world we live in. He is a man of letters. Educated, erudite, well read, well-travelled and thoughtful. Like the rest of us, he never would have imagined Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (I am connected with him on LinkedIn). Steve believed in FACTS. Still does, I am sure.

The American Century: Rotting from within

Asia’s Little Tigers are why the end of the American century is suddenly upon us. Our ignorance and arrogance. The oceans that buffered the US from the rest of the world are not so huge as they once were.

What happens in Kuwait, Afghanistan, North Korea and the Pakistans of the world knock loudly on our front door.

Brexit matters. The interconnectivity of everything translates as intertwined today. One-offs are exceptions hard to imagine. Is the interdependence a fatal embrace for American’s influence? I certainly hope not.

“American influence is on the decline. The end of the American Century was not homicide. It was suicide. We have all decided to listen and watch only ideas with which we already agree. As a result we are deaf and dumb.”

No such thing as truth

We decline because we cannot speak with the confidence that comes from truth. Why? Because we no longer believe truth exists. We see everything through our own bias. This was always true. But it is insidious today. We accept no unbiased arbiters. (Read about the death of newspapers here.)

Such ignorance assures the end of the American century. It usurps American importance because it is self-deceiving.

What makes me an expert?

It’s a fair and good question. I’m not an expert (like Steve Schlossstein). I’m a brand expert. But my understanding of brand is 180 degrees from the drivel that pseudo branding experts like Interband and others espouse. I trade in self-deception.

As a brand expert, I understand that truth has ZERO to do with preference. Nada.

Purchase decisions are not RATIONAL. They are emotional. After consumers make emotional decisions, they backfill their preferences with rational supports. In other words— we rationalize.

The end of the American century is a truth to me. The belief in its truth is up for discussion.

The SPAM age

I remember when pundits believed we were in the information age. I believe we are in the SPAM age. So, for me, the end of the American century is a suicide. No foreign power executed us with weapons or economic preponderance.  But belief has killed us dead (to borrow and old advertising line from RAID insecticide).

It is not that we don’t know the difference between truth and deception. We do. It’s just that we ignore it. We seek our own self-deception because humans crave affirmation.

Chris Mathews and Fox and Friends

Are you a child of Vietnam? I am. I lived through a wrenching attack on our institutions. Mom and Dad were Republicans. Both voted for Nixon twice. One Voted for Goldwater. But Mom and Dad loved Jack Kennedy. They appreciated his humanity, entertaining press conferences and youthfulness. I remember both of them crying on 22 November 1963.

They were Republicans but they had faith in government. Mom and Dad trusted in truth.

They both struggled with Richard Nixon and my sister and my opposition to the Vietnam war. And they supported Nixon till the day he reigned. My home was a place of domestic struggles.

Mostly, Mom and Dad struggled with a loss of confidence in our national institutions. History taught them that politics was sometimes a dirty business. Sadly, they came to believe that government lies to us at times.

Neither of them lived long enough to hear or see self-selecting sources of truth posing as news like FOX and MSNBC

I have a challenge for you

I enjoy watching Chris Mathews. Why? Because I already agree with most everything he say. Sometimes I even mistake his show with a news program.

Do you watch FOX news? If so, do what I did. Tune into MSNBC for just a week.

I did it. I watched FOX exclusively last week. Why? Because I sensed that the commentators on Hardball with Chris Mathews are as biased as the FOX commentators when Barrack Obama was President. Hey, I have friends who HATE Obama. And I have friends who HATE President Trump with the same virulence.

The difference between now and then

I’m not talking about the changes in eight years. I’m talking about the 1960s-80s. My parents READ newspapers. They watched the nightly news (they preferred Huntley and Brinkley over Cronkite).

They did not like hearing about Watergate. But they believed it to be true. It disappointed them.

When they discussed news with friends and neighbors, no one said that’s fake news. They coped in other ways. No one could afford to be dismissive.

So, they could not turn on Fox News or MSNBC and watch non-stop commentary by people who blindly supported bias. (Read about American Politics here.)

The Vietnam War hurt us all

Is the Vietnam War the catalyst for the end of the American century? I think it is. Not because we lost a war but because we lost our dreams.

My political bias is different from many of my peers and even family. I see REAL fake news. Friends who repost political crap that is patently false. We all see it. Then unfriend everybody with whom we disagree.

As a result, we can watch and read ONLY our own bias. Soon, we surround ourselves with the self-selection that is more self-deception than any commercial brand.

So, take the challenge. If you are a FOX watcher— watch MSNBC for a week. If you love MSNBC and count Chris Mathews as a hero, watch FOX for a week. (Read about alternative facts here.)

It surprises you that neither are NEWS channels like CBS and NBC of old. While we covet brand affirmation, step out of your own shadow for a bit and make room for a reality dose.


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End of the American Century was last modified: October 12th, 2017 by Tom Dougherty
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