Global Culture vs International Culture

Global != International

International departures at Gardermoen Airport, Oslo. Photo by Yrstrly.
International departures at Gardermoen Airport, Oslo. Photo by Yrstrly.

And now for some semantics.  David at Minority Report muses the problem of net nuetrality, and highlights a post over at Confused of Calcutta on the ‘un-national’, a word borrowed from a William Stafford poem.  JP contrasts concepts like ‘global’ with apparent synonyms like ‘international’ and its derivatives.  The former has an implied statelessness, the absence of a nation, whereas the latter implies that the thing we are describing (a person, or an organisation) does have one or more nations of origin, a liable jurisdiction that can control and curtail their activities.

This chimes with Jay Rosen’s description of Wikileaks as the first ‘Stateless’ news organisation, an idea he expanded on in a recent edition of his Rebooting the News podcast (#76, I think), making the same point that ‘global’ and ‘international’ are not necessarily the same thing.  In the context of net neutrality and cyber-dissidence, a ‘global’ organisation, with no final country of origin, is better protected against interference and attack, than an ‘international’ organisation which nevertheless has a home nation. Rosen recommends that Wikileaks adopts a similar model to Greenpeace, Amnesty, and PEN, with national organisations/chapters in many countries.

My thoughts naturally turn to multi-culture and how these terms might be applied in that area.  When cultural phenomenons, and pieces of art and cultural expression, become popular in many countries, are they international or global (in the senses described above).  I would say that musicians like Elvis Presley, The Beatles (bigger, for a time, than Jesus) and Michael Jackson are all international.  In each case, their music is a product of a particular time and place – regardless of where their fans are located, or where they play their concerts.

However, I think cultural phenomenons like Islam or Football are clearly global.  As they exist now, they seem to be a product of the human race as a whole, even if their origins can be pin-pointed accurately to a single country.  You could even include things like World of Warcraft, and the graffiti aesthetic in that list, but not Les Misérables.  What about LOLcats?

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