At the present time the world dominance of US culture seems uncontestable. However closer scrutiny would show that the world is a far more complex place and the apparent dominance can be less than it seems.
First, we can begin with the humorous. I remember listening to an American in the 1980’s describe the coming world dominance of US culture as inevitable and universal and as a proof and precursor he pointed to the ubiquity of the ‘Walkman’. It was of course the Sony Walkman, a Japanese product, born out of Japanese culture and a Japanese vision of privacy. Its adoption by Americans led many to consider it ‘American’. One might equally be amused that the spread of Black music is declared as an example of the spread of Americanism. So when the African guerillas in the bush in Zimbabwe were listening to Bob Marley as they went to war with white Rhodesia they were in fact subscribing to US culture and not to music of African origin!
More seriously there is an important elision that has taken place. Many consider US to be a country that reached the future first. It is like the first to climb Mt Everest, others can come but they were there first. In fact others may take different routes to the summit but the summit is the same place. We are all walking to the future. This also attracts many from across the world to join in as they see themselves as taking part in a human march/ Manhattan Project style, to the future. Any close scrutiny of the logs of the early internet clearly show this sense of humanitarian togetherness. Regardless of gender, race or nationality we are those ‘who get it’.
Regretfully, there were those who saw this as people from all over the world following after America, taking their lead from America and doing things the ‘American way’. This of course was an American fantasy. Given the ruthlessly open dialogue of the early internet there was no ‘American way’.
What is happening now is that whereas before there was a clear Everest that seemed to be the future, now there are many mountains on the horizon. All these mountaineers behind the US team may now not only be following their own route but may not be climbing the same mountain at all. Such a situation may stay below the surface for a long time given that the other teams are behind America. Those that seem off-piste are considered to have ‘lost their way’ and so can be ignored. It is only when one of the other teams appears not only ahead of the American team but on another mountain altogether that the truth will dawn that people were never really following the American way but seeking the future and that, for a while, America appeared to have got there first.