The decline of American influence

Opinion

Since leaving the dark ages, Western civilization has always been at the top of the civilization hierarchy around the globe. With the constant colonization of other countries, Western civilization pushes its influence to many areas of the world. However, after entering the 21st century, Western civilization, and specifically, American influence, began to decline around the world.

One prominent example is the movie industry. Despite contributing $504 billion to the US GDP last year, movie production is decreasing by 10.2% per year and the artistic values of these movies is also decreasing. Just look at the Oscars: 2020’s best film, “Parasite,” shocked the industry as it was the first South Korean film to be awarded the best film. Last year’s best film, “Nomadland” was directed by Chloe Zhao, who was born and raised in China.

Earlier last year, “Squid Game” went viral in the U.S., pulling in a staggering 1.65 billion hours of viewing in just 28 days following its Sept. 17 premiere on Netflix. All these examples show the invasion of Asian culture in the U.S. This also represents the decrease of American influence because, beforehand, it was Western countries that were influencing other cultures. Other countries listened to American pop and went to movie theaters to watch American movies. But the tables have turned. Now, Americans gladly watch Korean movies and listen to Korean pop music. This shows that other cultures directly influence America with their thoughts and ideas, diminishing the impact of American culture.

Besides the cultural influence of other countries, the economic influence that the U.S. has is steadily decreasing. First of all, the economic buying power of the dollar is in a downward trend. The U.S. dollar has depreciated sixfold over the past 50 years. It’s only worth 14% of what it used to be in 1972. The depreciation directly lowers the dollar’s purchasing power; thus, $1 in 1972 is worth $6.99 today. 

There are many issues that contribute to the fall of the U.S. dollar. One of these issues is the rise of the Chinese yuan. A huge leverage that the U.S. has over the world when forcing other countries to use the dollar in international trading is its control of the oil industry. However, many countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, currently are looking forward to trading their oil reservoirs with the Chinese yuan instead of U.S. dollars. 

Another major factor is that China is now the biggest importer and exporter in the world. In November 2021, China exported $325B and imported $253B, resulting in a positive trade balance of $71.7B. With the flow of importation and exportation, China has gained more leverage in dealing with other countries. They can easily force a country to trade in Chinese yuan instead of U.S. dollars. This correlates with the fall of the U.S. dollar because, instead of the monopoly that the U.S. dollar had in the world, a different currency has slowly taken away its global influence. With more countries accepting the Chinese yuan as a form of payment, the U.S. dollar’s influence is slowly melting away as these countries see a different, non-Western way to interact with each other economically.

Besides global economic influence, within the U.S., the Western economy is in a downturn. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the term ‘family wage’ began to appear.  It meant that families can be supported on a single salary by the male figure. Even if the person is just a blue-collar worker, they could still afford to raise a family. By just being a worker, they can provide cars, food, and education for a family. The worker didn’t need his wife to work or make his children start working earlier. 

However, nowadays, these blue-collared workers definitely cannot afford to provide for their families on a single salary. This demonstrates the downturn of the Western economy because more wealth is pooling in the hands of the rich while the poor are getting poorer. 

Technological innovation is also a huge problem for Western civilizations right now. Ever since the Middle Ages, countries in the Western hemisphere have led the world in technological advancements. People such as Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Babbage, and Issac Newton were at the forefront of innovative ideas and new machines. Nowadays, countries such as China and India are catching up. In the U.S., Silicon Valley is now filled with people from other countries. 

Furthermore, countries such as China are gradually catching up with or even surpassing the U.S. in many technologies. Industries such as solar panels, which were invented in the U.S., are lagging behind other powerheads in the world. The U.S., the country that once produced all the world’s solar panels, saw its market share crash. In 1990, U.S. firms produced 32% of solar panels worldwide; by 2005, they were only producing 9%. Japan benefited from this sudden abdication. In the 1980s, Japanese, German, and Taiwanese firms bought the patents and divisions sold off by American firms, whereas Japan, a country with no solar industry in 1980, was producing nearly half the world’s solar panels by 2005.  

All these factors show that the influence of Western civilization is in decline. The way that the U.S. has impacted the world has begun to change, with many Asian countries having more influence over culture shifts throughout the world.