What constitutes a civilization, how does it evolve, what are its metamorphoses and its continuities? These are the questions that occupy Régis Debray and to which he seeks answers. Relying on Paul Valery, his intellectual role-model, he questions the Western civilization, and takes it as an object of a study. His intention is not to make her large and transversal historical fresco, but to study the seeds of her growth on the American soil, to show where the American civilization context is different from the European, whether it is related to or mixed with it. Or, more precisely, what is the return of the American civilization to the Old Continent like, a return that many consider imperialist.In short, it could be said that the book Civilization. How we all became Americans, deals with American metamorphosis of European, or Western civilization. In addition, she is, in some cases, very instructive, some even say „pedagogical“, introduction to differentiating culture and civilization.
Debray stands for the Renaissance of civilization, and the way in which this intercession is exposed and argued can by no means be labeled as anti-Americanism. In that sense, Bertrand Devevey rightly states that this book is characterized by „accuracy of analysis and intellectual wealth, and that it is now indispensable for anyone who wants to understand his century.“ Even if not so, the fact remains that her author, Régis Debray, is an atypical philosopher engaged in his time.

Rade Kalanj

***

Civilization has won when the empire that marks it no longer has to be imperialist to leave its mark. It does not need a gendarmerie sent by plane to run events. No punch on the table to attract attention. It can be considered a winner when it is no longer one of civilizations but the civilization, when its language becomes a lingua franca and its currency is a common currency. When it can be pulled into its territory without losing its influence. When foreigners who have overtaken its specifics, rumors and norms lose consciousness that it is just a replica. When the one who issues the commandments no longer has to command.
A civilization has won when everything that it forms becomes natural and when it is unseemly to re-examine which actions allowed that civilization to impose and on which system of power rests the norm to be respected.

***

It is not Rome’s problem that all or almost all barbarians wanted to become Romans, as it is not a mistake of the United States that many dream of becoming Americans one day. It narrows down the channels, but no wall has ever stopped the floods of hope and hunger. Hope dies last.

***

In the year 1919, there was a European civilization, with American culture as a variant. In 2017, there is an American civilization, according to which European cultures, with all their diversities, at best seem to be adaptive variables, and native reserves at worst. On the chess board it’s called castling. On the battlefield, defeat.

***

A young educated European, who aims for success, can be found in London to be baptized, but will only receive anointing thanks to his stay, if possible at the Master of Business Administration in New York, the world's mirror. And that is a deserved focus. The City-World is the one that receives foreigners the best and the most and, therefore exports the best and the most. The least xenophobic and the most radiant, one because of the other.

Régis Debray

  • ISBN: 978-953-8075-63-6
  • Dimensions: 128x200 mm
  • Number of pages: 216
  • Cover: paperback
  • Year of the edition: 2019
  • Original title: Civilisation.Comment nous sommes devenus américains
  • Original language: French
  • Translation: Rade Kalanj