This word means a preference for the foreign. It is the exact opposite of ethnocentrism Shills 1972; Wilson 1976]. It is the belief that our own products, styles, or ideas are necessarily inferior to those which originate elsewhere. It is the conviction that the exotic has a special charm which the familiar can never achieve. It is based on the glamor of the strange and faraway and the prestige of distant centers, supposedly removed from the sordid limitations of one's own community. There are many occasions when people seem happy to pay more for imported goods on the assumption that anything from abroad is better. Are French fashions, German beers, or Japanese electronic wares really superior? Or are people inclined to assume they are superior because of the lure of the foreign label?·
What applies to material products is also true of ideas and life-styles. Although the United States was originally hailed as a bastion
of freedom challenging the despotism of Europe, if did not take long for many intellectuals to adopt a ethnocentric point:No sooner did the ocean crossing become comfortable than the expatriates [Americans leaving their country] began their flight across the Atlantic to the more congenial cultural climate of the old world . . . the criticism of American materialism, ... once associated with aristocrats, [was] now voiced by intellectuals, "Colonization"; that is of pervasive vulgarization of life. The United States was regarded as the source, or at least the prototype, of a culture built. upon possession, upon the diffusion of an idolatry for material things; and it was on this account judged harshly. (Oscar Handling, "Liberal Democracy and the Image of America," Freedom at Issue. 43, November/December, 1977, pp. 14-15. Reprinted by permission.
Those who leave their country to live abroad are- not the only ones who reject ethnocentrism. In every society a few persons reject their group or some part of its culture. There are anti-Semitic Jews, blacks who reject black identity, aristocrats who lead- revolutions, priests who abandon their faith, and so on. This rejection of one's group or its culture is a form of deviant behavior that wiII be discussed in Chapter 7. Is there any rational basis for xenocentrism or is it just a form of shallow snobbery? Revisionist historians who blame America for