Aboard the Orsova, November 23, 1967
Letters to the Editor
The other day aboard ship en route to the U.S. I picked up a copy of your international edition (November 24). Coming directly from another culture I found it a shock to read. The key article was the review of a book, The American Challenge, by the French editor of l’Express, Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber. The latter, like a modern-day St. Paul, by attacking “the old France and a petrified Europe” has obviously taken up the new “religion.”
And what is this religion? Time is itself a mirror and a mouthpiece—a missionary pamphlet—for a predatory business “civilization,” proselytizing the “barbarians” of other cultures through an immense and powerfully organized structure of attack…calling for a conversion from the traditional human forms of culture to those of commercialism and the machine.
Walking through Panama City after reading your magazine I saw the endless sordid blocks of imitation American stores, filled with their cheap and superfluous products imported from the U.S. I observed the sullen knots of unemployed people standing about, exploited by that missionary zeal—already converted and partly destroyed by it; ready to explode in a great blind violence (like the negroes and the youth of the U.S.)
There are few bulwarks left against this religion and the anti-world it is creating. There are certainly none left in the U.S. judging by the “new freedom” of expression I notice in your magazine. With the disappearance of taste and tact, with the dominance of “suburban” values—infidelity, divorce, sex—total commercial exploitation is now possible. The U.S. has always lacked the aesthetic and social forms of sensuality developed by other cultures, but in destroying its Calvinistic repressions it has opened itself to vulgarity and violence.
The whole range of articles in Time, from the war on Vietnam to the latest music and films, represents the tragic condition of American life and its terrible destructive import for the rest of the world.