The Privileges of Hegemony

With my Kindle broken and the Socialism World Tour still having several legs left, I thought I would Google to see what kind of English-language bookstores there are in Berlin. That led me to read this paragraph:

english-bookshops-berlin.jpgFor some travelers, half the fun in finding an English-language bookstore in a foreign country is in the quest, following one’s intuition down a small side street and reveling in the discovery. For others — travelers with control issues — finding an English-language bookstore requires research, an action plan, and a complete printout paper-clipped to your travel map. So while this post is naturally of interest to both types of English-language book lovers, it is clearly directed at the latter category. Rest assured, whatever neighborhood you’ve chosen to explore, we’ve just the right Berlin bookstore to set your Apollonian mind at ease.

The fact that one can manage to generalize about looking for English-language bookstores in foreign countries is a reminder of what a privilege those of us who are native speakers of the English language have thanks to the fact that a couple hundred years of Anglo-American geopolitical hegemony have made our language globally dominant. A traveler from South Korea looking to buy a book in Berlin to read on his flight to Stockholm is going to be out of luck. And there isn’t going to be any flight information or airport signs in Korean either.