Ever wonder how global finance affects your everyday life? It’s sometimes difficult to make the connections. But for millions of Bud drinkers, the links just became much clearer. Belgian brewer In-Bev, the world’s largest beer distributor, announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with Anheuser-Busch’s board of directors to take over the company. In-Bev will pay about $50 billion for Anheuser-Busch, best known for producing the iconic American beer Budweiser.
The deal, which has been in the works for over a year, has provoked a strong reaction among some American Bud fans. Budweiser is the best selling beer in the United States, and some loyalists are promising to fight the buyout. They’ve organized a petition (launched online at www.SaveBudweiser.com). Some are calling for a boycott of Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch labels under a “Drink American” campaign. The purchase even made the Colbert Report.
According to the French, this kind of cultural assimilation under the forces of economic globalization is nothing new. Indeed, the French have been fighing the spread of American culture for at least the past 50 years. The need to fight Americanization and its undermining the culture of France has been one of few items that the French left and right have been able to agree on. And it’s popular. In 1999, José Bové, a French farmer and activist, was catapulted into the limelight for dismantling and carrying away a McDonalds that was under construction in Millau. He said he wanted to prevent American culinary imperialism and the destruction of French cuisine. French filmmakers have objected to the import of Hollywood films, saying that they undermine French cinema.
What does the In-Bev takeover of Budweiser mean for the US and American culture? Does this singal the increasing vulnerability of the US to the cultural forces of globalization? Or does it merely represent he reutn home of the process of globalization? Whatever the answer, “the King of Beers” now seems placed to become “Le Roi des Bières” (or “De Koning van Bieren” in Flemish…Belgium is, after all, officially a bilungal country).