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Flag often used in anti-American protests
The slogan Go home, Ami in Berlin (on the West Berlin side) on the sector border Bernauer Strasse ( French sector ) and the corner of Schwedter Strasse (eastern sector) in 1950.
Anti-American demonstration in Brazil
Demonstration against US President George W. Bush in London .

With anti-Americanism a "negative attitude towards politics and culture is USA ", a "hostility to the interests of the United States" or an enemy or opposing attitude towards called "the United States of America, its population, its principles or its policies". The Duden defines it as a "negative attitude towards the social system, politics and lifestyle of the USA".


The United States of America constituted itself in 1776 as a new political system in contrast to the established systems in Europe, from where the founders of the new nation came. In Europe, the new state model , based on the principles of the Enlightenment , soon aroused both sympathy and rejection - which are seen as the first expressions of Philo-Americanism ( Phil = friend, friendship) and anti-Americanism. In the first half of the 20th century, the debate about positive or negative influences of US economic, cultural and military power increased in Europe before the debate became strongly politicized with the beginning of the Cold War . The term anti-Americanism did not emerge until after World War II - in a study of anti-Americanism in France , the year 1948 is mentioned as the first documented use. As an alternative to anti-Americanism, “Philo-Americanism”, “Pro-Americanism” and “Americanism” are used inconsistently.


The rejection of the USA, known as anti-Americanism, happened and continues to happen for different reasons and with different ideological backgrounds, which is why one cannot speak of a uniform anti-American worldview that would be represented by opponents of the United States. Particularly pronounced anti-American references are perceived in the 21st century as a conspicuous commonality between the right and left fringes of the political spectrum.

In addition to opposition groups, governments have also taken clear anti-American positions in the past and present. Adolf Hitler viewed the USA as a weak and militarily incompetent country dominated by inferior “races” and the almighty dollar. After the Second World War, for example, the Iranian revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini coined the term “Great Satan” for the USA from 1979, against whom he had the slogan “Death to the USA” chanted at mass events and whose policy he had for around two decades for “all problems of all Muslim peoples ”. The Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro , on the other hand, only began several months after taking over government in 1959 to openly position himself against the USA, to reject the market economy and parliamentary democracy and, in the context of the Cold War, at the same time to turn to the ideological counter-model of Marxism-Leninism with Soviet influences. The antagonism to the United States became a central theme in Castro's politics and rhetoric over the following decades. For the North Korean head of state Kim Il-sung and his successors, hostility to the USA was and is a regularly used identification tool.

According to Manfred Quiring, anti-Americanism has long been omnipresent in Russia and has almost become a state ideology: It serves as an address to external threats, but also as a reason for one's own failures. Thanks to Russian propaganda, anti-Americanism, but also the negative view of the EU, reached highs of 82 and 70 percent respectively in its population by the beginning of 2015. In the West too, Vladimir Putin appears to those people with an anti-American stance as the “great avenger who shows the Americans”.

In contemporary German right-wing extremism , anti-Americanism is often linked to anti-Semitism . This connection is articulated in code words like USrael , Zionist Occupied Government or East Coast . This is an update, clearly understood by right-wing extremists, of the chimera of a Jewish world conspiracy , as suggested in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion , with an increasingly anti-American thrust.


British publicist Christopher Hitchens described the following as a "loose working definition" of anti-Americanism:

"A person is anti-American if he or she shows constant contempt for American culture and also supports every opponent of US politics, whoever it is."

Various voices argue that anti-Americanism must be seen as an outgrowth of envy towards the role of the United States as the dominant world power: Timothy Garton Ash describes the leitmotif of anti-Americanism as "envious resentment". The historian Dan Diner speaks of the “projective reproach to the USA of being the cause of all the evils in the world” and an “overdose of that mixture of envy and fear that is intertwined in anti-Americanism and is difficult to approve”. There is also great demand for immigrant visas for the United States in countries with pronounced anti-Americanism; however, there is no discernible opposite current of emigration from the United States.

The journalist and communication scientist Tobias Jaecker sees in anti-Americanism an "ideological pattern of explanation of the world", which he defines as follows:

“The narrative form of the anti-American model of explaining the world is determined by four basic structural principles - dualism, projection, self-appreciation and conspiracy. It is only within this specific structure that the individual stereotypes acquire an anti-American 'meaning'. The projective attribution of negative political, economic and cultural processes to America corresponds with a collective moral self-appreciation, so that a dualistic image emerges: ›America‹ versus ›us‹. In the extreme, this can expand into a conspiracy theory - in such a delusional notion America rules the whole world. It is this interplay of dualism, projection, self-appreciation and - to a greater extent - conspiracy thinking that congeals the criticism of anti-Americanism. "

On the “fundamental and necessary” distinction between criticism of America and anti-Americanism, the political scientist Claus Leggewie wrote in 2004, referring to the context of the increasingly “ neo-conservative and restorative” orientation of the United States under President George W. Bush since September 11, 2001:

“The noticeably growing distance of the political public in Western Europe, just like in the Arab world, is not per se an expression of cultural anti-Americanism, but the result of political criticism of America. But in reaction to the imperial, religiously based American exceptionalism , such cultural resentment could take hold again. (...) The concrete confrontation with certain representatives and leaders of the United States and what they do in detail is something different from the diffuse, blanket rejection of "the" Americans as they supposedly are . "

The sociologist Andrei Markovits , according to a close connection between European anti american ism and anti- Semitic ism : Both behaved, figuratively speaking, to each other as "twin brothers" because "America and the Jews of European rights and the conservatives always considered Representatives of an unstoppable modern age are suspect and hated. ”But also among large parts of the political left , the“ new anti-Semitism based on hostility towards Israel goes hand in hand with their anti-Americanism ”.

The political scientist Fabian Fischer defines anti-Americanism constructivist and from an anti-extremist perspective. He differentiates between a structural and content perspective:

perspective Analysis level Constitution of the enemy image
Structurally In the sense of the

"Definitio ex positivo"

One-sided interpretation of “America” or “American” in the form of a drastic negative construction
Contentwise In the sense of the

"Definitio ex negativo"

Criticism of the USA, which is directed directly or indirectly against the minimum conditions of the democratic constitutional state and its values

Criticism of the use of the term

Some scholars criticize the imprecise definition and ambiguous use of the term "anti-Americanism", which, according to them, does not always clearly distinguish justified criticism from systematic resentment towards Americans. The term is also used as a tool to stifle debates. Since anti-Americanism is only defined negatively and is not associated with an organized movement or an alternative vision, the term is not helpful.

According to the historian Darius Harwardt, the term is suitable for the presentation of scientific results, but not as an analytical category, since it already narrows the perspective through the preselection. An analysis of anti-Americanism will neither take into account other negative attitudes in a comparative way nor weight the findings with positive stereotypes towards the USA in order to arrive at a differentiated statement. In the USA and from the 1980s at the latest in the Federal Republic of Germany, the term was used by neoconservative journalists to discredit criticism of their political ideas. The US-American historian Max Paul Friedman also sees the word “anti-Americanism” as a “fighting term to ward off criticism”. Anti-Americanism as a concept serves the purpose of ignoring criticism from abroad or of silencing it.


Web links

Commons : Anti-Americanism  - Collection of Pictures, Videos, and Audio Files
Wiktionary: Anti-Americanism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Keyword anti-Americanism , in: Gerhard Wahrig : German Dictionary. Anniversary edition. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1991. ISBN 3-570-03648-0
  2. ^ Online edition of the Oxford Dictionary , accessed June 13, 2015. Original: "Hostility to the interests of the United States".
  3. Anti-Americanism in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary , accessed on October 16, 2007. In the original: "opposed or hostile to the United States of America, its people, its principles, or its policies."
  4. Anti-Americanism, the ;; accessed on September 21, 2018
  5. a b c Jessica Gienow-Hecht: European anti-Americanism in the 20th century. In: From Politics and Contemporary History 5–6 / 2008, accessed on June 10, 2015
  6. Roger, Phillipe. The American Enemy: The History of French Anti-Americanism, introductory excerpt , University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  7. ^ Gesine Schwan: Anti-Americanism and Democratic Consciousness in the Federal Republic from 1945 to the present day. In: America and Germany: ambivalent encounters. Edited by Frank Kelleter and Wolfgang Knöbl, Wallstein Verlag, 2006, p. 73 ff.
  8. Egbert Klautke: Unlimited Possibilities: "Americanization" in Germany and France (1900-1933). Wiesbaden, Franz Steiner Verlag 2003, p. 269 ff.
  9. Katzenstein, Peter; Keohane, Robert. Conclusion: Anti-Americanisms and the Polyvalence of America (PDF; 96 kB), in: Anti-Americanisms in World Politics ,, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006 (English).
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  22. ^ Samuel Salzborn : Global anti-Semitism. A search for traces in the abyss of modernity. Beltz Juventa, Weinheim, Basel 2018, p. 67.
  23. 'My own working definition of it, admittedly a slack one also, is that a person is anti-American if he or she is consistently contemptuous of American culture and furthermore supports any opponent of US policy, whoever this may be.' Christopher Hitchens: I'll be damned The Atlantic Magazine, March 2005
  24. Die Zeit, 06/2003
  25. FOCUS No. 43, 10/2001
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  28. Claus Leggewie: Renaissance of Anti-Americanism? To distinguish between criticism of America and anti-Americanism at the beginning of the 21st century. In: America and Europe, Mars and Venus? The image of America in Europe. Edited by Rudolf von Thadden and Alexandre Escudier, Wallstein Verlag, 2004, pp. 105–115, here p. 107
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  32. Fabian Fischer: The constructed danger. Enemy images in political extremism . Nomos, Baden-Baden, p. 133 .
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  34. ^ Brendan O'Connor: A Brief History of Anti-Americanism from Cultural Criticism to Terrorism . In: Australasian Journal of American Studies , July 2004, pp. 77f. ( PDF ( Memento from June 16, 2015 in the Internet Archive ))
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  39. On the derivation of the history of ideas and the theoretical determination of both conceptions. Your typology against a democratic theoretical background; the reasons for social groups as carriers of anti-communism and anti-Americanism. Representation of political consciousness after 1945. Empirical surveys