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Globalization

Thomas Friedman in The Lexus and the Olive Tree identifies six dimensions in which a globalist has to operate and these are:

  1. culture
  2. politics
  3. national security/power
  4. technology
  5. financial markets
  6. environmentalism

He says that "I believe that this new system of globalization - in which walls between countries, markets and disciplines are increasingly being blown away constitutes a fundamentally new state of affairs. And the only way to see it, understand it and explain it is by arbitraging all six dimensions laid out above - assigning different weights to different perspectives at different times in different situations, but always understanding that it is the interaction of all of them together that is really the defining feature of international relations today. And therefore being a globalist is the only way to systematically connect the dots, see the system of globalization and thereby order the chaos."

There is much talk about the new economy, of new paradigms, of new technology and methodology, but I believe that Friedman has identified a fundamental truth about this time, the first decade of the 21st Century. Globalization has created a new dominant culture, a world-wide system, it creates integration and the development of connected networks, elites around the world are increasingly accepting these core values. Innovation and change are key features of the new system, and the dominant power in this system is the United States, which is why American culture is often seen as the global culture, and English is the language of the global economy. The conflicts of the 21st Century will be increasingly expressed as opposition to this process, which itself is more like a force of nature, than the expression of the will of any country, or group of countries. Institutions which were created in the Cold War period will be forced to reassess their roles and relevance and States which attempt to ignore this process will be forced to come to terms. The European Union, with its large number of unemployed, low growth rates, ageing populations and low defence expenditures will find its' future increasingly problematic as the constructive destruction of globalization rearranges the pieces of the world economy and as new nodes of power emerge in Asia. This new multi-cultural world will increasingly focus on the development of complex adaptive systems, as non-Government institutions and powerful individuals interact with States and regional groupings of States. What we are now seeing is the emergence of a new type of system, as profound in its effects as the emergence of the Ch'in dynasty in China three thousand years ago, or the rise of the Roman Empire, were in their times and in their regions.

If the French and Germans express their hostility to change by becoming increasingly anti-American, and fail to accommodate to change they will fall behind in the race to change and the European Union will be exposed as a failed institution. If China fails to respond to the responsibilities placed on it by its membership of the WTO and does not make structural changes, or reduce corruption, then its failure will be rapid and disasterous, especially given its reliance on food imports from the global economy. If Latin American governements fail to integrate with the global economy then they will follow Argentina on its progress into the wastelands, and the United States will itself have to chnage as it becomes increasingly reliant on this integrated and inter-dependent world. Increasing farm subsidiaries and putting on steel tariffs is no longer a domestic issue, there is a price to pay. The US will lose many more industries in this constant process of change. The giant chemical plants of the Gulf of Mexico will become uneconomic compared to the giant plants of SABIC in Saudi Arabia and the multi $billion plants planned for Iran and in due course in a democratic Iraq. China, Brazil and India will increasingly form the world manufacturing base and the importance of the North American market will fall in relative terms as Asian resumes its economic growth. The corruption and anarchy of Africa will continue to keep it outside the global system, except for the mineral wealth sold by its "vampire states" to foreign companies; the payments for Angolan oil and Congolese minerals illustrate the depths to which parts of the Continent have fallen. Only South Africa gives any hope, but that country is facing the loss of many of its best people to a massive AIDS epidemic. On present performance countries like Germany will be the losers as the process of globalization forces greater and greater integration of the world economy; Europe will not be able to rely on its regulations and protectist system in order to hold change back, like the Berlin Wall the whole edifice constructed in Brussels could come falling down.

Globalization is therefore not merely a new fad or buzzword it represents the emergent dominant culture on this planet, and connects other emergent developments into a single system. The success of nations and businesses will increasingly be dependent on how they respond to this development. The negotiator must therefore understand this emergent zeitgeist, and in the words of Friedman attain a "globalist" prospective; few people should be better equipped to understand how to integrate ideas and concepts.

Francis Fukuyama, in "The End of History and the Last Man" (1992), linked the growth of democracy with economic development at the end of the 20th Century, he wrote: "The most remarkable development of the last quarter of the twentieth century has been the revelation of enormous weaknesses at the core of the world's seemingly strong dictatorships, whether they be of the military authoritarian Right, or the communist totalitarian Left. From Latin America to Eastern Europe, from the Soviet Union to the Middle East and Asia, strong governments have been failing over the last two decades. And while they have not given way in all cases to stable liberal democracies, liberal democracy remains the only coherent political aspiration that spans different regions and cultures around the globe. In addition, liberal principles in economics - the "free market" - have spread, and have succeeded in producing unprecedented levels of material prosperity, both in industrially developed countries and in countries that had been, at the close of World War II, part of the impoverished Third World. A liberal revolution in economic thinking has sometimes preceded, sometimes followed, the move toward political freedom around the globe."

Many Globalizations : Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World Peter L. Berger, Samuel P. Huntington

Two Hours That Shook the World Fred Halliday

As the dust settled around the devastation of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, a host of questions emerged surrounding the attacks, the motives behind them and their future implications. Professor Halliday expands on the many social, cultural, religious and political problems that have plagued the Middle East and Central Asia in the last half-century. He dispels the idea that the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds are poised for conflict. Halliday explains the cause and rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and how terror became an instrument of political and military conflict. This book not only examines the causes of what happened, it also provides a reasoned approach as to what the future may hold

The Clash of Civilizations Samuel P. Huntington, new edt. 2002 - the author argues that as people increasingly define themselves by ethnicity and religion, the West will find itself more and more at odds with non-western civilizations that reject its ideals of democracy, human rights, liberty, the rule of law, and the separation of the church and state. Picturing a future of accelerated conflict and increasingly "de-Westernized" international relations, this text further argues for greater understanding of non-western civilizations and offers strategies for maximizing Western influence.

Empire Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, 2001

According to Negri and Hardt, this new Empire [globalization] is the result of the transformation of modern capitalism into a set of power relationships we endlessly replicate that transcend the nation state (so anti-imperialism is out as a progressive politics). Vitally, the authors argue that the multitude, through their many struggles, pushed the world to this point and it is the multitude who can push through to a much better world on the other side of globalisation.

No Logo Naomi Klein

In No Logo, Klein patiently demonstrates, step by step, how brands have become ubiquitous, not just in media and on the street but increasingly in the schools as well. The global companies claim to support diversity but their version of "corporate multiculturalism" is merely intended to create more buying options for consumers.

The International Herald Tribune 2 July 2002 reported an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, a former top white house advisor, a former chief economist at the World Bank and, most recently, author of “Globalization and the Discontents.” He said: "The real message here is that there is a grain of truth in a lot of the complaints about the way globalisation has evolved. But, globalisation can be a very powerful force for growth in the developing world. What I’m trying to argue in this book is that we have to change the way globalisation has been managed to ensure its benefits reach developing countries and poor people around the world."


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