Thomas Friedman’s Olive Branch Towards Theorists of the Past — on the Negative and Positive Effects of Globalization

Length: 3 Pages 767 Words

Political scientists often like to be prophets of doom, predicting the end of history or foreseeing an endless series of clashes of civilization and culture in the coming decades. However Thomas Friedman’s thesis, advanced in the Lexus and the Olive Tree, about the interconnected nature of the new world, and the positive benefits of globalization, although idealistic, presents a positive vision of the world that peacemakers, politicians, and people all over the world can aspire to in the future. Although Friedman may give insufficient weight to cultural, class, and religious tensions, he also points out how improved communications technology and interconnected economic systems have created a new, global culture that forces even residents of more traditional societies to see themselves in a new light. Ultimately, Friedman provides the best model of current international security environment. He suggests that change is possible, and there is a common ground for negotiation. Other theorists merely suggest that rogue regimes, class, and cultural differences make dialogue impossible, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophesy of defeat. Continue...


According to Barnett, globalization has divided the world, even as it has brought some nations together in symbiosis. For example, Thomas Barnett"tms book The Pentagon"tms New Map suggests a new clash of civilizations is inevitable between so-called outlaw regimes like Saddam Hussein"tms former Iraq, that exist "dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world, from its rule sets, its norms, and all the ties that bind countries together in mutually assured dependence" (Barnett 2003: 286). where governments have no writ after dark" (Kaplan 2001: 1). While conflicts between social classes and cultures may be endemic to all societies, as is, sadly terrorism (do not forget that World War I began with a terrorist attack) what is new today is the ability of an ordinary individual from China or Iran to sample what it is like to live abroad, simply by surfing the Internet, and for two people on rival sides of cultural and class divides to communicate with one another, and reach a personal truce that before could only be negotiated between nations. While this may pose a challenge to the idea of the Lexus creating an olive branch for the future, it is also worthy of note that, despite these foreign symbols of affluence, it is also the corruption that these cars embody, not their foreignness, that is the object of the boy"tms hatred. In contrast to Barnett, Hardy believes that it is the poor who have not benefited from the economic spoils of the developed world who present the greatest security risk rather than rouge regimes. In the Sierra Leone, he writes how poor boys "confiscated all the official Mercedes, Volvos, and BMWs and willfully wrecked them on the road" (Kaplan 2001: 1). Communication offers the ability to present people with self-images beyond older, tribal ways of perceiving themselves. Huntington saw the world as fragmented, while Barnett seems to envision a new form of global bipolarity, with the industrialized and mutually dependant world upon one side of the divide, and regimes such as North Korea on the other. If culture and class divide the world so inexorably that dialogue is impossible, what is the point of seeking peace at all. Still, both theories stand in stark contrast this with what Friedman calls the "new, very greased, interconnected system called globalization" (Friedman 2000: xvi). This resonates with Samuel Huntington"tms earlier theory advanced in The Clash of Civilizations. Hardy predicts the "revenge of the poor, of the social failures, of the people least able to bring up children in a modern society" this increasing lawlessness". In 1994, Huntington wrote that cultural and ideological conflicts would intensify rather than abate in the post-Cold War world. Regimes and non-state actors such as terrorists who see themselves as out of the loop of globalization turn with hatred against the developed world.