Book Review of “The World Is Flat”

In the book “The World is Flat” the central argument is that globalization has many weaknesses and threats for a modern world that economists and politicians are neglect. Friedman states that the process of globalization started with advances in transportation technology in the second half of the nineteenth century which resulted in the colonization of countries outside Europe and America. The capitalist world under the leadership of the United States of America moved for trade liberalization and this agenda was accelerated by developments in information technology and communications. The dominant system for world governance in the first wave of globalization was the colonial domination of the world by European powers. The book consists of two main parts, “How the World Become Flat” and “America and the Flat World”. Each of the parts discusses problems, causes, and outcomes of globalization.

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The first part “How the World Become Flat” discusses the period of transformations and changes in the modern world order. In the wave of globalization, various international agencies were established to loosely oversee the liberalized world economic order. I agree with Friedman that there have been calls for humanizing globalization and other concerns have been expressed about unequal wealth distribution between the North and the South as well as within countries with the downsizing of the middle class. Personally, I suppose that it has also been stated that trade liberalization and globalization have created unwanted interdependencies with a system that is incapable of managing these interdependencies.

Friedman singles out 10 flatterers (causes) of globalization. They are the Collapse of the Berlin Wall, the emergence of the Netscape, Workflow software, open-source, outsourcing, offshoring, supply chaining, insourcing, in-forming, and the introduction of steroids (Friedman 2). Friedman underlines “the triple convergence” changed the world forever introducing new economic concepts and ways of trading. I agree that the concepts of global politics are related to trade partnership and international global order. Following Friedman, the process of globalization itself has been subjected to a backlash with there being a danger that attempts may be made to reverse globalization. There are different opinions at work with the center-right globalizes calling for free trade, the center-left calling for universal labor and environmental standards and ethical codes while other factions demanding international communism and a global Jihad. Hence, different groups want a different version of the globe. I suppose that whereas some regional groups such as the EU may want societal standards, other regional groups just want free trade.

The second part applies the concept of the lat world to America and discusses its impact on the state. Friedman is right that there is a need to rethink the governance of globalization as extending beyond mere trade liberalization and the International Monitory Fund so that globalization is better managed with efforts towards a more human face so that the process of globalization can serve its broader aims of bringing humanity together. I suppose that before such attempts can be made possible, it will be appropriate to consider just what is wrong with the current process of globalization and what the various interested actors are demanding. I suppose that it will then be worth investigating what can be done to reconcile such demands and bring about a better system for global governance. It can be said that there is a definite need for enhancements in global governance because there is always room for improvement and the protests that were seen at the Seattle round of WTO negotiations do indicate there are some shortcomings with the process of globalization. Such an investigation can be the subject of a dissertation in which the difficulties, conflicting opinions, and the enhancements that are possible in the system for global governance presented by various opinions can be investigated along with the workings of the agencies associated with bringing about international order. I think that there is an abundant body of published literature in which opinions and points of view, as well as remedies, have been presented about the governance of globalization, and hence, there is no shortage of material for consideration or analysis. Following Friedman, competition has become global but there are few rules for managing competition. I also suppose that competition laws, anti-trust legislation, bankruptcy rules, etc do not exist on a global level and the enforcement methods are more voluntary.

All arguments of the book make a useful advancement in Global Politics. Friedman supports all facts and opinions by theoretical literature and vivid examples from politics and the economy. I suppose that these underdeveloped countries enjoy some preferential treatment and other member states are required to exercise restraint when referring these countries to dispute settlement. I totally agree with the author that most member countries are now required to accept 95% of the whole package associated with being a member of the WTO. It is asserted that the power in the WTO belongs to the developed world and the rules can work in the favor of the developed world. The sanction for violating WTO accords is the imposition of duties. However, if an underdeveloped member state was to impose duties on a producer which belongs to the developed world, then such duties are likely to have a negligible impact. The imposition of similar duties by a developed country on a producer belonging to an underdeveloped nation, the impact is likely to be devastating and the WTO has no way available to it to enforce an unfair trade action. It is possible for the WTO to require that non-compliance with WTO rules be punished by all nations (Friedman 226). Another alternative to the imposition of duties can be a requirement for the losses suffered by a nation to be compensated by the nation whose companies are perpetuating the unfair trading practices. Following Friedman, there has been considerable resistance to such a proposal from WTO members. I suppose that the WTO mostly deals with trade disputes between two nations and does not deal with the unfair trading practices of all nations and what the WTO can implement as rules have to be acceptable to the developed world as well as a majority of other members (Friedman 54).

In sum, Friedman creates a vivid picture of global changes and new economic relations which level borders and international regulations. I suppose that the author does an effective job as he explains in detail globalize world order and its impact on political relations. Friedman, as a critic of globalization, has lamented that the process of globalization and the modus operandi of the system of global governance today is exacerbating global inequality and making the rich nations richer at the expense of the poorer nations. It is claimed that the free trade regime which is claimed to be in place is, in fact, denying market access to poor countries and thus denying the developing countries a chance to take advantage of their most promising sectors. It is clear that with the increasingly limited ability of national governments to interfere in matters related to international trade, whole ways of life and industries that supported communities are being forced to go through traumatic changes because of economic competition. I suppose that these communities had become accustomed to their standards of living, conditions of employment, and societal standards which are being threatened because the poorer countries of the world want to gain a competitive advantage by exploiting their workers to the extent that they never have any future security in their old age and are incapable of producing quality capable of competing.

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References

Friedman, Thomas, L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition, 2005.

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