Monday, June 25, 2012

Globalization without Trust

Despite the urgent need for increased global cooperation, such cooperation has been slipping away in recent years. Technological advances in transport, communication, and information have brought us closer together than ever economically. Market forces harnessed to those technologies have created a global division of labor of unsurpassed complexity and productivity and played a major role in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty.

Yet even as the global economy has become more intertwined, global society has seemed to become more divided, acrimonious, and fearful. Fleets of jumbo jets ply the skies of our interconnected global economy, yet our fear of terrorism is so that great we are rationed in the toothpaste and shampoo that we can carry onto the planes.

The paradox of a unified global economy and divided global society poses the single greatest threat to the planet because it makes impossible the cooperation needed to address, the remaining challenges. A clash of civilizations, if we survived one, would undo all that humanity has built and would cast a shadow for generations to come. We've actually been there before. The first great wave of globalization in the nineteenth century ended up in the blood-drenched trenches of Europe in World War I. It is especially sobering to realize that before August 1914, globalization and the march of science seemed assured, as they seem to many today.

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