The general trend of mega-corporations going multinational. The dream is for them to do business easily across international borders. Has its good and bad sides -- globalization brings us more choices and possibly lower prices. But taken too far, it can override cultural differences too -- c.f. the MAI treaty.

The America that the 1960s ushered in, centered around a large government (the better to fight communism) and a massive welfare state (the better to pay-off those with communist tendencies) is over.

The America of the new millennia is a more slender model, one designed for speed, agility -- one designed to lead the global marketplace.

It is for this reason that government is going to necessarily shrink, politics are going to necessarily become more conservative, and the lines between the two political the two major political parties -- Democrat and Republican -- will blur to the point of camoflage.

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

The fall of the Berlin Wall meant more than the victory of East versus West; the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the death throes of Socialism worldwide and the power of free-market Capitalism.

Why will governments shrink?

Because, in this global market, governments have less and less power. Certainly lawmakers can still influence policy -- but ask Russia what happens when investors turn their back. Governments no longer have autonomy. Militaries become cumbersome. Who'll protect policiticans from the citizen's uprising when their financial institutions are bankrupt?

Why will governments necessarily become more conservative?

Free-market capitalism is the new ruler. Can one possibly disagree? Look at the so-called "emerging nations": China is a key example. Though the entire Asian economy tanked in the 1990s, China has come out of the shit-storm smelling like a rose.

Why?

Because their communist lawmakers were smart enough to perpetuate the fascade of a market system. Mao's Great Leap Forward is happening as I type this out, because multinational corporations see fit to hire China's cheap labor force and bring much needed financial capital and current technology along with it.

Ask Malaysian leaders what happens when an economy attracts investors: they'll tell you that they were able to build two of the world's largest building and raise per-capita income from $350 to $5,000.

Ask Malaysian leaders what happened when their Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, went to IMF Headquarters are denounced the "western powers" and their evil ways. Shortly after, in 1997, the KLCI Index (the Malaysian equivalent of the Dow Jones) fell 47%.

Like it or not, the two policital parties in this country are also quickly becoming aquainted with the New Economy and the serious political ramifications that come with it.

Partly through a desire for financial capital to run their campagins (money most often doled out by wealthy executives and multinational corporations), partly through a desire (jingoistic or otherwise) to augment America's strength, the two political parties are adopting similar economic paradigms.

That the two parties also merge in their cultural perspectives -- especially in those values which most greatly benefit U.S. pecuniary interest (i.e. education) -- is inevitable.

Like it or not, the underlying strength of the U.S. economy on this world stage is derived in large part from the changes impacted by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. People concluded that, in the preceeding decades, the economy was not experiencing the type of growth many economic models believed was possible.

Thus huge portions of social programs -- previously though untouchable -- were reformed or demolished. Keynsian economics, once widely taught in our nation's finest institutions, fell from grace.

Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress, to their credit, have let Alan Greenspan run this economy. Alan Greenspan, to his credit, has let a runaway train continue to streak across the night's sky.

Our country is at a critical juncture. There are two icons we have been given to worship: one which we must celebrate, one which we must destroy.

We must continue worship the devolution of governmental power, the alleviation of dependence upon the State, the rise of the self-made-man, and the destruction of the status quo.

In short...God Bless America.
Look at the libertarian preach the wonders of reduced government power... and look at him ignoring (in the typical fashion of libertarian preaching) the other side of the coin: the growing power of corporations, and their tendency to abuse their greater freedom. If there are no governments to keep them in check, what else is supposed to prevent them from violating every law or ethical principle on the planet?

At the moment, the main problem with globalization is that different countries provide radically different business environments, and that multinational corporations are allowed to pick raisins: they do R&D where the education is best, do labor-intensive work where the labor is cheapest and pay taxes where they are lowest.

An additional non-economic point about globalisation. There's a little more involved here and that is that globalisation involves a global culture. So to work towards globalisation is the natural instinct of an imperial power, because imperialism necessarily requires a cultural superstructure. Thus globalisation is often a conscious effort by an imperialist power to export its culture.
So globalisation has an important culutural role-it works to alienate the people of a country from their own culture. You introduce a new language, a new style of dressing, new kinds of music, in short capture the minds of the elite completely. This of course is the first step towards complete subjugation which is what the imperialist power aims at.

Unhappily this is what globalisation is achieving in India anyhow. We have an elite which is fast getting convinced of the supreme superiority of American culture and we have a media which helps them on. . .. There isnt very much more I can say here-its of course the road to complete disaster.

One day the N.A.S.A. scientists and the astronauts were having exercise somewhere in the Middle America. They were practising the expeditio to Mars. This surrounding has been chosen because the ground looked similar to Mars's surface.

Soon they got a company. An old Indian man was looking at them and he seemed to be very interesting in what they were doing. He asked them in his poor English 'What going on in here?'

They explained him all about their expedition to Mars. They also said that there is a possibility that they will discover a new life form there.

The Indian seemed pretty excited and delighted. His next question was 'Could you guys give a message to aliens from me, if you meet them by coincidence?'

The group from N.A.S.A. liked it very much. The idea about sending a message from this Indian man to unknown aliens was amusing and worth trying. So the man spoke a few words in Indian language and the message was recorded on the tape. But because the guys from N.A.S.A. were a bit in a hurry they forgot to asked him what was the meaning of the message. This was not so small problem, since no one at N.A.S.A. knew Indian language.

In the next week the leader of the group was trying very hard to find someone to translate the message. At first he wasn't successful, but when he finally found a bilingual bursar secretary, the meaning of the message was discovered. The message was: 'Beware of these guys! They came only to steal your soil!'

The most easily measured impact of globalisation is in the area of economics and the world economy.
Figures in the United Nations Development Report 1999 show that there has been a substantial widening of the gap between the world richest and it’s poorest inhabitants – since the 1970’s the income gap between the world’s richest fifth, and it’s poorest fifth, has doubled to a ratio of 74:1. For those in the highest 20% of earnings the share of foreign direct investment is 68%, for the poorest 20% it is only 1%. Around eighty countries have had no improvement in their per capita income levels since 1990, and around fifty have shown a decline. Clearly, these countries and their people are not the winners of globalisation, and, even more apparent, the world has, in an economic sense, taken a turn for the worst in equality in the past thirty years.
However, it is not all bad news – the report also details a growth of more than 4% per capita for 40 countries, initiatives for the ‘Heavily Indebted Poor Countries’ (H.I.P.C’s) to regain control of their downward economic trajectory, and various summits that include poorer nations in high-level trade talks (For example, the current W.T.O round in Doha is called ‘development talks’).
Global interactions in the world today have more far-reaching repercussions than ever before. Since the era of new globalisation the biggest crisis faced by the world economy has been the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998. It demonstrates the interconnectedness of the world economy when a financial crisis that began in the finance houses of Thailand, rushed headlong into the Russian manufacturing and raw materials industries (decimating the whole economy), and, within two months, swept through North American, European and Australian investment brokers and businesses with devastating consequences. This occurred mainly through the speculative currency and investment processes that rule most of the global financial markets today. In fact, it is these speculations made on developing nations currencies by richer nations that can account for much of the imbalance and inequality in the current system.
A particularly controversial issue in the world today is the economic aid given to poorer nations. Many argue that this aid is simply a short-term solution to inequality of the new world system, and that it promotes less self-sufficiency. However, the World Bank report, ‘Assessing Aid’, shows that for every 1% of assistance in GDP, a corresponding 1% decline in poverty and infant death occurs.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this new world is the rise of information technology and the Internet. Today, the process of globalisation has taken a medium sized world – shrunk already from the previous era of transportation and technology breakthroughs – and turned it into a micro-world. This process can enable developing countries to make major advances in technology, and create jobs and markets for specialist manufacturing, as in the case of both China and South Korea. It can also allow the Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) who lobby for a turn around and re-assessment of the globalisation process to gain support and keep in contact. These organisations (such as S-11) have grown in size and effectiveness as the Internet has expanded into more and more countries. Their ‘wins’ in the recent publicity (good and bad) from disruptions to trade talks have been gained largely through effective Internet communications.
It may be that the only route to saving many regions is the further opening of trade mechanisms, further lifting of tariffs, and further aid in the form of infrastructure advice and development.
It is obvious that global interactions have been a force for equality as well as a cause of inequities. The latest wave of globalisation has created a world where one pebble in the pool can create ripples that touch every corner of the globe.
Make your own mind up about each aspect of globalisation, but don't write it off altogether - it may not be perfect but it can provide benefits to all if controlled and monitored effectively.
It's time for another one of those "Node your homework" writeups. This one I did as a minor assignment for Anthropology a couple of weeks ago. The task set was to define Globalization under a limit of 500 words(Give or take 10%).

What do we mean by globalization? As a very basic description, I’d say that it’s the greater interaction and communication between nations, resulting in the blending and interweaving of cultures, greater flows of economic capital and infrastructure. Scheck and Haggis define it generally as “…refers to the intensification of global interconnectedness, particularly the spread of capitalism as a production and market system” (2001 pg58). So we see that we are looking very generally at the growth of interaction between countries and populations around the world.

Industry is one of many things that are affected severely by globalization. One of the characteristics of globalization is the moving of corporations and companies over seas, usually from developed and ‘rich’ countries to less developed, poor countries. The reason this is done is because the labor in the poorer countries is so a lot cheaper than that in the more developed countries because people will work for a lot less as they often need any money they can get. This then allows them to produce products for a lot less than those corporations in the developed countries. So with that, they can then sell the produce in the developed countries for a cheaper price, making the other companies unable to compete with their prices and so are often forced to close down or relocate themselves. So not only does this affect the companies involved, but also the workers who loose their jobs as a result of the closure or relocation.
Also the local economy of each country is greatly affected. When an international corporation relocates into a country that nation is providing the workers and producing the capital, yet the profits are returned to the home country. Though at the same time, as the company moves from the other country, the amount of people forced out of work are often left looking for work and often must rely on the welfare state to support them, causing a strain on the economy from that perspective.

Culture is also affected by globalization. Globalization has resulted in the increasing of communication (And this in turn increases the level of globalization). The ease of being able to communicate and travel around the world has led to much immigration of people through out the world. Looking around this city of Perth, it’s easy to see we are living in very multicultural times. As we walk through the streets, you can see shops and restraunts that are particularly aimed at a certain ethnic group of people, or at those who wish to experience some of the culture experienced by those ethnic groups. So as people move around the world, they bring snippets of their culture with them, resulting in a nation that has many interacting cultures that intermingle and influence each other.

Many people seem to think that globalization is a new phenomenon, yet in actuality, it has been occurring for centuries. The only difference now is, is that with the speed in which it has developed over the last century, people have developed a term for it. So why has globalization suddenly erupted over the last century? Personally I feel that as we have developed new technologies that do manual work for us, people have more and more time to create and develop ideas that have improved the ease of communication between people over distances. As this developed, the globalization process quickened to such a pace that it has shown recognisable changes in many peoples lives, leading to the naming and defining of it.

What is globalisation?

There is definite evidence to back up the economic definition of globalisation: the abolition of many trade barriers, visas, foreign exchange restrictions and so on. However this definition can be contested as it does not encompass ‘globalisation’ in its entirety: as Sanders said, “globalisation has become a prominent catchword for describing the process of economic integration.” Another take on Globalisation is the idea that it is not just concerned with economics, but is a political and cultural phenomenon. Many see globalisation as an alternative term for Westernisation, or more brutally, Americanisation. The prevalence of McDonald’s, Hollywood and even the English language in places where it is not indigenous demonstrates the way in which culture is no longer so regionalised as perhaps a century ago. From this perspective, globalisation is most certainly not about trade laws and government interaction, but about the exchange of ideas and values. From a political point of view, globalisation can be seen as the increasingly complicated system of global alliances and supranational bodies: through the growth of this world order, a state’s sovereignty is no longer intact due to the knock-on effect decisions made will have on other states, or vice-versa. This in itself demonstrates the way in which globalisation is political. Ultimately, all of these definitions of globalisation can be contested in that they are ‘globalisation of... (something)’. Regardless of whether it is economics, politics or culture, this spread of resources, ideas, technology and legislation over the globe can be regarded as what Scholte describes as “deterritorialisation” – the idea that distances and locations are becoming irrelevant as communications and infrastructure improve. Globalisation is therefore the reduction of the importance of the state in world affairs.

Why is it important within politics?

The concept of Globalisation is useful in studying international relations. The changing dynamics of the world order are a vital consideration when analysing affairs between countries or regions. The “state-centric” regard to politics is no longer relevant, as so-called ‘foreign politics’ is no longer foreign but very much part of domestic political life. To disregard this globalisation of politics is to disregard a large sector of issues that affect domestic politics, as decisions are no longer made on the basis of the concerns of merely one state. The balance of power in foreign affairs has shifted away from the state and towards multilateral institutions. The idea of cultural globalisation is again important when looking at politics, as the culture of a country distinctly affects the political and economic climates. Economic globalisation too affects politics, for example the ‘Banana Wars’ between the European Union and World Trade Organisation over preferential treatment by EU countries towards banana producers in the Caribbean. This move towards free trade has meant that the European Union has had to alter some of its policies, as have many countries within the organisation. It can then be said that globalisation is of use when analysing politics as it reflects the changing world relations, and the need to adjust analysis as a consequence of this.

Sanders quote from Scholte, J 'Globalizaion', Palgrave, London, 2000

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What is globalization?

 

Anyone who follows the news with even cursory interest has witnessed fierce arguments regarding something called “globalization.” Among the highlights, we see that protesters in Seattle have rioted against it, that the G8 meets to guide its progress, and that the WTO is supposed to preside over its execution. But even the perceptive reader must be forgiven if, upon request, he is unable to provide a concise definition of “globalization.” For from its beginnings in 1980’s analysis of perestroika and détente, the term has grown in importance, and now encompasses a system that has partially supplanted the pre-21st century mode of international relations.1

Ignacio Ramonet provides an ideal entry-point for a discussion of globalization with his insightful remark that globalization “imposes the force of two powerful and contradictory dynamics on the world: fusion and fission.”2 The side of this dichotomy most often discussed is the integrative side, which seems to be the prime and explicit connotation of the term “globalization.” With the collapse of the great divisions of the Cold War, the relatively staid network of inter-state alliances has been replaced by a new discourse that emphasizes market values above ]all others. Under this new, economically-driven political system, barriers to free trade between different countries are seen as impediments to the ever-increasing efficiency of the economy, and therefore must be eliminated for the sake of economic growth. 3 The world’s developed nations have become gigantic investors in each others’ markets, allocating and exchanging capital, labor, and knowledge over great distances with fluid agility. Nor do the less developed countries (LDCs) miss out on the fruits of free trade; with their previously-untapped labor forces, these countries can make huge gains through exports. In fact, the information revolution has allowed these countries to export services as well as goods, as seen by the rapidly-proliferating call centers in many of these nations. All the countries of the world are drawn tightly together in a bewildering web of economic relationships that benefit everyone.

Beneath this shimmering veneer of everybody-wins capitalism, however, lie fractured remnants of the casualties of the inexorably increasing competitiveness in this new global era. This is the other side of globalization, governed by its divisive aspect. In some cases, it acts on those unwilling or unable to comply with its mandate of unification. Ramonet, in the same article as mentioned above, gives the example of the 3 Warsaw pact nations of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the USSR. In the new era of globalization, these have shattered into 22 nations, many of them badly rived by ethnic and cultural strife.4 Aside from these overt cases of the consequences of globalization, however, it is easily observed that even the developed countries are somewhat disingenuous in declaring their dedication to untrammeled international commerce. The nation-state is still the supreme actor in the world, and every state is still quietly willing to implement protectionist measures as long as its allies do not protest too loudly. The fact that the European Union and United States grant around $300B per year in agricultural subsidies is illustrative of this state-centric selfishness; it is also worth noting, along the lines of selfishness, that this is roughly six times the amount that these richest countries spend on aid. 5 This last figure suggests that globalization might not be equally focused on all human wellbeing, and indeed by many accounts globalization has done nothing to stop the widening of one of the greatest gaps of all, that between the rich and the poor.6

Given the respective normative values afforded by these mutually opposed sides of globalization, it is unsurprising that those who support or oppose globalization tend to emphasize one side rather than the other. While my analysis of their positions will unfold along those lines, it is important to note that both the integrative and divisive aspects of globalization are manifestations of a single entity, and to analyze either in the absence of its larger context is to miss the point. Never the less, there are good points to be made by each side.

 

Arguments for globalization

 

Given that globalization is the engine that fuels the intense economic growth of the developed world, it goes without saying that its supporters should be many and extremely powerful. With few exceptions, these include not just the governments of the G8 and other developed nations, but also the governments of the LDCs. These governments have committed themselves to the pursuit of globalization by signing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), empowering the WTO to enforce free trade, even to the point of sanctioning member nations for violations.

This clear hegemony of globalization stems from the fact that globalization itself is a natural consequence of the modern economical framework.7 The preponderance of current economic thought supports the central proposition of globalization: that free-trade is essential for the maximization of economic efficiency and growth. The marriage of globalization to this extraordinarily powerful social science has proved to be among its most useful assets, and the most forceful arguments for globalization are those that deal with economics.

As for this free-trade principle, there appears to be a good deal of evidence to support it. Most economists agree that poverty is linked to growth; on average, for every 1 point of real GDP contraction, poverty increases by 2 points.8 A large study of nearly 200 countries from 1961 to 1999 revealed that the majority of countries which showed high growth had governments dedicated to free trade, whereas most of those countries in which the economies shrank (especially those with severe contractions) had implemented protectionist policies.9 Other proponents of globalization add that those countries that earliest entered the global market have had the highest growth. And, according to the World Bank, the 1990’s saw the first-ever reduction in gross poverty, from 1.2B to 1.1B people.10 Finally, there is the spectacular example of the East Asian countries, which have exploited knowledge capital via globalization to achieve astonishing export-driven growth rates. In summary, free trade creates growth, uplifting those in poverty and uniting them with the developed world in joint prosperity.

It must be said that the vast majority of the arguments in favor of globalization rely on the causal relationships from free trade to growth and growth to poverty-reduction. Perhaps the deep reverence in which this principle is held, coupled with the already rapid spread of globalization, has caused an exuberant spirit among its proponents and eliminated many potential seeds of doubt. And while the general truth of that principle is difficult to dispute, there are those who question the practice of applying it unconditionally to all economies worldwide.

 

Arguments against globalization

 

Since most economists are supporters of the spread of globalization, the popular opposition to globalization is based mainly on social and moral grounds. Some opponents are governments of LDCs that perceive globalization as impinging upon their sovereignty, and others are NGOs or aid groups that deplore the humanitarian consequences of globalization. Yet there is a small, but vocal minority of economists who challenge even the economic basis for globalization.

The primary problem these economists see in globalization is the serious failure of large investors to tailor their economic approach to the country at hand. These investors include the IMF, World Bank and the U.S. Treasury, both of which are unflinchingly devoted to the free-market concept. The typical (and oft-repeated) scenario is that an LDC seeks out loans from the IMF or U.S. Treasury to develop the infrastructure required to join the global market. As a condition of these loans, these lenders impose stringent conditions on the borrowing country’s budget. Frequently, the borrowing country is ordered to cut social programs to service its debt, or to eliminate controls on the market; both of these conditions can be disastrous, leading to an ongoing dependence of the borrowing country on foreign aid.11 A country cannot successfully join the global economy if it is hamstrung by unreasonable external controls.

Another problem with globalization as implemented by the Northern hegemony is that it is inherently designed to serve the interests of the North. As an example, a World Bank analysis of the effects of the 1994 Uruguay talks showed that the United States and Europe were extremely well off, but sub-Sarharan Africa actually lost 3%. Part of the reason for this is that while LDCs are forced to open their doors to the imports of the developed countries of the North, the latter countries use unfair “anti-flooding” laws or specious health or safety standards to block much of the LDCs’ exports from ever reaching markets. 12

A few economists even debate the veracity of most claims for the success of globalization. Nowhere is the divisive influence of globalization better seen, they argue, than in this sobering statistic: in 1980, the median income of the top decile of wealthy countries was 77 times that of the bottom decile, but in 1999 this disparity had grown to 122 times. Also, much of the supposed growth and alleviation of poverty in LDCs can be accounted for by the inclusion of China’s per capita GDP, a misleading statistic given the greatly increasing inequality in that country.13

 

Conclusion

 

In presenting the two sides of globalization I have remained mostly within the realm of economics to explain globalization and its attendant phenomena. But there are, as I mentioned earlier, serious moral and social problems with today’s globalization that compel me to view it with deep skepticism. Part of what repels me is the North’s seemingly boundless arrogance in suggesting to LDCs that it, rather than they, should control their economies. This idea is not only antidemocratic, but inimical to the very core of what free trade ought to represent.14 More disturbingly, the North’s implementation of globalization smacks of imperialism.

To illustrate this point, I make reference to Johan Galtung’s structural theory of imperialism. In this framework, the more developed country is divided into an elite center, and the less-empowered periphery. Since the goal of the center is to increase its dominion over the periphery, and the goal of the periphery to resist this encroachment, there is some amount of disunity within this developed country. Then, however, the center of this developed country takes an interest in an LDC. By transacting with a certain class within that LDC, the center of the developed nation elevates that class to center status within the LDC. To cement its newfound domination by pleasing its master, this center of the LDC (which is proportionally much smaller than the center of the developed nation, due to the developed nation’s republican government) aids the center of the developed nation in striping away the resources of the periphery of the LDC and passing them to the center of the developed nation, which uses the resources in its own quest for supremacy. One would hope that perhaps the peripheries of the two nations would realize their similar plight and rise up to end this unfortunate situation, but since the periphery of the developed nation is culturally closer to the center of its own nation than to the LDC, the exploitative relationship continues unabated.15

This theory of globalization extends effortlessly from the original theory of imperialism, and goes precisely to the heart of Ramonet’s dichotomy: productive unification does occur, but only for the elites of the countries involved. Far more serious are the consequences for the lower classes everywhere, who, as a result of the increasing power of the elites, are ever more-distant from parity.

This is not to say that globalization should be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, a democratization of world trade can and does have many beneficial effects. What is needed, however, is a system of globalization that is equitable and benefits LDCs as much – or even more – than developed nations. Only then will globalization truly achieve what it professes.



1 “Dueling globalizations: A debate between Thomas L. Friedman and Ignacio Ramonet” Foreign Policy, Fall 1999 issue 116, p110 This idea is Friedman’s

2 Ibid.

3 Gill, Stephen. “Constitutionalizing Inequality and the Clash of globalizations”, International Studies Review; Summer 2002, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p47

4 Friedman and Ramonet, 2002

5 Birdsall, Nancy. “Cheerleaders, cynics, and worried doubters”. Global Agenda, Jan 2003 Issue 1. p32

6 Hersh, Adam, and Weller, Christian E., “Free Markets and Poverty,”. The American Prospect, Volume 13 Issue 1. January 1-14 2002.

7 Gill 2002

8 Hersh and Weller, 2002

9  Panagariya, Arvind, as cited in Bhagwati, Jagdish, “The Human Face of globalization.”  Global Agenda, Jan 2004 Issue 2, p74

10 Birdsall 2003.

11 Stiglitz, Joseph E., “Globalism’s Discontents.” American Prospect, Volume 13, Issue 1. January 1-14 2002.

12 Ibid.

13 Hersh and Weller, 2002.

14 Stiglitz, 2002.

15 Galtung, Johan. “A Structural Theory of Imperialism”, Journal of Peace Research 8: 81-117, 1971. reprinted in “Approaches to Peace,” 2000, ed. Barash, David P.

Babel

Thoughts about the globalizing world

One of my housemates made an interesting observation: whilst it has been something peculiar for our grandparents to see someone of indian or chinese ancestry speaking fluent English without any accent, this has become something normal for our generation (the now 20- to 30-year-olds). The times are nearing an end in which one could infer a person's mother tongue based on the colour of their skin.

One of my lecturers in Mathematics immigrated to Australia from China und his English reflects this transition. Compare that with the accent of our two chinese housemates (both of our age) which is still detectable but to a much lesser extent than that of my professor. Whilst staying in Singapore, I was given the chance to meet some kids of the next chinese generation (the now 8- to 12-year-olds) who will grow up bi- or even trilingual and will speak English fluently as well as Mandarin without any trace of an accent. Tomorrows adults will not only be products but rather shapers of globalization and internationalization in the 21st century.

Not that this is an entirely new thought. After conquering Persia, Alexander the Great knowingly encouraged his greek soldiers to marry women of the then new provinces of his kingdom, knowing that tomorrow's elite would have to understand more than one civilization to govern his giant realm. Furthermore, he was on the verge of fusing together elements of Greek, Egyptian and Persian culture. Well, Alexander died too young to see his great plans bear fruit, although we know from history where his actions subsequently led: the ascendancy of Hellenism and a second Golden Age in Egypt under the reign of the Ptolemies.

Keeping this in mind, let's think ahead. When transportation and communication bring humans closer and closer to one another we will see the emergence of a social class of true cosmopolitans who will thrive in several civilizations at a time due to their ancestry and/or educational background. Together, the six inhabitants of our house speak (besides English, our common language) French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Portugese, Singahlese, Spanish and Tamil (not to mention Latin and Acient Greek). I wonder how many (and which) languages our successors in 30 years will speak.

Remarks

See also Thomas L. Friedman, The World is Flat. A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005.

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