In recent years, the notion that the world, if not flat, is rapidly flattening as a result of the forces of globalization has gained currency to the point of becoming a platitude. So mobile, so interconnected, so integrated is this new world that historic barriers are no more, interaction is global, ever-freer trade rules the globe, the flow of ideas (and money and jobs) accelerates by the day, and choice, not constraint, is the canon of the converted. Join the “forces of flattening” and you will reap the benefits, say Thomas Friedman and others who advance this point of view. Don’t, and you will fall off the edge. The option is yours.
But is it? In truth, though the world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, we are still parachuted into places so different that the common ground of globalization has just the thinnest of topsoil. One of some 7,000 languages will become our “mother tongue”; only a small minority of us will have the good fortune of being raised in a version of English, the primary language of globalization. One of tens of thousands of religious denominations is likely to transmit the indoctrination most of us will carry for life. A combination of genetic and environmental conditions defines health prospects that still vary widely around the planet. [continued…]