Part I: Critique
Globalization: The Super-Story is an article written by Thomas L. Friedman. Friedman is a journalist, author and a television commentator who tries to give unbiased opinions on cultural, political and economic issues. His article Globalization: The Super-Story talks about the cold war systems and the globalization system and does a comprehensive discussion on the differences between these two systems. The author takes his readers through the historic cold war period and then brings them to the present globalization period. The author also uses events such as the 9/11 event to demonstrate to his readers the effects that globalization has on individual persons, states and the world. Through such events, Friedman is also able to make an examination of the features of globalization alleging that globalization is the new and enhanced system that replaced the cold war system. The author makes use of simple short phrases such as “a big lens, a big framework and a big framework to demonstrate his support in the idea of the super story.
Part II: Summary
Friedman believes in the super story idea, the idea that all persons will carry around with them a big framework and lens which they use to see the world, order of events and in deciding what is important. Events such as 9/11 happened in the new international system known as globalization which is not capable of explaining everything but has the ability of explaining and connecting more things in more locations on more days than anything else. Globalization is the new system lens which replaced the cold war system which was the previous international system.
Friedman further defines globalization as the inevitable integration of markets, transportation and communication systems to a level that has never been witnessed before. Globalization enables corporations, states and people to reach the world faster, deeper, farther and cheaper than it was previously.
There are differences between the cold war system and globalization. The cold war system was characterized by division. The world was divided-up and a country’s or an individual’s threats or opportunities were derived from who they were connected to. The cold war system was also a symbol of one word which wall, the Berlin Wall. Globalization on the other hand has one dominant feature which is integration. The world has become an interwoven place with a person’s or a country’s threats or opportunities being derived from whom they are connected to. The word web or the World Wide Web also characterizes globalization. The world has, therefore gone from an international system made around division walls to a system which is made around integration and webs. In the cold war, people grasped for the hotline which symbolized that the U.S and Soviet Union were in charge. With globalization, people grasp for internet which symbolizes that all persons are connected and nobody is in charge.
Globalization has had a direct and an indirect effect on every person although its benefits are not enjoyed by all persons. Therefore, the more globalization gets diffused, the more it generates a backlash by individuals who feel overcome, homogenized or not able to put up with its demands.
The other main difference between these two systems is the manner of structuring of power within them. The cold-war was structured around nation-states. It entailed confrontation, balancing and aligning of states. The balancing of the cold war system was done by two superpowers that were the United States and the Soviet Union.
Globalization on the other hand is built around three overlapping balances. The first balance is the traditional power balance between nation-states. The United States in the globalization system is the only dominant superpower and all other states are its subordinate in one way or another. The balance of power shift between the U.S and other countries or just between other nations is very important for the stability of the globalization system.
The other significant power balance in the globalization system is between global markets and nation-states. These global markets are composed of many investors travelling through the world with a click of a mouse. These investors are referred to as the Electronic Herd. This herd assembles in main global financial centers like Wall Street, Frankfurt and London which the author refers to as the Supermarkets. The attitudes and activities of the Electronic Herd and the Supermarkets may have a big effect on nation-states presently even to the extent of prompting downfall of countries. For example, the Suharto in Indonesia was in 1998 was ousted by the Supermarkets when they withdrew their support and confidence in the economy of Indonesia. The comprehension of the newspapers cannot also be achieved without including the Supermarkets into one’s analysis. As the United States is in a position of destroying a country through dropping bombs, the Supermarkets are capable of destroying a country through downgrading its bonds. This means that the U.S is the main player in the maintenance of the globalization game board. The U.S is however, barely by itself when it comes to impacting on the moves on such game board.
The third balance is the balance between nation-states and individuals. It is the newest and has been seen to be of more relevance to the events of 9/11. Globalization has reduced the walls that put a limitation on people’s movement and reach. It has also concurrently wired the world into networks hence giving more power to people for influencing both the nation-states and the markets than at any other period in history. This has been through allowing individuals to utilize internet in communicating instantly at a very small price over long distances or through allowing individuals to use the internet in transferring money or obtaining weapons designs that usually would have been in control of states. This is also through allowing individuals to visit hardware shops and buying a global positioning instrument which is connected to a satellite that is capable of directing a hijacked plane. Globalization can, therefore, be an unbelievable force-multiplier for people as they can continue to act on the world stage straightaway without the interference form a country.
Presently, there is superpower, a Supermarket and super-empowered people. Some of the super-empowered people are angry and some are happy but both are in a position of acting with much more power worldwide.
Part III: Critique
I agree with Friedman that globalization has integrated the world. Today, it is possible to communicate with a person who is miles away and even see them through technologies such as Skype. Also, world trading has been enabled where investors from all over the world trade transact online in financial markets such as Wall Street. This is unlike during the cold war era or system where much division was encountered with states fighting and not working together to achieve a common goal.
I also agree with the author that globalization and cold war are very different. The cold war was a fight for power and states were allied to the two main superpowers that are the U.S and the Soviet Union. Globalization on the other hand entails all states being brought together by factors such as technology. There only seems to be only one superpower, the U.S and not two like in the cold war system. The U.S has been used to measure the performance of other countries. The U.S is also said to be behind major economic world decisions such as decisions by the International Monetary Funds, the World Bank and other international financial institutions. Also, world economies are compared to the dollar to measure their performances.
I also agree with the author that globalization has given states and individual more freedom to carry out activities that affect the world. It is now easy to manufacture nuclear weapons and other weapons and hide behind state sovereignty even through those weapons pose a danger to the world security. Technology has also gotten into the hands of people with bad intentions such as the terrorists leading to world bombings such as the 9/11 event. These actions can be done when someone is miles away from the destination of bombings through use of drones technology and other technologies.
Part IV: Conclusion
This article is titled Globalization: The super story and it is written by Thomas L. Friedman. The article is about the differences between the cold war system and the globalization system. The author thoroughly discusses the two systems giving vivid illustrations to elaborate his points. The article take one back to the historic cold war era and then brings back to the present day which is characterized by globalization. This article is a great piece in teaching the effects globalization has on both the individual persons, states and the world at large.