Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Road Globalization?

I think we are missing a really large point regarding the term globalization. Globalization does not merely apply to the flow of goods working to our advantage, which is how the term is usually applied; what globalization really means is that as communication, travel and trade are facilitated the world becomes subject to something called “entropy.”

Entropy means that, “All systems tend to equilibrium.”

So long as the world was fragmented, nations could live in manners that were vastly different in almost every way; language, culture, and above all standards of wealth and comfort. With globalization comes a blending of all of that; populations mix and intermingle, and poorer nations become aware of the richer nations’ ways.

For something like six decades we have enjoyed a standard of living which is vastly richer than most of the rest of the world; significantly better than other “developed” nations. We have assumed that as globalization advanced and pressure increased to make standards of living more equal, the process would be one of raising the rest of the world to our standard. With us being some 5% of the world’s population, however, and consuming something on the order of 25% of the world’s resources, that has always been a truly idiotic assumption.

We are on a crusade now to find “alternative energy” and are taking other measures to maintain our standard of living and, while I support the first part, I think the second part is a pipe dream. Right vs. wrong aside, the rest of the world is not going to allow us to “hog the benefits” and it is utterly impossible for the rest of the world to live the way we do; the Earth simply does not have the resources to accomplish that.

For all of the world to enjoy an equal lifestyle, ours is going to have to diminish from what it was at its peak, and I would suggest that it is already doing so. We are still the world's premier military power, but in what other respect do we lead the world in quality? We did no better than anyone else in the latest financial crisis, and in fact we actually led the collapse. Our infrastructure is failing badly; how many nations have major bridges collapsing in the middle of their cities? It’s well known that we trail badly in health care, and we lack the will to rectify that with anything other than a patchwork measure than nibbles around the edges of the problem. We have one of the world’s largest divides between rich and poor.

These can all be seen as greed and corruption, but what if they are merely the result of trying to maintain that which is not maintainable? What if these things are merely what is happening because we are Canute trying to hold back the tide of globalization?

In 1800 England thought it was going to be the world’s superpower forever.

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