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The World is Flat: Chapter 12

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Geopolitics and the Flat World

         

Summary of Chapter Twelve: The Unflat World: No Guns or Cell Phones Allowed

 

Friedman answers questions about his philosophy. He claims he is a technological determinist; that is, if a technology gets invented, it will be used by people. He does not know how these developments will play out. He admits only one half of the world feels the technological flattening process. There are millions who do not participate in these events.

 

People who have no hope of change, such as rural people in Africa who are ill with AIDS or malaria and whose governments are broken, are left behind in this new era. Friedman encourages collaboration between the flat and unflat worlds, such as Bill Gates's contribution to world health solutions. This is better than the response of the world populist movement, or the antiglobalization movement, that staged demonstrations against the World Bank in Seattle in 1999. These liberals wanted to stop globalization as a force that was destroying Third World countries. Friedman says they were already out of date because they discussed whether we should globalize; it had already happened. The discussion should be about how we globalize. Modern reform has to be about making globalization sustainable and fair. Today, both NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and corporations are collaborating to bring rural areas out of poverty. On the other hand, Friedman points out, are the angry Islamic terrorists, who are left out of this picture and resent what is happening. Al-Qaeda uses the wired world platform for its own purposes to sabotage and destroy.

 

Commentary on Chapter Twelve: The Unflat World: No Guns or Cell Phones Allowed

 

This chapter comments on the counter arguments against the phenomenon of globalization. Globalization seems to be a middle-class experience in developed countries, leaving out half the world's population, due to poverty, disease, ignorance, political unrest, or resistant cultures. Friedman makes a case that whether or not people like it, globalization through technology is here, and a better question to ask is how to direct it in a beneficial way for all. Although the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 had not yet happened when this book was written, Friedman sees it coming by pointing out that Muslim intellectuals and the young Muslim professionals feel cheated by their backward cultures from joining the rest of the world. Friedman also takes seriously the question of the environment and the political fight over energy sources. He maintains that the technology is available to get off oil dependency, but that we lack the leadership to do so.




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