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3:50AM

Deleted scenes: Chapter Seven

 

What's so scary about globalization today is that it's triggering a global consciousness regarding the possibilities of individual liberty, and, in doing so, it places a lot of elites in non-democratic societies in a tough place. In tandem, they must justify their rule by exploiting globalization's connectivity to raise individual incomes while resisting globalization's cultural "pollution" (i.e., all those dangerous ideas of individual freedom) that only raises individual expectations. In other words, their "sell" on regime legitimacy becomes, "I'm making this connectivity happen in a way that enriches our nation while protecting all of you from content that will threaten our collective identity." I'm not saying the same isn't true for leaders in democratic nations, just that it's a whole lot easier for them because, by and large, popular expectations are easier to meet in our type of democracy.

 

Why? American-style democracies tend to come with a substantial middle class, whose ideology is one of self-improvement through self-empowerment, meaning these people look to the government primarily for its role in keeping the playing field reasonably level. The rich, in contrast, look to the government primarily to protect them (and their wealth) from the demands of the poor, while the poor look to the government for protection from their very circumstances. What we're missing right now in globalization is that sense of a worldwide middle-class ideology that says, "We're the hard-working members of this global community and this is what we think would be a fair deal." Invariably, most experts today describe the world as a super-elite sitting high above the "bottom billion," reducing everything to the extremes of "haves" and "have-nots." We have no global leaders of note speaking to the global middle right now, just narrow-minded populist leaders echoing the hopes and fears of their own "middle" back home, typically promising them refuge from the storm when they should be linking those hopes and fears to what Jeffrey Sachs's dubs globalization's emerging "common wealth"--overwhelmingly found in the invisible middle.

 

So in relatively open democracies, globalization tends to trigger the self-examining question, "What does it mean to be an [American]?" more than it does "Who gets to be an [American]?" By and large, democracies assume the right to choose one's family/networks/citizenship, so questions about globalization are less nationalistic in tenor and more individualistic--less "How is globalization changing [America]? and more "How's it working out for you?"


The short answer for anybody, whether they're in democracies or not, depends primarily on their freedom to network with others and how effective they are at doing so. Globalization, just like the web, is a "weapon of mass collaboration." Globalization's "Goldilocks" mix of stable behemoths surrounded by innovative tykes is clearly reflected on the level of individual workers: more people work in small firms than in big ones, and an increasing share of workers are assuming the role of "free agents" within the economy--either formally or informally.  At first, it seemed like only those who worked for larger firms were
in danger of having their jobs "outsourced," but increasingly free agents realize they're in much the same boat, especially since free markets, in their capacity for innovation, tend to outsource most jobs "to the past," as David Rothkopf observes. So the real shift in risk here seems to be from the collective (whether it's a country, culture or company) to the individual in the sense that globalization takes what was once a given, your occupation (often inherited from your parent), and says in effect, "You don't own it, because virtually everybody else on this planet can do it, and anybody can add new technologies or services that consign it to the dustbin of economic history." So even among the freest agents in this world, there's no success unless you're willing to regularly adapt to changing circumstances. Globalization is all about networks and networks allow for workarounds. Workarounds are the essence of resilience--re-rendering rules on the fly. So being good at globalization means being able to adjust your rules (as a person, company, military, country) in response to environmental change. Simply put, globalization demands we all evolve faster.

...

 

Development-in-a-Box is a highly flexible framework for post-conflict reconstruction and development as well as for enabling emerging market countries that are not in a post-conflict or post-failed state environment. The process is often initially supported by the international community or a single developed economic power (as in our ongoing work in Iraq), but it can be used by any group whose programs aim to serve as a catalyst for attracting private sector investment. In general, Development-in-a-Box involves a four-step flexible framework:

  • First, it creates a wire frame, or economy-wide "map," for understanding the internationally recognized best practices and standards for compliance, security, and management efficiency that are requirements for any emerging market country to integrate into the global economy

 

 

  • Second, it delivers standardized, pre-configured technology and management solutions that can be adapted to meet the specific historical, socio-economic, cultural and other unique requirements of that nation, allowing a country to jump-start itself in the industry segments on which it is focusing 

 

 

  • Third, it embeds the business logic, or electronic rule sets, that constitute the best ways of operating an organization into its information and management systems, keeping these business processes compliant with changing requirements much like anti-virus software keeps a computer updated on rapidly changing threats 

 

 

  • Finally, beginning in the first stages, local personnel are trained and educated and function as apprentices who learn the international practices and standards of that industry sector, allowing them to have the capability transferred to their operation after a multi-year training period.

...

 

As for those who argue that more focus on the postwar "everything else" will leave America vulnerable on high-end warfare, there I think the "big war" crowd makes the same mistaken assumption that big corporations make about the disutility of selling to the "bottom of the pyramid":  anything that addresses conflict management inside the Gap should inform the same inside the Core, just like any product advances triggered by sales to the bottom of the pyramid result in similar product gains at the top. This is the crux of the grand strategic question we face as a country today: Do we abandon attempts to manage the global security order out of the fear that it will drain our capacity to meet rising, near-peer challenges, or do we make inevitable such great power conflict across the Core by refusing to address the security challenges of the Gap in concert with those same great powers?


...

 

One last image: the ad includes a map that delineates, in successive 500 kilometer rings, Macedonia's connective grasp across Europe. Think about that for a second: not the reach of Macedonia's missiles but its economic ambition.

Reader Comments (1)

I'm looking forward to see DiB finally implemented in Kabul. If we had had something like that in the fall of 2001 and into 2002, Afghanistan may by now something resembling a real country. Keep up the good work!
February 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobert L

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