The Wold is Not Flat

The World is Not Flat: How Thomas Friedman gets it wrong about globalization.

By Mark Engler : Dollars & Sense

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archies/2008/0508toc.html

“In an eloquent critique of The World Is Flat, Indianeco-feminist Vandana Shiva writes:

Friedman has reduced the world to the friends he visits, the CEOs he knows, and the golf courses he plays at. From this microcosm of privilege, exclusion, blindness, he shuts out both the beauty of diversity and the brutality of exploitation and inequality.

That is why he talks of 550 million Indian youth overtaking Americans in a flat world. When the entire information technology/outsourcing sector in India employs only a million out of a 1.2 billion people.

Food and farming, textiles and clothing, health and education are nowhere in Friedman’s monoculture of mind locked into IT. Friedman presents a 0.1 percent picture and hides 99.9 percent. In the eclipsed 99.9 percent are the 25 million women who disappeared in high growth areas of India because a commodified world has rendered women a dispensable sex. In the hidden 99.9 percent economy are thousands of tribal children in Orissa,Maharashtra, Rajasthan who died of hunger because thepublic distribution system for food has been dismantled to create markets for agribusiness.”

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One Response

  1. Well, I have avidly read, always, Vandana Shiva’s articles on globalization, and agriculture etc. And I fully subscribe to her views on how ” Friedman presents a 0.1 percent picture and hides 99.9 percent.” Btw, did you know that when Friedman visited India, prior to writing his “path breaking” book, he had an appointment with Vandana Shiva, which he canceled at the last minute, without giving any reason! I think we know why, dont we?!

    Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel winner for economics and was Chief Economist at World Bank) said while on a trip to India, that 600 million people from India (out of the one billion!) have been left out of the “development” fold of globalization. So, obviously, all India is not going to migrate into middle class, if anything the inequality is far, far worse now, after the advent of globalization.

    Similarly newspaper reports have pointed out how Chinese workers are working in apalling conditions, to churn out the low cost products, with poor pay, cramped rooms, no accident or health insurance benefits, no job security, no overtime, long working hours – so who is actually benefiting from this sort of globalization? Corporates ofcourse, and the few privileged people of India and China who have been able to get educated in engineering and technology! Not the vast majority of population.

    I would much rather the discourse on Globalization came from economists like Joesph Stiglitz , Paul Krugman (Princeton), Pankaj Ghemawat (Harvard)etc. Ted Koppel interviews Friedman and Joseph Stiglitz, who ofcourse doesnt find a mention in Friedman’s book.
    http://select.nytimes.com/2006/04/25/opinion/25friedman-transcript.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

    There is a small, but interesting book I would recommend reading, by Aronica and Ramdoo, “The World is Flat? A Critical Analysis of Thomas Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller.” It offers counterprespective to Friedman’s theory on globalization. It is a small book compared to the 600 page tome by Friedman, and aimed at the common man and students alike. As popular as the book may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous. The authors point to the fact that there isn’t a single table or data footnote in Friedman’s entire book.

    “Globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution,” says Aronica. Aronica and Ramdoo conclude by listing over twenty action items that point the way forward, for understanding the critical issues of globalization.

    You may want to see http://www.mkpress.com/flat
    and watch http://www.mkpress.com/flatoverview.html
    for an interesting counterperspective on Friedman’s
    “The World is Flat”.

    Also a really interesting 6 min wake-up call: Shift Happens! http://www.mkpress.com/ShiftExtreme.html

    There is also a companion book listed: Extreme Competition: Innovation and the Great 21st Century Business Reformation
    http://www.mkpress.com/extreme
    http://www.mkpress.com/Extreme11minWMV.html

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