Fast-forward to the year 2100. Computers, writes physicist and creative thinker Michio Kaku in Physics of the prospect (Doubleday, 2011), will have humanlike cleverness, the Internet will be easy to get to via contact lenses, nanobots will eradicate cancers, space visiting the attractions will be cheap and well-liked, and we'll be colonize Mars. We will be a planetary society capable of overwhelming the 1017 watts of solar energy on the way out on Earth to get in somebody's company our energy needs, with the Internet as a worldwide telephone system; English and Chinese as the contenders for a planetary language; a unified background of common foods, fashions and films; and a beyond doubt global economy with many more intercontinental trading blocs such as we see today in the European Union and NAFTA.
Kaku's vision of how the swap over of science, technology and ideas in the middle of all peoples will create a worldwide civilization with greatly destabilized nation-states and almost no war is long-winded in its scope and daring in its encouragement. Many have felt similar hope for a amalgamated, peaceful future through globalization. Indeed, I evoked a comparable image in my book The Mind of the marketplace (Holt, 2009), and I was inspired in part by Thomas Friedman's wildly popular The World Is Flat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), in which he argues for "a global, Web-enabled in performance field that allow for multiple forms of collaboration on follow a line of investigation and work in real time, without regard to geography, distance or, in the near future, even language."
The difficulty for Kaku, Friedman, me and other globalization proponents (and even opponents) is that such a expectations may be beyond your reach because of our evolved tribal natures. In fact, this is all a bunch of "globaloney," says Pankaj Ghemawat, lecturer of strategic administration and Anselmo Rubiralta Chair of Global Strategy at IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona, in his new book World 3.0: Global affluence and How to Achieve It (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011). According to Ghemawat, only 10 to 25 percent of economic inactivity is international (and most of that is regional rather than global). Consider the following percentage (of the total in each category): international mail: 1; international telephone calling minutes: less than 2; worldwide Internet traffic: 17 to 18; foreign-owned patents: 15; exports as a percentage of GDP: 26; stock-market equity owned by foreign investors: 20; first-generation immigrants: 3. As Ghemawat starkly notes, 90 percent of the world's people will on no account leave their birth country. Some flattened globe.
The predicament, Ghemawat says, is that globalization theories fail to description for the very real detachment factors (geographic and cultural). He crunch these factors into a distance coefficient akin to Newton's law of gravitation. For example, he computes, "a 1 percent augment in the geographic distance between two locations leads to about a 1 percent diminish in trade between them," a distance understanding of -1. Or, he calculates, "U.S. trade with Chile is only 6 percent of what it would be if Chile were as close to the United States as Canada." Likewise, "two country with a common verbal statement trade 42 percent more on average than a similar pair of countries that lack that link. Countries sharing membership in a trade bloc (e.g., NAFTA) trade 47 percent more than otherwise similar countries that lack such shared membership. A common currency (like the euro) increases trade by 114 percent."
That analysis actually sounds heartening to me if we use Kaku's projected time frame of 2100. But Ghemawat reminds us of our deeply ingrained tendencies to want to work together with our kin and class and to retain our local customs and culture, which may forever balkanize any globalized scheme. Even as the E.U. expands, for case in point, an average of "Eurobarometer" surveys of residents of 16 E.U. countries between 1970 and 1995 made in 2004 by researchers at the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 48 percent trust their fellow nationals "a lot," 22 percent trust citizens of other E.U.-16 countries a lot and only 12 percent trust people in convinced other countries a lot.