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Academic Views 1. The World is Flat Shamkhal Abilov

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Academic Views 1 The World is Flat Shamkhal Abilov Thomas L. Friedman: The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century. Published by the Penguin Books Ltd, 6 April ISBN-10: ,
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Academic Views 1 The World is Flat Shamkhal Abilov Thomas L. Friedman: The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century. Published by the Penguin Books Ltd, 6 April ISBN-10: , ISBN-13: , x Globalization has been the core debate of the social science at the end of 20th and beginning of the 21st century, mainly after the 9/11 events. Several researches were dedicated to find out whether it is ongoing historical process and helps world development or an instrument, which has the driving force behind it and impedes development in non-western societies. In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman seeks to investigate the influence of globalization over the developing countries from western perspectives. Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times foreign affairs columnist, has won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work at The New York Times. He is the author of other best-selling books, From Beirut to Jerusalem, Lexus and Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization and Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. Friedman is also the winner of the National Book Award. His exclusive trip from Frankfurt to Bangalore, the birthplace of Indian high technology, rigorously inspired the author to run in-depth research in flat world. At the beginning of his book, Friedman contrasts his visit to Bangalore with the Columbus travel across Atlantic Ocean to find the short way to India in He illustrates, Columbus reported to his king and queen that the world was round, and he went down in history as the man who first made this discovery. I returned home and shared my discovery only with my wife, and only in a whisper. Honey, I confided, I think the world is flat (p.5). Later, author expresses his ideas why he came to this conclusion that the world is flat. The main idea behind the book is - because of technological innovations, such as; computers, cell phones, internet, wireless technology, search engines, the world is flattening, -getting narrower people living in more interconnected world. Furthermore, in interconnected world, it is easy to access resources and technology, share knowledge and ideas, reduce trade barriers and increase technological advancement in society, which create possibility for the efficient business across all over the world. He divided his book into seven Chapters; How the World Became Flat, America and the Flat World, Developing Countries and the Flat World, Companies and the Flat World, You and the Flat World, Geopolitics in the Flat World, and Conclusion: Imagination, and each Chapter is divided into several subchapters. In his book, Friedman tries to explain the story of globalization from the year 1492 until today. He believes that there are historically three great periods of globalization. According to him, the First Wave of Globalization was dating from 1492 until around 1800, when the world was shrunken from large to medium. The Second Wave of Globalization dated from 1800 until 2000,which is identified by the author as an age of Industrial Revolution and Multinational Companies. During that period, the world was Shamkhal Abilov March 2013 transformed from medium to small. This period ended around 2000, when the Third Wave of Globalization began and the world became even smaller, tiny- Flat World. This is an age of not horsepower and hardware, but age of Internet, high-tech- software where individuals are the main actors. To Friedman, if the first two Waves were dominated mainly by Europe and America, in third Wave new powers came to existence. He shows rapid development of Indian high-tech center Bangalore and Chinese Dalian cities as main examples for the new emerging world center and great threat for the future development of the West. Friedman highlights ten major forces that bring the world into flattening during the Third Wave of Globalization. It began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, among other things, opened up free-market opportunities between capitalist and post- Communist societies and discredit Soviet style economic system. However, he adds, with the fall of the Berlin Wall the rise of Windows-enabled PC increased, which goes hand in hand and caused the global information revolution. The next step was in 1995, when World Wide Web went public and Internet facilities emerged, which connect individuals in different part of globe. The third flattener is workflow software, which became effective in the mid 1990s and let peoples to share ideas and inventories, make businesses and collaborate easily across the world. The forth one is uploading, which allows individuals or communities to put information on Web or sending data from a local system to remote computers for a second. Friedman states that by uploading we also become producers, not just consumers. The next flattener is outsourcing, by which companies and group of peoples share their works and ideas easily in different part of the globe. He gives Indian high-tech centre Bangalore as an example of company quickly outsourcing the works of people living in the US. Friedman defines off shoring as a sixth flattener, which means moving production out of country by integration to the global market. He tries to differentiate off shoring with the previous one outsourcing, which means combination of the different companies all over the world and managing the production together. Moreover, the author argues that, off shoring means, as mentioned above, moving of company completely to different country and start producing and exporting in that place. The reason for off shoring is cheap labor, low wages, low-level tax system, and huge market. The existence of most of well-known companies in China and India is a perfect example for it. Supplychaining comes next as a flattener force, which was defined by the author as a horizontally collaborating method in order to create a value between exporters, distributers as well as consumers. The author argues that the idea behind this force is to find highly qualified, but low cast commodities for a high rated demanded market in order to prevent deficit and good supply surplus. The eight forces are what Friedman calls in sourcing, which brings specialist together in order to fill temporary needs or training existing personnel to perform tasks. It is opposite of outsourcing and can be seen as an outsourcing form opposite side. For instance, a company of any country opens its branch in second country. From the first country perspectives, it is outsourcing, but from the view of second country it is in sourcing. In-forming defined by the author as number ninth flattener. The author argues that, by the use of search engines, informing is an ability to build and deploy your own supply chain of information, knowledge and entertainment. Finally the last, tenth flattener for the Academic Views 3 Friedman is a steroids. It is a new system combining digital, mobile, personal, and virtual technologies together. Overall analyses of the book depicts that it is well-written and pretty illustrating book, though, lacks in some extents due to several lame arguments that subsequently cause paradoxes misleading the real essence and thus the book barely convinces the reader. Friedman s proposed 10forces strive to persuade us that we are living in the flat world. However, if we make a survey over these factors, two of them are important for the world history; the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which brings end of Cold War and Communism in most part of the world, and invention of Worldwide Web, which made communication easy. Nevertheless, other eight forces are the details of these two events and explain how they work. I think dedicating one-third of the book for explaining all of these, which is not easily understandable that leads to confuse readers, is nonsense. While coming to the general evaluation of the Friedman's book, whether it is relevant for the reader in order to get adequate knowledge about globalization or not, I would like to talk some ideas mentioned by the author, which seems to me more controversial and paradoxical. At the beginning of the book Friedman argues that, the world is not flattening, it is already Flat. Nevertheless, coming to the end of the book we can see that he divided the world, and argues that the world is not all entirely flat. According to his division, the world consists of three parts; flat, half flat, and unflat world. His world division is re-theorizing First, Second, and Third World concept. Another paradoxical point is that, towards the end of book he talks about the people, who are living in unflat world. According to author, in unflat world, people live outside the capitalist world and free market economy, where criminals, violence, diseases, and civil wars compete with one another. He raises a question about how to bring these people into the flat world. Friedman considered that transformation of the western values ; free and competitive market, liberal economy, global trade, democracy, good governance, and adequate knowledge are the only way to get unflat world into the flat world. Nevertheless, on the other part of the book, he talks about his visit to India that, I went there in order to find why they get our jobs and he sees the rising of Indian and Chinese high-tech as a future threat for the Western world (p.83). He argues that in order to keep its position as a world leader, the US has to pay attention to the production of great numbers of specialized workers in all sphere of knowledge. Even he suggests his daughters that, Girls, finish your homework-people in India and China starving for your jobs (p.279). As he overestimates Indian high-tech development, anybody with the less information about the world politics would consider India as a superpower of the 21st century, but it is still poor third-world country. On the other hand, while discussing the idea of transformation of western values we can also face the question that whether US really interested in to transfer the values or there are some hidden interests behind it? And if yes, US is really going to bring those values to unflat world, why it does not begin one of it best ally-saudi Arabia-in the Middle East. Moreover, if we analyze Iraqi case the interests of America are obvious. I believe that, whatever US does it is because of its benefit and it never thinks to help development of any region in order to be economic or political threat for it in future. Shamkhal Abilov March 2013 In the other part of book, Friedman talks about the Islamic terrorism as a threat for Flat world, Middle East as a dark valley, and backwardness of Arab and Muslim culture. He argue that technological developments bring countries more competitive and economically secure world, but unfortunately on the other side of coin, it enables terrorist groups, such as al-qaeda, to use this development as a threat against flattening. He state that, Flat world connects people to people much faster than people and cultures can often prepare themselves. (p.555) Friedman himself describes the leaders of this terrorist group as; the founder of al-qaeda are not religious fundamentalists per se. That is, they are not focused simple on the relationship between themselves and God, and on the values and cultural norms of the religious community. They are political phenomenon more than religious one. (p.558) I believe that Islamic community also does not accept it as a religious group, because God, in Koran, forbids killing of innocent people or using guerilla war. The problem is that why western authors, even if they see al-qaeda as a political unit rather than religious one, as mentioned above by Friedman, identify it as Muslim terrorists, Islamic extremists, or religious fundamentalists and why they relate this to Islam. However, non-of them talks about how it was created. Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-qaeda, was a former US militant, trained in America, and al-qaeda was created by him with the direct support of US, in order to fight against Soviet Union during Soviet-Afghanistan War. Here we can come to this result, whenever one is a more American oriented then is capable to do whatever possible (for instance Saudi-Arabia). However, if one stands against the US, it increases the danger of being in an economic and political target of it (Iraq, Iran). I accept that today countries in the Middle East have been out of step in an age of free markets, free trade, rule of law, and democratic governance. Nevertheless, for centuries, Islamic culture has been center of many significant scientific, intellectual, and artistic discoveries. For example, algebra, which is important for the development of today's high-tech, was invented in Arab world. For that reason, talking about Islam as a religion of terrorism and Muslim culture as backward means ignoring the history. He also argues that intergovernmental, international, and multinational institutions; like WTO, World Bank, and others will lose their functions being as an important factor in globalized world and individuals will be the main actors of flat. However, if we look at the history of globalization, there is a great debate between globalists and skeptics on, whether these organizations; IMF, WTO, World Bank, and WHO, are the embodiment of western dominance or global civilizers. Globalists see these type organizations as the main actors in the globalization process and argue that increase in amount of international and transnational organization leads the nation states to lose the hegemony, which is one of the main factors to define globalization. They also underlined the increasing role of the MNCs in world production. The growing importance of Multinational Institutions in global economic governance, such as IMF, WTO, leads to development of trade and economic cooperation among the economically divided world and bring them into cooperation in global world. In conclusion, I would like to say that Friedman's book is academically misinformed and misleading since it obviously represents US-centric views. He is very optimistic about ongoing processes and seems that the people interviewed by Friedman were the leaders or chairpersons of Multinational corporations and international institutions, who had benefited from the Globalization and have not seen the bad side of it. The whole Academic Views 5 book is a good story about globalization. But in general, despite all criticisms and challenges, Frieadman's book is informative and useful for those looking for introduction to the process and events related to globalization and highly recommended due to the arguments brought by author, which are widely debatable and instructive.
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