Thursday, December 31, 2009


The beauty of the concept of globalization is that it is the process that eventually leads to increased health and happiness throughout the world as tyranny is slowly swept away by commerce, raising standards of living and more educated populations, long advocated by the principles of the Church’s social teaching.

This review, in the Wall Street Journal, of a new book about globalization, Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed—I’ve just ordered it so will write my own review soon—seems to describe that process as it truly begins to take hold, promising good for the planet.

An excerpt.

“Two years ago, as the world flirted with a second Great Depression, Gregg Easterbrook was in the midst of writing a book about the coming economic boom. A less confident writer might have abandoned the project in despair. But Mr. Easterbrook, a graduate of the New Republic's school of contrarian journalism, forged on regardless. The result is a book that is both a pleasure to read and a valuable corrective to the gloom that currently envelops us.

“The big idea behind "Sonic Boom" is that globalization—celebrated, reviled and analyzed for at least a decade now—has hardly begun. The world, Mr. Easterbrook believes, is on the verge of a period of pell-mell integration that will dwarf anything before now, and a good thing too: The coming age of global integration, he argues, will produce riches that none of us can imagine and scatter them more widely than ever before. But it is a good thing that comes wrapped in a paradox: Growing prosperity will also produce growing anxiety. If the besetting malady of the 19th century was "quiet desperation," as Henry Thoreau wrote in "Walden," then the besetting malady of the 21st will be noxious nervousness—a pervasive sense of anxiety about job security and impending disasters.

“Mr. Easterbrook is not entirely alone in his boosterish outlook. Consultancies such as McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group have laboriously documented how far globalization still has to go, and every issue of Wired magazine celebrates our technologically enabled and globally integrated future. Mr. Easterbrook is also guilty of scooping himself: His previous book, "The Progress Paradox" (2003), tried to explain why so many people think that the goddess progress wears a crown of thorns.

“Still, Mr. Easterbrook tells his story well, with social portraiture, striking facts and sharp anecdotes aimed at puncturing common misconceptions about economic change. He begins "Sonic Boom" with a portrait of Shenzhen, China—a city that did not exist a generation ago but that now has nine million inhabitants. Paris and London took generations to build. The glittering new urban centers of postwar America such as Atlanta and Los Angeles took half a century to reach their current glory. But Shenzhen has arisen during the lifetime of its current inhabitants, a testament to the sonic qualities of its commercial dynamism.”