The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman is a classic book describing how the world economy has reached a new era of equality like never before, creating a level playing field. Friedman also describes how the United States and Europe are unprepared for the coming rise of China, India, and other previously disregarded countries. The book appeared in shelves in 2005 and could only account for so much.
The biggest flaw with the theory is that it does not account for the nationalistic backlash against globalism that has become more and more active in trying to restrict the boundaries again. Nationalistic tariffs, and border and immigration disputes have taken the limelight in more and more western countries in an effort to slow the tide; and, based off of recent performance in elections in the European Union, United States Presidential Election and Brexit, this movement has gained some traction. Friedman underestimates the power of the backlash against globalism, which he portends as something naysayers could not even try to touch.
Friedman’s theory of conflict prevention — that if there are corporations operating on both sides of a border then the conflict will not occur due to economic backlash — has a few flaws. Some countries (such as North Korea) have refused foreign corporations and the shared economic ties of Ukraine and Russia did not stop the Crimea crisis, nor did it stop the war between the Houthi and Saudis. Strong nationalism was unable to be stopped by economic ties, especially between a weaker and stronger country.
Friedman does get a lot of the multipolar ideas correct, he accurately depicts the rise of China and India respectively, and the world truly has become a more even playing field for companies and manufacturing. Made-in-the-U.S. has failed for the most part and the U.S. was unprepared for the rise of China, and many U.S. jobs moved to manufacturing in other countries.
In finality, the book is an engaging read and a good look into forward thinkers in the early 2000s in economic and international matters.
About the Author
Audun Sundeen is a student at Macalaster College studying Linguistics and International Studies.