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Globalization In The New Century

Globalization In The New Century

To say that globalization has not encountered its share of dilemmas would be to fool ourselves. Other than the persistent headache it has caused, all other aspects of this twenty-first century system have encountered road blocks that portend potential disasters on a larger scale. Still in its infancy, globalization has shown an unparalleled capability to reshape foreign economies and multinational business markets; the expansion of the Internet will only extend that influence, not only in economics but also in global politics. At this crossroad of changing policies and technologies, we must be prudent about globalization’s effect on foreign societies, identify the risks in expansion through the World Wide Web, and delineate between business and political partnerships. Now is the worst time to choose expediency over the ideals of fairness that we have long espoused.

Superficially, the US’s endorsement of legitimate transnational trade agreements carries our message of fair and free trade, but we may be unintentionally overlooking the long term risks of global integration that depends on information technology (IT). Many nations do not have equal access to the Internet, putting them at a disadvantage in a system more reliant on IT. A microcosm of the emerging digital divide can be seen within our own borders, where the percentage of white people able to use computers greatly exceeds the percentage for African Americans. If such a disparity in the accessibility to IT were enlarged, as in the case of Africa versus its neighbors, many would fall into the widening digital abyss. After listening to Professor Vinod Aggarwal, Director of the APEC Study Center at UC Berkeley, talk at a recent Great Decisions session about the effects of globalization, I noticed that he had similar concerns about the possibility of people in lower socioeconomic levels being left further behind. This, however, does not mean we should grind globalization to a screeching halt. The expansion of IT has promoted the exchange of free ideas in countries with oppressive governments, including China, where behind rigid authoritarian barriers, the Internet is opening new conduits of free speech. Additionally, trade agreements are bringing the issue of human rights back on the table for discussion. I hope I can have a chance to hear more of what experts have to say about these challenges at this year’s conference.

Expanding businesses online carries huge implications, and oftentimes, computer networks are enormous bubbles waiting to burst....

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