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THE LEXUS AND THE OLIVE TREE by Thomas L. Friedman

THE LEXUS AND THE OLIVE TREE

Understanding Globalization

By Thomas L. Friedman

Pub Date: April 21st, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-19203-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A brilliant guidebook to the new world of “globalization” by Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist Friedman (From Beirut to Jerusalem, 1988). Like El Ni§o, globalization is blamed for anything and everything, but few understand just what it really is. In simplest terms, Friedman defines globalization as the world integration of finance markets, nation states, and technologies within a free- market capitalism on a scale never before experienced. Driving it all is what he calls the “Electronic Herd,” the faceless buyers and sellers of stocks, bonds, and currencies, and multinational corporations investing wherever and whenever the best opportunity presents itself. It is a pitiless system—richly rewarding winners, harshly punishing losers—but contradictory as well. For nations and individuals willing to take the risk, globalization offers untold opportunity, yet in the process, as the “Electronic Herd” scavenges the world like locusts in the search for profit, globalization threatens to destroy both cultural heterogeneity and environmental diversity. The human drive for enrichment (the Lexus) confronts the human need for identity and community (the olive tree). The success of globalization, Friedman contends, depends on how well these goals can be satisfied at one and the same time. He believes they can be, but dangers abound. If nation states sacrifice too much of their identity to the dictates of the “Electronic Herd,” a backlash, a nihilistic rejection of globalization, can occur. If nation states ignore these dictates, they face impoverishment; there simply is no other game in town. Friedman’s discussion is wonderfully accessible, clarifying the complex with enlightening stories that simplify but are never simplistic. There are flaws, to be sure. He is perhaps overly optimistic on the ability of the market forces of globalization to correct their own excesses, such as environmental degradation. Overall, though, he avoids the Panglossian overtones that mar so much of the literature on globalization. Artful and opinionated, complex and cantankerous; simply the best book yet written on globalization. (First printing 100,000) (Author tour)