The New Rules: In Globalized World, Time Is on America’s Side

The New Rules: In Globalized World, Time Is on America’s Side

There is a popular tendency to characterize globalization as an elite-based conspiracy or as something imposed by greedy outsiders upon unsuspecting native populations, hence the enduring belief in the possibility of its systemic reversal. In truth, the spread of modern globalization reflects a bottom-up demand function, not a top-down supply imposition. People simply crave connectivity -- in all its physical and virtual forms -- as well as the freedom of choice that it unleashes. This simple truth is worth remembering when we contemplate America’s global role in the decades ahead.

Why? Time is most definitely on our side. Given enough opportunity, citizens living within authoritarian systems will make all the logical leaps from the individual advantages accrued from such globalization-fueled connectivity to the end-state of political pluralism. At first, economic definitions of freedom will prevail. But once the connectivity seed is planted, what comes next is preordained, which is why patience is in order regarding the Arab world, China and beyond.

Because, in the end, there are no regional or civilizational “values” that trump this connectivity-to-democracy dynamic. All such “insurmountable barriers” invariably fall, typically along generational lines, as populations grow used to increased connectivity both within the country and between that society and the larger world. In this respect, humanity’s greed is universal -- and highly American in its fullest expression. Yes, we can speak of pre-American realities that still dot the global landscape, but a post-American world? This is utter nonsense to all but the most hardcore realists who confuse influence with control, and power with the capacity for mass violence.

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