By J. R. Klein
Most schools of thought agree that in the past several decades global business has created unprecedented growth in the world’s economy. The rise in global population from 3 billion in 1960 to 7.6 billion today and the increase in the number of nations, from 106 in 1950 to 195 in 2018 has fueled consumption and resulted in new channels for trade. This rising movement is not just in products and services but also in knowledge, investment, and people.
We may, however, be blinded to its darker side. Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2015, reported that half of all assets around the world are controlled by the wealthiest 1% of the global population. Further, the lower half collectively own less than 1% of global wealth.
“Tech” tonic Shift
The evolution of technology has facilitated an interconnected world and made access to customers and suppliers almost seamless. The Internet and constant progression of technology plays an increasingly important role in terms of delivering almost everything. This inter-connectivity is heralded as the harbinger or horror of the future world. No matter what our position it is the underlying paradigm that it is here to stay. We are enamored with its potential for opportunity, better lifestyle, access to good, services, and a myriad of other benefits.
Ontological inequities present a paradox between those that resist technology and those that adapt. Winners and losers in this scenario set the stage for “class” tension and proliferation of violence. The unstoppable integration of technology may affect the very concept of identity by weakening human capacity for self-reflection, empathy, and compassion.
Drivers of Globalization
Inside this envelope of population and nation-states growth pushed by evolutionary technology, we find three fundamental drivers. First are consumers. The equation is relatively simple more people make more people. More people represent increased demand and consumers drive international commerce. Secondly, companies, international and domestic, are seeing the value in expanding their operations into foreign markets. This feeds economic opportunities that motivate socio-economic movement within local systems. This results in the third driver, the global growth in middle-class consumers.
The paradox of this phenomenon in some regions is a middle-class growth from the top down. In others, bottom-up growth is based on a degree of existing wealth. In all cases, the systemic decisions of distribution produce either equity or relegate segments of the population to positions outside the circle of access.
The Nature of Change
Most evident changes are in the demand for consumer goods but there are other subtle effects. For example, employment and movement of talent from country to country precipitate changes in participation and expectations. International tourism has increased from 563 million in 1996 to more than 1.2 billion in 2016. The percentage of the world’s population using mobile phones is forecast to be 67 percent in 2019. That is access to over 5 billion users. With this exposure and interaction, worldviews begin to change not only about cuisine and local sites but also about cultures and societal differences.
Even as the world becomes smaller, with increased availability of low costs and geographical neutral nature of access, there exists a paradox. The voluminous availability of media, rather than enhance access, tends to narrow and polarize individual choices. Users tend to access content based on their existing political and civic philosophies. The result is a confirmation of a narrowing worldview, driving polarization and vulnerability to unbalanced ideologies.
Dealing with the Inevitable
Inside of this “brave new world” of globalization exists some of the old hidden or overlooked truths that tend to take the second chair. We recognize paradoxes that carry the potential for alienation rather than inclusion. Ignoring these paradoxes will relegate us to repeat histories mistakes and impede a new generation from systemic access thereby ushering in a new era of inequality.