chapter  4
37 Pages

Regimes of (im)mobility: towards an international political economy of speed

Thomas Friedman is a financial journalist, a bestselling author, a trend-watcher and a trend-setter; a jet-setting cosmopolite, travelling the world, tracing the contours of global trade and finance (Friedman 2006). Thomas Friedman has made an amazing discovery. Thomas Friedman has returned from his world travels (more specifically, the now not-so-mysterious Orient) with the realization that the map of the world which has been in existence for the last 600 years is wrong. Thomas Friedman has discovered that the world is flat. It wasn’t always flat of course. There was a time when the world closely

resembled the geographical variegation of our maps and globes. But since then it has been flattened and smoothed out by the rise of advanced communication transportation and information technologies – accelerative technologies. When Thomas Friedman says that the world is flat, he means ‘the playing field ha[s] been leveled’ (7); the barriers (spatial, economic, social, political or cultural) between geographic locations have steadily fallen before the inevitable logic of globalizing capital and its technological innovations. This, says Friedman, is the world of ‘Globalization 3.0’. Globalization 1.0 came with the ‘discovery of the new world’, and was an era of states in a global world. Globalization 2.0 was the era of firms and companies competing at the global level. And:

[Globalization 3.0] is the newfound power of individuals to collaborate and compete globally … the phenomenon that is enabling, empowering and enjoining individuals and small groups to go global so easily and so seamlessly is what I call the flat-world platform … the flat-world platform is the product of a convergence of the personal computer (which allowed every individual suddenly to become the author of his or her own content in digital form) with the fiber-optic cable (which suddenly allowed all those individuals to access more and more digital content around the world for next to nothing) with the rise of work flow software (which enabled individuals all over the world to collaborate on that same digital content from anywhere, regardless of the distances between them).