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Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization Hardcover – May 28, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Globalization may seem like a relatively new term, but Chandra, a director for the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, argues intriguingly that its history ranges across centuries, beginning when the first humans left Africa, "following game herds... or shellfish beds around the Arabian Peninsula." Chadra illuminates the stepping stones of mankind's global conquest, such as early trading routes, the domestication of horses, the rise of the world's great religions, the slave trade, the World Wide Web and the spread of diseases like SARS and Avian flu, looking from angles psychological, geographic, philosophical, theological, commercial and military. With the perspective of a historian and the savvy of a political scientist, Chanda skillfully argues that globalization was, is and will always be inevitable (a particularly revealing statistic: "migrants constitute 20 percent of the population in some 41 of the world's largest countries"). Using ubiquitous examples like FedEx, McDonalds and Starbucks, Chanda uncovers common denominators and shared consequences, underpinning his analysis with anecdotes of commerce through the ages (the discovery of coffee by a goat herder, the Starbucks opened in the "five-hundred-year-old Forbidden City compound in Beijing"). Like a good mystery, Chanda's chronology is rich with surprises and moments of revelation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Chandra begins at, well, the beginning - when mankind first walked out of Africa and began its dominance of the earth. The following chapters relate how the ensuing centuries brought these disparate cousins back together through trade, war and missionary work (to include, quite perceptively, the 20th century missionaries - the NGO community.)
Chandra is a proponent of the globalization process, and what he gets across in his book is that not only is this process generally positive one for humanity - it's something that has been going on for a long, long time. Basically since humans spread across the globe, we have had "globalization."
This may be a surprise to those who think that the revolution is coming. However, Chandra makes a good case that there is nothing particularly nefarious about globalization, and that, despite its rough edges (and he does not pull punches when discussing the downsides) globalization is the best opportunity for the global have-nots to better their plight.
All in all, a very good read
Chanda's approach is descriptive rather than prescriptive. He is well aware of the current debate on who globalization actually benefits. On the one hand, globalization has benefited millions in the developing world who now at least have low wages as opposed to no wages at all. Cheerleaders will tell you the rising tide lifts all boats. Critics, on the other hand, charge that it is responsible for many of the world's problems such as global warming, the rise in commodity prices, child labor, and American imperialism. There is certainly some truth in these charges. Chanda recognizes the debate but tries to stay above it. He argues that it is pointless to fight globalization because it has always been with us and it is here to stay. Besides that, no single entity controls it, so it would require the efforts of many to manage it.
Chanda's story begins with an analysis of his own DNA a few years ago. That test showed that he was descended from an African father more than 36,000 years ago. His ancestors were part of a group that represented some of the earliest migrations into India. Aside from international ancestry, Chanda epitomizes the 21st century cosmopolitan, having lived in Calcutta, Paris, Hong Kong, and now New Haven, he has written many scholarly articles for a number of international publications.
Traders, preachers, adventures, and warriors have always been agents of globalization. From Marco Polo on the Silk Route to the journey of the iPod from Shanghai to Chandra's home in New Haven, people and corporations will forever be crossing borders in search of profits. In the section on preachers, Chanda makes some interesting points about NGOs - such as Human Rights Watch. NGOs have taken up the role of missionaries from earlier centuries. Though non-religious, HRW has been active in places like Darfur preaching universal values. This, in my view, is admirable, for one shouldn't shy about claiming moral superiority to the killing that takes place there. NGO workers would probably object to being called preachers, but they shouldn't. Adventurers and Warriors played a large role in border crossings in the past, but less so today, since the world is getting smaller and more user-friendly, due to the advances of technology.
Although Chanda believes globalization is inevitable, he is no neoliberal freemarketer who believes in the infallible benevolence of multinationals. He believes globalization should be managed through collaboration of nation states - such as the WTO - so that there is balance and social justice. (He very critical, for example, of advanced countries protecting their agricultural markets. This is one of the few areas were poor countries can enter global markets and lift themselves out of poverty.) Corporations and NGOs have their unique roles to play, but ultimately national governments need to occasinally intervene to keep the global economy from spinning out of control or leaving large numbers of people destitute.
Chanda's short history of globalization tells us that its current critics are understandable, but basically misguided. Instead of putting up trade barriers and halting immigration they should find ways to make globalization work in their favor.
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