March 10, 2008

Giving globalization a different spin

So I've been reading the new book by the late Benazir Bhutto, and it provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of Pakistan, and the concept of Islamic democracy. Suffice it to say that Bhutto argues that Islam encourages diversity and gender equality, and is highly compatible with democracy, given some experience of democracy among the voting population. As far as the move towards extremism, she posits that it's a result of poverty combined with hypocrisy on the part of Western countries, which have given democracy and secularism a bad name by claiming to fight for democracy while propping up whatever dictatorships are in the mood to give us oil. Unfortunately, Bhutto's assessment of her own regime isn't nearly so scathingly honest as her critique of ours; but as things stand, we won't have the chance to find out whether she'd have done better on her third go-round.

But wait, what does any of this have to do with sustainable design? Well, on page 271, I was particularly struck by the following passage:
Technology and communication have changed our world and are influencing a global culture... Just as democracy and educational exchange promote peace, the free flow of modern technology and communication promote peace... Globalization may be the most fundamental element of conflict resolution that has developed. The more nations trade with one another, the more they have to lose by engaging in conflict with one another... Just as democracy promotes peace, trade promotes peace.
Okay, this isn't the first time it's been said. But in a book that argues so eloquently for the liberalization of the Middle East, the argument that the Internet acts as a tool for promoting peace becomes particularly poignant. The Internet as sustainable design: there's a thought that could be taken much further.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is true that goods and money can travel globally. With the aid of the internet, ideas, to some extent (copyright laws) can do too.
However, what about people? can we move freely?