The world is flat – or: can thinking flatten the world?

The world is flat … – and there is some flavor of naiveté in such theses …

Finally, the fall of the wall did not just open the way for more people to tap into one another’s knowledge pools. It also paved the way for the adoption of common standards—standards on how economies should be run, on how accounting should be done, on how banking should be conducted, on how PCs should be made, and on how economics papers should be written. I discuss this more later, but suffice it to say here that common standards create a flatter, more level playing field. To put it another way, the fall of the wall enhanced the free movement of best practices. When an economic or technological standard emerged and proved itself on the world stage, it was much more quickly adopted after the wall was out of the way. In Europe alone, the fall of the wall opened the way for the formation of the European Union and its expansion from fifteen to twenty-five countries. That, in combination with the advent of the euro as a common currency, has created a single economic zone out of a region once divided by an Iron Curtain.

Page 54 of Friedman’s book “The World is flat” (2005, 2007)

Many one hope that the thinking in the rest of the book is less flat: celebrating the formation of the EU, by dating it to 1989, and celebrating the advent of the euro as common currency at a time when some of us already predicted a harsh crisis which indeed manifested itself in 2007/2008 seems a bit …, well let us say … – lacking thoughtfulness …

It reminds me of another thing I read recently, somebody from the NorthAmericas complaining about Europe, celebrating the USA and highlighting the difference between the USA and Europe. One of the differences was telling: the Americans drive on the right side, whereas the Europeans drive on the left … – well, a sharp and clear distinction. But true in some way perhaps? The Europeans are increasingly following the flattened understanding of the world by the Yanks …, that may then be the reason for driving in foresight since years on the … – have to check next time when walking across the streets. My be the Brits are the only real Europeans ….? And they may leave the EU ? …. So many questions …

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