Agreat deal of nonsense has been written and said about globalization in recent years. Some has come from the political right, some from the political left, some from business and political leaders, some from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and people in the streets. The term globalization has become so slippery, so ambiguous, so subject to misunderstanding and political manipulation that it should be banned from further use, at least until there is precise agreement as to its meaning. In particular, those involved in economic and political policymaking and debate must clarify their meaning and their messages in this sphere if they are to be taken seriously.
The term globalization confuses two discrete phenomena. The first is the shrinkage in space and in time that the world has experienced in consequence of the technological revolutions in transport, communications, and information processing. Although these developments have not affected all countries or people uniformly, the world has for many become a much smaller place.
References to our "global village" or "spaceship Earth" or, more prosaically, "the global economy" capture the reality that actions and decisions in one part of the world have greater impact on other parts of humanity and do so with greater speed than was experienced in years past. The behavior of the world's interrelated twenty-four-hours-a-day financial markets typifies this trend. This new globalization has bred more detailed and up-to-date knowledge of people's activities. But income and wealth imbalance have also created totally unbalanced information flows and what C. P. Snow has described as the "ultimate obscenity": the rich sitting in the comfort of their living rooms watching other people starve on color television. This new technology-driven globalization is the new reality to which we all are trying to adapt. And there truly is no escape from it.