The concept of globalization pulsates throughout just about every discussion or article on international relations, the macroeconomy or worldwide social predicaments. The only reason the word hasn't become hackneyed is that its meaning is germane to everything of significance that is happening to our world in this millennium.
We experience the various forces of globalization at different paces and perceive them in different timeframes. Corporate multinationals have been with us for decades and the worldwide saturation of popular media, television and advertising has long been the norm as well. More recently, the instantaneous transformation of knowledge sharing and of working practice was the immediate offspring of the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution. Most of us are still in awe at the rapidity of change that such immediacy and connectedness has brought in a stunningly short time.
I commenced my own career in international relations with the British Council in Kano, Nigeria just 30 years ago. My only means of daily corn mu-nication was a walkie-talkie radio link to Lagos once a day. Typed work letters were dispatched in a courier packet to London once a week and I might expect replies in a return courier packet a fortnight later. These days I expect the e-mails from my laptop in Washington to be answered by our current colleagues in Kano within minutes. If not, I'll reach them on their cellphone. Nearly everyone in the urban world can tell a similar story.
More broadly, the forces of globalization have transformed the means and modes by which we collaborate to address world issues. The extended embrace of communications and the extending imperative of communicability mean that we need to herald 'the global community' as the latest and ultimate grouping, joining the other varied, plural communities to which we all belong. Communities are societies of mutual interest. They have been typically local, providing solace, meaning, support and shared identity to individuals whose wellbeing is improved and assured by such recognition of common cause. As the reach of communication and the insistence of interdependency have grown, the community concept has also geographically and demographically stretched. It now embraces ethnic regions, diasporas and national boundaries. In a further stretch, it's now the transnational corn munity that is at the heart of modern international relations. The European Community is, perhaps, the most salient use of the term and the United Nations is the self-explanatory primary testament to this resolve. Worldwide well-being in the future will depend on an intelligent...