The Lexus and the Olive Tree
By Thomas L Friedman
As the Foreign Affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman has travelled to the four corners of the globe, interviewing people from all walks of contemporary life – Brazilian peasants in the Amazon rain forest, new entrepreneurs in Indonesia, Islamic students in Teheran, and the financial wizards on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.
Now Friedman has drawn on his years on the road to produce an engrossing and original look at the new international system that, more than anything else, is shaping world affairs today: globalisation.
His argument can be summarised quite simply. Globalisation is not just a phenomenon and not just a passing trend. It is the international system that replaced the Cold War system. Globalisation is the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degree, a global village.
You cannot understand the morning news or know where to invest your money or think about where the world is going unless you understand this new system, which is influencing the domestic policies and international relations of virtually every country in the world today. And once you do understand the world as Friedman explains it, you’ll never look at it quite the same way again.
With vivid stories and a set of original terms and concepts, Friedman shows us how to see this new system. He dramatises the conflict of “the Lexus and the olive tree” – the tension between the globalisation system and ancient forces of culture, geography, tradition, and community. He also details the powerful backlash that globalisation produces among those who feel brutalised by it, and he spells out what we all need to do to keep this system in balance.
Finding the proper balance between the Lexus and the olive tree is the great drama of the globalisation era, and the ultimate theme of Friedman’s challenging, provocative book – essential reading for all who care about how the world really works.