In the past few years, globalization has become more apparent in its role in the global economy, where more people, countries, and economies are becoming interconnected with one other. In the book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman attempts to break down the role that globalization has played and how it can be considered as a new sort of international system for the future.
The novel is divided into four parts, with each discussing a different aspect of globalization. The first part of the book explains today’s system of globalization and its basic intricacies. The second and third parts discuss how various players interact with each other and the downsides of globalization. The fourth part discusses the role that the U.S. plays in the system. The novel is a captivating read and is filled with Friedman’s own personal anecdotes. The historical and economical examples Friedman provides helps to present his ideas in an easy to digest manner.
The title of the book plays an interesting role in the development of Friedman’s ideas, which are continuously expounded on in the novel as a means of understanding globalization. Friedman describes the Lexus and the Olive Tree as being symbols of a post-Cold War era, in which both stands for globalization. The Lexus stands for modernization and development of the world’s economies to become better suited for globalization. The Olive Tree represents belonging to a family and community and being tied to one’s roots. Both symbols remain relevant throughout the book, and also are thought provoking in aspects that pertain to the present day balance in both the global economy and the international system.
A large part of the content of the book is based on the comparison between what Friedman describes as two separate international systems in recent history: the Cold War era and the present day system of globalization. The book is primarily centered on how globalization became the next international system Post Cold War and how it shaped domestic and economic policies, the treatment of the environment, and how countries related to each other on the global stage. The novel is flushed with examples of various episodes in history, but one could argue that it gives a dominant viewpoint of globalization being a tremendous asset, with minimal implications.
Overall the novel cannot be considered a light read but is captivating in the information and detail it provides. It explains globalization, but also prompts readers to become more interested and to actively question their personal beliefs of globalization, and the role that it plays in the current world and in the future. In addition, it prompts readers to think about the more far reaching impacts of globalization and its various facets and the role that it plays in the world, varying from international relations to democracy to the economy.