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The Irrelevant Seven

BERLIN – The latest G-7 summit, in the beautiful Alpine setting of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, has come and gone. No longer the G-8, owing to Russia’s suspension, the forum is again composed exclusively of traditional Western powers. At a time when the emergence of large, densely populated economic powerhouses like Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia is challenging Western dominance, many believe that the current international system is due for an overhaul.

In fact, a new world order is almost certain to emerge – and very soon. The shape it takes will be determined by two key phenomena: globalization and digitization.

Globalization is enabling economies that are not yet fully industrialized to reap the benefits of industrialization and become integrated into global markets – a trend that has redefined the global division of labor and transformed value chains. The revolution in digital communication technology has underpinned this shift.

Of course, the impact of digitization extends beyond economics; it has broken down many cultural barriers, giving ordinary citizens in even remote regions access to information and ideas from all over the world. As globalization-enabled economic development continues to raise incomes, this cultural integration will undoubtedly lead to broader political participation, especially among an increasingly large – and increasingly demanding – middle class. Already, this trend is complicating governments’ efforts at domestic monitoring and control.