平坦世界的脆弱

世界是平坦的!专栏作家托马斯•弗里德曼(Thomas Friedman)如是说。弗里德曼为其畅销书选择这个极富煽动性的书名是为了使人们意识到技术对世界经济产生的惊人影响。距离正在缩短。地理屏障不再能轻而易举地提供保障。欧洲和美国的制造业工人和高科技专业人士都不得不面对全球竞争的挑战。西方消费者给当地公司打电话时,和他们对话的员工很可能正远在印度。

怀疑论者指出了弗里德曼比喻所存在的限度。正如有人所说,世界不是平坦,而是“高低不平”。世界经济活动的等高线图显示出繁荣的山峰和匮乏的低谷。不仅如此,距离还远远没有失去作用。即便是关税屏障较低的邻国,像加拿大和美国,其国内贸易也远多于跨境贸易。西雅图和温哥华的地理距离很近,但温哥华与距离更远的多伦多的贸易却远远高于临近的西雅图。

尽管存在着这样的批评,弗里德曼还是提出了一个重要的观点。全球化可以定义为不同大陆之间的相互依赖,它的历史和人类的历史一样悠久,见证了种族和宗教的迁移,也见证了中世纪欧洲和亚洲之间古老丝绸之路沿途的贸易。但今天的全球化有所不同,它的发展速度更快,程度也更加深入。

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