New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman sees things in 2-D. Based on the titles of his recent books, not only is the world flat, but it is also hot, and crowded. Al Qaeda's flat, too, and something called "Globalization 3.0" (apparently the web has yet to catch up with globalization) is "shrinking the world from size small to size tiny, and flattening the global economic playing field at the same time." Fuck you, Galileo!
Friedman has a tendency to fall in love with his own ideas, even repeating the same joke over and over and over. But somehow, he kicks his self-referentiality into overdrive just as he has a new book to promote. He did it in 2005, and now, with the release of Hot, Flat and Crowded, he can't help but remind us that the world really does have a continuous horizontal surface:
October 1 2008
"The world really is flat."
October 19 2008
"In a flat world, money can easily seek out the highest returns, and when word got around about Iceland, deposits poured in from Britain — some $1.8 billion."
November 12 2008
"How to Fix a Flat"
It's not just flatness. Friedman has a predilection for all kinds of gimmicky turns of phrase. Slate's Gregg Easterbrook says Friedman's new book, which unsurprisingly expands on his theory of international decompression, contains "so many buzz phrases that it practically vibrates in your head." Friedman's insightsthat the world is becoming more interconnected, and that embracing green technology could rejuvenate the American economyare hardly revolutionary. Indeed, they're pretty much center-left boilerplate. But there has to be a less irritating way of expressing them than "green is the new red, white and blue."