an interconnected world
Globalization has changed the nature of Western relations. I contemplated such ideas when I came across this plaque in Notre Dame. The plaque honors the British soldiers who fell in WWI, “of whom the greater part rest in France.” If you asked someone in 1815 to predict why British soldiers would lay dead from war on French territory a hundred years later, surely their primary conclusion would be that France and England were at war with each other. It would be difficult to convince a European of the early 19th century that in the early 20th century, Britain and France would take up arms in defense of each other.
Up until the 19th century, France saw itself as very different from England, and vice versa, because the average person’s world was so much smaller. As globalization occurred with the spread of the automobile and the airplane, and people’s worlds expanded, neighboring countries like France and England no longer felt so different. In comparison with China, with whom western nations now have frequent and immediate contact, France is very similar to England. In this way, globalization united civilizations. The West stopped fighting within itself, and turned towards increasingly dissimilar enemies.
Though globalization has decreased fighting within civilizations, it has not decreased the amount of violence in the world. In fact, it has possibly had the opposite effect. Since warring nations are now often on the other end of the globe, new weapons became necessary. Troops can no longer march into enemy territory and fight with guns; now enemies cannot be reached by a long walk and a gunshot. So followed the invention of massive weapons that can cause major destruction to another country, but can be fired from afar. Nuclear weapons have added unprecedented tensions to the nature of war. The widespread death of millions of civilians in a single moment has never before been possible.
Globalization, the increasing interconnectedness of the world, is not all bad. In a non-globalized world, it would probably be impossible to form a European Union, because Europeans would be too busy fighting amongst themselves. But the new lines drawn in the sand, those of civilizations instead of nations, may be even more dangerous.