The Lexus and The Olive Tree
In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman offers a capitalist's view of globalization. Friedman contends that the global economy has replaced the Cold War strategies as the new economic order of the world. Furthermore, he believes that in this new order there is a struggle between two opposing forces: those who appreciate a luxury automobile, such as the Lexus, and those who are more concerned with olive trees. Although many of Friedman's assertions are enlightening, they offer an over-simplified view of a very complex issue that resembles "Americanization" more than globalization. It is this over-simplified and elitist view of the world that characterizes The Lexus and the Olive Tree.
Friedman describes the book as divided into four parts: how globalization works, how the world interacts with globalization, the backlash against globalization and role of the United Sates in this economic system . For Friedman, "Globalization means the spread of free market capitalism to virtually every country in the world. Globalization also has its own rules…that revolve around opening, deregulating and privatizing your economy" . Friedman even admits that in many ways, globalization is the culture equivalent of exporting American values around the world . In her review of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Emily Orthrop notes that Friedman's book is "essentially for capitalism and liberal democracy and is expressly pro-American".
Friedman goes on to site technologies, such as the Internet, that have been hallmarks of globalization efforts. Some would argue that the internet may have important implications for certain segments of developed societies, but there are large populations in the United States that have no Internet access and no interest in its acquisition. Likewise, there are remote populations that have never heard of these technologies. Many of the high hopes for the technologies of globalization that Friedman sees as inevitable may soon follow hundreds of Internet companies into oblivion. Friedman assumes that these technologies link people and economies, but they link only a small portion of the world's elite population. Large communities in both developed countries and developing countries and can and do exist apart from these technologies.