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Globalization I – The Upside: Crash Course World History #41

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Hi, I’m John Green. This is Crash Course
World History and today is the penultimate episode of Crash Course. We’re gonna talk
about globalization. This was going to be the last episode, but
I just can’t quit you, World Historians. So, today we’re going to talk about globalization,
and in doing so, we’re going to talk about why we study history at all. Ooh ooh, Mr. Green! Yes, Me from the Past? We study history to get a good
grade to go to a good college to get a good job — –so you can make more money
than you would otherwise make and be a slightly larger cog among the seven billion gears that
turn the planet’s economic engine, right? And that’s fine, but if that’s why you
really study history, then you need to understand all the ways that the t-shirt you’re wearing
is both the cause and result of your ambition. This t-shirt contains the global economy:
its efficiency, its massive surplus, its hyperconnectedness, and its unsustainability. This t-shirt tells
one story of globalization. So let’s follow it. [Theme Music] So, globalization is a cultural phenomenon.
It’s reflected in contemporary artwork and population migration and linguistic changes,
but we’re going to focus, as we so often have during Crash Course, on trade. So the world today, as symbolized by our international
felt melange, experiences widespread global economic interdependence. Now, of course economic
interdependence and the accompanying cultural borrowing are nothing new. You’ll remember
that we found trade documents from the Indus Valley civilization all the way in Mesopotamia. But for a few reasons, the scale of this trade
has increased dramatically: 1. Multinational corporations have global
reach and increasing power. 2. Travel and shipping are cheap and safe.
It took about two months to cross the Atlantic in 1800. Today it takes about five hours by
plane, and less than a week by ship. 3. Governments have decreased tariffs and
regulations on international trade, leading to what is sometimes called euphemistically
”free trade.” To which I say, if this trade is so free, how come BBC America is
in the premium tier of my cable package? To understand the role that governments play
in international trade, let’s look again at this t-shirt. This t-shirt, like most t-shirts
made in the world, contains 100% American cotton. And that’s not because the U.S.
makes the best cotton or the most efficient cotton, it’s because the U.S. government
subsidizes cotton production. And that’s what makes this cotton cheaper than cotton
of similar quality from Brazil or India. But in the last 30 years, the US’s share of
cotton exports has gone down as Brazil, India, and Africa’s cotton exports go up. And that
trend will likely continue as the US moves away from its expensive cotton subsidies.
In fact, these days it’s already possible to find t-shirts with Brazilian, Indian, or Ugandan cotton,
or a mixture of cottons from all around the world. But because the American government doesn’t
subsidize industry in the way it does agricultural production, the actual spinning and weaving
of the cotton takes place in lower wage countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Vietnam, China, India,
China, China, sometimes even China. And then the finished shirts, called blanks, are usually sent to Europe
or the United States for screen printing, and then sold. You would think the most expensive part of
this process is the part where we ship this across the Pacific Ocean, turn it into this,
and then ship it back across the Pacific Ocean, but you’d be wrong. Wholesale t-shirt blanks
can cost as little as $3; the expense is in the printing, the retail side of things, and
paying the designer at Thought Bubble who was tasked with the difficult job of creating
a Mongol who is at once cute and terrifying. So contemporary global trade is pretty anarchic
and unregulated, at least by international institutions and national governments. Much
of this has to do with academic economists, mostly in the U.S. and Europe who have argued
with great success that governmental regulation diminishes prosperity by limiting growth.
Now, some nations– in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa– haven’t been particularly
keen to pursue free trade but they’ve been bullied into it by larger economies with whom
they desperately need to trade. So in the past 30 years, we’ve seen all
these emerging markets lowering their tariffs, getting rid of regulation, and privatizing
formerly state-run businesses. And they often do that to appease the International Monetary
Fund, which offers low interest loans to developing world economies with the motto: Many Strings
Attached. Now, whether these decreased regulations have
been a net positive for these developing world economies is a subject of much debate, and
we will wade into it but not until next week. First, we need to understand more about the
nature of this trade. So you’ll remember from the Industrial Revolution episode that
industrial western powers produced most of the manufactured goods, which were then sold
in international markets, but you’ll also remember that domestic consumption was extremely
important. I mean, almost all early Model T’s were built by Americans, and bought
by Americans. But since the 1960s, and especially today,
former non-industrialized parts of the world had been manufacturing consumer goods– for
domestic markets, yes, but primarily for foreign ones. This t-shirt, made in China and the
Dominican Republic before being imported to Mexico and then to the United States, is a
primary example of what I’m talking about, but so is the computer that you’re watching
me on. Your computer was probably manufactured in China, but with parts from all over the
world, especially Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. And this international manufacturing is always
finding, like, new markets too. Like, Brazil, for instance, has a huge technology sector.
They make iPads there, actually. Sorry, I’m trying to play Angry Birds. But, what all
these countries have in common is that while there is a domestic market for things like
iPads and t-shirts, the foreign markets are much, much bigger. Oh, it’s time for the
Open Letter? An open letter to Cookie Monster. But first,
let’s see what’s in the secret compartment today. Oh, it’s a cookie dough flavored
Balance Bar. For people who love cookies and pretending to be healthy. Dear Cookie Monster, Here’s the thing, man.
You don’t have a stomach. That’s why when you put a cookie in your mouth, it crumbles
up and then it just falls out of your mouth. But here’s what fascinates me, Cookie Monster.
I believe you when you say you love cookies. It doesn’t matter that you can’t actually
eat cookies because where you would have a stomach, you instead have someone’s arm.
And that, Cookie Monster, is what makes you a beautiful symbol for contemporary consumption.
You just keep eating. Even though you can’t eat. Cookie Monster, you are the best and
the worst of us. Best wishes, John Green So, although die-hard Marxists might still
resist this, by 2012 it’s become pretty obvious that global capitalism has been good
for a lot of people. It’s certainly increased worldwide economic output. And while American
autoworkers may suffer job loss, moving manufacturing jobs from high wage to lower wage countries
allows a greater number of people to live better than they did when the First and Second
Worlds monopolized manufacturing. And while I don’t want to conflate correlation and
causation, some 600 million people have emerged from poverty in the last 30 years, at least
according to the World Bank’s definition of poverty, which is living on less than $1.25
a day. Americans can argue about whether absurdly
inexpensive clothes, shoes and televisions are worth the domestic economic and social
dislocation, but for the Vietnamese worker stitching a pair of sneakers, that job represents
an opportunity for a longer, healthier and more secure life than she would have had if
those shoes were made in the U.S.A. But, before we jump on the celebratory globalization
bandwagon, let’s acknowledge that this brave new world has some side effects. For instance,
it maybe hasn’t been so good for families, it definitely has not been good for the environment,
and also there’s a chance that globalization will spark, like, the end of the human species.
But, we’re gonna talk about all that next week. For today, let’s bring on the bandwagon
and ride straight for the Thought Bubble. So these days, people move more than they
ever have. 21% of people living in Canada were born somewhere else, as was an astonishing
69% of Kuwait’s current population. Migration has become easier because: 1. Air travel is pretty cheap, especially if
you only take a few plane trips in your life, and 2. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive
to stay in touch with relatives living far away thanks to Skype, mobile phones, and inexpensive
calling cards. Also 3. Even with increased industrialization in
the developing world, economic opportunities are often much better in wealthy countries.
Remittances– money sent home by people working abroad– are now a huge driver of economic
growth in the developing world. Like, in Tajikistan, for instance, remittances are 35% of the country’s
total gross domestic product. With all these people moving around the world,
it’s not surprising that globalization also means cultural blending. When people move,
they don’t just give up their literary, culinary, artistic, and musical traditions.
Globalized culture is a bit of a paradox, though, because some people see culture today
as increasingly Americanized, right? Like, FRIENDS is currently broadcast in over 100
countries; you can find Diet Coke for sale deep in the jungles of Madagascar; the NBA
is huge in China. There are fewer languages spoken today, and probably less cultural diversity. But on the other hand, an individual’s access
to diverse cultural experience has never been greater. Bollywood movies, Swedish hip hop,
Brazilian soap operas, highlights from Congolese football matches, these are all available
to us. Culinary cultural fusion is all the rage; more novels are translated from languages
than ever before, although few are actually read; and in the surest sign of cultural globalization,
football, the world’s game, has finally reached America, where broadcasts of the greatest
collective enterprise humanity has ever known, Liverpool Football Club, got record ratings
in 2012. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Hey, one last request: Could you put me in
a Liverpool jersey? On the pitch at Anfield? Raising the premier league trophy? WITH STEVEN
GERRARD HUGGING ME? YES, JUST LIKE THAT. OH, THOUGHT BUBBLE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Okay, so this all brings us to how globalization
has changed us, and whether it’s for the better. Assuming you make the minimum wage
here in the United States, this t-shirt, purchased at your friendly neighborhood e-tailer dftba.com,
will cost you about three hours’ worth of work– and yes, that does include shipping.
By the time it arrives at your door, the cotton within that t-shirt will have traveled by
truck, train, ship, possibly even airplane if you opt for priority shipping. And it will
probably have travelled further than Magellan did during his famous circumnavigation of
the globe. You get all that for THREE HOURS of work; by contrast, a far less comfortable
garment several hundred years ago would have cost you ten times as much work. But these improvements have been accompanied
by change so radical that we struggle to contextualize it. Like, the human population of our planet
over time looks like this. Dang. Like, in 1800, there were a billion human beings on this planet.
And that was more than had ever been seen before. And we live more than twice as long on average
as humans did just two centuries ago, largely due to improved health care for women in childbirth
and their infants, but also thanks to antibiotics and the second agricultural revolution that
began in the 1950s, the so-called “green revolution” that saw increased use of chemical
fertilizers lead to dramatically higher crop yields. Of course, these gains haven’t been evenly
distributed around the world, but chances are if you’re watching this, you A. survived
childbirth and B. feel reasonably confident that your children will as well. That’s
a new feeling for humans. And as a parent, I can assure you, it’s a miracle, and one
to be celebrated. We study history so that we can understand
these changes, and so that we can remember both what we’ve gained and lost in getting
to where we are. Next week, our last week, we’ll look at the many facets of globalization
that aren’t causes for celebration. But for today, let’s just pause to consider
how we got from here to here, how the relentless and unquenchable ambition of humans led to
a world where the entire contents of the Library of Alexandria would fit on my iPhone along
with recordings of everything Mozart ever composed. In such a world, it’s easy to
feel that we are big and powerful, maybe even invincible. It’s easy to feel that… and also dangerous.
Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller. Our script supervisor is Meredith Danko. Associate producer, Danica Johnson.
And the show is written by my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, and myself.
Our graphics team is Thought Bubble. Last week’s phrase of the week was “Crush
Those Rebels.” If you want to suggest future phrases of the week or guess at this week’s,
you can do so in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will
be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course and as we
say in my hometown, Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

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