Feb 4, 2019

The 500-year-long, on-and-off uprising

Manila, 2004. Photo: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty

The mainstream assumption is that, once policy action and time have their impact, the wave of U.S. and European uprisings over globalization will subside. But that's only if you look at the problem as one that began in the last decade or two.

Charles Mann, author of "1493: Uncovering the New World that Columbus Created," says that the disorder over globalization actually erupted much less suddenly — beginning about five centuries ago.

  • Mann tracks globalization and the pushback against it to the arrival of Columbus in the present-day Dominican Republic, and the linkage it set off between the Americas and the rest of the world.
  • When different peoples smashed together, cultures clashed. "The complete mixing of all these peoples make people think they are losing their identities and leads to all sorts of upheaval," he said.
  • "The world we live in was shaped by cataclysms of bringing together these two worlds."

If you look at globalization as an undulating, five-century arc, the end of it — and discomfort with it — look much more distant. "There is a possibility that the upheaval could end relatively quickly," Mann says. "But I kind of bet it isn't going to."

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