We live in a time like no other in history. A time of both great opportunity and great peril.

Today, a man can board an airplane for less than a month’s salary and arrive on the other side of the planet within 24 hours. He can use a device which gives him information and access the sum total of human knowledge and wisdom. He can connect with people from around the world from diverse backgrounds, of different opinions and values, whom he can talk with, do business with, and even in some cases find a woman to marry and build a family with.

We are seeing the biggest change in human history, with people from all nations and ethnicities mixing together, living together, doing business together, and building lives together.

This is globalization, the era where the entire world becomes one. There are pros and cons to this like anything else in life, but rather than judge it or fight it I set out to understand it and come to terms with how it came to be this way.

This is what I found.

The beginning of globalization and world trade

pirate ships

Way way back in time, long before America was a twinkle in the founding fathers’ eyes, the ancient kings and rich merchants of Europe ruled the world.

Naturally, being greedy parasitic despots, ruling their own nations and wielding untold power over their populations was not enough and so they set off to find new lands to exploit and pillage.

Now to begin with they did not set up colonies, but rather they funded massive merchant trading companies with ships (like the East India Company in England and the VOC in Holland) to sail around the world to lands unknown and trade commodities with whichever populations they found there.

Different nations had varying degrees of success. The Dutch held a monopoly on the spice islands and trade in Japan, the Portuguese defended their trading posts in India with vicious fervor, and the British struggled to get a foothold anywhere to start, but would eventually come to rule the world and control 50% of global trade.

Naturally, exploring lands afar led to huge commercial opportunities with merchants finding peppers, spices, and garments selling for up to 800 times what they had purchased them for. A feeding frenzy began, and very soon ships were sailing East and West, far and wide, trying to cash in on the biggest greed fest the world had ever seen (2000-2007 and derivatives trading hadn’t happened yet).

Also naturally, this led to fierce competition. As with the cocaine trade today, anything offering these kinds of returns attracted the most ruthless, base bastards walking the face of this earth. These people were prepared to do murder, kidnapping, and extortion to get what they wanted. This in turn led to the need for merchant ships to seek military support, which led to kings and governments establishing actual colonies where before they had only trading posts.

This led to a whole host of interesting and often tragic developments in world history, such as the colonies that would later become the good ole’ USA, the formation of India as a political entity, and the rape, destruction, and pillage of both Africa and South America as continents.

Once the era of globalization had begun, there was no stopping it. Human migration began, goods and services were traded far and wide, and nobody wanted to go backwards. So nobody did.

The world we live in today

China vs US

China vs U.S.

Ever since this occurred in the 17th century, things have expanded and remained largely on the same course. Globalization was briefly set back by the formation of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain in the East, which stopped trade between East and West for a few decades, but it really is a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things.

Today, global trade is easier than ever thanks to technology. You, sitting in your studio apartment in Manhattan or your farmhouse in Iowa, can go on the internet and buy Turkish government bonds, Iraqi oil futures contracts, or shares in silver mining companies in Africa at the click of a button.

All of this has led to huge, massive, disruptive change.

Governments for the first time in history are at the mercy of investors who have the power to punish and destroy them by withdrawing vast amounts of capital through the digital wire if they see any deviation from the principles that investors love.

Populations are exposed to new ideas and can connect via internet forums and chatrooms, leading to political revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa which simply could not have happened twenty years ago.

Trade is also changing. While globalization brings huge opportunities to buy and sell globally, it also decimates and destroys local markets and squeezes out those who do not have the means do battle with the huge corporations who can undercut them, buy in massive quantity and sell at lower prices.

Thus we see the chaos in the world today. China is rising and the USA is losing power and influence in much of the world, BRICS and the Asian Development Bank are posing a threat to Western financial interests, and there is a general feeling worldwide that the old order is dying and the new is rising.

Just like the Portuguese did when the British and Dutch came to the East, the U.S. is fighting tooth and nail in the Middle East and beyond to retain control of the lucrative oil markets.

Just like the first English settlers were disgusted when they met the tribesmen of Papua and the Congo with their vastly different customs and manners, so too do our vastly different cultures meet for the first time and inevitably clash.

Conclusion

We live in an era of great opportunity and great peril. It is different in many ways from the days of the East India Company and the VOC, but it is also the same.

It is a world were men of bravery, honour, and guts can make vast fortunes and adventure far and wide if they have the nerves. But it is also a world of pirates, barbarians, and uncivilized brutes who threaten the very fabric of Western civilization itself.

How will all of this end? I don’t pretend to know. I am simply a single drop of water riding a vast wave in an ocean of human history much bigger than I can fathom. I just plan to make the best of it.

The world today is what it is and there is very little any one man can do to change it. My philosophy is simple – saddle up and ride towards opportunity in this brave new world we live in. I myself have taken advantage of the world I find myself in by no choice of my own, travelling and relocating to Asia and taking advantage of global opportunities where I can.

It won’t change whether you like it or not, so you might as well take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer – travel, trade, the chance to meet exotic women, and learning about the vast world we live in.

That’s my take anyway. I’d like to hear yours.

Read More: Let The World Be The World