CONNECTOGRAPHY, MAPPING THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL CIVILIZATION. AUTHOR: PARAG KHANNA Commentary by Mariano A. Cirino
Connectography is a very interesting work by author Parag Khanna; the title alone should raise a few eyebrows not only because it’s a bit of a tongue twister and a bit hard to remember. As the title implies the book addresses the “new” subject of geo economics and tackles several of more interesting issues that come from this concept..
The books is divided in five separate parts plus a conclusion and in each of the sections Khanna clearly states each of the ideas he wants to tackle there and while some of the ideas or explanations may not be ground breaking when taken all together they paint a fairly clear picture of world that not only seems to be coming but may already be here.
Section three titled “The Great Devolution” was for me the most interesting one and it opens with a great quote from Woody Allen, which I won’t spoil here, but it serves to illustrate the point of the section, which is that the devolution of the State into progressively smaller and yet intimately connect units is an ongoing phenomenon that need to be closely monitored. As the author explains it this fragmentation of the State, so long as it is controlled and managed, is not a bad thing it can in fact lead to more solid and democratic state thus avoiding potentially polarized ethnic or political minorities. This way devolution becomes the natural expression of democracy giving a voice to those who had been previously ignored.
From here Khanna goes on to explain that even with this increasingly fragmented scenario the players have never been more closely linked or related. In a world where the U.N. has roughly 200 members, a number that could increase even more by mid-century, promoting economic links to bridge geographical boundaries (physical or imagined) has never been more important. The idea of using economics to bind States together may not be new but Khanna goes one step further and leaves the state behind to talk of linking regions, provinces or even cities as separate entities within the “supply chain”.
That last term is not underscored accidently as it references one of the most important ideas that Khanna talks about though out the book, he talks about a “supply chain world”. The supply chain is what is slowly binding the world together linking the most far flung regions of the planet in ever more intricate ways. He clarifies the idea of the supply chain so as to avoid confusing it with similar phenomenon in history, “…In our haste to make analogies between today’s global dynamics and pre– World War I Europe, most observers have missed the enormous differences. European nations traded heavily across each other prior to World War I, but they did so as vertically integrated mercantile empires exploiting raw materials from their own vast colonies. They traded in finished goods and didn’t outsource production to each other; we did not have today’s international manufacturing networks in 1895. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought trade interdependence; in the twenty-first century, we have complex supply chain dispersal as well…”
Khanna, Parag. Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization (Kindle Locations 2737-2742). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.”; I thought it best to let him speak for himself.
Khanna goes on to break up the links and examine them, perhaps not in exhaustive detail, but that’s not the point of the book, he is laying out the ground work to show which are the topics that will need to be watched and analyzed so as to take advantage of what this newly linked world may offer. The ideas he lays out may not be new but once explained in the context of the supply chain they they take a different hue and make a bit more sense one placed next to the following link of the chain.
The scope of the book is very broad as Khanna is tackling a global phenomenon but there are plenty of details and information to help center the reader into the specifics that the book points to. The book makes for very interesting reading and as a great jump off point to stat delving into the subject of geo-economics and seeing what some of the key issues are as well as those areas that bear watching most closely to monitor how it evolves.