In a park in Ankara, brides pose as wedding pictures are taken. I am struck not by how different a scene this appears, but how normal it appears. During my quick stroll through the park I saw three different brides having pictures taken, all in flowing white dresses, some sleeveless, and often with low backs. They were all beautiful dresses that would look entirely natural in an American wedding environment. Turkey is officially 98% Muslim, obviously, the actual level of practicing Muslims is likely much lower, but could it be that despite a host of rather radical religious, cultural, and historical differences that when a young Turkish woman imagines her ideal wedding she imagines something quite similar to that of a young American woman?
Western brands are very popular in Ankara, and a trip to the city center can yield a variety of fake La Coste, Nike, Adidas, and other apparel. I was approached at my language institute by a young Kazakhistani woman inquiring about whether I had any American music on my cell phone to give to her, and had a Jordanian teenager ask my advice regarding who the best rap artists are in the States. As an American, I know what’s cool… I guess… Clearly faulty logic somewhere in there… Regardless, the commonalities that globalization creates are incredible.
Globalization, the growing interconnectedness of individuals across the globe, has long been simultaneously praised and condemned. Praised for decreasing conflict, increasing international trade, and creating personal connections between those in the developed world and developing world possible: see kiva.org. Condemned for destroying local culture, creating a new wave of capitalist imperialism, and placing otherwise content locals into sweatshops for long hours and little pay. Many believe the story of globalization is one of opportunity, and many others the story of exploitation.
A classic political science argument on globalization is that no two countries both with McDonalds will ever go to war. While this particular example has been proven wrong, and was subsequently adapted to be more specific, the McDonalds are of course merely a symbol for globalization, and the actual argument is that no two countries that are fully integrated into the global economy would ever go to war because the economic repercussions would simply be too great. Of course, economics does not tell the entire story of globalization, if only there was a symbol of globalization that was not economic but rather a social symbol… but what?
I present to you, the Holderith Theory of Conflict and Globalization. No two states in which at least 20% of the population is married in strapless dresses will ever go to war.
A seemingly bold theory, but really not… To begin my theory is safe from the past due to the relatively recent emergence of strapless dresses, and I have already accounted for the future because none of the countries on the West’s To Do list have a significant quantity of marriages involving strapless dresses (sources pending). That’s right go ahead, attack Iran… Before NATO/UN/Coalition/Israeli/US forces even reach Tehran I will have begun my first lecture tour.
I jest, with this example. However, consider the realities of globalization, the reasons why globalization destroys local cultures is the same reason why globalization prevents war. Because women in Ankara want a wedding that would be immediately recognizable across the West is undoubtedly linked to the reason why Turkey’s integration into the European Union is possible. Turkey is poised to play a greater role in world politics then ever before and maybe, just maybe, it is because women in Turkey, Western Europe, the United States, close their eyes and picture one of the most important days of their lives with striking similarities…