Thomas Friedman is right that in many ways the world has become flatter; but in others it has grown spikier.Make what you will of this use of this recycling of Friedman's infinitely Procrustean figure of speech, especially as contrasted with what is later referred to by Mohammed El-Erian as a "global world," a delightful little tautology that I would be inclined to ignore and chalk up to the fact that English isn't El-Erian's first language were it not for the fact that Friendman himself defines "a flat world" as "a global, web-enabled platform for multiple forms of sharing knowledge and work, irrespective of time, distance, geography and increasingly, language." I am aware that non-Euclidian geometries exist, and some of them are very strange, but this is still a little much, don't you think?
-Chrystia Freeland in The Atlantic
The article notes in the banally plaintive language that is business journalisms native speech that "In today’s hypercompetitive global environment, we need a creative, dynamic super-elite more than ever." Indeed, the statement is so banal, such an infinitely repeated sentiment, that it is easy to overlook just why it is complete and total nonsense. Consider its context, though, and it starts to smell distinctly like the south end of an upset stomach. Now more than ever! Except, the very thesis of the article is that today's "meritocratic" "super-elite" are a phenomena unique to the Now; even in the eighties, we learn, not yet three decades past, these übermenschen did not exist. And yet, at least in the English with which I am familiar, the construction "more than ever" is comparative; here, it distinctly implies a past in which "our" present need existed, only, less so. But in the past, they didn't exist. Hum, well, I guess any need is greater than no need; or is it that their past nonexistence implies that we needed them to appear? Well, uh, what?
Let's not get ourselves too tangled, though. In truth, we "need" the "super-elite" neither more nor less than we ever did; all multiples of zero are still zero. At the same time, the insistence here that the transcendence of national borders makes the new elite, well, new, is pretty funny and about as ahistorical as it gets, especially here in the you'll-pardon-the-expression-West. Ms. Freeland, meet European history.