This could go in the Tunisia thread, but is a little broader than that, so I've placed it here.

An interesting piece on the implications of Tunisia in the struggle over the identity of Islam by Thomas P.M. Barnett over at World Politics Review.

For those not familiar with his books, Dr. Barnett's theory is that globalization's connectivity reduces conflict. Conflict tends to originate in the periphery where states are not connected or do not have adequate rules.

In this case, he posits that adherence to religion and making a buck don't have to conflict, and that folks in the Middle East and Africa want to be connected to the global economy more than they want to be a part of Al-Qaeda's world. The gist is that capitalism can beat fundamentalism just like it beat communism- economically, with democracy (politics) coming later. Once people are worried about buying a nicer TV/car/cell phone, they tend to worry less about hating their neighbors... you could argue that Iraq shows a positive correlation here as well.

While I'm inclined to agree with him, I think this line of reasoning also opens up another question- is it possible that a systemic shock (like the Great Depression or another state vs. state war) could discredit globalization so thoroughly that the majority of people would actually reject it? Could the current Chinese bubble popping lead to that large of consequences?

Unlikely I know, although there are precedents... Several earlier periods of globalization fell by the wayside for similar reasons, although the fact that we're back where we are seems to indicate that there's something to the phenomenon.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.