I was at the Trade and Development seminar today at the WTO where the sandwiches were great. Matthias Thoenig was presenting his paper (which is not available online) on how increasing trade flows were reducing the cultural distance between countries. Cultural distance was explained by how differently people were answering questions of the World Values Survey on mutual trust, happiness, religion, and other values that you would want to transfer to your kids, such as respect, tolerance, integrity etc... It stroke me at the end when his conclusion was to control trade because it was destroying cultural differences. Wait a minute.
A convergence of such values was a good thing in my head all along. You can't call the fact that some people are unhappy in certain countries and happy in otehr countries and say that it should remina like that for the sake of culture! Better for it to converge towards happiness. That is human progress. Same thing for mutual trust. It's like saying that countries should stay poor as it is better for tourism!
I would imagine that the worldwide convergence in income be accompanied by a convergence in values. The fact that some countries think it OK to praticse female genital mutilation should not be regarded as a desired cultural difference. Or the fact that you don't want homosexuals as neighbors. As countries become richer, they become more educated and less anti-homosexuals. A convergence in such liberal values is desirable in my opinion. It could save us from a third world war.
And this certainly does not mean that Japanese stop eating sushi, Greeks stop eating Tzattziki and Indians stop watching crazy bollywood dancing over tandoori chicken or that Nigerians stop wearing bubas. It just means that we start accepting each other, or at least understanding and tolerating each other.