Political scientist/blogger Dan Drezner has posted a link to his book manuscript, which argues that the great powers retain a great deal of regulatory power despite the much-hyped trend toward globalization. I'm no expert on the subject and haven't read the whole manuscript, but it highlights a useful rule of thumb: people who argue that "[insert buzzword here] changes everything" are usually wrong.
Let's review some recent examples:
1) "The Internet changes everything for business" (circa 1996-1999). A few years later, most of the big companies have adapted; most of the startups have died; and the world of business is moving forward with its fundamentals largely intact. Sure, some things have changed, but the vast majority of predictions about the Internet's impact on business were grossly overstated.
2) "The Internet changes everything for politics (circa 2003-2004). For reasons I've explained, the Joe Trippi-inspired fantasy of a third party "Internet candidate" in 2008 is just so much nonsense. Despite all the predictions, the parties and interest groups are adapting the Internet as another tool; certain aspects of politics have been altered, but it - like business - has not fundamentally changed.
3) "Globalization changes everything for national policy" (circa 1998-2002). Once again, a supposedly inexorable force is seen as impossible to resist, but this misses the essential point that Drezner focuses on -- the modern phenomenon of globalization is in large part driven by conscious policy decisions. It did not emerge from the ether, and when the great powers want to resist it, they can. Once again, the fundamentals of international relations remain largely intact.
Any bets on the next silly intellectual bubble? I'm going with biotech/genetic engineering/neuroscience; there's already a burgeoning market of people hyping research that's in its very early stages...