Politics, Development and Globalization
Nowadays, it became a commonplace assumption in the West that democratization is the crucial precondition for developing countries to be able to attain economic prosperity. It is also commonly suggested that the process of Globalization has several positive effects on the economy of these countries because it helps (due the ‘outsourcing’) to create new jobs in the world’s regions where the cost of labor is much lower, as compared to what it is the case in Western countries (Micklethwait & Wooldridge, 2014, p. 14).
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Nevertheless, a closer analysis of both suggestions will reveal that they are conceptually fallacious. After all, it is quite clear for those capable of critical thinking that, as of today, the notion of ‘democratization’ became synonymous with the notions of ‘chaos’ and ‘civil war’, and that the term Globalization began to signify the process of a few hundred privately owned transnational corporations trying to take over the world. In fact, ‘democratization’ appears to be the actual tool, with which Western countries can ensure that the developing countries continue to remain underdeveloped (Sen, 2014, p. 19).
This helps to explain why, as Green and Luehrmann (2007) have noted, “Many of the (developing) countries are simply not developing. They are underdeveloping – losing ground, becoming worse off” (p. 5). The concerning trend is what enables Western countries to maintain the world’s highest standards of living. In my paper, I will explore the validity of this suggestion at length, in regards to the used-to-be-developing country Libya, which in the aftermath of having been ‘democratized’ by the West, had lost its factual statehood and became the arena of a never-ending tribal war.
As of now, many people in the West (especially in America) continue to believe that the functioning of a free-market economy is self-sustainable, which in turn leads them to assume that the less the government intervenes in economic affairs, the better. The other commonly shared belief, in this respect, is that the current prosperity of Western countries is the direct consequence of these countries’ governments professing the ideals of democracy. The fact that this is indeed being the case can be illustrated, in regards to the 2002 documentary Commanding heights: The battle for the world economy – both of the mentioned beliefs are promoted throughout the film’s entirety.
For example, according to this documentary, one of the main reasons why Ronald Reagan was able to revive America’s economy during the 20th century’s eighties is that his administration adopted the policy of economic deregulation (01.39.23). However, the documentary does not mention the actual reason why this policy’s adoption proved helpful, in the first place – the fact that concerned policy allowed American manufacturing companies to move (outsource) their production lines to the Third world countries, where people are willing to work for as little, like $1 per day.
As a result, America (as well, as other Western countries that adopted the same policy) was set on the path of deindustrialization – something that can be shown, in regards to the rising popularity of those professional careers that are associated with the economy’s servicing sector (Cole, 2009). In its turn, this resulted in the creation of the situation when, as of today, the American (Western) economy is so much more about banking (making money out of the thin air) than about anything else.
What it means is that for the West to continue enjoying its current richness, it must apply a persistent effort into making sure that the living standards in the developing countries remain as low, as possible – the idea explored in the 2001 documentary The new rulers of the world. In this respect, the ongoing process of Globalization helps rather substantially. After all, Globalization does result in undermining the soundness of the very notion of national sovereignty. As Ohmae (2005) pointed out, “The global economy ignores barriers… if they are not removed, they cause distortion. The traditional centralized nation-state…it is ill-equipped to play a meaningful role on the global stage” (Ohmae, 2005, p. 4).
Specifically, the concerned process makes such international monetary organizations as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO (which are there to advance the economic agenda of the West), ever more capable of meddling in the country-members’ internal affairs. These organizations are now in the position to dictate the adoption of one or another economic policy to the formally independent governments of these countries. For example, one of the main preconditions that qualify a particular country for receiving a substantial monetary loan from the IMF has been traditionally considered its government’s willingness to reduce or to eliminate social spendings – something that automatically results in the drastic lowering of living standards in this country.
Moreover, these organizations are directly responsible for the fact that, as opposed to what is the case in Western countries (where the interest-rate, charged by the banks, is rarely higher than 2%), the interest-rate in the Third and Second world countries is often set as high as 20%-30% (Feldmann, 2013). In its turn, such a high interest-rate prevents the growth of these countries’ economies, because it discourages locally based businesses from investing in long-term economic projects. It is understood that the described state of affairs, in this respect, cannot affect the quality of life in the affiliated countries in any other way, but the strongly negative one.
Consequently, there can be very little democracy in a society where most people experience a hard time while trying to meet basic ends. Thus, it is indeed reasonable to suggest that, even though the era of European ‘classic’ imperialism is long over, the West continues to exploit the developing countries in just about every way possible, while paying very little attention to how this practice affects the exploited. Thus, it will be thoroughly logical to conclude that the notions of ‘Globalization’ and ‘democratization’ are strongly incompatible unless the latter is concerned with justifying the acts of Western imperialist aggression against the developing countries that happened to be rich in natural resources.
To prove this conclusion thoroughly reasonable, one can refer to Libya, as one of the most recently ‘democratized’ countries. Before the outbreak of the ‘democratic revolution’ of 2011, Libya featured Africa’s second strongest economy with the country’s standards of living have been comparable to those of the First World. Nevertheless, because the government of Muammar Gaddafi continued to resist the attempts of Western transnational corporations to take control of the country’s oil industry, Lybia has been proclaimed ‘undemocratic’ – something that, according to the U.S. and France, justified sending military planes to bomb this country.
Following the deposal of Gaddafi’s government, Libya ended up being engulfed by a civil war that has no end in sight. As of today, there are seven governments in Libya that represent the interests of different tribes, with each of these governments considering itself the only legitimate one (Fabbrini, 2014). This, of course, eliminates even a slight possibility for law and order to exist in this country
One may wonder about how any of this relates to Globalization? The answer to this question has to do with yet another aspect of Globalization – the fact that this process is also about allowing Western transnational corporations to become the quasi-states of their own, capable of affecting the geopolitical dynamics in the world (Hamm, 2015). After all, it was named the U.S. government’s willingness to act on behalf of these corporations, which made it possible to keep Libya’s ‘fighters for freedom’ well-equipped and financed.
The legitimacy of this statement can be illustrated, in regards to the fact that in the aftermath of the Libyan ‘democratic revolution’, Chevron and Shell acquired the ownership of the majority of oilrigs in Libya. These oilrigs are now being protected by the privately-owned ‘defense contractors’, such as Academi, which are based in the U.S. and Britain. Thus, the Western-led ‘democratization’ of Libya should be discussed in terms of military aggression to acquire and divide this country’s natural resources – pure and simple.
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The provided example justifies even further the earlier articulated suggestion that, as far as the situation in the developing countries is being concerned, the notions of ‘Globalization’ and ‘democracy’ (not to be confused with ‘democratization’, in the Western sense of this word) do not correlate even slightly. The reason for this is apparent – as it was shown earlier, in regards to the example of Libya, the ultimate aim of Globalization is to destroy the institute of statehood, as we know it.
However, for a particular society to be considered a democracy, law and order must account for the most fundamental principles of its functioning. Consequently, imposing law and order is the main function of the state. In the disorderly country, with the destroyed institutions of statehood (such as today’s Lybia), there can be no democracy, by definition.
I believe that the deployed line of argumentation, as to what should be considered the effects of Globalization/’democratization’ on social/economic dynamics in the developing countries, fully correlates with the paper’s initial thesis. There is indeed much rationale in believing that the more a particular developing country adheres to the Western conceptualizations of ‘democratization’, reflective of the West’s neo-colonial agenda, the less likely will it be for this country to be able to attain the status of the fully developed one and vice versa.
One can also speculate that, as time goes on, more and more people around the world come to conclude essentially the same – the process that eventually resulted in triggering Russia’s open rebellion against Western neo-colonialism, disguised as the ‘promotion of democracy’. Given the fact that America is losing in its confrontation with Russia, it will also be logical to conclude that in the future, there will be fewer instances of the underdeveloped countries have lost their statehood, due to the forces of Globalization. Taking into account that the notions of ‘democracy’ and ‘statehood’ originate in each other, there can be very little reason to doubt the sheer beneficence of such a would-be development.
Cole, P. (2009). A tale of two towns: Globalization and rural deindustrialization U.S. Working USA, 12(4), 539-562.
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Fabbrini, S. (2014). The European Union and the Libyan crisis. International Politics, 51(2), 177-195.
Feldmann, H. (2013). Real interest rate and labor market performance around the world. Southern Economic Journal, 79(3), 659-679.
Green, D., & Luehrmann, L. (2007). Comparative politics of the Third world: linking concepts and cases. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Hamm, B. (2015). The end of democracy as we knew it. Foresight: The Journal of Futures Studies, Strategic Thinking and Policy, 17(2), 161-193.
Micklethwait, J., & Wooldridge, A. (2014). The hidden promise: Liberty renewed. In J. Boli & F. Lechner (Eds.), The Globalization reader (pp. 11-19). New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
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