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In This Article
Contents:
  1. See a Problem?
  2. Realist political economy
  3. Porter Tony, Professor — Faculty of Social Sciences

His studies in this field were described as "represent[ing] probably the most articulate and theoretically self-conscious attempt to come to grips with the contradictions in South Africa's foreign policy" European Journal of Development Research. Furthermore, he has been one of the leading exponents of the application and adaptation of the New Regionalism Theory to the critical study of trans-border processes in Africa, with numerous publications in this field.

See a Problem?

School of International Relations. Research areas Ian is interested in sub-Saharan Africa's political economy and its international relations, the history of Afro-Asian diplomacy, the notion of "rising powers", and the implications for global governance and development and for Africa specifically. London: Routledge, , pp. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, , pp. London: Palgrave, , pp. From International Organization to Global Governance, 2nd ed. Africa in World Politics Westview Press, , pp. Africa e Cina: insieme cambieranno il mondo? Milan: Fondazione Italia Cina, , pp.

Military Carlisle, PA: U.

Realist political economy

Several prominent political analysts have argued variations on this theme. Samuel Huntington, for instance, has put forth inter-civilizational conflict as the new "danger" to the dominant powers in world affairs, stating that " The controversy and rebuttals provoked by Huntington's work are not of immediate concern here; however, his argument does provide important insights into some prominent conflicts of globalization.

3/12 International Political Economy - The political economy of ‘International Relations’

Globalization in its contemporary form is the carrier of values which are essentially Western and liberal in character, but they are being aggressively promoted internationally as universal values, the inherent worth of which should be obvious to all right-thinking people. This is the perspective behind such notions as Francis Fukuyama's "end of history" thesis, or the standard package of liberal economic reforms prescribed for all struggling economies by the International Monetary Fund Sachs, Huntington is explicit about debunking the globalization myth that world culture is Western culture, and argues further that:.

Western efforts to propagate such ideas produce instead a reaction against 'human rights imperialism' and a reaffirmation of indigenous values, as can be seen in the support for religious fundamentalism by the younger generation in non-Western cultures Huntington, Writing a few years later on a similar theme, Graham Fuller, a political scientist at the Rand Corporation, traced further the dynamics of "culture conflict," explaining how non-Western peoples are confronted with a flood of evidence that someone else's values are re-shaping their societies as:.

Such cultural anxieties are welcome fuel to more radical political groups that call for cultural authenticity, preservation of traditional and religious values, and rejection of the alien cultural antigens. Big Macs become in-your-face symbols of American power--political, economic, and military--over weak or hesitant societies and states Fuller, Fuller also argues that, on a shrinking planet, the West cannot escape the secondary effects of these conflicts:. Chaos and turmoil in various regions create serious ripple effects that will not leave the rest of the globe untouched: Wars, refugees, embargoes, sanctions, weapons of mass destruction, radical ideology, and terrorism all emerge from the crucible of the failing state order The West will not be able to quarantine less-developed states and their problems indefinitely, any more than states can indefinitely quarantine the dispossessed within their own societies--on practical as well as moral grounds , Fundamentalisms of various kinds are prominent in the conflicts of "cultural reaction.

They feel even more threatened now as their national institutions are undermined by the international pressures described earlier. Both the pace and direction of change in these societies " A value-oriented, anti-modern, dedifferentiating form of collective action - a socio-cultural movement aimed at reorganizing all spheres of life in terms of a particular set of absolute values" Lechner, Globalization thus sets the stage for the confrontation between what Benjamin Barber has called "McWorld" and "Jihad.

These passages suggest that globalization seems to be pulling virtually all identity groups on the planet out of their various degrees of isolation, pushing them into the currents of the global ecumene and, thereby, obliging them to re-define, or as Robertson and others put it, relativize themselves in regard to global trends.

Porter Tony, Professor — Faculty of Social Sciences

Relativization, however, is a process which may involve either rejection or some form of accommodation, integration, or synthesis with the hegemonic cultural and economic forces. Thus, a more nuanced picture would show that instead of the steady expansion of Western cultural dominance what we are really witnessing is a:. Though in some respects a more optimistic scenario for the emergence of world culture, this juxtaposition of cultural forces produces just the mix of tensions which Sorokin identified as characteristic of periods of high social strife; a situation exacerbated by changes in the global economic system.

As mentioned earlier, the economic dimensions of globalization have attracted the most popular attention, much of which has been negative due to the frequency and variety of conflicts for which the process is blamed. The economic realm is also an area in which it can be argued that conflict has led to some creative responses from the international community. First, it should be acknowledged that, as Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter 84 argued, capitalism inevitably involves a process of "creative destruction.

However, entire industries and regions can be "destroyed," or at least marginalized, as more innovative competitors take the lead in a given sector. This is demonstrated, for instance, by the change from the horse and cart to the automobile, or from canals to railways. The liberal argument has always been that, despite the rather Darwinian way this process produces "winners" and "losers," society as a whole benefits from constant improvement in the quality and range of goods and services available to consumers.

In this sense economic globalization is viewed as the logical extension of this process to an increasingly unified global market. In the real world, losers are people, sometimes capitalists, but always workers, individually and as communities. Creative destruction means the unemployment of real workers, the destitution of real communities, devastation of the environment, and disempowerment of the populace MacEwan, 3 emphasis added.

This has, in a sense, always been the case since capitalism replaced feudalism as the dominant system of production.

But the contemporary period is also characterized by a reduction in both the willingness and ability of governments to keep employment high through public expenditure or to pay the unemployment and welfare benefits which, to some degree, protected workers in the industrial countries from the creative destruction of capitalism during the decades immediately after World War II. Rather, the increasing importance of international finance capital in the world economy has compelled governments to be much more concerned about the "investment climates" in their countries, and to insure that financial markets " approve" of their macroeconomic policies.

Put very simply, globalization has radically shifted the balance of economic power in favor of capital, which is highly mobile and thus able to move where profits are to be gained; and against labor, which is much less mobile even in an economic community like the European Union , and whose basis of organization is still more national than international. As Ethan Kapstein has argued:. The forces acting on today's workers inhere in the structure of today's global economy, with its open and increasingly fierce competition on the one hand and fiscally conservative units--states--on the other Growing income inequality, job insecurity, and unemployment are seen as the flip side of globalization Kapstein, Kapstein and MacEwan are writing primarily about the industrialized countries, but the situation of those former "Third World" countries who cannot find a place in the new world economy is even more grave:.

Within the framework of a new informational economy, a significant part of the world population is shifting from a structural position of exploitation to a structural position of irrelevance Castells, 37 emphasis added. A second reaction is the expression of utter desperation through that widespread violence, either individual or collective, which has transformed major cities in the Fourth World and entire regions in some countries into savage, self-destructive battlegrounds A third reaction, rapidly developing in the Fourth World In his third point, Castells links the cultural reaction discussed earlier to the deteriorating economic conditions of what he calls "Fourth World" societies.

He suggests that movements of reaction--whether ethnic, fundamentalist or Marxist have in common a wish to:. What has been the reality across the Third World for more than a decade is now coming home to roost. Declining incomes, growing inequalities, job insecurity, drugs, crime--these are the forces that are tearing at the social fabric of communities across the Northern hemisphere Hellinger, Furthermore, both Hellinger and Kapstein argue that such conditions have been fertile ground for demagoguery in the United States, Europe both Western and Eastern and the former Soviet Union.

As Kapstein puts it:. It is hardly sensationalist to claim that in the absence of broad-based policies and programs designed to help working people, the political debate in the United States and many other countries will soon turn sour. Populists and demagogues of various stripes will find 'solutions' to contemporary economic problems in protectionism and xenophobia.

Indeed, in every industrialized nation, such figures are on the campaign trail Kapstein, These domestic tensions also contribute to conflicts among states. Domestic manufacturers threatened by free trade frequently lobby their governments for legal protection from foreign competition. When they succeed, though some element of domestic political support is gained by the national leadership, relations with the state s whose exports are restricted, necessarily suffers.

Or, states such as the U. The accelerated creation and expansion of regional trading blocs reflects the same tensions between a need to increase free trade, and a concern to safeguard traditional economic activities from overseas competition by guaranteeing regional producers an expanded market. Despite the fact that global free trade is far from an accomplished fact, there is nonetheless evidence that many governments have understood the need to avoid a return to the type of extreme economic nationalism and "beggar thy neighbor" policies often portrayed as having contributed to the onset of World War II.

This explains why international economic relations are characterized by an institutional structure which is more comprehensive than anything yet existing in the political realm. In this regard, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have recently been joined by an even more supranational organization, the World Trade Organization, which has a well developed dispute settlement mechanism and the authority to impose substantial penalties on those member states which flout its decisions. These developments demonstrate that in regard to a wide range of economic matters, many of the world's political and economic elites have concluded that the benefits of submitting to these organizations outweighs the benefits of a more independent policy.

Such advances in global collective action could be seen as harbingers of similar initiatives in other areas. However, Rosenau's "global authority crisis"should be kept in mind. The average people around the world increasingly feel they have suffered from economic globalization, and they are increasingly doubtful about the wisdom and motivation behind many contemporary international "trade deals".

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the promotion of further free trade has become a divisive political issue. Contemporary events show that this skepticism is also shared in other parts of the world. Consider the following examples:. These few examples highlight a point made by Roland Robertson when he argued that the world is already united, but it is not integrated Robertson, On the one hand problems and topical concerns are expressed in global terms while, on the other, approaches to their solution tend to be piece meal, halting and generally inhibited by diverging conceptions of identity and interest.


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All of which suggests that a world society becoming more and more inter-connected physically while lacking a consensus on fundamental values and priorities may well be torn by conflicts " As we have seen, globalization seems to be both creative and destructive; but distinguishing its positive from its negative effects is a demanding and controversial exercise. One conceptual framework which provides insight into this problem is human needs theory as applied by John Burton to the study of social conflict.

Burton explains that in analyzing conflict one must distinguish among needs, values and interests. In trying to resolve disputes it should be understood that only interests are negotiable in the short run; while values can only change over the long run in an atmosphere of security and non-discrimination, and needs cannot be negotiated away under any circumstances Burton, The implications of this formulation are far-reaching.

For instance, it suggests: " While acknowledging that there is still only limited consensus in this research area, Burton does present a plausible list of needs. First, human beings require a sense of security and of identity. Second, since we have a generic drive to learn, we require a consistent response from the environment , without which learning is impossible. Third, from their social context people require both recognition and valued relationships , or bonding.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, individuals require some control over their environments in order to insure that their needs are fulfilled Burton, 47, This approach has important implications for social institutions. If, on balance, needs, whatever they are determined to be, are being met within an institution, the institution receives support and is consolidated and perpetuated. If, however, needs are not met, the institution loses support and legitimacy, and confronts increasing opposition.

In the latter case, authorities tend to react with repression and coercion, but if an institution is "de-legitimated" for enough people, conflict can not be resolved this way. Rather, the institutional structures have to evolve, sooner or later, to more fully accommodate the needs of the people they affect.

If a particular social order is only legitimized for a portion of the society, one would expect that, given enabling conditions, those whose needs are not met would react. Burton goes so far as to assert that this has become the general condition in modern societies, arguing that:. Human needs are being frustrated on a large scale in all modern societies, and the more law and order is enforced to control frustration the more the frustration.

There is now a widespread concern regarding the legitimacy of even the most seemingly legitimized authorities.


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The members of protest movements of many kinds in many different societies, and the terrorists who spring from relatively privileged classes, are demonstrating that there are features of societies, of all political types, unacceptable to a significant number of the people that comprise them He also explains how this leads to various forms of deviant behavior, because ".. This conceptual framework does highlight various aspects of the conflicts of globalization.

First, we can see that all three types of conflict "stakes"--i. However, as Burton himself explains, in any given conflict, such as a strike over better working conditions, one has to consider the possibility that it is really caused by a more general deprivation of basic needs perhaps recognition, valued relationships, or control which will eventually have to be addressed if further disruptions of production are to be avoided in future.

Second, as we have seen, there are signs that many of the contemporary effects of economic and cultural globalization are not considered legitimate by an increasing number and variety of populist groups all over the world. If the means to the fulfillment of basic needs are seen to be eroded by processes of globalization, reaction, rejection and increasing hostility are to be expected.