Saturday, November 6, 2010

Modernization and Dependency

Diagram of a dependency theoryImage via Wikipedia

Much of Third World countries-also known as Global South or Least Developed Countries (LDC)-tremendously suffered at the hands of their former masters. Colonialism in Africa was plotted in a European conference in Berlin in 1884 leading to what became known as the "Scramble for Africa". Under the auspices of King Leopeld II of Belgium, conference attendees who were mainly Europeans jossled for domination of the "Dark Continent". Africa became property owned by imperial powers of Western Europe. They included the British, French, Belgium, Germany, and Spain.

Psychobiographical observations of notable European leaders who participated in the dismemberment of the African continent identfy idiosyncratic personality traits in generally recognized neuroses and psychoses.

In explaining conflict and cooperation, admirers of international relations, take a glimpse of three levels of analysis: the individual level, the state level, and the system level. At the individual level political scientists endeavor to dissect the material and moral character of the person in charge of the state while observing the nature of state operations as well as the international structure and system. Named after the fourteenth-century philosopher William of Occam, the rule of parsimony or Occam's razor is the ability to explain a lot with a little.

In economics, monopoly implies one seller; duopoly denotes two big sellers; and oligopoly is when there are several big sellers. Thus, paradigms and theories evolve when studying power and politics. A paradigm is a toolkit or handbook for deciphering structures of knowledge. Key features of paradigms in politics include realism, liberalism, constructivism/idealism, and marxism. States, nonstate actors, and economics constitute the basic assumptions, concepts, and propositions employed by political theorists. In the study of world politics, dominant paradigms each begin with unanswered questions called axioms.

Some political theories are older than others; others trace their roots to ancient Greece. Liberalism which entails desire to live well, seeking justice and welfare in addition to security, military power, trade, investment, negotiation, and persuasion, competition and cooperation, neoliberal institutionalism and democratic peace, and non-Hobbesian anarchy has its roots in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.

Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda is a constructivist/idealist and a nonstate actor. His dominant instrument depends on historical period and social context. His interests are socially constructed through interaction. His dominant human drives include need for an orderly, meaningful social life. Constructivism/idealism is a tender, theoritical thought requiring more modest and continuous research.

The dynamics that led to the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism (or revivalism) in Afghanistan, Iran, and other parts of the Muslim world are multifaceted in outlook. Armed and unarmed radicals believed that they were duty-bound to conduct “holy war” or jihad against corrupt forces that threatened to tarnish the image of their essential religious principles. Radicals feel it is their divine duty to liberate their lands from invaders and imperialists. They tend to shield unwanted outsiders from imposing on them practices alien to their morals, religion, customs, and convictions.

Often radicals become disillusioned with so-called “imposed leaders” who fail to marshal in sweeping changes to disgruntled and afflicted societies lacking basic social services. Inequalities in education, health care, and other social aspects often led to armed insurrections, violent confrontations, and abrupt changes in government. Resentment of foreign domination and domestic enemies brought about popular uprisings in Iran and Afghanistan. The rise of the Taliban came as a result of the Mujahedeen’s dissatisfaction with the Marxist government and the Soviets who supported it. Recurring, aggravating, and unsolvable radicalization may continue for generations to come.

Since 9/11 there has been tremendous increase in the number of people admiring Osama bin Laden-the spiritual leader Al Qaeda. Supporters of bin Laden view his struggle against the mighty United States, Israel, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a moral jihad. Followers of bin Laden believe it is a moral conviction to wage holy war against the Zionist-Crusader alliance and their collaborators-a reference to the United States’ support of Israel in its occupation of Palestine and support for corrupt Muslim regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan.

A country’s transition to democracy may increase ethnic tensions in some cases and decrease in others. As in the case of Brazil, relative ethnic harmony exists despite persistence of ethnic discrimination. The predomination of one ethnic group over another is at times recipe for uneasy balance.

Irregularities in Kenya’s presidential election in 2008 resulted in the Kikuyu and Luo tribes slaughtering each other. The Kikuyu dominated Kenya’s government bureaucracy and the private sector from the time the nation attained independence from England in 1963. Kenya’s first president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta (deceased 1978 and buried in a golden mausoleum in Nairobi), was a Kikuyu. There has been a lull in imposed hierarchy during the 24-year uninterrupted rule of Daniel Arap Moi who was from the Kalenjin tribe. Anthropologically, the Luo and Kalenjin are classified as Nilotes or Nilotic (meaning those who reside along the Nile River) while the Kikuyu are Bantus.

The beating of the drums of democracy by Smith Hempstone (deceased), the United States ambassador to Kenya at that time, Kenya’s opposition, and the efforts of the European Union (EU) and the U.S., led to the demise of singularism and the birth of multiparty democracy. Jomo Kenyatta may be remembered for his famous saying: “every dog has its day”. He meant that it was the time for his Kikuyu tribe to enjoy the fruits of independence and that other tribes had to wait their turn or time.

Likewise, the slaughter of almost a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994 has its roots in the unequal distribution of power and natural resources. Systematic violence was overcome in Kenya with the involvement of the international community. But that was not the case in Rwanda. It was the current president, General Paul Kagame, who installed law and order after vanquishing Hutu rebellion and ultimately pursuing the rebels into the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The resulting violence in Kenya led to the deaths of over 2,000 and the displacement of over 300,000 persons.

Similarly, the collapse of Somalia’s central government in 1991 may be attributed to the consolidation of power by the former president’s clan or tribe-the Darod. Despite the Hawiye (a major Somali clan) dominating the private sector, the military government’s monopoly of the economy left the Hawiye and other major clans/tribes bitter and angry. The sudden collapse of the military junta allowed aggrieved clans/tribes to fight over power and dwindling resources.

In the case of Malaysia, ethnic Malays dominate government bureaucracy while the Chinese minority dominates the private sector. When both forms of power (political arena and the economy) fall into the hands of one ethnic group, tensions evolve leading to the breakup of democratic institutions of governance.

Enforced hierarchy (ethnic dominance) remained prevalent in South Africa in the zeniths of apartheid. During the heydays of apartheid, white South Africans dominated the government and the private sector such that uprisings became common.

It was U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who advocated the theory of African self-determination and self-government. Also known as decolonization, Wilson's thoughtful insights led to armed struggles in many parts of Africa under European imperial rule. Wilson did not realize that colonial powers would resist decolonization. The superior fire power of European powers cut short the lives of millions of Africans whose only crime was freedom from colonial rule. During Wilson's leadership an estimated thirty million souls died worldwide as a result of his blemished and foggy theoritical thoughts.

Ironically, at the time of slicing the African continent, many European leaders suffered from a variety of phsiological, neurological, and psychological afflictions most notably self-loathing, sexual frustration, lack of confidence and self-esteem, subconcious fears, gluttony, broken marriages, and a concoction of unsolvable needs and desires.

Modernization Theory
The greatest contributions of modernization theory had been the injection of contemporary political and economic institutions of governance that was alien to Third World nations. Despite the biting effects of colonialism on Third World Nations, economic growth, political democracy, the creation of trained bureaucracies, enhancement of education, proliferation of urbanization, creation of specialized institutions, and the spread of mass media introduced by developed nations opened new avenues for newly-evolved nations.

The current spate of modernization visible in Japan may be attributed to Japan’s initial encounter with Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry who fired the first shots of modernization into Japanese waters. Amazed by the devastating effects of the volleys of gunfire from Commodore Perry’s ships anchored off Japanese waters, imperial Japan thereafter embarked on inspiring modernization efforts that came to be the envoy of many western nations-including the United States. For decades, Japan has been an undisputed leader in computer technology, industries, and car manufacturing.

Likewise, the United States may be credited for marshaling novel cultural traditions that remain a force to reckon with. From Cape Town to Cairo in Africa and from Seoul in South Korea to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in the Galapagos (part of Ecuador), the scrumptious tastes of McDonald’s burgers and fries, Hollywood movies, rock music, modern military hardware, advanced educational systems and meticulous curricula, printed T-shirts, faded or stone-washed Jeans, and a plethora of innovations exported from the United States remain a hallmark in every hemispheric projection.

However, many downward trends came with Modernization theory. Many nations that had previously developed economically and industrially under the banner of modernization, experienced drastic collapse of democratic institutions and the birth of repressive military dictatorships.
Despite commendable industrial growth and greater income, the most economically developed nations like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay experienced a bitter clash of social classes resulting from unequal distribution of resources and paving way for the evolvement of a new insightful study that came to be known as conflict theory.

Dependency Theory
Some of the main contributions of dependency theory include the spread of western influence like modern values, technology, and institutions. However, dependency theory comes with many flaws that include exploitation of developing nations’ resources, military intervention in former African colonies, support of corrupt regimes as in Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Cuba (before Castro) by the United States. As a result of colonialism, Third World countries nurtured their former colonial masters by providing cheap food and raw materials.

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