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sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2009

How do realism, liberalism, and Marxism assess the phenomenon of global integration?

1. How do the three conceptions of the international political economy (realism, liberalism, Marxism) assess the phenomenon of global integration?
Accessing the impact of globalization highlights the distinct assumptions from which liberals, realists and Marxists depart. Gilpin notes that “although no perspective provides a complete and satisfactory understanding of the nature and dynamism of the international political economy, together they provide useful insights” (Kaufmann: 433). Believers in the merits of a free market, liberalists tend to access the impacts of globalization in a positive light. Although they do not deny problems associated with it, liberals tend to assert the overall gains in economic efficiency and prosperity achieved through globalization.

Realists, on the other hand, tend to be more concerned about relative gains. For them, assessing overall gains during the latest phase of globalization misses the essential point. Realists are more concerned about who has gained the most from globalization. Gilpin stresses that nationalists emphasize that although “all may indeed have gained, some did gain more than others” (Kaufmann: 467). Besides, realists are not staunch supporters of free trade, an underlying force of globalization. According to Gilpin, nationalists “believe that free trade undermines national autonomy and state control over the economy to the vicissitudes and instabilities of the world market and exploitation by other, more powerful economies” (Kaufmann: 467).

For realists in the developed world the rapid increase in economic power from developing countries (such as China and India), the displacement of the locus of production and the consequent change in the modus operandi of international production is a cause for concern. Realists in the developing world tend to have mixed feelings about globalization and a lively debate has emerged as to globalization’s merits and shortfalls. Since realists tend to emphasize relative gains, rather than absolute ones, the assessment about whether globalization is a success story often depends on the stand point. Those countries and sectors of societies who achieved relative gains with globalization tend to regard it as positive, whereas those countries and sectors that fear a loss of relative power tend to regard it as negative. Gilpin notes that “behind the technical discussions of trade, foreign investment, and monetary affairs are conflicting national ambitions and the fundamental question of “who is to produce what and where”” (Kaufmann: 449). Other than liberals, who tend to favor commerce, realists (and Marxists as well) tend to favor protectionist practices and therefore are rather cautious in regard to globalization. Gilpin argues that “Marxists and economic nationalists advocate policies of economic autarky” (Kaufmann: 443).

Furthermore, Gilpin notes that “economic nationalists emphasize the costs of trade to particular groups and states and favor economic protectionism and state control over international trade” (Kaufmann: 465). Gilpin concludes that “economic nationalists criticize the liberal doctrine of free trade because the doctrine is politically naïve and fails to appreciate the extent to which the terms of trade and the rules governing trade are determined by the exercise of power, because the doctrine is static and slights the problem of adjustment costs, and because it ignores the problems of uncertainty in its stress on the benefits of specialization” (Kaufmann: 473).

Marxists, by their part, tend to view globalization as another phase in the overall imperialist expansion and are rather skeptical about it. Since Marxists believe capitalism to be intrinsically flawed in its ability to deliver social justice and fair distribution of income, they tend to regard globalization rather as an evil that has to be combated. Not for other reasons, Marxists compose the bulk of the anti-globalization movement.

2. The merits and the dangers of “hegemonic stability” in international trade
Hegemonic Stability Theory focuses on the role of a hegemon in providing a liberal trade order. For Gilpin, “according to the theory of hegemonic stability as set forth initially by Charles Kindleberger (…), an open and liberal world economy requires the existence of a hegemonic or dominant power” (Kaufmann: 477). This hegemonic power should be “both able and willing to establish and maintain the norms and rules of a liberal economic order, and with its decline the liberal economic order is greatly weakened” (ibid).

The fundamental aspect of the theory is that a free and open international market does constitute a collective good, but it is not always in the interest of several states to achieve a free and open international market. The international system is therefore unstable. That is why advocates of HST argue that the hegemon should have “the responsibility to guarantee provision of the collective goods” (Kaufmann: 479). The rationale behind this argument is quite plain: a free trade order benefits everyone; however some might oppose this order because they are not ready to contemplate collective gains but rather their relative perceived loss of power; a hegemon should oblige the reluctant states, therefore, for the sake of the collective good, to accept the free market order.

The merits of Hegemonic Stability Theory in international trade rely on its accurate perception that human selfish behavior suggests that not every nation is ready to abide by an open and free international trade order, even if economic logic might suggest that this open and free trade order is in the interest of humankind as a whole. Hegemonic Stability Theory thus proposes that the hegemon nation should take the burden of this responsibility upon her shoulder, if mankind is to profit from the benefits of a free trade order.

By advocating that the hegemon should impose free trade on reluctant states, however, Hegemonic Stability Theory risks jeopardizing fragile arrangements of peace. HST risks, furthermore, to play a destabilizing effect, for reluctant states might feel threatened by its aggressive policies and start a military buildup, in order to defend their perceived legitimate national policies and interests. It is important to notice, moreover, that it could also be the case that hegemons resort to protectionist policies during their rise to hegemony, thus delegitimizing, in the eyes of the reluctant states, the arguments for free trade. Hegemonic Stability Theory could, in this regard, pose a major threat to international peace and stability, backfiring on its initial noble intent as it awakens unwanted perceptions of coercion and power politics.

3. Bibliography:
Baylis, J. and Smith, S. (2004), The Globalization of World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Kaufman, D. J., Parker, J.M., Howel, P.V., Doty, G.R. (1998), Understanding International Relations, The Value of Alternative Lenses (USA: Custom Publishing).
Spero, J. E. and Hart, J. A. (2003), The Politics of International Economic Relations (USA: Thomson Wadsworth).

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