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Chapter Review

  • Freedom and Equality in the Newly Industrializing and Less-Developed Countries
    • Those countries traditionally referred to as the Third World are often divided into two groups to indicate important differences in their levels of development. Newly industrializing countries (NICs) like South Korea have shown swift economic development, social stability, and greater democratization, while less-developed countries (LDCs) like Ghana display weak economic growth, and political and social instability.
    • While they are increasingly moving apart in their development, these countries share a legacy of colonialism and imperialism, which has some long-term implications.
  • Imperialism and Colonialism
    • Empires are single political authorities that have, under their sovereignty, a large number of external regions or territories.
    • Imperialism is the system whereby a state extends its power to directly control territory, resources, and people beyond its borders. This should not be confused with colonialism, which involves a greater degree of physical occupation of a territory by settlers or the military.
    • Modern imperialism can be dated to the 1500s, when technological development in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (particularly advanced seafaring and military technology) allowed these states to project their military might far overseas. European imperialism was driven by economic and strategic motives, but also by evangelical religious beliefs. These empires stretched far into Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In the twentieth century, Japan engaged in imperialism for a short time.
  • Institutions of Imperialism
    • When imperialist nations conquered territories, they brought the idea of the modern state to these regions. State power often manifested itself in the form of bureaucracy, a new national language (the imperialist’s), roads, taxes, and military and police. Empires established control by installing loyal local leaders or by setting up new central authorities themselves. The imposition of the state had mixed effects.
    • Imperialism often brought new notions of ethnic identity (deeming some people superior to others even though those divisions did not exist previously) and national identity (nationalism and the idea of self-determination eventually led to colonies to demand independence from the empire). Scholars disagree on how imperialism shaped gender roles (some argue that imperialism was positive for women’s equality and rights, others say it was detrimental).
    • Colonizers created cash-based, mercantilist economies to extract wealth and natural resources from the colonies. The colonies also became captive markets for the finished goods of the home country (colonies were allowed to trade only within the empire). This new economy created wealth for the empire, but was often not sustainable for the colonial economy.
  • The Challenges of Postimperialism
    • After achieving independence, former colonies have struggled with building state capacity and autonomy, forging social identities, and generating economic growth.
    • Many newly industrializing and less-developed countries have struggled to establish effective political institutions. States lack capacity due to a history of foreign bureaucracy (who left after independence) and exacerbated by high levels of patrimonialism, clientelism, and rent seeking, all which undermine state legitimacy. They also suffer from a lack of autonomy, as international bodies and more powerful states constrain the autonomy of NICs and LDCs, and because the autonomy that does exist often comes through force alone, further undermining legitimacy. These constraints have undermined sovereignty, contributed to political instability, and limited democratic development.
    • After colonialism, newly industrializing and less-developed countries have struggled to create and maintain coherent societies. The ethnic hierarchies created by imperialism led to clashes over economic power and political control, and have made establishing a strong national identity challenging.
    • Gender roles imposed or reinforced by colonial rule persisted in many societies following independence, leading to gender imbalances. At the extreme level, gender inequality contributes female infanticide and may be linked civil conflicts.
    • Economically, newly industrializing and less-developed countries were still dependent upon their former empires—a continuation of the unequal, imperialist structure called neocolonialism.
    • To build their economies, some NICs and LDCs in Latin America and Africa turned to import substitution, restricting imports in favor of locally produced goods, a policy with little success that was criticized as prone to corruption. Several Asian countries pursued a more successful policy of export-oriented industrialization, focusing on producing goods that could be exported, but even those countries experienced a significant economic downturn in the 1990s.   These countries were encouraged to employ structural adjustment programs (or the Washington Consensus) dictated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and requiring privatization of industries, more open markets, and more encouragement of foreign investment; these reforms have been controversial and their results mixed.
  • Puzzles and Prospects for Democracy and Development
    • Political scientists increasingly agree on why some newly industrializing and less-developed countries have been more successful than others. We know, for instance, that a high degree of ethnic divisions is linked to greater economic and political instability, that natural resources limit political and economic development, and that these problems cannot be addressed without an effective state. However, scholars differ widely in how to solve these challenges. The view of the state as a tool or obstacle to development in the postcolonial world has shifted over time. Early foreign aid was channeled into state-dominated large-scale, top-down development projects like dams or health care, while the Washington Consensus sought to roll back state power, encourage private industry, and limit regulation in the belief that market forces could succeed where states had failed. Both approaches have their failures and critics.
    • Some scholars advocate democratic development to promote growth and may advocate for devolving power as a way to tackle corruption and increase state legitimacy, but critics point out that devolution can lead to political polarization and instability. 
    • Some scholars argue that changing politics and society in these countries requires massive international efforts, with international organizations having a strong influence on the politics, health, agriculture, and education of the nation. This approach, however, may undermine sovereignty and is unpopular in developing areas.
    • Some advocate the building of civil society to bridge societal divides, achieved through careful institutional reforms and promoting local movements and organizations. Critics argue that this approach means well but is unlikely to lead to any real outcomes as long as the country’s basic social conditions are dire.
    • A final problem of many less-developed countries is that most of the economy exists in the informal economy, not regulated or taxed by the state, which can limit potential growth.  
    • To reform these economies, some scholars call for establishment of property rights and more extensive use of microcredit (providing small loans to local people to allow them to start businesses) or microfinance (a broader spectrum, including credit, savings, insurance, and financial transfers). Other scholars call for larger-scale initiatives, such as liberalization of trade policy.