States interact in the international sphere which can either bring about progress for both or development for just one player and detriments to the other. This dynamic can come in different permutations, with two, three or more players coming into the picture. Given that states interact in various ways and in doing so, affect each other differently, this essay seeks to discuss why there seems to be asymmetry in the interaction. The initial question is, why is it that when developed states interact, they both seem to benefit from it?
But when developing states interact (especially, economically) with developed ones, why is that the result is the opposite—that is, instead of mutually benefiting from each other, one usually gets the better deal and the other gets the detriments? These questions are what this paper seeks to discuss, plus an attempt to discuss ways that can solve this dilemma. This paper would also present the different, possible solutions that could help in answering the problems that shall be also presented in this paper.
While it has been a prevalent thought that the powerful players in the world are those that have the arms to back them up, there have been schools of thought and trends that show the importance of economics in the determination of who are the power holders in the international sphere. How has the phenomenon called Globalization affected the development of states? Have the effects been that of equity and fairness or otherwise? How has the developing world been affected in terms of leveling off with the developed world? How can the problem of asymmetry be addressed?
The next sections elucidates further on this. International Political Economy: An Overview There are numerous definitions of what International Political Economy is, what constitutes it and what the issues within its scope are. For reasons of clarity, I give three definitions that will be relevant in the discussion of this paper. Firstly, International Political Economy (IPE) talks about the issues that concern the mix and overlapping of politics and economics, and in some areas, touch on the issues between what was seen as national and international (Tooze, 1997).
It can tackle issues governing political decisions that are influenced by economic gains or loses, and vice versa. To some authors like Hettne, IPE can also be seen as that discipline that deals with political organization of the world economy—that is, the connection between politics and economics in international relations (Hettne 1992). And lastly, according to Vaarala, IPE may be seen as having the following elements; firstly, it is the intersection of politics and economics.
Secondly, while keeping in mind this intersection, IPE seeks to explain why there are changes that occur in the way wealth and power are distributed among states. Lastly, be that as it may, IPE is the study of asymmetry and inequality among nations (Vaarala, 2007). So, in the definition of Vaarala, the role that states play is acknowledged and recognized as an important point of discussion. Moreover, it seems to be that there already exists, perhaps by default, asymmetry and inequality among states that interact in the international sphere.
And lastly, it is implied that this inequality takes the form of an imbalance in power and wealth. While it is true that it can be assumed that inequality between the wealth and power of states exists, the question of how wide this gap is remains to be very important. Moreover, the question as to why this gap has been preserved, despite claims that free trade will forward development, is all the more a pressing point of inquiry. It is, however, important to note that in recent developments there have been changes in the way International Political Economy is viewed.
It has been seen as a discipline that has slowly been taking into consideration all the related global issues—not just limiting itself to the discussion of high politics and economics, but now catering to everyday practices of various agents (Vaarala, 2007). When developed countries interact with each other, it is said that both benefit from the interaction. On the other hand, the interaction between the developed and developing countries seem to benefit only those that are considered to be economically and politically rich. Why is this so? The answer to this question can be answered using the dependency theory.
The dependency theory, developed in the 1950s, a reaction to the then popular liberal free trade theories that shows that the wealth of developing countries decrease as the wealth of the developed countries continuously increases. This theory would give light to the question this paper would answer. The interaction between the developed and developing countries is less beneficial to the latter than the former. According to the dependency theory, developing countries invest in third world countries simply because they [developed countries] depend too much on these developing countries.
First of all, these developing countries provide them with a destination for obsolete technology, a market where they could sell their products, a place where they could get cheap labor and of course a place where they could get raw materials that are not available in their country. In order to do so, the wealthier state and powerful state tries to control the other through a number of policies and initiatives that are many-sided which includes economics, politics, education, culture, etc.
In many ways, they construct these policies in a way that only the developed countries would benefit from them, making it seem that the less developed countries need them to survive when in fact, it is the developed countries who could not enjoy their current status without the nations who ‘serve’ them. The more peripheral countries they have that somehow server their interests, the more powerful these countries seem in the world stage (Ritzer, 2004).