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Friday, February 3, 2012

Politics and Culture in the Developing World by Richard Payne and Jamal Nassar Reviewed by Jullius Cezar T. Laylo

Globalization, according to Payne and Nassar, is the integration of markets, politics, values and environmental concerns across borders. Globalization is the major phenomenon of great change and yet the phenomenon of great capitalism. In effect, the fate of developing countries lies in the hand of First world countries. It will result in a more big problems, conflicts and issues. The world is a great market and yet a great opportunity but not for developing countries rather it is for First World countries like United States. We often hear the phrase that the world has become a global village which signifies how much has changed in the world in the past few decades. The social, economic, and political changes that globalization has brought have been accompanied by some challenges. Thus, the world should address these challenges to achieve development.

1. Government , Politics and Cultures in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America
A people are group of individuals who make up a community. The way a people organizes its affairs is called politics. Essentially, the study of politics is the study of government and power allocation and use in a society. Government is a mechanism that people employ to organize their affairs and to protect themselves from threats. Aside from politics, people also informally manage their affairs through culture. Culture is a set of traditions, beliefs, and behaviors that a people express and hold. Although culture and politics often interdependent, they can be separated in order to study societies. In our world, government, politics, and cultures are going through rapid transformation as a result of globalization.

Throughout the world, different cultural groupings often live under one state. A state is an internationally recognized, politically organized, populated, geographical area that possesses sovereignty. Aside from different cultures, state often posses many different nations which are distinct from state and culture. A nation refers to a group of people who identify with one another as a political community because of common territorial, cultural and other similar bonds.

2. Global Interdependence
The growing interdependence of our global community is slowly changing the relationships of states and individuals. It has yielded many positive as well as negative influences upon human life. Economically, the world is so interwoven that the livelihood of one depends on the production of many others. Thus, it will result to a more serious problem; the great capitalism. This relationship of interdependence transcends the economic sphere and includes environmental and political interests. In addition, the world has become smaller through efficient and low-cost traveling and the electronic media such as the internet. Other areas of global interdependence include our own health when viruses and diseases travel beyond borders and infect people of all races and nationalities. AIDS, for example, does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or any other human characteristics, immutable or otherwise. Indeed, global interdependence affects all of us, from the clothes we wear and the air we breathe to the food we eat and any forms of technology we use. Interdependence has yielded many positive as well as negative influences upon human life. Hence, for example, although jeans and football have become global cultural icons, many critics brand this trend as cultural colonialism, whereby American culture has spread to engulf a world where there exists no global minimum wage or labor laws to protect ordinary people from the exploitative tendencies of mass production.

 3. Religion and Politics
Religion has been used for good and bad. Throughout history, religion was used for political purposes. Thus, the religion has been politicized. And we can see it here in the Philippines where the Catholic Church is using his power to be involved in political decision of the country. It will result to the clash of values and government decision. In Iran, Islam was used to rid the country of an oppressive absolute monarchy. Once in power, Islamic leaders attempted to use Islam to suppress opposition to their leadership. In India, Hinduism was also employed in the struggle for liberation. Gandhi’s approach borrowed from the Hindu notion self-sacrifice and Dharma in order to move a population struggle against British colonization. Soon after the British withdrew, the Hindu Caste system caused India much suffering and it is now used as a political tool by some. Buddhism was also used to bring about freedom from poverty. But as we have seen in Sri Lanka, it also contributed to the rise of extremist nationalism and bloody conflict with a Hindu minority. Christianity has often been used to suppress others. In Latin America, Christianity was partly responsible for oppression against the native populations. The Catholic Church also produced a brand of theology that contributed to the betterment of the region and its peoples.

Religious revivalism is a phenomenon of our times. Some resent it, others praise it. Although religion can be a tool for oppression, it also can be one for liberation. What matters here is that you have a better idea about the religious cultures of those regions and that you understand that all religions are in the same boat. They are being rocked and battered by the revolutionary changes in today’s world. As a result, religious leaders occasionally fight back. Some do so by rejecting modern practices, others do so by reinterpreting their scriptures to lead the process of change. That religion and politics relate is a simple fact. That religion is a globalizing force is also a simple fact, for better or for worse.  And today, this trend continues.

4. Nationalism, Colonialism and Independence
Nationalism has many different consequences, some positive and others negative. Thus, although nationalism may promote competition among nations that produces growth and development, that competition may spawn wars and genocide. Nationalism also creates a different perception and yet a different attitudes and knowledge. Thus nationalism may also lead to colonialism or the expansion of a nation’s thinking.  It was also nationalism that led to wars of national liberation such as the American and the Indian revolutions from the British Monarchy. Despite wars of national liberation, the legacy of colonialism on all countries that were either colonizers or colonized is permanent. Hence, Britain’s riches extracted from overseas colonies remain a major source of wealth among Britons and in the British economy. Conversely, many territories possessed by Britain such as Ghana are still recovering from years of exploitation and enslavement both of which directly resulted from British domination. Although the transfer of wealth under colonial enterprises has always been lopsided, the transfer of ideas has been more equal because Europeans and the people they colonized equally acquired many advances in civilization. What is worse about independence is its impact of colonial thinking that the colonizers have been implemented to the minds of the people of the colonized country before the independence. Thus, it will result to a more different problem and we can see this phenomenon in Asia and Africa.

 5. Global and Domestic Inequalities
Although living standards have improved significantly in many countries over the past century, global inequalities have risen steadily. The vast majority, approximately 80% of the world’s population live on about 20% of the world’s income. Historic trends indicate that the richest countries will maintain their lead over the poorest countries for a long time. The gap between the richest country and the poorest country was 3 to 1 in 1820, 11 to 1 in 1913, 35 to 1 in 1950, 44 to 1 in 1973, 72 to 1 in 1992. By the end of the 20th century, the riches 20% of the world’s population had 86 times as much income as the poorest 20%. Although the gulf between rich and poor varies along the North-South divide on a country-by-country basis, the gap between the rich and poor is greatest in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Moreover, women in the South appear to be the poorest, least literate group. Along with the great income gaps, malnutrition and famine are rampant. Approximately 24,000 people die from hunger and hunger related disease daily. The vast majority of the victims are children under five years of age. Where poverty is extreme, the youngest members of society tend to be the most vulnerable. Access to food is often to determine by sex, control of resources and social status. In some societies, girls and women have lower status and generally receive less food. The contemporary quandaries of inadequate health care, malnutrition and poverty are attributable to natural disasters, personal decisions, colonialisms and its legacy of inequality, wars, lack of inequitable distribution, government decisions and overpopulation. Ways to resolve those problems include democracy, Green Revolution, Debt Reduction, Free Trade, Development Assistance and Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO).

6.  Challenges and Development
Although change is a necessary part of life, some people often receive it negatively. Thus, development, which encompasses change is perceived differently by different people and countries. However, with globalization and increasing interdependence, countries throughout the world are concerned with issues and development. Numerous factors contribute to change, including country’s values, ideologies, institutions, resources and technology. Many scholars believe that development is synonymous with industrialization and modernization. Developing an infrastructure is the key to development. Even though development includes social and political aspects, the ultimate measure of the development and growth of a country is through economic changes seen in the gross domestic product. Economic changes are also essential for social and equity changes that affect the quality of life. Governments are the major actors in development. Developing countries need social order, revenue, law enforcement, education, and health care to develop. These areas are largely in the hands of the government although the global community has an increasing responsibility to help those countries struggling to develop.

 Some common factors impeding developments are a lack of natural resources, hostile regional or international economic environment, high or low populations, poor health care, ethnic conflict, political instability, corruption and lack of foreign aid. When corruption exists in a developing country, the development will not be achieved because it is the great barrier of change and development. Philippines is very rich in natural resources but has a great corruption. Hence, the Philippines will not achieve development because of that great barrier. Natural disasters are major impediments to development. A lack of natural resources makes it extremely difficult for self-sufficiency. The AIDS epidemic in the developing world is also incapacitating their populations. Foreign aid, even when provided can also cause problems for the developing world because of stipulations the developing world must follow in order to get aid.

7. The Costs of Development
Economic development is inevitably accompanied by various costs. However, not all of these costs are inevitable. Sometimes countries and particular communities within them, pay a much higher cost for economic growth than is necessary. Progress usually is achieved at price. Developing and developed countries alike wrestle with costs of development. Many of the costs of development are borne by people in the developing world. These include 1. urbanization, 2. pollution, 3. deforestation, 4. political instability and corruption, 5. the destruction of cultural artifacts and communities due to the construction of dams, airports, roads and other infrastructure projects, 6. consumerism and 7. the growing inequality within developing countries. These costs, even those that are obviously undesirable, are usually accompanied by many benefits.

As modernization theorists argue, development, by definition, involves the destruction of traditional values and cultures and the adoption of values and cultures found in industrialized societies. Hence, development requires change without change there is no development but it should be in a positive sense. One of the most severe important social costs of development is the escalation of criminal activities and a significant change in the nature of the crimes committed. Modernization weakens many of the social bonds that help reduce crime. Two groups that most frequently bear the most severe negative consequences of development are women and children. Many argue that destruction of the old social fabric, degradation of ecosystem and high levels of exploitation are hallmarks of development. Critics of such a “no pain, no gain” approach on the contrary argue that development can be achieved at sustainable levels, and that the development of underdeveloped countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will not occur along the same destructive linear lines that were taken in case of the developed countries in Europe.

8.  Women in the Developing World
Throughout the developing world, women are the principal initiators of change that will improve their lives. Access to education and economic opportunities has enabled many women in Asia, Latin America and Africa to develop a degree of social and financial independence that most women in the United States and other industrialized countries enjoy. The fact remains, however, that women throughout the world remain the largest marginalized group. In the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, traditions make women primarily responsible for domestic work. Such general roles in poor countries are shaped to some extent by colonialism and the globalization of industry and trade. Even though women’s status continues to improve in many developing societies, most women suffer from an inferior status. Thus, throughout the world, women are seen by societies as inferior beings with many attempts at controlling them. Violating gender roles can often have serious ramifications. Gender often serves as tool or jurisdiction for oppression.

Throughout the developing world, women remain less educated and less nourished on the basis of their sex and perceived gender roles. Women’s achievement in the developing world should not be overlooked. Hence, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have all seen women prime  ministers and throughout the developing world, women serve in leadership position that run the gamut of private and public life like Corazon Aquino and Benazir Bhutto.  Thus, today we can see that there is development in the status of women not only in Asia but also in Africa.

9.  Transitions to Democracy and Human Rights
      Most developing countries struggle to achieve both economic development and democracy. Some have achieved remarkable degree of democratic freedom and respect for basic human rights, despite their relative poverty. Many have experienced significant economic growth without making major progress toward democracy. Hence, democracy and economic growth should address at the same to see the clear development. Judicial systems are essential of maintaining democratic freedoms including political participation. Democratic governments respect the rule of law. Many developing countries, however, have weak and ineffective judicial systems. Philippines, for example, has a lot of laws but lack of implementation. Thus, it will result to more serious problem regarding political development.

Interest groups like political parties and judicial systems are critical players in societies that are becoming and already democratic. As economic development becomes more widespread, interest groups such as labor unions and agricultural groups begin to organize to protect their interests. Students are also strongly involves in politics in developing countries. Political scientists often refer to factors like judicial systems, interest groups, respect for the rule of law opposition and fair elections as preconditions for democracy. Economic development also influences the adoption of democratic values. Moreover, pressure for change influence transitions to democracy. Many for the pressures for change stem from women, international pressure groups perceived to be marginalized in a political system, students and many other less obvious variables. A major component of democratic societies is the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Although transitions, to democracy continue throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa, they do not occur in a prioritized order.

10.  Political Leadership and State Capacity
         The entity that is responsible for administering governmental decisions is known as the bureaucracy. Decisions are made by leaders but carried out by bureaucrats. Although it is this governmental arm that transforms hope into reality, its powers extend far beyond administering public policy, this is because the bureaucracy also holds valuable knowledge that other officials need in order to form policies and ultimately modernize the country. The bureaucracy is therefore inextricably linked to a country’s modernization process, which involves not only running an ongoing system but also developing new modes of operations, refining old norms and building the new modern state. Without the bureaucratic tasks of implementation and regulation, the country would most likely advance slowly, if it advanced at all.

11.  Ethnicity, Ethnic Conflict and Conflict Resolution
           Ethnic issues and ethnic conflicts in the developing world would have received increased attention since the end of the Cold War. Increased globalization, especially the growth of telecommunications, has brought ethnic conflicts in areas that were once thought of as being extremely remote into American homes. Despite the proliferation of media attention to ethnic conflict, ethnic diversity within the developing world or in the rich countries does not automatically result in conflict. Hence, even though Canada and United States are two of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, they are extremely stable politically and avoid serious racial and ethnic violence despite past and present problems with race and ethnicity.

Ethnic group members often have their own social organizations, support a particular political party, live in specific areas of the country, attend the same schools, develop business partnerships and are associated with the same religious organizations. Ethnic identity often functions to draw sharp distinctions among groups to promote group solidarity. Because of those distinctions, the most obvious cause of ethnic conflict is the geographical proximity of different groups. In addition, when a group’s identity is based largely on adversarial relationships on the basis of us versus them – conflict is almost inevitable. Other causes of ethnic conflict include the deliberate manipulation of negative perceptions by leaders, competition for scarce resources, modernization, governmental mismanagement and proliferation of weapons along ethnic lines. Ethnic conflicts and warfare result in outrageous economic, political, and human costs to any society. Neighboring countries as well as countries in which members of particular ethnic groups live are often negatively affected by ethnic conflicts.

12. Migration
        Migration is the movement from one place to another is an integral part of human behavior. People have always moved from one area to another for a variety of reasons. There are many different types of migration and migrants. Two broad reasons behind migration are known as push and pull factors. Push factors motivate people to leave their homes and include human rights violations, political oppression, forced resettlement programs violence and political instability, overpopulation, unemployment, poverty, natural and environmental disasters and the lack of educational and cultural opportunities. Pull factors which the Filipinos main reason for migration include employment opportunities, higher wages, political and social stability, a healthy environment, educational and cultural opportunities and family reunification. Most refugees and internally displaced people in the world are in Africa. But in a larger sense, migration is the downfall of the traditional culture lies since birth of a person migrated from one country to another country with different culture and values. And that’s what is happening to the Filipino culture in America and in Europe.

13.  Foreign Relations of the Developing Countries
             As globalization increases, the fate of rich countries is increasingly linked to that of poor countries, to varying degrees. Although much of the discussion of foreign policy and internal relations is focused on developed countries especially the United States and members of the European Union, foreign relations are also extremely important to many developing countries. The poverty of developing countries heightens their vulnerability to events beyond their borders, events over which they have relatively little control. Foreign policy making is essentially decision making by countries about their national interests. In a general sense, foreign policy deals with efforts on the part of one country to influence the behavior and attitudes of other countries, NGOs, transnational actors and international institutions. The foreign policies of developing countries are expressions of what governments, groups, and individuals determine to be national interests. The foreign policies of developing countries are influenced by many factors including 1. The country’s geographical location,, 2. The level of economic development of the country, 3. The nature of the country’s political system and the quality of its leadership, 4. The military capabilities of the country,   5. The nature of international public opinion and the priorities of major countries and non-state actors and 6. Cultural ties with other countries.

Despite many similarities among poor countries and their efforts to work together, each region has at least one major country that attempts to influence developments in the area. Because America is a global power with global interests, major developing countries often find that their pursuit of their foreign policy objectives in their regions colliders with the interests of the United States. In result, Philippines, for example, becomes the doll or a puppet of United States, a puppet that he can control anytime in order for him to become more rich and in the power. And that is the real essence of relation of one country to other countries like US; the principle of Utilitarianism.


           The developing world represents the overwhelmingly majority of the people and countries of our world, yet economic policies remain centered on a few countries that are mostly in Europe and North America. It is time for us to learn and think of concerns not on European and North American terms but more importantly about the concerns of the developing countries in which we belong. It is also time to awake that in order to achieve development; we must focus on the problems that our country is facing today like inequality, gender issues, judicial system, corruption, etc. it is so funny to think that the Philippines is rich in natural resources but a developing country. Globalization can be positive instead if those challenges brought by Globalization can address by our country and the citizens.  The key for development is truly in our hand not in the hands of other countries.

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