In the years since the American Revolution the United s has arguably become the world’s most successful economy and but South American revolutions and independence soon after consigned that region to two centuries of division, instability, coup and counter-coup, revolution and counter-revolution, violence, conflict, poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. The United States was able to successfully gain its independence and to establish its own sovereign democracy in a resource-rich land. Latin American countries, however, struggle with independence and maintaining stable, operative governments. Democracy was the United States’ greatest accomplishment and the rule of law led it to become the strongest nation on Earth.
For Latin American countries, liberal democracy has been a challenge until recently, but it still remains to be seen whether such countries can build strong, independent institutions capable of supporting vibrant civil societies (Feinberg). A subtext for Latin America’s recent move toward representative democracies is the region’s historical preoccupations with authoritative populism, which inspires movements toward socialism and heavy-handed governments—the effects of which are still seen in countries like Venezuela (Bolz). In the Andes countries, political tensions are arising with the opening of democratic governments as resource-poor countries are unable to satisfy popular demands for public services.
Unlike the United States, countries in this region cannot rely on trade and economic development to support the country from the perspective of generating wealth and economic activity. Young people, who tend to be more susceptible to authoritarian rhetoric and are not familiar with the failures of such systems in the 20th century, may usher in an end to the trend toward democracy in Latin American countries (Eichler). Also contributing to past problems for Latin America historically has been the sometimes tense relationship between indigenous people and those whose ancestry traces back to European colonization (Feinberg).
In that respect, trust, reciprocity and consensus are values that have been traditionally lost and contributed to violence within Latin American countries, making them inherently less stable and less likely to prevent poverty with public services or strong economic activity. The success of independence, as the case of Latin America, is truly dependent on the support structure that a country is moving to once the revolution is complete and the violence ends.
Strong leadership is necessary for carving out a good vision and then selling that vision to the new population. The United States found such strong leadership in the original founders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; however, in many Latin American countries, the violence was so all-consuming that leadership could not take hold and a power vacuum occurred. In those situations, there is no alternative to further disagreements and further fighting to fill the void. By establishing more efficient and unified governments and institutions, Latin American countries will be able to better replicate American democracy and the stability that it offers. For centuries, from the Roman Empire, Genghis Khan, Spanish conquistadors, the British Empire, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union etc. , it has seemed plausible that the road to riches is the exploitation of foreign peoples and their lands.
But in the twentieth century it became apparent that industrial economies based on domestic production and consumption could get on better without colonies. The Industrial Revolution and the twentieth century in general demonstrated the large successes of privatization of production.
Later in the twentieth century, these successes were expanded to a global scale. Whereas in times such as the second century or the twelfth century, industrial production could only be supported by large public institutions such as governments where wealth was most concentrated due to the collection of taxes. As private industry demonstrated that it could be more successful in producing and selling things than governments (in addition to trends toward re-focusing governments more on providing profit-negative public services), private industry was allowed to take on more of the responsibilities for production.
That involved rolling back government policies related to colonization that allowed governments to take on monopoly status in other countries regarding the extraction and monetizing of natural resources in other places (Hall). Instead, these government colonies were replaced with multinational business interests that sought to not exploit local populations but instead to involve local populations in mutually beneficial agreements. For example, Uganda’s previously untapped oil resources were recently studied and Hardman Resources, an Australian drilling company, found that Uganda has the capacity to produce 10,000 barrels of oil per day.
In exchange for drilling in the country, the multinational Hardman Resources company would save Uganda from having to import oil to support its 6% annual increase in demand for oil (Rulekere). If this situation were occurring in the nineteenth century, and Australia had a strong demand for oil, it seems more likely that Australia would simply colonize Uganda, take and export its oil, leaving no benefit for the Ugandan people. Instead, there is a mutual agreement meeting the needs of Hardman Resources but also those local populations that would be affected. With the realization of gains from trade, companies rather than governments are able to enter into and maintain agreements for the exchange of goods, which is the clearest advantage of global capitalism.
While the effects of colonialism are still clearly felt in nations that had to endure the rule of a foreign power for centuries, the sharing of capitalist institutions and structures has had a great impact on countries such as Japan and Germany, which were destroyed and reconstructed in the Industrial era. India, which lived under British rule for many years, is a strong economic power due in part to the influence of British trade agreements.
Overall, the world is much more efficient and safer because of the transition from government-driven global commerce to industry-driven global commerce. Today’s economic optimists celebrate the global economy, and a hundred years ago globalization was celebrated in similar ways. But in 1914 the first age of globalization ended in the Two World Wars and the Great Depression. In the mayhem, an extreme anti-capitalist sect gained control of Russia and her empire, and three dictators, Stalin, Hitler and Mao, rose to control vast tracts of the great Eurasian landmass stretching from the English Channel to the China Sea.
These totalitarian regimes and pseudo-religious cults caused unquantifiable suffering and tens of millions of violent deaths. Could a similar fate befall the second age of globalization in which we live? While the present situation closely resembles that seen in the early twentieth century, there are a few crucial differences explaining why a similar fate is not going to befall the second age of globalization.
The primary difference is in terms of communication. With twenty-four hour news and bloggers, the rise and fall of governments is closely followed by billions of people every day. In fact, governments can be toppled with something as simple as an organized resistance by means of social media. The freedom of exchanged communication online makes it very implausible that a nefarious dictator would be able to rise in power quick enough for that dictator to take away the internet and the means for people to resist. Even if that were to happen, the closeness of governments working together on international affairs by means of the United Nations would be quick to respond with sanctions and, in the extreme case, military actions in case of human rights abuses.
A similar structure of extensive alliances did not exist prior to both World Wars. To see an example of the role of communication in building and maintaining a totalitarian regime, one need not go further than North Korea—which is a country purposefully held back in the 1900s in terms of communication in order to keep its citizens unaware of or misinformed about the world outside of its borders (Park). The second crucial difference between the early twentieth century and today is in terms of the size of military forces.
Totalitarian states, of course, require significant military infrastructures to support the agenda of leadership within a country. However, the general trend for most first-world countries across the world, including the United States, has been toward downsizing military forces (Deford). Although that trend can be reversed if sentiment favouring totalitarianism increases, what we are seeing today is nothing like the rapid rise of military forces that the world saw when the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Communist China were getting set to defend the sovereignty of their communist or socialist states against those who opposed them. Works Cited Bolz, David.
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The Huffington Post. http: //www. huffingtonpost. com/2011/12/29/young-people-socialism_n_1175218.html. 12 April 2014. Feinberg, Richard. "Latin Americas Struggle for Democracy; Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America; Radical Democracy in the Andes. " April 2009. Foreign Affairs. http: //www. foreignaffairs. com/articles/64753/richard-feinberg/latin-americas-struggle-for-democracy-constructing-democratic-go. April 2014. Hall, Anthony J. Earth Into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism. New York: McGill-Queens University Press, 2010. Print. Park, Chul Ho. "The Traditional Morality of Totalitarianism. " 2010. Sungsan Hyo Graduate School. http: //journals. isss. org/index. php/proceedings52nd/article/viewFile/938/369. 2014. Rulekere, Gerald. "Oil Production in Uganda: Is the Nation Ready? " 15 September 2006. UG Pulse. http: //www. ugpulse. com/business/oil-production-in-uganda-is-the-nation-ready/496/ug. aspx. 12 April 2014.