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Regionalism Essay

Regionalism Essay

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Published by NervousStudios
This is a badly written second year politics essay written to answer the questiong... Theoretically speaking, various forms of regional cooperation are touted as suitable responses for developing countries to foster sustainable economic growth within the context of a globalized economic system. Nevertheless, the primacy of domestic politics and constituent interests must always be considered when analyzing the prospects for such regional cooperation. Given South Africa's current socio-political and economic structure, how do you envisage the prospects for regionalism in the contemporary global economic climate?

On re-reading the essay I realized that I failed to answer the part regarding the contemporary climate. Be that as it may - it was a rush job because of other commitments to work at the time. Live and learn I suppose :)
This is a badly written second year politics essay written to answer the questiong... Theoretically speaking, various forms of regional cooperation are touted as suitable responses for developing countries to foster sustainable economic growth within the context of a globalized economic system. Nevertheless, the primacy of domestic politics and constituent interests must always be considered when analyzing the prospects for such regional cooperation. Given South Africa's current socio-political and economic structure, how do you envisage the prospects for regionalism in the contemporary global economic climate?

On re-reading the essay I realized that I failed to answer the part regarding the contemporary climate. Be that as it may - it was a rush job because of other commitments to work at the time. Live and learn I suppose :)

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Published by: NervousStudios on Oct 31, 2009
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02/21/2013

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“Theoretically speaking, various forms of regional cooperation are touted as suitableresponses for developing countries to foster sustainable economic growth within thecontext of a globalized economic system. Nevertheless, the primacy of domestic politicsand constituent interests must always be considered when analyzing the prospects for such regional cooperation. Given South Africa's current socio-political and economicstructure, how do you envisage the prospects for regionalism in the contemporary globaleconomic climate?”This essay will argue for the prospects of regionalism in the Southern African region,taking into account the contingencies of the global economic climate in which the regionfinds itself. Additionally, attention will be drawn to the domestic socio-political andeconomic structure of South Africa, highlighting the effects that these conditions have inthe region and the more broad consequences they might have for the regionalism project.Modern world history from at least 1648 to the present day is in essence the history of anincreasingly globalized world. This history is not teleological in the sense that it “assumesthe existence of an inexorable historical process leading to a universal human community”(McGrew, 1993 : 73). Rather it can be seen as the interaction of discontinuous dialecticalprocesses that consist in “mutually opposed tendencies”(Giddens, 1990 : 64). Before ananalysis of the Southern African region can be made, this contextual history - in which theregion exists - must be elucidated.Seventeenth century Europe was a mess with war and strife as the “lands of what hadbeen called the Holly Roman Empire, religious and dynastic forces battled for control”(Lieber, 2001 : 23). The 1648 treaty of Westphalia brought the thirty year wars to an end,and laid the foundation for the rise of the era of the nation state. As modern states startedto form through a process marked by both integration and disintegration of earlier politicalauthority, the current world system (such as we find it) began to develop. “With thesovereign state at its core, the newly evolving system was anarchical” (Rourke, 1999 : 49).Mercantilism is the view that “emphasizes the states role in managing international tradeand delivering prosperity to its polity” (Haywood, 2007 : 156). For the next three centuries,Europe enjoyed increasing global dominance with the leading countries extending imperialcontrol over much of the world, while developing strong military forces. This period isunderstood as a mercantilist period in world history as “European states sought to
 
generate trade surpluses as a source of wealth … through discouraging imports if theseimports meant that people were less likely to buy locally manufactured goods” (Balaam etal).By the end of the Nineteenth century, much of the non-European world had seen theculmination of the European rivalry for world power, and there was little territory left in thenon-European world to satisfy the demands for later emerging European powers. By1871, through the unification of Germany, Otto von Bismark had created Western andCentral Europe's most economically vigorous and militarily powerful state. (Lieber, 2001 :27)A multi-polar moment was experienced in Europe during this time, with treaties andalliances holding war at bay in an anarchical system of states, whose leaders wereoperating under mercantilist ideologies. By 1914 a sequence of events followed in quicksuccession, requiring national leaders and strategists to “make good” on their militarytreaties and alliances, which saw Europe fall into all-out war. “The European balance of power had failed disastrously” (Lieber, 2001 : 27). By 1918 America had entered the war and turned the tide against Germany. However, with the European allies unable toconstrain the threat of fascism, World War Two broke out in 1939. By the end of the war in1945, the European nation-state system and infrastructure lay in ruins. This sees the firstshoots of the global economic context in which the Southern African region finds itself today.Two world powers emerged from the war, namely the United Soviet Socialist Republic(USSR) and the United States of America (USA). Both powers pursued fundamentallydifferent economic and socio-political strategies and the world political system becameincreasingly bi-polar, with the USSR as one pole touting a socialist paradigm and the USAforwarding an increasingly liberal capitalist system. With the great depression of the 1930'sbarely passed and American commitment to the war hitting home, the Allied states realisedfirstly that the system needed to be altered so that a world war such as that which had justbeen won should never happen again, and secondly that Europe had to be rebuilt. “In1944, 44 states met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to devise new rules andinstitutions to govern the postwar international trading and monetary system” (Haywood,2007 : 156). Two major structures emerged from the Bretton Woods conference, namely aproduction structure and a financial structure.
 
The financial structure consisted of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and theInternational Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which is now know as theWorld Bank. The World Bank or IBRD was initially setup as a fund to rebuild thedemolished European infrastructure. The IMF was designed to act as a “lender of lastresort” to bail out countries experiencing balance of payment problems. “At the heart of theBretton Woods [financial structure] was the proposal to establish a fixed system of exchange rates” which were backed by the only strong currency remaining after the war,namely the United States Dollar (Heywood, 2007 : 156).The production structure was constituted by the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs(GATT). It was founded on the fundamental principles of non-discrimination and reciprocityamong trading nations. Ultimately it was designed to impede the emergence of unilateraltrade barriers, and issue thought to be an efficient cause of war. GATT rested firmly on the“most favoured nation” clause requiring nations to trade with nations that could offer thebest price. GATT was later subsumed as a single article under the more broad WorldTrade Organisation (WTO) articles. (Heywood, 2007 : 157).Although these new institutions were focused on “opening up” the international tradingsystem, they also accepted the important roles played by states in managing economicaffairs, as represented in the theories of John Maynard Keynes, the leader of the Britishdelegates to the conference (Heywood, 2007 : 157). In this way, the system promoted aliberal international trading system, which contained an implicit “Keynesian compromise”that accounted for the “mercantilist impulse” that fueled state intervention in the marketwhen necessary. (Stephan, 2006)The Bretton Woods system worked well as long as the US economy was strong and“countries held Dollars on the basis of their being 'as good as gold' because the systemoperated on the basis of fixed convertability into gold”. With a declining US balance of payments position and a resulting over-supply of Dollars held by foreign banks andbusinesses, the Bretton Woods system weakened and the collapsed entirely with the USallowing the Dollar exchange rate to “float”. (Rourke , 1999 : 475)The collapse of the Bretton Woods system “instituted a major policy and ideological shift”(Heywood, 2007 : 157) on all levels – individual, state and system. The collapse coincided

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