You are on page 1of 8

Coo, Naw Hser

Section 1
IS 104 Theories of Development
2nd Semester, SY 2008-2009
Ms Lorna Q. Israel
29 January 2009

THE EFFECT OF CAPITALIST SYSTEM ON DEVELOPMENT

Introduction

Along with the Enlightenment, people become very rational, logic, and reasonable.

Therefore, during this period, it can be obviously seen that science and technology make a great

change which lead the social transformation from traditional to modern. With significant change,

world capitalist system has increasingly developed, and generates economic development for the

few (first world countries) and underdevelopment for the many (third world countries).

Observation the situation, I feel miserable and am curious to know why the many cannot achieve

economic development as the West can. Therefore, I pick two authors, Richard Peet and Said

Amir Arjomand, to answer the question that I raise from my curiosity.

Generally, both of them discussed about development which is mainly focused on

economics, social, political, cultural, and human dimensions through several theories. Among

these theories, they explained social theories of modernization such as the disintegration of

traditional elements, and the expansion of modern community. Aside from the similarities, there

are some differences: while Peet provides some explanations with figures and tables without

using specific countries for illustration, Arjomand depicts his writing with particular countries’

situation such as Russia and Germany political reconstruction.

1
Both writers’ writing styles are slightly different to some extent. While Peet has

respective subtopics, Arjomand does not have subtopics except using roman letter for different

discussion. Personally, it may have a hard time to understand the reading if one does not have the

basic concept of development. I feel they are passionate about what they have written as they

exert enough effort to convince their readers by providing as much as evidence as they can such

as assorted economists’ theories. Furthermore, they not only simply provide me with explanation

but also make me think beyond the reading such as the crucial role of the state to have a

development, the influential attitudes of the modernization, the interdependent relationship

between the core and the periphery, and the development process of globalization.

Richard Peet is a professor in the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University. He

was editor of Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography from 1969-1985, coeditor of Economic

Geography from 1992-1998, and author of Theories of Developmemt in July 1999. (Barnes &

Noble) Saïd Amir Arjomand (Ph.D, University of Chicago, 1980) has been at Stony Brook since

1978, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of "Studies on Persianate Societies" and on leave as a

Carnegie Scholar (2006 - 2008) working on Islam and constitutionalism." He is the author of the

highly-acclaimed The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam.

http://www.sunysb.edu/sociology/?faculty/Arjomand/arjomand

The rise of curiosity based on my readings

Before starting second readings, I did not think and know deeply why most of the Asean

and African countries cannot be included in the first world countries. I think only the simplest

way. We are poor, uneducated, unskillful and traditional due to our karma, Buddhist concept.

That is it. I did not think beyond that. However, after the second readings, I start thinking beyond

2
from my readings: whether individual, national, and international can attain economics

development or not. Why I raise this issue is when I wrote my first paper, I thought only the

significant of economics development but I did not notice only the first world countries attain

economics development. Therefore the combination of the first writing and the second reading

lead me to write about economic development for the few (first world countries) and

underdevelopment for the many (third world countries) based on political, economic, and cultural

background.

Political Background

Looking back the history, it is undeniable to say that most of the underdevelopment

countries had been colonized by the few first world countries for the betterment of their

countries. The few are not only coming and ruling countries but also changing the political

setting and ideology to sustain their colonial power on the foreign lands. As a result, the political

conflict which draws back development is widely seen in the underdevelopment countries.

Tragedy in Rwanda in 1994 due to the ethnic differences: Hutu and Tutsi, is a case in point.

The Rwanda conflict lies rooted in both its socio-political history and its limited ecological

resources. The ethnic divisions established by the French colonizing power are inseparably linked

to social, political and economic stratifications. (Tragedy in Rwanda: the political ecology of

conflict. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-18375140.html)

Because of the conflict and killings lead the citizens to leave or flee neighboring countries

as refugees for their security. To replenish and rehabilitate those national calamities, the country

has to use national budget so it either cost or takes time. Moreover, the innocent lives have to be

given in the killings unconditionally so the country has to loose human resource. To build a

3
developed country, labor is one of most important resources so that without labor, a country has

to suffer nightmare of underdevelopment.

Therefore, it is impossible for the many to be considered in the first world countries

because of this suffering of the unstable political situation due to the colonial administration

which manipulates effectively and severely to the many third world countries’ political structure.

Economics Background

The first world countries are not only creating political conflicts in local administration

but also extracting natural resources by exploiting the people for their economic purpose. Todaro

discussed colonialism’s economics domination as follow:

Perhaps more important, the European colonial powers had a dramatic and long-lasting impact on

the economics and political and institutional structures of their African and Asian colonies by their

introduction of three powerful and tradition-shattering ideas: private property, personal taxation,

and the requirement that taxes be paid in money rather than in kind. As we will discover later,

these ideas combined to erode the autonomy of local communities and to expose their people to

many new forms of potential exploitation. (Todaro, 2003, p 40)

The more they expand their colonialism and imperialism, the better they can accumulate

their country’s capital from exporting of capital, gaining of external markets, opening of new

territories until the late 1940s and 1950s. At the end of the day, the capitalism in an expansionist

phase was less vulnerable to crisis. (Peet, 1999, p 106)

Therefore, in Neo-Marxist Dependence Theory, Andre Gunder Frank argued that the

economic, political, social and cultural institutions of the underdeveloped countries result from

the penetration of capitalism, rather than being original or traditional. Frank emphasized on

4
center-periphery relations (first-third world countries). The first world capitalist countries with

high technology, financial and capital exploit the third world countries which have low level of

technology, unskilled and uneducated workers, low capital and investment. Because of this

weakness, the third world countries cannot do anything except being actively underdeveloped

under the capitalist system.

By observing those writings, I truly realize that economic development is only for the few

and underdevelopment is for the many third world countries as long as the world capitalist

system exists and active in the society.

Social Background

Social background in third world countries, one of the factors, gives the limited

economics development. For example, third world countries are rooted in tradition, not receptive

to new ideas, only interested in immediate things, deny different opinions, uninterested in new

information, oriented toward the past, concerned with the short term, distrustful of people beyond

the family, suspicious of technology, places high value on religion and the sacred, traditional

patron-client relationships, particularistic, and fatalistic. Therefore, the changes can be observed

very rarely compared to the West. (Peet, 1999, p 81)

On the other hand, the first world countries open to new experience, change orientation,

are interested in outside world, are acknowledge different opinions, eager to seek out new

information, value technical skills, place high value on education and science, respect the dignity

of others, universalistic and optimistic. (Peet, 1999, p 81)

Comparing those two groups, I can obviously see that the one has several negatives which

hinder development and the other has numerous positives which lead countries to be developed.

5
To build a developed country, these positives are essential and play a significant role in different

aspects of the society such as exploring new things in outside world for economic and political

purpose. Finally, the exploring transforms colonialism and imperialism in the past, and neo-

colonialism in the present overwhelming the entire world in economics domination. Therefore,

the West becomes more developed and will have strong economics for endless centuries.

Conclusion

I see the authors’ arguments and points lead logically to the next. For example, first, both

of them introduced what they are going to describe. Next, they followed their introduction in

main portrait with respective theories and illustrations that they have set. Then they have a

helpful introduction and conclusion which covered all so that even though if I cannot get every

specific meaning, the introduction and conclusion guide me to have a better understanding on the

readings.

Personally, I do agree most of Richard Peet’s modernization idea. He said that

modernization involves profound changes in individual and group behavior. This is true because

nowadays we usually spend our time in the Internet for education, communication, socialization,

and commercial purposes due to science and technology enhancement. Therefore, our lives

changes compared to the past. At the same time, our behavior is very much individual and

demanding than before.

I have not seen any weakness from Peet’s arguments but I notice he convinces me with

strong arguments in development, transformation and modernization. One of his strong

arguments is as follow:

6
Development, these studies concluded, was an evolutionary process in which the human capacity

increased in terms of initiating new structures, coping with problems, adapting to continuous

change, and striving purposefully and creatively to attain new goals.

I think the authors fail to discuss about the important role of Women in economic

development process and the demand for children in developing countries. They left out those

important issues because they only focused on social theories generally rather than explained

specific issues on women role and child demand. Probably, they are not interested to mention

because they are not expert in women and child development as they received the education

specialized in social and economics geography, and sociology. I think they should talk about

these issues because women are the one who produce health citizens and child is the one who

rely on her or his mother. Without their individual development, a country cannot reach the level

of development that they expect.

All in all, Richard Peet is the best author for me to answer my question because he

discusses the power of capitalist system with relevant theory such as dependency theory and

World System theory. He is explaining not only the capitalist system but also the influential

attitudes of the system to the third and first world countries to have underdevelopment and

development. Next, as I am a basic leaner of development, his elaboration makes me a simple

thought by having well organized writing structure with respective headings.

7
References:
Online articles
Barnes & Noble, Theories of Development, Available at
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Theories-of-Development/Richard-
Peet/e/9781572304895, accessed on January 27, 2009.
Said Arjomand, Sociology, Stony Brook University, Available at
http://www.sunysb.edu/sociology/?faculty/Arjomand/arjomand, accessed on January 27,
2009
Tragedy in Rwanda: the political ecology of conflict. Available at
http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-18375140.html, accessed on January 28, 2009

Books
Peet, Richard and Elain Hatwick. (1999). Theories of Development. New York/London: the
Guilford Press.
Todora, Micheal and Smith, Stepehn C.. (2003) (8th ed). Economics Development: A
Comprehensive Approach. Pearson/Addison Wesley.

8