Modern World Economy and the book of Revelation

Global Capitalist Economy and Christian Criticisms

Introduction
The World is wide-known to be unequal Economically There are two types of explanations:
The poorer States are less developed  There are active exploitation by the Richer States on the Poorer States

Modernization Theories
Theorists like S.Huntington suggest that there is a Modernization process The process is Revolutionary, Complex, Systemic and Global Modernization is Phased, Progressive and Irreversible It also predict on the Homogenizing effect of Modernization

Modernization Thesis
Modernizing Institutions and EducationModern ValueModern BehaviorModern SocietyEconomic Development Poverty of 3rd World State as a result of being in Early phase of Modernization They predicted that Poor State will become richer upon Modernization

Widening Gap
However, These Predictions never come true:

The GDP of 48 Poorest States have fewer wealth than the 3 Richest persons combined In 1960, the 20% of the world's people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20%. It had rise to 74 times in 1997 Growth rate in Economy, Literacy rate and Life Expectancy, as well as Reduction rate of Infant and Child Mortality, become slower and slower

Dependency Theory
Some Leftists argue that the World have become a two tier system, composed of Developed and Less Developed Countries Activity of World Capitalism made LDCs dependent on Industrialized Developed States True source of Underdevelopment lies in Development of World Capitalism

i.e. Development of Underdevelopment

Dependency Theory
Some theorists propose for preferential treatment on LDCs to aid their industrialization i.e. The New International Economic Order However these proposal are ignored by the West Some more radical theorist suggest LDCs to quit World Economy, which is hardly practical

Neo-Liberalism
Liberalists believe that Free Trade and Free Market would eventually benefit everyone

Based on Classical theories by Smith and Ricardo

LDCs are poor because they don’t have a free Market Liberalist suggest LDCs to Open their Market and develop more linkage to World Economy

Neo-liberalism
Practical Suggestions include reduction of State subsidies, Privatization and removal of Quota and Tariffs World Economy as a Varied-sum Game that gain by everybody is possible Liberalist often use the Experience of PostWar East Asia as an Example

Flaws of Neo-Liberalism
Despite Free Trade and Market opening could stimulate Economic growth, the relation is not Straight forward Most State achieved successful growth open their Market GRADUALLY with State interventions Those States who open their Market rapidly with deregulation have poorest Growth

Flaws in Neo-Liberalism
Successful cases in East Asia
Government in East Asia Countries usually Open their Market gradually  When receiving Foreign investment, Government would step-in and require them to follow some terms, e.g. Technology transfer  These enable Local Enterprises to grow and prepare for competition in Global Market

Flaws in Neo-Liberalism
Unsuccessful cases in Latin America

 

Latin American States have fewer regulations on Economic Activities However most Foreign investment are used to set up low-tech Industries R&D Department in Latin American Enterprises often closed down after combined with Transnational Corporations Income from Taxation markly reduced Cheap Imports ruined Local Industries

Flaws in Neo-Liberalism
From the mentioned Example, we should reject the notion of “Freer is Better” Regulation of market and State Interventions are needed to strengthen Local Enterprises, making them competitive in Global Economy

Flaws in Neo-Liberalism
International Political Economy shows characteristics of a Zero-sum game When the Economy in East Asia developed, the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa become worse Even within East Asia, most Economic gains flows into the pocket of the Upper class In some degree, the Growth in East Asia is in the expense of Africa and East Asian Lower Classes

Unfair Trade
The terms of International Trade are also unfair When the LDCs are requested to Open their Market, the West remain their Protectionism
  

Tariffs and Quotas are imposed on imports from LDCs Subsidizes are given to Western Farms and Enterprises Some “Subsidizes” are given in an invisible manner e.g. Construction and Maintenance of Infrastructures and Transportations

Unfair Trade
In World Bank and IMF, Those who pay more membership fee have more vote, leaving LDCs in disadvantage The State seeking help from World Bank and IMF have to Open their Market unilaterally In WTO, every state have one vote and often lead to Multilateral change
 

However, many LDCs have fewer resources in joining WTO conferences. This reduce the bargaining power of many LDCs

Unfair Trade
In the Developed World, Most Capital flow occur between the more advanced State They are less reliable on other States, and could often strengthen their bargaining Power by Regionalism e.g. European union The Poor States are more depended on the Advanced States Regionalism in Poor States are less likely to be successful

Unfair Trade
Local Enterprises and Farms in LDCs do have the channel to reach the Global Market, nor do they have market information As a result LDCs products are sold cheap, while being sold in a highly rate in the West
  

1 Pound of Coffee sold $ 0.28 in 2000 It is only 9% of the price of a can of Coffee Powder Only 1% of the money given for your coffee could go to the farmers

Unfair Trade
Transnational Corporation benefits most when it buy service and raw material in a low price TNCs threat to withdrawn investment so as to reduce resistance Many framers have to suffer the low prize, and cope it it by reduce education or health expenses Some local Factories try to maintain low prize by exploitation of the workers, result in creation of “sweat factories”

Unfair Trade
Western Countries occasion use Military action to remove those do not follow the rules-of-the-game

In 1954, an Elected Leftist in Guatemala starting a Land Reform Most of these Land are left Idle for a long time, and some of them belong to the US United Fruit Company It was known that the American Foreign Policy staff have close link of UFC. Eventually the US started a coup in Guatemala, making it suffer for 30 years of Military dictatorship

Unfair Trade
These Example showed that Western State have the Military strength to maintain International Economic Order, and try to maintain the Capitalist mode of production Latin American States like Chile have become the later victims

World System Theory
Wallerstein describe the Modern World as a unified World Economy System A World System is a unified Economic body with Division of Labor of it various The Current World System originated in Modern Europe In 19th Century the whole World was incorporated into the whole system

World System Theory
Within a World System, there exist a Core which exploit the Peripheral Ancient World Systems are usually Empires, and the Core exploit Peripheral by demanding tributes The Modern World System do not have a Political unified Core, despite there are usually a Hegemonic Power Exploitation usually by the means of Trade between different regions

Core
The Core States dominant the System and they set the rule-of-game In General they have Greater Military Capacity and would use their Power to uphold their Domination There are also high-profit Industries with more advanced Economy

Periphery
The Peripheral States usually involved in low-profit and low-tech Industries and Production of Raw material The Ruling Elites are often bribed by the Core States or TNCs, working for the interest of the Core They lack of bargaining Power and have to follow the rules set by the Core

Semi-Periphery
The Character of Wallerstein’s theory is that there is an intermediate Semi-Periphery The existence of Semi-Periphery stabilized the World Economy System
The Middle layer prevented the polarization of the System  The Middle layer reduce the possibility for unified Resistance towards the Core

Semi-Periphery
The Semi-Periphery have lower labor cost while compared with the Core They also have better Infrastructure while compared with the Periphery Semi-skilled Industry would likely to take place in Semi-Periphery This relieved the pressure demanding the rise of Labor cost in the Core States

International Competition
States in different Categories are actually competing Peripheral States compete with each and other, as well as with Semi-periphery, so as to become Semi-Periphery Semi-Peripheral States compete with Core states, trying to get into the Core

International Competition
It is possible for State to change its Category, and it is often

e.g. Spain Change from Core to Semi-periphery in 16th Century, England rise from Semi-periphery to Core at the same time

However, the Global Power is a Zero-sum game in the World System When some States raised their status, the price would be pay by others And it is more difficult to rise status, and drop in status are relatively more easy

International Competition
For example, Japan entered the World System in 1850’s as a Periphery, it have become a SemiPeriphery after Meiji Modernization, and keep trying to become a Core However, many others pay the price:

 

Peripheral States: China losing Sino-Japanese War and result in Political unrest, Taiwan ceded, Korea lost its Sovereignty Semi-Peripheral States: Russia lost Russo-Japanese War and triggered a serious of Revolution Core States: Britain and the United State suffer from the disturbed Pacific Balance

Ideological Domination
For Weber, Power by bare fist is unstable, and Legitimacy are always needed For Wallerstein, the Geo-culture provided means of Legitimating the World Economic System Geo-Cultural is the Cultural framework include values and Thought

Ideological Domination
The main Ideology of Geo-culture:

Liberalism: Long-term reinforcement of Global Capitalist System Scientism: Instrumental Manipulation of the Material World

They aimed to determine “Universal” benefit and “Universal” organizational rule Racism and Sexism also provide justification on Unequal outcome of the World System

The Roman World System
At the time when John write the Revelation, the Roman Empire occupy most of the known and accessible World There form a World Empire System, with division of labor held in a manner of tribute and some degree of trade

Rome as Naval Hegemony
In Chapter 13 of Revelation, a Sea-borne monster where no one could fight again was described This the image of the Powerful Roman Navy It hinted that the Exploitation of the World System is a result of Force

Rome as Economic Center
In Chapter 17, a prostitute was described in the image of the State Goddess of Rome This prostitute request their customer to pay for a large amount of money

The Periphery are requested to pay tribute to Rome, in return for Pax Romana

Rome as Economic Center
In Chapter 18, the fall of Rome was described Merchants from various place Mourn for it Their mourn reflect that Rome have bought in a large amount of luxuries While gained from tributes, the Roman also continue their Exploitation by Trade

Criticism on Rome
The Roman Empire was criticized by the Revelation because:
 

Roman Empire pound of their force and abused the use The Roman rule adversely affect the life of the poor and ordinary The Roman rule prosecute many Martyrs

Conservative Christian often concentrate on point 3. It is not enough, and the point could still be elaborated further…

Criticism on Rome
The “Roman Religion” is not simply a Religion It is a Political Ideology: Roma is actually a God representing Roman Empire The criticism of Revelation is not only on alien religion, but also on a Hegemonic Ideology favoring the Establishment of the World System

What to do?
In Chapter 18, John suggest Christians to escape form the City The meaning would mean that Christians should not take part in the crime of the Roman World System To Witness the real truth which is alien to the system, Martyring would be the outcome for those with conscience

Question for discussion
What is the similarity of the Roman World System and the Modern one? What should Christians do in our current World Economy? Would it be possible for a alternative of New International Economic Order? How can Christianity contribute?

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