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Blaming Unit versus System

James Gelvin in “American Global Economic Policy and Civil Order in the ME” makes a compelling account of the transformations that occurred from WW2, through to the 1970s till today. He shows how three periods define the PE of the world, embedded liberalism after WW2 where capitalism based on national control with development as an aim were the components, then a third world rejection because of the observed increased divergence between the third and industrial countries. The NIEO proposed by the third world along with OPEC would make commodity exports worth more. and then a final period of aggressive pushback from the US in the neoliberal washington consensus mode. Not clear if there is a new global syste in place now, probably not.

3 periods: 1944-1971: International system conducive to national developmentalism. 1971-1980: South deployed power derived from nationalism to challenge the system. 1980-present: Reinvigorated system vanquished economic nationalism in the south.

What is interesting about his account is the focus on who the different actors blamed for the failure of the modernization thesis to come through. Note that both the newly independent states and the industrial states believed in the Modernization thesis.  But where Europe and US placed the blame on failure on national policy, corrupt states, an enamorment with a paradigm of development that was wrong. The third world states saw the problem in the economic system itself that produced similar patterns all over the world. Third world states did not want to take the blame themselves obviously where industrialized states wanted a system that worked for them and designed by them to keep working.

Similarly in Iraq in another text by Hazbun we find the US blaming the fact that IRaq did not turn into a role model for the region on the local Iraqi “Natural” characteristics like Sectarianism and tribalism rather than on the plan of the invasion of Iraq and subsequent policies.

On another note, Gelvin interestingly argues that the deal struck after WW2 that was wholeheartedly embraced by all at firs led to civic orders based on a bargain where people obeyed the state as it provided welfare on a European model. He shows how this bargain or order fell apart slowly in the 80s and coincided with protests. This is an important factor considering what is happening today with the different revolutions.

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