Globalization and the Caribbean

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“The onset of globalization (however defined) has provided the Caribbean with an excellent opportunity to reform and refocus their societies and economies towards real competitive engagement with the global political economy.” Critique this statement within the confines of either a dependency theory or Marxist theory.

This essay seeks to critically assess the above statement within the confines of a dependency theory. The essay will show that dependency theory does not make room for the reformation or refocusing of Caribbean economies or societies through globalization and that globalization is more an intensification of the pre-existing and fore gone socio-politico-economic paradigms of the region from the earliest days of European settlement.

Globalization has varying definitions and theories surrounding it. Director of the London School of Economics, Anthony Giddens, sees globalization as an intensification of worldwide social relations linking localities, such that local happenings are shaped by events many miles away and vice versa1. The Caribbean has always been a region where external happenings have played vital and important roles in determining local happenings. During colonialism the colonies were subject to the rules laws and regulations as passed by the colonial power within whose empire they belonged. Though the colonies did have significant and direct impacts on their respective empires and did in fact help make the metropolitan countries into the developed countries they are today, they did not benefit socially or economically from the wealth they created. The region was exploited for its raw materials to supply to the metropolitan states and was never designed to be in a position to compete with in the international markets. In other words, as part of the empire the region was not a collection sovereign states trying to survive in the international arena but was part of a whole, and their role, as part of that whole, was to supply raw materials necessary to sustain and expand the empire. To use a contemporary example, in Barbados if you want clay you source it from St. Andrew, similarly in colonial times if you were British and you wanted sugar you most likely sourced it from one of the Caribbean colonies. How then does a region with over three hundred years of social, political and economic conditioning of dependence reform themselves to compete in not just the global arena but compete in an accelerated and intensified global arena, where the luxuries of development are not afforded to them and they are forced to compete with the handicap of underdevelopment? Moreover how does the region do this in its current dependent position? It does not. Ronald Chilcote mentions a contrast of outcomes from the asymmetrical interdependence of economies of the dominant nations and the dependent ones; the expansion of the dominant nations may lead to development of the periphery states by extension of their expansion or may lead to their underdevelopment because of their subjective relationship2. This implies that the development of the region is in the hands of the dominant countries of the global economy and that the most it can do is to try to align itself in such a way as to develop as a result of the expansion of said countries rather than suffer underdevelopment from the relationship. One of the ways in which the region’s governments can force this alignment is to have any Multinational Cooperation (MNC) wishing to enter into the local market to align itself with a local company or franchise. This will allow for growth of the local enterprises as well as it will help to keep some of the money earned by the MNCs within the countries economy and as a result stimulate growth of the local economies rather than to have a larger percentage of that money being appropriated overseas, which Lloyd Best lists as one of the structures of the plantation economy model of dependency theory. This however just extends...
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