Dynamics among Nations

Dynamics among Nations: The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States

Hilton L. Root
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Dynamics among Nations
    Book Description:

    Liberal internationalism has been the West's foreign policy agenda since the Cold War, and the West has long occupied the top rung of a hierarchical system. In this book, Hilton Root argues that international relations, like other complex ecosystems, exists in a constantly shifting landscape, in which hierarchical structures are giving way to systems of networked interdependence, changing every facet of global interaction. Accordingly, policymakers will need a new way to understand the process of change. Root suggests that the science of complex systems offers an analytical framework to explain the unforeseen development failures, governance trends, and alliance shifts in today's global political economy. Root examines both the networked systems that make up modern states and the larger, interdependent landscapes they share. Using systems analysis -- in which institutional change and economic development are understood as self-organizing complexities -- he offers an alternative view of institutional resilience and persistence. From this perspective, Root considers the divergence of East and West; the emergence of the European state, its contrast with the rise of China, and the network properties of their respective innovation systems; the trajectory of democracy in developing regions; and the systemic impact of China on the liberal world order. Complexity science, Root argues, will not explain historical change processes with algorithmic precision, but it may offer explanations that match the messy richness of those processes.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31826-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. 1 Post-Globalization: Complexity in the Governance of a Networked Global Society
    (pp. 1-14)

    All development and security policies presume a theory of change. This book considers the partnership ofmodernization theory, the dominant theory of social change since World War II, andliberal internationalism, the foreign policy agenda the West has promoted in political and economic development since the cold war.¹ It will contrast the analytical framework of modernization theory with that of the evolutionary theory of complexity to explain unforeseen development failures, governance trends, and alliance shifts.

    International liberalism presumes that if developing societies adopt trade, and monetary and fiscal reforms that integrate them into the global economy, the intensified speed of...

  5. 2 Opening the Doors of Complexity
    (pp. 15-34)

    Complexity thinking means thinking in terms of systems. It will help us to identify the importance of interconnections so that we do not assign value only to what is quantifiable. It will direct us to make policy in terms of feedback loops, and to design social learning into management processes. It will instruct us to optimize what is appropriate for the whole: to uncover the wisdom already in the system and to locate responsibility for action triggered by behaviors within the system. It will help us to better understand why there is a gap between our perception of a problem...

  6. 3 Economic Incentives and the Replication of Social Complexity
    (pp. 35-56)

    Modernization theory has had a deterministic influence on contemporary understanding of global development, both within the academy and among the policy community. Its influence is so widespread that it is even difficult to refer to modernization as a theory; its visceral intensity in the framing of US development policy has been a matter of faith under democratic and republican administrations. Under Bill Clinton, modernization theory led US policy makers to believe that open trade and rising incomes would bring democracy to China and Russia. Under George W. Bush, it led to the belief that a democratic transition would spontaneously follow...

  7. 4 Coevolution versus Liberal Internationalism
    (pp. 57-74)

    During the second half of the twentieth century, the liberal democratic nations of the industrialized West generally assumed that their theory of development would serve as the model of modernization for others to follow. But the developed countries are rapidly losing demographic weight and will likely see declines in their future share of world economic growth (Goldstone 2010, 31–43). This has implications for the validity of liberal internationalism as a basis for foreign policy and for modernization theory as a foundation of international development policy.

    Evolution was once understood to mediate a series of tournaments for a fixed number...

  8. 5 Promises and Pitfalls of New Institutional Economics
    (pp. 75-94)

    In the mid-1970s a group of social scientists, mostly economists and political scientists, began an inquiry to identify the structure of social institutions that made up the building blocks of long-term economic growth. Their program became known as thenew institutional economics, or NIE (Eggertsson 1990; Ménard and Shirley 2008). New institutional economics emerged as one of the most influential socioeconomic discourses during the eighties and nineties. Alignment with modernization theory, the guiding premise of global development policy, enabled the influence of NIE on global public policy to soar, and its policy implications were easily subsumed within the broader agenda...

  9. 6 Dancing Landscapes: How Interdependency Shapes the Optimization Challenge of Globalization
    (pp. 95-114)

    This chapter explores evolutionary concepts and processes that account for variations in governance regimes in order to understand why many countries get stuck at local optima, instead of attaining global optimum solutions.Fitness landscapes, parallel processing, lock-in, coevolution, andepistasisall help clarify why some complex problems cannot be solved optimally. They force a reconsideration of the optimization challenge posed by globalization to emerging states and policy makers.

    Fitness landscapes reveal how interactions among countries change the nature of the optimization problem. No matter how focused a country may be on directing its energies toward confronting its local optimization challenges,...

  10. 7 Accelerators of “Stateness”: System Structure and Network Behavior in the Making of the Modern State
    (pp. 115-142)

    A great puzzle of history is why China was unprepared to meet the challenge of Europe’s industrialization and global domination, despite being unified under a single emperor for much of its history. Why in fact did the Industrial Revolution take place in Europe, and not China? Why did China, where gunpowder was invented in the ninth century, not optimize the explosive in state weaponry until the 1900s, while Europeans in the 1430s were using it to revolutionize siege craft?

    Both the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg and the late Qing dynasties suffered similar slow and painful declines during roughly the same era. Yet...

  11. 8 Democracy’s Hybrid Architecture
    (pp. 143-164)

    The processes by which democracies develop or stabilize do not match the expectations of modernization theory. Few seem to be on a trajectory to mature into anything resembling a liberal democracy. Even stable democracies, such as Turkey, India, or Brazil, share few of the values of the liberal West. These countries and others, such as Iran and South Africa, are already substantial powers that have made the transition to “democracy,” but they do not emulate the incumbent democracies on a long list of issues, such as the need for legal protections of self-expression and individual free choice. Have these growing...

  12. 9 Achieving State Capacity: Parallel Political Modernization in China and Europe
    (pp. 165-196)

    The formation of state capacity in different historical environments illustrates how convergent, or parallel, evolution can influence patterns of historical political economy. In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution occurs when similar traits are acquired from dissimilar origins. In a societal context, convergent evolution ensues when solutions to comparable dilemmas of collective action require recourse to institutions of similar functionality, but of divergent origination.

    The micro-level parallel evolution of particular institutions, however, does not produce a pattern of convergence at a macro-evolutionary level and may result in further divergences as the environment changes. The emergence of bureaucracy amid autocracy in both China...

  13. 10 Does China Challenge the Global Legitimacy of Liberalism?
    (pp. 197-216)

    One of the key questions of growing global interconnectedness is whether systems remain stable as their parts are altered. How, for example, will changes occurring in what were once peripheral states in Asia or in the Middle East affect the system of international relations?

    China’s behavior mattered little when it operated in relative isolation. This is no longer the case. Since the early 1990s, one of the fastest-growing features of global trade shifts has been China’s economic interdependence with other countries of the former periphery. China’s ascendency is already creating fissures in the liberal international regime. Its expanding commercial network...

  14. 11 No Captain at the Helm
    (pp. 217-236)

    Liberal internationalism has been the West’s foreign policy agenda since the cold war. But being at the top rung of liberal internationalism’s hierarchical ladder is no longer enough to ensure that the West will hold sway over the system of international relations. The most popular metaphors of socioeconomic change—the end of history, the flat world—have failed to capture evolving trends in world politics that are dissolving the top-down structure of traditional power relations.

    We are witnessing a complexity transition, triggered by new flows of global resource dependency and resulting in worldwide trade and power shifts. The average number...

  15. Glossary
    (pp. 237-248)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 249-276)
  17. References
    (pp. 277-300)
  18. Index
    (pp. 301-332)