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Capitalist peace theory asserts that economic freedom or capitalism, contract-intensity, trade, foreign investment, financial openness, or the avoidance of state property…
Capitalist peace theory asserts that economic freedom or capitalism, contract-intensity, trade, foreign investment, financial openness, or the avoidance of state property ownership promote peace. But the capitalist peace also includes the democratic peace. If democracy itself is an effect of economic freedom or the prosperity generated by it, then the democratic peace is no more than a mere component of the capitalist peace. Then capitalism and economic interdependence promote peace by two or even three routes, directly and indirectly, through democracy and, possibly, by common memberships in intergovernmental organizations, too. Admittedly, this argument relies on compiling lots of diverse pieces of evidence, some of which are still debated in the scientific community. The idea that capitalism might be more important as well as more beneficial for peace than democracy rests on two reasons. First, without capitalism or the prosperity it promotes, democracy might no longer be viable. Under capitalism, nations may enjoy prosperity and peace together. Better still, poor nations benefit from the existence of more advanced ones that are sources of technology, models for emulation, and markets for labor-intensive products. Second, democratic peace theory has invited the dangerous idea that one might or even should promote democracy by war. The consequences of the financial crisis of 2008 and the political responses to it, however, threaten to undermine globalization. That is why the capitalist peace faces an uncertain future at a time when we need it. The rapid economic rise of Asia, in particular of China and somewhat later probably of India to great power status, is likely to undermine the global pecking order and to imply some power transitions. In the past, power transitions have been related to increased risks of war. That is why we need a capitalist peace between China and the West.
One of the striking features of our historical era is the degree of global inequality. In some nations the average person lives on less than $200 per year. In other…
One of the striking features of our historical era is the degree of global inequality. In some nations the average person lives on less than $200 per year. In other nations the average income is 100 times larger. Though adjusting for purchasing power parity narrows the gap by about 40 percent (Ram 1979), it is quite evident that the world's $23 trillion annual output is unequally distributed in the extreme.
Global cycles of leadership and hegemony have repeated since 1492, leaving to history Dutch, British, and now declining US hegemonies. Theoretical models (Chase‐Dunn and Rubinson 1977; Hopkins and Wallerstein 1979; Arrighi 1994), historical narratives (Wallerstein 1974, 1980, 1989; Kennedy 1989), and statistical analyses (Modelski and Thompson 1988; Boswell and Sweat 1991) portray the cycle of hegemony as a fixed dynamic inherent to the world‐system. Can we expect the future to be any different?
Seifudein Adem is research associate professor of Political Science in Binghamton University, New York, NY, USA, and President-Emeritus of the New York State African Studies Association. Before coming to the United States, Dr. Adem taught Political Science in the University of Tsukuba (Japan) and Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). Seifudein Adem is the author of, among other books, Japan: A Model and a Partner (Brill, 2006).