The world is in constant evolution. A catalytic role in this change portrays the information revolution “spillover”, which is based on rapid technological advances in computers, softwares, communications and transportations. Many times it is associated with globalization but that sector is different because it is an on-going process, presented before the 21st century, that involves global exchange of political, economic, social and cultural ideas. Therefore, what dimensions has globalization and information revolution taken and what are their affects on the global scale?
Exploring the concept of information revolution and this impact of Bretton’s System (1944) we have to examine how it has formed today’s international political economy. We see that there are political and cultural differences between the states and this creates high stakes but now the information revolution facilitates the integration of political economy. This is best justified by recent examples, which show that states are in a need of control and are willing to create and utilize institutions, multilateral and bilateral agreements that reduce economic hardships, raise interdependence, form rules in international economy. The creation of World Bank, WTO and the SAP’s of IMF is proof of eagerness to reach broader consensus. Rooted in the idea of liberal institutionalism supporting the functionalist’s opinion when states cooperate they start from basic things, from concrete ideas and reach afterwards more experience and broader cooperation, this revolution affects the creation of institutions, handling economy, promoting a nonzero sum game for states.
Information revolution has a deep influence also in the economic development for countries, which distinguishes the EDC’s from the LDC’s and has roots on dependency theory supporting that the North Hemisphere has the powerful and developed countries compared to the South. The criteria are economic diversification, stable currency, limited reliance on primary products, strong human and technological infrastructure, domestic order, an effective government and access to international market and investment including FDI and FPI. According to economic nationalists, who view the world through a realpolitik prospect, when there is high demand in the global market and a country is willing to invest more, then this raises competitiveness and the strong country pre-domains. Economic Internationalists argue that competitiveness sets barriers to cooperation in global economy, which should be a non-sum game and propose lowering tariffs.
Information revolution influenced the capital development. Loans is one of the categories of capital and source of hard economy which is utilized by states to finance their development needs by borrowing heavily from external resources. It’s standard measurement to states ability to meet debt payments. Econ. Internationalists believe LDC’s (and not only) are in a minor position because not only, if they are in risky position, they have high interest rates but also because it increases inflation, unemployment and lowers currencies. (Rouke 414)Greece of 2015 is an example of a country facing major debt burdens and loans provided by the EU or the IMF, accounting to 60% and 10% respectively, haven’t resolved the problem but deepened it into €420 bn.
Same situation is with the FPI and the Private Investment in Argentina where destabilization of currency and economy is caused by short-term investments and flow. Trade and foreign aid are other ways to reach capital but again econ. internationalists disagree on behalf of disadvantaged LDC’s, who receive 8% of net flow and 3% of world total, that since product instability and price weakness are created, next step is overdependence of EDC’s to LDC’s. (Rouke 412-13)
Since this revolution has such a stimulus over economic issues the same applies for political issues. On the one hand, starting from 1960’s, this revolution had a centralizing effect for democratic countries, than in the age of local press, because information was widespread. Unlike democratic governments, totalitarian ones were able to suppress information. Computers enforced central planning and empowered surveillance measures. Government dominated the news. Even today governments, like in China, have increased their efforts to control cyberspace because central databases computers can make identifications, surveillance easier and commercialization has altered libertarian culture and usage of Internet. On the other hand, information revolution made decentralizing effects to overweight centralizing. Because of communication diminishing costs and information distribution, world politics will not be sole province of sovereignty and governments. So, we get multiple views over the determinant role of this revolution on world politics, which brings up 4 important issues of discussion: power relations among states, significance of transparency, sovereignty issues, empowerment of non-state actors and complexity of interdependence.
Realists believe that diminishing communication costs, wireless communications, well developed community infrastructure of information revolution has brought decentralizing and leveling effect in world politics. Over the first statement one question arises: “Has the revolution equalized power among states?”. Some expected that barriers of entry into global market should reduce power of large states and increase power of small ones. Here the realists’ claim: “Size Matters” fits. Even with barriers to entry, economies of scale remain. This is because, in competitive markets, the outburst of information is polarized by the powerful states. Since information is considered public good, new information, especially in technology sectors, matters tremendously. Large states empower even more since the collection of information technology means military power benefit.
On the other side of spectrum, liberals affirm that states will be the basic units of politics but information revolution will increase the role of democratic states, producing prospects of Kantian Democratic Peace (NYE 293). They construct their case over the free-exchange of information. Authoritarian governments like USSR(especially during Cold War period but even now), China, North Korea and Syria show evidence of their willingness to control access to Internet by controlling services, content providers, by monitoring and censoring users. Liberals believe that these countries not only run the risk of losing their legitimacy and power but also losing creative workforce which the scarcest resource in competing information economy. Moreover, the issue of transparency and credibility is a key for economies seeking investments. Governments who aren’t transparent reflect selective and biased information and aren’t credible for investments.
As for the constructivists, who have intellectual roots in Scottish philosopher David Hume, believe in relativism where there are no absolute truths and people’s understanding of the world is based on their interactions and experiences. They argue that soft power will rise rapidly and influence deeply politics. They say that dependence of debts will bring renegotiations on the table and all lengths of inequality might keep developing countries to be exploited by rich ones.
Additionally, the troubling issues of sovereignty and empowerment of non-state actors bring questions like how are states centralized and how there theirs functions are altered. Leaders, who resist any option that diminishes their national autonomy and sovereignty, tend to worry about UN’s increasing political role. But leaders have to face many problems like of national security that make difficult the control of sovereignty inside borders.
Recalling Naim’s statement over the 5 major wars of globalization we see that flows of illegal immigrants, drug busts, smuggled weapons and arms trafficking, loss of intellectual property and money laundering are listed. Unfortunately, Naim adds that governments have lost most of these wars. Reasons for this matter are that crimes, such as illicit trade of arms and uprising terroristic attacks like ISIS attacks of 2014, are not geographically bound. Other causes are the loose identification of traditional notions of sovereignty, the tensions between principle of states sovereignty and human rights and networks emergence as enforcement of organized crime. Examples who illustrate that are Al Qaeda network, which attacked US on 9/11/2001, and ISIS, which doubted Syrian government’s sovereignty and authority and recognized itself as a state. (Article Moises Naim “The 5 Wars of Globalization”)
This brings us to the last urging issue, which is the empowerment of non-state actors through realists’ complexity of global interdependence and its asymmetrical nature (NYE 266-7). IGO’s like the UN and the Hague System make their policies stronger and international control stronger by addressing issues of awareness and creating bounding laws. In this way increased their power. Therefore, we can see that interactions across state borders outside the central control of foreign policy organs, the migration of population, the rapid transfer of capital from country to country and stocks and markets create this shift in international system and leads to the development of non-states actors who can exercise influence and at some point be more efficient than states. An example could be the oil crisis of 1973 when governments were unable to decide if the prices should go up or down. Then, there is “de facto transnational coalition” related to small Texas oil producers, oil producers in consumer countries, and many Arab countries of OPEC (NYE 300-1). It globally illustrated the increasing number of actors in world politics and the complexity of their interests. (NYE 280-1)
NGO’s have gained power as well because of global conscience by promoting broad public interests, by pressing governments and business leaders to change policies, by increasing their soft power using media and widespread information. All that makes government share the stage with non-state actors. Liberals affirm that NGO’s, like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors across Borders are more effective because states cannot always control borders and they have little concern over issues, such as environmental, something that NGO’s don’t neglect and through channels of communication and official delegation they become the new agenda settlers. Lets not forget that when government isn’t effective there are protests, like the Arab Spring Uprisings 2010, which show that mounting public rage and need for political change can empower non-state actors.
In conclusion, it is certain that information revolution has had great impact to politics and society but it brought a “Paradox of Plenty” which means that there is plenty of information but scarcity of attention. Constructivists believe that those who can distinguish valuable information will gain more and more power.