Was the Bretton Woods system merely a tool used by the United States to bolster its hegemonic position in the world economy?

A bureaucratic agenda on paper and institutions

In the face of the end of World War II, countries were berated and damaged in a self-inflicting dogma of conflicts that raged for more than a decade. Peace was now attained; albeit massive human casualties; the holocaust and war-torn countries. The situation begs the question: a constructive system to rebuild the façade that was presented on the world stage, either by economic and political reforms.

It lied on the hands of the United States, vindicated upon the massive reconstruction of the economy in the West and to administer the regrowth of the West in multiple faceted agencies. The Bretton Woods system was introduced.

A solemn set of agreements was signed by 44 allied states at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, amidst the nearing unfoldment of the end of World War II. The agreements were put in place in 1945 and a primitive system of 3 international financial institutions was established. The International Monetary Fund; International Bank of Reconstruction and Development; General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade; which provided wealth assistance to war-torn and developing countries and the world’s economy.

“The various currencies, which were all maintained on a stable basis in relation to gold and to one another, facilitated the easy flow of capital and of trade to an extent the full value of which we only realize now, when we are deprived of its advantages.”, J.M. Keynes.

The United States were held accounted to half of the world’s economy following the end of World War II. Its dominance in the global economy, coupled with a strong currency led to the gold standard. All countries’ currencies were set at a fixed value of the U.S. dollar, and the preposition of dollar-gold standard of 35 U.S. dollar to one ounce of gold. The confidence of using a fixed value of the U.S. dollar reinforced the stability of the U.S. financial system, as well as its tight grasp of a hegemonic position on the world economy. The monetary duty of the IMF was to monitor the U.S. currency regime, to allow fluidity and transparency of its functions.

The severely impaired Western economies, in particular Europe, were in need of capital to rebuild its infrastructure. IBRD was headed by the U.S., as the hegemony of the world’s economy bore the costs of its operations, along with IMF to constitute its stability in the world economy.

As countries recovered and grew in military and economic power, the Bretton Woods system was abolished by U.S. President Richard Nixon as the U.S. deemed it unsustainable following a chain of events that altered the confidence in the U.S. currency. The opportunistic behaviour in exploiting the gold standard was resort to as a monetary safe haven for countries that no longer trusted the U.S. currency. The Nixon shock: the inception of a regime based on free-floating currencies; U.S. reacted and proposed a series of protectionist policies, and were implemented imposing increased tariffs on trades and businesses, as U.S. hegemony in the world economy was compromised.

The Bretton Woods system was a tool for the U.S. to bolster its hegemony in the world’s economy, much like an official procurement, but it was undeniable that the U.S. was the strongest economy during the 1950s and 1960s. However, its hegemony began to wane down in the 1970s; the Bretton Woods system was ineffective and hence abolished. The growing competitiveness amongst countries in the 1970s, of comparable businesses and labour market in the world of free trade, undermined the U.S. dominant position in the global economy.

In a relatively identical predicament: one of the first tasks of President-elect Donald Trump is the eventual dissolve of the TPP, which signals the shift of U.S. economic power in the global economy. Far and above, the imperative notion of U.S. present position in the world economy begs the question: the fall of globalisation, and the return of mercantilism is the foci of U.S.’s economic contingency.


President Park Geun-Hye’s escalating scandal: a fight against the patriarchal system

Gender Theory influx in South Korean’s democracy

From medieval ages to modern times, the dormant individual that inherits heredity a unipolar role is virility. The indication of a social construct that is imbedded in the society, that we marginalise the differences of gender has impacts in twain.

Gender Theory suggests that the subjectivity of masculinity; the dichotomies of men and women, of which makes us different is based on the social constructs that we perceive as heuristics. The self-notion of prejudice lies on the flaws of representative heuristics, that biasness comes into the foray when selecting a hierarchy.

The English monarchs were an advent for the unconventional ruling candidate in the realm of politics. It was the result of ungendered rhetoric that was put into action: the abolishment of the patriarchy in Great Britain in 1707 and followed by women that eloquently served as the monarchic queen. In modern times, we had seen the rise of power of Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and South Korean’s President Park Geun-Hye.

The fiasco that has unfolded in South Korean’s democracy until not so recently, that stemmed from the root of corruption under President Park’s illicit scandal. Her private relationship with Choi Soon-sil was disclosed through an investigation: a lobbyist who had ties with the president for business and corporate interests. It culminated widespread protests in South Korea, involving hundreds and thousands of people marching on the streets.

The reflection of ‘gendered’ thinking on human ideas and behaviour, of which women’s gender identity, behaviour and actions is deemed unacceptable in the pretext of Park’s numerous scandals and the association with a corrupted individual. Rarely have we seen women leaders that are tyrannous rulers; dictators of an autocracy; but we envision them as benevolent, caring and motherly human beings, in the biblical context of Mother Theresa.

‘Anyone found by the current investigation to have done something wrong must be held responsible for what they have done, and I am also ready to face any responsibility,’ President Park’s apology speech.

President Park’s adamant grip on the president’s seat and the denial of all the charges alleged against her shows her grit on a turbulent ride as a feminist, to emancipate women’s subordination and changing the institutions on gender differences. She has the power agency for the advocacy of feminists; however in a democratic political system, the people of South Korea intend to the break the social contract, through mass protests by echoing their rhetoric to call for her renouncement as the President of South Korea.

The price to pay to fight the patriarch; the consequence of neglecting the bureaucratic procedures, for a personal vendetta.

How do norms influence the nature of international society?

Social constructivism explains the perceptions of the world that we see today

The norms of human behaviour extend to the reach of global stage: the international society. It starts in the basis of rhetoric, based on the subjectivity of social interactions, which constitutes an actor’s behaviour in the international society. How do we form these norms? How do norms influence the nature of international society?

Social constructivism essentially discusses the perceptions that we have of states through social interactions. The environment that states live in can be seen as peaceful or chaotic, which is perceived in a medium of how it is socially constructed. The nature of international society is not prescribed as anarchic, but is how states interact with each other and conjure up with a myopic viewpoint that it is.

“Anarchy is what states make of it”, Alexander Wendt.

States form their identity from perceptions of how other states perceived themselves to be. If a state behaves in a peaceful notion, states will form their identity along these traits. Likewise, if a state behaves like a rogue state, states will react to these hostile counterparts and be contentious. The pursuit of national interest: trade embargos; similar core values, which pervasively perceives states behaviour as these traits are viewed as peaceful and cooperative.

Another cause for states’ identity and behaviour stems from the rules of the normative. Regulative and constitutive rules are a source of a doctrine for states to follow: a normative and suggestive behaviour that is suitable for interaction on the international stage.

The norms that emanate from social construct through social interaction shapes the nature of international society. States perceive the actions and behaviours of others, in an inter-subjectivity of understanding, react and behave accordingly. As we saw from the past centuries, there had been a series of conflict upheavals but also an almost perpetual period of peace. The norms and institutions that we perceive: aggressive; violent; isolation contributes to how states behave in the international society.

A boundless theory that refutes the notion of realism and liberalism, in which social constructivism makes the world as it is from we see, interact and the ability of convenience to pass judgements on an anomaly on proposed assumptive theories, is abecedarian.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: how Newt Scamander championed the realists

A shy liberal realist’s unorthodox adventure

Newt Scamander’s first step on American soil; little did he know that a hasty virgin trip would entail a tremendous journey across the city of New York. Bearing down a resplendent blue coat, he carries an orderly-looking suitcase which contains the world’s quaintest creatures, and no less, fantastic beasts.

His earnest view of an utopian world of magical beasts, bounded by the circle of habitats these ‘animals’ inhibit, is created by the magiczoologist, of which he treats them like an abundance wealth of joy.

In the remotest places of wizards and witches should be, he stumbled across a muggle-infested crowd in front of the New York’s central bank. In such circumstances, the first instance he befriends a witch, Porpentina Goldstein and surprisingly, a muggle, Jacob Kowalski. The tri-friendship consisting of two wizards of contrasting personalities, and a prudent muggle companionship was an essential perception that the ideology of liberalism was at work. The rest was history.

Credence Barebone was an American Wizard who lived as an adopted son of his mother, Mary Lou Barebone. Mary Lou Barebone, a muggle, was the leader of the New Philanthropic Society, an anti-magic group operated on the labour of children, which out-cried the separation and the anti-coherence of wizards and muggles.

An offensive and defensive realist in action: Mary yearn the power of security by lashing out anti-magic propaganda onto the muggle world, and by reaching to the media mogul, Henry Shaw Senior, of which she hoped he would publish her public propaganda on the newspaper, thereby increasing her rhetoric influence. Shaw Senior rejected the notion, and in the process the Barebone family was humiliated by Henry Shaw Junior, the New York City governor elect. The proper channels, rules and procedures in which the group had progressed through painstakingly, their benign requests were rejected.

It followed by the assassination of Henry Shaw Junior, during a night of fund-raiser, by Credence. The notion of norms, practices and rules in the society had failed to live up to its legitimacy, the realist that lived inside Credence could not hold back, in this anarchic society he perceived to live in.

The role of Percival Graves comes into play; the Director of Magical Security of MACUSA. A powerful auror with a vast amount of experience in the arts of duelling, he also headed the Magic Law of enforcement. A twist to the underlying identity of Percival Graves was upended by Gellery Grindelwald.

Gellery Grindelwald was one of the most dangerous dark wizards; he appeared in the slab of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, as a war monger, an offensive realist who seek global hegemony through the requisition of an obscurial.

By no means was he caught in disbelief that Credence was the obscurial, his ultimate aim was to harness the power of the obscurial, and regardless whether it cost the collateral damage it had done to the society; the broken trust and interdependence of which the magical and non-magical factions fundamentally believed in. The havoc that it brought unto the city, endangering the lives of wizards and muggles alike, prompted a clinical auror coercion to kill the obscurial.

Credence, unfortunately was killed, despite the desperate calls for laying down of arms. Gellery Grindelwald was subdued and captured, much to the help of Scamander and his fantastic beasts, thus ending a fascist saga waged by Gellery Grindelwald. His dystopian view of a world dominated by muggles: laws that are uphold to protect and benefit the muggles and the relative rhetoric of subjugation further emphasized by the provanence of an obscurial.

Here in the ending scene he releases ‘Frank’, a thunderbird, to cast a massive scale of memory charm, obliviate on the citizens. The peace once again had been restored, law and order was preserved and sovereignty as magically came undone was respected once again, but at the cost of an innocent soul, the life of Credence Barebone.

Sometimes broken things however small or big can be amended by the touch of magic: likewise a realistic conveyance of humanitarianism in the society.

What is the humanitarian crisis of conscience, and how has the debate on the principles of humanitarianism shaped humanitarian responses to crises?

The moral conscience in action.

The world, in its broad sense of the perspective view of humanity, is bogged down to the human conflicts that surround us today. The humanitarian efforts are defined by its relative fundamentals; impartiality, neutrality and independence. Humanitarian actors have to abide to these sets of rules and procedures of supposed doctrine, without the notion of un-benign motive and agenda. With the advancements of technology that comes into the aid of humanitarian effort; its rules and procedures have been in a constant shift of amendments, of which is much inclined to the reconstruction of the humanitarian process. However in the past, countries who were the recipients of humanitarian aid, some of which funds that come in aid were mishandled in terms of resources and monetary renaissance. The retrospect of humanitarianism, and looking at aspects from the different viewpoints of governments and organisations, garners the debate on whether the humanitarian crisis of conscience is threaded on the right path.

Humanitarian actors are categorised into state and non-state actors; governments and humanitarian organisations such as the UN and ICRC. The former, UN, which its intricate humanitarian principles are prescribed in the doctrine of OCHA: Humanity, Neutrality, Impartiality and Independence. The moral conscience of humanitarianism; firstly, it is a humanitarian value to preserve lives. Secondly, everyone has their rights to civil, economic, social and political stance. Thirdly, the approach to humanitarianism has to be impartial. Priority is given to the extremely distressed and devastated, and is applied without prejudice and distinctions which are based on nationality, race, gender, class, religious belief and political agenda. Fourthly, the independence and the assurance of staff safety implicitly emphasise on the importance of autonomy and the insurgence of humanitarian aid, without any form of political agenda.

The implications that surround the competence and reliability of humanitarianism have come under scrutiny in a number of causes. Humanitarianism in its primitive form is a process and a result of politicization. From the past decades, there has been a new emergence of humanitarian actors. Non-western actors such as China, Brazil and India have joined in the global arena of humanitarian assistance. Sovereignty is seen as part of a distinct South-South co-operation approach that looks to promote an equal relationship between the governments that provide aid and those that receive it. In such instances, non-western actors rely on the traditional doctrine of their Western counterparts, and the salient notion of religious norms as a footprint for humanitarian aid. Non-Western actors are perceived to respect the sovereignty and impartiality of governments which are the recipients of humanitarian aid lest, of much preferred to humanitarian cooperation with the latter. The consequence of this approach is that governments are not inclined to protect its people from internally armed conflicts. A choice has to be made of the lesser good, on whether humanitarian aid is to be handed to the correct hands of the beneficiary.

In the context of the Afghanistan war in the Middle East, we have seen countless humanitarian efforts brought upon the government and its people. Factions of its people are controlled by an extremist group, the Taliban. Transparency is another factor that concerns that imperative nature of humanitarianism. Humanitarian aid that comes in the monetary sense may not be a reliable accountability to the receiving end of which the government are not able to protect its people that are controlled by the Taliban. Aid agencies, on whose work thousands of lives depend, have found it increasingly difficult to deliver assistance in recent years, as many regions are inaccessible due to the conflict. The government of Afghanistan is in a state of conflict with the Taliban; territories are inaccessible to humanitarian aid in these conflicted areas.

As we touched on the function of state to state humanitarian assistance, humanitarian organisations also play an important role on humanitarianism. The in-depth cohesion and substance of humanitarian organisations lie on its actions. What propels these agencies to take its actions, why agencies react to the humanitarian crisis and how do they implement their actions. The existence of totalitarian regimes often coincides with the notion of coercion against its people, which may prompt the insurgence of humanitarian aid. Agencies have to consider their personal capacity, of which they are deemed capable of implementing and sustaining the proposed humanitarian aid, in terms of quantitative value such as monetary funding and ample humanitarian staff. To essentially conjure up effective solutions in utmost moral sense, the deliberation of pressing issues is drawn up on the roundtable for debate and consultation which will lead to better decision making. An effort to reduce minimal damage to both parties by reconciliation and mitigation, it can be done by collecting sufficient information regarding the nature and the geographical location of the conflict.

From the duration of perceived humanitarian intervention we can end up with an absolute: short-term or long-term humanitarian assistance. Humanitarianism posed the question on the effectiveness of immediate or future-oriented form of humanitarian intervention, is expressed in two views: decontological and teleological. A decontological view galvanises the importance of an immediate and impetuous and is seen as short-term oriented. A light-footprint approach comes into pretext; the UN’s case in Afghanistan is akin to the immediate and short-term view. But Afghanistan’s peace process is far from secure. In its latest report to the Security Council, the UN mission said insecurity and the lack of law and order continue to erode support for the transitional process. The process of building a nation back to its feet requires enormous effort: a guaranteed safe country, primitive social contract between the government and its people and the notion of sustenance.

To ideally approach the situation in Afghanistan, a teleological view has to be considered. It has become fashionable to state that long-term food security and peacebuilding depend on functioning states. Instead of a short-term minimalistic approach; a better option is to consider all factors that encircle the whole situation. Decisions are thoroughly analysed to solve these perceived view of complicated affairs and it takes account the long-term effects that will however, constitute good outcomes in all its possibilities.

The dilemmas of humanitarianism bog down to the notion of politics and governance. As time proceeds, the professionalism and bureaucratisation of humanitarianism has altered the process in benign progress. Politicization and institutionalisation have become a progressive norm for humanitarian organisations. However, the process of which has withholding consequences. While the consequences of institutionalisation are largely negative and at times deeply compromising of fundamental humanitarian principles, the consequences of politicization are far more mixed, subtle, and challenging. The end of the Cold War rewrites the status quo for the principles of humanitarianism, thereby its complexity and accountability are increasingly difficult to manage.

The emergence of the multipolar world instead of a previous bipolar obverse proved that states’ behaviours are shifting in its own perspective, without the influence of global powers. However, the political nature of these organisations remains intact. The purpose of humanitarian organisations is to provide humanitarian assistance, in the expense of apolitical and empathy driven agenda. Institutionalisation touches on the aspects of a humanitarian organisation’s survival and funding. Humanitarian organisations compete in a very unequal marketplace, with many agencies and often only one or two big funder: a national agency and one of the UN agencies- either UNHCR, or WFP, or WHO, depending on the kind of emergency and the services the organisation provides. The constraints humanitarian organisations face are often a bed stone for prudent reporting of their services and performances, which may lead to inaccurate judiciary placed upon these organisations. This prudence behaviour is of many bad practices often reflects the substantive results and humanitarian assistance that appears benign but in fact hides a shadow of inferiority.

The humanitarian crisis of conscience based itself on the rhetoric, and willing, put it into action. Impartiality, neutrality and independence: the doctrine for which humanitarian organisations and states promote the welfare of the people, and also act as a voice for altruism. For some empirical studies it seems that the past holds a light in educating the people, for only the progressive re-amendments and reconstruction of humanitarian principles can be truly achieved by research and enlightenment.

How does Marxism account for the uneven levels of power present in international society?

The class conflict

Marxism has come into the recent scope of international relations, since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. To essentially understand the underlying principles and concepts of Marxism, the basis of comparable factors are taken account, which is largely placed on the scale of economics.

The means of production; the bourgeoisie who controls the means of production while the proletariat who works for the bourgeoisie. In the context of power in relation, Karl Marx categorises the quintessence of the dichotomy of dividing these two groups, or rather classes. The class struggle of socio-economic relations constitutes the reformations that are needed to a benign transformation of the society, of which Marx is inclined to the benefits of the proletariat through emancipation.

To further bring this critical theory onto the stage of international relations, the normalisation of the international society occurs in the pretext, which begs the question.

The poignant view of Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote that is widely shared as a justification for democracy; “The government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

In Marx’s theory, ‘people’ are referred to the bourgeoisie, as the government functions only for the prosperity of the bourgeoisie, and by defining political elites as an association of the class.

In the international society, the conflicts that occur between states are on the basis of struggle for power. Marx argues that ‘power’ is the imperialistic behaviour of economic purposes and the bluntest impetus for that pursue is for the benefits of the political elites. Marxists redefine the structure of international society into a set of international system, the World System Theory; core states, semi-peripheral states and peripheral states.

States proceed with the notion of a rewarding system; from a peripheral state which is entitled to economic ‘gifts’ such as goods and services by core states, but in the intention of reaping capital benefits from peripheral states. The majority of these benefits goes to the ruling class, political elites which holds an enormous stake of economic power, rather than to the common polity, the proletariats. States engage in coercion and consent behaviour, to which the bourgeois masters of two states cooperate with each other to consensus of benign economic decisions, or resort to coercion by the former or latter whom has the greater power, in terms of economic prowess and military arsenal.

The nuances of the Marxist theory on the uneven powers of international society, appropriately discusses the debate of on ruling class; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The ‘power’ is empowered by the culmination and the structure of the states’ economy, in relation to the globalist world that we live in today, as we call it the international society bounded by rules and practices, in the backdrop of state sovereignty, diplomacy, international law and the salient issue of balance of power.

According to Realism, will the anarchic international system ever establish a sustainable peace?

A realistic approach to a peaceful world.

In the anarchical international system, sovereign states are always in a struggle for power. Realists believe that in an anarchical realm, international actors are self-interest-oriented and they hold responsibilities in sustaining and pursing for power.

“International politics, like all politics, is a struggle for power.” Hans J. Morgenthau.

The insatiability of competition among constituent states reinforces the notion of ‘survival of the fittest’, in comparable to Hobbesian state of nature. Statism; sovereign states are international actors that compete with each order for power, which instils order and security within the international system. The hunger for power, of which states pursue to ensure their survival in this anarchical realm, relatively brings out the power struggle between states.

It is vital that states hold sufficient power, to guarantee its survival in a competitive nature of the international arena. Survival plays a salient role in maintaining order and security in the international system. States as realists behave in two different functionalities; a defensive realist and an offensive realist. A defensive realist argues that security is vital to continue its survival. To establish security within the international system, states hold requisite power to safeguard itself. From this perspective, states are not prone to pursue greater power often not by the cost of threatening its own security.

Take the most prominent military forces in the past for instance; the retrospective of the Cold War had not resulted in any major form conflict catastrophe in the scale of that of a World War. The rhetoric was that NATO and the Warsaw Pact came into a zero-sum game, which neither of had ever engulfed in a major conflict. A balance of power between U.S.A and the Soviet Union insured a global peace for the past half of century with the exception of proxy wars. Defensive realism was in the backbone of these two superpowers, that neither of which would risk their own security to pursue greater power.

Offensive realism; states are in search of power to rule over the international system, in a form of hegemonic position. The thirst for power is imbedded in states, first and foremost assuring its security and if an opportunity arises, one would subjugate for greater power.

The war on the Middle East; set by the notion of America’s democracy which in fact is up for debate. U.S.A has prevailed through the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, by overthrowing the ruling regime, which by initiating a global world order or in pseudo hegemonic position in the international system. It is the ethic of responsibility that U.S.A has to uphold by pushing its offensive against the rest of the world, in providing a peaceful international system.

The reconciliation of states of past global events such as the two previous World Wars, are in a perpetual state of anarchism. States should self-help and not depend on other states for aid and assistance, but rather as a matter of mutual gains that may benefit in a form of multilateralism. A continuous roll of multilateralism in the form of trade and multilateral relations over naïve interdependence of each other is a more benign aspect of achieving peace in an anarchical realm of international system.

Peace is attainable; the notion of realistic approach to perpetual peace is through security and a guarantee for survival in power politics, in doing so a rhetoric in such benignity the balance of power.