Marxism: Criticism of the International Institution -Seungmin Song

The main criticism of the international institution is that it does not mutually benefiting all member states. There is a mutual benefit in some extent; however, not all states get equal amount of benefit. In fact, it creates a system which first world countries can exploit third world countries. The international institution creates more interaction and cooperation but at the same time, it also creates even more inequality between countries.

After the Second World War, the US has become a major economic and political power. It created the Marshall Plan, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund(IMF). These interventions and international institutions created an economic “class” in an international level. More economic cooperation led more goods and finances flows between countries, and created interdependence and the division of labor as well. These institutions has connect countries closer economically and made a world as a huge society. This is where Marxism comes in, the idea of economic social class and economic hierarchy. According to Dependency theory and World system theory, two of the most prominent Marxist theory, countries that benefit from cooperation is core countries, not periphery countries. The system is a bad circulation of inferior countries continues to be inferior under those dominant member states. In this aspect, International institution fosters the inequality rather than helping underdeveloped countries to be developed and create equality among states. As we look at the reality, there are still inequalities between first and third world countries even after decades of IMF an World Bank’s existence, which shows economic cooperation through international institution does not really help developing third world country.

The IMF and World Bank’s initial purpose was to reconstruct the European countries after the Second World War and to develop the third world countries. However, during the Cold War, the US used it as a tool to spread the capitalism and fight against communism. It was possible because the system is designed in favor of dominant states, which have privilege and control over institution; institutions gave a legitimate rights to dominate and do what they want. It sounds illogical that the third world countries let the first world countries to exploit them. In order to avoid this problem, third world countries can simply not join the international institution and not cooperate; yet, that is not what happened in reality. As reading describes, “by linking the dominant class interest to the interest of subordinate classes,” there are incentives for third world countries to join and cooperate even though it benefit first world countries more.

The question of whether countries will cooperate or not is not purely based on relative gains at this point since so much interaction and cooperation have been done. The third world countries cannot suddenly not be part of the institutions or not cooperate, not only because they get some kinds of benefit, but also because they need goods and finance that they get by being part of the institution and cooperating. Thus, inequality does not impede them to cooperate in the future even though it is not a perfect mutually beneficial cooperation.


One thought on “Marxism: Criticism of the International Institution -Seungmin Song”

  1. I agree that presently inequality does not impede international cooperation but that this cooperation is not entirely mutually beneficial as you said. I also agree that third world countries have in many instances backed in to a corner of needing to interact with the developed nations for their goods and the financial incentives offered by developed nations in return for cooperation. However, I think it is possible that this scenario leaves room for some nations to be pushed out if they cannot uphold their end of the deal. If a developing nation no longer has a market specialization that is appealing to the developed nations or if their economy collapses and they are no longer able to maintain previous negotiations, under this argument wouldn’t the developed nations withdraw their agreements and find other nations that could do so for them. Additionally as some nations such as the BRICS improve economically through trade are they likely to be less willing to bend to the will of the “great powers” that once took advantage of their underdeveloped status causing conflict and a lack of cooperation amongst international powers. In sum, I think that under the current system inequality can threaten international cooperation in the future because the current system is one ruled by utility. This system is not one built on international cooperation. The system only works when the developed nations are getting what they want and need and are therefore willing to extend financial aid or engage in business with developing nations. If these transactions are no longer appealing, they could choose not to work with them and therefore further push the underdeveloped nations into poverty and economic disaster. Essentially, when the usefulness of these transactions end, the transactions are likely to end as well. Furthermore, this system is not likely to breed international cooperation if the tables were to turn and previously less developed nations were to gain power and economic might.


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