Copyright © 1998 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume One Winter 1997-Spring 1998 Numbers 1-2.
GLOBALIZATION, STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT AND SECURITY: THE COLLAPSE OF THE POST-
COLONIAL DEVELOPMENTAL STATE IN THE CARIBBEAN
Clive Y. Thomas
Institute of Development Studies
University of Guyana
Published online: December 15, 2016
Up to about the early 1970s the capitalist Third World states had at least one characteristic in common -- a commitment to a state led process of rapid economic development and transformation of their societies. Since then, variations in country and regional circumstances have been so marked as to make fruitless the search for workable generalizations about these states. For the purposes of this analysis the focus is on one subset of these states, namely the capitalist states of the Caribbean region, which as a group, form the southern frontier of the United States. Although treated as one category, this group has considerable variation within it, and in the strictest sense the analysis is focused on the recent post-colonial states of the region. Existing dependencies, colonies and semi-colonies are ignored (e.g., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and the French overseas departments), as are the older independent states of the area (e.g., Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic).
Two broad and well established sets of systemic forces, familiar to all countries, operate in this Region - external (international) and domestic. In the region, the external (international) forces presently exercise an influence comparable to that of any previous historical period, which for a region whose past history embraced European conquest and genocide, colonial rule and settlement, slavery and indentured immigration, is a remarkable situation. The external (international) forces are also constituted into two broad identifiable currents. One is derived from the geo-strategic position taken by the United States, the world's hegemon, in the promotion and protection of its national interest in the area; and the other is derived from the familiar process of globalization. While the former directly affects the sovereignty of the state, the latter impacts on the ideology, nature, and functioning of the state as a social category. These currents obviously intermingle, but for present purposes are treated as discrete.
The principal thesis of this article is that the "developmental state" which had emerged in the Caribbean after Independence — with in some instances, e.g., Guyana and Grenada, its own distinctive blend of authoritarianism, nationalism, and populism — has collapsed under the twin pressures of U.S. self-defined geo-strategic national interest in the area and globalization. In the wake of this collapse a state crafted along neo-liberal lines and driven by neo-liberal ideology is being recomposed. This state is expected to serve a more global and far less national set of objectives than its predecessor.