Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 25th, 2021

The Relationship between Political Development and Economic Development


The Relationship between Political Development and  Economic Development

Since the division of countries into developed and undeveloped, useful scientific studies have been carried out by economists and political scientists to explain the factors behind backwardness and incivility. At least, three schools of thought have turned up including modernism, dependency, and the world system while each has produced dozens of proven theories about solutions and factors behind political backwardness. Despite the fact that Afghanistan is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, it does not use such scientific theories to essentially resolve the problems. Often the actions and decisions are made on the basis of individual taste and interests which not only led to wastage of the resources and facilities but also goes down deeper in the quagmire of backwardness.Although each school of thought divulges different factors and theories regarding political backwardness, this article is to discuss the economic theories which closely match the current condition and historic barriers of development in Afghanistan. Historically, it is said that the western renascence had paved the way for the advancement of other countries, but caused the backwardness of Afghanistan.  After the industrial revolution and the invention of the compass with the advancement of maritime transportation, the economic Silk Road was completely shut down. Afghanistan which was the center of trade and economy suddenly isolated. The trade and goods exchanges suddenly declined to zero. Therefore, Afghanistan was fully changed to a landlocked country being disconnected from world advancement and world economy while the mountainous geography of Afghanistan was not sufficient for agricultural productivities to revive the previous position of the country. Therefore, the economic theory of Lipset can best explain the political backwardness in Afghanistan.According to Lipset, there is a serious relationship between economic development and political development.  He claims,” the more prosperous a country is, the more likely it is to achieve democracy.” His research findings show that democracies have higher economic indicators than non-democracies. That is, democracies enjoy higher levels of wealth, industrial development, urban development, and education. To substantiate this claim, he reports that the per capita income rate in stable European democracies is $ 695, in European dictatorships $ 308, in Latin American democracies $ 171, and in Latin American dictatorships $ 119.The reason for the relationship between economic development and political development, as he argues, is that “economic development, by generating more income, higher economic security, and wider higher education, essentially determines the specific form of class struggle that underlies democracy.” the industrial development not only increase sound labor interactions in the workplace but also cause deeper recognition amongst different strata and ethnic groups of society which is effective in reducing social and political gaps. Similarly, the lower class in poor countries has a lower position than its counterpart in more affluent countries. Inequality in the distribution of goods, services, and resources is also higher in poor countries than in countries with relative abundance. As a result, when the lower classes in poor countries become acquainted with better lifestyles through new means of transportation and communication, dissatisfaction matures in them, and this is enough to provide the social basis for political extremism. Hence, political parties in poor countries are more extremists than similar parties in affluent countries. On the other hand, economic development helps to reduce the social distance between the upper and lower classes by increasing the level of welfare and consumer goods. Therefore, the prospects of the lower classes in rich countries are typically broader, more complex, and more reformist towards politics and political issues.The next important point that he argues is that wealth expands the middle class in a political society. With the expansion of the middle class, a cohesive force is created in balance with political power which not only improves the political skills of citizens with their political participation but also increases political coordination and cohesion. Consequently, the distance between the government and people decreased, and political power is also softened. In addition, a big middle class can contribute in moderation and even punishment of extremist groups through the establishment of moderate and democratic parties.And finally, Lipset claims that upper-class politics is also somehow related to national wealth. In poor countries, the behavior of the upper class with the lower class is typically such that it is considered inherently inferior. It resists their demands and rights, which often exacerbate their extremist reactions, but in affluent countries with sufficient economic resources, it is easier for the upper class to expand the rights of the lower class and prevent tensions and conflicts originate from scarce resources. In light of these points, Lipset proves a strong link between economic development and democracy.The second theory which talks about the link between economic development and democracy belongs to Huntington who raised two categories of factors, which are favorable preconditions for democracy and the second is the political processes that lead to the development of democracy. Regarding the preconditions for the realization and consolidation of democracy, he emphasizes that the first and most important factor for the realization and consolidation of democracy is the economy. He cites several reasons for this matter. Firstly, the economy increases legitimacy through economic empowerment; secondly, economic development leads to access to social welfare, a high level of literacy, and promotion of mass media, which in turn increases political skills and meaningful public participation. Thirdly, economic development alleviates political tensions because a large proportion of tensions are rooted in the distribution of limited resources. Fourthly, the actions and decisions in an industrial and advanced economy are decentralized and the laws and decisions are based on the consensus of those affected. Fifthly, he says that the distribution of wealth in rich countries is fairer than in poor countries, and of course, there is less dissatisfaction.Huntington  also argues that reaching political modernization is not possible unless passing six crises including the identity crisis, the legitimacy crisis, the influence crisis, the participation crisis, the social solidarity crisis, and the distribution crisis. Except for the first case, all the rest are directly or indirectly related to economic development. For example, it is the limited resources and lack of economic capability that hinders equal distribution and not allows the political leaders to meet the demand of the masses. Finally, the economic development not only leads to the independence of the people to retreat against illegitimate demands of political power compelling to bring necessary changes but also paves the ground for the independence of political leaders not to surrender against illegal demand of foreign powers.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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