Skip navigation

Globalization and Development Options

Essay
Ricardo Lagos
Osvaldo Rosales

There is no political future or economic scenario that is predetermined. That was the bold proposal former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto made over 40 years ago in the midst of dependency theory's determinism.1 A very influential analytical framework in Latin America between the 1950s and 1970s, dependency theory asserts that the world economy is organized in an industrial core and a commodity-producing periphery. Countries in the periphery (mostly developing ones) remain stuck in the production of low-value primary products for the consumption of the industrial core and are thus unable to significantly close their development gaps with the industrialized countries. Cardoso and Faletto's statement has even more relevance today in light of the profound transformations in the global economy and the surprises brought by the first decade of the twenty-first century. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world seemed to enter a phase of"hyperpower" in which the exercise of American"soft power" would be enough to assure peace and American hegemony. The EU aspired to transform itself by 2010 into the main technological power of the knowledge society. On the other hand, the incorporation of China into the World Trade Organization (WTO), not without its tensions, was interpreted as a mechanism for both disciplining China and motivating its adjustment to the global economy.