Foundations of International Politics

By Harold Hance Sprout; Margaret Tuttle Sprout | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

National Economic Systems

POLITICAL POTENTIAL--the exercise of power and influence in international politics--is related at many points to a nation's economic system. As outlined in Chapter 4, goods and services--military equipment, industrial capital, foodstuffs and other consumers goods, transportation, financial services--are important instruments of statecraft. A government's ability to back up its demands on other nations, to attract and support allies, to bring pressure to bear on adversaries--these international operations involve the manipulation of goods and services of many kinds, quantities, and qualities. Even the intangible called national prestige may depend to some extent on the properties of a nation's economic system.

National policies and strategies too can have an important economic basis. Statesmen's ideas as to what undertakings are promising, even their concepts of national interest and purpose, may be associated with their judgments regarding the economic strengths and weaknesses of their own and other nations.

The magnitude and composition of a nation's economic output depend on a complex of variables: natural resources, labor, plant, technology, institutions and other social patterns. We have already dealt with some of these factors in preceding chapters, and we shall deal with others later on. The focus in the present chapter is on the integration of all the factors of production and distribution into a going concern called the national economic system.

In some countries the structure of political rule and the organization of production and distribution are merged into a single social system. This is one of the earmarks of totalitarianism. In other countries, the political government plays a much less active role in production and distribution. In every organized national community, one finds facilities (resources, labor, plant), some set of principles and working rules for integrating

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