Brexit: Liberalism and Dependency Theory

Introduction: The Issue

Divorcing a strong and powerful economic community is a rather controversial decision that will inadvertently cause significant internal and external conflicts for any state. The case of Brexit proves that the refusal to be a part of the European Union (EU) is fraught with serious consequences that Great Britain is about to experience for an undetermined period of time. Therefore, it is critical to understand the nature of Brexit as a political decision, especially the factors that necessitated the idea of leaving the EU. Combining the perspectives of Liberalism and the Dependency Theory, one will infer the key rationale behind Brexit as a political decision.

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Liberalism: Description

In the modern global economic and political community, approaching the changes occurring to countries from a Liberalism perspective is a practically inevitable choice. The theory of Liberalism represents an idea of global cooperation in the economic and political field as the method of maximizing utility and creating positive outcomes for all parties involved (Zupan 194). Therefore, Liberalism provides a rather solid platform for discussing the subject of Brexit.

Dependency Theory: Description

The Dependency theory is rather basic in its core assumptions, yet it is very effective in defining the reasons for political decisions in the global economy. The Dependency Theory suggests that the increase in the levels of wealth and well-being in developed countries is in inverse proportion to the economic growth in developing ones: “Poor countries exported primary commodities to the rich countries who then manufactured products out of those commodities and sold them back to the poorer countries” (Frieden et al. 58).

Specifically, Ferraro claims that there is “a rigid international division of labor which is responsible for the underdevelopment of many areas of the world” (60). On the one hand, the focus on internal issues helps one to gain a proper understanding of the factors that define a specific decision (Ferraro 59). On the other hand, it does not allow taking critical external factors such as international trade and multicultural relationships into account.


Liberalism: Analysis

Viewing Brexit as the decision to uphold the liberal order in the United Kingdom might be seen as a rather tenuous statement, with the decision being geared toward a more conservative ideology. It is quite possible that the core reason for Brexit to exist is the acceptance and application of the views associated with the willingness to boost the levels of the aggregate income of the citizens: “The greater the degree of openness in the international trading system, the greater the level of aggregate income” (Krasner 319).

With the increase in the size of the economy, which partners with the U imply, the levels of openness may drop, which may, in turn, cause the levels of aggregate income to drop (Krasner 319). However, a closer look at the core assumptions that underlie the specified line of thinking will prove that, given the high costs of closure of international relationships for the UK presently, deciding to follow the path of Brexit would be an erroneous step.

The general propensity toward the anti-establishment movement that is contained within Brexit is very characteristic of the principles of the Liberal Theory (Zupan 194). Nonetheless, Brexit as a phenomenon cannot be considered as a liberal political movement since the plight of its proponents concerns not the pursuit of justice for all parties involved, but the opportunity for right-wing populists to take the stage (Carswell par. 10).

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Therefore, Brexit may become a point of political failure for the UK. In fact, the current direction that the country is taking is much more akin to one of the expressions of a conservative thought than that one of liberal philosophy. Specifically, the present-day UK stance can be explained from the perspective of Faragism, which is a branch of Conservativism, which suggests that “a sovereign Britain would have more control over its affairs than Britain now has as a member of the EU” (Morgan 9).

Thus, the pursuit of a liberal agenda should be deemed as an important goal for the UK presently. Arguably, Britain has suffered from what Balaam and Dillman defined as “the most powerful human motive the pursuit of self-interest” (34). Thus, the lack of focus on its role in the global economy can be seen as the key factor behind the Brexit decision.

Dependency Theory: Analysis

An analysis based on the Dependency Theory is another method of exploring the rationale for Brexit. Approaching the notion of Brexit from the Dependency Theory perspective, one will realize that the specified framework subverts the arguments of Brexit proponents just as well as the Liberalism framework. Specifically, the Dependency Theory argues that the division of labor, albeit causing the economic rift between migrant labor and local citizens, implies positive dynamics in the economy of the hegemonic state (Ferraro 60).

As Ferraro explains, “This division of labor is ultimately the explanation for poverty and there is little question but that capitalism regards the division of labor as a necessary condition for the efficient allocation of resources” (60). For example, when considering the reasoning behind the choices of voters, one will see that it was not the fear of immigrants or the ostensible threat of side effects of diversity that were perceived as an immediate threat (Ford and Goodwin 23). Therefore, Brexit seems to be a product of both national insecurities and fear of change.

Indeed, by using Brexit as the means of shielding itself from undesirable political and social changes, the UK also deprives itself of important sources of economic well-being. Specifically, the disruption of the trade-related processes is likely to affect the UK, thus proving that the country is linked economically to the rest of the EU states: “The EU is hugely important as a trading partner of the UK. The UK sells 45% of its exports to other EU member countries” (“How Did the UK Economy Do Since Joining the EU?” par. 10).

In addition, the UK has lost the opportunity to balance out the strategic interactions between its companies and other organizations in the international market, which is crucial for effective performance (Oatley 109). Therefore, the UK is highly dependent on the rest of the EU, which, in accordance with the Dependency Theory, makes it very vulnerable to any disruptions in the economic relationships with the EU states.

It should be noted that, even from the standpoint of the theories described above, Brexit remains a rather unfeasible solution that is not self-sustainable. Because of the need to maintain political and economic ties with other states in the global environment, it is crucial for the UK to remain in the EU. Specifically, the proponents of the Dependency theory argue that “an entirely open system can undermine a state’s effort to develop, and even lead to underdevelopment” (Krasner 321). Therefore, the idea of Brexit appears to be unviable from any viewpoint as the decision that will isolate the UK from the rest of Europe and create numerous obstacles for its economic and political development.

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Although both the Dependency Theory and the Liberalism-based approach provide rather understandable reasoning behind the choice of Brexit, the decision still remains invalid from the political, economic, and sociocultural viewpoints. While Brexit was justified not by the need for UK citizens to isolate themselves from immigrants or the need to expand the economic influence of the state, its effects are still most likely to be detrimental for the UK. Both the Dependency Theory and the postulates of the Liberalism framework imply that the idea of political and economic separation along with the disruption of the cross-cultural dialogue will affect the UK negatively and elicit a rather negative response in its citizens.

Works Cited

Balaam, David N., and Bradford Dillman. Introduction to International Political Economy. 6th ed., Routledge, 2016.

Carswell, Douglas. “Leaving the EU Is the Start of a Liberal Insurgency.The Guardian. 2017. Web.

Ferraro, Vincent. “Dependency Theory: An Introduction.” The Development Economics Reader, edited by Giorgio Secondi, Routledge, 2008, pp. 58-64.

Ford, Robert, and Matthew Goodwin. “Britain After Brexit: A Nation Divided.” Journal of Democracy, vol. 28, no. 1, 2017, pp. 17-30.

Frieden, Jeffry A., et al. World Politics: Interests, Interactions, Institutions. 2nd ed., W. W. Norton, 2013.

How Did the UK Economy Do Since Joining the EU? Institute for New Economic Thinking. 2016. Web.

Krasner, Stephen D. “State Power and the Structure of International Trade.” World Politics, vol. 28, no. 3, 1976, pp. 317-347.

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Morgan, Glyn. Liberalism, Nationalism, and Post-Brexit Europe. 2016. Web.

Oatley, Thomas. International Political Economy. 5th ed., Routledge, 2013.

Zupan, Mark A. “The Virtues of Free Markets.” Cato Journal, vol. 31, no. 1, 2011, pp. 171-198.

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