In sum, the disparities or the socioeconomic gap between “The West and the Rest” can perhaps be explained by one of either two sociological theories, according to the experts and scholars who have spent a great deal of time and focus on this subject. For one, there is “Modernization Theory,” which suggests that there is something inherently wrong with the belief systems and psychosocial makeup of “The Rest,” which in turn fosters the disparities and socioeconomic gap between these two worlds. Thus, the argument put forth by proponents of “Modernization Theory” is that if “The Rest” were to adopt the beliefs, lifestyle, and mentality of Western peoples, then all their problems would be solved. It is worth noting that “The West and the Rest” is one of a handful of explanations or theories available for understanding the nature of international relations, aside from liberalism, realism, nationalism, and “Personality Theory.”
On the other hand, there is “Dependence Theory,” which is perhaps the more viable theory in explaining why there are major disparities between “The West and the Rest.” Proponents of this theory point out that before the rise of Western hegemony about 500 years ago, there were no major disparities between “The West and the Rest.” For the most part, the international system was in a state of equilibrium and the international system maintained a balance of power between the various civilizations and regions of the world. What fostered the major disparities between “The West and the Rest,” according to proponents of “Dependence Theory,” is the creation of “Dominance-Dependence Relationships” between the West and non-Western countries through the employment of economic exploitation and violence on the part of the West.
The deciding factor in the ability of the West to foster “Dominance-Dependence” relationships with non-Western countries was the technological know-how which enabled Western countries to develop advanced weaponry. Only through the advent of advanced weaponry and the cold-heartedness which enabled the use of such weapons was the West able to foster these “Dominance-Dependence” relationships, thus creating the major disparities we see between “The West and the Rest” even to this day. What characterizes the “Dominance-Dependence” relationships between the West and non-Western peoples more than any other factor is the transfer of wealth from the latter to the former through economic exploitation and violence.
Although “imitation is the biggest form of flattery,” there is no proof to suggest that imitating Western attitudes and social norms is the recipe for economic and social progress on the part of non-Western peoples. It is believed that education is the key which opens up the door for economic and social progress. Thus, it comes as no surprise that non-Western countries with the highest literacy rates such as Russia, China, and Iran are now major players in international politics, to the dismay of Western countries. Nor does one’s education necessarily have to follow the methods practiced in Western “higher education.” Arguably, education can be analogized to playfulness to a certain extent, in the sense that freedom of thought and curious exploration are the best methods and mechanisms for cultural and intellectual development. In fact, imitation can only lead to misfortune and trouble, which is a subtle but profoundly complex and important point that a number of scholars and thinkers have touched on and is fit for a much broader and separate discussion than the one laid out in this particular blog post.