This is the fourth “full” entry in our ongoing “X-Men Foreign Policy” series, a dynamic look at the nuanced politics in the recent X titles. You can find part one here, part two here, part three here, or if you haven’t already, the handy introduction guide.
The Krakoan Flower is an incredible resource that could only exist in the pages of comic book. Yet, as noted in a previous essay, the Krakoan nation’s key natural resource does have some analogues ones in our real-world. The resource, created exclusively on Krakoa, is what the mutant island is hoping to offer to mankind in exchange for recognition, peace and a place at the table of international affairs.
Any nation capable of producing something this valuable would surely jump at the opportunity to control and distribute it. Yet, much like other natural resource rich states, there are reasons these assets may contribute to long-term problems in developing the nation’s economy. Thus, in this installment, we will consider the idea that the Krakoan Flower may be a curse to the budding mutant homeland.
International Relations theorists have long discussed why developing nations rich in natural resources have found difficulty developing as stable economies with democratic institutions. This is often referred to as the resource curse, or paradox of plenty. The concept seems counter-intuitive: how could having a wealth of natural resources be a bad thing for a country? The answer is complex, but there are a few specific reasons for this. Writing in The Atlantic, Stewart Patrick noted three reasons resources could be a curse for a state, all of which should be pressing concerns for Krakoa.
1. Authoritarianism and Dependence on a Single Resource
Again, we will use oil for a logical stand-in for the Krakoan flower. Patrick notes that “easy resource revenues eliminate a critical link of accountability between government and citizens, by reducing incentives to tax other productive activity and use the revenue to deliver social services effectively.” Currently, there does not seem to be elections for those selected as leaders of the nation. Most shockingly, Professor Xavier appears to be the richest man in the world and the named recipient of that wealth. This calls into question how responsible Krakoa’s leaders are/will be with this incredible wealth.
As their nation is still in a celebratory post-independence state, its inhabitants may be willing to overlook the fact that their islands wealth is controlled by a single man or an un-elected body of decision makers. Xavier, Magento and Apocalypse all have a history of authoritarianism at some point in their character’s history; it is not a stretch to think the Krakoan flower may foster that attitude in these leaders as time progresses.
2. Civil War in Resource Rich States
The United Nations noted how societies with great natural resources often result in divided, rebellion prone states:
“In too many countries, a wealth of resources, including timber, oil, coal, diamonds and precious metals, failed to translate into equivalent wealth for the people. “Only a powerful few benefit,” he said, adding that the result of that inequality was bitterness, mistrust and alienation ‑ the precursors to conflict” (UN Security Council).
Having Xavier, and an un-elected body of leaders, holding this amount of wealth will likely produce problems in the future. Much like in other states that have experienced civil war over the control of resources (and they cross all geographic and cultural lines), one could easily see factions develop on Krakoa intent on controlling their resource, resulting in internal conflict. Even among its key leaders, we have already seen divisions emerge that may result in factional violence capable of tearing apart Krakoan society.
3. Resource Rich States and a Lack of Development
The last 100 years have indicated that countries with incredible resources, especially economically developing states, end up relying heavily on a few key resources the fuel their entire economy. Rather than using the wealth generated from these resources to build a diversified economy with multiple industries, these states often rely entirely on this resource revenue to fund all public funding. In times where this resource has a high value, like oil did in the 2000s, states rich in this resource can become very rich and influential. They may even engage in massive works projects (like in Saudi Arabia) or economic redistribution (as they did in Venezuela). Yet, when the price of this commodity goes down, it wreaks havoc on all aspects of the state as there is no other center for economic activity.
We are in the early days of the Krakoan state, but their leadership energy does not seem to be towards diversifying their economy (beyond the handful of shell-companies listed in the infographic above). This could be problematic if other “miracle cures” come to light and make their Krakoan Flower less valuable. In X-Force #6, we watched the team deal with the tiny fictional nation of Terra Verde, which had poured resources into plant-based technology and was not being out-down by Krakoa.
The country was unable to develop it effectively, yet Beast notes that this nation’s success would undermine the leverage Krakoa currently has over other the international community. With the fantastical worlds, technology and magic in the MCU, it is not hard to believe that a competitor for the Krakoan Flower may emerge that would sink their entire foreign policy strategy.
“Natural Resource Wealth Fails to Translate into ‘Equivalent’ Benefits for People, Fueling Conflict, Instability, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases.” United Nations, United Nations, www.un.org/press/en/2013/sc11037.doc.htm.
Patrick, Stewart M. “Why Natural Resources Are a Curse on Developing Countries and How to Fix It.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 30 Apr. 2012, www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/why-natural-resources-are-a-curse-on-developing-countries-and-how-to-fix-it/256508/