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POLS 373 Foundations of Politics POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics What Makes a Democracy? Professor Timothy Lim California State University,

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Presentation on theme: "POLS 373 Foundations of Politics POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics What Makes a Democracy? Professor Timothy Lim California State University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 POLS 373 Foundations of Politics POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics What Makes a Democracy? Professor Timothy Lim California State University, Los Angeles What Makes a Democracy? Professor Timothy Lim California State University, Los Angeles

2 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 2 Democracy and Power Given the almost undeniable social tension that democracy entails, most analysts agree … Democracy is above all a matter of power

3 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 3 Democracy and Power: Implications  Democracy does not just happen through some automatic process, but is almost always a product of a political struggle among competing groups with competing interests  Democratization requires an underlying shift in power  The transition to democracy marks a significant political change, but transitions to democracy are never guaranteed: Indeed, given the nature of democratic change--i.e., its impact of relations of power--opposition and attempts to re-impose a non-democratic system should be expected

4 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 4 Democracy and Power: Implications Structuralists, rationalists, and culturalists generally agree on the significance of power, but they differ on several key questions …  Who are the key agents of change? Are they elites, subordinate actors, outside agents or some combination?  How does the struggle for power unfold? Is it the product of elite interaction? Is it a structural phenomenon, a cultural one, or something else?  Do certain “conditions” need to exist before democratization can happen? Or is democracy possible under any circumstances?

5 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 5 Democracy and Power: Structural View To structuralists, transitions to democracy are shaped and even determined by broad structural changes that reorder the balance of power among different classes and class coalitions in society For democracy to emerge, subordinate classes must have sufficient power to challenge the dominant classes, but … How do subordinate classes “get power”? Discussion question

6 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 6 Democracy and Power: Structural View How do subordinate classes “get power”? Basic Answer: The power of subordinate classes is a product of capitalist development, which brings unavoidable changes to any society. Specifically …  Capitalism creates subordinate classes with the capacity for _________________________  Capitalism also entails greater dependence of elite groups on subordinate classes: simply put, capitalists rely on workers to work  Capitalism creates tensions between elite groups: landowners, in particular, lose power at the expense of “industrialists,” which weakens the cohesion of the elite self- organization SELF-ORGANIZATION: An Explanation “Capitalism brings the subordinate class or classes together in factories cities where members of those classes can associate and organized more easily; it improves the means of communication and transportation …; in these and other ways, it strengthens civil society and facilitates subordinate class organization” SELF-ORGANIZATION: An Explanation “Capitalism brings the subordinate class or classes together in factories cities where members of those classes can associate and organized more easily; it improves the means of communication and transportation …; in these and other ways, it strengthens civil society and facilitates subordinate class organization”

7 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 7 Democracy and Power: Structural View The importance of self-organization is underscored in Marx and Engel’s famous quote (from the Communist Manifesto) … Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains

8 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 8 Democracy and Power: Structural View Having more power doesn’t automatically lead to democracy for subordinate groups  Sometimes subordinate groups are co-opted by the elite  Sometimes subordinate groups, while more powerful, still lack enough power to topple the existing regime--in these cases, alliances with other groups may be necessary  In a similar vein, sometimes the state is “overdeveloped” (i.e., possesses excessive coercive capacity, often as a result of an alliance with major Western countries)  Sometimes “transnational forces” intervene Co-option refers to the process of being incorporated into the mainstream or dominant power structure, but always in a subservient role. Frequently, those who have been co-opted will embrace the interests of the dominant power structure while neglecting the interests of their original group

9 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 9 Democracy and Power: Structural View In general, however, structuralists assert that capitalist development is the underlying process through which democracy emerges  This helps explain why democracy is a primarily 20th century phenomenon: capitalist industrialization has made its greatest and most rapid strides in the 100 years or so  At the same time, democracy is an essentially unintended outcome of capitalism; that is, capitalism is not designed to promote capitalism; indeed, it may be antithetical to capitalism This helps explain why the globalization of capitalism is undermining democracy today instead of encouraging it

10 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 10 Democracy and Power: Structural View Questions for consideration and discussion:  As a rapidly growing capitalist society, is the breakdown of authoritarian, communist party rule in China inevitable?  Can structuralists account for the longevity of authoritarianism in the Middle East, especially among Arab Islamic countries?  Are there any inconsistencies in the structural account that you can identify? How would a rationalist or a culturalist respond? Consider these questions in depth. They could be part of your final examination!

11 An Alternative Perspective Rationalists do not agree that “inert, invisible structures make democracies.” To put it very simply, believe that … people make democracy people make democracy People may be political elite or “the people,” as in mass movements

12 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 12 Making Democracy: Rationality Some Basic Differences and Assumptions  Rationalists don’t necessarily discount the role of subordinate classes, but they tend to put greater emphasis on the interests and actions of the elite (more on this shortly) Individual interests and preferences are, as usual, key  Rationalists don’t focus on underlying (economic) structures: they believe that democracy is possible in virtually any economic context In other words, rationalists don’t consider capitalism to be the key process in democratization

13 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 13 Making Democracy: Rationality Some Basic Differences and Assumptions among Rationalists Rationalists don’t agree on which people matter most Some rationalists argue that only the elite matter, that they are the key agents in democratic change Others argue that “the people” (and not just the working class) are the key agents of political change These differences can be classified as a top-down versus bottom-up approaches

14 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 14 Making Democracy: Rationality Rationalists don’t agree on the basic process of democratization Some rationalists argue that democratization is a product of negotiations among the elite, also known as ____________: in this view democracy is a partly a cooperative and very deliberate project--although pacting also involves the threat of confrontation (between elites) Other rationalists argue that democratization is a non-cooperative project, that is, it is a product of outright coercion, whereby authoritarian leaders are forced to leave office pacting

15 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 15 Making Democracy: Rationality Implications of Cooperative and Non-Cooperative Explanations Cooperative Explanations: Epitomized by Samuel Huntington’s observation on an ironic feature of contemporary democratization … Non-Cooperative Explanations: Suggests that democracy is product of people who want it and are willing to risk their lives to “get it”: from a rational choice perspective, the push for democracy changes the strategic environment for political leaders; when mass- movements are strong enough, leaders can see the writing on the wall, they know they have no choice but to leave Democracy without democrats

16 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 16 Making Democracy: Rationality Empirical Issues Both cooperative (elite-centered) and non-cooperative approaches (mass-based) have empirical support …  Latin American cases Supports Elite-CenteredMass-Based approach?  Post-Communist cases (Eastern Europe) Supports Elite-CenteredMass-Based approach?

17 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 17 Making Democracy: Rationality So where does this leave us? Can the rational choice approach provide a theoretically coherent and empirically comprehensive explanation of democratic transition? Fortunately, there are some existing rational choice arguments that we can look at. One particularly interesting one tells us that the answer lies in how we conceptualize authoritarianism The answer is a definite … mayb e

18 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 18 Differing Authoritarianisms First off: A little comparative checking will tell us that not all authoritarian regimes are alike … Some are dominated by military leaders, who may have taken power through a coup d'état Some are dominated by “personalist” or charismatic leaders: single individuals who dominate the political process Some are dominated by a highly cohesive, tightly disciplined party structure--so-called single party regimes Franco (Spain) Park (Korea) Saddam (Iraq) Amin (Uganda) Suharto (Indonesia) Pinochet (Chile) Peron (Argentina) Mao (China)

19 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 19 Differing Authoritarianisms For a long time, many scholars took these differences for granted; they did not assign any particular causal significance to the different varieties of authoritarianism One scholar, however, asked the question … Can different types of authoritarianism lead to different outcomes? In other words, is “authoritarian type” an independent variable? Her answer was an emphatic YES

20 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 20 The Rationality of Authoritarianism Begin with the premise that different types of authoritarian leaders have different preferences or interests … Military leaders are less concerned with political power and more concerned with the survival and efficacy of the __________________ itself and with the preservation of ________________________. Personalist leaders have an overriding interest in staying in power: the “perks” of political power are many, while the costs of losing power are extremely high and almost certain (e.g., imprisonment, death, or, exile). Personalist regimes, however, have a narrow support base Single-party leaders also have an overriding interest in holding on to political power, but, unlike personalist regimes, their “power base” is more stable, adaptable and enduring than in personalist regimes military national security

21 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 21 The Rationality of Authoritarianism Basic Argument: Different types of regimes arise for different reasons, but, once created, they tend to exhibit similar characteristics regardless of political, social or cultural context ______________ regimes are the most likely to breakdown because the leaders are not interested in political power per se Moreover, if any internal splits threaten the cohesion and power of the military, their preference is to “save the military” rather than to hold on to political power Military Key Implication: Military authoritarian regimes not only tend to have the shortest life spans, but the transition to democracy is generally negotiated and “cooperative”

22 What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy What Makes a Democracy? Explaining Transitions to Democracy 22 Saddam and Amin created personalist regimes that broke down quickly once they lost power Single party regimes in North Korea and China survived and even thrived, despite the loss of founding leaders (Kim Il Sung and Mao Tse Tung) The Rationality of Authoritarianism __________________ and ________________ regimes are more resistant to breakdown because the political leaders have more to lose: leaders will fight tooth-and-nail to hold on to power This means that transitions are often violent and almost always _____________________ In addition, the impetus for a transition to democracy, especially in single-party regimes, will generally come from the outside, that is, __________________ “shocks” are usually needed to trigger a change Personalist Single party non-cooperative exogenous CCP


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