Pols 373 foundations of comparative politics
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POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics. What Makes a Democracy? May 17, 2007 Professor Timothy Lim California State University, Los Angeles. What Makes a Democracy? Introduction. First off …. What Makes a Democracy? Introduction. … the world is becoming more democratic.

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Pols 373 foundations of comparative politics

POLS 373 Foundations of Comparative Politics

What Makes a Democracy?

May 17, 2007

Professor Timothy Lim

California State University, Los Angeles


What makes a democracy introduction

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

First off …


What makes a democracy introduction1

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

… the world is becoming more democratic

This graph shows the number of states with each of three general authority patterns: democracy, autocracy, and “anocracy” (an anocracy is defined as a regime type that has characteristics of both democratic and authoritarian rule).

____________________

Source: Global Conflict Trends

An autocracy is technically a form of governmentwhere power is held by one person; in this case,it is used more generally to refer to non-democraticpolitical system

Democracies

Anocracies

Autocracies


What makes a democracy introduction2

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

The world is becoming more democratic

Another perspective: In 1910, 0 percent of the world’s population lived in democracies; by 1950, 31 percent of the world’s population is democratic

By 2000, according to one source, 58.2 percent of the world’s people lived in democracies; by 2006, this figure had grown to 63% (based on estimates by Freedom House)

_______________________

Source: R.J. Rummel, “Democratic Peace Clock”


What makes a democracy introduction3

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

  • Why Is Democracy Spreading?

    • The global spread of democracy raises a number of important questions …

      Is the expansion of democracy inevitable? Will it necessarily reach all countries in time?

      Or, is democracy the product of particular forces and processes that will be forever resisted by some parts of the world, such as the Middle East and China?

      Why did the 20th century witness the most major advances of democracy globally? Was there something unique about the 20th century?

      What is the best method of promoting democracy? Should the United States be in the business of exporting democracies?


What makes a democracy introduction4

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

Defining Democracy

  • The definition of “democracy”is subject to great debate, but defining democracy is an essential first step, so …

What is democracy?

A discussion point


What makes a democracy introduction5

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

What is Democracy? A Short Video

Video intentionally removed •Available to download from CourseSite

This short video from YouTube (click here) poses the question, “What is democracy” to a handful of Americans

Note: We will watch only a portion of the video in class.


What makes a democracy introduction6

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

Defining Democracy: One Definition

“I would say democracy exists where you have a multiparty system with political parties competing with one another, free and non-corrupt voting procedures to elect political leaders, and an effective legal framework of civil liberties or human rights that underlie the mechanisms of voting processes”

~ Anthony Giddens


What makes a democracy introduction7

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

Defining Democracy: A “Formal” Definition

  • Gidden’s definition includes three core characteristics of democracy:

    A competitive multiparty system

    Free and non-corrupt elections

    An effective legal framework of civil liberties or humanrights

  • To this list, we might add a fourth characteristic:

    (Near) universal and equal suffrage (suffrage is simply the right or privilege of voting)

A discussion point

Are these characteristics enough?


What makes a democracy introduction8

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

Defining Democracy: A Formal Definition

  • To many people, “formal democracy” is not democracy at all: it may be a democracy in name, but not in reality

    Instead, manybelieve thatdemocracy mustbe defined insubstantiveterms

This cartoon illustrates the problem with “formal democracies”: people may have the right to vote in free and non-corrupt elections, but the real power lies with the corporate elite


What makes a democracy introduction9

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

Defining Democracy: The Debate

  • How should democracy be defined?

  • Is a “formal” or narrow definition adequate?

  • Or, is a substantive or broad definition necessary?

Points ofdiscussion


What makes a democracy introduction10

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

The Case for a Formal Definition

  • Substantive definitions of democracy are important, but a formal definition are sometimes necessary …

    The appropriateness of a formal definition: “Bare bones” definitions are important to distinguish between two distinct outcomes or phenomena; if the distinction can be justified and supported, it is appropriate

    Consider this question:

Is a political system that meets the minimal requirements of a formal democracy significantly different from an autocracy or dictatorship, such as the one once ruled over by that evil-doer Saddam Hussein?


What makes a democracy introduction11

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

The Case for a Formal Definition

Some Concrete Examples to Consider

Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler or Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel

Chile under Pinochet (1974-1990) or Chile under President Michelle Bachelet

Japan under Prime Minister Hideki Tojo or Japan under Juniichiro Koizumi


What makes a democracy introduction12

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

The Case for a Formal Definition

  • Key Point: If there is a significant difference between democracies and autocracies (or dictatorships or fascist regimes), then a formal definition of democracy is both appropriate and meaningful: even more, a formal democracy matters

    … it matters because it signifies (in contrast to autocratic rule) a real and significant change in society • The establishment of formal democracy invariably supports (although does not guarantee) progress towards greater substantive social, political, and economic equality

Is a political system that meets the minimal requirements of a formal democracy significantly different from an autocracy or dictatorship, such as the one once ruled over by that evil-doer Saddam Hussein?


What makes a democracy introduction13

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

The Case for a Formal Definition

  • Analytically speaking, it is also critical that concepts such as “democracy” be operationalized

    Quick definition:Operationalization is the process of defining a concept so that it can be ______________ through specific observations.

    Operationalization is important in the sciences, for if it is not possible to measure (or quantify) a phenomenon, it is difficult if not impossible to evaluate its causes or consequences

    • For example, how can we know that someone is “intelligent” if we cannot measure intelligence?How can we study “intelligence” if we cannotadequately distinguish it from other aspectsof human consciousness?

measured


What makes a democracy introduction14

What Makes a Democracy?Introduction

The Case for a Formal Definition

  • One last point

    Using a formal definition of democracy does not mean that we should ignore substantive definitions

    Indeed, depending on the purpose of the research, a substantive definition is sometimes preferred, if not absolutely essential

    • Example. A study of why some democracies are “strong” while others are weak or a study of how to “improve” democracy …

      … both require a substantive definition


Pols 373 foundations of comparative politics

Explanations of Democracy


What makes a democracy competing explanations

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Some Questions

There is a tendency--in the West at least--to assume that democracy benefits everyone. But this isn’t necessarily true. To begin a study of democracy, then, it is crucial to begin with some basic questions …

  • In general, who (or which groups) in society opposes democracy?

  • In general, who (or which groups) in society favor democracy?

  • Who benefits from democracy and whose interests are threatened?


What makes a democracy competing explanations1

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Who Opposes Democracy?

For the dominant groups in society, democracy generally represents a concrete threat to their own interests, since, by its very nature, democracy gives power to the “oppressed” or subordinate classes who constitute the large majority of any society’s population

Historically, the group most resistant to democracy has been the landowning class: this is because landowners, more than any other dominant class, depend on a subservient, oppressed labor class


What makes a democracy competing explanations2

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Who Opposes Democracy?

  • Think of it this way: If the majority of people in a society are poor and exploited would they not be immediately tempted, in a democratic system, to use their new-found and overwhelming voting power to redistribute economic resources and, ultimately, to undermine permanently—if not destroy—the position and privileges of the wealthy (or political and economic elite)?


What makes a democracy competing explanations3

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Who Opposes Democracy?

  • In the 20th century, opponents of democracy have also included states and/or state leaders, especially in poor or developing countries

The 1989 Chinese “democracy movement” in Tiananmen Square represents an example of state-opposition to democracy

______________________________

Leaders of modern states often oppose democracy because their own survival may be at stake once they are out of office; other state leaders believe that democracy will result in too many demands by labor, thus undermining the industrialization process

Video intentionally removed •Available to download from CourseSite


What makes a democracy competing explanations4

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Who Favors Democracy?

  • Simple Answer: Any group or segment of society that would benefit from having a greater voice in the political process

Historically, this has included the “middle class,” the working class, the masses in general, the petty bourgeoisie (e.g., small merchants, craftsmen, and other self-employed groups), and the “intellectual class” (especially university students)


Pols 373 foundations of comparative politics

Democracy and Power

Given the almost undeniable tension between democracy and social inequality, most analysts agree …

Democracy is above all a matter of power


What makes a democracy competing explanations5

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Democracy and Power: Implications

  • Democracy does not just happen through some automatic process, but is a product of a politicalstruggle among competing groups with competing interests

  • Democratization requires some underlying shift in power (among or between different groups)

  • The transition to democracy marks a significant political change, but transitions to democracy are never guaranteed: indeed, given the nature of democratic change, opposition and attempts to re-impose a non-democratic system should be expected


What makes a democracy competing explanations6

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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?


What makes a democracy competing explanations7

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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”?

Discussionquestion


What makes a democracy competing explanations8

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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 wheremembers of those classes can associate and organized more easily; it improves the means of communication and transportation …; in these and other ways, it strengthenscivil society and facilitates subordinateclass organization”


What makes a democracy competing explanations9

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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


What makes a democracy competing explanations10

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Co-option refers to the process of being incorporatedinto the mainstream or dominant power structure, butalways in a subservient role. Frequently, thosewho have been co-opted will embrace the interestsof the dominant power structure while neglectingthe interests of their original group

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, e.g., during the Cold War, the US helped or abetted to overthrow democratically elected governments in Iran, Iraq, Chile, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Greece, etc.; more recently, some argue that the US attempted to overthrow Hugo Chavez in Venezuela


What makes a democracy competing explanations11

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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

    In the postwar period, consider the cases of South Korea and Taiwan

  • At the same time, (to structuralists) democracy is an essentially unintendedoutcome of capitalism; that is, capitalism is not designed to promote capitalism; indeed, it may be antithetical to capitalism


What makes a democracy competing explanations12

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Democracy and Power: Structural View

  • Questions for consideration and discussion:

    • As a rapid 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? Why, for example, does the quality or substance of capitalism seem to be weakening today, even in well-established democracies, such as the United States?

Hint:Consider how globalizationis weakening subordinate classes,especially the working class


Pols 373 foundations of comparative politics

An Alternative Perspective

Rationalists do not agree that “inert, invisible structures make democracies.” To put it very simply, believe that …

people make democracy

People may be political elites or “the people,” as in mass movements


What makes a democracy competing explanations13

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Different Processes, Different Actors:Rationality

Some Basic Differences and Assumptions

  • Rationalists don’t consider capitalism to be the key process in democratization

  • 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)

  • Rationalists don’t like to focus on underlying (economic) structures: they believe that democracy is possible in virtually any economic context


What makes a democracy competing explanations14

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Different Processes, Different Actors:Rationality

Some Basic Differences and Assumptions amongRationalists

  • Rationalists don’t agree on which people matter most

    Some rationalists argue that only the elite matter, that they are the key agents in democracy

    Others argue that “the people” (and not just the working class) are the key agents of political change


What makes a democracy competing explanations15

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Different Processes, Different Actors:Rationality

Some Basic Differences and Assumptions amongRationalists

  • 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 cooperative and very deliberate project

    Other rationalists argue that democratization is a non-cooperative project, that is, it is a product of coercion, whereby authoritarian leaders are, in essence, forced to leave office under threat of violence

pacting


What makes a democracy competing explanations16

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Different Processes, Different Actors: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

What does this statement mean? From a rationalist perspective, how does this statement make sense?


What makes a democracy competing explanations17

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Different Processes, Different Actors: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?


What makes a democracy competing explanations18

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Different Processes, Different Actors:Rationality

  • So where does this leave us?

    Can the rational choice approach provide a theoretically coherent and empirically comprehensive explanation of democratic transition?

The answer is a definite …

maybe


What makes a democracy competing explanations19

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Differing Authoritarianisms: An Alternative Rational Choice Perspective

  • 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


What makes a democracy competing explanations20

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

Differing Authoritarianisms: An Alternative Rational Choice Perspective

  • For a long time, many scholars took these differences for granted; they did not assign any particular causalsignificance 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?


What makes a democracy competing explanations21

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

The Rationality of Authoritarianism

Begins 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, at best, exile)

Single-party leaders also have an overriding interest in holding on to political power, but, unlike personalist regimes, their “power base” is more stable and enduring than in personalist regimes

military

national security


What makes a democracy competing explanations22

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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

Key Implication: Military authoritarian regimes not only tend to have the shortest life spans, but the transition to democracy is generally negotiated and “cooperative”

Military


What makes a democracy competing explanations23

What Makes a Democracy?CompetingExplanations

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

__________________ 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 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 spark a change

Personalist

Single party

non-cooperative

exogenous


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