Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Q&A - 19/5

Francis Fukuyama

[Political Order and Political Decay, pg. 523] The answer [to lack of democracy in Nigeria] that scholars such as Richard Joseph have given is that politics in Nigeria is what he labels “prebendal,” involving a fatal mixture of rent seeking, clientelism, and ethnicity. Because of oil, the state has ready access to a steady flow of resource rents, which the elites have shared among themselves. While all poor people—the 70 percent of the population below the poverty line—in theory have a common interest in ending corruption and redistributing those resources more fairly, they are divided into more than 250 ethnic and religious communities that do not want to work with one another. Their ties are instead vertical, to clientelistic networks controlled by the elites, who dole out just enough patronage and subsidies to mobilize support at the next election. The system is stable because members of the elite rent-seeking coalition realize that using violence to grab a larger share of the total pie will hurt everyone’s interests, including their own. The typical response to violence like the armed attacks in the delta is a combination of repression and increased subsidies to buy off discontent.


Good analysis though.. Fukuyama seems to be back-pedalling from that End of History business after all, and now looking into state dysfunction more closely. As a note, F. was one of the cadre of "90s thinkers" who claimed potato stamping of the existing order everywhere / globalization would fix it all. You thought you was gonna have all miles and smiles..! Well...that didn't turn out exactly as planned; We are back in the business of thinking for ourselves, looking at the status quo more closely.

B. Mesquita, A. Smith

[Paraphrasing] There is positive correlation between a leaning toward autocracy and size of ethnic blocks in W (winning coalition).

W for Win

BBM's theory talks about two numeric parameters W (winning coalition) and S (selectorate) instead of talking democracy directly which he claims models state behaviour more closely. In this paper they made a new addition, "size of __ blocks in W" for ethnic, religious, etc blocks that can be present in W. They found positive correlation between size of ethnic bloc in W and leaning toward authocracy. This seems to confirm the case of Nigeria (coincidentally one of the countries BBM uses in his data as well). Turkey's experience would agree; in the past ~30 years there's always been an artificially high representation of ethnic nationalists / Ottomanists / borderline racist people in the government (bcz of the 1980 fascist coup) - which IMO hampered the country's transition to full democracy.

Note: we mentioned before in his earlier work BBM had rough calculations for W,S deriving it from other variables; in this recent research they asked experts from the countries for more accurate W,S.

Guns and Butter

Peter Schiff "We had a lot of problems that happened in 70s, under Nixon and Ford. But those problems started in the 60s, the great ...