Readings in Politics and Government
Friday, April 21st, 2017
These are some readings in politics and government which might help us to have a wider perspective in the field of governance and political advocacy. They are chosen according to their relevance to Eritrea; and as time goes by more will be added. In general reading will expose us to new things and improve our understanding. It guides us to make an important decision or an informed action. We gain experience of other people and communicate ideas. We also boost our imagination and creativity. As the old proverb goes: "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."
Title of Readings:
Good governance has 8 major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. (OECD, 2001).
Participation by both men and women is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. It is important to point out that representative democracy does not necessarily mean that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken into consideration in decision making. Participation needs to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.
Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media.
Effectiveness and efficiency: Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.
Responsiveness: Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.
Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only governmental institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to whom varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.
Consensus oriented: There are several actors and as many view points in a given society. Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community.
Equity and inclusiveness: A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well being.
Rule of Law: Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force.
This definition of good governance is taken from an OECD e-book entitled Citizens as Partners - Information, Consultation and Public Participation in Policy-Making
Bureaucracy by Max Weber
CHAPTER XI Bureaucracy
I: Characteristics of Bureaucracy
Modern officialdom functions in the following manner:
I. There is the principle of official jurisdictional areas, which are generally ordered by rules, that is, by laws or administrative regulations.
1. The regular activities required for the purposes of the bureaucratically governed structure are distributed in a fixed way as official duties.
2. The authority to give the commands required for the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, which may be placed at the disposal of officials.
3. Methodical provision is made for the regular and continuous fulfillment of these duties and for the execution of the corresponding rights; only persons who have the generally regulated qualifications to serve are employed.
In public and lawful government these three elements constitute 'bureaucratic authority.' In private economic domination, they constitute bureaucratic 'management.' Bureaucracy, thus understood, is fully developed in political and ecclesiastical communities only in the modern state, and, in the private economy, only in the most advanced institutions of capitalism. Permanent and public office authority, with fixed jurisdiction, is not the historical rule but rather the exception. This is so even in large political structures such as those of the ancient Orient, the Germanic and Mongolian empires of conquest, or of many feudal structures of state. In all these cases, the ruler executes the most important measures through personal trustees, table companions, or court-servants. Their commissions and authority are not precisely delimited and are temporarily called into being for each case.
II. The principles of office hierarchy and of levels of graded authority mean a firmly ordered system of super- and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones. Such a system offers the governed the possibility of appealing the decision of a lower office to its higher authority, in a definitely regulated manner. With the full development of the bureaucratic type, the office hierarchy is monocratically organized. The principle of hierarchical office authority is found in all bureaucratic structures: in state and ecclesiastical structures as well as in large party organizations and private enterprises. It does not matter for the character of bureaucracy whether its authority is called 'private' or 'public.'
When the principle of jurisdictional 'competency' is fully carried through, hierarchical subordination--at least in public office--does not mean that the 'higher' authority is simply authorized to take over the business of the 'lower.' Indeed, the opposite is the rule. Once established and having fulfilled its task, an office tends to continue in existence and be held by another incumbent.
III. The management of the modern office is based upon written documents ('the files'), which are preserved in their original or draught form. There is, therefore, a staff of subaltern officials and scribes of all sorts. The body of officials actively engaged in a 'public' office, along with the respective apparatus of material implements and the files, make up a 'bureau.' In private enterprise, 'the bureau' is often called 'the office.'
In principle, the modern organization of the civil service separates the bureau from the private domicile of the official, and, in general, bureaucracy segregates official activity as something distinct from the sphere of private life. Public monies and equipment are divorced from the private property of the official. This condition is everywhere the product of a long development. Nowadays, it is found in public as well as in private enterprises; in the latter, the principle extends even to the leading entrepreneur. In principle, the executive office is separated from the household, business from private correspondence, and business assets from private fortunes. The more consistently the modern type of business management has been carried through the more are these separations the case. The beginnings of this process are to be found as early as the Middle Ages.
It is the peculiarity of the modern entrepreneur that he conducts himself as the 'first official' of his enterprise, in the very same way in which the ruler of a specifically modern bureaucratic state spoke of himself as 'the first servant' of the state. The idea that the bureau activities of the state are intrinsically different in character from the management of private economic offices is a continental European notion and, by way of contrast, is totally foreign to the American way.
IV. Office management, at least all specialized office management-- and such management is distinctly modern--usually presupposes thorough and expert training. This increasingly holds for the modern executive and employee of private enterprises, in the same manner as it holds for the state official.
V. When the office is fully developed, official activity demands the full working capacity of the official, irrespective of the fact that his obligatory time in the bureau may be firmly delimited. In the normal case, this is only the product of a long development, in the public as well as in the private office. Formerly, in all cases, the normal state of affairs was reversed: official business was discharged as a secondary activity.
VI. The management of the office follows general rules, which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive, and which can be learned. Knowledge of these rules represents a special technical learning which the officials possess. It involves jurisprudence, or administrative or business management.
The reduction of modern office management to rules is deeply embedded in its very nature. The theory of modern public administration, for instance, assumes that the authority to order certain matters by decree--which has been legally granted to public authorities--does not entitle the bureau to regulate the matter by commands given for each case, but only to regulate the matter abstractly. This stands in extreme contrast to the regulation of all relationships through individual privileges and bestowals of favor, which is absolutely dominant in patrimonialism, at least in so far as such relationships are not fixed by sacred tradition.
Weber, M. (1921/1968). Economy and Society. (G. Roth, C. Wittich, Eds., G. Roth, & C. Wittich, Trans.) Los Angeles: University of California Press, pp. 956-958.
Politics as a Vocation by Max Weber
A speech at Munich University, 1918
This lecture, which I give at your request, will necessarilydisappoint you in a number of ways. You will naturally expect meto take a position on actual problems of the day. But that willbe the case only in a purely formal way and toward the end, whenI shall raise certain questions concerning the significance ofpolitical action in the whole way of life. In today's lecture,all questions that refer to what policy and what content oneshould give one's political activity must be eliminated. For suchquestions have nothing to do with the general question of whatpolitics as a vocation means and what it can mean. Now to oursubject matter.
What do we understand by politics? The concept is extremelybroad and comprises any kind of independent leadershipin action. One speaks of the currency policy of the banks, of thediscounting policy of the Reichsbank, of the strike policy of atrade union; one may speak of the educational policy of amunicipality or a township, of the policy of the president of avoluntary association, and, finally, even of the policy of aprudent wife who seeks to guide her husband. Tonight, ourreflections are, of course, not based upon such a broad concept.We wish to understand by politics only the leadership, or theinfluencing of the leadership, of a politicalassociation, hence today, of a state.
But what is a 'political' association from the sociologicalpoint of view? What is a 'state'? Sociologically, the statecannot be defined in terms of its ends. There is scarcely anytask that some political association has not taken in hand, andthere is no task that one could say has always been exclusive andpeculiar to those associations which are designated as politicalones: today the state, or historically, those associations whichhave been the predecessors of the modern state. Ultimately, onecan define the modern state sociologically only in terms of thespecific means peculiar to it, as to every political association,namely, the use of physical force.
'Every state is founded on force,' said Trotsky atBrest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutionsexisted which knew the use of violence, then the concept of'state' would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge thatcould be designated as 'anarchy,' in the specific sense of thisword. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the onlymeans of the state--nobody says that--but force is a meansspecific to the state. Today the relation between the state andviolence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the mostvaried institutions--beginning with the sib--have known the useof physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to saythat a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopolyof the legitimate use of physical force within a giventerritory. Note that 'territory' is one of the characteristics ofthe state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to usephysical force is ascribed to other institutions or toindividuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. Thestate is considered the sole source of the 'right' to useviolence. Hence, 'politics' for us means striving to share poweror striving to influence the distribution of power, either amongstates or among groups within a state.
This corresponds essentially to ordinary usage. When aquestion is said to be a 'political' question, when a cabinetminister or an official is said to be a 'political' official, orwhen a decision is said to be 'politically' determined, what isalways meant is that interests in the distribution, maintenance,or transfer of power are decisive for answering the questions anddetermining the decision or the official's sphere of activity. Hewho is active in politics strives for power either as a means inserving other aims, ideal or egoistic, or as 'power for power'ssake,' that is, in order to enjoy the prestige-feeling that powergives.
Like the political institutions historically preceding it, thestate is a relation of men dominating men, a relation supportedby means of legitimate (i.e. considered to be legitimate)violence. If the state is to exist, the dominated must obey theauthority claimed by the powers that be. When and why do menobey? Upon what inner justifications and upon what external meansdoes this domination rest?
To begin with, in principle, there are three innerjustifications, hence basic legitimations of domination.
First, the authority of the 'eternal yesterday,' i.e. of themores sanctified through the unimaginably ancient recognition andhabitual orientation to conform. This is 'traditional' dominationexercised by the patriarch and the patrimonial prince of yore.
There is the authority of the extraordinary and personal giftof grace (charisma), the absolutely personal devotion andpersonal confidence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities ofindividual leadership. This is 'charismatic' domination, asexercised by the prophet or--in the field of politics--by theelected war lord, the plebiscitarian ruler, the great demagogue,or the political party leader.
Finally, there is domination by virtue of 'legality,' byvirtue of the belief in the validity of legal statute andfunctional 'competence' based on rationally created rules.In this case, obedience is expected in discharging statutoryobligations. This is domination as exercised by the modern'servant of the state' and by all those bearers of power who inthis respect resemble him.
It is understood that, in reality, obedience is determined byhighly robust motives of fear and hope--fear of the vengeance ofmagical powers or of the power-holder, hope for reward in thisworld or in the beyond-- and besides all this, by interests ofthe most varied sort. Of this we shall speak presently. However,in asking for the 'legitimations' of this obedience, one meetswith these three 'pure' types: 'traditional,' 'charismatic,' and'legal.'
These conceptions of legitimacy and their inner justificationsare of very great significance for the structure of domination.To be sure, the pure types are rarely found in reality. But todaywe cannot deal with the highly complex variants, transitions, andcombinations of these pure types, which problems belong to'political science.' Here we are interested above all in thesecond of these types: domination by virtue of the devotion ofthose who obey the purely personal 'charisma' of the 'leader.'For this is the root of the idea of a calling in itshighest expression.
Devotion to the charisma of the prophet, or the leader in war,or to the great demagogue in the ecclesia or inparliament, means that the leader is personally recognized as theinnerly 'called' leader of men. Men do not obey him by virtue oftradition or statute, but because they believe in him. If he ismore than a narrow and vain upstart of the moment, the leaderlives for his cause and 'strives for his work.'1 Thedevotion of his disciples, his followers, his personal partyfriends is oriented to his person and to its qualities.
Charismatic leadership has emerged in all places and in allhistorical epochs. Most importantly in the past, it has emergedin the two figures of the magician and the prophet on the onehand, and in the elected war lord, the gang leader and condotierreon the other hand. Political leadership in the form ofthe free 'demagogue' who grew from the soil of the city state isof greater concern to us; like the city state, the demagogue ispeculiar to the Occident and especially to Mediterranean culture.Furthermore, political leadership in the form of theparliamentary 'party leader' has grown on the soil of theconstitutional state, which is also indigenous only to theOccident.
These politicians by virtue of a 'calling,' in the mostgenuine sense of the word, are of course nowhere the onlydecisive figures in the cross-currents of the political strugglefor power. The sort of auxiliary means that are at their disposalis also highly decisive. How do the politically dominant powersmanage to maintain their domination? The question pertains to anykind of domination, hence also to political domination in all itsforms, traditional as well as legal and charismatic.
Organized domination, which calls for continuousadministration, requires that human conduct be conditioned toobedience towards those masters who claim to be the bearers oflegitimate power. On the other hand, by virtue of this obedience,organized domination requires the control of those material goodswhich in a given case are necessary for the use of physicalviolence. Thus, organized domination requires control of thepersonal executive staff and the material implements ofadministration.
The administrative staff, which externally represents theorganization of political domination, is, of course, like anyother organization, bound by obedience to the power-holder andnot alone by the concept of legitimacy, of which we have justspoken. There are two other means, both of which appeal topersonal interests: material reward and social honor. The fiefsof vassals, the prebends of patrimonial officials, the salariesof modern civil servants, the honor of knights, the privileges ofestates, and the honor of the civil servant comprise theirrespective wages. The fear of losing them is the final anddecisive basis for solidarity between the executive staff and thepower-holder. There is honor and booty for the followers in war;for the demagogue's following, there are 'spoils'--that is,exploitation of the dominated through the monopolization ofoffice--and there are politically determined profits and premiumsof vanity. All of these rewards are also derived from thedomination exercised by a charismatic leader.
To maintain a dominion by force, certain material goods arerequired, just as with an economic organization. All states maybe classified according to whether they rest on the principlethat the staff of men themselves own the administrative means, orwhether the staff is 'separated' from these means ofadministration. This distinction holds in the same sense in whichtoday we say that the salaried employee and the proletarian inthe capitalistic enterprise are 'separated' from the materialmeans of production. The power-holder must be able to count onthe obedience of the staff members, officials, or whoever elsethey may be. The administrative means may consist of money,building, war material, vehicles, horses, or whatnot. Thequestion is whether or not the power-holder himself directs andorganizes the administration while delegating executive power topersonal servants, hired officials, or personal favorites andconfidants, who are non-owners, i.e. who do not use the materialmeans of administration in their own right but are directed bythe lord. The distinction runs through all administrativeorganizations of the past.
These political associations in which the material means ofadministration are autonomously controlled, wholly or partly, bythe dependent administrative staff may be called associationsorganized in 'estates.' The vassal in the feudalassociation, for instance, paid out of his own pocket for theadministration and judicature of the district enfeoffed to him.He supplied his own equipment and provisions for war, and hissub-vassals did likewise. Of course, this had consequences forthe lord's position of power, which only rested upon a relationof personal faith and upon the fact that the legitimacy of hispossession of the fief and the social honor of the vassal werederived from the overlord.
However, everywhere, reaching back to the earliest politicalformations, we also find the lord himself directing theadministration. He seeks to take the administration into his ownhands by having men personally dependent upon him: slaves,household officials, attendants, personal 'favorites,' andprebendaries enfeoffed in kind or in money from his magazines. Heseeks to defray the expenses from his own pocket, from therevenues of his patrimonium; and he seeks to create an army whichis dependent upon him personally because it is equipped andprovisioned out of his granaries, magazines, and armories. In theassociation of 'estates,' the lord rules with the aid of anautonomous 'aristocracy' and hence shares his domination with it;the lord who personally administers is supported either bymembers of his household or by plebeians. These are propertylessstrata having no social honor of their own; materially, they arecompletely chained to him and are not backed up by any competingpower of their own. All forms of patriarchal and patrimonialdomination, Sultanist despotism, and bureaucratic states belongto this latter type. The bureaucratic state order is especiallyimportant; in its most rational development, it is preciselycharacteristic of the modern state.
Everywhere the development of the modern state is initiatedthrough the action of the prince. He paves the way for theexpropriation of the autonomous and 'private' bearers ofexecutive power who stand beside him, of those who in their ownright possess the means of administration, warfare, and financialorganization, as well as politically usable goods of all sorts.The whole process is a complete parallel to the development ofthe capitalist enterprise through gradual expropriation of theindependent producers. In the end, the modern state controls thetotal means of political organization, which actually cometogether under a single head. No single official personally ownsthe money he pays out, or the buildings, stores, tools, and warmachines he controls. In the contemporary 'state'--and this isessential for the concept of state--the 'separation' of theadministrative staff, of the administrative officials, and of theworkers from the material means of administrative organization iscompleted. Here the most modern development begins, and we seewith our own eyes the attempt to inaugurate the expropriation ofthis expropriator of the political means, and therewith ofpolitical power.
The revolution [of Germany, 1918] has accomplished, at leastin so far as leaders have taken the place of the statutoryauthorities, this much: the leaders, through usurpation orelection, have attained control over the political staff and theapparatus of material goods; and they deduce their legitimacy--nomatter with what right--from the will of the governed. Whetherthe leaders, on the basis of this at least apparent success, canrightfully entertain the hope of also carrying through theexpropriation within the capitalist enterprises is a differentquestion. The direction of capitalist enterprises, despitefar-reaching analogies, follows quite different laws than thoseof political administration.
Today we do not take a stand on this question. I state onlythe purely conceptual aspect for our consideration: themodern state is a compulsory association which organizesdomination. It has been successful in seeking to monopolize thelegitimate use of physical force as a means of domination withina territory. To this end the state has combined the materialmeans of organization in the hands of its leaders, and it hasexpropriated all autonomous functionaries of estates who formerlycontrolled these means in their own right. The state has takentheir positions and now stands in the top place.
During this process of political expropriation, which hasoccurred with varying success in all countries on earth,'professional politicians' in another sense have emerged. Theyarose first in the service of a prince. They have been men who,unlike the charismatic leader, have not wished to be lordsthemselves, but who have entered the service ofpolitical lords. In the struggle of expropriation, they placedthemselves at the princes' disposal and by managing the princes'politics they earned, on the one hand, a living and, on the otherhand, an ideal content of life. Again, it is only in theOccident that we find this kind of professional politician in theservice of powers other than the princes. In the past, they havebeen the most important power instrument of the prince and hisinstrument of political expropriation.
Before discussing 'professional politicians' in detail, let usclarify in all its aspects the state of affairs their existencepresents. Politics, just as economic pursuits, may be a man'savocation or his vocation. One may engage in politics, and henceseek to influence the distribution of power within and betweenpolitical structures, as an 'occasional' politician. We are all'occasional' politicians when we cast our ballot or consummate asimilar expression of intention, such as applauding or protestingin a 'political' meeting, or delivering a 'political' speech,etc. The whole relation of many people to politics is restrictedto this. Politics as an avocation is today practiced by all thoseparty agents and heads of voluntary political associations who,as a rule, are politically active only in case of need and forwhom politics is, neither materially nor ideally, 'their life' inthe first place. The same holds for those members of statecounsels and similar deliberative bodies that function only whensummoned. It also holds for rather broad strata of our members ofparliament who are politically active only during sessions. Inthe past, such strata were found especially among the estates.Proprietors of military implements in their own right, orproprietors of goods important for the administration, orproprietors of personal prerogatives may be called 'estates.' Alarge portion of them were far from giving their lives wholly, ormerely preferentially, or more than occasionally, to the serviceof politics. Rather, they exploited their prerogatives in theinterest of gaining rent or even profits; and they became activein the service of political associations only when the overlordof their status-equals especially demanded it. It was notdifferent in the case of some of the auxiliary forces which theprince drew into the struggle for the creation of a politicalorganization to be exclusively at his disposal. This was thenature of the Rate von Haus aus [councilors] and, stillfurther back, of a considerable part of the councilors assemblingin the 'Curia' and other deliberating bodies of the princes. Butthese merely occasional auxiliary forces engaging in politics onthe side were naturally not sufficient for the prince. Ofnecessity, the prince sought to create a staff of helpersdedicated wholly and exclusively to serving him, hence makingthis their major vocation. The structure of the emerging dynasticpolitical organization, and not only this but the wholearticulation of the culture, depended to a considerable degreeupon the question of where the prince recruited agents.
A staff was also necessary for those political associationswhose members constituted themselves politically as (so-called)'free' communes under the complete abolition or the far-goingrestriction of princely power.
They were 'free' not in the sense of freedom from dominationby force, but in the sense that princely power legitimized bytradition (mostly religiously sanctified) as the exclusive sourceof all authority was absent. These communities have theirhistorical home in the Occident. Their nucleus was the city as abody politic, the form in which the city first emerged in theMediterranean culture area. In all these cases, what did thepoliticians who made politics their major vocation look like?
There are two ways of making politics one's vocation: Eitherone lives 'for' politics or one lives 'off' politics. By no meansis this contrast an exclusive one. The rule is, rather, that mandoes both, at least in thought, and certainly he also does bothin practice. He who lives 'for' politics makes politics his life,in an internal sense. Either he enjoys the naked possession ofthe power he exerts, or he nourishes his inner balance andself-feeling by the consciousness that his life has meaningin the service of a 'cause.' In this internal sense, everysincere man who lives for a cause also lives off this cause. Thedistinction hence refers to a much more substantial aspect of thematter, namely, to the economic. He who strives to make politicsa permanent source of income lives 'off' politics as avocation, whereas he who does not do this lives 'for' politics.Under the dominance of the private property order, some--if youwish--very trivial preconditions must exist in order for a personto be able to live 'for' politics in this economic sense. Undernormal conditions, the politician must be economicallyindependent of the income politics can bring him. This means,quite simply, that the politician must be wealthy or must have apersonal position in life which yields a sufficient income
This is the case, at least in normal circumstances. The warlord's following is just as little concerned about the conditionsof a normal economy as is the street crowd following of therevolutionary hero. Both live off booty, plunder, confiscations,contributions, and the imposition of worthless and compulsorymeans of tender, which in essence amounts to the same thing. Butnecessarily, these are extraordinary phenomena. In everydayeconomic life, only some wealth serves the purpose of making aman economically independent. Yet this alone does not suffice.The professional politician must also be economically'dispensable,' that is, his income must not depend upon the factthat he constantly and personally places his ability and thinkingentirely, or at least by far predominantly, in the service ofeconomic acquisition. In the most unconditional way, the rentieris dispensable in this sense. Hence, he is a man who receivescompletely unearned income. He may be the territorial lord of thepast or the large landowner and aristocrat of the present whoreceives ground rent. In Antiquity and the Middle Ages they whoreceived slave or serf rents or in modern times rents from sharesor bonds or similar sources--these are rentiers.
Neither the worker nor--and this has to be noted well--theentrepreneur, especially the modern, large-scale entrepreneur, iseconomically dispensable in this sense. For it is precisely theentrepreneur who is tied to his enterprise and is therefore notdispensable. This holds for the entrepreneur in industry far morethan for the entrepreneur in agriculture, considering theseasonal character of agriculture. In the main, it is verydifficult for the entrepreneur to be represented in hisenterprise by someone else, even temporarily. He is as littledispensable as is the medical doctor, and the more eminent andbusy he is the less dispensable he is. For purely organizationalreasons, it is easier for the lawyer to be dispensable; andtherefore the lawyer has played an incomparably greater, andoften even a dominant, role as a professional politician. Weshall not continue in this classification; rather let us clarifysome of its ramifications.
The leadership of a state or of a party by men who (in theeconomic sense of the word) live exclusively for politics and notoff politics means necessarily a 'plutocratic' recruitment of theleading political strata. To be sure, this does not mean thatsuch plutocratic leadership signifies at the same time that thepolitically dominant strata will not also seek to live 'off'politics, and hence that the dominant stratum will not usuallyexploit their political domination in their own economicinterest. All that is unquestionable, of course. There has neverbeen such a stratum that has not somehow lived 'off' politics.Only this is meant: that the professional politician need notseek remuneration directly for his political work, whereas everypolitician without means must absolutely claim this. On the otherhand, we do not mean to say that the propertyless politician willpursue private economic advantages through politics, exclusively,or even predominantly. Nor do we mean that he will not think, inthe first place, of 'the subject matter.' Nothing would be moreincorrect. According to all experience, a care for the economic'security' of his existence is consciously or unconsciously acardinal point in the whole life orientation of the wealthy man.A quite reckless and unreserved political idealism is found ifnot exclusively at least predominantly among those strata who byvirtue of their propertylessness stand entirely outside of thestrata who are interested in maintaining the economic order of agiven society. This holds especially for extraordinary and hencerevolutionary epochs. A non-plutocratic recruitment of interestedpoliticians, of leadership and following, is geared to theself-understood precondition that regular and reliable incomewill accrue to those who manage politics.
Either politics can be conducted 'honorifically' and then, asone usually says, by 'independent,' that is, by wealthy, men, andespecially by rentiers. Or, political leadership is madeaccessible to propertyless men who must then be rewarded. Theprofessional politician who lives 'off' politics may be a pure'prebendary' or a salaried 'official.' Then the politicianreceives either income from fees and perquisites for specificservices--tips and bribes are only an irregular and formallyillegal variant of this category of income--or a fixed income inkind, a money salary, or both. He may assume the character of an'entrepreneur,' like the condottiere or the holder of afarmed-out or purchased office, or like the American boss whoconsiders his costs a capital investment which he brings tofruition through exploitation of his influence. Again, he mayreceive a fixed wage, like a journalist, a party secretary, amodern cabinet minister, or a political official. Feudal fiefs,land grants, and prebends of all sorts have been typical, in thepast. With the development of the money economy, perquisites andprebends especially are the typical rewards for the following ofprinces, victorious conquerors, or successful party chiefs. Forloyal services today, party leaders give offices of all sorts--inparties, newspapers, co-operative societies, health insurance,municipalities, as well as in the state. All partystruggles are struggles for the patronage of office, as well asstruggles for objective goals.
In Germany, all struggles between the proponents of local andof central government are focused upon the question of whichpowers shall control the patronage of office, whether they are ofBerlin, Munich, Karlsruhe, or Dresden. Setbacks in participatingin offices are felt more severely by parties than is actionagainst their objective goals. In France, a turnover of prefectsbecause of party politics has always been considered a greatertransformation and has always caused a greater uproar than amodification in the government's program--the latter almosthaving the significance of mere verbiage. Some parties,especially those in America since the disappearance of the oldconflicts concerning the interpretation of the constitution, havebecome pure patronage parties handing out jobs and changing theirmaterial program according to the chances of grabbing votes.
In Spain, up to recent years, the two great parties, in aconventionally fixed manner, took turns in office by means of'elections,' fabricated from above, in order to provide theirfollowers with offices. In the Spanish colonial territories, inthe so-called 'elections,' as well as in the so-called'revolutions,' what was at stake was always the statebread-basket from which the victors wished to be fed.
In Switzerland, the parties peacefully divided the officesamong themselves proportionately, and some of our 'revolutionary'constitutional drafts, for instance the first draft of theBadenian constitution, sought to extend this system toministerial positions. Thus, the state and state offices wereconsidered as pure institutions for the provision of spoilsmen.
Above all, the Catholic Center party was enthusiastically forthis draft. In Badenia, the party, as part of the party platform,made the distribution of offices proportional to confessions andhence without regard to achievement. This tendency becomesstronger for all parties when the number of offices increase as aresult of general bureaucratization and when the demand foroffices increases because they represent specifically securelivelihoods. For their followings, the parties become more andmore a means to the end of being provided for in this manner.
The development of modern officialdom into a highly qualified,professional labor force, specialized in expertness through longyears of preparatory training, stands opposed to all thesearrangements. Modern bureaucracy in the interest of integrity hasdeveloped a high sense of status honor; without this sense thedanger of an awful corruption and a vulgar Philistinism threatensfatally. And without such integrity, even the purely technicalfunctions of the state apparatus would be endangered. Thesignificance of the state apparatus for the economy has beensteadily rising, especially with increasing socialization, andits significance will be further augmented.
In the United States, amateur administration through bootypoliticians in accordance with the outcome of presidentialelections resulted in the exchange of hundreds of thousands ofofficials, even down to the mail carrier. The administration knewnothing of the professional civil servant-for-life, but thisamateur administration has long since been punctured by the CivilService Reform. Purely technical, irrefrageable needs of theadministration have determined this development.
In Europe, expert officialdom, based on the division of labor,has emerged in a gradual development of half a thousand years.The Italian cities and seigniories were the beginning, among themonarchies, and the states of the Norman conquerors. But thedecisive step was taken in connection with the administration ofthe finances of the prince. With the administrative reforms ofEmperor Max, it can be seen how hard it was for the officials todepose successfully of the prince in this field, even under thepressure of extreme emergency and of Turkish rule. The sphere offinance could afford least of all a ruler's dilettantism--a rulerwho at that time was still above all a knight. The development ofwar technique called forth the expert and specialized officer;the differentiation of legal procedure called forth the trainedjurist. In these three areas--finance, war, and law--expertofficialdom in the more advanced states was definitely triumphantduring the sixteenth century. With the ascendancy of princelyabsolutism over the estates, there was simultaneously a gradualabdication of the prince's autocratic rule in favor of an expertofficialdom. These very officials had only facilitated theprince's victory over the estates.
The development of the 'leading politicians' was realizedalong with the ascendancy of the specially trained officialdom,even if in far less noticeable transitions. Of course, suchreally decisive advisers of the princes have existed at all timesand all over the world. In the Orient, the need for relieving theSultan as far as possible from personal responsibility for thesuccess of the government has created the typical figure of the'Grand Vizier.' In the Occident, influenced above all by thereports of the Venetian legates, diplomacy first became a consciouslycultivated art in the age of Charles V, in Machiavelli's time.The reports of the Venetian legates were read with passionatezeal in expert diplomatic circles. The adepts of this art, whowere in the main educated humanistically, treated one another astrained initiates, similar to the humanist Chinese statesmen inthe last period of the 'warring states. The necessity of aformally unified guidance of the whole policy, including that ofhome affairs, by a leading statesman finally and compellinglyarose only through constitutional development. Of course,individual personalities, such as advisers of the princes, orrather, in fact, leaders, had again and again existed beforethen. But the organization of administrative agencies even in themost advanced states first proceeded along other avenues. Topcollegial administrative agencies had emerged. In theory, and toa gradually decreasing extent in fact, they met under thepersonal chairmanship of the prince who rendered the decision.This collegial system led to memoranda, counter-memoranda, andreasoned votes of the majority and the minority. In addition tothe official and highest authorities, the prince surroundedhimself with purely personal confidants--the 'cabinet'--andthrough them rendered his decisions, after considering theresolutions of the state counsel, or whatever else the higheststate agency was called. The prince, coming more and more intothe position of a dilettante, sought to extricate himself fromthe unavoidably increasing weight of the expertly trainedofficials through the collegial system and the cabinet. He soughtto retain the highest leadership in his own hands. This latentstruggle between expert officialdom and autocratic rule existedeverywhere. Only in the face of parliaments and the poweraspirations of party leaders did the situation change. Verydifferent conditions led to the externally identical result,though to be sure with certain differences. Wherever thedynasties retained actual power in their hands--as was especiallythe case in Germany--the interests of the prince were joined withthose of officialdom against parliament and its claimsfor power. The officials were also interested in having leadingpositions, that is, ministerial positions, occupied by their ownranks, thus making these positions an object of the officialcareer. The monarch, on his part, was interested in being able toappoint the ministers from the ranks of devoted officialsaccording to his own discretion. Both parties, however, wereinterested in seeing the political leadership confront parliamentin a unified and solidary fashion, and hence in seeing thecollegial system replaced by a single cabinet head. Furthermore,in order to be removed in a purely formal way from the struggleof parties and from party attacks, the monarch needed a singlepersonality to cover him and to assume responsibility, that is,to answer to parliament and to negotiate with the parties. Allthese interests worked together and in the same direction: aminister emerged to direct the officialdom in a unified way.
Where parliament gained supremacy over the monarch--as inEngland--the development of parliamentary power worked even morestrongly in the direction of a unification of the stateapparatus. In England, the 'cabinet,' with the single head ofParliament as its 'leader,' developed as a committee of the partywhich at the time controlled the majority. This party power wasignored by official law but, in fact, it alone was politicallydecisive. The official collegial bodies as such were not organsof the actual ruling power, the party, and hence could not be thebearers of real government. The ruling party required anever-ready organization composed only of its actually leadingmen, who would confidentially discuss matters in order tomaintain power within and be capable of engaging in grandpolitics outside. The cabinet is simply this organization.However, in relation to the public, especially the parliamentarypublic, the party needed a leader responsible for alldecisions--the cabinet head. The English system has been takenover on the Continent in the form of parliamentary ministries. InAmerica alone, and in the democracies influenced by America, aquite heterogeneous system was placed into opposition with thissystem. The American system placed the directly and popularlyelected leader of the victorious party at the head of theapparatus of officials appointed by him and bound him to theconsent of 'parliament' only in budgetary and legislativematters.
The development of politics into an organization whichdemanded training in the struggle for power, and in the methodsof this struggle as developed by modern party policies,determined the separation of public functionaries into twocategories, which, however, are by no means rigidly butnevertheless distinctly separated. These categories are'administrative' officials on the one hand, and 'political'officials on the other. The 'political' officials, in the genuinesense of the word, can regularly and externally be recognized bythe fact that they can be transferred any time at will, that theycan be dismissed, or at least temporarily withdrawn. They arelike the French prefects and the comparable officials of othercountries, and this is in sharp contrast to the 'independence' ofofficials with judicial functions. In England, officials who,according to fixed convention, retire from office when there is achange in the parliamentary majority, and hence a change in thecabinet, belong to this category. There are usually among themsome whose competence includes the management of the general'inner administration.' The political element consists, aboveall, in the task of maintaining 'law and order' in the country,hence maintaining the existing power relations. In Prussia theseofficials, in accordance with Puttkamer's decree and in order toavoid censure, were obliged to 'represent the policy of thegovernment.' And, like the prefects in France, they were used asan official apparatus for influencing elections. Most of the'political' officials of the German system--in contrast to othercountries--were equally qualified in so far as access to theseoffices required a university education, special examinations,and special preparatory service. In Germany, only the heads ofthe political apparatus, the ministers, lack this specificcharacteristic of modern civil service. Even under the oldregime, one could be the Prussian minister of education withoutever having attended an institution of higher learning; whereasone could become Vortragender Rat, 2 inprinciple, only on the basis of a prescribed examination. Thespecialist and trained Dezernent 3 and VortragenderRat were of course infinitely better informed about the realtechnical problems of the division than was their respectivechief--for instance, under Althoff in the Prussian ministry ofeducation. In England it was not different. Consequently, in allroutine demands the divisional head was more powerful than theminister, which was not without reason. The minister was simplythe representative of the political power constellation; he hadto represent these powerful political staffs and he had to takemeasure of the proposals of his subordinate expert officials orgive them directive orders of a political nature.
After all, things in a private economic enterprise are quitesimilar: the real 'sovereign,' the assembled shareholders, isjust as little influential in the business management as is a'people' ruled by expert officials. And the personages who decidethe policy of the enterprise, the bank-controlled 'directorate,'give only directive economic orders and select persons for themanagement without themselves being capable of technicallydirecting the enterprise. Thus the present structure of therevolutionary state signifies nothing new in principle. It placespower over the administration into the hands of absolutedilettantes, who, by virtue of their control of the machine-guns,would like to use expert officials only as executive heads andhands. The difficulties of the present system lie elsewhere thanhere, but today these difficulties shall not concern us. Weshall, rather, ask for the typical peculiarity of theprofessional politicians, of the 'leaders' as well as theirfollowings. Their nature has changed and today varies greatlyfrom one case to another.
We have seen that in the past 'professional politicians'developed through the struggle of the princes with the estatesand that they served the princes. Let us briefly review the majortypes of these professional politicians.
Confronting the estates, the prince found support inpolitically exploitable strata outside of the order of theestates. Among the latter, there was, first, the clergy inWestern and Eastern India, in Buddhist China and Japan, and inLamaist Mongolia, just as in the Christian territories of theMiddle Ages. The clergy were technically useful because they wereliterate. The importation of Brahmins, Buddhist priests, Lamas,and the employment of bishops and priests as politicalcounselors, occurred with an eye to obtaining administrativeforces who could read and write and who could be used in thestruggle of the emperor, prince, or Khan against the aristocracy.Unlike the vassal who confronted his overlord, the cleric,especially the celibate cleric, stood outside the machinery ofnormal political and economic interests and was not tempted bythe struggle for political power, for himself or for hisdescendants. By virtue of his own status, the cleric was'separated' from the managerial implements of princelyadministration.
The humanistically educated literati comprised a second suchstratum. There was a time when one learned to produce Latinspeeches and Greek verses in order to become a political adviserto a prince and, above all things, to become a memorialist. Thiswas the time of the first flowering of the humanist schools andof the princely foundations of professorships for 'poetics.' Thiswas for us a transitory epoch, which has had a quite persistentinfluence upon our educational system, yet no deeper resultspolitically. In East Asia, it has been different. The Chinesemandarin is, or rather originally was, what the humanist of ourRenaissance period approximately was: a literator humanisticallytrained and tested in the language monuments of the remote past.When you read the diaries of Li Hung Chang you will find that heis most proud of having composed poems and of being a goodcalligrapher. This stratum, with its conventions developed andmodeled after Chinese Antiquity, has determined the whole destinyof China; and perhaps our fate would have been similar if thehumanists in their time had had the slightest chance of gaining asimilar influence.
The third stratum was the court nobility. After the princeshad succeeded in expropriating political power from the nobilityas an estate, they drew the nobles to the court and used them intheir political and diplomatic service. The transformation of oureducational system in the seventeenth century was partlydetermined by the fact that court nobles as professionalpoliticians displaced the humanist literati and entered theservice of the princes.
The fourth category was a specifically English institution. Apatrician stratum developed there which was comprised of thepetty nobility and the urban rentiers; technically they arecalled the 'gentry.' The English gentry represents a stratum thatthe prince originally attracted in order to counter the barons.The prince placed the stratum in possession of the offices of'self-government,' and later he himself became increasinglydependent upon them. The gentry maintained the possession of alloffices of local administration by taking them over withoutcompensation in the interest of their own social power. Thegentry has saved England from the bureaucratization which hasbeen the fate of all continental states.
A fifth stratum, the university-trained jurist, is peculiar tothe Occident, especially to the European continent, and has beenof decisive significance for the Continent's whole politicalstructure. The tremendous after-effect of Roman law, astransformed by the late Roman bureaucratic state, stands out innothing more clearly than the fact that everywhere the revolutionof political management in the direction of the evolving rationalstate has been borne by trained jurists. This also occurred inEngland, although there the great national guilds of juristshindered the reception of Roman law. There is no analogy to thisprocess to be found in any area of the world.
All beginnings of rational juristic thinking in the IndianMimamsa School and all further cultivation of the ancientjuristic thinking in Islam have been unable to prevent the ideaof rational law from being overgrown by theological forms ofthought. Above all, legal trial procedure has not been fullyrationalized in the cases of India and of Islamism. Suchrationalization has been brought about on the Continent onlythrough the borrowing of ancient Roman jurisprudence by theItalian jurists. Roman jurisprudence is the product of apolitical structure arising from the city state to worlddomination--a product of quite unique nature. The ususmodernus of the late medieval pandect jurists and canonistswas blended with theories of natural law, which were born fromjuristic and Christian thought and which were later secularized.This juristic rationalism has had its great representatives amongthe Italian Podesta, the French crown jurists (who created theformal means for the undermining of the rule of seigneurs byroyal power), among the canonists and the theologians of theecclesiastic councils (thinking in terms of natural law), amongthe court jurists and academic judges of the continental princes,among the Netherland teachers of natural law and themonarchomachists, among the English crown and parliamentaryjurists, among the noblesse de robe of the FrenchParliament, and finally, among the lawyers of the age of theFrench Revolution.
Without this juristic rationalism, the rise of the absolutestate is just as little imaginable as is the Revolution. If youlook through the remonstrances of the French Parliaments orthrough the cahiers of the French Estates-General from thesixteenth century to the year 1789, you will find everywhere thespirit of the jurists. And if you go over the occupationalcomposition of the members of the French Assembly, you will findthere--although the members of the Assembly were elected throughequal franchise--a single proletarian, very few bourgeoisenterprisers, but jurists of all sorts, en masse.Without them, the specific mentality that inspired these radicalintellectuals and their projects would be quite inconceivable.Since the French Revolution, the modern lawyer and moderndemocracy absolutely belong together. And lawyers, in our senseof an independent status group, also exist only in the Occident.They have developed since the Middle Ages from the Fursprechof the formalistic Germanic legal procedure under the impact ofthe rationalization of the trial.
The significance of the lawyer in Occidental politics sincethe rise of parties is not accidental. The management of politicsthrough parties simply means management through interest groups.We shall soon see what that means. The craft of the trainedlawyer is to plead effectively the cause of interested clients.In this, the lawyer is superior to any 'official,' as thesuperiority of enemy propaganda [Allied propaganda 1914-18] couldteach us. Certainly he can advocate and win a cause supported bylogically weak arguments and one which, in this sense, is a'weak' cause. Yet he wins it because technically he makes a'strong case' for it. But only the lawyer successfully pleads acause that can be supported by logically strong arguments, thushandling a 'good' cause 'well.' All too often the civil servantas a politician turns a cause that is good in every sense into a'weak' cause, through technically 'weak' pleading. This is whatwe have had to experience. To an outstanding degree, politicstoday is in fact conducted in public by means of the spoken orwritten word. To weigh the effect of the word properly fallswithin the range of the lawyer's tasks; but not at all into thatof the civil servant. The latter is no demagogue, nor is it hispurpose to be one. If he nevertheless tries to become ademagogue, he usually becomes a very poor one.
According to his proper vocation, the genuine official--andthis is decisive for the evaluation of our former regime--willnot engage in politics. Rather, he should engage in impartial'administration.' This also holds for the so called 'political'administrator, at least officially, in so far as the raisond'etat, that is, the vital interests of the ruling order,are not in question. Sine ira et studio, 'without scornand bias,' he shall administer his office. Hence, he shall not doprecisely what the politician, the leader as well as hisfollowing, must always and necessarily do, namely, fight.
To take a stand, to be passionate--ira et studium--isthe politician's element, and above all the element of thepolitical leader. His conduct is subject to quite adifferent, indeed, exactly the opposite, principle ofresponsibility from that of the civil servant. The honor of thecivil servant is vested in his ability to execute conscientiouslythe order of the superior authorities, exactly as if the orderagreed with his own conviction. This holds even if the orderappears wrong to him and if, despite the civil servant'sremonstrances, the authority insists on the order. Without thismoral discipline and self-denial, in the highest sense, the wholeapparatus would fall to pieces. The honor of the politicalleader, of the leading statesman, however, lies precisely in anexclusive personal responsibility for what he does, aresponsibility he cannot and must not reject or transfer. It isin the nature of officials of high moral standing to be poorpoliticians, and above all, in the political sense of the word,to be irresponsible politicians. In this sense, they arepoliticians of low moral standing, such as we unfortunately havehad again and again in leading positions. This is what we havecalled Beamtenherrschaft [civil-service rule], and trulyno spot soils the honor of our officialdom if we reveal what ispolitically wrong with the system from the standpoint of success.But let us return once more to the types of political figures.
Since the time of the constitutional state, and definitelysince democracy has been established, the 'demagogue' has beenthe typical political leader in the Occident. The distastefulflavor of the word must not make us forget that not Cleon butPericles was the first to bear the name of demagogue. In contrastto the offices of ancient democracy that were filled by lot,Pericles led the sovereign Ecclesia of the demos ofAthens as a supreme strategist holding the only elective officeor without holding any office at all. Modern demagoguery alsomakes use of oratory, even to a tremendous extent, if oneconsiders the election speeches a modern candidate has todeliver. But the use of the printed word is more enduring. Thepolitical publicist, and above all the journalist, is nowadaysthe most important representative of the demagogic species.
Within the limits of this lecture, it is quite impossible evento sketch the sociology of modern political journalism, which inevery respect constitutes a chapter in itself. Certainly, only afew things concerning it are in place here. In common with alldemagogues and, by the way, with the lawyer (and the artist), thejournalist shares the fate of lacking a fixed socialclassification. At least, this is the case on the Continent, incontrast to the English, and, by the way, also to formerconditions in Prussia. The journalist belongs to a sort of pariahcaste, which is always estimated by 'society' in terms of itsethically lowest representative. Hence, the strangest notionsabout journalists and their work are abroad. Not everybodyrealizes that a really good journalistic accomplishment requiresat least as much 'genius' 4 as any scholarlyaccomplishment, especially because of the necessity of producingat once and 'on order,' and because of the necessity of beingeffective, to be sure, under quite different conditions ofproduction. It is almost never acknowledged that theresponsibility of the journalist is far greater, and that thesense of responsibility of every honorable journalist is, on theaverage, not a bit lower than that of the scholar, but rather, asthe war has shown, higher. This is because, in the very nature ofthe case, irresponsible journalistic accomplishments and theiroften terrible effects are remembered.
Nobody believes that the discretion of any able journalistranks above the average of other people, and yet that is thecase. The quite incomparably graver temptations, and the otherconditions that accompany journalistic work at the present time,produce those results which have conditioned the public to regardthe press with a mixture of disdain and pitiful cowardice. Todaywe cannot discuss what is to be done. Here we are interested inthe question of the occupational destiny of the politicaljournalist and of his chance to attain a position of politicalleadership. Thus far, the journalist has had favorable chancesonly in the Social Democratic party. Within the party, editorialpositions have been predominantly in the nature of officialpositions, but editorial positions have not been the basis forpositions of leadership.
In the bourgeois parties, on the whole, the chances for ascentto political power along this avenue have rather become worse, ascompared with those of the previous generation. Naturally everypolitician of consequence has needed influence over the press andhence has needed relations with the press. But that party leaderswould emerge from the ranks of the press has been an absoluteexception and one should not have expected it. The reason forthis lies in the strongly increased 'indispensability' of thejournalist, above all, of the propertyless and henceprofessionally bound journalist, an indispensability which isdetermined by the tremendously increased intensity and tempo ofjournalistic operations. The necessity of gaining one'slivelihood by the writing of daily or at least weekly articles islike lead on the feet of the politicians. I know of cases inwhich natural leaders have been permanently paralyzed in theirascent to power, externally and above all internally, by thiscompulsion. The relations of the press to the ruling powers inthe state and in the parties, under the old regime [of theKaiser], were as detrimental as they could be to the level ofjournalism; but that is a chapter in itself. These conditionswere different in the countries of our opponents [the Allies].But there also, and for all modern states, apparently thejournalist worker gains less and less as the capitalist lord ofthe press, of the sort of 'Lord' Northcliffe, for instance, gainsmore and more political influence.
Thus far, however, our great capitalist newspaper concerns,which attained control, especially over the 'chain newspapers,'with 'want ads,' have been regularly and typically the breedersof political indifference. For no profits could be made in anindependent policy; especially no profitable benevolence of thepolitically dominant powers could be obtained. The advertisingbusiness is also the avenue along which, during the war, theattempt was made to influence the press politically in a grandstyle--an attempt which apparently it is regarded as desirable tocontinue now. Although one may expect the great papers to escapethis pressure, the situation of the small ones will be far moredifficult. In any case, for the time being, the journalist careeris not among us, a normal avenue for the ascent of politicalleaders, whatever attraction journalism may otherwise have andwhatever measure of influence, range of activity, and especiallypolitical responsibility it may yield. One has to wait and see.Perhaps journalism does not have this function any longer, orperhaps journalism does not yet have it. Whether the renunciationof the principle of anonymity would mean a change in this isdifficult to say. Some journalists--not all--believe in droppingprincipled anonymity. What we have experienced during the war inthe German press, and in the 'management' of newspapers byespecially hired personages and talented writers who alwaysexpressly figured under their names, has unfortunately shown, insome of the better known cases, that an increased awareness ofresponsibility is not so certain to be bred as might be believed.Some of the papers were, without regard to party, precisely thenotoriously worst boulevard sheets; by dropping anonymity theystrove for and attained greater sales. The publishers as well asthe journalists of sensationalism have gained fortunes butcertainly not honor. Nothing is here being said against theprinciple of promoting sales; the question is indeed an intricateone, and the phenomenon of irresponsible sensationalism does nothold in general. But thus far, sensationalism has not been theroad to genuine leadership or to the responsible management ofpolitics. How conditions will further develop remains to be seen.Yet the journalist career remains under all circumstances one ofthe most important avenues of professional political activity. Itis not a road for everybody, least of all for weak characters,especially for people who can maintain their inner balance onlywith a secure status position. If the life of a young scholar isa gamble, still he is walled in by firm status conventions, whichprevent him from slipping. But the journalist's life is anabsolute gamble in every respect and under conditions that testone's inner security in a way that scarcely occurs in any othersituation. The often bitter experiences in occupational life areperhaps not even the worst. The inner demands that are directedprecisely at the successful journalist are especially difficult.It is, indeed, no small matter to frequent the salons of thepowerful on this earth on a seemingly equal footing and often tobe flattered by all because one is feared, yet knowing all thetime that having hardly closed the door the host has perhaps tojustify before his guests his association with the 'scavengersfrom the press.' Moreover, it is no small matter that one mustexpress oneself promptly and convincingly about this and that, onall conceivable problems of life--whatever the 'market' happensto demand--and this without becoming absolutely shallow and aboveall without losing one's dignity by baring oneself, a thing whichhas merciless results. It is not astonishing that there are manyjournalists who have become human failures and worth less men.Rather, it is astonishing that, despite all this, this verystratum includes such a great number of valuable and quitegenuine men, a fact that outsiders would not so easily guess.
If the journalist as a type of professional politician harksback to a rather considerable past, the figure of the partyofficial belongs only to the development of the last decades and,in part, only to recent years. In order to comprehend theposition of this figure in historical evolution, we shall have toturn to a consideration of parties and party organizations.
In all political associations which are somehow extensive,that is, associations going beyond the sphere and range of thetasks of small rural districts where power-holders areperiodically elected, political organization is necessarilymanaged by men interested in the management of politics. This isto say that a relatively small number of men are primarilyinterested in political life and hence interested in sharingpolitical power. They provide themselves with a following throughfree recruitment, present themselves or their proteges ascandidates for election, collect the financial means, and go outfor vote-grabbing. It is unimaginable how in large associationselections could function at all without this managerial pattern.In practice this means the division of the citizens with theright to vote into politically active and politically passiveelements. This difference is based on voluntary attitudes, henceit cannot be abolished through measures like obligatory voting,or 'occupational status group' representation, or similarmeasures that are expressly or actually directed against thisstate of affairs and the rule of professional politicians. Theactive leadership and their freely recruited following are thenecessary elements in the life of any party. The following, andthrough it the passive electorate, are necessary for the electionof the leader. But the structure of parties varies. For instance,the 'parties' of the medieval cities, such as those of the Guelfsand the Ghibellines, were purely personal followings. If oneconsiders various things about these medieval parties, one isreminded of Bolshevism and its Soviets. Consider the Statutadella perta Guelfa, the confiscations of the Nobili'sestates--which originally meant all those families who lived achivalrous life and who thus qualified for fiefs--consider theexclusion from office-holding and the denial of the right tovote, the inter-local party committees, the strictly militaryorganizations and the premiums for informers. Then considerBolshevism with its strictly sieved military and, in Russiaespecially, informer organizations, the disarmament and denial ofthe political rights of the 'bourgeois,' that is, of theentrepreneur, trader, rentier, clergyman, descendants of thedynasty, police agents, as well as the confiscation policy.
This analogy is still more striking when one considers that,on the one hand, the military organization of the medieval partyconstituted a pure army of knights organized on the basis of theregistered feudal estates and that nobles occupied almost allleading positions, and, on the other hand, that the Soviets havepreserved, or rather reintroduced, the highly paid enterpriser,the group wage, the Taylor system, military and work-shopdiscipline, and a search for foreign capital. Hence, in a word,the Soviets have had to accept again absolutely all thethings that Bolshevism had been fighting as bourgeois classinstitutions. They have had to do this in order to keep the stateand the economy going at all. Moreover, the Soviets havereinstituted the agents of the former Ochrana [Tsarist SecretPolice] as the main instrument of their state power. But here wedo not have to deal with such organizations for violence, butrather with professional politicians who strive for power throughsober and 'peaceful' party campaigns in the market of electionvotes.
Parties, in the sense usual with us, were at first, forinstance in England, pure followings of the aristocracy. If, forany reason whatever, a peer changed his party, everybodydependent upon him likewise changed. Up to the Reform Bill [of1832], the great noble families and, last but not least, the kingcontrolled the patronage of an immense number of electionboroughs. Close to these aristocratic parties were the parties ofnotables, which develop everywhere with the rising power of thebourgeois. Under the spiritual leadership of the typicalintellectual strata of the Occident, the propertied and culturedcircles differentiated themselves into parties and followed them.These parties were formed partly according to class interest,partly according to family traditions, and partly for ideologicalreasons. Clergymen, teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors,apothecaries, prosperous farmers, manufacturers--in England thewhole stratum that considered itself as belonging to the class ofgentlemen--formed, at first, occasional associations at mostlocal political clubs. In times of unrest the petty bourgeoisieraised its voice, and once in a while the proletariat, if leadersarose who, however, as a rule did not stem from their midst. Inthis phase, parties organized as permanent associations betweenlocalities do not yet exist in the open country. Only theparliamentary delegates create the cohesion; and the localnotables are decisive for the selection of candidates. Theelection programs originate partly in the election appeals of thecandidates and partly in the meetings of the notables; or, theyoriginate as resolutions of the parliamentary party. Leadershipof the clubs is an avocation and an honorific pursuit, asdemanded by the occasion.
Where clubs are absent (as is mostly the case), the quiteformless management of politics in normal times lies in the handsof the few people constantly interested in it. Only thejournalist is a paid professional politician; only the managementof the newspaper is a continuous political organization. Besidesthe newspaper, there is only the parliamentary session. Theparliamentary delegates and the parliamentary party leaders knowto which local notables one turns if a political action seemsdesirable. But permanent associations of the parties exist onlyin the large cities with moderate contributions of the membersand periodical conferences and public meetings where the delegategives account of the parliamentary activities. The party is aliveonly during election periods.
The members of parliament are interested in the possibility ofinterlocal electoral compromises, in vigorous and unifiedprograms endorsed by broad circles and in a unified agitationthroughout the country. In general these interests form thedriving force of a party organization which becomes more and morestrict. In principle, however, the nature of a party apparatus asan association of notables remains unchanged. This is so, eventhough a network of local party affiliations and agents is spreadover the whole country, including middle-sized cities. A memberof the parliamentary party acts as the leader of the centralparty office and maintains constant correspondence with the localorganizations. Outside of the central bureau, paid officials arestill absent; thoroughly 'respectable' people head the localorganizations for the sake of the deference which they enjoyanyway. They form the extra-parliamentary 'notables' who exertinfluence alongside the stratum of political notables who happento sit in parliament. However, the party correspondence, editedby the party, increasingly provides intellectual nourishment forthe press and for the local meetings. Regular contributions ofthe members become indispensable; a part of these must cover theexpenses of headquarters.
Not so long ago most of the German party organizations werestill in this stage of development. In France, the first stage ofparty development was, at least in part, still predominant, andthe organization of the members of parliament was quite unstable.In the open country, we find a small number of local notables andprograms drafted by the candidates or set up for them by theirpatrons in specific campaigns for office. To be sure, theseplatforms constitute more or less local adaptations to theresolutions and programs of the members of parliament. Thissystem was only partially punctured. The number of full-timeprofessional politicians was small, consisting in the main of theelected deputies, the few employees of headquarters, and thejournalists. In France, the system has also included those jobhunters who held 'political office' or, at the moment, strove forone. Politics was formally and by far predominantly an avocation.The number of delegates qualifying for ministerial office wasalso very restricted and, because of their position as notables,so was the number of election candidates.
However, the number of those who indirectly had a stake in themanagement of politics, especially a material one, was verylarge. For all administrative measures of a ministerialdepartment, and especially all decisions in matters of personnel,were made partly with a view to their influence upon electoralchances. The realization of each and every kind of wish wassought through the local delegate's mediation. For better or forworse the minister had to lend his ear to this delegate,especially if the delegate belonged to the minister's majority.Hence everybody strove for such influence. The single deputycontrolled the patronage of office and, in general, any kind ofpatronage in his election district. In order to be re-elected thedeputy, in turn, maintained connections with the local notables.
Now then, the most modern forms of party organizations standin sharp contrast to this idyllic state in which circles ofnotables and, above all, members of parliament rule. These modernforms are the children of democracy, of mass franchise, of thenecessity to woo and organize the masses, and develop the utmostunity of direction and the strictest discipline. The rule ofnotables and guidance by members of parliament ceases.'Professional' politicians outside the parliaments takethe organization in hand. They do so either as'entrepreneurs'--the American boss and the English election agentare, in fact, such entrepreneurs--or as officials with a fixedsalary. Formally, a fargoing democratization takes place. Theparliamentary party no longer creates the authoritative programs,and the local notables no longer decide the selection ofcandidates. Rather assemblies of the organized party membersselect the candidates and delegate members to the assemblies of ahigher order. Possibly there are several such conventions leadingup to the national convention of the party. Naturally poweractually rests in the hands of those who, within theorganization, handle the work continuously. Otherwise,power rests in the hands of those on whom the organization in itsprocesses depends financially or personally--for instance, on theMaecenases or the directors of powerful political clubs ofinterested persons (Tammany Hall). It is decisive that this wholeapparatus of people--characteristically called a 'machine' inAnglo-Saxon countries or rather those who direct the machine,keep the members of the parliament in check. They are in aposition to impose their will to a rather far-reaching extent,and that is of special significance for the selection of theparty leader. The man whom the machine follows now becomes theleader, even over the head of the parliamentary party. In otherwords, the creation of such machines signifies the advent of plebiscitariandemocracy.
The party following, above all the party official and partyentrepreneur, naturally expect personal compensation from thevictory of their leader--that is, offices or other advantages. Itis decisive that they expect such advantages from their leaderand not merely from the individual member of parliament. Theyexpect that the demagogic effect of the leader's personalityduring the election fight of the party will increase votes andmandates and thereby power, and, thereby, as far as possible,will extend opportunities to their followers to find thecompensation for which they hope. Ideally, one of theirmainsprings is the satisfaction of working with loyal personaldevotion for a man, and not merely for an abstract program of aparty consisting of mediocrities. In this respect, the'charismatic' element of all leadership is at work in the partysystem.
In very different degrees this system made headway, althoughit was in constant, latent struggle with local notables and themembers of parliament who wrangled for influence. This was thecase in the bourgeois parties, first, in the United States, and,then, in the Social Democratic party, especially of Germany.Constant setbacks occur as soon as no generally recognized leaderexists, and, even when he is found, concessions of all sorts mustbe made to the vanity and the personal interest of the partynotables. The machine may also be brought under the domination ofthe party officials in whose hands the regular business rests.According to the view of some Social Democratic circles, theirparty had succumbed to this 'bureaucratization.' But 'officials'submit relatively easily to a leader's personality if it has astrong demagogic appeal. The material and the ideal interests ofthe officials are intimately connected with the effects of partypower which are expected from the leader's appeal, and besides,inwardly it is per se more satisfying to work for aleader. The ascent of leaders is far more difficult where thenotables, along with the officials, control the party, as isusually the case in the bourgeois parties. For ideally thenotables make 'their way of life' out of the petty chairmanshipsor committee memberships they hold. Resentment against thedemagogue as a homo novus, the conviction of thesuperiority of political party 'experience' (which, as a matterof fact, actually is of considerable importance), and theideological concern for the crumbling of the old partytraditions--these factors determine the conduct of the notables.They can count on all the traditionalist elements within theparty. Above all, the rural but also the petty bourgeois voterlooks for the name of the notable familiar to him. He distruststhe man who is unknown to him. However, once this man has becomesuccessful, he clings to him the more unwaveringly. Let us nowconsider, by some major examples, the struggle of the twostructural forms--of the notables and of the party--andespecially let us consider the ascendancy of the plebiscitarianform as described by Ostrogorsky.
First England: there until 1868 the party organization wasalmost purely an organization of notables. The Tories in thecountry found support, for instance, from the Anglican parson,and from the schoolmaster, and above all from the large landlordsof the respective county. The Whigs found support mostly fromsuch people as the nonconformist preacher (when there was one),the postmaster, the blacksmith, the tailor, the ropemaker--thatis, from such artisans who could disseminate political influencebecause they could chat with people most frequently. In the citythe parties differed, partly according to economics, partlyaccording to religion, and partly simply according to the partyopinions handed down in the families. But always the notableswere the pillars of the political organization.
Above all these arrangements stood Parliament, the partieswith the cabinet, and the 'leader,' who was the chairman of thecouncil of ministers or the leader of the opposition. This leaderhad beside him the 'whip'--the most important professionalpolitician of the party organization. Patronage of office wasvested in the hands of the 'whip'; thus the job hunter had toturn to him and he arranged an understanding with the deputies ofthe individual election boroughs. A stratum of professionalpoliticians gradually began to develop in the boroughs. At firstthe locally recruited agents were not paid; they occupiedapproximately the same position as our Vertrauensmanner.5 However, along with them, a capitalistentrepreneurial type developed in the boroughs. This was the'election agent,' whose existence was unavoidable under England'smodern legislation which guaranteed fair elections.
This legislation aimed at controlling the campaign costs ofelections and sought to check the power of money by making itobligatory for the candidate to state the costs of his campaign.For in England, the candidate, besides straining his voice--farmore so than was formerly the case with us [in Germany]--enjoyedstretching his purse. The election agent made the candidate pay alump sum, which usually meant a good deal for the agent. In thedistribution of power in Parliament and the country between the'leader' and the party notables, the leader in England used tohold a very eminent position. This position was based on thecompelling fact of making possible a grand, and thereby steady,political strategy. Nevertheless the influence of theparliamentary party and of party notables was still considerable.
That is about what the old party organization looked like. Itwas half an affair of notables and half an entrepreneurialorganization with salaried employees. Since 1868, however, the'caucus' system developed, first for local elections inBirmingham, then all over the country. A nonconformist parson andalong with him Joseph Chamberlain brought this system to life.The occasion for this development was the democratization of thefranchise. In order to win the masses it became necessary to callinto being a tremendous apparatus of apparently democraticassociations. An electoral association had to be formed in everycity district to help keep the organization incessantly in motionand to bureaucratize everything rigidly. Hence, hired and paidofficials of the local electoral committees increasednumerically; and, on the whole, perhaps 10 per cent of the voterswere organized in these local committees. The elected partymanagers had the right to co-opt others and were the formalbearers of party politics. The driving force was the localcircle, which was, above all, composed of those interested inmunicipal politics--from which the fattest material opportunitiesalways spring. These local circles were also first to call uponthe world of finance. This newly emerging machine, which was nolonger led by members of Parliament, very soon had to strugglewith the previous power-holders, above all, with the 'whip.'Being supported by locally interested persons, the machine cameout of the fight so victoriously that the whip had to submit andcompromise with the machine. The result was a centralization ofall power in the hands of the few and, ultimately, of the oneperson who stood at the top of the party. The whole system hadarisen in the Liberal party in connection with Gladstone's ascentto power. What brought this machine to such swift triumph overthe notables was the fascination of Gladstone's 'grand' demagogy,the firm belief of the masses in the ethical substance of hispolicy, and, above all, their belief in the ethical character ofhis personality. It soon became obvious that a Caesaristplebiscitarian element in politics--the dictator of thebattlefield of elections--had appeared on the plain. In 1877 thecaucus became active for the first time in national elections,and with brilliant success, for the result was Disraeli's fall atthe height of his great achievements. In 1866, the machine wasalready so completely oriented to the charismatic personalitythat when the question of home rule was raised the wholeapparatus from top to bottom did not question whether it actuallystood on Gladstone's ground; it simply, on his word, fell in linewith him: they said, Gladstone right or wrong, we follow him. Andthus the machine deserted its own creator, Chamberlain.
Such machinery requires a considerable personnel. In Englandthere are about 2,000 persons who live directly off partypolitics. To be sure, those who are active in politics purely asjob seekers or as interested persons are far more numerous,especially in municipal politics. In addition to economicopportunities, for the useful caucus politician, there are theopportunities to satisfy his vanity. To become 'J.P.' or even'M.P.' is, of course, in line with the greatest (and normal)ambition; and such people, who are of demonstrably good breeding,that is, 'gentlemen,' attain their goal. The highest goal is, ofcourse, a peerage, especially for the great financial Maecenases.About 50 per cent of the finances of the party depend oncontributions of donors who remained anonymous.
Now then, what has been the effect of this whole system?Nowadays the members of Parliament, with the exception of the fewcabinet members (and a few insurgents), are normally nothingbetter than well-disciplined 'yes' men. With us, in theReichstag, one used at least to take care of one's privatecorrespondence on his desk, thus indicating that one was activein the weal of the country. Such gestures are not demanded inEngland; the member of Parliament must only vote, not commitparty treason. He must appear when the whips call him, and dowhat the cabinet or the leader of the opposition orders. Thecaucus machine in the open country is almost completelyunprincipled if a strong leader exists who has the machineabsolutely in hand. Therewith the plebiscitarian dictatoractually stands above Parliament. He brings the masses behind himby means of the machine and the members of Parliament are for himmerely political spoilsmen enrolled in his following.
How does the selection of these strong leaders take place?First, in terms of what ability are they selected? Next to thequalities of will--decisive all over the world--naturally theforce of demagogic speech is - above all decisive. Its characterhas changed since the time speakers like Cobden addressedthemselves to the intellect, and Gladstone who mastered thetechnique of apparently 'letting sober facts speak forthemselves.' At the present time often purely emotional means areused--the means the Salvation Army also exploits in order to setthe masses in motion. One may call the existing state of affairsa 'dictatorship resting on the exploitation of massemotionality.' Yet, the highly developed system of committee workin the English Parliament makes it possible and compelling forevery politician who counts on a share in leadership to cooperatein committee work. All important ministers of recent decades havethis very real and effective work-training as a background. Thepractice of committee reports and public criticism of thesedeliberations is a condition for training, for really selectingleaders and eliminating mere demagogues.
Thus it is in England. The caucus system there, however, hasbeen a weak form, compared with the American party organization,which brought the plebiscitarian principle to an especially earlyand an especially pure expression.
According to Washington's idea, America was to be acommonwealth administered by 'gentlemen.' In his time, inAmerica, a gentleman was also a landlord, or a man with a collegeeducation--this was the case at first. In the beginning, whenparties began to organize, the members of the House ofRepresentatives claimed to be leaders, just as in England at thetime when notables ruled. The party organization was quite looseand continued to be until 1824. In some communities, where moderndevelopment first took place, the party machine was in the makingeven before the eighteen-twenties. But when Andrew Jackson wasfirst elected President--the election of the western farmers'candidate --the old traditions were overthrown. Formal partyleadership by leading members of Congress came to an end soonafter 1840, when the great parliamentarians, Calhoun and Webster,retired from political life because Congress had lost almost allof its power to the party machine in the open country. That theplebiscitarian 'machine' has developed so early in America is dueto the fact that there, and there alone, the executive--this iswhat mattered --the chief of office-patronage, was a Presidentelected by plebiscite. By virtue of the 'separation of powers' hewas almost independent of parliament in his conduct of office.Hence, as the price of victory, the true booty object of theoffice-prebend was held out precisely at the presidentialelection. Through Andrew Jackson the 'spoils system' was quitesystematically raised to a principle and the conclusions weredrawn.
What does this spoils system, the turning over of federaloffices to the following of the victorious candidate, mean forthe party formations of today? It means that quite unprincipledparties oppose one another; they are purely organizations of jobhunters drafting their changing platforms according to thechances of vote-grabbing, changing their colors to a degreewhich, despite all analogies, is not yet to be found elsewhere.The parties are simply and absolutely fashioned for the electioncampaign that is most important for office patronage: the fightfor the presidency and for the governorships of the separatestates. Platforms and candidates are selected at the nationalconventions of the parties without intervention by congressmen.Hence they emerge from party conventions, the delegates of whichare formally, very democratically elected. These delegates aredetermined by meetings of other delegates, who, in turn, owetheir mandate to the 'primaries,' the assembling of the directvoters of the party. In the primaries the delegates are alreadyelected in the name of the candidate for the nation's leadership.Within the parties the most embittered fight rages about thequestion of 'nomination.' After all, 300,000 to 400,000 officialappointments lie in the hands of the President, appointmentswhich are executed by him only with the approval of the senatorsfrom the separate states. Hence the senators are powerfulpoliticians. By comparison, however, the House of Representativesis, politically, quite impotent, because patronage of office isremoved from it and because the cabinet members, simplyassistants to the President, can conduct office apart from theconfidence or lack of confidence of the people. The President,who is legitimatized by the people, confronts everybody, evenCongress; this is a result of 'the separation of powers.'
In America, the spoils system, supported in this fashion, hasbeen technically possible because American culture with its youthcould afford purely dilettante management. With 300,000 to400,000 such party men who have no qualifications to their creditother than the fact of having performed good services for theirparty, this state of affairs of course could not exist withoutenormous evils. A corruption and wastefulness second to nonecould be tolerated only by a country with as yet unlimitedeconomic opportunities.
Now then, the boss is the figure who appears in the picture ofthis system of the plebiscitarian party machine. Who is the boss?He is a political capitalist entrepreneur who on his own accountand at his own risk provides votes. He may have established hisfirst relations as a lawyer or a saloonkeeper or as a proprietorof similar establishments, or perhaps as a creditor. From here hespins his threads out until he is able to 'control' a certainnumber of votes. When he has come this far he establishes contactwith the neighboring bosses, and through zeal, skill, and aboveall discretion, he attracts the attention of those who havealready further advanced in the career, and then he climbs. Theboss is indispensable to the organization of the party and theorganization is centralized in his hands. He substantiallyprovides the financial means. How does he get them ? Well, partlyby the contributions of the members, and especially by taxing thesalaries of those officials who came into office through him andhis party. Furthermore, there are bribes and tips. He who wishesto trespass with impunity one of the many laws needs the boss'sconnivance and must pay for it; or else he will get into trouble.But this alone is not enough to accumulate the necessary capitalfor political enterprises. The boss is indispensable as thedirect recipient of the money of great financial magnates, whowould not entrust their money for election purposes to a paidparty official, or to anyone else giving public account of hisaffairs. The boss, with his judicious discretion in financialmatters, is the natural man for those capitalist circles whofinance the election. The typical boss is an absolutely soberman. He does not seek social honor; the 'professional' isdespised in 'respectable society.' He seeks power alone, power asa source of money, but also power for power's sake. In contrastto the English leader, the American boss works in the dark. He isnot heard speaking in public; he suggests to the speakers whatthey must say in expedient fashion. He himself, however, keepssilent. As a rule he accepts no office, except that of senator.For, since the senators, by virtue of the Constitution,participate in office patronage, the leading bosses often sit inperson in this body. The distribution of offices is carried out,in the first place, according to services done for the party.But, also, auctioning offices on financial bids often occurs andthere are certain rates for individual offices; hence, a systemof selling offices exists which, after all, has often been knownalso to the monarchies, the church-state included, of theseventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The boss has no firm political 'principles'; he is completelyunprincipled in attitude and asks merely: What will capturevotes? Frequently he is a rather poorly educated man. But as arule he leads an inoffensive and correct private life. In hispolitical morals, however, he naturally adjusts to the averageethical standards of political conduct, as a great many of usalso may have done during the hoarding period in the field ofeconomic ethics. 6 That as a 'professional' politicianthe boss is socially despised does not worry him. That hepersonally does not attain high federal offices, and does notwish to do so, has the frequent advantage that extra-partyintellects, thus notables, may come into candidacy when thebosses believe they will have great appeal value at the polls.Hence the same old party notables do not run again and again, asis the case in Germany. Thus the structure of these unprincipledparties with their socially despised power-holders has aided ablemen to attain the presidency--men who with us never would havecome to the top. To be sure, the bosses resist an outsider whomight jeopardize their sources of money and power. Yet in thecompetitive struggle to win the favor of the voters, the bossesfrequently have had to condescend and accept candidates known tobe opponents of corruption.
Thus there exists a strong capitalist party machine, strictlyand thoroughly organized from top to bottom, and supported byclubs of extraordinary stability. These clubs, such as TammanyHall, are like Knight orders. They seek profits solely throughpolitical control, especially of the municipal government, whichis the most important object of booty. This structure of partylife was made possible by the high degree of democracy in theUnited States--a 'New Country.' This connection, in turn, is thebasis for the fact that the system is gradually dying out.America can no longer be governed only by dilettantes. Scarcelyfifteen years ago, when American workers were asked why theyallowed themselves to be governed by politicians whom theyadmitted they despised, the answer was: 'We prefer having peoplein office whom we can spit upon, rather than a caste of officialswho spit upon us, as is the case with you.' This was the oldpoint of view of American 'democracy.' Even then, the socialistshad entirely different ideas and now the situation is no longerbearable. The dilettante administration does not suffice and theCivil Service Reform establishes an ever-increasing number ofpositions for life with pension rights. The reform works out insuch a way that university-trained officials, just asincorruptible and quite as capable as our officials, get intooffice. Even now about 100,000 offices have ceased being objectsof booty to be turned over after elections. Rather, the officesqualify their holders for pensions, and are based upon testedqualifications. The spoils system will thus gradually recede intothe background and the nature of party leadership is then likelyto be transformed also but as yet, we do not know in what way.
In Germany, until now, the decisive conditions of politicalmanagement have been in essence as follows:
First, the parliaments have been impotent. The result has beenthat no man with the qualities of a leader would enter Parliamentpermanently. If one wished to enter Parliament, what could oneachieve there? When a chancellery position was open, one couldtell the administrative chief: 'I have a very able man in myelection district who would be suitable; take him.' And he wouldhave concurred with pleasure; but that was about all that aGerman member of Parliament could do to satisfy his instincts forpower--if he possessed any.
To this must be added the tremendous importance of the trainedexpert officialdom in Germany. This factor determined theimpotence of Parliament. Our officialdom was second to none inthe world. This importance of the officialdom was accompanied bythe fact that the officials claimed not only official positionsbut also cabinet positions for themselves. In the Bavarian statelegislature, when the introduction of parliamentary governmentwas debated last year, it was said that if members of thelegislature were to be placed in cabinet positions talentedpeople would no longer seek official careers. Moreover, thecivil-service administration systematically escaped such controlas is signified by the English committee discussions. Theadministration thus made it impossible for parliaments--with afew exceptions--to train really useful administrative chiefs fromtheir own ranks.
A third factor is that in Germany, in contrast to America, wehave had parties with principled political views who havemaintained that their members, at least subjectively, representedbona-fide Weltanschauungen. Now then, the two mostimportant of these parties, the Catholic Centre Party and theSocial Democratic party, have, from their inceptions, beenminority parties and have meant to be minority parties. Theleading circles of the Centre party in the Reich have neverconcealed their opposition to parliamentarian democracy, becauseof fear of remaining in the minority and thus facing greatdifficulties in placing their job hunters in office as they havedone by exerting pressure on the government. The SocialDemocratic party was a principled minority party and a handicapto the introduction of parliamentary government because the partydid not wish to stain itself by participating in the existingbourgeois political order. The fact that both parties dissociatedthemselves from the parliamentary system made parliamentarygovernment impossible.
Considering all this, what then became of the professionalpoliticians in Germany? They have had no power, noresponsibility, and could play only a rather subordinate role asnotables. In consequence, they have been animated anew by theguild instincts, which are typical everywhere. It has beenimpossible for a man who was not of their hue to climb high inthe circle of those notables who made their petty positions theirlives. I could mention many names from every party, the SocialDemocratic party, of course, not excepted, that spell tragediesof political careers because the persons had leadershipqualities, and precisely because of these qualities were nottolerated by the notables. All our parties have taken this courseof development and have become guilds of notables. Bebel, forinstance, was still a leader through temperament and purity ofcharacter, however modest his intellect. The fact that he was amartyr, that he never betrayed confidence in the eyes of themasses, resulted in his having the masses absolutely behind him.There was no power in the party that could have seriouslychallenged him. Such leadership came to an end, after his death,and the rule of officials began. Trade-union officials, partysecretaries, and journalists came to the top. The instincts ofofficialdom dominated the party--a highly respectableofficialdom, of rare respectability one may say, compared toconditions in other countries, especially the often corruptibletrade-union officials in America. But the results of control byofficialdom, which we discussed above, also began in the party.
Since the eighteen-eighties the bourgeois parties havecompletely become guilds of notables. To be sure, occasionallythe parties had to draw on extra-party intellects for advertisingpurposes, so that they could say, 'We have such and such names.'So far as possible, they avoided letting these names run forelection; only when it was unavoidable and the person insistedcould he run for election. The same spirit prevailed inParliament. Our parliamentary parties were and are guilds. Everyspeech delivered from the floor of the Reichstag is thoroughlycensored in the party before it is delivered. This is obviousfrom their unheard-of boredom. Only he who is summoned to speakcan have the word. One can hardly conceive of a stronger contrastto the English, and also--for quite opposite reasons--the Frenchusage.
Now, in consequence of the enormous collapse, which iscustomarily called the Revolution, perhaps a transformation isunder way. Perhaps--but not for certain. In the beginning therewere new kinds of party apparatuses emerging. First, there wereamateur apparatuses. They are especially often represented bystudents of the various universities, who tell a man to whom theyascribe leadership qualities: we want to do the necessary workfor you; carry it out. Secondly, there are apparatuses ofbusinessmen. It happened that men to whom leadership qualitieswere ascribed were approached by people willing to take over thepropaganda, at fixed rates for every vote. If you were to ask mehonestly which of these two apparatuses I think the morereliable, from the purely technical-political point of view, Ibelieve I would prefer the latter. But both apparatuses werefast-emerging bubbles, which swiftly vanished again. The existingapparatuses transformed themselves, but they continued to work.The phenomena are only symptoms of the fact that new apparatuseswould come about if there were only leaders. But even thetechnical peculiarity of proportionate representation precludedtheir ascendancy. Only a few dictators of the street crowds aroseand fell again. And only the following of a mob dictatorship isorganized in a strictly disciplined fashion: whence the power ofthese vanishing minorities.
Let us assume that all this were to change; then, after whathas been said above, it has to be clearly realized that theplebiscitarian leadership of parties entails the 'soullessness'of the following, their intellectual proletarianization, onemight say. In order to be a useful apparatus, a machine in theAmerican sense--undisturbed either by the vanity of notables orpretensions to independent views--the following of such a leadermust obey him blindly. Lincoln's election was possible onlythrough this character of party organization, and with Gladstone,as mentioned before, the same happened in the caucus. This issimply the price paid for guidance by leaders. However, there isonly the choice between leadership democracy with a 'machine' andleaderless democracy, namely, the rule of professionalpoliticians without a calling, without the inner charismaticqualities that make a leader, and this means what the partyinsurgents in the situation usually designate as 'the rule of theclique.' For the time being, we in Germany have only the latter.For the future, the permanence of this situation, at least in theReich, is primarily facilitated by the fact that the Bundesrat7 will rise again and will of necessity restrict thepower of the Reichstag and therewith its significance as aselective agency of leaders. Moreover, in its present form,proportional representation is a typical phenomenon of leaderlessdemocracy. This is the case not only because it facilitates thehorse-trading of the notables for placement on the ticket, butalso because in the future it will give organized interest groupsthe possibility of compelling parties to include their officialsin the list of candidates, thus creating an unpoliticalParliament in which genuine leadership finds no place. Only thePresident of the Reich could become the safety-valve of thedemand for leadership if he were elected in a plebiscitarian wayand not by Parliament. Leadership on the basis of proved workcould emerge and selection could take place, especially if, ingreat municipalities, the plebiscitarian city-manager were toappear on the scene with the right to organize his bureausindependently. Such is the case in the U.S.A. whenever one wishesto tackle corruption seriously. It requires a party organizationfashioned for such elections. But the very petty-bourgeoishostility of all parties to leaders, the Social Democratic partycertainly included, leaves the future formation of parties andall these chances still completely in the dark.
Therefore, today, one cannot yet see in any way how themanagement of politics as a 'vocation' will shape itself. Evenless can one see along what avenue opportunities are opening towhich political talents can be put for satisfactory politicaltasks. He who by his material circumstances is compelled to live'off' politics will almost always have to consider thealternative positions of the journalist or the party official asthe typical direct avenues. Or, he must consider a position asrepresentative of interest groups--such as a trade union, achamber of commerce, a farm bureau, 8 a craftassociation, 9 a labor board, an employer'sassociation, et cetera, or else a suitable municipal position.Nothing more than this can be said about this external aspect: incommon with the journalist, the party official bears the odium ofbeing declasse. 'Wage writer' or 'wage speaker' willunfortunately always resound in his ears, even though the wordsremain unexpressed. He who is inwardly defenseless and unable tofind the proper answer for himself had better stay away from thiscareer. For in any case, besides grave temptations, it is anavenue that may constantly lead to disappointments. Now then,what inner enjoyments can this career offer and what personalconditions are presupposed for one who enters this avenue?
Well, first of all the career of politics grants a feeling ofpower. The knowledge of influencing men, of participating inpower over them, and above all, the feeling of holding in one'shands a nerve fiber of historically important events can elevatethe professional politician above everyday routine even when heis placed in formally modest positions. But now the question forhim is: Through what qualities can I hope to do justice to thispower (however narrowly circumscribed it may be in the individualcase) ? How can he hope to do justice to the responsibility thatpower imposes upon him? With this we enter the field of ethicalquestions, for that is where the problem belongs: What kind of aman must one be if he is to be allowed to put his hand on thewheel of history?
One can say that three pre-eminent qualities are decisive forthe politician: passion, a feeling of responsibility, and a senseof proportion.
This means passion in the sense of matter-of-factness,of passionate devotion to a 'cause,' to the god or demon who isits overlord. It is not passion in the sense of that innerbearing which my late friend, Georg Simmel, used to designate as'sterile excitation,' and which was peculiar especially to acertain type of Russian intellectual (by no means all of them!).It is an excitation that plays so great a part with ourintellectuals in this carnival we decorate with the proud name of'revolution.' It is a 'romanticism of the intellectuallyinteresting,' running into emptiness devoid of all feeling ofobjective responsibility.
To be sure, mere passion, however genuinely felt, is notenough. It does not make a politician, unless passion as devotionto a 'cause' also makes responsibility to this cause the guidingstar of action. And for this, a sense of proportion is needed.This is the decisive psychological quality of the politician: hisability to let realities work upon him with inner concentrationand calmness. Hence his distance to things and men.'Lack of distance' per se is one of the deadly sins ofevery politician. It is one of those qualities the breeding ofwhich will condemn the progeny of our intellectuals to politicalincapacity. For the problem is simply how can warm passion and acool sense of proportion be forged together in one and the samesoul? Politics is made with the head, not with other parts of thebody or soul. And yet devotion to politics, if it is not to befrivolous intellectual play but rather genuinely human conduct,can be born and nourished from passion alone. However, that firmtaming of the soul, which distinguishes the passionate politicianand differentiates him from the 'sterilely excited' and merepolitical dilettante, is possible only through habituation todetachment in every sense of the word. The 'strength' of apolitical 'personality' means, in the first place, the possessionof these qualities of passion, responsibility, and proportion.
Therefore, daily and hourly, the politician inwardly has toovercome a quite trivial and all-too-human enemy: a quite vulgarvanity, the deadly enemy of all matter of-fact devotion to acause, and of all distance, in this case, of distance towardsone's self.
Vanity is a very widespread quality and perhaps nobody isentirely free from it. In academic and scholarly circles, vanityis a sort of occupational disease, but precisely with thescholar, vanity--however disagreeably it may express itself--isrelatively harmless; in the sense that as a rule it does notdisturb scientific enterprise. With the politician the case isquite different. He works with the striving for power as anunavoidable means. Therefore, 'power instinct,' as is usuallysaid, belongs indeed to his normal qualities. The sin against thelofty spirit of his vocation, however, begins where this strivingfor power ceases to be objective and becomes purelypersonal self-intoxication, instead of exclusively entering theservice of 'the cause.' For ultimately there are only two kindsof deadly sins in the field of politics: lack of objectivityand--often but not always identical with it--irresponsibility.Vanity, the need personally to stand in the foreground as clearlyas possible, strongly tempts the politician to commit one or bothof these sins. This is more truly the case as the demagogue iscompelled to count upon 'effect.' He therefore is constantly indanger of becoming an actor as well as taking lightly theresponsibility for the outcome of his actions and of beingconcerned merely with the 'impression' he makes. His lack ofobjectivity tempts him to strive for the glamorous semblance ofpower rather than for actual power. His irresponsibility,however, suggests that he enjoy power merely for power's sakewithout a substantive purpose. Although, or rather just because,power is the unavoidable means, and striving for power is one ofthe driving forces of all politics, there is no more harmfuldistortion of political force than the parvenu-like braggart withpower, and the vain self-reflection in the feeling of power, andin general every worship of power per se. The mere'power politician' may get strong effects, but actually his workleads nowhere and is senseless. (Among us, too, an ardentlypromoted cult seeks to glorify him.) In this, the critics of'power politics' are absolutely right. From the sudden innercollapse of typical representatives of this mentality, we can seewhat inner weakness and impotence hides behind this boastful butentirely empty gesture. It is a product of a shoddy andsuperficially blase attitude towards the meaning of humanconduct; and it has no relation whatsoever to the knowledge oftragedy with which all action, but especially political action,is truly interwoven.
The final result of political action often, no, evenregularly, stands in completely inadequate and often evenparadoxical relation to its original meaning. This is fundamentalto all history, a point not to be proved in detail here. Butbecause of this fact, the serving of a cause must not be absentif action is to have inner strength. Exactly what the cause, inthe service of which the politician strives for power and usespower, looks like is a matter of faith. The politician may servenational, humanitarian, social, ethical, cultural, worldly, orreligious ends. The politician may be sustained by a strongbelief in 'progress'--no matter in which sense--or he may coollyreject this kind of belief. He may claim to stand in the serviceof an 'idea' or, rejecting this in principle, he may want toserve external ends of everyday life. However, some kind of faithmust always exist. Otherwise, it is absolutely true that thecurse of the creature's worthlessness overshadows even theexternally strongest political successes.
With the statement above we are already engaged in discussingthe last problem that concerns us tonight: the ethos ofpolitics as a 'cause.' What calling can politics fulfil quiteindependently of its goals within the total ethical economy ofhuman conduct--which is, so to speak, the ethical locus wherepolitics is at home? Here, to be sure, ultimate Weltanschauungenclash, world views among which in the end one has to make achoice. Let us resolutely tackle this problem, which recently hasbeen opened again, in my view in a very wrong way.
But first, let us free ourselves from a quite trivialfalsification: namely, that ethics may first appear in a morallyhighly compromised role. Let us consider examples. Rarely willyou find that a man whose love turns from one woman to anotherfeels no need to legitimate this before himself by saying: shewas not worthy of my love, or, she has disappointed me, orwhatever other like 'reasons' exist. This is an attitude that,with a profound lack of chivalry, adds a fancied 'legitimacy' tothe plain fact that he no longer loves her and that the woman hasto bear it. By virtue of this 'legitimation,' the man claims aright for himself and besides causing the misfortune seeks to puther in the wrong. The successful amatory competitor proceedsexactly in the same way: namely, the opponent must be lessworthy, otherwise he would not have lost out. It is no different,of course, if after a victorious war the victor in undignifiedself-righteousness claims, 'I have won because I was right.' Or,if somebody under the frightfulness of war collapsespsychologically, and instead of simply saying it was just toomuch, he feels the need of legitimizing his war weariness tohimself by substituting the feeling, 'I could not bear it becauseI had to fight for a morally bad cause.' And likewise with thedefeated in war. Instead of searching like old women for the'guilty one' after the war--in a situation in which the structureof society produced the war--everyone with a manly and controlledattitude would tell the enemy, 'We lost the war. You have won it.That is now all over. Now let us discuss what conclusions must bedrawn according to the objective interests that cameinto play and what is the main thing in view of theresponsibility towards the future which above allburdens the victor.' Anything else is undignified and will becomea boomerang. A nation forgives if its interests have beendamaged, but no nation forgives if its honor has been offended,especially by a bigoted self-righteousness. Every new documentthat comes to light after decades revives the undignifiedlamentations, the hatred and scorn, instead of allowing the warat its end to be buried, at least morally. This is possible onlythrough objectivity and chivalry and above all only throughdignity. But never is it possible through an 'ethic,' which intruth signifies a lack of dignity on both sides. Instead of beingconcerned about what the politician is interested in, the futureand the responsibility towards the future, this ethic isconcerned about politically sterile questions of past guilt,which are not to be settled politically. To act in this way ispolitically guilty, if such guilt exists at all. And it overlooksthe unavoidable falsification of the whole problem, through verymaterial interests: namely, the victor's interest in the greatestpossible moral and material gain; the hopes of the defeated totrade in advantages through confessions of guilt. If anything is'vulgar,' then, this is, and it is the result of this fashion ofexploiting 'ethics' as a means of 'being in the right.'
Now then, what relations do ethics and politics actually have?Have the two nothing whatever to do with one another, as hasoccasionally been said? Or, is the reverse true: that the ethicof political conduct is identical with that of any other conduct? Occasionally an exclusive choice has been believed to existbetween the two propositions--either the one or the otherproposition must be correct. But is it true that any ethic of theworld could establish commandments of identical content forerotic, business, familial, and official relations; for therelations to one's wife, to the greengrocer, the son, thecompetitor, the friend, the defendant? Should it really matter solittle for the ethical demands on politics that politics operateswith very special means, namely, power backed up by violence?Do we not see that the Bolshevik and the Spartacist ideologistsbring about exactly the same results as any militaristic dictatorjust because they use this political means? In what but thepersons of the power-holders and their dilettantism does the ruleof the workers' and soldiers' councils differ from the rule ofany power-holder of the old regime? In what way does the polemicof most representatives of the presumably new ethic differ fromthat of the opponents which they criticized, or the ethic of anyother demagogues ? In their noble intention, people will say.Good! But it is the means about which we speak here, and theadversaries, in complete subjective sincerity, claim, in the verysame way, that their ultimate intentions are of lofty character.'All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword' andfighting is everywhere fighting. Hence, the ethic of the Sermonon the Mount.
By the Sermon on the Mount, we mean the absolute ethic of thegospel, which is a more serious matter than those who are fond ofquoting these commandments today believe. This ethic is no jokingmatter. The same holds for this ethic as has been said ofcausality in science: it is not a cab, which one can have stoppedat one's pleasure; it is all or nothing. This is precisely themeaning of the gospel, if trivialities are not to result. Hence,for instance, it was said of the wealthy young man, 'He went awaysorrowful: for he had great possessions.' The evangelistcommandment, however, is unconditional and unambiguous: give whatthou hast--absolutely everything. The politician will say thatthis is a socially senseless imposition as long as it is notcarried out everywhere. Thus the politician upholds taxation,confiscatory taxation, out-right confiscation; in a word,compulsion and regulation for all. The ethical commandment,however, is not at all concerned about that, and this unconcernis its essence. Or, take the example, 'turn the other cheek':This command is unconditional and does not question the source ofthe other's authority to strike. Except for a saint it is anethic of indignity. This is it: one must be saintly ineverything; at least in intention, one must live like Jesus, theapostles, St. Francis, and their like. Then this ethicmakes sense and expresses a kind of dignity; otherwise it doesnot. For if it is said, in line with the acosmic ethic of love,'Resist not him that is evil with force,' for the politician thereverse proposition holds, 'thou shalt resist evil byforce,' or else you are responsible for the evil winning out. Hewho wishes to follow the ethic of the gospel should abstain fromstrikes, for strikes mean compulsion; he may join the companyunions. Above all things, he should not talk of 'revolution.'After all, the ethic of the gospel does not wish to teach thatcivil war is the only legitimate war. The pacifist who followsthe gospel will refuse to bear arms or will throw them down; inGermany this was the recommended ethical duty to end the war andtherewith all wars. The politician would say the only sure meansto discredit the war for all foreseeable time would have been a statusquo peace. Then the nations would have questioned, what wasthis war for? And then the war would have been argued adabsurdum, which is now impossible. For the victors, at leastfor part of them, the war will have been politically profitable.And the responsibility for this rests on behavior that made allresistance impossible for us. Now, as a result of the ethics ofabsolutism, when the period of exhaustion will have passed, thepeace will be discredited, not the war.
Finally, let us consider the duty of truthfulness. For theabsolute ethic it holds unconditionally. Hence the conclusion wasreached to publish all documents, especially those placing blameon one's own country. On the basis of these one-sidedpublications the confessions of guilt followed--and they wereone-sided, unconditional, and without regard to consequences. Thepolitician will find that as a result truth will not be furtheredbut certainly obscured through abuse and unleashing of passion;only an all-round methodical investigation by non-partisans couldbear fruit; any other procedure may have consequences for anation that cannot be remedied for decades. But the absoluteethic just does not ask for 'consequences.' That is thedecisive point.
We must be clear about the fact that all ethically orientedconduct may be guided by one of two fundamentally differing andirreconcilably opposed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an'ethic of ultimate ends' or to an 'ethic of responsibility.' Thisis not to say that an ethic of ultimate ends is identical withirresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility is identicalwith unprincipled opportunism. Naturally nobody says that.However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct thatfollows the maxim of an ethic of ultimate ends--that is, inreligious terms, 'The Christian does rightly and leaves theresults with the Lord'--and conduct that follows the maxim of anethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an accountof the foreseeable results of one's action.
You may demonstrate to a convinced syndicalist, believing inan ethic of ultimate ends, that his action will result inincreasing the opportunities of reaction, in increasing theoppression of his class, and obstructing its ascent--and you willnot make the slightest impression upon him. If an action of goodintent leads to bad results, then, in the actor's eyes, not hebut the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God's will whomade them thus, is responsible for the evil. However a man whobelieves in an ethic of responsibility takes account of preciselythe average deficiencies of people; as Fichte has correctly said,he does not even have the right to presuppose their goodness andperfection. He does not feel in a position to burden others withthe results of his own actions so far as he was able to foreseethem; he will say: these results are ascribed to my action. Thebeliever in an ethic of ultimate ends feels 'responsible' onlyfor seeing to it that the flame of pure intentions is notquelched: for example, the flame of protesting against theinjustice of the social order. To rekindle the flame ever anew isthe purpose of his quite irrational deeds, judged in view oftheir possible success. They are acts that can and shall haveonly exemplary value.
But even herewith the problem is not yet exhausted. No ethicsin the world can dodge the fact that in numerous instances theattainment of 'good' ends is bound to the fact that one must bewilling to pay the price of using morally dubious means or atleast dangerous ones --and facing the possibility or even theprobability of evil ramifications. From no ethics in the worldcan it be concluded when and to what extent the ethically goodpurpose 'justifies' the ethically dangerous means andramifications.
The decisive means for politics is violence. You may see theextent of the tension between means and ends, when viewedethically, from the following: as is generally known, even duringthe war the revolutionary socialists (Zimmerwald faction)professed a principle that one might strikingly formulate: 'If weface the choice either of some more years of war and thenrevolution, or peace now and no revolution, we choose--some moreyears of war!' Upon the further question: 'What can thisrevolution bring about?' every scientifically trained socialistwould have had the answer: One cannot speak of a transition to aneconomy that in our sense could be called socialist; a bourgeoiseconomy will re-emerge, merely stripped of the feudal elementsand the dynastic vestiges. For this very modest result, they arewilling to face 'some more years of war.' One may well say thateven with a very robust socialist conviction one might reject apurpose that demands such means. With Bolshevism and Spartacism,and, in general, with any kind of revolutionary socialism, it isprecisely the same thing. It is of course utterly ridiculous ifthe power politicians of the old regime are morally denounced fortheir use of the same means, however justified the rejection oftheir aims may be.
The ethic of ultimate ends apparently must go to pieces on theproblem of the justification of means by ends. As a matter offact, logically it has only the possibility of rejecting allaction that employs morally dangerous means--in theory! In theworld of realities, as a rule, we encounter the ever-renewedexperience that the adherent of an ethic of ultimate endssuddenly turns into a chiliastic prophet. Those, for example, whohave just preached 'love against violence' now call for the useof force for the last violent deed, which would thenlead to a state of affairs in which all violence isannihilated. In the same manner, our officers told the soldiersbefore every offensive: 'This will be the last one; this one willbring victory and therewith peace.' The proponent of an ethic ofabsolute ends cannot stand up under the ethical irrationality ofthe world. He is a cosmic-ethical 'rationalist.' Those of you whoknow Dostoievski will remember the scene of the 'GrandInquisitor,' where the problem is poignantly unfolded. If onemakes any concessions at all to the principle that the endjustifies the means, it is not possible to bring an ethic ofultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility under one roof or todecree ethically which end should justify which means.
My colleague, Mr. F. W. Forster, whom personally I highlyesteem for his undoubted sincerity, but whom I rejectunreservedly as a politician, believes it is possible to getaround this difficulty by the simple thesis: 'from good comesonly good; but from evil only evil follows.' In that case thiswhole complex of questions would not exist. But it is ratherastonishing that such a thesis could come to light two thousandfive hundred years after the Upanishads. Not only the wholecourse of world history, but every frank examination of everydayexperience points to the very opposite. The development ofreligions all over the world is determined by the fact that theopposite is true. The age-old problem of theodicy consists of thevery question of how it is that a power which is said to be atonce omnipotent and kind could have created such an irrationalworld of undeserved suffering, unpunished injustice, and hopelessstupidity. Either this power is not omnipotent or not kind, or,entirely different principles of compensation and reward governour life--principles we may interpret metaphysically, or evenprinciples that forever escape our comprehension.
This problem--the experience of the irrationality of theworld--has been the driving force of all religious evolution. TheIndian doctrine of karma, Persian dualism, the doctrine oforiginal sin, predestination and the deus absconditus,all these have grown out of this experience. Also the earlyChristians knew full well the world is governed by demons andthat he who lets himself in for politics, that is, for power andforce as means, contracts with diabolical powers and for hisaction it is not true that good can follow only from good andevil only from evil, but that often the opposite is true. Anyonewho fails to see this is, indeed, a political infant.
We are placed into various life-spheres, each of which isgoverned by different laws. Religious ethics have settled withthis fact in different ways. Hellenic polytheism made sacrificesto Aphrodite and Hera alike, to Dionysus and to Apollo, and knewthese gods were frequently in conflict with one another. TheHindu order of life made each of the different occupations anobject of a specific ethical code, a Dharma, and foreversegregated one from the other as castes, thereby placing theminto a fixed hierarchy of rank. For the man born into it, therewas no escape from it, lest he be twice-born in another life. Theoccupations were thus placed at varying distances from thehighest religious goods of salvation. In this way, the casteorder allowed for the possibility of fashioning the Dharma ofeach single caste, from those of the ascetics and Brahmins tothose of the rogues and harlots, in accordance with the immanentand autonomous laws of their respective occupations. War andpolitics were also included. You will find war integrated intothe totality of life-spheres in the Bhagavad-Gita, inthe conversation between Krishna and Arduna. 'Do what must bedone,' i.e. do that work which, according to the Dharma of thewarrior caste and its rules, is obligatory and which, accordingto the purpose of the war, is objectively necessary. Hinduismbelieves that such conduct does not damage religious salvationbut, rather, promotes it. When he faced the hero's death, theIndian warrior was always sure of Indra's heaven, just as was theTeuton warrior of Valhalla. The Indian hero would have despisedNirvana just as much as the Teuton would have sneered at theChristian paradise with its angels' choirs. This specializationof ethics allowed for the Indian ethic's quite unbroken treatmentof politics by following politics' own laws and even radicallyenhancing this royal art.
A really radical 'Machiavellianism,' in the popular sense ofthis word, is classically represented in Indian literature, inthe Kautaliya Arthasastra (long before Christ, allegedlydating from Chandragupta's time). In contrast with this documentMachiavelli's Principe is harmless. As is known inCatholic ethics--to which otherwise Professor Forster standsclose--the consilia evangelica are a special ethic forthose endowed with the charisma of a holy life. There stands themonk who must not shed blood or strive for gain, and beside himstand the pious knight and the burgher, who are allowed to do so,the one to shed blood, the other to pursue gain. The gradation ofethics and its organic integration into the doctrine of salvationis less consistent than in India. According to thepresuppositions of Christian faith, this could and had to be thecase. The wickedness of the world stemming from original sinallowed with relative ease the integration of violence intoethics as a disciplinary means against sin and against theheretics who endangered the soul. However, the demands of theSermon on the Mount, an acosmic ethic of ultimate ends, implied anatural law of absolute imperatives based upon religion. Theseabsolute imperatives retained their revolutionizing force andthey came upon the scene with elemental vigor during almost allperiods of social upheaval. They produced especially the radicalpacifist sects, one of which in Pennsylvania experimented inestablishing a polity that renounced violence towards theoutside. This experiment took a tragic course, inasmuch as withthe outbreak of the War of Independence the Quakers could notstand up arms-in-hand for their ideals, which were those of thewar.
Normally, Protestantism, however, absolutely legitimated thestate as a divine institution and hence violence as a means.Protestantism, especially, legitimated the authoritarian state.Luther relieved the individual of the ethical responsibility forwar and transferred it to the authorities. To obey theauthorities in matters other than those of faith could neverconstitute guilt. Calvinism in turn knew principled violence as ameans of defending the faith; thus Calvinism knew the crusade,which was for Islam an element of life from the beginning. Onesees that it is by no means a modern disbelief born from the heroworship of the Renaissance which poses the problem of politicalethics. All religions have wrestled with it, with highlydiffering success, and after what has been said it could not beotherwise. It is the specific means of legitimate violence assuch in the hand of human associations which determines thepeculiarity of all ethical problems of politics.
Whosoever contracts with violent means for whatever ends--andevery politician does--is exposed to its specific consequences.This holds especially for the crusader, religious andrevolutionary alike. Let us confidently take the present as anexample. He who wants to establish absolute justice on earth byforce requires a following, a human 'machine.' He must hold outthe necessary internal and external premiums, heavenly or worldlyreward, to this 'machine' or else the machine will not function.Under the conditions of the modern class struggle, the internalpremiums consist of the satisfying of hatred and the craving forrevenge; above all, resentment and the need for pseudo-ethicalself-right-eousness: the opponents must be slandered and accusedof heresy. The external rewards are adventure, victory, booty,power, and spoils. The leader and his success are completelydependent upon the functioning of his machine and hence not onhis own motives. Therefore he also depends upon whether or notthe premiums can be permanently granted to thefollowing, that is, to the Red Guard, the informers, theagitators, whom he needs. What he actually attains under theconditions of his work is therefore not in his hand, but isprescribed to him by the following's motives, which, if viewedethically, are predominantly base. The following can be harnessedonly so long as an honest belief in his person and his causeinspires at least part of the following, probably never on eartheven the majority. This belief, even when subjectively sincere,is in a very great number of cases really no more than an ethical'legitimation' of cravings for revenge, power, booty, and spoils.We shall not be deceived about this by verbiage; the materialistinterpretation of history is no cab to be taken at will; it doesnot stop short of the promoters of revolutions. Emotionalrevolutionism is followed by the traditionalist routine ofeveryday life; the crusading leader and the faith itself fadeaway, or, what is even more effective, the faith becomes part ofthe conventional phraseology of political Philistines andbanausic technicians. This development is especially rapid withstruggles of faith because they are usually led or inspired bygenuine leaders, that is, prophets of revolution. For here, aswith every leader's machine, one of the conditions for success isthe depersonalization and routinization, in short, the psychicproletarianization, in the interests of discipline. After comingto power the following of a crusader usually degenerates veryeasily into a quite common stratum of spoilsmen.
Whoever wants to engage in politics at all, and especially inpolitics as a vocation, has to realize these ethical paradoxes.He must know that he is responsible for what may become ofhimself under the impact of these paradoxes. I repeat, he letshimself in for the diabolic forces lurking in all violence. Thegreat virtuosi of acosmic love of humanity and goodness,whether stemming from Nazareth or Assisi or from Indian royalcastles, have not operated with the political means of violence.Their kingdom was 'not of this world' and yet they worked andstill work in this world. The figures of Platon Karatajev and thesaints of Dostoievski still remain their most adequatereconstructions. He who seeks the salvation of the soul, of hisown and of others, should not seek it along the avenue ofpolitics, for the quite different tasks of politics can only besolved by violence. The genius or demon of politics lives in aninner tension with the god of love, as well as with the ChristianGod as expressed by the church. This tension can at any time leadto an irreconcilable conflict. Men knew this even in the times ofchurch rule. Time and again the papal interdict was placed uponFlorence and at the time it meant a far more robust power for menand their salvation of soul than (to speak with Fichte) the 'coolapprobation' of the Kantian ethical judgment. The burghers,however, fought the church-state. And it is with reference tosuch situations that Machiavelli in a beautiful passage, if I amnot mistaken, of the History of Florence, has one of hisheroes praise those citizens who deemed the greatness of theirnative city higher than the salvation of their souls.
If one says 'the future of socialism' or 'internationalpeace,' instead of native city or 'fatherland' (which at presentmay be a dubious value to some), then you face the problem as itstands now. Everything that is striven for through politicalaction operating with violent means and following an ethic ofresponsibility endangers the 'salvation of the soul.' If,however, one chases after the ultimate good in a war of beliefs,following a pure ethic of absolute ends, then the goals may bedamaged and discredited for generations, because responsibilityfor consequences is lacking, and two diabolic forces which enterthe play remain unknown to the actor. These are inexorable andproduce consequences for his action and even for his inner self,to which he must helplessly submit, unless he perceives them. Thesentence: 'The devil is old; grow old to understand him!' doesnot refer to age in terms of chronological years. I have neverpermitted myself to lose out in a discussion through a referenceto a date registered on a birth certificate; but the mere factthat someone is twenty years of age and that I am over fifty isno cause for me to think that this alone is an achievement beforewhich I am overawed. Age is not decisive; what is decisive is thetrained relentlessness in viewing the realities of life, and theability to face such realities and to measure up to theminwardly.
Surely, politics is made with the head, but it is certainlynot made with the head alone. In this the proponents of an ethicof ultimate ends are right. One cannot prescribe to anyonewhether he should follow an ethic of absolute ends or an ethic ofresponsibility, or when the one and when the other. One can sayonly this much: If in these times, which, in your opinion, arenot times of 'sterile' excitation--excitation is not, after all,genuine passion--if now suddenly the Weltanschauungs-politicianscrop up en masse and pass the watchword, 'The world isstupid and base, not I,' 'The responsibility for the consequencesdoes not fall upon me but upon the others whom I serve and whosestupidity or baseness I shall eradicate,' then I declare franklythat I would first inquire into the degree of inner poise backingthis ethic of ultimate ends. I am under the impression that innine out of ten cases I deal with windbags who do not fullyrealize what they take upon themselves but who intoxicatethemselves with romantic sensations. From a human point of viewthis is not very interesting to me, nor does it move meprofoundly. However, it is immensely moving when a matureman--no matter whether old or young in years--is aware of aresponsibility for the consequences of his conduct and reallyfeels such responsibility with heart and soul. He then acts byfollowing an ethic of responsibility and somewhere he reaches thepoint where he says: 'Here I stand; I can do no other.' That issomething genuinely human and moving. And every one of us who isnot spiritually dead must realize the possibility of findinghimself at some time in that position. In so far as this is true,an ethic of ultimate ends and an ethic of responsibility are notabsolute contrasts but rather supplements, which only in unisonconstitute a genuine man--a man who can have the 'calling forpolitics.'
Now then, ladies and gentlemen, let us debate this matter oncemore ten years from now. Unfortunately, for a whole series ofreasons, I fear that by then the period of reaction will havelong since broken over us. It is very probable that little ofwhat many of you, and (I candidly confess) I too, have wished andhoped for will be fulfilled; little-perhaps not exactly nothing,but what to us at least seems little. This will not crush me, butsurely it is an inner burden to realize it. Then, I wish I couldsee what has become of those of you who now feel yourselves to begenuinely 'principled' politicians and who share in theintoxication signified by this revolution. It would be nice ifmatters turned out in such a way that Shakespeare's Sonnet 102should hold true:
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.
But such is not the case. Not summer's bloom lies ahead of us,but rather a polar night of icy darkness and hardness, no matterwhich group may triumph externally now. Where there is nothing,not only the Kaiser but also the proletarian has lost his rights.When this night shall have slowly receded, who of those for whomspring apparently has bloomed so luxuriously will be alive? Andwhat will have become of all of you by then ? Will you be bitteror banausic ? Will you simply and dully accept world andoccupation? Or will the third and by no means the least frequentpossibility be your lot: mystic flight from reality for those whoare gifted for it, or--as is both frequent and unpleasant--forthose who belabor themselves to follow this fashion? In every oneof such cases, I shall draw the conclusion that they have notmeasured up to their own doings. They have not measured up to theworld as it really is in its everyday routine. Objectively andactually, they have not experienced the vocation for politics inits deepest meaning, which they thought they had. They would havedone better in simply cultivating plain brotherliness in personalrelations. And for the rest--they should have gone soberly abouttheir daily work.
Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takesboth passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experienceconfirms the truth--that man would not have attained the possibleunless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. Butto do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but ahero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even thosewho are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with thatsteadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of allhopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be ableto attain even that which is possible today. Only he has thecalling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble whenthe world from his point of view is too stupid or too base forwhat he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this cansay 'In spite of all!' has the calling for politics.
Dead Aid - Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa by Dambisa Moyo
I. The Myth of Aid
The state of Africa
A decade ago, it was easy to paint a bleak picture of the African continent. Economic prospects were grim, corruption was rampant, social capital was debilitated, tyrannical states were the order of the day, and infrastructure lay in ruins.
Over the past five years, there have been signs that warrant a sliver of optimism. Many African economies have posted annual growth rates around 5 per cent, and a number of countries now host democratic elections.
Three factors are at the core of the African revival.
First, the surge in commodity prices – oil, copper, gold, and foodstuffs – in the last several years has fueled African exports and increased export revenue. Second, on the back of the market-based policies instituted in the late 19805, African countries have benefited from a positive policy dividend. This has left Africa's macroeconomic fundamentals on the up (growth on the rise, inflation down, more transparent, prudent, and stable monetary and fiscal performance). And despite the news headlines, there have been some noteworthy improvements in social indicators in some countries. In Kenya, for example, HIV prevalence rates have fallen from 15 per cent in 2001 to 6 per cent at the end of 2006.1 Third, there have been some notable strides in the political landscape across the continent; more than just on paper. For example, of forty-eight sub-Saharan African countries, over 50 per cent hold regular democratic elections that can be deemed free and fair.2 The Occurrence of democratic elections and decline in the levels of perceived corruption in a number of countries (for example, Angola, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and, yes, even Nigeria) point to a vastly improved investment climate.
If you simply believe the media headlines, are taken in by the soundbites and quips, you would almost for sure have missed out on some key milestones in Africa's financial development.
Established in 1887, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is sub Saharan Africa's oldest stock market. Its opening was followed by Bulawayo's exchange, in what was then the colony of Rhodesia, in 1896, and then Windhoek's, in present-day Namibia, in 1910.3 Today sixteen African countries boast functioning and transparent stock markets (Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe), with market capitalization in 2008 (excluding South Africa) around US$200 billion (around half of the region's GDP).
While it is true that stock market liquidity – the ease with which an investor can buy or sell shares – across most African exchanges is relatively low at an annual turnover ratio of 6 per cent in 2008(versus an average of 85 per cent in more-developed emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China), between 20052006 the growth in liquidity, measured as turnover, was over 50 per cent. All things being equal, liquidity across African markets should markedly improve in the near term.4
In three of the past five years African stock exchanges have ranked among the best places to invest, with listed stock returns averaging 40 per cent. Companies like Zambeef (one of Africa’s largest agri-businesses, involved in the production, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, chickens, eggs, milk and dairy products) returned 150 per cent in real US$ terms in 2007, and between 2005 and early 2008 the Nigerian banking sector has returned around 300 per cent.
Performance across Africa's bond markets is also impressive. Local debt returned investors 15 per cent in 2006, and 18 percent in 2007. In the last five years average African credit spreads have collapsed by 250 basis points. What this means is that if a country issues US$IOO million in debt, it is saving itself US$2.5 million per year relative to where it was five years ago. And African Private Equity investments have had a steady record, reputedly yielding around 30 per cent over the past ten years.
But, despite these important recent strides in the macro economy and the political landscape, overall the picture in terms of trends in Africa remains a challenging one.
With an average per capita income of roughly US$1 a day, sub-Saharan Africa remains the poorest region in the world.5 Africa's real per capita income today is lower than in the 1970s, leaving many African countries at least as poor as they were forty years ago. With over half of the 700 million Africans living on less than a dollar a day, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of poor people in the world some 50 per cent of the world’s poor. And while the number of the world's population and proportion of the world's people in extreme poverty fell after 1980, the proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa living in abject poverty increased to almost 50 per cent. Between 1981 and 2002, the number of people in the continent living in poverty nearly doubled, leaving the average African poorer today than just two decades ago. And looking ahead, the 2007 United Nations Human Development Report forecasts that sub-Saharan Africa will account for almost one third of world poverty in 2015, up from one fifth in 1990 (this largely due to the dramatic developmental strides being made elsewhere around the emerging world).
Life expectancy has stagnated – Africa is the only continent where life expectancy is less than sixty years; today it hovers around fifty years, and in some countries it has fallen back to what it was in the 19505 (life expectancy in Swaziland is a paltry thirty years). The decrease in life expectancy is mainly attributed to the rise of the HIV-AIDS pandemic. One in seven children across the African continent die before the age of five.6 These statistics are particularly worrying in that (as with many other developing regions of the world), roughly 50 per cent of Africa's population is young below the age of fifteen years.
Adult literacy across most African countries has plummeted below pre-19 80 levels. Literacy rates, health indicators (malaria) water-borne diseases such as bilharzia and cholera) and income inequality all remain a cause for worry. And still across important indicators, the trend in Africa is not just downwards: Africa is(negatively) decoupling from the progress being made across the rest of the world. Even with African growth rates averaging 5 percent a year over the past several years, the Africa Progress Panel pointed out in 2007 that growth is still short of the 7 per cent that needs to be sustained to make substantial inroads into poverty reduction.7
On the political side, some 50 per cent of the continent remains under non-democratic rule. According to the Polity IV database, Africa is still home to at least eleven fully autocratic regimes (Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, The Gambia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe). Three African heads of state (dos Santos of Angola, Obiang of Equatorial Guinea and Bongo of Gabon) have been in power since the 1970S (having ascended to power on 2 December 1967,President Bongo has recently celebrated his fortieth year in power). Five other presidents have had a lock on power since the 1980s(Compaore of Burkina Faso, Biya of Cameroon, Conte of Guinea, Museveni of Uganda and Mugabe of Zimbabwe). Since 1996,eleven countries have been embroiled in civil wars (Angola, Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda).8 And according to the May 2008 annual Global Peace Index, out of the ten bottom countries four African states are among the least peaceful in the world (in order, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan and Somalia) – the most of anyone continent.
Why is it that Africa, alone among the continents of the world, seems to be locked into a cycle of dysfunction? Why is it that out of all the continents in the world Africa seems unable to convincingly get its foot on the economic ladder? Why in a recent survey did seven out of the top ten 'failed states' hail from that continent? Are Africa's people universally more incapable? Are its leaders genetically more venal, more ruthless, more corrupt? Its policymakers more innately feckless? What is it about Africa that holds it back, that seems to render it incapable of joining the rest of the globe in the twenty-first century?
The answer has its roots in aid.
What is aid?
Broadly speaking there exist three types of aid: humanitarian or emergency aid, which is mobilized and dispensed in response to catastrophes and calamities – for example, aid in response to the 2004 Asian tsunami, or monies which targeted the cyclone-hit Myanmar in 2008; charity-based aid, which is disbursed by charitable organizations to institutions or people on the ground; and systematic aid that is, aid payments made directly to governments either through government-to-government transfers (in which case it is termed bilateral aid) or transferred via institutions such as the World Bank (known as multilateral aid).
While there are obvious and fundamental merits to emergency aid, criticisms can be levelled against it as well as against charitable giving. Charities are often criticized, with some justification, for poor implementation, high administrative costs and the fact that they are on occasion coerced to do their donor government’s bidding – despite the obvious lack of relevance to a local context. For example, in 2005, the United States pledged US$15 billion over five years to fight AIDS (mainly through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) launched in January 2003).9 But this had strings attached. Two thirds of the money had to go to pro-abstinence programmes, and would not be available to any organizations with clinics that offered abortion services or even counseling. And nine months after the 2004 Asian tsunami, for whatever the reason (bureaucracy, institutional inefficiencies or the absence of suitable organizations on the ground to disburse the monies), the charity World Vision had spent less than a quarter of the US$IOO million it had raised.
But this book is not concerned with emergency and charity based aid. The significant sums of this type of aid that flow to Africa simply disguise the fundamental (yet erroneous) mindset that pervades the West – that aid, whatever its form, is a good thing. Besides, charity and emergency aid are small beer when compared with the billions transferred each year directly to poor countries' governments.
Large systematic cash transfers from rich countries to African governments have tended to be in the form of concessional loans (that is, money lent at below market interest rates, and often for much longer lending periods than ordinary commercial markets) or grants (which is essentially money given for nothing in return).
There is a school of thought which argues that recipient countries view loans, which carry the burden of future repayment, as different from grants. That the prospects of repayment mean loans induce governments to use funds wisely and to mobilize taxes and maintain current levels of revenue collection. Whereas grants are viewed as free resources and could therefore perfectly substitute for a government's domestic revenues.
This distinction has led many donors to push for a policy of grants instead of loans to poor countries. The logic is that much of the investment that poor countries need to make has a long gestation period before it starts to produce the kinds of changes in GDP growth that will yield the tax revenues needed to service loans. Indeed, many scholars have argued that it was precisely because many African countries have, over time, received (floating rate) loans, and not grants, to finance public investments that they became so heavily indebted, and that aid has not helped them reach their development objectives.
Yet ultimately the question becomes how strongly recipient governments perceive loans as being different from grants. If a large share of foreign loans are provided on highly concessional terms, and loans are frequently forgiven, policymakers in poor economies may come to view them as roughly equivalent to grants, and as such the distinction between (aid) loans and grants as practically irrelevant. Over recent decades, the pattern of aid to Africa seems to gel with this view of the world – one in which loans are not seen as distinct from grants.
Therefore, for the purposes of this book, aid is defined as the sum total of both concessional loans and grants. It is these billions that have hampered, stifled and retarded Africa's development. And it is these billions that Dead Aid will address.
1. Various UNAIDS reports on the global AIDS epidemic.
2. Freedom House: http://www.freedomhouse.org; and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance: http://www.idea.int/.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSESecuritiesExchange; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZimbabweStockExchange.
4. In terms of Price/Earnings (essentially a measure of how much value investors predict in the future of African companies), African P/Es, at 15 times, have been roughly commensurate with the emerging economies’ (Brazil, Russia, India and China) average of 19 times.
5. Data sources are various issues of the World Bank World Development Indicators.
6. Average child mortality for Africa is 142 per 1,000 under-fives (World Bank World Development Indicators, 2006).
7. The Africa Progress Panel said in 2007: ‘In 2006, Africa’s growth stood at 5.4 percent … far short of the 7 percent annual growth that needs to be sustained to make substantial inroads into poverty reduction.’
8. Using the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo’s armed conflict dataset, civil war is defined as an internal or internationalized internal armed conflict with at least 1,000 deaths in a year.
9. ‘The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: U.S. Five Year Global HIV/AIDS Strategy’, at http://www.state.gov/s/gac/plan/c11652.htm.
Check on Amazon To Read the Whole Book:Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo
The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita And Alastair Smith
The People in Revolt
A SUCCESSFUL LEADER ALWAYS PUTS THE WANTS OF his essential supporters before the needs of the people.1 Without the support of his coalition a leader is nothing and is quickly swept away by a rival. But keeping the coalition content comes at a price when the leader’s control depends only on a few. More often than not, the coalition’s members get paid at the cost of the rest of society. Sure, a few autocrats become hall of famers who make their citizens better off. Most don’t. And those who don’t will spend their time in office running down their nation’s economy for their own and their coalition’s benefit. Eventually things get bad enough that some of the people tire of their burden. Then they too can threaten the survival of their leader.
Although not as omnipresent as the threat posed by the risk of coalition defection, if the people take to the streets en masse then they may succeed in overwhelming the power of the state. How to prevent and deal with such revolutionary threats is therefore a crucial lesson for dictators and for would-be revolutionaries that we must now confront.
To Protest or Not To Protest
In autocracies the people get a raw deal. Their labor provides tax revenues that leaders lavish on essential core supporters. Leaders provide them little beyond the essential minimal health care, primary education, and food to allow them to work. And if a small-coalition leader is fortunate enough to have another source of revenue, such as natural resources or a benevolent foreign donor, then he may even be able to do away with these minimal provisions. Autocrats certainly don’t provide political freedoms. Life for people in most small-coalition regimes is nasty, solitary, poor, brutish, and short. The people, seeing the hopeless path they are on, invariably want change. They want a government that provides for them and under which they can live secure, happy, and productive lives.
Why, having suffered long and hard, might they suddenly and often in multitudes rise up against their government? The answer resides in finding a crucial moment, a tipping point, at which life in the future under the existing government is expected to be sufficiently bad that it is worth their while to risk the undoubted costs of rebellion. They must believe that some few who have come forward first in rebellion have a decent chance of success and a decent chance of making the lives of ordinary people better.
There is a delicate balance here. If a regime excels at convincing people that stepping out of line means incredible misery and even death, it is unlikely to experience rebellion. Yes, life under such a government is horrendous, but the risk of failure in a revolt and the costs of that failure are way too high for people to rise up. They might be killed or imprisoned, and they might lose their job or home, even their children. That is why the Hitlers, Stalins, and Kim Jong Ils of the world manage to avoid revolt. If rule is really harsh, people are effectively deterred from rising up.
At first, a few especially bold individuals may rise up in revolt. They proclaim their intention to make their country a democracy. Every revolution and every mass movement begins with a promise of democratic reform, of a new government that will lift up the downtrodden and alleviate their suffering. That is an essential ingredient in getting the masses to take to the streets. Of course, it doesn’t always work.
The Chinese communists, for instance, declared the formation of a Chinese Soviet Republic on November 7, 1931. They said of their newly declared state,
It is the state of the suppressed workers, farmers, soldiers, and working mass. Its flag calls for the downfall of imperialism, the liquidation of landlords, the overthrow of the warlord government of the Nationalists. We shall establish a soviet government over the whole of China; we shall struggle for the interests of thousands of deprived workers, farmers, and soldiers and other suppressed masses; and to endeavor for peaceful unification of the whole of China.2
Jomo Kenyatta, the leader of Kenya’s independence movement and its first head of state, likewise declared during a meeting of the Kenya African Union (KAU) on July 26, 1952:
If we unite now, each and every one of us, and each tribe to another, we will cause the implementation in this country of that which the European calls democracy. True democracy has no colour distinction. It does not choose between black and white. We are here in this tremendous gathering under the K.A.U. flag to find which road leads us from darkness into democracy. In order to find it we Africans must first achieve the right to elect our own representatives. That is surely the first principle of democracy. We are the only race in Kenya which does not elect its own representatives in the Legislature and we are going to set about to rectify this situation.... It has never been known in history that a country prospers without equality. We despise bribery and corruption, those two words that the European repeatedly refers to. Bribery and corruption is prevalent in this country, but I am not surprised. As long as a people are held down, corruption is sure to rise and the only answer to this is a policy of equality.3
Noble words from both Mao Zedong and Jomo Kenyatta. Neither fulfilled his promises of equality, democracy, and liberty for the average Chinese or the average Kenyan. Nor did either leader eliminate corruption and special opportunities for their party faithful. Once most revolutionaries come to power, their inclination—if they can get away with it—is to be petty dictators. After all, the democratic institutions that engender the policies the people want also make it hard for leaders to survive in office. Leaders won’t acquiesce to the people’s wants unless the people can compel them. And when can the people compel an old dictator, seemingly set in his ways, or a recently victorious revolutionary, newly ensconced in power, to look out for them instead of for himself? The answer to that question is the answer to when regimes choose the road to democracy rather than to sustained autocracy.
Before deciding to gamble on the promises of revolutionaries, each prospective demonstrator must judge the costs and the risks of rebellion to be tolerable relative to the conditions expected without rebellion and relative to the gains expected with a successful uprising. Thus it is that middle-of-the road dictators, like Cuba’s Fulgencio Batista, Tunisia’s Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, the Soviet Union’s Gorbachev (but not Stalin) are more likely to experience a mass uprising than their worst fellow autocrats. That is not to say that when the people rise up they are right in thinking life will be better. They are taking a calculated risk. They surely understand that revolutionary success holds the prospect of betterment, but not all revolutionary movements end in democracy and not all result in an outpouring of public goods for the people.
Many revolutions end up simply replacing one autocracy with another. On some occasions the successor regime can actually be worse than its predecessor. This might well have been the case with Sergeant Doe’s deposition of Liberia’s True Whig government or Mao’s success against Chiang Kai Shek’s Kuomintang government in China. But the hope of the people when they participate is that they will improve their lot, either by enlarging the winning coalition through democratization or at least by becoming part of the new coalition.
Nipping Mass Movements in the Bud
There are two diametrically opposed ways in which a leader can respond to the threat of a revolution. He can increase democracy, making the people so much better off that they no longer want to revolt. He can also increase dictatorship, making the people even more miserable than they were before while also depriving them of a credible chance of success in rising up against their government.
The extent of expected loyalty from the military is one critical factor that shapes the direction an incumbent takes in responding to a nascent threat. Leaders know that as isolated individuals the people are no threat to their government. That is precisely why government leaders are reluctant to let people freely assemble and organize against them. If the people find a way to take to the streets en masse, the incumbent will certainly need very loyal supporters willing to undertake the decidedly dirty work of suppressing the masses if he is to survive.
We have met many leaders whose backers have deserted them at just such key times. When insurgents challenged Sergeant Doe in 1990, his soldiers terrorized and stole from the people of Liberia rather than combat the threat. In 1979, the shah of Iran was deposed when his soldiers joined the supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini. Similarly, President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines lost power in 1986 because his security forces defected. Russia’s Czar Nicholas was deposed when the people stormed his Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in 1917. The army, poorly paid and facing deployment to the front in World War I, declined to stop them. Many other crucial events in modern political history, from the French Revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, also owe their occurrence to the failure of core supporters to suppress the people at critical moments. The recent so-called colored revolutions (Georgia’s Rose Revolution in 2003, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004–2005, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan in 2005), the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, as well as the uprisings in Egypt are also manifestations of the same phenomenon.
In each case, coalition support evaporated at the key moment because the leader could no longer promise his or her supporters an adequate flow of rewards to justify their undertaking the dirty work required to keep the regime in place. The Russian czar, France’s Louis XVI, and the Soviet Union were all short of money with which to reward supporters. The Philippines’ Marcos and Iran’s shah were both known to be terminally ill. New leaders typically reshuffle their coalition, so key backers of the regime were uncertain whether they would be retained by the successor. Lacking assurance that they would continue to be rewarded they stood aside and allowed the people to rebel.
Revolutionary movements may seem spontaneous but we really need to understand that they arise when enough citizens believe they have a realistic chance of success. That is why successful autocrats make rebellion truly unattractive. They step in quickly to punish harshly those who first take to the streets. This is what we saw in Iran following the June 2009 presidential election. The regime quickly stepped in, beating, arresting, and killing protesters, until the people feared continuing to take to the streets.
A prudent dictator nips rebellion in the bud. That is why we have reiterated the claim that only people willing to engage in really nasty behavior should contemplate becoming dictators. The softhearted will find themselves ousted in the blink of an eye.
Protest in Democracy and Autocracy
Dissatisfaction with what a government is doing is an entirely different matter in democracies than it is in autocracies. In a democracy, protest is relatively cheap and easy. People have the freedom and, indeed, the right to assemble. They also have easy means through which to coordinate and organize. We know from earlier chapters that governments ruled by a large coalition produce lots of public goods, including a special set of such goods that fall under the general heading of freedoms. These include a free press, free speech, and freedom of assembly. These freedom goods make it much easier for large numbers of people to exchange information about how they feel about their government and to express objections to any policies they don’t like.
These freedoms also make protest easy. But since people like these freedoms, granting them can also dissipate their desire to bring down the government. Protests are common in democracies but revolts intending to overthrow the institutions of government are not. Democrats provide the policies people want because otherwise the people will protest, and when people can freely assemble there is little a leader can do to stop them except give them what they want. Sometimes, of course, democratic leaders fail to give the people what they want. Then people are likely to take to the streets to indicate their dislike of a particular policy. That’s what generally happens when a democracy goes to war, for example. Some people favor the decision and others oppose it. Those who oppose it frequently make their displeasure known by taking to the streets, and, if there are enough of them and if they protest for a sufficiently sustained time, they can provoke a policy change. Lyndon Johnson, for instance, chose not to seek reelection in the face of deep dissatisfaction with his Vietnam War policies.
In democracy, protest is about alerting leaders to the fact that the people are unhappy, and that, if changes in policy are not made, they’ll throw the rascals out. Yet in autocracy, protest has a deeper purpose: to bring down the very institutions of government and change the way the people are governed.
Autocrats dislike freedoms because they make it easy for people to learn of their shared misery and to collaborate with each other to rise up against the government. Given their druthers, autocrats eliminate freedom of assembly, a free press, and free speech whenever they can, thereby insulating themselves from the threat of the people. Unfortunately for autocrats, without the public goods benefits from these freedoms, people can find it hard to work effectively because they cannot easily exchange ideas even about how to improve the workplace. And if the people don’t work effectively, then the leader cannot collect tax revenues.
Autocrats must find the right balance. Without enough freedom the people are less productive and do little work, but give them too many freedoms and they pose a threat to the leader. The degree to which autocrats rely on taxation to fund the government limits the extent to which they can oppress the people.
Nations awash with natural resource wealth or lavished with foreign aid rarely democratize. They are the world’s most oppressive places. Their leaders have resources to reward their essential supporters without having to empower the people. In such societies, though the people really desire change, they cannot act upon these wants. Without the ability to assemble, coordinating against the government is difficult. What is more, the people know the leader can afford to pay the coalition to oppress them. With little chance of success, the people keep their heads down. Protest is rare and answered with even greater repression.
But what happens if the money dries up?
Take a look back at Figure 7.1, where we graphed Egypt’s foreign aid receipts through 2010. US aid to Egypt has been dropping as Egypt’s peace with Israel has aged and matured. The drop in aid has been substantial and that means Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, found himself in a weaker and weaker position when it came to buying the loyal support of the military. The global economic slowdown had compounded the importance of aid for the Egyptian regime. With money drying up, a chance was created for a rebellion against his government. And, indeed, in early 2011, Mubarak, facing a poor economy and decreased aid receipts, also faced a mass rebellion.
When autocrats lack abundant resources they have a more difficult time managing the people. First and foremost, leaders must pay their essential backers or they will be gone. Leaders without adequate revenues from aid, natural resources, or borrowing must obtain them by encouraging the people to work and by taxing them. Unfortunately for leaders, many of the public goods that increase productivity also improve the people’s ability to coordinate and, therefore, protest. Further, because the leader needs the tax revenues the workers provide, such protests are more likely to be met with concessions than in a resource-rich nation or one with huge cash reserves.
The factors that lead to rebellion are relatively uncomplicated. How much a leader does to enhance the welfare of the people by providing public goods determines the desire of the people to rebel. The level of freedom determines the ease with which they can act upon these desires by taking to the streets.
Yet, though high levels of either factor are in evidence in a host of countries around the world, protests remain rare. They require a spark.
Shocks Raise Revolts
Shocks that trigger protest come in many forms. On rare occasions protests happen spontaneously. But more often it requires an event to shake up the system and trigger protest. At the collapse of the Soviet Union and other communist states in Eastern Europe in 1989, contagion played a major role. Once one state fell, the people in the surrounding states realized that their state was perhaps no longer invulnerable. Free elections in Communist Poland triggered protests in East Germany. When it became clear that security forces would not obey East German leader Erich Honecker’s order to break up demonstrations, the protests grew. Successful protest in Germany spawned demonstrations in Czechoslovakia, and so on. As each state fell, it provided a yet stronger signal to the peoples of the remaining communist states. The states fell like dominos. And each was suffering from a poorly performing economy, so that the East European dictators could no longer assure private advantages to their supporters. Quite the contrary, they had been reduced to a state in which many of their henchmen understood it was better to abandon the dictator than go down in a blaze of glory with their failed regimes. Much the same story repeated itself in the Middle East in 2011. As Tunisia fell, the people of Egypt realized that their leader might also be vulnerable. So contagious was the belief that rebellion could succeed that the once rock-steady Middle East quickly became fertile ground for mass movements. People in Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere tried their luck.
A massive natural disaster, an unanticipated succession crisis, or a global economic downturn that drives the autocrat’s local economy to the brink or beyond the brink of bankruptcy can also provide a rallying cry for protesters. Other shocks can be “planned”; that is, events or occasions chosen by an autocrat who misjudges the risks involved. One common example is a rigged election.
Dictators seem to like to hold elections. Whether they do so to satisfy international pressure (and gain more foreign aid), to dispel domestic unrest, or to gain a misleading sense of legitimacy, their preference is to rig the vote count. Elections are nice, but winning is nicer. Still, sometimes the people seize the moment of an election to shock the incumbent, voting so overwhelmingly for someone else that it is hard to cover up the true outcome.
Liberia’s Sergeant Doe was foolish enough to hold an election. In doing so, he provided the impetus for protest that he was lucky to survive. In 1985, Thomas Quiwonkpa challenged Samuel Doe after it took weeks for Liberia’s electoral commission to “count” the votes. Perhaps Quiwonkpa took the commission’s dalliance as a sign of popular support and equally a sign of the commission’s lack of support for him. As his insurgency approached the capital, Monrovia, the masses took to the streets against Doe’s government. Unfortunately for them, Doe’s essential supporters remained loyal. The costs of protest became very real. Doe’s soldiers killed hundreds in retribution.
In post-Soviet Eastern Europe, “legitimizing” elections helped to promote citizen uprisings. Rather than sustaining the regimes in power, elections created the opportunity to replace them. In 2004, the incumbent Ukrainian leader, Leonid Kuchma, having served two terms, decided, perhaps to the surprise of his essential backers, to respect the two-term limit and retire. His chosen successor was Viktor Yanukovych. The run up to the election looked like it came straight out of a John Le Carre spy novel, with the leading opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, allegedly poisoned with dioxin, which left him horribly disfigured.
In the first round of the elections in October each of the leading candidates received about 39 percent of the vote. This necessitated a runoff election on November 21, in which the official results differed greatly from exit polls. Even before the second round presidential runoff was complete, Yushchenko called for the people to take to the streets. The electoral commission declared Yanukovych the winner. However, protests mounted and the security forces withdrew. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that given the high level of fraud, another ballot was needed. Yushchenko then won the election handsomely.
Coalition dynamics play a key role in explaining why the security forces allowed the people to take to the streets. The president was changing. Although the retiring incumbent, Kuchma, backed Yanukovych, he could not ensure core supporters within the security forces that they would be retained after the transition. As we saw with Louis XIV and many others, newly empowered leaders, even when they have been chosen by their predecessor, are wise to shake up their coalition, bring in their own loyalists, and dump many of their predecessor’s erstwhile backers. The security forces, being uncertain whether they would keep their long-run privileges, declined to attack the masses, hedging their bets about who would be more likely to reward them. Without force to control the masses on the street, Yanukovych’s supporters deserted. The people brought Yushchenko to power, but an essential factor in their willingness to take to the streets was the apparent lack of support for Yanukovych by the security forces.
Sometimes the shocks that spark revolt come as a total surprise. Natural disasters, while bringing misery to the people, can also empower them. One frequent consequence of earthquakes, hurricanes, and droughts is that vast numbers of people are forced from their homes. If they are permitted to gather in refugee camps, then they have the opportunity to organize against the government. You see, refugee camps have the unintended consequence of facilitating free assembly. Earthquakes, storms, and volcanoes can concentrate large numbers of desperate people with little to lose. They also can substantially weaken the state’s capacity to control the people.
On the morning of September 19, 1985, a large 8.1 magnitude earthquake occurred on the Michoacan fault in the Pacific Ocean about 350 kilometers from Mexico City. Mexico City is geologically vulnerable as it was built on the soft foundation of the remains of Lake Texcoco. The clay silts and sands that make up the lake bed plus the soil’s high water content led to liquefaction (wherein the ground behaves like a liquid) during the earthquake. The city was also built in the absence of democratic rule, so few building codes had been enforced. As a result, the distant quake caused enormous devastation throughout the city. The death toll is highly disputed, but is thought to be between 10,000 and 30,000 people. An additional 250,000 were made homeless. The government did virtually nothing. Left to rescue themselves, the people formed crews to dig for survivors and organized refugee camps.
Born of necessity, these camps became the foundation for an important political force in Mexico City. Instead of separate individuals unhappy with their government, the earthquake formed a concentrated mass of desperate people. Forced together into crowded camps, they shared their disillusionment with the government. Organizing a protest rally was suddenly relatively easy. Ready and willing participants were on hand and had little to lose. With the government largely absent, these social groups became important political forces that rapidly deployed as large anti government demonstrations. Unable to oppose these groups, the government sought to accommodate them. It is widely believed they played a key role in Mexico’s democratization.4
The story of Anastasio Somoza’s deposition in the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979 is broadly similar. In 1972, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the capital of Managua, killing around 5,000 people and forcing about 250,000 homeless people into camps. Somoza and his cronies profited from disaster relief but did nothing to resettle the enormous number of homeless people who had gathered in refugee camps in the capital. These camps became organizing grounds for the activists who eventually ended Somoza’s reign.
Not all autocrats make the mistake of ignoring disasters or ignoring the creation of refugee camps. Consider the case of Myanmar in 2008. Than Shwe is the military leader of Burma (officially known as Myanmar). Although he has been described as an unremarkable man, he understands the essentials of staying in power.5 On May 2, 2008, a massive cyclone, named Nargis, swept across the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Burma causing havoc. The delta’s residents, mainly poor fishermen and farmers, received no warning of the coming storm. The storm destroyed entire towns and villages. The official death toll is 138,000, though other estimates suggest it might be as high as 500,000.
No one can blame Than Shwe for the storm or for the low-lying villages’ vulnerability to storm surge. However, Burma’s military regime provided no warning and did nothing to help the survivors, and for that they can be blamed. Indeed they did worse than nothing: they actively prevented help from being delivered. Many people in Rangoon, the major city in southern Burma that was itself heavily damaged by the storm, attempted to help those in the delta. They were not allowed. Small businessmen and traders were reduced to smuggling small amounts of food into what remained of towns and villages.
The international community rallied to offer assistance. As tens, or possibly hundreds, of thousands of people died of hunger and thirst in the aftermath of the storm, ships full of disaster relief supplies sat off the coast. The military junta refused to allow relief workers in. Visas were almost impossible to obtain. Information was extremely scarce. The government requested aid, but asked that it be in the form of bilateral government-to-government assistance. Effectively, Than Shwe was saying, “send cash, but you can’t come in.”
About a week after the disaster, the army started entering the larger towns and villages of the delta. They were not there to help. They were there to disperse survivors who had congregated in schools and temples. Even though their numbers rarely exceeded a few hundred, survivors were expelled from their shelters and told to return home. It mattered little that, in most cases, their entire village had been destroyed and they had no food, water, clothing, or shelter to return to. Indeed, one report observed,
Survivors were loaded onto boats and ferried back to the destroyed villages they had recently escaped from. In some areas the clearances happened quickly; as the emergency phase was now officially over, the authorities wanted people back in their villages by June 2, when the next school term was scheduled to begin. But survivors had no idea what they were returning to; was there even anything left at places they had once called home? And how would they get food and water there?6
The government did not even attempt to answer these questions.
In the PBS documentary, Eyes of the Storm, a senior Burmese general is seen addressing a group of survivors.7 Starving and destitute, they ask for a handful of rice. The general tells them that he is here now (but still he makes no offer of assistance) and that they must go back to their village and “work hard.” While the army seized (and sold on the black market) the few relief supplies allowed in, the people were told they could eat frogs. Effectively the government told these survivors to go away and die quietly: inhumane in the extreme, but good small-coalition politics. Dead people cannot protest.
Are Disasters Always Disasters for Government Survival?
Earthquakes and other disasters shake up political systems. However, the nature of the shakeup is very different under different institutions. Democratic leaders are very sensitive to disaster-related casualties. Allowing people to die reveals serious policy failure. Democrats need to deliver good public policy to reward their large number of backers. When they fail to do so, they are liable to be removed. Disaster-related deaths result in protest and in the removal of leaders in democracies.
To illustrate the difference in political responses to poor disaster relief in a non-democratic and democratic setting, we contrast Cyclone Nargis with Hurricane Katrina. Katrina struck the US Gulf Coast in August 2005. This was the most costly natural disaster in US history, with damages estimated at $81 billion. The death toll was 1,836.
The government, from President George W. Bush down to New Orleans’s mayor, Ray Nagin, stood accused of mismanagement and lack of leadership. Nagin delayed the evacuation order for the city until nineteen hours before the storm struck. As a result many people became trapped. Then, once the New Orleans Super dome football stadium was set up as an emergency center, it became overwhelmed when 30,000 rather than the anticipated 800 people showed up. Federal disaster relief was slow in arriving. Many of the casualties were the sick and elderly who were overcome by heat and dehydration.
The tenure of US leaders was seriously jeopardized by the disaster. Many observers think Katrina contributed significantly to the Republican Party’s midterm electoral losses in 2006 and their significant losses, including the presidency, in 2008. Yet, while it is clear that the situation could have been handled much better, it bears no resemblance to Cyclone Nargis. In contrast, despite having allowed at least 138,000 people to die, Than Shwe felt sufficiently well entrenched to allow a farcical election in 2010, which the government-backed parties won easily (at least according to official sources).
As seen in the cases of Mexico and Nicaragua, disasters can serve as rallying points in autocracies. Disasters can concentrate opponents of the regime, making it easier for them to coordinate. Yet the death toll from disasters has relatively little effect on a dictator’s chance of staying in power. Indeed, if anything, large numbers of people dying in disasters actually enhance the political survival of autocratic leaders.
As we know, autocrats don’t buy political support with efficient public policy. Resources spent saving the lives of the people cannot be spent on cronies. In addition, as we have seen, autocrats are skilled at exploiting the international community. By letting more people die they may in fact be able to extract more relief assistance. The implications of these results are frightening. Small wonder, then, that far more people die in natural disasters in autocracies than in democracies.
Letting people die is good governance in autocracy, but it is disastrous for the tenure of democrats. Although a detailed statistical analysis of the relationship between disasters,8 deaths and leader tenure is complex, we compared what happens in a country when 200 or more people die in a magnitude 5+ earthquake, to what happens in the same size earthquake if fewer people die. In particular, we looked at the effect of such circumstances on the odds of a country’s leader being removed from office within two years following the earthquake.
An earthquake alone does not threaten the survival of democrats. However, if there are more than 200 people killed by the quake then a democratic leader is almost certain to be removed from office. Under normal circumstances, any democrat has a 40 percent chance of being ousted from office in any two-year period. But for a democrat whose country suffered 200 or more deaths in an earthquake, those odds rise to 91 percent. We believe this is the case because democratic leaders are supposed to deliver effective public policies, and those effective policies include ensuring good building codes are enforced and excellent rescue and recovery is implemented following a natural disaster. The death of many in such a disaster is a signal to everyone else that the leadership has not done an adequate job of protecting the people and so out go the leaders.
Autocrats are less vulnerable to removal than democrats and earthquake related deaths have little effect on their hold on power. Over a typical two-year period, 22 percent of autocrats lose power. If their country suffers a magnitude 5 or greater earthquake in the first year of this two-year window, the dictator’s risk of being removed goes up to 30 percent. However, the autocrat’s risk of removal is reduced to 24 percent if the earthquake killed more than 200 people. Earthquakes pose a threat to autocratic leaders when people are forced into refugee camps and can organize against the regime. People dying from an earthquake can’t organize and so they do not endanger a dictator’s survival in office. As might be expected, given these facts and the incentives they suggest, instances of 200 or more people dying in earthquakes is much more common in autocracies than democracies.9
Not all disasters are equal in the eyes of autocrats. Dictators are particularly wary of natural disasters when they occur in politically and economically important centers. Disaster management in China emphasizes this point. When an earthquake struck the remote province of Qinghai in 2010, the Chinese government’s response was, at best, halfhearted. In contrast, its handling of disaster relief in the wake of a 2008 earthquake in Sichuan won the approval of much of the international community. The differences are stark and driven by politics. The Sichuan quake occurred in an economically and politically important center where a massed protest could potentially threaten the government. Qinghai is remote and of little political importance. Protest there would do little to threaten the government. The government did much less to assist people who could not threaten them.
Responding to Revolution or Its Threat
Whether because of an unforeseen earthquake, a succession crisis, or a financial meltdown, the threat of rebellion can rise, striking a leader like a lightning bolt. What then is the right response to such a threat? History teaches us that some crack down hard on rebels; some succumb to them; and some reform on their own. The rules governing politics help us understand how different circumstances lead to different choices among these options.
Successful rebellions, mass movements, and revolutions are not commonplace, but neither are they extremely rare. Successful rebellions that turn into democracy are pretty rare but they do happen. What characterizes revolutions or revolutionaries who actually do what they promise: create a democracy to try to better the lives of the people? And what characterizes revolutions that don’t take off or revolutionaries who don’t democratize! We start with our old friend, General Than Shwe of Burma.
The Than Schwe government makes sure that the people of Burma are kept poor, isolated, and ignorant. There is no free press. The people are not allowed to congregate. Few foreigners are allowed in, and those that are, are constantly watched by the police. All these actions are designed to make it hard for the people to coordinate and organize against the government. The people are desperate for change, but the government makes it virtually impossible for them to achieve it. In a telling 2005 account of how unhappy the people are, a journalist for the Economist magazine recalls how they were continually asking him how the United States could be prevailed upon to invade: “the prospect of a foreign invasion is a fond hope, not a fear.”10 The people of Burma want to be the next Iraq! With such demand for change, it is little wonder that Shwe is terrified of protest and that he focuses his attention on preventing it.
Than Shwe, like many others, takes the autocrat’s preferred path to eliminating the threat from mass political movements. He suppresses the people. He doesn’t need to buy them off because Burma is blessed, or cursed, depending upon your point of view, with natural resources. Burma is a huge exporter of natural gas, hardwood, gems, gold, copper, and iron.11 For instance, it is thought to earn about $345 million through the annual export of 1.4–1.6 million cubic meters of hardwood, much of it extremely valuable teak. We use the term “thought to” because it is hard to know the figures for sure. For instance, in 2001, China reported that it imported 514,000 cubic meters of wood from Burma, but Burma only records exports of 3,240 cubic meters. Presumably the income from the unaccounted-for hardwood lines the pockets of the generals, rather than funding the welfare of the people. It certainly does not fund infrastructure. Indeed, the timber industry’s attempts to process its products before export have been nearly completely stymied by the absence of infrastructure. Of course the absence of roads makes it even more difficult for the people to assemble and threaten the government. This became particularly true after 2005, when the government moved the capital to a remote mountain location where few citizens are allowed to visit.
Burma is also the world’s major producer of jade and rubies. Gem auctions in 2007 are thought to have earned the nation $370 million. Yet Burma’s biggest export earner is natural gas. Currently the offshore natural gas fields generate between $1–1.5 billion. These earnings are likely to increase over the next few years with the development of additional fields and the opening of a pipeline to ship gas directly to China. Little of this money makes its way into the government’s economic accounts. The official exchange rate is 6 kyaks to the dollar. However, the real rate is around two hundred times higher. This means the regime can deposit all gas export earnings in government accounts at the official exchange rate and still keep 99.5 percent of the money for themselves.
Burma is poor. Than Shwe is rich! He is a fortunate leader. Since he does not rely on the labor of the people he can suppress them ruthlessly. This means that despite the miserable conditions they endure, the people cannot easily rebel. And if they do, Shwe has the resources to buy the army’s loyalty and ensure that he stays on in power. In February 2007, various newspapers reported on a minor demonstration in Burma. Fifteen people (or twenty-five, depending upon reports) congregated to protest. Their demands were for basic human rights. Within thirty minutes, many of them, along with a number of journalists covering the protest, were arrested. The regime perceives any kind of protest as a potential threat to its survival, and with good reason. General Ne Win seized power in a coup in 1962 and implemented a socialist agenda. Protests and riots erupted in 1988. On August 8, 1988 (8/8/1988—a lucky set of numbers in many Asian cultures), troops fired at demonstrators killing thousands. Protest over these atrocities forced Ne Win to resign and agree to elections scheduled for 1990. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National Party for Democracy was the landslide winner, taking 58.7 percent of the popular vote and capturing 392 out of 492 seats. However, with demonstrations and protests under control, the military simply ignored the results and carried on ruling.
Than Shwe came to power in 1992. His regime stamped out the protest of February 2007 immediately. However, the junta’s fear of protest was justified by events in August 2007. Following an announcement of fuel price increases, on August 19 about 500 protestors, led by many of the student protest leaders who had been active in 1988, took to the streets. These protests continued over a number of days. Participation soon dwindled to double digits as the army engaged in widespread arrests, but in September these protests reignited when several hundred monks marched. The army beat the monks. Two monks were chained to a lamppost and beaten. One allegedly died.
Monks are revered in Burma. The violence against them generated further protest. A government delegation was trapped for six hours by protesters. Across Burma monks took the symbolic act of overturning their alms bowls against the government, a ritual known as thabeik hmauk. Religious services were denied to all members of the military. Across the country groups of monks began to march. These protests grew daily. People began to talk of a Saffron Revolution, saffron being the color of the monk’s robes. This was precisely what Than Shwe feared most.
On September 25 the government ordered a crackdown. Protesters were attacked, first with rubber bullets, then with live ammunition and whips. The army also raided monasteries and carried monks away at night. Many of the remaining monks were dispersed to their villages to prevent them from congregating. After three days the protests had completely ended. Although government forces utterly crushed all opposition, it was a costly operation. The esteem in which monks are held meant many soldiers were reluctant to harm them. There were fears that the army might not be willing to attack temples. In the end they were, but it no doubt cost the regime lots of resources to buy such loyalty.
Inhumane as Shwe’s actions were, they represented good autocratic politics. He survived to rule another day. Nor is Shwe alone in placing being a leader ahead of being a good human being. Life is miserable for the people in resource-rich autocracies the world over. In these regimes, governments prevent the people from coordinating. Their lives are isolated, miserable, and unproductive. But revolution and protest are not hopeless acts, as the next set of examples make clear.
Power to the People
A few of history’s revolutionaries stand out for their success not only in overthrowing a nasty regime, but in creating a people-friendly government in its place. America’s George Washington, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Philippines’ Corazon Aquino are a few cases in point. Perhaps even more interestingly, a few leaders threatened with revolution have also democratized as the path to keep themselves in power. Ghana’s Jerry John “J. J.” Rawlings is a perfect example. Common threads run through each of these democratizers—common threads that are absent from revolutions that replaced one dictator with another, such as occurred under Mao Zedong in China, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Porfirio Diaz in Mexico, and Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya.
Democratic revolutions are most often fought by people who cannot count on great natural resource wealth to sustain them once they overthrow the predecessor regime. These “good” revolutionaries just are not as lucky as Libya’s Colonel Muammar Qaddafi or Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev. Although contagion prompted an extreme threat to Qaddafi’s political survival in 2011, his oil wealth gave him a substantial fighting chance against the rebels. He had the money to buy soldiers and keep them loyal, something his resource-poor Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors did not. They, like good revolutionaries, had to rely on the productivity of the people to generate the revenues they needed to reward supporters. To encourage the people to work productively, good revolutionary leaders needed to increase the people’s freedoms. If the people can meet and talk then they can earn more. As a very simple example, if farmers have access to telephones, newspapers, and radios, then they can find out about market prices. This allows them to take the crops to the right markets at the right time. Roads and transport networks reduce transaction costs. Given the ability to earn more, farmers work harder and the economy improves. Unfortunately, for a leader, those same freedoms allow people to organize. The same media, telecommunications, and roads that increase productivity also make it much easier for the same farmers to hear about anti government demonstrations and join them. In much the same way that Mexico City’s 1985 earthquake lowered the barriers for coordination and organization, increasing the public good of freedom makes protest more likely.
In the latter half of the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev faced a dilemma. The economy of the Soviet Union was failing. Without additional resources he could not continue to pay his essential backers. He might have turned to oil—of which Russia has plenty—to save the day, but oil prices were depressed in those years. His best shot at keeping rebellion at bay was to liberalize the Soviet economy, even though that also meant giving the people more power over their lives. Gorbachev showed himself willing to take that risk.
Some might suggest that Gorbachev is a better person than Burma’s General Shwe. Probably he is, although we cannot help but notice that he cracked down on constitutionally protected secessionist movements in Azerbaijan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Soviet military response to the efforts of the people in those republics to gain their freedom is hardly the response of an enlightened leader. The Soviet “black beret” militia killed fourteen and injured 150 people in Lithuania.12 A week later, 4 more people were killed and twenty injured when Soviet forces cracked down on Latvia’s efforts to attain independence.13
Why did the enlightened Gorbachev take these harsh actions? He was responding to political pressure from within his coalition. Top ranking Soviet military officers together with others urged Gorbachev to impose direct Kremlin rule in breakaway provinces. They wrote in an open letter that was circulated at the Congress of People’s Deputies, “If constitutional methods prove ineffective against separatists, criminal speculators and the paramilitary forces that are continuing to spill the blood of the people, we suggest instituting a state of emergency and presidential rule in zones of major conflicts.”14 Gorbachev understood the political risks of ignoring key military and political figures in his coalition of essentials.
Gorbachev’s failure to quash the secessionist movements was a significant contributor to the decision by hardliners in his government to launch a coup that overthrew him. He was restored to power—briefly—when the people, backed by Boris Yeltsin, occupied Red Square and forced the coup makers to retreat. But for Gorbachev the damage was done. He returned to power, recognized the independence of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, only to find himself unable to sustain his government or even the existence of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was formally dissolved three months later.
Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika, aimed at restructuring the Soviet political and economic system, can be understood as his effort to increase the government’s revenue to forestall just such problems as the secessionist movements and their political aftermath. It didn’t work out for him or the Soviet form of government, but that is what it means to take risks. Sometimes they turn out your way and sometimes they don’t.
Today Russia is backsliding away from democratization. While under Boris Yeltsin’s post-Gorbachev government Russia maintained free and competitive elections, that is much less true today. Vladimir Putin, former head of the Soviet secret police (the KGB) and Yeltsin’s immediate successor, moved the political system sharply back from its emerging dependence on a large coalition and good governance. He made it much more difficult for opposition parties to compete by severely restricting freedom of assembly. He made it much more difficult for opposition candidates to get their message across by nationalizing television and much of the print media. He made it much more difficult for people to articulate their dissatisfaction by making it a crime to make public arguments that disparaged the government. In short, he systematically reduced the availability of freedoms that compel a democratic government to attend to the wishes of the people. Why could he do this? As we have noted, Russia is awash in oil wealth. During Putin’s time, unlike poor Gorbachev’s, oil prices were at record highs so he could pay key backers to help him quash opposition, and possibly even have enough extra money from oil to keep the people happy enough that they don’t rebel against their loss of freedom.
The expansion of freedoms is a sure sign of impending democratization. Economic necessity is one factor that produces such a concession. Another is coming to power already on the back of a large coalition. This was George Washington’s, Nelson Mandela’s, and Jawaharlal Nehru’s circumstance. For different reasons, each started out with a big coalition and was pretty much locked into trying to sustain it at least for a while as a necessity if their government was to survive.
When Washington became president of the United States, the term “United States” was treated as a plural noun. Back then people identified more strongly with their state than with the nation. Washington headed an army that depended on recruits from thirteen distinct colonies, each with their own government and each paying for their military contingents out of their own pocketbooks. Washington needed the support of a broad base of colonists and so he was stuck with a large coalition from the get-go. In that circumstance he had to do what large coalition leaders do—disproportionately deliver public goods rather than private benefits. First among these public goods was the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing the very freedoms that are central to democratic, large-coalition governance. Without these, the colonies could not agree to ratify the constitution and serve under a single, unified government.
Nelson Mandela’s story is not much different. His political movement, the African National Congress (ANC), spent decades fighting the white dominated apartheid regimes of South Africa. Despite their efforts and the protracted use of violence, they were unable to grow strong enough to overthrow their oppressors through force. Nelson Mandela, who served twenty-seven years in prison for his anti government stance and who refused early release from prison on the condition of eschewing violence, eventually saw another way.
Possibly due to the effects of sanctions, the South African economy went into a sharp decline during the 1980s. In 1980, per capita income was $3,463. But by 1993, the year in which F. W. de Klerk’s apartheid regime passed a new constitution paving the way for elections for all races, it had fallen to $2,903.15 De Klerk, and his long-term predecessor, Pik Botha, were in trouble because with the economy in decline they did not have sufficient resources to buy the continued loyalty required to keep the people suppressed. Under those conditions, more money was needed to sustain the government. That money could only be gotten from the people and many of them were already rebelling against the apartheid government. Faced with very tough circumstances, the apartheid regime had a choice: fight to the bitter end or cut a deal with Mandela. They—and he—chose the latter course.
The large-coalition compromise deal with Mandela and his ANC meant allowing all South Africans equal rights. In practice, this meant that the voting majority was turned over to the very people who were most discriminated against during the years of apartheid. As a result, the country became more democratic and its people freer. Whether it will last as the ANC’s interests come more and more to dominate the government remains to be seen. There is the real danger down the road that unless the opposition wins office and leadership is swapped back and forth between different political parties, South Africa could go the way of Zimbabwe. Like South Africa, Zimbabwe started out on a positive path to democracy based on a large-coalition deal between Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU, Robert Mugabe’s ZANU party, and Ian Smith’s white-only UDI government. But once Mugabe became sufficiently entrenched, he, like Putin in Russia, was able to overturn the progress toward democratization. He plunged Zimbabwe back into the role of a corrupt, rent-seeking, small coalition regime that serves the interest of the few at the expense of the many, black and white.
The successes of Washington, Mandela, and others were duplicated from a very different starting place in the case of Ghana. There revolution did not lead to democracy so much as the anticipation of revolution did.
Ghana’s J. J. Rawlings understood well that liberalizing Ghana’s economy and empowering the people could endanger his hold on power. But he also recognized that liberalization did not mean that the people would inevitably end up revolting or that the coalition will turn on its leader. Rawlings became the poster boy for the IMF and World Bank. He implemented the economic reforms they prescribed, invigorated the economy, instituted democratic reforms, and after serving two terms as president of Ghana he stepped down. But that is not how he started out. And the people were not as happy with him as this rosy picture would suggest; at least not if you believe what Adu Boahen, a professor and leading political opponent, had to say.
Boahen recounted Rawlings’s explanation for the seeming passivity of the Ghanaian people. As he observed,
According to Rawlings, ‘The people have faced and continue to face hardship. Naturally, people will grumble. But the fact that Ghanaians have been able to put up with shortages, transport difficulties and low salaries, and other problems without any major protest, is an indication of their confidence in our integrity, the integrity and good intentions of the PNDC [Provisional Nations Defense Council] government. Visitors from other countries have commented that in their countries there would be riots if conditions were similar to those here. But the people know that they are not suffering to make a corrupt government rich at all, we are suffering in order to concentrate all our resources in the building of a just and prosperous society.’
To this, Boahen responded, “I am afraid that I do not agree with Rawlings’ explanation of the passivity of Ghanaians. We have not protested or staged riots not because we trust the PNDC but because we fear the PNDC! We are afraid of being detained, liquidated or dragged before the CVC or NIC or being subjected to all sorts of molestation.... They have been [protesting] but in a very subtle and quiet way—hence the culture of silence.”16 Boahen portrays Ghana in 1989 as permeated by oppression. Yet by 1989 things were much better than they had been, as evidenced by the fact that Boahen could make such speeches in the first place.
Rawlings’s seizure of power on January 11, 1982, is often described in almost biblical terms. Via his initials, “J.J.,” he was sometimes referred to as “Junior Jesus.” And this was his second coming. He had been the figurehead for a military revolt in 1979. Rawlings had movie star looks and exuded charisma. But charm was not what kept him in power. Oppression and rich rewards for supporters are the staples of leadership in small-coalition systems and Rawlings was no exception. In the first six months of his rule, 180 people were killed and a thousand more were arrested and tortured. His loyal soldiers were renowned for their thuggish brutality and Rawlings bought their loyalty through a massive increase in military spending. Despite a collapse of the economy and a complete meltdown of government finances, J.J. knew whose support he needed and paid them first.
Rawlings had a talent for preventing protest. He stifled any free press by restricting the supply of paper. His supporters meanwhile infiltrated the trade unions and effectively made strikes impossible for many years. He avoided free assembly at every turn. Events a year into his rule demonstrate his considerable organizational talents. In January 1983, Nigeria announced the expulsion of 1.4 million Ghanaians working in Nigeria. In a few weeks 10 percent of the population, most of them young adults, flooded back into a poverty-stricken Ghana. The prospects of hundreds of thousands of disgruntled and unemployed people milling around the capital terrified many in the government, some of whom advocated closing the border to prevent them from arriving. Instead, Rawlings welcomed them with open arms, but almost immediately ensured the returnees were transported back to their home villages. His massive transport undertaking avoided the camps that overwhelmed Mexico and Nicaragua. And it was a much more humane approach than Shwe’s.
Rawlings’s fundamental problem was that Ghana was broke and the economy had nearly completely collapsed. Ghana’s food production was the second lowest in Africa, ahead only of Chad. Rigged exchange rates lay at the heart of Ghana’s economic problems and its system of political rewards. The official exchange rate for Ghana’s currency, the cedi, was much higher than the black market rate. Essential backers were allowed to exchange money at the official exchange rate and then convert it on the street. Unfortunately this eroded the incentives of farmers. By the early 1980s, it often cost farmers more for fuel to take goods to markets than they earned by selling them. Seventy percent of the crops that did make it to market were carried on people’s heads. Smuggling crops across the border to the Ivory Coast became the norm. The government responded by making smuggling a capital crime. With little being produced for export, Ghana had exhausted its capacity to borrow and was going bankrupt.
Rawlings had a big problem. He had seized power and wanted to pursue a revolutionary socialist agenda, but he needed money. As Naomi Chazan phrased it, “the question was no longer where resources were located but if they existed at all.”17 To start with, Rawlings closed all the universities and had the students help bring in the harvests. But such measures were not enough. The people were hungry. Ghana had insufficient funds to pay for food imports and to pay the army. As a good rule-abiding autocrat, Rawlings knew his priorities: pay the army! Soon the term Rawlings necklace became a popular euphemism for the protruding collarbones common among the emaciated people. He approached the Soviet Union, but they had their own financial problems and, despite his move to the political left, they declined to support him.
J.J. was between a rock and a hard place. He needed money and the only place left to get it was to encourage the people to get back to work. At the beginning of 1983 he enacted a radical reversal of policy. The cedi was allowed to devalue. Producer prices paid to farmers were also increased, and subsidies for gas, electricity, and health care were cut. International financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank were delighted to have an adherent to their policies, but many of his closest allies were not. This policy switch was also accompanied by a change in personnel. Rawlings orchestrated a coup, making it a fait accompli before his targets could organize and retaliate. Overnight his closest supporters found themselves without influence. Some, such as J. Amartey Kwei, would be executed (allegedly for his part in a notorious murder of judges). Others, such as the radical student activist, Chris Atim, fled into exile.
It is telling that by 1985, Rawlings was the only remaining member of the original ruling PNDC council. As a further sign of the direction Rawlings’s administration was taking, that council swelled from six members to ten. No leader voluntarily increases the number of people to whom he is beholden unless he thinks that doing so will help him stay in power.
As is to be expected, Rawlings was a reluctant democrat. He simply had few options left. He needed money. To get it, he implemented policies that empowered the people. Gradually, they could demand more. “Rawlings was a victim of his own success.” He had given the people a voice by liberalizing the economy and opening the airwaves. There was the perception of increased confidence. With the economic crisis resolved the people began to feel “we can do this without someone telling us what to do.”18
As we have seen, by 1989 Boahen felt comfortable openly criticizing Rawlings. Even he had to admit reforms had improved the economy. The “Rawlings necklace” had been replaced by the “Rawlings waistcoat (a fat belly).” Having to implement policies to keep the masses happy, Rawlings allowed a gradual expansion of the coalition to accompany the expansion in public goods. In 1988 and 1989 local elections were allowed. Rather than provoke mass protest, Rawlings stayed one step ahead. As a loose affiliation of political interests coalesced into the Movement for Freedom and Justice and called for multiparty elections, Rawlings defused their thunder by organizing elections while the opposition was still disorganized. In the 1991 presidential election he decisively defeated Adu Boahen, who ran as the leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Although there were some discrepancies, international observers declared the results basically fair.
Elections have been basically fair ever since. Rawlings and his National Democratic Congress party won again in 1996, beating John Kufuor. In 2000, Rawlings stepped down and John Kufuor went on to serve the constitutional limit of two terms. In 2008 the NDC candidate, Atta Mills, became president in a highly competitive election.
Rawlings needed money and his only way of getting it was to empower the people. By allowing the people to assemble and communicate he increased their productivity. But he also made it easier for them to coordinate and organize against him. He successfully avoided protest and revolution only by remaining one step ahead of the people in terms of granting concessions. Yet he could not avoid protest indefinitely. In 1995 between 50,000 and 100,000 people joined Kume preko, or “We have had enough” marches through downtown Accra, the capital. Although the government sought to prevent these marches, the courts overruled them. An independent judiciary encourages entrepreneurial zeal, but it also protects the civil liberties of the people.
Today Ghana is an economically vibrant democracy. Its transition from autocracy to democracy took place under the leadership of the larger than life J. J. Rawlings. Yet it should be remembered that he was a reluctant democrat. Had he had the resources he would have perpetuated his socialist revolution. Ghana recently developed an offshore oilfield. Had these funds been available to J.J., or had the Soviets had the resources to back him, then it is likely he would still be in power and Ghana would be a much poorer and more oppressive land.
Revolutionary moments often arise, as we saw in the cases of Ghana, South Africa, and the Soviet Union, when an economy is near collapse—so near, in fact, that the leadership can no longer buy the military’s loyalty. Such circumstances are practically inevitable in the life of the vast majority of autocracies. Their rent-seeking, corrupt, inefficient economic ways assure it.
At such moments the threatened government is more than likely to blame the international community for their woes. After all, in exchange for policy concessions, oppressive leaders have been able to borrow on relatively easy terms from rich foreign governments and the international banks they control. Now these governments face crushing debt obligations and no money to pay them. Getting more money becomes difficult exactly because they are in such danger of defaulting on their debts. And what do many well-intentioned people cry out for them: debt forgiveness.
We must repeat what we have indicated earlier. Financial crises, from an autocratic leader’s perspective, are political crises. The leader hasn’t cared a whit about destroying his country’s economy by stealing from the public. Now that money is in such short supply that he can’t maintain his coalition’s loyalty there is a moment of opportunity for political change. Forgive the debts and the leader will just start borrowing again to pay his cronies and keep himself in power. Nicolas Van de Walle compares the fates of regimes in Benin and Zambia with Cameroon and Ivory Coast during crises.19 In the former cases, international financial institutions withdrew support and the nations democratized. In the latter cases, France stepped in with financial support and no reform occurred.
So the first policy recommendation for outside observers when a dictator faces national bankruptcy, and the protests likely to follow in its train is this: don’t save the dictator; don’t forgive indebtedness unless the dictator first actually puts his hold on power at real risk by permitting freedom of assembly, a free press, freedom to create opposition parties, and free, competitive elections in which the incumbent’s party is given no advantages in campaign funds, rallies, or anything else. Only after such freedoms and real political competition are in place might any debt forgiveness be considered. Even the least hint of a fraudulent election and of cutbacks in freedom should be met by turning off the flow of funds.
Foreign aid, as we have seen, is a boon to petty dictators and to democratic donor citizens and leaders. That makes persuading people to cut off aid to help promote democratization very difficult indeed. But if the opportunity arises it should be seized. Just as with debt forgiveness or new loans, foreign aid should be tied to the actuality of political reform and not to its promise. When leaders put themselves at risk of being thrown out by the people, then they show themselves worthy of aid. When leaders allow their books to be audited to detect and publicize corruption, then they are good candidates for aid designed to improve the well-being of their people. Those who refuse to make politics competitive and to expose and correct corruption will just steal aid and should not get it if there is not an overwhelming national security justification for continuing aid.
When a succession in leaders takes place, whether through revolution or through the unexpected death or retirement of the person in power, then there is a window of opportunity for real democratic change. We have seen that the early part of an incumbent’s time in office is the riskiest in terms of the new leader being deposed. This is especially true for autocrats. Indeed, they have a strong incentive to pretend to be democratic in their first couple of years exactly because for that first period in office democrats have a better chance of surviving than autocrats. We have seen just such reforms coming out of Cuba, for instance, as Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel. Raul needed to consolidate his hold on power, reassure his backers that he could provide for them, and to do that he had to get Cuba’s economy to grow. Solution: introduce some economic competition and a few political acts of liberalization. Today Cubans can take greater advantage of private businesses than was true at any time since the revolution. They can have cell phones and some access to the Internet, expanding their reach for information and their ability to coordinate with fellow Cubans even when they are not face-to-face. But will these reforms last once Raul, or any newly ensconced autocrat, consolidates his control over the flow of money and the loyalty of his key backers? Probably not, unless the international community exploits its brief window of opportunity. It can do so by tying economic assistance to a lock-in of political liberalization.
All the methods mentioned above are exactly the tools that liberal governments can adopt to promote lock-in of democratic reforms. But do they have the will to do it? That, sadly, is unlikely—and for that problem we have not yet found a cure.
1 Portions of this chapter are drawn from several of our academic undertakings, including Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, “Political Survival and Endogenous Institutional Change,” Comparative Political Studies 42, no. 2 (February 2009): 167–197; Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Principles of International Politics, 4th ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2009); and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson, and James D. Morrow, The Logic of Political Survival (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).
2 Translated by Yung Wei in personal correspondence, drawn from Hong-she Zhong-gui (Red China), December 1, 1931. We are most grateful to Yung Wei for bringing this quotation to our attention.
3 Frank D. Cornfield, The Origins and Growth of Mau Mau: An Historical Survey, Sessional Paper number 5 of 1959/60 of Kenya LegCo (Nairobi: Government of Colony and Protectorate of Kenya, 1960), 301–308.
4 Julia Preston and Samuel Dillon, Opening Mexico. The Making of a Democracy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005).
5 Emma Larkin, Everything Is Broken: A Tale of Catastrophe in Burma (New York: Penguin Press, 2010). We draw extensively on her account of Burmese politics.
6 Ibid., 78–79.
7 Eyes of the Storm: Turning Points in Burmese History. PBS wide-angle documentary series, WNET.org, August 19, 2009.
8 Alejandro Quiroz Flores and Alastair Smith, “Surviving Disasters,” Working Paper, NYU, 2010.
9 This is true despite earthquakes being more likely to strike democracies than autocracies.
10 Economist, July 21, 2005.
11 Julien Levesque, “Lords of Jade: Mismanagement of Myanmar’s Natural Resources,” Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Issue Brief No. 60 (March 2008).
12 Francis X. Clines, “Soviet Crackdown: Latvia’s Leader Tries to Placate the Kremlin,” New York Times, January 17, 1991. Accessed at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CEED81030F934A25752C0A967958260.
13 Andrejs Plakans, The Latvians: A Short History (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1995).
14 New York Times, December 1990, at http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/20/world/gorbachev-urged-to-consider-crackdown-in-republics.html.
15 Data from World Bank’s World Development Indicators, per capita GDP reported in constant 2000 $US.
16 Albert Adu Boahen, The Ghanaian Sphinx: Reflections on the Contemporary History of Ghana, 1972–1987, The J. B. Danquah Memorial Lectures, Series 21, February 1988, (Accra, Ghana: Ghana Academy of Arts and Science, 1989), 51.
17 Naomi Chazan, “The Political Transformation of Ghana under the PNDC,” in Donald Rothchild (ed.), The Political Economy of Ghana (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1991), 27.
18 Interview by Alastair Smith with Nat Nuno-Amarteifio, former Mayor of Accra, May 2008.
19 Nicolas Van de Walle, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979–1999 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 241–242.
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Why Africa's Weak States Persist:
The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood
Author(s): Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg
Source: World Politics, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Oct., 1982), pp. 1-24
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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WHY AFRICA'S WEAK STATES PERSIST:
The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood
By ROBERT H. JACKSON and CARL G. ROSBERG*
BLACK Africa's forty-odd states are among the weakest in the world. State institutions and organizations are less developed in the sub-Saharan region than almost anywhere else; political instability (as indicated by coups, plots, internal wars, and similar forms of violence) has been prevalent in the two-and-a-half decades during which the region gained independence from colonial rule. Most of the national governments exercise only tenuous control over the people, organizations, and activities within their territorial jurisdictions. In almost all of these countries, the populations are divided along ethnic lines; in some, there has been a threat of political disorder stemming from such divisions; in a few, disorder has deteriorated into civil warfare. Some governments have periodically ceased to control substantial segments of their country's territory and population. For example, there have been times when Angola, Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, and Zaire have ceased to be "states" in the empirical sense-that is, their central governments lost control of important areas in their jurisdiction during struggles with rival political organizations.
In spite of the weakness of their national governments, none of the Black African states have been destroyed or even significantly changed. No country has disintegrated into smaller jurisdictions or been absorbed into a larger one against the wishes of its legitimate government and as a result of violence or the threat of violence. No territories or people-or even a segment of them-have been taken over by another country. No African state has been divided as a result of internal warfare. In other words, the serious empirical weaknesses and vulnerabilities of some African states have not led to enforced jurisdictional change. Why not? How can the persistence of Africa's weak states be explained? In order to answer the latter question, we must enquire into contemporary African political history as well as into the empirical and juridical components of statehood. An investigation of this question has implications not only for our understanding of African states and perhaps other Third World states, but also of statehood and contemporary international society.
THE CONCEPT OF STATEHOOD
Many political scientists employ a concept of the state that is influenced by Max Weber's famous definition: a corporate group that has compulsory jurisdiction, exercises continuous organization, and claims a monopoly of force over a territory and its population, including "all action taking place in the area of its jurisdiction."'1 As Weber emphasized, his definition is one of "means" and not "ends," and the distinctive means for him are force.2 A definition of the state primarily in terms of means rather than ends-particularly the means of force- emphasizes the empirical rather than the juridical, the de facto rather than the de jure, attributes of statehood. This emphasis is undoubtedly an important element in the appeal of Weber's sociology of the state to political scientists. To be sure, Weber does not overlook the juridical aspects of statehood. However, he does not explore what many students of international law consider to be the true character of territorial jurisdiction: the reality that such jurisdiction is an international legal condition rather than some kind of sociological given.
By Weber's definition, the basic test of the existence of a state is whether or not its national government can lay claim to a monopoly of force in the territory under its jurisdiction. If some external or internal organization can effectively challenge a national government and carve out an area of monopolistic control for itself, it thereby acquires the essential characteristic of statehood. According to Weber's de facto terms of statehood, two concurrent monopolies of force cannot exist over one territory and population. In situations where one of several rival groups-that is, claimant states-is unable to establish permanent control over a contested territory, Weber would maintain that it is more appropriate to speak of "statelessness."
By Weber's definition, a few of Africa's governments would not qualify as states-at least not all of the time- because they cannot always effectively claim to have a monopoly of force throughout their territorial jurisdictions. In some countries, rivals to the national government have been able to establish an effective monopoly of force over significant territories and populations for extended periods-for ex- ample, Biafra in Nigeria and Katanga in the Congo (now Zaire). In other countries-such as Chad and Uganda-some of the territories have not been under the continuous control of one permanent political organization, and a condition of anarchy has existed. Furthermore, the governments of many Black African countries do not effectively control all of the important public activities within their jurisdictions; in some, government is perilously uncertain, so that important laws and regulations cannot be enforced with confidence and are not always complied with. If the persistence of a state were primarily the result of empirical statehood, some sub-Saharan African countries would clearly not qualify as states some of the time. Yet it is evident that all of them persist as members of the international society of states; it is also evident that none of the claimant governments that have on occasion exercised de facto control over large territories and populations within the jurisdictions of existing states have yet succeeded in creating new states in these areas.
Definitions that give priority to the juridical rather than the empirical attributes of statehood are employed by international legal scholars and institutionally oriented international theorists. One such definition which shares a number of characteristics with Weber's, but gives them a different emphasis-is that of Ian Brownlie, a British legal scholar. Following the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States, Brownlie describes the state as a legal person, recognized by international law, with the following attributes: (a) a defined territory, (b) a permanent population, (c) an effective government, and (d) independence, or the right "to enter into relations with other states."3
If the assumption of juridical statehood as a sociological given is a shortcoming of Weber's definition, a limitation of Brownlie's is the tendency to postulate that the empirical attributes of statehood i.e., a permanent population and effective government-are as definite as the juridical attributes; they are not. What does it mean to say that a state consists, inter alia, of a permanent population and an effective government? Our research reveals that within sub-Saharan African states, these empirical properties have been highly variable, while the juridical components have been constant. Kenya's population has been more "permanent" and its government more "effective" than Uganda's; yet both states have survived as sovereign jurisdictions. Moreover, an exclusively legal approach cannot adequately deal with the empirical properties of statehood: "Once a state has been established, extensive civil strife or the breakdown of order through foreign invasion or nat- ural disasters are not considered to affect personality."4 In the formulation of concepts, empirical properties can be determined only by investigation, not by definition.5 Although Brownlie recognizes the need to incorporate empirical criteria into a "working legal definition of statehood,"6 he acknowledges (as do other scholars) that there is considerable difficulty in employing these criteria without specifying them concretely. Nonetheless, his definition enables us to undertake an analysis of the empirical as well as the juridical aspects of statehood-that is, a sociological-legal analysis.
Political scientists do not need to be convinced of the limitations of an exclusively legalistic approach to the state, which is usually summed up as "legal-formalism": an undue emphasis on abstract rules, leading to the neglect of concrete behavior and the social conditions that sup- port or undermine legal rules.7 What is more difficult is to convince a generation of political scientists whose theories and models were formulated in reaction to legal, institutional, and philosophical studies of the state, of the limitations of an exclusively sociological conception of statehood. However, if one assumes that the state is essentially an empirical phenomenon-as was suggested not only by Weber but also by David Easton in a systems approach that has been very influential- one cannot explain why some states manage to persist when important empirical conditions of statehood are absent, or are present only in a very qualified manner.8 In sum, one cannot explain the persistence of some "states" by using a concept of the state that does not give sufficient attention to the juridical properties of statehood.
THE EMPIRICAL STATE IN BLACK AFRICA
Weber's and Brownlie's definitions of statehood provide a useful point of departure for examining empirical and juridical statehood in con-temporary Black Africa. (Juridical statehood is discussed in the following section.) We shall begin with Brownlie's definition, which is more explicit and current. As we noted above, Brownlie specifies two empirical attributes of the state: "a permanent population [which] is intended to be used in association with that of territory, and connotes a stable community," and an "effective government, with centralized administrative and legislative organs."9
Before we can apply Brownlie's empirical attributes to our analysis, we must clarify them. First, what exactly do we understand by "a stable community" and its crucial empirical component, "a permanent population"? In attempting to define these terms in the context of contemporary Africa, we find that political sociology may be of considerably more help than law. In political sociology, societies are seen as integrated or disunited, culturally homogeneous or fragmented-resting on common norms and values or not. If we take "a stable community" to signify an integrated political community resting on a common culture, we must conclude that few contemporary Black African states can be said to possess this attribute. The populations of many Black African countries are divided internally among several-and often many-distinctive ethnic entities by differences of language, religion, race, region of residence, and so forth. Moreover, these ethnic cleavages can rein- force each other, thus aggravating the differences. In Sudan, for ex- ample, the racial division between Arabs and Africans is reinforced by geography, religion, and language; it has resulted in bitter conflicts over the control of the state. Furthermore, many ethnic entities are divided by international boundaries, with members residing in two or more countries; however, the social and political boundaries between these ethnic entities may well be more significant in terms of public attitudes and behavior than are the boundaries between the countries. As a result, political tensions and conflicts arising from ethnic divisions can seriously affect national political stability and the capacity of governments to control their territories.
From our discussion, it appears that few African states can qualify as stable communities. Where ethnic divisions have been politicized, the result has been serious civil conflict. Thus, ethnic divisions have been a major factor contributing to extreme disorder or civil war in the following countries: Sudan (1956-i972); Rwanda (1959-I964); Zaire (i960-I965; 1977-1978); Ethiopia (I962-I982); Zanzibar (I964); Burundi (I966-1972); Chad (I966-I982); Uganda (I966; 1978-I982); Nigeria (I967- 1970); and Angola (1975-I982). In other countries, ethnic divisions have been sufficiently threatening to prompt governments to control political participation severely out of fear that they would otherwise jeopardize their command of the state.10 Recent African politics have been characterized by the opposition of most African governments to competitive party systems, their preference for political monopoly generally, their lack of sympathy for federalism, and their attack on political liberties (among other things). All of these can be explained at least in part by the governments' fear of politicized ethnicity. Efforts by African governments to emphasize the "nation" and "nationalism" at the expense of the "ethnos"-efforts that are evident elsewhere in the Third World as well-indicate their concern about the instability of their political communities and the threat posed by that instability not only to individual governments, but to statehood itself.11
Second, by "an effective government" Brownlie means exactly what Weber means by "compulsory jurisdiction": centralized administrative and legislative organs.12 Such a definition is somewhat Euro-centric be- cause it identifies governing not only with administering, but also with legislating. In contemporary Africa, governments do not necessarily govern by legislation; personal rulers often operate in an arbitrary and autocratic manner by means of commands, edicts, decrees, and so forth.13 To make this empirical attribute more universal, let us redefine it as a centralized government with the capacity to exercise control over a state's territory and the people residing in it. By "exercise control" we mean the ability to pronounce, implement, and enforce commands, laws, policies, and regulations.
The capacity to exercise control raises the question of means. Analytically, the means of government can be considered in terms of the domestic authority or right to govern (legitimacy) on the one hand, and the power or ability to govern on the other. In Michael Oakeshott's terms, the modern state consists, among other things, of both an "office of authority" and "an apparatus of power"; the two are analytically different and should not be confused.14 For example, governmental administration usually involves the (delegated) authority to issue regulations and the power to enforce them. A government may possess legitimacy, but have little in the way of an effective apparatus of power; or it may have an imposing power apparatus, but little legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. Other combinations are also possible.15
In our judgment, the capacity of Africa's governments to exercise control hinges upon three factors: domestic authority, the apparatus of power, and economic circumstances. First, political authority in Africa (and in other parts of the Third World as well) tends to be personal rather than institutional. Geertz has commented:
Fifteen years ago, scholarly writings on the New States... were full of discussions of parties, parliaments, and elections. A great deal seemed to turn on whether these institutions were viable in the Third World and what adjustments in them... might prove necessary to make them so. Today, nothing in those writings seems more passe, relic of a different time.16
Constitutional and institutional offices that are independent of the personal authority of rulers have not taken root in most Black African countries. Instead, the state and state offices are dominated by ambitious individuals, both civilian and military. Post-independence rulers of Africa and Asia, Geertz writes, "are autocrats, and it is as autocrats, and not as preludes to liberalism (or, for that matter, to totalitarianism), that they, and the governments they dominate, must be judged and understood."17 Wherever African governments have exercised substantial control, strong personal rulers have been firmly in the saddle. This has been the case in regimes that are primarily autocratic-such as Felix Houphouet-Boigny's Ivory Coast, H. Kamazu Banda's Malawi, Omar Bongo's Gabon, Ahmadou Ahidjo's Cameroon, and Gnassingbe Eyadema's Togo. It has also been the case where regimes are primarily oligarchic-such as Leopold Sedar Senghor's Senegal, Jomo Kenyatta's Kenya, and Gaafar Mohamed Numeiri's Sudan-and where they are primarily ideological-such as Julius Nyerere's Tanzania and Sekou Toure's Guinea (which exhibits features of despotism as well). Where African governments have not exercised control, it has often been be- cause no personal leader has taken firm command; alternatively, it has been as a result of excessively arbitrary and abusive personal rule, as was the case in Uganda under Idi Amin. In the most unstable African regimes, the military has repeatedly intervened in politics-as in Benin from i960 to 1972 and in Chad from 1975 to I982.
Related to the problem of institutional weakness in African states is the disaffection of important elites from the government. The frequency of military coups is perhaps the best indication of elite alienation and disloyalty. Between 1958 and the summer of i98i, more than 41 successful coups had taken place in 22 countries of Black Africa; in addition, there had been many unsuccessful ones."18 Gutteridge has noted that, "by I966, military intervention in politics in Africa had become endemic.... Even the smallest armies [had] carried out successful coups."19 There is little doubt that the internal opponent most feared by African rulers-both military and civilian-is the military. Indeed, military rulers have themselves been the victims of military coups-for instance, Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria, and Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Frederick Akuffo of Ghana in the 1970s. It should be noted that, although Africa's military formations are called "armies" and their members wear uniforms and display other symbols of state authority, they cannot be assumed to be loyal to the government. A military career is some- times a promising avenue for political advancement; soldiers in Black Africa have become not only government officials, but also rulers of their countries.
Second, the apparatus of power in African governments-the agents and agencies that implement and enforce government laws, edicts, decrees, orders, and the like-can in general be considered "underdeveloped" in regard both to their stock of resources and to the deployment of these resources. In proportion to their territories and populations, African governments typically have a smaller stock of finances, personnel, and materiel than Asian or Western governments, and their staffs are less experienced and reliable. As a result, the concept of governmental administration as a policy instrument bears less relation to reality. Governmental incapacity is exacerbated by overly ambitious plans and policies that are prepared on the assumption that underdevelopment is a problem of economy and society, but not of government. In fact, it is also African governments that are underdeveloped, and in most countries they are very far from being an instrument of development.20 The modern "administrative state" image of government is of questionable applicability in many parts of the world, but Black African governments are even less likely than others to be rational agencies.
Undoubtedly the biggest problem of both civilian and military administrations in Africa is the questionable reliability of staffs. In a famous phrase, Gunnar Myrdal characterized the governments of South Asia as "soft states."21 The term can be applied equally to many governments in Black Africa which must operate amidst corruption and disorder. The problem of inefficient staff has rarely been as candidly exposed as in a 1977 report by Julius Nyerere on socialist progress in Tanzania. He noted that ministries were overspending in disregard of severe budgetary restraints; the Rural Development Bank was issuing loans that were not being repaid; state enterprises were operating far below capacity-sometimes at less than 50 percent; "management" was preoccupied with privilege and displayed little enterprise; and "workers" were slack, incompetent, and undisciplined.22
Of course, there is considerable variation in the administrative capacity of African governments, and Tanzania is by no means the country most seriously affected by an inefficient state apparatus. While the comparative effectiveness of the Ivory Coast, Kenya (at least under Kenyatta), and Malawi is striking, Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Togo, and Upper Volta are infamous for their swollen bureaucracies and administrative lethargy. Once relatively efficient Ghana and Uganda are examples of marked deterioration, the origins of which are perhaps more political than economic and relate to a failure to establish an effective and responsible ruling class. One of the worst cases of administrative decay is Zaire, where the state's resources have been plundered and regulations abused by government officials at all levels. President Mobutu Sese Seko has identified abuses such as the case of army officers who divert for "their own personal profit the supplies intended for front line soldiers"; the refusal of rural development officials to leave their air-conditioned offices in Kinshasa; and the "misuse of judicial machinery for revenging private disputes, ... selective justice depending upon one's status and wealth."23 So extreme is the corruption that observers have had to invent new phrases to describe it; Zaire has been referred to as "an extortionist culture" in which corruption is a "structural fact" and bribery assumes the form of "economic mugging."24 It has been estimated that as much as 6o percent of the annual national budget is misappropriated by the governing elite.
As we have noted, the inefficiency of African governments extends to the military as well as the civilian organs of the state. As in the case of civilian maladministration, military ineffectiveness stems from socio- political as well as technical-material factors; the size and firepower of the armed forces can also play a role. Typically, military forces in African countries are small in relation to the size or population of a state; however, they are considerably larger than the colonial armies they replaced. Over the past two decades, the size of African armies has increased (primarily for purposes of internal security), and their equipment has been upgraded. As early as I970, Gutteridge commented that "there is no doubting a general upward trend in the numbers of men under arms in regular forces";25 there have been no significant developments since I970 to suggest any change in what appears to be military "growth without development."
In practice, most African armies are less like military organizations and more like political establishments: they are infected by corruption, factionalism, and patterns of authority based not only on rank, role, or function, but also on personal and ethnic loyalties. The ability of African armies to deal with internal conflicts is dubious. Despite over- whelming superiority in men and equipment, the Nigerian Federal Army had great difficulty in defeating the forces of Biafra in the late i960s; according to (Gutteridge, "there were times when the Federal Army seemed to have lost the will to win."26 Moreover, the state's apparatus of power may be not only aided and supported by the solicited intervention of a foreign power in the form of troops, military equipment, advisers, and so forth, but such intervention can be essential to the survival of a regime. In a number of French-speaking countries, a French military presence has enhanced the power of the African government; in Angola and Ethiopia, Cuban soldiers and Soviet arms and advisers have made a decisive difference to the power and survival of incumbent African regimes in their conflicts with both internal and external powers. The lethargy of African armies has sometimes been acutely embarrassing. When Zaire's copper-rich Shaba Province (formerly Katanga) was invaded by Katangan forces from neighboring Angola in I977 and again in I978, President Mobutu's army proved incapable of stopping them; Mobutu had to call upon friendly powers (Morocco, Belgium, France, and the United States) to save his regime.
Third, governmental incapacity in Black Africa is affected by economic circumstances, which are exacerbated by the small size of the skilled work force. African economies are among the poorest and weakest in the world: in I978, 22 of them had a per capita GNP below $250; throughout the I970s, the Black African countries had the lowest worldwide rates of growth. Of the world's poorest countries-those with per capita incomes below $330-the 28 that were African had the lowest projected growth rates for the i98os. In many of these countries, absolute poverty is increasing as birthrates continue to exceed economic growth rates.27
Many African countries are highly dependent on a few primary exports for their foreign exchange earnings. They are therefore vulnerable to uncontrollable fluctuations in world commodity prices and, in the case of agricultural commodities, unpredictable changes in weather conditions and harvest returns. The countries without petroleum re- sources have had to face dramatically increased prices for oil imports, resulting in very severe balance-of-payments problems. In some countries, more than 50 percent of scarce foreign exchange had to be used to pay for imported oil. Moreover, 27 countries had a shortfall in their production of food crops-principally maize-in 1980; they were therefore forced to import food, which resulted in a further drain of scarce foreign exchange. (South Africa became an important supplier of food to Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Zaire, and Zambia, among others). Lacking industrial and manufacturing sectors of any significance and being highly dependent upon imports, most African countries are caught between the certainty of their demand for foreign goods and the uncertainty of their ability to earn the foreign exchange to pay for them. In many (if not most) of these countries, inflated and consumption-oriented government administrations-whose members enjoy a standard of living far in excess of the national average-weigh down the already overburdened and sluggish economies; in many, the economy is simply exploited to support the political class. The hope that intelligent government planning might effect a substantial economic transformation has long since faded.
It is evident that the term "empirical state" can only be used selectively to describe many states in Black Africa today. With some notable exceptions-for example, Kenya and the Ivory Coast it seems accurate to characterize Africa's states as empirically weak or underdeveloped. If we adopted a narrow empirical criterion of statehood-such as Weber's monopoly of force we would have to conclude that some African countries were not states, and that statehood in others has periodically been in doubt. In i98i, the governments of Angola, Chad, Ethiopia, and Uganda could not claim a monopoly of force within their jurisdictions. Furthermore, these countries and some others-for example, Nigeria, Sudan, and Zaire-have exhibited defacto statelessness in the past, and there are reasons to believe that they might do so again. Yet it is unlikely that any of their jurisdictions will be altered without the consent of their governments. Jurisdictional change by consent has happened, however. In 1981, The Gambia was forced to call upon neighboring Senegal for troops to put down an armed rebellion by a substantial segment of its own field force under the leadership of leftist militants. The episode undermined the security of the Gambian government to such an extent that it consented to a form of association with Senegal which resulted in a new confederation: Senegambia.
THE JURIDICAL STATE IN BLACK AFRICA
Before we investigate the significance of the juridical state in Black Africa, let us emphasize that "juridical statehood" is not only a normative but essentially an international attribute. The juridical state is both a creature and a component of the international society of states, and its properties can only be defined in international terms. At this point, it is important to clarify what is meant by "international society."28 It is a society composed solely of states and the international organizations formed by states; it excludes not only individuals and private groups, but also political organizations that are not states or are not composed of states. The doctrine of "states' rights" that is, sovereignty is the central principle of international society. It often comes into conflict with the doctrine of international human rights, but inter- national society does not promote the welfare of individuals and private groups within a country or transnational groups among countries; nor does it protect individuals or private groups from their governments.29 Rather, international society provides legal protection for member states from any powers, internal and external, that seek to intervene in, invade, encroach upon, or otherwise assault their sovereignty.30 A secondary but increasingly important goal-one that is linked to the emergence of Third World states is to promote the welfare and development of member states.
According to Brownlie, the juridical attributes of statehood are "territory" and "independence" (as recognized by the international community). In international law, a demarcated territory is the equivalent of the "property" of a government-national real estate, including off- shore waters and airspace; international boundaries are the mutually acknowledged but entirely artificial lines where one government's property rights end and another's begin. Determinate and recognized frontiers are therefore a basic institution of the state system and an essential legal attribute of any state. A government recognized as having political independence is legally the equal of other independent governments, and is not only the highest authority within its territorial jurisdiction but is under no higher authority.31 It has the right to enter into relations with other states and to belong to the international society of states.
A political system may possess some or all of the empirical qualifications of statehood, but without the juridical attributes of territory and independence it is not a state. Furthermore, these attributes-which constitute territorial jurisdiction-serve as a test of a government's claim to be a state; there is no empirical test. For example, the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei-black "homelands" in South Africa-are as much empirical states as some other territories in Africa, but they lack statehood because they are not recognized by any state except South Africa and enjoy none of the rights of membership in international society. Since they are creatures wholly of South Africa's apartheid regime, their political survival is probably tied to the survival of apartheid. On the other hand, the former British territory of Lesotho, which is also an enclave within South Africa, but was never ruled by Pretoria and has gained its independence from Britain, is a recognized state and exercises full rights of membership in international society, which are not likely to be threatened in this way precisely because it is independent.
The juridical state in Black Africa is a novel and arbitrary political unit; the territorial boundaries, legal identities, and often even the names of states are contrivances of colonial rule. Only rarely did a colonial territory reflect the shape and identity of a preexisting African socio- political boundary, as in the cases of the British Protectorate of Zanzibar (formerly a sultanate) and the High Commission Territories of Swaziland and Basutoland (Lesotho), which had been African kingdoms. (Under British rule, the internal administrative boundaries of a colony were often drawn to conform with indigenous borders where these could be determined.) During the European colonization of Africa in the late 19th century, international society was conceived as a "European association, to which non-European states could be admitted only if and when they met a standard of civilization laid down by the Europeans."32 With the exceptions of Ethiopia and Liberia, which escaped colonialism and were treated as states, Black African political systems did not qualify as states, but were regarded as the objects of a justified colonialism.
At independence (beginning in the late I950s), there were therefore very few traditional African states to whom sovereignty could revert.33 Consequently, there was little choice but to establish independence in terms of the colonial entities;34 in most cases, a colony simply became a state with its territorial frontiers unchanged. Most attempts to create larger political units-usually conceived as federations-failed, as happened in the cases of the Mali Federation and the Central African Federation.35 Kwame Nkrumah's vision of a United States of Africa received virtually no support from his counterparts in the newly independent states. Instead, the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.), formed in May i963, fully acknowledged and legitimated the colonial frontiers and the principle of state sovereignty within them. As President Modibo Keita of Mali put it: although the colonial system divided Africa, "it permitted nations to be born.... African unity... requires full respect for the frontiers we have inherited from the colonial system."36
It is a paradox of African independence that it awakened both national and ethnic political awareness. In almost every Black African country there are ethnic groups that desire to redraw international boundaries in order to form independent states. Self-determination, which accelerated after World War I and reached its peak in the years after World War II with the independence of numerous colonies, came to a halt in Black Africa at the inherited (colonial) frontiers. The movement, which is still alive sociologically among millions of Africans and within many ethnic communities, is unlikely to make further political- legal progress. The opposition of existing African states and of international society has reinforced the legitimacy of the inherited frontiers and undermined that of the traditional cultural borders. One of the exceptions to ethnic Balkanization has been Somali irredentism in Ethiopia and Kenya, which has sought the creation of a greater Somalia defined by cultural rather than colonial boundaries. But so far, Somali irrendentism as well as Biafran nationalism, Katangan separatism, and Eritrean secessionism has failed to win international legitimacy. When the claims of Somali cultural nationalists were debated at the founding meeting of the O.A.U. in 1963, the argument advanced by the Kenyan delegation represented the view of the vast majority of African governments: "If they [the Somalis] do not want to live with us in Kenya, they are perfectly free to leave us and our territory.... This is the only way they can legally exercise their right of self-determination."37 When the Kingdom of Bugandaan administrative region within the colony of Uganda and a traditional African state-declared itself independent in 1960 after realizing that the British authorities were going to give independence to Uganda, no other state recognized the declaration. Buganda failed to achieve juridical statehood; it remained a region- albeit a troublesome one-of the new Ugandan state, which became independent in 1962.
African decolonization-like decolonization elsewhere-demonstrated that it is impossible to have rational empirical qualifications for statehood. Many colonies became states although the viability of their economic bases and their developmental potentiality were questionable. Some of the new states had minuscule populations and/or territories: Cape Verde, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, the Seychelles, and Swaziland. Empirically these entities are really microstates, but juridically they are full-fledged states.38 Their independence reveals the assumption of the contemporary international community that even countries of very questionable viability and capacities can be preserved by a benevolent international society. In other words, international society has become a global "democracy" based on the principle of legal equality of members. Even the most profound socioeconomic inadequacies of some countries are not considered to be a barrier to their membership: all former colonies and dependencies have the right to belong if they wish. The existence of a large number of weak states poses one of the foremost international problems of our time: their protection and preservation, not to mention development. The survival of states is not a new issue; indeed, it is the historical problem of international relations, which has served to define traditional international theory as "the theory of survival."39 What is new is the enlarged scope, added dimensions, and greater complexity and delicacy of the problem in contemporary inter- national society.
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY AND THE AFRICAN STATE
The juridical attributes of statehood can only be conferred upon governments by the international community. The Transkei is not a state because South Africa alone does not have the right to confer statehood, whereas Lesotho is a state because the international community accepted-indeed encouraged-British decolonization in Africa. Even though a state's jurisdictions and boundaries often appear to be "natural" phenomena and sometimes correspond with natural land forms, they are political artifacts upheld by the international community. Among other things, the international society of states was formed to support the doctrine of states' or sovereigns' rights as a cornerstone of international order. Basically, it involves mutual rights and obligations-for example, the right of a country to exist and not to have its jurisdiction violated, and its duty not to violate the rights of others.
In this section we offer an explanation as to why the existing pattern of juridical statehood has been maintained in Africa. The most important conditions that have contributed to this phenomenon appear to be: the ideology of Pan-Africanism; the vulnerability of all states in the region and the insecurity of statesmen; the support of the larger inter- national society, including particularly its institutions and associations; and the reluctance, to date, of non-African powers to intervene in the affairs of African states without having been invited to do so by their governments. We will briefly discuss each of these conditions.
First, unlike any other continent except Australia, "Africa" is a political idea as well as a geographical fact with a distinctive ideology: African nationalism. This ideology emerged largely as a result of the universal African experience of colonial domination. European colonialism and its practices fostered the reactive ideology of African nationalism, which was directed at political independence and the freedom of the continent from European rule. Colonialism was the experience of Africans not only as individuals or as members of subordinated communities, or even as members of particular colonies; it was also their experience as Africans-a common political experience. As long as any country on the continent remains dominated by non-Africans, Pan-Africanism means the liberation of the continent in the name of African "freedom." Almost without exception, the Pan-Africanists came to realize that freedom could in practice only be achieved within the existing framework of the colonial territories that the Europeans had established. The European colonies were the only political vehicles that could give expression to African nationalism; as a consequence, these artificial jurisdictions acquired a vital legitimacy in the eyes of most knowledgeable Africans. Politicians in particular have maintained that, whatever the size, shape, population, and resources of these jurisdictions, they have a right to exist because they are the embodiment of the African political revolution. The only practical way of realizing the goal of African freedom was through the independence of the colonial territories. By this process, the successor states were made legitimate- not one, or several, or many individually, but all equally. Moreover, it is consistent with the ideology of Pan-Africanism that until Namibia and perhaps even South Africa-are free, "Africa" is not yet free.
Therefore, however arbitrary and alien in origin the inherited state jurisdictions might have been-and however far removed from traditional African values-they have been endowed with legitimacy. The ideology of Pan-Africanism that has gained historical expression in this way is a fundamental bulwark within Africa against the violation of existing, inherited state jurisdictions. At the same time, Pan-Africanism disposed the new African statesmen to associate in a common continental body whose rules would legitimize existing jurisdictions and specify any international actions that would be considered illegitimate. As a result, the principles of the O.A.U., as set down in Article III of its Charter, affirm: the sovereign equality of member states; non-interference; respect for sovereignty; peaceful settlement of disputes; and the illegitimacy of subversion.40 In sum, the ideology of Pan-Africanism has been expressed in the acceptance of the inherited colonial jurisdictions and the international legitimacy of all of the existing African states.41
Second, there is a common interest in the support of international rules and institutions and state jurisdictions in the African region that derives from the common vulnerability of states and the insecurity of statesmen. This approach would appear to be a variant of Hobbes's explanation of why rational individuals would prefer subordination to Leviathan as against freedom in the state of nature: general insecurity. "Since many are vulnerable to external incitement for secession it was obvious to most of the O.A.U. Members that a reciprocal respect for boundaries, and abstention from demands for their immediate revision, would be to their general advantage."42 In order to survive, weak African governments had to be assured of the recognition and respect for their sovereignty by neighboring states, as well as any other states in a position to undermine their authority and control. Regional vulnerability and the general apprehension of externally promoted interference and subversion have disposed African governments to collaborate in maintaining their jurisdictions.
From a balance-of-power perspective, it might be objected that, in actual fact, the roughly equal powerlessness of African governments is what upholds state jurisdictions by making violation very difficult and therefore unlikely. But military weakness did not prevent the Tanzanian army from invading Uganda and overthrowing Amin's tyranny, and it did not prevent the Katangan rebels from invading Shaba province in Zaire on two separate occasions. To the contrary, the civil and military weakness of most African governments disposes them to fear international subversion by neighboring states and others who may support their internal enemies. Consequently, it is weakness that induces all of them to support the rules and practices of the O.A.U. which are intended to uphold existing state jurisdictions. African international society-specifically the O.A.U. is intended to provide international political goods that guarantee the survival, security, identity, and integrity of African states, which the majority of African states cannot provide individually.
The O.A.U. is less an "organization" with its own agents, agencies, and resources than it is an "association" with its own rules: a club of statesmen who are obligated to subscribe to a small number of rules and practices of regional conduct, and to which every state except South Africa belongs. It is evident from the rules of Article III that the O.A.U. is very much a traditional association of states. But the O.A.U.'s effectiveness, like that of other successful international associations, probably owes less to its formal procedures than to its internal political processes. According to a leading student of the association, its main source of strength is the way in which it fosters the peaceful settlement of disputes.43 Conflict resolution has often taken place outside the Commission of Mediation, Conciliation, and Arbitration-which was specifically set up for the purpose. Most statesmen involved in disputes have resorted to mediation or conciliation by the O.A.U. Chairman, who is elected annually by the members, or by another respected member who is not involved in the disputes. The success of the O.A.U. is indicated by the fact that the majority of the numerous disputes among its members have been contained through its internal political process. Its only significant failures to date have been the wars in the Horn of Africa prompted by Somalia's attempts to claim border territories in Ethiopia and Kenya (challenging the inherited boundaries as well as a fundamental principle of the O.A.U.) and the Uganda-Tanzania war of I978-I979, which resulted in the overthrow of Idi Amin's tyranny.44
Third, the African states all became independent at a time when international society was highly organized and integrated. Its elaborate framework of international associations of both a worldwide and a regional or functional kind includes bodies that are important for African states: the United Nations (and its numerous specialized agencies that deal in whole or in part with Africa), the Commonwealth, Francophonie, the Lome Convention of the European Economic Community (EEC), and so forth. Membership in such associations is an acknowledgment of the existence of the member states and of their international rights and duties, including the right not to be interfered with. Their membership in international society acknowledges the legitimacy and supports the independence of African states. Indeed, the states' rights that derive from membership in the United Nations and other bodies are commonly used by African governments-sometimes with considerable skill and success-to secure both material and non- material benefits from the international system.
International society is a conservative order. Any international actor that seeks to interfere by force or any other illegitimate means in the affairs of a member state is almost certain to be confronted by a condemnation of its actions by most other states. The only interventions that are acceptable under present international rules and practices are those to which the legitimate government of the target country has consented. Imposed or unsolicited interference is difficult to justify; in Africa, the attempts by Katangan rebels, Biafran secessionists, Eritrean separatists, and Somalian and Moroccan irredentists to alter existing jurisdictions by force have to date not only been roundly condemned, but successfully resisted. Moreover, external powers that have been in a position to assist African claimant or expansionist states in their at- tempts at forced jurisdictional change have usually been loath to do so. For example, in 1977 the U.S.S.R. switched its military support from Somalia to Ethiopia when the Somalis seized Ethiopian territory by force. The Ethiopian army did not invade Somalia after it had expulsed the Somali forces from Ethiopia's Ogaden region (with major Cuban as well as Soviet assistance). When external powers have intervened in Africa, they have usually respected existing state jurisdictions: most such interventions were in response to solicitations by African governments or revolutionary movements fighting against colonial or white minority regimes.
The rare interventions in independent African states that were not solicited by a sovereign government, and thus did not respect existing state jurisdictions, can-with two exceptions involving France-be explained by the intervening power's status as an international outcast. In southern Africa, there have been numerous armed intrusions by the South African army into Angola to destroy, harass, or contain forces of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), and at least one dramatic raid into Mozambique to punish or destroy anti-apartheid movements in their sanctuaries. They can be accounted for by Pretoria 's outcast status and preoccupation with political survival. The military interventions by the Rhodesian armed forces into Zambia and Mozambique toward the end of the Rhodesian conflict can be under- stood in similar terms, as can the 1970 raid by Portuguese soldiers and African collaborators on Conakry, the capital of independent Guinea. The only interventions that cannot be explained in this way were made by France: in Gabon (I964) to restore a regime that had been over- thrown, and in the Central African Republic (I979) to overthrow a government and impose a new regime. In the first case, France had entered into an international agreement to protect the M'Ba government; in the second, it appears that other African states had given their tacit consent to the action, and may even have solicited it.
We have argued that juridical statehood is more important than empirical statehood in accounting for the persistence of states in Black Africa. International organizations have served as "post-imperial ordering devices" for the new African states,45 in effect freezing them in their inherited colonial jurisdictions and blocking any post-independence movements toward self-determination. So far, they have success- fully outlawed force as a method of producing new states in Africa.
Membership in the international society provides an opportunity- denied to Black Africa under colonialism-to both influence and take advantage of international rules and ideologies concerning what is desirable and undesirable in the relations of states. The impact of Third World states on those rules and ideologies is likely to increase as the new statesmen learn how to take advantage of international democracy. They have already been successful in influencing the creation of some new ideologies. For example, the efforts of the Third World have led to the formation of the North-South dialogue which would legitimate an international theory of morality based on assumptions of social justice that have heretofore been largely confined to internal politics.46 The states of the South-supported by some Northern statesmen-have asserted a moral claim on the actions and resources of the North; inter- national society is not only being subjected to demands for peace, order, and security, but for international social justice as well. This radical new development in international relations is associated with the emergence of the Third World. If it succeeds, a revolutionary change in international morality will have been brought about.
The global international society whose most important institutions have been established or expanded since the end of World War II has been generally successful in supporting the new state jurisdictions of independent Africa; thus, the survival of Africa's existing states is largely an international achievement. Still, international effects on empirical statehood are ambiguous. International society has legitimated and fostered the transfer of goods, services, technology, skills, and the like from rich to poor countries with the intention of contributing to the development of the latter. But there are definite limits to what inter- national society can contribute to the further development of the capabilities of African states. A society of states that exists chiefly in order to maintain the existing state system and the independence and survival of its members cannot regulate the internal affairs of members without the consent of their governments. It is therefore limited in its ability to determine that the resources transferred to the new states are effectively and properly used. In spite of a strong desire to do so, there is no way to guarantee such transfers against the wishes of a sovereign government without interfering in its internal affairs. Consequently, the enforcement of state jurisdictions may be at odds with the effort to develop the empirical state in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World. By enforcing juridical statehood, international society is in some cases also sustaining and perpetuating incompetent and corrupt governments. Perhaps the best example in sub-Saharan Africa is the international support that has gone into ensuring the survival of the corrupt government of Zaire. If this relationship is not an uncommon one, we must conclude that international society is at least partly responsible for perpetuating the underdevelopment of the empirical state in Africa by providing resources to incompetent or corrupt governments without being permitted to ensure that these resources are effectively and properly used.
State-building theories which assume that empirical statehood is more fundamental than juridical statehood, and that the internal is prior to the international in state formation and survival, are at odds with contemporary African experience. To study Black Africa's states from the internal perspective of political sociology is to assume that the state- building process here is basically the same as it was in Europe (where the political sociology of the modern state largely developed). In Europe, empirical statehood preceded juridical statehood or was concurrent with it,47 and the formation of modern states preceded (and later accompanied) the emergence of a state system. European statesmen created jurisdictions over the course of several centuries in Machiavellian fashion-by dominating internal rivals and competing with external rivals-until the international system had attained its present-day jurisdictions.48 However, as Tilly points out: "The later the state-making experience ... the less likely... internal processes ... are to provide an adequate explanation of the formation, survival or growth of a state."49 In Black Africa (and, by implication, in other regions of the Third World), external factors are more likely than internal factors to provide an adequate explanation of the formation and persistence of states. State jurisdictions and international society, which once were consequences of the success and survival of states, today are more likely to be conditions.
Arnold Wolfers pointed out that in the Anglo-American conceptualization of the international system versus the nation-state, the most persistent image has been one of international discord versus internal order and civility.50 In contemporary Black Africa, an image of international accord and civility and internal disorder and violence would be more accurate. At the level of international society, a framework of rules and conventions governing the relations of the states in the region has been founded and sustained for almost two decades. But far less institutionalization and political order has been evident during this period at the level of national society: many African countries have been experiencing internal political violence and some internal warfare. In so far as our theoretical images follow rather than precede concrete historical change, it is evident that the recent national and international history of Black Africa challenges more than it supports some of the major postulates of international relations theory.
* We gratefully acknowledge the comments of Leonard Binder, Alan C. Cairns, David Gordon, Ernst B. Haas, F. John Ravenhill, and George von der Muhll on an earlier version of this paper, which was delivered at the i98i Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in New York City. (1982 by the Trustees of Princeton University World Politics 0043-887I/82/oIoooI-24$OI..20/I For copying information, see contributor page.
1. Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, ed. by Talcott Parsons (New York: Free Press, i964), I56.
2. Ibid., I55.
3. Brownhie, Principles of Public International Law, 3d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1 979), 73-76.
4. Ibid., 75.
5. See Giovanni Sartori, "Guidelines for Concept Analysis," in Sartori, ed., Social Science Concepts: A
Systematic Analysis (forthcoming).
6. Brownlie (fn- 3), 75.
7. See Harry Eckstein's brilliant critique, "On the 'Science' of the State," in "The State," Daedalus, Vol. io8 (Fall I979), I-20.
8. Easton avoids the concept of the "state" in favor of that of the "political system"; see The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science (New York: Knopf, I953), 90-I24.
9 Brownlie (fn. 3), 75.
10. See Nelson Kasfir, The Shrinking Political Arena: Participation and Ethnicity in African Politics, with a Case Study of Uganda (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of Cali- fornia Press, I976).
11. See Clifford Geertz, "The Judging of Nations: Some Comments on the Assessment of Regimes in the New States," European Journal of Sociology, xviII (No. 2, I977), 249-52.
12. Brownlie (fn. 3), 75; Weber (fn. I), I56.
13. See Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg, Personal Rule in Black Africa: Prince, Autocrat, Prophet, Tyrant (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, I982).
14. See Michael Oakeshott, "The Vocabulary of a Modern European State," Political Studies, XXIII (June and September, I977), 3I9-4I, 409-I4.
15. The legitimacy of a government in the eyes of its citizens must be distinguished from its legitimacy in the eyes of other states; it is international legitimacy that is significant in the juridical attribute of statehood. A government may be legitimate internationally but illegitimate domestically, or vice versa. An instance of the former is Uganda during the last years of Idi Amin's regime; of the latter, the Soviet Union in its early years.
I6. Geertz (fn. II), 252.
17. Ibid., 253.
18. There is a wealth of literature on military intervention in Africa. Two outstanding accounts are Samuel Decalo, Coups and Army Rule in Africa: Studies in Military Style (New Haven: Yale University Press, I976), and Claude E. Welch, Jr., ed., Soldier and State in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Military Intervention and Political Change (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, I970). Both have excellent bibliographies.
19. William Gutteridge, "Introduction," in Richard Booth, "The Armed Forces of African States, 1970," Adeiphi Papers, No. 67 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, I970), 4.
20. Jon R. Moris, "The Transferability of Western Management Concepts and Programs, An East African Perspective," in Lawrence D. Stifel, James S. Coleman, and Joseph E. Black, eds., Education and Training for Public Sector Management in Developing Countries (Special Report from the Rockefeller Foundation, March I977), 73-83. For Ghana, see Robert M. Price, Society and Bureaucracy in Contemporary Ghana(Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, I975); for Kenya, Goran Hyden, Robert Jackson, and John Okumu, eds., Development Administration: The Kenya Experience (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, I970).
21. Myrdal, Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, i968).
22. Nyerere, The Arusha Declaration Ten Years After (Dar es Salaam: Government Printer, 1977), esp. chap. 3: "Our Mistakes and Failures," 27-48.
23. Independence Day Speech of President Mobutu Sese Seko, July I, 1977, typescript, translated from the French by James S. Coleman.
24. See West Africa No. 3255 (December 3, 1979), 2224; and Ghislain C. Kabwit, "Zaire: The Roots of the Continuing Crisis," Journal of Modern African Studies, xvii (No. 3, 1979), 397-98.
25. Gutteridge (fn. i9), i.
26. Ibid., 3
27. Africa Contemporary Record, 1979-80, p. C i09.
28. The concept of "international society" is explored in Martin Wight, Power Politics, ed. by Hedley Bull and Carsten Holbraad (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1978), 105-12. Also see Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (London: Macmillan, 1977), 24-52; and Alan James, "International Society," British Journal of International Studies, iv (July 1978), 9i-io6.
29. In considering the issue of human rights in Africa, the O.A.U.'s Assembly of Heads of States stressed the equal importance of "peoples' rights," and recently recommended that an "African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights" be drafted. Peoples' rights are the rights of a sovereign people and can only be claimed and exercised by state governments. See Africa Contemporary Record, 1979-80, p. C 21.
30. Bull argues that the primary historical goal of international society has been to preserve the society of states itself; but it is difficult to see how this can be accomplished in the long run without first guaranteeing the sovereignty of member states. See The Anarchical Society (fn. 28), 17.
31. This is essentially the Austinian concept of "sovereignty." See John Austin, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined, ed. by H.L.A. Hart (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1954).
32. Bull (fn. 28), 34.
33. For an argument that at least in some cases "independence" was a "reversion" to sovereignty, see Charles H. Alexandrowicz, "New and Original States: The Issue of Re- version to Sovereignty," International Affairs, XLVII (July i969), 465-80. For an opposing view, see Martin Wight, Systems of States, ed. by Hedley Bull (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1977), i6-28.
34. French West Africa rather than its constituent units-Senegal, Mali, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, etc.-could have been one state had Africans been able to agree to it; Nigeria could have been more than one.
35. At the time of independence in i960, British-governed Somali-land joined the Italian- administered trust territory to form the Somali Democratic Republic. In October i96i, the Federal Republic of Cameroon came into being, composed of East Cameroon (formerly a French Trust Territory) and West Cameroon (part of a former British Trust Territory). Independent Tanganyika joined with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanzania in April 1964.
36. Quoted in Robert C. Good, "Changing Patterns of African International Relations," American Political Science Review, Vol. 58 (September i964), 632.
37. Quoted in Ali A. Mazrui, Towards a Pax Africana: A Study of Ideology and Ambition (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, i967), 12.
38. According to the United Nations, in 1978 there were 13 African countries (8 on the continent and 5 island countries) with a population of less than one million. Nine of these had populations of 6oo,ooo or fewer. See Africa Contemporary Record, 1979-80, p. C 107.
39. Martin Wight, "Why is there no International Theory?" in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, eds., Diplomatic Investigations (London: George Allen & Unwin, i966), 33.
40. Zdenek Cervenka, The Organization of African Unity and its Charter (New York and Washington: Praeger, I969), 232-33.
41. Martin Wight defined "international legitimacy" as "the collective judgment of inter- national society about rightful membership in the family of nations." See his Systems of States (ln. 33), i53 (emphasis added).
42. Cervenka (fn. 40), 93.
43. Zdenek Cervenka, The Unfinished Quest for Unity: Africa and the OAU (New York: Africana Publishing Co., I977), 65.
44. As of March i982, it was unclear whether the war between Morocco and the Polisario over the former Spanish Sahara could be considered a failure for the O.A.U., since it was uncertain whether the Sahrawi Democratic Republic (SADR) was as yet a legal member of the organization. See "The OAU's Sahara Crisis," West Africa, March 8, i982, p. 639.
45. Peter Lyon, "New States and International Order," in Alan James, ed., The Bases of International Order: Essays in Honour of C.A. W. Manning (London: Oxford University Press, I 973), 47.
46. Independent Commission on International Development Issues, North-South, a Programme for Survival (Cambridge: MIT Press, i980); Roger Hansen, Beyond the North-South Stalemate (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979); Robert L. Rothstein, Global Bargaining: UNCTAD and the Quest for a New Economic Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press), I979.
47. Charles H. McIlwain has noted that "Independence defacto was ultimately translated into a sovereignty dejure." Quoted by John H. Herz, "Rise and Demise of the Territorial State," in Heinz Lubasz, ed., The Development of the Modem State (New York: Macmillan, I964), I33.
48. See Wight (fn. 28), chaps. I and 2.
49. Charles Tilly, ed., The Formation of National States in Western Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, I975), 46. Unfortunately, Tilly tends to neglect the international dimension of European state making. For two excellent essays on this topic, see Martin Wight, "The Origins of Our States-System: Geographical Limits," and "The Origins of Our States-System: Chronological Limits" (fn. 33, IIO-52).
50. ("Political Theory and International Relations," in Wolfers, Discord and Collaboration: Essays on International Politics (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), 239-40.
Charter of the Organization of African Unity, 479 U.N.T.S. 39, entered into force Sept. 13, 1963.
We, the Heads of African States and Governments assembled in the City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
Convince that it is the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny,
Conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples,
Conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our continent for the total advancement of our peoples in all spheres of human endeavour,
Inspired by a common determination to promote understanding among our peoples and cooperation among our states in response to the aspirations of our peoples for brother-hood and solidarity, in a larger unity transcending ethnic and national differences,
Convinced that, in order to translate this determination into a dynamic force in the cause of human progress, conditions for peace and security must be established and maintained,
Determined to safeguard and consolidate the hard-won independence as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our states, and to fight against neo-colonialism in all its forms,
Dedicated to the general progress of Africa,
Persuaded that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the Principles of which we reaffirm our adherence, provide a solid foundation for peaceful and positive cooperation among States,
Desirous that all African States should henceforth unite so that the welfare and well-being of their peoples can be assured,
Resolved to reinforce the links between our states by establishing and strengthening common institutions,
- Have agreed to the present Charter.
1. The High Contracting Parties do by the present Charter establish Organization to be known as the ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY.
2. The Organization shall include the Continental African States, Madagascar and other Islands surrounding Africa.
1. The Organization shall have the following purposes:
To promote tho unity and solidarity of the African States;
To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa;
To defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;
To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and
To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2. To these ends, the Member States shall coordinate and harmonize their general policies, especially in the following fields:
Political and diplomatic cooperation;
Economic cooperation, including transport and communications;
Educational and cultural cooperation;
Health, sanitation and nutritional cooperation;
Scientific and technical cooperation; and
Cooperation for defense and security.
The Member States, in pursuit of the purposes stated in Article solemnly affirm and declare their adherence to the following principles:
The sovereign equality of all Member States.
Non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State and for its inalienable right to independent existence.
Peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation or arbitration.
Unreserved condemnation, in all its forms, of political assassination as well as of subversive activities on the part a neighbourinig States or any other States.
Absolute dedication to the total emancipation of the Africa: territories which are still dependent.
Affirmation of a policy of non-alignment with regard to all blocs.
Each independent sovereign African State shall be entitled to become Member of the Organization.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MEMBER SIATES
All Member States shall enjoy equal rights and have equal duties.
The Member States pledge themselves to observe scrupulously the principles enumerated in Article III of the present Charter.
The Organization shall accomplish its purposes through the following principal institutions:
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The Council of Ministers.
The General Secretariat.
The Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration.
THE ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government shall be the supreme organ of the Organization. It shall, subject to the provisions of this Charter, discuss matters of common concern to Africa with a view to coordinating and harmonizing the general policy of the Organization. It may in addition review the structure, functions and acts of all the organs and any specialized agencies which may be created in accordance with the present Charter.
The Assembly shall be composed of the Heads of State and Government or their duly accredited representatives and it shall meet at least once a year. At the request of any Member State and on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Member States, the Assembly shall meet in extraordinary session.
1. Each Member State shall have one vote.
2. All resolutions shall be determined by a two-thirds majority of the Members of the Organization.
3. Questions of procedure shall require a simple majority. Whether or not a question is one of procedure shall be determined by a simple majority of all Member States of the Organization.
4. Two-thirds of the total membership of tho Organization shall form a quorum at any meeting of the Assembly.
The Assembly shall have the power to determine its own rules of procedure.
THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
1. The Council of Ministers shall consist of Foreign Ministers or other Ministers as are designated by the Governments of Member States.
2. The Council of Ministers shall meet at least twice a year. When requested by any Member State and approved by two-thirds of all Member States, it shall meet in extraordinary session.
1. The Council of Ministers shall be responsible to the Assembly Heads of State and Government. It shall be entrusted with the responsible of preparing conferences of the Assembly.
2. It shall take cognisance of any matter referred to it by the Assembly. It shall be entrusted with the implementation of the decision of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. It shall coordinate inter-African cooperation in accordance with the instructions of the Assembly conformity with Article II (2) of the present Charter.
1. Each Member State shall have one vote.
2. All resolutions shall be determined by a simple majority members of the Council of Ministers.
3. Two-thirds of the total membership of the Council of Ministers shall form a quorum for any meeting of the Council.
The Council shall have the power to determine its own rules of procedure.
There shall be a Secretary-General of the Organization, who shall be appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The Secretary-General shall direct the affairs of the Secretariat.
There shall be one or more Assistant Secretaries-General of the Organization who shall be appointed by the Assembly of Heads of state and Government.
The functions and conditions of service of the Secretary-General, of the Assistant Secretaries- General and other employees of the Secretariat shall be governed by the provisions of this Charter and the regulations approved by the Assembly of Heads of state and Government.
In the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization.
Each member of the Organization undertakes to respect the exclusive character of the responsibilities of tho Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.
COMMISSION OF MEDIATION, CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION
Member States pledge to settle all disputes among themselves by peaceful means and, to this end decide to establish a Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration, the composition of which and condition of service shall be defined by a separate Protocol to be approved by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Said Protocol shall be regarded as forming an integral part of the present Charter.
The Assembly shall establish such Specialized Commissions as it me, deem necessary, including the following:
Economic and Social Commission.
Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Health Commission.
Each Specialized Commission referred to in Article XX shal1 composed of the Ministers concerned or other Ministers or Plenipotentiaries designated by the Governments of the Member States.
The functions of the Specialized Commissions shall be carried out In accordance with the provisions of the present Charter and of the regulations approved by the Council of Ministers.
The budget of the Organization prepared by the Secretary-General shall be approved by the Council of Ministers. The budget shall be provided by contribution from Member States in accordance with the scale of assessment of the United Nations; provided, however, that no Member State shall be assessed an amount exceeding twenty percent of the yearly regular budget of the Organization. The Member States agree to pay their respective contributions regularly.
SIGNATURE AND RATIFICATION OF CHARTER
1. This Charter shall be open for signature to all independent sovereign African States and shall be ratified by the signatory States in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
2. The original instrument, done, if possible in African languages, in English and French, all texts being equally authentic, shall be deposited with the Government of Ethiopia which shall transmit certified copies thereof to all independent sovereign African States.
3. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of Ethiopia, which shall notify all signatories of each such deposit.
ENTRY INTO FORCE
This Charter shall enter into force immediately upon receipt by the Government of Ethiopia of the instruments of ratification from two-thirds of the signatory States.
REGISTRATION OF CHARTER
This Charter shall, after due ratification, be registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations through the Government of Ethiopia in conformity with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
INTERPRETATION OF THE CHARTER
Any question which may arise concerning the interpretation of this Charter shall be decided by a vote of two-thirds of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization.
ADHESION AND ACCESSION
1. Any independent sovereign African State may at any time notify the Secretary-General of-its intention to adhere or accede to this Charter.
2. The Secretary-General shall, on receipt of such notification, communicate a copy of it to all the Member States. Admission shall be decided by a simple majority of the Member States. The decision of each Member State shall be transmitted to the Secretary-General, who shall, upon receipt of the required number of votes, communicate the decision to the State concerned.
The working languages of the Organization and all its institutions shall be, If possible African languages, English and French, Arabic and Portuguese.
The Secretary-General may accept, on behalf of the Organization, gifts, bequests and other donations made to the Organization, provided that this is approved by the Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers shall decide on the privileges and immunities to be accorded to the personnel of the Secretariat in the respective territories of the Member States.
CESSATION OF MEMBERSHIP
Any State which desires to renounce its membership shall forward a written notification to the Secretary-General. At the end of one year from the date of such notification, if not withdrawn, the Charter shall cease to apply with respect to the renouncing State, which shall thereby cease to belong to the Organization.
AMENDMENT OF THE CHARTER
This Charter may be amended or revised if any Member State makes a written request to the Secretary-General to that effect; provided, however, that the proposed amendment is not submitted to the Assembly for consideration until all the Member States have been duly notified of it and a period of one year has elapsed. Such an amendment shall not be effective unless approved by at least two-thirds of all the Member States.
IN FAITH WHEREOF, We, the Heads of African State Governments have signed this Charter.
Done in the City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
25th day of May, 1963
Civil Disobedience, By Henry David Thoreau, 1849
I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe- "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.
This American government- what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads.
But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.
After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?- in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? Visit the Navy-Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts- a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments, though it may be,
"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where our hero we buried."
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others- as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders- serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few- as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men- serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. A wise man will only be useful as a man, and will not submit to be "clay," and "stop a hole to keep the wind away," but leave that office to his dust at least:
"I am too high-born to be propertied,
To be a secondary at control,
Or useful serving-man and instrument
To any sovereign state throughout the world."
He who gives himself entirely to his fellow-men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them is pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also.
All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution Of '75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them. All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.
Paley, a common authority with many on moral questions, in his chapter on the "Duty of Submission to Civil Government," resolves all civil obligation into expediency; and he proceeds to say that "so long as the interest of the whole society requires it, that is, so long as the established government cannot be resisted or changed without public inconveniency, it is the will of God... that the established government be obeyed- and no longer. This principle being admitted, the justice of every particular case of resistance is reduced to a computation of the quantity of the danger and grievance on the one side, and of the probability and expense of redressing it on the other." Of this, he says, every man shall judge for himself. But Paley appears never to have contemplated those cases to which the rule of expediency does not apply, in which a people, as well as an individual, must do justice, cost what it may. If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself. This, according to Paley, would be inconvenient. But he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves, and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people.
In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does any one think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis?
"A drab of state, a cloth-o'-silver slut,
To have her train borne up, and her soul trail in the dirt."
Practically speaking, the opponents to a reform in Massachusetts are not a hundred thousand politicians at the South, but a hundred thousand merchants and farmers here, who are more interested in commerce and agriculture than they are in humanity, and are not prepared to do justice to the slave and to Mexico, cost what it may. I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, cooperate with, and do the bidding of those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless. We are accustomed to say, that the mass of men are unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be as good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; who even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free trade, and quietly read the prices-current along with the latest advices from Mexico, after dinner, and, it may be, fall asleep over them both. What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot today? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and God-speed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.
I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of his wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reason to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in this country? Hardly one. Does not America offer any inducement for men to settle here? The American has dwindled into an Odd Fellow-one who may be known by the development of his organ of gregariousness, and a manifest lack of intellect and cheerful self-reliance; whose first and chief concern, on coming into the world, is to see that the almshouses are in good repair; and, before yet he has lawfully donned the virile garb, to collect a fund for the support of the widows and orphans that may be; who, in short, ventures to live only by the aid of the Mutual Insurance company, which has promised to bury him decently.
It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. See what gross inconsistency is tolerated. I have heard some of my townsmen say, "I should like to have them order me out to help put down an insurrection of the slaves, or to march to Mexico;- see if I would go"; and yet these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute. The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it differed one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment. Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were, unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.
The broadest and most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it. The slight reproach to which the virtue of patriotism is commonly liable, the noble are most likely to incur. Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform. Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves- the union between themselves and the State- and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? Do not they stand in the same relation to the State that the State does to the Union? And have not the same reasons prevented the State from resisting the Union which have prevented them from resisting the State?
How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see that you are never cheated again. Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides States and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine.
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?
One would think, that a deliberate and practical denial of its authority was the only offence never contemplated by government; else, why has it not assigned its definite, its suitable and proportionate, penalty? If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who placed him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again.
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth- certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
As for adopting the ways which the State has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways. They take too much time, and a man's life will be gone. I have other affairs to attend to. I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. It is not my business to be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me; and if they should not bear my petition, what should I do then? But in this case the State has provided no way: its very Constitution is the evil. This may seem to be harsh and stubborn and unconciliatory; but it is to treat with the utmost kindness and consideration the only spirit that can appreciate or deserves it. So is an change for the better, like birth and death, which convulse the body.
I do not hesitate to say, that those who call themselves Abolitionists should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government of Massachusetts, and not wait till they constitute a majority of one, before they suffer the right to prevail through them. I think that it is enough if they have God on their side, without waiting for that other one. Moreover, any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.
I meet this American government, or its representative, the State government, directly, and face to face, once a year- no more- in the person of its tax-gatherer; this is the only mode in which a man situated as I am necessarily meets it; and it then says distinctly, Recognize me; and the simplest, the most effectual, and, in the present posture of affairs, the indispensablest mode of treating with it on this head, of expressing your little satisfaction with and love for it, is to deny it then. My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with- for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel- and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government. How shall he ever know well what he is and does as an officer of the government, or as a man, until he is obliged to consider whether he shall treat me, his neighbor, for whom he has respect, as a neighbor and well-disposed man, or as a maniac and disturber of the peace, and see if he can get over this obstruction to his neighborliness without a ruder and more impetuous thought or speech corresponding with his action. I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name- if ten honest men only- ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America. For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever. But we love better to talk about it: that we say is our mission, Reform keeps many scores of newspapers in its service, but not one man. If my esteemed neighbor, the State's ambassador, who will devote his days to the settlement of the question of human rights in the Council Chamber, instead of being threatened with the prisons of Carolina, were to sit down the prisoner of Massachusetts, that State which is so anxious to foist the sin of slavery upon her sister- though at present she can discover only an act of inhospitality to be the ground of a quarrel with her- the Legislature would not wholly waive the subject the following winter.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable, ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her- the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood should flow. Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.
I have contemplated the imprisonment of the offender, rather than the seizure of his goods- though both will serve the same purpose- because they who assert the purest right, and consequently are most dangerous to a corrupt State, commonly have not spent much time in accumulating property. To such the State renders comparatively small service, and a slight tax is wont to appear exorbitant, particularly if they are obliged to earn it by special labor with their hands. If there were one who lived wholly without the use of money, the State itself would hesitate to demand it of him. But the rich man- not to make any invidious comparison- is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; and it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it. It puts to rest many questions which he would otherwise be taxed to answer; while the only new question which it puts is the hard but superfluous one, how to spend it. Thus his moral ground is taken from under his feet. The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as what are called the "means" are increased. The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor. Christ answered the Herodians according to their condition. "Show me the tribute-money," said he;- and one took a penny out of his pocket;- if you use money which has the image of Caesar on it, and which he has made current and valuable, that is, if you are men of the State, and gladly enjoy the advantages of Caesar's government, then pay him back some of his own when he demands it. "Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God those things which are God's"- leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.
When I converse with the freest of my neighbors, I perceive that, whatever they may say about the magnitude and seriousness of the question, and their regard for the public tranquillity, the long and the short of the matter is, that they cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it. For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the authority of the State when it presents its tax-bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects. It will not be worth the while to accumulate property; that would be sure to go again. You must hire or squat somewhere, and raise but a small crop, and eat that soon. You must live within yourself, and depend upon yourself always tucked up and ready for a start, and not have many affairs. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government. Confucius said: "If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are the subjects of shame." No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.
Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. "Pay," it said, "or be locked up in the jail." I declined to pay. But, unfortunately, another man saw fit to pay it. I did not see why the schoolmaster should be taxed to support the priest, and not the priest the schoolmaster; for I was not the State's schoolmaster, but I supported myself by voluntary subscription. I did not see why the lyceum should not present its tax-bill, and have the State to back its demand, as well as the Church. However, at the request of the selectmen, I condescended to make some such statement as this in writing:- "Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined." This I gave to the town clerk; and he has it. The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time. If I had known how to name them, I should then have signed off in detail from all the societies which I never signed on to; but I did not know where to find a complete list.
I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hindrance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.
Thus the State never intentionally confronts a man's sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to have this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live? When I meet a government which says to me, "Your money or your life," why should I be in haste to give it my money? It may be in a great strait, and not know what to do: I cannot help that. It must help itself; do as I do. It is not worth the while to snivel about it. I am not responsible for the successful working of the machinery of society. I am not the son of the engineer. I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man.
The night in prison was novel and interesting enough. The prisoners in their shirt-sleeves were enjoying a chat and the evening air in the doorway, when I entered. But the jailer said, "Come, boys, it is time to lock up"; and so they dispersed, and I heard the sound of their steps returning into the hollow apartments. My room-mate was introduced to me by the jailer as "a first-rate fellow and a clever man." When the door was locked, he showed me where to hang my hat, and how he managed matters there. The rooms were whitewashed once a month; and this one, at least, was the whitest, most simply furnished, and probably the neatest apartment in the town. He naturally wanted to know where I came from, and what brought me there; and, when I had told him, I asked him in my turn how he came there, presuming him to be an honest man, of course; and, as the world goes, I believe he was. "Why," said he, "they accuse me of burning a barn; but I never did it." As near as I could discover, he had probably gone to bed in a barn when drunk, and smoked his pipe there; and so a barn was burnt. He had the reputation of being a clever man, had been there some three months waiting for his trial to come on, and would have to wait as much longer; but he was quite domesticated and contented, since he got his board for nothing, and thought that he was well treated.
He occupied one window, and I the other; and I saw that if one stayed there long, his principal business would be to look out the window. I had soon read all the tracts that were left there, and examined where former prisoners had broken out, and where a grate had been sawed off, and heard the history of the various occupants of that room; for I found that even here there was a history and a gossip which never circulated beyond the walls of the jail. Probably this is the only house in the town where verses are composed, which are afterward printed in a circular form, but not published. I was shown quite a long list of verses which were composed by some young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.
I pumped my fellow-prisoner as dry as I could, for fear I should never see him again; but at length he showed me which was my bed, and left me to blow out the lamp.
It was like travelling into a far country, such as I had never expected to behold, to lie there for one night. It seemed to me that I never had heard the town clock strike before, nor the evening sounds of the village; for we slept with the windows open, which were inside the grating. It was to see my native village in the light of the Middle Ages, and our Concord was turned into a Rhine stream, and visions of knights and castles passed before me. They were the voices of old burghers that I heard in the streets. I was an involuntary spectator and auditor of whatever was done and said in the kitchen of the adjacent village inn- a wholly new and rare experience to me. It was a closer view of my native town. I was fairly inside of it. I never had seen its institutions before. This is one of its peculiar institutions; for it is a shire town. I began to comprehend what its inhabitants were about.
In the morning, our breakfasts were put through the hole in the door, in small oblong-square tin pans, made to fit, and holding a pint of chocolate, with brown bread, and an iron spoon. When they called for the vessels again, I was green enough to return what bread I had left; but my comrade seized it, and said that I should lay that up for lunch or dinner. Soon after he was let out to work at haying in a neighboring field, whither he went every day, and would not be back till noon; so he bade me good-day, saying that he doubted if he should see me again.
When I came out of prison- for some one interfered, and paid that tax- I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a tottering and gray-headed man; and yet a change had to my eyes come over the scene- the town, and State, and country- greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are; that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight though useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.
It was formerly the custom in our village, when a poor debtor came out of jail, for his acquaintances to salute him, looking through their fingers, which were crossed to represent the grating of a jail window, "How do ye do?" My neighbors did not thus salute me, but first looked at me, and then at one another, as if I had returned from a long journey. I was put into jail as I was going to the shoemaker's to get a shoe which was mended. When I was let out the next morning, I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party, who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour- for the horse was soon tackled- was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen.
This is the whole history of "My Prisons."
I have never declined paying the highway tax, because I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject; and as for supporting schools, I am doing my part to educate my fellow-countrymen now. It is for no particular item in the tax-bill that I refuse to pay it. I simply wish to refuse allegiance to the State, to withdraw and stand aloof from it effectually. I do not care to trace the course of my dollar, if I could, till it buys a man or a musket to shoot one with- the dollar is innocent- but I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance. In fact, I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I will still make what use and get what advantage of her I can, as is usual in such cases.
If others pay the tax which is demanded of me, from a sympathy with the State, they do but what they have already done in their own case, or rather they abet injustice to a greater extent than the State requires. If they pay the tax from a mistaken interest in the individual taxed, to save his property, or prevent his going to jail, it is because they have not considered wisely how far they let their private feelings interfere with the public good.
This, then, is my position at present. But one cannot be too much on his guard in such a case, lest his action be biased by obstinacy or an undue regard for the opinions of men. Let him see that he does only what belongs to himself and to the hour.
I think sometimes, Why, this people mean well, they are only ignorant; they would do better if they knew how: why give your neighbors this pain to treat you as they are not inclined to? But I think again, This is no reason why I should do as they do, or permit others to suffer much greater pain of a different kind. Again, I sometimes say to myself, When many millions of men, without heat, without ill will, without personal feeling of any kind, demand of you a few shillings only, without the possibility, such is their constitution, of retracting or altering their present demand, and without the possibility, on your side, of appeal to any other millions, why expose yourself to this overwhelming brute force? You do not resist cold and hunger, the winds and the waves, thus obstinately; you quietly submit to a thousand similar necessities. You do not put your head into the fire. But just in proportion as I regard this as not wholly a brute force, but partly a human force, and consider that I have relations to those millions as to so many millions of men, and not of mere brute or inanimate things, I see that appeal is possible, first and instantaneously, from them to the Maker of them, and, secondly, from them to themselves. But if I put my head deliberately into the fire, there is no appeal to fire or to the Maker of fire, and I have only myself to blame. If I could convince myself that I have any right to be satisfied with men as they are, and to treat them accordingly, and not according, in some respects, to my requisitions and expectations of what they and I ought to be, then, like a good Mussulman and fatalist, I should endeavor to be satisfied with things as they are, and say it is the will of God. And, above all, there is this difference between resisting this and a purely brute or natural force, that I can resist this with some effect; but I cannot expect, like Orpheus, to change the nature of the rocks and trees and beasts.
I do not wish to quarrel with any man or nation. I do not wish to split hairs, to make fine distinctions, or set myself up as better than my neighbors. I seek rather, I may say, even an excuse for conforming to the laws of the land. I am but too ready to conform to them. Indeed, I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and State governments, and the spirit of the people, to discover a pretext for conformity.
"We must affect our country as our parents,
And if at any time we alienate
Our love or industry from doing it honor,
We must respect effects and teach the soul
Matter of conscience and religion,
And not desire of rule or benefit."
I believe that the State will soon be able to take all my work of this sort out of my hands, and then I shall be no better a patriot than my fellow-countrymen. Seen from a lower point of view, the Constitution, with all its faults, is very good; the law and the courts are very respectable; even this State and this American government are, in many respects, very admirable, and rare things, to be thankful for, such as a great many have described them; but seen from a point of view a little higher, they are what I have described them; seen from a higher still, and the highest, who shall say what they are, or that they are worth looking at or thinking of at all?
However, the government does not concern me much, and I shall bestow the fewest possible thoughts on it. It is not many moments that I live under a government, even in this world. If a man is thought-free, fancy-free, imagination-free, that which is not never for a long time appearing to be to him, unwise rulers or reformers cannot fatally interrupt him.
I know that most men think differently from myself; but those whose lives are by profession devoted to the study of these or kindred subjects content me as little as any. Statesmen and legislators, standing so completely within the institution, never distinctly and nakedly behold it. They speak of moving society, but have no resting-place without it. They may be men of a certain experience and discrimination, and have no doubt invented ingenious and even useful systems, for which we sincerely thank them; but all their wit and usefulness lie within certain not very wide limits. They are wont to forget that the world is not governed by policy and expediency. Webster never goes behind government, and so cannot speak with authority about it. His words are wisdom to those legislators who contemplate no essential reform in the existing government; but for thinkers, and those who legislate for all time, he never once glances at the subject. I know of those whose serene and wise speculations on this theme would soon reveal the limits of his mind's range and hospitality. Yet, compared with the cheap professions of most reformers, and the still cheaper wisdom and eloquence of politicians in general, his are almost the only sensible and valuable words, and we thank Heaven for him. Comparatively, he is always strong, original, and, above all, practical. Still, his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. The lawyer's truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing. He well deserves to be called, as he has been called, the Defender of the Constitution. There are really no blows to be given by him but defensive ones. He is not a leader, but a follower. His leaders are the men of '87- "I have never made an effort," he says, "and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangement as originally made, by which the various States came into the Union." Still thinking of the sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery, he says, "Because it was a part of the original compact- let it stand." Notwithstanding his special acuteness and ability, he is unable to take a fact out of its merely political relations, and behold it as it lies absolutely to be disposed of by the intellect- what, for instance, it behooves a man to do here in America today with regard to slavery- but ventures, or is driven, to make some such desperate answer as the following, while professing to speak absolutely, and as a private man- from which what new and singular code of social duties might be inferred? "The manner," says he, "in which the governments of those States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under their responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God. Associations formed elsewhere, springing from a feeling of humanity, or any other cause, have nothing whatever to do with it. They have never received any encouragement from me, and they never will."
They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountain-head.
No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freedom, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation?
The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to- for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I, and in many things even those who neither know nor can do so well- is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed. It can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it. The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.
Reflections on Gandhi By George Orwell
Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent, but the tests that have to be applied to them are not, of course, the same in all cases. In Gandhi's case the questions on feels inclined to ask are: to what extent was Gandhi moved by vanity - by the consciousness of himself as a humble, naked old man, sitting on a praying mat and shaking empires by sheer spiritual power - and to what extent did he compromise his own principles by entering politics, which of their nature are inseparable from coercion and fraud? To give a definite answer one would have to study Gandhi's acts and writings in immense detail, for his whole life was a sort of pilgrimage in which every act was significant. But this partial autobiography, which ends in the nineteen-twenties, is strong evidence in his favor, all the more because it covers what he would have called the unregenerate part of his life and reminds one that inside the saint, or near-saint, there was a very shrewd, able person who could, if he had chosen, have been a brilliant success as a lawyer, an administrator or perhaps even a businessman.
At about the time when the autobiography first appeared I remember reading its opening chapters in the ill-printed pages of some Indian newspaper. They made a good impression on me, which Gandhi himself at that time did not. The things that one associated with him - home-spun cloth, "soul forces" and vegetarianism - were unappealing, and his medievalist program was obviously not viable in a backward, starving, over-populated country. It was also apparent that the British were making use of him, or thought they were making use of him. Strictly speaking, as a Nationalist, he was an enemy, but since in every crisis he would exert himself to prevent violence - which, from the British point of view, meant preventing any effective action whatever - he could be regarded as "our man". In private this was sometimes cynically admitted. The attitude of the Indian millionaires was similar. Gandhi called upon them to repent, and naturally they preferred him to the Socialists and Communists who, given the chance, would actually have taken their money away. How reliable such calculations are in the long run is doubtful; as Gandhi himself says, "in the end deceivers deceive only themselves"; but at any rate the gentleness with which he was nearly always handled was due partly to the feeling that he was useful. The British Conservatives only became really angry with him when, as in 1942, he was in effect turning his non-violence against a different conqueror.
But I could see even then that the British officials who spoke of him with a mixture of amusement and disapproval also genuinely liked and admired him, after a fashion. Nobody ever suggested that he was corrupt, or ambitious in any vulgar way, or that anything he did was actuated by fear or malice. In judging a man like Gandhi one seems instinctively to apply high standards, so that some of his virtues have passed almost unnoticed. For instance, it is clear even from the autobiography that his natural physical courage was quite outstanding: the manner of his death was a later illustration of this, for a public man who attached any value to his own skin would have been more adequately guarded. Again, he seems to have been quite free from that maniacal suspiciousness which, as E. M. Forster rightly says in A Passage to India, is the besetting Indian vice, as hypocrisy is the British vice. Although no doubt he was shrewd enough in detecting dishonesty, he seems wherever possible to have believed that other people were acting in good faith and had a better nature through which they could be approached. And though he came of a poor middle-class family, started life rather unfavorably, and was probably of unimpressive physical appearance, he was not afflicted by envy or by the feeling of inferiority. Color feeling when he first met it in its worst form in South Africa, seems rather to have astonished him. Even when he was fighting what was in effect a color war, he did not think of people in terms of race or status. The governor of a province, a cotton millionaire, a half-starved Dravidian coolie, a British private soldier were all equally human beings, to be approached in much the same way. It is noticeable that even in the worst possible circumstances, as in South Africa when he was making himself unpopular as the champion of the Indian community, he did not lack European friends.
Written in short lengths for newspaper serialization, the autobiography is not a literary masterpiece, but it is the more impressive because of the commonplaceness of much of its material. It is well to be reminded that Gandhi started out with the normal ambitions of a young Indian student and only adopted his extremist opinions by degrees and, in some cases, rather unwillingly. There was a time, it is interesting to learn, when he wore a top hat, took dancing lessons, studied French and Latin, went up the Eiffel Tower and even tried to learn the violin - all this was the idea of assimilating European civilization as throughly as possible. He was not one of those saints who are marked out by their phenomenal piety from childhood onwards, nor one of the other kind who forsake the world after sensational debaucheries. He makes full confession of the misdeeds of his youth, but in fact there is not much to confess. As a frontispiece to the book there is a photograph of Gandhi's possessions at the time of his death. The whole outfit could be purchased for about 5 pounds***, and Gandhi's sins, at least his fleshly sins, would make the same sort of appearance if placed all in one heap. A few cigarettes, a few mouthfuls of meat, a few annas pilfered in childhood from the maidservant, two visits to a brothel (on each occasion he got away without "doing anything"), one narrowly escaped lapse with his landlady in Plymouth, one outburst of temper - that is about the whole collection. Almost from childhood onwards he had a deep earnestness, an attitude ethical rather than religious, but, until he was about thirty, no very definite sense of direction. His first entry into anything describable as public life was made by way of vegetarianism. Underneath his less ordinary qualities one feels all the time the solid middle-class businessmen who were his ancestors. One feels that even after he had abandoned personal ambition he must have been a resourceful, energetic lawyer and a hard-headed political organizer, careful in keeping down expenses, an adroit handler of committees and an indefatigable chaser of subscriptions. His character was an extraordinarily mixed one, but there was almost nothing in it that you can put your finger on and call bad, and I believe that even Gandhi's worst enemies would admit that he was an interesting and unusual man who enriched the world simply by being alive . Whether he was also a lovable man, and whether his teachings can have much for those who do not accept the religious beliefs on which they are founded, I have never felt fully certain.
Of late years it has been the fashion to talk about Gandhi as though he were not only sympathetic to the Western Left-wing movement, but were integrally part of it. Anarchists and pacifists, in particular, have claimed him for their own, noticing only that he was opposed to centralism and State violence and ignoring the other-worldly, anti-humanist tendency of his doctrines. But one should, I think, realize that Gandhi's teachings cannot be squared with the belief that Man is the measure of all things and that our job is to make life worth living on this earth, which is the only earth we have. They make sense only on the assumption that God exists and that the world of solid objects is an illusion to be escaped from. It is worth considering the disciplines which Gandhi imposed on himself and which - though he might not insist on every one of his followers observing every detail - he considered indispensable if one wanted to serve either God or humanity. First of all, no meat-eating, and if possible no animal food in any form. (Gandhi himself, for the sake of his health, had to compromise on milk, but seems to have felt this to be a backsliding.) No alcohol or tobacco, and no spices or condiments even of a vegetable kind, since food should be taken not for its own sake but solely in order to preserve one's strength. Secondly, if possible, no sexual intercourse. If sexual intercourse must happen, then it should be for the sole purpose of begetting children and presumably at long intervals. Gandhi himself, in his middle thirties, took the vow of brahmacharya, which means not only complete chastity but the elimination of sexual desire. This condition, it seems, is difficult to attain without a special diet and frequent fasting. One of the dangers of milk-drinking is that it is apt to arouse sexual desire. And finally - this is the cardinal point - for the seeker after goodness there must be no close friendships and no exclusive loves whatever.
Close friendships, Gandhi says, are dangerous, because "friends react on one another" and through loyalty to a friend one can be led into wrong-doing. This is unquestionably true. Moreover, if one is to love God, or to love humanity as a whole, one cannot give one's preference to any individual person. This again is true, and it marks the point at which the humanistic and the religious attitude cease to be reconcilable. To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor. It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi - with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction - always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: still, if the decision had been solely his own, he would have forbidden the animal food, whatever the risks might be. There must, he says, be some limit to what we will do in order to remain alive, and the limit is well on this side of chicken broth. This attitude is perhaps a noble one, but, in the sense which - I think - most people would give to the word, it is inhuman. The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it. In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that "non-attachment" is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for "non-attachment" is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work. But it is not necessary here to argue whether the other-worldly or the humanistic ideal is "higher". The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all "radicals" and "progressives", from the mildest Liberal to the most extreme Anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.
However, Gandhi's pacifism can be separated to some extent from his other teachings. Its motive was religious, but he claimed also for it that it was a definitive technique, a method, capable of producing desired political results. Gandhi's attitude was not that of most Western pacifists. Satyagraha, first evolved in South Africa, was a sort of non-violent warfare, a way of defeating the enemy without hurting him and without feeling or arousing hatred. It entailed such things as civil disobedience, strikes, lying down in front of railway trains, enduring police charges without running away and without hitting back, and the like. Gandhi objected to "passive resistance" as a translation of Satyagraha: in Gujarati, it seems, the word means "firmness in the truth". In his early days Gandhi served as a stretcher-bearer on the British side in the Boer War, and he was prepared to do the same again in the war of 1914-18. Even after he had completely abjured violence he was honest enough to see that in war it is usually necessary to take sides. He did not - indeed, since his whole political life centred round a struggle for national independence, he could not - take the sterile and dishonest line of pretending that in every war both sides are exactly the same and it makes no difference who wins. Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: "What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?" I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the "you're another" type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer's Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi's view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which "would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence." After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.
At the same time there is reason to think that Gandhi, who after all was born in 1869, did not understand the nature of totalitarianism and saw everything in terms of his own struggle against the British government. The important point here is not so much that the British treated him forbearingly as that he was always able to command publicity. As can be seen from the phrase quoted above, he believed in "arousing the world", which is only possible if the world gets a chance to hear what you are doing. It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary. Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? The Russian masses could only practise civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference. But let it be granted that non-violent resistance can be effective against one's own government, or against an occupying power: even so, how does one put it into practise internationally? Gandhi's various conflicting statements on the late war seem to show that he felt the difficulty of this. Applied to foreign politics, pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement. Moreover the assumption, which served Gandhi so well in dealing with individuals, that all human beings are more or less approachable and will respond to a generous gesture, needs to be seriously questioned. It is not necessarily true, for example, when you are dealing with lunatics. Then the question becomes: Who is sane? Was Hitler sane? And is it not possible for one whole culture to be insane by the standards of another? And, so far as one can gauge the feelings of whole nations, is there any apparent connection between a generous deed and a friendly response? Is gratitude a factor in international politics?
These and kindred questions need discussion, and need it urgently, in the few years left to us before somebody presses the button and the rockets begin to fly. It seems doubtful whether civilization can stand another major war, and it is at least thinkable that the way out lies through non-violence. It is Gandhi's virtue that he would have been ready to give honest consideration to the kind of question that I have raised above; and, indeed, he probably did discuss most of these questions somewhere or other in his innumerable newspaper articles. One feels of him that there was much he did not understand, but not that there was anything that he was frightened of saying or thinking. I have never been able to feel much liking for Gandhi, but I do not feel sure that as a political thinker he was wrong in the main, nor do I believe that his life was a failure. It is curious that when he was assassinated, many of his warmest admirers exclaimed sorrowfully that he had lived just long enough to see his life work in ruins, because India was engaged in a civil war which had always been foreseen as one of the byproducts of the transfer of power. But it was not in trying to smooth down Hindu-Moslem rivalry that Gandhi had spent his life. His main political objective, the peaceful ending of British rule, had after all been attained. As usual the relevant facts cut across one another. On the other hand, the British did get out of India without fighting, and event which very few observers indeed would have predicted until about a year before it happened. On the other hand, this was done by a Labour government, and it is certain that a Conservative government, especially a government headed by Churchill, would have acted differently. But if, by 1945, there had grown up in Britain a large body of opinion sympathetic to Indian independence, how far was this due to Gandhi's personal influence? And if, as may happen, India and Britain finally settle down into a decent and friendly relationship, will this be partly because Gandhi, by keeping up his struggle obstinately and without hatred, disinfected the political air? That one even thinks of asking such questions indicates his stature. One may feel, as I do, a sort of aesthetic distaste for Gandhi, one may reject the claims of sainthood made on his behalf (he never made any such claim himself, by the way), one may also reject sainthood as an ideal and therefore feel that Gandhi's basic aims were anti-human and reactionary: but regarded simply as a politician, and compared with the other leading political figures of our time, how clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!
George Orwell: 'Reflections on Gandhi' First published: Partisan Review. - GB, London. - January 1949.