Modern technology and scientific discoveries are among the most admired fruits of industrialization and they are prototypically ortho-modern. To ride in an automobile, to use a telephone, to listen to the radio or communicate on the INTERNET, all these benefits of modernity are fruits of industrialization. However, the most dangerous and threatening aspects of modernity are also products of the same developments: weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs and biological weapons, are good examples. Even the most benign fruits of industrialism can have frightening consequences: as noted above, we all benefit from air travel yet dread its accidents.
Modern medicine has brought better health, longer life, reduced infant mortality, and also, sad to say, a population explosion that is world threatening. The rise of cotton as a replacement for wool powered the industrial revolution, especially in England (Sansom) and brought washable and colorful clothing within the reach of even the poorest people, yet the demand for cotton also brought slavery and tyranny to plantations in the United States and other countries. Mass production of cotton drove modern imperialism and destroyed handicraft enterprises, especially in India, with incalculable costs. Modern weapons may have increased the security of some states but they have also devastated many peoples of the world through warfare, revolutions, terrorism and the ubiquitous threat of landmines and other remnants of war.
The Role of Capitalism. For many people the real cause of these phenomena is not industrialism but capitalism. They are right because the emergence of modern capitalism powered the industrial revolution and, no doubt, also drove modern imperialism and led to violent class conflicts and communist authoritarianism. Complex patterns of circular causation are involved, however, and we need to sort out some of the cause-effect relationships. Capitalism has been around for a very long time as expressed in the globe-encircling activities of merchant-traders (Curtin). Moreover, capitalists were sometimes able to establish trading centers (cities) where they could control local governments and maintain their independence of neighboring empires and kingdoms.
However, it was not until after modern states emerged from the collapse of feudalism in Europe (after the Peace of Westphalia, 1648) that it became possible for enterprising entrepreneurs in concert with ambitious kings to create, through mercantilism, the foundations of bourgeois power. What made the industrial revolution possible was the empowerment of capitalists and the creation of the modern bourgoisie. They could never have done it alone.
Government-sponsored public policies permitted basic transformations that affected all traditional factors of production -- land, labor and capital -- without which merchants could never have become industrialists (Riggs 1994c). I shall not try to describe this long-term and fundamental transformation that we call the Industrial Revolution. Capitalists existed long before capitalism but they could never industrialize without state support, and states only supported industrialization after capitalists gained power -- a very modern development which is what makes industrialism a modern phenomenon.
Before industrialization began, rural poverty among serfs and peasants remained largely invisible: attention focussed on the aristocracy and gentry, or the church, whose cultural achievements and religious teachings rationalized long-entrenched systems of inconspicuous exploitation. After industrialization started, however, rapid urbanization followed accompanied by a phenomenal increase in the visibility of poverty and the capacity of intellectuals to mobilize victims of oppression. The state-supported quest for profits and capital accumulation undermined the traditional grounds for accepting inequality and exploitation and led to the rise of ideologies that demonized capitalism and led, eventually, to the rise of communist authoritarianism based on single-party rule, an early sign of para-modernity.
The need of industrialists for raw materials and markets to keep their growing factories alive also powered modern imperialism and led to the conquest of many peoples whose ancient civilizations had, in fact, also powered the industrial revolution by producing valued commodities in exchange for cheap factory-made goods. Before industrialization, Europeans had little to offer in exchange, making valued Asian imports extremely costly. Imperialism was not caused by capitalists acting alone -- all its beneficiaries collaborated on the premise that they too would enjoy many benefits from the conquests that modern weapons made possible for aggressive states. Traditional elites, including aristocrats, intellectuals, professionals, politicians and bureaucrats who supported the industrial revolution also accepted imperial conquests as a necessary, though nasty, way to secure the benefits that industrialism could provide -- not just the cotton but the silks, china, spices and perfumes that cotton could buy.
Triumphant capitalism was not only a cause of the industrial revolution but also one of its consequences. The representative institutions which industrialism supported (as discussed below) enabled property owners to consolidate a capitalistic market system based on free enterprise and competition, and thereby to escape the whimsical demands and extortions of ambitious and greedy kings. Visits to a palace museum in almost any country today will dramatize the greed of kings and the high costs of maintaining their palaces and pleasures. To live like a king was not just a careless phrase. By contrast, the ruling elites in constitutional democracies are models of austerity.
The important differences between capitalism and industrialism become apparent when we consider that only state-supported capitalism could create the industrial revolution, but all modern states can, in principle, sponsor industrialization through state enterprises. The word, "capitalism," however, has lost its original meaning when government ownershiip and management of industries are referred to as "state capitalism."
I prefer to retain the original meaning of capitalism as a form of state supported and regulated market system based on private enterprise. Private entrepreneurs can, no doubt, run most enterprises more efficiently than government officials, but it is also true that uncontrolled capitalism can destroy enterprises and lead to oppresive monopolies and rising prices. Accordingly, a concordat between government and capitalists which regulates markets under strict rules set by government is required for industrial production and marketing to succeed.
Increasingly, of course, modern industries also create products that are essential for the conduct of modern government. Scientific discoveries that are both enabled and used by government have become integrated with the whole process of industrialization. Industrialism rather than capitalism epitomizes modernity -- without capitalism, the industrial revolution could not have occurred, but industrialization can be sponsored by modern states with or without capitalism. I think modern states enjoy more benefits from industrialism when it is based on capitalism, but capitalism is no longer required for industrialization to spread. Industrialization based only on state enterprises is likely to be more inefficient but capitalism is not a prerequisite for industrialization, as it was for the industrial revolution.
Industrialism and Democracy. It follows, I think, that the capacity of modern governments to govern requires industrialization but not necessarily capitalism, and when capitalism does prevail, effective governmental regulation and supporting services are still necessary. An unregulated capitalist market system will, assuredly, destroy itself. However, effective regulation of capitalism requires democracy, and the maintenance of democracy probably also requires capitalism -- a question I shall discuss later.
Among the available non-democratic options -- whether they involve single-party authoritarianism, weak quasi-states, or pre-modern monarchies -- I believe none can support the efficient long-run production and humane utilization of modern industrial products -- but they can probably sustain inefficient industrialization without capitalism, and they can use the means of violence produced by industrialization to maintain terroristic control over a cowed population.
These are just hypotheses, at this stage, but I think they provide a promising basis for further research on how constitutional regimes relate to modernity/modernization. If the most efficient way to promote industrialization and economic growth does, in fact, require democracy, then the most important political choices affecting industrialization and the economy involve the constitutional structures of democratic governance. Among these, I consider the most basic involves the choice between presidentialist and parliamentary forms, though admittedly some colleagues class this as only one among several fundamental institutional options.
Bureaucracy. To be effective in dealing with the problems of industrialism, a state must have an efficient bureaucracy able to deal with the innumerable complex policy issues and regulations that affect the management of enterprises, whether they be privately or state owned, and to handle the increasingly complex social and economic problems generated by industrialization. To be effective, such a bureaucracy must be techocratic and authoritative because officials need expert knowledge and training in order to understand and cope with complex technological issues, and they must have the authority to act promptly with appropriate adaptations to local situations. However, they must also be under effective political control: otherwise maladministraton -- especially corruption, incompetence, and laziness wil prevail -- generating growing popular suspicion and distrust of government, resistance to administrative controls, and even revolutionary movements or ethnonational revolts. Sometimes the two forms merge, as in the Chiapas movement, but normally they can be separated as equally disruptive forces in any democratic regime.
The tasks facing modern bureaucracies today, therefore, are infinitely more complex and difficult to handle than they were in pre-modern times. To the degree that a state manges industrial production and marketing activities through public enterprises, the managerial problems faced by its public servants are magnified. However, even a liberal state that relies heavily on the private sector and market forces to sustain the economy and industrialization must cope with many negative (para-modern) consequences of industrialization: it also needs to regulate the private sector in order to maintain its efficiency and fairness.
No doubt, all governments still have to confront many of the ancient problems shared by all pre-modern societies -- modernization, as noted above, does not eliminate these questions. However, modernization has entangled old issues with new ones -- for example, population growth and ethical issues involving new technologies for family planning and abortion all require governments to deal with ancient family and social problems that, in pre-modern times, could safely be left to the exclusive control of families and local communities. However, I shall not say more about the continuing pre-modern concerns of modern governments -- it is more than enough to focus here on essentially modern problems.
Any talk about discipline and control in bureaucracies must confront the fact that (except in bureaucratic polities where bureaucrats are the ruling class) bureaucracies are not self-governing entities -- rather, they are part of a larger state system and, in all modern democracies, this includes a constitutive system.
Such a system must be able to monitor and control the bureaucracy without trying to second guess every administative decision, thereby suffocating the freedom of action bureaucrats need in order to administer effectively. Good management and administration of any economy, in our late-modern era, requires bureaucratic empowerment as well as expertise. Officials who know what needs to be done but lack the authority to do it become frustrated, angry and ineffectual -- thus both too much and too little bureaucratic power produces maladministraton and the collapse of any democracy. Single-party domination over bureaucrats is as dysfunctional for regime survival as bureaucratic domination. The important question involves balance: how to achieve enough control but not too much (Riggs 1996d).
Alternative Models. On the premise that democracies can, more effectively than non-democracies, achieve the requisite balance, we must recognize that democracies vary a great deal among themselves and, I think, fundamental institutional differences make a big difference. That does not conflict with the proposition that non-institutional differences of culture, history, size, economic level and growth, ethnic homogeneity/heterogeneity, etc. all play an important role. They provide contexts for the institutional considerations. I cannot here deal with all these variables, however, and focus instead on the institutional choices that, I believe, have not been studied systematically and, in fact, do make a big difference.
Among the relevant institutional differences, a basic principle of constitutional design seems to me to be crucial: it involves differences between the separation-of-powers principle found in presidentialism, and the fusion-of-power characteristic of parliamentarism. Some of the most astute analysts of contemporary politics tend to view the "parliamentary/presidential" choice as merely one among a variety of key issues, stressing the great variation that exists among different parliamentary regimes and different presidential regimes.
I agree with the great importance of some of these differences, yet all of them, I think, are affected by the fundamental differences arising from the "separation" or "fusion" of powers. Perhaps one reason for this attitude stems from the lack of suitable terminology: 'presidential' and 'parliamentary' are familiar words but both of them are potentially ambiguous because they can refer to quite different concepts.5 My experience with neologisms teaches me that, instead of trying to introduce more terminology here, we may be more persuasive if we struggle with the imprecise terms now in use and try to qualify them in such a way as to make the important points.
Thinking, now, about the problems faced by any presidential regime when trying both to control its bureaucracy and also grant it sufficient authority to administer well, we can see that the lack of unity at the top caused by the separation-of-powers principle is bound to cause malintegration.
Officials are not sure who is in charge -- even in the American case, officials cannot be sure whether they must follow guidelines set by the President, or those created by Congressional committees, or Court interpretations of whether or not a law is constitutional. Because Congress, under the separation-of-powers principle, must decide a host of questions for which floor debate in plenary session is impossible, effective decision-making power devolves to committees, sub-committees, and even members of each committee's appointed staff. Turf battles between rival authorities emerge and bureaucrats necessarily take sides, finding themselves allied with groups in Congress and, of course, organized private sector interests creating what is often called "sub-governments" ("iron triangles") or issue networks.
Each of them becomes highly autonomous and resists integration into any overall plan or political direction, leading to a high level of malintegation within the public administration. In most presidentialist countries, bureaucrats are less well qualified than they are in the U.S. -- typically, because they are retainers, i.e. patronage appointees who retain their patronage appointments indefinitely despite their lack of professional qualifications -- and this means that their links with congressional groups is more factionalized or clientelistic in character. In general, however, we can say that the structural dispersal of authority in any separation of powers regime causes malintegration of administration by rival bureaucratic groups -- both professional and clientelistic in character -- who necessarily respond to a range of competing centers of authority in the constitutive system, mainly in the Congress, but also in the President's cabinet and in the Courts.
In such a system, no top level coordination at the cabinet level is possible, as it is in parliamentary regimes. In order to exercise effective executive leadership, presidents may try to plug the gap by creating large executive offices staffed by "in-and-outers," persons who rotate in and out of office as loyal supporters of each successive president. However, their transient status and, often enough, their lack of relevant experience, means that they soon find themselves battling subordinates who are either career professionals or retainers. As a result, the separation-of-powers not only plagues bureaucrats because it imposes multi-headed authority over them, but it curtails the capacity of government to guide and discipline the bureaucracy. By contrast, the cabinets in a fused-power (parliamentary) regime enjoy much more effective capacity to keep bureaucrats under effective political control.
The inability of presidentialist regimes to maintain effective control over their bureaucracies is not only a top-down question: it also operates from the bottom-up. Because of its essential political weakness, presidentialist regimes cannot afford to put a mandarinate of career generalists in charge of its bureaucracy. Instead, most such regimes rely on retainers whose job insecurity leads them to organize informally to protect their positions. During crises, retainers can establish conspiratorial cabals through which to seize power by a coup d'etat and displace the politicians elected through the constitutive system.
To the degree that presidentialist regimes rely on the loyalty of patronage-based transients to retain their authority, they must face the likelihood that carpe diem becomes a truism among in-and-outers, who quickly recognize that their window of opportunity for abusing power will be short-lived. Even among experienced and honorable careerists, as in the U.S., where corruption is much less of a problem, competition between the intra-governmental obligations of professionals and their externally generated professional norms make coordinated administration difficult. Incentives for corruption, the abuse of authority and continuing turf battles in presidentialist regimes are, therefore, endemic and militate against the efficient handling of complex new problems generated by industrialization.
Devolving Responsibility. One way to cope with the perennial crisis of malintegration in its handling of complex issues involves surrendering power to the private sector. Many functions of government can be performed by non-governmental organizations, but this means that the private interests of each may take precedence over the general interest as represented by a polity's constitutive system. No doubt this can happen in any democracy, but I suspect it occurs less often in regimes where a career mandarinate occupies upper-level bureaucratic posts (Dogan Mandarins). Although parliamentary regimes where power is fused can afford to employ long-term bureaucratic professionals (mandarins) without losing control over governance to them, no presidential (separation-of-powers) regime can afford to do this. If this reasoning is valid, then presidential regimes will be much more likely than parliamentary ones to relay heavily on private contractors to implement a large number of public policies.
A vivid current example involves the organization of security services at airports to stop terrorists. In the U.S. such services are provided by each airline, with governmental approval. However, the recent downing of a large TWA airplane (flight 800) just off the coastline of New York's Long Island, has generated widespread interest and demands for better security. However, the airlines have a natural interest in reducing costs by contracting out their security services to private companies. They minimize costs by competitive bidding which, typically, leads contractors to pay minimal wages and hire poorly qualified inspectors. Cost considerations also prevents these companies from investing in costly equipment. Fierce inter-line competition also encourages speedy procedures which hamper the use of more effective but time-consuming procedures.
Yet neither Congress nor the bureaucracy want to assume the costly and onerous task of funding and managing airline security services. This may sound like a trivial example, but it illustrates the inherent conflict of interest that typically arises when a government devolves some of its functions to private corporations operating under the constraints of a market system and, as may often be true, sweetheart contracts favor insiders and client companies. In the American case, the transfer of governmental functions to the private sector also reflects the inherent difficulty experienced by any presidential regime in organizing, financing and coordinating effective public services. The transfer of many governmental functions to private sector contractors, therefore, is one of the devices that enables a presidentialist regime to survive but, at the same time, limits the effective coordination of its administrative functions.
The risks involved in relying so much on privatization may be reduced in the U.S. by a certain amount of self-imposed rectitute and efficiency to be found among its bourgeois capitalists. However, in many countries such a class does not exist. Many available entrepreneurs are outsiders, often alien corporations and adventurers who remain after a country's liberation from imperial rule. If they are not available to serve the state or are viewed as untrustworthy, the regime may indulge in contracts with bureaucratic capitalists, i.e. officials who moonlight by forming or collaborating with firms specializing in governmental functions and recruited by insider contracts made with the support of influential officials. Examples are described in Riggs (1966, pp. 242-310). Corrupt management by bureaucratic capitalists may well be even more costly than bad management by government officials.
Normally, we may conclude, state bureaucracies in all presidentialist regimes are poorly managed and they cannot turn any responsibilities of governance over to private sector contractors without making a bad situation worse. The maladministration which results means that presidentialist regimes are, by their own institutional structure, severely handicapped in coping with all the new and complex problems generated by industrialization. The
The Parliamentary Alternative. Critics may complain that the same difficulties can be experienced by parliamentary (fused power) regimes. No doubt there is plenty of incompetence and corruption in all democratic regimes, but we can, I think, make significant comparisons between different types. Although I am not able, now, to provide case data or statistical evidence to support my contention that parliamentary democracies are, in general, more likely to provide the coordinated public services needed to handle the complexities of an industrialized (or industrializing) society, I can offer a theoretical argument to support my conclusion.
Most importantly, a unified cabinet system of government provides a coherent focus for the integration and management of a complex and powerful (mandarin) bureaucracy. Such a bureaucracy is, inherently, better qualified and motivated to administer highly interdependent and technologically advanced public policies than a non-mandarin bureaucracy.
Unfortunately for presidentialist (separation of powers) regimes, they cannot reliably control mandarin bureaucracies. In order to survive they must rely on relatively weaker bureaucracies, normally staffed mainly by retainers -- in the exceptional U.S. case, retainers have been replaced, for the most part, by career functionists, political transients (in-and-outers) and private sector contractors, a complex set-up that can provide for reasonably efficient public administation without accumulating too much power.
In most presidentialist regimes, however, a mandarin bureaucracy of the type that parliamentary regimes can safely manage would, I believe, soon dominate the government. New presidentialist regimes of the twentieth century have all inherited mandarin style colonial bureaucracies and they have all promptly experienced catastrophic break-downs, usually during or shortly after the first presidency: as in South Vietnam, South Korea and Nigeria.
In order to understand why presidentialism is incompatible with a powerful mandarin bureaucracy, consider the implications of the congressional role when the separation-of-powers prevails. Since every congress must make up its own collective mind on all public policy matters, it must cope with an agenda that is far larger than that of any parliament. Because plenary debates on every issue would be impossible, the delegation of real power to committees and subcommittees is inescapable.
This means, in turn, that the committees need a lot of help on technical problems imposed by a complex industrial society, and bureucrats need the help of the committees to get the laws and budgets they need. Out of this symbiotic relationship, with the strong support of interested private organizations, sub-governments (iron triangles) emerge, leading to an administrative morass that cannot be coordinated. If the bureaucracy contained a host of mandarin generalists, well educated and widely experienced, they would undoubtedly feel the need to intervene informally in order to achieve some kind of inter-agency coordination.
In parliamentary systems, by contrast, there is almost no need for the micro-management of public administration by legislative committees because the assembly does not have the authority to establish public policy. Because it relies primarily on legislative initiatives from the cabinet, its primary focus is on partisan concerns, leading members to vote primarily as party members rather than on policy considerations. As a result, the incentives for bureaucrats and interest groups to lobby members of parliament is minimal. The ultimate authority of the cabinet is reinforced -- or, rather, it is not undermined by links between powerful bureaucrats and members of parliament.
If these premises are valid, we may conclude that parliamentary regimes are more likely than presidentialist ones to provide relatively well integrated and effective public administration in increasingly complex industrializing societies -- and their capacity to do so enhances the durability of constitutional democracy in parliamentary systems by comparison with what we find in most presidentialist regimes.
This argument about the contrasting tendencies of presidentialist vs. parliamentary regimes is perfectly consistent with the contention that, exceptionally, a presidentialist regime, like the U.S., may do well and that, again exceptionally, a parliamentary system may perform badly. After we have determined the normal pattern to be found in each type of regime, we can then look at the circumstances that might enable a presidentialist regime to beat the odds by succeeding or a parliamentary regime to fall short of normal expectations.
Exceptional cases do not defeat generalizations based on the normal case. Instead, exceptions prove (i.e., test) a rule in the sense that they compel it to be scrutinized -- that's an old fashioned meaning of this word but it helps us remember that exceptions are, indeed, exceptions. Conclusions that are generally valid for the thirty or so countries that have, historically, adopted the separation-of-powers principles, cannot be falsified by an exceptional case. Although the U.S. has experienced near-fatal crises, its constitutional regime has survived for over 200 years, in part for reasons mentioned above (see Riggs 1988 and 1994a) In view of the new presidentialist systems now taking shape in the successor states of the Soviet and Yugoslav empires, it is doubly important to become aware of the normal fate of such regimes -- to emulate the U.S. example is to chase will-o'-the-wisp.
See linked pages:  introduction || nationalism || democracy (1) || democracy (2) || conclusion || endnotes || bibliography <\a>