|Home PageHome Page||Personal||People||Onomantics||COVICO||ETHNIC- L|
1. The basic structure of popular representation in any modern organization needs to be seen as a whole in order for us to understand how its parts relate to and affect each other, and how the system as a whole affects its external environment. Unfortunately, we lack an established term for this complex system. I have proposed a phrase for it -- i.e., constitutive system (Riggs, 1969) -- and after more than a quarter century, it still seems useful. The core of any constitutive system consists of an elected assembly whose members must, by definition, be "elected," by an electoral system, of course, and this normally also involves a party system. There must be constituents to vote and the system must include a head of government who may be elected directly or indirectly by these constituents. The office of head or state may be independent of the constitutive system or a part of it.
There are three basic types of constitutive systems. In some, the head is elected for a fixed term, a rule that creates the "separation-of- powers" (presidentialist) principle but, in others, the head may be discharged by the assembly whenever important disagreements over policy arise, generating parliamentary regimes. When a ruling party faces no opposition, its leadership can select the head, creating a single-party constitutive system, such as we see in Communist states.
The rules governing the exercise of these representative functions are normally stated in a charter that is often misnamed a "constitution." In my usage, the fundamental rules of any organization or regime identify its constitution, and such regimes may or may not have a charter -- as in the British "unwritten constitution." Few colleagues have accepted "constitutive system" and so I still consider it just a proposal and would welcome suggestions for a better term. However, I believe the concept is important and, without it, we cannot properly understand how democracies work, nor distinguish clearly between the main constitutional designs.
2. The analysis by Przeworski et al, (1996) focuses on the central "...importance of economic factors in sustaining democracies. ...once established in a wealthy country, democracy is more likely to endure." Nevertheless, "... Democracies can survive even in the poorest nations if they manage to generate development, if they reduce inequality, if the international climate is propitious, and if they have parliamentary institutions. ..." "...parliamentary systems in the poorest countries, while still very fragile, are almost twice as likely to survive as presidential democracies, and four times as likely when they grow economically" (p.49). Statistically speaking, "...democracy's life expectancy under presidentialism is less than 20 years, while under parliamentarism it is 71 years" (p.45).
These claims provide an economic and international context for their finding that "...the survival of democracies does depend on their institutional systems. ... The evidence that parliamentary democracy survives longer and under a broader spectrum of conditions than presidential democracy thus seems incontrovertible" (p. 47). Since the industrialized democracies have, normally, sustained their democratic institutions while the newly created quasi-states born from the collapse of their empires have struggled against both poverty and autocracy to create democracies, this finding is not surprising.
However, these findings need to be balanced against the fact that most of the presidentialist democracies were born during the nineteenth century in the Western Hemisphere, under the hegemonic influence of the United States. By contrast, most of the new democracies established in the 20th century, especially after the collapse of the modern empires, have taken a parliamentary form, reflecting the constitutional designs that prevailed in their metropoles. Critics might argue that the American imperial influence militated against the survival of Western hemisphere democracies, whereas the new states of the 20th century have experienced different influences from the European powers. During the last decade, new democracies are evolving on the ashes of the communist empires (the U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia). Since strong tendencies toward presidentialism are evident here, these cases may provide future evidence for the positions taken by Przeworski and his associated.
In all these cases, however, I would have emphasized the lack of an indigenous bourgeoisie as a fundamental reason why democratic institutions faltered by contrast with the more robust development of democracies in the Western states. Przeworski et al do find that "...economic growth is conducive to the survival of democracy. Indeed, the faster the economy grows, the more likely democracy is to survive" (p.42).
Unfortunately, they do not correlate the capacity of an indigenous bourgeoisie (capitalists) to promote economic growth by contrast with the ubiquitous presence of alien entrepreneurs who flourished under imperial rule but, following liberation, suffered from nationalist, anti-alien oppression in countries that could not simultaneously generate an indigenous bourgeoisie. My point is that the mere presence of capitalists is not enough to assure economic growth -- capitalism needs to be supported by favorable government policies and appropriate regulations in order for economic growth to occur in a democratic context. At least we should consider the possibility that state-sponsored industrialization can also generate growth without democratic institutions, as perhaps in China today.
Przeworski et al do not try to support their conclusions about the institutional differences between the prospects for presidentialist and parliamentary regimes by analyzing the relevant structural variables. Instead, they rely heavily on Juan Linz' (1990) analyses which emphasize the "winner-take-all" aspects of presidentialism where the leader of the opposition is not even given a seat in the legislature. Unfortunately they must not have had access to Linz' more recent and more detailed analysis (1994) which provides more information about these differences.
Among the points Przeworski et al do mention is the fact that "Legislative majorities are more frequent under presidentialism than under parliamentarism: 57.9 percent of the time under the former and 49.0 percent under the latter... Yet extreme fractionalization -- in which no party controls more than a third of the seats -- is more frequent under presidentialism...than under parliamentarism..." Does the former statistic suggest longer life for presidentialism while the latter might show why it has a shorter life?
I believe only an analysis of more specific institutional differences between the United States and other presidentialist regimes can provide the answers to such questions, help explain the reasons for the statistical differences and clarify their relevance to the comparative prospects of parliamentary and presidentialist regimes (Riggs 1988, 1994a). Without such explanations, the statistical correlations seem to raise more questions than they answer and, perhaps they divert attention from more important questions.
Finally, the Przeworski approach focuses solely on the constitutive system -- it makes no reference to bureaucracy as a political force, and speaks of military rule as an unexplained fact of life which seems to be important only because military rulers prefer presidentialism when they decide to (re)establish democratic governance (p.48). However, when one thinks of all modern democracies as a countervailing structure of constitutive systems vis-a-vis bureaucracies, the status, role and interests of appointed officials -- including military officers and civil servants -- surely need to be taken into account. My finding is that it is extremely difficult, under presidentialism, to have a bureaucracy that is strong enough to administer public policies effectively yet docile enough to be controlled by a fragile presidentialist regime (Riggs, 1994b). No analysis of the problems of presidentialism can be persuasive, I believe, that fails to take this bureaucratic factor into account.
3. The same propensity for reductionism which leads us to segment constitutive systems (see note no.1) perhaps causes us to subdivide the main components of modernity into separate elements. The way we partition constitutive systems so as to focus separately on legislatures, parties, electoral systems and chief executives is dysfunctional for political science. The reduction of modernity into the different elements of the IND triad reflects a pathology of social science -- instead of looking at human beings and their behavior as part of a single complex pattern, we assign its various aspects to different social science disciplines.
Although we often pay lip-service to the importance of inter-disciplinary cooperation, we actually dedicate only a tiny portion of our academic resources to cross-disciplinary programs, reserving the lion's share for uni-disciplinary departments. Intentionally or not, this kind of reductionism blinkers us so much that social scientists have become severely handicapped in their efforts to confront and help solve concrete social problems (Manicas). Fortunately, a report on the future of the social sciences has been generously funded by the Gulbenkian Foundation and, under the leadership of its chair, Immanuel Wallerstein, it deals forcefully with this problem and is likely to have a significant impact during the coming years (Wallerstein 96).
4. Latour's brilliant book, We Have Never Been Modern (1993) appears to challenge the very idea that modernity exists. However, I think this paradox can be resolved if we distinguish between the concrete changes that have made the world a different kind of place and the way we have thought about or tried to understand what has happened. The former includes the industrial revolution, the rise of ethnic nationalism, and the structural changes linked with democracy, whereas the latter includes secularism, individualism, communitarianism and various other ways of trying to understand (or misunderstand) the world.
I see Latour's work as highly relevant to the latter but not the former. Although he offers no formal definition of modernity, he writes that "we have to rethink the definition of modernity, interpret the symptom of post-modernity, and understand why we are no longer committed heart and soul to the double task of domination and emancipation" (p.10) Without an explanation of what Latour means by "domination" and "emancipation" -- and by such linked terms as "purification," "translation" and "hybridization" -- it is impossible to form a clear impression of his analysis. He writes, for example, that "As soon as we direct our attention simultaneously to the work of purification and the work of hybridization, we immediately stop being wholly modern, and our future begins to change. At the same time, we stop having been modern..." (p.11).
I call attention to Latour's work in the context of a growing literature on "modernization," "anti-modernism," "post- modernism," "neo-modernism," and what Latour may call "non- modern" (see Alexander) In the context of the momentous historical changes I think of as modern, it not surprising that they should have generated a flood of philosophical and speculative works designed to interpret and influence these controversial phenomena.
Whatever we may think about these fascinating ideas, I believe we also need to think about the concrete historical changes in our world wrought by modernity. We need to recognize both their desirable and undesirable aspects -- the features of modernity we like may be called orthomodern and those we dislike paramodern. They are closely linked inasmuch as the causes of orthomodern cheers are also the causes of paramodern jeers. We enjoy being able to fly quickly from any world city to any other world city, but we deplore the terror generated by a downed jetliner. We applaud the wonders of cyberspace but are beginning to take note of some of its frightening consequences.
At the end of the 20th century, the horrors of paramodernity are beginning to outweigh the wonders of orthomodernity. In this late-modern context, the rise of post-modernism is not surprising, but we need to go beyond its deconstructionism to ask how, "in God's name," we can best cope with paramodern dangers and enhance orthomodern opportunities. In this essay, I shall distinguish between the philosophical issues examined under the heading of modernism from the concrete historical changes wrought by the forces of modernity and modernization. This is, indeed, a task for modern states and especially for all the peoples who wish to create democracies, whether they be presidentialist of parliamentary in form.
5. More than a quarter century ago, I proposed a typology based on the core concept of a tonic polity, i.e., one which is identifiably "modern" because it has a constitutive system balanced against a bureaucracy. Various types of tonic polity can be identified structurally: for example, if their constitutive system supports a fused (parliamentary) regime, I called it monotonic, and if its powers were separated (presidentialist) isotonic. Any pre-modern polity, based either on the hierarchic or polyarchic principles, could be called pre-tonic. A table comparing the various kinds of tonic polity to categories using more conventional terms proposed by David Apter and Edward Shils can be found on p.314 of Riggs (1969) -- and an alphabetical glossary of these terms is offered on p.322-24.
Although the use of these terms here would, I think, clarify my discussion, experience has taught me that neologisms generate so much resistance that no matter how valid or useful the concepts they identify may be, they will be obscured by unavoidable controversy about the new terms. Although these neologisms could, I think, clarify much of the ambiguity and confusion caused by the careless use of 'parliamentary' and 'presidential,' I decided that it would be more expedient here to rely on these conventional terms, while stipulating more precise meanings for them, rather than to try again to introduce the neologisms.
6. Unfortunately, our normal vocabulary is inadequate to convey the necessary distinctions found in this analysis. A key term is nation state which, historically, meant a polity in which citizenship and nationality were unified, i.e. where cultural (ethnic) identity corresponds, largely, with state citizenship. Although this was always a kind of utopian hope rather than a reality, it was a powerful motivator and provoked strenuous campaigns. I shall use national state, instead, to refer to ethnically unified states -- typically an ideal type rather than a reality.
Today, "nation state" is mainly used as a synonym for "state," or "nation" (as in the United Nations). The phrase is also used as a pleonasm to mean the sense in which a state is a nation and a nation is a state. Clearly many (nation) states, in this sense, are not national states. However, many states (like California, New York, British Columbia and Newfoundland) are not "states" but sub-states or provinces. To reduce confusion, I shall avoid the phrase "nation state" and use independent state instead to identify members of the United Nations, and to distinguish them from sub-states or would-be states (as reflected in the sovereignty movements found in Hawaii and Quebec). We can speak of these would-be states as ethnic nations -- communities that are not states but wish to become independent states. I shall use some of these concepts and terms in this paper -- they draw on Riggs (1996c).
7. A recently published symposium on the failures of presidentialism in Latin America has no index entry for proportional representation. Its entry for "elections" refers readers to a variety of case reports on the outcome of elections, mainly for the president, in different countries of the region. The theoretical essay by Juan Linz focuses on the choice between single-round and two-round systems for electing the president (Linz 1994, p.21).
Yet students of presidentialism surely need to make a systematic analysis of PR as it has affected the viability of presidentialist regimes. The essays collected by Arend Lijphart (1992) contain several general comments on arguments about proportional representation, plus an essay by Powell which, disappointingly, provides data about the number of representatives per district in seven countries -- including four in Latin America -- plus the U.S., France and the Philippines. Interestingly, all four of the Latin American countries have five or more representatives per district, whereas each of the non-Latin countries has only one.
Although ethnicity is not specifically mentioned, Powell claims that deaths by violence were associated with constitutional arrangements: the presidential systems manifesting the most deaths and the representational [parliamentary] ones the fewest (p. 229). However, this data does not distinguish between presidentialist regimes with and without PR. It would be helpful if we could see how proportional representation in presidentialist regimes is associated both with communalism and with the governability of regimes, data that I could not find.
Five essays dealing with presidentialism in Latin America are included in the Lijphart volume, but since the index entry for "proportional representation" does not refer to any of them, I infer that they do not discuss this question. My guess that PR does not meet the real needs of permanent minorities in presidentialist regimes remains a guess -- but I think it's a reasonable conclusion.
8. In some cases districts have been gerrymandered so as to form "salamander-like" districts whose irregular borders can give an ethnic minority a local majority. By this means, African-Americans have, actually, gained a larger voice in Congress than they could have obtained by more normally configured districts. A recent Supreme Court decision, however, has ruled such gerrymandering unconstitutional, thereby reducing the future prospects for election to Congress by members of this most important ethnoracial minority.
9. The point might be easier to see if we could plug in a gaping hole in our political vocabulary. We see the shift from monarchism to democracy as an all-or-nothing choice -- the rule of kings collapses to be replaced by representative government. However, a more realistic view could see such transitions in evolutionary terms. When monarchic power gives way to legislative authority in the core of an empire (kingdom), it may simultaneously remain alive in the periphery. Our vocabulary permits us to contrast monarchic autocracy with republican democracy, but it gives us no handles to permit discourse on intermediate situations that combine democracy and autocracy. What do you call a regime which has a core of representative government and a periphery (internal and/or external) marked by authoritarian rule? Aristotle did better because underneath his three-fold typology (monarchy, aristocracy, republic) he offered a parallel scheme for a corrupted version of each, including oligarchy for a perverse pseudo-aristocratic regime dominated by its elites (Aristotle). Economists picked up this theme and they coined oligopoly and oligopsony to refer to market systems dominated by a few, the root meaning of oligo-. No word now exists to refer to refer to a mixed form of government in which a democratic core is linked with an undemocratic periphery. However, it is easy enough to coin a word, oligocracy, to refer to such a political system.
Actually, virtually all modern empires were "oligocracies." Text books on governance in modern "democracies" wrongfully limit themselves to reports on how representative government works in these ologocracies without discussing how they rule arbitrarily in their imperial peripheries. The indigenous peoples whom they conquered as well as the populations of their overseas possessions may be mentioned in a footnote, but they are not seriously considered. Although the authoritarian peripheries of modern empires have largely disappeared as a result of "decolonization," significant pickets remain so that almost all modern "democracies" could more accurately be called oligocracies.
10. To the degree that insurgent ethnic nations gain recognition and political autonomy within the successor states of the modern empires, we need a concept to identify them as a new kind of multi-cultural "federalism." But what could we call them? One word that comes to mind is condominium defined, among its other meanings, as "joint or concurrent dominion". The word 'dominion', as used in this definition from Webster's dictionary, is suggestive for it is the term used for states like Canada in relation to the British empire/commonwealth. However, the concept we need is that of a state with several autonomous self-governing components (dominions). Between its loss of imperial control and the establishment of the Commonwealth, how would you characterize the transitional compound? How about addominium defined as a state with two or more self-governing sub-states? The stem, ad-, as in addition, suggests "toward" or "at" -- it's the same prefix as ag- in aggregate. We could understand an addominium to be a union of dominions, each a self- governing sovereign entity, linked by a head of state and, perhaps, an assembly of dominions. The formula could resemble the original notion of the U.S. Senate as an assembly representing each state (but not their citizens), or the UN General Assembly as a strong advisory council for all the world's states without regard to how many people live in them: India and Belize have the same voice in the UN, regardless of their size -- as do New York and Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate. Such a council of dominions might serve as a kind of high court to adjudicate disputes between its members, but not to make laws for the internal governance of any one of them.
The differences between federalism and the notion of an "addominium" can be illustrated by the current debate about "sovereignty" in Hawaii. It covers a spectrum from a few localists who imagine that Hawaii should become an independent state to a growing number of ethnonational activists who would impose racial criteria for membership in a "native" semi-state offering sovereignty based on racial criteria. They sometimes speak of wanting a "nation within a nation" -- a way of talking about their vision of an autonomous ethnonation outside the authority of the state legislature or the U.S. Congress, while remaining a part of the United States. I cannot discuss or resolve this question, but I mention it to illustrate the point that, in an addominium, a diversity of democratically organized and autonomous ethnonational communities could somehow co-exist under a single "hat".
11. Interestingly, this question has counterparts in organization theory where we are not dealing with states. Consider, for example, a university system such as may be found in many American "states." They typically contain a core campus (Berkeley in the university of California, for example) and a congeries of regional campuses, each a "self-governing" body with its own faculty "senate" and other such institutions. Such campuses may have a "president" with state-wide responsibility for managing the system, and "chancellors" for each campus -- or the terminology may be reversed. My point is that a set of self-governing entities may exist within the framework of a larger system that includes all of them. They might constitute an "addominium" in which a "heartland" could be conspicuously larger and more salient than the others, yet each member of the union would be equally self-governing.
12. No doubt centripetalism has other costs: it not only supports oligarchy but, for examples, it forces campaigners, who have no great issues to worry about, to focus on the personal character and reputation of individual candidates. Since all candidates (like all of us) have character faults, personal attacks are embarrassing but, ultimately one of the candidates will win. Since all candidates must be moderates -- with notable exceptions, of course -- most American legislators are willing to compromise and, eventually, to negotiate and compromise so as to avoid deadlock, i.e., long-lasting gridlocks.
By contrast, in presidentialist regimes where the democratic norms of popular representation are stronger -- and where there may even be laws that compel citizens to vote -- populist pressures grow, leading to the election of charismatic dogmatists who insist on their "integrity" and refuse to compromise. This tendency is reinforced by proportional representation. In short, centrifugalism polarizes parties and rewards candidates disposed to insist uncompromisingly on their party's platforms. They typically promise more than they can deliver and oppose compromises that might enable the state to deliver more than it actually does. Under presidentialism, therefore, the need to be more representative endangers the long- term survival of the regime.
13. Certainly, in these late-modern times, after republicanism has replaced monarchy, it is virtually impossible to restore constitutional monarchy. Monarchic power has, of course, been restored in the past after periods of republican challenge, but that, I think, is a different story -- it happened during the 17th century in England, after the Commonwealth, and quite recently both in Nepal and Brunei. How constitutional monarchy was restored in Spain after the Franco dictatorship is a remarkable exception about which Juan Linz and others have written illuminatingly (citation).
Where monarchic traditions have remained strong, however, I think they have eased the transition to democracy whenever they accepted their restricted role with good grace. A remarkable illustration occurred in 1932 in Thailand where the promoters of that country's revolutionary coup d'etat originally advocated republicanism. After the king had capitulated, however, they accepted his offer to return to the throne as a constitutional monarch. Through all the subsequent years of military dictatorship, the king has been a stabilizing force, much revered by most Thai people. At the practical level, the King has also played an important stabilizing role during times of crisis and when the dictatorship was recently overthrown and replaced by parliamentary government, the King was, again, a stabilizing force.
Although anecdotal, let me report a telling incident. A Thai graduate student of mine had written a thesis that was severely critical of the military government in Bangkok. When I asked him whether or not that would endanger his return to his university teaching post, he answered that he felt safe enough -- the only taboos that seriously affected his work involved criticism of the Buddhist Order, or of the King. The latter would be viewed as lese majesty and he would court serious sanctions -- but, he assured me, he admired the monarchy and would never want to speak against it.
14. Many if not most of the presidents elected to office in the new states have also undermined their own prestige by succumbing to temptations to exploit power for personal advantage. Their inability, as head of government, to managing the complexities of modern life also contributes to their debilitation. To illustrate this problem, consider the case of President Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam. I met him a year or two before he was elected to this office, with American support. In our conversation, he expressed great feelings of patriotism and support for democratic values. Yet after he came to power, his regime became infamous for its corruption, much based on the misdeeds of his own relatives whom he had felt obliged to appoint to positions of power. When he was later assassinated, there was no sense of loss as though the country's identity had been affected -- by contrast, consider how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy moved most Americans -- even those who disagreed with his policies -- to profound grief and a sense of national loss. Kennedy had, actually, despite the handicaps, become a focus of loyalty as the charismatic head of state but, even in America, such feelings do not attach to every president.
15. In most of the successor states where presidentialism prevails, the risks facing every president are awesome. The ambitious and frightened men who typically come to power need the help of dependable relatives and friends to help them rule. These hangers-on, however, rarely resist the opportunities offered by high office and sycophants to enrich themselves and to abuse their authority. During some subsequent crisis, a cabal of military officers takes the lead to overthrow a government that has lost the confidence of its citizens and become, in their view, an illegitimate monster.
See linked pages:  introduction || industrialism || nationalism || democracy (1: representativeness) || democracy (2: legitimacy ) || conclusion || bibliography