1. Non-modern organizations tend to be ruled authoritatively by a leader (monarch) or collectively by consensus of its members (citizens). Stable mixtures of these two principles are rare, although one may regard aristocracy (oligarchy) as a kind of hybrid in which polyarchy prevails among elites but subjects are dominated by their patrons (bosses). The use of an elected assembly to represent citizens and also manage a bureaucracy creates a complementary relationship for all citizens between their authority as reflected in the election of their representatives, and their domination as expressed by administrative rules and regulations. Formal structures to achieve this complementarity are a modern achievement.
2. 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). After more than a quarter century, the concept is still important: without it, we cannot properly understand how modern organizations work, nor distinguish clearly between the main constitutional designs and explain why some are more democratic than others, or more capable of solving serious modern problems. Since very few colleagues have accepted the term, however, I still consider it a proposal that needs to be explained whenever it is used -- I would welcome any suggestions for a better term.
To explain the concept more, let me say that the core of any constitutive system consists of an elected assembly whose members must, by definition, be "elected" by an electoral system and this normally involves a party system. There must be constituents to vote and the system must include a head of government (an individual or a group) who may be elected directly or indirectly by these constituents.
The office of head of state is not a necessary part of any constitutive system and, I believe, it may be an unnecessary luxury in any modern democracy: it remains, however, as a vestige of non-modern monarchic traditions. In presidentialist regimes, the function is attached to that of the elected head of government, and in parliamentary republics, the head of state is usually elected, whether directly or indirectly. Although the role may be useful, I consider it a remnant of pre-modern systems of governance, not a necessary element of any constitutive system.
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. Because, in fact, such regimes are dominated by a small intra-party elite, I consider them non-democratic even though modern in form.
The rules governing the exercise of the 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 characterize its constitution, and such regimes may or may not have a charter -- as in the British "unwritten constitution."
3. Although monarchic rule survives in a few places, especially where oil reserves can enrich all the subjects of a state, most remaining monarchies have already taken some steps toward democracy, perhaps by creating "advisory councils" that mimic the format of a constitutive system. More often, however, bureaucratic forces, led by military officers, conspire to seize power and rule arbitrarily, corruptlly, and autocratically, using the "stick" more than the carrot to enforce their rule -- a case study of such a transformation can be found in Riggs (1966).
Such regimes are essentially fragile, however, and vulnerable to successive coups whereby new ruling groups come to power --ultimately, external as well as internal forces create pressures leading to the creation (or restoration) of democratic self-governing institutions as the only stable form of political authority that can replace the legitimacy of monarchic rule (Riggs 1993).
4. Unfortunately, the word, "presidentialist" is also used to distinguish between stronger and weaker presidents in presidentialist regimes. For this meaning of the word, I would rather speak of "imperial presidencies." The classic case was that of Louis Napoleon, president of the French Second Republic, who actually destroyed that presidentialist regime and replaced it with the Second Empire in France. Imperial presidents often exceed their authorized powers, especially during severe crises -- as did Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt in the U.S. -- but more threateningly, they may abrogate the constitution completely, as did Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Alberto Fujimori in Peru. China's first republic, formed after the collapse of the Manchu Empire in 1911, was presidentialist but President Yuan Shih-kai, impatient of a willful Congress, quickly abrogated the constitution and sought, unsuccessfully, to launch a new imperial dynasty. I shall not use 'presidentialist' in this imperial sense here.
5. Single-party domination over bureaucrats is equally dysfunctional, though for a different reason, because it intimidates officials who learn they cannot safely do what needs to be done. Military (bureaucratic) domination is also dysfunctional because when appointed officials become a dominant class, no one can hold them accountable for bad performance: see note #3. Consequently, authoritarian regimes, whether based on single-party rule or military force, are unable to sustain the administrative capabilities needed to manage either an industrialized market economy or a system based on state enterprises.
In the short run, perhaps, non-democratic states -- whether they be single-party authoritarianisms, weak quasi- states, or non-modern monarchies -- can sustain inefficient industrialization without capitalism, relying on they means of violence produced by industrialization to maintain terroristic control over a cowed population. Eventually, however, such regimes seem doomed to failure and they must, to manage industrial production and sustained economic growth, turn to democratic strategies for controlling their bureaucracies and managing public affairs.
Moreover, single party regimes are able to control and intimidate their bureaucracies enough to safeguard themselves against the possibility of a coup d'etat. See (Riggs, 1997b).
6. Critics of this opinion may well argue that constitutional monarchs and the elected presidents in parliamentary republics can and do serve as heads of state, and that this office is not superfluous. In addition to representing the state at ceremonial occasions and dealing with counterparts in other countries, parliamentary presidents are able to select candidate prime ministers during cabinet crises. I do not deny the usefulness of these functions, but I do question their significance as a foundation of legitimacy for the authority of any regime. A council of revered elders -- perhaps like those who select Nobel Prize winners --could probably select more useful heads of state for a parliamentary republic.
Unfortunately, I think, the culture lag involved in thinking of the head of state in a modern democracy as the source of that regime's legitimacy elevates the office so much that it makes the election of parliamentary presidents an unnecessarily contentious procedure. A major advantage of constitutional monarchs is that the inheritance of office makes the election of a president unnecessary. However, after a monarchy has been discharged, it is almost impossible to restore the king and electing a president seems to be important. The governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand seem to do well with a purely ceremonial Governor General, appointed by the Queen of England on the advice of the Prime Minister, who not only exercises no power but clearly cannot serve as a fountain of legitimacy for the regime. By rejecting the mystification involved in viewing the head of state as a source of legitimacy, it should be easier to agree on some non-controversial procedure to select a "president" who would not be viewed as a legitimizer of the regime.
7. 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 modern 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 findings of Przeworski and his associates.
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).
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.
8. Even if we were to agree that both forms of modern governance can be equally democratic, the presidentialist form is clearly more fragile and vulnerable to collapses. The long-term survival of presidentialism in the U.S. can be explained, I think, by many practices that differ from those found in other presidentialist regimes (see Riggs 1988, 1994a). Essentially, I think, they require a more oligarchic power structure -- domination of government by centrist forces (the better off and more educated citizens) by contrast with peripheral forces on the right and left -- generally poor Whites, marginalized ethnic minorities, women and the poor. I shall not try to describe the features of American presidentialism that assure its oligarchic dynamics, but they provide a basis for understanding some of the constitutional practices and costs that confront presidential regimes wishing to enhance their own prospects for survival (Riggs 1994a, 1997a).
9. 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.
Industrialism transformed human beings into workers, they commodified labor. The poverty of pre- industrial societies was typically disguised by the "kith-and- kin" primary relationships of family and small-scale enterprise that prevailed among craftsmen and business communities, alike, to say nothing of farms and nomadic tribes -- humane and religious values provided shields for the helpless whose welfare costs were covered by the small groups in which they lived. By contrast, modernization brought factories and mines in which workers became mere factors of production, valued by the market only in terms of their relative productivity and the profitability of their work.
Simultaneously, as is well known, population growth escalated as the causes of death were reduced, not simply by public health and medicine but, for political reasons, by the expansion of state power and public security which reduced the endemic slaughter caused by the small-scale but violent conflicts typical of most non-modern societies.
At the same time, of course, the capacity of ordinary citizens to use property as well as power to accumulate wealth generated glaring class contrasts between the affluent and the impoverished -- by contrast, in non-modern societies wealth was normally a perquisite of power only and the monarchs and the nobility who could enjoy luxuries did so in the relative privacy of palaces and estates far from the eyes of their impoverished subjects -- wealthy merchants were also ghettoized behind walls which also defended them from the eyes and envy of ordinary people.
Industrialism not only diffused wealth to private citizens, salaried managers as well as propertied capitalists, but the mass media created by industrialism made the contrasts between prosperity and penury increasingly conspicuous, generating both envy and a sense of shame that fueled reformist campaigns.
The need of industrialists for raw materials and markets to keep their growing factories alive also drove 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 for luxury imports, making valued Asian manufactures extremely costly.
10. An extended structural discussion of the exceptional governmental practices found in the U.S. that help to explain its viability by contrast with normal fragility of other presidentialist regimes in more than a score of other countries can be found in Riggs, 1994a. The cumulative impact of these distinctively American practices has been the maintenance of an oligarchic democracy dominated by middle-class voters and values, primarily at the expense of marginalized communities and poor "Whites". By contrast, other presidentialist regimes have sought to promote democratic values by innovations that, unfortunately undermined their viability.
11. The classical republican ideal, as found in ancient Athenian governance, involved direct democracy in which all citizens could participate in making and executing public policy decisions. In larger polities, direct democracy is physically impossible, but indirect democracy as government by representatives elected by citizens seems feasible, and some features of direct democracy can still be achieved by means of plebiscites and referenda. In the American case, direct democracy through town meetings prevailed in colonial local governance, especially in New England, and continues in residual form to the present day.
However, government by convention replaced town meetings in most American communities: it is called the weak mayor system. In this format, a popularly elected mayor merely presides over a city council whose various committees exercise the executive authority of governance. Although this principle can work well in small towns and villages, it is quite incapable of governing larger cities where, in the U.S., alternative patterns based on the presidentialist and parliamentary model have evolved. The former is known as a strong mayor system, in which an elected mayor has independent executive power and battles an elected council, replicating the separation of powers principle. By contrast, the parliamentary system prevails in council manager systems where an executive officer, accountable to an elected commission, manages urban governance subject to review and discharge by this elected council. The use of different terminology masks the fact that both the "strong mayor" and "city manager" system of governance, as alternative formulae for "indirect democracy," mirror, respectively, the presidentialist and parliamentary systems of governance found at the state level.
12. For a concrete example, consider the notion of a "Chamber of Commerce" open to all business people regardless of ethnic background. In a culturally integrated environment with a coherent bourgeoisie, we find many such "national" organizations whose specific goals are accepted by members drawn from all ethnic communities. They promote the economic interests of their members without regard to ancestry, language, religion, race or political party. We tend to view them as normal elements of a civil society and expect them not only to strengthen democracy, but also to coexist with patriotic state nationalism, and with economic prosperity (industrialism).
By contrast, in many successor states of the modern empires we find ethnic associations or clects (as I once called them, Riggs, 1962). Each clect struggles to promote the political, social, cultural and religious interests of its ethnic community's members against those of others. This ethnic particularism limits the solidarity of the bourgeoisie and handicaps efforts to secure impartial support from government for their shared economic interests. Through clects -- and innumerable examples can be found -- the economic and politial interests of a class are partitioned ethnically, weakening them in their relations with governing elites. Institutionally, therefore, the prevalence of clects hampers the development of industrialism, impedes democracy, and blocks the emergence of state nationalism. Reciproclly, of course, the weakness of industrialization, democracy and state nationalism leads to the organization of clects -- it is a mutually reinforcing vicious circle.
13. 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 numer 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.
14. 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. Inglis (1996, pp. 60-61) quite correctly points out that the United States lacks a national policy on multiculturalism, but she does not explain the linkage between its presidentialist rules and the mono-culturalism of its mainstream politics.
15. 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 large disappeared as a result of "decolonization," significant pickets remain so that almost all modern "democracies" could more accurately be called oligocracies.
16. 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 separate self-governing sovereign 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 its citizens), or the UN General Assembly as a strong advisory council for all the world's states. 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 "addominiium" 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, but somehow compatible with continuing membership 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".
17. 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) 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" at the non- governmental level, a "heartland" unit might be conspicuously larger and more salient than the others, yet each member of the union would be self-governing.
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