[This is the 3rd of three parts of "Paramodernism and Bureau Power."
To return to the first part, press Part One.
To return to the second part, press Part Two.
1. Para-modern, by contrast with "post-modern," summarizes and gives coherence to the somewhat apocalyptic image of the world disorder that we now confront. Unlike the post-modern metaphor, I am not thinking of something that will succeed or replace modernity. Instead, modernization will continue in tandem with its para-modern repercussions. Like the double facade of Janus, the happy face of our achievements sits on the same neck as the tragic face of our failures. There are no "good guys" to fight the "bad guys" when we see that the bads and the goods are inescapably linked. Just as the fused and diffracted are cross-pressured in the prism (see Riggs 1964) so the modern and the para-modern are inescapably linked in the realities of our world.
At the lexical level, consider that the stem, para- is used to talk about something that occurs "side-by-side" with something else, not something that happens afterwards. The form occurs in many familiar words including paranormal which relates to events that occur beyond our conventional modes of explanation, parasite for organisms that live by exploitation, paranoia for groundless distrust of others, paradox to talk about absurd statements that express a hidden truth, and paradigm for models that seem to explain what we see. All of these words apply, paradigmatically, to the paradoxes of modernity and even our paranoid distrust for the victims of our own accomplishments. If you reject this neologism, please remember that it is not the term but the concept that is important. We need to confront the side-effects of modernization and better terms for it may well be imagined -- if you can think of a better term than para-modern, please propose it and we will all be happier.
2. Logically, we need a generic concept to include both the positive and negative faces of the modern Janus. We might use ortho-modern for the positive aspects of modernity by contrast with para-modern for the negative aspects produced by modernization. That would leave modern as an unambiguous generic term for both of these contrapuntal dimensions. I may return to that idea sometime in the future, but for now, I shall just use "modern" to mean "ortho-modern," and see if that creates ambiguities that really need more attention.
3. The cross-pressures between modern and traditional values and institutions provided the theoretical framework for my prismatic model (Riggs 1964), an early effort to explain how bureaucratic behavior in third world countries had been caught and shaped in response to the impact of external forces on victims of imperial domination. Looking back on that exercise now, I can see that the prismatic metaphor captured some of the deeper implications of the para-modern syndrome. What it lacked, however, was the fuller historical context provided by a broader understanding of the rise of modernity and its para-modern consequences in the West. These consequences have been quite prismatic from the beginning. The sharpness of the cross pressures generated by modernization, first high-lighted in the conquered countries of the non-Western world, can now be seen as world-pervading. The para-modern syndrome is world-embracing, but its symptoms were first clearly visible in the aftermath of the collapse of the modern empires -- they are now apparent everywhere.
4. A distinction between the Industrial Revolution (which happened only once) and industrialization as a mimetic process was identified above as phases corresponding to the rise of modernity and the spread of modernization. Several points about their differences might be mentioned here. The unique forces based on the rise of bourgeois power which enabled the Industrial Revolution to occur were not needed to repeat this achievement in other times and places, especially under state management. The sources of inanimate power -- from coal to gas to electricity and nuclear energy -- evolved sequentially during the industrial revolution, but have all been available to modernizing industrialists, typically starting with the latest and most advanced technology. The Industrial Revolution promoted and resulted from the evolution of democracy and state nationalism, but in today's world, industrialization can proceed without democracy or national states, threatening to turn a benign force into a malevolent monster.
5. Sir George Sansom has explained in considerable depth how the British quest for cotton in India led, initially, to the formation of the East India Company and subsequent pressure by English sheep herders to protect wool products led to sharp limitations on the import of cotton followed by the development of the English cotton industry in which new machines and power sources launched the Industrial Revolution in that country. Subsequently, after British imperialism had led to the conquest of India, English cotton manufacturers were able to suppress cotton manufacturing in India, thereby stimulating Mahatma Ghandi to use the spinning wheel as his protest symbol in the struggle for independence (Sansom ??). Although the perfection of handicrafts in the great civilized countries of Asia motivated the less civilized peoples of Europe to launch their expeditions to secure these luxury goods at lower prices, their own subsequent industrialized production powerd and motivated the imperial conquests which led to the subjection of the great civilizations of the earth and their marginalization by the forces of industrialization.
6. Our images of England, France and the United States as democracies sytematically exclude details that reveal how these countries administered the peoples under their domination. If one were to examine texts on Public Administration, one would scarcely find any references, I believe, to the way conquered peoples were governed. Actually, colonial officers, far from home, were typically empowerd to act ruthlessly and even brutally to implement policies framed to meet the needs of the rulers -- in the American case, paradoxically, the Philippines were administered by Congress under the illusion, perhaps, that representatives elected by citizens of Indiana or Montana would be more "democratic" as rulers of unrepresented subjects than bureaucrats located in the Colonial Offices of England or France. Were the representatives of a government rooted in the slogan "no taxation without representation" more likely to respect the needs of the unrepresented peoples they ruled than a royal government in London had been of the concerns of their American colonies?
7. No doubt state nationalism and ethnic nationalism have always overlapped each other and the dichotomy drawn here is by no means absolute. One of the first ethnonational movements led to Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire in the mid-nineteenth century. A century later, the Croatian republic, having gained its independence at the expense of the Serbian empire called "Yugoslavia," demands that all its citizens become Croatians. Understandably, this angers members of the Serbian minority who are encouraged by Belgrade to resist. The story in Bosnia is more complex and perhaps an even greater tragedy could befall the Albanians in Kosovo where Serbian state nationalism prevails today.
Liberal state nationalism relied mainly on persuasion and education to coopt non-nationals, but aggressive ("fascist") nationalism uses violence ("ethnic cleansing") to eliminate ethnic minorities. In Chechnya, Nigeria, the Sudan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Timor and many other places, struggles between states and ethnonationalists, accompanied by genocide and terrorism, are going on as we speak. The story is complicated and horrible to contemplate, but luckily there is no need to say more about it here. The only point I want to emphasize is the need to distinguish clearly between the state nationalism that characterized the rise of modernity and the role of ethnic nationalism in the para-modern syndrome which is now so visible.
8. Much energy has been spent in a fruitless controversy between "primordialists" who see ethnic nationalism as a manifestation of ancient cultural differences and conflicts in opposition to "contingency"(??) theorists who argue that contemporary political forces create "imagined" (Anderson??) national communities. It seems to me that both theories are needed to explain the para-modern forms of ethnic nationalism which typically draw on ancient myths and historical grievances to generate support for leaders whose contemporary ambition it is, under the impetus of modernization, to create and lead their own sovereign states. No doubt primordialists can help us understand where new boundaries will be drawn on the basis of ancient myths, but they cannot explain why ethnic nationalism has only recently become a world-threatening force -- we need to understand the curious paradox of nationalistic imperialism that drove the conquests and wars of the modern empires. Ethnic nationalism only makes sense when it is placed in this para-modern context.
9. The word, professionalism, can be used in several senses, and it often refers to the status of mandarins, career officials whose only self-identification involves their role as public servants. However, the word is also used in a broader sense to include persons in private life who acquire advanced academic degrees and engage in a recognized professional career. In this sense, as used by Wilson (1989), the term identifies an unusual feature of American civil servants who are often torn between their official obligations and those imposed on them by the non-governmental professional associations with which they are also closely identified.
Because of this dual loyalty, American careerists tend to associate with fellow-professionals in private as well as public life, and to resist forming close bonds with fellow-bureaucrats whose professional orientations differ from their own. This fact, of course, greatly limits the likelihood that American career officials would organize across professional lines to promote their bureaucratic interests, something that may be considered normal in almost all other bureaucracies.
Anderson Imagined Commuinities (to complete later)
Hocart, A. M., 1927. Kingship. London: Oxford University Press.
Jackson, Robert, 1990. Quasi-states: Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Third World. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Polanyi, Karl, 1957. The Great Transformation. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Polanyi, Karl; Conrad M. Arensberg and Harry W. Pearson, 1957. Trade and Markets in Early Empires. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Riggs, Fred W., 1964. Administration in Developing Countries: The Theory of Prismatic Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
----, 1966. Thailand: The Modernization of a Bureaucratic Polity. l Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
----, 1991. "Bureaucratic Links between Administration and Politics." Ali Farazmand, ed., Handbook of Comparative and Development Public Administration. New York: Marcel Dekker. pp. 587-509.
----, 1993. "Fragility of the Third World's Regimes." International Social Science Journal. No. 136 (May) pp. 199-243.
----, Fred W., 1994a "Ethnonationalism, Industrialism and the Modern State." Third World Quarterly. Vol. 15:4, pp. 583-611.
----, 1994b."Bureaucracy: A Profound Perplexity for Presidentrialism." Ali Farazmand, ed., Handbook on Bureaucracy. New York: Marcel Dekker. pp. 97-148.Sansom, Sir George Western World and Japan (to be completed later)
Wilson, James Q., 1989. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It. New York: Basic Books.To return to the beginning of this paper, press Part One. To return to the second half, press Part Two.
Updated: 3 May 1996