unbiased analysis of things relating to politics and philosophy

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A big up for the blog

As my AdSense balance nears the 30 dollar mark, I find myself pushed to publish a few essays that I would have ordinarily withheld. The recent essays were written with extreme haste and as a result they are littered with errors- while reading through them I find myself formulating a far superior essay on the topic. Despite the monetary encouragement, I am also too lazy to edit essays that were written for a class I have already passed. In conclusion, read these recent essays at your own risk. Please don't bother pointing out the numerous errors that I am sure exist, because I assure you I am well aware, and simply don't care.

Corprotocracy in America: The Compromise of Efficacy and Legitimacy in the U.S.A.

Note: This essay is littered with errors, and if I had the time and motivation to rewrite it I would many times over. Although it received a B, it is not up to my standards- keep this in mind.

In coping with pressures in the international system, the USA has severely compromised their legitimacy and efficacy domestically and abroad through acts in South America, and The Middle East; analysis of corprotocracy in U.S. administration reveals a discernable threat to the strength and accountability of the state. The exploitation of South American developing nations by American based TNC’s began with the UFCO, and their lobbyists who influenced the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état (Shoultz. Transnational corporations (TNC’s) interests are facilitated through the American government, and this growing trend corprotocracy is a detriment to both America, and the international system. The American government and TNC interests are accountable for an international class divide that is widening despite the increased presence of entities like the IMF, World Bank, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“the income ratio of the one-fifth of the world’s population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest countries went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995” (UN Human Development report)

Omar Torrijos was a model freedom fighter that struggled intensely for the rights of Panama’s people. The Torrijos-Carter treaties gave the canal back to the people of panama, but also gave them things that they did not want to be in possession of-- like the School of the Americas which was built to train Panamanians to protect U.S. Interest in the country. After Torrijos’ death, Manuel Noriega took up his cause for the people of Panama. Noriega stood firm that the “School of the Americas was an embarrassment to us. We didn’t want a training ground for death squads and repressive right-wing militaries on our soil” (Eisner). On December 20, 1989, the USA made it clear how interested they were in panama by beginning the largest airborne assault on a city since World War II
“the destabilization campaign launched by the United States in 1989, ending with the 1989 Panama invasion, was a result of the U.S. rejection of any scenario in which future control of the Panama Canal might be in the hands of an independent, sovereign Panama—supported by Japan… Schultz and Weinberger” (Eisner)

The U.S.A went even farther out of its jurisdiction than ever before-- in the 255 years since the conception of the U.S.A, this was the first time they ever invaded another country and extradited its ruler to face trial and imprisonment for violation of American law committed in that ruler’s own nation (Harris). In Noriega’s memoir’s, Eisner stated that there was evidence that Noriega was not guilty, and concluded that the U.S. invasion of Panama was an “abominable abuse of power”. Furthermore, during the 1973 Watergate hearings, in his testimony before U.S. Senate, John Dean was the first to disclose U.S. plots to assassinate Torrijos; in 1975, at Senate inquiries into the CIA, chaired by Senator Frank Church, additional testimony and documentation of plans to kill both Torrijos and Noriega were presented (Eisner). This was not the first case of America compromising its legitimacy in South America, and would not be the last.

Between 1979 and 1989, America planted a seed that would contribute to an unprecedented compromise of legitimacy.
“the CIA supplied mujahedeen (“freedom fighter”) groups with more than $2 billion worth of light weapons… and offered instruction in how to use them… the Americans abandoned Afghanistan to its fate, and the mujahedeen, mainly Islamic fundamentalists, turned against the United States” (Johnson).

These same freedom fighter groups initiated the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would allow American government what would seem to be a blank check for fighting the war on terror. The war in Iraq compromised U.S. legitimacy worldwide by breaking U.N. law to engage Iraqi forces, but also by capitalizing on their presence in the developing nation. This war on terror quickly became an effort to build U.S. interest in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that G. W. Bush’s “proconsul in Iraq, said that the cost of reconstructing the nation alone was “almost impossible to exaggerate” (Johnson). America ensured that it would capitalize from its ventures in the Middle East
“U.S. Agency for International Development gave Bechtel an initial contract of $34.5 million to rebuild Iraqi power-generation facilities, electrical grids, water and sewage systems, and airports. Bechtel will bill the U.S. Government for expenses up to $680 million over eighteen months. These open-ended contracts did not come about through competitive bidding but through backdoor deals guided by the Bush Administration” and “$48 million contract to train a new Iraqi army” (Johnson)

American built infrastructure ensures that resources generated from Iraqi development do not reach the government who so requires these funds to regulate the developing nation. America’s obligation to Iraq would be diminished by training a new Iraqi army defend their interests in the Middle East.
“We will not send American troops into every battle, but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles ahead” GWB, March 11, 2002

American legitimacy has been marred through history by their political acts in South America and the Middle East. In the late 1990s, Dick Cheney’s Halliburton rebuilt Saddam Hussein’s war-damaged oil fields for some $23.8 million – fields Cheney, as secretary of defense during the first Gulf war, had been instrumental in destroying”. In more recent history, G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney committed “the American people to financing an expensive, perpetual war with fronts in Iraq, Afghanistan…” (Johnson). The ties between American military action and corporate interest are clear “in the In C. Johnson’s article, “The War Business” he identifies a “circulation of elites” that allows these ethically questionable acts to continue because it “undercuts attempts at congressional oversight of either industry or the military, and the result is an almost total loss of accountability in terms of public money spent or military actions taken”. Unfortunately for the American people, the U.S. administration has not only compromised their legitimacy, but the efficacy of the state has been given up in their attempts to assert dominance globally.
“Not only are our armed forces seriously overstretched; we are going deeply into debt to finance them. And yet the money keeps flowing. According to White House projections, which are traditionally low, the Bush Administration expects, if reelected, to spend inflation adjusted $2 trillion on defense over its two terms” (Johnson)

What’s worse for Americans, even the TNC’s that profited so much from the U.S. war in Iraq found ways to avoid paying their dues to the American government thanks to the likes of Donald Rumsfeld. Even Halliburton found a way to avoid paying the U.S. government, “subsidiaries located in offshore tax havens increased from nine to fourty-four. The company went from paying $302 million in taxes in 1998 to getting an $85 million tax refund in 1999.”.

In coping with pressures in the international system, the USA has severely compromised their legitimacy and efficacy domestically and abroad through acts in South America, and The Middle East; analysis of corprotocracy in U.S. administration reveals a discernible threat to the strength and accountability of the state. Corprotocracy is an evident trend, and the TNC’s that are most intertwined with the U.S. government circumvent their taxes. America must address the inconsistencies in its administration in order to restore the efficacy and legitimacy that is fundamental to all nations. The reform of America’s administration should provide insulation from corprotocracy, and should be tried with the words of George Washington in mind-- “Overgrown military establishments” are “inauspicious to liberty” and “displace constitutional order”.

The Globalization of Exploitation: Threats Posed to Young States by the International Arena.

Note: This essay is littered with errors, and if I had the time and motivation to rewrite it I would many times over. Although it received a B, it is not up to my standards- keep this in mind.

The current international arena poses greater threats to developing states than at any other time in the past. The development of globalization brings an increased capacity for political and financial exploitation to developing nations in possession of natural resources. This threat is illustrated throughput recent history, originating with the United Fruit Company in South America, the Oil trade and U.S. influences on South American politics, and the recent American military industrial complex in the Middle East. The current global state displays a class divide reminiscent of Marx’s critiques of capitalism-- TNC’s further this divide circumventing any form of reprisal or obligation to exploit developing nations.

Early American transnational corporations (TNC’s) like The United Fruit Company (UFCO) held the capabilities to export vast quantities of fruit from South and Central America, and for a large profit . In the early 1900’s UFCO established plantations that were dominant throughout the developing nations that hosted their 3.5 million acres: Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ecuador. In an attempt to distribute the nation’s wealth beyond UFCO’s fruit empire, Guatemalan president Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán attempted to implement agrarian land reform that would reassign 40% of UFCO’s Guatemalan plantations. UFCO responded by lobbying and influencing the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état (Shoultz). Later, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission exposed a scheme by United Brands to bribe Honduran President Oswaldo López Arellano with $1.25 million, and the promise of another $1.25 million upon the reduction of certain export taxes. By establishing a monopoly on the South American fruit industry, UFCO effectively held the means to export the young nation’s natural resources , and used its Host country for the labor class. Thus depleting the countries resources, and expropriating the immense profit gained by their export. The UFCO initiated a trend of exploitation that would set the stage for today’s TNC’s and the fate of several developing countries.

Globalization has facilitated a TNC’s capacity to export the resources of developing nations at an alarming rate, and if unregulated could result in exploitation-- This is evident when considering the cases of Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela whose history involve a systematic exploitation by TNC’s. In 1981, Ecuador’s president Jaime Roldos Aguilera presented a hydrocarbons law that would reform Ecuador’s relationship with oil companies, and return the resources to the citizens (Martz). In the same effort, Roldos forced SIL international (Christian missionary) out of the country for their violent attempts to relocate the Hauorani natives in the interest of U.S. oil corporations (Colby and Dennet, In the same year, Ecuador’s president was killed and replaced by Osvaldo Hurtado. Under the new administration, SIL international was allowed back into the country, and new contracts with Texaco were allowed them to drill for oil in the Amazon basin (Martz). While these contracts brought riches to a few, it was to the detriment of the majority. Ecuadorian administration accepted loans to invest in infrastructure far beyond their means to pay them back,
“Poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent… unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion, and the share of national resources allocated to the poorest citizens declined from 20 to 6 percent. Today, Ecuador must devote nearly 50 percent of its national budget simply to paying off its debts- instead of helping the millions of its citizens who are officially classified as dangerously impoverished” (Jochnick).
Ecuador’s promise as a young developing nation was exploited by TNC’s, and is an example of the economic enslavement that modeled the fate of many young nations-- in the interest of TNC’s and the American government.
“The situation in Ecuador clearly demonstrates that this was not the result of a conspiracy; it was a process that had occurred during both Democratic and Republican administrations, a process that had involved all the major multinational banks, many corporations, and foreign aid missions from a multitude of countries. The United States played the lead role, but we had not acted alone” (Perkins)

The actions of TNC’s and the American government in South America illustrate a growing trend of entangled government and corporate interest, and the deliberate exploitation of developing nations.

After the September 11th terror attacks, the U.S.A would supplement its war in Iraq and Afghanistan by instating an unprecedented military industrial complex. For Afghanistan the war was marked by their liberation from the Taliban, but American interest didn’t end there. American companies like Bechtel received massive contracts to build infrastructure in Iraq that brought in massive amounts of money “$36.4 million… to $680 million” (Johnson). The American government will implement a plan to ensure Iraqi’s defend the American infrastructure from domestic threat, thus relieving some obligations for the deaths that will result defending Americas interest in the Middle East. America’s exploitation ensures its host countries will not develop in any sustainable manner, while this economic enslavement denies developing nations in the Middle East like Iraq the ability to profit from their development, and thus the resources to adequately govern their state. The current American military industrial complex in the Middle East signals a twist in the trend of exploitation. Now instead of government action following corporate interest, the actions and interests of the U.S. government are intertwined, and aligned with that of TNC’s. The existing international legal framework has no regulation that prevents TNC’s from expropriating the wealth of developing nations, especially when aided by political institutions like the American government. This effectively thwarts attempts at equity led sustainable growth for nations that are rich in natural resources.

Throughout recent history, the largest threat to developing nations is falling prey to economic enslavement from developed nations. The giants of the international arena have the capability to exploit a young nation’s natural resources so effectively that TNC’s can influence and compromise the political autonomy in young nations. The abundant presence of corporate, political, and military interests in the current international arena pose greater threats to developing states than at any other time in the past. This threat is illustrated throughput recent history: the trend originates with the United Fruit Company in South America, the Oil trade and U.S. influences on South American politics, and the recent American military industrial complex in the Middle East. Because of the advancements in globalization, capitalism has created an international class divide where developed capitalist nations hold the means of production, and developing nations’ resources are exported-- thus expropriating the wealth gained from value adding services. Until this trend is recognized for what it truly is, no authority will be able to effectively regulate the exploitation of developing nations.

The Arms Trade in International Politics

Note: This essay is littered with errors, and if I had the time and motivation to rewrite it I would many times over. Although it received a B, it is not up to my standards- keep this in mind.

“The five permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, Russia, China, the UK, and the USA—together account for 88 per cent of the worlds conventional arms exports” ( The arms are exported with the intention to protect a developing nation’s political and economic stability from external aggression. However the same arms that protect some nations fuel conflict and violence that dissolve the political and economic stability of other undeveloped countries like Uganda and Sudan. It can be concluded that the statement:
“The arms trade and weapons proliferation are perhaps the most significant source of instability in the current international system”
is complex, and in order to be fully evaluated requires analysis of the roles of major arms exporters, the impact on the politics and economics of the purchasers and their neighbours, and the significance of weapons proliferation to the stability of the international system of politics. The arms trade provides poor and undeveloped nations the means to maintain stability and autonomy, however when these weapons are used to fuel conflicts it threatens the international system of politics.
The proliferations of weapons that threaten the international system of politics originate mainly from nations involved in the international system politics. “The five permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, Russia, China, the UK, and the USA—together account for 88 per cent of the world’s conventional arms exports” ( The USA currently exports more weapons than any other country in the world, these arms are made by well known companies like Boeing, and General Electric. The top purchasers of American arms are nations they are politically involved with, Saudi Arabia purchases the most, followed by Taiwan, Israel, and South Korea (Center for International Policy). The destination of these weapons is rarely where they end up, small arms produced by these nations fuel conflicts in sub-Sahara Africa that dissolve weak states, and threaten the international system of politics. The UN to which the major arms exporters belong issues arms embargo’s to conflict ridden nations in attempt to cut their supply of weapons short.
The choice to invest in weapons over the needs of a countries citizens, is clearly analysed by former U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
When impoverished countries choose to invest in conflict, they clearly forfeit not only the safety and security of their citizens, but the progress their nation, and potentially their neighbours. Countries like Sudan and Sierra Leone cannot afford clean water for their citizens let alone war, a study by the World Bank concluded that a civil war costs a country approximately 60% its annual GDP (2003). The weapons made in developing nations contribute to the regression of 3rd world states. The weapons that allow South Korea to maintain solidarity in a unstable political environment are the same weapons that allow poor in conflict ridden nations to continue killing each other on a larch scale. The threat to the international system of politics lies in conflicting undeveloped nations. The UN issues embargos to curtail the flow of arms into conflicting nations, but unfortunately the proliferation of arms to conflicting states continues. Arms that circumvent embargos are used to fuel unnecessarily violent wars.
“In many cases, weapons have been illegally retransferred from countries at the conclusion of conflicts, traveling to incite or reignite additional conflicts in neighbouring countries.” (Stohl, Myerscough. 2007).
Weapons starting in Liberia travel to Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea. Guns from Chad are found in the Darfur region of Sudan. These are the poorest places on the earth, and when in conflict the political and economic situation can only deteriorate. Instability born of violent crimes hinders a society’s ability to regroup after a conflict. Crime perpetuates instability, citizens are killed, and after the conflict is over the weapons and disgruntled combatants remain, further causing violence and instability. This violent instability is illustrated in places like South Africa where crime and violence accounts for an annual “80,000 bullet wounds that require hospitalization”. Even camps for refugees are vulnerable to the violence of gangs armed with these weapons. There are other ethical issues that are born from the proliferation of weapons
“The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, which has waged an insurgency against the government for 20 years, is believed to have a fighting force made of up to 80 percent child soldiers” (Stohl, Myerscough. 2007).
Child armies are needed when there are no longer enough men to fight; the breakdown of these countries into this state is nearly irreversible. The presence of internal conflict prevents these nations from regrouping and thus condemns these countries to regress continually. Even international aid to these countries is displaced; leaving the citizens without much needed provisions like medicine and clean water.
It is the intention of arms producing countries to help recipients maintain stability, and not to fuel conflicts. UN Embargoes attempt to address the presence of a violent conflict in a nation, currently these regulations at best stop honest exporters from shipping goods directly to these war torn countries. As the proliferation of arms continues, so builds a force that threatens to erode the foundations of the international system of politics. The threat to international politics is not in the arms, but the injustice that occurs by the presence of these arms. Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and this is wholly applicable to the injustice born of small arms proliferation throughout 3rd world states. The relative solidarity of the nation is what makes the difference between the drastic instability the continent of Africa experiences as a result of the 30 million small arms, when compared with the 200 million circulating the USA. There is a lack of government transparency that allows G8 nations to sell arms to nations in conflict, and this must be addressed in order to progress the international system of politics. The Sierra Leone UN embargo was circumvented by using neighbours Liberia and Burkina Faso as a proxy through which to deliver arms, and this is one of the many things that the UN must address. The arms trade and weapons proliferation has an immense impact on the 3rd world, destabilizing national governments and further threatening the stability of any international system of politics. If weapons proliferation continue unwatched, the international community will be further impacted by the violent conflicts of developing nations, potentially the threat that the proliferation of weapons include nuclear WMD. There is a threat to arms producing nations that the subtle integration of the arms trade into governmental process allows terrible lapses in ethical behaviour. This is exemplified by former US vice president Cheney who in his own self interest held significant ties to a military company Halliburton while influencing a the war in Iraq. George Washington warned “overgrown military establishments” are “inauspicious to liberty”, and the arms the entanglement of the American & British arms trade with their governments have led to a series of highly unethical decisions by major political figureheads.
The conflicts in sub-Sahara Africa are fought with weapons made in countries that form the UN Security Council, despite regulation against it. These arms are exported with the intention to protect a developing nation’s political and economic stability from external aggression, but often have a life beyond that. The weapons make their way into conflict zones through proxy like willing neighbours, and gun runners. The presence of these weapons dissolve the political and economic stability of undeveloped nations, and threaten the stability of the international system of politics. It can be concluded that the statement:
“The arms trade and weapons proliferation are perhaps the most significant source of instability in the current international system”
Is complex, because on one hand these arms exports provide nations in need the means to defend themselves, and protect the stability of their nation, and on the other hand these weapons spread into conflict zones and fuel needless violence. The conclusion of these assessments is that the arms trade when properly regulated protects the solidarity of the international political system, but the proliferation of weapons is something that must be addressed with regard to the state of the nation and its neighbours. The significance of the arms trade and weapons proliferation stems from the roles of major arms exporters, the impact on the politics and economics of the purchasers and their neighbours. Let it rest that the arms trade is a necessary evil that provides stability in optimal circumstance, but otherwise threatens safety.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

my thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed writing all of these essays- a lot was learned in the process.
The latest essay on Marxism, was limited to under 900 words. I had a really hard time keeping this limit because the assigned topic was so broad! I feel that the essay lacks focus as a result. In the future I am going to have to work on extrapolating on the assigned topic in order to provide this focus. Despite the shortcomings, I learned a lot, and if given the opportunity, I would really enjoy further exploring Marxism.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Marxism: Philosophy in historical and current context

Exploitation and alienation about a class divide is the principal concern of Marxism, a theory derived from the critical analysis of capitalism by 19th century German political philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. International Political Economy (Frieden, Lake) analyses Marxism as principally a remedy to the pitfalls of capitalism. Marxism has progressed, adapted and thus diffused through the contingencies surrounding those who supplemented Marxist theories. In order to understand why Marxism is effective as a framework for the study for international politics, it is critical to first conduct an intrinsic synopsis of classical Marxism, overview the evolution of Marxism, and understand what facets of Marxist theory are relevant to the 21st century.
Classical Marxism is limited to the theories presented by Marx and Engels; it is characterized by a primarily philosophical continuum when compared to extrapolations of Marxist theory. Economic and sociological elements of Marxism are based upon a materialist discernment of history, critical analysis of capitalism, social change, and an ultimate focus on human liberation. Marxism rests on the historical pattern whereby a self interested capitalist upper class unremittingly exploit a lower (labour) class. In capitalism, the labour theory of value allocates a portion of income as surplus value, paid directly to the owner of the means of production (also known as the bourgeoisie). Marxists characterize this surplus value as “not the capitalist’s “reward” for investment, but something taken away from the labour... any gain for the capitalist must come at the expense of labour, and vice versa” (Frieden, Lake). The expropriation of surplus value denies labour the full return for its efforts, and thus encourages an estrangement between the classes. Because of this intensely subversive class divide, Marxist theories propose that capitalism as necessarily conflicting.
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has... pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”... It has resolved personal worth into exchange value... has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” – The Communist Manifesto, chapter 1
As a remedy to class alienation, Marxism calls for a revolution in the working class. A revolution must spark a re-distribution of ownership of the means of production, so that all members of society jointly share surplus and thus prevent its expropriation from the labour class. Classical Marxism - independent of adaptations - is primarily a critical analysis of capitalism, and a proposed remedy. The implementation of Marxism spawned a multitude of adaptions; each fit the contingencies unique to where and when it was applied.
Largely due to the philosophical nature of Marxism, it became a popular base with which to adapt political theories in order to meet contingencies in times of need. In effort to overthrow the Tsarist regime in Russia, revolutionary Vladimir Lenin emphasized the need for the working class everywhere to jointly encourage the overthrow capitalism. In order to formalize, and concentrate the widespread efforts the labour class revolution, Lenin integrated elements of democratic centralism with Marxism. Marxism-Leninism is broadly known as communism, this adaption of Marxism became a base that was further adapted by: Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Mao Zedong, and Leon Trotsky. Stalin strictly instilled bureaucracy into communism; resulting in a series of failed economic plans that were formally intended to promote collectivism. Khrushchev further diffused communism into competing factions. Zedong focused on rural development to coerce a movement among the peasants, while further integrating the military with the communist government. Trotsky more than all others stressed the need for a global socialist revolution to overcome both capitalism, and the domestic Stalinist bureaucracy which he feared would eventually become a form of capitalism itself. While the complex diffusion and adaption of Marxism as a framework for political organizations is a testament to its versatility, the implementation of any unadulterated form of Marxism has so far been ephemeral.

Marxist theories and adaption’s of it are relevant to those living in and amongst capitalist societies because they clearly identify the appeal of capitalism, and how liberal market societies can appear successful while furthering the class divide. Classical Marxism attests that capitalism, through systematic exploitation holds the capacity to be so successful that if unguarded; it can and will influence lesser economies. A trait of capitalists addressed by Marxists is the belief furthers the capitalist idea that a company if grown to a proper size has the capacity to be invincible. This trait is countered with the assertion that as a market becomes further dominated by a single entity; it ceases to be a market and thus becomes vulnerable to instability. Lenin furthered this by concluding that the success of capitalism is only temporary and the illusion of success is provided by colonialism and international trade: by offsetting tendencies to overproduce, providing the ability to exploit the less expensive resources, including the transfer of production when labour costs rise at home. Current Transnational adaptions of Marxism scrutinize capitalists who now transcend nationality in exploiting global trends without regard to their homeland, thus “leaving only labour-capital division in world politics” (Frieden, Lake).

Marxism is foremost a critical analysis of capitalism: illustrating pitfalls of human nature in liberal market societies such as; unequal distribution of wealth, characteristically discordant markets, “zero sum” trade where power is used as leverage, and oligopolistic markets prone to instability. Marxism is effective as a framework for the study for international politics because at its core it is a philosophy consisting of critical analysis and remedy for the pitfalls of liberal market societies. The diffusion and evolution of Marxism provides tangible cases suitable for comparative analysis ensuring its versatility as a framework for the study of international politics.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Finding a balance: a comparative analysis of the distribution of power.

The way in which a government aligns itself with its people varies markedly between nations. Some nations have a distinct hierarchy the advantage of which is the leader’s accountability for his actions, and his responsibility to the citizens. Other Nations approach government locally, dispersing power as far as is necessary to ensure representativeness and responsiveness. The continuum on which centralization and decentralization rest is dynamic, and nations may stand somewhere in between a centralized and decentralized approach. Using history as a guide, one can compare the situations in which centralization and decentralization were effective and analyse the effectiveness of each and the implications this has on modern politics.

Centralization holds power in the ability of a leader to accomplish goals promptly and effectively, while providing accountability and responsibility to the citizens. In the evolution of a government from medievalism, centralization allowed a monarch to overcome the conflicting ideals of aristocracy. “Monarchy became the magnet, attracting local loyalties to the capital and the court, and overriding the separatist tendencies of competing institutions. Hence, with centralization came integration”. The effect of this centralization became so supreme in Europe that “Louis XIC of France, the Sun King, in his remark “L’Etat, c’est moi,” a comment whose boast of personal pre-eminence exceeds even the claim of Adolf Hitler: “for 24 hours I was the supreme court of Germany”” This supreme power through centralization allowed these European leaders to summon an unprecedented nationalism from their people, and allowed them to accomplish their personal goals in a way no other form of governance could.
Only through the strength given by centralization did the thirteen British colonial states successfully break ties from its parent and become an autonomous union of states (1775-1783). The significance of centralization in the success in the American Revolution is illustrated by William Anderson “all powers of government were brought for the time under a single control, that of the convention or congress in each state. Perhaps in no other way could the quick and decisive measures have been taken that were needed to sever the bonds with Great Brittan”. History clearly illustrates the ability of centralization to allow the leader of a nation to accomplish their goals, and summon an unprecedented nationalism from their people. The disadvantage of this centralization is the lack of involvement of the citizens in their governance.

Decentralization was the Greek response to extreme centralization, under (Tyrannos) Peisistratus there was such an intense distaste for “the title of rex (king) and any type of one man rule, that the roman constitution evolved with a pattern in which authority was elaborately subdivided and distributed”. This form of divided government was advocated by Montesquieu as a device to “make the government safe for the governed” because of the citizens involvement in the creation of policy, and the distribution of wealth. In effort to distribute power, the American constitution appropriates the bulk of each function to a branch, but “smaller slicers were given to each of the other branches” (L. Lipston). Imbued in American policy is the thought of individuals like James Madison

“The accumulation of powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the
same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary,
self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of

The conclusion drawn from a historical analysis of centralization as put by L. Lipson is “fraught with abuse”. Decentralization has proved an effective antidote to the shortcomings of a centralized government. The dispersion of governmental powers is a meticulous task that must be done with extreme care lest excessive decentralization dilute power or excessive centralization bring tyranny.

There is no one answer to the question of how far does a government need to decentralize to prevent tyranny while retaining power. The conclusion those have drawn in the past is only relevant in their historical context. An important safeguard against rogue leadership was developed by the Brittan’s in 1688- after the discharge of the Stuarts, the Brittan’s introduced a parliament so that “the supreme institution was henceforth a legislature”. This theory was proposed by Locke who originally said “there can be but one supreme power, which is the legislative, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate”. This proved to be effective and was adopted by the American government, Madison warned that the collection of executive and judiciary power by the legislative branch makes room for abuse. “by assembling all power in the same hands must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive usurpations”. Madison’s warning further illustrated by Locke’s statement “it may be too great temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same persons who have the power of making laws to have also in their hands the power to execute them. The passion with Americans instilled decentralization in their government was too great, their system became so complex that it became possible for a party to “control the courts because of their role in law enforcement plus their power to review legislation... the parties determined the selection of candidates and ensured the support of the voters... a boss was able by his mastery of the party machine to achieve a concentration of power that violated the fundamental concepts of American democracy” (L. Lipson). Modern governments have evolved an antidote to this over-decentralization- dividing the government further into two institutions; the political party and the civil service. The synergy between these institutions creates an environment resistant to the “intruders” that circumvented the checks and balances within the American political system. In this system the head of a party “ceases to be a chief executive in the narrow sense and becomes in addition a party leader, chief legislator, and mobilizer of public opinion”. With the support of a judiciary and legislature, a party and civil service have the power to resist corruption and server the people better than all previous institutions. Governments will continue to evolve with the citizens in the society that it governs, learning from history and finding a balance where power most effectively lies between centralization and decentralization. The only sure conclusion that can be drawn about the choice to distribute power about a nation is that power in politics is not enough; it must be used with wisdom.