restricted access 7. Conclusions
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CHAPTER 7 Conclusions "Write that down," the King said to the jury, and the jury eagerly wrote down all three dates on their slates, and then added them up, and reduced the answer to shillings and pence. -Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland My purpose in this book has been to offer a fresh brief for the study of national political development or capacity. The topic received a good deal of attention throughout the 1960s and for part of the 1970s. Starting in the early 1970s, however, analyses of political development came under increasing fire. As noted in the first chapter, they were attacked on ideological grounds as conservative, naive, and ethnocentric. They were simultaneously assailed for empirical shortcomings , and it was alleged that the world did not conform to the models adopted in studies of political development. These criticisms appear less compelling in retrospect. First, it has become evident that the critics have not generated an alternative research program capable of addressing the issues more fruitfully. Most notably, despite the revival of interest in the state, that concept remains mired in definitional confusion. The confusion has permeated all efforts to produce a novel approach, so that the critics can recommend little more than a retreat to historicism, a denial that generalization is feasible or even desirable. Second, a reading of the development studies that were attacked indicates that those studies were often stereotyped by the critics. Development studies were cast as part of the modernization school that saw development as inexorable and inevitable, which ignored political conflict, and which assumed that countries of the Third World could reasonably be expected to follow the path of the industrial states of the West. But this general portrait is no more than a stereotype, and a highly misleading one at that. I do not mean to endorse the early development studies in their entirety. As is the case with any new field of inquiry, those inquiries raised many more questions than they were able to answer, and they did, of course, contain a number of false starts. Their relative opti155 [To view this We[W, refer to the print version of this title.] 156 Power without Force mism about the prospects for political development in the Third World coincided with a more widespread enthusiasm associated with decolonization that events since have eroded. And agreement on how development should be defined and measured proved elusive. l But this is a far cry from the critics' insistence that the earlier studies of political development are wholly misdirected and should therefore be abandoned altogether. Instead, it is more promising to recognize that, despite several problems, they continue to include an interesting set of ideas on which we can profitably draw.2 Further, the history of the last thirty years underscores the importance of those ideas. If many of the earlier studies inclined toward optimism, the circumstances of more recent years have reminded us of the fragility of political orders. In states as diverse as Iran, Lebanon, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, along with the remnants of the former Soviet Union and its proteges, political capacity is limited. That is, the ability to accommodate contending interests in a political manner is restricted. States are prone instead to resort to physical force as a mechanism for conflict resolution, and the more they do so, the greater the erosion of their power to accommodate interests. The pervasiveness of the problem is manifested by the youth of so many current constitutional orders documented in chapter 6. Whether or not one is discouraged by those data, they do highlight the proposition that many states are so politically weak that they cannot be effectively governed. That this involves real issues is self-evident. I have argued that political capacity has two general interrelated components: organizational age and legitimacy. In broad terms, this means that I have been concerned both with institutions conceived in organizational terms and with the amount of compliance and consent that leaders are able to engender. My emphasis on each component reflects the view that political life centers on the exercise of power, and that, unlike physical force, power is intrinsically relational. Although all states have the capability to inflict physical sanctions, their ability to exercise power is the key element of their political capacity. In this context, the prolonged use of force reflects a loss of power and is fundamentally apolitical, because it indicates a deterioration in the relationship between rulers and ruled. This rudimentary proposition...


Subject Headings

  • Legitimacy of governments.
  • Power (Social sciences).
  • Political development.
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