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2 The Symbolic Meaning of Personnel Systems [I]mpressive international conferences were mounted on the moral and legal problems associated with disqualification from office, police dossiers, ‘‘truth commissions,’’ and screening laws. . . . Worried liberals from the West, McCarthyism in mind, discoursed earnestly on the folly of score-settling and the wisdom of amnesties and active forgetfulness. Local moderates urged compatriots to ‘‘draw a thick line,’’ to quit rummaging around in the past, and to take up more creative and less prosecutorial tasks. —Steven Holmes, ‘‘The End of Decommunization’’1 Chapter 1 classified personnel systems as exclusive, inclusive, and reconciliatory . Different personnel systems can have different origins and produce various effects. The main objective of this chapter is therefore to hypothesize the origin and the effects of personnel systems. We situate personnel systems into the context of the transformation of political culture and observe that personnel systems carry symbolic meanings that signify a purification of society in the aftermath of regime change. Although they were conceived as administrative-security measures, different personnel systems may be seen by the public as carriers of symbolic meanings that signify different methods of purification from the taint of the previous regime. The dual nature of these systems enables us to draw hypotheses about their origin and effects. PAGE 43 ................. 18039$ $CH2 06-09-11 09:18:08 PS 44 Chapter 2 Democratization and the Transformation of Political Culture How shall we assess the effects of personnel systems? Where shall we look for the variables of interest to explain their origin? Should we survey people and examine their opinions instead of just looking at political institutions, operational abilities of government departments, and their efficiency in enforcing law, collecting taxes, and apprehending thieves? To answer these questions, this section will shift our attention from the study of political institutions to the study of political culture as a critical dimension of democratization. As with other policies of transitional justice, personnel systems are usually invoked in the aftermath of profound political change. In contrast to changes in government that result from uncontroversial elections in democratic countries,2 personnel systems are applied in the aftermath of the demise of undemocratic political regimes, civil wars, and other radical political changes, such as decolonization, the establishment of new states, or military occupation or protectorate. Not all of these political transitions are necessarily bound to result in democracy.3 In some instances, emerging regimes may be dictatorships that are as ruthless as their predecessors. In this context, personnel systems may serve the narrow power interests of one ruling elite over another and strengthen its grip on power. However, this book does not adhere to a value-neutral approach, which would generally assess the utility of personnel systems against their contribution to the consolidation of a new regime regardless of its character. Instead, it accepts a normative component of democratization4 and evaluates various personnel systems against their potential for transforming and fostering political culture, which is one of the major preconditions for democracy. The ‘‘democratic transformation’’ provides a normative background for the assessment of various strategies of transitional justice in general and personnel systems in particular. The critical question here is: what does democratic transformation mean? What are its major features? The need to systematically and empirically study democracy has led many scholars to adopt a minimalistic conception of democracy. Following Joseph Schumpeter, who has defined ‘‘democratic method’’ simply as a ‘‘hunt for votes’’ and ‘‘dealing in votes,’’5 they tend to reduce democracy to free elections. For instance, according to Samuel Huntington, a political system is democratic when the ‘‘most powerful collective decision makers are selected through fair, honest, and periodic elections in which candidates PAGE 44 ................. 18039$ $CH2 06-09-11 09:18:08 PS Symbolic Meaning 45 freely compete for votes and in which virtually all the adult population is eligible to vote.’’6 Although such definitions are easy to operationalize for the purposes of empirical research,7 they have failed to satisfy many scholars in the field of democratization studies. Observing ‘‘reverse transitions,’’ Linz and Stepan contend that reducing the notion of democracy to an election process is an ‘‘electoralist fallacy.’’8 This has led some political scientists to postulate more substantive definitions of democracy and adopt indices that capture the civil rights scores of specific countries, while others have expanded the taxonomy of basic democratic attributes. Schumpeter considered democracy as having one feature. Robert Dahl, on the other hand, in his work listed seven features,9 while Philippe Schmitter and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780812205763
Related ISBN
9780812243314
MARC Record
OCLC
793012603
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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