FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kruse's Keys: Read "Dead Aid" Because--Wait You've Haven't Read Dead Aid?!

My complete collection of Grad School Notes can be found here (Africa, IR, Ethnic Conflict, Economics, Writing, Islam, Comparative Politics).

These are some throwback notes that I came across from a few years ago.  "Dead Aid" is a foundational work for anyone working in developing countries (formerly known as third world).  It is controversial but that's kind of the author, Dambisa Moyo's, thing.

Key Takeaways:

  • CENTRAL POINT:  Aid drives and accelerates African poverty, stunts growth ix.
  •  4 alternatives to aid:
    • *Access interknational bond markets
    • *Large scale direct infrastructure investment (China model)
    • *Free agricultural trade (international community must stop their domestic subsidies)
    • *financial intermediation via microfinance institutions x-xi.
  • Economic development must trump multi-party democracy for poorest countries—in these countries a ‘benevolent dictator’ may be the best solution.  Good luck finding a benevolent dictator xi.
  • 5 year countdown to aid stoppage xi.
  • “Africa needs to learn from Asia” xi.


PREFACE

- Important transition point is that from single party state to multi-party democracy xiv.

 - Moyo emphasize the incredible linguistic, cultural, historical and political diversity of the continent and observes that even the states that have been prosperous can not exist as their own microcosms in the long term—surrounded by corruption, disease, instability, violence and infrastructure desolation.


PART I: THE WORLD OF AID (45 PAGES)

THE MYTH OF AID
- A glimmer of a revival has emerged since the beginning of the 20th century; there are contributing factors:
1.  Surge in commodity prices that drives exports and associated revenue
2.  Positive policy dividend due to 80’s market based policies
3.  Increase in free and fair regular democratic elections—even though part of her argument is that these aren’t necessarily that important.  This is more of an offhand statement at this point that actual quantitative proof of anything 3.

- Economically and from an investment standpoint, Moyo points to numerous positive
factors emerging throughout Africa.  She picks and chooses her dates, countries and evaluation factors, however, leading most readers to question whether these are anomalies or true trends 4-5.

- Average per capita income of $1 a day in sub-saharan Africa.  It must be noted that there lies a propensity among economists and political scientists to separate the continent of Africa citing cultural and ethnic differences.  This is a disservice and handicaps many possible solutions. 5.

- Life expectancy in Africa in markedly lower, however, I question some of her hyperbole and numbers.  She cites Swaziland as having a “paltry life expectancy” of just 30 years.  Since 1960’s the world bank database shows it never being lower than 44 years old.  5.

 - Moyo does a good job painting a bleak economic and political picture of Africa as it stands today, especially in comparison to the rest of the world.

- Moyo then lays out her research questions:
“Why is it that Africa . . . [is] locked into a cycle of dysfunction?”
“Why is it that . . . Africa seems unable to . . . get its foot on the economic ladder”
“Why . . . did seven of the top ten “failed states” hail from [the African] continent?”
“Are Africa’s people universally more incapable?”
“Are its leaders genetically more venal, more ruthless, more corrupt?”
“[Are its] policymakers more innately feckless?”
“What is it about Africa that holds it back, that seems to render it incapable of joining the rest of the globe in the 21st century?” 6-7.
*Moyo then lets out a teaser of her thesis: “The answer has its roots in aid.”

WHAT IS AID?
- 3 types of aid:
1.  humanitarian or emergency aid
2.  charity-based aid
3.  systematic aid (bilaterally and multilateral) 7.

- While Moyo takes issue with the first two forms of aid, she discards them as small change compared to the billions in systemic aid.  She also points out that the first two reflect a western mindset that all aid is good aid. 7-8.

 - loans and grants have largely come to be viewed as nearly the same due to decades of corresponding policy patterns.  This book treats them both as the same in its evaluation 8.





A BRIEF HISTORY OF AID

- Aid as we know it today originated during World War II in Bretton Woods, NH in 1944.  10.
- the evolution of post-war aid had roughly 7 stages
1.  Birth at Bretton Woods
2.  Marshall Plan in the 50’s.
3.  Industrialization in the 60’s.
4.  Aid as an answer to poverty in the 70’s
5.  Aid as a tool for stability and structural adjustment in the 80’s.
6.  Aid as a tool (buttress) for democracy and good governances in the 90’s.
7.  Aid as the only solution to all of Africa’s problems today. 10.

- The Bretton Woods meeting was a precursor to:
The World Bank, the IMF and the International Trade Organization.
The Mandate of the World Bank and IMF originally was that of reconstruction (and an emphasis on risk diversification) 11.

- Marshall was a rescue aid package to repair existing infrastructure and was largely successful.  12.

- Aid’s success in Europe led many nations look to Africa as a good place for future aid.

- An assumption made by the IMF and World Bank was that if a country was poor, it would not have enough financial capital to encourage development—thus foreign aid was the only answer 13.

-  Additionally, the decolonization occurring encouraging aid from an altruistic (guilt) and stability perspective.  13-14.

-  Aid also became a weapon for the US and the Soviet Union during the cold war


THE 1960’S: THE DECADE OF INDUSTRIALIZATION

- aid was focused on ‘large-scale industrial projects’ thought to be neglected by the private industry because of their long-term nature.  Unfortunately records from this era are lacking and its unclear how much infrastructure was built.  Herein lies one of the major problems with infrastructure development—it also requires a capacity to maintain that infrastructure—something rarely done. 14-15.

THE FOREIGN AID AGENDA OF THE 1970’S: THE SHIFT TO A POVERTY FOCUS

- This era saw a pronounced new focus on poverty—even though much of this was lip service since the bulk of aid still went to infrastructure—although by the 80’s just over 50% was geared toward poverty reduction.    This was done amidst an oil crisis that crippled African economies even further.  Much of it was also done as loans—that most nations would never be able to pay back.  16-17.

- nearly none of the aid was effective

THE FOREIGN AID AGENDA OF THE 80’S: THE LOST AGE OF DEVELOPMENT

- by the end of the 70’s Africa had received $36 billion in foreign assistance. 17.

- with floating interest rates on the rise, numerous nations defaulted on their loans.  18.

- to deal with this crisis—the IMF came up with a debt restructuring plan.  This amounted to two new programs that first emphasize stability and then structural adjustment (ex. Structural Adjustment, and Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facilities) 20-21.

-  this amounted to budgetary aid with philosophical and practical strings attached.  The nations would have to agree to “free-market solutions to developments.”  Among many things it meant the privatization of most industries and the axing of subsidies.  Practically this meant austere conditions for the common citizen  21-22.

- this period also saw an increasing shift toward grants.  22.

THE FOREIGN AID AGENDA OF THE 90’S: A QUESTION FOR GOVERNANCE

- with the Cold War a fading memory, the international aid organizations shifted their focus to that of good governance.  This meant that aid was no longer doled out indiscriminately or as a proxy tool against the Soviets—nevermind that this only fueled cycle of corruption. 22-23.

- This focus on governance and democracy as the ultimate solution remains to this day.  24.

- two themes became prevalent: multilateral agency dominance as the lead in aid distribution and that of donor fatigue.  Thus while substantial aid was still being doled out it was declining.  Unfortunately for many African nations, the foreign aid was (and still is) the largest source of financial income.    25.

-  the idea that if only the yoke of western debt could be thrown off, Africa could be free to thrive also emerged. 26.

THE FOREIGN AID AGENDA OF 2000’s: THE RISE OF THE GLAMOUR AID

- this era saw the rise of the celebrities seeking their own fundraising as a development solution (traditionally they had focused on emergency aid fundraising).  26.

- most hurtful was that this led to a dumbing down of discourse on aid and how it should be used most effectively (if at all).

- Moyo
  displays a penchant for cliché at times: “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  28

 -  there is little evidence that any economic growth has occurred as the result of aid in the last 50 years.  28.

- today the west used aid as a moral tool/arbiter.  This stands in stark contrast to the Chinese that are ‘human rights blind’ in their aid and investment.  While the US human rights vetting may send a message to governments that we value this, it sends a contrary message to the common people of a country who feel they are being double punished—but a jerk of a dictator/presidents and by the lack of aid from the US.


CHAPTER 3: AID IS NOT WORKING

- traditionally there are 5 main reasons offered to explain dismal status of many African nations:

Geographical
Guns, Germs and Steel argument—economic record dependent on geography and topography.
Collier’s study showing that land-locked countries suffer most whether resource rich or not.
There are of course land-locked desert countries around the world that have overcome these obstacles. 29-31.

Historical
Colonial legacy that left behind administrative and bureaucratic structures ill-suited to the populations.  It also created borders haphazardly—the OAU’s endorsement of the borders only aggravates the situation.  31.

Cultural
The racist, genetic argument that Africans do not have the same work ethic  or intelligence.
Whether spoken or not, some variation of these sentiments no doubt lies behind the aid-dependency model for both the West and the African population—where they are almost treated as children instead of equal parties.  31-32.
That said, there is also a cultural dimension wherein a lack of nuanced understanding has led to policies that only hurt the population.  An example of the cultural nuance is the prevalence today in microfinance to ensure the money/budget is handled by the matriarch—as they have been found to be most responsible.



Tribal
1000 tribes in Sub-saharan Africa.  This can elevate the risk of civil/ethnic con
 flict. 32-33.    Moyo offers several assessments that certainly make sense anecdotally but anyone reading the myriad of analysis on the numerous conflicts finds out that it is never that simple.  The most important takeaway is how different each and every situation is.
There are also cases where there has been peaceful co-existence and cooperation.  Moyo closes this by saying that there is no policy prescription so it’s not even worth considering regardless.   I think there may be policy solutions but they just require more study.  33.

Institutional
Economic performance is driven by level of competence in government institutions.  Moyo gives most credence to this argument, pointing to success stories such as Mauritius and Botswana.
The problem in most African nations is that the institutions exists but in an impotent form—with the exception of the executive branch.  33-34.

- Moyo closes by giving credence to all of these explanations but holding aid dependency as the common thread in almost every African nation. 35.

DOES AID WORK?
- $1 trillion in aid has gone into Africa since the 1940’s.
- There are six examples most commonly given to show how aid CAN work:

The Marshall Plan
This is different from African aid because the European nations had other resources to draw upon than solely aid: 3% of GDP vs. 15% GDP in African.
The plan in Europe was finite—5 years and then it was over—versus 70 year flow of aid in Africa.
The plan in Europe was reconstruction of institutions that had once worked.  In Africa there is not the collective memory or history of working institutions.
The plan in Europe focused almost exclusively on physical infrastructure—not so in Africa. 35-37.

The IDA graduates
Graduates of the International Development Association all relied on aid but no longer do so.  However, they all took relatively small amount of aid for a finite period.
The 3 african graduates are Swaziland, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea.  Botswana in particular focused on market economy solutions to quit their aid dependence. 38.




With Conditionalities
Normally 3 types of conditionality:
Procurement:  Aid must be spent on goods and services and staff from
donor nation.
Preselection:  Donor selects the sector/project for their aid money
Policy based:  Aid is based on agreement to economic/political policies
- The biggest fault to all of these things is that most of the time, the nations ignored or obfuscated the conditionalities and the aid STILL flowed!  38-39.

In Good Policy Environments
Democracy is an important variable—but only at the RIGHT time. 44.
For all the studies trumpeting the linkage between economic success and a democracy—most often ignored is the fact that in its beginning stages democracies ADVERSELY affect the economy (and stability) of a country.  42.
Moyo points out that what many nations need at the onset is a benevolent dictator who can push through and enact the needed economic/market reforms—unfortunately benevolent leadership has been notably absent in Africa.  She also point to numerous success stories in Asia and with Chile in Latin America.
Foreign aid has definitely increased democracy in Africa—but not necessarily liberalism.  But democracy has not definitely increased economic growth.  43-44.

AID EFFECTIVENES: A MICRO-MACRO PARADOX

- most often aid is a short-term solution without long-term benefits.  The example of the donor who gives 100,000 mosquito nets to a country and then puts all the mosquito makers out of business.  In the short term, people were helped, but in the long-term there are no longer those businesses.    44-45.
- instead aid such as food aid needs to focus on local cooperation.  Instead of shipping food from US, buy from local farmers etc.  45.
-  aid is still being poured in despite the fact that it is still being diverted for other uses.  46.
- even the IMF has acknowledged the limited efficacy of aid—but all in in all—despite the numerous studies showing it as a poor solution at best—and a detrimental one at worst—aid continues to come in.  46-47.

CHAPTER 4: THE SILENT KILLER OF GROWTH
- “Corruption is a way of life” and occurs because of aid and natural resources looting 48.

THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF AID
- corruption leads to more corruption.  In other words, the aid enable corrupt governments to continue to rule—these regimes abuse their power and prevent liberalism which hurts FDI and DI.  This damages economic growth and raises unemployment which increases poverty—they then need more aid. 49



CORRUPTION AND GROWTH
- Corruption hurts growth and does NOT build up the civil service contrary to development agencies.  Instead it is just another avenue to that enables graft and drives
away the principled servants, leaving posts filled by the second tier.
- this also happens with public contracts and government budgets. 50-51.
- Corruption is correlated to GDPs—higher the corruption, the lower the GDP.  51.
- opacity index: how much a country lacks clear and accurate business, investment and government practices.  This affects per capita income and FDI.  51.

AID AND CORRUPTION
- estimates vary, but it is clear that from its onset aid has been misused—studies continue to show that aid increases corruption—countries often use is as a sub for tax revenues.  52-53.

AID GOES TO CORRUPT COUNTRIES
- Despite rhetoric to the contrary, aid continues to go to corrupt countries—there are no real or effectives checks and balances. 53-54.

WHY GIVE AID IF IT LEADS TO CORRUPTION
- there’s a pressure to lend because aid is a business—agencies are evaluated on the size of their donor portfolio—NOT on how the aid is used.    They also need to “use it or lose it” due to FY budgetary concerns.   Compliance be damned. 54

- no international agreement on what counts as corruption.  Thus the corrupt countries can count on the aid money coming from somewhere 56.

CORRUPTION: POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE
- it would be one thing if the stolen aid money was invested and kept in Africa but unlike in asia, the money is Africa is quickly deposited in foreign bank accounts. 57.

AID AND CIVIL SOCIETY
- Africa does not have the middle class that it needs, largely because the government has made allegiance to the political elite more important than the economy
- Africa is missing the social contract of we pay our taxes and you provides us services.  By and large, Africa doesn’t extract the taxes it needs. 57-58.

AID AND SOCIAL CAPITAL: A MATTER OF TRUST
- aid erodes trust or social capital because the government doesn’t need its citizens to trust it because it has all free unaccountable cash 59.

AID AND CIVIL WAR
- 3 truths about conflicts:
Start out of a struggle for resource controls
Mainly occur in poor economies
More often internal conflicts 59.
- Aid contributes to all three factors.  Collier cites low average incomes and regressive economic growth as key predictors for civil wars. 60.

THE ECONOMIC LIMITATIONS OF AID
- Aid adversely affects poor countries in 4 key ways:
Aid reduces savings and investment
Increased aid is correlated to decline in domestic savings
Increased aid discourages high quality foreign investment 61.
Aid can inflationary
Increased demand for unavailable goods increases prices—this inflation
Erodes the economy 61.
Aid chokes off the export sector
Dutch disease:  increase in foreign aid/currency causes an increase strength of domestic currency which causes an increase in export prices for goods on the international market. 62-63.
Aid causes bottlenecks: absorption capacity
Countries with poor financial development don’t always have the capacity to use the aid money immediately.  If they just sit on it, they still owe interest on it.  If they issue bonds on it, the domestic taxpayers are paying the interest on it. 64-65.


AID AND AID-DEPENDENCY
- Aid promotes sloth among African policymakers because they view aid as part of their permanent income.
- Aid also encourages governments not to pursue a tax base and collection—this erodes the social contract.
- The power of aid (and its parent governments and agencies)  takes the power from African policymakers. 65-66.

AID OBJECTIONS
- these arguments still haven’t convinced the aid decision-makers
-  one of the greatest problems is that viable alternatives have not been offered 68.













 PART II: A WORLD WITHOUT AID (83 pages)

THE REPUBLIC OF DONGO

- Offers a proto-typical fictional country as a means to illustrate the plight/situation of mo
st African nations
- Point of the book:  “How to finance development agenda so that . . . economic prosperity might be realized.” 72.
-  Despite the fact that Moyo’s solution stems from a free-market solution, she is quick to point out that it can be used to finance a capitalist or socialist agenda—the financial alternatives to aid are multi-faceted.  73.

CHAPTER 5: A RADICAL RETHINK OF THE AID-DEPENDENCY MODEL

GOVERNMENT NEEDS CASH
- the government’s role is especially important in poor developing countries because a strong central intervention is required to set policies in place in a way that the private sector can’t fill. 74.

WEANING OFF THE ADDICTION: NO ONE SAID IT WOULD BE EASY
- Moyo calls for a solution that gradually lessens aid over a 5-10 year period.

CHAPTER 6: A CAPITAL SOLUTION
- Commercial bonds differ from aid in 3 ways:
1.   Their interest rate is higher
2.   Their maturity is much shorter
3.   More severe default terms 77.
- Issuing bonds enables a country to finance development and/or day to day costs
- Assessing the bond market is relatively simple:
1.  Get a rating.  This is the fundamental starting point.  It may not be the best rating but a country must start somewhere.
2.  Court investors.  This often means a tour/roadshow.
3.  Receive your money.  78.

- A market for emerging countries exists!
1. When a country issues bonds, it encourages other private investment since it signals stability
2.  Investors like the chance for high returns.
3.  It offers portfolio diversification.
*Emerging market debt is often counter-cyclical to the global business cycle.
79-81.
-  Challenges include a poor credit rating which affects the rating possibilities of private companies within the nation (sovereign ceiling) 84.
- The idea of contagion risk is diminishing meaning that investors are not as apt to punish one country because its neighbor defaults. 84.
- Borrowing is cheaper now than ever.  85.
REBOUNDING FROM A DEFAULT
- “Defaulting is not the end of the world” 86.
-  If a country puts forth necessary reforms, the markets have a history of forgiveness.  87
Instead of reform though, most African nations just choose aid.
- No African nation has return to the bond market after defaulting in the last 30 years 87.
- It’s imperative that African countries develop domestic bond markets too—one reason being that they must be established prior to the development of a stock market.  88.
-  Moyo discusses the world Bank’s GEMLOC program (a ten year program) that helps develop local currency bond markets among other things—thus far only Nigeria and South Africa qualify but there’s not reason other countries can’t in the future.  90-92

CAN DONGO TAP THE MARKETS?
- Most African countries haven’t accessed the bond markets because they didn’t want to NOT because they couldn’t.  93.
-  In determining how much to borrow, countries can also consider pooling their risk (a collective bond)  together as a region etc… 94.
- One can also offer insurance/risk guarantee:
Ex. South Africa’s Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF)
Ex.  World Bank can also guarantee 95-96.
-  A final option is to securitize the bond:  devote a certain budgetary portion of a resource to repayment (e.g. oil revenues).  96.



THE CHINESE ARE OUR FRIENDS
LET’S TRADE
BANKING ON THE UNBANKABLE
DONGO REVISITED
MAKING DEVELOPMENT HAPPEN























Friday, February 9, 2018

Human Nature: Marx, Nietzche, Russell, Weber, Constant, Durkheim

My complete collection of Grad School Notes can be found here (Africa, IR, Ethnic Conflict, Economics, Writing, Islam, Comparative Politics).

(These notes are from my grad school Comparative Politics Class)

MARX

Marx's view of human nature was that we change nature. And that this labour is a social act. I'd imagine he'd say human nature was capable of reaching perfection, since communism require people to fulfill their work perfectly in cooperation with others.


They disagree in that Marx has emphasis on the man doing work for the benefit of society, while Nietzsche quite plainly states man works to achieve his own power.












NIETZSCHE

              Nietzsche believes that there is no such thing as a good or evil human nature, and that the thought that there would be these two values derives from master-slave morality as he liked to call it. These values arise from life-affirming and life-denying things, such as wealth vs. poverty, strength vs. weakness, etc. He also believed in something called the will to power, basically saying everything we do is an attempt to further our own power in some way. Another important concept is the Ubermensch - superperson. Basically this is his ideal person. There's really no concrete definition of what this is, although i personally just hold to the idea it's someone who has completely separated himself from morality.

             They disagree in that Marx has emphasis on the man doing work for the benefit of society, while Nietzsche quite plainly states man works to achieve his own power.

RUSSELL

Believes that the lust for power is a part of human nature.

"The love of power is a part of human nature, but power-philosophies are, in a certain precise sense, insane. The existence of the external world... can only be denied by a madman... Certified lunatics are shut up because of the proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned; the uncertified variety are given control of powerful armies, and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach."


Nature of power: 

Russell's view of human nature, like that of Thomas Hobbes, is somewhat pessimistic. By Russell's account, the desire to empower oneself is unique to human nature. No other animals besides Homo sapiens, he argues, are capable of being so unsatisfied with their lot, that they should try to accumulate more goods than meet their needs. The "impulse to power", as he calls it, does not arise unless one's basic desires have been sated. (Russell 1938:3) Then the imagination stirs, motivating the actor to gain more power. In Russell's view, the love of power is nearly universal among people, although it takes on different guises from person to person. A person with great ambitions may become the next Caesar, but others may be content to merely dominate the home. (Russell 1938:9)
This impulse to power is not only explicitly present in leaders, but also sometimes implicitly in those who follow. It is clear that leaders may pursue and profit from enacting their own agenda, but in a "genuinely cooperative enterprise", the followers seem to gain vicariously from the achievements of the leader. (Russell 1938:7–8)
In stressing this point, Russell is explicitly rebutting Friedrich Nietzsche's infamous "master-slave morality" argument. Russell explains:
"Most men do not feel in themselves the competence required for leading their group to victory, and therefore seek out a captain who appears to possess the courage and sagacity necessary for the achievement of supremacy... Nietzsche accused Christianity of inculcating a slave-morality, but ultimate triumph was always the goal. 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. '" (Russell 1938:9, emphasis his).
The existence of implicit power, he explains, is why people are capable of tolerating social inequality for an extended period of time (Russell 1938:8).
However, Russell is quick to note that the invocation of human nature should not come at the cost of ignoring the exceptional personal temperaments of power-seekers. Following Adler (1927) — and to an extent echoing Nietzsche — he separates individuals into two classes: those who are imperious in a particular situation, and those who are not. The love of power, Russell tells us, is probably not motivated by Freudian complexes, (i.e., resentment of one's father, lust for one's mother, drives towards Eros and Thanatos (Love and Death drives, which constitute the basis of all human drives, etc.,) but rather by a sense of entitlement which arises from exceptional and deep-rooted self-confidence. (Russell 1938:11)

WEBER

He thought that what moved people was a religious principle so that catholics who could get resolution at any time for their sins within the framework of a loving god could basically be childlike and play whereas the protestants had a harsh god whom you had to devote your life to pleasing and even then could not guarantee your good works would get you into heaven as god is a god and all powerful and has his choice so protestants are more driven to good works and piousness and driving social change.
look up protestant work ethic we still use the term now-

Given that we choose our brand of religion it would be safe to say that he thought people were driven by that choice about how to act in society In Northern Ireland Where there is roughly 60/40 protestants to catholics there is the notion that the catholics are the childlike ones whilst the protestants are responsible and running the country.
Weber sees that human beings are animals oriented toward meaning, and meaning, as we’ve seen, is subjective and not objective. Weber also understands that all humans are oriented toward the world and each other through values.

Further, Weber sees the primary level of analysis to be the social action of individuals; for Weber, individual action is social action only insofar as it is meaningfully oriented toward other individuals. Weber sees these meaningful orientations as produced within a unique historical context. Weber’s perspective, then, is a cultural one that privileges individual social action within a historically specific cultural milieu. This orientation clearly sets him apart from Spencer, Durkheim, and Marx, who were much more structural in their approaches.

CONSTANT

“that noble disquiet which pursues and torments us, that desires to broaden our knowledge and develop our faculties… it is to this self-development that our destiny calls us” (Constant 1816). Industry, innovation, and production are all key-words in this tradition.
“Here lies a man who did honor to human nature”

Constantian theses contained in the work on religion and referring to the human nature can be formulated as follows: 1. A man is not entirely the product of society in which he lives and its culture, but he is a being that can be defined by his stable and unchangeable nature. 2. What the human nature is like can be judged by examining the behaviours common to all people and their creations, for example religion. 3. The human nature is unchangeable . However, the forms change, through which it manifests itself in various periods of the development of humanity. In people's religious behaviour, for example, there is manifested something which is the permanent source of every religion and is inherent in human nature. Constant calls it "le sentiment religieux" (a religious feeling). The religious forms, beliefs, rites, institutions etc., in which it manifests itself, change but, itself, it remains the permanent element of the human soul. 4. Rationality constitutes the essence of humanity. There exist, however, such spheres of human behaviour which indicate that the human nature cannot be described only in the rational categories. Besides reason, the man is governed by at least two forces: the above - mentioned feeling and egoism.

DURKHEIM

In Suicide (1897), Durkheim explores the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics, arguing that stronger social control among Catholics results in lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration while Protestant society has low levels. Overall, Durkheim treated suicide as a social fact, explaining variations in its rate on a macro level, considering society-scale phenomena such as lack of connections between people (group attachment) and lack of regulations of behavior, rather than individual's feelings and motivations.[37][56]
This study has been extensively discussed by later scholars and several major criticisms have emerged. First, Durkheim took most of his data from earlier researchers, notably Adolph Wagner and Henry Morselli,[57] who were much more careful in generalizing from their own data. Second, later researchers found that the Protestant–Catholic differences in suicide seemed to be limited to German-speaking Europe and thus may always have been the spurious reflection of other factors.[58] Durkheim's study of suicide has been criticized as an example of the logical error termed the ecological fallacy.[59][60] However, diverging views have contested whether Durkheim's work really contained an ecological fallacy.[61]More recent authors such as Berk (2006) have also questioned the micro-macro relations underlying Durkheim's work.[62] Some, such as Inkeles (1959),[63] Johnson (1965)[64] and Gibbs (1968),[65] have claimed that Durkheim's only intent was to explain suicide sociologically within a holistic perspective, emphasizing that "he intended his theory to explain variation among social environments in the incidence of suicide, not the suicides of particular individuals."[66]
Despite its limitations, Durkheim's work on suicide has influenced proponents of control theory, and is often mentioned as a classic sociological study. The book pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy.[67]
The duality of Human Nature is the opposition of the two following concepts: Soul VS. Body. (From a religious point of view) The Body is egoist and the Soul is Reasonable. These two concepts are in opposition and makes us the contradictory beings we are.

This opposition gives us the need for spirituality in order to bind them. (Or at least make them coexist peacefully.)

Durkheim call the duality of human nature: Homo Duplex. 

Durkheim thus returned to the conception of the duality of human nature first found in The Division of Labor:

... social man superimposes himself upon physical man. Social man necessarily presupposes a society which he expresses or serves. If this dissolves, if we can no longer feel it in existence and action about and above us. whatever is social in us is deprived of all objective foundation... Thus we are bereft of reasons for existence: for the only life to which we could cling no longer corresponds to anything actual; the only existence still based upon reality no longer meets our needs... So there is nothing more for our efforts to lay hold of, and we feel them lose themselves in emptiness.24
It is in this social (rather than the earlier. psychological) sense therefore that our activity needs an object transcending it; for such an object is implicit within our moral constitution itself, and cannot be lost without this constitution losing its raison d'être to the same degree.

Is nationalism a social movement?

My complete collection of Grad School Notes can be found here (Africa, IR, Ethnic Conflict, Economics, Writing, Islam, Comparative Politics).

To address whether or not nationalism is a social movement requires the examination of both terms’ definition in detail.  In this essay I argue that while nationalism generally meets many of the tenets of a social movement, its categorization as one depends on which theory of the origins of nationalism to which one ascribes.

Connor notes that most scholars define a nation as a group of people that share a common language, geographic territory or religion.  A primordialist would expand upon this definition and assert that nations are defined by groups of people that have the perception (if not the genetic reality) of “shared blood.”  In the majority of cases, these groups of similar people can also be called ethnicities.  When formal boundaries are drawn for a given ethnicity—this is effectively politics—a nation is created.  This process of creating a border and seeking self-determination by a mobilized common group of people is nationalism.  It nearly always involves conflict with another group.  Muller notes that most Americans are far more familiar with civic nationalism (i.e., a common geographic territorial identity as the definition of a nation) despite the fact that ethnic nationalism has been a far more prevalent occurrence globally, as well as throughout most of the United States’ own history.

A social movement is a group of people that band together with a specific goal (e.g., autonomy, equal rights) and a collective identity (e.g., Mormon, Black, Gay).  They occur most often when there is not a political or institutional means by which they can solve their grievances.  A group’s collective identity is important because one of the primary goals of a social movement is to push that identity to the forefront of the political establishment.   In parallel with their efforts for recognition and a public platform, their overall goals emerge as an organic product of their identity.  The process of mobilization itself is paramount as it is typically characterized by initial steps to raise public awareness of the problem (e.g., media, letter-writing campaigns, social media) and then by steps intended to provoke corrective action by a government (e.g., public demonstrations, strikes, marches, boycotts).  Typically successful social movements are nonviolent, especially when they aim to effect regime change.  Efforts to topple a regime qualify as social movements when there are no established mechanisms to change a state’s leadership (i.e., under a dictatorship or authoritarian regime).  Sharp successfully argues for a nonviolent strategy to overthrow a recalcitrant regime in his seminal work From Dictatorship to Democracy, a book that has become a playbook for social movements globally.  By espousing nonviolence, social movements avoid playing to a government’s strength—its monopoly on force.  Through defiance and disobedience—coupled with an overarching grand strategy—movements can provide the necessary pressure to achieve their goals.

The process of an ethnic group mobilizing for the common goal of their own nation certainly meets the cursory definitions of a social movement.  It often stands a separate, however, for several reasons.  Namely, the gap occurs because of the many competing theories for why nationalism occurs.  The primordialist explanation asserts nationalism occurs in an ancient, timeless plane that emerges out of fixed unchanging identities.  This slow and organic process does not match the mobilization elements and speed of a social movement.  The structuralist believes that the state makes the nation and that nationalism emerges as a product of modernity.  This idea of nationalism as a product of an environment ignores the role of people so crucial to a social movement.  Only the instrumentalist explanation matches the categorization of nationalism as a social movement.  Instrumentalists believe that the choices of people matter and that nationalism is a dynamic process that can occur quickly.  Ultimately, all three theories on the origins of nationalism have merit and can be substantiated empirically at various points in history.  The process of identifying the instances when nationalism was a social movement proves useful as it highlights the cases where a group did affect, promote and establish their own identity and nation.






































What role does ideology play in the establishment of a welfare regime?

My complete collection of Grad School Notes can be found here (Africa, IR, Ethnic Conflict, Economics, Writing, Islam, Comparative Politics).

In this essay I argue that ideology plays a critical role in the establishment of a welfare regime.  The modern welfare regime is inexorably tied to the ideology of liberalism, in stark contrast to its Marxist roots.  

In addressing the role of ideology within the creation of a welfare regime it is useful to define these terms.  An ideology usually develops when someone makes an observation about a phenomenon in society or history and creates a theory to explain it.  When this theory is transformed and becomes an explanation for everything—usually as a normative mindset—it becomes an ideology.  An ideology asserts that its worldview can explain any problem, conflict  or occurrence.   In its comprehensiveness then it is very useful but logically it can be very circular and unsatisfying.  Ideologies are most often characterized by an -ism (e.g., communism, marxism, objectivism, liberalism, fascism, feminism).  

A welfare regime is a government whose laws and policies seek to provide for some measure of the wealth (in the holistic sense) of the entire people.   Typically the elements of this welfare include shelter, security, education, health care and subsistence.  This idea’s ideological roots harken back to Hobbes’ conception of the social contract—the agreement by which people cede elements of their individual freedom for the good of the whole.  The abdication of rights transforms a person’s natural state from one that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” to one that emerges in concert with a state’s creation.  With only the church and private charities to provide for a population’s welfare prior to the emergence of the welfare state, Hobbes’ description of most people’s lives was an apt one.
The specific ideology that a state embraces plays a pivotal role in the development of its welfare regime.  Today this development is a foregone conclusion as nearly every state is a welfare one in some measure.  There are a plethora of catalysts for this progression but the most fundamental one is that of risk mitigation.  Failing to provide at least a modicum of welfare puts a state at risk for social instability and upheaval (from revolution), international economic decline (from competition) and strategic political decline (from global competitors).  If risk management is the primary influence on a welfare regime, then a state’s interpretation of social justice is an important secondary factor.  
While the modern (post World War II) welfare state is a product of liberalism’s influence on the tension between democracy’s conception of political equality and capitalism’s conception of economic inequality, its true roots are in Marxism.  The normative concept of class equality is a central underlying principle of a welfare regime.  Few states espouse the severe notion of class conflict as a sole driving force anymore but nearly all now recognize the insidious destabilizing effect of chasmic economic and political inequality.  When an ideology eventually disappears (and all do), it does so either because it failed or because everyone ended up believing it.  Whereas an idea like fascism failed, echoes of Marxism live on today.  

The liberalist notion that individual freedoms must be protected is the balancing factor that tempers the excesses of the capitalist market.  As Crepaz points out, this balance manifests uniquely in different states.  Sweden, Germany and the United States all place their baseline level of economic equality at different marks.  The width of an acceptable gap determines the level of welfare provisions by the state.  In these examples the aforementioned circular nature of ideology is instructive as Crepaz shows that even the liberal belief in individual freedom for all becomes tempered when the all includes people deemed to be outsiders.  The evolving notion of liberalism will continue to affect the level of welfare provided as states continue to embrace liberal democracy.  

Why do some scholars view popular sovereignty as the ‘dark side’ of democracy? Are they correct?



In this essay I argue that scholars’ assertions that the majority will of the people is the “dark side” of democracy are not without merit but that overall long-term stability is the most common product of democracy.  The coupling of robust liberalism with democracy serves to mitigate the deleterious effects of popular sovereignty.  

Popular sovereignty is the process by which a government derives its legitimacy from the will of its people.  This process is one indelibly tied to the idea of a democracy—a word whose etymology refers to the notion of the common people (with common used in the inclusive sense of the word) determining and controlling government rule and power.  The will of the people is then determined by elections.  It is from this important step that the roots of the darker side of democracy stem.  Holding elections means people necessarily organizing into groups, thereby mobilizing a population.  Anytime groups are formed, however, people are excluded and this exclusion becomes selective and carries consequences when tied to election results.  The actions that occur following this selective exclusion are the true “dark side” of democracy.  


While the origin of the term is much debated (Alexis de Tocqueville, John Adams, William McKinley have all used it in differing forms), the empirical truth of the “tyranny of the majority” is not.   This phrase points out that majority will should not be equated with moral rectitude.  The history of the United States is instructive as its majority consistently not only excluded, but persecuted, myriad groups of people (e.g., blacks, women, gays and native Americans).  None of this is to argue for dictatorship or authoritarianism; in these systems the will of all people outside the ruler’s inner circle is excluded and the population is left to the “tyranny of a minority.”  


Scholar Jackson-Preece expounds upon democracy’s evil shadow at length as she discusses ethnic cleansing as a ubiquitous tool used in the creation of a plethora of nation-states throughout the 20th century.  Following both world wars, the democratic victors approved and ordered the population transfers of ethnic populations en masse in successful efforts to create homogenous nation-states throughout Europe.  The relationship between holding democratic elections and a peaceful family being ripped from the farm on which their family has lived for generations requires a closer analysis of the true culprit—the process of democratization.  The mobilization associated with elections most often occurs along ethnic lines.  This ethno-nationalism always creates conflicts as groups struggle for power and security.  As Muller shows, the breakup up three massive empires following World War I required the creation of a slew of new nation-states.  The victors (to include President Woodrow Wilson) attempted to do this by realigning borders to ethnic populations (operating under the primordialist assumption that homogenous nation-states were the best solution).  This imperfect and imprecise process in turn created new minorities that needed or were forced to move.  The transfer process (after both world wars) was poorly supervised and even more ineffectively managed at the cost of millions of lives.  It is the burgundy blood of these deaths that color and darken democracy’s underbelly.  

Democracy’s underbelly is no darker, however, than that of any other form of governance.  Winston Churchill captured this sentiment well when he stated, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”  While the path to democratization did mean millions of deaths, its end state also produced a remarkable level of overall stability and lasting peace throughout Europe.  It is the process of creating a democracy that one must focus on to prevent a violent and destructive past from reoccurring.  In this process, an emphasis must be placed on establishing the tenets of liberalism.  In most cases this means creating the institutions and regulations (typically through a constitution) to protect the individual freedoms of all a state’s inhabitants.   Only through the injection of robust liberalism into the democratization process can, not only lasting peace and stability be achieved, but also a peaceful and humane transition process.  


Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Myth of Monolithic Islamism (Grad School)

 My complete collection of Grad School Notes can be found here (Africa, IR, Ethnic Conflict, Economics, Writing, Islam, Comparative Politics).     

For most of the 20th century Islam, and its myriad political manifestations, has been widely misunderstood (and misinterpreted) by most western governments and politicians.  Prior to two world wars and a slew of “lesser” regional ones, Islam’s existence in many Muslim societies was subjugated—or relegated to an afterthought—by colonial governments and the international community (i.e. the League of Nations and the United Nations).  With independence, however, a wide range of differing approaches to governance emerged, sparking an evolution in thought as to Islam’s value, stature and relevance in Muslim societies that continues today.  An analysis of this Islamic worldview may prove a useful tool for policymakers to better interact with and understand many Muslim states.  How have Islamists viewed the general Muslim condition in society over the last hundred years?  How have they diagnosed the associated problems of the conjoining of Islam and government?  What solutions have they offered and pursued?  I argue that the Islamist evaluation of the Muslim condition at large has been and remains a nuanced response to political environments.  The wide array of local conditions and grievances has elicited a wide-range of solutions, some more permanent but all influential to this day.  I begin by defining Islamism within the context of 20th century, as well as its roots.  Then I examine key shifts in Islamism throughout the time period through a discussion of central Islamic revivalist figures.  This examination ends with the rise of radical Islamism, as well as responses to it. Finally, I evaluate the efficacy of the different approaches and the different solutions offered and realized.  In particular, I focus on Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Mawdudi in Pakistan.