Power and Politics in Today’s World – Office Hours 3: A New Global World Order?

(gentle electronic music) (knocks on door) – Good morning, Christina. So, here we are in our third Office Hours of the semester, and
what are the questions that have been coming up? – Yeah, so the first three questions that we received are conceptual, and this is because students
were wondering about clarifying different
concepts for the papers that are due on Sunday. So, the first one is on Hirschman’s theory on exit, voice, and loyalty, and whether you could, again, go over that theory a little bit? – Sure, so Hirschamn’s book was famous because it was the first
analytically precise and insightful treatment of how organizations respond to decline. And he had these three categories:
exit, voice, and loyalty. Exit and voice are, to some extent, simpler to understand, in that there’s something
of a trade-off between them. So, if you think about, if
you own shares in a company and you don’t like what they’re doing, you can either go to shareholder’s
meetings and complain and try and get them to
change their practices, or you can just sell your
shares in that company and buy shares in some other company that’s run in a way that you prefer. And so, to some extent,
there’s a trade-off between exit and voice,
and in a case like that obviously, if you don’t have
any particular emotional ties to the firm, or anything like that, it’s just much easier to exit, rather than spend the
time and so on on voice. However, if you do have
some commitment to the firm then you might view things differently, if you know, maybe it was
started by your family before it went public, and
you’ve got a commitment and you wanted to see
it do the right thing. Or, your university is
investing it, in the firm, as part of its endowment, you might have reasons to exercise voice. But then, you’re choosing to bear the costs of participation,
in order to get something done for those sorts of reasons. But another reason that the exit voice alternatives are worth attending to, particularly when we’re
thinking about politics is that they often encapsulate the power dynamics within organizations. So, again, if you think about a firm, yes, shareholders can easily exit, but employees might not be able to, because the costs of getting
up and moving are very high. You’ve got to relocate your family, you’ve got to get another job, there might not be another job, and so on. And so, for an employee, voice
might be really important, if you’re unhappy with the way management is treating you, and so on. And so, often, trying to understand the power dynamics within an
organization, what we look at is differential capacities for exit. And we talked about some of that with respect to, for example,
the provision of Medicaid. We talked about that
earlier in the course. That if the people who making decisions about how much to spend on Medicaid are not gonna actually use Medicaid, then they have, you know,
very different stakes. Loyalty is a more complicated notion, because, on the one hand,
if you have a lot of loyalty to an organization, they have good reasons to listen to you, because
they know you care about it, they know you want to make it better. And so, your complaints
about what’s going on should be taken seriously. On the other hand, if you’re known to be loyal to an organization, you don’t have a credible threat to exit, because they’ll say, “Well, he’ll never go
anywhere, he’s a lifer.” And so, Hirschman’s treatment of loyalty is much subtler for those reasons, and doesn’t offer clear trade-offs in the way exit and voice do. – Thank you. And a student was wondering whether this theory only
applies to the elite? But, it clearly doesn’t, from the examples – Absolutely not.
– that you have mentioned. – Yeah, it applies to anybody. – Yeah, exactly, thank you. So, the second conceptual question is on your lecture on privatization of the military and prisons. And, I know you said that this
isn’t really privatization, but actually a contracting
out of a government monopoly, and you use Weber’s
definition of the state. So, students were wondering
whether you could go over again, what Weber’s definition is, and how it applies here in this case. – Yeah, so Weber defined a state as exercising a monopoly
on the legitimate use of coercive force within
a given territory. And, that sort of flows out of the idea that goes all the way back to Hobbes, that power is a natural monopoly, and if you don’t have it
exercised as a monopoly, you get civil war. And so, you get competing
militias fighting for control. We’re gonna be talking about
Lebanon after October break. Lebanon and Libya both, Lebanese in the 80s,
and Libya, since 2011, both instances where you have a breakdown of the monopoly of coercive force, and it results in civil war. So, that’s the notion of the state, in order to be effective, has to be able to exercise a monopoly of coercive force. And, when we talk about failed states, we’re essentially talking about states where that monopoly is incomplete or seriously challenged. What I was saying about privatization of prisons and the military is actually a somewhat different point. Which is that people talk about it as privatization, but really, they’re not
privatizing, ultimately, the decisions to lock people up, or the decisions to
fight or not fight wars. Those remain decisions of the government. And so, the government is contracting out the implementation of those decisions. So, the government remains the principle, and the contracted out
activity is done by the agents. But, that’s different from a government selling off British Rail, say, or selling off council houses to tenants, as the Thatcher government
did in the 1980’s. Then, your government’s just
getting out of the business of an activity altogether, and turning it over to the private sector. That’s what most people have in mind when we talk about privatization, and that is not what we’re doing, when we’re so-called privatizing
the military and prisons. – Right, thank you. So, the third question then, is on your lecture on South Africa, and I know you talk about the “k group” of certain businesses in South Africa that were able to overcome
a collective action problem. And, you said that they were
okay with others free riding on kind of, their collective
action and their steps. – Right, so this idea of a k group, we owe to a political theorist by the name of Russell Hardin. Not to be confused with Garrett Hardin, who’s famous for the
“Tragedy of the Commons”, which is another
collective action problem, perhaps better known
than the k group idea. But, the notion of a k group is that when you have a collective action problem, the nature of the problem is that nobody’s got an interest in providing or contributing to the
provision of a collective good, because they know others will
free ride on it if they do. So, the rational thing
to do is, essentially, not provide it, not
participate in its provision. And so, for the game
theorists in the room, this is the prisoner’s dilemma writ large. And so, what the idea of a k group is, well, if you have a
small number of players that dominate a market. If they can get together and solve their collective
action problems, maybe they know each other, they have ways of building
trust among one another. To put it in the language of economists, the surplus that is
generated will be big enough that it’ll still be worth it to them to provide the collective good, even knowing that the little
players are gonna free ride. And so, that was the story
when Mike Spicer said you could get nine people around a table, and you had basically the
whole South African economy or the commanding heights of
the South African economy. If those nine people could decide to provide a collective good, namely support the transition
to a democratic order, and bear the costs of doing that, fighting it out in shareholder’s meetings, dealing with recalcitrant employees, and maybe, you know,
some of the subsidiaries who didn’t want to go along. I mean, this wasn’t easy. But if they decided, you
know, they can do it, the benefits are gonna be so great that even though there will be some, some free riding by the
other smaller players, it’s still worth it to them. So, that’s the notion of a k group. – Great, thank you. So, the next few questions are
on South Africa’s transition. And, the first one is on thinking about this uneasy alliance between the IFP and the
Africana Right Wing. And, how do we tell the difference between sort of intraspace
divider dollar strategies versus ideal-based ethnic
self-rule approaches? Because here, these two dimensions seem to somewhat overlap, and
how do we pull them apart and make sense of the strange coalition? – So, that’s a hugely
interesting question. And, oftentimes they do overlap, and they might live in less
tension with one another, when they’re part of a blocking coalition than when they’re part
of an enabling coalition. So for example, what Inkatha and the right wing whites shared in common was that, for part of
a blocking coalition, they wanted to stop the transition, but that didn’t mean
that they really agreed on what they did want afterwards, and indeed had, you know,
had there been a partition that ultimately satisfied Inkatha, it wouldn’t necessarily have satisfied the right wing white separatists. Their demands changed over time because first they thought they could stop the transition completely, then when it became clear
after Bophuthatswana that the military was
behind the transition, and they weren’t gonna stop it, they started talking about
carving out a white homeland. Wasn’t clear where it was gonna be, so they didn’t know, so in other words, the effect of blocking coalition may not be an effective
enabling coalition. The place we see this also
is in the Brexit debate. The blocking coalition is
not an enabling coalition, so you know, part of
the Brexit constituency is far right conservatives who want, you know, they want Singapore on the tens, they want a hard charging pro-market policy. And then on the left
wing of the labor party, they really want socialism in one country. They want to be able to
have a more status agenda than you can achieve in Europe. And so, and we also saw this
in Greek opposition to the EU. The far left and the far right, they’re opposed to the
EU but that’s about it, but they’re not in
favor of the same thing. So, blocking coalitions
and enabling coalitions are not the same thing. And enabling coalitions
involving identity politics are hard to hold together, because it tends to
not be divisible goods. And so they can’t make
deals and compromises. So it’s harder to do
things than to stop things. – Right. So lets talk about the ANC for a bit, initially the ANC had
demands for socialism, but they dropped them along the way. And is this decision best
understood as a pragmatic shift? Kind of for the sake of
reaching the end of Apartheid, or was it more of a genuine shift in political economic ideals, and maybe also the leaders
of the ANC thinking that they could be part of
some capitalist elite, and then benefit from these new realities. – So is also an excellent question, and the answer is, it wasn’t
the same for everybody. It was some of both, and differently in
different constituencies. I think that, at the time, you know, we’re still
talking about what I’ve been, in the course, calling
“The Early Post-Cold War”, up through the financial crisis of 2008, and this is when the Washington
Consensus was ascendant, and surely it was true that
many white business elites were firm believers in
the Washington Consensus, and wanted South Africa
to be able to participate, for the brick to become the
bricks, as it ultimately did. And so they believed in that
as a matter of ideology. What I think is more complicated
is the part your posing, why did the ANC go so
quickly abandon it’s RDP, and get, embrace this program called GEAR, which was a standard, neo-liberal
Washington Consensus diet. So some of it was that
they were persuaded, at least some of the ANC
economic elites were persuaded, and also it is the case that while, particularly the ANC
who had been imprisoned, had tended to be on Robben
Island for decades and so on, they had tended to have
more ossified views. The ones that had been in
exile had been influenced by a whole range of opinions
outside in the world, they weren’t isolating the same way. So, and somebody like Mbeki, we saw when the ultimately
became president, that he was very much a
technocrat in the Western mold. But I think that the, it is
fair to say that at the time many people underestimated the connections between the ANC and big business. And I can give you a
little anecdote about this, that I didn’t draw the right
conclusions from at the time, but in retrospect I can tell that I missed
something important. So, in the course of the transition, those years, between 1991 and 1992, when the terms of the deal
were being hammered out, sometimes in these public
forums, and sometimes in secret, as I discussed in the lecture. They started having a series
of meetings of academics and politicians, political party people, and, a lot of, they had a lot of them. And I went to one or two of them, and they were being facilitated
by a group called IDASA, which no longer exists, the Institute for a
Democratic South Africa kind of think-tank, and I can remember this one meeting, which was gonna be on party finance, and political parties more generally, in that IDASA had held in Pretoria, and I was one of the academics present, and it was one of these situations where you’re only gonna
be able to say one thing, you know, they had all
the political parties, and there were five or
six of the parties then, this was before the elections so even the small parties were treated with more seriousness, or what would become the small parties were treated with more seriousness, than they might have
been at the elections. So anyway, when it came to my turn, I said well, “I think
the most important thing is that parties need to divulge where they get their funding.”. For reasons that you might glean from the lecture on money in politics that we gave in the US context. And we went around the room, and everybody said this
was unexceptionable. The National Party people, even the various right wing parties, even the Pan-African as Congress people, who you know, their slogan was, “One settler, one bullet”,
they were on the far left of the militant side of
liberation, and they all said fine. It came to the ANC and the person blew up. Went berserk, and said
this is trying to recreate the power of the white
elites, and so forth, so, it didn’t really make any sense. And I was puzzled by it, but
I think that subsequently, what I missed, was that the
ANC did not want it known how much they were being
funded by white big business. Even back then, I think they were getting
a lot of financial support at the time, and they didn’t
want to have to divulge that. And so the critics of the, and I think it’s sort of emblematic, that the critics of what
was ultimately negotiated think that you know, white
South Africans got the deal, that white elites got the
deal that they wanted, because they were able to
stay in their fancy houses with their servants and so on, and essentially their
privatized police forces, in their gated communities,
and the quid pro quo was the creation of a black elite, but not much other
transformation of the economy, or certainly not as much
as people were anticipating at the time. And that little meeting
about party funding, in retrospect that I realize,
really encapsulated the issue. – That’s very interesting. Thank you. So, I know we talked in detail
about about the importance of luck, leadership, and legitimacy in South Africa’s transition, and you use the case of Israel
and Palestine to kind of look at how these three
factors are absent, and students are wondering
whether you could also talk about the Northern Ireland case,
on these three issues. – Yes, so I mentioned Northern Ireland more briefly in the lecture, but, so if we think about luck,
leadership and legitimacy, they’re all relevant. I think I said that
when Gerry Adams emerged as the leader of the
IRA, many people said, “oh this is a different kind of leader.”. He walks around in a suit and tie and he talks like a regular politician, maybe that could, this is,
you know, in the 1980s, maybe there could be a settlement now. But they couldn’t for luck
reasons, for contingency reasons, and the main one was that
the Conservative party in Westminster was dependent upon the Union vote in Northern
Ireland for its majority. So, you know, far from the
status quo being a wasting asset, the status quo was indispensable to their government in power. There was no question that, there was absolutely no question, that there wasn’t going
to be any real change in Britain’s dealing with the IRA. While you have a conservative government, in fact you know they
used to be called the Conservative and Unionist Party. Dependent on Northern
Ireland for its majority. 1997, Tony Blair wins, the
labor party is not dependent, so then the contingency
things have changed, then it matters whether there’s a leader that is willing to negotiate
and make a settlement, and in this case they eventually reached the Good Friday Agreement, which is at least a partial settlement. How much legitimacy has it had? It’s a tough call, and legitimacy is a much more
difficult thing to measure. I like to think of the
definition of legitimacy as, you know a circumstance is legitimate if people could violate it, and violate the rules
and get away with it, but they choose not to. So they accept that there is
something right about the rules legitimate about the rules,
that they should obey, even though they could
get away with not obeying. And, it’s very difficult
to study that empirically, I mean for example, most of the, if you look at the violence
in Northern Ireland, my impressionistic sense, I haven’t gone over the data
with a fine-toothed comb is, that the main thing that’s
actually affected violence in Northern Ireland, has been the health of the
Southern Irish economy. And so, in the run-up
to the financial crisis, when everybody was talking
about the Celtic Tiger, and you know, the Irish economy was the best performing economy in Europe, in the run-up to the financial crash. And, the violence in the North went to zero, for practical purposes. And you know, one possible interpretation of that is that the Northern Irish Protestants started to think you know,
an eventual re-unification with this juggernaut thriving
economy wouldn’t be so bad. And after the collapse, actually, the violence started to come back. And, there are now a number
of people who think that if, if the Brexit occurs in a way that does not keep Ireland, both in, with the no bordature
to the UK and in the EU, the violence will increase. So it may not have very little, the incidence of violence
may have very little to do with the concept of legitimacy, and there might be a more materialist or interspace explanation, and it’s hard to study because the two are
observationally equivalent. – Thank you, so our last question on South Africa’s transition is one on mediation. And you mentioned that Henry
Kissinger and Lord Carrington tried to mediate the
conflict but they failed. And, so students were
wondering, under what conditions is mediation a useful tool? And can you point us toward
any success cases in history? – So I think it’s mostly,
mediation can only work if all the elements of
an agreement are present. And it, you know, it’s a
little bit of mis-description of what happened with the
Carrington-Kissinger commission. It was really the Consultative
Business Movement people who were of the view that they were very close to an agreement, and if only the talking
could be facilitated by an outside group might sort of, you know, break the ice,
and they could get to yes. And when they asked Kissinger
and Carrington to come, they were very skeptical, because I think to outsiders
it didn’t look like, you know as we saw from the lecture, Johannesburg was seething with violence, and, didn’t look at all like it
was close to an agreement. And, so when they came, they only, I think they
stayed a day and a half before they started packing up. They said you know, I think they thought
they had been deceived. So it’s not that they really tried, they just came and said that
these people are so far apart there’s not gonna be a settlement, and there’s nothing
that we can do about it. And they packed up and left. And I think for the most part, outsiders are not going to, not gonna actually be able
to produce an agreement when it doesn’t exist. Another example is when Bill
Clinton in the Summer of 2000 tried to get an agreement
between Arafat and… Barak, no it wasn’t Barak, yeah it was Barak. He got no, and why? Because there was no support for it among Palestines or Israelis, and so you know, they were saying, “why can’t you make this agreement? You were ready to make it five years ago”, but the support had gone away, and there was nothing Clinton could do, because Arafat knew he
wouldn’t survive a week in Palestinian politics at that point, if he got behind the agreement. So, it’s very difficult
for outside players to actually produce an agreement. I think what they can do is, through mediation type processes,
they can help build trust. So, you know, I talked about the
Consultative Business Movement as trust-building between
the players in the country, but they were also
parallel to that in London a variety of meetings between ANC leaders and the white political
and business elites arranged through ConsCold and
some other companies in London to build trust, to get them to the point where they could make an agreement. But at the end of the day,
unless the elements are there on the ground, it’s not gonna happen. – Thank you. So our last question
for today is on the ICC, and you mentioned that
one critique about the ICC is that it is Eurocentric
and has pro-western biases, and students are wondering
whether this critique can be best understood as
an analysis of it ideals, its interests, or both. – So, for sure the idea behind
the ICC was pressed as ideals and interests,
the champions on it saw this as finally beginning to deliver on one of the promises for an
international court of justice that wouldn’t just be
victors, justice after wars, as with the Nuremberg trials, and other trials I
mentioned in the lecture, and wouldn’t just be ad hoc tribunals, but also for the incentive effects, for people to know, that if you engage in serious
human rights violations while you’re in power, you
can be held to account later and so the idea was the
incentive effects on the future. So even if it’s a very small
number of actual prosecutions, the knowledge that this
could be you would temper your propensity to engage
in human rights violations, if you’re in a position to do that. So that’s, that was
definitely ideas, ideals, that people have been talking about this in one form or another since 1919, and here it was finally institutionalized. How referrals are made depends, because there are so many
different ways in which referrals can be made to the ICC. And particularly as we saw, if you think about the critique of the US for voting to refer
Gadaffi to the ICC in 2011, when the US itself doesn’t
accept ICC jurisdiction. This is clear, raw, interspaced action, on the part of, in that case,
the Obama administration, now you could say, well,
the Obama administration had been moving in a direction
of cooperating with the ICC, even though they didn’t recognize it, but they had shown no sign
of actually subjecting the US to the ICC. So, in that sense, there’s
so many different ways that people can be referred to the ICC that you couldn’t have an
argument one way or the other, I think though, that the
harder question about the ICC is whether it, in fact,
creates the right incentives. Because, I mentioned the case of Idi Amin, part of the, this is back to Hirschman, part of the way it was negotiated that he would give up power and leave, was that he was gonna go
out his days in Libya, as it turned out. In a house, in the middle of nowhere. And so if transitions are
dependent on reducing exit costs, and amnesty arrangements,
the South African transition, people were promised there
would be an amnesty possibility, which was subsequently institutionalized though the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission. That lives in obvious tension
with the ICC’s position, that people are going to
be held to account later. And indeed, by the way, in order to get amnesty in the South African amnesty, TRC, one of the things you’ve had to establish was that you’re actions came
from a political motive. So, it’s not a tension, it’s
a flat out contradiction. And so, I think that’s the
hardest question about the ICC that underscores a truth that we’ve seen in other
contexts in this course, that good things don’t always go together. – Right. Thank you, that’s it for this week.

Maurice Vega

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment