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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Notes on Patrimonialism in Africa (Theobald, Bach, Pitcher and Moran)

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

Notes on Patrimonialism in Africa (Theobald, Bach, Pitcher and Moran)

Embedded and pasted below are notes on patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism from the following three articles:

Robin Theobald, “Patrimonialism,” WorldPolitics 34, 4 (July, 1982), 548-559


Patrimonialism is a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader. Essentially, this constitutes the blending of the public and private sector. These regimes are autocratic or oligarchic and exclude the upper and middle classes from power. The leaders of these countries typically enjoy absolute personal power. Usually, the armies of these countries are loyal to the leader, not the nation.  They maintain power through the use of political favors in what is characterized as a “patron-client relationship”

Neopatrimonialism is a term used for patrons using state resources in order to secure the loyalty of clients in the general population, and is indicative of informal patron-client relationships that can reach from very high up in state structures down to individuals in say, small villages.

Patrimonialism” – Robin Theobald

The author describes the prevalence of patrimonialism in present society (1982).  She argues that it is very common.  She further argues that some states are merely patrimonial societies that exist as “private instruments of those powerful enough to rule,” and labels the Thai government as an example of this belief. (pg 549).  Theobald goes on to state that patrimonialism may be ideal for the development of certain nations.  King Hassan II of Morocco achieved a monopoly over political appointments by continuously bribing or providing favors to opposition groups in order to hold on to his position.
The author goes on to state that the prevalence for patrimonialism dwindles when a nation becomes more industrialized at which point affluence can be attained by methods other than “who you know,” and more along the lines of “what you know.”  Examples of modern patrimonialism include Kennedy appointing long-time friends to governmental positions or Obama using federal funds to support Solyndra after their campaign contribution.  In effect, the author is NOT stating that patrimonialism is bad, only that it exists everywhere (in some locations it is merely less obvious).

Theobald references a Riordan Roetts study of Brazil and notes that the only way a minority party has maintained its political control is through the delving out of public employment positions, the use of resources on the construction projects of favorable associates, and/or the exchange of substantive favors.  The main threat to a patrimonial state is the mobilization of the urban sector that receives no favors from the president/sultan/king.  She argues that ALL societies are patrimonial to some extent, as a side effect of bureaucracy.   3rd world countries are most often associated with patrimonialism because its presence is considerably more overt/obvious. (pg 553)  The article goes on to list Mali, Indonesia, Congo, and Egypt as examples of nations that are characterized as “patrimonial.”

Theobald finishes by stating “the consolidation of modern state power was indissolubly linked with the expansion of trade and the diffusion of capitalism.”(pg 556)  A patrimonial bureaucracy thus is the administrative instrument of an underdeveloped economy with limited trade and a large subsistence sector. The limited penetration of commercial transactions in such an economy constitutes a serious impediment to the appropriation of resources by the center, and hence to the development of an efficient "modern" administration.” (pg 557)
Basically, patrimonialism is the only way for a country to develop itself when there is no good method for taxing the public and using tax revenues to develop the nation.

“Patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism: comparative trajectories and readings” – Daniel C. Bach (2011)

Article addresses neopatrimonialism’s prevalence in the politics of Africa.

Cameroon was the first nation to apply neopatrimonialism (in the 1970s) as a means of combating “underdevelopment.”   The author notes that Cameroon, in the 1970s, was an authoritarian state, with President Ahidjo staying in power through “monopolistic control over the state” and using his position as “a source of opportunities for family, friends and clients.” (p 276)

The article goes on to further delineate patrimonialism from neopatrimonialism by stating something very similar to the definitions at the beginning of this document.  He goes on to add that neopatrimonialism, unlike traditional patrimonialism, exists with bureaucratic systems and at least a pretense of legal/rational state governmental legitimacy. (pg 277)
Bach then distinguishes between two extremes of neopatrimonialism.  Both forms undercut ethics but one seeks mutual accommodation to advance development (while still allowing the political elites to hold on to power)
1.   Regulated neopatrimonialism –a somewhat regulated form whereby public space and public policy is still an important aspect of the society. (examples include Kenya in the 1960-70s & Cote d'lvoire from 1960-93)
2.   Predatory neopatrimonialism – a form in which the political elite primarily seek personal wealth and results in a failure of institutionalization and eventually the state (also called cronyism or kleptocracy) (examples include Uganda in the 1970s and Nigeria 1983-98)

The author believes that neopatrimonial states are weak, interfere with markets, depend on foreign powers (and foreign aid), and tend to be repressive and anti-developmental. (pg 281)  Indeed this belief was furthered by actions of Mobutu in Nigeria where the elites of the neopatrimonial state were chiefly bent 'on maintaining power and on privatizing public resources for personal gain or gain by [their] ethnic community.
Latin America, South East Asia and post-Communist European States are compared to Africa in their prevalence for neopatrimonialism.  The term “neopatrimonialism” was first coined when describing the authoritarian regimes in Brazil and Argentina in the latter half of the 20th century.  The difference between Africa and Latin America was that African cases sometimes had more developmentally focused (regulated neopatrimonialism) that wasn’t seeking the total breakdown of institutionalism (dissolving the department of public works, education, health, etc).  Indonesia, under General Suharto (1967-98) was more of a regulated neopatrimonial state while the Philippines were more of a predatory neopatrimonial state.  Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan are further examples of predatory patrimonialism that hindered institutional development. 
In conclusion, the author states that neopatrimonialism can be beneficial but is most often associated with anti-developmental practices as it hinders the free-markets and promotion of social/public goods and services.

Rethinking Patrimonialism and Neopatrimonialism in Africa - Anne Pitcher, Mary H. Moran, and Michael Johnston (2009)

Article addresses neopatrimonialism as an often-misunderstood term that is improperly applied to numerous governments.

Weber described patrimonialism as a way that a ruler could establish legitimate authority by securing compliance from his subjects.  It was not a form of corruption or even an indicator of a weak state.  It was merely a specific form of authority and source of legitimacy stemming from a societies’ allegiance to an individual (versus the office, such as the office of the president or allegiance to uphold the constitution)

The authors argue that patrimonialism is incorrectly used to describe both regimes and numerous types of authority (even democracies).  Patrimonial legitimacy derives its force from the voluntary compliance of subjects with domination by their rulers, which is very different from the domination deployed against slaves, and even from the threat of joblessness used against free workers in industrial capitalist countries.  Patrimonialism is a significant element of the most industrialized nations today, “without undermining democratic processes or economic development.” (pg 3) Additionally, patrimonialism does not lead to neopatrimonialism or vice versa.  Both forms exist and form independent of each other.

            Many nations in Africa were prone to patrimonial rule due to ancestral practices.  Symbolic traditions, such as the transfer of power from a hunted panther to a new chief through the chief’s consumption of the killed panther, created an environment where rulers were both revered and feared in a paternal relationship with society.  The father would forgive while the chief would punish.  (See example of pg 4 of the document)

“Ironically, while patrimonialism is said to cement social bonds in small-scale situations through a reliance on trust, reciprocity, and material exchanges, it is believed to distort power, corrupt authority, and fuel personal aggrandizement when it permeates larger political institutions such as bureaucracies and states.” (pg 6)  Unfortunately, patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism is applied too frequently when describing leaders, regimes, and systems that have poor leadership or undergo economic stagnation.  This has resulted in scholar labeling every African state as patrimonial or neopatrimonial at one time or another, a gross miscalculation in the authors view. 

“Underdeveloped states typically have bureaucracies in which individuals rely on public office to secure private gain because such states lack the institutional arrangements necessary to provide a consistent source of revenue to the state.  Without a stable revenue stream with which to pay its officials, the state fails to create a professional and credible bureaucratic apparatus; officials rely on personal networks for power and funds, thereby creating patrimonial bureaucracies.” (pg 9)  Some scholars believe that patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism are results of a colonial legacy. 

In the case of Botswana, the authors argue that neopatrimonial authority is compatible both with high levels of legitimacy and with economic development. (pg 10)  The leadership assumed a patrimonial authority, but used it to further empower the government through economic and infrastructure development.  The Botswana example demonstrates that “there is nothing inherent in patrimonialism to prevent the creation of a democracy by leaders determined to do so.” (pg 25)

Misinterpretation of Weber has resulted in numerous scholars associating neo and traditional patrimonialism as the cause for stagnant economies or failed governments.  The authors contend that true patrimonialism involves reciprocity between the rulers and the subjects with rulers beholden to the publics overall well being.  Finally, the authors state that scholars might be better served by labeling governments by what they really are: authoritarian regimes, dictatorships, or some form of democracy. (pg 26)