Evidence of Authoritarianism in Egypt Report
Authoritarianism in Egypt has been witnessed through the state control of resources which are crucial in decision making and economic emancipation. This is left in the hands of few elites with little regard of the ideologies they hold leading to poverty and corrupt politics.
Authoritarian rule in Egypt has nurtured a perception that a small number of experts is capable of using a central approach in carrying out economic planning and making correct choices on behalf of an entire country’s population (Egypt, 2006). According to the authoritarian leaders of Egypt, central control is important in ensuring equal distribution of economic resources.
However, the authoritarian rule benefits the political class since they are capable of evading poverty associated with the system. They have the ability to secure favor from the government for their own gains. This has greatly contributed towards the revolution and uprising that has been witnessed in Egypt (Egypt, 2006).
Mubarak and his authoritarian government have come up with many strategies to suppress Egyptians. For instance, social welfare organizations have been barred from offering service to the citizens who have been adversely affected by poverty and political marginalization.
Among the repressive laws constituted is the emergency law which makes the 1971 constitution useless. Authoritarian rule has also been accused of imprisoning politicians and making use of military courts in convicting civilians .
Although the type of rule in Egypt is not explicit military dictatorship, it could be termed as an authoritarian system backed by the military. Mubarak has served as an air force officer in the past thus he has full backing of the military and other security organs.
He is always assured of the support of these organs whenever he requires them. Such support is used by the government in the wrong way to continue ruling the country in an authoritarian manner.
Egypt. (2006). In S. Tatic & C. Walker (Eds.), Countries at the Crossroads: A Survey of Democratic Governance. Plymouth, UK: Freedom House. Web.
The Persistence of Authoritarianism Before the Uprisings Essay
The Political Culture and Its Critics
Considering the outcome of the Cold War, it is interesting to see that the Arab world still lacks democracy. This becomes especially evident when assessing the global impact on worldwide values and institutions that can be attributed to the winners (Anderson 77). The problem, in this case, consists in the fact that historians and social scientists tend to interpret the events in terms of what might have been instead of analyzing the events that actually took place. For the majority of historians, democracy is still an exception, and they prefer to favor it to other aspects of political culture and certain pivotal events (Anderson 77).
Another problem with political culture consists in the fact that many Arab countries have failed to embrace the perversity and have ended up triggering ignorance in most of their citizens. One factor that should be widely criticized is the desire researchers have to explain the inability to install a democratic apparatus by means of citizens’ wrongful behavior (Anderson 77). Another issue relates to the differing attitudes toward democracy, as well as its implementation. This relates to a number of objective conditions that must necessarily be in line with the economic condition of a country, along with the presence of international support (Anderson 78).
The majority of social researchers consider Middle Eastern countries to be democratically challenged, but this supposition is generally not supported by an extensive body of evidence. The phenomenon of this biased and preconceived notion can be explained by the nonstop search for democracy that goes on in Middle Eastern countries (Anderson 78). Overall, the key concepts of Arab political culture must be considered underdeveloped, and more research in this area is needed.
To expand on this topic, one of the factors that define the nation-state relationship is a people’s attitude toward their leader (in this case, Assad is a perfect example). This particular relationship between the leader and the public is expressed by the compliance of the latter. The community tends to be obedient, and the Syrian people see nothing wrong in glorifying Assad because, for them, he is the definition of the state (Wedeen 512).
Regardless, in addressing this issue, it will become evident that Assad’s virtues are being praised by the Syrian people because of the ideas that the leader puts in their heads. These concepts seriously impact the way people talk, use their imagination, and formulate any statements regarding the country and its leader. Therefore, the verbal practices promoted by the regime lead to a kind of propaganda that is intended to gain as many followers as possible (Wedeen 514).
The authority of the Syrian regime consists of the fact that the governmental apparatus sustains deceit in order to make the community obedient and leaves the Syrian people no choice when it comes to speaking or acting. If we address the issue objectively, it becomes obvious that Assad is so commanding, in fact, because the Syrians themselves make him so. According to numerous reviews of the regime, Assad is not a charismatic leader who possesses certain paranormal supremacy, but he still manages to make the Syrian people obedient, simply by imposing his deceptions on them (Wedeen 514). It is interesting how this quality of Assad makes people follow him obediently and servilely.
Institutional and Politicoeconomic Explanations
The intrinsic part of the democratically challenged regimes in Middle Eastern countries consists in the fact that these states are influenced by their authoritarian governance. Despite popular opinion, it is not the absence of the fundamental principles of democracy that interferes with the implementation of a democratic social organization. On a larger scale, the problem is generated by the stubbornness of a political apparatus that is too authoritarian to let democracy slip in (Bellin 152).
This stubbornness is uniquely reflected in a variety of Middle Eastern countries. To say the least, an ample and intimidating authority is present in the region, and that is one of the key contributors to the existing political regime. Even after the Cold War, authoritarian regimes in Middle Eastern countries were supported by local communities and were found to comply with Western apprehensions about security. The most important factor, among others, is the persuasive and inevitable presence of patrimonialism (Bellin 152).
If we perceive these factors as a whole, it will become obvious that any sort of democratic reform is not possible due to the reinforcement of a strong-armed political apparatus. The majority of Middle Eastern states are paying close attention to the significance of organizational reforms. The ability of these states to convert to democracy is still limited by their exposure to the authoritarian outlook of the ruling classes.
Nonetheless, this is an important lesson for Middle Eastern countries because the implementation of democracy is blocked by the patrimonial organization of their governments. It is safe to say that an authoritarian state is bound to endure in such circumstances. The problem consists in the fact that all democratic initiatives are easily overturned by the will and power of the elites in a regime (Bellin 152). It is not likely that a democratic regime will be installed in any of the Middle Eastern countries at any time soon, and international investments are one of the key reasons.
Regardless, the situation is not hopeless as there are certain changes that may trigger the implementation of democracy in the region. First, the development of a unified democratic institution may become a successful organizational model. In the case of Lebanon, this would be difficult because this country suffers from a critical fragmentation of authority, and its political factions are somewhat complex (Diamond 102).
In addition, it is hard not to mention that the Syrian government is affecting Lebanese politics to a serious degree. Moreover, the perceptions of the region could change if US forces were to be extracted from Iraq. In perspective, this would help the government to elect democratic authorities and stabilize the climate in the region. The situation in Egypt is also complicated due to Mubarak’s legacy, making it unclear what will happen with the regime in the future. It is evident, though, that his inflexible authority leftovers will have to be adapted to a new political scheme. The second transformation implies that US engagement in Middle Eastern political dealings should be reduced as much as possible (Diamond 102). This means that the majority of the states in the region should aim to implement democratic reforms.
The positive impact on governmental transparency will be immediately noticeable, and society will become more civil. The problem is that these positive changes are not being implemented gradually, and this puts serious pressure on domestic political forces, which may ultimately become discouraged and confused. One of the main obstacles on the path to democracy is the homogenous attitude of the United States toward Islamic political factions, as well as the inability to expose them to the benefits of the democratic regime.
The question is whether Middle Eastern countries are eager to reduce oil prices in order to find new options for political bargaining. While such countries as Iraq will not be put under pressure, Iran and Algeria will be hit by problems related to Arab minorities and Arab democratic outlooks (Diamond 102). The withdrawal of the Islamist regime will become a key supporting factor in a democratic transition, but one should take into consideration the exceptional nature of Middle Eastern politics.
The Role of Civil Society and the Public Sphere
The process of state formation and privileges of social organization are two of the core arguments for the future transformation of the existing political regime. The Arab working class is not static, and this is highlighted by the fact that even after the events of 1980, the regimes in Kuwait and Syria remained reluctant at the social base despite the development of the society-state relationship (Moore and Salloukh 71).
Currently, the middle class has been expanded by several new groups that do not belong to either the opposition or the government’s social base. It is interesting to observe how Sunni and Shia are entering the areas (in the Gulf states) that have been commonly held in reserve for the representatives of the regime. The line between the outcasts and social bases of the regime is gradually becoming blurred, and this is leading to certain complications.
Logically, the factors that previously subsidized the development of the private sector and relationships between businesses and the government became the reason why the regime is being transformed (Moore and Salloukh 71). The question is whether these new groups will be “accepted” by the professional associations located in the Middle East. The political future of these new societal clusters is also questionable because the government tends to consciously manipulate the principles of autonomy and liberty.
Another point is that authoritarianism is commonly perceived as speculation that transpired due to the consequences of the crisis. The ultimate outcomes hint at the fact that any change in the state is possible only on the basis of negotiated agreements. In other words, the standards and prospects of the parties involved in political dealings will not be exposed to the adverse consequences of inaccuracies and misperceptions (Moore and Salloukh 71).
As an example, we may use the situation in Kuwait, where the crisis that followed the succession of the emir was resolved in a timely manner owing to fruitful society-government relations and their positive collaboration. The makings of a diplomatic government are expected to help factions to resolve their arguments in a form of negotiations that are coordinated by society-government relations. It may also happen that the opposition will become dominant. In this case, the shift will be hurried and accentuated—and this would not be a good outcome by any measure (Moore and Salloukh 71).
While the members of the opposition have the opportunity to be demobilized and locked within constricted political environments, the future of democratic governments in the Middle East will be doomed due to the increased possibility of mistakes and misunderstandings. Even though the regimes are different, they are all subject to confusion linked to political parties and their opposition.
The Role of External Actors and Transnational Networks
When it comes to the influence of external actors, one of the major roles is given to the United States. Numerous authors believe that American policy should be revised to provide the Iraqi government with more freedom and eradicate authoritarianism (Blecher).
One of the claims regarding this issue revolves around the idea that even though the US government does not put any trust in democracy in the territory of Iraq, other Middle Eastern countries will be interested in implementing democratic principles if the Iraqi government does exactly that. History may repeat itself, but the United States tends to limit the possibility of choosing between regimes because the choice is not a reliable transformation mechanism. The most evident example is what happened in Iran in 1953 (Blecher).
The problem of choice, at the same time, is used to conceal the intentions of the United States, and the latter is not afraid to use military forces to impose US perspectives on the Iraqi government. While the outlook is optimistic, the discussions regarding democracy and its subsequent implementation remain vague (Blecher). It is safe to say that the process of democratizing Iraq will not be smooth. The administration of the United States is careful, though, because if Iraq chooses to become a democratic state, the interests of the United States will be disregarded. The traces of European democracy were not a positive asset for Iraq, either. The problem is that the Middle Eastern neighbors of Iraq have become US allies.
The majority of the conservative public, nonetheless, has made the right choice and joined forces with the United States. Their position is mainly reflected by the claims that almost all Middle Eastern countries do not realize the importance of the United States in the international arena and do not respect the US attempts to stabilize the climate in the region. One of the most evident signs of external influence is the fact the Middle Eastern researchers were repeatedly accused of “groupthinking.” The problem, actually, consists in the fact that it was Middle Eastern governments that pointed out the group-think inherent in Washington.
The reconstruction of the Iraqi government by means of Japanese or German political models is also questionable because the European democratic vision is not significantly influenced by the United States (Blecher). The willingness to improve the government in accordance with an American outlook is not on the Iraqi books, but it is evident that US military forces do significantly impact the balance of power. The problem of democracy in Iraq does not have a resolution yet, but the local adepts of democracy are still hoping for the best. The events of September 11 motivated the United States to return to world domination with new forces.
On a larger scale, no one tried to stop them because of global hesitation. This event turned the tables and destabilized relations between Middle Eastern countries and the rest of the world. The potential of becoming a group of democratic governments was almost wasted because of Hussein’s stubbornness (Blecher). We cannot remove the United States from the equation because one of the objectives of the American government has been to subjugate the country and remake it to their liking. This has not been the first time that the United States has introduced military forces to take over a foreign government. The problem of external influence endures, and there is an inconsequential chance of removing authoritarianism from the Middle Eastern political institutions.
Anderson, Lisa. “Democracy in the Arab World: A Critique of the Political Culture Approach.” Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World: Theoretical Perspectives, edited by Brynen et al., Rienner, 1995, pp. 77-92.
Bellin, Eva. “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective.” Comparative Politics, vol. 36, no. 2, 2004, pp. 139–157. Web.
Blecher, Robert. “’Free People Will Set the Course of History’: Intellectuals, Democracy and American Empire.” Middle East Report Online. 2003. Web.
Diamond, Larry. “Why Are There No Arab Democracies?” Journal of Democracy, vol. 21, no. 1, 2009, pp. 93–112. Web.
Moore, Pete, and Bassel F. Salloukh. “Struggles under Authoritarianism: Regimes, States, and Professional Associations in the Arab World.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 39, no. 2007, pp. 53–76. Web.
Wedeen, Lisa. “Acting “As If”: Symbolic Politics and Social Control in Syria.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 40, no. 1998, pp. 503–523. Web.
Asian Values and Authoritarianism Essay
Asian values refer to a concept developed in the in the second half of the 20th century, as way of justifying authoritarian regimes in Asia (Clammer 1992). It is based on the existence of beliefs and an extraordinary set of institutions, and political ideologies that are a reflection of the region’s rich culture and history. This concept has a more political inclination than a traditional affiliation as many would think (Clammer 1992). There is no single definition for this term owing to the varied backgrounds of its proponents. However, there are notable principles governing this concept. In particular, the concept concentrates on humanism, and family, national and corporation loyalty (Vittachi 1996). In other words, it is seen to put the society’s stability and prosperity as a priority over personal freedom. In addition, the concept encourages academic and technological excellence as well as work ethics and disciplined spending habits.
The concept discourages pluralism but encourages single party rule. The concept also works towards establishing social harmony and consensus and discourages dissent and confrontations (Vittachi 1996). In addition, the concept demands that people should prioritize the welfare of the community and not their individual rights. Individuals are supposed to show loyalty to the authorities like the government, teachers and parents (Clammer 1992). This concept tends to favor authoritarianism. On the other hand, authoritarian regimes are characterized by highly concentrated and centralized power safeguarded by political repression and deterrence of potential challengers. It employs arbitrary law as opposed to the rule of law (Othman et al. 2008). This form of governance is a characterization of informal and unregulated political power or leadership that is self proclaimed. This paper endeavors to critically analyze Mahathir Mohmad’s and Lee Kuan Yew’s debate on Asian values in their support of authoritarianism‘s suitability to Southeast Asia tradition.
A Brief History of the Political Significance Asian Values
The concepts of Asian values had gained popularity in the political circles of China, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia (Quah 19900. In Indonesia and Malaysia, this concept gained support from the natives because it brought harmony between various ethnic and religious groups in the two countries. Most importantly, this concept enhanced religious tolerance amongst the ethic communities in the two countries. Islam, the dominant Malaysian religion, Hinduism and humanism of the ethnic Chinese gained a tremendous interrelation as a result of Asian values. In addition, Asian values represented an original concept developed by the Asian communities and not borrowed from the West (Quah 1990).
The concept also gained solid popularity in some nationalist circles of Japan because it proved the maturity of Asian leadership. Throughout the 1960s and 1980s, tremendous growth was realized in the Southeast Asia owing to the embracement of the Asian values. Mahathir Mohmad was the prime minister of Malaysia during the economic renaissance period. On the other hand, Lee Kuan Yew was the prime minister of Singapore at that moment. These two leaders played a significant role in marketing Asian values. Lee argued that as much as the economic and political maturity influence a country’s growth, so does culture 9Quah 1990). Lee indicated culture plays an important role in enhancing a country’s growth when compared to economic and political maturity. It is regrettable that the concept of Asian values lost value following the financial crisis that threatened many Asian economies in the final years of the 20th century.
Singapore was a key British trading center. After its independence, Singapore joined the Malaysian federation in 1963. This union did not last for a long time because tensions arose between Singapore’s Peoples action Party and Malaysian ruling alliance party. Following its departure from the Malaysian federation, Singapore aimed to strengthen its sovereignty. Thus, it joined the United Nations and the commonwealth and started establishing diplomatic relationships with other nations. At the same time, Yew’s government began to establish internal legitimacy. Thus, in order to reduce ethnic tensions, a constitutional commission was established. The success of these strategies was boosted by the constant reminder by Lee to the people of Singapore and Southeast Asia at large to embrace the concept of Asian values. Lee explains that the Western and Eastern cultures are totally different and that what works in the East might to necessarily work in the West.
Lee suggests that Asian values are unique and they regard an individual not as a separate entity but as part of a family which is then part of the society. Lee notes that mere cultural prescriptions alone cannot capture the cultural role in encouraging economic growth. Lew cautions that cultures that do not focus on scholarship, thrift and hard work might encounter difficulties in cultivating economic growth. Lee further explains that Asian values encompass scholarship, thrift and hard work. He notes that Asian values have created a new route to economic prosperity that is inconsistent with democracy. The Asian values concept indicates that values like hard work and discipline are social structures that can be transferred to political structure. In real sense, Lee argues that Asian values concept is a rejection of modernization. Studies have shown that careful balancing of despotic and infrastructural capacity blocks modernization. The case of Singapore proves that maintaining non democracy in an advanced economy calls for a skillfully engineered control.
Mahathir Mohmad’s View on Asian Values and Authoritarianism
Mahathir, the former Malaysian Prime minister who sat on the throne from 1981 to 2003, was a key vocalist of the Asian values (Aziz 1990). Mahathir notes that Asian values concept is based on Malay-Islamic culture and it should be guarded to prevent its absorption by Western values. According to Mahathir, Malayness has three basic features namely traditional customs, Islam and feudalism (Aziz 1990). The former Malaysian prime minister stressed his point through his book titled, ‘The Malay Dilemma’. He argued that these features should be accepted as realities and perhaps adapted to current needs. Mahathir was against universalism and the Western liberal view of human rights. Mahathir believed that universalism and the Western view of human rights cannot corrupt Malaysian culture and religious beliefs.
Mahathir later realized that Western values are here to stay and launched a book titled ‘Look East’ in 1982, as a means of blocking the entrenchment of Western values in Malaysia and East Asia at large. During the United Malays national organization general assembly of 1982, Mahathir informed the congregation that they should look to the east and copy the diligence found there and drop Western values that they might have absorbed. Experts have branded the Malaysian view of Asian values as the Mahathir model to delink it from other models of Asian values like the Singaporean model that emphasizes on humanism and the Chinese model that blends Chinese, communist and Nationalist values (Koo 1995). Basically, the Mahathir model is characterized by Malay-Islamic values and as such, Mahathir championed the entrenchment of his model in Malaysia. Mahathir echoed Asian values despite the fact that the Islamic ethos of Malaysia differ significantly from the neo humanism of Singapore and other Sino centered countries in East Asia (Koo 1995). This model is influential in shaping government agendas. Stability and enforced social cohesion in a mixed society has been noted as a key component of Asian values.
Mahathir of Malaysia and Lee of Singapore echoed Asian values in the wake of democratization, flourishing economy and political stability of the early 1990s, before the economic crisis that emerged in 1997 which weakened East Asian economies. Mahathir’s perspective on Asian values is guided by three key features namely strong authority, a family based society and the prioritization of the community over the individual. On the other hand, Mahathir’s view on Asian values has one unique feature. Mahathir’s view tends to extract some lessons from Western values so as to compare the state and the society to modernity. Most importantly, Mahathir’s point of view seems to be as a result of numerous discussions on universalism and cultural relativism. On the other hand, it can be viewed as a model that discourages western imperialism but encourages the principle of strong governance and protection of the community.
It can be noted that Mahathir’s view on Asian values protects authoritarisim. Mahathir model encourages the protection of cultural values from interference by Western cultures. Mahathir indicates that economic growth can be achieved without undergoing modernization. However, modernization can be used to gauge the progress of any given society.
Lee Kuan Yew’s Debate on Asian Values and Authoritarianism
Yew’s explanation of Asian values indicates that cultural inclination which encourages respect for authority and hard work, allows East Asian country’s to pursue liberal economic policies without democracy (Barr, 2002). However, Lee is reluctant to call the experience in Singapore a model because it is not clear whether the development that Singapore experienced can be replicated elsewhere. Other regions like Taiwan and South Korea that had authoritarian regimes eventually embraced democracy. The discussion on whether Yew’s views on Asian values support Authoritarianism can be well understood when viewed in light of the developments that took place in the second half of the 20th century. Putting this in mind, it will be agreed that modernization eventually leads to democratization. Experts argue that the development of any given state is a reflection of the social and economic structure within that particular state. Proponents of modernization theory argue when incomes rise, a middle class develops that changes conditions of the middle class and the politic stratification (Barr, 2002).
Citizens of the middle class tend to associate with a number of competing political affiliations; features that result into cross cutting interests that eventually modernize the competing groups. According to Yew’s view of Asian values, culture is the underlying principle that governs the success of any given state (Lee 1998). Good Cultural practices encourage respect for human values and uphold traditions. East Asia is one of the regions in the world where culture is highly valued. However, as many regions around the globe, cultural values have been replaced by modernization owing to the influence by Western cultures. Although some cultural values are somewhat unnecessary, the overall aim of any given culture is to uphold human dignity and humanism (Lee 1998). Most of the cultures of the world have been significantly influenced by modernization. Modernization from the Western culture often comes along with democratization. However, Yew indicated that modernization can be embraced without necessarily eroding cultural value. Thus, Yew suggested that economic growth could still be realized without democratization that modernization and Western cultures bring (Lee 1998). During his tenure, Singapore realized tremendous economic empowerment. Yew attributed the success to the concept of Asian values. Yew argued that economic success could still be realized under non democratized societies (Quah 1990).
The Perspective of Asian Values in the 1990s
The initial debate on Asian Values in the early 1990s concentrated on the shared core values of the Asian region; collectivism and consensus (Pathmanaathan 1984). Apparently, collectivism and consensus differ from Western values which concentrate on liberalism values like upholding human rights, promotion of the freedom of speech and individuality. In addition, it should be noted that Asia has a huge cultural and religious diversity. However, the core values of the concept of Asian values are three namely consensus, collectivism and shared values (Pathmanaathan 1984). The wide cultural diversity in Asia has led to the emergence of different inflections of the Asian values. This has caused various ethnic and religious groups in the Asian population, to have varied definitions of Asian values.
In the early 1990s, the discussion on Asian values was brought into the lime light by the former prime minister of Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew. The discussion stemmed from the arguments relating to human right issues in the context of Asia. According to Lee, Asian values differ remarkably from Western values and thus cannot be viewed from a global perspective. Lee noted that the concept of Asian values is guided by consensus, collectivism and shared values. The individuals’ needs come second after others or societal needs. As such, human rights; a phenomenon from the West, cannot be entrenched in the Asian values because it goes against the guiding principles of the Asian values concept. The difference between the Asian values and the Western values was also echoed by Mahathir, the former Prime minister of Malaysia.
Mahathir was extremely vocal in marketing Asian values. Mahathir loudly stated that Asian have their own cultural and ideological practices which are extremely different from those practiced in the West. Mahathir also stated that Asian should conduct their daily activities by observing the three core values of the Asian concept; consensus, collectivism and shared values. Mahathir frequently indicated that these values constitute the eastern work ethics and are the pillar of Asian values. As stated earlier, the debate on Asian values arose in the wake of public discussions on human right issues which were challenged by cultural diversity. Scholars have discovered that concepts of Asian values such as humanism, and Islam tend to enhance the feeling of selflessness over individualism, and they prioritize family and community.
In addition, Lee noted that Confucianism is the guiding principle to Asian prosperity. Lee acknowledged the cultural diversity in Singapore and changed his notion of Confucianism to shared values in order to accommodate every citizen’s wish. Lee believes that the concept of Asian values as derived from Confucianism has represented the social behavior of communities in the Asian content. Chinese-Confucian, Malay-Muslim and Indian-Hindu are the key communities found in this region.
Other scholars point out that Mahathir’s view of Asian values challenges the neo imperialism of Western cultures (Pathmanaathan 1984). Mahathir is said to have believed that Western people are taking for granted their values by letting the market driven society to take charge of their values. In contrast, Mahathir notes that Asian values uphold humanism and put the family and society first. He also notes that modernization which is as a result of Western cultures leads to moral decay in the society. Scholars have noted that Asian values encourage respect, social harmony and consensus. In other words, the collective good of the society at large comes first. Mahathir and Lee have been on the forefront in marketing Asian values and they have unanimously agreed that Asian values are remarkably different from Western values. While Lee looks at Confucianism as the guiding principle for the region’s success, Mahathir echoes eastern working ethics as the defining principle of the region’s economic and political prosperity.
Asian countries recorded huge economic growth in the 1960s a feature that prompted the West to examine key factors that contributed to the economic success. The concepts of Confucianism and symbiosism which are based on family values came out as the guiding principles (Milne & Mauzy 1990). Eventually, the West started to realize that Asian values could not be taken for granted. The Western world came to understand that combined effects of Confucianism which gives priority to the community contributed to the success. This led to the development of the state led development model which puts economic development first. Asian values played a significant role in the formulation of the development model. In this model, the state, paternalism, nationalism and entrepreneurial spirit combine to bring the anticipated economic growth.
This model enabled Southeast Asia states to flourish economically and many scholars thought that the development model can be emulated elsewhere. On the contrary, Mahathir and Lee stated that Asian values are unique to the Southeast region owing to its cultural and religious diversity (Milne & Mauzy 1990). The economical success in the South Asia gave the two leaders the strength to sale the concept of Asian value in the region. The two leaders echoed that economic success can still be realized without embracing Western led modernization. This was a clear indication of their support for authoritarianism since they knew Western ideologies were likely to erase or disable their mode of governance.
This paper has noted that the concept of Asian values has been used by Mahathir and Lee to support authoritarisim in Southeast Asia. Lee and Mahathir have played a significant role in echoing Asian values. The two leaders are the pioneers of the Asian values concept and they worked tirelessly to defend the interests of Asia from potential harm by Western values. Their perspective of Asian values puts the family and community in the forefront. The two leaders tend to agree on one thing that Western values bring modernization. However, they boldly state that Asian region can achieve the desired success without emulating Western values. They indicate that the concept of Asian values is far much better than the so called Western values. Mahathir cautions that modernization that comes along with western values leads to moral decay in the society. The two leaders’ perspective of the Asian values concept tends to encourage authoritarisim. Thus, the two leaders were against the entrenchment of Western values because they did not want Western values to challenge the Authoritarian rule common in Southeast Asia.
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Asia’s Authoritarianism and Its Stability Reasons Essay (Critical Writing)
Is authoritarianism fundamentally impermanent?
Authoritarianism is a form of governmental rule in which the subjects are expected to be submissive. This type of government has been rather common in the Middle East and larger Asia. In such a form of government, citizens are denied their freedom of expression as well as their freedom to act. Moreover, authority in such systems is given only to the leader or the few elites in the society. The small group of elites or the leader is not held accountable to the people. Authoritarian leaders, as will be seen in the cases to be examined, are allowed to manipulate their power arbitrarily. This form of rule is the exact divergence of democracy. At the beginning of this century, there have been numerous revolutions as people rebel against the authoritarian rule in most nations. I believe that authoritarianism is practically impermanent.
One ideal illustration is the termination of China’s authoritarian government. China has always been under the leadership of CPP. It is what most people would refer to as a one-party nation. There is the notion that it is much easier to handle matters relating to policy adjustments and institutional adaptations in an authoritarian government. However, this concept is just a mere fallacy. The Chinese system is full of flaws. It is only in the unfolding of the Bo Xilai crisis that these flaws have become apparent to most people. The system is flawed with nepotism, frequent corruption, and unfair appointment of leaders. The ruling party has facilitated the rise of the few elites who have no respect whatsoever for the law. In the past decades, the Chinese government has been termed as being resilient and authoritarian.
The assumption is that CPP has established a means of creating a sustainable economy. The merits of this government include intra-party checks, increased national strength, and societal diversity. However, these factors should not fool you for the government’s authoritarian system is still vulnerable. The recent socio-economic crises have proven that the resilient authoritarian system has its vulnerabilities as well. In the case of Bo, he had made his name as a leader with firm convictions against corruption. Ironically, it turned out that he was involved in a series of corrupt cases or what is being termed as the mafia. This, among other issues, has threatened the unity of the party. The party is gradually losing its credibility among the civilians. China is now heading for major transitions. For one, the current authoritarian government is less powerful compared to past authoritarian leaders. Such leaders as Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong had greater influence and much more power than the current government. The nation’s leadership is gradually shifting from the hands of individuals and eventually becoming a collective system. The government is becoming responsible to the people, lesser corrupt, and also relatively more representative. It confirms my hypothesis that authoritarianism is impermanent.
Another illustration is Yusha’s regime which eventually collapsed in 1979. The system came to an end after President Park Chug Hee was assassinated by his chief intelligence aide. Some political scientists argue that the assassination helped save the nation from experiencing a revolutionary bloodbath. While Chung Hee was still in power, there began to form cracks in his government. His death marked the end of the authoritarian rule in South Korea. As such, the people went ahead and even had a referendum. They approved a new constitution which upheld democracy. However, the process of restoring democracy was hindered as another authoritarian rose to power in 1980. As most scholars argue, this was a result of the power structure still resembling the authoritarian system. However, the authoritarian system was again opposed from 1987 to 1992. There were all forms of violence especially after Roh Tae Woo was nominated as Chun’s successor. Students went on rampage and street violence was at its highest across the nation. To the surprise of all involved, Tae Woo wanted to have a democratic government. The first democratic elections were held in December 1992.
Is economic performance legitimacy the most important factor in explaining authoritarian persistence in the Asia-Pacific?
Over the past years, the authoritarian forms of government have remained in power owing to the notion that they deliver economic performance legitimacy. In the case of China, having CPP as the only party has indeed facilitated fast economic growth in the nation. For one, statistics show that the country’s economy by 2002 had grown by eight times compared to how it was in 1978. Within the same period, there was a 600% increase in per capita income. Per capita income in 1978 and 2003 was $151 and $1,097 respectively. While economic growth was noted, there were also improvements in the social structure. The rate of urbanization increased by 21%.
In the case of Korea, Park Chung Hee was known to create development plans. For instance, he created a five-year development plan in 1962. The top priorities, in this case, were national security and economic growth. There was also a domestic policy strategy that would ensure the realization of the plan. For the project to be achieved, there was the need to implement political stability which implied that the military was willing and ready to do all it took to ensure stability in the nation. As such, financial institutions, the labor market, and businesses were compelled to comply with the laid directives. The government made major reforms which included enhancing the tax system, changes in the tariff system, and the overhaul of the entire tax structure. The primary aim of such reforms was to liberalize the economy and enhance the economic growth rate.
However, this may not apply in all cases. The authoritarian government in Korea has shocked many. This comes after its reign continues even with the economic crisis being experienced in the nation. It is indeed a unique case. As Yun-Jo Cho identifies, countries such as Indonesia were quick to oust their dictators when they were hit by an economical crisis. North Korea has gone against the propositions of the democratization theory. The main reason, as Cho writes, is that North Korea has personalistic authoritarians. This is one authoritarian system that has proven to be resilient even in the face of crisis.
Are factors explaining regime stability in North Korea applicable to other countries?
I am surprised to learn that North Korea is still under the leadership of an authoritarian regime. Even in the face of the economic crisis the system still holds. The primary factor that sustained this regime was the strong personality of Kim II-Sung. He had ruled over the nation for 40 years. He managed to establish the personalistic neo-patrimonial element. His rule of law was not impersonal but rather a personal patronage network. His death resulted in the political crisis that only made the economic crises greater than they were before. As Cho mentions, countries such as Indonesia had a well-established authoritarian system that soon collapsed after they were hit by the economic crisis. According to the democratization theory, military, personalized and one-party authoritarianism collapse mainly in the face of economic crisis. Theoretically, an economic crisis triggers a revolution among the citizens.
DPRK has managed to establish an incentive system. It is whereby those within the government receive incentives even amid an economic crisis. Thereby, the chances of a split within the government structure are petite. Such a form of government enjoys the benefits of resistance to internal conflict. Those in the government have a lower tendency to uphold reforms and are deprived of their political independence. In such a case, the latter seems like a little price to pay for all the material inducements afforded to them.
Most of the nations exercising one-party authoritarianism are facing the challenge of uniting all the involved members. Countries such as China are unable to maintain the authoritarian rule as their leading parties gradually succumb to the pressures mounted on them by economic and social faces. DPRK has proven to be an exceptional case. The difference may be in the form of authoritarianism used or simply the unification of a good-headed dictator. The latter could explain why the system was shaken after the death of II-Sung. The bottom line is that authoritarianism may not be ideal, but it seems to b working for this nation. The irony, however, lies in its name The Democratic Republic of Korea. It is neither a republic nor a Democrat.