Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and H

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and H

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:30 am

Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony
by William I. Robinson
© Cambridge University Press 1996

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Truth is always revolutionary -- Antonio Gramsci

To Amaru and Tamara: question everything, seek out the truth, and live that truth.




Table of Contents

• Inside Cover
• Acknowledgments
• List of acronyms and abbreviations
• Introduction. From East-West to North-South: US intervention in the "new world order"
• 1. From "straight power concepts" to "persuasion" in US foreign policy
• 2. Political operations in US foreign policy
• 3. The Philippines: "Molded in the image of American democracy"
• 4. Chile: Ironing out "a fluke of the political system"
• 5. Nicaragua: From low-intensity warfare to low-intensity democracy
• 6. Haiti: The "practically insolvable problem" of establishing consensual domination
• 7. Conclusions: The future of polyarchy and global society
• Notes
• Select bibliography
• Index
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:32 am

Promoting polyarchy examines the apparent change in US foreign policy from supporting dictatorships to an "open" promotion of "democratic" regimes. William I. Robinson argues that behind the facade of "democracy promotion," the policy has been designed more to retain the elite-based and undemocratic status quo of Third World countries than to encourage mass aspirations for democratization. Contrary to received opinion, he shows how poverty amidst plenty and global social apartheid characterize the new world order. While US policy is more ideologically appealing under the title of "democracy promotion," it does nothing to reverse the growth of inequality and the undemocratic nature of global decision-making. This challenging argument is supported by a wealth of information garnered from field-work and hitherto unpublished government documents, and assembled in case studies of the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, South Africa, and the former Soviet bloc. With its combination of theoretical and historical analysis, empirical argument, and bold claims, Promoting polyarchy is an essential book for anyone concerned with democracy, globalization, and international affairs.

Back Cover

Promoting Polyarchy examines the apparent change in U.S. foreign policy from supporting dictatorships to an "open" promotion of "democratic" regimes. William I. Robinson argues that the policy has been designed more to retain the elite-based and undemocratic status quo of Third World countries than to encourage mass aspirations for democratization. While U.S. policy is more ideologically appealing under the title of "democracy promotion," it does nothing to reverse the growth of inequality and the undemocratic nature of global decision-making. This challenging argument is supported by a wealth of information garnered from field-work and hitherto unpublished government documents, and assembled in case studies of the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, South Africa, and the former Soviet bloc.

"This book represents an original, compelling and critical rethinking of the nature and form of United States foreign policy in the Third World in the 1980s and 1990s. I recommend this book to any serious scholar of contemporary international relations and to all those interested in the possible future for our civilizations in an era of globalization.

Robinson has developed his own theoretical framework and synthesis drawn from comparative political sociology, political economy and political theory, one that takes its global inspiration from both world-systems and neo-Gramscian approaches to international relations. Robinson's theoretical strengths are combined with excellent, empirical research ... In his meticulous and detailed exposition of the nature, limits and contradictions of these cases, Robinson makes a fundamental contribution to our possibilities of understanding the contours of crucial aspects of North-South relations in this and the next century."

-- Stephen Gill, York University, Toronto

"This book provides a sobering look at what it means to say the U.S. is promoting democracy throughout the world. It is a good antidote to much academic pap."

-- Immanuel Wallerstein, State University of New York, Binghamton

"While economic and cultural globalization have attracted a good deal of popular and scholarly attention, globalization in the political sphere is a relatively under-researched area. In Promoting Polyarchy William Robinson, building on a formidable array of local knowledge and theoretical reflection, makes the bold argument that democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy is best explained in terms of the pluralist idea of polyarchy and that this restricted conception of democracy serves the interests of an increasingly transnational elite. Polyarchy, thus, 'is a structural feature of the emergent global society.' The logic of the analysis and the power of his case studies represent a challenge that complacent pluralists and those sceptical of globalization should not ignore."

-- Leslie Sklair, London School of Economics

WILLIAM I. ROBINSON is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee, and Research Associate at the Center for International Studies, Central American University, Managua. He has published many articles in scholarly journals, newspapers, and magazines, and his previous books are David and Goliath: The U.S. War Against Nicaragua (1987) and A Faustian Bargain: The U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era (1992).
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:33 am

Acknowledgments

Intellectual production as a form of social action is a collective process. No book is authored by a single individual, no matter whose name appears on a cover. It is impossible here to list all those people who contributed in a myraid of ways, ranging from critical commentary, intellectual insights and scholarly interest, to editorial assistance, material support, interest, personal encouragement, and time invested in mundane tasks, to making this book possible.

The first order of thanks is to those who have contributed to my own intellectual, professional, political, and personal development over the years. A full list of such people would comprise a book in itself, but several stand out. One is my lifelong friend, colleague, and intellectual comrade, Kent Norsworthy, who has selflessly contributed to the present work in every imaginable way, starting with our collective political-intellectual awakening many years ago, and involving the most solid friendship a person could provide through good and difficult times, including through a dream deferred - for the two of us and millions more - in one little comer of this world. Another is Kevin Robinson, whose encouragement in the most difficult moments of the present work helped see me to its completion. Apart from their enthusiasm and other forms of support for this project, both provided invaluable, chapter-by-chapter editorial and content suggestions. A third is Felipe Gonzales, former professor and now friend and colleague, who provided editorial recommendations, encouragement, and other magnanimous assistance in critical moments. Many thanks also to William Stanley for his critical feedback on much of the manuscript, and for many a stimulating intellectual exchange, on the present study and related matters.

The Interhemispheric Resource Center, a private non-profit research and policy institute located in Albuquerque, New Mexico - and in particular, Tom Barry and Beth Sims - made available to me for research purposes the extensive archive it has accumulated as part of its ongoing "US Government Democratization Programs and Other Democratization Issues" project. I have made use of several dozen documents obtained by the Center (referred to subsequently in this volume as The Resource Center) through periodic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests it files with the National Endowment for Democracy and other agencies. How I have chosen to make use of these documents is my sole responsibility and this study does not reflect in any way the work or positions of The Resource Center. Robert Sandels and Robert Fiala gave critical comments on several journal articles dealing with the themes of this book that later gave me some important insights and correctives for the manuscript. Thanks also to Nelson Valdes, David Dye, Wilmar Cuarezma, Worth Cooley-Prost, and Martin Vega, and to Alejandro Bendana of the Center for International Studies (CEI) of the Central American University in Managua, for varied contributions. Craig Murphy showed a much appreciated interest in my work, and provided encouragement and crucial editorial suggestions in the final phases of the manuscript. His work, involving a research agenda closely related to my own, has been a source of intellectual inspiration, as have been the works of other scholars from the "Italian School" in international relations, and from the cutting edge of development, comparative, and globalization studies in sociology, whom I have not yet had the opportunity to meet or correspond with but whose imprint should be unmistakable in the text. Thanks are also in order to anonymous Cambridge University Press readers. Finally, I am also grateful to the Press's amicable social science commissioning editor, John Haslam, for his professional concern and attentiveness for the manuscript, as well as his patience with the whims of at least one fussy author, and with whom it has been a pleasure to work. And an apology to those I might have unintentionally forgotten to acknowledge. The content of this book, and all the inevitable shortcomings therein, are my sole responsibility.

There is a final and very special acknowledgment, to Gioconda, my companera de lucha, and to my children, Amaru and Tamara, to whom this book is dedicated. As tender young representatives of a new generation, they symbolize my hope and faith in humanity, no matter how grim our plight may seem to me in these trying times.
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:35 am

Acronyms and abbreviations

YOU Asian-American Free Labor Institute (US)
African American Labor Council (US)
Democratic Alliance of Chile
America's Development Foundation (US)
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (US)
Armed Forces of the Philippines
Agency for International Development (US)
American Institute for Free Labor Development (US)
African National Congress (South Africa)
American Political Foundation (US)
National Popular Assembly (Haiti)
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Neighborhood and Community Action (Chile)
New Patriotic Federation (Philippines)
Corporation for Community Action (Chile)
Center For Democratic Consultation (Nicaragua)
Autonomous Federation of Haitian Workers
Caribbean Basin Initiative
Center for Youth Development (Chile)
Human Resources Development Center (Haiti)
Democratic Workers Federation (Chile)
Center for Youth Development (Nicaragua)
Committee for Free Elections (Chile)
Center for Public Studies (Chile)
Center for Democracy (US)
General Federation of Workers (Haiti)
Haitian Center for Human Rights
Central Intelligence Agency (US)
Central American Research and Information Center
Center for International Private Enterprise (US)
Center for Free Enterprise and Democracy (Haiti)
National Workers Command (Chile)
Convention for a Democratic South Africa
Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Nicaragua)
Permanent Congress of Workers (Nicaragua)
Center for Strategic and International Studies (US)
Unified Workers Federation (Chile)
United Workers Central (Chile)
Defense Intelligence Agency (US)
Democratic Pluralism Initiative (US)
Broad Opposition Front (Nicaragua)
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (US)
National Front for Democracy and Change (Haiti)
Freedom of Information Act (US)
Federation of Unionized Workers (Haiti)
Popular Action Front (Chile)
Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti
Sandinista National Liberation Front (Nicaragua)
Free Trade Union Institute (US)
Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action (Philippines)
General Accounting Office (US)
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
Institute for a Democratic Alternative in South Africa
Interamerican Development Bank
International Foundation for Electoral Assistance (US)
Haitian Institute for Research and Development
International Labor Organization
International Monetary Fund
Institute for North South Issues (US)
Institute for Electoral Promotion and Training (Nicaragua)
Inter-Regional Deputies Group (Soviet Union)
International Republican Institute (US - same as NRI)
Institute for the Transition (Chile)
United Left (Chile)
Women's Movement for the Nurturing of Democracy (Philippines)
May First Movement (Philippines)
National Congress of Democratic Movements (Haiti)
Movement of United Popular Action (Chile)
Popular Democratic Movement (Chile)
Movement to Install Democracy in Haiti
Nicaraguan Women's Movement
Papaye Peasant Movement (Haiti)
New Armed Forces of the Philippines
National Movement for Free Elections (Philippines)
National Congress of Farmers Organizations (Philippines)
National Democratic Front (Philippines)
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (US)
National Endowment for Democracy (US)
non-governmental organization
New International Economic Order
New People's Army (Philippines)
National Republican Institute for International Affairs (US)
See NRI
National Security Council (US)
National Security Decision Directive
Organization of American States
Office of Democratic Initiatives (US)
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Independent General Organization of Haitian Workers
Office of Public Diplomacy (US)
Crusade for Citizen Participation (Chile)
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Christian Democratic Party (Chile)
Integral Project for the Reinforcement of Democracy in Haiti
Pro-Democracy Party (Chile)
psychological operations
private voluntary organization
National Intelligence Service (Haiti)
scientific and technological revolution
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines
United Democratic Front (South Africa)
Independent Democratic Union (Chile)
Democratic Workers Union (Chile)
United Nations
Nicaraguan Opposition Union
Popular Unity (Chile)
See AID
United States Information Agency
Worker-Student Forum (Philippines)
Young Officers Union (Philippines)
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:40 am

Introduction: From East-West to North-South: US intervention in the "new world order"

In any society the dominant groups are the ones with the most to hide about the way society works. Very often therefore truthful analyses are bound to have a critical ring, to seem like exposures rather than objective statements... For all students of human society sympathy with the victims of historical processes and skepticism about the victors' claims provide essential safeguards against being taken in by the dominant mythology. A scholar who tries to be objective needs these feelings as part of his working equipment.

-- Barrington Moore
[1]


"We have 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population ... In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment," noted George Kennan in 1948. "Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will allow us to maintain this position of disparity," said the then Director of Policy Planning of the Department of State. "We should cease to talk about the raising of the living standards, human rights, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."2

Kennan's candid statement emphasizes that the strategic objective of US foreign policy during the Cold War was less battling a "communist menace" than defending the tremendous privilege and power this global disparity of wealth brought it as the dominant world power, and suggests that democracy abroad was not a major consideration for the United States in the formative years of the post-World War II order.

In contrast, four decades later, Carl Gershman, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a new US foreign policy agency created in 1983, admonished: "In a world of advanced communication and exploding knowledge, it is no longer possible to rely solely on force to promote stability and defend the national security. Persuasion is increasingly important, and the United States must enhance its capacity to persuade by developing techniques for reaching people at many different levels." Gershman went on to stress that "democracy" abroad, should be a major consideration for the United States, in its effort to "enhance its capacity to persuade" around the world.3


The East-West prism in which Kennan and his generation had cast the North-South divide evaporated with the end of the Cold War. Yet, as Gershman's statement suggests, the fundamental objective of defense of privilege in an unjust international system did not change with the collapse of the Soviet system. What has changed are the strategies for securing this objective. What I term the "new political intervention," and the ideological dimensions it entails, has been developed as an effective instrument of "persuasion," in contrast to (or more often, alongside) force, to assure "patterns of relationships" that protect US interests.

The shift from "straight power concepts" to "persuasion" has been predicated on a new component in US foreign policy: what policymakers call the "promotion of democracy." The end of the Cold War has opened up new possibilities. Mass movements striving for democratization and social change have proliferated at this time of momentous political changes, accompanying disruption, restructuring and even the complete collapse of national and regional economies. From Nicaragua to the Philippines, from Haiti to Eastern Europe, Southern Africa, and the Middle East, diverse forces battle to reshape political and economic structures as a "new world order" emerges. Under the rubric of "promoting democracy," the United States has intervened in the crises, transitions and power vacuums resulting from the breakup of the old order to try to gain influence over their outcome. These interventions are those newfound "techniques for reaching people at many different levels" to which Gershman refers.

Origins and scope of this study

This book analyzes "democracy promotion" in relation to hegemony and the intersection of politics and economics in the emergent global society and twenty-first-century world order.4 It grew out of an earlier study of the massive, largely covert US program of intervention in the 1990 Nicaraguan elections.5 Several years of investigative research convinced me that what had taken place in Nicaragua was a blueprint of worldwide patterns and much broader changes in US foreign policy. Over the course of the investigation, I turned from the empirical evidence to theorization, weaving together several bodies of literature - among them, studies in foreign policy and democratization literature (mostly from political science), the sociology of development (particularly, world-system/dependency and modernization schools), and the multidisciplinary field of international relations - and some central concerns of political sociology, among them, the state, social class, power, and ideology. The disciplinary tool which underlies and connects these disparate strands is the application of political economy to sociological phenomena, and the meta-theoretical framework, historical materialism, which remains, in my view, the most fundamental instrument of social science research, unsurpassed in its explanatory and predictive powers, in its ability to generate "conceptual leaps" and to recombine elements of the social universe into a dialectic, holistic, and coherent picture.

We are living in a time of transition from one major epoch to another; we stand at a great historic crossroad, the fourth in modern world history. The first epoch opened in 1492, when the "modern world, system" was born, along with the division of the globe into haves and have nots. What was "discovered" in that year was not the Americas, but universal human history and the world as one totality. The second was ushered in with the great bourgeois revolutions of the eighteenth century. The third began with the Soviet revolution of 1917, which triggered a set of global tensions that dominated much of the twentieth century. What was defeated with the collapse of the Soviet system was not socialism as an ideal-type of society, or as a human aspiration, but one particular model and the first experiment. We are now at the threshold of a new era. A transition implies that things are changing fundamentally. Yet the direction of that change, as well as the outcome of the transition, is still in dispute. And it is certainly not "the end of history." The end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century is a particularly strategic moment for humankind; the profound changes now underway, and the correlation of forces that emerges in this period, will determine the contours of the emergent twenty-first-century global society.

There are two interrelated, defining features of our epoch: the shift in the locus of world tensions from East-West to North-South, and the emergence of a truly global economy. The emergence of a global economy brings with it the material basis for the emergence of a single global society, including the transnationalization of civil society and of political processes. The old units of analysis - nation-states - are increasingly inappropriate for understanding the dynamics of our epoch, not only in terms of economic processes, but also social relations and political systems.
Much has been written on the global economy, yet research into the transnationalization of political processes and of civil society has lagged behind. Among several notable exceptions are the path-breaking works of Robert Cox, Stephen Gill and other scholars who have begun to develop a Gramscian model for analyzing international relations in the age of globalization, and whose contributions I have drawn from and build on in this study.

Within this framework, this study has a dual purpose. The first is to analyze and explain a specific phenomenon - "democracy promotion" in US foreign policy. The second is to show how this phenomenon is linked to the process of globalization and to exploring crucial political dimensions of globalization. I see "democracy promotion" as inextricably linked to globalization. "Democracy promotion" in US foreign policy can only be understood as part of a broader process of the exercise of hegemony within and between countries in the context of transnationalization. Polyarchy, or what I alternatively refer to as "low-intensity democracy," is a structural feature of the new world order: it is a global political system corresponding to a global economy under the hegemony of a transnational elite which is the agent of transnational capital. My objective is to document the specific phenomenon of "democracy promotion" as a US policy change that emerged in the 1980s, and to give that change a novel theoretical explanation.

US policymakers have characterized "democracy promotion" as the new "cornerstone" in foreign policy. As such, this policy merits serious analytical and theoretical attention by scholars. However, the existing literature is remarkably inadequate. There is a huge (and still growing) body of literature on democratization in the Third World, but the focus here is on endogenous political processes, not US interaction with those processes. Most of the literature that does exist on the US policy of "democracy promotion" has come from the policymaking community. 6 A handful of academic volumes have reviewed dimensions of "democracy promotion" with little, if any, theorization on the nature of the shift in policy or the actual policy practice. This literature finds its implicit theoretical grounding in structural-functionalist models of pluralism. Much of this literature is value-laden, and steeped in implicit assumptions. Whether any social science is value-free (I tend to think not) is open to debate. It is the implicit assumptions that are unacceptable, and which I attempt to uncover.

Most explanations attribute this new policy to the evolution of normative or of practical-conjunctural considerations among policymakers: US policymakers have gone through a "learning process" in selecting the most appropriate policies; with the collapse of the old Soviet bloc, the United States can now afford to implement its policies with "softer tools"; the "ideal" of liberal capitalism has reached its apogee (this argument finds its ultimate expression in Fukuyama's Hegelian "end of history"), and so on.7 While these behavioralist arguments merit attention, none of them link, through theoretical discourse, the practical-conjunctural considerations on the part of policymakers to broader historical processes, social structure, or political economy, which inform foreign policy. Events and outcomes in the social universe cannot be explained by the intentions of individual actors or decisions taken on the basis of role perception. Policymakers are not independent actors. As I discuss in chapter 1, US foreign policy is not explained by specific policy views of individuals, much less by policy pronouncements by political leaders taken at face value. Besides, US foreign policy is not to be analyzed on the basis of what policymakers say they do, but on what they actually do.

Ultimately, to analyze or theorize US foreign policy on the basis of practical-conjunctural considerations weighed by policymakers is to assume that social behavior flows from pre-given subjectivities. To be sure, analysis of what takes place internal to the immediate policymaking community within a state apparatus is important, and I operate at that level of analysis throughout much of this study. However, just as individual existence is grounded in sets of social relations and material conditions, and these in turn drive political life, so too, foreign policy flows from the historical and the structural conditions under which individual policymakers and governments operate. The whole point of theory, of social science, is to uncover the forces and processes at work in the social universe which lie beneath - indeed, epistemologically speaking, out of the range of - sensory perceptions. This is the starting point of analysis and of theorization on "democracy promotion" in US foreign policy. Behavioral changes transpire within structural contexts which shape behavioral responses. Behavioral analysis is therefore structurally contingent and must be grounded in structural analysis. Below I expound on how these different levels of analysis are applied and on the methodological framework through which my alternative argument is developed. First, however, let me summarize that argument.

Summary of the argument

All over the world, the United States is now promoting its version of "democracy" as a way to relieve pressure from subordinate groups for more fundamental political, social and economic change. The impulse to "promote democracy" is the rearrangement of political systems in the peripheral and semi-peripheral zones of the "world system" so as to secure the underlying objective of maintaining essentially undemocratic societies inserted into an unjust international system. The promotion of "low-intensity democracy" is aimed not only at mitigating the social and political tensions produced by elite-based and undemocratic status quos, but also at suppressing popular and mass aspirations for more thoroughgoing democratization of social life in the twenty-first-century international order. Polyarchy is a structural feature of the emergent global society. Just as "client regimes" and right-wing dictatorships installed into power or supported by the United States were characteristic of a whole era of US foreign policy and intervention abroad in the post-World War II period, promoting "low-intensity democracies" in the Third World is emerging as a cornerstone of a new era in US foreign policy.

Stated theoretically:

The emergence of a global economy in the past few decades presupposes, and provides the material basis for, the emergence of a global civil and political society. The Gramscian concept of hegemony as "consensual domination" exercised in civil and political society at the level of the individual nation (or national society) may be extended/ applied to the emergent global civil and political society. In the context of asymmetries in the international political economy, the United States has exercised its domination in the periphery in the post-World War II years chiefly through coercive domination, or the promotion of authoritarian arrangements in the Third World. The emergence of "democracy promotion" as a new instrument and orientation in US foreign policy in the 1980s represented the beginnings of a shift - still underway - in the method through which the core regions of the capitalist world system exercise their domination over peripheral and semi-peripheral regions, from coercive to consensual mechanisms, in the context of emergent transnational configurations. What is emerging is a new political model of North-South relations for the twenty-first century.

My approach to this issue involves bold claims which run contrary to conventional wisdom and mainstream thinking. However, in the pages that follow, my argument is presented theoretically and then supported empirically (including by reference to hitherto unpublished US government documentation obtained through the Freedom of Information Act). It is my hope that this study not only generates debate, but also contributes to the current voluminous research into globalization by providing elements for an ongoing research agenda on the crucial political dimensions of globalization. In my view, scholars have yet to recognize the truly systemic nature of the changes involved in globalization. One of the objectives of this book is to sound an alarm on the need to modify all existing paradigms in light of globalization, to put out a call for imaginative and forward-looking "new thinking." Indeed, I am arguing that only through such fresh, imaginative thinking on globalization and its systemic implications can "democracy-promotion" be properly understood.

Organization and methodology

This book's structure reflects its dual objective: a thorough explanation of "democracy promotion" in US foreign policy and at the same time, an open-ended inquiry into larger theoretical issues in which "democracy promotion" is rooted. The study links five "conceptual arenas," integrating the empirical, the analytical, and the theoretical, and proceeding from greater to lesser levels of abstraction: (1) the world system or world order, as the "meta-theoretical framework" in which patterned social relations are conceived (2) the global economy, as the current stage in the world system (3) an emergent global polity and civil society, as concomitants of the global economy (4) changes in US foreign policy, as shifts in the modalities of domination in an asymmetric international order, in concurrence with the changes in the world system and the emergence of the global economy (5) the specific processes and mechanisms in which this shift is unfolding (for instance, "democracy promotion" operations conducted through new US foreign-policy instruments, debates and perceptions among policymakers, and so on). Levels of abstraction 1-3 are structural contexts which require structural analysis. Level 4 straddles structural and behavioral analysis, and level 5 is generally behavioral analysis.

The methodological model is one of multi-causality and the variables brought into the analysis explain the social phenomena under observation in a highly interactive (rather than additive) way. In terms of conceptual method, the relationship between the specific phenomenon of "democracy promotion" and the more general process of globalization is recursive. There is a "doubling-back" quality between the phenomenon to be explained ("democracy promotion") and the process in which it is embedded (globalization), whereby the result of a process affects the process that caused it. The etiology of "democracy promotion" is the historic process of globalization, yet at the same time it is a transnational practice which helps shape and facilitate globalization, particularly crucial political dimensions of the process, such as transnational class formation, the externalization of peripheral states, and new forms of articulation between the political and the economic in a global environment. It is these political dimensions of globalization, less recognized than economic globalization, that I wish to call attention to, and "democracy promotion" is a phenomenon (one among many) that signals globalization at the level of political processes. Such a multi-causal model is very different from nonrecursive models, the latter exhibiting clear distinctions between "dependent" and "independent" variables. Ultimately, my "independent" variable is economic globalization, or the emergence of the global economy. But the specific phenomenon of "democracy promotion" should not be narrowly conceived as the "dependent variable." In more traditional language, there is a "base-superstructure" relation at play. The "base" is the world system, which has entered into a qualitatively new phase, that of the global economy, in which all national economies are becoming integrated. The "superstructure" is the transnationalization of political processes and systems, involving changes in world politics and international relations. "Democracy promotion" as a new US policy has emerged as one such reflection of this superstructural movement. However, caution should be taken in positing base-superstructure models since they can easily lend themselves to mechanical analyses which oversimplify complex interactive relationships among variables.

The book is divided into three sections. The first, chapters 1 and 2, presents a theoretical exposition of the underpinnings of the new political intervention and an analytical framework for understanding how it operates, respectively. Chapter 1 introduces a Gramscian framework for analyzing international relations, takes up the general issue of globalization, shows how "democracy promotion" is linked recursively to globalization, and then concludes with a novel theoretical explanation of "democracy promotion." Chapter 2 documents the emergence of "democracy promotion" in US foreign policy and focuses on changes in the US state apparatus to conduct "democracy promotion."

The next section, chapters 3 through 6, comprises individual case studies on the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua, and Haiti, which operationalize the theoretical propositions and analytical precepts and show how "democracy promotion" actually works in practice. In each of these cases, the United States undertook to "promote democracy" in the context of larger foreign policy operations. The studies show how, both covertly and overtly, the United States intervened in mass movements for democracy and endogenous democratization processes. This intervention, through a multiplicity of political, economic, military, diplomatic, and ideological channels, has helped to shape the contours of these processes, to bring them under US influence, and to determine outcomes. The level of analysis here is largely practical-conjunctural, although I demonstrate how events in each country are related to the broader theoretical issues of globalization.

As the text progresses, the analytical and theoretical "density" increases from one case study to the next. This is an intentional "building-block" procedure, so to say. I start by testing the most basic and broadest of the analytical-theoretical propositions in the first case study, and progress in subsequent case studies to expand the scope, exchanging, in effect, the proportion of empirical evidence for analytical-theoretical reflection on the central tenets of the study, in what can be seen as ever-closer approximations. Thus the first case study, the Philippines, is highly descriptive, whereas that on Haiti is as much theoretical as empirical in content.

The Haiti case study thus provides the logical stepping-stone to the concluding chapter, which is the final section. Beyond summing up the central findings, this chapter offers some comparative conclusions and discusses implications of this new intervention for social change in the Third World and for efforts to build a more democratic international order. I also look briefly at US "democracy promotion" activities in the former Soviet bloc and South Africa for the purpose of strengthening generalizing conclusions. With the benefit of the hindsight provided by the empirical studies, I retake some of the theoretical issues alluded to in chapter 1. These include a reexamination of the historical relationship between capitalism and democracy and a new theoretical interpretation of this relationship in light of globalization, the presentation of a novel Gramscian approach to the issue of "regime transitions," discussion of the composition of an emergent transnational hegemonic configuration, and an examination of the prospects for world order and for counter-hegemonic blocs in the twenty-first century.

In brief, I have chosen a comparative historical method which is macro-structural in approach and case study in design. This is a macro-sociological study, but with a distinct interdisciplinary character. I view theory as a heuristic instrument that may best be utilized in an interdisciplinary setting, and that multidisciplinary, holistic reconstruction is essential in reaching theoretical conclusions on such a broad subject as global civil society. However, theoretical propositions must be verified in concrete events and circumstances temporally, spatially, and longitudinally, just as all good theory must be able to move down to concrete application and back to theoretical abstraction. In this process, there are three levels of analysis at which I operate and which I term the structural, the structural-conjunctural, and the practical-conjunctural. A fuller explanation of these three levels and how they interact is provided in chapter 1. The point I wish to emphasize here is that the "macro-structural-historical" framework introduced at the onset in chapter 1 flows into a structural-conjunctural and practical-conjunctural analysis in subsequent sections and chapters, in which structural factors structure a situation, and conjunctural factors condition the concrete outcomes. I strive to avoid the twin traps of structural determinism (a la Althusser) and of behavioralism, or motivational subjectivism (a la Habermas or Laclau), and try to focus instead on the dialectical tension between structure and agency and, whenever possible, to identify mediating links.

Caveats

Several caveats are in order. First, the critics who may be tempted to dismiss the arguments in this book with the normative claim that it is preferable to have "democracy," however so defined by US policy-makers, than authoritarianism and dictatorship, are missing the point. Whether "democracy" is preferable, in a normative sense, to dictatorship, is not under debate. To place the issue in this light is tantamount to claiming that the juridical equality which African Americans enjoy in the late twentieth century is preferable to the juridical discrimination of earlier times (it is, of course, preferable), and that this alone is grounds to dismiss a political or theoretical discussion of contemporary racism in US society.

Second, this book does not argue that democratization movements around the world are products of US intervention. To the contrary, I am arguing that they are endogenous developments springing, on the one hand, from deep and age-old aspirations of broad majorities, and on the other hand, from the structural, cultural, and ideological transformations wrought by the global economy. What I am concerned with is the new methods developed by the United States to interact with these movements, methods which form part of new modalities of domination.

Third, I do not pretend to analyze the complexities and nuances of democratization movements in each country examined in the book. Despite the process of globalization, each nation's entry into global society is predicated on its own national history, and researchers need to be deeply attuned to the history, culture, idiosyncrasies, and particular circumstances of each nation and people. I can only claim, to evoke Weber's phrase slightly out of context, such an "empathetic understanding" for my own country of origin, the United States, and for Nicaragua, which has been my home for many years. There is a risk of simplification of complex phenomena. Relations between indigenous elites and the United States are multifarious and checkered with contradictions and conflicts. Also, popular movements operated under complex internal dynamics, political alignments, and shifting strategies. I do not attempt to analyze the heterogeneity and complexities of the popular and elite forces, or national democratization movements. My purpose is to examine how US policy intersects with these in pursuit of an agenda of an emergent transnational elite. Through a comparative study of several "democracy promotion" operations, general patterns and tendencies in US conduct become clear.

Fourth, there are issues raised in chapter 1 which beckon elaboration, and may even appear contradictory. For instance, I simultaneously analyze "democracy promotion" as a United States policy intended to secure US interests and argue that this policy responds to an agenda of a transnational elite. This indeed appears at first blush to be a contradictory proposition. My reasoning is that on the eve of the twenty-first century the United States (more precisely, dominant groups in the United States) is assuming a leadership role on behalf of a transnational hegemonic configuration. Similarly, I argue, contrary to mainstream notions (particularly among realists and world-system analysts) that the historical pattern of successive "hegemons" has come to an end, and that the hegemonic baton will not be passed from the United States to a new hegemonic nation-state, or even to a "regional bloc." "Pax Americana" was the "final frontier" of the old nation-state system and hegemons therein. Instead, the baton will be passed in the twenty-first century to a transnational configuration. These issues are mentioned, but not taken up in any detail, in chapters 1 and 2. This is intentional; a reflection of the inductive origins of the study and a consequence of the organizational structure I have chosen. The purpose of the first two chapters is to layout just enough theoretical propositions to analyze "democracy promotion" in the context of globalization. The broader theoretical issues are then retaken in the concluding chapter as exploratory ideas to be developed more fully in future research. In other words, there are questions raised but not fully answered and certain limits to this study. This leads to a final caveat:

We should remember that we tend to adopt analytical constructs that best lend themselves to making sense of the social phenomena under study. But these social phenomena are always, and inevitably, many times more complex than our explanations. Our analytical constructs are simplifications of reality that facilitate our cognitive understanding and guide our social action. Good social science can do no more.
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:56 am

Part 1 of 4

Chapter 1: From "straight power concepts" to "persuasion" in US foreign policy

In all societies ... two classes of people appear - a class that rules and a class that is ruled ... The first class, always the less numerous, performs all political functions, monopolizes power and enjoys the advantages that power brings, whereas the second, the more numerous class, is directed and controlled by the first, in a manner that is now more or less legal, now more or less arbitrary and violent.

-- Gaetano Mosca
[1]


There has been an explosion of human interaction and correlatively a tremendous increase of social pressure. The social texture of human life has become more complex and its management more difficult. Dispersion, fragmentation, and simple ranking have been replaced by concentration, interdependence, and a complex texture ... Because of the basic importance of the contemporary complex social texture, its management has a crucial importance, which raises the problem of social control over the individual .. Because they (citizens) press for more action to meet the problems they have to face, they require more social control. At the same time they resist any kind of social control that is associated with the hierarchical values they have learned to discard and reject. The problem may be worldwide.

-- The Crisis of Democracy (1975 Trilateral Commission Report) [2]


How are we to understand our world? Our everyday experiences are played out in milieus. These milieus are linked to institutions that organize our lives and bind us to a great many people. Varied and encompassing combinations of institutions and their interrelations form social structures. History, or how social structures have changed over time, tells us where we came from, how we have arrived at the present, and where we are headed. To see our own personal existence as bound up with history and social structure is to acquire what the great modern sociologist C. Wright Mills called the sociological imagination, "the most fruitful form of self consciousness." Democracy, or the ability to exercise a measure of control over the vital affairs of our lives as they are played out in personal milieus connected to historical processes and social structures, is, I believe, the great problem of our age. Humanity's fate is now so collectively linked that the most intimate personal milieu and the broadest global social structure are one. In this chapter, we begin the inquiry into democracy with the historic juncture that opened up after World War II and concluded at the dawn of the current age of globalization, and which saw the United States as the dominant world power. We will end the inquiry by returning, in the final chapter, to democracy as the most pressing problem of the human condition and the key to our collective survival.

The Cold War and US interventionism

The United States emerged from the ashes of World War II as the dominant world power. The postwar global order was designed by top US policymakers during a six-year period, 1939-1945, and then implemented in the immediate postwar years. The plan called for the establishment of a "Grand Area" of US influence in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the reconstruction and integration of Europe and Japan into a new world order under US domination, and the creation of international institutions to stabilize this new order. Creating Pax Americana involved filling the vacuum left by the collapse of the old colonial empires by deploying its military forces and political agents worldwide. From World War II to the end of the Cold War, the United States employed military force across its borders more than 200 times, became embroiled in large-scale wars in Korea and Indochina, and in "small wars," counterinsurgency campaigns, and covert operations throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Military and economic programs were developed to consolidate the emergent order, and billions of dollars in investment and finance capital flowed where US intervention assured a stable environment. Global interventionism became a structural feature of the post-World War II US empire.3

Much postwar literature on US foreign policy has erroneously interpreted this interventionism as having been driven by Cold War considerations. Perceived competition from the former Soviet Union was an important factor, but it was not the driving force behind foreign policy. The driving force was defense of a budding post-colonial international capitalism under US domination. Behind the "communist threat" there has always been another, more fundamental threat: any challenge to "patterns of relationships" which underpinned US domination and prerogative derived from its privileged position in an asymmetric international order. National Security Council (NSC) Memorandum NSC-68, one of the key foreign policy documents of the post-World War II era, stated, for instance, that postwar policy embraced "two subsidiary policies." One was to foster "a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish"; the other was "containment of the Soviet Union," which "seeks to foster the seeds of destruction within the Soviet system." The Memorandum went on: "Even if there was no Soviet Union we would face the great problem" of achieving "order and security" for US global interests. It concluded by calling for "a rapid buildup of [US] political, economic, and military strength" around the world.4 And the whole focus of President Roosevelt's Advisory Committee on Postwar Foreign Policy was not a "communist threat" but control over the world's resources, and in particular, securing US access to the raw materials, markets, and labor power of the Third World. Behind East-West relations, therefore, North-South relations were always intrinsic and central to the whole Cold War era.

Although democracy often entered the foreign policy-making vocabulary, it was not the dominant form in which the United States exercised its domination, especially in the post-World War II years. As the historical record shows, the principal form was the development of strategic alliances with authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. The outcome of intervention, whether intentional or as a by-product, was the establishment and defense of authoritarian political and social arrangements in the Third World as a support for the maintenance of international order and stability. The United States promoted and supported a global political network of civilian-military regimes and outright dictatorships in Latin America, white minority and one-party dictatorships in Africa, and repressive states in Asia. Authoritarian arrangements were judged to be the most expedient means of assuring stability and social control in the Third World.

But by the 1970s, mass popular movements were spreading against repressive political systems and exploitative socioeconomic orders established during the years of the Cold War. The structures of authoritarianism and dictatorship began to crumble, above all, in US client regimes, and a general crisis of elite rule began to develop in the South.5 As the "elective affinity" between authoritarianism and US domination unravelled, "democracy promotion" substituted "national security" in the US vernacular. A "democracy promotion" apparatus was created in the policy-making establishment, including new governmental and quasi-governmental agencies and bureaus, studies and conferences by policy-planning institutes, and government agencies to draft and implement "democracy promotion" programs. Where it had earlier supported dictatorship, such as in Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Philippines, Panama, Southern Africa, and elsewhere, the United States now began to "promote democracy." By the mid-1980s, the intellectual community had joined the fray. University presses churned out a whole new class of "democratization" literature and democratization courses sprang up on campuses.


"Democracy promotion" has a crucial ideological dimension, given that democracy is a universal aspiration and the claim to promote it has mass appeal. Under the rubric of "democracy," new policies set out not to promote, but to curtail, democratization. Democratization struggles around the world are profound threats to US privilege and to the dominance of core regions in the world system under overall US leadership. If the objective of US interventionism in the post-World War II years was control of the world's resources, labor, and surpluses, then logically the end of the Cold War should not eliminate interventionism. But the policies pursued during the Cold War years to confront challenges to domination have proved increasingly ineffective. This has led policymakers to a shift in the dominant form through which the United States seeks to assure stability under the hegemony of an emergent transnational elite, from promoting authoritarian to promoting "democratic" political and social arrangements in Third World countries. Behind this shift in favor of ostensibly democratic arrangements is the replacement of coercive means of social control with consensual ones.

This chapter is divided into two parts. In the first, I combine world system theory and a Gramscian model in international relations into a framework for understanding the new political intervention. In the second, I explore the relation between intellectual production and US foreign policy, discuss democracy as an essentially contested concept, and provide a theoretical explanation for the shift to promoting polyarchy.

The world system and a Gramscian model of international relations

The foreign policy of nations and the world system.


Much foreign-policy literature is based on the realist axiom that the foreign policy of nations is designed to secure the perceived interests of the states from which that policy emanates. But the axiom raises a host of questions: What are US interests, and how (and by whom) are they defined? What is the relation between interests and policies? Is there (or under what conditions does there exist) a convergence, or a clash, of interests between the United States and nations which become the target of US foreign-policy operations? Are nations, in fact, the appropriate units of analysis in looking for convergence and clashes of interests? Or are social groups and classes across national boundaries the more appropriate focus?

Much of the contemporary literature affirms that the search for stability drives US policy.6 This emphasis on stability fails to raise a question crucial to understanding policy: the stability of what? US foreign policy is aimed at assuring the stability of a given set of economic, social and political arrangements within each country in which the US intervenes, and in the international system as a whole. The stability of arrangements and relations which girder an international system in which the United States has enjoyed a dominant position is seen as essential to US interests, or "national security." When these arrangements are threatened US policy attempts to undercut the threat. And when these arrangements are altered in ways that are perceived as detrimental, the United States attempts not to pursue stability, but to destabilize. In the Western Hemisphere alone the United States pursued destabilization rather than stability in Guatemala (1954), Chile (1970-1973), Grenada (1979-1983), Jamaica (1977-1980), Cuba (1959-present), Panama (1988-1989), and Nicaragua (1979-1990), among others.7
In identifying US interests abroad, analysts often focus on a linear relation between specific interests (an economic investment in one country, a fear of "communism" in another, an anti-drug campaign in a third, geo-strategic considerations in a fourth, and so on) and resulting policies. This disaggregation of interests and consequent policies conceals the greater sum in an analysis of its component parts. Historian Lloyd C. Gardner identifies an interventionist impulse as a constant in US policy abroad.8 The term "interventionist" refers to involvement abroad - military, economic, political, or otherwise - pursuant of interests, and "impulse" connotes precisely that enmeshing of economic, political and strategic factors that drives foreign policy. This aggregation of distinct policy considerations into a policy impulse that drives US policy is important but not in itself enough to explain policy.

There is both a foreground and a background to policy. The foreground is the aggregate of considerations weighed by a policy-making community. Many foreign-policy analysts, particularly those from pluralist and realist paradigms, limit their work to an exploration of this territory, thus conflating human perceptions and public discourse, which are not causal explanations of policy but structurally contingent variables. The background is an international political economy and a world system in which nations and social groups interact, and which constitutes the structural underpinning of policymakers' perceptions and policies, and their evolution. The critical linkage between the background and the foreground are asymmetries and inequalities in the international political economy and cross-national relations of power and domination. Both realists and Marxists identify an organic and symbiotic relation between the wealth of nations and the power of nations, and great disparities in power and wealth among nations. This asymmetry is the bedrock upon which international relations unfold. For Marxists (in distinction to realists), asymmetric relationships are both between nations and between social classes and groups within nations and across national boundaries, although it is more accurate to speak of relations of asymmetric interdependence than of dependency. More insightful studies on international political economy focus neither on the internal nor on the external dimensions, but on the interaction between internal and external, between social groups within and among nations.

A thorough discussion on international political economy, world system and related theories is beyond the scope of this study.9 In sum, a world system came into being in the past 500 years as a consequence of the genesis and expansion of the capitalist mode of production, which gradually linked the whole world into a single system. The linkage of social formations on a global scale brought with it an international division of labor. The central dynamic of the "modern world system" is a process of global capital accumulation, the benefits of which accrue unequally among nations and among social groups within and between nations. The formation of a world system has brought about a division of the world into "center" (or "core") and "periphery," (or satellite and metropolis, or developed and underdeveloped), despite considerable diversity and a process of uneven development. The production, circulation and appropriation of surplus on a global scale are central to understanding world-historic dynamics. Superimposed upon the process of surplus extraction (the appropriation of wealth) from certain social groups or classes to others is a process of surplus extraction from one nation or region to another, or from peripheral to core regions within a single world economy. Social struggles over the control of wealth, therefore, take place within nations and across national boundaries, and national struggles over the circulation and appropriation of surpluses take place in the context of a transnational environment and the dynamic of international relations.

World system theory, in particular its theoretical proposition that the development of international society is constituted by the spread of a social system at the international level, forms a powerful macrostructural framework for analyzing world events, including US foreign policy and "democracy promotion." There are three general assumptions which I posit on the basis of world system theory and which are later woven into the analysis. First, political systems in the periphery have, seen through the long-historic lens of the modern era, been penetrated and influenced, if not entirely imposed, by the core. Changes in general core-periphery relations have consequences for peripheral political systems. Modern colonialism created political systems outright or transformed existing ones, which then gained new-found autonomy following decolonization. The relationship between changes in general core-periphery relations and changes in peripheral political systems should be viewed as a legitimate unit of social scientific inquiry. The global economy is fundamentally redefining North-South general relations, economic as well as political. Second, globalization is a new phase of capitalism which involves a transition to a qualitatively new stage in the world system. My application of the world system framework differs from the more orthodox approach advanced by sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein in historical periodization, in the Weberian definition of capitalism as a market rather than a production relation, and in the view of the state and its relation to nations and social groups. The assumption here, regarding periodization and production relations, is that the modern world system was characterized in an earlier period by a dominant capitalist mode, headquartered in the core, which articulated itself with distinct senior pre-capitalist modes in peripheral regions. Under globalization, capitalist production relations are displacing, rather than merely becoming articulated with, all residual pre-capitalist relations. Regarding the state, the assumption is that globalization is separating the state, conceived as a theoretical abstraction, from the nation-state as a concrete sovereign territorial unit. Third, a key disjuncture in the globalization process is the internationalization of productive forces within an institutional system still centered around the nation-state. This contradiction helps explain why outdated nation-state-centered approaches persist among scholars whose objects of inquiry are transnational phenomena. The increasing separation of classes from territoriality and class power from state power involves a dispersal of global decision-making away from specific core states, even though transnational groups continue to filter policies through existing state apparatuses. In elaborating a policy of "democracy promotion," the United States is not acting on behalf of a "US" elite, but playing a leadership role on behalf of an emergent transnational elite.


Asymmetry in international relations and hegemony

There are three dimensions, or levels, in analyzing policy development. One is intentional human agency, intersubjectivities clustered in a polity - a community which makes foreign policy. Social scientific analysis which operates at this level is practical-conjunctural, or alternatively, behavioral. At this level, it is important to draw the distinction in policy between means (which are policies) and ends (which are interests), and to recognize the tactical nature of many disputes within policy-making communities and view them as debates over the most effective means of achieving ends. The second level is the underlying global structure in which states and groups engage with the broader world system. Analysis at this level is structural analysis. Structure frames and conditions events and activities in the behavioral realm, often independently of intentionality. Intersubjective perceptions are structurally contingent and the two levels cannot be homogenized. Rather, we need to develop conceptual methodologies which problematize boundaries. Identifying a third mediating level of analysis contributes to methodological clarity and cognition of the phenomena under observation. This is the structural-conjunctural. It refers to processes in the social universe which do not lend themselves to easy cognition either at the structural or at the practical-conjunctural levels, but straddle the two and involve a mix of agency and structure. Structural analysis frames practical-conjunctural analysis, while structural-conjunctural analysis interfaces "backwards" and "forwards" with both and allows us to identify "feedback mechanisms" that keep in check functionalist teleology. Much literature on policy, international relations and world events tends to operate at either the structural or the behavioral level. A more useful approach, and one which I believe essential to properly understand the subject of this book, is a combination of both with the third, mediating level.

If world system theory provides a framework for a structural analysis of the background to US foreign policy, and aggregates of policymakers' considerations, for a behavioral analysis of the foreground, a Gramscian model of international relations provides a theoretical nexus between the background and the foreground. Gramscian concepts, particularly of hegemony and the extended state, help link propositions drawn from structural and behavioral levels of analysis.

The concept of hegemony is not generally used in the social sciences, including in most world system and Marxist models, in the Gramscian sense. The commonplace usage refers broadly to domination, rooted in the original Greek meaning of hegemony as predominance of one nation over another. The United States exercised global "hegemony" in the post-World War II era, or Great Britain was the "hegemonic" world power in the nineteenth century. Gramsci's notion of hegemony is more circumscribed, positing distinct forms, or relations, of domination, in brief: coercive domination and consensual domination. Hegemony in the Gramscian sense may be defined roughly as a relation between classes in which one class or fraction of a class exercises leadership over other classes and strata by gaining their active consent.10 A Gramscian hegemony involves the internalization on the part of subordinate classes of the moral and cultural values, the codes of practical conduct, and the worldview of the dominant classes or groups - in sum, the internalization of the social logic of the system of domination itself. This logic is imbedded in ideology, which acts as a cohesive force in social unification (in Gramsci's phrase, "cement"). But hegemony is more than ideology, and is not reducible to Marx's "false consciousness." Hegemony is a social relation which binds together a "bloc" of diverse classes and groups under circumstances of consensual domination, such that subordinate groups give their "spontaneous consent" to "the direction imposed on social life" by the dominant groups.

A social order in which hegemony has been achieved is one which takes the form of consensual ("democratic") arrangements in the political system and in society. These arrangements are characterized by a given set of juridical relations as the arbiter of social relations and procedural mechanisms for the resolution of group and class conflict. Hegemony mediates relations between dominant and subordinate groups, and also relations among dominant groups. The same consensual processes for the reproduction of a given constellation of dominant social forces also involve mechanisms for consensus among dominant groups themselves through consensus-creating processes. Stated in admittedly simplified terms, dictatorship or authoritarianism may be conceived as the exercise of coercive domination and hegemony refers to consensual domination. However, it should be stressed that hegemonic (consensual) domination does not mean the absence of coercion, much less the absence of conflict in a social formation, whether conceived as national or transnational. It is better conceived as the reproduction of social order through the salience of consensual means of social control. As Gramsci put it, hegemony is consensus protected by the "armor of coercion," and the political superstructures of a coherent social order (whether authoritarian or "democratic") always combine both coercive-based and consensual-based elements.
These two forms are (in Gramsci's Hegelian language) distinct "moments" in the social relations of domination, separable only in theoretical abstraction for methodological purposes.

A critical element in the Gramscian construct is the distinction and unity of political and civil society. Social control takes place on two levels: in civil society and through the state (political society), which are fused in Gramsci's extended state. "These two levels correspond on the one hand to the function of hegemony which the dominant group exercises throughout society and on the other hand to that of 'direct domination' or command exercised through the State and 'juridical' government."11 The hegemony of a ruling class or fraction is exercised in civil society, as distinct from its coercive power exercised through the state. Civil society is the arena of those social relationships which are based on consent - political parties, trade unions, civic (voluntary) associations, the family, and so forth.

Gramsci originally developed the concept of hegemony in its application to relations among classes and social groups within a nation. But the premise can be applied to international relations, as has been advanced elsewhere in recent international relations and development literature, and an "Italian school" has begun to emerge. However, a Gramscian theory of international relations remains sparsely developed, and most work has emphasized intra-elite relations over those between elites and subordinate classes, and has focused on intra-core and not on core-periphery relations.12 In contrast, I wish to highlight hegemonic relations between dominant and subordinate classes in the core-periphery context. This emergent "Italian school" is heterogeneous in interpretations of Gramsci and in application of his concepts to international phenomena, but here is not the place to take up debates on Gramsci.

My application is as follows. Hegemony is exercised in relations among nations and among classes or groups in a transnational setting. The structures of asymmetry in the international political economy are sustained and international relations of power and domination exercised through variants of coercive or consensual mechanisms of transnational social control. Hegemony applied to international relations is not synonymous with the application of power by one nation over others; this is domination, or, as specifically concerns core-periphery relations, imperialism, understood as the transfer of surpluses from one country or region to another and the military, political, and ideological mechanisms which facilitate such transfer. Such power may be gauged as the relative ability to influence events and their outcomes in a transnational arena. Cross-national relations of domination express given correlations of international force. A critical mass of asymmetrical power in international relations may be applied in a myriad of ways that create or sustain asymmetries, such as colonial conquest and direct military intervention. During its "American century," the United States applied such a critical mass of power, both direct (political-military) and indirect (economic), flowing from its location in the world system, to construct global empire and to exercise worldwide domination, just as Great Britain did in the nineteenth century. Relative power may be exercised in numerous ways, and the means with which it is applied can become as important as the degree of such power. A more effective means may require less application of power, or offset an absolute or relative decline. More importantly, changes in the nature of power itself may necessitate changes in the form in which it is exercised.

Hegemony is one form in which nations or groups in a transnational setting may exercise their domination in the international arena. The foreign policy of core states may be conceived, in the broadest sense, as international engagement by groups operating through states to maintain or extend the advantages accrued from a dominant location in an asymmetrical international order, including the suppression of groups that challenge those advantages. Mass movements for the democratization of social life are threats to dominant groups in a transnational setting. Yet the earlier authoritarian arrangements are increasingly unable to manage such threats. New modalities of intervention have emerged to face more complex threats. Transnational dominant classes and groups and the state apparatuses which they manage may sustain core-periphery relations of domination through coercion ("straight power concepts"), such as direct colonial control, an invasion, or a CIA-orchestrated coup d'etat, and more characteristically, through the promotion of dictatorial or authoritarian social arrangements. Or, transnational social control may be achieved through foreign-policy undertakings intended to bring about spontaneous consent through the political and ideological incorporation of subordinate groups.

A Gramscian construct allows us to synthesize the structural and the behavioral levels of analysis. Hegemony is not simply something which happens, a mere superstructural derivative of economic structures. It is, in large part, the result of a permanent and persuasive effort, conducted through a multiplicity of "superstructural" agencies and instances. However, the possibility of hegemonic order is conditioned by the structure of production and social relations that flow from political economy. Therefore, policy ultimately flows from the dialectic of agency and structure, but analysis requires a methodological distinction.

Regarding first the behavioral level of analysis, the US policy-making community has analyzed the dramatic changes in the international correlation of forces between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, and in the domestic political landscape in which foreign policy is constructed, which provided the basis for a reformulation of US policies and helped to consolidate the shift towards "democracy promotion." State managers have perceived that absolute power has declined, and have sought to adjust policies, even if they are not cognizant of the underlying structural and historical processes at work which account for this decline. Greater cognizance on the part of policymakers of the need to develop policies calibrated to actual power and potential, as well as the perception of decline in absolute US power, conceived in nation-state terms, has been an important part of the thinking among those who have developed "democracy promotion." However, international asymmetries no longer correlate to nation-states and their relative power, although the disjuncture between transnationalization and an institutional system still centered around the nation-state can produce seemingly contradictory phenomena, and even illusions among state managers, most of whom do not theorize on Gramscian concepts.

Regarding now the structural level of analysis, the decline in the relative power of the US nation-state and other core states in recent decades, the gradual separation of class power and state power (or the structural power of capital and the direct power of states), the disbursal of global power to geographically diffuse classes and groups operating in a transnational environment, and the requirement of democratic legitimation are all factors accounting for the decreased effectiveness of traditional military power and the absolute coercive capacity of the core in the world system. Debate over whether the United States is losing or merely reconfiguring its position as the dominant world power reflects an outdated state-centered approach which fails to appreciate changes in the nature of power under globalization, and which therefore obscures our understanding of the relation between economic and political change in global society.
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:08 am

Part 2 of 4

How is US foreign policy made? The state, civil society and power

Great power in America is concentrated in a tiny handful of people. A few thousand individuals out of 238 million Americans decide about war and peace, wages and prices, consumption and investment, employment and production, law and justice, taxes and benefits, education and learning, health and welfare, advertising and communication, life and leisure.

-- Thomas R. Dye, Who's Running America?
[13]


To understand US foreign policy we must analyze the nature of foreign policymaking and draw out the linkage between politics and power and between state and society as central concerns of political sociology. 14 Pluralist (liberal) interpretations, rooted theoretically in Durkheimian-Parsonian structural-functionalism, maintain that power is diffused throughout society and the state is a neutral arena or arbiter whose policies are determined by competition among multiple "interest groups," or Toquevillian "voluntary associations." Accordingly, foreign policy reflects the interests of pluralist majorities. Most realists share with pluralists the dichotomy between state and society. But the state is less an institution instrumentalized by pluralist majorities than a corporate entity independent of society - a "state-in-itself" or a "state-for-itself" - a view drawn from Weberian and managerial models of political sociology.15 Foreign policy is managed by state actors who, operating independently of backward linkage to society, face a competitive state system in an anarchic world.

However, the empirical evidence weighs heavily in favor of elitist and class models of political power. These models, whether they lean towards the "instrumentalist" or the "structuralist" side in theoretical conceptualization of how the state performs the functions that it does, or whether power rests in control over institutions or over the means of production, share the view that the state serves the interests of those groups and classes which are dominant in society.16 The state is conceived as institutionalized social relations, not as an independent unit linked externally to society through its functions but as an organic expression of the social structure itself. Many well-documented studies, among them C. Wright Mills's classic The Power Elite, Ralph Miliband's The State in Capitalist Society, and more recent works by sociologist G. William Domhoff and political scientist Thomas R. Dye, have shown that the foreign policymaking process is tightly controlled by an inner circle of political, business, and intellectual elites, scattered throughout the organs of the US state, the corporate echelons, and a handful of elite policy planning institutes,17 Dye summarizes this as an oligarchical model of power. Foreign policy reflects the interests of a small elite, which also controls the domestic political economy, and which is generally not accountable to mass constituencies and their interests. States do possess varying degrees of autonomy in policymaking. However, foreign policy is in large measure the outcome of the conflicts among dominant groups within each society, and dominant classes utilize foreign policy in their interests. There are no such things as US "national security" or "national interests." There are interests and security considerations (albeit shifting and conflicting) among dominant classes and groups, distinguishable from those of other classes and groups. These dominant groups exercise inordinate influence over the instruments of foreign policy in pursuit not of "national" but of class or group interests. This does not preclude circumstantial convergence of interests among different classes or groups, or foreign-policy development that is influenced, although not determined, by subordinate classes and groups.

State policy is developed in broader linkage to society and political economy. The linkage of the state, from where policy is actually managed, to society is crucial. Most pluralist/liberal and managerial/realist analyses of foreign policy assume that society and the state form a unitary entity and that foreign policy is determined by an objective national interest. Policies are attributed simply to the perceptions and decisions of those who actually occupy government posts: government officials or policymakers-proper, whose activities attract the attention of analysts and who appear to be the makers of policy. Dye refers to these government officials as "proximate policymakers" that constitute only the final phase of a complex policymaking process largely determined by forces in civil society. These forces structure the options available for the formal law-making institutions through which formal policymakers operate.18 G.W. Domhoff dissects the mechanisms and processes by which dominant forces in civil society (at whose apex are the agents of corporate capital) come to utilize the state and policymakers in their own interests. Domhoff identifies a core of policy specialists which extends beyond the proximate policymakers themselves. These specialists, operating out of policy groups, foundations, think-tanks, university research institutes, and government agencies, bring long-range political considerations and issues concerning social stability to the attention of the dominant classes and their inner core in the corporate community.19 This group of private and public "specialists," including but not limited to "proximate policymakers" operating within formal government structures, forms what I refer to as the extended policymaking community and constitutes the crucial mediating link between agency and structure in the development of policy and the construction of hegemony.

An "immediate policymaking community" is comprised of state managers and government agencies, and is often referred to as an "administration" -- a particular and temporary group of elected officials and their appointees. Much policy analysis tends to focus on this immediate community, yet policy is best analyzed as it flows from the extended policymaking community. This community extends backwards into civil society, goes well beyond specific elected administrations, spans the panoply of institutions in which power is exercised, and brings together the formal state apparatus with the network of universities, think-tanks, corporate groups, and so forth. It conducts ongoing and regenerative processes of policy formation and implementation over extended periods. This extended policymaking community is the appropriate locus of behavioral analysis of foreign policy.

Gramsci's concept of the extended state clarifies the intricate interpenetration of state and society and overcomes dualist notions of the two. Hegemony is exercised in civil society itself, and power is exercised through the state only on the basis of a given constellation of forces in civil society. In turn, as Karl Marx noted in 1859, "the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy."20 Once a given "historic bloc" (a constellation of social forces with a hegemonic class or class fraction in the leadership) has achieved hegemonic order, those classes or groups who have achieved hegemony in civil society effectively exercise state power, whether directly or indirectly. The correlation of forces in civil society is at least as important as who actually holds state power, maybe more so. Gramsci's distinction between civil society and the state is purely methodological; the state and civil society are fused, or "intertwined," as are the mechanisms of consent and coercion for the purpose of rule. Gramsci's extended state is thus "political society plus civil society." Political society corresponds to the formal state apparatus, which is what most literature refers to when it discusses "the state."21 The rise of civil society, once the capitalist mode of production has become consolidated, is at the core of the historic process. The complex of "private" but national (social) organizations, such as mass political parties, trade unions, mass media, and civic associations, integrates subordinate classes and groups into the capitalist society.
The state is the means through which the dominant class "not only justifies and maintains its dominance, but manages to win the active consent of those over whom it rules."22 The state is not simply "negative and repressive," but also "positive and educative," encompassing repressive organs such as the military and police, but also legislatures and educational systems. The state unites with the "trenches of civil society" to organize and structure interests in accordance with the preservation of the social order.

This is relevant to "democracy promotion" on two accounts. First, as I shall draw out below, the understanding on the part of US policymakers that power ultimately rests in civil society, and that state power is intimately linked to a given correlation of forces in civil society, has helped shape the contours of the new political intervention. Unlike earlier US interventionism, the new intervention focuses much more intensely on civil society itself, in contrast to formal government structures, in intervened countries. The purpose of "democracy promotion" is not to suppress but to penetrate and conquer civil society in intervened countries, that is, the complex of "private" organizations such as political parties, trade unions, the media, and so forth, and from therein, integrate subordinate classes and national groups into a hegemonic transnational social order. Since social groups vie for control over the levers of state power (and to put their agents into positions of proximate policymakers), and since the strength of social groups in civil society is a determining factor in this struggle for control, it is not surprising that the new political intervention emphasizes building up the forces in the civil society of intervened countries which are allied with dominant groups in the United States and the core regions of the world system. This function of civil society as an arena for exercising domination runs counter to conventional (particularly pluralist) thinking on the matter, which holds that civil society is a buffer between state domination and groups in society, and that class and group domination is diluted as civil society develops.

Second, viewing power through the lens both of the state apparatus and formal policymakers and the correlations of force in civil society further clarifies a complex new convergence of interests between certain groups in countries where the United States has intervened to "promote democracy" and those who exercise effective power in the United States. Insofar as we are dealing with democratization around the world, there has been circumstantial convergence of interests between dominant US groups and majoritarian groups in some Third World countries (including elites and popular sectors) around the strategy of "democracy promotion," such as in Chile and the Philippines. In other instances, the convergence is not between US policy and majority groups, but a conspiratorial convergence against majorities, as in Nicaragua and Haiti. Under "democracy promotion," US foreign policy links up with specific groups in other countries. The location of these groups in the state apparatus and in the civil societies is of prime importance. These transnational political processes involve a complex matrix of relations between social groups, classes, and institutions within nations and between nations.

Gramsci analyzed "historic blocs" in individual societies, within a specific constellation of class and social forces, whose "glue" or binding element, is ideological hegemony. With the shift from coercive to consensual forms of social control, the importance of ideology in maintaining social order increases dramatically. Coercion is the glue that sustains and reinforces social control and oppressive social relations in a dictatorship, and ideology is reduced to crude rationalization of repression. Ideology constitutes the glue that sustains social control under consensual arrangements.23 Ideology is more than an anthropological belief system and is not equivalent to mere illusion. It is a material force insofar as it orients and sets limits on human action by establishing generalized codes of conduct which organize entire populations. 24 Consciousness is the medium between structure and agency, mediating between objective conditions and social action as subjective response to those conditions. Dominant ideologies therefore tend to set circumscribed frames of reference in which subordinate groups politically challenge the dominant. Under a hegemonic social order, embedded in ideology are definitions of key political, economic and philosophical concepts and the ideological framework establishes the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the demands placed on the social order. I argue later that one particular definition of the key political/philosophical concept of democracy, the polyarchic definition, has become hegemonic, and that this serves hegemony by filtering out as illegitimate demands that actually call into question the social order itself.

Hegemony in the world system is transnational consensual domination in a structural situation of international asymmetries in which neither power and wealth, nor politics and economics, are separable or dichotomous. Gill characterizes hegemony at the transnational level as the fusion of ideological dominance by class or group fractions with structural dominance in the international political economy. In the world system perspective, the center countries enjoy structural dominance in the international political economy. My notion of international hegemony is distinct from most world system theorists, for whom it is equated with structural domination alone. However, it also differs from Gill, Cox, Augelli and Murphy, and others from the "Italian school" who focus on ideological consensus within dominant groups across nations, or transnational intra-elite consensus. I suggest that transnational domination, in order to be hegemonic, requires the ideological incorporation of both dominant and subordinate groups in the center and periphery. Prior to globalization, leadership in the world system shifted from one core power to another over time, a process involving periodic swings between conflict and consensus among core powers and a fairly constant relation of coercive domination of the periphery. A hegemonic world social order has only become possible for the first time in human history in the current age of globalization. Elaboration rests on a structural analysis of globalization.

Global economy, global society and transnational political processes

The shift from authoritarian to consensual mechanisms of social control corresponds to the emergence of a global economy since the 1970s and constitutes a political exigency of macro-economic restructuring on a world scale.25 Globalization comprises two interwoven processes. First is the culmination of the process begun several centuries ago, in which capitalist production relations are undermining and supplanting all pre-capitalist relations across the globe, in those areas specializing in manufacturing or services and those in primary production. Second is the transition over the past several decades from the linkage of nations via commodity exchange and capital flows in an integrated international market, in which different modes of production coexisted within broader social formations and national and regional economies enjoyed autonomy despite external linkages, to the globalization of the process of production itself. This involves the restructuring of the international division of labor and the reorganization of productive structures in each nation. It has major consequences for the social and political texture of every society and for the world polity.

The general international division of labor was based in earlier periods on the production of manufactured goods in the centers of world capitalism and primary goods in the peripheral areas, often under semi- or pre-capitalist relations. This "colonial" division of labor has been transformed with the appearance of the multinational corporation as the principal agent of international economic activity and several consecutive waves in the scientific and technological revolution (STR). The first STR began during or soon after World War II and focused on capital-intensive technologies (nuclear energy, new automation techniques, synthetics, computers and electronics, etc.). The second STR began in the late 1960s and includes a second generation of computerization, electronics, and synthetics, and new communications technologies. The first constituted a shift from labor-intensive industrial production to capital-intensive production as the core of accumulation on a world scale; the second from capital-intensive to technology- (and knowledge)-intensive. Several clusters of completely new industries based on high technology and scientific content - advanced electronics and computerization, telecommunications, robotics, cybernetics, aerospace science, biotechnology, and so forth - are coming to dominate in the North.

These profound transformations in the technological and material structure of human society facilitate global economic restructuring, transforming the very nature of the industrial production process and, along with it, the role of human labor. It has allowed for the decentralization across the globe of complex production processes simultaneous with the centralization of decision-making and management of global production; the complete separation of the site of management from the site of production and the geographic fragmentation of production and of capital. This new ability to set up what Barnet and Muller describe as the" global factory" has allowed capital to realize across the globe what, at one time, it had to restrict to national borders: total mobility in the search for the cheapest labor and the most congenial conditions for the different circuits of production and distribution, without regard for national borders. The rich countries of the North are increasingly based on control of technology, information and services (including finances), whereas the labor-intensive phase of international production, and in some cases whole manufacturing processes, shift to the South through the "comparative advantage" of abundant, cheap labor.

The globalization of production involves a hitherto unseen integration of national economies and brings with it a tendency towards uniformity, not just in the conditions of production, but in the civil and political superstructure in which social relations of production unfold. A new "social structure of accumulation" is emerging which is for the first time global. A social structure of accumulation refers to a set of mutually reinforcing social, economic and political institutions and cultural and ideological norms which fuse with, and facilitate, a successful pattern of capital accumulation over specific historic periods. A new global social structure of accumulation is becoming superimposed on, and is transforming, all existing national social structures of accumulation. The agent of the global economy is transnational capital, organized institutionally in global corporations, in supranational economic planning agencies and political forums, and managed by a class-conscious transnational elite based in the core of the world system.
In his analysis of the structural changes in the international political economy from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, Gill argues that the international economic turmoil of that twenty-year period was not, in fact, reflective of the breakdown of world capitalism nor of the accelerated division of the centers of world capitalism (Western Europe, North America and Japan) into competing trade and financial blocs. Rather, it was precisely the rough bumps of the emergence of transnationalized capital, concentrated in international finance capital, as the hegemonic fraction of capital at a world level. 26

The concentration of capital and economic power around this transnational elite in core countries has a transformative effect on arrangements between social groups, class constellations, and political systems in every country of the world system. Political and economic power tends to gravitate towards new groups linked to the global economy, either directly or through reorganized local state apparatuses which function as "transmission belts" for transnational interests. In every region of the world, in both North and South, from Eastern Europe to Latin America, states, economies, and political processes are becoming transnationalized and integrated under the guidance of this new elite. Barnet and Muller have shown how transnational capital integrates local elite groups in the centers of the world economy into "transnational circuits."27 Cox identifies transnational class fractions which coalesce out of specific national class fractions exhibiting a strong congruence in a cross-national setting. The internationalization of production involves the transition from nationally defined class structures to a global class structure "alongside or superimposed upon national class structures," in which "class action penetrates countries through the process of the internationalization of the state." Transnational fractions of capital have become dominant in center countries, and a "transnational managerial class" appears at the apex of the global class structure.28

This transnational elite has its exact counterpart in each nation of the South, in a new breed of "technocratic" elite in Latin America, Africa and Asia - what economists Osvaldo Sunkel and Edmundo F. Fuenzalida have called "transnational kernels" in peripheral countries.29 These elites in the South, the local counterparts to the global elite, are overseeing sweeping processes of social and economic restructuring. However, analysis of transnational kernels in the periphery has lagged behind analyses of the emergence of a transnational Northern-based elite. Domhoff has analyzed the ties that bind dominant elites in advanced capitalist societies, in which ideological affinities and social cohesion is developed through formal and informal socialization processes and institutional interlocks in "private" institutions, the economy, and the state.30 Gill, in his analysis of the Trilateral Commission, elevates the binding process to a transnational setting as regards class fractions drawn from the United States, Western Europe and Japan.31 Writing from the perspective of dependency theory, sociologist Peter Evans explores "problems of integration" and identifies some of the concrete mechanisms by which local (Southern or peripheral) and multinational (Northern or core) capital has become interdependent and interpenetrated in the accumulation process.32

I wish to take the analysis of global class formation a step further. Relations of dependency and asymmetry are not superseded by globalization. Control over the accumulation process increasingly rests on technology and its diffusion, on decision-making in a worldwide (spatial) distribution of productive resources, and the global (as distinct from local) management of these resources, which remains in general a monopoly of core country elites. And the most dynamic centers of capital accumulation on a world scale - technology, management, finances, and knowledge-intensive services - remain concentrated generally in core regions. However, I submit that the transnationalization of civil and political society is performing an integrative function in cohering a dominant transnational social group that is linked in overlapping North-North and North-South class constellations. Evans analyzes a contradiction between "national rationalities" of Southern elites whose interests lie in national accumulation processes and the "global rationality" of multinational capital. But the global economy provides the material basis for the supersession of this contradiction. The logics of local and global accumulation increasingly coincide. The central concern of this study is to show how new instruments of political intervention, originally developed in the United States and then applied around the world in the name of "democracy promotion," are aimed at suppressing the demands of popular sectors in the South. However, it will become clear through the empirical evidence presented, and class analysis applied, in the case studies that these same instruments are also integrative mechanisms which forge North-South social and political cohesion among elites operating in the new global environment. These instruments help bridge the gap between the logic of local and of global accumulation by cultivating transnationalized kernels in each intervened country, helping place these local class fractions into direct state power, and linking them to the transnational elite under a single global logic.

By a "transnational elite," therefore, I refer to class fractions drawn around the world that are integrated into fully transnationalized circuits of production, and whose outlook and political behavior is guided by the logic of global rather than local accumulation. However, relations of asymmetry and dependency are not superseded by globalization, such that the transnational elite brings together "junior partners" in the South who are involved in local decisions and the local management of global capital and "senior partners" in the North who are involved in global decisions and global management. Southern contingents of the transnational elite are agents, in their respective countries and regions, of the interests of hegemonic transnational capital. These southern contingents are "technocratic" elites because they apply, through both the formal state and "private" institutions, the technical criteria of capitalist production efficiency in managing the operations of transnational capital, in distinction to earlier "crony elites," leaders of populist projects in the Third World, and other competing elites whose criteria and outlook tend to differ from that of transnational capital.

The transnational elite has an economic project and a political counterpart to that project. The economic project is neo-liberalism, a model which seeks to achieve conditions for the total mobility of capital. This model includes the elimination of state intervention in the economy and of the regulation by individual nation-states of the activity of capital in their territories. Neo-liberal structural adjustment programs sweeping the South seek macro-economic stability (price and exchange-rate stability, etc.) as an essential requisite for the activity of transnational capital, which must harmonize a wide range of fiscal, monetary, and industrial policies among multiple nations if it is to be able to function simultaneously, and often instantaneously, across numerous national borders.

Globalization upsets the ability of individual states (in both North and South) to regulate economic activity within national borders, to capture and redistribute surpluses, to harmonize conflicting social interests, and to realize their historic function of sustaining the internal unity of a nationally conceived social formation. Globalization reduces the need capital has for each individual state to serve the accumulation process.
The result is a dramatic intensification of what Barnet and Muller called the "managerial dilemma of the state," or what James O'Connor, with more precision, referred to as "the fiscal crisis of the state." According to O'Connor, the capitalist state has dual and ultimately contradictory functions: that of providing the conditions for capital accumulation (its class function), and that of legitimating the social order by representing the nation (its general function) and thus assuring social harmony and a reconciliation of class interests. The globalization process triggers, in particular, spiralling crises of legitimacy. 33 Transnational capital requires that states perform three functions: (1) adopt fiscal and monetary policies which assure macroeconomic stability (2) provide the basic infrastructure necessary for global economic activity (air and sea ports, communications networks, educational systems which impart the specific skills among labor which capital requires in different spatial locations, etc.), and (3) provide social order, that is, stability, which requires sustaining instruments of direct coercion and ideological apparatuses. In a nutshell, we are not witnessing "the death of the nation-state" but their transformation into neo-liberal states. The "commanding heights" of state decision-making are shifting to supranational institutions, such as the IMF, the World Trade Organization, and the Trilateral Commission. Gill and Law refer to the imposition of the "structural power" of transnational capital over the "direct power" of the state,34 which redefines the historic relation between the power of nation-states and the power of formerly nation-based classes. The result is a changing correlation of forces at the international level not correlative to changes in the relative power of nation-states.

The economic and political planks of the the transnational elite project are reciprocal. Neo-liberal restructuring makes more porous national borders and deepens the subordination of each nation's internal productive process to external economies. It modernizes capital accumulation by creating conditions under which the capitalist production process can take place in the global economy (hence neoliberal restructuring is often called "modernization"). This restructuring is "efficient" to the extent that it regenerates the circuit of capital accumulation in the new global environment. The adjustment process facilitates a simultaneous contraction in overall demand and a transfer of income and resources from workers and small-scale producers to large producers and bureaucratic personnel who are subordinate to transnational capital. Restructuring brings about a regressive redistribution of income and a concentration of productive resources in the hands of smaller groups. Absolute and relative poverty has escalated and real wages have plummeted in the South (and much of the North) simultaneously with increased growth and increased external debt.35 There is no objective correlation between economic growth and living conditions and the two are distinct variables. The opening of Third World economies facilitates the transfer of resources from the domestic to the external sector within national economies, and from these to the exterior, strengthening in the process transnational pools in each nation. Thus any effort at a more equitable distribution of political power through democratization runs up against the further concentration of economic power. Shifts in the relative economic weight and power of groups bear directly on the capacity of different sectors to intervene in political processes. By deepening asymmetries between the North and the South and social and economic inequalities within Third World nations, neo-liberal restructuring also redistributes political power locally and globally.

In close correlation to neo-liberalism, the political project of the transnational elite is the consolidation of political systems that function through consensual mechanisms of social control. The new elites in the South have entered into alliances to "promote democracy," or to develop "democratic" consensual forms of social control in their countries in contrast to the earlier forms of authoritarian or dictatorial control. But why consensual over coercive control? Authoritarianism and dictatorship had become a fetter to the emergent patterns of international capital accumulation corresponding to the global economy. Globalizing forces have been disintegrating previously embedded forms of political authority. As Gill points out, the "globalizing thrust of internationally mobile capital [contradicts] the more territorially bounded nature of political authority in the late 20th century."36 Transnational capital has become sufficiently disruptive and intrusive as to break down barriers that earlier separated and compartmentalized groups in and between societies, while mass communications are integrating what were once secluded social and cultural experiences of different peoples within the world system. The communications revolution has penetrated even the most remote and isolated regions of the world and linked them with an increasingly global civilization. On the one hand, even the most isolated communities are broken up and their members dispersed. The old bonds of social cohesion dissolve and individuals are reintegrated into new national spaces. In turn, mass communications combine with generalized social dislocations to create new intersubjectivities and link national to international spaces. This globalization of social life has brought with it new social movements and revolutions in civil society around the world. In short, people have been pushed by the global economy into new roles as economic and social protagonists, and in this process, have been demanding from below the democratization of social life.

This is what the Trilateral Commission, in its 1975 report The Crisis of Democracy, referred to as "the explosion of social interaction, and correlatively a tremendous increase of social pressure." Social and economic developments in the world over the past several decades "have made it possible for a great many more groups and interests to coalesce. .. the information explosion has made it difficult if not impossible to maintain the traditional distance that was deemed necessary to govern."37 The report noted that "democratic ethos make it difficult to prevent access and restrict information, while the persistence of the bureaucratic processes which have been associated with the traditional governing systems makes it impossible to handle them at a low enough level." Authoritarian political systems are unable to manage the expansive social intercourse associated with the global economy. Social interaction and economic integration on a world scale are obstructed by authoritarian or dictatorial political arrangements; under the hegemony of transitional capital, they require consensual arrangements and their mechanisms of ideological hegemony. It should be recalled that the Trilateral Commission brings together the highest echelons of the corporate, government and intellectual elite in the developed capitalist countries, and represents the thoroughly transnationalized fraction of capital which has become hegemonic on a world scale.

The emergence of a global economy provides the material basis for a global civil society. Gramsci noted that the consolidation of the capitalist mode of production in the center countries in the nineteenth century shifted the locus of power firmly and fully into a rising civil society. Similarly, the emergence and consolidation of the global capitalist economy signals the rise of global civil society as the locus of global power and the dispute for hegemony in a transnational setting. According to Cox, power at the global level should be gauged by "state-civil society complexes" not in any one nation, but in an international correlation of force in which Great Powers have the maximum degree of external autonomy, whereas the subordinate powers are penetrated by the former. "The hegemonic concept of world order is founded not only upon the regulation of inter-state conflict but also upon a globally conceived civil society, i.e. a mode of production of global extent which brings about links among social classes encompassed by it."38 Democratization movements around the world thus develop within the context of transnational political processes and an extended civil society which transcends national bounds.

The globalization of civil society provides the basis for the first time in human history for a global order based on hegemony or consensual domination. Gramsci saw the mechanisms of hegemony tied to consolidation of capitalist production relations, which separates political and civil society into distinct spheres of the social totality. Both Karl Polanyi and Nicos Poulantzas elevated this observation to theoretical status with their respective analyses of the formal (apparent) separation of the political and the economic under capitalism.39 With the transnationalization of capitalist production and the extension of commodification to the most dispersed and remote communities around the globe civil society emerges on a global scale. Hegemony is a form of domination exercised through civil society. Only in the age of a global civil society can we speak of a global hegemonic social order. Until globalization, transnational hegemony was limited to relations between nations and their complexes of the state and civil society among the industrialized capitalist countries. Cox argues that the liberal world order under Pax Britannica achieved world hegemony, since Great Britain had the coercive capacity to enforce obedience and thus achieved global consent to its rules of free trade, the Gold Standard, etc.40 But this hegemony was among the Great Powers of the center of the world system, whereas the relations that mediated center and periphery - colonial and neo-colonial - were ones of coercive domination. While subordinate classes in the center were drawn into consensual domination, the colonized populations of the peripheral regions, drawn into the world system by European and US powers, never gave their "spontaneous and active consent" to imperial domination. 41 In contrast, in the current epoch, globalizing processes affect all elements (dominant and subordinate groups), directly and indirectly, of each society inserted into the global system, through labor markets, socializing agencies, the mass media, and other institutions. Emergent transnational pools in the South liaise in diverse ways, "inwards," with national and local populations, and "outwards," with their senior Northern counterparts. These pools are therefore transmission belts, located on the boundaries of the national and the transnational, for the penetration of global society and hegemonic incorporation of world majorities.

With the externalization and transnationalization of civil societies, correlations of force at the international level are gauged as much by the power of states and wealth of nations as by power exercised in an increasingly global civil society. Globalization also tends to transnationalize and to integrate national political processes. Prior to globalization, the civil societies and political systems of specific nations could enjoy varying degrees of autonomy, so long as linkage to the world system was through the state and the main actors in the international arena were, in fact, states. In other words, the existence of an authoritarian political system in one country and a "democratic" system in another was not consequential to the linkage of these two countries via trade and financial flows, in distinction to an organic linkage via the integration of production systems. Just as earlier in history it was not possible to have two separate political systems and civil societies within the boundaries of a single, integrated national economy, globalizing pressures break down national autonomies and make it increasingly impossible to sustain distinct political systems in an integrated global economy. Economic globalization generates pressures for integration into a single "political regime." Polyarchy is the emergent global political superstructure of the emergent global economy.

Promoting polyarchy should be situated within the model of "transnational practices" (TNPs) proposed by sociologist Leslie Sklair in Sociology of the Global System. Sklair argues that the global system as the starting point "is increasingly necessary for the analysis of a growing number of rapidly changing phenomena" and may provide a way out of the impasse into which, in his view, globalizing processes have led international relations and development studies. Sklair's model involves TNPs at three levels: the economic, whose agent is transnational capital; the political, whose agent is a transnational capitalist class; and the cultural, involving a "culture-ideology of consumerism":

The global system is made up of economic transnational practices and at the highest level of abstraction these are the building blocks of the system. The political practices are the principles of organization of the system. They have to work with the materials on hand, but by manipulating the design of the system they can build variations into it. The cultural-ideological practices are the nuts and bolts and the glue that hold the system together. [42]


But Sklair limits exploration of "transnational political practices" largely to instrumental political pressures exerted by corporate agents, such that transnational corporations and their activity are seen as representing a new political order. What must be problematized is the relation between economic globalization and political processes and systems as linkages which mediate structure and agency. The new US political intervention can be conceived, in the broadest sense, as a transnational political practice by dominant sectors in the United States, acting as the political leadership of an increasingly cohesive transnational elite, for the purpose of installing and stabilizing polyarchic political systems in the South.

US foreign policy and intellectual production: competing definitions of democracy, democratization theory, and reconstituting "democracy" for transnational hegemony

Organic intellectuals: the link between academia and US foreign policy


Whether it is possible for intellectuals to remain above the social conflicts which engulf society, or whether any intellectual activity is neutral in status, is highly questionable. Karl Marx argued that intellectual production cannot be separated from the social relations under which it is produced, and that thought itself flows from the material conditions of life. Karl Mannheim went further: an element of social conflict is that people "think with or against one another." Mannheim claimed that the "intelligentsia" are not a class, have no common interests and are incapable of common and concerted action. They are, he insisted, ideologues of one or another class but never speak for "themselves."43 It is Gramsci's concept of organic intellectuals that does the most to clarify the relationship between US foreign policy and mainstream US academia. This concept is multidimensional and open to distinct interpretations. It concerns the relation of intellectuals to the dominant classes and also their relation to subordinate classes. My concern here is with the former, and in particular with the role of the intellectual strata in developing a relatively coherent worldview rooted in philosophy, science, sociological theory, law, and so forth, in the function of domination.

A class or class fraction that makes a bid for hegemony must acquire intellectual and moral leadership. Gramsci described organic intellectuals as "experts in legitimization" who do the political and theoretical thinking of the dominant groups, thereby constructing the ideological conditions for hegemony. But organic intellectuals also make essential practical and technical contributions to social order. They theorize on the conditions of existence of a social order as a whole, suggest policies and their justifications, and even participate in their application. The activity of organic intellectuals constitutes a key element of mediation between the structural and the behavioral levels of analysis (and analysis of intellectual production may be seen as structural-conjunctural analysis). The Trilateral Commission report, for instance, is properly seen as reflection by organic intellectuals upon structure in order to orient policy. Organic intellectuals provide the theoretical understanding of historical processes and of structure necessary for dominant groups to engage in the social practice of domination, and for the construction of hegemony as a fit between power, ideas, and institutions.44
The immediate policy-making community has demonstrated a cognizance and intentionality in policy formation without necessarily theorizing on the social activity in which they are involved and the structures with which they interact. However, "backward linkage" between this community and the scholarly community is realized in the intellectual activity of mainstream US academia, where such theorization does take place.

There has been a close "fit" in the post-World War II period between US foreign policy and the mainstream academic community. In particular, modernization and political culture/development theorists provided intellectual guidelines and legitimization for foreign policy, and also contributed important theoretical and practical elements - including developing a new generation of democratization theory - to the development of the new political intervention. These theories should be seen as intellectual movement parallel to and deeply interpenetrated with US policy. In a scientific sense, this intellectual activity is deceptive insofar as (a) value-laden intellectual production steeped in assumptions is presented as objective, scientific and value-free, and (b) there are antinomies internal to these theories which can be exposed and positively associated with real social and political contradictions.

The relation between the scholarly community and the action of dominant groups in US and other state apparatuses, and in supranational institutions, is not merely one of theoretical abstraction. There are organic ties which subordinate intellectuals to dominant groups, ultimately on the basis of the latter's control over the material life of society. Dye documents the role of universities and intellectuals in the policy-making process. "While university intellectuals working independently occasionally have an impact on the policy-making process, on the whole intellectuals who would be heard must respond to policy directions set by the foundations, corporations, and government agencies that underwrite the costs of research" and set overall academic and public agendas.45 It is worth quoting Cox at some length in this same regard:

Intellectual production is now organized like the production of goods or of other services. The material basis of networks is provided by formal (usually nongovernmental) organizations as mobilizing and coordinating agencies with research directors and funds (from sources sometimes more, sometimes less visible) for commissioning studies, financing conferences, and symposia or informal luncheon discussions ... The material basis of networks allows for a selection of participants which guarantees a certain homogeneity around a basic core of orthodoxy. However, since the object of the exercise is consensus-building, narrow orthodoxy or exclusiveness would be a self-defeating criterion, and the activators of each network extend their search to those whose ideas reach the outer boundaries of what might ultimately be acceptable. Above and beyond material support, the organized network holds out to the intellectual the prospect of political influence, of being listened to by top decision-makers and even of becoming part of the decision-making team. [46]


Ideology and its production are generally spontaneous (intellectually reflexive) and should not be confused with deliberate falsehood. It is not necessary to assume a conspiracy among scholars in the service of hegemony. Such intellectuals need not be conscious of their role in relation to ideology and the structures of domination. Some intellectuals are indeed quite conscious of their role as ideologues and their participation in the structure of power, and they routinely alternate between academia and positions in the formal state apparatus. However, what is pertinent is not the subjective status or conscious intent of intellectuals but the objective significance of the scholarship in question, independent of its agents, in the ideological rationalization of the new political intervention as the "promotion of democracy" and in the provision of technical solutions for effectively carrying out this intervention. Insofar as hegemony is problematic and not given, it is constructed and must constantly be reconstructed. The evolution of modernization and political development theory into the new democratization literature parallels the reconfiguration of US-Third World and North-South relations over the past few decades.
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

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Part 3 of 4

From modernization and political development to democratization: theoretical development in the function of policy development

The shift from supporting authoritarian regimes to promoting polyarchy led many intellectuals and academicians who had previously distanced themselves from policies seen as hypocritical or morally objectionable into an enthusiastic embrace of the new modalities of intervention. At the same time as "a democratic miracle sweeping the world" became standard phraseology in US foreign policymaking circles, "democratization" became a veritable boom industry on US campuses and for academic publishers. By the early 1990s, a whole new body of literature on "transitions" and on US "democracy promotion" had become established in government circles, policy planning institutions and mainstream academia.47 Much of this literature is value-laden and steeped in implicit analytical and theoretical assumptions in such a way that the distinction between those who are writing from the outlook of a policymaker or power-holder, and those who are writing from the viewpoint of social science inquiry, often becomes confused.48 A critique of "democratization" literature, particularly those works which interface closely with the policymaking community, sheds important light on theoretical and practical aspects of the new political intervention, and also demonstrates how ideology and political practices become rationalized in intellectual activity, which in turns forms the basis for developing the ideological dimensions of hegemony.

There is an underlying continuity between modernization and political culture/political development theories of the 1950s and 1960s, and democratization theories of the 1980s and 1990s. The former constitute the theoretical forerunners of the latter and the development of both has involved a close association between the US state and US academia. Links include generous government funding for research projects, conferences which bring policymakers and intellectuals face-to- face, and studies which either originate in universities and become standard materials used by policymakers, or which originate in policy planning institutes tied to the policymaking process and become standard materials used in universities. This is the case, for example, with two of the most widely cited and circulated volumes: Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy, a four-volume collection, edited by Guillermo O'Donnell, Philip C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead, and Democracy in Developing Countries, another four-volume series, edited by Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz, and Seymour Martin Upset. Both were commissioned with the intent of informing US policy and policymakers, and are considered standard references in government and academia on "transition to democracy."49 There are direct and indirect mechanisms which mediate the relations between organic intellectuals and state policies, including, but not limited to, a revolving door between posts in universities, posts in the US government, and posts in government-linked but nominally private policy planning institutes, similar to (and overlapping with) the corporate government revolving door. In turn, literature originating in the government-university nexus has a natural advantage in establishing dominance and authority in the field. It sets the frame of reference for general treatment of the issue, defines the parameters of debate and circumscribes research agendas. In this way, it achieves a certain intellectual hegemony. 50

It was no coincidence that John W. Burgess, founder of the first department of political science in the United States, explained in 1890, at the beginning of a decade which began extra-territorial US expansion, that the new discipline of political science would help "the civilized states" to "undertake the work of state organization" for the populations of the colonial and semi-colonial regions who were "in a state of barbarism or semi-barbarism."51 The "manifest destiny" and the "civilizing mission" to which Burgess referred reflected racial and colonial theories that provided crude justification for the imperial policies of the United States and the other Great Powers in the era of modern colonialism, from late last century through to the World War II. But the relation between intellectual labor and policy development became considerably more sophisticated after the War.
Modernization theories that emanated out of the US social sciences were closely associated with the rise of the United States as the dominant world power and with the emergence of "Third World" protagonists on the world stage, involving simultaneous processes of decolonization and of the reconstruction of world order after the War.

Modernization theory, and its twin cousins, political culture and political development theories, were grounded in the structural-functionalism of sociologist Talcott Parsons and political scientist David Easton that dominated the US social sciences in the postwar years, with its embedded system-maintenance and social order biases.52 Modernization theory argued that all societies were moving along a continuum from "traditional" to "modern," and "development" meant the process of movement down this continuum. The more developed countries were seen as further advanced along the road, while the underdeveloped countries were "late comers" who were behind but on the same path as the developed countries. The sharp inequalities between nations in an asymmetric international order were to be explained by factors internal to each country and region, particularly to the "traditions," the "anti-modern" attitudes and other impediments located in the cultures of the backward regions, while the colonial experience was not of consequence. Third World countries would be helped along the felicitous path of capitalist economic development with US (and other Western) aid and investment.

Political development and political culture, as concomitants of economic modernization, were seen as two sides of the same coin. The first was the ensemble of political roles, institutions, and actions, and the second, the attendant values, beliefs, and attitudes that underlie political behavior. Modernization would bring about a change in the "political culture" of the developing population, defined along the lines of Parsons's "pattern variables," away from "traditional" values which impede progress and towards "modern" values which facilitate development. As agents of "modern" values, a "modernizing elite" would steer countries down the road to development. This "enlightened" elite, by definition, would need to hold power and be insulated from any popular pressures from below. "The need for elite power requires that the ordinary citizen be relatively passive, uninvolved, and deferential to elites," explained political scientists Gabriel Almond and Sydney Verba in The Civic Culture.53 And just as a country modernizes economically by moving through a continuum of economic stages, it would move through a continuum of political stages which the developed capitalist countries had already passed through, in the build-up of political structures, particularly of state structures.

An analysis of the political development literature reveals that the emphasis, at times explicit, at times implicit, was on order, and on the capacity of political institutions to perform the function of the maintenance of order. David Easton's "input-output" model constituted the basis for political development theory: inputs are demands and supports for the political structure and the social system, and outputs are the consequent system performance (taxes, legislation, etc.).54 In the middle there are Easton's "capabilities" and "conversion process" and Parsons's "maintenance" and "adaptive" functions of the political system. The goal is to develop the capacity for the political system to absorb demands, prop up supports, and augment "output." This is to be based on two "developmental processes" - structural/role differentiation and the secularization of values. The normative end goal is to maximize the capacity for system maintenance (social order). The political system has the function of compelling compliance in a social order, and political science assumes as its primary problem the establishment and maintenance of political structures capable of assuring the stability of a social order. The questions addressed in Easton's construct are: How might the political system, the instrument which compels compliance, survive? How might it fulfill its function most effectively? How might the political system absorb "stress" from the larger "social system" in such a way that social order is not threatened? Political development becomes the study of how to manage or change the political system in such a way as to maximize the ability of the state to reproduce the social order and the relations of domination therein.

The political development literature sought to dissect how political systems in the Third World could be constructed which would most effectively perform the role of shielding the prevailing social order from demands that could not be met from within that order.55 This involved "state-building," "nation-building," "institution-building," "bureaucracy-building," and so forth. Subordinate groups who challenged elites were responsible for disorder. But if the goal of political development was to achieve stability, the concept of social order was not neutral. Social orders involve winners and losers. Stability is not necessarily a condition in the general welfare; it places a normative premium not on order per se, but on maintenance of the prevailing social order. Strong governments and political institutions, which were the objective of political development, were not just better able to create declared "public interests," but also to thwart, or deny, collective interests of popular classes.56 Political development theories approximate Mannheim's notion of "bureaucratic conservatism," whereby specific social interests are attained through forms of political organization, yet these interests are concealed under the implicit assumption that a specific order is equivalent to order in general.

Modernization theories guided the thinking of policymakers at the State Department's Agency for International Development (AID) and the non-military aspects of such US undertakings as the Alliance for Progress and economic development programs in Vietnam, in which economic development through US aid and investment was to have removed the political basis for radical movements and for more fundamental changes. Political development theory also became incorporated into foreign policy through development programs in the Third World. "Political development is anti-Communist, pro-American political stability," explained an AID official.57 The assumptions of modernization theory continue to provide theoretical guidance for, and legitimization of, the economic dimensions of US foreign policy, and particularly the neo-liberal model and its notion that the unfettered operation of transnational capital will bring about development. However, political development theories have undergone major modifications which have helped to theoretically inform the shift to "democracy promotion." The problem with the earlier political development strategizing was that it focused almost exclusively on the state as the locus of social power and the arena for the reproduction of the relations of domination. Gradually, in the social sciences, the focus began to shift to civil society as the principal site of social control. This new focus was congruent with the shift in US policy towards the new political intervention. I return to this point later.

From power of the people to polyarchy

Definitions of concepts are not theoretically neutral and are not simply the result of individual taste or preference of the writer... Definitions of concepts are also mandated by the dominant usages in a group or society, made authoritative by dictionaries, by sanctions against the "wrong" usage. And definitions are also part of the hegemony of language itself, the "deep structure" of meanings buried in the foundations of social order. To broaden the classic statement of Marx, the ruling ideas of an age are not only the ideology of its ruling class but also the vocabulary of dominant elites.

-- Robert Alford and Roger Friedland [58]


Democracy means only that the people have the opportunity of accepting or refusing the men who are to rule them.

-- Joseph Schumpeter [59]


Democracy is what philosopher W. B. Gallie terms an essentially contested concept.60 This refers to a concept in which different and competing definitions exist, such that terms themselves are problematic since they are not reducible to "primitives." Each definition yields different interpretations of social reality. In and of themselves, these terms are hollow and their meaning is only discernible from the vantage point of the social and theoretical context of their usage. By their nature, these terms involve implicit assumptions, are enveloped in ideology, and are therefore subsets of broader discourse which sets the framework of the social-political or theoretical agenda in question. Each essentially contested concept comes to have multiple and internally contradictory meanings which are given to it by specific class and group interests with a stake in its definition. Ideological positions, or more precisely, the intersubjective expression of vested class and group interests, are often ensconced in what is presented as scientific, objective discussion of democracy. Analysis should thus uncover these assumptions and their relation to interests.

What US policymakers mean by "democracy promotion" is the promotion of polyarchy, a concept which developed in US academic circles closely tied to the policymaking community in the United States in the post-World War II years (the word was first coined by Robert DahI 61). Polyarchy refers to a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation in decision-making is confined to leadership choice in elections carefully managed by competing elites. The pluralist assumption is that elites will respond to the general interests of majorities, through polyarchy's "twin dimensions" of "political contestation" and "political inclusiveness," as a result of the need of those who govern to win a majority of votes. It is theoretically grounded in structural-functionalism - and behind it, the positivist focus on the separate aspects and the external relations of things - in which the different spheres of the social totality are independent, each performing systems maintenance functions and externally related to each other in a larger Parsonian "social system." Democracy is limited to the political sphere, and revolves around process, method and procedure in the selection of "leaders." This is an institutional definition of democracy. Political scientist Samuel Huntington notes that the classic definition of democracy as power/rule by the people - rooted in the original Greek, power or rule (eralos) of the people (demos) - and "its derivatives and applications over the ages" have "sharply declined, at least in the American scholarly discussions, and have been replaced by efforts to understand the nature of democratic institutions." Huntington concludes: "Democracy has a useful meaning only when it is defined in institutional terms. The key institution of democracy is the selection of leaders through competitive elections."62 In turn, polyarchy has been conflated to the staple definition of democracy in both "democratization" and "democracy promotion" literature.63

The concept of polyarchy is an outgrowth of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century elite theories developed by Italian social scientists Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto. On the one hand, these theories were developed to legitimize the rapid increase in the concentration of wealth and political power among dominant elites, and their ever-greater control over social life, with the rise of corporate capitalism. On the other hand, democracy, by the late nineteenth century, had ceased being an instrument of this industrial elite against the old feudal oligarchy and was instead becoming a vehicle for the demands of those it dominated. In the latter part of their careers, Mosca went on to argue that "democratic" rather than fascist methods are best suited to defend the ruling class and preserve the social order, whereas Pareto went on to embrace fascism as the best method. This split, on the basis of a shared commitment to preserving the social order, constitutes an historical analogy to the debate in US foreign policy-making circles over whether "democracy" or authoritarianism in the Third World is actually the best method of preserving international order. "In perceiving the insight underlying the apparent paradox that democratic methods prudently used can enhance the strength and stability of a ruling class, Mosca solved his problem," notes political scientist Peter Bachrach. "But before his theory could be successfully integrated within the context of modern democratic theory, the theory of democracy itself required a radical revision."64 That radical revision took place in US academia in the post-World War II years.

The institutional definition embodied in polyarchy came to substitute, at the level of mainstream Western social science, the classic definition of democracy. Despite the emergence of the earlier elite theories, the classic definition had been fairly well established until the post-World War II period. This redefinition thus coincided with a worldwide upsurge of democratic aspirations and movements in the wake of the defeat of fascism and the breakup of the old colonial system. Behind the birth of dozens of newly independent nations, the spread of democratic and national liberation movements, and several successful Third World revolutions were struggles over what new social and political systems would replace the crumbling colonial order. The redefinition of democracy also took place alongside the postwar construction of a new international system and the emergence of the United States as the undisputed world power. It began with Joseph Schumpeter's 1942 study, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, in which he rejected the "classical theory of democracy" defined in terms of "the will of the people" and "the common good." Instead, Schumpeter advanced "another theory" of democracy: "institutional arrangements for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote."65 This redefinition gave "democratic" content to the anti-democratic essence of Mosca's and Pareto's earlier elitism theories, thus providing for their legitimization. According to Huntington, the debate between the institutional and the classical definition of democracy went on for several decades after World War II, and was concluded with the publication of Robert Dahl's Polyarchy in 1971.

In its Parsonian-Schumpeterian version, the polyarchic definition of democracy is equated with the stability of the capitalist social order. By definitional fiat, power is exercised in the general welfare and any attempt to change the social order is a pathological challenge to democracy. "The maintenance of democratic politics and the reconstruction of the social order are fundamentally incompatible," states Huntington.66 There is no contradiction in this model in affirming that "democracy" exists and also acknowledging massive inequalities in wealth and social privilege. The problem is posed as to how these inequalities might negatively affect the maintenance of "democracy." Therefore, the notion that there may be a veritable contradiction in terms between elite or class rule, on the one hand, and democracy, on the other, does not enter -- by theoretical-definitional fiat -- into the polyarchic definition. At best, the polyarchic conception leaves open the possibility as to whether "political democracy" may or may not facilitate "social and economic democracy." In contrast, I am arguing that polyarchy as a distinct form of elite rule performs the function of legitimating existing inequalities, and does so more effectively than authoritarianism.


Historian Raymond Williams holds that a class perspective on the politics of language is necessary, since "many crucial meanings have been shaped by a dominant class."67 Sociologists Robert Alford and Roger Friedland argue that "concepts come to be part of dominant or subordinate paradigms. Clusters of terms come to control discourse when a particular school of thought dominates a university department, a professional association, or a government agency." As such, "paradigms of inquiry become part of the substructure of meanings, which may disappear into the underpinnings of a discipline as its ideology."68 The polyarchic definition of democracy, which is only one variant of an essentially contested concept, has come to enjoy hegemony, in the Gramscian sense, in social scientific, political, and mass public discourse.

THE PRINCIPLES OF NEWSPEAK

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism. In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist. It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2050. Meanwhile it gained ground steadily, all Party members tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech. The version in use in 1984, and embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak Dictionary, was a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic formations which were due to be suppressed later. It is with the final, perfected version, as embodied in the Eleventh Edition of the Dictionary, that we are concerned here.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever. To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as ‘This dog is free from lice’ or ‘This field is free from weeds’. It could not be used in its old sense of ‘politically free’ or ‘intellectually free’ since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed even as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), by George Orwell


Separating the political system from the socioeconomic order: promoting polyarchy and promoting free markets

Ideological development is a process in which ideological positions are constantly modified in an effort to render them internally logical and self-consistent in the face of logical inconsistencies and contradictions in material reality (empirical fact). The labor of organic intellectuals involves resolving logical inconsistencies and offering solutions to real social contradictions. Uncovering the inner ideological core of intellectual production is not achieved by focusing on the reasoned forms of this thought, but rather on the unreasoned assumptions and preconceptions that underlie -- and belie -- its own external (surface) logics.

Creating an institutional theory of democracy was an intellectual and ideological attempt to resolve once and for all the intrinsically contradictory nature of democratic thought under capitalism, in which one side stresses the sanctity of private property, and therefore legitimizes social and economic inequalities and privileges which rest on the monopolization by minorities of society's material resources, while the other side stresses popular sovereignty and human equality.
A similar effort to resolve ideological contradictions springing from real social contradictions took place in the evolution of modernization and political development theory into democratization theory. This intellectual movement paralleled change in policy, from promoting dictatorship to promoting polyarchy, as a response to the real material contradiction of the crisis of elite rule in the Third World. But democratization theory exhibits manifold logical and empirical inconsistencies which become glaring once we study each of its component parts in their interconnections and uncover its antinomious essence. In this way we are able to demonstrate the relation between democratization theory, the promotion of polyarchy, globalization, and real social contradictions in emergent global society.

The antinomy in democratization theory is located in its theoretical construct, in Alford and Friedland's "superstructure of meaning," but not in substructure of meaning. The antinomy disappears once we uncover the ideological discourse concealed in the construct or in the political practice which it legitimizes. For example, Adam Przeworski describes democracy as "a particular system of processing and terminating intergroup conflicts." Democracy "thus constitutes an organization of political power ... as a system, it determines the capacity of particular groups to realize their specific interests." He separates the political from the socioeconomic system by positing the former as a neutral forum theoretically capable of pendular swings between antagonistic social and economic interests. "The distribution of the probability of realizing group-specific interests -- which is nothing less than political power -- is determined jointly by the distribution of resources that participants bring into conflicts and by specific institutional arrangements."69 The political system and the state become chameleons, or clothes that fit any class or group which tries them on. Society is multi-class but power is determined in a "classless democracy" as process: political power is deposited in a democratic state through which classes and groups may withdraw or utilize their share of power in accordance with their resources and their organizational capacity. But the distribution of material resources is determined in the socioeconomic sphere, and the particular distribution will determine the relative strength of groups and group access to political power. The extent of democracy should therefore directly correlate to the extent in which material resources are distributed in an egalitarian fashion, but this proposition is excluded by definition from the construct.

Przeworski acknowledges that democracy is a means for securing ends, an organizational form of the dispute for power as the ability to realize social and economic interests. What makes this "democracy" is that intergroup conflict is processed and terminated by established rules of procedure and a juridical structure. Internal coherence would require the construct to demonstrate how procedure and juridical structure are in the first place established, since these are not pre-given. Such established rules and procedures are, in the Gramscian explanation, those which the dominant classes are able to impose once they have achieved hegemony. Having achieved this hegemony, consensual arrangements are at play for the resolution of conflict without transgressing a given social order. To demonstrate a fit between internal logic and empirical reality, and therefore achieve consistency, Przeworski's construct would have to problematize how the distribution of material resources and the arrangements for the resolution of intergroup conflict are derived. This remains theoretically external to the construct itself and its implicit consensus theory. Its substructure, hence, legitimizes as "democratic" immanent inequalities in the social order.

The antinomy in democratization theory is the separation of the political system from the social order, in turn justified by the institutional definition of democracy and theoretically grounded in structural-functionalism, which separates the "internal" from the "external," and the political from the social and economic spheres of society, conferring a functional autonomy to each subsphere.
For instance, Diamond, Linz, and Lipset affirm that democracy "signif[ies] a political system, separate and apart from the economic and social system... Indeed, a distinctive aspect of our approach is to insist that issues of so-called economic and social democracy be separated from the question of governmental structure."70 An antinomious argument is one in which its inconsistencies or contradictions become apparent only when conclusions are drawn from the synthesis of two propositions which are reasonable in isolation from one another. The separation of the political from the socioeconomic allows for apparently reasonable propositions regarding either sphere; the inconsistencies in both only become apparent in the synthesis.

Central to democratization theory is an inconsistent argument: first, it separates the social and the economic from the political sphere, and then it turns around and connects the two by claiming an affinity between democracy and free-market capitalism! Huntington argues, for example:

The exit from power of rulers who lose elections means that limits must exist on what is at stake in controlling government. If winning or losing was an all-or-nothing affair, those in power would have overpowering incentives to suppress opposition, to rig elections, and to resort to coercion to remain in power if it appeared they had lost an election. Hence government cannot be the only or even the principal source of status, prestige, wealth, and power. Some dispersion of control over these goods -- what Dahl calls "dispersed inequalities" -- is necessary. The most important issue here concerns economic power... In all democracies, private ownership of property remains the basic norm in theory and in fact... The existence of such private power is essential to the existence of democracy... Political democracy is clearly compatible with inequality in both wealth and income, and, in some measure, it may be dependent upon such inequality... Defining democracy in terms of goals such as economic well-being, social justice, and overall socioeconomic equity is not, we have argued, very useful. [71]


Huntington unambiguously connects the economic and the political spheres: dispersed inequalities, private property, a free market, etc., are required for the maintenance of a "democratic" political system. Despite his claim to do so, he does not, therefore, limit democracy to the government structure, or to process centered around competitive elections! Neither does Przeworski. And Diamond, Linz, and Lipset, despite their stated definition of democracy as "a political system separate and apart from the economic and social system," similarly assert that "democracy" requires capitalist free markets.72

All theory, to acquire social scientific status, must demonstrate logical consistency and empirical verification. Democratization theory fails on both accounts. It argues against any linkage between the political and the socioeconomic system, but then validates itself by making just such a linkage. This is its logical inconsistency. The very theoretical construct precludes from the empirical terrain on which the theory is based the relation between wealth and power, and therefore precludes either empirical verification or falsification of the pluralist assumption on power by examining this relation. Empirical evidence demonstrates that those who hold wealth in society exercise political power directly, through their inordinate influence over (or direct participation in) the state apparatus, and indirectly, through their dominant position in economic institutions and the organs of civil society. This is its failure of empirical verification.

Having exposed the antinomious essence of democratization theory, what concerns us now is its connection to hegemony, which resides in the relation of intellectual thought to the transnational elite project. Promoting polyarchy and promoting neo-liberal restructuring has become a singular process in US foreign policy. The AID explains that promoting polyarchy in the latter part of the twentieth century "is complementary to and supportive of the transition to market-oriented economies."73 (Since the promotion of capitalism and of polyarchy are seen as symbiotic in US policy, it is therefore more precise to qualify the policy as promoting capitalist polyarchy.) If democracy is only "a system of government, separate and apart from the economic and social system," as democratization theory maintains, yet policymakers assert that promoting polyarchy and promoting free markets are inseparable, there is an evident disjuncture between this theory and actual US policy. The discrepancy is an extension of the contradictions already identified in democratization theory and reflects its legitimating function. It is not dispersed inequalities, free markets, the exclusion (from democracy) of economic well-being, social justice, socioeconomic equity, and so on, which enhance democracy, as the theory suggests. Rather, the polyarchic concept of democracy which the United States promotes is an effective political arrangement for legitimizing and sustaining inequalities within and between nations, which, we have seen, are deepening under global capitalism, and therefore of utility to dominant groups in an asymmetric international order.

If the political sphere is separated from the socioeconomic and democracy limited to the former then these inequalities and international asymmetries are of little concern to democratization in the Third World (or only of concern insofar as they threaten the stability of the social order). If democracy is limited to "a system of government," then enormous concentrations of wealth and power in "private" institutions such as transnational corporations are not relevant to "democracy." Discussions of democratization are extraneous to those of transnational power relations, elite domination, hegemony, international asymmetries, and US interventionism. Beyond its legitimating function, mainstream democratization theory, as we shall see below and in the following chapter, also provides technical solutions to practical problems of domination in global society by contributing intellectual precepts to the policy of promoting polyarchy. Its legitimating function is made easier owing to the hegemonic status of the polyarchic definition of democracy. But polyarchy competes with alternative definitions.

Polyarchy versus popular democracy

As an essentially contested concept, polyarchy competes with concepts of popular democracy. Although, in distinction to polyarchy, there is no fully elaborated theory of popular democracy (a situation which strengthens the hegemonic status of the polyarchic definition), an abundance of literature is available on the subject and on the debate over democracy.74 The various concepts and views on popular democracy are traceable to the literal, classical Greek definition of democracy as the rule, or power (cratos), of the people (demos), and rooted in Rousseauian-Marxist traditions. They posit a dispersal throughout society of political power through the participation of broad majorities in decision-making. The model conjoins representative government to forms of participatory democracy that hold states accountable beyond the indirect mechanism of periodic elections. Popular democracy is seen as an emancipatory project of both form and content that links the distinct spheres of the social totality, in which the construction of a democratic political order enjoys a theoretically internal relation to the construction of a democratic socioeconomic order. Democratic participation, in order to be truly effective, requires that democracy be a tool for changing unjust social and economic structures, national as well as international.

In sharp contrast to polyarchy, popular democracy is concerned with both process and outcome
(although a fully elaborated theory of popular democracy would have to address such issues as the institutional structures of popular democracy and the relation between process and outcome). Popular democracy is thus distinguished from the polyarchic focus on process only, and from the focus of the statist models of the former Soviet bloc on outcome only (and the concept of popular democracy should not be confused with the types of political system that developed under the former Soviet bloc). Elitism theories claim that democracy rests exclusively on process, so that there is no contradiction between a "democratic" process and an anti-democratic social order punctuated by sharp social inequalities and minority monopolization of society's material and cultural resources. Under the polyarchic definition, a system can acquire a democratic form without a democratic content. Popular democracy, in contrast, posits democracy as both a process and a means to an end -- a tool for change, for the resolution of such material problems as housing, health, education, access to land, cultural development, and so forth. This entails a dispersal of political power formerly concentrated in the hands of elite minorities, the redistribution of wealth, the breaking down of the structures of highly concentrated property ownership, and the democratizing of access to social and cultural opportunities by severing the link between access and the possession of wealth. It includes acknowledging the public (social) character of "private" institutions in civil society such as universities, cultural establishments, and transnational corporations, holding them accountable, and thoroughly democratizing their operation. Democracy begins with respect for human rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, and elections, and includes the outlawing of racial, ethnic, gender, and other forms of discrimination. These should be seen in the model of popular democracy, not as democracy in itself, but as "pre-conditions" for processes of democratization, which unfold to the extent that structures are developed which allow for participatory democracy, for the direct participation of majorities in their own vital affairs, "upwards" from the local, grassroots level. It is what Carl Cohen refers to as the "breadth, depth, range" of democracy.75

The locus of power in both models is civil society: formal political structures regulate the instruments of the state, and democracy (however so defined) limits the powers of the state vis-a-vis civil society, in distinction to authoritarian coercive domination, and to statist models of the former Soviet bloc. Relations between the state and civil society theoretically take on the same form under both polyarchy and popular democracy -- power flows "upwards" to the state. This is why state managers and organic intellectuals who have developed "democracy promotion" argue that the powers of the state should be limited vis-a-vis civil society in intervened countries, and why they emphasize developing the organs of civil society in these countries. The contradiction between polyarchy and popular democracy is not expressed in the degree to which the organs of civil society are able to influence local and national affairs, but in whether elite or popular sectors have achieved hegemony in civil society, and in the degree to which these organs are themselves democratic institutions that popular majorities are able to utilize in their own interests. In polyarchy, the state is the domain of the dominant classes, while the popular classes are incorporated into civil society under the hegemony of the elite -- which is the formula for the exercise of consensual domination. Popular democracy involves participatory mechanisms for popular sectors to subordinate and utilize the state in pursuit of their interests, with mobilization in civil society as the principal form in which political power is exercised.

Elections are meaningful components of popular democratization to the extent that mechanisms of participatory democracy linked to formal representative structures allow for accountability and control by the population over those elected. Under polyarchy, "political inclusiveness" (polyarchy's "first dimension") is limited to the right to vote, and mass constituencies have no institutional mechanisms for holding elected officials accountable to them and to the platforms upon which they are elected. Polyarchy theory claims that democracy requires that those elected be insulated, once they take office, from popular pressures, so that they may "effectively govern." If rulers deviate from the "course of action preferred by the citizenry," according to this reasoning, they are to be held accountable by being voted out of office in subsequent elections, since accountability is defined as nothing more than the holding of elections76. Polyarchy not only limits democratic participation to voting in elections, but focuses exclusively on form in elections. The polyarchic definition of "free and fair" elections are those which are procedurally correct and not fraudulent. Equality of conditions for electoral participation is not relevant to whether elections are "free and fair." These conditions are decidedly unequal under capitalism owing to the unequal distribution of material and cultural resources among classes and groups, and to the use of economic power to determine political outcomes. But economic considerations are excluded by definition from the polyarchic conception, in which "political contestation" (polyarchy's "second dimension") means the juridical right, not the material ability, to become a candidate and vie for power in elections. Equality of influence, as Miliband has noted, "is in fact an illusion. The act of voting is part of a much larger political process, characterized ... by marked inequality of influence. Concentration on the act of voting itself, in which formal equality does prevail, helps to obscure the inequality, and serves a crucially important legitimating function" (emphasis in original).77 This legitimating function accounts for polyarchy's electoral fixation.

Behind essentially contested concepts are contested social orders. Popular democracy and polyarchy rest on antagonistic notions of what a democratic society resembles. In popular democracy, ultimately, a society is democratic to the extent that popular majorities are able to impose their sovereignty -- popular sovereignty properly conceived does not refer to a "general interest" but to the interests of popular classes -- that society is governed by the "logic of the majority." Under polyarchy it is the inverse: sovereignty is exercised by dominant minorities, but under conditions of hegemony (consensual domination).
Terms vary: in mainstream social science consensual domination is "liberal democracy," while critics have coined such phrases as "limited democracy," "restricted democracy," "controlled democracy," or "low-intensity democracy." Class (or popular versus elite) sovereignties are at the heart of worldwide social struggles unfolding under globalization. As is illustrated in the case studies, broad popular movements tended to put forward the model of popular democracy in their demands and in their alternative visions for organizing postauthoritarian societies. In contrast, elites sought capitalist polyarchy as the goal of anti-dictatorial struggles.

An exploration of the contradiction between polyarchy and popular democracy raises two questions. First, to what extent do processes of popular democratization run up against constraints inherent in the capitalist mode of production? Private appropriation of the social product is in the last instance the social relation which underpins the separation of real from formal power, and democratic form from democratic content. Without doubt, implementation of the full model of popular democracy requires the supersession of capitalism, and I return briefly to this issue in the conclusion. But the question may be a relative one: just how much popular democratization is possible within the limits imposed by capitalism is not clear. However, it is not theoretical reflection that motivates masses of people to demand the democratization of their life conditions. Perceptions of individual and collective interests and the dynamics of mass consciousness are as important in this regard as structural analysis of political economy. Democratization struggles are played out at the level of intersubjectivities not as contradictions between modes of production or social orders, but as concrete struggles for practical change in daily life. Democratization struggles take on a dynamic which is autonomous of historic contradictions between modes of production. The global economy generates pressures under which subordinate groups mobilize and dominant groups tend to shift from coercive to consensual forms of domination. But the outcome to societal struggles against authoritarianism in peripheral and semi-peripheral regions of the world system is not predetermined.

The second question raised is to what extent does a polyarchic political system itself constrain popular democratization? Polyarchic political systems tend to set boundaries in which social struggles unfold whose parameters do not transgress the social order. Polyarchy plays a legitimating function for an increasingly cohesive transnational elite that seeks to legitimate its rule by establishing formal democratic institutions. And ideology as a material force establishes patterns of conduct which fix limits on social action. But the problem is not just ideological. Polyarchy also place enormous institutional constraints on popular democratization. Polyarchy as the political institutionalization of social relations of power limits state accountability to periodic elections. Between elections groups who control the state are free to pursue their agenda without any accountability and insulated from popular pressure. The polyarchic state may legitimately employ repression against popular sectors that transgress legality when the demands they place on the state are not met (they usually are not). Thus while authoritarianism insulates but does not legitimate elite rule, polyarchy performs both functions. Attempts to challenge elites within the bounds of polyarchic legality run up against the vastly superior resources of the elite. The structural power of transnational capital in the global economy gives political and ideological power to elites tied directly and indirectly to transnational capital, and also gives the transnational elite "veto power" over local states which by chance of circumstances are captured by popular sectors. This structural power combines with the institutions of polyarchy and provides an immanent class advantage to those who command superior resources. These ideological, institutional and structural constraints to the democratization of social life under global capitalism are mutually reinforcing. They lend themselves to non-coercive mechanisms of social control and, therefore, to elite hegemony. The case studies tend to support these propositions.

The notion of national sovereignty requires theoretical rethinking in light of globalization. In an interdependent world economy, in which autarky, besides being undesirable in terms of restricting development possibilities, is not possible, the issue is not "economic independence." Rather, it is how popular majorities whose locus of political life is still the nation-state may take advantage of economic interdependence to develop autonomous economic spaces. Popular democratization ultimately depends on international conditions which are beyond the control of individual nations. However, the conjoining of formal political (state) sovereignty and popular sovereignty in society, springing from internal popular democratization, constitutes the terms under which majoritarian social groups organized in nations and groups of nations may struggle for greater equity in the international order. The utilization of political sovereignty to secure greater equity between nations and greater control over national resources involves struggles over redirecting surpluses and stemming the outward drainage of wealth towards the centers of an asymmetric world economy. Shifts in the correlation of forces towards the popular classes within nations and regions, conjointly at the level of state and civil society, have deep repercussions for international relations and changes in world order. This is what Gramsci meant when he wrote: "77 international relations precede or follow (logically) fundamental social relations? Any organic innovation in the social structure... modifies organically absolute and relative relations in the international field too."78 Modifications in the international political economy, including the creation of more symmetric relations among peoples and regions, begin with basic changes in social relations of the type envisioned by popular democracy.

Despite the open-endedness of these issues, the implications of substituting this literal or classic definition of democracy with the institutional definition embodied in polyarchy are vast. By limiting the focus to political contestation among elites through procedurally free elections, the question of who controls the material and cultural resources of society, as well as asymmetries and inequalities, among groups within a single nation and among nations within the international order, becomes extraneous to the discussion of democracy. It should be clear that promoting popular democracy constitutes a profound threat to the interests of dominant classes in the United States and the centers of the world system and their junior counterparts in the South. When US policymakers and organic intellectuals speak of "promoting democracy," they do not, as a matter of course, mean promoting popular democracy. But more than this, they mean the suppression of popular democracy, in theory and in practice.
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:11 am

-Part 4 of 4

Controlling (and limiting) democratization during "transitions": "trade-offs" and elections

Successful politics is always "the art of the possible". It is no less true, however, that the possible is often achieved only by reaching out towards the impossible which lies beyond it.

-- Max Weber [79]


What happens in other forms of government -- namely, that an organized minority imposes its will on the disorganized majority -- happens also and to perfection, whatever the appearance to the contrary, under the representative system. When we say that the voters "choose" their representative, we are using a language that is very inexact. The truth is that the representative has himself elected by the voters. [Emphasis in original.]

-- Gaetano Mosca [80]


Struggles for democracy go beyond class lines. Democratization movements may ultimately be pro- or anti-systemic, and usually incorporate aspects of both.81 However, these movements are not separable from class struggle. Under dictatorship, struggles for democracy often become multi-class and majoritarian. But the further majorities push in these movements for outcomes of popular democratization, the more dominant classes either withdraw from these movements (or revert to supporting authoritarianism), or alternatively try to gain control over and contain society-wide mobilization. Where enough social forces accumulate to create a polar situation between authoritarianism/dictatorship and social majorities -- such as in Chile, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Haiti -- the underlying struggle shifts from democracy versus dictatorship to the terms and reach of the democratization process. Under the policy of promoting polyarchy, the United States converges with broad majorities in the dictatorship-versus-democracy divide. But in the underlying struggle, the convergence is between the United States and local elites around a program whose objective is to suppress popular democracy. Controlling and limiting popular democratization during transitions becomes the goal of US intervention.

As mass popular pressures grow for an end to dictatorship, a quick return to elite civilian rule becomes a means for defusing a popular or revolutionary outcome to the demise of authoritarianism. In such situations, notes Gramsci, "various strata of the population are not all capable of orienting themselves equally swiftly, or of reorganizing with the same rhythm. The traditional ruling class, which has numerous trained cadres, changes men and programmes and, with greater speed than is achieved by the subordinate classes, reabsorbs the control that was slipping from its grasp."82 These are controlled transitions. Dominant social classes that were direct governing classes prior to dictatorship, and had lost direct political power, turn -- in competition with popular sectors -- to recovering that power. Their high-risk gamble is to assure the transfer of power to their hands from authoritarian regimes and simultaneously to keep under careful control the mobilization of the masses and limit their agenda of social emancipation. This is why, in instances such as Marcos's Philippines, Pinochet's Chile, and Duvalier's Haiti, the United States stepped in just as mass, society-wide mobilization in favor of democratization was reaching a peak, and began to "promote democracy" where it had formerly supported dictatorship, as we shall see.

This is rationalized in democratization theory with the argument that the only way to assure "democracy" is to accept the boundaries of the possible, and "the possible" is a functional capitalist polyarchy.83 Popular forces have to be restrained in order to assure a stable transition, and are held responsible for jeopardizing "democracy" by inducing with their social demands a resurgence of authoritarianism. Democratization theorists such as O'Donnell and Schmitter argue prescriptively that demands which go beyond the acceptable boundaries of capitalist polyarchy should be defended as "trade-offs" necessary to assure the end of authoritarianism. One is the "equity trade off," or the deferral of social justice and economic equality under the supposition that deprived majorities will at some future point win justice and equality through the "freedoms" afforded by "liberal democracy." But the consolidation of polyarchy and its legitimizing rules and institutions systematically constrain social change in the post-transition period, as we shall see in the case studies. Another "trade-off" is concessions to the military, including preservation of existing military structures and promises not to prosecute militaries for human rights violations committed during dictatorships. Hegemony is "consensus armored by coercion." What takes place in transitions to polyarchy is a shift from coercive to consensual mechanisms in the practice of domination, but not the elimination of a coercive apparatus which, in the last instance, girds the social order. In the practice, preservation of the military (and even a legal impunity often built into post-transition juridical structures) in transitions to polyarchy in the 1980s and early 1990s kept in place formal apparatuses of coercion that acted to thwart -- by the threat of repression or by actually repressing, legally or extra-legally -- any challenges to the social order, or even those popular demands which do not transgress the social order itself but are deemed unacceptable. Latent coercive force thus circumscribes the decisions of groups and the actions they take in the exercise of formal legal rights. The preservation of the coercive apparatus during transitions guards against demands for popular democracy in the post-transition period.

"Trade-offs," therefore, are not merely "transitional" concessions of a tactical character; they become a structural feature of the post-authoritarian political landscape, as the case studies illustrate. What is at stake with the end of authoritarianism is the political and socioeconomic project that will replace it. So-called "trade-offs" facilitate the hegemony over transitions by polyarchic elites, often called the "moderates" or the "center" in democratization literature. These promoters of polyarchy strive to assure that in recovering power from authoritarian regimes, the relations of class domination themselves are not jeopardized. The process of regime transition should not get out of hand, such that a greater quota of political power passes from the authoritarian regime directly to the popular classes.


Electoral processes, when properly controlled, can contribute to this elite effort. Elections serve a legitimacy function, provide an immanent advantage to those who command superior resources, and, when isolated from other aspects of popular democratization, provide a key mechanism for intra-elite compromise and accommodation, and therefore stability. For these and other reasons, electoral processes are often pivotal in transitions to capitalist polyarchy and figure prominently in both democratization theory and in the actual US policy of promoting polyarchy. "For a transition to political democracy to be viable in the long-run, founding elections must be freely conducted, honestly tabulated, and openly contested, yet their results cannot be too accurate or representative of the actual distribution of voter preference [emphasis mine]," argue O'Donnell and Schmitter. "Put in a nutshell, parties of the Right-Center and Right must be 'helped' to do well, and parties to the Left-Center and Left should not win by an overwhelming majority." 84 Elections play a key role in channeling mass protest and social demands into controllable processes and non-threatening outcomes. When electoral processes controlled from above substitute society-wide mobilization for democratization, it is easy to steer "transitions," or the breakup up of authoritarianism, into clearly delineated parameters with attendant constraints on current outcomes and on future possibilities. And we shall see that the United States does, in fact, "help" right-center and right parties to do well.

Controlling transitions also involves controlled demilitarization. The effort to demilitarize Latin America and other regions on the part of local civilian elites and US policymakers in the wake of "transitions to democracy" should not be confused with an intent to eliminate the coercive capacity of the new neo-liberal states. The new elites of the global economy did not perceive the old-style militaries as capable of providing conditions propitious to transnational models of capital accumulation and long-term political stability. Corrupt militaries seeking their own corporate privileges were a fetter to capitalist modernization, an unproductive drain on resources, necessary only insofar as social control requires a coercive component, and dangerous to the consolidation of polyarchy. For economic, social and political reasons, controlled demilitarization is a requirement for the success of the transnational elite agenda. Controlled demilitarization as a component of controlled "democratization" sought to make military authority subordinate to civilian elites, but not to do away with a repressive military apparatus, and its ideal type, for US policymakers and local elites, is the "Panama model," imposed on that country following the 1989 US invasion. In this model, armed forces are "professionalized," purged of both nationalist tendencies and the most unruly and ambitious authoritarian elements, and reduced to constabularies able to suppress popular demands and protests against neo-liberalism, while the United States retains the role of international policeman, responsible for regional and global "security," fighting drug trafficking, terrorism, and other "threats."85

Reconstituting "democracy": the shift in social control from political to civil society

In the distinction between means (policies) and ends (interests) in US foreign policy, the imperative for polyarchy lies in the view that "democracy" is the most effective means of assuring stability, the former seen as but a mechanism for the latter. This is in contrast to prior periods in US foreign-policy history -- and correlatedly, to the historic norm in center-periphery relations predicated on coercive modes of social control, such as in the colonial era -- when military dictatorships or authoritarian client regimes (and before them, colonial states) were seen as the best guarantors of social control and stability. The intent behind promoting polyarchy is to relieve domestic pressure on the state from subordinate classes for more fundamental change in emergent global society. Military regimes and highly unpopular dictatorships, such as Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, Marcos in the Philippines, the Duvaliers in Haiti, and Pinochet in Chile, defended US and local elite interests. But they also engendered mass-based opposition movements that sought outcomes, beyond the mere removal of dictatorships, of popular democratization. These movements became transnational in their significance as globalization proceeded and threatened core and local elite interests. The old authoritarian arrangements were no longer guarantors of social control and stability. On the one hand, says Gershman, "traditional autocrats ... simply cannot adapt to the pace of change and conflicting political pressures of the modern world." On the other is "the declining utility of conventional military force in the contemporary world." In this context, "competition is likely to continue to shift from the military to the political realm, and it will become increasingly important for the West to develop a sophisticated and long-term strategy for democratic political assistance."86 Several events in the late 1970s brought home this lesson to US policymakers. One was the successful transitions in Southern Europe, particularly Portugal, from authoritarianism to polyarchy as a result of decisive Western European support for polyarchic elites as a strategy of containing socialist movements. Another, more compelling for US policymakers, was the Iranian revolution, followed shortly afterwards by the Nicaraguan in July 1979. "The Nicaraguan experience shattered both sides of the argument over US attitudes towards friendly Third World autocrats," explained Gershman:

On one hand, the conservative view that such regimes are a bulwark against communism seemed a good deal less compelling after the Sandinistas took over from Somoza. The Nicaraguan events seemed to bear out a different analysis, namely, that right-wing authoritarianism is fertile soil for the growth of Marxist-Leninist organizations... On the other hand, the liberal side of the argument -- that policy sufficed in simply seeking the removal of authoritarian dictatorships, as communist movements could be defeated by denying them this easy target -- fared no better. As long as the Communists were the most determined alternative to Somoza, the downfall of the dictatorship would enable them to take power. Thus in the wake of Nicaragua both conservatives and liberals needed a fresh approach to the question of defending democracy in the Third World ... Shirley Christian said in the epilogue of her study of the Nicaraguan revolution: "Only by promoting democratic political development on a long-term basis can the United States hope to avoid the hard choices between sending troops and accepting a regime that overtly opposes its interests." Promoting democracy, in other words, is... a matter of national security.87


In the past, the US state promoted authoritarianism as the political system judged most appropriate for the free operation of international capital, and in this way functioned as what sociologists James Petras and Morris Morley refer to as the "imperial state," promoting and protecting the expansion of capital across state boundaries by the multinational corporate community.88 Under globalization the "imperial state" still plays the same role of promoting and protecting the activity of transnational capital, but globalizing pressures have inverted the positive correlation between the investment climate and authoritarianism. Now, a country's investment climate is positively related to the maintenance of a "democratic" order, and the "imperial state" promotes polyarchy in place of authoritarianism. But this shift required a corresponding reconceptualization of the principal target in intervened countries, from political to civil society, as the site of social control.

There is a critical link in this regard between the "breakdown of democracy" referred to in the 1975 Trilateral Commission report, The Crisis of Democracy, and the subsequent development of "democracy promotion" in foreign policy. The "breakdown of democracy" was seen as generated by the uncontrolled demands of popular sectors and oppressed groups in societies where formal political democracy allowed these groups to mobilize and press their demands. This was described in the report as "intrinsic challenges to the viability of democratic government which grow directly out of the functioning of democracy," and an example of "the dysfunctions of democracy."89 This seminal report was not, in fact, really about the "breakdown" of democracy; it was about the breakdown of social control. It argued that an "excess of democracy" was a "threat" to the social order and established authority. Huntington, one of the authors of the report, stated that the danger:

comes not primarily from external threats, though such threats are real, nor from internal subversion from the left or the right, although both possibilities could exist, but rather from the internal dynamics of democracy itself in a highly educated, mobilized and participant society... there are also potentially desirable limits to the indefinite extension of political democracy.90


This concern with how too much "uncontrolled" democracy can threaten the existing social order materialized in Chile. There, a self-declared socialist came to power and proposed to implement a project of sweeping, popular socioeconomic transformation for which he was elected, utilizing the constitutional instruments of formal democracy. Henry Kissinger called this a "fluke of the Chilean political system."91 Allende's government challenged the existing social order from within its own legitimizing institutions (see chapter 4). With the Chilean experience in mind, among others, the Trilateral Commission report stressed the need to "reconstitute democracy" in order to assure that "democracy" does not generate its own instability, both within states and in the international system.92 Another of the report's authors, Michel Crozier, emphasized the need to "carry through a basic mutation in [the] mode of social control," to "experiment with more flexible models that could produce more social control with less coercive pressure." 93

US "democracy promotion," as it actually functions, sets about not just to secure and stabilize elite-based polyarchic systems but to have the United States and local elites thoroughly penetrate civil society, and from therein assure control over popular mobilization and mass movements (that is, correct the "flukes," or "dysfunctions," of democracy). This is in distinction to earlier strategies to contain social and political mobilization through a focus on control of the state and governmental apparatus. Stephen Gill, in analyzing the Trilateral Commission report and the thinking at the highest echelons of the US foreign-policy establishment, notes that the emergent model of "reconstituted democracy" corresponds "to the concept of civil society, and indicate[s] its centrality in the making of state policy."94 Philip Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl note: "At its best, civil society provides an intermediate layer of governance [read: control] between the individual and the state that is capable of resolving conflicts and controlling the behavior of members without public coercion."95 US strategists have shifted attention from the state and governmental apparatus of other countries to forces in civil society as a key locus of power and control. The composition and balance of power in civil society in a given Third World country is now just as important to US and transnational interests as who controls the governments of those countries. This is a shift from social control "from above" to social control "from below" (and within), for the purpose of managing change and reform so as to preempt any elemental challenge to the social order. This explains why the new political intervention does not target governments per se, but groups in civil society itself - trade unions, political parties, the mass media, peasant associations, women's, youth, and other mass organizations.

This shift concurs with critiques made from within the policymaking establishment and its organic intellectuals of earlier theories of modernization in the Third World. These theories argued that Third World countries would be helped along the felicitous path of capitalist economic development with US (and other Western) aid and investment, and that stable polyarchic democracy would naturally flow from economic modernization. However, modernization theories came under criticism as political unrest in the Third World increased during the 1960s despite US aid and investment programs and registered growth in GNPs. As a result, a new body of literature emerged: political development. Most notable is Huntington's 1968 classic, Political Order in Changing Societies, which argued that the political and civil institutions in the Third World (i.e., political parties, trade unions, civic groups, governmental structures) were not sufficiently developed to absorb the tensions and dislocations associated with modernization. US policy, therefore, had to look beyond merely assuring a friendly government and promoting economic growth; it had to focus on the development of political and civic institutions as it became involved in the Third World. After arguing in the Trilateral Commission report that "excessive democracy" was a "threat," Huntington updated the thinking developed there in an oft-cited 1984 article, "Will More Countries Become Democratic?" linking it more explicitly to the emergent transnational agenda by positing a close relation between unfettered free-market capitalism (neo-liberalism) and democracy (polyarchy). Reiterating that "democracy" could best absorb the social and political tensions associated with global restructuring, he argued that the prospects for "democracy" in the 1980s and beyond would require, in addition to implementing neo-liberalism, building autonomous institutions in civil society, and particularly a bourgeoisie autonomous of the state and of state economic intervention. Huntington added that "democracy" could be further enhanced "as a result of direct efforts by the American government to affect political processes in other societies."96 Through "democracy promotion," the United States seeks to build up in other countries the political and civic infrastructure that Huntington stressed was insufficient to absorb tensions and thereby to assure stability.

Promoting polyarchy to suppress popular democracy and construct transnational hegemony

Formal democratic structures are seen as more disposed to diffusing the sharpest social tensions and to incorporating sufficient social bases with which to sustain stable environments under the conflict-ridden and fluid conditions of emergent global society. Under a hegemonic social order, that is, under consensual domination, the state is still the site of the "processing" of demands and the reproduction of the relations of domination, yet the "input" side of the Eastonian equation is altered, since many an "input" is "resolved" within civil society, before it ever reaches the state. Hegemonic ideologies contain key political and socioeconomic concepts which establish the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the demands placed on the social order. The "political system" remains the institutionalized arena for processing these demands, yet a hegemonic social order implies a more expansive political system incorporating, or fusing, the state and civil society. All demands are not processed in the same way. Those that serve to reproduce the social order (and thereby benefit the long-term interests of the dominant groups) are legitimized in civil society and filtered upwards to the state. Those that challenge the social order itself are delegitimized and filtered out of the very legitimizing parameters of that order.97 Polyarchy, as a form of elite rule distinct from authoritarianism and dictatorship, is better equipped under the conditions of social dislocation and political reorganization that accompany each nation's entrance into the global economy to confront, or at least control, popular sectors and their demands. Polyarchic political systems lend themselves to more durable forms of social control, and therefore to stability.

But trappings of democratic procedure in a polyarchic political system do not mean that the lives of those in nations where the United States is "promoting democracy" become filled with authentic or meaningful democratic content, much less that social justice or greater economic equality is achieved. Seen in the light of popular democracy, US "democracy" and "democratization," have nothing to do with meeting the authentic aspirations of repressed and marginalized majorities for political participation and for greater socioeconomic justice. Nevertheless, the new political intervention is complex and cannot be reduced to simplistic scenarios or conspiratorial plots in which elite, polyarchic players A, B, and C in the intervened countries are supported by Washington, and popular democratic leaders D, E, and F are suppressed (even though, ironically, this is what sometimes takes place). Even as alternative concepts of democracy compete, the aspirations for democratization strike deep chords among broad sectors of the population, and calls for democracy in historically anti-democratic systems find resonance throughout civil and political society. Democratization movements are therefore almost always majoritarian social struggles. This study requires assimilating a level of analytical abstraction in which the focus is on the intersection of US policy with the aims and objectives of multiple and competing groups who are involved in majoritarian struggles for democracy.

In synopsis, the extended policymaking community has developed a theoretical awareness and a practical attunement to what is required for the maintenance of social control in twenty-first-century global society. The community analyzed the dramatic changes in the international correlation of forces between the 1960s and the 1990s which occurred simultaneously with new challenges raised by subordinate groups in the world system for a redistribution of resources and the democratization of social life. This community also perceived the increasing structural power of transnational capital and the emergence of transnational forces in the wake of globalization, including reconfigured transnational blocs, and explored the prospects for new forms of transnational political organization. Its awareness and attunement (the behavioral level) developed on the basis of the theoretical and intellectual reflection (the structural-conjunctural level) that took place among organic intellectuals linked directly and indirectly to the state, and on the heels of the general crisis of elite rule in the South. Authoritarianism increasingly proved to be an untenable mode of domination and an unpredictable means of preserving asymmetries within and among nations as globalizing processes began to assert themselves (the structural level). As argued by its promoters, polyarchy should prove to be more resilient in constructing and maintaining global order. But the shift is in the means, not the ends, of US policy. It involves a change in methods, in formal political-institutional arrangements, and in cultural and ideological discourse. The ends are defense of the privileges of Northern elites and their Southern counterparts in a highly stratified world system. Promoting polyarchy is an attempt to develop a transnational Gramscian hegemony in emergent global society. These are the theoretical underpinnings of the new political intervention.
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Re: Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, a

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:49 am

Part 1 of 3

Chapter 2: Political operations in US foreign policy

A US stance in favor of democracy helps get the Congress, the bureaucracy, the media, the public, and elite opinion to back US policy. It helps ameliorate the domestic debate, disarms critics (who could be against democracy?), provides a basis for reconciliation between "realists" and "idealists" ... The democracy agenda enables us, additionally, to merge and fudge over some issues that would otherwise be troublesome. It helps bridge the gap between our fundamental geopolitical and strategic interests ... and our need to clothe those security concerns in moralistic language ... The democracy agenda, in short, is a kind of legitimacy cover for our more basic strategic objectives.

-- Howard Wiarda [1]


Support for democracy ... is becoming the new organizing principle for American foreign-policy.

-- State Department policy document, 1987 [2]


The policy shift from promoting authoritarianism to promoting polyarchy was a lengthy process drawn out over several decades, and reflected in the mainstream social sciences in debates over modernization/economic development, political development, democracy, and so on. It involved the gradual emergence of a working consensus in the foreign-policy establishment in support of the new political intervention. As well, it involved the development of new modalities, instruments, and agencies for actually accomplishing the transition, in intervened countries in the Third World, from authoritarianism to polyarchy. This reorientation entailed, in particular, the expansion of what is known as political operations in US foreign policy. This included a new foreign-policy instrument, political aid, which has come to supplement the two main tools of US foreign policy since World War II, military and economic aid programs. These are the issues explored in this chapter.

Reconstructing foreign-policy in a new world order

The United States rode on the crest of global power in the decades following World War II. With its overwhelming military superiority, economic power, and political influence, Washington had little difficulty imposing its will on the Third World through "straight power relations." Given its critical mass of both direct (military-political) and structural (economic) power, such a strategy was highly effective. But the global US empire was shaken in the 1960s and 1970s by nationalist revolutions in the Third World, culminating in the US defeat in Indochina. That defeat eroded the US capacity to shape events abroad, threw into disarray traditional strategies towards the Third World, and shattered the post-World War II foreign policy consensus at home. As US influence continued to wane, two subsequent events demonstrated the vulnerability of authoritarian regimes and underscored to policymakers the imperative of reconstructing foreign policy: the collapse of the Shah's client regime in Iran in early 1979 and the inability of the United States to control subsequent developments there, followed just months later by the Nicaraguan revolution.

For a brief period in the late 1970s, policy was thrown into confusion and paralysis, as the foreign-policy community groped for an effective and coherent new formula for coming to terms with a waning Pax Americana. What was taking place at a structural level was the transition to the global economy, the emergence of transnational capital as the hegemonic fraction of capital on a world scale, and the dissolution of an international system whose stability had rested on competing nation-states with a dominant center (a "hegemon"). But a disjuncture appeared between this level and that of the practical-conjunctural, in which the policymaking community perceives world events, conducts often acrimonious internal debates, and develops and implements policies.

By the end of the 1970s, a consensus was emerging around the broad contours -- but not the concrete policies -- of the transnational agenda among the dominant classes in the United States. These classes are correlated to the policymaking community, but are not synonymous with it per se nor with the specific governing bureaucracy, that is, with those groups who exercise the formal powers of state.3 That consensus revolved around the notion that the United States, playing a leadership role for the transnational elite, had to develop policies to reconstruct the international order, and to move from the defensive to the offensive as a first step. This would include broad new political, military, and economic programs to place revolutionary and nationalist forces in the Third World, as well as the Soviet Union, on the defensive, and to help adjust the United States to the reality of the emergent global economy and society. There was a perceived need for a new reassertionism," a term which entered the lexicon of the foreign-policymaking community at this time (although "reassertionism has been identified with Reagan, it was first launched by the Carter administration, whose cabinet was drawn almost entirely from the Trilateral Commission and represented the transnational fraction). The consensus also included the fiscal and monetary policies of "Reaganomics," which sought to attune US economic policies to changes in global capital accumulation and in the role of the state.

These policies were articulated by the transnationalized fraction of the US elite as the agent that gradually forged consensus. The semiprivate institutions which are at the very core of the transnationalized fraction, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission -- through which it debates and elaborates strategies, develops cohesion and outward projection -- sponsored studies in the late 1970s to design a new world order. These included the Council's "1980s Project" and the Commission's study, "Towards a Renovated International System."4 The Council is broadly "bipartisan" and its general policy directives normally represent consensus positions reached among dominant groups in the United States. It is the single most powerful and influential elite policy planning group, and has been largely responsible for the overall direction of US foreign policy since World War II. In turn, the Council on Foreign Relations is closely tied to the Trilateral Commission, which is the quintessential political forum of the transnational elite, the "transnational managerial class" which stands at the apex of the global class structure. The conclusions of the two projects were broadly congruent. They called for a "moderate international order," which meant a world economic environment in which barriers to the free movement of capital, goods, and technology would be dismantled, and a new international division of labor in which labor-intensive phases of production would be transferred to the South, and they reiterated the Trilateral Commission's earlier call for reconstituted "democracy." In addition, the "1980s Project" called for a military build-up and the redeployment of US forces around the globe.

The notion of consensus here corresponds to the Gramscian concept of positions advanced by hegemonic fractions within classes and groups, and not to perfect agreement, to a congruence of interests, or to the absence of conflict. One expression of the disjuncture mentioned above between structural and conjunctural levels of policy was the neo-conservative movement that came to exercise formal state power with the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. In a phenomenon that confused analysts of foreign-policy, the direct agents of US "reassertionism" and "Reaganomics" became this highly vocal neo-conservative movement, concentrated in a new right-wing within the Republican Party. The neo-conservatives renewed the Cold War with a vengeance and launched a worldwide counteroffensive against liberation movements and nationalist Third World governments, involving dozens of interventionist campaigns.5 Its discourse was extremist: "War, not peace, is the norm in international affairs," proclaimed the Santa Fe document, drafted in 1980 by Reagan officials as a blueprint for a new US foreign policy. "Detente is dead. Survival demands a new US foreign policy. America must seize the initiative or perish."6 The "Reagan Doctrine" of aggressive support for counterrevolutionary insurgencies and heightened confrontation with the Soviet Union was backed by the biggest peacetime military build-up in US history and a redeployment of US military, paramilitary, intelligence, and political forces around the globe.

While some neo-conservative policies coincided with the transnational agenda, such as a deepening of "reassertionism" and the military build-up, certain policies diverged, including a tendency towards protectionism (reflecting the interests of regional and national capitalist fractions that formed part of the neo-conservative political base). But what is of particular importance to this study is that original officials in the first Reagan administration, such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Alexander Haig, favored uncritical support for traditional client regimes and pro-United States dictatorships. The effect of failing to support allies such as Somoza is that "everywhere our friends will have noted that the United States cannot be counted on in times of difficulty and our enemies will have observed that American support provides no security against the forward march of history," reasoned Kirkpatrick, in her oft-cited article "Dictators and Double Standards."7 In fact, Kirkpatrick argued that the United States should strengthen its reliance on authoritarianism to defend US interests.


This disjuncture is a complexity grounded in issues of political sociology, among them conflict between competing class fractions, the relative autonomy of the state, the divergence between the public discourse of "proximate policymakers" and strategic discourse private to members of dominant groups, and strategies of developing and appropriating legitimizing symbols and ideology. Besides, the disjuncture should not be exaggerated. In analyzing the reconstruction of US world supremacy under the Reagan administration, Augelli and Murphy point out that Reagan appealed to what Gramsci referred to as the "common sense" (contradictory consciousness) of significant portions of the US mass public.8 But Augelli and Murphy overstate the discrepancy between the Reaganites and the "world management oriented" (transnational) fractions. When closely scrutinized, the Reagan program served the interests of transnational capital on the eve of globalization -- a shift in wealth from labor to capital, dismantling the Keynesian state, and deregulating capital at home and pursuing liberalization and reassertionism abroad. Ideological mass appeal to the emotive and psychological chords of "common sense" played an important role in relegitimating US and world order and thus helped surmount the post-Vietnam War, post-Watergate "crisis of governability" which had led to an incipient breakdown of hegemony. In this sense, Reaganism laid the ideological terrain for the agenda of the transnational elite in the 1980s, in a way not dissimilar to the Gingrich phenomenon in the 1990s.

The point to stress here is that the right-wing insurgency in US policy associated with the rise of the the neo-conservatives in the early 1980s actually masked a broad consensus then emergent in the strategic centers of US power and in the foreign-policy establishment around the transnational agenda. In Gill's analysis, the transnational fraction of capital had unequivocally established its hegemony by the mid-1980s and was able to fully impose its policies on the US state. Gill identifies the second Reagan presidency, beginning in 1984, as the turning point. From that point on, core economic and foreign policy responded to the agenda of the transnational elite, even though the neo-conservatives of the Republican right-wing retained prerogative over domestic social and other secondary policies. Debates in Washington after the early 1980s were less over content than over form -- over the wisdom of the fanaticism, the military dimensions, and reckless aspects of the Reagan Doctrine, a debate most clearly reflected in the controversial Contra policy towards Nicaragua and the conflicting postures adopted towards Soviet-US negotiations.

The radical rhetoric of such highly visible figures as Haig and Kirkpatrick, as well as President Reagan himself and other high-profile Reaganites, concealed the adoption and implementation of the transnational agenda within the apparatus of state. Above all, behind the debates that continued in the mid-1980s was a very broad liberal and conservative confluence around the new methods of political intervention and the shift to promoting polyarchy. "Much of the Washington foreign-policy establishment, and by no means only the Reaganites, had come to the conclusion that the United States now needed to take the political and ideological offensive," noted one counselor to Project Democracy, a government program to develop "democracy promotion" strategies (see below). "Of course, many within the foreign policy establishment had reservations about one or another of these activities ... But by the late 1970s-early 1980s, something of a bipartisan consensus had begun to emerge [around promoting polyarchy]."9

Political operations

Reassertionism and the shift from backing authoritarianism to promoting polyarchy involved a thoroughgoing refurbishing and fine-tuning of the instruments and ideology of foreign policy. This took place over an extended period, from the Vietnam War to the late 1980s. The crucial link between what might appear as contrary processes -- the resurgence of US aggressive intervention abroad in the 1980s, and the emergence of a "softer" "democracy promotion" in foreign-policy -- is the concept and function of political operations (the more benign term used by the foreign-policy establishment is "political development"), and what has been described as its "handmaid," psychological operations (similarly referred to in more benign language as "communications programs").

As conceived by policymakers, political operations fall into three broad categories: political action, described by US strategists as "A full range of activities including certain kinds of multilateral diplomacy, support for foreign political parties or forces, and support for or work with international associations of various kinds"; coercive diplomacy -- "Diplomacy presupposing the use or threatened use of military force to achieve political objectives"; covert political warfare -- "The covert aspects of active measures, [including] support for insurgencies, operations against enemy alliances, influence operations, and black propaganda."10 For its part, psychological warfare, as described by one Reagan NSC official, is the "handmaid" of political warfare, "the planned use of communications to influence human attitudes and behavior. It consists of political, military, and ideological actions conducted to create in target groups behavior, emotions, and attitudes that support the attainment of national objectives... [PSYOPS] will usually be carried out under the broader umbrella of US national policy."11


Political operations are broad and inclusive. Rather than being viewed as any specific program, policy, or practice, it should be more accurately conceived of as a general framework for interaction in the international arena. One specialist explained that "politics is the marshaling of human beings to support or oppose causes ... Such marshaling must be the objective of all international action, from the delivery of public speeches to the dropping of bombs." As such, political operations is in a sense coextensive with all international action and "is not confined to the tools [specifically] associated with political warfare" operations, and may be overt or covert.12 When divested of the rhetoric, the "democracy promotion" programs in the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, and elsewhere were, in fact, large-scale political operations in foreign policy, involving heavy doses of political action, coercive diplomacy, covert political warfare, and psychological operations.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, as US strategists revamped foreign policy, they developed a critique of the reasons for the decline in US influence. This rethinking was neither a uniform nor a conspiratorial process, and these policymakers were scattered throughout the extended policy-making community. Different vantage points offered different views. However, within the foreign-policy establishment as a whole a consensus was developing on the need to inject foreign policy with broader political and psychological operations. The conclusion was that foreign policy had faltered at the political-psychological level of engagement, and that political operations should be broadly introduced. The "failure to identify and assimilate the lessons of the chief defeats the United States has suffered internationally in the post War [World War II) period [and) above all, the Vietnam War," pointed out a member of the NSC in the early 1980s, reflects great US weaknesses "at the psychological-political level of conflict."13 Starting in the early 1980s,the United States began reorganizing the apparatus of state and the instruments of foreign policy, in order to enhance the capacity for sustained political operations.

The two main tools of US foreign policy since World War II have been military (or security) and economic aid programs, integrated into overall foreign-policy endeavors. Between World War II and 1990, the United States spent some $400 billion in such foreign "aid" (over a trillion dollars at 1990 values).14 The purpose of military aid was to bolster local repressive forces (at times, proxies) which could suppress dissent and maintain social control. As well, military aid created bridges between local forces and the US military and established the prerequisite conditions for military, intelligence, and covert intervention where required. For their part, economic aid programs helped facilitate US political influence, and more importantly, were intended to integrate the economies of recipient countries into the international corporate political economy -- by opening up markets, securing access to resources, building the infrastructure necessary for the operations of international capital, and shaping the process of local capital accumulation so that it was synchronized and subordinated to the centers of the world economy.15 These two instruments -- military and economic aid programs -- were used efficaciously in the post-World War II years to reshape the global order and to thrust the United States into the affairs of the majority of nations around the globe. As part of the process of revitalizing foreign policy in the post-Vietnam period, policymakers gave considerable thought to how these two tools of intervention might be fine-tuned and given a more explicitly "political focus."

Those policymakers who saw things through the lens of the military establishment found that traditional military interventions were often counterproductive. They began developing the concept of low-intensity warfare, which entered into the US foreign-policy vocabulary as a term for new modalities of engagement against nationalist and revolutionary movements and governments in the 1980s.16 This new doctrine placed primary emphasis on the political dimensions of conflict and on the coordination of military activities with economic programs, diplomatic initiatives, and psychological warfare. Strategists of low-intensity warfare argued that while the US had concentrated on preparing for conventional or nuclear war with the Soviet Union in Europe, the vast majority of the conflicts in which the US had engaged since World War II were unconventional encounters with "Soviet proxies" in the Third World. In conventional warfare, superior military resources predominate. But in unconventional conflicts of the types generated by the "position of disparity" in the world order that Kennan mentioned, such resources in themselves are not the deciding factor. They concluded that the US had failed because it had not recognized that unconventional war is often more a political than a military undertaking.

In Vietnam the United States enjoyed vast conventional military superiority and won most of the battles but lost the war precisely because its outcome was determined by imperfectly understood political variables. Conventional military supremacy can alter those variables, but the military apparatus is only a means to achieve political ends. US military strategists rediscovered, as they do periodically, the famed nineteenth-century Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, and his axiom that "war is the extension of politics by other means." The strategists drew several essential conclusions regarding future US participation in unconventional conflicts (with or without a military component), and then applied these conclusions in Third World conflict situations. These conclusions were: first, the target of such campaigns must be the population itself, the minds of the people rather than the enemy's military forces; second, in this undertaking, policymakers had to take into account the specific culture, sensibilities, and history of the target population, as well as the capabilities of the adversaries. Campaigns against other countries would be tailor-made to suit the particular circumstances of each foreign-policy operation. Third, it is not enough to try to destroy the organized forces of adversaries (be they revolutionary or nationalist forces or otherwise); a movement or group responsive to US interests had to be created, legitimated and presented to the target population as a viable alternative to the government to be overthrown or replaced or the movement to be defeated. Fourth, new forms of political and military organization had to be developed. (This conclusion helped lead to the formation of the NED and other "democracy promotion" agencies.) Fifth, interventionist projects can only be sustained if there are strong US constituencies who support the effort. These, too, have to be garnered, mobilized, and legitimized. These "lessons" of Vietnam led to a simple yet fundamental premise: the ultimate objective of unconventional engagements is to achieve the political, not the military, defeat of adversaries. Crucial here is the shift from military to political competition as the core of US undertakings abroad, even when the military dimensions of these undertakings appear as the most salient.

In the 1980s, these lessons were applied to numerous low-intensity conflict situations, such as in Central America and Southern Africa, and in many countries and regions which were to undergo transitions to polyarchy. Starting in the early 1980s, the United States began to reorganize the military establishment to conduct low-intensity warfare campaigns. The Joint Chiefs of Staff formed special low-intensity conflict divisions within the Department of Defense and within each military service, and also reintroduced political and psychological warfare branches. The Pentagon even drafted a PSYOPS "master plan" at the behest of a Presidential Directive, and the National Security Council set up a top-level "board for low intensity conflict."17 The shift in the military establishment towards a capacity for flexible, unconventional engagements in the Third World accelerated in the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War.18

For their part, economic policymakers began developing new ideas, such as humanitarian resource use and an expansion of traditional development aid to incorporate "institution-building." One member of Reagan's National Security Council noted that "international aid and humanitarian affairs," including "foreign economic and development aid, food aid, humanitarian assistance (rescue operations, disaster relief, famine relief, and the like), and technical assistance of various kinds," are crucial components of political operations in foreign policy. "Although these functions are bureaucratically scattered and very largely autonomous, they have a very important psychological-political component. Whether intentionally or otherwise, they serve as significant instruments of US foreign policy and national strategy."19 In 1966 Congress had passed the Title IX addition to the US Foreign Assistance Act, which called for a specifically "political focus" to traditional US-funded development programs.20 As a development growing out of Title IX, the AID created an Office of Democratic Initiatives in 1984 and launched numerous "political development" and "institution-building" programs during the 1980s. In addition, economic assistance programs in the 1980s and 1990s, both bilateral and multilateral, became effective precision instruments in promoting the neo-liberal economic model in the Third World. One analyst has appropriately termed this function of "economic aid" in the late twentieth century as "financial low intensity warfare."21

Political aid as political operations

Programs to strengthen friendly political movements in other countries are one of the foreign-policy arms of a modern great power. Until this century, there were three instruments for such efforts: diplomacy, economic, and military. This triad retains its primacy today, but it has been supplemented by two additional instruments. One is propaganda... The other new policy instrument -- aid to friendly political organizations abroad -- ... helps build up political actors in other polities, rather than merely seeking to influence existing ones. In international affairs, organization is now as important as issues, just as has always been the case in domestic politics.

-- Michael A. Samuel sand William A. Douglas (Project Democracy consultants) [22]


The new political intervention did not eclipse the two traditional foreign-policy instruments; to the contrary, they were refurbished and widely deployed. However, the key ingredient was still missing. The third instrument, "political aid," had remained sporadic and underdeveloped. It was the introduction of this third category which would play a centripetal role in facilitating the shift in policy and bringing about consensus around promoting polyarchy. As Allen Weinstein, the first president of NED, put it: "A number of separate strands ... converged in the 1981-82 period to produce a critical mass of public attention" on the issue of "democracy promotion" as a component of overall foreign policy.23

The intellectual underpinning of "political aid" was the argument contained in the political development literature that the United States must build up the institutions of political and civil society of intervened countries in order to develop structures capable of absorbing tensions, maintaining social control, and steering societies in directions responsive to US and transnational interests. Those arguing for the introduction of political aid, including a commission supervised by the National Security Council to create the NED, made broad reference to the conclusions of a 1972 book by William A. Douglas, Developing Democracy.24

In his study, Douglas reviewed the modernization and political development literature and the debates over whether authoritarianism or "democracy" is best suited to meet US interests. Douglas coined the term regimented democracy to describe the type of political system the US should promote in place of authoritarianism. Comparing the populations of developing nations with "children," and asserting that underdevelopment was the result of their "traditional attitudes," Douglas argued that the peoples of the Third World required "tutelage," "regimentation," and "social control," but that "democracy" could achieve these goals more effectively than authoritarianism:

That a firm hand is needed is undeniable. However, it is harder to accept the claim that only dictatorship can provide the sufficient degree of firmness. First, in regard to keeping order, what is involved is basically effective police work, and there is no reason why democratic regimes cannot have well-trained riot squads ... democratic governments may be able to do the same things as dictatorship to overcome centripetal social forces: use police to stop riots, strike bargains with the various groups to keep them reasonably satisfied, and call out the army when peaceful means fail... There is no denying the need for organization structures by which the modernized elite can exercise tutelage. However ... it is common experience that in obtaining the desired behaviour from a balky mule, a balky child, or a balky peasant, the real key is to find just the right balance between carrot and stick... Democracy can provide a sufficient degree of regimentation, if it can build up the mass organizations needed to reach the bulk of the people on a daily basis. Dictatorship has no monopoly on the tutelage principle.25


After making the case for "democracy" over authoritarianism, Douglas went on to develop detailed recommendations on how "political aid" programs should be introduced. Just as economic aid addressed economic underdevelopment, reasoned Douglas, political aid "should address political underdevelopment." Third World nations "need assistance in politics just as much as in building infrastructure, industry, or institutions such as universities, cooperatives, and trade unions," he argued. "Without political aid, their political systems may lag behind development in the economic and institutional sectors, with the resulting political instability... we should undertake an active policy of political aid, for both developmental and security reasons." The trick, said Douglas, was to devise the correct "transplanting mechanisms" for establishing polyarchy in the Third World, as well as "insulating devices" which would allow polyarchic systems to incubate, take hold, and stabilize in the intervened societies.26 Included among the recommendations were: the establishment of a specialized agency (later to become the NED); the participation of the private sector (i.e., the dominant organs of US civil society) in government-supervised "democracy promotion" abroad; and the modification of existing government institutions and programs so as to synchronize overall foreign policy with "political development." Two decades after his study, the "transplanting mechanisms" and "insulating devices" which Douglas called for became embodied in the new "democracy promotion" programs. Douglas himself went on to become a senior consultant to the NSC's Project Democracy (see below), which led to the creation of the NED and other "democracy promotion" organs of the US state.

Although fierce foreign-policy debates continued in the 1980s over the basis on which US influence and world order should be reconstructed, the introduction of "political development" programs garnered a broad consensus. "The Endowment represented an integration of conservative and liberal reactions to the American failure in Vietnam," stated Gershman. "Conservatives, anxious to overcome the Vietnam malaise, welcomed a new effort to reassert American democratic values and to meet the Soviet ideological challenge head on. Liberals, on the other hand, welcomed an approach that offered a political alternative to military competition and a creative means of addressing complex political problems that did not lend themselves to military solutions."27 Another consultant on political aid noted in the mid 1980s: a "US policy of political aid... is in its incipient state and, in time, may well replace in importance military and economic aid as the principal foreign assistance program."28

Political aid has become an efficacious instrument of the United States, in the context of the transnationalization of political processes, in its effort to establish control over transnational politics and to reconfigure a new "historic bloc" over which the transnational elite exercises hegemony. Similarly, the notion of "institution building" in political and civil society in intervened countries as part of political operations abroad, which was first put forward in the political development literature of the 1960s and has now become part of the standard lexicon of "democracy promotion" should be seen theoretically in its relation to hegemony. There is a close relation between institutionalization and hegemony, although the two are by no means identical. As discussed earlier, institutions provide ways of processing conflicts so as to minimize the use of force in domination. In this way, institutions may become what Gramsci called "anchors" for constructing hegemony. The passage from "political development" of the 1960s to "democracy promotion" of the 1980s and 1990s involves an expansion from "institution building" at the level of formal state structures to the level of both state structures and civil society.
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