Monday, 20 October 2014

Notes on how to deal with dictators (Wintrobe) and the determinants of coups d'état (Powell)

"How to Understand, and Deal With Dictatorship: An Economist's View" (Ronald Wintrobe)
- The dictator's dilemma: a dictator has more power over his subjects, much more than a democratic ruler=> citizens are reluctant to express displeasure=> the dictator doesn't know what citizens think=> he fears=> the problem is magnified when he rules by repression, i.e. through fear=> paranoia.
- Overpay supporters, i.e. pay them more than they are worth (e.g privileges).
=> more widespread in dictatorships than in democracies.
- In dictatorships: class of people who are repressed and class of the overpaid.
- Other tools to stay in power: restrictions on freedom of the press/ rights of citizens to criticise government/ rights of opposition parties to campaign against government, prohibition of groups/ associations/ political parties opposed to government, monitoring of the population, sanctions for disobedience (imprisonment, internment in mental hospitals, torture, execution, etc.)
- Note: the use of repression doesn't mean that dictators are unpopular.
=> dictatorships use 2 instruments: repression and loyalty/ popularity.
=> 4 types:
tinpots: low repression and loyalty (sole aim: maximise consumption)
tyrants: high repression, low loyalty (maximise power)
totalitarians: high levels of both (maximise power)
timocrats: low repression, high loyalty (benevolent dictator=> objective: welfare of people)
- Some dictatorships appear to outperform the democracies, but economic systems under autocracies vary a lot.
- Democracies: need support+ there may be no agreement on what should be done=> democratic inaction (also in war).
- Greater distribution under dictatorship than under democracy=> who it is for and its consequences and efficiencies depend partly on who controls the regime.
- Bureaucracies aren't inherently inefficient but: over time, loyalty to the top tends to deteriorate and to be replaced by alliances among the bureaucrats themselves, which bureaucrats use to line their own pockets, do favour for friends, distort information travelling up the hierarchy to make themselves look better...=> bureaucracies need to be "shaken up" periodically (as in democratic governments when a new party takes office).
- In dictatorships: those who do the purging can be purged themselves.
- Military regimes: double pay scales of military personnel=> cost twice as much to stay in power as before=> weaken rather than strengthen their own capacity to govern=> such regimes are short-lived.
- More rent seeking under democracy=> wasted (in economic sense).
Dictatorships have restrictions on who gets the rents. And when rents are given out, the dictator receives political support or money payments of other things in return=> not wasted.
(But: extortion, corruption, bribery, etc.)
- Aid to dictatorships is wasted or even counterproductive, unless it's tied to human rights observances.
- Sanctions may not work. E.g: stimulate nationalist support for the dictator and strengthen his hold on power.
Accept aid and renege?=> must be monitored and enforced.
- All the totalitarian regimes which have collapsed historically are a result of falling, not rising real income, and the increase in real income in China has resulted in not the slightest relaxation of repression there=> the case for trade with totalitarian regimes is particularly weak.


"Determinants of the Attempting and Outcome of Coups d'état" (Jonathan Powell) 
- Though the motives may be the same, countries will differ in their vulnerability to coups based on the ability of plotters to organise and execute a coup conspiracy. 
- Coup-proofing is found to reduce both the likelihood of a coup attempt and the likelihood that an attempted coup will succeed. 
- Economic concerns have little impact on coup activity. 
- Rationalist framework: 
individual level=> a man pushing for his own interests 
group level=> organisational interests of the military
=> catalysts for coups 
- Coups occur when a government faces a legitimacy crisis
The citizenry must overly demonstrate its dissatisfaction with government in order for the military seize power. 
- Soldiers with more generous financial endowments are more content with the status quo and less likely to attempt a coup. 
The hypothesis that well-funded soldiers are more likely to succeed than their poorly funded counterparts (increase in armaments, training, professionalism) is not supported. Not because the soldiers are incapable of mounting a coordinated effort, but because the resources provide them with incentive to resist any potential coup that might arise. 
- Coups attempted by large militaries rarely succeed. 
- Coup plotters not only avoid action until high levels of instability are present but also benefit from instability. 
- Military regimes are about 5 times more likely to suffer a coup attempt than civilian dictatorships. They're also easy targets. 

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