Huntington, Samuel, Political order in changing societies, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1968, pp. 1-12.
1. Political Order and Political Decay
THE POLITICAL GAP
The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government. The differences between democracy and dictatorship are less than the differences between those countries whose politics embodies consensus, community, legitimacy, organization, effectiveness, stability, and those countries whose politics is deficient in these qualities. Communist totalitarian states and Western liberal states both belong generally in the category of effective rather than debile political systems. The United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union have different forms of government, but in all three systems the government governs. Each country is a political community with an overwhelming consensus among the people on the legitimacy of the political system. Each country the citizens and their leaders share a vision of the public interest of the society and of the traditions and principles upon which the political community is based. All three countries have strong, adaptable, coherent political institutions: effective bureaucracies, well-organized political parties, a high degree of popular participation in public affairs, working systems of civilian control over the military, extensive activity by the government in the economy, and reasonably effective procedures for regulating succession and controlling political conflict. These governments command the loyalties of their citizens and thus have the capacity to tax resources, to conscript manpower, and to innovate and to execute policy. If the Politburo, the Cabinet, or the President makes a decision, the probability is high that it will be implemented through the government machinery.
In all these characteristics the political systems in the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union differ significantly from governments which exist in many, if not most, of the modernizing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. These countries lack many things. They suffer real shortages of food, literacy, education, wealth, income, health, and productivity, but most of them have recognized and efforts made to do something about them. Beyond and behind these shortages, however, there is a greater shortage: a shortage of political community and of effective, authoritative, legitimate government. “I do know”,Walter Lippmann has observed, “that there is no greater necessity for men who live in communities than that they be governed, self-governed is possible, well governed if they are fortunate, but in any event, governed”.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><!--[endif]-->Mr. Lippmann wrote these words in a moment of despair about the United States. But they apply in far greater measure to the modernizing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where the political community is fragmented against itself and where political institutions have little power, less majesty, and no resiliency- where, in many cases, governments simply do not govern.
In the mid-1950s, Gunnar Myrdal called the world’s attentions to the apparent fact that the rich nations of the world were getting richer, absolutely and relatively, at a faster rate than the poorer nations. “On the whole”, he argued, “in recent decades the economic inequalities between developed and underdeveloped countries have been increasing”. In 1966 the president of the World Bank similarly pointed out that at current rates of growth the gap in per capita national income between the United States and forty underdeveloped countries would increase fifty per cent by the year 2000.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]--><!--[endif]-->Clearly, a central issue, perhaps the central issue, in international and developmental economics is the apparently remorseless tendency for this economic gap to broaden. A similar and equally urgent problem exists in politics. In politics as in economics the gap between developed political systems and underdeveloped political systems, between civic polities and corrupt polities, has broadened. This political gap resembles and is related to the economic gap, but it is not identical with it. Countries with underdeveloped economies may have highly developed political systems, and countries which have achieved high levels of economic welfare may still have disorganized and chaotic politics. Yet in the twentieth century the principal locus of political underdevelopment, like that of economic underdevelopment, tend to be the modernizing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
With few notable exceptions, the political evolution of these countries after World War II was characterized by increasing ethnic class conflict, recurring rioting and mob violence, frequent military coups d’etat, the dominance of unstable personalistic leaders who often pursued disastrous economic and social policies, widespread and blatant corruption among cabinet ministers and civil servants, arbitrary infringement of the rights and liberties of citizens, declining standards of bureaucratic efficiency and performance, the pervasive alienation of urban groups, the loss of authority by legislatures and courts, and the fragmentation and at times complete disintegration of broadly based political parties. In the two decades after World War II, successful coups d’etat occurred in 17 of 20 Latin American countries (only Mexico, Chile, and Uruguay maintaining constitutional processes), in a half-dozen North African and Middle Eastern states (Algeria, Egypt, Syria, the Sudan, Iraq, Turkey), in a like number of west African and central African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Dahomey, Upper Volta, Central African Republic, Congo), and in a variety of Asian societies (Pakistan, Thailand, Laos, South Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia, South Korea). Revolutionary violence, insurrection, and guerrilla warfare wracked Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic in Latin America, Algeria and Yemen in the Middle East, and Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, china, the Philippines, Malaya, and Laos in Asia. Racial, tribal, or communal violence or tension disrupted Guyana, Morocco, Iraq, Nigeria, Uganda, the Congo, Burundi, the Sudan, Ruanda, Cyprus, India, Ceylon, Burma, Laos, and South Vietnam. In Latin America, old-style, oligarchic dictatorships in countries like Haiti, Paraguay, and Nicaragua maintained a fragile police-based rule. In the eastern hemisphere, traditional regimes in Iran, Libya, Arabia, Ethiopia, and Thailand struggled to reform themselves even as the teetered on the brink of revolutionary overthrow.
During the 1950s and 1960s the numerical incidence of political violence and disorder increased dramatically in most countries of the world. The year 1958, according to one calculation, witnessed some 28 prolonged guerrilla insurgencies, four military uprisings, and two conventional wars. Seven years later, in 1965, 42 prolonged insurgencies were underway; ten military revolts occurred; and five conventional conflicts were being fought. Political instability also increased significantly during the 1950s and 1960s. Violence and other destabilizing events were five times more frequent between 1955 and 1962 than they were between 1948 and 1954. Sixty-four of 84 countries were less stable in the latter period than in the earlier one. Throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America there was a decline in political order, an undermining of the authority, effectiveness, and legitimacy of government. There was a lack of civic morale and public spirit and of political institutions capable of giving meaning and direction to the public interest. Not political development but political decay dominated the scene.
What was responsible for this violence and instability? The primary thesis of this book is that it was in large part the product of rapid social change and the rapid mobilization of new groups into politics could with the slow development of political institutions. “Among the laws that rule human societies”, de Tocqueville observed, “there is one which seems to be more precise and clear than all others. If men are to remain civilized or to become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased”. The political instability in Asia, Africa, and Latin America derives precisely form the failure to meet this condition: equality of political participation is growing much more rapidly than “the art of associating together”. Social and economic change –urbanization, increases in literacy and education, industrialization, mass media expansion- extend political consciousness, multiply political demands, broaden political participation. These changes undermine traditional sources of political authority and traditional political institutions; they enormously complicate the problems of creating new bases of political association and new political institutions combining legitimacy and effectiveness. The rates of social mobilization and the expansion of political participation are high; the rates of political organization and institutionalization are low. The result is political instability and disorder. The primary problem of politics is the lag in the development of political institutions behind social and economic change.
For two decades after World War II American foreign policy failed to come to grips with this problem. The economic gap, in contrast to the political gap, was the target of sustained attention, analysis, and action. Aid programs, the World Bank and regional banks, the UN and the OECD, consortia and combines, planners and politicians, all shared in a massive effort to do something about the problem of economic development. Who, however, was concerned with the political gap? American officials recognized that the United States had a primary interest in the creation of viable political regimes in modernizing countries. But few, if any, of all the activities of the American government affecting those countries were directly concerned with the promotion of political stability and the reduction of the political gap. How can this astonishing lacuna be explained?
It would appear to be the rooted in two distinct aspects of the American historical experience. In confronting the modernizing countries the United States has handicapped by its happy history. In its development the United States was blessed with more than its fair share of economic plenty, social well-being, and political stability. This pleasant conjuncture of blessing led Americans to believe in the unity of goodness: to assume that all good things go together and that the achievement of one desirable social goal aids in the achievement of others. In American policy toward modernizing countries this experience was reflected in the belief that political stability would be natural and inevitable result of the achievement of, first, economic development and then of social reform. Throughout the 1950s the prevailing assumption of American policy was the economic development –the elimination of poverty, disease, illiteracy–was necessary for political development and political stability. In American thinking the causal chain was: economic assistance promotes economic development, economic development promotes political stability. This dogma was enshrined in legislation and, perhaps more important, it was ingrained in the thinking of officials in AID and other agencies concerned the foreign assistance programs.
If political decay and political instability were more rampant in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in 1965 than they were fifteen years earlier, it was in part because American policy reflected this erroneous dogma. For in fact, economic development and political stability are two independent goals and progress toward one has no necessary connection with progress toward the other. In some instances programs of economic development may promote political stability; in other instances they may seriously undermine such stability. So also, some forms of political stability may encourage economic growth; other forms may discourage it. India as one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s and had only a modest rate of economic growth. Yet through the Congress Party it achieved a high degree of political stability. Per capita incomes in Argentina and Venezuela were perhaps ten times that in India, and Venezuela had a phenomenal rate of economic growth. Yet for both countries stability remained an elusive goal.
With the Alliance for Progress in I961, social reform –that is the more equitable distribution of material and symbolic resources –joined economic development as a conscious and explicit goal of American policy toward modernizing countries. This development was, in part, a reaction to the Cuban Revolution, and it reflected the assumption among policymakers that land and tax reforms, housing projects, and welfare programs would reduce social tensions and deactivate the fuse to Fidelismo. Once again political stability was to be the by-product of the achievement of another socially desirable goal. In fact, of course, the relationship between social reform and political stability resembles that between economic development and political stability. In some circumstances reforms may reduce tensions and encourage peaceful rather than violent change. In other circumstances, however, reform may well exacerbate tensions, precipitate violence, and be a catalyst if rather than a substitute for revolution.
A second reason for American indifference to political development was the absence in the American historical experience of the need to found a political order. Americans, de Tocqueville said, were born equal and hence never had to worry about creating equality; they enjoyed the fruits of a democratic revolution without having suffered one. So also, America was born with a government, with political institutions and practices imported form seventeenth-century England. Hence Americans never had to worry about creating a government. This gap in historical experience made them peculiarly blind to the problems of creating effective authority in modernizing countries. When an American thinks about the problem of government-building, he directs himself not to the creation of authority and the accumulation of power but rather to the limitation of authority and the accumulation of power. Asked to design a government, he comes up with a written constitution, bill of rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, regular elections, competitive parties –all excellent devices for limiting government. The Lockean American is so fundamentally anti-government that he identifies government with restrictions with government. Confronted with the need to design a political system which will maximize power and authority, he has no ready answer. His general formula is that governments should be based on free and fair elections.
In many modernizing societies this formula is irrelevant. Elections to be meaningful presuppose a certain level of political organization. The problem is not to hold elections but to create organizations. In many, if not most, modernizing countries elections serve only to enhance the power of disruptive and often reactionary social forces and to tear down the structure of public authority. “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men”, Madison warned in The federalist, No. 51, “the great difficulty lies in this: you must fist enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself”. In many modernizing countries governments are still unable to perform the fist function, much less the second. The primary problem is not liberty but the creation of a legitimate public order. Men may, of course, have order without liberty, but they cannot have liberty without order. Authority has to exist before it can be limited, and it is authority that is in scarce supply in those modernizing countries where government is at the mercy of alienated intellectuals, rambunctious colonels, and rioting students.
It is precisely this scarcity that communist and communist-type movements are often able to overcome. History shows conclusively that communist governments are no better than free governments in alleviating famine, improving health, expanding national product, creating industry, and maximizing welfare. But the one thing communist governments can do is to govern; they do provide effective authority. Their ideology furnishes a basis of legitimacy, and their party organization provides the institutional mechanism for mobilizing support and executing policy. To overthrow the government in many modernizing countries is a simple task: one battalion, two tanks, and a half-dozen colonels may suffice. But no communist government in a modernizing country has been overthrown by a military coup d’etat. The real challenge which the communist pose to modernizing countries is not that they are so good at overthrowing governments (which is easy), but that they are so good at making governments (which is a far more difficult task). They may not provide liberty, but they do provide authority; they do create governments that can govern. While Americans laboriously strive to narrow the economic gap, communist offer modernizing countries a tested and proven method of bridging the political gap. Amidst the social conflict and violence that plague modernizing countries, they provide some assurance of political order.
Political Institutions: Community and political order
Social forces and political institutions
The level of political community a society achieves reflects the relationship between its political institutions and the social forces which comprise it. A social force is an ethnic, religious, territorial, economic, or status group. Modernizations involves, in large part, the multiplication and diversification of the social forces in society. Kingship, racial, and religious groupings are supplemented by occupational, class, and skill groupings. A political organization or procedure, on the other hand, is an arrangement for maintaining order, resolving disputes, selecting authoritative leaders, and thus promoting community among two or more social forces. A simple political community may have a purely ethnic, religious, or occupational base and will have little need for highly developed political institutions. It has the unity of Durkheim’s mechanical solidarity. The more complex and heterogeneous the society, however, the more the achievement and maintenance of political community become dependent upon the workings of political institutions.
In practice, the distinction between a political institution and a social force is not clear-cut one. Many groups may combine significant characteristics of both. The theoretical distinction between the two, however, is clear. All men who engage in political activity may be assumed to be members of a variety of social groupings. The level of political development of a society in large part depends upon the extent to which these political activists also belong to and identify with a variety of political institutions. Clearly, the power and influence of social forces varies considerably. In a society in which all belong to the same social force, conflicts are limited and are resolved by the structure of the social force. No clearly distinct political institutions are necessary. In a society may exist with little or no community, without creating political institutions which have some existence independent of the social forces that gave them birth. “The strongest”, in Rousseau’s oft-quoted phrase, “is never strong enough to be always the master unless he transforms strength into right and obedience into duty”. In a society of any complexity, the relative power of the groups changes, but if the society is to be a community, the power of each group is exercised through political institutions which temper, moderate, and redirect than power so as to render the dominance of one social force compatible with the community of many.
In the total absence of social conflict, political institutions are unnecessary; in the total absence of social harmony, they are impossible. Two groups which see each other only as archenemies cannot form the basis of a community until those mutual perceptions change. There must some compatibility of interests among the groups that compose the society. In addition a complex society also requires some definition in terms of general principle or ethical obligation of the bond which holds the groups together and which distinguishes its community from other communities. In a simple society community is found in the immediate relation neighbor to neighbor. The obligation and the community are direct; nothing intrudes from the outside. In a more complex society, however, community involves the relation of individual men or groups to something apart from themselves. The obligation is to some principle, tradition, myth, purpose, or code of behavior that the persons and groups have in common. Combined, these elements constitute Cicero’s definition of the commonwealth, or “the coming together of a considerably number of men who are united by a common agreement upon law and rights and by the desire to participate in mutual advantages”. Consensus juris and utilitatis communion are two sides of political community. Yet there is also a third side. For attitudes must be reflected in behavior, and community involves not just any “coming together” but rather a regularized, stable, and sustained coming together. The coming together must, in short, be institutionalized. And the creation of political institutions involving and reflecting the moral consensus and mutual interest is, consequently, the third element necessary for the maintenance of community in a complex society. Such institutions in turn give new meaning to the common purpose and create new linkages between the particular interest of individual and groups.
The degree of community in a complex society thus, in a rough sense, depends on the strength and scope of its political institutions. The institutions are the behavioral manifestation of the moral consensus and mutual interest. The isolated family, clan, tribe, or village may achieve community with relatively little conscious effort. They are, in a sense, natural communities. As societies become larger in membership, more complicated in structure, and more diverse in activities, the achievement or maintenance of high level of community becomes increasingly dependent upon political institutions. Men are, however, reluctant to give up the image of social harmony without political action. This was Rousseau’s dream. It remains the dream of statesman and soldiers who imagine that they can induce community in their societies without engaging in the labor of politics. It is the eschatological goal of the Marxist who aim to re-create at the end of history a perfect community where politics is superfluous. In fact, this atavistic notion could only succeed if history were reversed, civilization undone, and the levels of human organization reduced to family and hamlet. In simple societies community can exist without politics or at least without highly differentiated political institutions. In a complex society community is produced by political action and maintained by political institutions.
Historically, political institution have emerged out of the interaction among and disagreement among social forces, and the gradual development of procedures and organizational devices for resolving those disagreements. The breakup of a small homogeneous ruling class, the diversification of social forces, and increased interaction among such forces are preconditions for the emergence of political organization and procedures and the eventual creation of political institutions. “Conscious constitution-making appears to have entered the Mediterranean world when the clan organization weakened and the contest of rich and poor became a significant factor in politics”. The Athenians called upon Solon for a constitution when their polity was threatened by dissolution because there were “as many different parties as there were diversities in the country” and “the disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor, at the time, also reached its height”. More highly developed political institutions were required to maintain Athenian political community as Athenian society became more complex. The reforms of Solon and of Cleisthenes were responses to the social-economic change that threatened to undermine the earlier basis of community. As social forces became more variegated, political institutions had to become more complex and authoritative. It is precisely this development, however, which failed to occur in many modernizing societies in the twentieth century. Social forces were strong, political institutions weak. Legislatures and executives, public authorities and political parties remained fragile and disorganized. The development of the state lagged behind the evolution of society.
Criteria of Political Institutionalization
Political community in a complex society thus depends upon the strength of the political organizations and procedures in the society. That strength, in turn, depends upon the scope of support for the organizations and procedures and their level of institutionalization. Scope refers simply to the extent to which the political organizations and procedures encompass activity in the society. If only a small upper-class group belongs to political organizations and behaves in terms of a set of procedures, the scope is limited. If on the other hand, a large segment of the population is politically organized and follows the political procedures, the scope is broad. Institutions are stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior. Organizations and procedures vary in their degree of institutionalization. Harvard University and the newly opened suburban high school are both organizations, but Harvard is much more of an institution than the high school. The seniority system in Congress and President Johnson’s select press conferences are both procedures, but seniority was much more institutionalized than were Mr. Johnson’s method of dealing with press.
Institutionalization is the process by which organizations and procedures acquire value and stability. The level of institutionalization of any political system can be defined by the adaptability, complexity, autonomy, and coherence of its organizations and procedures. So also, the level of institutionalization of any particular organization or procedure can be measured by its adaptability, complexity, autonomy and coherence. If these criteria can be identified and measured, political systems can be compared in terms of their levels of institutionalization. And it will also be possible to measure increases and decreases in the institutionalization of the particular organizations and procedures within a political system.