Authoritarian Rule in South Asian region
Components of the theories about authoritarian rule in south Asian region
Dan Slater has produced one of the best works to explain the history and the political systems in the Asian region and in this book ordering power; he has produced a well researched explanation of the possible theories underpinning the political environment in Asia. In this book he has highlighted the role of states in developing dictators in this region and as such the countries with long term authoritarian rulers have been anchored on strong states that mainly seek to protect their past origins. The author also examines the role of partnerships characterized by coalitions. These coalitions have specific interests that incline towards maintaining state power and authoritative control systems and hence they are keen on limiting any challenges created by opposing political ideologies. The coalitions are supported by strong state parties; elaborate ruling systems, a highly cohesive militaries that ensures stability and hence such systems are able to stay for longer as all stakeholders benefit from the system created. The author uses countries like Cuba, North Korea and China to advance this socialist idea which these countries embrace and hence they have been able to produce the longest serving dictators.
The author however gives another side of the political dynamics of the south Asian region using countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore which were able to learn from world war 11 and hence they have adopted a totally different system. They still embrace socialism but using lessons from the divisions witnessed in the world war two, they prefer to work with all the citizens. Unlike the other proponents of socialism like Cuba that uses authoritarian tactics to push though their agenda, the other countries prefer a more collective approach. This is the key dynamism experienced in the history and politics of the south Asian region. Other rulers have also used ethnic segregation and violence to scuttle those with opposing views and to consolidate power. This was evidenced in the rural parts of China that still experience marginalization to date. The power of the political elite to threaten the masses and control them also determined the longetivity of the authoritarian rulers. These countries also have strong historical presidencies that date back to 1700 century and hence the theory advanced by Slater is based on historical facts (Slater, 23).
2. Major Weaknesses in the theory and missing variables
The book has clearly demonstrated the differences that exist between the extreme socialist countries of the south Asia giving Cuba as the most perfect example. He then gives another set of nations that have adopted a more friendly approach to socialism yet they still produce dictators though they don’t remain in power for long. The author doesn’t provide the key incentives that can be achieved by these long term authoritarian states that numerous evidence which shows some of them advancing economically. Despite the fact that China is being seen as one of the countries producing long term dictators, it has been able to advance greatly in terms of its economic development. The author doesn’t explain the secret behind this rapid development in china.
Major Strengths of the theory in relation to authoritarian rule
One of the key strong points in this work is that it is able to differentiate between the theories underpinning the political systems in those countries. One particular area is the connection between the state systems such as military, coalitions and rich historical orientation to the long term survival of the authoritarian régimes. This argument is very relevant given that most countries with weak systems are finding it to advance even without dictators. The cohesiveness of the state actors is therefore a strong pillar in the sustainability of these systems (Slater,403).
Can we generalize the theory with regards to Asian nations?
From the authors work, it’s quite unclear whether the theory that applies to for instance china can be applied to Cuba. This is because they have achieved different in the economic front and this shows that there are other country specific attributes that allows certain countries to do better than others. Even in the other category of short term authoritarian rulers, the economic developments are quite different.
Does it explain the different levels of authoritarianism?
The work of the author provides some background information about the difference. The theories provided are able to prove the reasons behind the long term dictators but for short term rulers, it’s not easy to tell. This means that more research needs to be conducted with specific reference to individual country and this will definitely produce the required result with regards to the differences.
Slater,Dan. Ordering Power: Contentious Politics, State-Building, and Authoritarian
Durability in Southeast Asia.University of Wisconsin,1994.