Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Analysis of Failure of Democracy in Argos

I will begin with the comment that I expected military defeat to lead to many democratic failures, while in times past many people were more afraid of military glory.  The record here is a bit slim, but Argos appears to be a rare example of both at once.  The city as a whole suffered a military defeat and the democracy was (partially) discredited as a result.  At the same time, the elite regiment achieved military glory and saw its status enhanced.  My other comment, as before, is that our record is very inadequate, so there is a lot of guesswork here.

Nonetheless, here go my predictions:


Extreme polarization:  This appears to have been the case, although we do not have enough details to to say much more.

Abandonment of procedural norms:  Once again, our information here is insufficient.  We do not know what form ordinary democratic politics took in Argos before the democracy was overthrown. But the final overthrow appears to have taken the form of a coup thinly disguised with legal procedures, i.e., the 1,000 killing the democratic leaders and then "persuading" the assembly to vote them into power.

Hm.  I seem to be treating polarization and abandonment of procedural norms as sort of axiomatic, things that happen by definition.  I originally meant for them to be happening specifically in the context of democratic politics as usual.  That may have been the case in Argos, but we just don't know enough to say.

Political violence or private paramilitaries:  Political violence, yes.  Private paramilitaries, no.  The failure of democracy in Argos appears to have taken the form of a coup by the official state military. And so far as I can tell, this was something new in Greece.  Up until then, democracies had been overthrown by oligarchies and both had been overthrown by dictators.  But up till then, people seeking to overthrow the established government had relied on private paramilitaries, or foreign mercenaries, or treasonable collusion with a foreign army.  Armies consisted of citizen-soldiers, each supplying his own gear.  So long as the army is co-extensive with the citizenry, it can be counted upon to be loyal.  But in Argos the regular army was supplemented with an elite force that saw itself as the real military power, separate from the citizen body and (presumably) sought to shrink the citizen body down to the size of this elite force.  That raises some interesting questions about a state like Athens that extends citizenship to men too poor to afford gear and serve in the army.  Will the army decide to shrink to citizen body down to itself?  Granted, in Athens poor men provided by backbone of the country's military power by serving in the navy.  But if the army wants to stage a coup, how can the navy resist?  These questions will become very important soon.

The danger on the right.  Well, if I define oligarchy as inherently right wing, then yes, the overthrow was from the right.  The left wing menace is from dictators holding themselves out as champions of the common people against the oligarchy.


Driven more by fear than ambition:  No.  As with Plataea, Corcyra, and Megara, this does not hold in Ancient Greece.  There is nothing to suggest that the Argive oligarchy was driven by fear.  It seems, instead, to have been driven by ambition in the belief that this elite military force were the city's true and rightful rulers.

Inability to tell radicals from moderates, fear of middle class being squeezed out:  These are sub-categories of fear and do not apply here -- just as they did not apply in Plataea, Corcyra, or Megara.

Not dependent on a charismatic leader:  Here I would have to say we don't know.  We have at least the name of the leader of the 1,000 -- Byras.  We can confidently say he was not a charismatic leader in the sense of appealing to the masses.  But we have no idea how charismatic or influential he was within the 1,000.  It does appear, though, that this was a military oligarchy rather than a military dictatorship.

Triggered by military defeat:  Or, as discussed above, military defeat of the democracy, but military glory for an elite force.  It is interesting that this elite force would proceed to make common cause with Sparta, who they had just been fighting.  But we can well imagine an ideological affinity between them.  Many other countries purported to admire Sparta, but never went to far as to actually attempt to copy them.  The Argive elite forces just might have, given the chance.


Foreign invasion:  Argive democracy was not directly displaced by a foreign invading army, but the oligarchy came to power in collusion with a foreign army.  As with Plataea, Corcyra, and Megara, the faction that sought the support of a foreign army ended up losing.  In some ways this should not be surprising.  The side that is winning does not, after all, have any need to seek the intervention of a foreign power.  But it is interesting that in none of these cases was foreign intervention able to tip the domestic balance of power in favor of the weaker party.  (In Plataea it was strong enough to destroy the city altogether, but not enough to make the oligarchs prevail).

Military coup:  See above.

FASCISM:  Almost none of the fascistic traits apply.

Middle class populist movement against those above and below:  No.  I don't think middle class populism or right wing populism was ever invented in Ancient Greece.  The overthrow of Argive democracy was purely the action of an elite (military) against the general citizen body.

Driven by fear and ambition, but predominantly by fear:  As with Plataea, Corcyra, and Megara, the oligarchs appear to have been driven entirely by ambition.

Paramilitary party claiming a political monopoly:  We don't really know whether the 1,000 competed in Argive politics but played unfair.  Apparently they sought to legitimize their rule by intimidating the assembly into approving it.  But basically this was not a paramilitary party, but a coup by the official military.

I will make short work of the most generally accepted traits of fascism.  None of the fear-based or populist traits of fascism apply.  The oligarchs were not imperialist at all, but sought a submissive policy toward Sparta.  In fact, imperialism in ancient Greece appears to have been mostly a trait of democracy.  They probably did not have a charismatic leader, and certainly not the sort of leader-worship typical of fascism.  They were anti-liberal in the sense of seeking to narrow and exclude. They practiced political violence.  And the oligarchs believed in the right of their group to dominate, though in a very different way from the nationalism of fascism.  But basically, they were a military coup by an elite military regiment, which is something different altogether.

Failures of Democracy: Argos

So, as we last left Athens, Alcibiades had persuaded his countrymen to ally with Argos against Sparta.   The Argives had been anticipating the war for some time and apparently* prepared for it by training 1,000 men as an elite force of full-time, professional soldiers, to be equal to the Spartans.

Argos soon started a war with its next-door neighbor.  Sparta intervened on behalf of the neighbor and Athens sent a thousand men to the aid of Argos.  For some time the war was uneventful because the Spartans were very religious, to the point of letting it interfere with military efficacy.  They would not fight during a festival or cross a border if sacrifices were unfavorable so as a result not much happened for quite a while.

Eventually, though (circa 419-418 B.C.), the armies did meet up.  The Argive army came face-to-face with the Spartans and appeared to have them at the advantage.  However, in fact the Argives were outflanked, with allies of Sparta on both sides and would assuredly have met with disaster.  The troops as a whole did not recognized the danger, but their generals did an proposed a truce.  The Spartan king unaccountably accepted, formed a four-month truce, and both armies retreated to face the anger of their respective cities for not achieving victory when they had the advantage.  The Spartan king was assessed an immense fine, which he escaped by promising to make up for his action with some important victory.  Instead, the Spartans tore down his house and and attached ten officers to him with the power to override him.  The Argive generals escaped stoning only by fleeing to sanctuary, and their property was confiscated.

After the truce had expired, the armies marched out again, the Argives this time with Athenian  reinforcements.  The precise military details need not concern us.  The important point is that the Spartans were taken by surprise, but assumed a fighting posture with remarkable speed.  One wing of the Spartan allies were defeated by the Mantineans and the 1,000 elite Argive troops, but the Spartan wing and the center routed the non-elite Argives and their allies, including the Athenians.  They allowed the defeated forces to escape and turned their attention to the victorious Mantineans and elite Argive forces.  Many of the Mantineans were killed, but most of the 1,000 Argives escaped.  This battle was known at the Battle of Mantinea and it restored the reputation of Sparta, which had suffered since their forces surrendered at Pylos.

Army formation at the Battle of Mantinea
Diodorus Siculus gives another account not included in Thucydides.  He says that the Spartans had the elite Argive force surrounded and they escaped only because ten officers overrode the king and ordered them to be allowed to escape, saying that such an elite force, fighting with the courage of despair, would inflict unacceptable casualties.  Given later events, this would seem to imply a certain collusion between them.

This defeat weakened that anti-Spartan democratic party in Argos and strengthened its pro-Spartan oligarchic party, as well as the prestige of the elite 1,000.  The pro-Spartan party therefore persuaded the Argives to reach a peace and alliance with Sparta on what, on the surface, appeared to be very reasonable terms.  Argos was to return its gains during the war and restore any hostages captured, and to join the Peloponnesian League.  Its autonomy and government were to be respected. Soon after, the parties formed an alliance.  But the reasonable terms soon proved to be so much window dressing.  The Spartans soon compelled the Argives to send a thousand men (presumably their elite force) to join a thousands Spartans to march on Sicyon (see above) and impose a more oligarchic government.  The two armies then joined forces in deposing the Argive democracy and installing an oligarchy.

As with Megara, Thucydides gives maddeningly few details, except to say that when the Spartans were next away celebrating a festival, the democrats rose up, fought a battle, and overthrew the oligarchs, killing some and exiling others.  The Spartans refused to leave the festival to intervene until too late, but the Argive democrats, knowing that they would eventually return, resumed their alliance with Athens.  Diodorus Siculus does not mention a Spartan role in the coup, but gives a few more domestic details.  He attributed the coup specifically to the thousand, a detail Thucydides hints at but does not say outright.  He rather contradictorily says both that their prominence and status as military heroes gave them much support and that they seized power by executing the democratic leaders and frightening the people into submission.  The oligarchy endured eight months before the people overthrew and executed the oligarchs.  We get one more hint about Argos' domestic matters from Pausanias, a second century A.D. traveler who cataloged the landmarks in Greece with some historical background information.  He says that the commander of the 1,000 was named Bryas and was "violent" toward the common man.  The catalyst for the revolution occurred when Bryas carried off a bride on her way to her wedding and raped her.  He then made the mistake of keeping her for the night, so she put out his eyes when he was asleep and fled to take refuge among the common people.  War broke out when the people refused to return her for punishment.  The democratic forces won out and slaughtered the oligarchy to the man.**

This account was given nearly 600 years later, as an explanation why the Argives built a certain statue to their god, so it is hard to tell how much of it to believe.  One thing is certain: there were survivors of the oligarchic party (who may or may not have been members of the elite 1,000 man regiment).  Their exiles are described as taking refuge in Phlius and as going to Sparta to seek intervention.  Indeed, there must have been survivors who did not go into exile because when the Spartans marched against Argos, they were counting on the assistance of oligarchs within the city. The Athenians had come to Argos' aid and set out to build walls linking Argos to the sea so that in case of a siege they could receive food from the sea.  Due to the urgency of the situation, women and slaves joined in the building.  The ultimate outcome was mixed.  The assistance from oligarchs failed to materialize, so the Spartans were unable to capture Argos.  But they did destroy the long walls, and they captures the minor town of Hysia, killing all the free men who fell into their hands.  (No further details given).  Alcibiades arrested some 300 Argives suspected of being pro-Spartan and took them to Athens as hostages.  Later, when another plot to overthrow the Argive democracy was suspected, the Athenians returned the hostages to Argos, where they were executed.  Sporadic warfare continued for a long time between Sparta and Argos, with Spartans laying waste to the Argive countryside and Argives taking out their anger on Phlius.

______________________________________________________ *Thucydides does not expressly mention Argos preparing such a force, but he does refer to it at the Battle of Mantinea, which would imply that Diodorus Siculus' account of its formation is essentially true.
**This is an example of the usefulness of a professional historian in pointing out this obscure source.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Enter Alcibiades

When we last left Athens, they had reached a peace with Sparta after ten years' war, under conditions that required a substantial exchange of territory.  This agreement soon went the way of all agreements between great powers that require small countries to comply.  The Athenians first and foremost wanted the return of Amphipolis, an important colony that had revolted.  The people of Amphipolis, however, were not agreeable and refused to be returned. The Athenians had to settle for a withdrawal of Spartan forces.  The Thebans were supposed to return an important fort to the Athenians and did -- but only after destroying it.  The Spartans first and foremost want the return of prisoners taken by Athens and of Pylos, an outpost of their territory which the Athenians were using to stir up trouble by the helots.  The Athenians returned the prisoners and removed the helots from Pylos so they would not longer be a security threat, but refused to return Pylos until their conditions were met.

 Meanwhile, the Peloponnesian League, which has maintained a united front as long as they were all fighting Athens, began to scheme to throw off Spartan hegemony.  Corinth was the chief schemer, but the critical city was Argos.  Argos was a traditional enemy of Sparta, the only major city in the Peloponnese not to join the Peloponnesian League, and one of the few democracies on the Peloponnese.  Up until then, Argos has remained neutral during the war and has prospered as a result.  But an extended truce with Sparta was set to expire and it was generally taken for granted in those days that in the absence of a formal truce, war would soon follow.  A complex and convoluted series of diplomatic maneuvers followed, the details of which need not concern us, except the practical upshot, which was that Argos ended up forming a league of democracies with Mantinea  and  Athens, with Elis thrown in for good measures.  As the above map makes clear, such an alliance was a grave threat to Sparta, not just to Spartan hegemony on the Peloponnese, but a threat to cut Sparta off from the mainland altogether.

It is at this point that Alcibiades comes into the story.  I have  described Cleon as the man who gave demagogues a bad name.  Thucydides and Aristophanes (our main contemporary sources) were both strongly hostile.  It is hard to tell how much of their hostility springs from resentment of Cleon's un-aristocratic background and manners and lack of military experience, and how much from substantive disputes.  They accuse Cleon of "rabble rousing, corruption, malicious prosecution, smearing his opponents, presuming to think he knew more about military matters than seasoned generals, war mongering, prolonging the war for political gain, and crimes against humanity."  But one thing they never accuse him of is aspiring to be a dictator.

Alcibiades, now, is a different matter.  Alcibiades never became a dictator, but one cannot confidently say that he did not aspire to be one.  Certainly Thucydides says that the Athenians suspected  Alcibiades of aspiring to be a dictator, and that they were scandalized by the "lawlessness" of his private life and habits.  (Thucydides, a bit of a prude, mentions only his extravagant spending on race horses.  Plutarch gives a lot more examples).  Yet Alcibiades was a brilliant military commander and had an impeccable aristocratic pedigree.  This may be why Thucydides goes surprisingly easy on him, saying that Athens was ruined by the people's refusal to trust him.*   Aristophanes seems to share that opinion.  In Athens' most desperate hour, his advice was to take Alcibiades back, "You should not rear a lion cub in the city,/ But if one is brought up, accommodate its ways."  Then as now, the lion was a royal symbol.  His advice seems to be that Athens should give Alcibiades command even if he does aspire to be a dictator.  Just as I am unclear whether it was Cleon's lack of pedigree or lack of military experiene that made Thucydides and Aristophanes so despise him, I am also not clear whether their forbearance toward Alcibiades was because of his pedigree or his military skills.

Be that as it may, Alcibiades shows himself as a power-hungry warmonger and manipulator from the start.  Thucydides believes that Alcibiades wanted to encourage war with Sparta partly because he genuinely thought it was in Athens' best interest and partly because he resented Nicias getting all the credit for the peace.  (Alcibiades at the time was considered too young for such an important role).

The Spartan ambassadors arrived, settlement.  They presented their case quite convincingly to the Council and gave all promise of being equally convincing when they spoke to the Assembly.  He therefore convinced them to say that they did not have full power to negotiate and to allow him to be their spokesman instead.  Since Alcibiades' family had a longstanding history of being representatives of Spartan interests,** they were convinced.  The next day in the Assembly, Alcibiades asked the ambassadors if they had full independent power to negotiate.  When they said that they did not, Alcibiades feigned indignation and persuaded the people to reject the peace overture.  It was a dirty underhanded trick and Alcibiades is quite justly blames for it, but it is not quite as bad as it sounds on the surface.  The decision, after all, was not truly one between war and peace, but between alliance with one belligerent (Argos) or the other (Sparta).  By this trick Alcibiades was able to secure an alliance with Argos and lead Athens into yet another war.

*Thucydides did not live to complete his work, but he did live to see the end of the war.  At one point he describes how it concluded and specifically says that the war lasted 27 years, and that this was the only example he knew of oracles being right.  This remark seems a bit cynical to us; to the Greeks it must have seemed blasphemous.
**To openly declare oneself the champion of a foreign city's interests in one's own city was considered perfectly honorable and patriotic, a sort of consulate. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to Ancient Greece and a Note on Sources

So, back to Ancient Greece.  Up to now I given an account of the first ten years of the Peloponnesian War that was both too short and too long and says nothing about the failure of democracy in Athens. The upcoming series of posts will discuss the resumption of the war and the short-lived failure of democracy in Athens in 411 B.C.

The last time democracy had failed in Athens was when the dictator Pisistratus seized power.  We do not know the exact year that this happened, but Aristotle says that it was in the thirty-second year after Solon instituted the democracy, and that the interim years had been ones of turmoil.  Point of contrast -- the Weimar Republic last fourteen years (1919-1933), all of them turbulent.  Thus Pisistratus' takeover might be seen as a failure of a troubled young democracy struggling to establish itself.

When Athenian democracy was overthrown in 411 B.C., it had been 99 years (since 510) since Pisistratus' son Hippias had been overthrown and 97 years since the attempt by Isagoras to establish either a dictatorship or an oligarchy had been defeated and democracy established on a firm basis by Cleisthenes.  Point of contrast -- four score and seven (87) years passed between the Declaration of Independence and the Battle of Gettysburg.  And this exaggerates the age of the United States at the time.  If we take our continuous government as starting in 1788 (the first election under the Constitution), then a mere 72 years had elapsed between the the institution of a meaningful U.S. government and the secession of South Carolina.  But the United States was generally seen in 1860 as a mature democracy rather than a young and troubled regime.  The point here is that, regardless of how you measure it, Athens had a mature democracy when it was overthrown in 411, which had endured longer than the government of the US during our Civil War.

It also occurs to me that I really should say something about sources here, at the risk of sounding like the acknowledgments or preface section of a book.  Many thanks to for making it easier to order obscure books than it has ever been before.  And even more thanks to the Perseus Digital Library a collection of all sorts of works from Classical Antiquity, both in the original Greek or Latin and translated into English, with some commentary.  The huge advantage of the Perseus Project from a blogging perspective is that it allows one to link to a source with considerable precision.  I had not learned to navigate it when I started this series, which is why my earlier posts contain much less precise links that leave a lot of digging to do, while my later posts contain pinpoint links to Perseus.

Our main source of information on the 411 B.C. overthrow of Athenian democracy and the events leading up to it is from Thucydides.  Thucydides' work is unfinished; it abruptly breaks off shortly after the coup failed, almost leaving the impression of the author having a heart attack in mid-paragraph.  This keeps him from giving any account of the aftermath of the coup, so I have followed to the end of Alcibiades' career in two later historians, Xenophon writing as a contemporary and often eye witness, and Diodorus Siculus, writing in Roman times, but apparently drawing on much earlier sources.  Aristotle's Athenian Commonwealth* gives a very different account of the coup.  Plutarch's biography of Nicias does not reach the coup, but give important information on the background leading up to it.  In his life of Alcibiades, the coup takes place offstage, but we get at least an offstage look at it, as well as information on the events leading up and the aftermath.  Speeches made at this time were oral and not preserved in writing (Thucydides admits that the speeches in his work are either drawn from memory or made up altogether), but after the Peloponnesian War Athens began to have professional speech writers who made speeches to be given to the Assembly or to juries.  The speeches of Andocides are an important source in events leading up to the coup, and during it as well.  A few other speeches touch on the coup and one is specifically addressed to it.

The usual advice to lawyers researching an unfamiliar area of law is to begin with a secondary source. It might not be binding authority, but it is a useful guide to the binding authorities out there and can spare the researcher a lot of fruitless hunting.  The same goes for modern historians of ancient societies.  They rely on much the same sources and a lot of what they have to say is based on little more than conjecture, but they have the advantages of being able to read the classical sources in the original and pick up on subtleties that are lost in translation.  They also have access to truly obscure sources, to archaeological work, and to the opinions and conjectures of other scholars.  But above all, they have been immensely useful in leading me to available sources and sparing me having the hunting to find them.  I have made use of Donald Kagan's history of the Peloponnesian War and 19th Century historian George Grote, whose works are in the public domain and available online.

*My latest attempt to find some suitable translation of the Greek word politeia.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Neutering of Alexis Tsipras

All of which lead back to the subject of Greece.  Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for elections on September 20 which, despite his disastrous performance, he is expected to win.  After defying Europe on austerity, loudly proclaiming Greek sovereignty, and calling a referendum to defeat an offensive austerity proposal, he then proceeded to cave and accept much harsher austerity terms and greater infringements on national sovereignty than the proposal that the people voted against.  So why is he still popular.  The cited article suggests three reasons:

  1. The only alternative to capitulation is leaving the euro, which the Greeks are not willing to do;
  2. Mainstream parties are thoroughly discredited, both by disastrous economic performance since 2008 and for their role in causing the mess in the first place;
  3. At least Tsipras made a serious effort to beat back austerity before he caved.  
I would add another reason.  People are tired of crisis and just want a return to normality, even if the current norm is really bad.  Tsipras, having done his level best before caving, is now ready to settle into his role as a respectable center-left political leader.

Of course, we know what has happened to respectable center-left leaders and parties in Europe since 2008.  They have embraced self-destructive austerity and are being abandoned in mass by their voters. The old center-left party in Greece has experienced mass defections to Syriza.  Now that Syriza has caved, where do they have left to go?

The crisis in Greece has truly driven home that there are only two alternatives -- either leave the euro, or stay on whatever terms the creditors choose to dictate.  Any attempt to resist the creditors will simply lead to harsher terms.  So why does leaving the euro remain so resolutely off the table?  This column believes that the Greeks are staying out of nationalism:

The Greeks, for their part, have been putting their national identity ahead of their pocketbooks, in ways that economists do not understand and continually fail to predict. It is economically irrational for Greeks to prefer continued membership in the eurozone, when they could remain in the EU with a restored national currency that they could devalue. 
But, for the Greeks, eurozone membership does not mean only that they can use the common currency. It places their country on a par with Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, as a “full member” of Europe – a position consistent with Greece’s status as the birthplace of Western civilization.
Maybe.  But I think what is really hard for people like me to understand is how "national identity" can be expressed by submitting to ever greater and more humiliating infringements on one's national sovereignty.  If there is one thing that these negotiations have made absolutely clear, it is that Greece is not, in fact, being treated as "on a par with Italy, Spain, France and Germany" -- well, at least with France and Germany.  Italy and Spain may be partners in humiliation.  The alternative is the prospect of leaving the euro is just too terrifying and that the Greeks still prefer the devil they know over the devil they don't know.

I guess it all depends on what happens next.  If the Greek economy recovers, no doubt Tsipras will remain popular and will be looked upon (quite wrongly) as a wise and foresighted statesman.  But if the economy continues to languish, then the pressure will continue to build for someone to do something to make it better.

And now I intend to abandon modern Greece and the modern world for a while and return to Ancient Greece and the overthrow of democracy in Athens in 411 B.C.

How One Might Reach a Semi-Rational Theory of Fascist = Keynesian

As I discussed before, the theory of liberal fascism is nonsense, but one might make at least a semi-coherent theory of Keynesian fascism.  In theory, there is nothing fascistic about Keynesianism.  It simply means that if the private sector is not investing enough -- resulting in people being unemployed, resulting in people buying less, resulting in less investment -- then government can break the vicious cycle by taking up the slack by investing in public works until the economy gets going again.  In theory, there is no reason why Keynes should not be compatible with liberal democracy.

But we all know the saying about a beautiful theory being slain by an ugly fact.  And the ugly fact is that Keynesian, whether in the 1930's or now, has not proven politically feasible because it violates people's intuitions.  Elite and popular intuition alike assume that when the economy shrinks, everyone -- including, indeed, especially government -- should cut back.  After all, if households have to balance their budgets, so should government.  To be told that government can print its own money and therefore has different rules seems unfair and deeply offensive.  Unfortunately, everyone's intuition here is dead wrong.  When everyone cuts back at the same time, the economy shrinks.  And responding by cutting back further simply makes the economy shrink further.  Besides, such downturns tend to follow the bursting of a bubble and elite and popular intuition alike tend to see some hardship as an appropriate punishment for former excesses.  So austerity is popular for a time, despite the hardship it causes.

But when austerity fails to deliver recovery, the push grows to do something -- anything -- to make the depression go away.  At the same time, Keynesian economics still violates people's intuitions.  So what do you do about it?  The easiest way out is for a country to let its currency fall and export its way out.  But that works only if there is somewhere with a strong enough economy to do the requisite importing.  It does not work if the downturn is worldwide.  A few politicians can persuade people to set aside their intuitions and at least give Keynes a try.  But that requires high levels of social trust, and particularly high levels of trust in politicians and government.  Only Scandinavian countries seem able to achieve it.

And, conservatives are often gleeful to point out, the requisite levels of social trust and trust in government only seem to happen in highly ethnically uniform countries.  The US is not sufficiently ethnically uniform, so we can't do it.*  As a practical matter, conservatives may argue, forced ethnic uniformity will necessarily precede any actual attempt at Keynesian economics.  Forced ethnic uniformity does not mean gas chambers (which did not begin until after the war and well after military Keynesianism had revived the world economy).  It need not even mean physical exclusion. But it does mean exclusion from the body politic and from any state-sponsored economic benefits. Hence Hitler's scapegoating of the Jews, right wing populist anti-immigration policies in present-day Europe, Roosevelt's heavy reliance on liberal Southern racists and careful calibration of the New Deal to exclude black people as much as possible, can all be seen as inherent in the nature of Keynesian economics, a sort of necessary prelude to achieve the necessary ethnic uniformity to allow sufficient trust for people to set aside their intuitions and give Keynes a chance.  Alternately, one can argue that military Keynesianism, i.e., an arms race, is the only kind that has proven politically acceptable, and that Keynesianism is therefore inseparable from nationalism, militarism, and (ultimately) warmongering.

These are serious accusations, backed by at least some empirical evidence.  However, this is an argument that right wingers are unlikely to make for an obvious reason.  It assumes that Keynesian economics works.  If you make the underlying assumption that Keynesian economics does not work, that what as called for in the 1930's was to do nothing at all, or that austerity and scraping of the social safety net really are the appropriate policies today, then you might indeed agree that ethnic scapegoating and Keynesian economics are inextricably linked.  But you would not agree that they are the inherent fruit of failed austerity policies.  And that would put you in the awkward position of explaining why embracing austerity seems to do such a poor job of reviving economies and so often leads to ugly political movements.

Again, I have not ready Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, but simply looking at the table of contents suggests that this is not the argument he is making.  He famously does talk at length about the racism of early 20th century Progressives including Woodrow Wilson, but continues his liberal fascist argument well after liberals had endorsed racial equality.  And he does not seem to emphasize Keynes.

But it is fair to ask, since I do believe that Keynesian economics works, how I respond to the basic facts that it appears politically unfeasible, and that it is often associated with some truly vile demagogues?  I suppose I would argue that it ain't necessarily so.  Political alliances are strange and shifting.  Keynesian economics and ethnic scapegoating do, indeed, appear to go together in non-Scandinavian Europe both in the 1930's and today.  But they did not go together in the Scandinavian countries, then or now.  They made only a partial fit in the US in the 1930's.  Roosevelt's administration contained both Southern racists and advocates of racial equality.  Huey Long endorsed the New Deal without appealing to racism.  Meanwhile center-left parties in Europe typically did not embrace Keynes, either in the 1930's or today.  And in the US today Keynesian economics (1) have been more successful (both in being implemented and in reviving the economy) than in Europe and (2) are not paired with ethnic scapegoating.  And the party that rejects Keynes is also the one more prone the anti-immigrant demagoguery.**  This may make the US the exception and not the rule, but it does prove that any equation between Keynesianism and ethnic scapegoating is simply a general correlation, not an inexorable political law.

In short, in both the US and Scandinavia, both in the 1930's and today, mainstream parties did reject self-destructive austerity and (Roosevelt's unpleasant alliance with Southern racists notwithstanding) spared the country the need for really nasty parties.  In non-Scandinavian Europe, in the 1930's and today, all respectable mainstream parties, center-left parties included, embraced self-destructive austerity.  The result was that only fringe parties, including many that engaged in ethnic scapegoating, were left to oppose it.  In short, to me the frequent alliance of some very nasty political groups with Keynesian economics simply shows the mean for a mainstream party to fill that much-needed niche.

*Conservatives use this as an argument against both economic interventionist policies and ethnic variety, i.e., immigration.
**Although it is only fair to recognize Donald Trump as sort of the US equivalent of Marine LePen.  He is the worst ethnic scapegoater of them all, and also the only Republican to reject senseless austerity.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Quick Recap

Although I found the articles on electoral democracy versus liberal democracy interesting and enlightening, I see one major flaw in their reasoning.  The authors talk about property rights, political rights, and civil rights, but under the heading of civil rights they conflate two different things.  One is the right of dissent; the other is equal treatment of "identity" minorities.  Although the authors vaguely acknowledge that one can respect one without respecting the other, they generally avoid the subject by including "ideology" among the markers of "identity," along with race, ethnicity, language, religion and geography.  This they contrast to class struggle, which they do not see as a matter of identity.

I find this argument unconvincing.  I do agree that societies are often divided by differences in race, ethnicity, religion, language or geography.  I agree that it is appropriate to refer to these things collectively as "identity."  I also agree that class is not a matter of identity in the same way.  Different social classes do have different sub-cultures, and mobility between them is not as easy as many people believe because of cultural differences, but ultimately class does not become a matter of identity in the same sense that these other differences do.  But neither does ideology.  Once again, different ideologies can form their own tribe and sub-culture, as the present-day US attests.  But ultimately ideology fits in the same category as class -- not a true identity in the same way as ethnic identities.

Alternately there is the argument that as an empirical matter liberal democracy and liberal autocracy respect dissent in a way that electoral democracy does not.  And certainly it is true that a lot of the illiberal democracies arising today lack respect for either dissent or minority rights.  But if respect for dissent and respect for minorities, though theoretically different, empirically seem to go together, then the authors really ought to explore why this should be.

The other reason I am skeptical of linking respect for minorities and respect for dissent together is that I see historically at least one glaring exception to the general rule that they go together -- the United States.  The US from the very start strongly respected and protected the right of dissent.  But our history on minority rights is quite a different matter.

So really, that issue ought to be addressed -- do respect for dissent and respect for minority rights empirically go together and, if so, why.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Populism and Bernie Sanders

All of which leads to the subject of Bernie Sanders and his attempt to bring left-wing populism back to the Democratic Party.  It has not escaped a number of people's notice that Bernie Sanders' following is heavily white, while black people continue mostly to support Hilary Clinton.  That would be easy to understand if Sanders emphasized mostly culture war issues and thought the most pressing problems facing this country were requiring bakers to make wedding cakes for gay weddings and giving non-gender-conforming individuals access to the bathroom of their choice.  But Sanders is emphasizing pocketbook issues that impact a non-trivial section of the population.  Black people certainly care about pocketbook issues like minimum wage and predatory lenders.  Why aren't they flocking to Sanders.

Famously now, he had a showdown with the Black Lives Matter crowd in which it became clear that pocketbook issues are secondary to them.  Police brutality and other harassment by the state are more important.  Sanders did not have much to answer besides an appeal to the pocketbook.  In effect, his economic argument is the liberal version of saying that a rising tide lifts all boats.  It turns out to have as little resonance with black people as conservative arguments that a rising tide lifts all boats, and for much the same reason.  What about people standing in the water without a boat?

Both Sanders' pocketbook appeals and civil rights matters may be considered left wing, but there is a major gap here.  This article has some interesting insights:
Left-wing populism identifies elites who are to blame for oppressing the masses. It also calls for majoritarian processes to alleviate the problem – changing campaign finance practices, more direct democracy, for example.

These theories of power and process are not obviously compatible with the BLM [Black Lives Matter] and related movements. Arguably, plebiscitary appeals about crime and punishment have contributed to the policies that created mass incarceration. 
Furthermore, economic populism identifies economic elites as the cause of the problem, stealing the American Dream from ordinary citizens. The intellectual foundations of the BLM movement implicate the majority and the American Dream. A movement that calls for thinking critically about institutions and values is not a movement that derives its strength from “the people.”
This is an issue I expect to address more as I look at failures of democracy -- I may end up treating illiberal democracy as a sub-category of failure.  I have touched somewhat on this issue in the context of ancient Greece.  My conclusion was that ancient Greece had neither anything like a civil rights movement nor any populist movement to scapegoat disenfranchised members of society.  (More on the subject later).  These things are no doubt related.  Rome is a different matter, and I look forward to learning about the Gracchi brothers, two left-wing populists who sought to break up the great landed estates and restore family farms, and to extend citizenship to Rome's Italian allies, and how these two goals worked at cross-purposes.

But the subject here is the United States.  I give only a thumbnail sketch here, without thorough research of the subject, but it does seem fair to say that the overall trend in the US between the Revolutionary War and the Age of Jackson was to become more democratic and less liberal. Property restrictions on the vote were removed, the number of elective offices (at the state level) multiplied, and racism and discriminatory laws increased.  Jacksonian democracy is fairly described as electoral democracy rather than liberal democracy, especially in the South, where Jackson's appeal was strongest.  Jacksonians effectively accused their rivals, the Whigs, of being liberal autocrats.  This was an exaggeration.  The US was too enthusiastically democratic for liberal autocracy to have any acceptance, but it probably was generally true that the Whigs were more liberal and less democratic than the Democrats.  The same might be said about the anti-slavery Republicans.  The slave holding South was particularly an illiberal electoral democracy. The authors comment that British liberal autocrats tended to equate property rights with civil rights, but in a slave holding society they are in irreconcilable conflict.

The Reconstruction might be considered an attempt to impose liberal democracy on the South's electoral democracy and the Ku Klux Klan as a right-wing populist movement on behalf of electoral democracy.  I don't know that much about the post-Reconstruction South, but it is my understanding that the elite wavered between joining poorer whites in embracing electoral democracy, or co-opting blacks into a liberal autocracy.  In the 1890's, the Populist Party sought to make a biracial, class-based coalition of poor people, black and white, against the elite.  The elite, fearing for its property if the coalition succeeded, quickly embraced electoral democracy and thus Jim Crow and the disenfranchisement of blacks were born.  The New Deal was not a serious attack on property rights, but the elite felt sufficiently threatened by it that Roosevelt, though at least somewhat sympathetic to racial equality, embraced electoral democracy rather than liberal democracy in the South in exchange for support.  Some the New Deal's strongest supporters were the liberal racists -- pure populists who favored political rights of the majority at the expense of both property rights of the elite (to the extent that the New Deal infringed on them) and civil rights of the minority.

Outside the South, democracy was often illiberal toward immigrants, but never to the same extent as the South.  Immigrants, though often discriminated against, did find a voice through mainstream politics.  As for black people, the Northern Republicans gradually gave up the cause of racial equality over the 1880's and 1890's, until by the beginning of the 20th Century, it had essentially fallen off the political radar.  Certainly around the beginning of the 20th Century (and earlier, see William Jennings Bryan) there was a strong left-wing populist movement, a wave of progressive reforms, and a radical militant labor movement.  But these were all addressed to economic issues.  They were either indifferent or hostile to the issue of racial equality.  It was also at this time that the NAACP was founded.  But the bare fact that the NAACP chose litigation as its primary tactic is revealing. Populism and unions were mass movements; the NAACP stuck to the elite forum of the courts because whites were too hostile or indifferent to racial equality and blacks to intimidated to act in mass.

It is fair to say that at this time the cause of racial equality in the US could not really be described as either right-wing or left-wing.  So far as I can tell, for instance, the initial leadership of the NAACP spanned a wide political spectrum from socialists to progressive reformers to apolitical philanthropists to conservative libertarians.  Unions were often racist and greatly hated and feared minorities co-opted by employers as strike breakers.  But the most radical unions emphasized the need for solidarity and setting aside racial or ethnic differences in favor of class struggle.  And it was around this time that the slow drift of black voters (in the North) toward the Democratic Party began. If no mainstream party supported racial equality, one might as well at least vote for the party that was most favorable on bread-and-butter issues.

But starting around 1920, following the Russian Revolution and the founding of the US Communist Party, racial equality became a cause of the left.  The Communists doubtless were hypocrites for being irate over racial injustice in the US while ignoring much worse things going on in the Soviet Union.  But the fact that the Soviets were doing much worse things in no way excused US racism. And once Communists endorsed racial equality, Socialists soon followed.  Even mainstream unions began tepidly inching their way in that direction.  Black people continued their migration toward the Democratic Party during the New Deal even though, under pressure from southerners, it often made a concerted effort to exclude blacks, but even then what little it had to offer was worth accepting.  And, of course, following WWII, racial equality returned to the mainstream and became the dominant issue in the 1960's.

So, back to Bernie Sanders, we are beginning to see why his appeal is so predominantly white.  To most black people, bread-and-butter issues are secondary.  Race is primary.  Doubtless if racial equality were not on the table at all, they would prefer a candidate who had something useful to offer poor people like better paying jobs or protection from predatory lenders.  And no doubt given the choice between two candidates who were acceptable on race, one economically liberal and one economically conservative, black people would prefer the economically liberal one.  Or (as to use the words of the previous article), Sanders and his economic populism is about the majority against the elite.  As a liberal populist, Sanders is perfectly willing to share his gains with the minority.  But the Black Lives Matter movement is about the minority against the majority.  The throws a spoke into Sanders' wheel.

It is also a surefire electoral loser to anyone who wants majority support to win the (national) election.  If Black Lives Matter wants national (as opposed to local) support, it will have to find a way to convince people that it is not anti-white.  Such is the lot of the minority.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Reflections on Bundles of Rights and Electoral vs. Liberal Democracy

So, that being said, what does it mean for the working of democracy and failures of democracy? Well, in some ways, it is simply a different vocabulary for many of the comments I have made elsewhere in my own posts.

The authors say, electoral democracy is a compromise between elites and the general public whereby the elite will concede popular elections and majority rule in exchange for having its property rights respected.  But the bargain does nothing to protect the interests of despised minorities, who are often treated worse by the general public than by the elite.  Or as I would say, the capital flaw of democracy is not its tendency to punch up (disrespect property rights), but to kick down (ignore civil rights).  The authors say that what drives elites to give up their preferred option of right-wing autocracy is the threat of dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., violent revolution.  They imply without saying that such revolution ceases to be a threat once electoral democracy is offered.  I have said the the danger lies on the right unless a formal democracy masks a cozy little oligarchy.  That is not exactly the same thing, except perhaps for the point that the threat of violent revolution from the left is one made to oligarchies, including oligarchies with the outward form of democracy, but not to democracies (liberal or illiberal).

The authors also offer yet another definition of anti-liberal -- anti-civil rights, in the sense of opposing "the rule of law, non-discrimination, and equality in the distribution of public goods."  How far is that from my definition of anti-liberal as opposing any attempt to enlarge the circle of people who morally matter?

The authors are writing about the formation of democracy rather than its failures, but how often are the failures of democracy about the breakdown in the bargain between the elite and the general public?  Certainly many a democracy has come to ruin when a left-wing leader, from the Gracchi brothers to Salvador Allende, abandoned the agreement to respect property rights and the elite in turn abandoned the agreement to respect majority rule.  In those cases, the elite has usually won.  On the other hand, as we have seen in Corcyra, democracy can come to an end when the elite abandons the agreement to respect majority rule and the public in turn abandoned the agreement to respect property rights.  The result was violent revolution -- a true dictatorship of the proletariat.*  Other failures are brought about by exaggerated fears on the part of the elite that its property rights might be violated. The US is an obvious example -- slave holders unjustifiably feared that Lincoln would take their slaves by force, leading to secession, civil war, and ultimately the outcome they most feared.  (It is also a case of civil rights and property rights being in irreconcilable opposition to each other).

But here again perhaps I am unfairly rigging the terms of the debate.  I define the elite desire to protect their property as right wing, which seems appropriate.  If I counter this by defining the general public's desire for majority rule as left-wing, I have once again placed the danger on the right almost by definition (except in cases where a formal democracy masks an actual oligarchy) because it is necessarily the elite, fearing for their property, that revokes majority rule, regardless of who started the whole conflict or what provocations took place.

But I really got started to introduce another thought.  The authors call a regime that respects political rights/majority rule but not property rights or civil rights a dictatorship of the proletariat.  That is perhaps a fair designation in the context of an actual or threatened revolution.  But a party competing in a democratic context that emphasizes only political rights and majority rule to the exclusion of property rights or civil rights might be considered a populist party.  It does not seek revolution, only a strengthening in the democratic context of the majority against either the elite or minorities.

A party that simply emphasizes political rights/majority rule without actually opposing property rights or civil rights might be described as advocating pure populism or naive populism (unaware how it might be hurting others) or even benign populism.  A party that emphasizes political rights/ majority rule at the expense of property rights could be described as left-wing populist.  (It punches up).  William Jennings Bryan was a left-wing populist. A party that emphasizes political rights/majority rule at the expense of civil rights could be described as right-wing populist.  (It kicks down).  The Ku Klux Klan was right-wing populist.  A party that emphasizes political rights/majority rule at the expense both property rights and civil rights could also be described as pure populist, but in a nasty sort of way.

And a party that specifically fears minorities being co-opted by elites into a sort of liberal autocracy?  I suppose that would depend on their emphasis and whether they direct their anger mostly at the elites or minorities.  (One certainly hears this viewpoint in various forms on the subject of illegal immigration).  I have already suggested the need to consider how to classify a group that does not seek to overthrow democracy, but only to make it narrower and less inclusive, i.e., to exclude civil rights from the bundle.  Apparently such a group seeks to go from liberal democracy to electoral democracy.  Should that be counted as a failure of democracy?  And if so, am I simply showing a liberal bias in failing to consider how far a democracy may go in tampering with property rights before that, too, may be considered a failure?

And what of classical fascism?  It, too, was a species of right-wing populism, but not the same majoritarian, anti-civil rights populism as the Klan, Hitler's scapegoating of the Jews notwithstanding.  Rather, it played on the fears of a middle class about the rising of the working class below them, a category not even discussed in the quoted articles.  Another thing to look out for.

Next up: Populism and Bernie Sanders.

*Ironically, it also meant a rare case in ancient times of something like real respect for civil rights.  Both sides offered to free any slave who took their side.  Most sided with the democratic party.  So for a time one saw a Greek city state without slaves (presumably they imported more when things settled down).  Could that be an actual case of a government respecting political and civil rights but not property rights?  If so, it was no utopia; it was a savage civil war that ended with the oligarchic party being massacred.

Political and Civil Rights, Liberal and Illiberal Democracy, Punching up and Kicking Down

If anyone actually follows this site, they will know that I am becoming obsessed with how democracies fail.  But how democracies end cannot be separated from the subject of how they begin. Thus I highly recommend this excellent article on the subject.  It addresses some of the same issues in the origin of democracy that I do in their failure and presents its own hypothesis that I will have to start incorporating in my own analyses.

The authors propose that liberal democracy depends on three sets of rights -- property rights, political rights, and civil rights.  Property rights mean the security of property ownership and are the main concern of the elite.  Political rights mean elective government and majority rule and are the main concern of the general public.  Civil rights mean "equal treatment before the law and equal access to public services such as education" and are the main concern of minorities -- racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, geographic or even ideological, the things that the authors lump together as "identity."  The authors define a "democratic" regime as one that respects political rights and a "liberal" regime as one that respects civil rights.  Government can be one without being the other.  In particular, a government that respects property rights and political rights but not civil rights is an "electoral democracy" or an "illiberal democracy."  A government can hold fair elections and allow majority rule, but not respect the rights of minorities (in other words, it can kick down).  It can also subject political opponents to "censorship, persecution, or wrongful imprisonment."

The authors point to an uncomfortable aspect of democratic development.  Electoral democracy may be seen as a bargain between elites and the general public.  Elite have the power of wealth and the general public has the power of numbers.  In case of a showdown, they can strike a deal whereby the elite has its wealth guaranteed and the general public gets elections and majority rule.  But despised minorities have no power to bring to the table and are therefore apt to be cut out of the deal altogether.  In other words, electoral democracy kicks down, and, indeed, may relish treating a minority as scapegoat.  The real question, then, is not why electoral democracies are often illiberal, but how liberal democracy came about at all.

The authors present the same hypothesis in an academic rather than popular format in this paper and attempt to answer their question -- one that makes heavy use of social equations that are hard to follow and give the illusion of rigor more than actual rigor, but their hypotheses are nonetheless interesting.  Rather dubiously, they admit, the authors treat each bundle of rights (property, political, civil) as an all-or-nothing choice that government either does or does not respect.  Starting from this oversimplified assumption, they pose eight different types of regime based on which bundles of rights are or are not respected.

The authors make short shrift of any system that does not respect property rights.  A system in which none of the rights a respected is either anarchy or a personal dictatorship. Doubtless the authors are right that such a regime is not a fruitful field for democracy, liberal or illiberal.  A government that respects political rights only but not property or civil rights they name the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Another way of looking at it is, violent revolution.  Although the authors do some calculating to figure out when violent revolution might be worthwhile to the broad public, certainly elites see it as a great evil to be avoided, and the authors seem on the whole to agree.  As would I. Violent revolution is a less promising future for democracy than negotiation and compromise. A regime that would respect political and civil rights but not property rights the authors treat more as a utopian vision than anything that has actually happened in the real world.  And as for a government that respects civil rights only but not political rights or property rights, the authors cannot even imagine such a thing.  The other reason the authors make short shrift of systems that ignore property rights is that they assume democracy is a compromise between elites and the general public, but the elite would never agree to any compromise that does not protect property.

Among systems that respect property rights, the authors designate as right-wing autocracy a system in which the elite run government for the sake of their own property and ignore the political and civil rights of the broader public.  This, the authors emphasize, is the preferred regime for the elite, and the form most governments have historically taken.  Elites move away from right-wing autocracy only in the face of a realistic threat of violent revolution (dictatorship of the proletariat).  As an alternative, they may offer in exchange for their property rights to respect civil rights but not extend political rights (liberal autocracy), to extend political rights but not civil rights (electoral democracy) or both electoral and civil rights (liberal democracy).  The general public would be better off under any of these three regimens than under right-wing autocracy, but best off under an electoral democracy.

It is at this point that the authors start using their elaborate mathematical formulas, some of them based on a dubious assumptions.  They define "civil rights" as " equal treatment in the provision of the public good."  And they define "public good" as including such things as "health, education, and public security, as well as the administration of justice."  They do include in their definition of civil rights free speech, free assembly, and other protections of dissent, even though they elsewhere include suppressing dissent as one of the hallmarks of illiberal democracy.  They also assume that all actors are perfectly rational, which seems a dubious assumption in the real world, especially in the case of potential revolution.  But above all, they treat public goods as a zero sum game, or at least as rival goods, and that they are largely paid for by a tax on the elite.  Are these necessarily so?  Some public goods, such as defense are non-rival and non-exclusionary.  If the army protects the country from invasion, then everyone benefits and no one can be excluded.  Other public goods have externalized benefits, as everyone benefits from the reduced crime rate if there is good law enforcement, society as a whole is wealthier with a good education system, and society as a whole is healthier with a good public health system.  And do the elite necessarily pay disproportionately for public goods?  In many cases, yes, but in others (like Social Security), the burden on the elite is comparatively light.  But the authors assume that the general public is always better off under electoral democracy than liberal democracy because they don't have to share public goods with minorities, and liberal democracy necessarily provides fewer public goods than electoral democracy and therefore has lower taxes.  And yet it cannot be denied that many majorities do appear to think of public goods as a zero sum game (or at least as rival goods) and to assume that any advance in the status of the minority must come at their expense.  And scapegoating minorities is often good politics.  All of this requires further investigation.

Thus the authors see right-wing autocracy as always the elite's preferred regime and electoral democracy as always the general public's preferred regime.  Liberal democracy and liberal autocracy are intermediate compromises.  The authors' question is, when the masses can pose a threat of revolution credible enough to make the elite willing to compromise, what conditions make for each of the three alternatives that the elite will agree to?  They propose that if the elite is a minority in identity (as with white South Africa), it will insist on liberal democracy as a way of protecting its rights from the majority.  If the elite and majority share a common identity, and their ties of identity are stronger than their differences in wealth,* then the elite will prefer electoral democracy.  If the minority is strong enough that the majority cannot wage a successful revolution without it.  In that case, if the division between majority and minority are not too deep, they may stand together and insist on liberal democracy.  If it is deep, the elite may co-opt the minority by offering liberal autocracy.  Finally, when there are no significant minorities and the division is purely one of class, the authors appear to assume that there is no significant difference between electoral democracy and liberal democracy, so the latter can emerge.**

Finally, the authors move on to historical examples.  First, they ignore classical antiquity and focus purely on modern democracy.  This limitation is sound.  This analysis does not properly apply to classical antiquity because under even the most democratic regime then, citizens were always a minority.  Second, they argue that liberal democracy succeeded in Europe in the 19th Century because (1) European countries had few identity divisions so the difference was purely one of class and/or (2) the elite had adopted liberal autocracy in Europe as a result of intra-elite struggles before the serious movement for democratization got started, so liberal democracy was the natural conclusion.  Their account is too brief to tell whether they believe liberal autocracy had come to prevail in all of Europe or only in Britain, nor do they spend much time on countries like Austria that had significant divisions in identity.  They also seem to say that democratization squeezed liberals out, as demonstrated by the decline of liberal parties in Britain and Germany.  More accurately, democratization squeezed out liberal autocracy.  The unions and working class parties that arose for the most part accepted liberal endorsement of civil rights and dissent, although they contained significant illiberal aspects that later split off and became the Communist Party.  And the authors are not libertarians who reduce liberalism to minimal government:
The welfare states of the postwar era were based on a very different type of bargain between employers and employees – providing the latter with much expanded social rights – but they were constructed on the same elite/working-class cleavage that had instigated the 19th century rise of democracy in the West. Some would say that these regimes had given up on liberalism in expanding the economic and social powers of the state. But judged by criteria such as the rule of law, non-discrimination, and equality in the distribution of public goods, the welfare states of Europe and North America were indeed liberal democracies.
By contrast, Third World democratization movements after WWII mostly sprung out of anti-colonialism.  As such the social divisions were primarily ones of "identity" (race, ethnicity, language, religion, geography) rather than class, and they tended toward electoral/illiberal democracy.  The authors cite three main exceptions in which liberal democracy arose.  In South Korea, it arose under similar circumstances to Europe -- an ethnically very uniform country in which democratization was mostly a struggle against the dictator with unions and labor organizations playing a leading role.  In South Africa, the dominant elite was a racial minority and therefore insisted on liberal protections of civil rights before it would cede power.  In Lebanon, liberal democracy was maintained for a time as a balance among different identity groups, none large enough to dominate the others.  Lebanon's experiment ended badly.  South Africa's endures, but has been shaky.  But liberal democracy in South Korea by now is well-established and looks to be as strong and stable as any in Europe.***  The authors suggest that this is because democratization in Korea most strongly resembles the European pattern, although there are differences as well.  For one thing, although Korea lacks ethnic divisions, the authors concede that it has significant divisions in religion. (About 23% of the population is Buddhist, 29% Christian, and the rest either no religion or traditional religion). For another, the Korean dictatorship did not embrace liberal autocracy before it democratized.

And one country is conspicuously absent from the discussion -- the United States.  Although the US had strong protections of dissent from the very start, we have often been the very model of illiberal democracy in our treatment of minorities -- most particularly in the South, but with regard to immigrants in many parts of the country.  I think it fair to say that we achieved political rights earlier than Europe, but often lagged behind in civil rights.

In this post, I have stuck mostly to reporting, with some criticisms.  In my next post, I mean to discuss how this analysis applies to failures of democracy, and to populist movements within democracy.

*The authors say, if the differences in wealth are not too great.  But I am inclined to think that the strength of identity and emotional ties may be the more important factor.  See, the US South.
**In this they ignore their previous comment that civil rights include not only equal distribution of "public goods" but also the right of dissent.  In the absence of differences in identity, there is no struggle over the distribution of public goods, but there may still be an issue over the right of dissent.
***That is not as reassuring as it used to be!