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Response to msongs (Reply #3)

Fri Jun 10, 2016, 08:33 PM

6. That's nice.


Not very helpful, but nice.

(What odds are you giving for Hillary Clinton choosing Lloyd Blankfein as Treasury Secretary?)

Assumption 2: Representation and State Preferences States (or other political institutions) represent some subset of domestic society, on the basis of whose interests state officials define state preferences and act purposively in world politics.

In the liberal conception of domestic politics, the state is not an actor but a representative institution constantly subject to capture and recapture, construction and reconstruction by coalitions of social actors. Representative institutions and practices constitute the critical "transmission belt" by which the preferences and social power of individuals and groups are translated into state policy. Individuals turn to the state to achieve goals that private behavior is unable to achieve efficiently.9 Government policy is therefore constrained by the underlying identities, interests, and power of individuals and groups (inside and outside the state apparatus) who constantly pressure the central decision makers to pursue policies consistent with their preferences.


This is not to adopt a narrowly pluralist view of domestic politics in which all individuals and groups have equal influence on state policy, nor one in which the structure of state institutions is irrelevant. No government rests on universal or unbiased political representation; every government represents some individuals and groups more fully than others. In an extreme hypothetical case, representation might empower a narrow bureaucratic class or even a single tyrannical individual, such as an ideal-typical Pol Pot or Josef Stalin. Between theoretical extremes of tyranny and democracy, many representative institutions and practices exist, each of which privileges particular demands; hence the nature of state institutions, alongside societal interests themselves, is a key determinant of what states do internationally.

Representation, in the liberal view, is not simply a formal attribute of state institutions but includes other stable characteristics of the political process, formal or informal, that privilege particular societal interests. Clientalistic authoritarian regimes may distinguish those with familial, bureaucratic, or economic ties to the governing elite from those without. Even where government institutions are formally fair and open, a relatively inegalitarian distribution of property, risk, information, or organizational capabilities may create social or economic monopolies able to dominate policy. Similarly, the way in which a state recognizes individual rights may shape opportunities for voice.10 Certain domestic representational processes may tend to select as leaders individuals, groups, and bureaucracies socialized with particular attitudes toward information, risk, and loss.

Moravcsik, A. (1997). Taking preferences seriously: A liberal theory of international politics. International Organization, 51(4), 513-553.

THE ADMINISTERED SOCIETY Totalitarianism Without Terror Author: Allen Kassof World Politics 16(4) (1964) 558-575.


The concept of the administered society is proposed as a way of saying that there can be totalism without terror; it recognizes that the changes in the Soviet Union have been real and vast (after all, totalism without terror is something new); but it insists that, far from developing alternatives to totalism, Soviet society is being subjected to new and more subtle forms of it, and that the Stalinist past is being streamlined rather than rejected.

The case for the administered society is not subject to proof of an absolute kind, for not only is such a concept more or less useful rather than right or wrong, but its application to the affairs of a live society cannot possibly cover all contingencies. It does, however, provide a general framework for depicting the Soviet system under Khrushchev (and probably his successors as well), sensitizing us to interpretations that otherwise might go unnoticed and enabling us to see patterns in apparently unconnected trends.

SOCIAL STRATIFICATION Under Stalin, the differences in income, life-style, and perquisites of the various occupational strata came to be very wide indeed, certainly so in contrast with the Marxist vision of the classless order, also in absolute terms.

The growth of pluralism, or at least of the capacity of a population to erode the monolithism of a social system, seems to depend to a considerable degree upon the opportunities available to various social groupings (especially, perhaps, in the upper ranges of the stratification system) to develop over the generations, without undue manipulation and interference from the outside and with reasonable probabilities of continuity, their own traditions, expectations, and behavior patterns -in short, upon opportunities to develop into subcommunities of interest.

Working for the Few
Political Capture and Economic Inequality
178 Oxfam Briefing Paper Summary

Extreme economic inequality is damaging and worrying for many reasons: it is morally questionable; it can have negative impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction; and it can multiply social problems. It compounds other inequalities, such as those between women and men. In many countries, extreme economic inequality is worrying because of the pernicious impact that wealth concentrations can have on equal political representation. When wealth captures government policymaking, the rules bend to favor the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else. The consequences include the erosion of democratic governance, the pulling apart of social cohesion, and the vanishing of equal opportunities for all. Unless bold political solutions are instituted to curb the influence of wealth on politics, governments will work for the interests of the rich, while economic and political inequalities continue to rise. As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, ‘We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.’

Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to ‘opportunity capture’ – in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich. This creates dynamic and mutually reinforcing cycles of advantage that are transmitted across generations.

Given the scale of rising wealth concentrations, opportunity capture and unequal political representation are a serious and worrying trend. For instance:

• Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.2

• The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.3

• The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.4

• Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.5

• The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.6

• In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.7


Oxfam’s polling from across the world captures the belief of many that laws and regulations are now designed to benefit the rich. A survey in six countries (Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the US) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich – in Spain eight out of 10 people agreed with this statement. Another recent Oxfam poll of low-wage earners in the US reveals that 65 percent believe that Congress passes laws that predominantly benefit the wealthy.

The richest get richer

The aftermaths of the Great Recession and the Great Depression produced sharply different changes in U.S. incomes that tell us a lot about tax and economic policy.

The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent.

In 2010, we saw the opposite as the vast majority lost ground.

National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.

The different results in 1934 and 2010 show how a major shift in federal policy hurts the vast majority and benefits the super-rich.

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LineLineReply That's nice.
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