Patrimonial Capitalism and Empire: Volume 28

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Table of contents

(21 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Abstract

To explore whether supposedly non-modern patrimonial arrangements ever advance the “modern” economy, this essay examines emergent state institutional practices in North America in relation to the domain of public lands from colonial times to the late nineteenth-century U.S. I deconstruct the Weberian model of patrimonialism into four elements – logic, setting, obligations, and resources – in order to show how state grants of land to individuals and corporations (notably railroad companies) constituted patrimonial practices embedded within modern structures. “Modern state patrimonialism” had its origins in royal patrimonialism. Monopolization of resources – by a state rather than an absolutist ruler – continued to offer the basis for patrimonial practice, but state patrimonial resource distribution became less personalistic and more connected to public goals (financing the state, rewarding state service, settlement of territory, development of a national economy, and construction of a transportation system). Recipients of patrimonial distributions often gained considerable control over disposition of resources that they received. In these patrimonialist practices, economic action was constructed in logics of action that occurred outside of “market” transactions. Future research should analyze patrimonial dynamics during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, by identifying state monopolizations of scarce and desirable resources (mineral rights; city water systems; electrical systems; telephone systems; radio, television, and other airwave bandwidth; the internet), and analyzing how the distribution of those resources are entailed, controlled, licensed, or otherwise managed. A research program in the study of modern patrimonialism helps build out an institutionalist sociology of the economy.

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This paper seeks to explain the “great continuity” in Spanish American development: the fact that territories in the region have maintained their relative levels of social development since precolonial times. It tests competing explanations associated with neo-modernization theory, geographic perspectives, and institutional approaches emphasizing property rights versus ethnicity. The paper uses comparative-historical methods to evaluate competing explanations. These methods include cross-case matching and within-case process tracing. The paper finds that patrimonial institutions of ethnic stratification are a fundamental cause of social development and the great continuity in Spanish America. These institutions help explain why areas with a dense indigenous population tend to have low levels of social development, whereas areas with a sparse indigenous population tend to have high levels of social development. This paper suggests that the institutions of ethnic stratification may be more important than the institutions of private property as a cause of development. Scholars of development need to focus more attention on the ways in which ethnic institutions shape identities and create collective groups.

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The article shows that the concept of patrimonialism is useful for the analysis not only of nation-states, but also of local and imperial power structures. Highlighting the limits of empires, we consider how local conditions shaped the strategies of colonial states in the process of empire building. We argue that the strength of local patrimonial networks before colonization, coupled with the sequencing of colonial conquests, either facilitated or hindered the French colonial and imperial project. Using a comparative-historical approach based on the analysis of two cases, Algeria and Tunisia, we find that the French colonial state employed markedly differing strategies of domination in each case. In Algeria, the French initially attempted and failed to destroy local patrimonial networks and the social practices associated with them through extensive military action. The failed attempt to destroy local practices resulted in over a century of resistance and bloodshed. When military rule became too costly, the French opted instead to rely on decentralized control that used the very structures they originally sought to eradicate. With constant reminders of the misguided colonial strategy in Algeria, the French used a different form of rule in Tunisia. They incorporated the existing Tunisian bureaucracy into their own political project, using it to limit the power of local patrimonial networks and transforming them instead through the development of capitalistic agriculture. The article illustrates the importance of paying close attention to local patrimonial networks in the analysis of colonial and imperial strategies.

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This chapter explores the implications of patrimonial politics in the Dutch East India Company empire in the context of establishing a settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa in the mid-seventeenth century. The Cape extended the reach of Company patrimonial networks with elite Company officials circulating throughout the Indian Ocean empire and consolidating their familial ties through marriage both within the colonies and in the United Provinces. These patrimonial networks extended to the Cape as elite Company officials created families locally or married Cape-born women. As the colony grew, the Company created a class of free-burghers some the wealthiest of whom were tied directly into elite Company patrimonial networks. But from the early eighteenth century onwards these elite Company networks came into conflict with the evolving free-burgher patrimonial networks with which they were in direct competition. This paper argues that local patrimonial networks can evolve in a settler colony that challenge the elite patrimonial networks of the imperial elite.

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Abstract

From the sixteenth to eighteenth century, China underwent a commercial revolution similar to the one in contemporaneous Europe. The rise of market did foster the rise of a nascent bourgeois and the concomitant rise of a liberal, populist version of Confucianism, which advocated a more decentralized and less authoritarian political system in the last few decades of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). But after the collapse of the Ming Empire and the establishment of the Qing Empire (1644–1911) by the Manchu conquerors, the new rulers designated the late-Ming liberal ideologies as heretics, and they resurrected the most conservative form of Confucianism as the political orthodoxy. Under the principle of filial piety given by this orthodoxy, the whole empire was imagined as a fictitious family with the emperor as the grand patriarch and the civil bureaucrats and subjects as children or grandchildren. Under the highly centralized administrative and communicative apparatus of the Qing state, this ideology of the fictitious patrimonial state penetrated into the lowest level of the society. The subsequent paternalist, authoritarian, and moralizing politics of the Qing state contributed to China’s nontransition to capitalism despite its advanced market economy, and helped explain the peculiar form and trajectory of China’s popular contention in the eighteenth century. I also argue that this tradition of fictitious patrimonial politics continued to shape the state-making processes in twentieth-century China and beyond.

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This paper considers whether the term patrimonialism can be applied to one racially bifurcated aspect of Australian history: the relations between ‘squatters’ and those with competing civil and property claims. From the perspective of white settlers, the power of pastoralists who acquired use rights over vast stretches of land in late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries represented a challenge to rural settlement, economic development, the right to vote, workers’ rights and parliamentary democracy.

From the perspective of Aboriginal peoples who held traditional ownership of pastoral lands, squattocracy began with armed conflict and ended with practices aimed at detailed government of their everyday life. More generally, as white settlers consolidated property rights to land, they expropriated Indigenous peoples’ capacity to govern themselves.

The paper concludes that there have been two distinct histories of patrimonialism in Australia. The Australian colonies were among the pioneers of ‘universal’ male and later female franchise in the nineteenth century; Aborigines gained (de jure) full citizenship only in the late 1960s. While the squatter’s patrimonial rule over white settlers was short-lived, that over some groups of Aboriginal people persisted for more than a century.

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In Weberian scholarship, conventional wisdom views the corruption of the modern rational-legal bureaucratic state by local patrimonialisms as an endemic feature in non-Western postcolonial state formation. The resultant neopatrimonial state is often blamed for the social, political, and economic ills plaguing these societies. This essay challenges conventional wisdom and argues that neopatrimonialism is a process of hybrid state formation that has its origins in the cultural politics of colonial state building. This is achieved by drawing on a comparative study of British Malaya and the American Philippines, which offers contrastive trajectories of colonialism and state formation in Southeast Asia.

Because of the precariousness of state power due to local resistance and class conflicts, colonial state building involved the deepening of patron–client relations for political control and of rational-legal bureaucracy for social development. In the process, local political relations were marked and displaced as traditional patrimonialisms distinguished from the new modern center. Through native elite collaborators and paternal-populist discourses, new patron–client relations were institutionalized to connect the colonial state to the native periphery. However, colonial officials with different political beliefs and ethnographic world views in the center competed over native policy and generated cyclical crises between patron-clientelist excess and bureaucratic entrepreneurship.

Instead of the prevailing view that postcolonial states are condemned to their colonial design, and that authoritarian rule favors economic development, my study shows that non-Western state formation is non-linear and follows a cyclical pattern between predation and developmentalism, the excesses of which could be moderated.

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An important feature of the political economy of 18th century Bengal was a system of land revenue administration characterized by a complex set of patrimonial arrangements that had developed out of hundreds of years’ experience with a series of foreign and indigenous rulers. The East India Company’s (EIC) administration of this fiscal system during the 18th and 19th centuries shows one path toward the development of modern capitalism in the imperial context. In an effort to extract resources and consolidate political power, the EIC bureaucratized elements of Bengal’s patrimonial order. The EIC carried out this process in part through the creation of property rights and contract enforcement institutions in the fiscal system.

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Analysts of modern-day sub-Saharan Africa have argued that its “neopatrimonial regimes,” descending from pre-colonial polities, translate badly to the scale of the nation-state and hinder democratic accountability. In this paper, I argue by contrast that the problem with today’s failed or failing states is that they are not patrimonial enough, if we understand patrimonialism in classic Weberian terms as a system based on traditions of reciprocal interdependence between rulers and citizens, and characterized by personal but malleable ruling networks. I make this argument by showing how the Asante Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries shifted from a working model, incorporating both patrimonial and bureaucratic forms of authority, to an exploitative one that reneged on its traditional commitments to the wider public. The cause of this shift was the expansion of exchange with European nations as a rival avenue to power and wealth. This problem continues today, where African rulers are incentivized by the demands of global banks, the United Nations, and G20 governments rather than internal authority traditions, thus limiting their ability to establish locally effective and publically accountable hybrids of patrimonial and bureaucratic governance.

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‘Javanese culture’ often is associated with ‘patrimonialism’ at its worst, that is, as a prelude to predation. Yet a closer look at some of the well-known court-centred serat (mystical songs) and babad (chronicles) written in Central Java during the late 18th and the 19th centuries provide us with a very different picture. Pujangga (court-poets) crafted sophisticated imaginings of the negara: the State, or rather the domain of both moral and political authority. In territorial terms, they made a distinction between what the ruler could freely dispose of and what he could not alienate. Moreover, the very process of the imperial expansion of the negara under the reign of Sultan Agung (r. 1613–1646) led to the birth of a group of ‘government specialists’: the service nobility of the priyayi. This group held a view of legitimate authority running contrary to any despotic temptation: for the priyayi, exercising power was an art, a craft involving skills that had to be learnt, whereas for the para bangsawan (members of the blood nobility), power was something to be possessed by virtue of the fame of a family name. Yet, during the colonial period, Dutch Orientalists, colonial administrators and high-ranking Javanese Regents came to give a wholly distorted view of this old priyayi conception of power, turning it into the cultural alibi of imperial authoritarianism.

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Abstract

Imperial crisis is the analytical axis on which turn two national states of emergency: the Weimar Republic (1918–1933) and the United States on the so-called “Eve of Destruction” (1965–1975). But while Max Weber disagreed with Carl Schmitt with respect to the problem of sovereignty at the core of the German imperium, American sociologists – even those inspired by Weber – by and large did not register the gravity of the moment of political decision in their work, or the imperial crisis that their country faced during the Vietnam War and its aftermath. This essay offers ideas regarding why this was so, what the consequences have been for American sociology, and how, in the midst of the present-day imperial and domestic governmental crisis, we might adopt a more expansive view.

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Cover of Patrimonial Capitalism and Empire
DOI
10.1108/S0198-8719201528
Publication date
2015-03-31
Book series
Political Power and Social Theory
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-757-4
Book series ISSN
0198-8719