How a cheesy joke from the 1830s became the most widely spoken word in the world.

Other interests

OK is thought to be the most widely recognized word on the planet. We use it to communicate with each other, as well as our technology. But it actually started out as a language fad in the 1830’s of abbreviating words incorrectly. Young intellectuals in Boston came up with several of these abbreviations, including “KC” for “knuff ced,” “OW” for “oll wright,” and KY for “know yuse.” But thanks to its appearance in Martin Van Buren’s 1840 presidential re-election campaign as the incumbents new nickname, Old Kinderhook, OK outlived its abbreviated comrades. Later, widespread use by early telegraph operators caused OK to go mainstream, and its original purpose as a neutral affirmative is still how we use it today.

‘No abundance can relieve his famine: his throat is parched with burning thirst, and, justly, he is tortured by the hateful gold’

Geopolitics

Image result for oil field

The tenet that ‘oil undermines democratisation’ is a speculative myth, however due to its easily digestible nature it has a wide scope in the media despite dubious analytical evidence. The resource myth is like that of the myth of King Midas, most literature in the area has made calamitous flaws but still argues its case in the media and academia. Many scholars argue a red herring, for ‘correlation does not equal causation’[2]. I argue an ‘overarching meta-narrative’[3] concept such as the ‘resource curse’ does not help academic study; it is a far too simplified concept that denies polysemous areas of political spectrum analysis. Oil has many varied affects on different societies and nations; a ‘one-size fits all’ theory of oil wealth’s affect on a nation’s democracy is both absurd and facile. Thusly I argue that oil does not undermine democracy, and that in fact it can have positive democratic effects or often diminutive outcomes on polities. Factors other than oil-wealth are more important as to why countries fail to democratise, whether socio-historical, institutional, political or economical.

As a beginning of the refutation of the posited ‘oil/anti-democratisation’ link one should look at the historical development of resource rich western nations, such as Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom, all were economically stimulated by oil abundance. This positive economic development led to continued democratic development[4] thus in a historical perspective the oil/anti-democratisation link makes little sense, it is only relevant to developing nations which do not already have in existence democracy[5]. Little weight is placed in pro oil/autocracy literature of the idea of ‘path dependence’[6]; the patent issue appears to not be the oil, ‘but the political and economic system that predated it’[7]. Existing state structure and institutions are vital to democratic support and survival; combined with the will of the populace. New oil-states ‘…have not gone through the process of extracting taxes from a reluctant population, granting rights in return’[8] and thus popular democratic will is not sacrosanct. Thus without will from the people and state, and the means with which to educate and enact democracy, oil-wealthy states will not democratise, therefore it is arguable that poor state-structure can restrict democracy to a degree that renders oil wealth inconsequential.

Alternative explanations are superior to the correlation between oil-states and lack of democracy; ‘historical institutionalism’ argues that ‘variations in political developments are rooted during a “critical juncture” in history’[9]. This revisionism also brings into disrepute one of the key causal mechanisms Ross argues, that of the ‘rentier state’. A historical reading of nations such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia shows that, these nations were never democratic. Kuwait’s economy ‘before oil was based on pearls’[10], although there was a rent paying merchant class who remunerated almost all the taxes, democracy was never formed. Thus there is logical fallacy in believing its sudden oil riches would change this path, when historically the entire state-structure is geared towards autocratic power in the hands of the few, with low taxes and low populace representation. With these foundations democratisation is unlikely with or without oil wealth.

Rentier states as Ross argues are ‘oil-rich regimes which use low taxes and patronage to relieve pressures for more democracy’[11], today Kuwait and Saudi Arabia do have low taxes, with citizens given oil money rather than democratic power, however as their history has shown there has never been democracy. Ross’s argument that the rentier effect hinders democracy is flawed, he relates correlative evidence into a causal mechanism, and places too little weight on the obvious concept that ‘regime type is causally posterior to oil discovery’[12]. Ross even agrees in a footnote that when historical characteristics are incorporated using ‘statistical fixed effects, the impact of oil-dependence on regime type disappears’[13]. The rentier effect may have some consequences on democratic ‘accountability’ but Ross’ and many other academics literature fails to truly examine the reasons for the rentier effect. A key cause for the effect is existing state-structure; the oil-wealth is a secondary inference, thus emphasising the spurious link between oil-rents and lack of democratisation.

Oil-rents are ‘not a robust factor behind lack of democracy’[14] in Middle-Eastern countries; emphasizing another problematic question of the pro oil/authoritarianism literature. There are issues with their statistical analysis, such as the issue of measuring ‘oil-rents’, whether total oil-wealth rents or yearly rents, the use of either giving very varied and contradictory results. A similar issue is the problem of trying to measure democracy, or quality of democracy, problems have arisen in studies on how to accurately measure ‘freedom’ for example. Ross uses his own inadequate measurements such as ‘landline telephones per person’, and utilises Freedom House’s dubious yearly statistics. The statistical use of ‘oil-dependence rather than oil-abundance’[15]  by oil-exports divided by GDP has methodological flaws for it denies domestic sales and does not provide statistically sound results. An improved causal variable was used in ‘oil-rent per capita’; however regression based fixed-effect models do not generate statistically important results without historical factors, instead academic inference is used to infer a linear model favouring anti-democratic state traits. When in reality statistical results are much more spatial and anomalous with a difficult to read non-linear vectorisation[16].

Image result for oil field

Causality between oil-rents and authoritarianism is much more likely to do with the existing state-structure, society and institutions, for historical variables disallow the filament of crude-oil’s ‘rentier effect’. Rents may allow a state to continue its trajectory as an anti-democratic regime however in general ‘past regime type is a strong predictor modern regime type’[17]. Similarly with oil rents there is a ‘non-linear effect, countries at the extreme have high inertia’[18] for regime change to both democracy and authoritarianism.

As a case study to highlight that the rentier effect needs an integral historical perspective and how many countries do not fit the rentier model, Latin America is an interesting case. There is more evidence in Latin America that the rentier effect actually positively effects democracy. In countries with a ‘propensity for democracy’ the ‘oil-rents are associated with democracy, not authoritarianism’[19]. This is due to Latin Americas interesting historical development, and is shown in nations such as Venezuela and Mexico. Studies of rentier states in Latin America ‘contradict theories that link resource rents only to authoritarianism’[20], thus it appears that through the rentier effect oil does arguably not undermine democratisation, and can even support and aid it. Rentier states debatably would continue to have the power in the hands of a few, where the state has always been authoritarian, whether or not there is oil dependence. It seems in terms of Latin American rentier states oil-rents breed democracy, but only if there is democratic will, as per Venezuela, which ‘transitioned to democracy at the height of its oil wealth’[21]. Conversely oil rents breed autocracy where will for autocracy is strongest as in Saudi Arabia. It appears nevertheless this is a loose correlation as many nations transitioned to democracy after oil-booms such as Chile and Mexico which are now both relatively successful democracies. Case studies illustrate that there is no simple oil-rents equals less democracy link.

Another of Ross’ professed causal mechanisms is the repression effect, through which I will highlight the importance of regionalism to regime type. The repression effect is the theory that authoritarianism can be sustained through oil wealth as it enables regimes to spend more on security and repression forces. However this again is an overly simplified causal mechanism, authoritarian regimes are inherently going to be repressive, and they would achieve this repression through other means if oil wealth were not available. One can see this in many repressive countries which lack oil resources, such as Sudan which still has low oil revenue[22]. In terms of the maintenance of authoritarian states and the lack of democratisation the repression effect mechanism is very weak.

South America as a regional case study is useful for showing how the repression effect is a poor causal mechanism, several South American countries democratised from repressive regimes to democracies during oil-fuelled economic booms. Venezuela was rid of repressive dictator Jiménez on the 23rd January 1958 despite an oppressive-rentier state of 50/50 profits between oil companies and state emerging in 1941[23]. Similarly Brazil transitioned away from their military government, in March 15, 1985 to a representative democracy. This was during a repressive military government and during huge oil boom through Petrobras in the early 80’s[24].

A superior reason for the repression oil/anti-democratisation link is that ‘political regime outcomes may be interdependent’[25], studies on the oil/anti-democratisation link fail to take into account regional geographical and societal factors. This is the case in the Middle-East; there is measurable ‘geographic clustering of regime types, even where resource endowments vary’[26]. Geographic proximity,facilitates the transmission of ideas, appropriateness, and comparability’[27] which could diffuse either democracy or authoritarianism[28]. Thus oil’s effect on authoritarian regimes lack of democratisation is questionable, with the repression effect being mostly negligible, conversely factors such as the lack of ‘democratic diffusion’[29] appear more likely as to why oil-rich states repress and fail to democratise.

For the Middle-East, oil resources appear to not affect the overtly repressive undemocratic nature of many of the Gulf States, and other Persian nations such as Iran. Another explanation must be found,  which I would argue again would be a states pre-oil political nature, however socio-political diffusion influence also plays a key role, for ‘democratic ideas spread across borders’[30], however without social-genesis of these ideas across a region many states will inevitably end up repressive and undemocratic despite increased oil profits.

Academics also highlight the ‘modernisation effect’ as a causal mechanism for oil hindering democratisation, the argument being that ‘dependence on commodity exports retards social and cultural changes necessary for democracy’[31]. However this again is a reprehensible explanation for the lack of democratisation in many developing states. Even if Lipset’s defined ‘modernisation’ occurs in these pre-oil repressive nations, there is a difference between economic ‘modernisation’ and political ‘modernisation’. It is vital that there is political legitimacy for the flourishing of democracy. It is important to differentiate the two ideas, as they are not mutually exclusive, something which many academics of the pro-curse camp fail to recognise.

Regionalism is important to regime type, something the studies by Barro, Wantchekon and Ross fail to take into account. They generally find that ‘authoritarian regimes have lasted longer in countries with oil wealth’[32], however it is due to existing repressive state structure that the repression remains, albeit with more economic modernisation and wealth from oil. Modernisation theory is interesting as one would think that economic development would lead to societal development, taxation and thus a wish for representation; however I would argue modernization theory in the context of oil states is far to inefficient to be an effective theory. Instead I would argue the reason many oil-rich states fail to democratise through modernisation theory is due to ‘endogenous resource reliance’[33]. Nations with a low state-capacity, through ineffective institutions which lack revenue will, ‘heavily discount the future’[34] and utilise less costly revenue sources such as oil, to the detriment of a proper industrialised and varied economy. Accordingly this denies proper development of institutions and thus democracy. This reversal of the causal arrow from the oil revenue itself to the state’s capacity is a simple one which shows stronger in evidence in terms of oil-nations.

Most of the strongest democracies in the world even in Africa have a well grounded tradition of democracy, such as with Botswana, which had its democratic tradition before major resource discoveries, despite its proximity to The Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the least democratic yet resource rich nations. This is an interesting case in point for both countries are resource rich and yet only one has democratised. It is arguable the reason for this being its ‘structured and powerful institutions in place predating’[35] independence, rather than its resource dependence. In Botswana’s case this would be the framework left by British rule post independence in June 1964[36].

Image result for oil slickTo conclude, oil does not hinder democratisation, ‘heterogeneity of a country experiences and institutional structures of governance account for regime variance, not resource endowment per se’[37]. It can be argued pro-oil curse literature suffers from an omitted variable bias, with the models interpreting oil correlation, as causation. Weak state-capacity jointly determines both ‘dependence on natural resources and persistent authoritarianism’[38]. The hypothesis associating oil-abundance with less democracy is weak when statistics include historically relevant variables. Socio-historical factors and institutional structures are what cause today’s variation in political regimes around the world, the forces for future democratization are in the ‘heterogeneity of nations’[39]. Thus it is with policy reform and societal reform that institutions can be improved in oil-rich states and non oil-rich states alike allowing for democratic transition.

The oil/anti-democratisation link can be understood to be a ‘red-herring’[40]. One can infer from simplified evidence as Ross did, that oil must negatively affect democratisation due to ineffective causal reasons, this however is overly simplified. It is not so much the oil itself that proverbially plagues Midas, but the cognition of the significance of oil. It is no surprise that the prevalence of the ‘resource curse’ is so great in the press; for it is an attractive quotable simplified way for people to look at the reasons why countries haven’t democratised. Other factors are a more sublime explanation; for lack of democratisation is a much deeper and more complex problem, where social, anthropological, historical, and economic factors all engage an imperative role. However it appears for the media that it is much easier to look to oil and shout ‘bogeyman’[41], whereas in actuality nations are not un-democratically ‘tortured by the hateful “black” gold’.

Bibliography

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  2. Alexeev, M. and R. Conrad, 2005. The Elusive Curse of Oil. Terry Sanford Institute of Public policy, Duke University, Working Paper Series SAN05-07
  3. Andersen, J. and S. Aslaksen, 2006. Constitutions and the Resource Curse, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, Department of Economics, Discussion Paper.
  4. Barro, R., 1996. Democracy and Growth. Journal of Economic Growth 1: 1-27
  5. Barro, R., 1999. The Determinants of Democracy. Journal of Political Economy 107: 158-183
  6. Brinks, Daniel, and Michael Coppedge. “Diffusion Is No Illusion Neighbor Emulation in the Third Wave of Democracy.” Comparative Political Studies4 (2006): 463-489.
  7. Brooks, Sarah M. and Kurtz, Marcus J. Interdependence, Endogeneity, and Natural Resource Abundance: Rethinking the Political Resource Curse, Ohio State University – International Political Economy Society, November 9-10, 2012, p.3.
  8. Brunnschweiler, C.N., 2007. Cursing the blessings? Natural resource abundance, institutions, and economic growth. World Development
  9. Brunnschweiler, Christa N., and Erwin H. Bulte. “The resource curse revisited and revised: A tale of paradoxes and red herrings.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management3 (2008): 248-264.
  10. Bulte, E.H., R. Damania and R.T. Deacon, 2005. Resource intensity, institutions and development. World Development 33: 1029-1044
  11. Devine, Noah. Corruption loves company: the interactive effect of corruption and resources on economic growth. Diss. University of Missouri, 2012.
  12. Dunning, Thad Stephen. Does oil promote democracy?: regime change in rentier states. University of California, Berkeley, 2006.
  13. Duine, The natural resource Investment, 2006.
  1. Fishman, Andrew. Petroleum in Brazil: Petrobras, Petro-Sal, Legislative Changes & the Role of Foreign Investment. Working Paper, Center for Latin American Studies, George Washington University, 2010.
  2. Frankel, Jeffrey A. The natural resource curse: A survey. No. w15836. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010.
  3. Friedman, Thomas. “The first law of petropolitics.” Ecologist-London 6 (2006): 24.
  4. Glaeser, E.L., R. La Porta, F. Lopez-De-Silanes and A. Shleifer, 2004. Do institutions cause growth? Journal of Economic Growth 9: 271-303
  5. Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, and Michael D. Ward. “Diffusion and the international context of democratization.” International Organization4 (2006): 911.
  6. Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. All international politics is local: The diffusion of conflict, integration, and democratization. University of Michigan Press, 2002.
  7. Hausmann, R and R. Rigobon, 2002. An Alternative Interpretation of the ‘Resource Curse’: Theory and Policy Implications. NBER Working Paper Series, WP 9424, Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research.
  8. Hertog, S., 2010. Princes, Brokers, and Bureaucrats: Oil and the State in Saudi Arabia. Cornell University Press. P 156.
  9. Horiuchi, Yusaku, and Schwarmin Waglé. “100 Years of Oil: Did it Depress Democracy and Sustain Autocracy?.” annual meeting of the APSA 2008 Annual Meeting, http://www. allacademic. com/meta/p280339_ index. html. 2008.
  10. Inglehart, Ronald. 1997. Modernization and Postmodernization. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  11. Jensen, N. and L. Wantchekon, 2004. Resource wealth and political regimes in Africa. Comparative Political Studies 37: 816-841.
  12. Karl, T. 1997. The paradox of plenty: Oil booms and petro-states. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  13. Karl, Terry Lynn. “Petroleum and political pacts: the transition to democracy in Venezuela.” Latin American Research Review1 (1987): 63-94.
  14. Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy. American Political Science Review 53 (1):69-105.
  15. Luong, Pauline Jones, and Erika Weinthal. Oil is not a curse: Ownership structure and institutions in soviet successor states. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  16. Lyotard, Jean-François, The Postmodern Condition (1979) published. Manchester University Press, 1984 p34. Translation – small narratives.
  17. Mehlum, H., K. Moene and R. Torvik, 2006. Institutions and the resource curse. Economic Journal 116: 1-20.
  18. Menaldo, Victor. The Myth of the Resource Curse: the endogeneity of resource reliance University of Washington – seminar series, 2009.
  19. Noland, Marcus, 2008, “Explaining Middle Eastern Political Authoritarianism I: The Level of Democracy,” Review of Middle East Economics and Finance 4, no. 1
  20. Obi, Cyril. “Oil and development in Africa: some lessons from the oil factor in Nigeria for the Sudan.” Oil Development in Africa: Lessons for Sudan after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies Report 8 (2007).
  21. Ovid, Metamorphoses. Trans. A.D. Melville. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. Page ix–xi. – Ross actually concludes with reference to Midas’ ‘resource grief’.
  22. Persson, T., 2005. Forms of democracy, policy and economic development. NBER Working Paper No. 11171.
  23. Persson, Torsten, and Guido Tabellini. Democracy and development: The devil in the details. No. w11993. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006.
  24. Prebisch, R. 1950. The economic development of Latin America and its principal problems. New York: United Nations.
  25. Robinson, J.A., R. Torvik and T. Verdier, 2006. Political foundations of the resource curse. Journal of Development Economics 79: 447-468.
  26. Rodrik, D., 2001. The global governance of trade as if development really mattered. Trade and Human Development Series, New York: UNDP.
  27. Ross, M.L., 1999. The political economy of the resource curse. World Politics 51, 297-322.
  28. Ross, M.L., 2001a. Does Oil Hinder Democracy? World Politics 53, 325-361.
  29. Ross, Michael L, ‘Oil and Democracy Revisited’ – Working paper, UCLA Department of Political Science, March 2, 2009 – Ross revisited and criticised his analysis in a 2009 working paper
  30. Sachs, J.D and A.M. Warner, 1997. Natural resource abundance and economic growth, CID and Harvard Institute for International Development, Mimeo.
  31. Samatar, Abdi Ismail. An African miracle: State and class leadership and colonial legacy in Botswana development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999.
  32. Schubert, Samuel R. “Revisiting the oil curse: are oil rich nations really doomed to autocracy and inequality?.” (2006): 1-16
  33. Smith, Benjamin. “Oil wealth and regime survival in the developing world, 1960–1999.” American Journal of Political Science2 (2004): 232-246.
  34. Teorell, Jan – Determinants of Democratization: Explaining Regime Change in the World, 1972–2006. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010. p.220
  35. Torvik, R., 2002. Natural resources rent seeking and welfare, Journal of Development Economics 67: 455-70.
  36. Trebilcock, M.J., Prado, M.M., 2011. What Makes Poor Countries Poor?: Institutional Determinants of Development. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  37. Tsui, Kevin. “More oil, less democracy?: theory and evidence from crude oil discoveries.” University of Chicago, Nov 11 (2005).
  38. Van den Bergh, CJM, Jeroen and Nijkamp, Peter. Optimal Growth, Coordination and Sustainability in the Spatial Economy. No. 97-104/3. Tinbergen Institute, 1997.
  39. Zalik, A., 2004. The Niger Delta: “petro violence” and “partnership development”. Review of African Political Economy 101: 401-424.

[1] Ovid, Metamorphoses. Trans. A.D.Melville. Oxford: Oxford University-Press, 1986. Page ix–xi. – Ross actually concludes with reference to Midas’ ‘resource-grief’.

[2] Menaldo, Victor. The Myth of the Resource Curse: the endogeneity of resource reliance University of Washington – seminar-series, 2009. P.7.

[3] Lyotard, Jean-François, The Postmodern Condition (1979) published. Manchester University-Press, 1984 p34.

[4] Lipset, Seymour Martin. “Some social requisites of democracy: Economic development and political legitimacy.” The American Political Science-Review (1959): 69-105. The more well-to-do a nation, the greater the chances that it will sustain democracy.”

[5] Tsui, Kevin. “More oil, less democracy?: theory and evidence from crude-oil discoveries.” University of Chicago, Nov 11 (2005). P.90.

[6] Schubert, Samuel R. “Revisiting the oil curse: are oil-rich nations really doomed to autocracy and inequality?” Development 64-70. (2006): p6.

[7] Schubert, “Revisiting the oil-curse” (2006): p4.

[8] Judis, John B. “Blood for Oil”. The New Republic, March-31-2003. P.4.

[9] Horiuchi, Yusaku, and Schwarmin Waglé. “100 Years of Oil: Did it Depress Democracy and Sustain Autocracy?.” annual meeting of the APSA 2008 Annual Meeting, http://www. allacademic. com/meta/p280339_ Accessed 5/12/2012.

[10] Schubert, “Revisiting the oil curse” (2006): p5.

[11] Ross, M.L., 2001a. Does Oil Hinder Democracy? World Politics 53, p.330.

[12] Yusaku, Waglé. “100 Years of Oil” 2008. P.7.

[13] Ross, M.L., 2001a. Does Oil Hinder Democracy? p.344.

[14] Noland, Marcus, 2008, “Explaining Middle Eastern Political Authoritarianism I: The

Level of Democracy,” Review of Middle East Economics and Finance 4, no. 1. P.3.

[15] Brunnschweiler, C.N., 2007. Cursing the blessings? Natural resource abundance, institutions, and economic growth. World Development– forthcoming. P.12.

[16] Yusaku, Waglé. “100 Years of Oil” 2008. See graph p.8.

[17] Yusaku, Waglé. “100 Years of Oil” 2008. P.8.

[18] Ibid.^

[19] Dunning, Thad Stephen. Does oil promote democracy?: regime change in rentier-states. University of California,Berkeley, 2006. P.11.

[20] Dunning, Does oil promote democracy?: 2006. P12.

[21] Frankel, Jeffrey A. The natural resource curse: A survey. No. w15836. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010. P17.

[22] Obi, Cyril. “Oil and development in Africa: some lessons from the oil factor in Nigeria for the Sudan.” Oil-Development in Africa: Lessons for Sudan after the Comprehensive Peace-Agreement, Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies Report 8 (2007).

[23] Karl, Terry Lynn. “Petroleum and political pacts: the transition to democracy in Venezuela.” Latin American Research Review 22.1 (1987): p.78.

[24] Fishman, Andrew. Petroleum in Brazil: Petrobras, Petro-Sal, Legislative Changes & the Role of Foreign Investment. Working Paper, Center for Latin American Studies, George Washington University, 2010.

[25] Brooks, Sarah M. and Kurtz, Marcus J. Interdependence, Endogeneity, and Natural Resource Abundance: Rethinking the Political Resource Curse, Ohio State University – International Political Economy Society, 2012, p.3.

[26] Brooks, and Kurtz, ‘Interdependence’, 2012, p.5.

[27] Teorell, Jan – Determinants of Democratization: Explaining Regime Change in the World, 1972–2006. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010. p.220

[28] Brinks, Daniel, and Michael Coppedge. “Diffusion Is No Illusion Neighbour Emulation in the Third Wave of Democracy.” Comparative Political-Studies 39.4 (2006): p473.

[29] Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, and Michael D. Ward. “Diffusion and the international context of democratization.” International-Organization 60.4 (2006): p.911.

[30] Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede. All international politics is local: The diffusion of conflict, integration, and democratization. University of Michigan-Press, 2002.

[31] Ross, M.L., 2001a. Does Oil Hinder Democracy? World Politics 53, p.344.

[32] Smith, Benjamin. “Oil wealth and regime survival in the developing-world, 1960–1999.” American Journal of Political Science 48.2 (2004): p240.

[33] Van den Bergh, CJM, Jeroen and Nijkamp, Peter. Optimal Growth, Coordination and Sustainability in the Spatial Economy. No. 97-104/3. Tinbergen Institute, 1997.p.3.

[34] Menaldo, Victor. Presentation – The Myth of the Resource Curse: the endogeneity of resource reliance – University of Washington-Press. P.7.

[35] Schubert, “Revisiting the oil-curse” (2006): p.5.

[36] Samatar, Abdi Ismail. An African miracle: State and class leadership and colonial legacy in Botswana development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999.

[37] Yusaku, Waglé. “100 Years of Oil” 2008.

[38] Devine, Noah. Corruption loves company: the interactive effect of corruption and resources on economic growth. University of Missouri, 2012.

[39] Persson, Torsten, and Guido Tabellini. Democracy and development: The devil in the details. No.w11993. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006.

[40] Brunnschweiler, Christa N., and Erwin H.Bulte. “The resource curse revisited and revised: A tale of paradoxes and red herrings.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management-55.3 (2008):248-264.

[41] Friedman, Thomas. “The first law of petropolitics.” Ecologist-London 36.6 (2006): p24.

“Humane men are concerned about providing benefits to the world and eliminating its calamities…” – Mo Tzu.

Politics

Image result for china crowd pictures

Political legitimacy is “the central issue in social and political theory” (Beetham, 1991:p.41), and the foundation of a political community. Legitimacy can arise from many differing spheres politically; Beetham discerns his reading of legitimacy to be “a power relationship justified in terms of people’s beliefs”. He discerns three separate politically legitimising factors. There must be; i) legal ‘conformity to set rules’; ii) ‘normative justifiability of these rules in terms of shared beliefs’ through the source of political authority, and proper standards of government, and finally, iii) ‘legitimisation through expressed consent’ (Holbig, 2006,p.5). Political legitimacy is generally defined as the “capacity of the system to engender and maintain the belief that the existing political institutions are the most appropriate ones for the society (Lipset, 1959,p.77).

Lipset’s polemic classification of legitimacy has an axiomatic character within academia; his appraisal of “appropriate performance legitimacy” (Lipset, 1959,p.1) being vital to overall legitimacy, demonstrates the enduring nature of the Chinese state. However many argue that Lipsettian “democratic legitimacy” and the incompleteness of authoritarian economic led “rational-legal authority” (Weber, 1958,p.1) means China is delegitimized both to its own people, and the international community. Notwithstanding I argue economic modernisation led welfare can legitimise a state, even though it can be a transient legitimacy, this is eminently so in the case of China. As the quote by Mo Tzu evidences, traditionalistic Confucian communitarianism, and China’s special historic background countenances it to be legitimised more efficiously from the “performance legitimacy” model. The CCP covers the first 2 bases of Beetham’s polemic classification, I argue “expressed consent” is not necessary for political legitimacy; consent can be shown from a conflation of the peoples and states ideals without direct democratic countenance. However ‘economic modernisation and welfare’ is merely only part of a vast array of legitimising factors in the Chinese context. This leads one to conclude that although modernisation and its effects may promote legitimacy; the way China is embracing modernisation is rapidly deconstructing its own legitimacy basis, forcing greater reliance on alternative legitimising factors.

Despite its salutary economic growth, and grand welfare improvements for its people; environmental destruction and the “increasingly skewed distribution of income, not unrelated to rampant corruption” (Jon, 2006,p.1) all point toward a problematic future for China. Similarly the China situation casts doubt on the lasting legitimising effect of economic modernisation on a polity, sans input legitimacy.

Image result for china crowd pictures

Personality Crisis? Did the “personalisation of politics” lead to UKIP’s rise?

Politics

In the May 2014 European elections, Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party (UKIP from hereon) polled in first place, with 26.6 per cent of the national vote. Despite UKIP’s now ostensible popularity, they are academically under analysed as a political movement. There have been studies over the past decade into ‘who’ votes for UKIP, comprising studies of socio-economically grouped votes for the party; such as the ‘left behind[1]’ (Ford, Goodwin, 2014[i]), “polite racists and xenophobes… grey haired Tories” (Ford, Goodwin, Cutts, 2012, p.16), “blue collar old labour” (Ford, Goodwin, Cutts, 2012,p.3), and the “politically dispossessed” (Ford, 2013, p.80) but less examined is ‘why’.

Why factors are contended to include “globalisation” (Mason,2014), “the economic incapability of acclimatizing to today’s post-industrial Britain” (Ford,Goodwin,2014) and a distaste for the contemporary change within Britain’s “culture and identity” (Kaufmann,2014). This literature review will examine where I believe there is a major gap of research into the support factors of UKIP. That research is in the ‘personalisation of politics’ within a wider UK trend.

With the existing political focus on personalities not parties, there is a gap in greater understanding as to why people support UKIP, and the fluctuations facing our now splintering democracy.

The theory of the ‘personalisation of politics’; is defined “that individual political actors have become more prominent, to the detriment of parties, and collective identities” (Karvonen, 2010 p.13). No studies have applied the theoretical framework to a burgeoning populist radical right party, on a longitudinal basis in the UK. Consequently UKIP provides a useful vehicle for ascertaining whether personalisation is increasing, its magnitude of change, and whether this is a core support base for UKIP. Most importantly UKIP, as a case study, can push us towards a greater understanding of how parliamentary politics is shifting. There are key gaps in understanding within the field, and as a small party UKIP is well placed for analysis. This is because most of the studies (bar studies in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands) exclude small parties. Consequently there is a large scope for the further study of personalisation within the UK’s now ‘5 party system’, and whether this has led to UKIP support.

Personalisation of politics’ literature is defined into two categories. Studies that I de-mark as ‘presidentialisation’ in parliamentary systems (inc. Langer, 2011, Karvonen, 2010; Hermansson, 2010 et al.). These studies focus on the ever more important role of prime ministers/party leaders and their characteristics, to the detriment of parties. The other interrelated category are studies of ‘party leader effects’ in elections. These are quantitative examinations inquiring into the effects of leaders upon voter’s party support, enquiring whether party leaders ”lift” or ”sink” their parties (inc. Curtice, 2005, Holmberg, 2005, Oscarsson & Holmberg, 2008 et al.). However due to the scope of this field I will be focusing on the theoretical and case study literature. There are also psychological theories of ‘political personalisation’ focussing on the individual citizen (Caprara,2007 for example). This is a huge semi-related area I will only touch upon for reference.

I will break down the literature into; a broader overview of the existing literature’s case studies of presidentialisation of the parliamentary system. Then a more focussed review (owning to its greater relation to Farage) of the literature on the role of the media/social media and power of personality. Questioning whether institutional issues, or the media, has led to the proliferation of personalisation; analysing major academic arguments in relation to Farage.

Presidentialisation as personalisation, and the case for a smaller study.

Presidentialisation “examines where the core concern is the ever more major role of party leaders in parliamentary systems” (Karvonen,2010,p.6) and the consequent effects on voting habits. It is the main element of personalisation theory. It is often evidenced by the “referring to candidates rather than the parties they belong to” (Dalton,McAllister,&Wattenberg,2000,p34); the permutation of “leader pictures for party icons” (McAllister,1996); and the proclivity to “label cabinets after their leaders” (Bean&Mughan,1989,p3). Few academics disagree with these examples in western democracies. However there is an ongoing debate over causes, evidence and effect. The literature is extremely nebulous; for example although Heffernan & Webb agree that presidentialisation exists, they argue it has “little or no discernible effect” (2005, p45.) they are supported by academics questioning existing conceptual and empirical deficiencies (Hermansson&Persson,2010; Persson&Wiberg,2011).

Anthony Mughan looked at the UK’s parliamentary system before the year 2000, arguing that party leaders of the major parties “now figure more prominently on both media coverage and in the party, than the party itself” (Mughan,2000, p.235). He has academic support including (Langer,2010, Webb&Poguntke,2010, and McAllister,2007). There is nevertheless an ongoing academic debate about the legitimacy of the theory. The evidence is often extremely correlative, this is due to “the absence of consistent definitions, methods, and assessments of systemic and contextual variables” (Mansell,2010, p.35). Karvonen (2010) in his analysis of modern parliamentary democracies, including the UK, supports Mansell’s questioning of the evidence of the theory, arguing the data is at best ‘mixed’. The need for further research is therefore paramount in order to satisfy this incoherence.

However despite criticism many academics have found evidence for the presidentialisation thesis. Langer as opposed to Karvonen finds a correlating trend over time. In her examination of Prime Minister’s from Attlee to Cameron, she cites that coverage of Prime Ministers private lives “rose from around 1 percent of the leader’s coverage in 1945, to 8 percent during Tony Blair’s tenure in office” (Langer, 2007, p.57). However as Adams and Maier (2010) and Karvonen (2010) argue, whilst defending the findings, that this is one of only a few longitudinal analyses, with most relying on studies within one period, thus weakening their claims of a trend. The issues of empiricism within the theory is debatable, on smaller case studies a stronger trend does appear, such as with Johannes Bjerling’s, study of Swedish party leaders from 1979-2010(2010).

Farage and UKIP however, provide a strong case study for the prominence of a leader over a party, with polling data being taken in the run up to the election, huge data sets could be used limiting the evidential issues Karvonen (2010) argues. A crude example to highlight a possible cause for evaluation; using “Nigel Farage” as a search term on Google News, gives “15,200 results” whilst search term, “UKIP” responds “36,300 results”, Farage delivers a huge proportion of the results. This begs the question as to whether in today’s personalized system, are UKIP nothing without Farage, or would Farage be nothing without our current personalised system?

There is a case for a new study into the UK as a whole, because of our sudden shift to a multi-party democracy, including minor parties such as UKIP. The issue regarding much of the literature is of scope, for most of the studies the focus has been on national leaders, and opposition party leaders (e.g. Mughan & McAllister). Focussing only on major party leaders, as with the predominate academics Karvonen (2010) and Langer (2011), leaves a massive investigative problem within todays more diverse electoral system. This is why it is important to re-evaluate within the frame of UKIP, as Farage appears to support a presidentialisation trend as Langer, Mughan, Webb and Poguntke argue. Nevertheless presidentialisation it is often argued to suffer from “ambiguous” (Adams, 2010, p.1) evidential certainty by academics such as Karvonen, Adams and Maier (2010). Therefore a further layer of depth of study will help satisfy the debate upon the theory.

The evidential basis for presidentialisation is varied. Many studies are questioned over their evidence and methodology; large longitudinal studies, such as by Mughan, (2000) focus only on major parties. However this allows a gap for the study of fractured non binary democracies. Within frameworks of more fractional multi-party democracies such as Sweden rather than just major parties, there is stronger evidence for personalisation (Bjerling, 2012). This is arguably especially so for the UK which has highly “mediatized” politics (Langer, 2010) and an ever rapidly fracturing political landscape. Nevertheless the evidence of presidentialisation on small party leaders is still mixed. Kreig (2011) found little correlation in his study of German party leaders; however in contrast to Reinemann and Wilke, (2007) found strong correlation of German party leaders. Thus the theory needs further clarification, with Farage and UKIP a strong case for study.

There is a key failing in the current literature in analysing minor parties within personalisation theory. Mughan, Karvonen and Langer amongst others fail to study how small parties are growing through the two personalisation theses of; a) the changing of politics due to the media, and, b) the erosion of traditional major parties. Current understanding, and their focus on major parties, does not reflect the effect Farage is having. Karvonen argues that “major party leaders gain consistently stronger recognition as polling day draws closer, while the visibility of minor party leaders exhibits little change” (2010, p7), this does not fit the current trend, and needs re-evaluating in the UK context. With only around 60-70% of voters sticking to the two main parties in the UK, one asks whether a reason for the main parties lowered vote is presidentialisation, and personalisation. Many voters are now favouring Farage over mainstream leaders such as Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, their perception of all three as “homogenous” (despite Farage’s background being arguably very similar).

The scope for study appears to have gaps for domestic inquiries. However presidentialisation has also been studied internationally upon modern democracies by Poguntke and Webb. They argue that the “overwhelming weight of evidence lies in favour of the presidentialisation thesis’ (Webb&Poguntke,2005,p.346). Nevertheless current arguments centre on huge national differences in personalisation (Kriesi,2011).  This general trend of findings is again based upon only main parties, in a pre-dominantly (in data) pre-recession Europe. This is a weakness within the now fracturing politics of Europe, where the political landscape is shifting. There are also methodological issues, Karvonen illustrates this issue, by criticising Webb and Poguntke’s research as “predominantly reliant on secondary sources, at times bordering on the anecdotal” (Karvonen, 2010,p47.).

UKIP and Farage are a great example for studying presidentialisation within a fracturing parliamentary system. This is because UKIP became popular post-recession, has a strong media presence, and tries very hard to differentiate itself from the main parties. One of the main reasons for studying UKIP is that the political make-up is shifting. UKIP exist within the trend that “the operation of democratic systems is experiencing fundamental change, without any concomitant change in their formal institutional structures” (McAllister, 2007, p.579) a change he argues to be the decline of ‘centrist’ parties because of personalisation, presidentialisation and the powerlessness of parties in an age of absent ideology. Nevertheless this is questioned as the major cause of our democratic shift from the centre, with many believing evidentially and theoretically personalisation to be a much more “complex picture” (Karvonen, 2010) than McAllister et al. argue.

As a case study Farage is a strong charismatic leader and shows the huge importance of leadership over party, the role presidentialization/personalisation has had; and the continuing importance of managing a large media profile both online and off. Most importantly UKIP highlights this public shift away from the centre, or as Kirchheimer labels them “catch-all parties” (Kirchheimer,1966,p.66).

The role of the media; mediatisation and personalisation.

Having your leader in the media sphere is the lifeblood of a party (as Karvonen, Langer and Mughan argue). Farage is a master of getting himself in the media, and will even be on an episode of Channel 4’s Gogglebox next year[2]. However Farage and UKIP are only part of a greater trend taking advantage of, ‘politainment’[3], and the “mediatisation of politics” (Langer,2011,Katz & Mair,1994,Rahat & Shaefer).

Within the literature, all personalisation theories agree upon the importance of the media in presidentialization, and the increasing importance of leader’s personalities. As Davis summarises “news stories, especially television, are routinely framed from the point of view of central actors” (Davis, 1990: p.19). Farage makes a point to be in frame as often as possible; Farage for example has been on BBC Question Time the most out of anyone in the UK (Dimitrov,2014). Academics studying personalisation argue factors such as the “personality of the party leader” (Farrell, 1996, p21) are of great importance to the electorate. One only has to look at the bacon sandwich battle[4], between Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage in the news recently to exemplify this importance.

Academia in this area is much more focussed, but multidisciplinary, from leadership theory and media studies to communications theory. Most however agree upon Newman’s idea of the importance of “manufactured political images” (Newman,1999, as based on Davis,1990). Farage is a master of media communication, with the importance of his carefully created everyman, no nonsense, beer swilling, cigarette smoking self, a large support draw to the party and the media; he arguably makes for exciting television, because of his challenge to safe centrism. Farage is selling a perception of himself, understanding the old adage that; “all publicity is good publicity”, and it does appear to be working[5].

Current understanding is centred on the theory that “the media, and especially television, have an inherent tendency to personalize political reporting, concentrating on individuals rather than abstract institutions or policies”, Langer (2007,p.48). However there is an ongoing debate of what caused political personalisation, (Rahat, Shaefer,2007) blame the “party’s organizational changes”, like the “centrism” McAllister argues for igniting personalisation. However the consensus mainly falls into the (Katz&Mair,1994, Langer,2010, Mazzoleni,2000; Meyrowitz,1985) camp; who argue parties have adjusted to the media’s changing reporting and the growth of television. Farage’s preponderance in the media is arguably because of fascination, however the changes UKIP have undergone cement the effect of personalisation’s perceived effect on the popular vote. Therefore it is arguable that many within the public find Farage different to other politicians, outside the centre and political consensus; and this didn’t happen by accident, and is indebted to television led personalisation.

The rise of social media is an underestimated factor as well in academic literature. Most studies have focussed on analysing television and news media (Mughan, Karvonen&Langer) which in today’s world is not the whole picture. For example in one of the few studies of media representation and UKIP; Dimitrov in 2014 examined populism in the media without examining personalisation theory or social media, this is a trend across all the literature.

UKIP and Farage are a strong case study within this scope of social media personalisation. UKIP has more Facebook likes than Labour for example, and regularly has a large audience on all its YouTube videos, and actively campaigns using Twitter. Reading any comments section of any online newspaper highlights the massive proliferation in support for Farage and UKIP, arguably by supporters (cyberkippers) trying to control the airwaves.

Many academics have argued within the theory, that there has been a shift from party ideology and policies, towards how viewers relate to politicians (Langer,2007,2010,McAllister,Karvonen). Some academics dispute the influence to some degree, with little evidence of an “increasing concentration of media coverage” (Kriesi,2011.p.1). Nevertheless people appear to relate to Farage over the perceived out of touch leaders of the three main parties, as evidenced by the idea that people relate to “non-political character traits rather than professional traits in politicians” (Zamora,2010,p.13, Sarcinelli,1999.). This is supported by Miller, Wattenberg, and Malanchuk, in 1986 who argued that voters “think about candidates in terms of a limited number of broad categories, rather than in terms of a multitude of discrete traits” (1986,p37) simplifying the personality equation.

With the ever “increasing importance of televised leaders’ debates during national election campaigns” (Hellweg et al, 1992, p.2) and ‘…television turning faces into arguments’ (Hart,1999,p.34). Many comment upon Farage’s charisma and populist rhetoric (Ford, Goodwin, Kaufmann, Becket and others), but the academic literature has failed to examine newly formed charismatic leaders of populist parties in the media, within the personalisation framework. As Max Weber (1922) argued, “charismatic leadership”, is a legitimising factor of power, something UKIP profits from; with Farage himself arguably a charismatic shrewd political operator. Farage undoubtedly appeals to many parts of the electorate, and knows how the media works. It is possible he is perceived to be more honest by his supporters, which studies have shown to be the main factor in candidate choice, (Kinder, Peters, Abelson, & Fiske, 1980) and supported by studies in Australia (McAllister, 2000) and Germany (Brettschneider & Gabriel, 218, 2002).

As a case to study, UKIP is fascinating as it bridges both of the outlined reasons of the changing of politics due to the media, the role of personality, and the erosion of traditional major parties. With some of his EU parliament speeches the most popular speeches on YouTube of any UK politician today[6], and his advert for Paddy Power garnering 155,000 votes[7]; Farage has a huge draw. In context David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Conference 2014 has 61,186 views[8], which would provide strong evidence for the mediatisation and personalisation thesis as a support base for UKIP.

The theories exemplified in the literature all leave a fundamental gap within the rise of parties defined by populist rhetoric which inherently need to be publicised to the masses as Beckett (2014) argues “The public want politicians who represent their feelings about ideology, Farage’s has the ability to embody people’s personal anxieties”. Indeed this is supported by (Meyrowitz, 1985, p.24) who believes “television has lowered politicians to the audiences level”, and consequently who they want as a representative, which often is a “mirror” of themselves (Renshon, 1995. p.201). One can argue that Farage sells, after his debate upon the EU with Nick Clegg, he bounced upwards in popularity from 31% satisfaction in mid-March, to 40% in mid-April after the debates (second debate,2/04)[9].

Institutional change, are the parties themselves to blame for the rise of UKIP

One ongoing debate that could also be addressed through studying the personalisation of politics in relation to Farage is how we are witnessing a collapse of the major parties support, after redefining themselves as “class-mass parties” as Dalton and Wattenberg, 2000; Franklin 2001, and Mackie and Valen, 1992 argue. The literature is generally split in terms of which factors academics feel is most important to the cause of personalisation theory, however many argue personalisation has become existent because the political sphere, has a centralised dichotomy of politics (Karvonen,2010; Hermansson,2010), with the mainstream parties “catch all post-modern parties” (Rahat&Shaefer,2007,p.4),  encompassing everything.

This is in contrast to how people perceive themselves as “individuals rather than as parts of groups” (Bauman, 2001, p.12). Now that there is a gap created for a radical right party, where the conservatives once stood, UKIP’s leadership is the “chief means of engaging the political interest of publics” (Poguntke & Webb,2005,p.21). Many agree that this is a key element of the personalisation thesis, as ideologies have faded, personalities have come to the fore. Therefore within the literature further analysis can provide some interesting analysis of UKIP within this framing idea. Theoretically Persson, and Hermansson (2013) posit this idea in relation to personalisation and presidentialisation for today “voters are increasingly unaffiliated. Instead of basing choices on political substance, ideologies and substantive issues, voters focus on the packaging and presentation of political messages” (2013, p42).

Farage is arguably doing well, not because of his or UKIP’s qualities, but by the mistakes of the major parties in their march to centrism, losing the essence of what they originally defined. As Keith Mitchell MP points out “I am afraid the UKIP leader has a style and a manner of speaking that connects with ordinary mortals much better than professional politicians” (Beckett, 2014). This is an idea academics Barisione, 2009 and Pitkin, 1967 corroborate; perceived “closeness to the masses” has become vital for any leader.

Farage is profiting from the pre-existing weakening of traditional ties between voters and parties (Dalton, 2000; Mair, 2005) and appeals to specific sub sections of society and “the left behind” (Ford,2013). Farage to his supporters is believed to be like them, unlike the mainstream party leaders, a vital support signifier (Caprara & Zimbardo, 2004). There has been a weakening of previous links between political parties, and various subgroups of society since the march to the middle (Giddens, 1990; Bauman, 2006; Franklin,1992). However there is academic derision; with Curtice arguing there is still a trend within partisan party orientated nations to support party and leader in unison (Curtice, 2005).

Conclusion

A study upon Farage and UKIP could reveal a remarkable amount of ideas with regards to personalisation, mediatisation and presidentialisation. So little is known, it is possible a study could show UKIP as a symptom of the end of personalisation, and a movement instead towards ideology again, as social classes splinter and inequality grows. If personalisation produces little insight into UKIP support, it suggests their revisionist policies and ideology are major structures in their support. UKIP could answer the two main questions of the theory, of the importance of institutional change or the media, within a major party collapse. With the changing landscape of politics personalisation needs to be constantly re-evaluated, especially when the evidence for it appears so readily and where politicians must now “not be beyond people”, but “be of and like them” (Renshon,1995p.201).

 

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[1] Left behind definition – “…older, working-class, white voters who lack the educational qualifications, incomes and skills that are needed to adapt and thrive amid a modern post-industrial economy” (Ford, Goodwin, 2014).
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/nov/11/nigel-farage-appear-googlebox-spin-off
[3] As coined by Conley and Schultz (2000) meaning “the collapse of politics into entertainment”
[4] Nigel Farage manages to eat a bacon sandwich without incident at the Heywood and Middleton by-election[4].
[5] http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2014/09/27/comres-poll-farage-as-popular-as-cameron/ accessed 6/9/14
[6] ‘Who the Hell You Think You Are?’ Nigel Farage throws egg in Eurocrat faces.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gm9q8uabTsUploaded-on-Nov,26,2010-views=1,386,134 as of 11/9/2014
[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXhLMIDscTI  Nigel Farage Swings for Europe this Ryder Cup Published on Sep 25, 2014 155,831 accessed – 9/9/14
[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jgs4UJwWtow – accessed 11/09/2014
[9] Political Monitor:Satisfaction Ratings1997-Present https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/88/Political-Monitor-Satisfaction-Ratings-1997Present.aspx?view=wide#2013