Category Archives: Staying in power – Struggle for control

This section considers the second of two fundamental ways in which a social system where harm is important differs from a productive one: maintaining control. It is a much more substantial problem for such societies. Threats come from two sources, those who would replace them, while maintaining harm, and those who would reduce harm.  This control takes place in the political, economic and social spheres; in the consideration here, the emphasis is on the political.

Two groups of economic historians writing from an orthodox economic perspective have discussed such societies, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (2012), and Douglass North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast (2009).

North, Wallace and Weingast use limited access order or natural state.
A natural state… form[s] a dominant coalition that limits access to valuable resources—land, labor, capital—or access to and control of valuable activities—such as trade, worship, and education—to elite groups. The creation of rents through limiting access provides the glue that holds the coalition together, enabling elite groups to make credible commitments to one another to support the regime, perform their functions, and refrain from violence (2009, 30).

They estimate that limited access orders have about 85 percent of the world’s population.  Freedom in the World (2020), Freedom House’s annual global report on political rights and civil liberties covering 195 countries, addresses the same topic. Separate scores are awarded for political rights and for civil rights which, weighted equally, are used to determine the status of Free, Partly Free, and Not Free. Forty-three percent of the countries of the world are evaluated as free, while 57 percent are classified as either Not Free (25 percent) or Partly Free (32 percent).

Three subcategories bring out important aspects of maintaining control. Conflict is an important part of harm which, as harm, has not received the attention that it deserves.  It is thought of as “national defense” in the pursuit of “strategic self-interest” with some “collateral damage” which minimizes its role as harm. Harming people – Keeping people oppressed  brings out the often brutal oppression of people by those who control productive + harmful economic systems. Opposing oppression and injustice illustrates how people have fought against oppression and injustice.  (This section is perhaps an inadequate appreciation for the struggle that people have waged, but it is something. ) This section also includes some mention of the struggle between democratic and oligarchic elements in a given nation which result in victories won by democratic forces.  Governments and other parts of society can act to reduce harm.  As  an assumption of orthodox economics is that governments almost always do act in this way, we have tried to bring out the evidence for an opposing view in this website.

Organized violence 1989-2020

Organized violence 1989-2020, with a special emphasis on Syria Therése Pettersson Shawn Davies, Amber Deniz Journal of Peace Research July 1, 2021
This article reports on trends in organized violence, building on new data by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP). The falling trend in fatalities stemming from organized violence in the world, observed for five consecutive years, broke upwards in 2020 and deaths in organized violence seem to have settled on a high plateau. UCDP registered more than 80,100 deaths in organized violence in 2020, compared to 76,300 in 2019. The decrease in violence in Afghanistan and Syria was countered by escalating conflicts in, for example, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Azerbaijan and Tigray, Ethiopia. Moreover, the call for a global ceasefire following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic failed to produce any results. In fact, the number of active state-based and non-state conflicts, as well as the number of actors carrying out one-sided violence against civilians, increased when compared to 2019. UCDP noted a record-high number of 56 state-based conflicts in 2020, including eight wars. Most of the conflicts occurred in Africa, as the region registered 30 state-based conflicts, including nine new or restarted ones.