The Economics of Violence in Latin America: A Theory of Political Competition

The Economics of Violence in Latin America: A Theory of Political Competition

The Economics of Violence in Latin America: A Theory of Political Competition

The Economics of Violence in Latin America: A Theory of Political Competition

Synopsis

This study, for the first time, uses modern political economic theory (public choice theory, public goods theory, and game theory) to create a theoretical framework for comparative political analysis. This framework, which includes the nonindustrial world, treats both violence and democratic processes as normal methods of political competition. Deductive in nature, the theory redefines political variables according to their economic counterparts. Chaffee applies microeconomic theory to generate hypotheses and conclusions, using examples from Latin America to illustrate the efficacy of the framework.

Excerpt

An examination of revolution conveniently ties public goods theory to the development of a theory of political competition. the effects of a successful revolution are public goods: the political results are supplied to the public generally--that is, the removal of an incumbent government. Violence is also a method of political competition in which leaders and groups vie for the right to control governments.

Revolution, as a concept, is highly ambiguous. the Mexican, Bolivian, Cuban, and Nicaraguan revolutions are generally recognized by scholars as genuine revolutions. Such individuation does not define revolution but helps delineate the subject matter and thus furnishes minimal demands for our definition. First, revolution involves a change of leadership in government. Although the term revolution is often applied to any radical change or even to technological advance, for the purposes here the meaning will be limited to a change in the leadership of a government. This, by definition, eliminates such concepts as the Industrial Revolution or "the revolution of rising expectations."

Second, revolution will be defined as limited to those cases of change of government that are extralegal. This means that any change of leadership that remains within the legal structure of the incumbent government cannot be considered a revolution. This eliminates changes of leadership as in the Brazilian "revolution within a revolution" of 1969, when a power struggle inside the government resulted in a change of presidents.

Third, revolution, as defined here, necessitates the overthrow of an incumbent government through some means that includes organized violence--that is, a coup. This, then, entails a leader or leadership group that actively plans for the use of violence in order to overthrow an existing government. This excludes the . . .

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