Asian Political Institutionalization

Asian Political Institutionalization

Asian Political Institutionalization

Asian Political Institutionalization

Excerpt

The principal concern of the essays in this volume is the status of political institutionalization in Asia. I have defined this term as the process whereby a political structure is made operational in accordance with stipulated rules and procedures, enabling regularized, hence predictable, patterns of political behavior, minimal trauma in power transfer, and a foundation for the effective development of policies as well as the application of justice. Ideally, successful political institutionalization enables a movement away from the high dependence upon personalized rule and also makes orderly, evolutionary change possible.

Of necessity, a study of political institutionalization requires an examination of closely related subjects: the quest for legitimacy on the part of political parties and governments; the relation between political structure and leadership; and the potentials for change among diverse political systems.

We begin with an examination of socialist institutions in Asia. Since the Soviet Union served as the model both for the Communist parties of the Asian socialist states and for their overall political systems, it is appropriate to explore briefly the Soviet experience, most particularly the manner in which political appeals to the citizenry evolved within the context of a relatively rigid institutional structure. The basic trend has been from an initial emphasis upon the class struggle and an idealistic internationalism to an effort to encompass "the whole people" and an ever stronger appeal to nativist and nationalist sentiments. Increasingly, patriotism and material improvements in livelihood have represented the sources of legitimacy for the system, with traditional Marxist-Leninist themes relegated to the background, little more than ritualistic incantations. At the same time, the Leninist party and state structures remain relatively impervious to change. In this sense, institutionalization has been successfully achieved. Yet a larger question looms ahead: can this political system evolve to keep pace with domestic socioeconomic developments and the larger quotient of interdependence that seems certain to characterize the world of the twenty-first century?

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