Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences

Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences

Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences

Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences

Synopsis

The countries of Southeast Asia, most of which won their independence after World War II, have had varying degrees of success in establishing governments and political systems that in the eyes of their citizens have achieved political legitimacy - that is, are seen to have the right to rule. Because these countries have much in common and at the same time differ in important ways - with their political arrangements varying from Leninist state to monarchy, personal dictatorship to quasi-democracy - they offer what might be considered a naturally occurring political science experiment. The right to rule affects all political activities and is crucial to an understanding of the politics of any country. This book studies political legitimacy in seven Southeast Asian countries-Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Among the questions is addresses are: What is the meaning and nature of legitimacy? What are its constituent elements? Who is seeking to legitimate what?Who or which groups are crucial for legitimation? On what basis is authority claimed, acknowledged, resisted? Why do legitimation projects succeed or fail? Why is legitimacy contested? Can any overall patterns be observed?

Excerpt

This book was conceived in 1990-91 when I was teaching a course on comparative politics of Southeast Asia at Columbia University. the question of political legitimacy surfaced many times during the course, both as an issue in itself and in relation to the effectiveness of domestic governance, regime change, and the international conduct of governments. Yet the issue appeared to have been little explored directly in relation to Southeast Asia. My interest in the subject was further stimulated by the growing nexus between domestic politics and international relations -- my primary area of interest until this time.

Because it constitutes the core of political organization, the right to rule affects all political activities and is crucial to our understanding of the politics of any country. in addition to affecting the structure of domination, the "language of legitimacy" provides the reference framework for competing centers of power to articulate and mobilize resistance to the incumbent power holders. Thus the issue of legitimacy lies at the heart of the political discourse and many of the political crises in the Southeast Asian countries. Acknowledging its centrality to state-society relations, this book is devoted to an explication and elaboration of the concept and to the study of political legitimacy in seven Southeast Asian countries. What is the meaning and nature of legitimacy? What are its constituent elements? Who is seeking to legitimate what? Which groups are crucial for political legitimation? On what basis is authority claimed, acknowledged, contested? Why do legitimation projects succeed or fall? Can any patterns be observed? These are some of the questions we shall explore here.

In designing the project I decided to invite younger scholars to write the country chapters and to involve more established scholars in an advisory capacity to review, discuss, and comment on their work. Apart from concentrating some of the best minds on the subject, this approach, I

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