Independence and the Legitimization
of Authoritarian Rule
Everyone sees the need of a new principle of life. But as always happens in similar crises--some people attempt to save the situation by an artificial intensification of the very principle which has led to decay.
Ortego Y. Gasset Revolt of the Masses
The objective of the last chapter was to explore the nature and behavior of current democratization by approaching it from the enduring effects of past systemic forces, namely the repressive and flawed policies of European colonial powers. These effects continue to constrain, stimulate, and make possible certain behaviors and aspirations that render many democratization processes turbulent, uncertain, and generally problematic. The general objective of this chapter remains the same in that we are concerned to amplify an understanding of democratization, but in this instance by approaching it from a post-colonial power consolidation perspective on the part of the regimes that took over from the colonial masters. Past records of coercive rule and present efforts at democratic rule are again inseparable from the Third World's incorporation into the global political economy in which some of the most powerful actors are the former colonial powers. The abysmal economic performance of many developing countries today is a consequence, according to many analysts, of their economic exploitation during colonial rule, and their marginal inclusion into the international economy where they still, to a large extent, play the role of supplying a few cash crops to the ex-metropolitan economies, while absorbing manufactures from them.
In particular, this chapter analyzes the nation-building dilemmas of the post- independence Third World governments by focusing on: internal economic problems and their effect on political governance often in the form of authoritarian rule and the power-consolidation strategies of the incumbent Third World political elites. I argue that these two issues will amplify our understanding of the effervescence, instability, and turbulence inherent in so many democratization processes in developing nations. In addition, I underscore