Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences

By Muthiah Alagappa | Go to book overview

11
Seeking a More Durable Basis of Authority

MUTHIAH ALAGAPPA

THE country studies in Part I of this book support the central proposition advanced in Part I: in the absence of an established normative order, the procedural element cannot be the primary basis on which political authority is claimed, acknowledged, or resisted. Other rationales (normative goals, performance, personal authority, politically defining moment, and international support) will be more important in the legitimation of governments. Legitimation on the basis of these rationales, however, is highly contingent and subject to periodic erosion and crisis. Only when legitimation turns primarily on the procedural element will it become less problematic. For this to be the case, progress will have to be made in forging ideological unity between ruler and ruled and translating the shared norms and values into acceptable institutions, procedures, and practices.

In the postindependence period, governments in the Philippines, Burma, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia did claim their authority on the basis of the procedural element rooted in versions of popular sovereignty and democracy. These governments, however, as well as the political system they represented, were subsequently displaced ( Philippines, Burma, Indonesia) or substantially modified ( Malaysia and Singapore). Drawing upon a politically defining moment or manipulating an atmosphere of crisis, successor governments deployed personal authority ( Burma, Indonesia, Philippines) or goal rationality ( Malaysia and Singapore) and invoked performance (security and economic development) as a key supplementary rationale or even as a goal in itself in projecting their legitimacy. Goal rationality has been the primary basis on which the Vietnamese Communist Party ( VCP) claimed its authority from the outset, though economic

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