Dismantling Democratic States

Dismantling Democratic States

Ezra Suleiman
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhpr4
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  • Book Info
    Dismantling Democratic States
    Book Description:

    Bureaucracy is a much-maligned feature of contemporary government. And yet the aftermath of September 11 has opened the door to a reassessment of the role of a skilled civil service in the survival and viability of democratic society. Here, Ezra Suleiman offers a timely and powerful corrective to the widespread view that bureaucracy is the source of democracy's ills. This is a book as much about good governance as it is about bureaucratic organizations. Suleiman asks: Is democratic governance hindered without an effective instrument in the hands of the legitimately elected political leadership? Is a professional bureaucracy required for developing but not for maintaining a democratic state? Why has a reform movement arisen in recent years championing the gradual dismantling of bureaucracy, and what are the consequences?

    Suleiman undertakes a comparative analysis of the drive toward a civil service grounded in the New Public Management. He argues that "government reinvention" has limited bureaucracy's capacity to adequately serve the public good. All bureaucracies have been under political pressure in recent years to reduce not only their size but also their effectiveness, and all have experienced growing deprofessionalism and politicization. He compares the impact of this evolution in both democratic societies and societies struggling to consolidate democratic institutions.Dismantling Democratic Statescautions that our failure to acknowledge the role of an effective bureaucracy in building and preserving democratic political systems threatens the survival of democracy itself.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5073-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    For well over a decade now policymakers and academics have been celebrating, each in their own way, the triumph of democratic forms of government. That politicians should wish to vaunt the in exorable march toward freedom is not surprising. That academics should wish to understand the process by which a transition is made to a democratic form of government represents merely a legitimate intellectual inquiry. What these two disparate groups have in common is the belief, or at least assumption, that once the structural bases of a democratic polity are created then the democratic system is likely to remain enduring....

  5. PART I
    • CHAPTER ONE THE END OF BUREAUCRACY?
      (pp. 13-20)

      What has occasioned the contemporary view that the modern bureaucracy is an outdated institution whose organizational characteristics and whose role in society need to be overhauled? We will have a number of occasions in the course of this work to examine the arguments that have been advanced against public bureaucracies and that view these institutions as obstacles to, or, worse, enemies of, democracy. That this has not always been the most widely accepted view is often forgotten. Before I return in the next chapter to look closely at what it is that is being overturned or revolutionized, a brief explanation...

    • CHAPTER TWO BEYOND WEBER?
      (pp. 21-40)

      Politicians have long seen only gains and no losses from expressing and encouraging what has become a nearly universal loathing of bureaucracy. It is not clear whether this detestation reflects merely a demonic image of bureaucratic institutions, whether it reflects a clear understanding of what function these institutions fulfill in our societies, or whether it merely reflects opportunistic and demagogic tendencies of politicians.

      There are scarcely any institutions left in contemporary democratic societies that elicit the general approval or respect of citizens. We now appear condemned to live in a “popular culture of bad government.” All political institutions are considered...

    • CHAPTER THREE NEW CONCEPTIONS OF BUREAUCRACY, DEMOCRACY, AND CITIZENSHIP
      (pp. 41-60)

      Shortly after becoming president, Bill Clinton created with much fanfare the National Partnership for Reinventing Government.¹ This was to be the vehicle for the revolution in the way the federal government operated. The mission of this partnership was to create a government that “works better, costs less, and gets results Americans care about.”² To pave the way for the accomplishment of this fairly innocuous-sounding objective, President Clinton established, in March 1993, the National Performance Review. A few hundred career civil servants were enlisted and were assigned to two teams. One of these was to review individual federal agencies, while the...

  6. PART II
    • CHAPTER FOUR POPULAR DISSATISFACTION AND ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM
      (pp. 63-88)

      There is widespread agreement among students of public opinion that in the U.S. since the 1960s we observe increasing dissatisfaction with politicians and political institutions.¹ Scholars perceived the trend—which has been termed the “popular culture of bad government”²—in opposing ways. Some saw increasing distrust as undermining political institutions and authority altogether,³ whereas others viewed it as a response to bad government in particular contexts.⁴ Jimmy Carter looked at public opinion polls and argued in a television speech in 1979 that “the gap between our citizens and our government has never been so wide” and that the “crisis of...

    • CHAPTER FIVE UNIVERSALISTIC REFORMS
      (pp. 89-122)

      The organization of democratic states suggests that institutions have a remarkable similarity across national contexts. This is what might be called the wide-angled view of government organization. A closer look at how institutions originate suggests that the manner of their birth accounts for the considerable variations in organization, ethos, power, and capacity for adaptation. Woodrow Wilson was not wrong when he suggested that administrative organizations are bound to and need to resemble one another. The fact remains that they do not.

      If the origins of administrative institutions (as of other political institutions) explain their diverse forms across democratic societies, is...

    • CHAPTER SIX EMULATING THE PRIVATE SECTOR
      (pp. 123-154)

      In his masterful survey of the political theory of public administration, Dwight Waldo showed that the attempts to construe the public sector as a private enterprise have a long history.¹ The “administration is business” precept did not have to wait to be discovered by the devotees of the New Public Management. It was simply an outgrowth of the movement of scientific management and, subsequently, of market ideology.

      An influence, however, scarcely constitutes a program. The universality of the types of reforms that we examined in the previous chapter—privatization, territorial decentralization, and reduction in the scope of government—undoubtedly conveyed...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN THE RELUCTANT REFORMERS: JAPAN AND FRANCE
      (pp. 155-188)

      Reforming or modernizing the state is generally taken to mean a reform of the bureaucracy. We have seen that this theme is more important in some countries than in others and that it is exploited by politicians in some countries more than in others. At any rate, we have found that in all countries politicians can exploit the call for bureaucratic or civil service reform with impunity, in part because it affects a less popular institution and in part because it never implicates political institutions and practices. Hence, politicians and political parties are almost always able to use the bureaucracy...

  7. PART III
    • CHAPTER EIGHT DEPROFESSIONALIZATION: THE DECLINE OF THE CIVIL SERVICE CAREER
      (pp. 191-208)

      That global administrative reform turns out not to be global and not an American package that is readily shipped abroad and just as readily implemented does not mean that there are no universal tendencies pushing the administrative systems in particular directions. They may have been little noticed, but that is only because we have been looking at reforms that have been devised by specific people and pushed by particular institutions and countries. We naturally assume that these are, or ought to be, the (universal) changes taking place. In focusing our attention on proposals for reform that proclaim themselves as revolutionary,...

    • CHAPTER NINE DEPROFESSIONALIZATION: THE PROCESS OF POLITICIZATION
      (pp. 209-240)

      There has long been a debate on the extent to which bureaucracies should be instruments of the government of the day and the extent to which they ought to be staffed by professionals who are granted, or who may usurp, a certain degree of autonomy. This debate has attracted the likes of Weber, Schumpeter, Woodrow Wilson, and many other contemporary distinguished scholars and analysts. While debate may rage on among students of public organizations, it has for all intents and purposes been resolved in the world of practical politics. This resolution is of stunning importance.

      Important as this development has...

    • CHAPTER TEN THE END OF THE NONPOLITICAL BUREAUCRACY
      (pp. 241-278)

      The movement toward a politically controlled bureaucracy has been led in the democratic world by the United States. It is there that the process finds its strongest expression in practice, and it is there that its intellectual justification has been developed. Where else can one expect to find public administration specialists, social scientists, or even the occasional public official engendering a debate on the merits of the spoils system?¹ Although Maranto seeks to make a number of arguments based on administration in the nineteenth century, on innovation, and on corruption, others have simply maintained that it is “rational” for leaders...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN CONSTRUCTING A BUREAUCRATIC APPARATUS IN EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE
      (pp. 279-304)

      The development of democracy in European societies and in the United States did not occur in the absence of a more or less professional bureaucracy. It would be well-nigh impossible to find an analyst of political development and of democratic institutions who has sought to advance the idea that democracy came into being, or would have been consolidated in a shorter time span, in the absence of a competent state bureaucracy.

      Yet, in view of the influence of NPM in all its various guises and of the mounting antistatist fervor in many Western democracies, one central question needs to be...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE THE POLITICS OF BUREAUCRATIC REFORM
      (pp. 305-316)

      I have argued in this book that bureaucracies, like all institutions in democratic societies, require reforming and need to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of society and to management techniques. Bureaucracies are financed by citizens and they need to act with parsimony, efficiency, and accountability. The central question becomes how adaptation is to occur so that the public is served in a more efficacious way and that would-be reformers are not permitted to destroy an institution that remains central to the functioning of democracy.

      I have also indicated that reforms need to aim at improving the functioning of...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 317-327)