Home > Uncategorized > Controlling Hierarchical and egalitarian societies

Controlling Hierarchical and egalitarian societies

One explanation for the rapid control of Europeans over foreign populations often refers to the importance of existing hierarchical political arrangements which Europeans can take over. This can be seen in the book by James Mahoney on Colonialsim and Post-Colonial Development. Extrapolating from this, one would expect that the US invasion of Iraq should have led to easy political control for the Unites States. Authoritarian Iraq is a clear case of an existing hierarchical political system. Why is it that we do not see an ability for the US to exert control on Iraq, similarly why is it that these systems collapse so totally into non-hierarchical politics with the subsequent state being unable to exert control?

Two answers come to mind. The first is that the US did not take on the existing political organization of Iraq, but rather it destroyed it and attempted to build up a new one. A second answer focuses on the ideological repertoires available to inhabitants of these countries. Ideas of self determination and rejection of foreign based rule become widespread after WW2 and under such an ideological environment simply taking over an existing political apparatus ceases to work like it did. If either of these are true than the Mahoney thesis stands, however if these are not true, then the explanation for the ease of takeover of Europeans of colonial lands is not a convincing one.

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