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Unformatted text preview: Comparative Politics in Latin America After Midterm October 16, 2007 Quality of Democracy II: Violence We are interested in studying violence because, generally speaking, violence is a bad thing and the hope is that violence would be reduced under democratic regimes in comparison to violence under authoritarian regimes Is there a decrease in violence under democratic regimes? Problem with this ideal is that some would stay that the essence of state power rests on violence o Definition of government: exercised a monopoly using a legitimate use of violence If we define states this way, is there not a tension between this definition and the thought that an ideal polity would limit political violence States carry out violence in daily activities o Is there a legitimate use of force or violence in a state? o Difficulty: its hard to know what legitimacy means in this context o Perhaps conclusion is that states must use violence, but their use of violence must be law abiding Another use of state violence is the national defense This says that democracies use violence in more legitimate ways than dictatorships But where does the rule of law come from? If we think that states engage in violence when the follow the rule of law legitimately, but where does the rule of law come from? o The constitution o Comes from the state, so the state can justify terrible things o A regime is bound by the constitutional law it inherits Governments can change the constitution o Constitutional Laws are the most encompassing and most difficult to change, Organic Laws, and Statuatory Laws o If Chile, they suspended the constitution and re-wrote it all together Military regime tore up constitution that was from ~1825-1967 Constitution made it law abiding to do things that are really terrible It is better that governments follow laws, but not if they can write their own laws Therefore, there is no democratic process In Chile, it was written and the approved in a plebiscite o They approved it in large majorities, but why isnt this legitimate Just because they had a plebicite doesnt mean that it was a fair one or there werent pressures to vote a certain way There wasnt free press or free discussion, it can after a period of oppression of opposition groups that may have mounted a revolt against the new constitution have to look at the big picture How do international law/norms come into play? o There are treaties and conventions that prohibit violence against humanity o They have institutionally defined terms o Human Rights Organizations o Ideally, we would say that international law/human rights law offers us a different standard to judge the legitimacy of the actions of a state o That is not to say that there isnt a politics to international law of disagreements of how international law should be carried out Also want to take into consideration violence initiated by non-state actors...
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