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Oligarchs and Cronies in the Philippine State the Politics of Patrimonial Plunder


Five years after the downfall of Ferdinand E. Marcos, scholars of Philippine politics have yet to achieve even minimal consensus on the proper characterization of his authoritarian regime. More importantly, scholarship has failed to account for fundamental continuity, across regimes, in the way in which dominant economic interests interact with the Philippine state. The author argues that a focus on patrimonial aspects of the Philippine state will not only bring a greater sense of coherence to many disparate aspects of Marcos's rule, but will also lead to clearer understanding of enduring characteristics of the Philippine political economy. Throughout the postwar years, political administration is often treated as a personal affair, and the assignment of privileges granted by the state is largely determined by the personal discretion of those oligarchs currently holding official position. The article explores factors that help to explain why there has been no effective pressure from either domestic or external forces to undermine the patrimonial features of the state, and suggests that future research should analyze why patrimonial features have persisted in the Philippines despite enormous change, yet elsewhere seem to have subsided in the face of change.

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Robert H. Jackson and Carl G. Rosberg , “Why Africa's Weak States Persist: The Empirical and the Juridical in Statehood,” World Politics 35 (October 1982), 124.

Roth , “Personal Rulership, Patrimonialism, and Empire-Building in the New States,” World Politics 20 (January 1968), 194206, at 196, 199.

Harold Crouch , “Patrimonialism and Military Rule in Indonesia,” World Politics 31 (July 1979), 571–87

Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph , “Authority and Power in Bureaucratic and Patrimonial Administration: A Revisionist Interpretation of Weber on Bureaucracy,” World Politics 31 (January 1979), 195227.

Theobald , “Patri-monialism,” World Politics 34 (July 1982), 548–59.

Nowak and Snyder , “Clientelist Politics in the Philippines: Integration or Instability,” American Political Science Review 68 (September 1974), 1147–70, at 1151.

Sylvia Maxfield and James H. Nolt , “Protectionism and the Internationalization of Capital: U.S. Sponsorship of Import Substitution Industrialization in the Philippines, Turkey and Argentina,” International Studies Quarterly 34 (March 1990), 4981.

Jose Veloso Abueva , “The Philippines: Tradition and Change,” Asian Survey 10, no. 1 (1970), 5664, at 62.

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World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
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