Sunday, October 16, 2022

Monika Nalepa's "After Authoritarianism"

Monika Nalepa is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. With a focus on post-communist Europe, her research interests include transitional justice, parties and legislatures, and game-theoretic approaches to comparative politics. Her first book, Skeletons in the Closet: Transitional Justice in Post-Communist Europe, received the Best Book award from the Comparative Democratization section of the APSA and the Leon Epstein Outstanding Book Award from the Political Organizations and Parties section of the APSA.

Nalepa applied the Page 99 Test to her new book, After Authoritarianism: Transitional Justice and Democratic Stability, and reported the following:
Page 99 summarizes the theoretical part of my book, which says that the transparency aspect of transitional justice—revealing the truth about secret collaboration with the authoritarian regime after it has fallen—is better for democratic stability than punishing former elites and perpetrators of human rights violation when the nature of their crimes is known. The reason is that in a world without lustration and truth commissions (the two transparency regimes I discuss in my book) unknown collaborators of the authoritarian regime and perpetrators who committed atrocities on its behalf in secret can be blackmailed. Persons with knowledge and evidence of what they did in the past can extract concessions, rents and other privileges in return for keeping their secrets hidden.

In contrast, purges—the vetting and removal of known collaborators—does not prevent such blackmail, because there are no secrets to reveal. Moreover, such purges can be detrimental to democratic stability if they remove agents of the state with necessary expertise in running such a state. When the new democratic state refuses to reappoint agents of the former authoritarian regime it effectively chooses to delegate running the state to knew and untrained employees (bureaucrats and agents of enforcement). Such employees may be loyal to the new democratic elites, but do they know how to run the state? Particularly thorough purges, which wholesale remove all employees of certain organizations are dangerous for democratic stability. The only exception to this are situations where the former authoritarian state was so poorly run that the loss in expertise from firing all agents of the ancien regime is minuscule.

I will have to use your suggestion and say "Uncannily, of the hundreds of pages in my book, page 99 is the very best single page to introduce a browser to what the book is about."
Visit Monika Nalepa's website.

--Marshal Zeringue