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Poli 130 - Chaos and Violence

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Week 12: Chaos and Violence (Chapter 7)

Monday November 5: Weak States and Corruption

State Functions

  • Monopolize violence
  • Human needs
  • Foster Equitable economic growth
  • Legitimate political institutions (courts, police legitimate) (fair)

Why should you care

  • The weak states are just contained to their places, they have global ramifications
  • Terrorism/illegal activities
  • Terrorists can hangout and plan all their activities because the states government is weak
  • Asylum seekers – a lot of people leave weak states and try to go get asylum.
  • This becomes an issue because not everyone in the “safe” states want those people…
  • Disease
  • Weak states cannot contain their illnesses
  • Ex. Ebola
  • Energy security
  • May not be able to provide reliable supplies of oil…leads to shortages and higher prices…
  • Nuclear weapons
  • When the government cannot keep them secure then they will get stolen by terrorists and lunatics and used improperly
  • Environment

How to avoid being a weak state

  • Vicious cycle of Politics
  • Taxes, taxes, taxes,
  • The reason why it is difficult to break out of the “vicious cycle”

Taxation: a difficult balancing act

  • Paid for by taxes
  • Roads, irrigation, structural shit
  • Too much taxation  revolt
  • Too little taxation  no government services

Why do weak states = weak taxation → have such limited taxation?

  • Economic factors
  • Informal sector
  • Natural resources
  • Some countries have so many natural resources they don’t need to Tax
  • Not good for democracy
  • Dependence on Foreign aid
  • Cultural factors
  • Weak national identity
  • Political factors
  • Elite capture
  • Controlled by a small elite group
  • In weak states, the politicians are protected by military  


  • Broad definition: impure
  • Political corruption = use of office for private gain
  • Embezzlement
  • When foreign aid goes to private accounts instead of developmental projects
  • Bribery
  • Kickbacks
  • Gives a contract to someone because of connections and not merit
  • Nepotism/cronyism

What is the causal chain?

  • Strong institutions (taxations)  strong state  economic development
  • Corruption  economic development  strong institutions  strong state
  • Corruption  economic development  strong institutions  storng state  liberal democracy?

Wednesday November 7: Terrorism


  • A divided island
  • Ethnic Groups in Shri Lanka: Tamil and Sinhalese

The making of a modern Sri Lanka

  • Ceylon (Old word for Sri Lanka)
  • Tamil and Sinhalese unity against British
  • 1948 British colony  British dominion (more self-rule)
  • 1956 Sinhala Only Act
  • Sinhalese becomes the national language
  • 30% minority (Tamil) feels left out
  • 1972 Sri Lanka
  • Breaks ties with Britain and became an independent nation
  • Early 1970s: policy of standardization
  • Give people more access to the University
  • Universities taught in English and the Tamils actually knew more English because they were on the northern coast
  • Sinhalese start taking Tamil’s spots in University
  • Made the Tamil people feel like government was coming after them  heightened divisions
  • Grievances on all sides

Tamil Tigers go to war

  • Terrorist group
  • Bombing Sinhalese
  • Declared independence and administered their own laws
  • Funded themselves with the drug trade…smuggling arms and trade markets
  • Diversified portfolio around the world
  • India tried to intervene and facilitate peace talks  lead to the Tamils fighting the Indians and assassinating the Indian Prime Minister and the Shri Lanka Prime Minister
  • Not a lot of allies

How did Sri Lanka defeat the Tamil Tigers?

  • 2005: Mahinda Rajapaksa: war president
  • got serious about the war
  • doubled the military budget
  • stronger military campaigns
  • more aggressive tactics
  • no more cease fires
  • Changing International Climate
  • Difficult for terrorists
  • Cracking down on countries that had terrorists (gained support)
  • After September 11th 
  • Less support for cease fires
  • Leadership Decay
  • Velupillai Prabhakaran
  • His luck runneth out
  • People just didn’t support him after 30 years and he was eventually killed

What do we learn from Tamil Tigers?

  • It is possible to defeat terrorists
  • Really helps to have state strength
  • War is ugly  collateral damage that remains after the discourse, ongoing tensions
  • Tensions do not disappear

American Anarchism

  • Response to growing national government
  • Ex. Forced education: national identity (pledge of allegiance)
  • reading and writing for the new economy
  • Ex. Police department becomes a real thing lol  More surveillance
  • Ex. Taxation
  • Individualist
  • Freedom from government regulation
  • Mutualist
  • Order should occur spontaneously in response to peoples’ mutual interaction
  • Communist
  • Works on behalf of the oppressed masses
  • Syndicalist
  • Fighting to get people’s rights, more workers rights
  • Huge time for critiquing government power
  • In each of these strands there were extremes that would use terrorism

Haymarket Affair 1886 (Chicago)



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