Eva Bellin Comparative Perspective Summary

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Democratization is not typically associated with the Middle East and North Africa. There are a variety of factors that can explain why this is the case. There is a lack or presence of civil society, the state controls the economy, the people are disadvantaged, the location of the Middle East and North Africa is disadvantageous for democracy, and the culture of the region can impact the government (Bellin 2004, 139-141). In The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective Eva Bellin argues that these factors are not enough and instead “…a coercive state deeply opposed to democratic reform has quashed initiatives favorable to democracy” (Bellin 2004, 142). Bellin uses this to explain why the Middle …show more content…
Bellin argues that this then leads to authoritarianism (Bellin 2004, 143). The second problem with her article is that her argument is cyclical. Essentially, the factors that she believes cause authoritarianism can lead to a coercive state apparatus. Her argument is not linear and does not have a cause and effect relationship. Her argument is instead a cycle that can lead to both what she defines as a cause and what she defines as an effect. The various variables that are believed to be caused by the coercive state could be caused by the authoritarian state. An authoritarian state can also cause low political mobility, and higher levels of patrimonialism. Financial security can be explained as all states and regimes and governments wanting their nation to have a thriving economic sector. International aid can be seen as their countries needing more help due to the circumstances prescribed such as Islamic terrorism and the other countries wishing to secure oil (Bellin 2004, 148). Bellin never discusses this possibility or proves that these variables are specially caused by the authoritarian state. She also does not offer any long term studies or surveys to back up why she believes her factors cause authoritarianism instead of a coercive …show more content…
These factors all lead to authoritarianism (Bellin 2004, 143). Unfortunately, her theory is not as well-off as it seems. The article reads like there are several different arguments that are being made instead of one flowing argument. Additionally, the argument she is attempting to make is cyclical. Essentially, what Bellin is trying to prove is that a coercive state causes variables which cause authoritarianism which causes a coercive state and so on and so forth. The argument is not a cause and effect argument which is simpler to prove. Also, in attempting to prove her argument, Bellin does not present statistics that prove her overall theory. Instead she presents statistics on pieces and parts of the variables within her theory which she then links to the larger component within her article. It seems as though not enough research into this topic has been done and that potentially, Bellin should have tried to conduct further studies before publishing this article. Overall, The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective provides an intriguing argument on

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