Il Male paga

The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith

Forse il potere non ci sembrerà più così terribile una volta comprese le sue leggi…

… Daily we hear of frauds, chicanery, and double-dealing by corporate executives, new lies, thefts, cruelties and even murders perpetrated by government leaders. We cannot help but wonder what flaws of culture, religion, upbringing, or historical circumstance explain the rise of these malevolent despots, greedy Wall Street bankers, and unctuous oil barons…

Crederlo corrotto è la tipica autoconsolazione dei diseredati.

In realtà il potere non è corrotto. Molto più semplicemente ha le sue regole.

Sono i giornali ha privilegiare la “narrazione” rispetto all’approccio analitico. Sono loro ad indurre in errore.

Credete davvero che dei “falliti” possano avere tanto successo senza che dietro di loro non ci sia nulla?…

… How do tyrants hold on to power for so long?… Equally, we may well wonder: Why are Wall Street executives so politically tone-deaf that they dole out billions in bonuses while plunging the global economy into recession? Why is the leadership of a corporation, on whose shoulders so much responsibility rests, decided by so few people? Why are failed CEOs retained and paid handsomely even as their company’s shareholders lose their shirts?…

Il potere ha le sue regole e se proprio vogliamo giudicare gli uomini teniamo conto delle forze che governano le loro azioni.

Siete proprio sicuri che voi non avreste mai potuto essere un Geddafi?…

… We are confident that we would never act like Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi who bombed his own people to keep himself in power. We look at the huge losses suffered under Kenneth Lay’s leadership by Enron’s employees, retirees, and shareholders and think we aren’t like Kenneth Lay…

Solo l’ignorante stupisce di certi comportamenti che a lui paiono estremi

… We’re still surprised by the prevalence of drought-induced food shortages in Africa, 3,500 years after the pharaohs worked out how to store grain. We’re still shocked by the devastation of earthquakes and tsunamis in places like Haiti, Iran, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, and by the seemingly lesser intensity of such natural disasters in North America and Europe. We’re still troubled by the friendly handshakes and winks exchanged between democratic leaders and the tyrants that they somehow justify empowering…

Il nostro tentativo sarà di dare senso a tutto questo, di spiegare le leggi della politica. Ovvero, il gioco che giocano i potenti. La logica e l’evidenza saranno la nostra guida.

Dipingeremo un quadretto poco piacevole, forniremo una panoramica poco rassicurante, ma tant’è.

***

Tesi: comportarsi male rende bene, in politica.

Una piccola storia di grande avidità in un paesino americano, Bell Town – e parliamo di politica, non di psicologia…

… Robert Rizzo is a former city manager of the small town of Bell (population about 36,600). Bell, a suburb of Los Angeles, is a poor, mostly Hispanic and Latino town. Per capita income may be as low as $10,000 or as high as $25,000—estimates vary—but either way it is way below both the California and national average… Despite its many challenges, Bell consistently outperforms other California communities in keeping violent crime and property crime below average. A cursory glance at Bell’s official website suggests a thriving, happy community brimming over with summer classes, library events, water play, and fun-filled family trips… In 2010, Bell’s then-mayor, Oscar Hernandez (later jailed on corruption charges), said the town had been on the verge of bankruptcy in 1993 when Rizzo (also ultimately charged with corruption) was hired. For fifteen consecutive years of Rizzo’s leadership, up until he stepped down in 2010, the city’s budget had been balanced. Hernandez credits Rizzo with making the town solvent and helping to keep it that way… Behind the idyllic façade, however, lies a story that embodies how politics really works. You see, Robert Rizzo, hired at $72,000 a year in 1993, and in his job for seventeen years before being forced to step down in the summer of 2010, at the end of his tenure was earning a staggering $787,000 per year…. almost exactly the return promised by Bernie Madoff, the master Ponzi schemer… Robert Rizzo was indeed credited with doing a good job for Bell, but was it really that good?… Jerry Brown, promised an investigation to find out if any laws had been violated. The implicit message in his action was clear enough: No one would pay a small town city manager nearly $800,000 a year… The actual story is one of clever (and reprehensible) political maneuvering implicitly sanctioned by Bell’s voters… Cities comparable to Bell pay their council members an average of $4,800 a year. But four of Bell’s five council members received close to $100,000 a year through the simple mechanism of being paid not only their (minimal) base council salaries but also nearly $8,000 per month to sit on city agency boards… How can we possibly explain these disparities… The answers lie in a clever manipulation of election timing… 2005 special election to convert Bell from a “general city” to a “charter city.”… decisions are made in the open daylight in general cities and often in secret, behind closed doors in charter cities… The selling point of the change to charter city was to give Bell greater autonomy from decisions by distant state officials…. special election, associated with no other ballot decisions, attracted fewer than 400 voters… vast discretion over taxing and spending decisions to a tiny group of people… As of this writing all of the principal players in Bell’s scandal have been jailed, but not for their lavish salaries. As reprehensible as these may have been, it seems they were perfectly legal. No, they were jailed for receiving payments for meetings that allegedly never took place… one might describe as a legal technicality…. You may well wonder how a little town like Bell could balance its budget—one of Mr. Rizzo’s significant accomplishments—while paying such high salaries… Remember, the town’s leaders got to choose not only how to spend money but also how much tax to levy. And did they ever tax their constituents…. In plain and simple terms, Bell’s property tax was about 50 percent higher than nearby communities. With such high taxes, the city manager and council certainly could pay big salaries and balance the budget,… In the city, council members are elected, although their election was not contested for many years before 2007…

Morale: se fare il cattivo rende, prima o poi farai il cattivo.

Ogni tentazione non rimane a lungo inviolata. Un biglietto da 100 euro non resta a lungo sul marciapiede.

La prima lezione di Bell Town

… First, politics is about getting and keeping political power. It is not about the general welfare of “We, the people.”…

Seconda lezione:

… Second, political survival is best assured by depending on few people to attain and retain office…

I dittatori non sono mai soli: sono appoggiati da un gruppetto allargato di parecchie persone.

I governanti democratici non fanno gruppo con i loro elettori: si appoggiano ad una cerchia ristretta di persone.

Ergo: dittatori e governanti democratici si somigliano più di quanto vorremmo.

E’ la famosa “teoria delle élite” di Gaetano Mosca.

Terza lezione…

… Third, when the small group of cronies knows that there is a large pool of people waiting on the sidelines, hoping to replace them in the queue for gorging at the public trough, then the top leadership has great discretion over how revenue is spent and how much to tax….

Altra lezione: gli interessi dominano l’ideologia…

… One important lesson we will learn is that where politics are concerned, ideology, nationality, and culture don’t matter all that much… When addressing politics, we must accustom ourselves to think and speak about the actions and interests of specific, named leaders rather than thinking and talking about fuzzy ideas like the national interest, the common good, and the general welfare… Politics, like all of life, is about individuals…

***

La politica è mossa da leggi ben precise: su questo punto anche grandi pensatori sono andati in confusione… con qualche piccola giustificazione…

… people like Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, James Madison, and Charles-Louis de Secondat (that is, Montesquieu), not to forget Plato and Aristotle, thought about government mostly in the narrow context of their times….

La confusione di Hobbes

… Hobbes sought the best form of government. His search, however, was blinded by his experience of the English civil war, the rise of Cromwell, and his fear of rule by the masses. Fearing the masses, Hobbes saw monarchy as the natural path to order and good governance. Believing in the necessary benevolence of an absolute leader, the Leviathan, he also concluded that, “no king can be rich, nor glorious, nor secure, whose subjects are either poor, or contemptible, or too weak through want, or dissension, to maintain a war against their enemies.”…

Con Machiavelli si migliora…

… Machiavelli, an unemployed politician/civil servant who hoped to become a hired hand of the Medici family—that is, perhaps the Robert Rizzo of his day—wrote The Prince to demonstrate his value as an adviser… He had, we believe, a better grasp than Hobbes…

Montesquieu fuori strada…

… For Montesquieu, the Enlightenment, the new Cartesian thinking, and the emerging constitutional monarchy of Britain all combined to stimulate his insightful ideas of political checks and balances. Through these checks and balances he hoped to prevent exactly the corruption of public welfare… the option of forming a charter city was motivated, in theory, exactly by a quest for checks and balances…

Altri autori in confusione…

… Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, and John Rawls…

Più realismo e meno moralismo. signori!…

***

Quando pensiamo alla guerra dobbiamo chiederci…

… What are the consequences for leaders and their regimes when a war is lost?…

Non lo facciamo mai, abbiamo il brutto vizio di metterci nei panni dello stato anziché dei suoi governanti. Ma lo stato non esiste! Esistono solo i suoi governanti…

… This question hadn’t been asked because the standard ideas about war and peace were rooted in notions about states, the international system, and balances of power and polarity, and not in leader interests… Even the term “international relations” presumes that the subject is about nations… States don’t have interests. People do… The prime mover of interests in any state (or corporation for that matter) is the person… the self-interested calculations…

Per questo non capiamo niente. Eludiamo le questioni centrali…

… And what, for a leader, is the “best” way to govern? The answer to how best to govern: however is necessary first to come to power, then to stay in power, and to control as much national (or corporate) revenue as possible all along the way….

***

In politica ci sono alcune regole di base: primo, nessun leader governa da solo…

… To understand politics properly, we must modify one assumption in particular: we must stop thinking that leaders can lead unilaterally. No leader is monolithic… stop thinking that North Korea’s Kim Jong Il can do whatever he wants… Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or Genghis Khan…

L’esempio del Re Sole

… Consider France’s Louis XIV (1638–1715). Known as the Sun King, Louis reigned as monarch for over seventy years, presiding over the expansion of France and the creation of the modern political state…. He was certainly one of the preeminent rulers of his or any time. But he didn’t do it alone. The etymology of monarchy may be “rule by one,” but such rule does not, has not, and cannot exist… After the death of his father, Louis XIII (1601–1643), Louis rose to the throne when he was but four years old. During the early years actual power resided in the hands of a regent—his mother. Her inner circle helped themselves to France’s wealth, stripping the cupboard bare. By the time Louis assumed actual control over the government in 1661, at the age of twenty-three, the state over which he reigned was nearly bankrupt….

La lealtà si compra, è vero oggi come ieri…

… When debt exceeds the ability to pay, the problem for a leader is not so much that good public works must be cut back, but rather that the incumbent doesn’t have the resources necessary to purchase political loyalty from key backers. Bad economic times in a democracy mean too little money to fund pork-barrel projects that buy political popularity… He moved quickly to expand the opportunities (and for a few, the actual power) of new aristocrats, called the noblesse de robe. Together with his chancellor, Michel Le Tellier, he acted to create a professional, relatively meretricious army. In a radical departure from the practice observed by just about all of his neighboring monarchs, Louis opened the doors to officer ranks—even at the highest levels—to make room for many more than the traditional old-guard military aristocrats, the noblesse d’épée. In so doing, Louis was converting his army into a more accessible, politically and militarily competitive organization. Meanwhile, Louis had to do something about the old aristocracy. He was deeply aware of their earlier disloyalty as instigators and backers of the antimonarchy Fronde (a mix of revolution and civil war) at the time of his regency. To neutralize the old aristocracy’s potential threat, he attached them—literally—to his court, compelling them to be physically present in Versailles much of the time. This meant that their prospects of income from the crown depended on how well favored they were by the king… Thus he erected a system of “absolute” control whose success depended on the loyalty of the military, the new aristocrats, and on tying the hands of the old aristocrats so that their welfare translated directly into his welfare… Louis’s strategy was to replace the “winning coalition” of essential supporters that he inherited with people he could more readily count on. In place of the old guard he brought up and into the inner circle members of the noblesse de robe and even, in the bureaucracy and especially in the military, some commoners… Like all leaders, Louis forged a symbiotic relationship with his inner circle…

Quindi: nessuno governa da solo. La politica è politica di alleanza, anche quella dei dittatori.

***

Ma chi sceglie un leader?

C’è chi lo sceglie nominalmente

… For leaders, the political landscape can be broken down into three groups of people: the nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and the winning coalition. The nominal selectorate includes every person who has at least some legal say in choosing their leader….

C’è chi – nei processi di scelta – fa la differenza nella sostanza…

… The second stratum of politics consists of the real selectorate. This is the group that actually chooses the leader…

E c’è poi una ristretta cerchia che lo seleziona materialmente…

… The most important of these groups is the third, the subset of the real selectorate that makes up a winning coalition. These are the people whose support is essential if a leader is to survive in office…

Esempio USA

… In the United States, the voters are the nominal selectorate—interchangeables . As for the real selectorate—influentials—the electors of the electoral college really choose the president (just like the party faithful picked their general secretary back in the USSR), but the electors nowadays are normatively bound to vote the way their state’s voters voted, so they don’t really have much independent clout in practice. In the United States, the nominal selectorate and real selectorate are therefore pretty closely aligned… The winning coalition—essentials—in the United States is the smallest bunch of voters, properly distributed among the states, whose support for a candidate translates into a presidential win in the electoral college…

Esempio Corea del Nord

… Looking elsewhere we see that there can be a vast range in the size of the nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and the winning coalition. Some places, like North Korea, have a mass nominal selectorate in which everyone gets to vote—it’s a joke, of course—a tiny real selectorate who actually pick their leader, and a winning coalition that surely is no more than maybe a couple of hundred people (if that) and without whom even North Korea’s first leader, Kim Il Sung, could have been reduced to ashes…

Questo vale in politica come nelle multinazionali. Pensa a dove lavori…

… Think about the company you work for. Who is your leader? Who are the essentials whose support he or she must have? What individuals, though not essential to your CEO’s power, are nonetheless influential in the governance of the company?…

***

Una volta introdotti questi tre elettorati, possiamo dire che i governi differiscono per come differiscono questi tre fattori: nessun governo è uguale all’altro, persino se restiamo nello stesso paese…

… Governments do not differ in kind. They differ along the dimensions of their selectorates and winning coalitions… No question, it is tough to break the habit of talking about democracies and dictatorships as if either of these terms is sufficient to convey the differences across regimes, even though no two “democracies” are alike and neither are any two “dictatorships.”… The truth is, no two governments or organizations are exactly alike… Changing the relative size of interchangeables, influentials, and essentials can make a real difference in basic political outcomes…

Esempio della municipalità di San Francisco

… As an example, we can look to the seemingly prosaic election of members of San Francisco’s board of supervisors. San Francisco used to elect its board of supervisors in citywide elections. That meant that the selectorate consisted of the city’s voters, and the essentials were the minimum number needed to elect a member to the board. In 1977 the method changed, and at-large, citywide elections were replaced by district voting… Under the new rules, they were elected by and represented their district… The policy and candidate preferences of San Francisco residents as a whole were little different between 1975 and 1977—nevertheless in 1975 a candidate named Harvey Milk failed in his bid to be elected to the board, but went on to be elected in 1977 (and tragically assassinated not long after). As Time magazine reported later, Harvey Milk was “the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet.”2 What changed in Harvey Milk’s favor between 1975 and 1977 was simple enough. In 1975, he needed broad-based support among San Francisco’s influentials to get elected. He got 52,996 votes. This meant he finished seventh in the election of supervisors, with the top five being elected. Milk did not have enough support, and so he lost. In 1977 he only needed support within the neighborhood from which he ran, the Castro, a dominantly gay area. He was, as he well knew, popular within his district. He received 5,925 votes, giving him a plurality of support with 29.42 percent of the vote in district 5, which placed him first in the 5th Supervisory District contest and so he was elected…

***

In democrazia le alleanze sono vaste ed è difficile comprarsele col denaro (bene privato)…

… In a democracy, or any other system where a leader’s critical coalition is excessively large, it becomes too costly to buy loyalty through private rewards. The money has to be spread too thinly…

Si agisce allora sui beni pubblici: la loro realizzazione garantirà rendite diffuse a categorie diffuse di persone, al contempo beneficerà il grande pubblico…

… In a democracy, or any other system where a leader’s critical coalition is excessively large, it becomes too costly to buy loyalty through private rewards. The money has to be spread too thinly… dictators, monarchs, military junta leaders, and most CEOs all rely on a smaller set of essentials. As intimated by Machiavelli, it is more efficient for them to govern by spending a chunk of revenue to buy the loyalty of their coalition through private benefits, even though these benefits come at the expense of the larger taxpaying public or millions of small shareholders. Thus small coalitions encourage stable, corrupt, private-goods-oriented regimes… those who rule based on a large coalition cannot efficiently sustain themselves in power by focusing on private benefits. Their bloc of essential supporters is too large for that. Since they must sustain themselves by emphasizing public goods more than private rewards, they must also keep tax rates low, relatively speaking… But when the coalition of essential backers is small and private goods are an efficient way to stay in power, then the well-being of the broader population falls by the wayside… In this setting leaders want to tax heavily, redistributing wealth by taking as much as they can from the poor interchangeables and the disenfranchised,…

I vantaggi del potere in carica

… Incumbents have a tough job. They need to offer their supporters more than any rival can. While this can be difficult, the logic of politics tells us that incumbents have a huge advantage over rivals, especially when office holders rely on relatively few people…

Esempio dell’ URSS

… This explains why, from the October 1917 Revolution through to Gorbachev’s reforms in the late 1980s, only one Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, was successfully deposed in a coup. All the other Soviet leaders died of old age or infirmity. Khrushchev failed to deliver what he promised to his cronies….

La silurazione dei fedelissimi, alcuni esempi…

… Lest there be doubt that those who share the risks of coming to power often are then thrown aside—or worse—let us reflect on the all-too-typical case of the backers of Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba. Of the twenty-one ministers appointed by Castro in January 1959, immediately after the success of his revolution, twelve had resigned or had been ousted by the end of the year. Four more were removed in 1960 as Castro further consolidated his hold on power. These people, once among Fidel’s closest, most intimate backers, ultimately faced the two big exes of politics. For the luckier among them, divorce from Castro came in the form of exile. For others, it meant execution. This includes even Castro’s most famous fellow revolutionary, Che Guevara… In a very real sense Che followed in the shadows of Frank Pais, Camilo Cienfuegos, Huber Matos, and Humberto Sori Marin [all close backers of Castro during the revolution]. Like them, he was viewed by Castro as a ‘competitor’ for power… Political transitions are filled with examples of supporters who help a leader to power only to be replaced… If a small bloc of backers is needed and it can be drawn from a large pool of potential supporters (as in the small coalition needed in places like Zimbabwe, North Korea, or Afghanistan), then the incumbent doesn’t need to spend a huge proportion of the regime’s revenue to buy the coalition’s loyalty…

Regola 1 nella presa del potere: più ristretta è la “cerchia ristretta”, meglio è…

… Rule 1: Keep your winning coalition as small as possible. A small coalition allows a leader to rely on very few people to stay in power. Fewer essentials equals more control and contributes to more discretion over expenditures….

Regola due: più ampia è la base formale, meglio è…

… Rule 2: Keep your nominal selectorate as large as possible. Maintain a large selectorate of interchangeables and you can easily replace any troublemakers in your coalition, influentials and essentials alike. After all, a large selectorate permits a big supply of substitute…

Regola 3: controllare il denaro

… Rule 3: Control the flow of revenue. It’s always better for a ruler to determine who eats than it is to have a larger pie from which the people can feed themselves. The most effective cash flow for leaders is one that makes lots of people poor and redistributes money to keep select people—their supporters—wealthy…

Regola 4: pagare gli alleati

… Rule 4: Pay your key supporters just enough to keep them loyal. Remember, your backers would rather be you than be dependent on you. Your big advantage over them is that you know where the money is and they don’t….

Regola 5: non colpire gli alleati

… Rule 5: Don’t take money out of your supporter’s pockets to make the people’s lives better….

In un regime democratico la valenza di queste regole si presenta indebolita…

… As we’ll see throughout the chapters to follow, a democratic leader does indeed have a tougher time maintaining her position while looting her country and siphoning off funds…

Ma le regole continuano a valere…

… Why, for example, does Congress gerrymander districts? Precisely because of Rule 1: Keep the coalition as small as possible. Why do some political parties favor immigration? Rule 2: Expand the set of interchangeables. Why are there so many battles over the tax code? Rule 3: Take control of the sources of revenue. Why do Democrats spend so much of that tax money on welfare and social programs? Or why on earth do we have earmarks? Rule 4: Reward your essentials at all costs…. Just like autocrats and tyrants, leaders of democratic nations follow these rules because they, like every other leader, want to get power and keep it….

***

In politica la corruzione spesso paga e fare il bene della gente spesso non paga affatto.

Ma sia chiaro: nel momento in cui parliamo di “leggi della politica” il termine corruzione perde ogni valenza morale e si trasforma.

La massima di Acton è vera in questo senso…

… we will see that Lord Acton’s adage, “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” holds… The causal ties run both ways: power leads to corruption and corruption leads to power…

Chi non è pronto per il gioco della corruzione, non è pronto alla politica…

… anyone reluctant to be a brute will not last long if everyone knows he is unprepared to engage…

O paghi tu o pago io…

… if they don’t pay their backers to do terrible things, they can be pretty confident that those cronies will be bought off…

Gengis

… Genghis Khan (1162–1227) understood this principle. If he came across a town that did not immediately surrender to him, he killed everyone that lived there, and then made sure the next town knew he had done so… They worked out that things would be better for them by giving up, turning their wealth over to him, and accepting that the Mongols would then pass through… True, he doesn’t have the greatest reputation in the West (although he is revered in his homeland of Mongolia), but he most assuredly was a successful leader…

Enrico V…

… It is fair to say that England’s Henry V has a better reputation than Genghis Khan.1 His Saint Crispin’s day speech in Shakespeare’s play, Henry V, is received even by the modern reader with passion and admiration. We sometimes forget that Henry was capable of brutality… Shakespeare had him announce, in a properly brutal leader’s terms, what he would do if the town’s governor did not surrender: If I begin the battery once again, I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur Till in her ashes she lie buried. The gates of mercy shall be all shut up, And the flesh’d soldier, rough and hard of heart, In liberty of bloody hand shall range With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants…. What say you? will you yield, and this avoid, Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy’d? 2 Fortunately for Harfleur, on hearing Henry’s words, the governor surrendered…

Il primo obbiettivo del politico: prendere il potere e conservarlo.

Il politico non è semplicemente egoista, non si accontenta di “ottenere”. Vuole qualcosa di specifico: il potere.

Prima di ringraziare l’elettorato sostanziale bisogna ringraziare chi ci ha selezionato. Prima di ricompensare l’elettorato formale bisogna compensare quello sostanziale. Ci sono delle precedenze da rispettare, e a volte alla fine non resta nulla.

Per ricompensare si trasferiscono beni privati o si istituiscono beni pubblici garantendo privilegi. Le alleanze ristrette prediligono la prima dorma (più maneggevole), le alleanze allargate (tipiche delle democrazie) la seconda.

Saper vedere chi nostri tre elettorati, saper distinguere a che categoria appartengono (nominali, sostanziali, selettori) e saperli compensare: questo consente l’ascesa del politico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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