When Flimsy States Don’t Fail

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan rank among the most corrupt nations in the world with imminent collapse long anticipated. But regimes hang on: “the state’s ability to manage and manipulate competition over local resources to the benefit of the government and its security apparatus has been key,” writes Lawrence P. Markowitz for Foreign Affairs. Markowitz compares how the leaders of the two Central Asian states concentrate power and share illicit profits from cash crops to entice local authorities – more broadly in Uzbekistan, where agricultural resources are distributed more evenly, and more targeted in Tajikistan. Local elites who don’t cooperate are quickly dismissed to prevent the rise of rivals. Markowitz concludes that agriculture states with immobile capital offer a special category of corruption: “As global commodity markets become increasingly interconnected, as climate shifts affect food production, and as populations increase, the local politics of rent-seeking in many of the world’s major cotton, cocoa, and coffee producers will increasingly determine whether they remain perpetually weak or succumb to state failure.” – YaleGlobal

When Flimsy States Don't Fail

Amid global commodity markets, climate change, leaders in states like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan co-opt local elites and cling to power
Lawrence P. Markowitz
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lawrence P. Markowitz is assistant professor of political science and economics at Rowan University. He is the author of State Erosion: Unlootable Resources and Unruly Elites in Central Asia.

Copyright © 2002-2013 by the Council on Foreign Relations, Inc.

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