Price of elite capture
The scourge of Pakistan has long been a narrow-minded and oligarchic power elite that dominates its politics and controls its economy, to the detriment of the people’s well-being and the country’s progress and development.
Its position solidified over decades, has meant that governance challenges have multiplied with strength and intensity, threatening the country with serious problems of solvency, security, and growing energy and water shortages.
They were rotted rather than healed. Chronic instability and an oligarchic political order have hampered the development of modern government.
The policies of nepotism, practiced by both elected and military governments, relied on functioning networks of influential political families, kinship groups, and Biradari to keep them in power. However, this type of governance did not meet the needs of an increasingly complex society. However, the mass of unfulfilled societal expectations has never convinced the Price of elite capture to respond rationally to the needs and demands of the people.
This ruling Price of elite capture opposed major reforms, be they land reform, tax reform, or governance reform. He also acquired the characteristics of a “renter”: he used access to public office as a means of using state resources to transfer wealth and obtain sources of unearned income.
This was a common trait of civilian and military Price of elite capture. Both have used customer-customer relationships to strengthen their dominance and protect their economic interests and privileged status.
While successive civilian and military governments have lived beyond their means, unwilling to mobilize national resources and reform the economy, this fact alone has plunged Pakistan into an ongoing financial crisis, with virtually all governments damaging the economy of their successors in the last fifty years.
Both domestic and external debt has become the preferred tool for managing public finances, leading the country to unprecedented and unsustainable debt levels.
Is it possible to break the grip of a small elite on the economic and political system?
The politics and economics of the “conquest” of the Price of elite capture have long been debated in the country. Ishrat Husain’s impressive book The Economy of an Elite State published a few years ago, emphasized how the elite, the 1 percent of the population, retains control of state affairs. His power and rule continued through various forms and changes of government.
The same applies to the inequality that still characterizes Pakistani society. Husain’s main argument was that the roles of the state and the market reversed as a small elite manipulated the markets and seized control of the state for their own benefit. He concluded that this concentration of wealth and political power at the expense of the majority population created a situation that was neither socially acceptable nor economically sustainable.
This debate is now joined by an important new book that has spawned numerous webinars and podcasts across the country that are driving this discussion forward. Rosita Armytage’s “Big Capital in an Unequal World: The Micropolitics of Wealth in Pakistan” offers fascinating insights into Pakistan’s “top” elite and their networks and methods that help maintain their influence and increase inequalities in the country.
The author presents her book as an ethnography of the micro-politics of elite life, which she was able to observe while living, working, and subsequently researching in the countryside. It is both a study of the day-to-day experiences of modern capitalism among Pakistan’s business elite and an overview of its members’ social behavior, relationship building, marriages, and political affiliations.
Describes Pakistan as a compelling case of a Price of elite capture power ruled by an oligarchy of economic and political interests and plagued by high levels of instability like many rapidly growing nations. But that instability is perpetuated by powerful families who exploit it through what he calls the “culture of exception.”
More on that later. Armytage aims to examine the configuration of the elite and power in Pakistan, including the institutions and structures that determine the distribution of wealth and political influence. However, he discovers that behind the formal structure lie networks of power and influence, linked by familial and social ties, through which economic and political rivalries, agreements, and alliances are pre-negotiated.
The book argues that most of the country’s wealth is concentrated in some families, who dominate major political parties and large corporations and have family ties to top military leaders.
Notes that marriage between slow-growing Price of elite capture helps bring families together and encourages “the creation of a political dynasty” that protects members of the Price of elite capture from threats to their power and influence.
Chapter Six is in many ways the central—and most interesting—section of the book. In it, Armytage describes a “culture of exceptions” that allows members of the elite to assert and strengthen their position and outsmart their competition. Using the law as a mechanism and extralegal and sometimes illegal activities is a way to accumulate and preserve wealth and avoid taxes.
Writes that “like the global elite of which they are a part, the Pakistani Price of elite capture controls the legal and regulatory structures that direct the flow of wealth and opportunity into the country by operating outside and on top of those structures”.
He calls it a culture of exceptions. The more general conclusions he draws from his research are that elite capitalism in Pakistan is far from an anomaly, but the specifics of its highly localized and elitist form of business and finance contradict the common assumption that the world is preparing for an age of Globalization moving towards standardization. Capitalism.
A key finding is that Pakistan’s Price of the elite capture-dominated economy shows little sign of a transition to a highly globalized financial economy.
It is true that its “hyper-provincial” nature gives its members a focus on economic and political issues. Most business Price of elite capture are non-global actors and have also become anti-Western.
This is essential reading that should stimulate a broader debate about the role of the Price of elite capture, and particularly how their oppression in the economic and political system is by a growing middle class that aspires to a more significant voice but has yet to earn one, can be brought digitapakistani in national affairs.