Rethinking Neo-liberal State Building: Building Post-conflict Development States
Rebuilding the failed state after a civil war has been a major research topic in academia. Neo-liberal approach has been a popular approach to state building since the end of the Cold War. This article challenges the conventional neo-liberal approach and proposes development state approach.
Barbara argues that under neo-liberal approach, “an important but nevertheless circumscribed role” is predicted for the state. Neo-liberalism promotes privatization, market deregulation, and fiscal austerity so that private sector can flourish. But, Barbara argues, it is the failure of the market that caused the civil war in the first place. In other words, according to Barbara, building a state while trusting the market that is already failed does not make sense. Barbara maintains that sovereignty of representative institutions such as parliament is curbed by the neo-liberal policies imposed by international community as conditionality. According to him, “exposing fragile rebuilt states to powerful centrifugal economic forces, neo-liberal state building weakens the material foundations of the very states that it seeks to construct”.
Drawing attention to the need of alternative post-conflict reconstruction approaches, he lays out development state model. The model heavily relies on the experiences of Asian tigers. According to Barbara, development state model requires a combination of several factors, including, “authoritative state leaders capable of galvanizing public support behind national development objectives; strong and capable bureaucracies able to support the realization of these national development goals; and the development of institutionalized forms of public-private co-operation that could enable the state to mobilize the private sector in support of national development goals”. He also puts emphasis on the point that the argument is not replacement of the market with state-based production. The aim of this approach is to support strategic industrial policies and empower private sector so that they can compete in global economy.
Barbara believes that development state approach is more convenient for conflict-hit failed states because it is difficult for private sector to invest in post-conflict failed states. Therefore, more active and authoritative role for the state is imperative.