Dictatorship and Information: Autocratic Regime Resilience in Communist Europe and China - Martin Dimitrov
Dictatorship and Information: Autocratic Regime Resilience in Communist Europe and China
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 – 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
303 Aaron Burr Hall
Martin Dimitrov, Visiting Research Scholar, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
PIIRS: Work-In-Progress series
Chapter 1 of book manuscript “Dictatorship and Information: Autocratic Regime Resilience in Communist Europe and China” to be distributed on Friday, October 14.
Please RSVP to Rachel Golden
This book offers the first systematic theoretical treatment of how different types of non-democratic regimes confront the problem of collecting information on levels of popular discontent. The book focuses primarily on communist single-party regimes, which are the most durable type of autocracy to emerge since World War I and which consequently develop the most sophisticated systems for the collection of information on both visible popular discontent and on unexpressed (latent) discontent. Although all autocracies collect information on visible discontent, I argue that only some are successful in establishing the complex institutions needed for assessing latent discontent. Drawing on a proprietary archival dataset consisting of 100,000 pages of neibu (internal circulation) and archival materials from 1949-2014 China and 100,000 pages of State Security and Communist Party documents from pre-1989 Bulgaria (supplemented by 25,000 pages of Soviet and East German archival documents and by 80 interviews conducted in China, Bulgaria, Germany, and Cuba), the book develops a theory of the conditions under which communist regimes recognize the need to collect information on latent discontent; of the institutions they create to extract this information; and of the ways in which they use the information to govern during times of regime stability and periods of systemic crisis. By placing resilience in China and other single-party communist autocracies in comparative perspective, the book contributes both to the study of China and to the subfield of comparative authoritarianism.