Saturday, January 5, 2008

All Hail Jon Schwarz

"The [Schwarz] Iron Law of Institutions (SILI) is: the people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution "fail" while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution."

The leadership transfer at the Pakistan Peoples Party is a potent example of the Iron Law of Institutions. The PPP is arguably the most popular political party in the country. There are some problems - like the stench of corruption which attached to the Chairman-for-life Benazir Bhutto. But this was outweighed by the fact that there was some genuine affection for her and it could be argued that it was not she but her husband Asif Zardari that was the truly corrupt one. Because she had been out of the country there is actually some second level leadership that has developed in the party. One member of the PPP in particular, Aitzaz Ahsan, though supposedly not without warts of his own, has been doing a creditable job providing leadership. He was front and center in the one popular movement that has occurred in Pakistan in recent years - the fight to reinstate the Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court after he had been removed by Musharraf. He is a c0-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and has been active in the support of the rights of women in Pakistan - he was the lawyer for Mukhtar Mai. Making him head of the party would have substantially boosted both the credibility and the popularity of the PPP. But it would have decreased the power of the party "leaders" within the PPP. So following the Schwarz Iron Law of Institutions the PPP went with Asif Zardari, a despised figure in Pakistan. To retain the Bhutto name they changed his sons name and named him heir. By doing so they made a mockery of any talk of democracy coming from the PPP and substantially reduced its popularity. SILI rules.

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