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BUILDING THE AUTHORITARIAN MARKET STATE: THE CASE OF SINGAPORE

A prominent discourse for affectively justifying authoritarianism in the face of globalization is to tout the ongoing need of governments to ensure that the country can effectively compete in the global free market. It is similar, in this regard, to the fantasy perpetuated by “market despots.” However, it differs in a crucial respect. It is less focused on the need to sustain national sovereignty (though this is a component) and more on how to use its values and centralized governance to maximize their advantage in this globalizing business environment. Here authoritarianism is intimately connected to a capitalist fantasy of profiting from the international free market. More precisely, single-party rule, commonly marked by oppressive measures against dissent, is made palatable and attractive as a force for national modernization. Singapore stands as a prime example of this tantalizing desire to build a successful authoritarian market state.

 
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