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Unequal Friendship

The Patron-Client Relationship in Historical Perspective


Antoni Mączak

This book analyzes the patron-client relationship over both space and time. It covers such areas of the globe as Europe, Africa and Latin America, and such periods in time as ancient Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Poland, as well as twentieth-century America. It also analyzes clientelism in U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War and in Richard J. Daley’s mayoral rule over Chicago. In his comparative approach the author makes broad use of theories from such fields as history, sociology, anthropology and linguistics while considering the global scale of the patron-client relationship and the immense role that clientelism has played in world history.

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Chapter 9: The USSR: Lenin, Stalin and Collective Leadership


When searching for an appropriate subtitle for this book I once thought (half seriously) of using “From Caesar (or Romulus?) to Brezhnev.” If I chose a different one, it is not because this one would be baseless. Diachronic comparisons through millennia are highly risky – I myself recommend that journalists be careful812 – but the fact is that certain things are comparable over time. Though the administrative systems, the means of transportation and communication, and many other elements of state structure create entities that are entirely distinct and incomparable in the broad diachrony, it happens that there are interpersonal relations that can be juxtaposed and compared over time and space. Such, at least, is the assumption behind this book.

Both of the leaders mentioned in this chapter title (along with many others) made good use of clienteles, and what is more, both empires were familiar with a particular “inter-state,” and even “global,” kind of clientelism by patronizing – in a sense – their satellite states.813 I added the words “in a sense” because of the presence in this patronage of large amounts of force used against the Soviet Union’s weaker partners, though we know that a certain amount of force is acceptable in all clientelistic relationships. Beyond that, as I will attempt to clarify in the next section, what is involved here are relationships that are highly complex, so much so that one must – in evaluating them – examine separately the interests of the governing elites and the interests of the...

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