chapter  1
Bringing politics back in
BySHELLEY L. HURT, RONNIE D. LIPSCHUTZ
Pages 26

At the turn of the 20th century, neoliberal ideology seemed ascendant, and an avalanche of articles and books predicted that the state would be swept away by globalization, technological change, and growing corporate power. Yet, the state and state power not only endured but expanded. How has the state endured and expanded its power even as it privatized many functions? We deploy the concept of hybrid rule to explain the state’s resilience. Most analyses deploy a static, zero-sum understanding of state power and the state’s relationship with private actors. In contrast, the hybrid rule approach presented in this chapter stresses on-going processes of state formation-not all of which strengthen state power-and shows how the state can use delegation to private actors of certain public functions to magnify its control over society and its ability to shape social outcomes.1 The hybrid rule approach shows how neoliberalism cloaks the aggrandizement of state power that Simon Ramo predicted and promoted over four decades ago, well before neoliberalism existed as a label for a coherent philosophical outlook. We argue that a clearer understanding of the causes and effects of privati-

zation requires a much more nuanced approach to political power, to the power of the state and, in particular, to the power of the American state during the past forty-plus years. The conventional wisdom of neoliberalism as the dominant view in explaining privatization policies is misleading because it privileges economistic explanations above all else. By contrast, we see national security considerations as a core driver of privatization policy since the early 1970s. We do not claim that national security is the exclusive rationale for our explanation of privatization policies; however, we challenge the omission of national security in any serious study of privatization in American and world politics. The common thread running throughout the past four

decades of privatization policies, and the outcome we call hybrid rule, centers on political elites’ desires to restore state power and authority, and in particular, the power and authority of the American state in support of a distinct American social order at home and abroad. Privatization, or as we prefer to see it, delegation to the private sector, was a crucial element in efforts to restore state power in the face of political, economic, and societal challenges of the 1960s. This chapter moves through three sections that lay out this core claim. The

first section defines hybrid rule and the process of hybridization to argue that our alternative causal account provides researchers with an opportunity to bring politics back in when analyzing the causes and consequences of privatization policies within democratic society. The second section provides our causal account of change during the past four decades by revisiting the historical origins of privatization in the United States. The final section offers our approach to debates on the state by examining the intellectual inspirations that frame our analysis. In Chapter Ten of this volume, we call for a new research agenda in this area, arguing that the emergence of hybrid rule represents an inflection point in state formation with implications for global governance, democracy, and human betterment at stake.