The Sons Also Rise

The looming succession of Ilam Aliyev to replace his dying father, Haider Aliyev, as Azerbaijan's ruler marks a triumph of nepotism on a scale other postcommunist leaders can only dream about. But Azerbaijan's dynastic politics are hardly exceptional. One Bush has practically succeeded another as America's president, and the son of Singapore's founder, Lee Kwan Hew, is to become the country's premier. Indeed, democratic leaders with dynastic dreams have bedeviled India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Haiti, and many other countries.

Despite Communists' self-proclaimed ``divine right'' to a monopoly on power, other systems have proven far more vulnerable to monarchist seizures. Until the Aliyev's came along, only North Korea's utterly loony Kim Il Sung managed to anoint his son atop a red throne. Otherwise, communist patriarchs--and their often scarcely more democratic postcommunist successors--have not seen fit to pitch their bloodlines against the sprawling institutional bureaucracy left behind by Leninism. Why?

By its nature communism--whose bureaucracy still exists in almost unadulterated form in the countries of the former Soviet Union--spawned lobbies and clans with a combined might that even the closest-knit family can scarcely expect to overcome. As a result, postcommunists prefer to place their offspring in lucrative commercial jobs where they can pile up foreign-currency fortunes.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.