Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy

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The second volume of the bestselling landmark work on the history of the modern state

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, David Gress called Francis Fukuyama's Origins of Political Order "magisterial in its learning and admirably immodest in its ambition." In The New York Times Book Review, Michael Lind described the book as "a major achievement by one of the leading public intellectuals of our time." And in The Washington Post, Gerard DeGrott exclaimed "this is a book that will be remembered. Bring on volume two."
Volume two is finally here, completing the most important work of political thought in at least a generation. Taking up the essential question of how societies develop strong, impersonal, and accountable political institutions, Fukuyama follows the story from the French Revolution to the so-called Arab Spring and the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. He examines the effects of corruption on governance, and why some societies have been successful at rooting it out. He explores the different legacies of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and offers a clear-eyed account of why some regions have thrived and developed more quickly than others. And he boldly reckons with the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West.
A sweeping, masterful account of the struggle to create a well-functioning modern state, Political Order and Political Decay is destined to be a classic.

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About the author

Francis Fukuyama is the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He has previously taught at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. Fukuyama was a researcher at the RAND Corporation and served as the deputy director for the State Department's policy planning staff. He is the author of The Origins of Political Order, The End of History and the Last Man, Trust, and America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. He lives with his wife in California.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Sep 30, 2014
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Pages
672
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ISBN
9781429944328
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Language
English
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Genres
History / World
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The foundings of constitutional democracies are commonly traced to singular moments. In turn, these moments of national origin are characterized as radical political innovations, notable for their civic unity, perfect legitimacy and binding authority. This common view is attractive as it suggests original founding events, actors, and ideals that can be evoked to legitimize state authority and unify citizens. Angélica Maria Bernal challenges this view of foundings, however, explaining that it is ultimately dangerous, misguided, and unsustainable. Beyond Origins argues that the ascription of a universal authority to original founding events is problematic because it limits our understanding of subsequent foundational changes, political transformation and innovation. This singular view also confounds our ability to account for all of the actors and venues through which foundation-building and constitutional transformation occurs. Because such understandings of national foundings obscure the many power struggles at work in them, these origin stories are troubling and unhelpful. In the wake of these limited views of founding, Bernal develops an alternate approach: "founding beyond origins." Rather than asserting that founding events are authoritatively settled and relegated to history, this framework redefines foundings as contentious, uncertain, and incomplete. Indeed, the book looks at a wide variety of contexts-early imperial Rome; revolutionary Haiti and France; the mid-20th century, racially-segregated United States; and contemporary Latin America-to reconsider political foundings as a contestatory and ongoing dimension of political life. Bridging classic and contemporary political and constitutional theory with historical readings, Bernal reorients approaches to foundings, arguing that it is only through context-specific and pragmatist understandings of political origins that we can realize the potential for radical democratic change.
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title

Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today's developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling The End of History and the Last Man and one of our most important political thinkers, provides a sweeping account of how today's basic political institutions developed. The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution.

Drawing on a vast body of knowledge—history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics—Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.

The bestselling author of Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel surveys the history of human societies to answer the question: What can we learn from traditional societies that can make the world a better place for all of us?

“As he did in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond continues to make us think with his mesmerizing and absorbing new book." Bookpage


Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday—in evolutionary time—when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.The World Until Yesterday provides a mesmerizing firsthand picture of the human past as it had been for millions of years—a past that has mostly vanished—and considers what the differences between that past and our present mean for our lives today.

This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societies—after all, we are shocked by some of their practices—but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. Provocative, enlightening, and entertaining, The World Until Yesterday is an essential and fascinating read.
Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?

- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?

- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world. 
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