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.
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 of Johns Hopkins University and at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. He was a researcher at the RAND Corporation and served as the deputy director in the State Department's policy planning staff. He is the author of 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.
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.
In addressing this issue, the contributors contemplate three central questions: What effect has the crisis had on current ideas in development thinking? How has it affected and how will it affect economic policy and political realities in Latin America and Asia, including China and India? Will the financial collapse reinforce shifts in geopolitical power and influence, and in what form? Essays answering these questions identify themes that are essential as economic and political leaders address future challenges of development.
To help move beyond this time of global economic turmoil, the contributors—the foremost minds in the field of international development—offer innovative ideas about stabilizing the international economy and promoting global development strategies.
Contributors: Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development; Michael Clemens, Center for Global Development; Kemal Derviş, Brookings Institution; Larry Diamond, Stanford University; Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University; Peter S. Heller, Johns Hopkins University; Yasheng Huang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Justin Yifu Lin, World Bank; José Antonio Ocampo, Columbia University; Mitchell A. Orenstein, Johns Hopkins University; Minxin Pei, Claremont McKenna College; Lant Pritchett, Harvard University; Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Center for Global Development; Arvid Subramanian, Johns Hopkins University
The formation of proper public institutions, such as an honest police force, uncorrupted courts, functioning schools and medical services and a strong civil service, is fraught with difficulties. We know how to help with resources, people and technology across borders, but state building requires methods that are not easily transported. The ability to create healthy states from nothing has suddenly risen to the top of the world agenda. State building has become a crucial matter of global security. In this hugely important book, Francis Fukuyama explains the concept of state-building and discusses the problems and causes of state weakness and its national and international effects.
To re-orient contemporary debate, Fukuyama underlines man's changing understanding of human nature through history: from Plato and Aristotle's belief that man had "natural ends," to the ideals of utopians and dictators of the modern age who sought to remake mankind for ideological ends. Fukuyama persuasively argues that the ultimate prize of the biotechnology revolution-intervention in the "germ-line," the ability to manipulate the DNA of all of one person's descendents-will have profound, and potentially terrible, consequences for our political order, even if undertaken by ordinary parents seeking to "improve" their children.
In Our Posthuman Future, our greatest social philosopher begins to describe the potential effects of exploration on the foundation of liberal democracy: the belief that human beings are equal by nature.