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Political Order #2

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.

672 pages, Hardcover

First published September 25, 2014

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About the author

Francis Fukuyama

110 books1,821 followers
Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born 27 October 1952) is an American philosopher, political economist, and author.

Francis Fukuyama was born in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. His father, Yoshio Fukuyama, a second-generation Japanese-American, was trained as a minister in the Congregational Church and received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. His mother, Toshiko Kawata Fukuyama, was born in Kyoto, Japan, and was the daughter of Shiro Kawata, founder of the Economics Department of Kyoto University and first president of Osaka Municipal University in Osaka. Fukuyama's childhood years were spent in New York City. In 1967 his family moved to State College, Pennsylvania, where he attended high school.

Fukuyama received his Bachelor of Arts degree in classics from Cornell University, where he studied political philosophy under Allan Bloom. He earned his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, studying with Samuel P. Huntington and Harvey C. Mansfield, among others. Fukuyama has been affiliated with the Telluride Association since his undergraduate years at Cornell, an educational enterprise that was home to other significant leaders and intellectuals, including Steven Weinberg and Paul Wolfowitz.

Fukuyama is currently the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the International Development Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, located in Washington, DC.

Fukuyama is best known as the author of The End of History and the Last Man, in which he argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies is largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyama predicted the eventual global triumph of political and economic liberalism.

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

He has written a number of other books, among them Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity and Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. In the latter, he qualified his original 'end of history' thesis, arguing that since biotechnology increasingly allows humans to control their own evolution, it may allow humans to alter human nature, thereby putting liberal democracy at risk. One possible outcome could be that an altered human nature could end in radical inequality. He is a fierce enemy of transhumanism, an intellectual movement asserting that posthumanity is a highly desirable goal.

The current revolution in biological sciences leads him to theorize that in an environment where science and technology are by no means at an end, but rather opening new horizons, history itself cannot therefore be said to be, as he once thought, at an end.

In another work The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order, he explores the origins of social norms, and analyses the current disruptions in the fabric of our moral traditions, which he considers as arising from a shift from the manufacturing to the information age. This shift is, he thinks, normal and will prove self-correcting, given the intrinsic human need for social norms and rules.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 369 reviews
Profile Image for David Huff.
154 reviews46 followers
January 27, 2018
This was a significant two-volume reading project that I found to be well worth the time. Volume One: "The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution" (on which I didn't write a separate review) was a broad, informative survey across a vast array of epochs and cultures, to understand how societies form, and how humanity moves from hunter-gatherer tribes to degrees of organized political institutions and states, to the development of modern democracies. Volume Two "Political Order and Political Decay", picked up the discussion from Volume One at the aftermath of the French Revolution, and moved the survey forward to the 21st Century.

Fukuyama clearly knows his topic well, and writes with great clarity, organization and insight. There is obviously a great amount of history and detail here, spanning many countries across the globe and multiplied centuries of human activity.

The essence of both volumes are the three factors that Fukuyama believes are essential to the formation of a modern state. First, the institution of the State itself; a functioning bureaucracy to effectively administer state power in an organized and efficient way (see the writings of Max Weber) with no nepotism or clientelism. Second, the rule of law, to which even the highest ranking individuals in government can be held in check. And, third, accountability, where the state and its actions can be changed or corrected from the outside (i.e free and fair elections).

A comprehensive, informative, and practical read, greatly helpful in understanding how societies and governments develop, and how countries across the world have arrived at their present situation. Highly recommended!

Profile Image for Gary  Beauregard Bottomley.
1,012 reviews606 followers
December 29, 2014
There is a certain beauty to this book. The author completely convinces the listener that there is no more important field of study to understand the world and how we got where we are then Political Science. The author is that good at laying the foundations for his points. Moreover, the author is telling an incredible complicated story with many different moving parts but he excels at telling you what he's going to tell you, tells you, and then tells you what he just told you, and then just in case you didn't understand his points he'll explain them once again by comparing and contrasting with some diametrically opposed counter examples.

This volume can be read independently from the first volume. The listener should just pick the area he is most interested in. This volume looks at the more direct relationships to how our current political entities evolved to their current configurations.

He explained China to me in such a way that I have to reconsider how I perceive them. For the last 30 years, their form of authoritarian rule might have been much better than a democracy since they have such a small middle class relative to the other classes. The concerns expressed at Tiananmen Square have fallen on the wayside in today's China. Overall, he gave a fascinating discussion concerning China.

I know that Political Science isn't the most important way to understand who we are, but it definitely helps in our understanding by thinking about our institutions, rule of law, and state structures. The one thing that the author did that really irritated me was in parts of the book he would make the false equivalence claim such as "both the Tea Party and progressive Democrats are to blame for ...", any sentence that starts that way is flawed. He argues there is a mushy middle between the two extreme positions and neither one is correct. I'll let the listener decide for himself, as for me I disagree. He also made a statement that our current congress wanted to shut down the government rather than pay for past debts owed by the federal government and putting us into a fiscal catastrophe. I just don't see it that way. It was only one political party that wanted to renege on past government debt.

Overall, the book is very likeable, makes one appreciate the role for Political Scientist and gives one valid way for describing how we got where we are today.
Profile Image for Sebastien.
252 reviews291 followers
February 3, 2017
state formation - rule of law - accountability of political institutions.

These are the 3 key themes that Fukuyama explores. Traversing a wide range of societies, in this book he examines how political orders evolved and also decay since the industrial revolution. Any time there is a large shift in the economic/labor landscape the political system must catch up, reform, and craft new policy visions to deal with the new contemporary landscape. Yesterday's institutions are not always up to today's problems (see USA).

Like its predecessor, this book contains a ton of information. Personally I love it, but it is going to warrant a reread from me. Just so much good stuff here.

I do have to mention that I am not well-versed in political science, political systems, political theory, etc. As far as I can tell Fukuyama's analysis and critiques are valid and compelling. I haven't explored any counter-critiques of his political order series, but I'd be interested in seeing what other political scientists make of his work. It strikes me as incisive and nuanced. But hey, I've been wildly wrong and misguided in judgment before, so who knows!

The thing that sticks with me is his analysis of the formation and reasons behind why many states in Europe (with exceptions) have powerful central governments while the US has often had a much weaker federal state. One aspect Fukuyama delves into is the role of war in helping develop political systems, state power/organization, and efficiency, this was rather fascinating analysis and did make some sense to me. In regards to the US political system, it has evolved over time, especially once industrialization was taking place, and with the country much more integrated and unified (rail systems, telecommunication innovations), many of the contemporary problems of that time required reforms towards a stronger federal state to legislate, control, and enact policy at a national level. That said the US central state has always been much weaker than many of the European states, it is part of our cultural-DNA and we as a society have great leeriness towards centralized governmental power.

I appreciate that Fukuyama does talk about geographic conditions playing a role in political system development. But he does not view it as the only factor. I get really sick of pure geographic determinism, I feel it is too simplistic of an answer and it ignores various other factors like human agency.

His explanations of why certain countries failed to incorporate more liberal democracies was fascinating, especially when he analyzed colonialism and its aftermath. And yet while the legacy of colonialism has sometimes turbocharged political disasters after it was dismantled, the countries that fared best were countries that had better centralized governments in the pre-colonial era. It was interesting to see how the colonized countries' political traditions in pre-colonial times were important factors in how the countries developed in their post-colonial eras.

His analysis of contemporary US political issues is very interesting. I tend to agree with a lot of his views on this. We have a bloated federal government that is completely dysfunctional. We have regulations but they are inefficient, duplicative, and cumbersome. Don't misconstrue that statement though. I am all for regulation. My example is this, Dodd-Frank is a ridiculous travesty, billions of pages long, overly complicated, and in the end ineffective because it was watered down by special interests (banking lobbyists). Imo we could have solved that problem by reinstituting Glass-Steagall and legislated increased capital requirements on the banks. End of story. Don't bail out those idiots either, and if you do, force some reforms down their throats. Of course this never happened because the corporate banking interests have too much power in the system, controlling gov legislation and capturing regulators... our system is way too tilted towards the lenders and securing and bailing them out while letting the little guys, the borrowers, pay through the nose and have their lives destroyed. We should apply a more even standard of accountability towards both lenders and borrowers.

Anyways, I digress...

The point is, I agree with Fukuyama, we need proper regulation that isn't hijacked by special interests. Our political system is awash in special interest money, and in many respects this is subverting the will of the people. Special interests, especially large corporations, are dictating policy and regulation. That's why so few people approve of our government, our trust has been decimated because we feel large interests control the system to a higher degree than they ever have... it's fine for special interests to have a say, but right now it is tilted way too far towards powerful corporate entities. Fukuyama harps on the issue of trust, peoples' trust of the government. It is a key factor in a government's ability to rule and legislate, if the people have no trust or lose trust then things usually trend towards disaster...
Profile Image for مصطفى.
304 reviews230 followers
August 17, 2021
يختتم فوكوياما أطروحته حول مفهمة للنظام السياسي بهذا الكتاب الذي بدأه من أعقاب الثورة الصناعية بسبب ما ترافق معها من حركات إستعمارية كبرى شكلت بشكل أو بآخر العالم بشكله الحالي، كما أن النمو الاقتصادي الذي أعقب الثورة الصناعية حتم النظام المالثوسي الذي كان العالم يقوم عليه من قبلها وخلق نظاماً جديداً تتأسس عليه المؤسسات السياسية، ويتتبع في كتابه من أمريكا إلى نجيريا أسباب فشل الدول ونجاحها بنفس النظرة التي اتبعها في مجلدها الأول وهي أن النظام السياسي المتجذر في ماضي دولة ما يشكل حاضرها في كثير من الأحيان، وهو لا يقرر حتمية تاريخية ولكنه مجرد تتبع للصلة التاريخية بين الماضي والحاضر، ويسبر فوكوياما غور الأنظمة الديمقراطية وهل هي النموذج الرشيد والقيمة الكونية حقاً؟ وما المشاكل التي تنطوي عليها التي أوصلتها إلى مرحلة الإنحطاط السياسي في أعتى الديمقراطيات وأعرقها، أعتقد أن هذان المجلدان وبالرغم ما يحوياه من أفكار قد لا أتفق معها تماماً، أبرزها أسلوب فوكوياما في تفنيد التفسيرات الماركسية بنظرة منتصر، إلا أنهما فارقان ومؤسسان بشكل كبير في فهم ورؤية الشخص للسياسة في العالم وتفاعلاته
Profile Image for Hadrian.
438 reviews235 followers
November 21, 2020
The second of Fukuyama's books on Political Order.

The first volume, described as a kind of response to and build upon Samuel Huntington's Political Order in Changing Societies, starts with the long span from prehistory to the foundations of modern democracy in the late 18th century, focused on the triad of political accountability, the modern bureaucracy, and the rule of law as the foundation of the modern political order. The last book, as intriguing a historical view as it was, still leaves the question of what political arrangements and what orders could come to exist after the 18th century - and what Fukuyama was first famous for writing - if liberalism could continue to exist as a vessel for political order.

His answer is yes, but not necessarily. The massive economic changes over the two centuries since 1800 have opened the door for new possibilities and new organizations of society. To sum up, political change is rapid, it has taken new forms, but is still not easy.

The factors he emphasizes here are state capacity, or the ability of a state to make decisions and carry them out; this is often contingent on the development of a state bureaucracy - which can and sometimes does develop before the development of democratic institutions and norms. Secondly, Fukuyama emphasizes the importance of economic conditions - the growth of a middle class with an interest in carrying out equality before the law is a precursor to the development of democratization. Thirdly, Fukuyama takes care to describe how political orders can decay. He calls a part of this process "repatrimonialization" - or what economists might call "regulatory capture" or "rent-seeking" - where elites can subvert or weaken the capabilities of a government.

While there are the usual distinctions one can make - is there a link between building a modern bureaucratic state and economic growth? How can one actually separate 'the rule of law' and accountability into so many distinct parts? This is at least a serious historical view of the topic, and worth a serious read.
Profile Image for Charles Haywood.
505 reviews780 followers
August 8, 2016
“Political Order And Political Decay” is the second volume of Francis Fukuyama’s two-book exploration of the political formation of societies. Or, more precisely, how they ultimately form, or fail to form, Fukuyama’s perfect political society, which is an idealized Denmark. And, how even if they do reach that point, they can then fall backward—not as a whole, but in their political organization, away from Fukuyama’s ideal.

Very explicitly, Fukuyama is not focused on all aspects of society. This is not a modern attempt to update Gibbon, Spengler or Toynbee. Rather, Fukuyama is focused on political organization. In this volume, he continues his analysis of global political order, now focusing on events subsequent to the Industrial Revolution, with an eye to how we can all “get to Denmark.”

I did not find this book as satisfying as the first volume. It’s not bad, but it is somewhat repetitive, and mostly piggybacks off the excellent framework, comparative historical analysis, and discussion of the first volume. My biggest overall criticism, though, is that Fukuyama is a technocrat, with a technocrat’s insights and a technocrat’s blinders. Most importantly, he views the role of technocrat, in the form of a powerful bureaucracy in the service of a strong central government, as the critical one for every society. In his view, a society without empowered technocrats, one without that form of central planning and authority, is a society that is bound to politically fail—either totally, or fail to reach its potential.

This is not to say that Fukuyama is the anti-Hayek. He does not thinks that, for example, a centrally planned economy is good. If anything, Fukuyama is center-right in his politics. In this book, as in the first, he denigrates the primacy of economic motives, focusing instead on other aspects of human nature. But he is very much not a fan of a minimal, libertarian state. So at no point is the possibility that the costs of such technocracy outweigh its advantages considered, and this is a major flaw in Fukuyama’s framework. This flaw was not so visible in the first volume, which was mostly historical analysis, as opposed to the prescriptive analysis of this volume, which exudes technocratic tunnel vision.

Fukuyama’s core thesis in both volumes is that a modern optimal state, by which he means a liberal democracy, must contain three key characteristics. These are (a) a state, by which he means an effective central government; (b) the rule of law; and (c) accountability of the state to all its constituents. Counterpoised to all three characteristics is the strong human tendency towards patrimonialism—having as one’s main goal rewarding family and friends. Fukuyama’s explicit exemplar of a “modern optimal state” is Denmark; he repeatedly refers to the goal being “getting to Denmark,” “known to have good political and economic institutions: it is stable, democratic, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, and has extremely low levels of political corruption.” Political decay means moving away from that position; it does not necessarily imply broader societal decay.

So, Fukuyama begins this volume by extensively considering “The State.” He is exercised by the evils resulting from the lack of an adequately strong, central state. By this he means, for the most part, a strong, independent and capable bureaucracy, capable of delivering the type of services and organization necessary for the needs and wants of a particular society. To lack of such a state he attributes both the failures of the Arab Spring and the failures of much of the rest of the world to become stable, healthy and prosperous. In essence, he attributes the Great Divergence to wrong institutions everywhere but the West and certain Asian countries. And the main such wrong institution is a weak state.

He even says that Afghanistan, Haiti and Somalia are poor because “they don’t have effective states.” The implication is that if they got better states, they would escape the Malthusian Trap, and be well on their way to “Denmark.” But maybe they lack strong states, and are stuck in the Malthusian Trap, because they have crappy cultures. It’s not like Fukuyama ignores cultures—in the first volume, he analyzes the cultures of India and China across thousands of years, and the impact of their cultures on political development. In this volume, though, he ignores culture, in favor of deterministic focus on questions like the staging of institutions—did the state arrive first (or never), and then democracy (or never), or vice versa? He makes a good case for those things being relevant, but never considers, for example, whether the fact that Afghanistan was a nightmare in 300 B.C. and is a nightmare today might have something to do with the culture found in Afghanistan.

This is, unfortunately, a common defect in the technocratic wing of those analyzing development today. It’s like Acemoglu’s and Robinson’s book, “Why Nations Fail,” from 2012. Like Fukuyama, they attribute modern differentials among nations to their political systems, finding “extractive” ones inferior in results (Fukuyama equates this with his focus on “patrimonialism”). The authors addressed cultural differences among nations, and wholly rejected that cultural differences could explain any differences among national results, with their WHOLE AND ONLY argument being that “Canada and the United States were English colonies, but so were Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The variation in prosperity within former English colonies is as great as that in the entire world. The English legacy is not the reason for the success of North America.” This is so obviously dumb as to require no comment, but is also a perfect example of the blinders fitted to such technocratic analysis.

Anyway, back to Fukuyama. To analyze modern state formation, Fukuyama considers a range of modern states, from 19th Century Prussia on one end, through Britain and the US in the middle, to Greece and Italy on the other end. His explicit goal is to “explain why some developed countries managed to enter the twenty-first century with reasonably effective and uncorrupt governments, while others continue to be plagued by clientelism, corruption, poor performance, and low levels of trust both in government and in society more generally.”

As to Prussia, war brought the need for a centralized, meritocratic bureaucracy, that created accountability in the Emperor, without democracy, by creating a web of rules to which the Emperor himself was subject. Because a strong central government was created prior to the advent of German democracy, corruption in the forms of patronage and clientelism never took hold, because there was no need to buy votes. In both the US and Britain, on the other hand, democracy preceded the formation of a strong central state, so patronage and clientelism (roughly, payments to voters and political supporters) took hold, delaying the formation of a competent bureaucracy. In Italy and Greece, patronage and clientelism still dominate, largely because in a low-trust society they are the only mechanisms that allow political action—in higher trust societies, programmatic political parties can gain traction as people don’t need to have their votes bought, but not in low-trust societies.

Fukuyama is not wholly opposed to patronage as a form of political organization. He notes that it is preferable to the type of prebendalism found in modern Afghanistan, where outside money allows the powerful to simply confiscate the money and not return services or favors to the larger population. This is one reason why foreign aid, as discussed elsewhere by Angus Deaton and William Easterly, among others, undermines political stability, because it allows the powerful to avoid the need to be accountable, while patronage does not.

Fukuyama is at considerable pains throughout the book to note that the United States “to the present day has never succeeded in establishing the kind of high-quality state that exists in certain other rich democracies.” In Fukuyama’s presentation, until the late 19th century, in terms of state formation, the United States was a defective “libertarian paradise,” leading to inefficiency and corruption that crippled the nation, until virtuous Progressive reformers imposed technocratic administration and eliminated the patronage spoils system. He actually believes that “Administrators [i.e.., bureaucrats] were simply agents who only job would be effective implementation.” He never considers whether the scope and lack of accountability of the modern American administrative state, together with its total capture by the Left, gives it features of Afghan prebendalism, because his technocratic blinders prevent him from thinking in such paths.

In Part Two, Fukuyama views other modern countries, all former colonies of the West, through the lens set up in Part One. His basic premise in this section is that the drivers of post-colonial institutions in the non-Western world include what Westerners did during colonialism, and what remnants of the West they left behind, but mostly are whether there were established institutions of state, or a proto-state, prior to colonialism. He rejects theories like Jared Diamond’s geographical determinism, instead (unsurprisingly) pointing to institutions, though admitting geography can affect the initial state of institutions.

So, in Latin America, despite the existence of “empires” such as the Aztec and Inca, pre-existing state institutions were actually very weak (and they collapsed BEFORE the spread of disease) or non-existent. As a result, the institutions set up by Europeans solely determined the future institutions of Latin America. With high inequality, low population, but very little war, the incentives that created strong states in the rest of the world did not operate, and the result was fragmentation and, using the framework from the first volume, ineffective “weak authoritarian” states. This was more true where geography helped state formation and less true when it didn’t, so geography does play some role—but it’s hardly determinative, given the success of Costa Rica, not geographically blessed, and the failure of Argentina, geographically blessed. Fukuyama chalks up those exceptions to “human agency”—the choices made by their ruling classes, including accommodating new power groups during modernization, and deliberately choosing to avoid violent resolutions to internal conflicts—nothing more, and nothing less.

In contrast, in East Asia, strong, modern states dominated prior to colonialism. It’s to a pre-existing sense of national identity, combined with strong pre-existing state structures, that Fukuyama ascribes the post-colonial success of East Asia. In fact, the issue with East Asia is lack of rule of law and accountability, not lack of an adequate state. Fukuyama says whether a nation is free market or not doesn’t matter—it’s the existence of “competent, high-capacity states” that matters. Fukuyama basically loves a strong bureaucracy—but, very importantly, only if, like in 19th Century Prussia, it itself embodies the rule of law and is “free of pressures to satisfy rent-seeking political constituencies, allowing [it] to promote long-term goals that serve a broad public interest.”

What Fukuyama never seems to consider is whether such a thing is possible in all societies, or whether the culture of most societies dictates that the bureaucracy will be captured by those rent-seeking political constituencies. In fact, he explicitly says culture is irrelevant—“development is a coherent process that produces general as well as specific evolution—that is, the convergence of institutions across culturally disparate societies over time.” He does make a nod to “China’s millennia-long Confucian tradition of government [having] an important impact” on China’s “long-term understanding of self-interest and focus on legitimacy [that] does not come automatically to many governments”—but he doesn’t say how to get those other many governments to acquire it, given that we don’t really have a few millennia to spare. And otherwise, he ignores culture.

As to Africa, there were no states at all prior to colonialism. But there were pre-existing sources of authority, which colonialism undermined, without replacing. Even when, as with Britain, colonial administrators tried to shore up or work through local power structures, they often failed because they did not adequately comprehend those structures, with existing checks and balances they tended to override, or they were deliberately hoodwinked as to those structures. Since African colonialism was short in duration and focused primarily on extraction, Europeans did not leave any adequate, established state structures, and when they left, they left neither states nor other sources of authority, leading to either chaos (perceived incorrectly by many today as the natural state of Africa) or states that were fronts for patrimonialism. The only countries that avoided this were rare ones such as Tanzania, that were able to artificially create strong senses of national identity, and therefore effective central states (Fukuyama also includes Indonesia in this group).

In response to this dismal record of post-colonial development, Fukuyama is nonetheless optimistic (he always seems optimistic, which is a charm of his). He suggests fewer attempts to create modern states from scratch, citing disasters like East Timor and Afghanistan, and (although he does not discuss it much), he generally denigrates all modern development efforts. Instead, Fukuyama thinks we should focus on “good enough” state building, believing that from there a society is likely to evolve toward Denmark, especially if it can successfully build a national identity (though historically doing so has been fraught with costs of various kinds). In fact, Fukuyama makes a strong national identity as a condition precedent to an adequate state, and blames the current difference of outcomes among Africa, Latin America, and East Asia largely on the strength of national identities. Whether this program makes any sense probably depends on what you believe about the role of culture in development, as discussed above.

As far as his last section, “Political Decay,” Fukuyama distinguishes two types. One is simple failure to adapt when necessary, which failure is common because institutions are commonly designed to be difficult to change, and that’s the way people like it. Another is capture by elites and a gradual return to patrimonialism—reward by the powerful of their family and friends at the expense of broader society. That works OK, usually, until some internal or external shock leads to political crisis and exposes the weakness caused by decay. In either case, “decay” means not societal decay, but a failure of political institutions to work smoothly, effectively and efficiently, in the technocratic way Fukuyama regards as the ultimate goal of political development.

Fukuyama particularly focuses on America, which he regards as in the process of political decay. Our failure to adapt, Fukuyama complains, results from too many political actors having a veto. He regards this as a failure of the Framers’ system of checks and balances, which he regards as unsuited for a modern political system, creating “gridlock” rather than efficient provision of government services. Not that he offers much in the way of solutions, not being a utopian—his solutions, namely “try to trim veto points or insert parliamentary-style mechanisms” are feeble, and he admits as much—here, as elsewhere, Fukuyama correctly points to the near impossibility of organic radical change in a political system.

But it’s not at all clear that the “vetocracy” and “gridlock” are bad for America. In the age of Leviathan, where government is huge and its power multiplied beyond its simple size by its use of intrusive technology, gridlock is the only defense the average citizen has against the state. The modern state is Grendel’s mother, not the beneficent parent of Fukuyama’s imaginings. The failures of the American political system relate to an over-mighty government with a corrupt and perverse political class, supported by legions of politicized, uniformly leftist bureaucrats lining their pockets at the expense of the productive members of society, while strengthening leftist causes across all of society, and deliberately harming any and all conservative causes, all using the power of the state. Perhaps in 1905, when Fukuyama’s bureaucratic exemplar Gifford Pinchot ran the Forest Service, driven by “a kind of Protestant religiosity that has largely disappeared from contemporary American public life,” bureaucrats made helpful contributions to American life. But today, friction that slows decision making is a net benefit to America, because it slows the leftist project and allows Americans more leeway to live their lives as they choose.

Fukuyama oddly blames American conservatives for distrusting government and thereby creating a “court-based approach to regulation,” which he likewise criticizes as inefficient and contributory to gridlock, in lieu of a legislative (read: technocratic bureaucrat) approach. But this is simply wrong as a historical matter. The power given to courts was a deliberate program of liberals, beginning with Progressives, in order to end-run the democracy that was not producing the desired correct results and expansion of government power. To effectuate the giant expansion of the regulatory state desired by liberals, huge power was given to administrative agencies. For decades now, Congress has abdicated power, unconstitutionally, to these administrative agencies, AGAINST the desires of conservatives. The private lawsuits used as enforcement that Fukuyama bemoans are a purely liberal creation, designed to multiply the power of administrative agencies by allowing motivated (read: leftist) individuals to bring private lawsuits against those whom administrative agencies haven’t gotten around to administering against yet. This is now been further multiplied, though this is not in the book, by the filing of fake lawsuits by left-wing pressure groups by pre-arrangement with cooperative and sympathetic administrative agencies, who respond by “settling” and giving the pressure groups everything they want, avoiding the normal regulatory rulemaking process. In all cases, that the courts are involved is a feature dearly beloved by the Left, for it avoids the need for a democratic brake.

Fukuyama believes what we need is a Japanese- or Swedish-style bureaucracy that quietly administers laws, and resolves conflicts without courts, for the benefit of society as a whole. This is a chimera. Fukuyama actually repeatedly refers to modern bureaucracies as “meritocracies,” apparently really believing that the American administrative state bears some actual resemblance to his idealized bureaucracy—basically, 19th Century Prussia’s, without the militarization. But we are neither Japan nor Sweden—once again, Fukuyama ignores the critical role of culture shaping political institutions, and that our bureaucracy is the very opposite of a politically neutral meritocracy.

[Review continued as first comment.)
Profile Image for Paul.
888 reviews71 followers
February 16, 2015
Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy

Francis Fukuyama has followed up his previous volume The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (2011) with Political Order and Political Decay, which takes us crashing through the 19th century up to current times. This volume is a mighty tome of political and historical analysis that at times does not make it an easy read but at the same time does make it an interesting and challenging read. Having been a practitioner in politics and with a degree and working in history I found this to be an interesting and at times contradictory book that certainly made me think. I can see this being added to many an academic reading list because in reviewing this novel I certainly made some wide ranging notes.

The single theme of the book that Fukuyama does set out early to make before anyone can come up with something different is that “There is a political deficit around the world, not of states but of modern states that are capable, impersonal, well organised and autonomous.” What we do learn and Fukuyama makes the point throughout the book is that the problems with developing countries are by-products of the fact that they have weak and ineffective states, while pointing out that weak states are not simply just developing countries but a number of modern countries too.

Fukuyama gives plenty of examples of various countries and uses them especially when using comparisons and he does not limit himself to established democracies such as the USA, UK, Germany but not afraid to use countries such as Argentina, Greece and Denmark to illustrate his evidence. He sets out how he will use these illustrations when he sets out what his idea of Political Development is settling on three categories of institutions that constitute a political order; 1. The State, 2. The Rule of Law, 3. The mechanisms of accountability.

At the same time Fukuyama is not afraid to criticise the USA and how the libertarians would say the problem is government period and the individual is king and where democracy is locked in to the wealthy, powerful and Corporations who use the democratic institutions to pursue and protect their own causes. Fukuyama notes that this will eventually lead to political decay in the USA.

He is not afraid to hit head on the “Cancer of Corruption” and that it is not just going to impede the development of poorer countries but it deeply affects the nature of the mature democracies. He also makes it clear that since the Cold War that there has been a major push to combat corruption to aid the broader development to build and strengthen states. When it fails you find even modern countries such as Greece and Italy have problems where corruption can bring an economy to its knees.

Fukuyama ends with the question is should we believe in liberal democracy or is it really doomed and is it right that Western Democracies are trying to enforce their version of democracy on developing countries. Is it right that a distorted view of history and politics is right for us to enforce on others. Have we got it democracy right or is it in decay? These are the questions we are asked as if we are a jury about to be sent out, where Fukuyama has laid the evidence before us to make our own decision.

Some may find Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy rather ponderous and over egging the pudding, others such as myself who find this an engrossing read with excellent examples sometimes it is telling with some countries that are missing such as India. This is a fantastic book for questioning and challenging our thinking and help us look at our own democracy and is it everything we would like it to be and is it fair to force our world view on other countries. I do like that he uses Denmark as what we should strive to be as a modern democracy, but I am not sure some countries and people would be happy with coalition governments.

Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,384 followers
August 25, 2016
Excelente continuação para o As origens da ordem política: Dos tempos pré-humanos até a Revolução Francesa. É um livro enorme, recheado de história, mas com excelentes insights. Entrei em uma fase de entender o cenário político-social atual (manifestos e etc.), daí a leitura do Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Mas este foi bem incompleto, no sentido que descreve como o descontentamento ao redor do mundo tem se manifestado, mas não o que o gera. Também li o Porque Falham as Nações, que é excelente para explicar muito do cenário internacional como um todo, mas bem mais resumido e menos descritivo (nem por isso ruim, pelo contrário).

Mas neste livro, o Fukuyama integra muito bem como as democracias (e não democracias) atuais se desenvolveram e o conflito de interesses e poderes, tanto políticos quanto até biológicos, que levam ao que funciona e ao que está em crise atualmente. Em especial como uma vez construída uma instituição, interesses internos competem para mantê-la funcionando mesmo quando sua função acaba, e para mantê-la funcionando de forma que favorece quem está dentro. Se eu já estava na dúvida sobre o papel da educação no desenvolvimento de um país, se seria causa ou efeito, este livro foi o prego no caixão da causa. Muita reforma política vem antes e parecemos muito, muito distantes desse cenário.

Espero muito que me recomendem contrapontos, porque encontrei poucas críticas ao livro e não tenho conhecimento para fazer eu mesmo. Até lá, sigo acreditando em muito do que li aqui. Recomendo para qualquer um interessado em saber como o mundo funciona, mas é uma leitura grande que depende muito da leitura do livro anterior As origens da ordem política: Dos tempos pré-humanos até a Revolução Francesa para fazer mais sentido. Não saiu no Brasil, mas saiu em Portugal pela Leya.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
910 reviews7,454 followers
June 8, 2019

أهو دا المؤَلف الموسوعي عن حق، كتاب مذهل وتأريخ بديع للنظم السياسية، والأهم التأريخ الفعلي لمؤثرات تلك النظم، سواء دين أو عصبية وقبلية أو حتى كيف تؤثر جغرافية المكان على تأسيس نظام، سلاسة الأسلوب وسهولة توصيل المعلومة كانوا حاجة في منتهى الدقة من فوكوياما، اللي هو شرح مبسط لقضايا معقدة تصبح واضحة ومباشرة نتيجة شرحه دا.

عاجبني بشدة اللي كتبه فوكوياما عن الدولة العثمانية وعن الربيع العربي، نموذج لخير ما قل ودل فعلا.

كتاب جميل، قيّم، شامل، يُنصح به بشدة لأي مهتم أو باحث للشؤون السياسية وتاريخها، والترجمة كانت ممتازة من قِبل: مجاب الإمام ومعين الإمام.
Profile Image for Kosar mohammadnejad.
95 reviews25 followers
July 21, 2021
به بهانه ریویوی این کتاب میخام یک پادکست خوب معرفی کنم به نام «دغدغه ایران» که توسط محمدفاضلی پیرامون مباحث توسعه ارائه میشه و کتابهایی در این زمینه رو خلاصه و معرفی میکنه .ایده خوندن این کتاب رو هم همین پادکست بهم داد! کتابی قطور که خوندنش با شنیدن این پادکست برام به مراتب راحت تر شد
«مطالعه توسعه (تغییر جوامع انسانی در طول زمان) صرفا مطالعه فهرست بی پایانی از شخصیتها اتفاقات دعواها و سیاست گذاری ها نیست بلکه مطالعه فرایندی است که طی ان نهادهای سیاسی ظهور کرده کامل میشوند و در نهایت رو به زوال میروند »
کتاب در واقع شبیه «چرا ملتها شکست میخورند» با ارائه و تحلیلی از تاریخ معاصر کشورها تلاش میکنه نظریه ای ارائه بده ... اول از همه نهاد رو معرفی میکنه : نهادها قواعدی پایدارند در واکنش به نیاز خاصی در یک برهه تاریخی بوجود می ایند که رفتارهای انسانی را شکل داده مقید کرده و در مسیر خاصی هدایت میکنند و ادامه پیدا میکنند (در تعریف نهاد خانواده نوعی نهاده ارزش داره و پایدار و تکرار شونده است نهاد دین دولت مجلس انتخابات )
کتاب میکه وجود یک نظم سیاسی قبل دموکراتیک شدن ضروریه و اینکه « اگر در کشوری دولت مدرن از نوع وبری ان (با یک بوروکراسی کارامد) وجود نداشته باشد ورود دموکراسی باعث رواج ویژه پروری و حامی پروی و به دنبال ان میشود به عبارت دیگر چون یک بوروکراسی قدرتمند غیرفاسد شکل نگرفته سیاسیون برای تحقق اهداف سیاسی خود و کسب رای به راحتی منابع عمومی را بین حامیانشان توریع میکنند تا ارای انتخابات را از آن خود سازند»
سه پدیده داریم که منجر به توسعه میشه ۱- دولت با طرفیت و کارآمد ۲-حاکمیت قانون و ۳- پاسخ گویی دموکراتیک‌
و در ادامه سه مفهوم دیگر توسعه رو معرفی میکنه ۱- رشد اقتصادی مناسب ینی سرانه داخلی ۲-بسیج اجتماعی یعنی پدید امدن طبقه کارگر ناشی از صنعت ، قشر دانشجو از دانشگاه و کارمند دولت ناشی از اداره های دولتی که مطالباتی دارند و و این اغلب باعث تغییر سیاسی میشه ۳-توسعه افکار عمومی و و ایده های فرهنگی
در کنار اینها میگه ائتلاف اصلاح جویان که منافعشون در ایجاد دولت باظرفیت (انگلستان و امریکا) ، جغرافیا، فشار جنگ یا عدم فشار ناشی از صلح همه میتونه در ایجاد یا عدم ایجاد نهادها موثر باشه
برای تفهیم این پدیده ها از جمله دولت با بروکراسی کارآمد مثالهایی از چگونگی شکل گیری این نهاد در پروس و شکل گیری دولت حامی پرور در یونان و جنوب ایتالیا و چگونه تبدیل دولت حامی پرور که زمانی در تاریخ انگلستان و آمریکا وجود داشته به دولت با بروکراسی کارآمد میپردازه
بطور مثال در اکثر کشورهای افریقایی از جمله لیبی بطور بنیادین نهاد دولت قدرتمند (دارای مشروعیت برای اعمال قدرت ) ایجاد نشده و فقدانش برای لیبی بعد قذافی جنگ داخلی به ارمغان اورده ... یا مثلا در یونان بطور بنیادین اعتماد به دولت و بروکراسی کارآمد و شایسته سالار وجود نداره( یونان که تا ۱۸۳۰ جزو عثمانی پس از استقلال اوتو شاهزاده باوارایی حاکم‌اون شد که تلاش کرد با تدوین قانون اساسی و حق رای دولت مدرن ایجاد کنه ولی بدون صنعت بدون بسیج اجتماعی و بدون احزاب که این باعث آشنابازی در دستگاه اداری دولت به دنبال شهرنشینی شد و ویژه پروری برای جذب رای اتفاق افتاد و نهایتا این مسئله هنوز که هنوزه بطور بنیادین درش وجود داره و منجر بحران ۲۰۰۹ میشه... شبیه ایرانه نه؟ )
یا اینکه در ژاپن در تاریخ خودشون دولت قوی وجود داشته و بروکراسی کارامد (به تبع اون حاکمیت قانون) داشته (که پیشرفت سریعش رو حتی بعد جنگ جهانی دوم به خاطر وجود همون نهاد ها امکان پذیر میکنه ) و در چین هم این دولت قدرتمند وجود داشته اما غیر پاسخگو و بدون حاکمیت قانون (که هنوز هم در قالب حزب کمونیست ادامه پیدا کرده)
همچنین کتاب میگه با صرفا یک یا دو چیز از این ‌موارد لزوما توسعه برقرار نمیشه بطور مثال رشد اقتصادی طبق نظریه مدرنیزاسیون باعث توسعه فرهنگی و سیاسی میشه و چیزهای خوب کنار هم قرار میگیرند ولی نظریه توسعه نامتوازن میگه اگر نهاد ها ظرفیت بسیج مردم ناشی از توسعه اقتصادی رو نداشته باشند بی ثباتی بوجود میاد ... البته دولت کارمدی که ��غل و‌توسعه ایجاد کنه و جلوی بی ثباتی رو بگیره میتونه توسعه دموکراتیک ایجاد کنه (مثل کره جنوبی و تایوان) برعکس دولت ناکارآمد در برابر بسیج ناشی از اقتصاد باعث بی ثباتی شده مثل کشورهای خاورمیانه یا هند (که علیرغم دموکراسی و حاکمیت قانون ، دولت و بروکراسی ناکارامد داره)
برداشت خودم برای ایران اینه که بطور تاریخی و نهادی حاکمیت قانون در ایران علیرغم دوره هایی از دولت قوی شکل نگرفته و در کنارش با ورود صنعتی شدن و مدرنیته بروکراسی کارآمد و شایسته سالاری هم شکل نگرفته بلکه نخبگانی در هر زمان وجود داشته که منافعشون رو در ادامه رانت خواری و همدستی با حکومت میدیدن و فقدان این نهادها مارو از از ظالمی به ظالم دیگر کشونده .فکر میکنم در درجه اول اگاهی به چنین موضوعی در نخبگان زمان میتونه کمک کنه حداقل گروهی برای ایجاد و پایداری چنین نهادهایی تلاش بکنند...
Profile Image for Yves Gounin.
441 reviews44 followers
January 5, 2015
Francis Fukuyama est devenu célèbre en 1989 en prophétisant la « fin de l’histoire ». Sa thèse a été vertement moquée faute d’avoir été comprise. La « fin de l’histoire » ne signifiait pas la fin des événements ou des conflits – les guerres en Yougoslavie, en Afghanistan ou en Irak auraient eu tôt fait de démontrer l’inanité d’un tel optimisme – mais la victoire idéologique de la démocratie de marché. Vingt-cinq ans après la chute du mur, force est de reconnaître à cette thèse un fondement de vérité. Après une « troisième vague » de démocratisation consécutive à la chute du mur, le monde en a connu une quatrième avec les printemps arabes – aux lendemains certes encore incertains : on compte aujourd’hui plus de 120 États démocratiques contre une trentaine seulement au début des années 70. Plus important : ni le capitalisme d’Etat chinois, ni l’autoritarisme poutinien, ni le jihadisme salafiste n’offre au monde une alternative crédible et séduisante au modèle de la démocratie de marché.
La fin de l’histoire étant ainsi définie, comment l’atteindre ? Pour reprendre les termes de Fukuyama, comment devient-on danois, le Danemark étant – curieusement – posé en modèle d’harmonie entre les trois composantes d’un ordre politique stable : une bureaucratie efficace, le respect par tous de la règle de droit et la participation démocratique à la décision publique ? Fukuyama consacre pas moins de deux impressionnants volumes à cette question. Le premier, paru en 2011, remontait à la préhistoire et s’achevait à la Révolution française. Le second court sur plus de 600 pages et constitue un monument d’érudition et de didactisme.
La réponse la plus simple est celle fournie par la théorie de la modernisation selon le modèle suivi par la Grande-Bretagne depuis la Révolution industrielle : la croissance économique provoque des évolutions sociales qui conduisent à des revendications politiques. Ce modèle est, hélas, trop simple. Samuel Huntington, qui fut le professeur de Francis Fukuyama à Harvard, en avait eu l’intuition dès 1968. Francis Fukuyama approfondit la thèse défendue par son mentor dans "Political order in changing societies" et montre que les voies du développement sont plus complexes.
La croissance économique ne produit pas toujours la démocratie comme le montre Singapour ou la Chine. Inversement, la démocratie ne suffit pas à garantir le développement ainsi qu’en attestent les trajectoires indienne ou africaines. Si l’on isole l’ordre politique proprement dit et ses trois composantes, toutes les combinaisons sont possibles : la Prusse a créé une administration wébérienne avant de devenir une authentique démocratie, la Grande Bretagne a inventé l’Habeas Corpus avant de se doter d’une bureaucratie digne de ce nom ; les États-Unis ont au contraire développé une méfiance séculaire du pouvoir exécutif au nom de la liberté individuelle. Cette pluralité de trajectoires est un obstacle à la formulation de politiques prescriptives : le nation building ne connaît ni one-best-way ni one-size-fits-all.
Ces trajectoires ont abouti à la constitution d’États démocratiques. Mais une même dénomination cache bien des disparités. Les démocraties « illibérales » sont plus souvent formelles que substantielles : la tenue régulière d’élections et l’existence de partis politiques ne suffisent pas à faire une démocratie. Nombre d’États démocratiques sont à la fois iniques et inefficients. Ces maux n’affectent pas seulement quelques pays en développement. Fukuyama fustige le déclin du modèle américain qui, à force d’avoir multiplié les contre-pouvoirs par peur d’une dérive autoritaire du maître de l’exécutif, s’est transformé en « vétocratie » incapable de réformes audacieuses. Pour autant, l’auteur de « La fin de l’histoire » ne va pas jusqu’à brûler ce qu’il a adoré : la démocratie de marché, malgré toutes ses tares, reste l’horizon indépassable de notre temps.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,649 followers
October 3, 2016
This must be read by everyone before they vote--ever. The most fascinating takeaway for me was the critiques of American democracy and especially its vulnerability to decay through clientelism. It's also great that he doesn't take too western-centric of a view. The one criticism is that there are countries that challenge his thesis and he is sometimes selective in his illustrations.
Profile Image for Julian Douglass.
313 reviews12 followers
June 20, 2022
A more Political Science based look at the state this time. Mr. Fukuyama is still able to create a wonderful narrative about the triumphs and tragedies of the modern state with as much simplicity as his first book. I highly recommend reading both books. Easy to read, provides tons of examples to make it simple to understand, and the books flow easily.
Profile Image for Murtaza .
669 reviews3,399 followers
December 29, 2016
This book is a lengthy examination of what constitutes a healthy functioning political order, how such orders have developed historically, and what factors inevitably lead to the decay and decline of political orders over time.

Though we tend to associate the two, the state has often developed separate from the nation (and from democracy) in places where it exists meaningfully at all. The sequencing by which these institutions has developed in various places has had profound effects on the future health of those countries. The arrival of democracy before the creation of a professional, meritocratic, bureaucratic state is often a bad thing, Fukuyama argues, citing the examples of Greece and Italy (Pakistan and India also seem to fit) as examples of countries where public sector jobs became subject to patronage policies as a result of democratization, and thus never developed a solid meritocratic ethos. By contrast, countries like Germany and Japan developed state functions before democracy. Thus, the core of an autonomous and robust bureaucracy was formed, developed its own character, and became resistant to clientelism. The United States was initially quite clientelistic, until a middle-class New Deal coalition began a successful campaign for civil service reform that created a relatively competent state apparatus.

Fukuyama also makes interesting if controversial points about why bureaucratic autonomy is a good thing, and excessive democratization of bureaucracies (through too many checks and balances and thus catering to too many conflicting public interests) can make government deeply ineffective in practice. Bureaucracies like the military and the CDC can accomplish more because they have flexibility. This may also be part of why they have good reputations, as opposed to hidebound and infuriating bureaucracies with innumerable rules that never seem to get anything done. War has historically played a big role in developing strong states, by forcing societies to engage in meritocratic management that they otherwise may not have in more comfortable circumstances, while also getting rid of certain social groups (like the French venal officeholders) who are simply implacable enemies of any type of reform. In places that have been blessed by the relative absence of war, such as Latin America, state weakness is today a serious issue. As Fukuyama notes the impersonal state is really something against human nature, which tends to favor kin selection and reciprocal altruism (favors) as a means of organizing society. Its emergence is thus something that comes at great cost, usually through lots of bloodshed, and is always at risk of degenerating into more basic forms of human organization.

The rule of law is also a key facet of effective political organization. In many societies that developed transcendental religions, the rule of law later developed to be quite strong, because people were accustomed to the existence of a separate law acting as a check on rulers. China, which never developed such a religion, in Fukuyama's view, suffers from a deficit of rule of law and an excess of state power for this reason. Its an interesting point and ties into a lot of primordial analysis that he does in the book. He also engages with what he views as (so far) failed predictions of Marxism of global proletarian revolution, arguing that the would-be proletarians were converted into a middle class. This may not be the case in future however, given the evisceration of this class in much of the world over time by technological advance and globalization.

A point taken from the book that has been expounded elsewhere as well is that economic change by its nature produces demands for political change. Changes in the economy, and as Marx noted particularly in the division of labor, lead to the creation of new social groups demanding a say in society. If society cannot adapt its structures to accommodate these groups, instability ensues. We can see this in many societies today that were undergoing a process of modernization only to face upheaval. As people get more wealthy or simply come to see themselves in new ways as a result of urbanization and changes in work, they start to make new demands based on their interests and self-perception. Fukuyama talks a lot about the shift from "Gemeinschaft" to "Gesselschaft" that is considered an integral part of modernity, and that often produces identity crises in modern individuals.

The final part of the book deals with something that is very relevant to the contemporary West today: political decay. Institutions decay when they are captured by elites instead of representing the public as originally intended. In America this process of "repatrimonialization" has occurred thanks to economic elites, lobbyists and activists who have nearly turned institutions like the U.S. Congress into private vehicles for their own interests. The bizarre way that reforms are made in America, effectively by legal activism, has also created a slapdash, complex and often incoherent state apparatus that is bound to innumerable externally imposed guidelines. While America could once boast of an impersonal state, reciprocal altruism (and to a degree, kin selection) have reasserted themselves in a powerful way and caused the decay of major institutions. Fukuyama doesn't offer an easy or obvious way to fix this, other than suggesting a major external shock to the system would be needed to trigger a revival.

Fukuyama gets a bad rap for some stuff he wrote during an earlier period of general ideological exuberance in the West. I think this is unfair however, as he has shown himself to be a reflective intellectual. The detailed analysis contained in here is invaluable, particularly during a moment when the United States is undergoing major political upheaval due to institutional failure and changes in the economy wrought by globalization. Despite clocking at roughly 600 pages I found this to be a quite accessible and lucidly written book. If its repetitive at times, that makes it all the better for the lessons to sink in.
Profile Image for Sorin Hadârcă.
Author 3 books219 followers
October 9, 2018
Firstly, what I liked: Fukuyama takes risks in going against mainstream thinking and, at that, builds upon a megalithic knowledge of history (does he know everything?); he employs a method which has the appeal of being universal; he writes neatly and some of the parts (like the invention of modern bureaucracy in 18th century Prussia or emergence of clientelistic democracy in recent Italy) are as good as standalone pieces. To assert that authoritarian regimes were often more successful in state building than liberal democracies is factually provable but still bold - that I also liked.

What I liked less is that Political Order takes the lion’s share and Decay is not scrutinized well-enough (a proper autopsy of the Argentine political institutions would, for instance, help a lot. But then again, “getting to Denmark” is what people strive for, whereas decay takes care for itself when the three ingredients (public administration, rule of law and democratic accountability) go amiss. Apart from the afterword, which is only 8 pages out of 558 the book isn’t forward looking enough – I wouldn’t mind to come around Book 3 which will take care of exactly that.
Profile Image for Zack.
470 reviews5 followers
March 16, 2019
Really a remarkable pair of books (this being volume 2). (If you can only afford to read one, I'd suggest this one, since it covers recent and contemporary nations.)

These are not easy books to get through. They are roughly equivalent to an undergrad class. There is an immense amount of information and scope here. However, they are not dry, they are just as engaging as a good university course! Assuming you like learning :)

More people need to read this type of book. You get the sense that the author is trying to inform you, not trying to convince you. Many of the non-fiction best-sellers are more like polemics, trying to make a case for a particular perspective--which can be interesting and quite compelling but you have to realize that the authors of those books are picking and choosing information and phrasing things to make a stronger case. Fukuyama on the other hand skillfully weaves together a survey of the literature and often acknowledges and outlines ambiguities and counter examples. E.g., "so-and-so's theory does seem to account for ABC nations, but not DEF. ".

192 reviews37 followers
November 23, 2016
Much sloppier and more uneven than the first volume but a worthwhile read nonetheless. I suspect that this review will follow the same pattern.

While the first volume favored historical narration over political development theory the second volume is sporting the opposite trend in a more condensed time period (last 200 years). Of course the more recent the history the less opportunity for time to do its magic of smoothing out speculative interpretations of events to reveal trends if there are any, so there is that.

The “Decay” builds on the three facets of political development identified in the previous volume (modern state, rule of law and accountability) and goes to some length to show how the order in which these facets come into existence in any given country matters quite a bit. He argues for example how Prussia/Germany was forced to build a state first (landlocked/military necessity) and opened up the franchise to democracy much later, and to this day bureaucracy in Germany is relatively efficient, mostly uncorrupt and on the net viewed as trustworthy by the public. Fukuyama contrasts that to US which started with democracy early and then tried building a state which quickly slipped into clientelism (Jacksonian democracy) that only got corrected in early 20th century by forcing merit-based appointments. Americans’ distrust of gov’t rests partially on that legacy (more on that below). Similarly Italy and especially Greece opened up the franchise too early, never quite succeeded in injecting merit into state building, and as a result still reside in a “low-trust equilibrium”.

Other comments:
- Latin America. Inherits clientilism via colonization from Spain/Portugal. Fukuyama also links absence of wars as partial explanation for weak state formation.
- Africa. Colonialism for geopolitics only, no incentive for any state building.
- Japan late 19th century modernization after Commodore Perry, Mejii restoration, Bismarkian constitution.
- Revisits China which was in soft decline in 1600-1800s (Qing) and then shocked by Opium wars followed by loss of Taiwan to Japan. Need for modernization and reform becomes blatantly obvious.
- Indonesia and Tanzania as examples of state building around the myth of national identity. Contrast to Nigeria and Kenya which had somewhat comparable initial conditions.
- Nice argument around need for accountability being more pronounced since after industrial revolution as the economic growth may bring up about social mobilization that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. Revisits Malthus and Marx.
- Nice detangling of need for “liberal democracy”. “Liberal” is driven by desire for rule of law/property rights, while “democracy” is driven by desire for participation with a view of redistribution. These desires typically come from very different social groups (middle class and workers respectively).
- Contrast of US Constitution vs Parliamentary system. US unique in its over-reliance on courts to push forward social changes and policies, authority crisis and lack of mandate.
- Checks and balances in US leading to Vetocracy.
- Great argument of how demands for increased transparency can be detrimental to well-functioning state. Need actual mandate to get things done, but back to lack trust issue…
- Today perhaps the worst outcome where in US increased transparency is utilized by interest groups rather than citizens. On the margin I can see how moving away from transparency can be beneficial. (Interesting take on why Britain doesn’t have the US-style lobbying crisis, different party formation/maintenance rules – lookup…)
- You need knowledgeable elites/experts to actually run the country, but how do you prevent them from getting too smug. Trump as a correction for the latter. Overcorrection?
Profile Image for إيمان الحبيشي.
Author 1 book111 followers
January 10, 2018
يواصل فوكوياما ما بدأه في كتابه الأول اصول النظام السياسي "١" في تناول موضوع في غاية الأهمية وهو "لماذا تنجح الديمقراطية في دول وتفشل في أخرى" لكنه يعرج هذه المرة على ما اعتقده كثيرون انه موجة رابعة للديمقراطية الا وهي موجة ما عرف بالربيع العربي وذلك قبل أن تسوء الاحوال في كل الدول العربية التي تحولت مظاهراتها المطالبة بالحرية اما لنزاعات داخلية كما هو الحال في ليبيا أو لما يعتبره البعض تسلط للاسلام السياسي كما حصل في تونس ومصر أو للقمع وسحق المتظاهرين كما حصل في المنطقة الشرقية والبحرين مما ادى لان تعود اعتقادات سابقة لطالما ترددت من أن العرب والثقافة الاسلامية غير مؤهلتين للحياة الديمقراطية الا ان فوكوياما بموضوعية شديدة يتحدث عن تجربة الديمقراطية في اوروبا وامريكا مثبتا ان التحول الديمقراطي لم يكن بين ليلة وضحاها بل احتاجت بريطانيا لمئة عام حتى صارت ما هي عليه.

يعيد فوكوياما الكثير من الامثلة ويتعمق في الكثير من التفاصيل التي ذكرها او مر عليها سابقا في كتابه الأول لكن بصدق لن تشعر بتكرار.. ذلك انه يجيد توظيف الامثلة في الفكرة التي يريد أن يوضحها

اعيب على فوكوياما كثيرا تلقيه "اسطورة" اطلقتها تاريخيا ابواق سلطة مهتمة بتفتيت المسلمين من اجل ان تسود هي.. ثم استخدامه لها كمثال لتوضيح فكرة ذكرها الا وهي اسطورة "خان الأمين" الغبية التي لا بأس ان يصدقها طائفي ذا قلب مريض.. لكن ان يصدقها ويوظفها مفكر من طراز فوكوياما دون ولو محاولة ادراج كلمة "يقال" لينفي عن نفسه هذه السقطة فكبيرة جدا ومعيبة جدا جدا وان رسمت على وجهي ابتسامة استهزاء
يستحق ان ينتزع من الكتاب كل نقاطه بسبب هذه السقطة الا أني اثمن موضوعيته عموما واترك له ٣ نجمات
Profile Image for Richard Marney.
526 reviews20 followers
August 6, 2022
(1) September 2021 Read: The second volume in a two book series providing a broad, insightful and compelling historical survey of the development and decay of political institutions. The structure of the three political institutions (the state, rule of law, representative democracy) is used to highlight similarities and differences in the political development of countries from the industrial revolution through the current era of globalized democracy. As the chaos of contemporary American politics shows, institutional imbalances and legislative/judicial capture by elites/special interest groups can thrust progressive forces into reverse, undoing decades of constructive policy and social betterment. Trump and the modern GOP deserve a chapter in the next edition of this seminal book.

(2) August 2022 Read: A reread to explore the questions of the nature of weak states, their causes, and how investors navigate their flawed (or missing) institutions.
Profile Image for Omar Ali.
222 reviews207 followers
August 26, 2015
I enjoyed the first volume more, probably because it made me think about more basic stuff, while this one is more a summary of the recent history (last 200 years) of the world. I learned an awful lot, more than you would get from ten other books, but somehow it did not solve any major puzzles. It just described them. More later...
Absolutely worth a read.
Profile Image for Tariq Mahmood.
Author 2 books1,033 followers
December 1, 2017
Societies need to develop before democracy can arrive, and it can only survive and thrive in nations with strong institutions. Democracy in countries with weak institutions are vulnerable, prone to regress. The only way for a people to help sustain democracy is to develop sound institutions. Fukuyama makes a solid case and presents a viable strategy for development.
Profile Image for Marcus.
311 reviews309 followers
February 23, 2017
This book and the first volume should not be missed, especially with the political climate today. If you liked Clash of Civilizations or Guns, Germs, & Steel, this is along the same lines but much better.
Profile Image for A Man Called Ove.
944 reviews227 followers
March 12, 2021
In his famous The End of History and the Last Man the author proposed that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the failure of Communism in USSR, we had reached the End of History - in the sense that we had come to a lasting conclusion that liberal democracy is the best form of government. And that the nations of the world would move towards it.
Here he starts with arguing that in an ideal liberal democracy there are 3 institutions - the state (capacity), rule of law and accountability (free and fair elections). How does a nation-state become an ideal liberal democracy or as the author put it - get to Denmark ?
While the developed and rich Western Europe and North America have all 3, their paths to get there have been different and messy. Europe fought many wars and built up states first and accountability later. On the other hand USA built up accountability (elections) and rule of law and state capacity much later. But once we have studied their paths, what are the lessons to be learnt ? Heres what I picked up :-
a) Transitioning from a strong , efficient state to the other 2 is a bit "easier". A benevolent dictator (often considered the best form of govt) can build the other 2 political institutions over an efficient, quality bureaucracy.
b) Getting accountability (elections) instead of a state first - as in USA and India before the other 2 can lead to a messy path where we have a lot of policy paralysis and clientelism and also corruption. While USA had rule of law and has a state now, in India the state is absent even today and the less said about the rule of law in India - the better.
c) If the majority of the population is middle-class and the society has less inequality then transitioning to and persisting with a liberal democracy is easier - I think this may be the necessary condition (though not sufficient condition) for a liberal democracy.
d) Along with benevolent dictators, crises force nation-states to reform and move towards strengthening their institutions.
e) State formation does require fraternity - some common thread binding the people into a nation.
On Political Decay - This section formed the last 25% of the book and was concentrated on USA. The conclusions were similar to Fareed Zakaria's book -> The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad. Special interest groups , party workers and activists seem to dominate proceedings and increasingly it is getting difficult for governments to function. Also, the legitimacy of governments seem to be getting eroded with time.
What I found interesting and ironical - Fed up with the slow pace of Indian govt, a no. of people recommended the USA Presidential system for India. The author and Zakaria - both of them Americans - prefer Westminster parliamentary democracy as it is more efficient. The grass is always greener on the other side !
Profile Image for حیدر خسروی.
26 reviews18 followers
June 18, 2018
ششصد صفحه روده درازی برای توضیح و توجیه ایده ای مرکزی که پنجاه صفحه هم برایش زیادی بود. آن هم ایده ای که پردازندگان اصلی این خط فکر بسیار قبل تر از فوکویاما بهتر و دست کم قابل توجیه تر آن را توضیح داده بودند، مثل اتول کولی.
دولت سازی باید مقدم بر دموکراسی و حاکمیت قانون باشد. ششصد صفحه آسمان ریسمان دوختن برای توجیه این ایده. دیده شدن و خوانده شدن فقط برای اینکه نویسنده آن مشهور است.
Profile Image for Taras Dmytrus.
38 reviews3 followers
August 12, 2019
Величенька книжка про "суху" політику - яка, тим не менш, цікава до останньої сторінки. Всім, хто ще коли небуть планує голосувати - обов'язково вартує почитати. Помагає краще розуміти як ситуацію в Україні, так і в світі загалом
Profile Image for Toomas Tuul.
39 reviews1 follower
October 17, 2020
Phenomenal. The scope, through which Fukuyama looks at the entire human civilization in his two part epic, is truly breathtaking. It's a long read, sure. It's challenging and relentless. But oh man is it worth it! A must-read to everybody interested in the human civilization in the grand scale throughout the beginning of humans to the modern globalized world.
Profile Image for Milton Soong.
237 reviews5 followers
November 16, 2014
[audio books] Grand historical analysis in the vein of Paul Kennedy & Jarred Diamond. This one covers the development of political institution. Note that this is part II and I did not read part I.
Some of the author's points: (not necessary in terms of importance).

1. The three key aspect of political development is political institution (and its effectiveness), accountability, and level of democratic participation.
2. He presented various examples showing example with a mixture of these traits (i.e. Traditional Chinese society is high on a developed political institution, high on accountability, but low on democratic participation. Nigeria would be low on all three).
3. Rule of law: Western and Islamic society developed rules of law because of its tradition of having a set of laws that is outside of political hearty (i.e. religious law). Whereas China never had developed a transcendental religion, and the law is something that the rulers used to proscribe behaviors for the people, but the laws do not apply to the rulers themselves.
4. The idea of "rent seeking" in public officials (i.e. one gets into government in order to enrich oneself and those of his clan/family/party.
4.5 Examples abound re countries with weak institutions and big case of rent seeking (i.e. Many countries of Sub-Sahara Africa, Latin-America).
5. Societies that developed with democratic institution BEFORE a strong political institution often fall prey into "rent seeking". Noted example is US in the early 20th century when various bureaucracies are rife with cronyism and machine politics. This was fixed when "the people" pushed for cleaner government and passed the civil service reform.
6. "The people" that instigates change tends to be a growing middle class, who's the backbone of a functioning democracy.
7. The revolution of the proletariot prophesized by Marx never happened in western industrialized countries because those societies have co-opted the proletariats and made them into middle class.
7.5. US have traditionally have a distrust of government and elite, which leads to:
8. US is unique in building in a lot of (too much?) checks and balances into the system. This prevents rise of dictatorship, but hurts the effectiveness of government and accountability (i.e. when too many bodies are involved in getting anything done, then no one ends up accountable).
9. The UK/European style of democracy empowers the executive branch a lot more so than the US model. But they are all changing to be more US like, for better or worse.
10. US exceptionalism: Author urges a return of more empowerment of a technocratic bureaucracy, with more leeway to make good decisions. Of course there are no real historical examples of a country with that much check and balance doing away with those constraints. The author sounds pessimistic there is a quick and simple solution for US to move beyond the political gridlock that exists today (what he calls decay).
11. Chinese exceptionalism: throughout the book the author also makes a case for Chinese exceptionalism; (no transcendental religion, weak rules of law, strong political institution for millennia). It's lifted many into the middle class, and what remains to be seen is if the middle class will follow other historical example in demanding more democratic participation.

I would say the one weakness is one of editing: I reads like a collection of research papers (given the author's background it's probably inevitable), and many points are repeated over different part of the book. A thorough edit will make the book more concise and more powerful.
Profile Image for M Jahangir kz.
82 reviews26 followers
July 18, 2021
After reading the first volume, i somehow knew that second volume won't disappoint me, and bet what, it has absolutely exceeded my expectations, thoroughly enjoyed the analysis, historical anecdotes, observations, and the theory provided by Prof. Francis Fukuyama here.

As those who have read the first volume of the book know that previous volume started from the dawn of mankind and up to the American and French revolution, and this second volume pick up from where he left, and stretches it up to the present day.

First volume was more about the origins, evolution and emergence of political order, that is the emergence of State, rule of law, and accountable government/ democracy. Whereas second volume focuses more on the political decay of these institutions.

This volume is scattered into four parts, which are, State, Foreign institutions, Democracy, and Political decay.

In the first part, which is state, Fukuyama start with the background of the development of state that he described in details in the first volume, he continues on it, in this part he explains the emergence of modern state, that is impersonal and meritocratic, in this context he talks about how the Prussia/ Germany built the first modern state in the west, the effectiveness of German state building was based on the bureaucracy, the highly autonomous one.

Moving on he discuss about particular cases of Italy and Greece with regards to corruption. I liked his theory that political institutions are important but more important than this is the sequence in which those are emerged, for example Prussia builds state first, then economic growth led to the mobilization of the newly emerged groups, whereas the rule of law and democracy preceded the state building in United States, which had huge repercussions, as he described in later how American invents clientelism and machine politics that proved to be highly problematic for effective government and quality.

Furthermore, the Italian and Greece were also those who adopted to the democracy and rule of law in the earlier phase of their state building which not just weakened the state but also brought patrimonial form of government in these countries which resulted in the poverty and low quality services provided by the government.

He talks about how authoritarian models are good in an a way that there are no checks and balances in those systems, so decisions making is quick in these systems, which lead to the government being more effective and efficient.

In the second part, the Foreign institutions, he talks about the impact of European colonialist on the indigenous institutions of the three regions, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, and Asia.

Latin American countries mostly possesses the weak institutions of Spain and Portugal, in most part of these the conquistadors were interested in the extraction of resources rather than other way around, and some of the part has also to do with the geography and climate, as in these regions sugar plantation and mining industry was the major sources, as sugar is not a family farming so it was purely for the exportation purposes and mining played key role in slavery. Whereas in the lands of North of America, family farming was the major source and so that region resulted in escaping the conquistadors.

In Asia things were little different, in the countries which had strong indigenous institutions prior to the contact with the west, those countries done better generally, such as Japan, Korean, China, whereas India didn't have strong indigenous institutions that's why in present we are more inclined towards western culture be it tea, language, education, and even the democratic institutions than China or Japan.

In Sub Saharan Africa, this region was left well intact by the west except for few country, such as South Africa, this was due to the climate and disease, Coastal climate of South Africa was most friendly to the west, therefore we don't observe Western legacy in Nigeria, Kenya but in South Africa only. The Western lack of interest in this region is also the very reason that most part of these countries are still tribally organized, they didn't have any indigenous institutions prior to the contact with the West, and Western power were not interested in exporting their institutions in that region so it still remains backward, poor, and highly corrupt region.

The third part, democracy, talks about the rise and spread of democracy, how industrialization was at the root of this, and how the middle classes are very important to the emergence and sustainability of the democracy. He talks about how the Nationalism has also emerged from the modernization. He further highlights the Arab spring which started from the Tunisian Mohomed Bouazizi, who was a vendor, He set himself on fire because of the consistent trouble that he was having to go through government officials, this incident proved fatal in whole of the region, as whole region from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria sink into chaos. More of the people of middle east wants what Britain achieved through glorious revolution of 1688/89, which is no tax without representation, more and more Peoples wants to be recognized as individuals, this process is also going on in China, as the economic growth has led to the social mobilization, and new groups are emerging, the middle class is growing, so to the demands for recognization.

The last part, Political decay, in this part Fukuyama describe how the institutions decay, he says that institutions decay when the original conditions out of which institutions have emerged changed, or when institutions are not able to accommodate the newly emerged groups into the system, and as this was the case with old French regime, in which the old class was so entrenched in the system that it blocked all the roots of reforms so this inevitably required the revolution to dispossess the old class entirely from the system, and that is what eventually happened.

Political decay is inevitable, it can occur in both the authoritarian regimes, and in the democratic. Whole of the human history is abundant of these decays, the collapse of Han Chinese meritocratic government two millennium earlier, it was because the system was based on the impersonal and merit, but as the elites within the system became powerful enough that they were able to favor family and friends and make it an patrimonial state so it eventually decayed. This is also true in the case of Ottomans and Mamluks.

Finishing off with important takeaways from the book.

Political institutions are important for eliminating the poverty, but the emergence of political institutions in poverty is an impossible task, so this is difficult for some of the poor countries of today's world.

Reforming a rigid system is oftentimes a daunting task, and entrenched groups that are benefiting with the system don't necessarily allow this to happen, therefore an outside event or factor such as war or threat of war is very important towards this development, in 1853, the Crimean war, led the great Britain to civil service reforms, the famous Northcote-travleyan act, this was pending from almost two decades.

And in United States it took an assassination of sitting president William Garfield by Charles Gotehue who was looking for a political appointment for himself as U.S consul to France, he was denied this and in turn he killed the president, this led to the serious soul searching, and then George. H Pendleton, the senator at that time presented an act, which was later known as Pendleton act, it was drafted by Daron Eaton, who himself was sent to the Europe by President Rutherford, so that he could compile a report on European administrative system, the act was enacted and in subsequent decades American civil service became autonomous, impersonal and meritocratic.
Profile Image for Hossein Seifi.
27 reviews1 follower
February 21, 2022
خواندن این کتاب با توجه به بحث های تخصصی کمی سخت و زمان بر بود ولی خب در نهایت تمام شد. من قبل از این کتاب، "ملت ها چرا شکست می خورند؟" را دوبار خوانده بودم و کم و بیش با توجه به مطالعاتم، اطلاعات محدودی در این حوزه داشتم. به نظر من این کتاب برای دانشجویان علوم سیاسی و دیگر افراد علاقه مند به این حوزه و همچنین بحث های مربوط به توسعه می تواند جذاب باشد.
براساس نظر نگارنده، یک نظم سیاسی کارآمد دارای سه ضلع است: دولت, قانون و دموکراسی. کارآمدی یک سیستم حکومتی براساس تعامل صحیح این سه ضلع است. اما مورد مهم دیگر تقدم زمانی این نهادهاست. پیدایش دولت وبروکراسی قوی مقدم بر دموکراسی است.
همچنین خواندن آن در این روزهای نزدیک انتخابات دارای نکات جالبی بود. مثلا اینکه بعضی افراد با استناد مستقیم و غیر مستقیم به این کتاب از روی کار آمدن دولتی نظامی (از نظر من دولت پادگانی!) جانبداری می کنند. اگر فوکویاما از بروکراسی و دولت قدرتمند برای ارایه خدمات عمومی به تمام شهروندان صحبت می کند:
1. دولت در کنار حاکمیت قانون و دموکراسی به درستی عمل خواهد کرد.
2. در دو نمونه ژاپن و آلمان مردم ان کشورها بهای استقلال بیش از حد ارتش ها (به عنوان دو بروکراسی مستقل) را در جنگ های جهانی دادند.
3. فوکویاما به تقدم و تاخر زمانی تولد این سه نهاد اشاره کرده و با بررسی کشورهای مختلف (امریکا، ژاپن، آلمان و ...) از ادعای خود پشتیبانی میکند.
4. در نظر وی دموکراسی قبل از بروکراسی مستقل و کارآمد و حاکمیت قانون فقط مسابقه ایست بین نخبگان سیاسی برای به قدرت رسیدن، سپس سرکوب رقبا و در نهایت ارتقا رفقا.
پس استدلال این آقایون مبنی بر دولت قوی (بدون قانون و دموکراسی) کاریکاتور این کتاب است. متاسفانه می توانم بگویم که امکان ایجاد مورد دوم برای ایران محتمل است.
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