The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
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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.
regardless of whether it is expressed in religious or in secular terms. The religious law that emerged from the twelfth century on had an important effect on modern rule of law by helping to institutionalize and rationalize the law. For rule of law to exist, it is not sufficient to establish a theoretical principle that political rulers are subject to law. Unless that law is embodied in visible institutions that exist with some degree of autonomy from the state, it is much less likely to inhibit
gained enormous prestige by engineering a series of military victories over the Turks, including a heroic defense of Belgrade in 1456.24 As a result, János’s son Mátyás (Matthias Corvinus) was elected king in 1458, and in the course of a more than thirty-year rule he succeeded in modernizing the central Hungarian state. This included the creation of a powerful Black Army under the direct control of the king, replacing the poorly disciplined, semiprivate noble armies on which military capacity had
internal logic of state building and extensive economic growth. Political power generated economic resources, which in turn generated greater political power. This process fed upon itself, up to the point that the expanding polity ran into a physical limit like geography or available technology, or bumped up against another polity, or a combination of the two factors. This is the logic of state building and war that unfolded in China and Europe. The other channel of political change has to do
1922. Economic Development in Denmark: Before and During the World War. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Whimp, Kathy. 1998. “Indigenous Land Owners and Representation in PNG and Australia.” Port Moresby: unpublished paper. White, Leslie A. 1959. The Evolution of Culture: The Development of Civilization to the Fall of Rome. New York: McGraw-Hill. Wilson, David Sloan. 1983. “The Group Selection Controversy: History and Current Status.” Annual Review of Ecological Systems 14:159–87. ———, and Elliott
etc. One very important factor is the presence of a large island, Britain, offshore, which acted for much of European history as a deliberate balancer that tried to break up hegemonic coalitions. The first Chinese empire, by contrast, emerged in only a portion of present-day China, along a northerly west-east axis from the Wei River valley to the Shandong peninsula. This entire region was easily traversed by the armies of the day, particularly following the construction of numerous roads and