Questions about the troubled spirit and ailing institutions of contemporary democracy. Its lengthy argument can be summarised in a single sentence: without the prior establishment of a well-armed and functional territorial state, and without an independent judiciary responsible for overseeing the rule of law that robust state power then makes possible, modern liberal democracy simply cannot happen. Fukuyama admits of troubles in the house of democracy. Fukuyama worries as well about the shrinking middle class, which he deems the social bedrock of liberal democracy. The bigger historical picture is different, and the future bright.
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During the globalization euphoria of the s some pundits were writing that the individual state was too small to solve social and economic problems. Now the tone has changed. Fukuyama notes the wide variation in the strength of contemporary states. African failed states host terrorists, corruption, and disease. Brittle Middle Eastern states are the object of movements to strengthen, reorganize, or sweep them away.
Bring on volume two. 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. Learn more. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Drawing on the insights of his mentor Samuel Huntington, Fukuyama argued that political order was all about institutions, and that liberal democracy in particular rested on a delicate balance of three distinct features — political accountability; a strong, effective state; and the rule of law. Accountability required mechanisms for making leaders responsive to their publics, which meant regular free and fair multiparty elections. Fukuyama showed how throughout human history these three factors had often emerged independently or in various combinations. China, for example, developed a state long before any existed in Europe, yet did not acquire either the rule of law or political accountability. India and much of the Muslim world, by contrast, developed something like the rule of law early on, but not strong states or, in much of the Muslim world, political accountability. It was only in parts of Europe in the late 18th century, Fukuyama noted, that all three aspects started to come together simultaneously. Fukuyama is nothing if not ambitious. He wants to do more than just describe what liberal democracy is; he wants to discover how and why it develops or does not. So in this volume, as in the previous one, he covers a vast amount of ground, summarizing an extraordinary amount of research and putting forward a welter of arguments on an astonishing range of topics.