Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Porque Falham as Nações

Rate this book
Porque são umas nações ricas e outras pobres?
Serão os responsáveis a cultura, as condições meteorológicas, a geografia? Ou talvez a ignorância de quais são as políticas certas? Pura e simplesmente, não. Nenhum destes fatores é definitivo ou constitui um destino. Se assim não for, como explicar por que razão o Botsuana se tornou um dos países de crescimento mais rápido do mundo, enquanto outras nações africanas, como o Zimbabué, o Congo e a Serra Leoa, estão atoladas na pobreza e na violência?
Daron Acemoglu e James Robinson mostram, de uma forma conclusiva, que são as instituições políticas e económicas criadas pela humanidade que estão subjacentes ao êxito económico (ou à falta dele). Baseando-se em quinze anos de investigação, reuniram indícios históricos espantosos sobre o Império Romano, as cidades-estado maias, a Veneza medieval, a União Soviética, a América Latina, Inglaterra, Europa, Estados Unidos e África para elaborarem uma nova teoria de economia política com enorme relevância para as grandes questões atuais, nomeadamente: * A China criou uma máquina de crescimento autoritário. Continuará a crescer a uma velocidade tão elevada que esmagará o Ocidente?
*Os melhores dias da América pertencerão já ao passado? Estaremos a passar de um círculo virtuoso, em que o esforço das elites para iluminar o poder são alvo de resistência para outro círculo vicioso, que enriquece e dá poder a uma pequena minoria?
*Qual é a forma mais eficaz de ajudar a transferir milhões de pessoas da rotina da pobreza para a prosperidade? Residirá em mais filantropia por parte das nações ricas do Ocidente?

619 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2012

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Daron Acemoğlu

67 books1,394 followers
Daron Acemoglu is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2005 he won the prestigious John Bates Clark medal, awarded to the best economist under 40.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
18,180 (38%)
4 stars
18,294 (38%)
3 stars
8,129 (17%)
2 stars
2,124 (4%)
1 star
693 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,322 reviews
Profile Image for Randal Samstag.
92 reviews425 followers
August 21, 2016
The book Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson comes with book-jacket praise from the usual suspects: Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, Jared Diamond of Collapse fame, Nobel Prize “laureate” George Akerlof, and Niall Ferguson, champion of imperialism. Thomas Freidman dashed off a quick review in his New York Times column for April 1, 2012. Freidman, the giddy fan of globalization, was ecstatic, although he admitted that he was “reading” the book, but not that he had “read” it. Freidman points out one of the authors’ main points: “Inclusive economic institutions that enforce property rights, create a level playing field, and encourage investments in new technologies and skills are more conducive to economic growth than extractive institutions that are structured to extract resources from the many by the few.” And this is perhaps their main point, albeit one which they share with most neoliberal development economists. Acemoglu and Robinson are professors at MIT and Harvard Universities; Acemoglu is a winner of the John Bates Clark Medal in the Economics department at MIT and Robinson an area specialist in the department of Government (Political Science)at Harvard. The book seems to be aimed at a wider audience than academia, however.

While the authors mine an enormous literature on development to populate their book with dozens of interesting stories of developmental failure and success, at the end of the day, their book devolves into the something similar to most of the neo-liberal thinking of which we see so much from the “science” of economics. Diamond, who is quoted on the book jacket as saying “Like me, you may succumb to reading it in one go, and then you may come back to it again and again” is more critical in a review in the New York Review of Books (7 June 2012). There he points out that after presenting a map of Africa that clearly shows the tropical countries of the interior of the continent at the lowest end of the income scale they insist that geographic factors are “Theories That Don’t Work” compared to their preferred “institutional” explanation. Diamond’s reaction: “While institutions are undoubtedly part of the explanation, they leave much unexplained: some of those richer temperate countries are notorious for their histories of bad institutions (think of Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, and Libya), while some of the tropical countries (e.g., Costa Rica and Tanzania) have had relatively more honest governments. What are the economic disadvantages of a tropical location?” He concludes, “In their narrow focus on inclusive institutions, however, the authors ignore or dismiss other factors. I mentioned earlier the effects of an area’s being landlocked or of environmental damage, factors that they don’t discuss. Even within the focus on institutions, the concentration specifically on inclusive institutions causes the authors to give inadequate accounts of the ways that natural resources can be a curse.” After describing Acemoglu and Robinson’s botched job in their explanation of the rise of agriculture “to assert, in the complete absence of evidence, that . . . hunter/gatherers had become sedentary because, for unknown reasons, they happened to develop innovative institutions through a hypothesized political revolution” he concludes that “Acemoglu and Robinson do themselves a disservice by misstating these findings.”

The book has a few points to recommend it in this reviewer’s mind: 1) Its insistence on uncertainty in the course of human affairs, 2) Its appreciation for the importance of centralized political structure on economic success, 3) Its recognition of the wasted resources that come with gross inequality. But it has glaring blind spots that should cause a critical reader pause.

In the first chapter the authors quote from Fra Bartolome de Las Casas’s book, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Las Casas is presented by the authors as a hero, who defended the rights of the indigenous people enslaved in the New World by the conquistadores. They seem positively unaware, however, of the irony that motivated Jorge Luis Borges to mention Las Casas in the very first chapter of HIS book, A Universal History of Infamy. For Las Casas’s answer to the enslavement of the indigenous people of the New World was to import Africans to work in the Antillean gold mines. Thus Borges sees Las Casas not just as the savior of the indigenas of the New World (in which effort he was unsuccessful in any case) but as the father of “W.C. Handy’s blues; . . . the mythological dimensions of Abraham Lincoln; the five hundred thousand dead of the Civil War and its three hundred millions spent in military pensions; the entrance of the word “to lynch” into the thirteenth edition of the Spanish Academy . .” etc. This kind of irony is well over the heads of our authors.

They take the “failure” of the Mayan civilization to be the result of their favorite themes of “creation of extractive political institutions” and lack of “creative destruction.” They recognize that “the coalescence of these institutions created the basis for an impressive economic expansion” but see its collapse in the ninth century AD to be the result of the overthrow of the political system that had produced this expansion. They recognize that “existing archeological evidence does not allow us to reach a definitive conclusion about why the k’ubul ajaw and elites surrounding him were overthrown” but they take this collapse as evidence nonetheless for their theory that “extractive institutions” were the cause of that collapse. And concerning their diagnosis of “collapse”, should a Mayan society that apparently thrived for close to one thousand years be considered a failure? There is no discussion of the possibility that laterite formation in tropical soils had anything to do with this “collapse.” The story of the Mayans just becomes another example of their pet theory.

I have mentioned “creative destruction”. Although there is only one direct mention of the “great economist Joseph Schumpeter” in the book, there are references aplenty to Schumpeter’s most memorable phrase. Creative destruction was explained by Schumpeter as follows: “The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation – if I may use that biological term – that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating the new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.” (Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, page 83.) Schumpeter was convinced that the entrepreneur is the driving force for development in a capitalistic society. Keynes was not so sure, remarking “we are damned if we know” why capitalists invest.

Acemoglu and Robinson seem to take as gospel that creative destruction is necessary for societal advance and always works toward the public good. Someone like Polanyi would no doubt not agree. Schumpeter’s young Harvard colleague Paul Sweezy certainly did not agree when he participated with Schumpeter in their famous debate at the Harvard Graduate Student’s Economics Club in the winter of 1946-47 (See “on the laws of capitalism, Insights from the Sweezy-Schumpeter Debate” in Monthly Review, May, 2011.) Sweezy’s notes for the debate say that “There is no reason to deny Schumpeter’s entrepreneurial type, but its significance is quite differently evaluated. For him the entrepreneur occupies the center of the stage; the accumulation process is derivative. For me the accumulation process is primary; the entrepreneur falls in with it and plays a part in it.” Sweezy was, of course, one of the most prominent American Marxist economists of the twentieth century. For him the historical process of evolution of society was crucial, as it was for Marx. And Schumpeter, even as an Austrian economist, had a profound appreciation for this. It is not fair to Acemoglu and Robinson to say that they are oblivious to history; their book is full of historical anecdotes. But this reader gets the sense that for them if a society would just get with the program and encourage capitalists, everything would come out all right.

They rail against the monopolies and resistance to enclosure by the Tudor and Stuart kings in England. This is a typical response of the neo-liberal. The problem is not market economies, they say, but those that interfere with the “free” motion of these economies in society. They attribute the rise of the Industrial Revolution in England to an overcoming of the absolutism of the Tudors and Stuarts by the rise of “inclusive institutions” embodied in the Glorious Revolution by the rise of Parliament. But the destruction part of the rise of the entrepreneurial class gets little appreciation. For that we have to read Polanyi and Marx. And they are oblivious to the fact that without Tudor protectionism, the wool-spinning industry in England may never have gotten of the ground. To learn about this we would have to read the Marxist historians or Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans.

This book contains almost no reference to socialist or even non-free trade capitalist critique of the development policies which the authors prefer. This, of course, is typical of the environment of American academic departments of economics and political science, where our authors reside. In spite of their re-telling of many stories about the corruption and distortion imposed upon the people of the South by European imperialism in the nineteenth century, there is no mention of Lenin’s Imperialism, Highest Form of Capitalism. No mention of Polanyi. The only significant mention of Marx is in a passage where they say “Lenin and his Communist Party were inspired by Marx, but the practice could not have been more different than the theory. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was a bloody affair, and there was no humane aspect to it.” In fact, the Russian Revolution was remarkably bloodless, since the army went wholly over to the Revolution very early in the process. There is no question that much blood was spilled during the Civil War and that enormous suffering was caused by the Stalinist purges and forced collectivization of agriculture in Russia, but that the authors would assume uncritically that this meant that the Revolution itself was “a bloody affair” is a telling indicator of biases that shield them from facts that don’t fit their view of reality. In a book that is so filled with facts, this ignorance seems systematic; as if they were searching out only the facts that fit their theory.

The authors make an off-hand reference to current day Iraq (on page 444) with amazing lack of empathy for the impact of the “shock and awe” imposed on that country by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld regime and the UN Sanctions that preceded it. They use Iraq’s recent history to argue against the “theory of modernization” that they say “maintains that all societies, as they grow, are headed toward a more modern, developed, and civilized existence, and in particular toward democracy.” They mention the “disastrous economic performance under Saddam Hussein’s regime” without mentioning the years of pain imposed by continuing NATO-enforced sanctions and bombardment. For a more realistic estimate of that impact the reader is directed to Iraq Under Siege, The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War, published in 2000, three years before “shock and awe.” There the reader will find another reason behind that “disastrous economic performance” of the previous decade. Anthony Arnove in the introduction to Iraq under Siege quotes from a Wall Street Journal article in 1999 citing unnamed US officials saying, “After eight years of enforcing a ‘no-fly zone’ in northern [and sourthern] Iraq, few military targets remain. . . . We are down to the last outhouse.” Acemoglu and Robinson say that hopes for “pluralism” were “dashed as chaos and civil war descended upon Iraqi society.” This implies that the “chaos and civil war” were the result of some internal dynamic in Iraq without considering that what had descended onto Iraqi society was not just the “extractive institutions” of Saddam Hussein but also the wrath of the American Empire, imposed over a decade of economic sanctions and bombardment since the end of the first Iraq war, “Desert Storm”. They fail to mention the possibility that 6,000 sorties and 1,800 bombs as part of the “longest sustained US air operation since the Vietnam War” had anything to do with the dissolution of Iraqi society that followed the second US land invasion by Bush, the younger. Iraq had long since been “bombed back to the stone age” to quote an earlier American general talking about that earlier war. Acemoglu and Robinson make no mention of this.

One of the interesting facts that the authors dredge up from the large anthropological and historical literature upon which they report is a story from the history of Dutch colonialism in the East Indies. They tell the story of the Banda Islands which had established trading relations with English, Portuguese, Indian, and Chinese merchants for mace and nutmeg, which were indigenous to their islands. In 1621 the Dutch governor of Batavia (now Jakarta in Indonesia) Jan Pieterszoon Coen “sailed to Banda with a fleet and proceeded to massacre almost the entire population of the islands, probably about fifteen thousand people.” He set up a plantation system in place of the thriving economic activity of the local Banda people and “divided the islands into sixty-eight plantations, awarded to sixty-eight Dutchmen, mostly former and current employees of the Dutch East India Company.” They use this to support their major thesis, that “European expansion . . . sowed the seeds of underdevelopment in many diverse corners of the world by imposing, or further strengthening existing, extractive institutions.” But their emphasis is on the “extractive institutions” and not on the fact that European imperialism imposed this reality by genocidal force of arms. This is a very strange emphasis to place on these facts.

Diamond’s critique in his NYRB article provides a good summary of this book. There he points to “the authors’ resort to assertion unsupported or contradicted by facts.” This book presents what is really a banal conclusion: that authoritarian institutions that impose the will of a small group of elites onto a population is the primary cause of “underdevelopment”. This is not a new theory. It is a re-statement of Aristotle’s Politics. The real questions are why these authoritarian institutions succeed in taking over power in so many societies and how societies with apparently “inclusive” institutions like those in current day United States have evolved into such unequal societies. This book leaves us no closer to an answer to these questions.

The real problem that I have with this book is that it uncritically takes for granted the underlying assumptions from the neoclassical economist’s tool box. They point out the obvious: “Europeans themselves stamped out the possibility of economic growth in many parts of the world that they conquered; . . . the lands where Industrial Revolution originally did not spread remain relatively poor; . . . . the Industrial Revolution and other new technologies are unlikely to spread to places around the world today where a minimum degree of centralization of the state hasn’t been achieved.” These conclusions are delivered with a tone of great solemnity, but no one but the most dogmatic libertarians or European chauvinists would seriously disagree. The real question is how to change this. Their prescription of more “inclusion” the like of which we have in the United States may satisfy some, but it does not satisfy this reviewer.
Profile Image for Yalman Onaran.
Author 1 book25 followers
January 6, 2013
This could be written in one chapter or a long magazine piece. Has an interesting theory, but it just goes on for too long and not worth spending the time.
Profile Image for William2.
758 reviews3,075 followers
September 15, 2017
This economic history is, as far as it goes, excellent. The main thesis is ultra simple: nations must develop inclusive economic and political institutions if they are to achieve prosperity. Such political institutions include fair and free elections, an independent judiciary, uncorrupt legislative and executive branches etc etc. Inclusive economic institutions include financial controls such as (in the U.S.) the Fed, the SEC, trust breaking litigation, and so forth. The authors say all of these things are mutually reinforcing. In the U.S., for instance, all three main governmental institutions at the federal level hold each other in check. This is also more or less true in Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Botswana. Yes, that Botswana. The stories of Botswana -- and the rest of post-colonial Africa -- are ones I have not come across elsewhere and for which I am especially grateful.

Nations with inclusive economic and political institutions allow something called "creative destruction." This is what happens when new technologies appear and cause a redistribution of wealth. Perhaps the most recent example of creative destruction has been the impact of computers and the internet. So many industries have been upset by these new technologies: publishing, the music industry, retail stores, manufacturing, etc etc. Nations which do not have inclusive economic and political institutions are called "extractive." An extractive nation is one in which an elite prospers from the misfortune of the rest of the population. One example of this is the post-colonial African nation of Sierra Leone. When the British left Sierra Leone, and it was thought that the extractive mechanisms they had put in place would be abolished, just the opposite happened. Local strong men came along and upped the ante. This had the effect of disincentivizing entrepreneurs. After all, why work hard if 90% of one's output will be seized by the junta? Moreover, such extractive nations will not permit creative destruction because it threatens to undermine the power of the governing elite. So the extractive states tend to be backward because they shun new technologies. Though examples from antiquity are adduced -- Rome, Mayan civilization, for instance, both extractive -- the authors are mostly concerned with what happened starting with the Industrial Revolution on. They show how the English Civil War and subsequent Glorious Revolution set the stage for the growth of inclusive political and economic institutions in England and how these became mutually reinforcing over time.

The book is compelling. I hope people living in these extractive nations will get a translation because it is so eye-opening. But that's unlikely, isnt it? Since a major feature of extractive nations is suppression of the media, which is transparency.

This is a view of history, on the other hand, that does not question its foundations. It's a great cheering section for capitalism generally. But there's a huge problem with this economic-growth-at-all-costs mentality. It may have been fine for a century or so but now it's no longer tenable. In fact, it's killing us: climate change, loss of biodiversity, global deforestation; our oceans are covered, by one recent estimate, with 480 billion cubic tons of plastic. GDP is the wrong measure of our "progress" now. We need new sustainable economic models. So the book, while being a captivating history of how capitalism has worked historically, offers no solutions for how it might change. New models are badly needed. If, that is, we haven't already passed the ecological tipping point.
Profile Image for Heidi (Heidi's Bookish Adventures).
111 reviews17 followers
March 6, 2019
The central idea of the book is that states fail because of their political institutions, namely because of their extractive nature. This thesis is, in my opinion, extremely simplistic.

Economic processes are never this one-dimensional. The authors argue that the three theories of poverty (nations are poor because of their unfortunate geographic location, their culture does not facilitate growth and the West simply does not know how to transform poor countries into rich ones) are completely irrelevant which I disagree with (as in, I think that there are probably multiple causes as to why some nations are rich and some poor). The assumption that only politics and political institutions determine whether a country is 'poor or prosperous' is simply too one-sided. The authors do back their ideas up with countless examples from history but these sometimes tend to be irrelevant and random. For example:

They state that disease is not the reason why Africa is poor, it is rather the consequence of Africa already being poor. A possible solution: African governments should invest in health care just like England did in the 19th century. Firstly, the leader of the Industrial Revolution was by no means a poor country. They had the means and resources to do lots of things that contemporary Africa can only dream of. Therefore, this solution is not really much of a solution. Assuming that the political elite in some of the poorest nations in Africa have the resources to build up a new system of health care (this would also mean that the government should provide education for the public which in turn would mean that the mostly agricultural nature of the society would have to change because the country would need educated professionals) is not feasible. That is not to say that African nations are not capable of achieving success, in fact quite a few of them have already done so in various fields but in general, building a country essentially from scratch is not that simple.

The authors also argue that growth under extractive institutions is possible. However, the Caribbean islands were extremely wealthy in the 17th and 18th centuries despite their extractive institutions. They were not poor and definitely not 'failed'. The authors then argue elsewhere that several countries in the Middle East only thrive because of oil, should oil prices fall, they would quickly lose some of their wealth. This is probably true but we cannot ignore the fact that those states are wealthy even though they operate under extractive institutions, just like those of 17-18th century Caribbean. And calling the Ottoman Empire and the Mayans failed is simply incorrect. If a civilization manages to thrive for hundreds and hundreds of years, it is definitely not failed.

There is obviously merit in the authors' argument and I do agree that political and economic institutions have a lot to do with how prosperous and successful a state becomes. History obviously matters but what really annoyed me was the way the book drones on it. The authors constantly repeat themselves and it made me feel as if someone was hitting me in the head with a hammer, making sure that I understand that "Nations fail because of extractive institutions." Okay, I get it already.

To sum up, colonialism and authoritarian governments do indeed stagnate the economy as a whole and create distrust among people. Evil institutions never do too much to help the general public. But they're not the only reason why some countries are poor and some rich.

Edit 06.03.2019: wording and sentence structure.
Profile Image for Siew.
26 reviews33 followers
July 7, 2012
Such an insightful and shocking book! The examples are very well-explained, and I truly enjoyed thinking and discussing the points raised in this book. Only if more people would read this book and understand that it is not for the lack of aid to poor countries, but the very political and economical structure of the country that makes it poor.

The whole inclusive and extractive political-economical standpoint is very interesting.

The only nitpick I would comment on: the book suffers from excessive repetition. Only if the writers of this book would take some lessons from Jonathan Haidt on how to structure a (non-fiction) book properly.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
816 reviews2,583 followers
June 10, 2012
This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty. The authors contend that some nations have "inclusive" economic and political policies. These policies give a political voice to a large segment of the population, rather than only to a small elite. As a result, a set of checks and balances tends toward a positive feedback, sometimes called a "virtuous cycle". This virtuous cycle helps to accelerate the tendencies toward inclusiveness, and to suppress occasional lapses toward power-grabbing.

The other side of the coin are nations with "extractive" economic and political policies. A single person, or a small elite, finds it in their personal interests to grab power and extract as many of the nation's resources for their personal gain. They reject technological innovation, and try their best to maintain the status quo. These nations may temporarily improve their economical conditions, but in the long run their improvements cannot be sustained. Interestingly, the authors claim that China, despite economic improvements in recent decades, is going to be a short-lived phenomenon. At its roots, the political system is still extractive, because it does not allow dissension, does not protect private property, and does not extend the rule of law to everyone.

The authors go into considerable detail, explaining why Western Europe, especially Great Britain, became more economically successful than Eastern Europe. They extend their understanding to North vs. South America. They describe the histories of many other countries as well, to understand why inclusive or extractive policies have helped or hindered progress.

The book tends to be rather repetitive, sometimes too repetitive for my taste. Also, sometimes the sentence constructions are a bit awkward. Nevertheless, the book gives some fascinating insights into political science, and why nations become progressive, or tend toward failure.
Profile Image for billyskye.
186 reviews22 followers
May 2, 2017
I worked for an international affairs journal when this book was first released. I remember the considerable energy the authors seemed to be putting into its marketing – the articles, the interviews, the debates, the blog, the proliferation of review copies. It seemed like there was a concerted effort to get Why Nations Fail added to that canon of suspect, generalist readings of geopolitics – your Clash of Civilizations, your Tragedy of Great Power Politics, your End of History and the Last Man – that worm their way into the lexicons of all first-year IR students alongside the terms “realism,” “constructivism,” and “neoliberal institutionalism.” I must confess that at the time I was put off by the baby blue cover (everyone knows that all serious works of poli-sci keep their color schemes to the austere blacks and whites). But it was about time to give it a go.

The book’s central thesis is very simple. “Extractive institutions” limit “creative destruction” (borrowing Joseph Schumpeter’s famous term) as a society run by a “narrow elite” with entrenched power fear a disruption of the status quo. This “iron law of oligarchy” limits long-term market success. The answer lies in “inclusive” economic and political structures that foster a “virtuous circle” of innovation and sustainable growth. These phrases are repeated ad nauseam. They season the cherry-picked case studies that span the vast breadth of human history and take up the meat of the read.

If all that seems rather obvious, I don’t think you’re alone. Who among those with access to this text remain unconvinced that graft, monopolism, despotism yield limited prosperity for society at large? Vladimir Putin? Viktor Orban? Donald Trump? I’m sure their motivations stem from very different sources of inspiration than those the authors have in mind. As for the Western academic tradition – it seems rather conclusive on this matter. Why Nations Fail doesn’t deal much in nuance. It commits to a definition for neither “nationhood” (surely something a bit different than Benedict Anderson’s imagined communities) nor “failure” (are we talking a runaway Gini coefficient – large-scale income inequality? Scarcity? Barbarians at the gates?). So, what are we left with? Almost a tautology. Nations are sets of state-run institutions. They fail when those state-run institutions break down. Naturally.

I’m going to coin a term here. As a disclaimer: I’ve never studied classics so it’s probably less-than apt, but here goes. Historrhea (from Ancient Greek ἱστορία historía “history” and ῥέω rheo “to flow”) | noun | hist˙or˙rhea. Historrhea is characterized by excessive and sometimes incoherent tellings of societal events. I find there’s a lot of historrhea in these sorts of books that attempt to prescribe some grand narrative to human civilization. That seems to be what’s going on here and I’m not a huge fan for a few reasons: (1) It comes across as tendentious. I’ve witnessed enough anthropology professors dealing body blows to Guns, Germs, and Steel, the misguided goodwill of Jeffrey Sachs, and the latest Tom Friedman mixed-metaphor to know that things are rarely that simple. A lot of people have lived on planet earth. And collectively they have done a lot of stuff. You can bend the past to fit a linear argument in pretty much any way you want if you try hard enough. That doesn’t mean you’ve stumbled upon some harmonious truth to the universe, especially if… (2) There is almost no reliance on data/statistical modeling. This was a huge disappointment. I understand that Why Nations Fail was written as a work of pop-history, but Drs. Acemoglu and Robinson are respected economists. Why not play to your strengths and craft a more compelling, rigorous argument in the process? As it stands… (3) The results are not very educational. I read non-fiction to learn. It is very difficult to internalize information – for me at least – when the text skips haphazardly throughout time and space, dealing in surface-level treatments of complex issues like a disorganized AP World History study guide. The analysis of events never makes it past the Wikipedia page. I know enough to be suspicious of this.

Drs. Acemoglu and Robinson reject the “historical determinism” of other hypotheses for state success and state failure, but to me that’s kind of like a proponent of the Cartesian theater rejecting neurological determinism. Sure, you’ve liberated the mind from its fated ends, but how, then, do you do the same for the homunculus you’ve created? Here too, we manage a claim that nations may determine their own fate through the institutions they establish, but where do these institutions come from? Wherein lies the will to will? Really you’re not getting anywhere at all.

The theories proffered by Why Nations Fail are purely descriptive in nature. Drs. Acemoglu and Robinson acknowledge this lack of predictive power, but I’m not sure that makes it better. I think the most damning indictment of this sort of work comes at the authors’ own hands. As the book concludes, Drs. Acemoglu and Robinson can’t resist making some tame prognostications based on their thesis. The year is 2012. China is bound for a crash, they write; its authoritarian regime can’t hold on. Conversely, Brazil’s future is looking bright as the party of Lula rights the ship. In 2017 we know a bit of how things play out. Xi Jinping consolidates power as the Chinese economy continues its implacable advance. The reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. Meanwhile, Brazil remains mired in its worst recession on record while the government is wracked with corruption scandal after corruption scandal. Of course, there is always time for things to turn around. Even those in the Chinese politburo – riding high – must know this. The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been. Perhaps a window will open up in which the authors can claim vindication – that they were right in the long run. Of course, another famous quotation comes to mind in response.

Two stars. In the long run we are all dead.
Profile Image for Keith Swenson.
Author 15 books50 followers
November 11, 2013
Overall: very very interesting and very important topic. I would give it 5 stars except it is very long, detailed, and not an easy read. However well worth it.

Thesis in brief: some countries are properous, and others are not. What causes the difference? Some are right next to each other and the difference in prosperity can not be explained by geography, climate, or even culture. Instead it is the system, and what is it about the system that explains the difference. They elaborate a theory that there are "inclusive" political and economic systems, and there are "extractive" political and economic system. A precondition to either of these is a minimal level of centralized political control.

To distill this to a very simplified level: a region needs to develop a minimal amount of centralized control. At that point it is possible to create a system that is inclusive, where power is somewhat distributed, and economic gains are shared, which helps make the economy grow in a sustained way. At some point it is possible to switch to an extractive system where the people in power manipulate the system to enrich themselves and to stay in power, and at that point sustained growth becomes impossible. The rest of the world passes it up, or in some cases the country descends into ruin.

The bulk of the book is a scholarly and encyclopedic study of different cultures, testing and demonstrating the theory.

Mexico vs. USA: neighboring countries and the difference in climate does not explain the extensive difference in the properity. Surprisingly, 500 years ago Mexico was far more prosperous than the land north of the border. Mexico had 500 times as many people per sq. mile than Virginia, it had an advanced civilization, and tremendous wealth by any measure. How did it come that today USA is so prosperous compared to Mexico? When the Europeans got to mexico, they immediately set up an extractive system to enrich themselves, while in Virginia the Jamestown settlers came close to extinction, and had to set up an inclusive system in order to survive. Once the pattern is set, it is very hard to change, and echos of these patterns survive today.

Chapter 2 addresses all of the common folk theories of why rich countries and poor countries are different: geography, culture, & ignorance. Evidence against is presented. The conclusion: "poor countries are poor because those that have power make choices that create poverty"

Chapter 3 explains extractive and inclusive using the example of South and North Korea which were identical before the border was drawn at the 38th parallel. "Nations fail when they have extractive economic institutions supported by extractive political institutions that impede and even block economic growth." Economic growth requires that 'creative destruction' that Adam Smith referred to, and in an extractive system, those in power oppose change because they fear it will dilute their power and wealth. They actively oppose change. However, without change you can't have growth. Congo and Soviet Union are given as examples of extractive systems that achieved limited growth because the elite actively directed the resources to this end ... but it does not last.

Chapter 4 talks about systems that change from one form to another at a critical juncture. The black death. The Glorious Revolution. Japan in transition from Edo to Meiji.

Chapter 5 is a wide ranging survey of countries (and periods of their history) with extractive systems.

Chapter 6 covers rise and fall scenarios: Venice, Rome, others.

Chapter 7 stands on its own and presents the answer to the question: "Why did the industrial revolution happen in England?" After all, England was not that different from the rest of Europe, but those small differences, and a critical juncture, pushed it in just the right way to be ready for the technological advances of the industrial revolution.

Chapter 8 gives many example (e.g. Somalia) of how the people in power of some countries avoided any advantage from the industrial revolution .. and were left economically behind because of it.

Chapter 9 gives some example (most notably the Spice Islands) where invaders managed actually to destroy inclusive cultures in order to line their own pockets.

Chapter 10 discusses the diffusion of prosperity and how that enabled key countries to benefit from the industrial revolution.

Chapter 11 explains the virtuous circle and how when a country manages to get inclusive economic and political institutions, it tends to stay that way in a stable configuration.

Chapter 12 explains the vicious circle, the pattern where extractive systems tend to reinforce themselves and become stable, even as the country sinks into ruin.

Chapter 13 brings us back to the present day, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leon, Argentina, Korea, and the US south (slave states).

Chapter 14: some positive stories of countries that made a narrow escape: Botswana started very poor, but has grown more than any of its neighbors into a country with the highest per-capta income in sub-saharan Africa. How the south escaped slavery, how those institutions persisted for a hundred years, but finally made it out.

Chapter 15: with all that groundwork behind you, you are finally prepared to fully understand properity, poverty, and their causes. They reject the idea that natural growth will bring prosperity once the country is educated enough. Foreign aid will never work in a country that has extractive institutions -- what has to happen is a change to inclusive, and there is nothing natural or easy about this change.

The book yeilds a lot of insight on the ways that countries can evolve, and indeed patterns that are sure to cause failure. I can't stop wishing that the authors could offer a sure fire way to solve the problem, to turn a country from extractive to inclusive, but alas this is not included in book. It is clear that no simple solutions exist. It would seem that each country to be "saved" would probably need a solution unique to it.

In poor countries they found extractive institutions; in rich countries inclusive institutions; however the cause and effect is not completely clear. We don't really know what causes the form encountered, nor what might cause a change of form. Thus is might simply be that a particular country just happens to be poor and extractive -- it is hard to say whether change to an inclusive structure is even possible. Maybe you have to growing to have inclusive systems. What is the chicken, and what is the egg?

This does not diminish the book in any way. Their 15 years of research are brought to expose patterns that I expect to enhance my way of viewing world politics, economics, and culture, for many years to come.
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
531 reviews281 followers
August 12, 2021
نویسندگان کتاب چرا ملتها شکست می خورند : ریشه های قدرت ، شکوفایی و فقر – جیمز رابینسون و دارون عجم اوغلو کوشیده اند در کتاب بسیار معروف خود به سوال بسیار کلی علت شکوفایی ملت ها و دلایل عقب ماندگی برخی کشورها پاسخ دهند .
بدون تردید یافتن جوابی جامع برای سوالی کلی فوق کار بسیار سختی ایست ، همانند کتاب های مشابه ، نویسندگان این کتاب هم پیش از طرح نظریه و تئوری خود ابتدا تلاش کرده اند تا جوابهای رایج به پرسش را بررسی کنند .
شاید محبوب ترین پاسخ به علت شکوفایی ملت ها جغرافیا و تفاوت های جغرافیایی باشد اما نویسندگان کتاب با مثال آوردن شهری مرزی بین آمریکا و مکزیک این دلیل را رد می کنند . ( شاید مهم ترین مشکل کتاب همین دید کوتاه و رد کردن یک فرضیه با یک مثال نقض باشد ، امروزه می دانیم که یکی از دلایل پیشرفت غرب ، نزدیکی شهرها به همدیگر به علت آب و هوای مطلوب و بارندگی زیاد بوده ، این امر ارتباطات و مراودات تجاری میان شهرها به ویژه در فرانسه ، آلمان فعلی ، سوییس ، اتریش و شمال ایتالیا را افزایش داده ، شهرها به همدیگر وابسته شده و کم کم مازاد تولید جهت تجارت به وجود آمد ، بانکداری جهت رونق دادن بازرگانی در اروپا و به ویژه در ایتالیا ، ونیز و جنوا پا گرفت و پیشرفت کرد ، از طرفی دیگر دسترسی کشورها به رودهای پر آب و قابل کشتیرانی و نزدیکی به اقیانوس و دریاهای مهم مانند مدیترانه باعث پیشرفت قابل توجه کشتیرانی در ایتالیا ، سپس در اسپانیا و پرتغال ، فرانسه و هلند و در پایان در انگلستان شد ، صدها و شاید هزاران دریانورد مانند مارکوپولو ، واسکو دوگاما ، کریستف کلمب و ماژلان از غرب برای تجارت ابریشم ، ادویه از ایتالیا ، اسپانیا و پرتغال راهی دنیاهای جدید شدند .در حالی که در شرق برای مثال ایران به علت خشکی سرزمین ، شهرها عموما با فاصله زیاد از هم بنا می شدند و مجبور به تامین مایحتاج خود از داخل شهر بودند ، بازرگانی زمینی به علت وجود صحرا و کوه های فراوان و ناامنی همواره با مشکل روبرو بوده ، بنابر این مازاد تجاری خاصی هم به وجود نیامده و از همه مهمتر اصولا کشتیرانی و تجارت دریایی هموار به جبر جغرافیا مورد بی اعتنایی مطلق قرار گرفته بود. )
رابینسون و اوغلو به همین ترتیب والبته با تاکید بر مثال های نقض ، دیگر فرضیه های رایج مانند فرضیه فرهنگ و نژاد را هم نفی می کنند ، آنها سپس با تکیه بر واژه هایی مانند نهاد های فراگیر ، نهادهای استثماری و تخریب خلاق نظریه خود را با ذکر مثال شرح و بسط می دهند .
ساده ترین مثال برای اثبات درستی نظریه آنان ، مقایسه بین کره شمالی و کره جنوبی ایست که با وجود موقعیت یکسان جغرافیایی ، فرهنگ و نژاد همسان ، کره شمالی به سرعت مسیر قهقرا ولی کره جنوبی راه پیشرفت و توسعه را می پیماید . به نظر نویسندگان کتاب علت پیشرفت کره جنوبی در انتخاب سیاستها و روشهایی ایس�� که با خود رشد نهاد های فراگیر اقتصادی به همراه آورده اما در کره شمالی باعث گسترش و تقویت نهادهای استثماری شده است .
شاید بتوان گفت کتاب به غیر از طرح ایده نهادهای فراگیر و نهادهای استثماری ، حرف و سخن دیگری ندارد ، نویسندگان کتاب با آوردن نمونه و مثال های فراوان و ذکر چرایی شکست و یا پیروزی آنها ، به هر قیمتی این دلایل را به نظریه خود ارتباط می دهند ، امری که باعث تکراری بودن مطالب کتاب شده و خواننده را به سرعت و به خاطر نیافتن نکته جدیدی در کتاب خسته می کند .
نکته ای که نویسندگان کتاب برآن اصرار فراوان داشته اند تلاش در جهت یافتن فرمولی ریاضی وار و گنجاندن ریشه مشکلات در آن است ، روشی ساده و البته نسبتا غیر علمی با نادیده گرفتن ریشه های تاریخی ، جغرافیای سیاسی و البته دلایل فرهنگی . تلاش آنان کتاب را تکراری و خسته کننده کرده و خواننده را در چرخه ای بی پایان از علت های یکسان انداخته است .
در پایان کتاب خواننده احتمالا به این نتیجه رسیده است که نمی توان به این پرسش پاسخی کلی داد ، یا آنرا در قالبی گنجاند ، بلکه هر کشور یا ملتی را باید به صورتی جدا و با در نظر گرفتن مجموعه ای کامل از تمامی عوامل بررسی کرد ، مفاهیمی که در این کتاب به صورت کامل نادیده گرفته شده اند .
Profile Image for Max.
396 reviews27 followers
June 23, 2012
I think the premise of this book is fantastic, and the first 50 pages were terrific. Beyond that, I was pretty disappointed by the execution.

The book is built upon the theory that it is not economic policies, but rather "institutions" (such as good governance, social norms and a strong legal system) that play the fundamental role in economic growth and development. I find this to be a compelling theory and I think it is an extremely useful framework from which to view economic and political development. Like most "big theory" books, this book is spent explaining how this theory explains the world. I think the main problem with this approach is that these are economists (and not economic historians) trying to write about history, and their history is awfully simplistic. The economic history of institutions would be fascinating, if done in a comprehensive way, but this reads more like a superficially researched college history paper than a comprehensive history of institutions and their role in economic history. Judging from Acemoglu and Robinson's version of history, institutions explain all major political developments of the past 5 millennia, and there are no counter-examples that contradict their explanations. These are unrealistic positions.
Profile Image for Miltos S..
119 reviews51 followers
June 23, 2019
Πολύ ενδιαφέρον και σημαντικό βιβλίο. Θα μπορούσε εναλλακτικά να ονομαστεί "Παγκόσμια Οικονομική Ιστορία".
Πραγματικά είναι εντυπωσιακό το εύρος της μελέτης και της δουλειάς που έχουν ρίξει οι συγγραφείς και αυτό φαίνεται. Πάντα σεβόμουν απεριόριστα τέτοιες προσπάθειες, αλλά πέρα από την αξία του έργου των δημιουργών, πρόκειται και για ένα βιβλίο που σου ανοίγει τα μάτια σε πολλά θέματα πολιτικο-οικονομικής φύσης, τα οποία ως επί το πλείστον αγνοούμε.

Φυσικά δεν παύει να είναι ένα πόνημα στη βάση της νεοφιλελεύθερης αντίληψης που κυριαρχεί αυτή τη στιγμή στον κόσμο των οικονομολόγων, (η οποία πρεσβεύει ότι θα έπρεπε να υπάρχει νόμιμη αγορά ανθρωπίνων οργάνων, γιατί έτσι η αγορά θα ισορροπούσε, θα έπεφταν οι τιμές και όλοι θα έβρισκαν ένα νεφρό), και κάτω από αυτό το πρίσμα θα πρέπει να το κρίνει κανείς.
Παρ όλα αυτά δεν παύει να είναι ένα σημαντικό και άκρως διδακτικό βιβλίο με μια πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα θεωρία περί των οικονομικών ανισοτήτων.

ΣΗΜ: Αυτό που έγραψα για την αγορά ανθρωπίνων οργάνων δεν το έβγαλα από το μυαλό μου. Στο βιβλίο Principles of Economics του N. Gregory Mankiw που αποτελεί το ευαγγέλιο για όλους τους φοιτητές - προπτυχιακούς και μεταπτυχιακούς - των οικονομικών τμημάτων όλων των πανεπιστημίων ανά τον κόσμο, υπάρχει μια ολόκληρη παράγραφος - δεν έχω πρόχειρο το βιβλίο τώρα για να σας πω και τη σελίδα - η οποία επιχειρηματολογεί ακριβώς πάνω σε αυτό: Θα έπρεπε να υπάρχει ελεύθερη αγορά ανθρωπίνων οργάνων γιατί το αόρατο χέρι της αγοράς θα ρύθμιζε τα πράγματα έτσι ώστε οι τιμές να έπεφταν και όλοι να έβρισκαν ένα νεφρό.
Και μετά απορούμε που ο κόσμος μας έχει τα χάλια που έχει.
Profile Image for AiK.
547 reviews134 followers
January 14, 2023
Книга интересна была для меня невероятно огромным, богатым фактологическим материалом из культур и истории различных стран. Только ради этого стоило прочитать. Авторы считают, что на вопрос, заданный в заголовке, отвечают качества и структура институтов, созданных внутри той или иной страны. Они делят институты на экстрактивные – целью которых является исключение большинства из политических процессов и процесса распределения, и инклюзивные – целью которых является защита имущественных прав широких слоев общества и максимальное вовлечение большинства в указанные процессы. В моей стране, люди не могут выбирать даже акимов – мэров, суды у нас не являются независимыми. Средства от налогов, направляемые на строительство и развитие инфраструктуры, в массовом порядке становятся объектом коррупционного перераспределения в пользу крупных чиновников и связанного с ним бизнеса. Я думаю, что то, что они говорят об институтах, очевидно, больше относится к вопросам неравенства, нежели богатства страны. Неравенство влияет на богатство страны.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,452 reviews481 followers
November 28, 2022
This is the type of book where they take a word (Extractive) and use it to mean something different from what it usually means and then repeat it 3,000 times and act like that explains things. The authors' overall argument is that nations work better after people revolt against oligarchs, except for all the times when that didn't work.

Better books covering similar ground:
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad
The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions
Bad Samaritans The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang , 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang , The Future of Freedom Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
The Divide A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions by Jason Hickel
Profile Image for Marija.
20 reviews65 followers
June 10, 2019
The lack of arguments and statements like: "Unlike in Mexico, in the United States the citizens could keep politicians in check and get rid of ones who would use their offices to enrich themselves or create monopolies for their cronies." (In the 19th century? Really?) or “Just as the United States in the nineteenth century was more democratic politically than almost any other nation in the world at the time, it was also more democratic than others when it came to innovation.” do not make any sense. I am not going to finish this book.
Profile Image for Sattar Shayesteh Far.
59 reviews34 followers
October 22, 2020
خیلی از پرسش هایی که در یک ذهن کنجکاو شکل میگیره ریشه در دوران کودکی داره و باعث شکل گیری و کنکاش در سنین بالاتر میشه .
یادمه معلمی داشتیم در دوران ابتدایی به نام آقای شریعتی ،میگفت اگر میخوایید ایران پیشرفت کنه و به یک کشور توسعه یافته تبدیل بشه فقط یک راه داره ، یک شبه ایرانی ها ناپدید بشوند و به جای ایرانیان ژاپنی ها به این کشور بیایند ، سوال هایی که در ذهن من میچرخید آیا به واقع ما مشکل نژادی داریم و هیچ وقت نمیتونیم جامعه ای پیشرفته از هر نظر و مترقی داشته باشیم ، خب البته که نه پیشرفت یک جامعه از نظر سیاسی ، فرهنگی ،اجتماعی،اقتصادی، هیچ ربطی به نژاد و خیلی از مسائل دیگه نداره ، مثال نقض این قضیه کره شمالی و جنوبی هر دو یک نژاد و یک زبان و یک فرهنگ و حتی یک اسم ، این کجا و آن کجا ، و خیلی از شهرهای مرزی بین دو کشور توسعه یافته و فقیر که به فاصله چند متر در دو دنیای مختلف زندگی میکنند .
استدلال بنده طبق نوشته های کتاب از توسعه نیافتگی کشورم در ۴۲ سال اخیر اینگونه است :

«نبود کثرت گرایی سیاسی و وجود الیگارشی حکومتی»

پاسخ خیلی سوالات از بند بند مثال های کتاب میتوان استخراج کرد مثلا اینکه :

چرا ابتدای انقلاب آنان که امروزه شعارهای صنعتی و اقتصادی سرمیدهند‌ و هر سال را با این اسامی نام گذاری میکنند ، تمام صنایع ایران را نابود کردندو به زور آن صنایع را تصاحب و ورشکسته کردند (ترس از کثرت گرایی سیاسی و وجود الیگارشی حکومتی)

چرا امروزه از آزادی بیان و به خصوص شبکه های اجتماعی هراس دارند همانان که مردم ایران را مردمی فهیم و پر شور و انقلابی مینامند (ترس از کثرت گرایی سیاسی و وجود ایگارشی حکومتی)

چرا رسانه های ملی ما باید دست یک ارگان خاص و محدود باشد و سانسور در هر رسانه جمعی و اجتماعی صورت بگیرد (ترس از کثرت گرایی سیاسی و وجود الیگارشی حکومتی)

چرا هر فکر خلاق و آینده نگری محکوم به شکست و مهاجرت است ، و مردم را با اسلامی تحریف شده سرگرم میکنند ..... .

کثرت گرایی سیاسی باعث تقسیم قدرت در دستان اکثریت جامعه میشود و دیگر هیچ دیکتاتوری با تفکرات زنگ زده نمیتواند در مصدر قدرت باقی بماند و به زورگویی تا آخر عمر ادامه دهد ، این اصل مهم باعث پویایی جامعه و شکل گیری تفکراتی خلاق در عرصه سیاسی ، فرهنگی، اقتصادی و..... میشود که جوامع مترقی را از عقب مانده متمایز کرده است ، مگر میشود در یک کشور چند ده ملیونی تمام قدرتمندان سیاسی با هم قوم و خویش باشند و آقازاده های تازه از راه رسیده خود را در مناصب مهم دولتی بدون شایستگی بگذارند و آن کشور پیشرفت کند ، و به تمامی جوانانی که با شور و شوق برای آینده کشور سعی و تلاش میکنند انگ بی دینی زده شود و مجبور به مهاجرت اجباری از وطن خویش بشوند .
Profile Image for HAMiD.
442 reviews
January 23, 2021
این کتاب چه بسا دیدگاه هایی تازه بدهد برای فهمِ ناتوانی های ما در تغییر ساختاری که دهه های بسیاری است که در گونه های متفاوت اما با کارکردی یکسان سبب شده تا همواره با این ��رسش رو در رو باشیم که تا کی این وضعیت می تواند دوام داشته باشد. این چنین است که کتابی بسیار خواندنی است حتا اگر نخواهیم نظریه ی نویسندگان آن را دربست بپذیریم که بی گمان هم نمی شود هر نظریه را یک جا پذیرفت. از نگاه دیگر هم تا زمانی که کسانی که ادعای تغییر شرایط رو دارند اما نخواهند دست از زیاده خواهی بردارند و به اشتباهاتشون اعتراف کنند و از اونها دست بردارند چه بسا چرخه ی قطعیِ شکست به گردشِ خودش ادامه خواهد داد اگرچه می شود پاسخ اون رو هم در متن یافت
در این روزهای سردرگمی و خانه نشینی و زوال چه بسا بهتر باشد که از نو رفتار و ساختارهای فکری مون رو بازخوانی کنیم و د��ت از یکدنگی های خودخواهانه ی ناتمام و ویرانگر برداریم اگرچه کاری است بی اندازه انگار نشدنی! اما اگر نخواهیم تغییر کنیم و از خوابِ خرگوشیِ همیشگی بیدار بشیم، گرگِ طمعْ به دندان تنِ تمامِ غزالان خواهد درید؛ چنان که افتاد و دانستیم
کتاب به خوبی به پارسی برگردانده شده و بسیار هم خوشخوان و روان هست و این سبب می شه هنگام در دست گرفتن و خواندنش بشود به آسانی پیش رفت و آنچه را که طرح می کنه دقیق و عمیق فهمید. ایدون بادا

نهم آذرماه1399 خورشیدیِ تهرانشهرِ از شبِ پیش یکسره باران

Profile Image for Tuncer Şengöz.
Author 6 books229 followers
January 8, 2018
Francis Fukuyama 1989 yılında "Tarihin Sonu mu?" başlıklı bir makale yazmış, 1992 yılında bu makaleyi genişleterek kitap haline getirmişti.

Fukuyama'ya göre o yıllarda sadece soğuk savaşın değil, tarihin de sonu gelmiş, insanlığın ideolojik evrimi nihayet tamamlanmış ve Batı tarzı liberal demokrasi, insan uygarlığının nihai yönetim tarzı haline gelmişti.

Bu kadar iddialı ve iddialı olduğu ölçüde fos çıkan bir makale ancak çok uzun sürmüş bir dönemin en sonunda yazılabilirdi. Öyle de oldu.

1990 yılında Japon borsasının çöküşü ile uzun bir deflasyon dönemi başladı. 90'lar biterken Uzak Asya kaplanları çöktü. Bir kaç sene sonra kriz Brezilya, Arjantin ve Türkiye'ye sıçradı. 2000'lerin başında önce teknoloji balonu patladı, ardından 2001 yılında ABD'nin ikiz kuleleri vuruldu. 2002 yılında Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld rejimi "şer cephesine karşı önleyici savaş" stratejisini devreye soktu. 2007 yılında yeni bir kriz dalgası daha geldi: ABD'de eşik-altı mortgage piyasası çöktü; banka ve şirket iflasları birbirini izledi. Piyasanın "görünmez elinin" işleri düzeltemeyeceği anlaşılınca bankaların toksik varlıkları kamuya devredildi, banka/şirket kurtarmalarına, kendi ayakları üzerinde duramayan piyasalara kredi pompalanmaya başlandı. 2010 yılında Arap Baharı olarak isimlendirilen isyan dalgasında rejimler birer birer çökmeye başladı. Aynı yıl Avrupa borç krizi patladı. İflas etme sırası devletlere gelmişti. Batmanın eşiğine gelen Yunanistan'da devlet borçları silindi, İtalya, İspanya oksijen çadırına alındı. İflas eden devletlerin kurtarılmasına karşı Avrupa'nın zengin kuzeyinden itirazlar yükseldi. 2014 yılına gelindiğinde Avrupa Parlamentosu'ndaki sandalyelerin üçte biri aşırı sağcı/ırkçı/göçmen ve AB karşıtı partilerin eline geçmişti. Aynı günlerde Irak'ın en büyük kentleri birer birer kurşun bile atmadan IŞİD'in eline geçiyordu.

Fukuyama'nın fos çıkan öngörüsü, bugün gülümseme ve alayla anılıyor.

Fukuyama'nın, Tarihin Sonu'nu yazdığı 1990 yılından günümüze pek çok kitap yayınlandı. Uygarlıklar neden çöker? Son üç yüzyıldır dünyaya niçin Batı hükmediyor? Acaba bu dönemin de sonuna mı gelindi? Batı Uygarlığı bir çöküşün eşiğinde mi? gibi sorular sorulmaya, Edward Gibbon'ın Roma'nın Gerileyiş ve Çöküş Tarihi kitabı yeniden okunmaya başlandı.

Why Nations Fail, Fukuyama'nın "tarihin sonu geldi" kitabı ile başlayan "hmm acaba henüz gelmedi mi? bir şeyler de ters gidiyor ama..." olarak devam eden serinin, "yok, yok biz doğru yoldayız" anafikirli son kitabı.

Why Nations Fail? (Uluslar Niçin Başarısız Olurlar?) Türkçe'ye Ulusların Düşüşü olarak çevrildi; hatalıdır çünkü düşüş (fall) başka bir şeydir, başarısızlık (fail) başka.

Bu kitabın uluslarla da bir ilgisi yok. (Ulusun tanımı, oluşumu, tarihte modern ulusların ortaya çıkışı ve gelişimi ile ilgili geniş bir külliyat var. O kitapların okunmasını tavsiye ederim.) Sanırım kitabın yazarları Adam Smith'in Ulusların Zenginliği'ne gönderme yapmak istemiş. Bu kitapta uluslar değil, ekonomik-siyasal sistemler konu ediliyor. Dahası, "ulusların" niçin değil, nasıl düştüğü anlatılıyor. Niçin düştükleri sorusuna yazarların cevabı ise ayrıca sorunlu.

Yaklaşık 500 sayfalık kitap 15 bölümden oluşuyor. Bu 15 bölümün 14'ü atlanarak, sadece 15. bölüm okunabilir ve yazarların ne demek istediği kolayca anlaşılabilir. Yazarların bu kitaba kendilerinden kattıkları tek unsur, "extractive and inclusive economic, political inclusions" (Türkçe'ye nasıl çevrildi bilmiyorum, Türkçe'de bu kavramları tam karşılayan sözcükler yok. Belki "dışlayıcı/sömürücü ve kapsayıcı/kapsamlı ekonomik, siyasi kurumlar" olarak çevrilebilir.) Yazarlar okuyucuyu bıktırma pahasına, her bir kaç sayfada bir bu kavramları tekrarlıyorlar. Zaten bu tekrarlar haricindeki tüm paragraflar, tarihsel bilgilerden ibaret.

Hangi kurumların "extractive", hangi kurumların "inclusive" olduğu tarif edilmemiş. Böylece belirsiz kalan kavramların etrafında, tarihin o döneminden bu dönemine atlayarak neyin extractive, neyin inclusive olduğunu (daha doğrusu yazarların bu tanımları neye göre yaptığını) okuyorsunuz. Tabi bütün bu tarihsel atlamalar içinde 18. yüzyıl İngiltere'si ile 19. yüzyıl Kongo'sunu, 15. yüzyıl İnka imparatorluğu ile 20. yüzyıl Amerika'sını karşılaştıran yazarların hangi metodolojiyi izlediklerini bir türlü kavrayamıyorsunuz. Extractive ekonomik kurumların her zaman extractive siyasi kurumlar yarattığını (ama bazen de yaratmadığını), inclusive ekonomik kurumların ise inclusive politik kurumlar yarattığını (ama bunun her zaman böyle olmadığını, zaten bu konuda bir tarihsel zorunluluk da bulunmadığını) okuyor, her seferinde kafanız karışmış bir halde bir sonraki bölüme geçiyorsunuz.

Kitapta yazarların titizlikle dile getirmekten kaçındıkları bazı kavramlar var: Sınıf, devrim, emperyalizm.

Sınıflar yerine sürekli elitlere vurgu yapılıyor. Yazarlar sizi, tarihin aslında elitler arasındaki çekişme/uzlaşma dinamiği ile oluştuğuna ikna etmeye çalışıyorlar. Elitler birbirlerini tepelemeye kalkarsa extractive, açgözlülüklerini sınırlayıp işbirliği yaparlarsa inclusive yapılar oluşuyor. Kitabın alt başlığında vurgulanan refahın ve yoksulluğun gerisinde elitler arasındaki bu çekişme/uzlaşma dinamiği olduğunu öğreniyorsunuz. Elbette sınıflar olmayınca, Marx ve Weber'i anmaya da gerek kalmıyor.

Devrim sözcüğü ise mecbur kalınmadıkça hiç telaffuz edilmiyor. Yazarlar Fransız Devrimi'ne başka bir isim bulamadıkları için mecburen "Fransız devriminden" bahsediyorlar. Bolşevik Devrimi dört yerde anılırken, İngiltere'deki Glorius Revolution (Muhteşem Devrim) her 5-6 sayfada bir karşınıza çıkıyor. Tarihte bunların dışında devrim yok! Peki ne var? Açıkça ifade edilmese de Sosyal Darwinizm var: Birbirinden izole olmuş genlerin mutasyona uğrayarak farklı evrim çizgileri izlemesi gibi, benzer iki toplum da farklı kurumlar geliştirerek farklı yollardan evriliyor. (S. 431) Sonuçta birinin yolu yoksulluğa, diğerinin yolu refaha çıkıyor!

Sömürgecilikten sıkça bahsediliyor. Emperyalizmin ise adı bile anılmıyor. Böylece sömürgeciliğin ortadan kalkmaya başladığı 19. yüzyıldan itibaren "ulusların" eşit bir şekilde yarıştığı gibi bir izlenime kapılıyorsunuz.

Sıkça gönderme yapılan kavramlardan biri de Creative Destruction (yaratıcı yıkıcılık). Sıkça gönderme yapılmasına rağmen, bu kavramın kitapta doğru kullanıldığından emin değilim. Sanki bu kavrama bambaşka anlamlar yüklenmiş gibi.

Kitapta gönderme yapılan bir başka kavram Iron Law of Oligarchy (Oligarşinin Demir Kanunu). Kongo'da, Rodezya'da, Güney Afrika'da bu kanunun nasıl işlediğini okuyorsunuz. Günümüzde mesela AB troykasında, ABD plütokrasisinde, şok doktrini ile terbiye edilmiş "emerging market" ülkelerinde nasıl işlediğini merak ediyorsanız başka kitaplar okumanız gerekiyor.

Extractive kurumları olan toplumların buluş yapamayacağını okurken, Nazi Almanya'sında ve Sovyet Rusya'sında bunca bilim insanının nasıl çıktığını, günümüz teknolojisinin alt yapısını oluşturan pek çok buluşun bu toplumlarda nasıl yapıldığını sormadan edemiyorsunuz.

Irak'ın ve Afganistan'ın neo-con saldırganlığı ile değil kendi başarısızlıkları ile yoksullaştığını, Küba ve Chavez Venezuela'sının başarısız toplumlar olduğunu ve bu kafayla sonsuza kadar da başarısız kalacaklarını, yoksulluk ve açlıkla boğuşan ülkelerle dayanışmanın (kitapta yardım olarak zikrediliyor) yararsızlığını, Çin'in büyümesinin sürdürülemez olduğunu (tersinden okursanız inclusive kurumları olduğu için ABD, İngiltere, Avustralya, Kanada gibi ülkelerin ise sonsuza kadar büyüyeceğini) öğreniyorsunuz.

Öğrendikleriniz bunlardan mı ibaret? Elbette hayır, mesela ben Zimbabwe'de düzenlenen bir piyango çekilişinde büyük ikramiyenin devlet başkanı Mugambe'ye isabet ettiğini bilmiyordum. Hani derler ya: "Zimbabwe'de bile olmaz". Meğerse olurmuş. (Seçimlere hile karıştırmak extractive kurumlara sahip ülkelere özgü ise, George W. Bush 2004, Donald Trump 2016 seçimlerini nasıl kazandı diye sormadan edemedim.)

Kitabı bitirdiğimde yazarların mesela İskandinav ülkelerini neden hiç zikretmediklerini merak ettim. Acaba modellerine uymadığı için mi?

Peki ya Türkiye? Tarihinin muhtelif dönemlerinde inclusive/extractive sınıflandırmalarının hangisine dahil olurdu acaba?
Profile Image for Mostafa.
111 reviews51 followers
March 12, 2021
دارون عجم اوغلو، استاد اقتصاد دانشگاه اِم.آی.تی، و جیمز رابیسنون، استاد توسعه دانشگاه شیکاگو، در این کتاب به یکی از پرجدل‌ترین بحث‌های محافل اقتصادی و سیاسی دنیا می‌پردازند؛ یعنی «چرا ملت‌ها نمی‌توانند آنجور که باید به ثروت، قدرت و رفاه برسند و در این راه شکست می‌خورند؟»

تز اصلی این دو نویسنده در این کتاب بر مبنای «تفاوت‌های نهادی» است. کتاب خلاصه‌ای است از تاریخچه جهان و کشورها و فراز و فرود ملت‌ها در برهه‌های گوناگون و بزنگاه‌های تاریخ.

این دو نویسنده ریشه ثروت، قدرت و فقر کشورهای گوناگون جهان در تاریخ بشر را ناشی از تفاوت‌های نهادی در این کشورها می‌دانند.

اگر کشوری دارای «نهادهای فراگیر» (inclusive institutions) باشد شرط لازم برای توسعه را داراست و اگر کشوری دارای «نهادهای انحصاری» (extractive institutions) باشد به فقر و ضعف کشیده خواهد شد.

قطعا این دو مفهوم نه مفاهیمی مطلق که مفاهیمی است نسبی.

اوغلو و رابینسون بر این نظر هستند که هرگاه چرخش قدرت، آزادی بیان و مطبوعات، آزادی اقتصادی و کسب‌وکار، حقوق مالکیت و حاکمیت قانون در کشوری حاکم باشد این کشور مسیر سعادت را طی خواهد کرد.

کتاب به نوعی نقطه تقاطع علوم سیاسی و علوم اقتصادی است. اوغلو و رابینسون این دو را نه پیشنیاز یکی برای دیگری که آن‌ها را همنیاز هم دانسته و معتقدند یکی بدون دیگری مثمرثمر نخواهد بود و هرچند نمونه‌هایی در تاریخ به تقدم توسعه اقتصادی بر سیاسی دلالت دارد اما رشد این کشورها پایدار نخواهند ماند.

محور دیگر کتاب بر اصطلاح معروف ژوزف شومیپتر، اقتصاددان شهیر، یعنی «تخریبِ سازنده» (creative destruction) دلالت دارد. اوغلو و رابیسنون معتقدند هرگاه اقتصادی از این مقوله برخوردار بود نشان از پویایی و انعطاف آن دارد و به رشد آن کشور کمک خواهد کرد.

تخریب سازنده را نه نهادی دستور می‌دهد و نه شخصی، کار تخریب سازنده بر عهده مکانیزم «بازار» خواهد بود.
انحصاری و فراگیر بودن نهادها اثری مستقیم بر تخریب سازنده خواهند داشت.

این دو همچنین معتقدند که افراد یا به نوعی رهبران نیز در مسیر رشد و سعادت یا فقر و فلاکت ملت‌ها تاثیر به سزایی خواهند داشت. خلاصه اینکه این رهبران و سیاستگذاران کشورها هستند که تصمیم می‌گیرند نهادها فراگیر باشد و ملت به سعادت برسد یا اینکه نهادها انحصاری باشند و تنها نزدیکان و خود او از این قدرت و ثروت برخوردار بوده و ملت‌ خویش در فقر و تنگدستی به سر برند.

خلاصه کلام آنکه اوغلو و رابیسنون راه‌حل توسعه و رشد کشورها را نه اقتصادی که سیاسی می‌دانند. به بیان دیگر اگر سیاستمداران اراده و جسارت و عزم کافی داشته باشند آن ملت در مسیر رشد و توسعه قرار خواهد گرفت و اگر نه، آن ملت در مسیر معکوس توسعه قرار خواهد گرفت.
Profile Image for mohsen pourramezani.
160 reviews133 followers
April 17, 2016
نویسندگان کتاب دو اقتصاددان امریکایی (دارون عجم‌اوغلو استاد دانشگاه ام‌آی‌تی و جیمز رابینسون استاد دانشگاه هاروارد) هستند که با ارائه‌ یک نظریه‌ی اقتصادی-سیاسی و همراه با مثال‎های تاریخی فراوان علت پیشرفت و عقب ماندگی کشورها را بیان می‌کنند. بخشی از نظریه‌ی آنها این است: «هم افزایی شدیدی میان نهادهای اقتصادی و سیاسی وجود دارد. نهادهای سیاسی استثماری قدرت را در دست گروه کوچکی از فرادستان متمرکز ��ی‌سازند و محدودیت‌های اندکی بر این قدرت اعمال می‌کنند. ساختار نهادهای اقتصادی غالبا توسط این هیئت حاکمه، برای استثمار منابع از بقیه‌ی جامعه شکل داده می‌شود. بنابراین نهادهای سیاسی استثماری طبعا نهادهای اقتصادی استثماری را به همراه دارند. در واقع این گروه دوم از نهادها برای بقای خود ذاتا وابسته به گروه اول هستند. نهادهای سیاسی فراگیر که قدرت را به شکل فراگیری توزیع کرده‌اند میل به ریشه کن کردن نهادهای اقتصادی‌ای دارند که برای بهره‌مندی گروهی اندک، دست به تصاحب منابع اکثریت می‌زنند، موانع ورود به بازار برپا می‌کنند و جلوی کارکردهای بازار را می‌گیرند. (ص 121)»

Profile Image for Ana.
807 reviews610 followers
December 12, 2016
A fascinating (albeit difficult to grasp) study on why some nations succeed whilst others fail. The amount of information in this book is astounding, seeing as it is the result of 15 years of research on the topic. This is definitely a book I will re-read, because with a first read you just get the basic argument, but with the second one you get all the subtleties.

I recommend this to anyone with an interest in why our world is the way it is.
Profile Image for Hossein.
238 reviews45 followers
October 23, 2019
فوق العاده کتاب جالب و آموزنده ای بود مخصوصا برای خوانندگان پارسی زبان.
امکان نداره تا به حال به این سوال فکر نکرده باشیم که چه شد که غرب پیشرفت کرد و تمدن شرق که برای قرن ها پیشرو بود تا این حد عقب افتاد؟
مثال جالبی کتاب میزنه.
میپرسه هلند کشوری است بدون ارتفاعات با آب و هوای نه چندان خوب و سرزمینی که حتی از سطح دریا پایین تره.
در مقابل زامبیا کشوری است با زمین های وسیع قابل کشاورزی و آب و هوای بسیار معتدل دارای ارتفاعات زیاد و رودهای پر آب که میتونه برق تمام کشورش رو از راه سد تامین کنه
حالا میگه اگه یه فضایی بیاد زمین، رو هوا به این نتیجه میرسه که صد درصد زامبیا کشور ثروتنمدتریه
اما آیا واقعیت هم همینه؟
جواب این مدل سوال ها رو به صورت قابل قبولی کتاب میده.
خوندنش میتونه خیلی مفید باشه
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
December 5, 2019
Despite the hutzpah of a title like WHY NATIONS FAIL, there's nothing in the text itself that I found disagreeable, and I've read a lot of different economic and political theories of wealth over the years.

Of course, there have been a lot of armchair historians and armchair economists and armchair politicians, so who knows if 20/20 vision is really accurate? They could all be riffing on one fundamental theory or another and making a messy conclusion. Right?

The beauty of this one is pretty simple in effect if not in the supporting particulars. Tons of examples are given from all kinds of nations and economic policies and politics all throughout history and including a very refreshing survey of modern nations. They first break down the prevailing bad theories that revolve around geography, culture, bad luck, or even the big modern one we see all the time: Ignorance. *laugh* You know, the one that says, "If only you had our experts, you too can have all the wealth we have."

The fundamental difference in this book, fascinatingly so, can be summed up quite easily. And it's kinda obvious, too.

Extractor policies and inclusive policies.

You can translate that into government/economic policies that loot in order to grow or those that give a share of all the profits and incentives to all the people working in the system. Vicious cycles and Happy cycles.

Dictators that keep on taking can keep it up for a long time and even if there are revolutions, the revolutions keep putting the same damn policy in place. Any kind of authoritarian government can work to that same tune. Short term growth, sharp declines.

The politics and the economics of it are perfectly entwined. You can't have one without the other.

On the other hand, there's the other side. If everyone, not just the elite, has a stake in the game, then everyone works harder and with more intelligence to accomplish whatever they have to accomplish.

Use guns, coercion, theft. Or use honest cooperation.

It's pretty obvious that BOTH can be a basis for any nation. As can a wide, wide continuum mixing both elements in any. And that's also the point. Any nation can succeed or fail. No nation is exempt.

But it still requires a rather huge change of heart and it must be truly enacted in both the economics side and the political side. One without the other will perpetuate the same looting cycle.

For fans of other authors and big theories that nail this same idea, look to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Or Game Theory.

You will have all types of individuals either working toward a collaborative whole or those who will short the whole damn thing down. The institutions with enough checks and balances DO seem to edge toward the more prosperous equations. Those who dismantle those checks and balances or work together to loot other subsets will take from the total potential benefits of wealth until it is all used up.

It's quite complicated in practice, of course, but for a cohesive underlying theory, it works a lot better than saying Communism! or Capitalism! or Socialism!

All those can be filled with thieves or genuinely cooperative individuals. The difference is in the institutions and economic models that might favor the thieves or the genuinely cooperative.

The real joy of reading this book is the myriads of examples. :)
Profile Image for Masoud.
38 reviews17 followers
April 30, 2021
ملت‌ها زمانی شکست می‌خورند که دارای نهادهای اقتصادی استعماری پشتیبانی‌شده از سوی نهادهای سیاسی استثماری هستند.
کتاب فوق العاده ای هست. پیشنهاد به همه دوستان
Profile Image for Leo Walsh.
Author 3 books97 followers
May 6, 2020
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson's Why Nations Fail examines the impact our human-created institutions have on our economies and creation of a "good life" for the many. They do this with a lot of detail. Many of their observations both apparent and useful. Despite this, the book has a number of flaws that seem, to this reviewer at least, critical.

Let's start with the good: the author's central thesis seems sound. Governments and the institutions they create do matter. For instance, consider North and South Korea. Both have similar histories (until 1950, that is). Face the same environmental conditions, and arise from the same core Korean culture. And yet the countries are quite the opposite.

In the north, a military regime strips wealth from the regular people and places it in the hands of a few. The state does not incentivize people for trying new things. Instead, the state is organized militarily, the state's sole aim in perpetuating the lives of its ruling class -- specifically the bloodline of the "emperor" Kim Jong-un.

The authors call this an Extractive State. These leaders create institutions that extract wealth and focus it in the hands of the few.

In South Korea, things are different. Less militarily oriented, their government has created institutions that help economic development thrive: a sound currency, a legal system to enforce contracts, and a tax and property structure that rewards individual initiative.

The authors call states like this Inclusive States. They create an ever-increasing standard of living for all and not just the oligarchs.

The results produced by the two Koreas are, of course, 180 degrees apart. South Korea is a thriving, First-World industrial economy. The North impoverished, stifled by the military's inept command-and-control oligarchic dictatorship.

So far, so good. It is a great premise that is beyond reproach. Though often a bit of a pain, there is no doubt that a strong central authority is needed to keep a state intact. And after reading Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature , I am pretty well convinced that humans in strong states -- even a bad one -- are better off than those in a weak state. Pinker shows, using a remarkably diverse selection of historical data, that fewer people die of war or murder in a centralized state. And that, while we need to watch our leaders lest they lead us astray, Rousseau's "Noble Savage" is a literary construct that does not hold up to closer inspection. And Acemoglu and Robinson's main argument bears this out.

The authors take a step forward and do an excellent job delineating that some of those centralized states are better than others. And they wonder why -- which is again the proper move. My problem with their answer is that it tends to over-emphasize Free-Market dogmatism are the "real reason" these countries thrive. And this is often not the case.

Let us consider the USA. To begin with, the United States was initially a slave nation, with the southern half of the nation shipping raw cotton to British ports -- making the US an extactive state by the author's definitions.

And yet we have risen above this. How?

Acemoglu and Robinson's answer would likely be "by creating institutions that encouraged Creative Destruction of the inefficient industries and encouraging Free Market Capitalism."

This is, of course, a fairy tale told to children by Free Market cheerleaders. The US did not rise to dominance by applying Free Market principles. Instead, through the 19th and into the 20th Century, the US had very high tariffs to protect its fledgling industries.

Acemoglu and Robinson ignore this. Or perhaps their belief in their core argument blinded them to the fact. Whatever the reason, the miss looms, huge.

The authors also gloss over other exceptions to Free Market dogmatism. For instance, South Korea has a very Confucian-style command economy. It created its contemporary industries -- steel, auto, etc. -- by imposing huge tariffs and supplying capital infusions to firms in key industries. Once they were established. the government kicked out the financial supports and lowered the tariffs -- albeit gradually. But the point is that it was not a Free Market that South Korea pursued. It was very Command-and-Control. And yet South Korea succeeded.

Japan is another example of a tightly integrated public/ private economy. A very tight group of elites created and maintain an excellent, stable society that benefits everyone, and not just the privileged few. This is ignored.

Worse is the lack of respect offered to China. Despite its defeats in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, China has a long history of wealth creation, stability, and high standards of living. They have more experience than the West does in feeding billions utilizing a strongly centralized state. While there is little doubt that Mao's "Great Leap Forward" was a disaster, Chinese history stretches back to the Xia Dynasty in 2070 BC -- or over 4,000 years. To focus on Mao's biggest error seems weak. It ignores the Chinese people's historical ability to create stabilizing bureaucracies to administer their large and complex culture.

Even worse for the authors' thesis: China's administrative apparatus included many state-granted monopolies -- in salt, for instance. And yet, until the 1700s, China was the wealthiest nation on the earth.

Acemoglu and Robinson ignore this. As they do with many facts that contradict their Free Market "solution." And the facts they ignore are not "tiny" factoids, but gaping mounds of readily available historical data. Instead, they present only facts that square with their Anglo-American, Free-Market worldview.

The work has other weaknesses as well. My biggest criticism is the refusal to see that there are some real ecological and geographical constraints on growth. All one needs to do is drive west in the United States to notice this.

Where resource-light 17th-century style shipping was easy -- the Atlantic coast, Great Lakes and Mississippi basin -- development is high. People live in closely grouped clusters. You see this development replicated along the Pacific coast. But consider the emptiness in between -- most of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, western Kansas, western Nebraska, and Nevada. large population centers there, like Denver and Phoenix. would be unthinkable without modern transportation. And even then, the sparse development bespeaks an inability of the region -- due to the area's inherent dryness -- to sustain populations. And these cities exist for a single reason: mineral mining.

These ecological tendencies limits grow more pronounced as you move into the tropics, however -- especially aboriginals in isolated jungle areas. For instance, consider a rain forest pygmy living in Central Africa. The rivers are unnavigable rivers, the forest, and undergrowth thick and tough to journey through. They are cut off, thousands of miles from the ocean. This limits the connections a person is subject to. And not only in trade, but it limits the tribe's access to information.

How could you compare this part of Africa to an island like Japan or the coast-rich USA? Again, this is ignored.

Worse is how the authors dismiss well-regarded views that are at odds with their Extractive/ Inclusive, Oligarchy/ Free-Market ideas. For instance, Acemoglu and Robinson try to dismiss Jared Diamond's wonderful look at the impact of biology and geography on history, Guns, Germs and Steel , ignoring what the book actually says. Diamond presents a birds-eye view of what factors led to advanced culture arising in the West 10,000 years ago. Diamond is tracing long-long-long-term trends. His is a work of anthropology and ancient history. Acemoglu and Robinson ignore this and write it off as unfounded. How? They point to the US/ Mexico border and North/ South Korea. Ignoring that Diamond is referring to events that occurred before written history.

So while I agree with Acemoglu and Robinson's basic premise -- government and institutions can make a difference -- they try too hard to make this observation fit into the Anglo/ American model.

I wanted so bad to rate this book higher. It addresses an important topic: "How do we make societies that work for everyone?" And I was impressed with the level of detail they employed. But the problem I have is their conclusions.

Sure, institutions matter. But I doubt that Free Market Capitalism is the only way to get there. Witness the tight public/private integration in Japan. Or Germany, where all stakeholders -- shareholders, workers, local governments, environmental groups, etc., are given a seat at the table. And there is the example of a resurgent China. Will it continue prospering? Who knows? I suspect they will, at least based on their storied history.

Because of these weaknesses, I cannot give the book over three-stars. The book's topic is meaningful. And this is a necessary first salvo in addressing these questions seriously.

I recommend it to all policy wonks and social science fans.
Profile Image for عبدالله الوهيبي.
46 reviews424 followers
May 2, 2018
يطرح هذا الكتاب أطروحة رئيسية للإجابة على سؤال الكتاب:"لماذا تفشل الأمم؟"، ولماذا تعيش أوروبا الحديثة والولايات المتحدة ازدهاراً اقتصادياً؟ في حين أن معظم بلدان أفريقيا وأمريكا الجنوبية مثلاً تعاني من الفقر والتردي الاقتصادي؟
الجواب: ليس ذلك بسبب الموقع الجغرافي، ولا الدين والثقافة، وإنما المؤسسات السياسية وسياساتها.
ولإثبات ذلك ينطلق الكتاب في تحليل مطول ومقارن لأصول التحولات والتباينات التاريخية التي بدأت في وقت مبكر بين البلدان والمناطق في العالم، وبرغم أن "معظم ما يشهده العالم الآن من حالة اللامساواة قد ظهر منذ أواخر القرن الثامن عشر، وبالتحديد في أعقاب الثورة الصناعية"، إلا أن الكتاب -في فصوله الأولى- عاد للفترة التي تسبق ذلك لرصد البدايات، مؤكداً أن التطور الاقتصادي هو نتيجة التفاعل بين المؤسسات السياسية والاقتصادية والأحداث الكبيرة التي تعمل على إرباك وزعزعة التوازن الاقتصادي والسياسي القائم في مجتمع واحد أو مجتمعات كثيرة. مثلاً مرّت أوروبا الوسيطة بأحداث كبيرة: [١]وباء الموت الأسود الذي تسبب في إبادة أكثر من 50% من سكان معظم المناطق في أوروبا خلال القرن الرابع عشر، وقد أثّر الوباء بشكل كبير على النظام الإقطاعي القروسطوي بسبب ندرة العمالة. [٢] فتح الطرق التجارية عبر الأطلسي. [٣] الثورة الصناعية. ونتيجة لتفاعل المؤسسات السياسية الأوروبية مع هذه الأحداث الكبرى تبلورت أنماط معينة من النمو الرأسمالي المزدهر في القرنين الأخيرين.
وجواباً على سؤال: لماذا ظهرت المؤسسات السياسية الأكثر ديموقراطية وشمولية في إنجلترا وفرنسا دون أماكن أخرى من العالم؟ يرى الكتاب أن ذلك يعود إلى (‪1‬) توافر طبقة التجار ورجال الأعمال الجدد الراغبين بإطلاق الفوضى الاقتصادية الخلاقة، و(‪2‬) الائتلاف الواسع من المجموعات السياسية المتباينة، و(‪3‬) تاريخ المؤسسات السياسية في كلا البلدين. ساعد كل ذلك طبقاً للتطورات الكثيفة على النهوض المستدام والمبكر.
ويطرح الكتاب سؤالاً مركزياً عن النمو الاقتصادي في ظل المؤسسات السياسية الاستبدادية (الصين والسعودية مثلاً) ويرى الكتاب أن هذا النمو وقتي ومؤقت ولن يكون مستداماً لسببين: (‪1‬)النمو يتطلب الابتكار، والابتكار لا ينفصل عن الفوضى أو الانقلاب أو الزعزعة العميقة للوضع الاقتصادي والاجتماعي القائم، والنخب القمعية ستقاوم ذلك(‪2‬)النخب الاستبدادية تحصل على فرص كبيرة للنهب ومراكمة الثروة والسلطة مما يجعل سلطتهم مطمع للكثيرين، ويفتح المجال للصراع والتقاتل على المدى المتوسط والبعيد.
يشرح الكتاب بإسهاب طويل عبر ‪6‬00ص أسباب الإخفاقات والنجاحات الاقتصادية في إيطاليا وأسبانيا والكوريتين والكونغو والبيرو والأرجنتين والبرازيل...الخ مستنداً على التحليل المركزي لتاريخ المؤسسات السياسية في هذه البدان المتنوعة، وسياسات نخبها الحاكمة.
Profile Image for Shreya Joshi.
96 reviews44 followers
February 13, 2017
I had been meaning to read this book for a very long time. The major reason was that I wanted to understand why Nepal is poor and a nearly failing country and why other nations are rich and prospering.
I must tell you that I got the answer in the very first chapters. The whole thesis of this book revolves around "Extractive and Inclusive Political institutions'. The idea is that if a country has an inclusive political institution, the country will have better, sustainable economy and if it doesn't, the country cannot have a sustained economic growth and it will eventually lag behind.
This idea was rather boringly put forward with chapters and chapters of evidences from countries of Africa and Latin America. I must say the examples were well researched and they did provide a lot of information and a lot of insight, but I say it was not presented very attractively.

At times, the book felt redundant and a little boring, but I read along mostly because I was hungry for information. The book does mention the name of Nepal a few times and I was hoping they would say something about why we failed, was it the monarch, the Rana Regime, the extractive institutions but turns out Nepal was just an example but not an example explained.

The first chapters of the book also refutes the argument presented in Guns, Germs and Steel about how geography and culture also have a say in the development of the country, but I was still not convinced with the refutation.

I must say that after reading this book, I felt awful about a lot many things going on in the world, what nations have done to keep power among themselves, how Colonialism resulted in different atrocities, how Africa's resources were stolen away and how some rich families and elites control nations and prevent normal people from having comfortable lives.

This book made me realize the importance of visionary leaders and thinkers for the country. Laws and rules cannot be incentive enough for prosperity and sustainability. Nepal needs innovation to get out of the list of failing state. I hope our now on-construction local as well as federal institutions will be of inclusive nature in practice and in theory and will finally help all Nepalese truly prosper.
Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,384 followers
January 19, 2016
Bom, um tanto longo demais e um tanto deprimente. Uma análise da situação político/econômica das nações, que defende que o que faz um país próspero é uma economia inclusiva, em contraste com uma economia extrativista. Bom porque achei que o argumento tem um ótimo poder descritivo, mesmo ignorando as condições naturais que o Jared Diamond tanto cita em Guns, Germs, and Steel : The Fates of Human Societies e Colapso. Longo demais porque dão explicações muito detalhadas do que é basicamente uma outra versão do argumento principal, vale por conhecer outras culturas. Deprimente porque me fez perceber que o Brasil se encaixa na condição extrativista desde que foi criado. Sem falar no final do livro...
Profile Image for sepehrdad.
234 reviews56 followers
February 28, 2016

"چرا کشورها شکست می‌خورند" کتابی به شدت خواندنی است. دارون عجم اوغلو و جیمز رابینسون نظریه‌ای سیاسی اقتصادی را ‏با قصه‌هایی فراوان از تاریخ کشورهای گوناگون جهان و با زبانی خیلی ساده و روایی ارائه می‌کنند. ‏
نظریه‌های زیادی در مورد الگوهای رشد و فقر و غنا در جهان وجود دارند. عجم اوغلو و رابیسنون یک یک آن‌ها را نام می‌برند ‏و بعد مثال‌ نقض‌ها را می‌گویند تا ثابت کنند که این نظریه‌ها کار نمی‌کنند.‏
فرضیه‌ی جغرافیا عامل اصلی تفاوت ثروت در کشورهای جهان را تفاوت‌های جغرافیایی می‌داند. مثلا می‌گوید که کشورهای گرم ‏فی‌نفسه فقیرند. سنگاپور،‌ مالزی، نوگالس آمریکا و... مثال نقض این فرضیه‌اند. ‏
فرضیه‌ی فرهنگ ضعف فرهنگی را عامل اصلی فقر و غنا می‌داند. مثلا می‌گوید که آفریقایی‌ها به این علت فقیرند که اخلاق کاری ‏خوبی ندارند. این فرضیه از نظریات ماکس وبر آمده که معتقد بود اصلاحات و اخلاق پروتستانی نقش کلیدی در تسهیل ظهور ‏جامعه‌ی صنعتی غرب اروپا ایفا کرد. در مرز آمریکا و مکزیک دو شهر با یک نام حضور دارند: نوگالس. از نظر فرهنگی کاملا ‏مشابه هم‌اند. اما از لحاظ اقتصادی و سیاسی نوگالس آمریکا به مراتب از نوگالس مکزیک اوضاع بهتری دارد. یا کره‌ی شمالی و ‏جنوبی از نظر فرهنگ و زبا کاملا مشابه هم‌اند. اما از لحاظ اقتصادی و فقر و غنا... فرضیه‌ی ماکس وبر هم حتا مثال نقض دارد. ‏فرانسه در قرون وسطا و پس از آن به شدت کاتولیک بود،‌ ولی مثل انگلستان پیشرفت کرد و صنعتی شد. ربطی به فرهنگ و ‏دین و مذهب ندارد. یا یک عقیده‌ای وجود دارد که می‌گوید این فرهنگ انگلیسی بوده که باعث رشد و بالندگی کشورهایی مثل ‏آمریکا و کانادا و استرالیا و بخش‌هایی از هند و پاکستان شده. سیرالئون و نیجریه هم مثل آمریکا و استرالیا مستعمره‌ی ‏انگلستان و تحت تاثیر کامل فرهنگ انگلیسی بوده‌اند... ولی مثل آمریکا و کانادا و استرالیا پیشرفت نکردند.‏
یک فرضیه‌ی دیگر فرضیه‌ی جهل است. این‌که در کشورهای فقیر جهل مدیران و سردم‌داران و مردم باعث می‌شود که کشور ‏رشد نکند. درحالی‌که این نظریه هم کار نمی‌کند. چون در بسیاری از کشورهای فقیر رهبران دیکتاتور آدم‌های باسوادی هستند ‏که در بهترین دانشگاه‌های دنیا درس خوانده‌اند. یا در نیمه‌ی دوم قرن بیستم به کشورهای فقیر کمک‌های اقتصادی بین‌المللی ‏زیادی برای امر آموزش شده. خیل عظیمی باسواد شده‌اند. ولی تغییری در وضع این کشورها رخ نداده.‏
عجم‌اوغلو و رابینسون در مقابل نظریه‌ی نهادها را مطرح می‌کنند و می‌گویند این نهادها هستند که باعث رشد و تضعیف یک ‏ملت می‌شوند: ‏
‏"علت این‌که نوگالس آریزونا خیلی ثروتمندتر از نوگالس سونورا است قابل فهم است. این تفاوت ناشی از نهادهای کاملا متفاوت ‏در دو سوی مرز است که انگیزه‌های متفاوتی برای ساکنان نوگالس آمریکا در برابر نوگالس سونورا ایجاد می‌کند. ایالات متحده ‏به این علت امروزه ثروتمندتر از مکزیک و پرو است که نهادهای سیاسی و اقتصادی‌اش انگیزه‌ی بنگاه‌ها،‌ افراد و سیاستمداران ‏را افزایش می‌دهند. کارکردهای هر جامعه با مجموعه‌ای از قواعد اقتصادی و سیاسی توسط دولت و شهروندانش به طور جمعی ‏ایجاد و اجرا شده‌ است: انگیزه‌هایی برای آموزش دیدن، پس‌انداز و سرمایه‌گذاری کردن و پذیرش تکنولو‌‌ژی‌های جدید و ‏مواردی ازین دست.... نهادها با تاثیر گذاشتن بر رفتارها و انگیزه‌ها در زندگی واقعی، موفقیت یا شکست کشورها را رقم می‌زنند. ‏استعداد فردی در هر سطحی از جامعه مهم است. با این همه یک چهارچوب نهادی برای تبدیل آن استعداد به نیرویی مثبت نیاز ‏است. "‏ ص 69 و ص70
آن‌ها نهادها را به دو دسته‌ی فراگیر و بهر‌ه‌کش تقسیم می‌کنند:‏
‏"نهادهای اقتصادی فراگیر مانند نهادهای کره‌ جنوبی یا ایالات متحده، همان نهادهایی هستند که مشارکت انبوه عظیمی از افراد ‏را در فعالیت‌های اقتصادی مجاز می‌شمرند و ترویج می ‌کنند که به بهترین شکل از استعدادهای‌شان استفاده کنند و به آن‌ها ‏امکان می‌دهند هر چه را که می‌خواهند انتخاب کنند. نهادهای اقتصادی وقتی فراگیر خوانده می‌شوند که حاوی مالکیت خصوصی ‏مطمئن، نظامات حقوقی بی‌طرف و خدمات عمومی باشند که برای مبادله و معامله افراد، میدانی فراهم آورند. چنین نظاماتی باید ‏اجازه خلق کسب و کارهای جدید را بدهد و بگذارد مردم مشاغل خودشان را انتخاب کنند."‏ ص 106
‏"در مقابل نهادهای بهر‌ه‌کش وجود دارند که ویژگی‌هایی متضاد با نهادهای فراگیر دارند، چنین نهادهایی از آن جهت بهره‌کش ‏خوانده می‌شوند که برای تصاحب درآمدها و ثروت‌های بخشی از جامعه و سپردن آن به بخش دیگری از جامعه طراحی ‏شده‌اند."‏ ص 108
چیزی که کتاب "چرا کشورها شکست می‌خورند" را خاص می‌کند، معرفی چرخه‌های فضیلت و رذیلت است. این که چه‌طور ‏کشورها وقتی در مسیر رشد می‌افتند روز به روز قوی‌تر می‌شوند و چه‌طور کشورها وقتی در مسیر فقر و رذالت می‌افتند روز به ‏روز وضع‌شان بدتر و بدتر می‌شود. ما با یک وضعیت ثابت و ایستا هیچ وقت روبه‌رو نیستیم. همیشه یا وضع بد و بدتر می‌شود یا ‏خوب و خ��ب‌تر... ‏
چرخه‌های فضیلت در کشورها چگونه کار می‌کنند؟ نهادهای سیاسی فراگیر قدرت را نزد سردم‌داران جامعه قید و بند دار ‏می‌کنند. نمی‌گذارند که آن‌ها خدا بشوند. این باعث ایجاد نهادهای اقتصادی فراگیر می‌شود. نهادهای اقتصادی فراگیر با تضمین ‏حقوق مالکیت افراد، نمی‌گذارند که ثروت در دستان یک گروه کوچک از جامعه باقی بماند. نمی‌گذارند که ثروت در جامعه ‏متمرکز شود. به همین ترتیب قدرت سیاسی عایدی محدودی به دست صاحبان قدرت می‌دهد و گروه‌های جاه‌طلب به جای ‏فعالیت برای تسلط کامل بر دولت به فعالیت‌های اقتصادی می‌پردازند. و بدین ترتیب نهادهای اقتصادی فراگیر موجب تداوم ‏نهادهای سیاسی فراگیر می‌شوند و...‏
چرخه‌های رذیلت با حضور نهادهای سیاسی بهره‌کش قدرت بی‌نهایتی را برای گروه کوچکی فراهم می‌کنند. این گروه کوچک ‏تمام ثروت جامعه را در اختیار خود می‌گیرد. انگیزه برای فعالیت در آن جامعه از بین می‌رود. گروه‌های جاه‌طلب شرط بقا را ‏فقط در قدرت سیاسی می‌بینند. پس فقط برای تصاحب قدرت با هم می‌جنگند. استعدادهای مردم شکوفا نمی‌شود و این به ‏صورت چرخه‌ای ابدالدهر روز به روز عقب ماندگی را تشدید می‌کند.‏
تنها چیزی که چرخه‌های فضیلت و رذیلت را تغییر می‌دهد، بزنگاه‌های تاریخی است. بزنگاه‌های تاریخی نقطه‌ای هستند که در ‏آن مردم یک کشور جهت چرخه‌های کشورشان را تغییر می‌دهند. ممکن است کشوری در چرخه‌ی فضیلت باشد و در بزنگاهی ‏تاریخی جهت چرخه معکوس شود و وارد چرخه‌ی رذیلت شود. مثل خاورمیانه‌ی دوران باستان که گل سرسبد کشورهای جهان ‏بود، ولی تا به الان در چرخه‌ی رذیلت فرو افتاده و روز به روز بدتر می‌شود.‏
یا که در بزنگاهی تاریخی، از رذیلت وارد فضیلت شوند. در کتاب عجم‌اوغلو و رابینسون مثال‌های فراوانی از این بزنگاه‌های ‏تاریخی وجود دارد.‏
حالت‌های دیگر از نهادهای فراگیر و بهره‌کش و رشد هم در این کتاب روایت شده است.‏
یکی از دوست‌داشتنی ترین فصل‌های این کتاب برایم فصل هفتم بود. جایی که سیر تطور تاریخ انگلستان از پادشاهی تا انقلاب ‏صنعتی را روایت می‌کند. این‌که چطور انگلستان وارد یک چرخه‌ی فضیلت 600 ساله شد. این که چطور این چرخه آرام آرام ‏اوضاع جامعه را بهبود بخشید. هیچ چیز ناگهانی نبود. قشنگ چرخه‌ای بود که دهه‌ها طول کشید تا هی به صورت مثبت رشد کند ‏و رشد کند و وضع را از خیلی بد به بد و از وضعیت بد به وضعیت تحمل‌شدنی و از وضعیت تحمل‌شدنی به وضعیت قابل قبول و... ‏برساند.‏
ابتدا در انگلستان پارلمان وجود نداشت. فقط در سال 1215 میلادی بارون‌های انگلیسی پرنس جان را وادار به امضای مگناکارتا ‏‏(منشور بزرگ) کردند. طبق این منشور پرنس جان قبل از افزایش مالیات‌ها باید با بارون‌ها مشورت می‌کرد و جلسه تشکیل ‏می‌داد.‏
در سال 1265 میلادی اولین پارلمانی انتخابی بارون‌ها به صورت رسمی به وجود آمد. این پارلمان متشکل از نخبگان نزدیک به ‏شاه و طبقه‌ی پولدار جامعه بود که به خاطر منافع‌ شخص خودشان با تلاش‌های افزایش قدرت پادشاه مخالف بودند.‏
‏220 سال بعد در سال 1485 جنگ‌های گل رز بین دو خاندان مدعی سلطنت لنکستری‌ها و یورکی‌ها رخ داد. با این جنگ ‏مناقشه بر سر سلطنت به پایان رسید و سلطنت به لنکستری‌ها رسید. این باعث تمرکز سیاسی در انگلستان شد.‏
در سال 1530 با قطع رابطه‌ی هنری هشتم با کلیسای کاتولیک روم و انحلال صومعه‌ها دولت در انگلستان متمرکزتر شد. و از ‏سوی دیگر تلاش برای دخیل شدن در قدرت متمرکز پادشاه از سوی بارون‌ها افزایش یافت. آن‌ها از طریق مجمعی که حدود 3 ‏قرن سابقه‌ داشت توانستند نفوذشان بر شخص پادشاه را حفظ کنند.‏
در سال 1603 سلسله‌ی استوارت پادشاه شد. سلسله‌ای از حکومت مطلقه، مالیات‌های انحصاری، تولید انحصاری، جیمز اول و ‏پارلمان بارون‌ها سال‌ها بر سر به دست گرفتن تجارت خارجی و داخلی با کشمکش داشتند. تا این که در سال 1623 بارون‌ها ‏توانستند قانون انحصارات را بنویسند و جیمز اول را از ایجاد انحصارات داخلی جدید منع کنند.‏
اما در سال 1629 پادشاه جدید، چارلز اول دیگر تحمل بارون‌ها را نداشت و پارلمان آن‌ها را نابود و منحل کرد. خودکامگی در ‏انگلستان حاکم شد. چارلز اول به جنگ با اسکاتلند پرداخت و ضعیف شد و دوباره بارون‌ها پارلمان تشکیل دادند. ولی این بار ‏تشکیل پارلمان بارون‌ها که با حمایت‌های توده‌ی مردم هم همراه بود جنگ داخلی را به وجود آورد. جنگ داخلی بین طرفداران ‏شاه و طرفداران پارلمان که در نهایت سرتراشیده‌ها (طرفداران پارلمان) به رهبری الیور کرامول جان‌نثاران شاه ��ا قتل عام کردند ‏و پیروز شدند.‏
در سال 1649 چارلز اول اعدام شد. ولی رهبر سرتراشیده‌ها، الیور کرامول وقتی بر تخت سلطنت نشست تبدیل به یک دیکتاور ‏دیگر شد. بعد از او چارلز دوم هم به دیکتاتوری ادامه داد. تا که در سال 1688 دوباره جنگ داخلی به راه افتاد.‏
این همان بزنگاه تاریخ انگلستان بود. جایی که مردم با حضورشان مانع از آن شدند که چرخه‌ی فضیلت‌شان به رذیلت تبدیل ‏شود. چارلز دوم سقوط کرد. و پادشاهی مشروطه با ویلیام آو اورنج شروع شد.‏
در سال 1689 قانون اساسی جدید پارلمان تدوین شد. پادشاهی موروثی کنار گذاشته شد و حکومت مشروطه آغاز شد.‏
در سال 1694 بخش مالی حکومت اصلاح شد. بانک انگلستان تاسیس شد و انقلابی مالی در جهان رخ داد.‏
در سال 1707 پارلمان روز به روز تصمیم‌گیرنده‌تر شد. در این سال مالیات‌ها را پارلمان تعیین کرد و به مردمان عادی حق ‏رای داده شد. ‏
و دیگر انگلستان روی غلطک فضیلت افتاد. با تضمین حقوق مالکیت و انقلاب مالی که اتفاق افتاده بود، اختراعات رونق گرفتند. و انقلاب صنعتی کم کم پا به ‏منصه‌ی ظهور گذاشت... این‌که در آن بین چندین بار جنگ داخلی راه افتاد و چندین بار حکومت مطلقه تشکیل شد، نشان ‏می‌دهد که پارلمان امروز انگلستان و سطح زندگی در شهری مثل لندن به همین راحتی‌ها و الکی به دست نیامده...‏
71 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2013
I could have given this book 4-stars, but I felt 3 were more appropriate in the end. I really think this book's title is a misnomer: it should be "How Nations Fail." I agree the extractive/inclusive dichotomy of political institutions is a useful and explanatory model of a country's economic success and failure. I think it explains much of how a nation/political organization fails. I also like how they point out that failure can take time, and things may look good for a time before they start going downhill. I cannot, however, agree that only the extractive/inclusive dichotomy (along with creative destruction/innovation) are the only explanation for failure. The dismissive attitude towards geographic, disease, and technological factors is astounding. We may see these extractive/inclusive institutions as the medium through which nations can fail and can succeed, but I did not feel they adequately addressed how such institutions come about in the first place. Would the Spaniards and other European powers have been able to put in place the extractive institutions without most of the indigenous population of the Americas being destroyed by disease? I highly doubt it. The few thousand Spanish that conquered Latin America could hardly have done that without the advantage of disease and immunity. I also felt that many of the examples they gave were anecdotal (which I suppose is the nature of these types of books) and perhaps even extreme situations that exemplified their theory. They completely ignore the threat of Mongol invasions of Eastern Europe in the 13th century, the influence of the crusades, the occurrence of the Renaissance, and hardly mention the Scientific Revolution/Enlightenment. Could inclusive institutions have been created without such events? It seems they would lay the occurrence of all those events at the feet of inclusivity. I would argue that the Glorious Revolution could not have occurred without the scientific and philosophical progress that was occurring and accumulating at the time.

Overall, it is a book that is worth reading to those interested in these grand, sweeping books of theory that attempt to explain civilization (like Guns, Germs, & Steel), though the style of jumping from example to example is a little jarring. It was not as enjoyable as some of the other books like it because of that style. On one page you are reading about one country and on the next another country centuries later. They do provide many interesting examples, so if you are also into history this book would appeal to you. If you are a person that likes the evidence presented rather than a narrative this book will likely annoy you (as it did me). I know they are trying to appeal to a wide audience, but there was nary a chart or graph in this book. A few maps, a set of images and that was it. The narrative text did not even provide much in the way of empirical evidence to back up their claims. The authors essentially ask you to believe and go along with the story they are weaving.
1,093 reviews114 followers
November 29, 2017
Aid's Labor Lost

When it comes to explaining why some nations are rich and others poor, you can hear a lot of theories, some possible, others crackpot. People love to point their fingers at geography or climate, at culture or religion (especially if it's not THEIR religion), or at pure ignorance. Other, more thoughtful theorists have developed extensive arguments for `modernization' or at least the need to tinker with existing institutions or to tolerate dictatorships which may lead to eventual reforms. The USA and other developed nations have spent untold billions since 1945 in trying to lift the nations of the so-called Third World out of poverty. Aid to countries where corrupt elites siphon it off or where organization is weak is mostly, if not completely, lost.

If you undertake to read WHY NATIONS FAIL you will get a very coherent argument as to why aid is often useless and why some nations fail while others get rich. Why did the Industrial Revolution take off in England first ? Why did Russia stagnate after 1970 ? What was the economic result of desegregation in the US South ? Why has Somalia fallen apart ? To follow the arguments you will have to remember a few (very few) terms that are used by the authors to put across their ideas. Two are "inclusive economic and political institutions" and "extractive economic and political institutions". That is, some political institutions include a large number of groups and a broad spectrum of people and some economic institutions work to raise the welfare of large numbers of people in a particular country. Others are run by a small, elite group in their own interests and only a small number (the same people) benefit. "Creative destruction" means that while technological progress may put some people out of business (think slide rule or carbon paper manufacturers), the new technology benefits an even wider section of the population, thus being `creative'. "Critical juncture" is their most jargonistic term, meaning a moment in history when things change and could go in several, different ways. Armed with these terms, you'll be able to read this most ably-written and interesting book. What I liked most about the book is its incredibly wide number of historical portraits drawn from all parts of the world, from the USA, Mexico, and Guatemala to Russia, China, Ethiopia, Somalia, Botswana and Sierra Leone, not forgetting Australia. This is only a partial listing of examples. The maps are also very useful. What I liked least about the book is that the authors hammer you with the same set of ideas over and over. I felt like shouting, "OK, OK, I get it !" The length could have been cut with that in mind. Whether or not Acemoglu and Robinson are totally correct, I can't say, not being so widely-versed in such theories. In some ways it feels a bit reductive. However, I guarantee that if you finish this book, you'll never look at foreign aid in the same way. You may wind up with a number of questions about US foreign policy too. And that's not bad.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,322 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.