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Political Order #1

As origens da ordem política: Dos tempos pré-humanos até a Revolução Francesa

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Autor do polêmico O fim da história e O último homem, entre outras obras importantes do pensamento social e político contemporâneo, Francis Fukuyama apresenta, em seu novo e ambicioso livro, a longa trajetória das instituições políticas, das organizações tribais até o Estado moderno. Neste primeiro volume, As origens da ordem política cobre a história das sociedades da antiguidade à Revolução Francesa. Com erudição e ousadia, Fukuyama propõe uma nova interpretação para o aparente caos do sistema internacional e reafirma sua crença nas democracias ocidentais.

663 pages, eBook Kindle

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Francis Fukuyama

110 books1,819 followers
Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born 27 October 1952) is an American philosopher, political economist, and author.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 730 reviews
Profile Image for Ajj.
107 reviews12 followers
May 31, 2011
The best Civilization V based fan fiction ever! No seriously. I can't read a chapter in this book without thinking of Civ. games I have played. If you love Civ. you will love this book.

On a more serious note, I am very pleased with this book so far. While the general idea that the political situation of different areas is dependent on the cultural/political history of those areas seems pretty obvious, Fukuyama provides a wealth of information about different cultures that clearly illustrate his points.

I find the style to be "easy academic". It is not as easy to read as a David McCullough book but is not like reading true theory or a complex political science monograph. He even has some sarcastic comments. (Like all serious Libertarians should move to sub-Saharan Africa to truly experience what it is like to live in a place with a weak state.)

What I find to be the most valuable are the histories of the different peoples (China, India, Islamic etc.). I really enjoy the broad sweep he provides working from the first bands of migrants up through the late middle ages with some extensions into later periods. It is always impressive that even the earliest events have impact on much later parts of political development. (Such as the development of strong religion before statehood in India v. the development of a strong state before religion in China.)


After finishing the book all I said before is true. The latter part of the book focuses more on European states from the middle ages to the French Revolution. Fukuyama provides the same sweeping review of their histories as he did for the earlier examples and they are just as compelling. If I had one take away thought it would be "Thank God for England".

I am excited about the next volume of this work which will focus on state development after the French Revolution. I am eager to read his thoughts on "state building" projects and anticipate a discussion of how autocratic states like China have a leg up in the modern world and to learn what he believes modern democracies can do to catch up.

Profile Image for Ian.
764 reviews65 followers
June 5, 2020
Early on in this book, Prof. Fukuyama explains that he isn’t a fan of the “One damn thing after another” style of history. He is all about investigating causality and connections. This book is definitely in the category of BIG history.

The most difficult aspect of writing this review is how to convey even the haziest notion of the author’s complex arguments. He sees 3 main components to the development of “political order”. These are a strong and capable state, the state’s subordination to a rule of law, and government accountability to its citizens. During the period studied, governments were not accountable to the whole population, but in most cases were accountable to certain elites. The rule of law was something which arose out of religious belief.

The societies studied are wide ranging but the author concentrates on China, India, the Mamluk and Ottoman Sultanates, and at 5 European societies - France, Spain, Hungary, Russia and England (in the context of the time period covered, it is appropriate to talk about England rather than Britain).

Prof. Fukuyama argues that all of the societies featured succeeded in establishing one or more of the 3 factors set out, but that most struggled to achieve a balance between them. For example, China was the first society to develop a strong and capable state, but it failed to develop either the rule of law or political accountability. In contrast, Hungary, formerly a much larger country than it is today, had an over-mighty nobility which was dominant over the monarch. The weakness of the Hungarian state eventually cost the country its independence. He argues that England was the first large country in the world that managed to get the three factors in balance, and that this produced an irresistible combination of military power, wealth and legitimacy.

I found the author’s arguments fascinating, particularly his discussions about the ways China and India developed. The early histories of these civilisations were not previously known to me. He does acknowledge that causality is something that is difficult to establish. Every time a historian identifies a causal factor for something, he will find another sitting below it.

This book is immensely ambitious. and I’m sure plenty of it will have been challenged by other academics. It was really worthwhile for me though. It’s focused my thinking both on the nature of political order and of the different ways it developed across the world. I always enjoy a book that gives me a lot to think about.
Profile Image for Szplug.
467 reviews1,259 followers
October 16, 2012
Well-written, expertly-researched, and thoroughly establishing an evidentiary framework for the analysis Fukuyama brings to his politico-historical game: the permutations of state-building and infrastructure, rule of law, and governmental accountability that have accompanied the evolutionary pathway—fraught with periodic episodes of regression and decay—towards the modern era of various democratic state structures in the face of an inherent familialism—the latter the tendency, via segmentary lineages, for a Patrimonial constitutive political character which treats of the state as part of one's extended family, and all of the nepotistic and kin-aggrandizing actions that accompany it. Reaching back to man's innate sociability in that long mused-upon State of Nature through to the French Revolution that changed everything, the author's decision to pursue the early tribalistic-unto-statehood factors in operation outside of the Greco-Roman world—China, India, and the Muslim Middle East primarily—proves an unusual, but defensible, decision; and the results provide a bevy of details in support of the conclusion presented, quite lucidly and extendedly, in the totality of the five-part tome.

For all of that, though, I rarely encountered anything that I was not previously aware of; and perhaps it was because of that fact—notwithstanding the quality package with which Fukuyama has wrapped his impressive accumulation of state-formative information—that I proceeded through its lengthy pages appreciative of the effort while yet unenthusiastic about the process itself. I've a bad case of the blahs at the moment, and doubtless, once they've passed, the excellence of Fukuyama's latest will make itself more readily apparent (and earn a better review than this bit of pissy rain-induced quibble); for this is, in the end, one exceedingly excellent book.
681 reviews57 followers
June 23, 2020
I appreciate how clear Fukuyama is that government is the organized use of force/violence/coercion. I enjoyed the history he presented. That is why this book gets two stars instead of one.

It doesn't get more stars than that because I have read a lot about hunter-gatherers and vikings and his accounts of both of these groups do not match with the other things I have read about them. This makes me wonder how accurate the rest of the history he presents is.

The thing I dislike about this book the most is the misleading title. What I am really curious about is how egalitarian hunter-gatherers first came into agreement that rulers were a good idea. I am interested in that process, however it happened and however long it took, of the invention of hierarchy. That is, I am interested in the actual ORIGINS of political order, of status. This book contributed very little to my ability to answer that question.

In the final chapters Fukuyama discusses the human nature of "reciprocal altruism" and "kin selection," but I have read articles on hunter-gatherer anthropology in which these ideas are hotly debated. I am more convinced that neither exist, that they are shoddy attempts of Westerners to understand hunter-gatherers, than that they are a reflection of the real "rules of human nature."

Soooo... this book should be titled The DEVELOPMENT of Political Orders Around the World.

Note: Later I did find the book I had been looking for about the actual origins of organized coercion and, for those who are interested, Lifeways of Hunter Gatherers: The Foraging Spectrum. Totally recommend!
Profile Image for Данило Судин.
509 reviews197 followers
August 14, 2019
Дилогію Фукуями про політичні порядки порівнюють з класикою історичної соціології. Мовляв, на рівні Вебера пише та аналізує Фукуяма. На жаль, чутки про монументальність цього тексту сильно перебільшені.

Фукуяма виділяє три складові успішного політичного порядку: 1) бюрократична влада, 2) верховенство права, 3) підзвітність уряду. І далі аналізує, які з суспільств змогли отримати всі три, а яким забракло того чи іншого компоненту - і вони провалилися. Щодо бюрократичної держави потрібне уточнення: йдеться про а) централізовану державу, що опирається на чиновницький апарат, б) який добирається за меритократичним принципом - на противагу патримоніальному, коли чиновники добираються на основі родинних зв'язків).

Відповідно, структура книги опирається на ці три компоненти. Перша частина - вступ, де пояснюються ці три компоненти в загальному: на прикладі переходу від додержавного існування людства до створення перших держав. Друга частина - про бюрократичну владу, третя - про верховенство права, четверта - про підзвітність уряду. А п'ята є завершально-підсумковою: в ній Фукуяма підсумовує свою теоретичну модель, а також пропонує опис факторів, які призводять до утворення всіх трьох компонентів стабільного політичного порядку.

Попри доволі чітку структуру книги, її зміст викликає дуже багато запитань.
1. Друга частина опирається на аналізі Китаю, Індії та ісламських держав (Єгипту та Оттоманської імперії). До цих частин питань найбільше.
1.1. Індія подається як країна, де не було централізованої бюрократичної держави. Втім, в Фукуями Індія постає такою собі позачасовою сутністю, в якій усталилася кастова система, так вона незмінно й існує.
1.2. Аналіз ісламських держав обмежується державою мамелюків та Оттоманською імперією, бо в обох були подібні інститути - мамелюки та яничари. Саме вони припали до душі Фукуямі, бо це інший спосіб подолати патримоніальність - використовуючи рабів без роду-племені. Щоправда, тут є певні проблеми, але про них згодом.
1.3. Китай же ж Фукуяма подає як приклад модерної держави, яка виникла першою в світі: в ній була бюрократична система, подібна до сучасної. І ось в розділі про Китай Фукуяма раптом каже: історія Античності взагалі є зайвою для розуміння витоків сучасного політичного порядку. І це хибна думка, але про неї - після огляду, що ж Фукуяма думає про Європу.

2. А думає він багато, бо третя та четверта частини книги - виключно про Європу. Тобто згрубша більше половини книги - про Європу, а решта тексту - про Індію, Китай та ісламський Близький Схід...
2.1. Фукуяма показує, як в Європі сформувалося верховенство права. Це не є визначальною рисою Європи: верховенство права було і в Китаї, і в ісламських країнах. Втім, особливість Європи - що верховенство права в ній опиралося на Церкву, яка була окремою від держави. В решті світу такого не було, а тому монарх не був підзвітним підданим: хотів - і міг порушувати закони. Натомість в Європі католицька Церква ревно пильнувала дотримання права, бо від цього залежало її існування. Таким чином, Церква заклала основни третього компоненту стабільного політичного порядку - підзвітності ур��ду. Європейський монарх може обходити закон, маніпулювати законом, але не може його ігнорувати.
2.2. Подальше формування політичних порядків в Європі відбувалося завдяки протистоянню трьох сил: централізованого уряду, дворянства та селянства. Фукуяма ускладнює модель і дворянство ділить на вищу та нижчу знать, а також додає сюди третій стан (тобто буржуазію). І до цього ми ��е повернемося. Отже, селяни - головний ресурс в цій грі: хто має їх на своєму боці - той і переміг. Якщо центральний уряд та селяни ліквідовують політичну силу дворянства - маємо абсолютизм. Якщо дворяни усуваються центральний уряд від впливу на селян - маємо невдалу олігархію. Але коли ні дворянство, ні центральний уряд не можуть перемогти один одного - вони постійно змагаються за селян. І так постає підзвітний уряд. Фукуяма ускладнює модель, додавши поділ на вищу та нижчу знать, чим розділяє сильні та слабкі абсолютизми. Сильні - де все дворянство підпорядковане центральному урядові. Прикладом є Російська імперія. Слабкі - де вища знать зберігає привілеї, але нижча знать повністю підпорядкована центральному урядові. І прикладом є Франція. Олігархія - це Річ Посполита. А підзвітний уряд - це Великобританія.

3. Підсумки та критика. Схема Фукуями виглядає гарною та стрункою. Але в ній є проблемні місця.
3.1. Третій стан - це селяни. Юридично буржуазію (дослівно - міщан) намагалися туди ж включити, але це не вдалося зробити. Тому і середньовічний лад розпався. Тому деякі історики називають буржуазію четвертим станом. Фукуяма не зовсім орієнтується в матеріалі.
3.2. Втім, це не найбільша проблема. Схема "монарх-дворяни-селяни" - це не винахід Фукуями. Це схема, якою пояснював передумови виникнення демократії соціолог Баррінгтон Мур-молодший в праці "Історичні витоки демократії та диктатури", яка була опублікована ще 1966 р. Втім, Фукуяма не згадує про неї в цьому томі жодного разу. Відсутня вона і в списку літератури. Тобто або Фукуяма винайшов велосипед, або він сплагіатив модель Мура. В будь-якому випадку сумно. До речі, в другому томі Фукуяма таки згадує Мура, але я його ще не читав, тому не знаю, чи там Фукуяма пояснює, чому в цьому томі він про нього не згадує.
3.3. Фукуяма намагається бути неєвропоцентричним, а тому вважає, що Китай був модерним раніше від Європи, а Древній Рим та Афіни - зайві для розуміння історичного процесу. Фукуяма не враховує кількох речей.
3.3.1. Китай розвивався значну частину своєї історії цілком автономно щодо решти світу. Навіть Індія більше зазнала впливів від Середземноморського світу. Тому Китай - це автономна гілка, а от Рим - це фундамент Європи.
3.3.2. І Фукуяма непрямо це підвтерджує: коли говорить про верховенство права в Європі. Він наголошує, що це верховенство насаджувала Церква, опираючись на "Кодекс Юстиніана", він же Corpus Juris Civilis, тобто Кодекс римського права. Без римського права Європа виглядала б інакше. Адже римляни - єдиний народ древності, який мав пунктик на праві. Жодна інша цивілізація такого детального кодексу законів не мала. Отже, Європа від старту мала перевагу.
3.3.3. "Модерний" Китай виникає в ІІІ ст. н.е. Цікаво, що в цей же час на заході Євразії існує Римська імперія. Вільям Мак-Ніл наголошував, що це чудова ілюстрація того, як подібні умови породжують подібні інститутції. І Китай, і Рим мали протистояти кочовикам/варварам, а тому обидві імперії створили подібні системи управління. Адже Рим в цей час проходить реформи Діоклетіана, а потім Константина. Саме останній ділить імперію на адміністративні та військові округи так, щоб їхні межі не співпадали: розділяє воєнну та цивільну адміністрації, щоб ні в кого не виникло бажання повстати проти центральної влади.
3.3.4. Рим нагадував не лише Китай. В ньому також активно використовувалися вільновідпущеники (колишні раби) як чиновники. Оскільки ці люди не мали жодного майна, то вони залежали повністю від свого патрона, тобто імператора. Практика була настільки поширеною, що її в ІІ ст. н.е. довелося обмежувати цю практику. Тобто Рим придумав "яничарів" до османів.
3.4. Найкумедніше, що для написання неєвропоцентричної історії автор приділив більше місця одній Європі, ніж Індії, Китаю та ісламському Близькому Сходові разом взятим...
3.5. На жаль, в частині про неєвропейські країни Фукуяма більше ілюструє свою теорію, ніж перевіряє її на цих даних.

4. Підсумовуючи, тим не менше, скажу, що книга вартує читання. Завдяки передостанньо��у розділу, який пропонує дуже концентровану багатофакторну модель розвитку стабільних політичних порядків. Сподіваюся, що в другому томі Фукуяма напише цікавіший та оригінальніший текст.
Ідеї останнього розділу не переказую, щоб була інтрига та інтерес до читання Фукуями :)

5. А от до українського видання ставлення змішане.
5.1. Оформлення, особливо обкладинки, просто шикарне. Книгу і приємно в руках тримати, і читати, і вузально перший та другий тому становлять цілісність. Тому, хоча Фукуяма не називав їх "Том 1" та "Том 2", український дизайнер візуально відмінно передав цю єдність двох книг.
5.2. А от в перекладі трапляються ляпи. Наприклад, є "країни-супутники" замість "країн-сателітів". Та й "багато країн, що наслідували Радянський Союз" мали бути країнами-спадкоємцями СРСР. Гірцівський насичений опис став грубим описом, бо thick description. Хлодвіг був вождем франків, одних з німецьких племен, які мали б бути германськими. Праведний халіфат став Патріаршим. Римське громадянство спершу мали лише мешканці Піренейського півострова, хоча йшлося про Аппенінський, де і знаходиться Італія. Нуклеарні родини стали зародковими, причому мене радує, що не ядерними. Париж перебудовував барон Гаусман, хоча він був Османом. Платон написав "Республіку", а не "Державу". Взагалі, чому Платон мав вживати латинське поняття, якщо він був греком?! А Мак'явеллі написав "Принца", хоча його в нас перекладають як "Державець", але в англійському перекладі він таки Prince, тому все майже чесно. Домодерні інституції стали досучасними. Аркебузи стали аркебусами. Іштван був принцем Арпадів, хоча, мабуть, тут йшлося про князя. Адже prince - це англомовна версія титулу і князів в Київській Русі. Гірські клани в Шотландії стали кланом Хайлендів. А середньовічні міста охоронялись міліцями, хоча мали б бути ополченнями (тут доцільніша була б примітка з поясненням, бо так слово "міліція" цілком доречна - це і є ополчення). Але найкращий ляп - "просвітлена данська монархія", себто монархія, що належить до освіченого абсолютизму. Освічений, просвітлений - хіба ж між ними є різниця? ;) І спеціально для соціологів: "Толкоттом Парсонсом, якому протегував Макс Вебер" (С.482). Доволі проблематично, якщо врахувати, що Вебер помер 1920, коли Парсонсу було лише 18 років - і він не знав, що буде соціологом. Невже з того світу Вебер йому протегував?

П.С. і традиційно, в українському виданні відсутні алфавітні покажчики - іменний та географічний. Це унеможливлює подальшу роботу з книгою.
Profile Image for Hadrian.
438 reviews232 followers
November 13, 2020
Francis Fukuyama first rose to prominence after the publication of a 1988 essay, titled "The End of History", which was developed into a book, "The End of History and the Last Man". Fukuyama's idea was not sui generis, its roots can be found in Alexander Kojeve's interpretations of Hegelianism, and the 1960 book "The End of Ideology", written by the sociologist Daniel Bell. Fukuyama argued at the decline and disintegration of the Soviet Union that liberal democracy had been the endpoint of ideological evolution; though "events" would still occur, given humankind's inability to control technological development and the possibility of emotional loss and violence arising from a lack of meaning in one's life.

The Origins of Political Order - the first in a set of two volumes, is one that still provides food for thought - it experienced a bump in sales in China after a COVID patient was photographed reading it in his hospital bed. In short, Fukuyama asks about modern societies, and the elements necessary to form the modern political order. He finds three - first, an efficient state apparatus; second, the rule of law, which constrains the rulers and allows freedom for the ruled; and third, a government being accountable to the people.

Fukuyama does not come across here as a small-l liberal; he does not refer to natural rights or the liberty of small-governments. He refers extensively to sociobiology and the development of human beings in prehistory largely to cast aside these earlier beliefs.

He comes across not as a political scientist, but as more of a sociologist like Max Weber or Emile Durkheim - and he cites them frequently. A market economy is not "natural", but it develops in a favorable environment with beneficial social structures.

Nor does Fukuyama overly rely on Greece and Rome; in his broad tour of world history he refers extensively to the Islamic World (the Mamelukes and Ottomans especially); India before the British era with an extensive tour of the pan-Indian Maurya Empire; and an extensive history of China. While all of these areas developed, in part, some of those three characteristics that Fukuyama views as essential to a modern political order, it was England in the 19th century that came across all three - and it was not inevitable for England to have been the first.

Fukuyama is no Whig historian, where he sees progress as linear, inevitable, and easy. Throughout, he emphasizes how history could very easily have gone the other way - if such and such state had reformed to disempower its ruling aristocracy; or some revolt went another way, the results for premodern history could have been vastly different. Development is complicated and it depends on what you start with. To his credit, he also takes belief and ideology differently; beliefs on caste, imperialism, or an organized church also shape the organization of societies. Even so, he warns against the kind of "economic determinism" where technology or economic organization alone determines the organization of the rest of society.

In his broad historical outlook, he relies on a handful of specialists; while I obviously cannot comment on those for much of Eastern Europe, the Islamic world, etc., he at least cites reliable scholarship on imperial China. Is it possible he's picking them based on how well they'd fit into his argument? Possibly. But given the breadth of his citations, and the number of factors that he integrates into his broader narrative, this is an investigation and a historical approach to take seriously.
Profile Image for Murtaza .
669 reviews3,399 followers
October 1, 2018
After reading Francis Fukuyama���s excellent Political Order and Political Decay a few years ago, I made a note at some point to go back and read the first volume of his work on the subject. The Origins of Political Order is a very ambitious attempt at explaining how modern state-centric societies arose in human history. Generally speaking, I think that any attempt to articulate a sweeping thesis covering every civilization in the world is doomed, at the very least, to suffer some major flaws. To his credit Fukuyama acknowledges in the introduction that he is likely to make errors on the details of each subject, but he still feels that his broad arguments are valid. For the most part I agree.

The book starts at the beginning of human history, explaining how segmentary lineage-based groups first started to coalesce after human beings grew out of small bands. These lineages were effectively lines of kinship tied to a common ancestor. Such lineages later became the basis of tribal units - a still larger and more complex form of organization similar to a massive extended family that continues to exist in much of the world. So how then did these tribal units based on family ties turn into impersonal states? Fukuyama offers a range of possible explanations, but the decisive one still seems to be that tribes sacrificed their relative freedom out of the necessity of self-defense during wartime. “War made the state and the state made war,” as Charles Tilly famously argued, and it was under the pressures of war that tribal groups in many cases were compelled to break apart and integrate themselves into state systems.

Fukuyama rejects the idea that human beings were primarily “individuals” in the pre-modern state of nature. This is an idea famously put forward by Rousseau among others, suggesting that before they were forcibly civilized human beings had lived in a form of individualistic reverie. In fact humans have always primarily been communal creatures and for most of their history they have prioritized the collective over themselves. Not just ones immediate and extended family are to be cared for, but also ones ancestors must be honored as well as ones future descendants. Continuing the family lineage is important above any other concern. The line “stretches from Infinity to Infinity, passing over a razor which is the Present...His existence is necessary but insignificant beside his existence as the representative of the whole.” In this view, an individual human being is simply a tiny thread connecting two great poles of the past and the future of the lineage. Such an idea is difficult for modern people to understand and it goes against the normative liberalism of our time. But it is important to acknowledge in order to appreciate the views of people in the pre-modern West as well as the many parts of the world that have not become liberal.

The book delves into the origins of the Chinese, Indian and Islamic political systems. I found the analyses to be be a bit superficial by necessity but there are many interesting points made nonetheless. The Chinese were the first people to ever develop a modern, bureaucratic state and incredibly enough they did this thousands of years ago. They did so under the pressures of constant war and the consolidation of tribes and local kingdoms, though lineages do continue to exist in modern China. Because they never developed a jurisprudential religion, however, China never developed a strong tradition of rule of law and its governance has always tended towards the despotic up the present day. The two major ideological trends in Chinese political history have been Confucianism and Legalism. The Confucian is the more “moralistic” of the two and includes the idea that Chinese rulers have a duty to care for the wellbeing of those they rule. Legalism is is more strictly about power and seems to be congruent with the Communist regime of modern China. As Fukuyama writes: “The Legalists proposed to treat subjects not as moral beings to be cultivated through education and learning but as Homo economicus, self-interested individuals who would respond to positive and negative incentives—particularly punishments. The Legalist state therefore sought to undermine tradition, break the bonds of family moral obligations, and rebind citizens to the state on a new basis.” As such it may be a bit unfair to say that Chinese Communism is something completely alien to Chinese culture. Despite some modifications, it seems like it has a long and venerable going back to the 4th century BC Legalistic philosopher Shang Yang.

India and the Islamic world both had strong religious traditions which impacted their later development. Until they were destroyed during the colonial period, Muslims were very strongly bound by their traditional laws, which acted as a check on the tyranny of their rulers. Muslim states also used the institution of elite slavery to govern themselves and avoid the pitfalls patrimonialism. Mamluks, Jannisaries and other effectively enslaved subjects of Muslim empires were made into generals and top officials to run the state. With their loyalty to any family broken, they were totally bound to the sultan and the polity. Fukuyama argues that patrimonialism was and is a fatal impediment to any functioning state. As such, this strange form of elite slavery actually worked for a long time in helping creating an impersonal form of elite bureaucratic governance. I think he overstates the case with his reference to Ibn Khaldun’s claim that the Mamluk slaves saved Islam as a whole, but the idea that an effective and impersonal bureaucracy could be created in such a bizarre way is fascinating.

In India, the Hindu religion and its universe of social forms prevented any central state from ever really coalescing. It was not until the British Raj that an Indian national identity came into being, and even then it has largely been tenuous. On the upside this has prevented any tyranny from ever ruling India, in the way that China has been periodically tyrannized by its powerful central state. India also naturally has a vibrant democracy, borne out of the diversity and chaos of its social structure, where the power of caste tends to trump all else. But this diversity also means that it has been almost impossible to organize Indian society in an effective manner towards some common purpose. This may change as India modernizes and potentially leaves behind its complicated systems of caste and personal classification, but this cannot be taken for granted. India has a strong society and a weak state, just as Islamic polities did. China on the other hand has a strong state that has been hegemonic throughout its history, rendering any other form of organization in Chinese society subordinate.

Fukuyama makes a surprising argument that the birth of individualism and the breakdown of kinship structures in Europe can actually be tied to Christianity and the institution of the Church. The corporate structure of the Church (really the model for the modern “corporation”) was an alternative power structure to kinship lines and its rules encouraging donations of property - for instance by widows who were considered to be independent property holders from their departed husbands family - helped break down those networks over time. To be honest he didn’t provide enough analysis to convince me of his thesis on this point, but he makes a plausible argument that the total absence of kinship, lineage and tribal structures in the modern West, as opposed to most of the rest of the planet, does have something to do with the unique institution of the Church.

Probably the most distinctive feature of modern political system is its impersonality. As Fukuyama notes, pre-modern systems of organization were naturally based on favoring friends and family, or favoring those who have done good things for you in the past. These behaviors are known as kin selection and reciprocal altruism respectively. It takes a lot of pressure and violence to change human nature enough to make people abandon such practices that are very intrinsic to human nature, but which in a modern state we’d refer to as nepotism and corruption. In much of the world such patrimonialism continues to exist and it’s not clear whether maintaining a dishonest pretense of a modern state in such places is even helpful.

As they degrade, modern states can also be “repatrimonialized.” Signs of this are visible today in the United States in the form of so-called “legacy students” at elite universities, as well as people attempting to pass political powers to their children. When a state becomes increasingly repatrimonialized, at some point it ceases to be a state any longer and more closely resembles pre-modern forms of political organization. Interestingly, even the Catholic Church laws mandating celibacy were intended to prevent the rise of patrimonial tendencies within its organizational body, by preventing priests from having children and passing down their influence to them instead of to someone more deserving based on merit. Polygamy and concubinage in pre-modern China and the Islamic world on the other hand were intended for a rather different reason of making sure that agnatic (patrilineal) lineages survived by birthing more and more children, ideally males, during a time when most children died quite young.

Fukuyama gets a bad rap for his post-Cold War triumphalism and the neoconservative phase that he went through. This book is not perfect, but like Political Order and Political Decay it is clearly a work of great genius. In many respects the second volume is more relevant since it deals with the contemporary challenge of managing existing modern states. But this book nonetheless does an admirable job of laying out the arguments that he has been building in various works throughout his career. He covers a lot of ground and I’m not confident that he did so without errors and omissions, but there are many gems of insight contained here nonetheless.
Profile Image for May.
298 reviews12 followers
June 6, 2020
Easy to read, informative, and well-structured. Enjoyed reading it very much and will be taking many new ideas and insights with me into the new year, 2019 <3
Profile Image for Luís.
1,944 reviews610 followers
February 1, 2023
From starting in the beginnings of disorganized humanity, its evolution leads to the appearance of social structures of internal organization that are increasingly complex and hierarchical, which means that Man may lose part of his freedom in favor of better conditions of survival guaranteed by the highest form of collective organization: the Estate. Of course, not all States in the various parts of the world were born in the same way, but they all have characteristics that seek the same objectives, and it is this demand throughout the planet that the author reveals to us.
Profile Image for Jayesh .
179 reviews104 followers
March 16, 2019
It deserves all the praise it gets.

As the subtitle suggests, Fukuyama focuses on the vast historic scale, starting from prehuman times, until the French revolution. Given the breadth, you would think that one will be constantly lost, possibly missing the forest for the trees. Fortunately, Fukuyama is a fantastic writer and manages to be sensible and clearly understandable (daresay, practical?).

By "political order", Fukuyama refers to the trifecta of a strong state institutions - the rule of law, political accountability and administrative capability. It is sometimes hard to figure out whether he means it in a normative sense, because almost none of the cases fulfill all the requirements, most of the time. Moreover, as someone who has read their James C. Scott, would question whether the modern state is even a desirable thing.
Overall, even though Fukuyama does have an ideal in mind he's mostly interested in developing a toolbox to think about the nature of political power and its historical development across the world.

Most history you read in school often feels like "one damn thing after another". Fukuyama avoids this and instead takes a comparative approach - juxtaposing political development in China, India, Middle-East and Europe against each other while grounding it in ideas of variance and selection from biological evolution. He carefully points out that human nature can't be ignored:

Human beings never existed in a presocial state. The idea that human beings at one time existed as isolated individuals, who interacted either through anarchic violence (Hobbes) or in pacific ignorance of one another (Rousseau), is not correct. Human beings as well as their primate ancestors always lived in kin-based social groups of varying sizes. Indeed, they lived in these social units for a sufficiently long period of time that the cognitive and emotional faculties needed to promote social cooperation evolved and became hardwired in their genetic endowments. This means that a rational-choice model of collective action, in which individuals calculate that they will be better off by cooperating with one another, vastly understates the degree of social cooperation that exists in human societies and misunderstands the motives that underlie it.


It is important to resist the temptation to reduce human motivation to an economic desire for resources. Violence in human history has often been perpetrated by people seeking not material wealth but recognition. Conflicts are carried on long beyond the point when they make economic sense. Recognition is sometimes related to material wealth, but at other times it comes at the expense of material wealth, and it is an unhelpful oversimplification to regard it as just another type of “utility.”

It's definitely not overclaiming that this book is major milestone in modern political thought and honestly worth reading by anyone interested in the modern world.
Profile Image for Michael.
249 reviews40 followers
November 21, 2014
Fukuyama joins Max Weber, Emil Durkheim and Karl Marx as one of the Great Ones of Sociology and Political Theory with the first volume of this two volume work. I am in excited anticipation of the second volume, which has just recently been released. In the context of modern writers, Fukuyama is connecting the dots between Jared Diamond's works on prehistoric social development and Neil Furgusan's work on the ascendance of western society post middle ages. Fukuyama provides a comprehensive account of the emergence of social order, beginning with our ape relatives, moving through prehistoric man proceeding to the emergence of more comtemporary forms of social order, up until the eve of French Revolution and the industrial age. Fukuyama gives the most complete account of the emergence of tribal organization from clan organization, including the critical importance of early religious ideas (i.e. ancestor worship) in this process. He details the importance of biological factors underlying social relatedness, debunking Hobbes AND Rousseau and he concludes with strong evidence based arguments that social order preexists the evolution of man entirely.

Fukuyama goes on to posit the basic underpinnings of modern social institutions. He surveys the three pillars of a stable state: 1) a strong centralized state that overcomes tribal patrimonialism, 2) the rule of law, often beginning with a religious class that constrains the actions of state leaders and 3) political accountability that involves a cohesive civil society that demands accountability from it's leaders.

Fukuyama takes us through a fascinating account of the emergence of the state in China, India, the Muslim World and Europe using these as examples that illustrate the commonalities and differences in state formation from tribal level society. I found Fukuyama's account of each of these instances to be deeply insightful and illuminating. From the Chin dynasty's invention of the state burocracy in the face of chronic war and widespread early literacy and Confucian philosophy to the Indian Caste and Jati system to the Muslim world's military slavery system of Mamelukes and Janissaries and finally to the European Catholic invention of celibate religious castes and cannon law, it seems that amazing cultural ingenuity was necessary to overcome the constraints of tribalism in moving to the modern state. Often this ingenuity came at a breathtaking cost of coercion and lost liberty, but this is the legacy we have inherited with the amazing power and potential of our modern state.

The modern world, in all its diversity, suddenly makes so much more sense after reading volume one of this two volume tour de force. I can hardly wait to start on volume 2. It is loaded and ready to go on my ipod as I type this!
Profile Image for Sebastien.
252 reviews290 followers
November 7, 2016
I'll be honest, this was a dense book for me, covering a lot of material from areas of history I'm woefully uneducated and ignorant of. But that was part of the fun, this book got me outside my comfort zone (namely US and European history) and gave me a feel for cultures and histories that I haven't been exposed to. I enjoyed the historical surveys of cultures like China and the Arab world. I felt I learned a lot. But I also feel this is a book I will need to reread. There is just so much material to unpack, so many concepts and political developments with which I'm unfamiliar. And I was so focused on trying to follow and absorb the background history of these cultures that I sometimes got lost and missed out on the overarching themes and concepts Fukuyama was trying to hammer home.

But overall just a great book imo, I learned a lot in regards to political development, comparative political science concepts, and was exposed and learned about multiple histories of different cultures. And as far as I can tell most of Fukuyama's arguments and points seemed reasonable and well-argued. But my grasp of the material is still tenuous and I think I'll greatly benefit from a reread.
Profile Image for Boudewijn.
680 reviews92 followers
January 7, 2023
What makes a state stable? How is it that some states developed a stable political system while others still are governed by weak states, which barely can survive?

The book is the first of two books on the development of political order. This book goes from its origins to the French Revolution while part II starts with the French Revolution and goes to the present day.

This book mainly focusses on China, India and Europe where we saw the emergence of the first states. According to Fukuyama, a (stable) state is accountable, follows the rule of law and is strong and modern. China is described as having the first modern state but had a weak rule of law and the emperor had no accountability to anyone. In India there was never a strong state, due to the traditional power of the brahmin priestly caste. In Europe, and then especially England and (later) Denmark and Sweden a balance was finally struck between the three components of political order.

This extensive book (more than a 24 hours audiobook) was an interesting, though sometimes slow read, which helped me to understand the complex balance between the three pillars of a stable state. It also helped me to understand why some states were succesfull and others will fail in eternity. Recommended to anyone with a interest in (political) history.
Profile Image for Charles Haywood.
505 reviews778 followers
March 31, 2016
Like Daniel Burnham, Francis Fukuyama makes no small plans. “The Origins of Political Order” aspires to be nothing less than an all-encompassing explanation of how human beings created political order. This book carries Fukuyama’s analysis up to the French Revolution; a second volume carries the story to the modern day. This volume is mostly taken up with creating and discussing a coherent framework that explains political order before the modern era. Much of what Fukuyama discusses here is non-Western societies, which makes it particularly interesting.

The reason for the time break at the French Revolution is basically the Malthusian Trap. Before the West created societies in which productivity gains were so great that actual per capita income consistently rose, most of the world’s political orders were based on zero-sum games, where dividing the pie in your favor was the only road to wealth. This obviously has important implications for any political order (including that property rights create different incentives in a Malthusian world) and creates what appears to be a natural division (though, given that most of the non-Western world has not escaped the Malthusian Trap, it may not be a sensible division—I’ll have to see what the second volume says).

In any case, Fukuyama divides this book into four main sections: Before The State; State Building; The Rule Of Law; and Accountable Government. This is in keeping with Fukuyama’s core thesis, which is that a modern optimal state, by which he means a liberal democracy, must contain three key characteristics. These are (a) a state, by which he means an effective central government; (b) the rule of law; and (c) accountability of the state to all its constituents. Most of this book is a detailed exploration of each of these characteristics and how they developed, or failed to develop, in the context of different historical global political orders. Counterpoised to all three characteristics is the strong human tendency towards patrimonialism—having as one’s main goal rewarding family and friends. Fukuyama’s explicit exemplar of a “modern optimal state” is Denmark; he repeatedly refers to the goal being “getting to Denmark,” “known to have good political and economic institutions: it is stable, democratic, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, and has extremely low levels of political corruption.”

Fukuyama begins his section “Before The State” with a review of how there are a lot of defective political orders today, even though towards the end of the 20th Century it seemed that liberal democracy was sweeping the world. He notes, as he does throughout the book, that there is no iron law of forward progress. Moreover, he makes clear up front that he is not a fan of the Nozickian state—as a core premise, he posits as essential a “strong, hierarchical government” resting on “a hidden institutional foundation of property rights, rule of law, and basic political order.”

Fukuyama therefore rejects the Nozickian libertarian state. A Nozickian would claim that the Nozickian state is actually the essence of things Fukuyama cites as essential, and any more extensive state is unnecessary to accomplish those things. Fukuyama would respond (and does, as discussed below) that the state must itself have a certain degree of strength beyond securing those essential things, primarily in order to prevent erosion of central power and the creation thereby of weakness attractive to outside enemies. More generally, though, Fukuyama does not fear Leviathan as long as it is bound by the rule of law and accountable; he apparently sees no inherent virtue in smaller and less intrusive government.

In this first section, occasionally Fukuyama stumbles, as when he quotes Amartya Sen to the effect that democracy is the “default political condition” and nowadays “taken to be generally right,” and then noting that “very few people around the world openly profess to admire Vladimir Putin’s petronationalism, or Hugo Chavez’s ‘twenty-first-century socialism,” or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Islamic republic.” This was not true even when the book was written in 2011. Mainstream left-wingers around the world, including the entire American left, openly and effusively praised Chavez during his entire career, writing glowing articles about his supposed success (yet another tedious example of the search for a supposed Third Way). Even now, as Venezuela collapses completely into ruin, most liberals, as usual, do not ascribe the gruesome failure to Chavez or to authoritarian socialism generally And since 2011, the number of people around the world openly admiring Putin has grown by leaps and bounds, and even Iran has been embraced by the community of nations, though neither nation has moved any closer to democracy. This, and most of Fukuyama’s few other analytical stumbles, seem to relate to a combination of his optimism and belief that, despite the many bad people out there, that most people are good and ultimately striving to “get to Denmark.” That’s probably not a safe assumption. Maybe they’re instead striving to get to Denmark’s valuables, like the migrants who flooded into Europe beginning in the summer of 2015.

Anyway, Fukuyama notes that the idea that humans voluntarily formed political orders out of some pre-social existence, whether according to the system of Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau or Paine, is silly. There was never some pre-social state of nature. Chimpanzees have a political order, and we adopted it. Band-level human organization is essentially the same as chimpanzee organization; it revolves around being tied to and favoring family and friends—patrimonialism.. Humans made such organization more complex and found ways to increase social cohesion, but it’s basically the same ways chimps act. Here Fukuyama also introduces another major theme of his book, which is that humans are driven by much more than economics—like chimps, they are driven as much, or more, by other drives, such as the desire to benefit kin, and the desire for status and recognition independent of economic benefits.

Fukuyama explains how all primitive societies have characteristics in common, one major one being the “tyranny of cousins”—family obligations are everything, and band-level societies are largely egalitarian, reducing the incentives for any one person to create additional value. At the same time, in primitive societies having large amounts of property held in common actually does not lead to the “tragedy of the commons,” and in fact works fairly well. Western-style property rights are not critical to functioning at this level. (Fukuyama also notes in passing that there is zero evidence any matriarchal society has ever existed, myths to the contrary notwithstanding.) He explains how “segmentary” band-level societies may fight with each other, but combine to fight outsiders. (To use an example Fukuyama does not use, the Hatfields and McCoys fought each other, but would likely have fought together against outsiders, or Yankees.)

Humans then created tribal-level societies—essentially bands forming together on the basis of descent from an (often fictive) common ancestor, usually with a chief having very limited powers at their head. Such tribes were capable of greater organization, greater warfare, and greater productivity. But the need to reward relatives, followers and clients was still the key—until the early Roman Empire, in fact, tribalism was in many ways the basic organizing principle of Rome, and is still very important in most of the world, including modern India and China. In such societies, there was neither a state, nor rule of law, nor accountability.

Next came state-level societies (chiefdoms, followed later by true states), distinguished from tribes by having centralized authority with a monopoly on legitimate coercion, and by being based on territory, not kinship status. Fukuyama rejects various theories of how this happened, from it being a voluntary compact to being necessary to create irrigation to merely having a dense enough population. His favored explanation is that once there is adequate wealth, population density and status differentiation, thereafter when there is organized violence arising from other people, particularly states, those not organized as states have a strong incentive to so organize, because it makes warfare much more effective. This effect is increased when geography makes movement away from conflict difficult or impossible, and by religious beliefs that also tend to legitimize central authority (e.g., Islam). He also notes that even so, in most modern states, tribalism lies just under the surface, and “complex kinship structures remain the primary locus of social life.” And so the human desire to reward kin and friends, patrimonialism, is always pulling in the opposite direction, very strongly in all societies, except in Europe, where Christianity early “undermined kinship as a basis for social cohesion.”

Fukuyama says that we don’t have to guess whether this is all true. We can prove it, using China as the exemplar. China was the first modern state, and much of its history is extremely well documented. So China is what Fukuyama turns to when starting his next major section, “State Building.”

Fukuyama defines a state as “an organization deploying a legitimate monopoly of violence over a defined territory”, which is “subject to a rational division of labor, based on technical specialization and expertise, and impersonal both with regard to recruitment and their authority over citizens.” Here, Fukuyama begins with discussing Chinese tribalism and the importance of family and kinship to all past and present Chinese social institutions, including agnatic (male-line) descent and its implications for inheritance and other social structures. (In several places in the book Fukuyama notes that traditionally a Chinese person’s obligations to his parents are greater than those to his children, a highly alien concept in the West.) China’s first proto-state was the Zhou “feudalism” around 1200 B.C., which was still largely a grouping not of lords under a ruler, but of lords and their kinship groups under a weak central state. But Fukuyama’s thesis is that what drove China to a true state structure, first under the Qin, was incessant warfare, leading to vastly greater mobilization of men for war than in ancient Rome or Greece. States were able to organize an efficient military; tax to fund that military; maintain a bureaucracy to organize that military; and administer that military over time and space.

Fukuyama emphasizes that while China created the first modern state, it totally lacked, at all times and places, both the rule of law and accountability, and thus was and is far from the “optimal state.” One particularly interesting (and lengthy) discussion here is the conflict in China between the ideas of Legalism and Confucianism. We think of Chinese moral thought, which is the only brake on the state given the Chinese lack of rule of law, as essentially equivalent to Confucianism, with its emphasis on a perfect past that must be emulated and resulting moral (but only moral) limits on societies and especially rulers. But during earlier periods, including the Qin, Legalism held sway, which was basically a positivist theory not dissimilar to modern leftist thought (and, as Fukuyama points out, to Chinese Communist thought). “The Legalists proposed to treat subjects not as moral beings to be cultivated through education and learning but as Homo economicus, self-interested individuals who would respond to positive and negative incentives—particularly punishments. The Legalist state therefore sought to undermine tradition, break the bonds of family moral obligations, and rebind citizens to the state on a new basis.” This means not even a moral brake on the power of the state. But ultimately Confucianism was restored to primacy, until Communism, such that at least a moral brake existed on the power of the state.

In the many hundreds of years of various Chinese states, the pendulum swung back and forth between central states, of varying strengths, and reversions to tribal-type patrimonialism. The reversions weren’t to true tribal-type patrimonialism, though. All actors aspired to re-create a central state—but many merely wanted that as a device to extend patrimonialism. They didn’t want to build up local power groups based on kin but rather to insert their kin into a reconstituted central government, which would act as a front for patrimonialist distribution of goods and power. Needless to say, this is not what Fukuyama considers an optimal political order.

Fukuyama then spends a great deal of time on comparative Indian history. All of it is fascinating. His ultimate conclusion is that India ended up the opposite of China—it never had a strong central state, nor aspired to it, largely because India always had very strong social groups, largely originating in and reinforced by the religious norms of Hinduism. Strong non-state social bonds and rules prevented strong state formation. In fact, India initially started down the same path of China of state formation, but detoured when Hinduism became the dominant religion. (In many ways, Fukuyama’s analysis of strong social connections preventing strong state control is reminiscent of Robert Nisbet’s theses in “The Quest For Community.”) In the context of state development, as well as more generally, Fukuyama is highly critical of those who see religion as merely a screen for other motivations, such as economic drivers, noting that “such explanations fail to penetrate the subjectively experienced coherence of the society and reflect nothing more than the secular biases of the observers themselves.” Fukuyama sees religion as both a key motivator of human actions, and very often a key component of most of the steps in the creation of states.

The third group analyzed for its state-like characteristics is the Islamic caliphate and its offshoots, including the Mamluk sultanate. Here Fukuyama emphasizes the well-known role of Islamic military slavery, whether Mamluk or Ottoman, in preventing backsliding into patrimonialism and therefore supporting a strong central state. And, of course, as those slave systems eroded, patrimonialism (a key component of human nature) returned, and the states lost power.

Finally, Fukuyama discusses how Europe was able to form states more effectively than anywhere else in the world, because the medieval Roman church undermined kinship groups, by providing both a separate power source and by encouraging legal structures that permitted property donation to the Church, thus reducing family legacy power. (He notes how, again contrary to myth, in England from an early time women could hold and sell property outside the family, as well as sue and be sued, and make wills and contracts without the permission of a male guardian.) Fukuyama posits that European feudalism, which was uniquely not kin-based and allowed smooth power and economic relations among non-related individuals, was an alternative to kinship-based systems. European feudalism was necessary to organize defenses to warfare when kinship systems had been eroded, but its creation smoothed the way to the formation of modern states, since it prevented patrimonialism.

The third major section of the book is “Rule Of Law.” Fukuyama defines this, commonly enough, as where “the preexisting body of law is sovereign over legislation,” whatever the source of that preexisting body of law. Here, most of the discussion centers around Europe, where the rule of law emerged early and which is the only set of societies that has consistently maintained the rule of law. (Fukuyama never makes it explicit, at least in this volume, but really only European societies have ever met his definition of optimal societies.) But rule of law is not, for Fukuyama, basically the same as property rights, as many libertarians would have it. He points out that, as in China, you can have “good enough” property rights and contract enforcement to permit economic growth, while still totally lacking the rule of law. In Fukuyama’s vision, the rule of law permeates all relations between the state and members of its constituent groups.

The start of Fukuyama’s analysis centers around England. He locates the origin of European rule of law in relatively strong central government in England, which led to the Common Law being centrally administered, eroding the ability of local elites to avoid the rule of law to benefit themselves. The king’s willingness to enforce the law against the such elites (combined with other features of England, like less separation between local elites and local non-elites than found elsewhere) allowed the law to be seen, countrywide, as impartial and beneficial to all. This reinforced the legitimacy of the English state, creating first in England the two legs of the tripod Fukuyama views as the essence of modern optimal government.

Outside England, though, it was the role of Catholic Church in promulgating a reinvigorated civil law based on Roman law that created a broader rule of law (although the Church also contributed to the English rule of law). After the investiture controversy between Gregory VII and Henry IV, the Church was firmly established as an independent player in European law, and was itself in many ways a modern state, a “modern, hierarchical, bureaucratic, and law-governed institution,” that had eliminated patrimonialism by mandating clerical celibacy. The Church used its authority to promulgate canon law, based on Roman law and made coherent by Gratian, thus “accustom[ing] rulers to the idea that they were not the ultimate source of the law.” And the separation of church and state also allowed room for the modern secular state, as opposed to a caeasaropapist state like Byzantium or Islam, to emerge. Fukuyama repeatedly rejects the Marxist and Weberian view of the Reformation as the key element in the creation of modern Europe as ahistorical. Instead, he points to the early exit out of kinship patrimonialism and the creation of a modern legal order, both caused solely by the Catholic Church in the early Middle Ages.

Outside Europe, Islam and India also had a form of the rule of law, though not to the degree of Europe. China never did, and does not to this day. Fukuyama emphasizes that contrary to common belief, medieval Islam was not theocratic, where religious leaders rule the state. Instead, it was caeasaropapist, where secular rulers dominate religion. This meant that in theory at least Muslim secular rulers recognized separate divine authority, which resulted in a species of the rule of law. However, the lack of any organized central religious authority in practice allowed secular rulers to never have to actually do anything they didn’t want to do. In an interesting aside, Fukuyama cites Noah Feldman to the effect that a significant driver of modern Islamism is the desire to leave the “lawless authoritarianism of contemporary regimes.” In this analysis, the demand for sharia law is not a theocratic reaction, but a demand for a more balanced regime featuring the rule of law. In other words, more religion, less tyranny. I find this compelling, though by no means the entire explanation, since there have been plenty of demands for pure theocracy in Muslim history, such as the Kharijites.

[There's more, but Goodreads won't let me post a review longer than this--so if you care, and you're still reading, you can go see the rest at my Amazon review.
Profile Image for Sandra.
264 reviews64 followers
March 28, 2017
How Not to Write a History Book: The art of making a pile of mostly-derivations-from-primary-sources unengaging and lifeless (again). The third star is for the general education value.

The likely winner of the most boring book of the year. Can't believe I got myself into reading the second (and even longer) one too.
Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,384 followers
August 5, 2016
Uma versão mais longa, detalhada e cheia de exemplos históricos do que o Porque Falham as Nações explica. Um livro bem longo que passa pela história de várias civilizações explicando como o passado delas deu condições ou criou complicações que implicam no presente. Ótimas ideias, muito bem explicado, um tanto repetitivo, especialmente porque ele conta e reconta as mesmas condições em mais de um capítulo – eles lembram mais textos individuais, não algo que você leria em ordem no mesmo livro.

Sobre nossa situação no Brasil, ler esse livro é bem deprimente. A maneira como ele coloca o estado francês pré-revolução, fraco e dependente de terceiros para gerenciar e coletar imposto, por isso muito mais sujeito à corrupção e nepotismo, se estende para o governo espanhol e por similaridade ao português que nos originou (mesmo ele não falando deste último diretamente). A lição que levei para o Brasil é: não tem educação ou desenvolvimento que nos salve sem uma mudança fundamental da política e do sistema de favorecimento de indivíduos. E o Estado atual faz e fará o possível para manter isso como está. Foi mais uma pedrada no argumento de que o que desenvolveu a Coréia do Sul foi a educação, versus o que fez a educação crescer na Coréia do Sul foi o desenvolvimento econômico.

Não sou a pessoa mais indicada para avaliar ou criticar os argumentos e ideias do livro, mas as poucas críticas negativas que li questionam a ordem dos fatos (o que é causa e o que é consequência) do que ele apresenta, não os exemplos ou a avaliação.
Profile Image for مصطفى.
303 reviews230 followers
August 2, 2021
يمثل هذا الكتاب الضخم، شبه ردة فكرية تميز فرانسيس فوكوياما الذي لم يخشى التراجع عن الأفكار التي طرحها في كتابه الأشهر، وتصريحاته ومشوراته في السياسة الأمريكية عن المجتمعات، حيث كان فوكوياما من المولعين بصنع تجوهرات للمجتمعات تضعها في حتميات تاريخية تتسبب في تدهورها أو تقدمها، وكان مؤمناً أن الليبرالية الأمريكية هي النموذج الأكمل للإنسان أن يبلغه، ولكنه في هذا الكتاب يطرح أفكاراً مغايرة وأكثر إقناعاً من مثالية النظرة الليبرالية للتاريخ أو التاريخ الليبرالي والذي هاجمه هو نفسه في الكتاب، حيث يناقش ��كرة أنه منذ بدء الحياة على الأرض واجتماع الإنسان خضعت المجتمعات الإنسانية إلى أشكال مختلفة من الحياة التي شكلت وفقاً لمتغيرات بيئية وزمنية طارئة، ظلت تتطور ويتطور معها شكل الإجتماع البشري ونظام الحكم السياسي تحديداً والذي يناقش تطوره بعيداً منفصلاً عن التطور الإجتماعي والإقتصادي، لذلك ينفي فوكوياما في كتابه عن المجتمعات تهمة التجوهرات التي تشكلت فيها نتاجاً للدين، ويقدم سرداً واقعياً لنشوء السياسة والمؤسسات، وبنظره أن التاريخ بدء يخضع لعملية تشكيل أخرى بدءًا من الثورة الصناعية، وذلك ما سيسخر له مجلده الثاني
لا أوافق فوكوياما على كل الأفكار التي يطرحها بالضرورة، ولكن أعتقد أن هذا العمل يملك نظرة فارقة للتاريخ ومسحاً هائلاً للتاريخ البشري وتطوره السياسي يستحق القراءة والتقدير
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,649 followers
October 3, 2016
Really fantastic first volume that basically explains world political history. Read together with volume 2. It will be worth your while. It is along the lines of Sapiens and Debt by David Graeber and Fields of Blood by Armstrong--all of them a long view of history focused on one thread
Profile Image for John Farebrother.
114 reviews27 followers
November 29, 2020
A phenomenal book. I came across it by pure chance at a second-hand bookshop on the South Bank, and bought it because I was intrigued by the title "...from prehuman times".
The sheer scholarship behind this book is incredible in itself. The author traces the evolution of human societies through three principle stages, bands - tribes - states. For his analysis of the earliest stage, he refers to studies of chimpanzees, and concludes that when people lived in groups of around 40 individuals, and everyone new each other, society could function without formal institutions. Rather, leaders were selected by consensus, based not so much on physical strength as on trust, and the ability to manage conflict within the group.
For his analysis of the later stages of societal evolution, the author makes extensive and exhaustive reference to historical events. In order to progress from band to a larger, impersonal tribe, a new identity is required to which all can subscribe - based on a common religion.
His study of the development of states debunks the notion that western civilisation is the gold standard. Rather he analyses in great detail a number of civilisations (China, India, the Middle East, Western and Eastern Europe) and explores how the common factors of society fared differently in different cultural and geographical conditions. In particular, how to ensure the loyalty of subjects to the artificial but inevitable superstructure, and prevent them reverting to the extended family as the state's natural rival.
The book concludes on the eve of the French and American revolutions - and the industrial revolution. It certainly answers a lot of questions that have occurred to me over the years. Not the first great read I've bought at that bookshop - I hope they survive the pandemic!
Profile Image for Julian Douglass.
313 reviews12 followers
May 31, 2022
Mr. Fukuyama takes a very, very, complex subject and makes it very easy to understand in the 500 or so pages of his book. The creation of states from tribal based societies to rules-based organizations is a phenomenon that has presented thousands of questions from how it happened to why some states are more liberal democracies while others are still authoritarian single party states. This is more of a history of the organization of states rather than a political science tome of the workings of the state. This book is a must read to read the second book, which he states is more focused on the working rather than the formation. This is 500 pages of interesting and thought-provoking theories and explanations of the creation of modern states, but it reads so smoothly even non-poli sci and social science nerds could get into what he has to say. Ready for Part 2
Profile Image for Umair Khan.
40 reviews26 followers
July 20, 2013
Francis Fukuyama will always be best known, and mostly misunderstood, for his prophetic work The End of History and The Last Man celebrating the prevalence of democratic values and institutions over communism. This writing was influenced by the conservative Chicago philosopher, Allan Bloom who has despised the intellectual relativism growing in the American politics since then. Fukuyama feared, quite rightfully, that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, American politics will only be focused on the mundane issues of administration rather than following larger-than-life ideological battles.

Fukuyama worked with Rand Corporation, the military focused think tank, during the 1980s. His assignment was to devise a strategy to counter the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It started Fukuyama’s brief interlude with the ISI that culminated in devising the policy for fighting Soviet army in Afghanistan with American dollars and Pakistani strategic help to Afghan Mujahideen. He has also had political associations with the neoconservative movement. He signed a letter after the September 11 attacks urging President Bush to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But by 2006, he accepted his miscalculation and has been criticising the neoconservatives and invasion of Iraq since then. “All of the Kissinger-era realists have gone away. Today, the party is just a wasteland”, he says about present day Republicans.

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution is a dedication to Samuel Huntington, the man best known for his Clash of Civilizations thesis. Fukuyama states in the preface that his new book is inspired from Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies and that he seeks to find how the political order originated in the first place, factors contributing to it and why some societies still have not been able to achieve it.

Those who have some interest in political theory dealing with the questions of the origin and development of political institutions might think that so much has been contemplated and put to writing by classical and modern political philosophers on the subject that there is really no need to ramble on these speculative questions anymore. We find varying and sometimes contradictory stances in the views of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and so many others. However Fukuyama, living in the 21st century, has one advantage over these classical theorists and that is the vast knowledge base produced by anthropology, archeology, etcetera, to which he has access.

This book is based on certain assumptions; there is a universal human nature exhibiting certain behaviours like favouring relatives, reciprocal altruism, establishing rules, and competing for self-interest. These behaviours, according to Fukuyama, have given rise to certain political practices that can be seen throughout history. During nomadic times of hunter-gatherer societies, people formed kinship groups and their lives were tightly knit along kinship lines. This was the first kind of social, political and economic association. In Fukuyama’s words, kinship association generated “tyranny of cousins”. The only way out of it was the next step along political evolution, the creation of states. But, even the formation of state could not completely solve the problem of kinship and the kind of favouritism it breeds. It only shifted it up the chain. Now there were powerful rulers extending favors to their relatives. This phenomenon is present in today’s world, more visibly in the Middle East monarchies.

To address this intrinsic problem of human nature, the concepts of accountability and rule of law were introduced. Fukuyama is of the opinion that history of political developments juggles between power grabbing centralising forces and rights disseminating decentralising forces. Every society needs a balance between these two forces to establish political order otherwise anarchy and chaos prevails.

A strong centralised state was established in ancient China which prevailed over tribalism by the Qin Dynasty by developing an official class loyal to the state rather than to family. But this society lacked accountability and became too centrally strong which proved to be fatal for its further development.

Walking forward through the millennia Fukuyama investigates the political evolution of the Islamic caliphate: “There is no clearer illustration of the importance of ideas to politics than the emergence of an Arab state under the Prophet Muhammad”. Muslim emperors devised the institutions of slave-armies which had no family ties; their sole purpose was to serve the state.

Then Fukuyama gives an example of 13th century Hungary arriving at its own Magna Carta (“the golden bull”) and transferring powers to nobles from the monarch. But Hungary could not evolve a stable constitutional government like Britain because the king was extremely weakened and there was no force to unify the rebellious nobles exploiting their peasants. Nobles were also too powerful in France which resulted in disenchantment of masses with the existing political structure and their discontent was expressed through the French Revolution.

Fukuyama also analyses why the poorer societies cannot easily develop effective states. Just as institutions are too complicated to be changed easily, so too they are hard to develop, he professes. “Poor countries are poor not because they lack resources,” he writes, “but because they lack effective political institutions.” Where there is no rule of law, there cannot be effective political and economic development. This line of thought, however, puts Fukuyama at odds with the Marxist theorists who base all social and political development on economic resources.

Fukuyama is mainly interested in civilizations and how societies achieve political order. As opposed to Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, which focuses largely on material and geographical causes, Fukuyama analyses behavioural and cultural values in order to answer the question of political evolution. The Origins of Political Order is volume one of a two-volume work, and Fukuyama intends to take the discussion up to the contemporary times (this one ends with the French revolution) with the second volume. Notably, in recent talks, Fukuyama stays loyal to his earlier thesis and stresses that the modern liberal state is still in his view the end of history.

Published: http://beta.dawn.com/news/708856/non-...
Profile Image for Manu.
365 reviews49 followers
April 18, 2021
Once upon a time, humans moved around in bands. Then there were tribes, and then there were states. States and the societies that make up its population have developed a bunch of institutions (defined as "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behaviour"), some of which are uniformly present across the globe, and some not. How did this variation happen? Why is every country not a democracy, which is largely accepted as the best trade-off for all concerned? How did different countries reach their current form? That's what this book is all about - how did different countries develop institutions that currently make up their current society and state?
The author categories institutions into 3 types - the state, the rule of law, and accountable government. The current successful model of democracy has all three in a stable balance. How did it get here? He begins right from the biological foundations of human behaviour, which dictated man's predisposition to kin-based groups, the formation of norms and rules, the desire for not just resources, but recognition too, and how social institutions of some sort existed to channel the violence that the last point led to.
He then moves to the shared mental models (ideas) - from spirits and nature to gravity and religion (moral codes of behaviour) - that facilitated large-scale collective action. Language being the key one at a species level. Religion too had a large role in shaping political outcomes - even if they played out differently. In terms of impact, the Brahmanic religion (and social classes) in India differs from what the Catholic Church achieved in Europe. And both are different from what Islam did in the Middle East and Mediterranean. And then there's China, where its impact was limited.
The subsequent development across geographies is fascinating. China's default condition is a strong, centralised government, while neighbouring India is the exact opposite. China was the first to become a state, but didn't move at pace on the other two institutions. India became a state much later (the British did that), but did well on the rule of law and accountable government. South East Asia has many cases of successful authoritarian governments, but Middle East doesn't. Russia, which shares climatic and geographical conditions with Scandinavia has repeatedly shown unconstrained absolutism.
In Europe, the rise of the Church weakened kinships and successively led to more individual rights. Women's right to own property was also an unintentional side-effect of the church trying to get more land! The Church also laid the groundwork for the rule of law. Despite feudalism taking root in France, Spain and Britain, the progression from then on was massively different. Spain's path also influenced Latin America's evolution and political institutions. Britain was the first state to have all three institutions in place. Its interactions with the Middle East (and its modernisation) also had an effect on the Muslim World, which had separated religion and politics after the early days of Islam. Again, the post colonial development of India vs many Middle Eastern societies also went in different directions after both attained freedom from the British.
An interesting assertion by Alexander Kojève is worth a mention - he stated that history ended when Napoleon defeated Prussia in 1806. Everything after that was just backfilling. That is, the modern principles of government were established, and it was now just a matter of all states implementing them!
The development of political systems has much in common with Darwin's theory of evolution, though there are differences too. One major point of divergence is that selected characteristics are spread culturally instead of genetically, and can be imitated. What does this mean for a state like China, which despite being authoritarian is showing tremendous growth? Or for that matter, for democracies - whether it is developing nations like India or the developed West, where there are problems that don't have easy solutions. The development of the political world from the Industrial Revolution, and perspectives of what lies ahead is the second volume of the book. One that I will most definitely pick up!
Profile Image for M Jahangir kz.
82 reviews26 followers
February 9, 2021
An excellent book, it has proved to be such a thought provoking and knowledgeable book, it covers absolutely everything in the subject of political order from pre humans up to the eve of American and French Revolution, that too very vividly and meticulously.
The main theme of the book is the building blocks of modern political order, these are State, Rule of Law, and Accountable Government, it covers how these institutions came into being in the first place, in what order and what sequence, and how these differs from place to place, or civilization to civilization.

This book is the first volume work of the two volumes, the second volume book is “Political order and Political Decay”, the first volume work covers the world of Pre Malthusian world, that is how the political order evolves in pre industrial world, the second volume will continue this theory of political order but with the advent of industrial revolution in 1800, the factors have changed significantly, so it would take on the questions of how contemporary political order differs from the agrarian societies.

This volume traces the emergence of political order, how the state, rule of law, and accountable government first appeared, and what were the origins and causes that triggers the development of these complex and complicated institutions

First of all, the attributes we associate with modern states are, a centralized, uniform, cohesive state which has a monopoly of power over specific territory that is capable of enforcing laws over its people. This type of state first emerged in china, in 321B.C, the Qin Dynasty uniformed china well before any other country in the world, Chinese state emerged some two thousand year before any state that emerged in Europe, there are several factors that facilitate in state building, one of the factor is the constant threat of war, tribal people used to invade Chinese territory. Beside this Chinese build an administrative system on impersonal bases, that is the state recruited individuals on the grounds of merits rather than employing on kin based or patrimonial bases, the modern recruitment in bureaucracy in all the countries today is the system that Chinese developed before the Christ, impersonal recruitment were based on Mandarin exam.

However, in the case of Arab, the state emerged due to two basic reasons, first the Charismatic leadership of Prophet Muhammad and then the social contract that of universal Umma, which proved to significant for Arabs to give up their tribal associations and unite on the words of God under one umbrella, through this the tribal culture in Arab transcended and gave way to the making of state.
Moving on to the second building block, Rule of law. In Arab, Indian, and European world law used to be considered as divine, that is law is from the God, this is because of the religion that evolved in these regions, whereas in China Buddhism or Confucianism never became the core of the society, therefore Chinese leaders have always considered themselves sovereign, they are free to do anything, they have no any obligations of any law whatsoever, it was true of ancient and it is true of modern china as well, The communist party in china is sovereign, so it has always been the case in china that if there is a good leader then without any check and balances Chinese system can do wonders but what is the mechanism of producing good leaders all the time, one bad leader, just like the evil empress Wu, then the Chinese system is very vulnerable.

There is a an inverse relation between state and society, the powerful the state, the weaker the society, weaker the state, powerful the society, Indian society because of the Brahminic religion has always been very mobilized therefore the whole of the India has never been ruled by a single empire, later on the institutions in Indian world were brought on by the foreign invaders, first the Muslims then the British Raj, even now India is an independent country but the state is weak, it is unable to build rapid hydroelectric dams, infrastructures and other modernization projects because of the hindrance in the way of the state, the vibrant civil society, the ancient religious norms, if a leader want to build a project in china, it would be built without any fuss, whereas in India, the protesters would be on the way if one wants to bulldoze preexisting buildings for grand project buildings. No matter how beneficial it is, the project would go out of the picture.
As Hayek said, just as the biological evolution, law has also evolved through an evolutionary process of its own, it didn’t come into being instantly, when thousands of people interact with each other, the choices they make, on the empirical ground, those that are useful are accepted and taken on whereas others being disregarded.
Coming on to the last building block of political order, the Accountable Government. The accountable government came in to being in England and Denmark, and through British offshoots America, it spread all over the world. The state generates and exercise power whereas rule of law, and accountable government restrict the power of state, these two are the checks on state. Most formal checks in accountable government are of the democratic elections, if you do not like the performance of any party you have the choice of not choosing that party again for that role. Beside this there are also moral checks on the authority of any leader or state. Accountable government emerges where two main players, the state, and the society, are equally strong enough that both are able to balance off each other, if the society is weak and the state strong then it will be Absolutist government, just like Russia, if state is weak but centralized and aristocratic elites of the society are strong then the state would e weak Absolutist, like the ancient regime of France, prior to French revolution the regime was so entrenched in the debts that it use to sell public offices to elites and which in turn became heritable property, patrimonialism was at its peak, state was unable to enforce taxes on the rich therefore all the burden was transferred to the peasants, this system was so tightly knocked that even after its leader realized that they need to change it, they couldn’t and in the French revolution the masses torn that system apart.

This was an excellent book, it has unfolded many events that I was unaware of, a great book if one is interested in the subject but also for those who are thirsty of knowledge, it will teach you more than 10 15 books combined. With this book my ignorance has reduced to many folds, it will take the start from the earliest humans, then it would unfold upon us how we became what we are today, from communicating to discovering religion to language, Rituals and so on. Then it will talk about the livings of earliest societies, how human used to live in bands, tribes, how they spread from Africa to whole of the planet. How we build state level societies, how the institutions in Christian world, Indian world, Muslims world and Chinese world differs from each other, what is the causes of these changes in the societies, what are the factors that each society has evolved differently. Not just this but it will meticulously talk about the Mamluks and ottoman empire in Muslims world, it will discuss the ancient French and Spanish regime, it will talk about all the important Chinese dynasty, from Qin, Han, Tang, and Ming to others. It will discuss the English society, how church became independent, how the barons in 1215 conceded from the king john that he is not above the law, the magna carta that is, the investiture conflict, the common law, the Justinian code, the English civil wars of monarch with parliamentarian, which ended up in the victory of the latter with the sitting monarch getting beheaded. It would talk about the glorious revolution of 1688-89. So, there is a struggle, if we talk about England, and Denmark, they didn’t become great nations overnight.
This volume cover events up to the French revolution, and from French revolutions onwards to present day we will have to read the second volume of this work.
97 reviews4 followers
October 26, 2011
Ambitious, incomplete (even for a first-of-two books), closed-minded, and interesting. Tries to pass off a lot of fairly unremarkable stuff as profound, and I'm not convinced that he knows all that much about the political philosophy that he spends a decent amount of time talking about. In any event, his summaries of how various modern states came into being are really cool, and he dissects a lot of the current thinking on development issues in an accessible way. Just take him with a grain of salt when he puts on his analyzing hat and remember that, even though admitted that neocons were full of it, he still thinks that "history" ended in 1806.
Profile Image for Helio.
451 reviews67 followers
September 21, 2020
The sections on hunter gatherers and early agriculture were five star reads providing insights and perspectives beyond what I learned in anthropology and archaeology courses, although I didn't agrree with everything. I was making notes just about every page.

Then the following chapters became a slog, having to read sentences, paragraphs and whole pages over again. I only found about one thing per chapter noteworthy.

His claim on page 469 "One of the reasons why there is so much corruption in poor countries is that they cannot afford to pay their civil servants adequate salaries..." could have used some comparisons to well-off officials being corrupt (say Russia, China or even Canada). I think it is more a matter of greed and opportunity.

The book didn't spark enough interest to read the sequel.
Profile Image for Betawolf.
372 reviews1,471 followers
August 15, 2017

It might sound odd to say that I enjoyed a nigh-500 page book on political theory, but it's true. Fukuyama has managed in this volume to write something which is both sensible and clearly understandable, despite being about the entirety of political history up to the French Revolution. He is punctilious about abandoning the traditional narrative approaches to theory of political development -- Greece and Rome, up through medieval and modern Europe -- to talk about India, the Middle East and, especially, China. It retroactively seems crazy, when presented with a well-documented cultural legacy of centralised states dating back thousands of years, to dismiss this area to a side-note of political theory. Fukuyama approaches political history as a topic which must be understood through and about "China First", and this is a very welcome perspective shift.

Some parts of Fukuyama's thesis confuse me a bit. When he talks about 'political order' he seems for the most part to refer to the modern state: an institution he marks by the strong institution of the administrative arm, the rule of law, and political accountability. He goes on to derive how this state is formed, pointing out historical examples of states which developed one or the other of these qualities, and how this happened. But he never makes a strong case for why the modern state is particularly desirable. To be sure, he points out that certain forms of statehood are better at using their resources than others, and that the pseudo-evolutionary laws that govern a state's survival suggest maximisation, but he does not argue that the modern state is in any way the ideal institution. Which is fine, but it makes me question why we focus so much on the creation of such states, and not on the sometimes extraordinarily stable and long-lived examples of less-than-modern states. I found it particularly jarring when Fukuyama casually passed over the history of the Polish Commonwealth as an example of a weak monarchy which collapsed 'after two centuries', a lifespan as long as many modern states.

Sometimes it is hard to tell the normative from the descriptive. Does Fukuyama think that accountability is necessary for a strong state? Much of his discussion of China seems to indicate this is not the case, and yet it remains in his model. Does he model something he finds desirable, or something evidently necessary? It is also hard to make sense of some of the fine distinctions he draws between examples. In the case of France and Spain, Fukuyama describes a 'weakly autocratic' state, in which the monarch amasses power but essentially sells off portions of the nation to the elite to enable this, foisting the burden of the national upkeep on the other classes, most notably the peasantry and third estate. In the 'strongly autocratic' example of Russia, the monarch sides with the elite, foisting national upkeep on a serf class. In the 'strong elite' example of Hungary, the monarchy is unable to stop the aristocracy from preying on the other classes. All these sound like basically the same thing, but Fukuyama uses the first to explain a lack of accountability, the second to explain a lack of law, and the third to explain the lack of a strong central institution of the state. I find that, rather than being necessarily a predictive model, Fukuyama's discussion is a set of useful tools for thinking about the distribution of power within a society.

This book is engaging, and exciting. Very few authors would dare to tackle history on this scale, and fewer would manage to write something so clear, readable and fundamentally practical. The covered period is the one I am most interested in, but Fukuyama tempts me to read the second volume, to be sure of completing one of the great modern achievements in political thought, as this will no doubt be acclaimed.
Profile Image for Pavlo.
10 reviews4 followers
March 23, 2020
Не рецензія

Я не можу збагнути, як в рамках такого масштабного видавничого проекту можна настільки халтурно поставитися до перекладу і редагування тексту? Це не книжка якогось маловідомого автора - це відома праця дуже популярного в Україні автора, яка неминуче викличе до себе інтерес читачів. Це видання "Нашого формату" - одного з найбільших і найпродуктивніших українських видавництв, а не якогось інді-видавництва з мізерним бюджетом і з таким самим мізерним досвідом. І попри все це переклад книги доручають людині, яка мало того, що знається на історії на рівні учня середньої школи, але до того ж, вочевидь, не вміє користуватися пошуком Google. Нічим іншим пояснити перекладацькі ляпи я не можу.

Типовий і найбільш кричущий приклад. В оригінальному тексті перекладач бачить власне ім'я Seleuces. Мова йде про одного з найближчих соратників Александра Великого, Селевка, засновника династії Селевкидів, імперії Селевкидів, кількох міст з назвою Селевкія. Перекладач з рівнем історичних знань бодай вище середнього не матиме тут жодних проблем. Якщо людина не знає, що мова йде про Селевка (і це нормально - ніхто не може знати всього), то вона загуглить це слово англійською і знайде відповідник українською. Що ж робить наш "перекладач"? Він без зайвих роздумів пише його українською приблизно так, як воно вимовляється англійською, і ошелешений читач довідується про існування Селюкуса (sic!) Нікатора. OMG! Селюкуса!!! Смішне слово і найменш образливе з тих, якими я в ту мить обзивав перекладача.
Таких феноменальних ляпів я більше не надибував, але ляпів в перекладі без перебільшення безліч. Причому часто вони докорінно змінюють зміст окремих речень. Так, раджпути в перекладі стають одними з тих мусульманських завойовників, які плюндрували північну Індію, хоч насправді вони північну Індію від мусульман боронили; Кутб-уд-Дін в перекладі завойовує Делійський султанат, а насправді він був засновником цієї держави; етнічні ханьці стають з волі перекладача китайцями з держави Хань; в стосунку до Індії перекладач використовує прикметник "індіанський" (а Dutch для нього то, ймовірно, "датський") і т. д і т. п. Цікаво, скільки "перекладач" нафантазував в тих частинах тексту, якість перекладу яких не можна оцінити за простим критерієм відповідності певним фактам?

На щастя, перекладацькі ляпи і неточності не спотворюють головні ідеї книги Фукуями. Більше того, думаю, що чимало читачів цих ляпів навіть не помітить, але мені читати такий "переклад" було не надто приємно.
Profile Image for Hemen Kalita.
139 reviews19 followers
April 28, 2022
A mammoth of a book. It took me months to read it, but will take years to digest it.

I think i need a break before moving on to part 2...
Profile Image for Bob Nichols.
914 reviews302 followers
December 21, 2018
The book, the first volume of Fukuyama’s study of political order and decay, covers the period from our hunter-gathering beginnings to the industrial revolution. These volumes follow up on Huntington’s 1968 classic, “Political Order in Changing Societies” (Huntington was Fukuyama’s mentor). This is the same review I wrote for his second volume.

Fukuyama is impressively multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural in his approach. He sees a more or less linear development in political organization that, in responding to emergent conditions, moves from our biological-primate nature to bands, to tribes, to patrimonial states, and then to fully functioning nation-states. This is a progression from subjective rule where kinship and rules of reciprocity predominate to large-scale political organizations, “the state,” that has the power to contain self-interest and the ruler, though he draws extensively from case studies to illustrate why some states arrive at this point and why others do not. (1)

We are social animals from the start, Fukuyama argues. There are no isolated individuals and there is no agreement among them whereby, per the contract theorists, they agree to limit themselves in deference to a government that can preserve order and protect benefits for the collectivity. Social interactions are based on kin selection (helping direct and extended genetic relations) and reciprocal altruism as those terms have been endorsed by some biologists. (2) Emotion, not rational contracts, govern. With the emergence of new conditions, (agriculture, the advent of industry-technology, increases in population, various environmental challenges, and ever-present war), new forms of political organization developed that are, in effect, stages of political development. The subjectivity seen so prominently early on is replaced, in time, by the impersonal rule of law, by a state that can provide a societal benefit, and by accountable rulers. Such well-ordered, well-run states, though, invariably decay. Societies are inherently conservative and tend to resist changes that have worked for political order in the past. And political and economic elites increasingly use the power of the state to benefit the few. Political institutions then revert, by default, Fukuyama argues, to their earlier days where kin and reciprocal relationships and subjectivity prevail.

In reading Fukuyama, the question pops out: Is this political development, which implies a progression to something better, or is this a variation on a theme (3) — the operation of underlying, biological universals that are in essence the Hobbesian “three sources of quarrel” (competition results from free-seeking beings going after scarce resources, including status and power; fear is about losing our power vis-à-vis others in zero-sum situations; and “glory” is the need to win vis-à-vis other), and the need to contain them. The political mechanisms to control these vary by culture and circumstance, and there are certainly ebbs and flows regarding the effectiveness of control, but sources of disorder and the functions to control them, it could be argued, remain the same throughout. These have always been there, and they are with us now.

Certainly, small group society had to deal with these same issues, and it’s likely that some were more successful than others. Egos had to be kept in check. Group (band or tribe) leaders had to tend to the concerns of group members. Isn’t there a certain “rule of law” and “democratic say” to create and foster political order in all of this? While it’s accurate to say that civilization aggravated inequality, it still begs a deeper question of whether such tendencies were there from the beginning and it is reasonable to speculate that each hunter-gatherer collectivity had to face the problem of group cohesion (order) in its own way. Some chose the path of equality (best hunter ate last and that sort of thing) whereas others may have been heavily hierarchical or patrimonial. We certainly see patrimony in everyday life, today, and it seems problematic to suggest that such hierarchies did not exist in the pre-agricultural days. (4) Or, even as a darker speculation, if alpha-hierarchies and demonic behavior existed among our primate ancestors, on what basis can we argue that such tendencies did not and do not exist among ourselves? Fukuyama refers to de Waal’s studies on captive apes, but de Waal always struck me as though he wanted our line of primate descent to come from the peace and lovemaking bonobos because the alternative, chimps in the wild — the chimps that Goodall and others have written about — can be bad-assed primates. It has been 5-6 million years since our primate line split from the bonobos or chimps, and it could very well be that we are neither de Waal’s bonobos nor Goodall’s chimps, but worse.

In the same vein, it could be argued — though this is a matter of emphasis — that the vaunted values of Western liberal democracy are just a thin veneer that mask the continued presence of the same biological universals (sources of disorder): advancing group interest at the expense of others (e.g., slaves, Indians, Mexico); rule by elites who advance and protect their interests and leave the less talented behind (the downside to meritocracy); group-based fear of the other (domestic-foreign) that create and drive some distinctly illiberal public policies; demagogic leaders who promote themselves and their allies, and thrive on fear and lies. Is this political development or self- and group-centric interest that operates by loyalty and networks of utilitarian back scratching, just like the old days, albeit, magnified in terms of territory and group size? Maybe we do not revert to decay. Though this varies by era and culture, we live with it. What has been is with us still today. Despite all of the theoretical assertions about liberal democratic values, Gingrich knew what he was doing when he gave his Republican Party colleagues de Waal’s book, Chimpanzee Politics in 1994, and we seem to be firmly rooted in our pre-band heritage.

Reasonably, Fukuyama wants a balance between the rule of law, a strong state, and accountability. The problem with the U.S. he believes is that the extensive checks and balance system has come at the expense of a state that is able to function in the sense of providing basic societal benefits. Fukuyama wants less veto power and more power for the executive branch. Though checks and balances are a problem, the wisdom of the Founders could not be more clearly evident than now where a Trump presidency challenges democratic norms in ways that have not happened before. Rather than go where Fukuyama suggests, the corrective might better be directed at the class divisions between the merit-based elites, governed by networks of “reciprocal altruism,” reaping the benefits and the non-elites who are left behind. The latter, wanting their own sense of worth, arguably give Trump his power, in large part because he constantly sticks it to the elites. Addressing this sense of worth issue — a part of human nature too — is another avenue to draw the poles together to reinvigorate the state.

Fukuyama highlights emergent phenomena that necessitate new adaptative, political institutions. With the incredible population densities we now face, and the exponential increases in problematic assertions of narrowly-construed self-interest, a dynamic is set up where mutual respect and order, the hallmarks of Fukuyama’s “Western liberal democracies,” are no longer possible. Self-restraint is either foolish when everyone is out for themselves, or self-restraint just becomes too much for free-seeking beings. Obstacles to movement bring out the worst in people. Self-interest then compels one to not restrict oneself but to compete and prevail. It’s Hobbes’ state of nature. It’s self- and group-centric anarchy, and a reversion to a permanent, Leviathan-like authoritarian state. It’s order, but it’s void of hope for the democratic values that Fukuyama highlights as an ideal.

(1) Though it does not contain Fukuyama’s reversion to a default state, Fukuyama’s notion of progressive development has a touch of Hegel. In responding to new challenges, each stage of political organization builds on the layer before, and political order and decline proceed dialectically to ever higher forms, ending with free, law-making individuals. Fukuyama’s endpoint for political development, Western liberal democracy with its autonomous (self-rule) and (universal) law-making capacities, also has the feel of Kant. The endpoints of Hegel, Kant and Fukuyama are, in theory, not dissimilar in the sense that they are aspirations of what humans could be – free individuals making universal laws that transcend self-interest. Whether Western liberal democracies embody that aspiration to the degree that Fukuyama believes is a question.

(2) Fukuyama accepts kin selection without question (there’s nepotism he says, and “even squirrels do it”) when it’s possible that the benefits provided to extended kin (not in the direct line) can be explained by reciprocal altruism alone, though there is a problem with that concept as it has been used. Picking up from Darwin’s observation, the individual and its group are merged. Alone, the individual dies. With the group, the individual survives, so it’s in the individual’s self-interest to merge with the group and support its viability. The earliest group, likely extended as well as direct kin, may have survived by following reciprocity principles as well as by operating through broader social sympathies. This provides the biological underpinnings for Aristotle’s observation that we are social-political by nature. The merger with the group comes through the vast repertoire of social emotions which, surprisingly, Fukuyama does not cover. A sense of fairness (reciprocity) is but one of the social emotions at work, though it is clearly important and becomes the basis for the impartial rule of law that Fukuyama sees in his last stage of political development. Also, the term “reciprocal altruism” is misleading. There’s nothing altruistic about reciprocity. It’s in the individual’s evolutionarily-derived interest to tend to the interests of others and vice versa. This is what makes for solidarity in band-tribal relationships. It’s an “all for one, one for all” type of “contract” that is supplemented substantially by the social sympathies (the compassion factor referenced by some political theorists).

(3) I’ve seen references to Fukuyama’s essay, “The End of History,” which argues, apparently, that “Western liberal democracy” is the final form of human government in the sense that it is the best system for organizing society. But here too, an argument can be made that in kinship, reciprocal altruistic, hunter-gatherer, “egalitarian” societies, the same democratic values were reflected: impartial rule of law (“fairness”), democratic voice (equality), and organization for the good of the tribe (all benefit).

(4) Fukuyama argues that hunter-gatherer societies were egalitarian and that inequality originated — I believe this is his argument — when early societies moved beyond the levelling effect of kin selection and reciprocal altruism. Based on what is known from multiple disciplines, Fukuyama concludes that Rousseau “was brilliantly correct in certain of his observations, such as his view that human inequality had its origins in the development of metallurgy, agriculture, and, above all, private property.” But how do we really know what life was like among our hunter-gatherer ancestors and isn’t it a problem to generalize about how all hunter-gatherer societies must have been back then? (See Henry Gee’s argument in "In Search of Deep Time" about science using limited evidence to create narratives that tell stories we want to tell, an argument also made by Lawrence Keeley in "War Before Civilization" who discusses the pacification myth of our prehistoric past, an argument that Fukuyama endorses).
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