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The Origins of Political Order

<!DOCTYPE en-note SYSTEM “http://xml.evernote.com/pub/enml2.dtd”><div>Book notes for “The Origins of Political Order”, From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama</div><div>
</div><div>Papua New Guinea hosts more than nine hundred mutually incomprehensible</div><div>languages, nearly one-sixth of all of the world’s extant tongues. The</div><div>Solomon Islands, with a population of only five hundred thousand,</div><div>nonetheless has over seventy distinct languages. Most residents of the</div><div>PNG highlands have never left the small mountain valleys in which they</div><div>were born; their lives are lived within the wantok and in competition</div><div>with neighboring wantoks. loc 81</div><div>
</div><div>This book covers a large number of societies and historical periods; I</div><div>also use material from disciplines outside my own, including</div><div>anthropology, economics, and biology. Obviously in a work of this scope,</div><div>I have had to rely almost exclusively on secondary sources for the</div><div>research. I have tried to pass this material through as many expert</div><div>filters as possible, but it is nonetheless likely that I have made both</div><div>factual and interpretational mistakes along the way. While many of the</div><div>individual chapters will not pass muster with people whose job it is to</div><div>study particular societies and historical periods in depth, it does seem</div><div>to me that there is a virtue in looking across time and space in a</div><div>comparative fashion. Some of the broader patterns of political</div><div>development are simply not visible to those who focus too narrowly on</div><div>specific subjects. loc 132</div><div>
</div><div>Free markets are necessary to promote long-term growth, but they are not</div><div>self-regulating, particularly when it comes to banks and other large</div><div>financial institutions. The system’s instability is a reflection of what</div><div>is ultimately a political failure, that is, the failure to provide</div><div>sufficient regulatory oversight both at a national and an international</div><div>level. loc 206</div><div>
</div><div>Indeed, the kinds of minimal or no-government societies envisioned by</div><div>dreamers of the Left and Right are not fantasies; they actually exist in</div><div>the contemporary developing world. Many parts of sub-Saharan Africa are</div><div>a libertarian’s paradise. The region as a whole is a low-tax utopia,</div><div>with governments often unable to collect more than about 10 percent of</div><div>GDP in taxes, compared to more than 30 percent in the United States and</div><div>50 percent in parts of Europe. loc 329</div><div>
</div><div>Nigeria has a film industry that produces as many titles as India’s</div><div>famed Bollywood, but films have to earn a quick return because the</div><div>government is incapable of guaranteeing intellectual property rights and</div><div>preventing products from being copied illegally. loc 336</div><div>
</div><div>much of it is not comparative on a sufficiently broad scale. It is only</div><div>by comparing the experience of different societies that we can begin to</div><div>sort through complex causal factors that explain why certain</div><div>institutions emerged in some places but not in others. A lot of</div><div>theorizing about modernization, from the massive studies of Karl Marx to</div><div>contemporary economic historians like Douglass North, has focused</div><div>heavily on the experience of England as the first country to</div><div>industrialize. The English experience was exceptional in many ways but</div><div>is not necessarily a good guide to development in countries differently</div><div>situated. loc 413</div><div>
</div><div>Modern political institutions appeared far earlier in history than did</div><div>the Industrial Revolution and the modern capitalist economy. Indeed,</div><div>many of the elements of what we now understand to be a modern state were</div><div>already in place in China in the third century B.C., some eighteen</div><div>hundred years before they emerged in loc 446</div><div>
</div><div>But it is in fact individualism and not sociability that developed over</div><div>the course of human history. That individualism seems today like a solid</div><div>core of our economic and political behavior is only because we have</div><div>developed institutions that override our more naturally communal</div><div>instincts. Aristotle was more correct than these early modern liberal</div><div>theorists when he said that human beings were political by nature. So</div><div>while an individualistic understanding of human motivation may help to</div><div>explain the activities of commodity traders and libertarian activists in</div><div>present-day America, it is not the most helpful way to understand the</div><div>early evolution of human politics. loc 620</div><div>
</div><div>This produces a regularity that was formulated by the biologist William</div><div>Hamilton as the principle of inclusive fitness or kin selection, which</div><div>holds that individuals of any sexually reproducing species will behave</div><div>altruistically toward kin in proportion to the number of genes they</div><div>share.5 Parents and children, and full brothers and sisters, share 50</div><div>percent of their genes, and so will behave more altruistically toward</div><div>each other than toward first cousins, who share only 25 percent. This</div><div>behavior has been observed in species ranging from ground squirrels,</div><div>which discriminate between full and half sisters in nesting behavior, to</div><div>human beings, for whom nepotism is not only a socially but a</div><div>biologically grounded reality. loc 633</div><div>
</div><div>Axelrod staged a tournament of computer programs that mechanically</div><div>implemented strategies for solving repeated prisoner’s dilemma games.</div><div>The winning strategy was called tit-for-tat, in which a player</div><div>reciprocated cooperation if the other player had cooperated in an</div><div>earlier game but refused to cooperate with a player who had failed to</div><div>cooperate previously.8 Axelrod demonstrated that a form of morality</div><div>could evolve spontaneously as rational decision makers interact with one</div><div>another over time, even though motivated in the first instance by</div><div>nothing more than self-interest. loc 643</div><div>
</div><div>In large groups, it becomes harder and harder to monitor the individual</div><div>contributions of members; free riding and other forms of opportunistic</div><div>behavior become much more common.26 Religion solves this collective</div><div>action problem by presenting rewards and punishments that greatly</div><div>reinforce the gains from cooperation in the here and now. If I believe</div><div>that my tribe’s chief is just another fellow like me following his own</div><div>self-interests, I may or may not decide to obey his authority. But if I</div><div>believe that the chief can command the spirits of dead ancestors to</div><div>reward or punish me, I will be much more likely to respect his word. My</div><div>sense of shame is potentially much greater if I believe I am being</div><div>observed by a dead ancestor who might see into my real motives better</div><div>than a live kinsman. loc 759</div><div>
</div><div>These emotional responses make human beings conformist, norm-following</div><div>animals. While the specific content of norms is culturally determined</div><div>(“don’t eat pork”; “respect your ancestors”; “don’t light up a cigarette</div><div>at a dinner party”), the faculties for norm following are genetically</div><div>based, just as languages vary across cultures while being rooted in a</div><div>universal human faculty for language. All human beings, for example,</div><div>feel the emotion of embarrassment when they are seen violating a norm or</div><div>rule followed by their peers. Embarrassment is clearly not a learned</div><div>behavior, since children are often far more easily embarrassed than</div><div>their parents by small failures to follow the rules. loc 805</div><div>
</div><div>Since human beings organize themselves into social hierarchies,</div><div>recognition is usually of relative rather than absolute worth. This</div><div>makes the struggle for recognition fundamentally different from</div><div>struggles over economic exchange, since the conflict is zero sum rather</div><div>than positive sum. That is, one person’s recognition can come only at</div><div>the expense of the dignity of someone else; status can only be relative.</div><div>In contests over status, there are no win-win situations as in trade.33</div><div>The desire for recognition has biological roots. loc 835</div><div>
</div><div>The highly developed suite of emotions related to norm following ensure,</div><div>however, that no mental model of how the world works is ever regarded as</div><div>a simple theory that can be discarded when it no longer conforms to</div><div>observed reality. (Even in the domain of modern natural science, where</div><div>there are clear rules for hypothesis testing, scientists develop</div><div>emotional attachments to theories and resist empirical evidence</div><div>indicating that their pet theories are wrong.) The tendency to invest</div><div>mental models and theories with intrinsic worth promotes social</div><div>stability and allows societies to bulk up enormously in size. But it</div><div>also means that societies are highly conservative and will fiercely</div><div>resist challenges to their dominant ideas. This is most obvious in the</div><div>case of religious ideas, but secular rules also tend to be invested with</div><div>great emotion under the headings of tradition, ritual, and custom. The</div><div>conservatism of societies with regard to rules is then a source of</div><div>political decay. Rules or institutions created in response to one set of</div><div>environmental circumstances become dysfunctional under later conditions,</div><div>but they cannot be changed due to people’s heavy emotional investments</div><div>in them. This means that social change is often not linear-that is, a</div><div>process of constant small adjustments to shifting conditions-but rather</div><div>follows a pattern of prolonged stasis followed by catastrophic change.</div><div>loc 892</div><div>
</div><div>Depending on climatic conditions, hunter-gatherer societies have a</div><div>population density from 0.1 to 1 person per square kilometer, while the</div><div>invention of agriculture permits densities to rise to 40-60 per square</div><div>kilometer. loc 1085</div><div>
</div><div>The terms “tribes,” “clans,” “kindreds,” and “lineages” are all used to</div><div>describe the next stage of social organization above the band. These</div><div>terms are often used with considerable imprecision, even by</div><div>anthropologists whose bread and butter it is to study them. Their common</div><div>characteristic is that they are first, segmentary, and second, based on</div><div>a principle of common descent. loc 1088</div><div>
</div><div>Most people in developed societies do not know how to grow their own</div><div>food, or repair their cars, or fabricate their own cell phones. In a</div><div>segmentary society, by contrast, each “segment” is a self-sufficient</div><div>unit, able to feed, clothe, and defend itself, and thus is characterized</div><div>by what Durkheim called “mechanical” solidarity.26 The segments can come</div><div>together for common purposes, like self-defense, but are otherwise not</div><div>dependent on one another for survival; no one can be a member of more</div><div>than one segment at the same level. loc 1094</div><div>
</div><div>each individual has a strong interest in having male descendants (in an</div><div>agnatic system), since it is only they who will be able to look after</div><div>one’s soul after one’s death. As a result, there is a strong imperative</div><div>to marry and have male children; celibacy in early Greece and Rome was</div><div>in most circumstances illegal. loc 1192</div><div>
</div><div>As Hugh Baker puts it with regard to Chinese kinship, there is a rope</div><div>representing the continuum of descent that “stretches from Infinity to</div><div>Infinity passing over a razor which is the Present. If the rope is cut,</div><div>both ends fall away from the middle and the rope is no more. If the man</div><div>alive now dies without heir, the whole continuum of ancestors and unborn</div><div>descendants dies with him ?His existence as an individual is necessary</div><div>but insignificant beside his existence as the representative of the</div><div>whole.” loc 1195</div><div>
</div><div>It is important to note, however, that tribal societies are not</div><div>“natural” or default forms of social organization to which all societies</div><div>revert if higher-level organization breaks down. They were preceded by</div><div>family- or band-level forms of organization, and flourished only under</div><div>specific environmental conditions. loc 1219</div><div>
</div><div>Morgan had described customary property owned by tightly bonded kin</div><div>groups; real-world Communist regimes in the former USSR and China forced</div><div>millions of unrelated peasants into collective farms. By breaking the</div><div>link between individual effort and reward, collectivization undermined</div><div>incentives to work, leading to mass famines in Russia and China, and</div><div>severely reducing agricultural productivity. In the former USSR, the 4</div><div>percent of land that remained privately owned accounted for almost</div><div>one-quarter of total agricultural output. In China, once collective</div><div>farms were disbanded in 1978 under the leadership of the reformer Deng</div><div>Xiaoping, agricultural output doubled in the space of just four years.</div><div>loc 1241</div><div>
</div><div>Surviving groups of hunter-gatherers, like the Bushmen of the Kalahari</div><div>Desert or the Copper Eskimos in Canada, had rates of homicide four times</div><div>that of the United States when left to their own devices. loc 1410</div><div>
</div><div>Virtually all conquering tribal societies-at least, the ones that did</div><div>not quickly evolve into state-level societies-ended up disintegrating</div><div>within a generation or two, as brothers, cousins, and grandsons vied for</div><div>the founding leader’s patrimony. When tribal-level societies were</div><div>succeeded by state-level societies, tribalism did not simply disappear.</div><div>In China, India, the Middle East, and pre-Columbian America, state</div><div>institutions were merely layered on top of tribal institutions and</div><div>existed in an uneasy balance with them for long periods of time. loc</div><div>1485</div><div>
</div><div>The only part of the world where tribalism was fully superseded by more</div><div>voluntary and individualistic forms of social relationship was Europe,</div><div>where Christianity played a decisive role in undermining kinship as a</div><div>basis for social cohesion. Since most early modernization theorists were</div><div>European, they assumed that other parts of the world would experience a</div><div>similar shift away from kinship as part of the modernization process.</div><div>But they were mistaken. Although China was the first civilization to</div><div>invent the modern state, it never succeeded in suppressing the power of</div><div>kinship on social and cultural levels. Hence much of its subsequent</div><div>two-thousand-year political history revolved around attempts to block</div><div>the reassertion of kinship structures into state administration. In</div><div>India, kinship interacted with religion and mutated into the caste</div><div>system, which up to the present day has proved much stronger than any</div><div>state in defining the nature of Indian society. From the Melanesian</div><div>wantok to the Arab tribe to the Taiwanese lineage to the Bolivian ayllu,</div><div>complex kinship structures remain the primary locus of social life for</div><div>many people in the contemporary world, and strongly shape their</div><div>interaction with modern political institutions. loc 1490</div><div>
</div><div>The Greek word charisma means “touched by God”; a charismatic leader</div><div>asserts authority not because he is elected by his fellow tribesmen for</div><div>leadership ability but because he is believed to be a designee of God.</div><div>loc 1648</div><div>
</div><div>While the founding of the first Arab state is a particularly striking</div><div>illustration of the political power of religious ideas, virtually every</div><div>other state has relied on religion to legitimate itself. The founding</div><div>myths of the Greek, Roman, Hindu, and Chinese states all trace the</div><div>regime’s ancestry back to a divinity, or at least to a semidivine hero.</div><div>Political power in early states cannot be understood apart from the</div><div>religious rituals that the ruler controlled and used to legitimate his</div><div>power. Consider, loc 1680</div><div>
</div><div>We need the confluence of several factors. First, there needs to be a</div><div>sufficient abundance of resources to permit the creation of surpluses</div><div>above what is necessary for subsistence. This abundance can be natural:</div><div>the Pacific Northwest was so full of game and fish that the</div><div>hunter-gatherer-level societies there were able to generate chiefdoms,</div><div>if not states. But more often abundance is made possible through</div><div>technological advances like agriculture. Second, the absolute scale of</div><div>the society has to be sufficiently large to permit the emergence of a</div><div>rudimentary division of labor and a ruling elite. Third, that population</div><div>needs to be physically constrained so that it increases in density when</div><div>technological opportunities present themselves, and in order to make</div><div>sure that subjects cannot run away when coerced. And finally, tribal</div><div>groups have to be motivated to give up their freedom to the authority of</div><div>a state. This can come about through the threat of physical extinction</div><div>by other, increasingly well-organized groups. Or it can result from the</div><div>charismatic authority of a religious leader. Taken together, these</div><div>appear to be plausible factors leading to the emergence of a state in</div><div>places like the Nile valley. loc 1690</div><div>
</div><div>metallurgy and settled communities first appeared during the predynastic</div><div>Yangshao period (5000-3000 B.C.). Walled cities and clear evidence of</div><div>social stratification appeared during the Longshan period (3000-2000</div><div>B.C.). loc 1797</div><div>
</div><div>the five canonical works whose study constituted the foundation of a</div><div>Chinese Mandarin’s education in later centuries: the Shi Jing, or Book</div><div>of Odes; the Li Chi, or Book of Rites; the Shu Jing, or Book of History;</div><div>the I Jing, or Book of Changes; and the Chun Qiu, or Spring and Autumn</div><div>Annals. The five classics were said to have been compiled, edited, and</div><div>transmitted by Confucius, and they and their voluminous interpretations</div><div>were the basis of Confucian ideology, which shaped Chinese culture for</div><div>millennia. The classics were composed against the backdrop of growing</div><div>civil war and political breakdown during the Eastern Zhou; the Spring</div><div>and Autumn Annals is an account of the reigns of twelve successive</div><div>rulers of the state of Lu that to Confucius demonstrated the growing</div><div>degeneracy of this period. loc 1816</div><div>
</div><div>There is clear evidence, however, that there was a tremendous reduction</div><div>in the total number of political units in China, from approximately ten</div><div>thousand at the beginning of the Xia Dynasty to twelve hundred at the</div><div>onset of the Western Zhou, to seven at the time of the Warring States.</div><div>loc 1824</div><div>
</div><div>Compared to other militaristic societies, China under the Zhou was</div><div>remarkably violent. By one estimate, the state of Qin succeeded in</div><div>mobilizing 8 to 20 percent of its total population, compared to only 1</div><div>percent for the Roman Republic and 5.2 percent for the Greek Delian</div><div>League. loc 2049</div><div>
</div><div>Physical losses to the ranks of the aristocracy also had the effect of</div><div>encouraging promotion within the military based on merit. In the early</div><div>Zhou, positions of military leadership were claimed entirely on the</div><div>basis of kinship and status within the clan. But as time went on, an</div><div>increasing number of nonaristocratic leaders were promoted on the basis</div><div>of their valor in battle. States began to offer explicit incentives of</div><div>land, titles, and serfs as inducements to soldiers, and it soon became</div><div>common for obscure commoners to rise to the position of general.9 In a</div><div>field army at war, meritocracy is not a cultural norm but a condition</div><div>for survival, and it is very likely that the principle of merit-based</div><div>promotion began in military hierarchies before it was introduced into</div><div>the civilian bureaucracy. loc 2079</div><div>
</div><div>The policies implemented by Shang Yang in Qin were justified and turned</div><div>into a full-blown ideology known as Legalism by later writers like Han</div><div>Fei. Much of China’s subsequent history up through the Communist victory</div><div>in 1949 can be understood in terms of the tensions between Legalism and</div><div>Confucianism, a tension that revolved in part around the appropriate</div><div>role of the family in politics. loc 2192</div><div>
</div><div>Confucian moral precepts dictated that one owed much stronger</div><div>obligations to one’s parents, and particularly to one’s father, than to</div><div>one’s wife or children. Failure to act respectfully toward one’s</div><div>parents, or to fail to care for them economically, was severely</div><div>punished, as was a son who showed greater concern for his immediate</div><div>family than for his parents. And if there was a conflict between one’s</div><div>duty to one’s parents-for example, if one’s father was accused of a</div><div>crime-and one’s duty to the state, the father’s interest clearly trumped</div><div>that of the state. loc 2200</div><div>
</div><div>The Legalists were proposing to treat subjects not as moral beings to be</div><div>cultivated through education and learning but as Homo economicus,</div><div>self-interested individuals who would respond to positive and negative</div><div>incentives-especially punishments. The Legalist state therefore sought</div><div>to undermine tradition, break the bonds of family moral obligation, and</div><div>rebind citizens to the state on a new basis. loc 2221</div><div>
</div><div>Zhou-style feudalism, in which a family acquired a local power base</div><div>independent of the central government, recurred periodically in</div><div>subsequent Chinese history, particularly in the chaotic periods between</div><div>dynasties. But once the central government regained its footing, it</div><div>always had the ability to reassert control over these entities. There</div><div>was never a period in which the territorial barons were powerful enough</div><div>to force a constitutional compromise on the monarch, as happened in</div><div>England under the Magna Carta. Local power holders never had the legal</div><div>legitimacy that they did in feudal Europe. loc 2405</div><div>
</div><div>These considerations just beg the question, though, of why the military</div><div>received so little prestige in the Chinese system. And here the answer</div><div>is likely to be normative: somehow, in the crucible of the Spring and</div><div>Autumn and Warring States periods, the idea arose that true political</div><div>authority lies in education and literacy rather than in military</div><div>prowess. Military men who wanted to rule found they had to garb</div><div>themselves in Confucian learning if they were to be obeyed and have</div><div>their sons educated by learned academics if they were to succeed them as</div><div>rulers. If it seems unsatisfying to think that the pen is mightier than</div><div>the sword, we should reflect on the fact that all successful efforts by</div><div>civilian authorities to control their militaries are ultimately based on</div><div>normative ideas about legitimate authority. The U.S. military could</div><div>seize power from the president tomorrow if it wanted; that it has not</div><div>done so reflects the fact that the vast majority of officers wouldn’t</div><div>dream of overturning the U.S. Constitution, and that the vast majority</div><div>of soldiers they command would not obey their authority if they tried to</div><div>do so. loc 2508</div><div>
</div><div>The only kind of economic growth possible was extensive growth, in which</div><div>new land was settled and brought into cultivation, or else simply stolen</div><div>from someone else. A Malthusian world is thus zero sum, in which a gain</div><div>for one party means a loss for another. A wealthy landowner was</div><div>therefore not necessarily more productive than a small one; he simply</div><div>had more resources to tide him over rough periods.8 In a Malthusian</div><div>economy where intensive growth is not possible, strong property rights</div><div>simply reinforce the existing distribution of resources. The actual</div><div>distribution of wealth is more likely to represent chance starting</div><div>conditions or the property holder’s access to political power than</div><div>productivity or hard work. loc 2590</div><div>
</div><div>The default Chinese political condition over the past two millennia was</div><div>to be a centralized bureaucratic state punctuated by periods of disunity</div><div>and decay; India’s default situation was to be a series of small,</div><div>squabbling kingdoms and principalities, punctuated by brief periods of</div><div>political unity. loc 2743</div><div>
</div><div>the Brahmin varna was regarded as the guardian of the sacred law that</div><div>existed prior to and independently of political rule. Kings were thus</div><div>regarded as subject to law written by others, not simply as the makers</div><div>of law as in China. Thus in India, as in Europe, there was a germ of</div><div>something that could be called the rule of law that would limit the</div><div>power of secular political authority. loc 2768</div><div>
</div><div>The major differences in kinship rules between the Sanskritic north and</div><div>Dravidian south related to cross-cousin marriage, which may have had</div><div>consequences for political organization. In the north, a son must marry</div><div>outside the father’s lineage, and one cannot marry a first cousin. In</div><div>the south also a son must marry outside the father’s lineage; however,</div><div>he is not simply permitted but positively encouraged to marry his</div><div>father’s sister’s daughter. loc 2857</div><div>
</div><div>It is of course difficult to know when the Brahmins were simply</div><div>defending their own interests as opposed to upholding a sacred law, much</div><div>as in the case of the medieval Catholic church. But like Europe and</div><div>unlike China, authority in India was split in a way that placed</div><div>meaningful checks on political power. loc 3171</div><div>
</div><div>The social system that grew out of Indian religion thus severely</div><div>constrained the ability of states to concentrate power. Rulers could not</div><div>create a powerful military instrument capable of mobilizing a large</div><div>proportion of the population; they could not penetrate the</div><div>self-governing, highly organized jatis that existed in every village;</div><div>they and their administrators lacked education and literacy; and they</div><div>faced a well-organized priestly class that protected a normative order</div><div>in which they were consigned to a subordinate role. In every one of</div><div>these respects their situation was very different from that of the</div><div>Chinese. loc 3173</div><div>
</div><div>there is no evidence of any of the road or canal building to facilitate</div><div>communications like that of the early Chinese governments. It is</div><div>remarkable that the Mauryans left no monuments to their power anywhere</div><div>except in their capital city of Pataliputra, which is perhaps one reason</div><div>why Ashoka failed to be remembered by later generations as an empire</div><div>builder. loc 3275</div><div>
</div><div>The legacy of Muslim rule is felt today in the existence of the states</div><div>of Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as in the more than 150 million</div><div>Indian citizens who are Muslim. But the Muslim political legacy in terms</div><div>of surviving institutions is not terribly large, apart from some</div><div>practices like the zamindari landholding system. loc 3346</div><div>
</div><div>Kaviraj argues that, contrary to the Indian nationalist narrative, “The</div><div>British did not conquer an India which existed before their conquest;</div><div>rather, they conquered a series of independent kingdoms that became</div><div>political India during, and in part as a response to their dominion.”</div><div>loc 3350</div><div>
</div><div>many people find it surprising that India has maintained a successful</div><div>democracy at all since its independence in 1947. India meets none of the</div><div>“structural” conditions for being a stable democracy: it has been, and</div><div>in many ways remains, an extremely poor country; it is highly fragmented</div><div>religiously, ethnically, linguistically, and in class terms; it was born</div><div>in an orgy of communal violence that reappears periodically as its</div><div>different subgroups rub up against each other. In this view, democracy</div><div>is seen as something culturally foreign to India’s highly inegalitarian</div><div>culture, brought by a colonial power and not deeply rooted in the</div><div>country’s traditions. This is a very superficial view of contemporary</div><div>Indian politics. It is not that democracy in its modern institutional</div><div>manifestations is deeply rooted in ancient Indian practices, as</div><div>observers like Amartya Sen have suggested.26 Rather, the course of</div><div>Indian political development demonstrates that there was never the</div><div>social basis for the development of a tyrannical state that could</div><div>concentrate power so effectively that it could aspire to reach deeply</div><div>into society and change its fundamental social institutions. The type of</div><div>despotic government that arose in China or in Russia, a system that</div><div>divested the whole society, beginning with its elites, of property and</div><div>personal rights, has never existed on Indian soil-not under an</div><div>indigenous Hindu government, not under the Moghuls, and not under the</div><div>British. loc 3375</div><div>
</div><div>Looking at such societies from a modern democratic perspective, we tend</div><div>to see monarchs in agrarian societies as just other members of a</div><div>predatory elite, perhaps designated by other oligarchs to protect their</div><div>rents and interests.12 In fact, there was almost always a three-sided</div><div>struggle going on in these societies, among the king, an aristocratic or</div><div>oligarchic elite, and nonelite actors like peasants and townsmen. The</div><div>king often took the side of the nonelite actors against the oligarchy,</div><div>both to weaken potential political challenges and to claim his share of</div><div>tax revenues. In this, we can see the germ of the notion of the monarchy</div><div>as the representative of a general public interest. loc 3503</div><div>
</div><div>Socrates points out that sexual desire and the desire for children are</div><div>natural, but that ties to the family compete with loyalty to the city</div><div>that the guardians protect. It is for that reason, he argues, that they</div><div>must be told the “noble lie” that they are children of the earth, and</div><div>not of biological parents. He argues that they must live in common, and</div><div>that they not be allowed to marry individual women but rather have sex</div><div>with different partners and raise their children in common. The natural</div><div>family is the enemy of the public good: loc 3584</div><div>
</div><div>The purpose of the discussion was to highlight the permanent tensions</div><div>that exist between people’s private kinship ties and their obligations</div><div>to a broader public political order. The implication is that any</div><div>successful order needs to suppress the power of kinship through some</div><div>mechanism that makes the guardians value their ties to the state over</div><div>their love for their families. loc 3593</div><div>
</div><div>But the institution of military slavery responded to the same</div><div>imperatives as Plato’s just city. The slaves were not told they were</div><div>born of the earth; rather, they were born very far away and told they</div><div>had no other loyalty than to their caliph, who was the embodiment of the</div><div>state and the public interest. The slaves did not know their biological</div><div>parents; they knew their master only and were intensely loyal to him</div><div>alone. They were given nondescript new names, usually Turkish, that left</div><div>them unconnected to any lineage in a society based on lineage. They did</div><div>not practice a communism of women and children, but they were segregated</div><div>from Arab society and not allowed to sink roots into it. In particular,</div><div>they were not permitted to set up private households to which they could</div><div>drag off “whatever they could get their hands on”; the problem of</div><div>nepotism and conflicting tribal loyalties that was pervasive in</div><div>traditional Arab society was thus overcome. loc 3597</div><div>
</div><div>In addition to the way they were educated, a key to the success of the</div><div>Mamluks as a political institution was the fact that they were a</div><div>one-generation nobility. They could not pass on their Mamluk status to</div><div>their children; their sons would be ejected into the general population</div><div>and their grandsons would enjoy no special privileges at all. The theory</div><div>behind this was straightforward: a Muslim could not be a slave, and all</div><div>of the Mamluks’ children were born Muslims. Moreover, the Mamluk</div><div>children were born in the city and raised without the rigors of nomadic</div><div>life on the steppe, where the weak died young. Were Mamluk status to</div><div>become hereditary, it would violate the strict meritocratic grounds on</div><div>which young Mamluks were selected. loc 3695</div><div>
</div><div>These frontier tribes organized themselves to wage gaza, or war, against</div><div>the Byzantines. loc 3835</div><div>
</div><div>Timars were granted in return for military service; they could be taken</div><div>away if that service wasn’t performed, but only by the sultan himself.</div><div>The holders of large estates could not subinfeudate their lands, as in</div><div>Europe. When the sipahi grew too old to serve or died, his land reverted</div><div>to the state and could be reassigned to a new cavalryman. Indeed, the</div><div>status sipahi itself was not heritable; the children of military men had</div><div>to return to the civilian population.7 The peasants working the land for</div><div>the timar and zeamet holders, by contrast, had only usufructuary rights</div><div>to their land, but unlike their lords, they could pass these rights down</div><div>to their children.8 The Ottoman state thus created a one-generation</div><div>aristocracy, preventing the emergence of a powerful landed aristocracy</div><div>with its own resource base and inherited privileges. loc 3863</div><div>
</div><div>The Ottomans never developed an indigenous capitalism capable of</div><div>sustained productivity growth over long periods, and hence they were</div><div>dependent on extensive growth for fiscal resources. loc 4060</div><div>
</div><div>In all of these regions-China, India, and the Middle East-family and</div><div>kinship remain far stronger today as sources of social organization and</div><div>identity than they do in Europe or North America. There are still</div><div>full-blown segmentary lineages in Taiwan and southern China, Indian</div><div>marriages remain more a union of families than of individuals, and</div><div>tribal affiliations remain omnipresent throughout the Arab Middle East,</div><div>particularly among people of Bedouin stock. loc 4081</div><div>
</div><div>European society was, in other words, individualistic at a very early</div><div>point, in the sense that individuals and not their families or kin</div><div>groups could make important decisions about marriage, property, and</div><div>other personal issues. Individualism in the family is the foundation of</div><div>all other individualisms. Individualism did not wait for the emergence</div><div>of a state declaring the legal rights of individuals and using the</div><div>weight of its coercive power to enforce those rights. Rather, states</div><div>were formed on top of societies in which individuals already enjoyed</div><div>substantial freedom from social obligations to kindreds. In Europe,</div><div>social development preceded political development. loc 4095</div><div>
</div><div>Yet Englishwomen had the right to hold and dispose of property freely</div><div>and to sell it to individuals outside the family from a point not long</div><div>after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Indeed, from at least the thirteenth</div><div>century, they could not only own land and chattels, they also could sue</div><div>and be sued, and make wills and contracts without permission of a male</div><div>guardian. Granting such rights in a patrilineal society would have the</div><div>effect of undermining the lineage’s ability to control property, and</div><div>would thus undermine the social system as a whole.10 Hence the ability</div><div>of women to own and bequeath property is an indicator of the</div><div>deterioration of tribal organization and suggests that strict</div><div>patrilineality had already disappeared by this early point. loc 4146</div><div>
</div><div>The reduction of relationships in the family to “a mere money relation”</div><div>that Marx thundered against was not, it appears, an innovation of the</div><div>eighteenth-century bourgeoisie but appeared in England many centuries</div><div>before that class’s supposed rise. Putting one’s parents out to pasture</div><div>in a nursing home has very deep historical roots in Western Europe. This</div><div>suggests that, contrary to Marx, capitalism was the consequence rather</div><div>than the cause of a change in social relationships and custom. loc 4167</div><div>
</div><div>The Western European pattern was different in all of these respects:</div><div>inheritance was bilateral; cross-cousin marriage was banned and exogamy</div><div>promoted; and women had greater rights to property and participation in</div><div>public events. This shift was driven by the Catholic church, which took</div><div>a strong stand against four practices: marriages between close kin,</div><div>marriages to the widows of dead relatives (the so-called levirate), the</div><div>adoption of children, and divorce. loc 4213</div><div>
</div><div>The probability of a couple’s producing a male heir who survived into</div><div>adulthood and who could carry on the ancestral line was quite low. As a</div><div>result, societies legitimated a wide range of practices that allowed</div><div>individuals to produce heirs. Concubinage has already been discussed in</div><div>this regard in the discussion of China; divorce can be seen as a form of</div><div>serial concubinage in monogamous societies. The levirate was practiced</div><div>when a brother died before he produced children; his wife’s marriage to</div><div>a younger brother ensured that his property would remain consolidated</div><div>with that of his siblings. Cross-cousin marriage ensured that property</div><div>would remain in the hands of close family members. Whatever the case,</div><div>the church systematically cut off all available avenues that families</div><div>had for passing down property to descendants. At the same time, it</div><div>strongly promoted voluntary donations of land and property to itself.</div><div>The church thus stood to benefit materially from an increasing pool of</div><div>property-owning Christians who died without heirs.21 The relatively high</div><div>status of women in Western Europe was an accidental by-product of the</div><div>church’s self-interest. loc 4229</div><div>
</div><div>Europe (and its colonial offshoots) was exceptional insofar as the</div><div>transition out of complex kinship occurred first on a social and</div><div>cultural level rather than on a political one. By changing marriage and</div><div>inheritance rules, the church in a sense acted politically and for</div><div>economic motives. But the church was not the sovereign ruler of the</div><div>territories where it operated; rather, it was a social actor whose</div><div>influence lay in its ability to set cultural rules. As a result, a far</div><div>more individualistic European society was already in place during the</div><div>Middle Ages, before the process of state building began, and centuries</div><div>before the Reformation, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution. Rather</div><div>than being the outcome of these great modernizing shifts, change in the</div><div>family was more likely a facilitative condition for modernization to</div><div>happen in the first place. loc 4256</div><div>
</div><div>But a fair normative order also requires power. If the king was</div><div>unwilling to enforce the law against the country’s elites, or lacked the</div><div>capacity to do so, the law’s legitimacy would be compromised no matter</div><div>what its source in religion, tradition, or custom. This is a point that</div><div>Hayek and his libertarian followers fail to see: the Common Law may be</div><div>the work of dispersed judges, but it would not have come into being in</div><div>the first place, or been enforced, without a strong centralized state.</div><div>loc 4597</div><div>
</div><div>Certain historical events are catalyzed by individuals and cannot be</div><div>explained without reference to their particular moral qualities. loc</div><div>4669</div><div>
</div><div>To this day, the Justinian Code remains the basis for the civil law</div><div>tradition that is practiced throughout continental Europe and in other</div><div>countries colonized by or influenced by countries there, from Argentina</div><div>to Japan. Many basic legal concepts, like the distinction between civil</div><div>and criminal law, and between public and private law, have their origins</div><div>in it. loc 4714</div><div>
</div><div>Rule of law was institutionalized to a greater degree in Western Europe</div><div>than in the Middle East or India. This was probably less a function of</div><div>the underlying religious ideas than of historically contingent</div><div>circumstances of European development, since the Eastern Orthodox church</div><div>never went through a comparable development. A critical factor was the</div><div>extreme fragmentation of power in Europe, which gave the church</div><div>tremendous leverage. loc 5078</div><div>
</div><div>With the possible brief exception of the late-twentieth-century Republic</div><div>of China (since 1949 moved to Taiwan), no Chinese government has</div><div>accepted a true rule of law. While the People’s Republic of China has a</div><div>written constitution, it is the Chinese Communist Party that is</div><div>sovereign over the constitution. Similarly, in dynastic China, no</div><div>emperor ever acknowledged the primacy of any legal source of authority;</div><div>law was only the positive law that he himself made. There were, in other</div><div>words, no judicial checks on the power of the emperor, which allowed</div><div>enormous scope for tyranny. loc 5115</div><div>
</div><div>The Chinese invented the modern state, but they could not prevent that</div><div>state from being repatrimonialized. The subsequent centuries of imperial</div><div>Chinese history constituted a continual struggle to maintain these</div><div>institutions against decay, to prevent powerful individuals from</div><div>patrimonializing power by carving out privileges for themselves and</div><div>their families. What were the forces promoting political decay, and its</div><div>reversal? loc 5129</div><div>
</div><div>Many payments were consumed (that is, “budgeted”) locally; others had to</div><div>be physically shipped to granaries at successively higher levels of</div><div>administration and ultimately to the capital (first at Nanjing, and</div><div>later in Beijing). Taxpayers were charged the costs of shipping their</div><div>taxes to the government, a surcharge that often exceeded the value of</div><div>the underlying goods. loc 5391</div><div>
</div><div>The typical solution that Chinese rulers devised to get around the</div><div>problem of unresponsive administrative hierarchies was to superimpose on</div><div>them a parallel network of spies and informants who were completely</div><div>outside the formal governmental system. This explains the great role</div><div>played by eunuchs. Unlike normal bureaucrats, eunuchs had direct access</div><div>to the imperial household and often came to be trusted to a far greater</div><div>degree than the regular administrators. The palace therefore sent them</div><div>out on missions to spy on and discipline the regular hierarchy. By the</div><div>end of the Ming Dynasty, there were an estimated one hundred thousand</div><div>eunuchs associated with the palace.17 From 1420 on they were organized</div><div>into an Orwellian secret police organization known as the Eastern Depot,</div><div>loc 5448</div><div>
</div><div>The best students were recommended by their teachers to go on to the</div><div>national universities in Beijing and Nanjing, where they would prepare</div><div>to take the civil service exams. (Teachers who recommended students who</div><div>failed to perform well were punished, something that modern universities</div><div>might consider as a means of combating grade inflation.) loc 5480</div><div>
</div><div>But the experience of the Ming Dynasty, as well as other periods of</div><div>Chinese history, raises troubling questions about the durability of good</div><div>governance under conditions where there is no rule of law or</div><div>accountability. Under the leadership of a strong and capable emperor,</div><div>the system could be incredibly efficient and decisive. But under</div><div>capricious or incompetent sovereigns, the enormous powers granted them</div><div>often undermined the effectiveness of the administrative system. loc</div><div>5533</div><div>
</div><div>The quality of the bureaucracy, particularly in its upper reaches, is</div><div>high; the Chinese leadership has been able to guide the country through</div><div>a miraculous economic transformation in the decades after 1978 that few</div><div>other governments could have pulled off. However, neither rule of law</div><div>nor political accountability exists in contemporary China any more than</div><div>they did in dynastic China. The vast majority of abuses that take place</div><div>are not those of a tyrannical central government but rather of a</div><div>dispersed hierarchy of local government officials who collude in the</div><div>stealing of peasants’ land, take bribes from developers, overlook</div><div>environmental and safety rules, and otherwise behave as local government</div><div>officials in China have behaved from time immemorial. loc 5548</div><div>
</div><div>What China did not have was the spirit of maximization that economists</div><div>assume is a universal human trait. An enormous complacency pervaded Ming</div><div>China in all walks of life. It was not just emperors who didn’t feel it</div><div>necessary to extract as much as they could in taxes; other forms of</div><div>innovation and change simply didn’t seem to be worth the effort. loc</div><div>5581</div><div>
</div><div>It is far likelier that cultural attitudes toward science, learning, and</div><div>innovation explain why China did so poorly in the global economic race</div><div>in previous centuries, and is doing so well at the present, rather than</div><div>any fundamental defect in its political institutions. loc 5597</div><div>
</div><div>The miracle of modern liberal democracy, in which strong states capable</div><div>of enforcing law are nonetheless checked by law and by legislatures,</div><div>could arise only as a result of the fact that there was a rough balance</div><div>of power among the different political actors within the society. If</div><div>none of them was dominant, then they would need to compromise. loc 5671</div><div>
</div><div>States in the early modern period did not provide much by way of</div><div>services other than basic public order and justice; the vast bulk of</div><div>their budgets went to military expenses. Ninety percent of the budget of</div><div>the Dutch Republic was spent on war in the period of their long struggle</div><div>with the Spanish king; 98 percent of the Habsburg Empire’s budget went</div><div>to finance its wars with Turkey and the Protestant powers in the</div><div>seventeenth century. loc 5765</div><div>
</div><div>The death of Louis XIV in 1715 left the monarchy with crushing debts. In</div><div>order to reduce this burden, the state resorted to what amounted to a</div><div>protection racket. It summoned special courts it controlled called the</div><div>chambres de justice and then threatened creditors with investigations</div><div>into their personal finances. Since virtually all of the creditors were</div><div>corrupt in one way or another, they agreed to reduce the amount owed the</div><div>government in return for calling off the investigation.28 The tactic of</div><div>the selective use of anticorruption investigations to raise revenues and</div><div>intimidate political opponents is still very much in use today. loc 6051</div><div>
</div><div>Tax exemption was the most hated of all privileges and became all the</div><div>more so as the burden of taxation increased steadily throughout the</div><div>sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With the sale of public offices,</div><div>tax exemption became the privilege not just of a broad social class but</div><div>also of an individual family. The individuals who bought proprietary</div><div>offices were willing to let the rights of their fellow citizens be</div><div>compromised, as long as they themselves felt secure. In England, it was</div><div>the poor who enjoyed tax privileges; in France, it was the wealthy. loc</div><div>6139</div><div>
</div><div>The monarchy would have been perfectly happy to abolish venal</div><div>officeholding altogether, and tried to do so toward the end of its</div><div>existence. The officeholders themselves had little sympathy for anyone</div><div>but themselves. But they could not tolerate the idea of reform because</div><div>of their own deep personal stake in the system. This was, then, a</div><div>perfect collective-action problem: the society as a whole would have</div><div>benefited enormously from abolishing the system, but the individual</div><div>interests of the parties making it up prevented them from cooperating to</div><div>bring about change. loc 6160 Note: The monarchy would have been</div><div>perfectly happy to abolish venal officeholding altogether, and tried to</div><div>do so toward the end of its existence. The officeholders themselves had</div><div>little sympathy for anyone but themselves. But they could not tolerate</div><div>the idea of reform because of their own deep personal stake in the</div><div>system. This was, then, a perfect collective-action problem: the society</div><div>as a whole would have benefited enormously from abolishing the system,</div><div>but the individual interests of the parties making it up prevented them</div><div>from cooperating to bring about change. shellng pt Edit The government’s</div><div>perpetual failure to live up to debt obligations was an alternative to</div><div>taxing these same elites directly, which the regime found much more</div><div>difficult to do politically. It is a tradition carried on by</div><div>contemporary governments in Latin America, such as that of Argentina,</div><div>which after the economic crisis of 2001 forced not just foreign</div><div>investors but also its own pensioners and savers to accept a massive</div><div>write-down of its sovereign debt. loc 6281</div><div>
</div><div>Rather than risk confrontation over higher levels of direct taxes, they</div><div>debased the currency and accepted a higher rate of inflation. Inflation</div><div>via loose monetary policy is in effect a tax, but one that does not have</div><div>to be legislated and that tends to hurt ordinary people more than elites</div><div>with real rather than monetary assets. loc 6356</div><div>
</div><div>Cort茅s conducted his campaign against the Aztecs as if he were fighting</div><div>the Moors and used similar strategies of divide and conquer.27 Many of</div><div>the same techniques of settlement, colonization, and political</div><div>organization were simply lifted from the experience of colonizing</div><div>southern Spain. Indeed, the conquistadores had a habit of referring to</div><div>indigenous temples as “mosques.” loc 6368</div><div>
</div><div>in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the lands west of the</div><div>Elbe River-that is, in the western German states, the Low Countries,</div><div>France, England, and Italy-the serfdom that had been imposed on peasants</div><div>during the Middle Ages was gradually abolished. It never existed in the</div><div>first place in Spain, Sweden, and Norway. By contrast, east of the river</div><div>(in Bohemia, Silesia, Hungary, Prussia, Livonia, Poland, Lithuania, and</div><div>Russia), formerly free peasants were progressively enserfed at virtually</div><div>the same historical moment. loc 6513</div><div>
</div><div>The existence of free cities in turn made serfdom increasingly difficult</div><div>to maintain; they were like an internal frontier to which serfs could</div><div>escape to win their freedom (hence the medieval saying, “Stadtluft macht</div><div>frei”-City air makes you free). loc 6553</div><div>
</div><div>In contemporary China, many of the worst abuses of peasant rights,</div><div>violations of environmental and safety laws, and cases of gross</div><div>corruption are the work not of the central government in Beijing but of</div><div>local party officials or of the private employers who work hand in hand</div><div>with them. It is the responsibility of the central government to enforce</div><div>its own laws against the oligarchy; freedom is lost not when the state</div><div>is too strong but when it is too weak. In the United States, the ending</div><div>of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the two decades following</div><div>World War II was brought about only when the federal government used its</div><div>power to enforce the Constitution against the states in the South.</div><div>Political freedom is not won, it would seem, only when the power of the</div><div>state is constrained but when a strong state comes up against an equally</div><div>strong society that seeks to restrict its power. loc 6680</div><div>
</div><div>But many stacked turtles lie hidden beneath communism. To attribute</div><div>contemporary authoritarianism simply to twentieth-century politics begs</div><div>the question of why communism triumphed so thoroughly in Russia in the</div><div>first place, as it did in China. There was, of course, a much older</div><div>absolutist tradition at play. loc 6715</div><div>
</div><div>But increasingly real power was held by a royal official, the shire</div><div>reeve (or sheriff), who was appointed by the king and represented royal</div><div>authority. loc 7006</div><div>
</div><div>By the fifteenth century, the independence and perceived neutrality of</div><div>the English judicial system allowed it to play an increasingly important</div><div>role as a genuine “third branch” with competence to judge constitutional</div><div>issues, like the right of Parliament to abrogate a royal patent. loc</div><div>7056</div><div>
</div><div>With reasons possibly having to do with the greater sense of local</div><div>solidarity in England, the wealthier classes did not conspire with the</div><div>Crown to shift the tax burden onto the peasantry, artisans, or newly</div><div>rich middle classes, and therefore had a direct stake in the powers and</div><div>prerogatives of Parliament. loc 7176</div><div>
</div><div>All of the elements that came together to produce the late Stuart</div><div>reforms are still critical: an external environment that puts fiscal</div><div>pressure on the government to improve its performance; a chief executive</div><div>who, if not personally leading the reform effort, is at least not</div><div>blocking it; reform champions within the government who have sufficient</div><div>political support to carry out their program; and finally, strong</div><div>political pressure from below on the part of those who are paying taxes</div><div>to the government and don’t want to see their money wasted. Many recent</div><div>anticorruption efforts by international institutions like the World Bank</div><div>or Britain’s Department of International Development have foundered</div><div>because one or another of these elements was not in place. One</div><div>problematic characteristic of the contemporary world is that corrupt</div><div>governments often do not have to go to their own citizens for revenues</div><div>the way Charles II did and have no parliament or civil society watching</div><div>over the way their money is spent. Instead, government income comes from</div><div>natural resources or aid from international donors, who do not demand</div><div>accountability for how their money is spent. loc 7214</div><div>
</div><div>I will summarize some of the themes that have run through the historical</div><div>account of institutional development given in this book and try to</div><div>distill from them the outlines of a theory of political development and</div><div>political decay. This may not amount to a genuine predictive theory,</div><div>since outcomes are the result of so many interlocking factors. There is,</div><div>moreover, the turtle problem: the turtle one chooses as an explanatory</div><div>factor is always resting on another turtle farther down. One of the</div><div>reasons I began this volume with an account of the state of nature and</div><div>human biology is that it is an obvious starting point, a</div><div>Grund-Schildkr枚te (base turtle) on which subsequent turtles can be</div><div>placed. loc 7561</div><div>
</div><div>Unlike cooperative games, or the gains from free trade, which are</div><div>positive sum and allow both players to win, struggles over relative</div><div>status are zero sum in which a gain for one player is necessarily a loss</div><div>for another. loc 7613</div><div>
</div><div>The expansion of the charmed circle of human beings accorded equal</div><div>dignity was very slow, however, and only after the seventeenth century</div><div>came eventually to include the lower social classes, women, racial,</div><div>religious, and ethnic minorities, and the like. loc 7685</div><div>
</div><div>During Japan’s Tokugawa shogunate from the seventeenth to the nineteenth</div><div>century, the feudal lords who ran the country knew about the existence</div><div>of firearms from their early contacts with the Portuguese and other</div><div>travelers. They engaged in what amounted to a long-term arms control</div><div>arrangement, however, by which they agreed not to introduce firearms</div><div>among themselves because they did not want to give up their traditional</div><div>form of sword- and archery-based warfare. But when Commodore Matthew</div><div>Perry showed up with his “black ships” in Tokyo Bay in 1853, the ruling</div><div>elite realized that they would have to end this comfortable arrangement</div><div>and acquire the same types of military technology possessed by the</div><div>Americans if they were not to end up a Western colony like China. loc</div><div>7729</div><div>
</div><div>While individual leaders can shape institutions, more highly developed</div><div>institutions not only survive poor individual leaders but also have a</div><div>system for training and recruiting new and better ones. loc 7811</div><div>
</div><div>But the problem of dysfunctional equilibria goes much farther back in</div><div>history than this. There is archaeological evidence of band-level</div><div>societies that had access to agricultural technology and yet did not</div><div>make the shift from hunting and gathering for many generations. The</div><div>reason for this would again appear to be the vested interests of</div><div>existing stakeholders. Band-level societies are egalitarian and engage</div><div>in considerable food sharing, something that becomes impossible once</div><div>agriculture and private property are adopted. The moment that one family</div><div>settles down and starts growing food, it would have to be shared among</div><div>the other members of the band, destroying the incentive for investing in</div><div>agriculture in the first place. The shift from one form of production to</div><div>another would make the society as a whole richer due to the higher</div><div>productivity of agriculture over hunting and gathering, but it would</div><div>also require the exclusion of certain members of the band from the free</div><div>enjoyment of surpluses. The archaeologist Steven LeBlanc suggests that</div><div>the slowness of some forager societies to adopt agriculture was due</div><div>precisely to their inability to solve this type of cooperation problem.</div><div>loc 7878</div><div>
</div><div>With the emergence of the modern economic world, it has been common to</div><div>disparage “Malthusian” economics as shortsighted and unduly pessimistic</div><div>about the prospects for technological change.10 But if Malthus’s model</div><div>did not work very well for the period 1800-2000, it is more plausible as</div><div>a basis for understanding the political economy of the world prior to</div><div>that period. loc 8002</div><div>
</div><div>Per capita spending on all government services, from armies and roads to</div><div>schools and police on the street, was about $17,000 in the United</div><div>States in 2008 but only $19 in Afghanistan.23 It is therefore not a</div><div>surprise that the Afghan state is much weaker than the American one, or</div><div>that large flows of aid money generate corruption. loc 8115</div><div>
</div><div>The failings of modern democracies come in many flavors, but the</div><div>dominant one in the early twenty-first century is probably state</div><div>weakness: contemporary democracies become too easily gridlocked and</div><div>rigid, and thus unable to make difficult decisions to ensure their</div><div>long-term economic and political survival. loc 8324</div>