Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ORDER: PART I - From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama

Anyone with a love for the written or spoken word of oral tradition has no trouble finding and experiencing these expressions as an Art Form. Art Forms of all varieties are delightful ways of providing life with a closer look at the world around us adding many an Ah-Haa moment. Ah-Haa moments come easily and often when reading a well-crafted idea about something of interest past or present, traditional or trendy. So too, with Politics.

It is always amazing to reflect upon how a book about historical events and social theory can enlighten our understanding of ourselves and post- modern experiences while shedding light on each country’s place in the world and the role played by religion, politics and the family. Francis Fukuyama’s book is just such an endeavor. Fukayama’s research pulls together some interesting and thought provoking ideas as he illuminates the role of the State and it’s need to control families; the activity of the Catholic Church in devising the vehicle for ending corruption between two ancient societal institutons through rules of celibacy that carry on to this very day, and again when this same Church, acting in his words in it's own self-interest, creating women's rights to property that ushered in rugged individualism in a way still unacknowledged by those who are wedded to the notion of individualism as a creature of the Reformation.

Fukuyama dissects the misunderstandings of modern historians who fail to bow to the Biological Sciences findings of a Universal Human Law thereby debunking the theories of British philosopher Thomas Hobbes still honored to this day as if humankind went around clubbing each other in constant wars of all against all.

Before a standing room only crowd at Washington D.C.’s Politics and Prose Bookstore on April 25, 2011, Stanford University Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Francis Fukuyama, introduced his audience to an understanding of the origins of government among humankind. From the onset of tribal societies to the development of early states in China and the rise of European politics up to and including the French Revolution, even onlookers showed a heightened interest in understanding just how things came to be the way they are in our post-modern era.


In taking the reading audience through the ideas in his books, the author discusses a wide range of topics from the origins of state and law, to that of "accountable" government. On being introduced to the audience, the moderator points out that "having one of those in place does not presuppose that the others will have vibrant and alive institutions".

Karl Marx Prefers England as Model

Beginning his remarks with the somewhat surprising observation that it was Karl Marx who introduced the notion that England is the model for modernization. Marx believed that England’s present was the future for all other countries. In Fukuyama’s view, this idea is misplaced.
China is earliest best Model for Modernization.

Although Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the valley of Mexico established the first states, it was China that established the first "modern" state. The term "modern" for purposes of this book means not hiring your cousins and your friends to run the government but based on Civil Service examinations, a rationalized bureaucracy, and centralized administration in the 3d century B.C.


The State - All About Power
The State is defined here as the ability to make rules and enforce those rules through a hierarchy in a particular territory.
The Rule of Law - All About Limiting Power
The Rule of Law is the community rules of Justice that is regarded as superior to the will of whoever happens to be running the government whether a President, Prime Minister, King who is the Executive in the society. This person must implement a rule someone else makes. The Rule of Law is a means to limit power.

Institutions of Accountability - for Gov’t: for Morality - All About Limiting Power

Today we associate those Institutions as created by democracies through elections but the first time they were put into place was in 17th Century England. The king was accountable to Parliament which represented only 10% of the richest part of the population. So, you can have accountability without having Democracy. As in China, you can even have moral accountability where a government takes into account the well-being of it’s citizens even without elections.
The President of the United States is the most powerful person in human history because the President holds the reigns of nuking the entire world. Why doesn’t he? Because he is limited by the Rule of Law and Institutions of Accountability.

Next: The Three Baskets -Why Democracy Isn't Portable

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