Sunday, July 3, 2011

THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ORDER: PART II- : From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama " WHY DEMOCRACY ISN'T PORTABLE"

About the Author: Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama is the author of numerous books, including The End of History and the Last Man, State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century, and America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. He is a former professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and is currently a senior fellow at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.


The State and Universal Human Nature

Fukuyama believes that the State, in some sense, is a big struggle against the family. There is a Universal Human Nature. There are a couple of biological principals that govern Human Sociability.


We sometimes get this incorrect notion from English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes that before the State, we had nothing but nomadic human beings going around clubbing each other over the head in a war of all against all. That was actually not true because humans never went through that period. Humans have always been social. They are social because they are born with certain characteristics that allow them to cooperate and are governed by biological principles. No child has to be taught these ways. They are default ways we relate to each other.


First: Kin Selection or Inclusive Fitness. This means humans are altruistic to people depending upon the number of genes shared. In other words, nepotism. Humans favor relatives.

Second: Reciprocal Altruism - you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.


In the absence of some institution to force you to hire someone with qualifications preventing you from practicing nepotism and hiring your brother-in-law, that is how you are going to do it. So it is that States arose in large kin groups, tribally. People were assembled in large kin groups. They all believed they had come from a common ancestor. They are basically 3d, 4th, and 5th cousins.

How to Get Beyond Political Organization that is Tribal.

In order to get from a State organization that is no longer based on kinship but instead based on citizenship so that social organization relies on being from Japan or France etc., Fukuyama believes, there is a constant struggle against the urge to practice nepotism and in an effort to protect one’s children ie state struggles against family.

Tribal organization was first ended in China as a result of centuries long military conflict where due to war, tribes are driven into these hierarchical units. At the beginning of the Western Xia Dynasty around 1100 B.C. tribes come in from Western Manchuria and conquer the Shang people - maybe 3,000 tribal groups. In the Spring and Autumn Period they fight about 1200 wars with one and other: in the Warring States Period they fight about 450 wars more This process continues and eventually winnows down everything until there are 7 warring states surviving.

Chinese Dynasty and European States Emerge from Tribes Through Warfare and Tax

Among the 7 warring states, one finally conquers all and establishes first unified Qin Imperial Dynasty in 221 B.C. the most powerful. 1800 years later in Europe, this process is also driven by warfare. At first it is done by Aristocrats driving chariots but they find out you’ll do a lot better by conscripting peasants. In order to conscript peasants you need resources so you tax. You need an Administrative hierarchy to run this whole machine. This is what the Chinese did too. They figure out if you hire your cousin or your uncle to be a general through patronage appointments you are going to lose the war.

So you need a different principle. A merit based principle and this is what the Chinese did. They were the first to come up with Civil Service Exam and did so 3 B.C

It doesn’t last, as Han Dynasty comes to power and by 3 A.D. centralized government had collapsed. It did not come back together until 1100 A.D. So the struggle against the family goes on for a very long time.


The system of military slavery was the weirdest institution designed to beat back the family and build up the State. It developed during the second largest Arab Dynasty, the Abbasids and followed to it’s logical conclusion by the Ottomans. What the Ottoman’s did was send out every 3 or 4 years a group of people into the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Like football scouts, they would look for young men between the ages of 12 and 19, take them from their families and raise them as slaves in Topkapi. They would train them, not for degradation but to be Senior military officers and the grandest of Adminststrators. The people recruited in this fashion were not allowed to marry or to have children. If they did have children, they were expelled from these positions and the children never allowed to rise to any status.

Why did they do this? To control having families. Ottomans understood they needed a modern administration. Bhat once families were allowed in they are going to want to secure positions for them. Ottomans realized that if you allowed families, there would be no means of advancing their administrations through merit. So, they created a one generation aristocracy. This came to an end when

The entire Ottoman system began to collapse when these Aristocracy gorups began to take advantage of the onset of famine and inflation. In the 17th century, they began to demand their children be allowed to assume their positions.

This is the same problem for Old Regime France before the French Revolution.

Wealthy elites who potentially could oppose the king were a threat so they began to sell offices. They sell offices if tax ciollector or finance minister to wealthy individuals with the important effect of breaking up the oppostion. They wanted to privatize the public sector. In the early1600's, through an institution that became known as the Paulette (1604), and allowed hereditary office taking. Heirs would not only get the estate and the vineyard upon death but also an important French public office.

By the time of the French Revolution, the entire Public Sector had been sold off to the wealthy. However, you cannot create a modern state What the Rebolution did was divest the old elites not just of their property and their offices but their heads.


Where does this come from. From the author’s view, limits on power has always come out of religion, Relligion is the only source of a rule of laws that come from outside rules that the State does not make. This is true of many civilizations: Ancient Israel; Christian tradion; Islam; ;and India;s Hinduism. In all of these cases the ruler has to go to the religous leaders to get permission to do things. To become a Rajah, you have to be sanctified by a Brahmin. There is a clear status distinction and it is the priest who is on top of the warrior.

The only civilization that did not have Rule of Law in this sense is China. Francis Fukuyama bellieves this is because they never had a transcendental religion.The Chinese seemed to have remained backward in this way because they only worshipped ancestors. Those ancestors were their own and not even the Kind’s ancestors. No Chinese Emperor ever thought there was a higher source of law they had to obey.That continues even up to today.

The Chinese Communist party does have a Constitution but the Constitution doesn’t limit what they do so their power is whatever they want it to be.

Next - How the Spirit of Rugged Individualism Did Not Start with the Reformation but in the Middle Ages 

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