Not long ago I posted notes on Fukuyama’s Origins of Political Order. Here are some quick notes on the first third of his recent book, Political Order and Political Decay.
As noted before, there are three pillars of political development: a strong central State, Accountability, and the Rule of Law. Fukuyama argues further that the order of these institution’s development create interactions that strengthen or inhibit other institutions and affect national development in different ways. These patterns are not meant a single consistent story of “stone age to modern states”
I built these charts below based on illustrations in the book:
I. Prussia as an example path to the Modern State
Not all good things go together.
Many of the earliest and most effective bureaucratic states have a developmental history of authoritarianism and warfare. Fukuyama focuses on one of the first “modern states”, Bismarck’s Prussia, once described as “an army with a state.” The State developed first of the three pillars of Political Development, out of existential necessity [Step 1, above]. The supposedly absolute Emperor ruled through an increasingly institutionalized bureaucracy that provided a level of transparency and regularity. The institution of “Rule of Law” was further developed.
The culture provided a landscape that allowed this. “Rule of Law”, Fukuyama has argued, often has its roots in religious authority and traditions of a hierarchy actively interpreting religious doctrine. “In Christian Europe, following the Catholic church’s revival of Roman law in the eleventh century, a wide range of legal institutions were created centuries before the first absolutist monarch began accumulating power in the late sixteenth century.”
According to Fukuyama, Prussia is an example of a common [but not inevitable] pattern of modern, nonpatrimonial states evolving out of military competition providing pressure on states to be effective, somewhat meritocratic delegators of complex tasks. Similar patterns can be found in Qin and Han China two millennia before Prussia, and also in Japan and in Europe in Sweden, Denmark, and France.
The strong central military-birthed state was not particularly conducive to the institutions of Accountability, as one might expect. Countries that developed democracy before a strong State had a different set of challenges.