Arnold Kling  

Re-read Group Power

Wealthy Ugandan Expats... "Virtually Bone from the Neck ...

Max Borders rightly criticizes a proposal for an international agency to effect nation-building.

A disconnect between the donors and the recipients means that information feedback loops get lost. The structure of the behemoth makes it virtually impossible for that agent effectively to respond to the (often divergent) needs of the principles...Since quasi-governmental behemoths are composed of personnel (and interests) from many nations, they are susceptible to the problems of rule by committee: inaction.

However, Borders falls into a trap himself when he concludes that when we find ourselves embroiled in failed states,

[we] should also be establishing the essentials for prosperous and highly organized complex order: the Rule of Law; an independent judiciary; transparency and accountability mechanisms; a separation of powers; popular sovereignty (constrained by the rule of law); and fixed, enforced property rights.

But those institutions are not pre-requisites for modernization. They are results. Re-read my essay Group Power.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (4 to date)
liberty writes:

If your theory is true, how do you explain Japan after WWII - democracy and freedom and equality before the law was imposed from above by the United States. Before that they had an emperor and no institutions built from the bottom up.

If it can work in Japan, it can work in Iraq.

Morgan writes:

Max Borders from Boone?

Sounds like your style of writing.

Max writes:

Arnold, while I think you're right about the indogenous formation/evolution of institutions, I don't think they're HAVE to be evolved. I hold out hope for institutional gene-splicing.

But suppose you're right that all institutions should bubble up in evolutionary fashion like the Hanseatic league or the Common Law. Then should war be a bomb 'em and leave 'em affair? After all, that's what Barnett is trying to figure out (the post-war effort).

Arnold Kling writes:

I don't think that we built Japan from the bottom up. Certainly William Easterly would not put it that way.

As for whether war should be a "bomb 'em and leave em' affair," that gets us into the realm of foreign policy, which is outside of where I want to take the discussion on this blog.

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