Arnold Kling  

Of NWW and Fukuyama

Evolution and Economics... Weighing the Coerciveness of M...

Here is my comparison of North-Weingast-Wallis with Fukuyama.

Neither book makes one optimistic about the near-term prospects for seeing liberal democracies emerge out of the "Arab Spring." Instead, they suggest that sudden revolution from below is not the route to liberal democracy. First, elites must develop institutions that separate power from kinship. These institutions need to include the rule of law. Once the elites have rights that are embedded in law, then attaining liberal democracy is a matter of extending these rights to the rest of society.

Related: A podcast with Daron Acemoglu discussing Why Nations Fail with Russ Roberts.

COMMENTS (2 to date)
Jeff writes:

Interesting read. Not having read either book, I'd be curious to know how Fukuyama and North see the rule of law being extended beyond the elite to include the rest of society. Why doesn't it simply remain a sort of cartel agreement between elites? Or are there cases where it has, and I'm just not thinking of them? If so, then why does it extend to everybody in some cases, but not in others?

This to me seems like a rather important point of discussion: how did we get from the Magna Carta to the Constitutional Convention of 1787?

mr. commenter guy writes:

I always sensed a circularity to these types of arguments. They reduce to: "How to achieve what westerners have achieved? First, you must be just like the westerners..."

I'm not saying I know the answer, either. But I bet there is some other way to be prosperous besides having a foundation of a western-like culture. This very question is one of the issues in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.

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