Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy

Farrar. 2014. 672p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780374227357. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781429944328. POL SCI
OrangeReviewStarFollowing his Origins of Political Order (2011), this weighty volume concludes Fukuyama's (Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, Stanford Univ.) analysis of how states evolve and the sources of political stability and instability in large polities. He also examines the causes of political decay within states. Fukuyama studied with Harvard University theorist Samuel Huntington, and his work is a conscious attempt to build on and refine Huntington's groundbreaking 1968 Political Order in Changing Societies. The author is scrupulous in commenting on the other modern theorists of state political action. He stresses the importance of sequencing in the establishment of the three foundations of the modern state—a strong state bureaucracy, rule of law, and accountability (democracy). Yet, democracy's establishment too early can work against stability. Even today, our reliance on the courts to flesh out laws and rules and redress grievances puts stress on the system, as does a hypertrophied system of checks and balances. The author concludes by recounting instances of elite or special interest groups attempting to influence officials via shortcuts and favors within American political history.
VERDICT A book as rich and well considered as Fukuyama's has much to offer both generalists and specialists. An impressive effort. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/14.]
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