Francis Fukuyama’s second book on how societies develop is a tough read, made tougher by having not read the first. I will, but cannot put down the second book. Fukuyama cites three factors that affect the quality of a society; the state, the rule of law, and accountability, in the form of a parliament, or representative body. Good government is not dependent on the size, but on the quality of each. A strong state without a rule of law is tyrannical. A weak or corrupt parliament is just as bad. Does this sound familiar? Three bodies of government? Fukuyama says this form of political order works well. In Denmark. So how does Denmark, or Singapore, rate so highly as a form of government? One answer is surely their rigorous attention to corruption. The other is attention to the balance between the law, the state, and the people.
One aspect that amazes is his definitions.
“Institutions are stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior, that persist beyond the tenure of individual leaders. They are in essence, persistent rules that shape, limit, and channel human behavior.”
Institutions are static, whereas social development is anything but. Institutions must adapt to social development, which is contrary to the essence of a stable, recurring pattern of behavior. There is a contradiction, but some governments get it right, and when they do, the quality of life for its citizens is a model for others. The question, then, is how do we get it right?
‘Political Order And Political Decay’, by Francis Fukuyama