Notes on Fukuyama’s Origins Of Political Order

No doubt.
As an advocate of the hoppian concept of private governmnet, I don’t actually think that the ‘state’ is a ‘good’. I see it as a ‘bad’. Throughout the book, he assumes that the bureaucratic state is a ‘good’, when his analysis clearly shows that it’s a ‘bad’ thing. He does not tie economics into his argument except as a correlative result.

1. The Monopoly Of Violence – The Concentration Of Power Over Property
2. The Rule Of Law – Rules That Limit The Actions Of Those With A Monopoly On Violence
3. Accountability – Morally (Ostracization), Legally (threat), or Electorally Accountable (exchange)
(Parenthetic comments added to show how this corresponds to the three [glossary:types of coercion] theory.)

Fukuyama states that the origins of our political behavior is biological due to:
1. Kin Selection – Favor the number of genes you share with them
2. Reciprocal Altruism

I dont think so, and I think that’s where he makes his mistake. I think that Haidt (relying on the work of… OMG I can’t find it) has undermined the argument for reciprocity or at least split it into two different traits. We limit the ability of purely violent alphas to dominate us, and in doing so develop cooperation. And we promote useful alphas that advance the genes of the group against other groups instead of the genes of just the alpha by that strategy. This then advances our ability to hunt cooperatively and rapidly expand our populations. Haidt separates this ‘liberty’ sentiment from the meritocratic sentiment – which he calls Proportionality as the causal differences in that create what we imprecisely observe as the reciprocity sentiment. And he effectively discounts or eliminates the reciprocity concept as material. As such the correct statements would be:
1 – Kin Selection (genetic preference)
2 – Liberty (defense against tyranny)
3 – Proportionality (meritocratic cooperation)

I think that we can create a religion out of the western non-Biblical literary narrative. Which is precisely what the Whig theory of history, and Mortimer Adler and others attempted to do with the Great Works. What the English tried to do with revisiting their pagan mythology in the victorian era, and even what the germans tried to do with romanticism under Nietzsche and Wagner. THese are all means of creating celebratory moral systems not dependent upon Abrahamic or Persian/Hindu mysticism. This is the recommendation of de Botton, and others.

So they had to work within the framework of roman law that was resurrected and promoted by the church.

He says that the way that democratic institutions happend in england was unique and because of that, not useful for developing countries: The king had to go to a particular feudal institution consisting of nobles to raise taxes. The struggle between the estates and the monarchy over this balance of powers was constant. The english accident was unique. It won’t be replicated. But it was the beginning of accountable government. Populations constrain the king.

My problem is that he doesn’t see this balance of powers as a unique strategy whose roots were in western martial tactics (as stated by many others.) So Fukuyama troubles me because he sees the democratic polity as being served by a legitimate government, rather than all government are totalitarian and that the only form of regulation is actually the balance of powers, and that democracy is a freak accident and a net negative compared to the balace of power between social classes created by multiple houses of government each of which has different powers and each of which represents the interets of different social classes.

Fukuyama suggests that we should have more special committees and then the packages are voted up or down without amendments. He suggests that this would discourage special interests and pork. (I agree, but I’m not sure what it would lead to except more rapid implementation of even more interference. And I”m not sure we really need representative government.

5 responses to “Notes on Fukuyama’s Origins Of Political Order”

  1. I’m a fan of Olsen’s stationary bandit hypothesis. As opposed to Fukuyama it indicates that those with the force monopoly aren’t actually constrained by the populace, this is just a popular narrative device. Instead they are mainly constrained mostly by the security of their position. Alternatively, one could say that their rent seeking is constrained by risk.

  2. I’m reading it right now.
    Anyone whose premise starts with Banfield has got to have something useful to say. 🙂

    I tend to think of it in these terms: We all ‘cheat’. It’s an evolutionary necessity by which we promote our genes. The bandits, the stationary bandit, the rent-seeker, and redistributionist are all ‘cheating’. They may be cheating for material reasons, for opportunity or relationship reasons, or for status signaling reasons, but people all cheat.

    The thing is, that cheating is only possible if assets and transfers are incalculable. The moment they become calculable, the data itself serves to remove the anonymity which makes cheating possible.

    The problem with the ‘commons’ is that by creating a commons we create a circumstance where transfers are incalculable, and therefore we encourage people to cheat. We create incentives for them to cheat.

    This is the value of our business arrangements,where we assume cheating is universally bad. To prevent cheating we establish contracts. We avoid the problem of the commons.

    Taxes are a ‘common’ contributions are calculable, but causality is lost as soon as they are aggregated under some number.

    Interest on investments, revenue from particular investments, and the cost of particular programs by individual, are all calculable. They have mutually beneficial purposes and mutually beneficial ends, and they discourage cheating.

    Laws are a common. They pool and launder money and information and they encourage cheating. Contracts are not. Laws are incalculable. Contracts are calculable, discourage cheating and solve the information problem created by the natural anonymity that comes from complexity.

    (Now I’m going to go read that essay.)

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