"Political Order and Political Decay" by Francis Fukuyama (2015)
"Then, as now, the central problem of Chinese politics has not been how to concentrate and deploy state power but rather how to constrain it through law and democratic accountability. The task of balancing state, law, and accountability that was completed in Japan by the late 1940s has been only partially accomplished in China. Under Mao Zedong, law virtually disappeared and the country became an arbitrary despotism. Since the reforms that began under Deng Xiaoping in 1978, China has been moving slowly toward a political system that is more rule based. But the rule of law is still far from secured, and the regime's sustainability will depend heavily on whether this becomes the main line of political development in the twenty-first century."
Francis Fukuyama is a political scientist based at Stanford University. He has written many other books, all with some bearing on the subject of political science.
And in case you're already thinking: "Oh my God, this sounds so boring!", I'd have to say that on 9 days out of 10 I'd agree with you. I'm still not sure what possessed me to buy this book, but having just finished it, I'd have to say that it's not too bad. It IS boring in parts. It is most certainly, most definitely boring, but I did learn a few things while forcing myself to read it, and I think the author's thoughts on how governments work (or don't) cast many recent political developments into a new light.
Political Order and Political Decay explores the successes and failures of several national governments throughout the world, holding up liberal democracy as the goal toward which all nations ought to strive. The author's model of the perfect government often falls back upon democratic participation, the rule of law, and the establishment of an effective (and to some extent independent) bureaucracy. Most of the book is taken up with regional surveys of governance throughout the world. As you might have guessed already, the worst examples are drawn from Africa, but surprisingly the best examples are drawn from East Asia and Europe. The United States, the nation the author calls home, falls somewhere in the middle.
Reading Mr. Fukuyama's thoughts on bureaucracy, I was often reminded of The Death of Common Sense, a book I enjoyed very much. He also touches upon issues raised in Free Market Environmentalism, and even The Crisis of Islamic Civilization. I don't think the author of Political Order and Political Decay would disagree in any fundamental way with the authors of these other books, though he might take exception at the application of their ideas on an international level.
Would I recommend this book? If you like to follow politics, yes. If, however, you tend to skip that part of the news, you'll definitely want to avoid Political Order and Political Decay. It may offer timely observations on current political struggles, but it sure isn't light reading.
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