Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (2012, Crown Books.)
In the event you are interested in such things and cannot read this text, at least read the book preface that outlines the latest from “Arab Spring”, and “Jasmine Revolution” and the like. The text itself is rich in the images of things like corruption and societal backwardness, institutional and societal inertia and lack of ambition and ingenuity that pervades the politics and administration today of different, in fact unequal and dynamically conflicted states that are first embattled in different ways and then disowned by the overriding international community. These same characteristics, the authors propose, and other key ones appear again and again among states in the failure endgame, though it does seem the patterns and permanence of some momentous and more successful revolutions, and the models of 1688 England and 1789 France are often used in the text, are also illustrated and the proposition of the failed state is not necessarily an end to either the revolutions in various regions nor the direct result of internecine strife such as that in Central Africa at this point. Though no particular mention is made of it in this narrative, there are specific applications of the text at hand to Eastern Europe and its economics and politics especially (1986 – present.)
In illustrating a political thesis about a makeup of failed states that is introduced in its details in greater detail throughout the text, the author begins with an illustration of cross – border societies, one violent and completely indigent, one more wealthy, that have deep – seated reasons, dating in fact to the Age of Discovery, for their greatly contrasting socio – economic environments. It does appear and with validity that is in the history books, the authors have proposed that the politics of old, and going back many generations to when the world itself began to be properly mapped and to the origins of political spheres of influence, had more to do with a corporate partnership with various crowns that greatly augmented political scope and power of the royalty to the benefit of society, mostly to the bourgeoisie and the rich, but really to everyone. The relation of the Conquistadors to the Spanish crown is presented as a case in point here, as are some of the overseas ventures of the English in the early days, Napoleonic France in part, and other more modern examples of empire (the soviets, in fact, might have used this older model in their influence – pedaling and propaganda efforts over the years). With this model in mind, and that monetary wealth had depended upon growth models of the time, and that those growth models have changed to include more and more intangibles, such wealth had often been the result of society's policies and the edicts of the various crowns. To the extent people themselves had not been able to participate in this process, even in the economic models of today that are the engines of growth and prosperity, first little inequalities presented themselves, not really defined nor distinct; but these became rapidly greater and greater and more marked in places like the UK and the Americas and Canada, in places like Australia and New Zealand, China, Japan, and Singapore. Said disparities become even more obvious in the examination of the Pacific island countries, Sub – Saharan Africa, places in South and Southeast Asia, and other places that are immediately more heart – rending in the media today – Afghanistan and the Middle East overall as well.
One might explain the general drudgery and poor circumstances of some of these territories through an age – old thesis of those countries of the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer and the corresponding and intrinsic wealth of places in the Americas, for instance: A kind of “tropical disease” where the “hot” countries, given their location as well on the globe, do not do as well economically as those in the Northern climates. There are cultural hypotheses that apply and are affected by the contrasting evidence of inequalities between various places, even across delineated borders and rivers like the Rio Grande in the US / Mexico. Additionally, there are ideas as to failures of various governance through lack of proper succession of the leadership over time, ineffability and willful ignorance of the imperatives of proper business and commerce in places; communism, of course; and as a real outlier, rule of the populace by what are essentially an ascendance of a group or groups of ignorant poor given various conflicts and the scarcity of good leadership in some systems. These actual circumstances in some places render proper economic considerations that ordinarily enrich a country completely moot, and this where governing authorities and other stakeholders are in search of payoffs only at the exclusion of citizens' rights, a prospering home rule with reasonable or better living standards, or any common – sense measures of socio – economic success or accomplishment as we ordinarily know them. Today, North Korea might be cited as an obvious and impossible example of this.
The authors propose models to remedy this and these are varied, but mostly depend upon paying attention to the benefits and obligations of Western economics and capital formation, even to the extent of failed regimes making an effort about having profitable private business and institutions as well as leading indicators. This presents prosperity not as a completely wasteful and dirty undertaking as Marx proposed it is at least for the most part, but as a choice in which governance and the institutions of society function with a political imperative or imperatives that promote reasonable and steady, sustainable economic growth even today, again with the “green” or multi – feature approach with environmental considerations and other trends of the day. The thesis of the text goes beyond this, and is for every economist, professional or amateur, or anyone who follows current events and knows of systemic and political attrition as provoked by socio – economic failure, to read through and respond, and not to what is a provocation, but to an avoidance of economic plagues and the kind of serfdom that is an issue at present not only for the worker and working professionals all over, but in consideration of different, various and marked economic successes and failures as illustrated that await every nation – state whose chiefs are uninformed on such matters. Though the text presents (and this runs on) the idea as well that economic and political, etc., histories are extremely important in the failure analysis at hand, and the cause – and – effect administration of some regimes past and present, that without some analysis of difficulties examined therein using the methods presented again therein, or at least some method that one might agree upon, we are all due only the limited and arithmetically marginal prosperity and growth, if any, in our economic, monetary and other incomes, productivity, capital growth and other benefits of Western economics, as a result of lacking in our ability to adapt to new levels of analysis and conclusion in looking at modern economics as they are; and then acting upon this for the benefit (and corresponding calling to everyone to contribute to society) that accrues to each and every one of us. The disconcerting thing about such an idea is it purports to represent a kind of “end of capital” as Francis Fukuyama presented the idea in his popular books and talks some time ago as the “end of history”: Perspective itself and extremely heavy rumination that portends only a brand new beginning, albeit maybe even a Ricardian one.
Recent Article on Eastern Europe by Condoleezza Rice - "Washington Post".
See also various presentations this past week from CPAC.