June 17, 2016

Francis Fukuyama

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Francis Fukuyama (1952):
From the days of Aristotle … thinkers have believed that stable democracy rests on a broad middle class and that societies with extremes of wealth and poverty are susceptible either to
  • oligarchic domination or
  • populist revolution.
(Foreign Affairs)

It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W Bush.
It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term.
But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come.
(The Right Choice?, The American Conservative, 3 November 2008)

Today leaders of democracies do not lead their countries to war for other than serious national causes, and must hesitate before taking such grave decisions for they know their polities will not permit them to behave recklessly.
When they do … they are severely punished.
((The End of History, 2006, p 261 )

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 59):
Democracy, carried to its furthest limits, is … prejudicial to the art of government; and for this reason it is better adapted to a people already versed in the conduct of administration than to a nation which is uninitiated in public affairs.
(Democracy in America, 1835, Bantam, 2011, p 256)

Francis Fukuyama (1952)


Those countries in which democracy preceded modern state building have had much greater problems achieving high-quality governance than those that inherited modern states from absolutist times.
(p 30)

The United States is trapped in a bad equilibrium.
Because Americans historically distrust government, they typically aren't willing to delegate to the government authority to make decisions in the manner of other democratic societies.
Instead, Congress mandates complex rules that reduce the government's autonomy and make decisions slow and expensive.
The government then doesn't perform well, which confirms people's original distrust.
Under these circumstances, they are reluctant to pay higher taxes, which they feel the government will waste.
But while resources are not the only, or even the main, source of government inefficiency, without them the government won't function properly.
Hence distrust of government becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
(pp 503-4)

[While] democracy does provide an important check on elite power, it frequently fails to perform as advertised.
Elite insiders typically have superior access to resources and information, which they use to protect themselves.
Ordinary voters will not get angry at them for stealing their money if they don't know that this is happening in the first place.
Cognitive rigidities may also prevent social groups from mobilizing in their own self-interest.
In the United States, many working-class voters support candidates promising to lower taxes on the wealth, despite the fact that this hurts their own economic situations.
They do so in the belief that such policies will spur economic growth that will eventually trickle down to them, or else make government deficits self-financing.
The theory has proved remarkably tenacious in the face of considerable evidence that it is not true.
(p 465)

There is … a long-standing tension between rule of law and democratic accountability.
For rule of law to exist, it must be binding on all citizens, including democratic majorities.
In many democracies, major parties are content to violate the rights of individuals and minorities, and find legal rules to be inconvenient obstacles to their goals. …
Moreover, laws are administered by the human beings who operate the judicial branches of government.
These individuals have their own beliefs and opinions that may not correspond to the desires of the broader public.
Judicial activism can be as much of a danger as weak or politically compliant judiciaries. …

Finally … efforts to increase levels of democratic participation and transparency can actually decrease the democratic representativeness of the system as a whole.
The great mass of individuals living in democracy are not able by background or temperament to make complex public policy decisions, and when they are asked to do so repeatedly the process is often taken over by well organized interest groups that can manipulate the process to serve their narrow purposes.
Excessive transparency can undermine deliberation.
(p 534)

If there has been a single problem facing contemporary democracies [it is] their failure to provide … what people want from government:
  • personal security
  • shared economic growth, and
  • [the] quality basic public services like education, health, and infrastructure that are needed to achieve individual opportunity.
( p 546)

(Political Order and Political Decay, 2014)


Contents


Political Order and Decay

Project for a New American Century

The End of History


Francis Fukuyama (1952)


Mosbacher Director and Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

  • Political Order and Political Decay, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014.

    [The] more deeply democratic Jacksonians were the ones who had created the patronage system in America; their hostility to big government and the rigid defense of property rights was what had turned the nineteenth-century American state into a machine for dispensing jobs, seeds, and land to private interests and political backers, often represented by … the same individual.
    By contrast, it was the older northeastern elites, familiar with European traditions, that reversed course during the Progressive Era and created a modern state based on merit and the impersonal treatment of citizens.
    (p 182)

    Clientelist politics was ended in the United States as the result of a long-term political struggle between new middle-class actors who had a strong interest in creating a more modern form of government and the older entrenched patronage politicians.
    Underlying this shift was a social revolution brought about by industrialization, which mobilized a host of new political actors with no interest in the old clientelist system.
    (p 182)

    It took the United States almost [twice as long] to accomplish what the British [achieved in the late nineteenth century:] the establishment of a modern [impersonal merit-based civil service.]
    This reflects … the fact that the United States was simultaneously more democratic and more suspicious of state power than Britain.
    It also reflects the greater capacity of the British Westminster system for decisive action than America's system of checks and balances.
    The United States to the present day has never succeeded in establishing the kind of high-quality state that exists in certain other rich democracies, particularly those coming out of absolutist traditions such as Germany and Sweden.
    Indeed … the quality of the American state has decayed substantially since the 1970s, undoing much of this progress.
    (p 149)

    Bismark forged a modern German nation through war, and unleashed an aggressive nationalism that culminated in two world wars.
    (p 200)

    One of the most successful instances of [state driven] industrial policy occurred in the United States with the development of the Internet. …
    This early investment was based on security concerns rather than economic considerations, but it nonetheless succeeded in seeding one of the most important technologies of the twentieth century.
    Government investment was also critical in the development of semiconductors, radar, jet aircraft, and a host of other technologies.
    (Note 2, p 582)

    It is important to note that the two components of liberal democracy —
    • liberal rule of law and
    • mass political participation
    — are separable political goals that initially tended to be favored by different social groups.
    (p 405)

    We can summarize the major social actors whose relative strength and interactions determine the likelihood that democracy will emerge in a given society. …

    1. The middle classes … tended to support the liberal part of liberal democracy.
      That is, they wanted legal rules that protected their rights and particularly their property from predatory government. …
      They may or may not have been supporters of democracy, understood as universal political participation, and … were even more ambivalent about if not overtly opposed to economic redistribution that might affect their own property and income. …

    2. The working classes … were conversely more interested in the democratic part of liberal democracy, meaning their own right to participate politically. …
      However, there were [also] more focused on redistribution than liberal guarantees of property rights.
      For this reason significant parts of the working class around the world were willing to support nondemocratic anarchosyndicalist parties in the nineteenth century … or Communist and Fascist parties in the twentieth, parties that promised redistribution at the expense of … individual rights.

    3. Large landowners, and particularly those making use of repressive labor (slavery, serfdom, or other nonmarket conditions of labor), have almost everywhere been authoritarian opponents of democracy. …

    4. The peasantry [in many societies] were an extremely conservative group, embracing traditional social values and willing to live in subordinate positions as clients of the landowning class. …
      Under the right circumstances, however they could be radicalized to join forces with the working classes as supporters of revolution.
      They became the foot soldiers of the Bolshevik, Chinese, and Vietnamese revolutions.

    (p 406-7, emphasis added)

    It seems likely that [the current expansion of radical Islam] is due more to the social conditions of contemporary Middle eastern societies than to the intrinsic nature of the religion.
    Indeed, the spread of political Islam can be seen as a form of identity politics … comparable to its nationalist variant in [nineteenth century] Europe. …
    [Ernest Gellner has] argued that nationalism is a response to the identity dislocation that occurs as societies modernize and transition from … the small village [to] the large city.
    [As modernization proceeds] narrow old forms of identity based on kinship and locality disappear and are replaced by more universalist doctrines linking individuals to broader cultural movements.
    [By contrast, in the Middle East] religion plays the role that nation played in Europe. …
    The rise of political Islam … does not therefore reflect the [fundamentalist revival of] an eternally unchanging Islam … but rather a response [to the identity challenges posed by modernization].
    (p 434)

    When the middle class constitutes only 20-30% of the population, it may side with antidemocratic forces because it fears the intentions of the large mass of poor people below it and the populist policies they may pursue.
    [However,] when the middle class becomes the largest group [it may] be able to vote itself various welfare-state benefits and profit from democracy. …
    [Majority middle-class] societies, as opposed to societies with a middle-class [minority], are the bedrock of democracy. …
    (p 442)

    Economic growth by itself is not sufficient to create democratic stability if it is not broadly shared.
    (p 443)

    In the wake of the financial crisis there has been a rise of new populist groups from the tea Party in the United States to various anti-EU, anti-immigrant parties in Europe.
    What unites all of them is the belief that elites in their countries have betrayed them.
    And in many ways they are correct …
    (p 450)

    [US] civil servants began to unionize in the first decade of the twentieth century … to protect their … jobs and privileges.
    This became a bulwark of protection not just against corrupt politicians but also against superiors demanding better performance and accountability. …

    [Natural] human sociability is built around … kin selection and reciprocal altruism …
    Modern institutions require people to work contrary to their natural instincts.
    In the absence of strong institutional incentives … groups with access to a political system will use their positions to favor friends and family and erode the impersonality of the state. …
    This process of [external,] elite or insider capture is a disease that afflicts all modern institutions.
    (p 464)

  • Neocon no more, Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, 11 June 2006.
  • Statement of Principles, Project for a New American Century, 3 June 1997.

    American foreign and defense policy is adrift. …
    We aim to change this [by rallying] support for American global leadership …

    As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power.
    Having led the West to victory in the Cold War {[we] are in danger of squandering the opportunity} to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests …
    Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world.

    We … have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success:
    • a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges;
    • a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and
    • national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.

    Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. …
    [Nevertheless, it] has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
    The history of the 20th century should have taught us …
    • to meet threats before they become dire
    • to shape circumstances before crises emerge [and]
    • to embrace the cause of American leadership …

    Here are four consequences [of these lessons]:

    1. [We] need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future …
    2. [We] need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
    3. [We] need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
    4. [We] need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

    [Military] strength and moral clarity [are what is necessary if we in] the United States [are to] ensure our security and our greatness …

    Elliott Abrams
    Gary Bauer
    William J Bennett
    Jeb Bush [Governor of Florida, 1999-2007]
    Dick Cheney [Vice President of the United States, 2001–2009]
    Eliot A Cohen
    Midge Decter
    Paula Dobriansky
    Steve Forbes
    Aaron Friedberg
    Francis ["End of History"] Fukuyama
    Frank Gaffney
    Fred C Ikle
    Donald Kagan
    Zalmay Khalilzad
    I Lewis ["Scooter"] Libby [Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs, Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States, Assistant to the President, 2001-2005.]
    Norman Podhoretz
    Dan Quayle [Vice President of the United States, 1989–1993]
    Peter W Rodman
    Stephen P Rosen
    Henry S Rowen
    Donald Rumsfeld [Secretary of Defense, 1975-1977 and 2001-2006]
    Vin Weber
    George Weigel
    Paul Wolfowitz [Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001–2005]

    Would you like to know more?

  • The End of History, Penguin, 1992.

    Orthodox Judaism and fundamentalist Islam … are totalistic religions which seek to regulate every aspect of human life, both public and private, including the realm of politics.
    (p 217)

    The fact that a large [pre-modern] historical world co-exists with the [modern] post-historical one means that that the former will hold attractions for certain individuals precisely because it continues to be a realm of struggle, war, injustice, and poverty. …
    An athletic competition has no "point" or object other than to make certain people winners and others losers — in other words, to gratify the desire to be recognized as superior. …
    [Where] traditional forms of struggle like war are not possible, and where widespread material prosperity makes economic struggle unnecessary, [ambitious] individuals begin to search for other kinds of contentless activities that can win them recognition.
    (pp 318-9)

    Nietzsche believed that no true human excellence, greatness or nobility was possible except in aristocratic societies.
    [That] true freedom or creativity could arise only out of … the desire to be recognized as [superior to] others. …
    (p 304)

    He was an open opponent of democracy and of the rationality on which it rested.
    (p 313)

    [He] hoped that the principle of equality would give way one day to a morality justifying the domination of the weak by the strong, and ended up celebrating what amounted to a doctrine of cruelty.
    He hated societies that were diverse and tolerant, preferring instead those that were intolerant, instinctive, and without remorse …
    (p 333)

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