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Customer Review

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant thinker, 18 May 2011
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This review is from: The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Hardcover)
I've never read the End of History so this was my first introduction to Francis Fukuyama and I'm really impressed - he's a brilliant thinker. The book has a rather dry-sounding title but it's really about our history as human beings, how we have organised ourselves over the centuries and developed from tribal groups to modern societies. I was surprised to find that it was the Chinese who invented the modern state over 2,000 years ago. Fukuyama argues that because socially and biologically we are hard-wired to favour family and friends a crucial task for any state is to find a way of circumventing this and prevent corruption. For instance in ancient China they did this by recruiting civil servants, based upon merit rather than family ties, to take run government functions.

Other states over the centuries tackled this problem in different ways. Fukuyama shows why Christian military slaves may have saved Islam, why the Brahmins stopped the state developing in India - and why, we might assume the Christian church naturally supports the family as an institution but there are times when it actually undermined it.

Although the book finishes around the time of the French revolution (there's a volume two in the offing)it sheds light on a lot of what's happening today. For instance, why developing nations lack proper political institutions and how this is keeping them in poverty. Why attempts to transplant a modern democracy into a tribal country like Afghanistan, are bound to run into difficulties. And why despite all the difficulties people worldwide aspire to liberal democracy.

Read it!
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